3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Has the VicePresident of the Executive Council any further information to give in reply to the question asked yesterday as to whether the immigration leagues to which money has been granted by the Commonwealth Government have been required to furnish an account of its expenditure?
– I am informed that since the beginning of the current financial year, the rule has been laid down that grants to immigration leagues must be subject to the condition that vouchers showing the manner in which the money has been expended shall be submitted for the information of the Department. That condition was applied to the only grant made so far this year, and will be applied to any others that may be made. In regard to the question asked by Senator Chataway, I can find no trace of an applicationfrom the Queensland league.
– In view of the postponement of the consideration of the duty on glucose, I ask if the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council has been called to the following report in yesterday’s Melbourne Age -
Tons of Rotten Potatoes.
John Embling was charged at Richmond yesterday with having had premises occupied by him in an insanitary condition. Mr. T. B. Derham prosecuted on behalf of the Richmond Council, and Mr. G. F. A. Jones, who appeared for defendant, pleaded guilty.
Thomas Smith, sanitary inspector, said he visited the premises, which were formerly known as Latham’s brewery, in Abinger-street, on 21st ult. On the second floor of the main building there was an accumulation of rotten potatoes. From 15 to 20 tons of potatoes were “ floating about.” They were all in a state of pulp, and “ you could smell them in the street.” In the stable he found about 20 or 30 bags of potatoes in a worse state than the others. Those at the bottom were in a slate of pulp, and a stream of liquid was floating from them. Round about the bags were crawling alive with mag- gots.
To Mr. Jones : I understand that the potatoes were purchased for the extraction of starch, which was to be made into glucose.
Will the Minister cause inquiries to be made as to the possibilities of the manufacture of glucose disclosed by that report ?
– I have not seenthe report referred to; but since the postponement of the consideration of the duty on glucose, I have learnt from the highest authorities that the glucose used in confectionery is innocuous and nutritious, and that the use of a certain quantity in the manufacture of confectionery is permitted in Victoria, the standardization insisted on being tested by the strictest chemical analyses. When the item is again before the Senate, I hope tohave further information. There is both good and bad glucose.
Senator KEATING laid upon the table the following paper : -
Further correspondence in regard to the prohibition by the Postmaster-General of the delivery of letters addressed to Messrs. Freeman and Wallace.
asked the VicePresident of the . Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as f ollow -
As it is not clear from the cable message that the remarks of the Attorney-General of England referred to the coastal clauses of the Navigation Bill, it isproposed to reserve further comment until the full report is received.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
If the Government intend to make any provision for the payment of the election expenses incurred by Messrs. O’Loghlin and Vardon in connexion with the vacancy in the representation of the State of South Australia in the Senate ?
– The matter is under consideration in connexion with the preparation of the Additional Estimates.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Whether it is true that the report of Mr. OctaviusBeale on patent medicines, &c., has been withdrawn or suppressed. If not, is the second part of it yet received; and do the Government intend to take any action upon it?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows -
The second part has not yet been received.
The Government are considering the question whether any and what action should be taken on the report.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows -
The Goverment will not oppose a motion for a Select Committee to inquire into the case.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
If, in addition to an “ allowance equal to the minimum wage,” rent will be provided for the Post Office at Moonta Mines, South Australia ; and, if not, why not?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows -
Provision for the rental of premises is included in the “ Allowance equal to the minimum wage “ to be made to the person in charge of the Moonta Mines Office. Thefurther information desired is being obtained from the Deputy Postmaster-General, Adelaide, and will be furnished as soon as possible.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 20th February, vide page 8284) :
Division V. - Textiles, Felts and Furs, and Manufactures thereof, and Attire.
Postponed item 117. Cosies and Cushions, in part or wholly madeup ; articles as under and the like, not being piece goods, viz. : - Articles of Furnishing Drapery and Napery, including Quilts, Table-covers, Doyleys, Tray-Cloths, Sheets, Pillow-cases and Covers, Bolster Cases, Counterpanes, Bed Spreads, Table Mats. Splashers, Tablecloths, Runners, Mantel Borders, Toilet Sets, Bags forLinen, Brush and Comb Bags, Nightdress Cases, Antimacassars, Handkerchief Sachets, ad. val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent.
Upon which Senator Mulcahy had moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 117 (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 15 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 117 (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 17½ per cent.
I regret that I was, unfortunately, absent from the chamber just now, because I desired to say a word or two, not to repeat any arguments I used last night, but to announce that, having proved that my con- tentions in regard to this particular item are borne out by facts, I shall later on ask for a recommittal.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Postponed item 118. Curtains and Blinds, n.e.i. (not including blinds attached to rollers), Curtain Clips, Bands, Loops, and Holders, and Blind Tassels and Acorns, ad val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent. ; (United Kingdom); 20 per cent.
– I remind the Minister that the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended that the duty on curtains and blinds should be fixed at 10 per cent., and I desire to know why the Government have submitted a duty of 25 per cent. and 20 per cent. It seems to me to be altogether wrong to levy a tax of 25 per cent. on a mixture of cotton, and, therefore, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 118 (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 15 per cent.
.- This is absolutely a revenue duty. The articles covered by this itemare used chiefly by working people, who, of course, cannot afford to buy expensive hangings and blinds. They are obliged to use cheap blinds, such as bordered blinds, which are not made in this country. This is only a revenue duty, and has no protective incidence. The item ought not to be subject to a duty of 25 per cent.
. -This is not a revenue duty. It is a protective duty. It is quite true that the raw material is imported, but the articles are made up here. In fact, there is a large number of blind manufacturers in the Commonwealth. Even if the articles were not made up here, it is about time that they were. The original Tariff imposed a duty of 15 per cent. on some of the smaller lines, and duties of 25 and 26 per cent. on the other lines. It is now proposed that the duty shall be 25 per cent. in the general Tariff and 20 per cent. in the preferential Tariff. In 1903 the importations of these articles were valued in round figures at , £74,000; in 1904, at £92,000; in 1905, at £81,000; and in 1906, at £87,000. From the United Kingdom we imported last year £73,000 worth, and from other countries £14,800. This is essentially a protective duty, and I invite the Committee to deal with it from that stand-point.
– Where are these articles made in this country ?
– They are made throughoutthe Commonwealth.
– Without any hesitation, Senator Best has made several statements quiteas incorrect as his last statement. I ask him to remember that his Government has deliberately taken one line out of this item and put it into another item. The only line which really requires protection is the manufacture of blinds attached to rollers. They appear under the head of furnishing drapery ; they were taken out of this item for protective reasons, and the other articles retained therein. It is as correct to say these blinds are made here as it is to say that a pairof sheets is made here.
– Are not sheets made here ?
– No; they are only hemmed here.
– The. sheeting is free, but the pair of sheets is made here.
– Sheets are not made here, nor are these curtains and blinds. We all know very well what the making of a pair of sheets amounts to. It means the taking home of five or six yards of material, cutting it into two pieces, and using a sewing machine. Almost in the twinkling of an eye the work’ is done, but it is really grotesque for any one to say that that is making a pair of sheets. Yet the Minister will stand up here, time after time, and assure the Committee, on a similar :pretext, that we are making an article in this country. This item covers articles of furnishing drapery, which, with very few exceptions, cannot be made here. It is’ possible, I know, for a woman to sit down to the laborious task of knitting a pair of curtains. It will take her about a month to do the work, and if she wants to sell them, she will not get as much as would pay her for two days’ labour. Lace curtains come out in an absolutely finished state from Nottingham, The raw material for the stuff curtains is imported, but what work is there in making them ? It is simply the work of cutting the raw material into lengths and hemming the edges. It is ludicrous on the part of the Minister to try to impress the Committee with the idea that we are dealing with an item which is giving industrial employment.
– I remind the Committee that oh curtains and blinds the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of only 10 per cent. I think that there is some obligation upon the Ministry to show why. they have proposed a higher duty. If the Minister is not in a position to give us a reason for the increase, perhaps Senator McGregor can say if there is any justification for departing- from’ the recommendation which he joined in making, and which I have no doubt he will support now. It may be said that in the case of this item the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 15 per cent., but let me point out that that was made part of a general classification, and, therefore, does not apply to the two items of curtains and blinds, to which the recommendation of the other section did apply. In view of that specific recommendation I submit that even protectionist senators may reasonably hesitate before they vote to put up the duty to 15 per cent.
.. - The only reply I have to make is that Senator Millen and other honorable senators opposite invariably claim that the Committee should stand by the recommendations of either section of the Tariff Com- mission just when it suits them, but when it does not suit them they have not a word 10 say about those recommendations.
– But when the honorable senator proposes to depart from a recommendation of the protectionist section of the Commission, the obligation is upon him to say why he does so.
– If honorable senators generally were bound by the recommendations of either section of the Tariff Commission’, I should have no objection to adhere to those of the protectionist section, but when honorable senators, who give no consideration to the recommendations pf the different sections of the Commission, ask me to consider them, I do not take very much notice of the request.
. Yesterday we discussed the duty imposed on carpets, and very many honorable sena- . tors were’ of opinion that it was a revenue duty.
– It is an exactly parallel item because carpets are made here in just the same way that Senator. Best suggests curtains are locally made - they are stitched together.
– That is just what I intended to say. It is well known that ordinarily carpets are bought in strips, and a certain amount of sewing is required to complete the article covered by the ordinary use of the word. In regard to curtains the procedure is almost precisely identical, as the piece goods are cut into lengths, and then sewn. If we are agreed that the duty on carpets is a revenue duty, we must admit that the duty on curtains is also a revenue duty. I wonder that honorable senators can consider themselves justified in imposing these high revenue duties. Honorable senators of the Labour Party protest that they will support no revenue duties, but, unfortunately, with one or two exceptions, including Senator Pearce, where they are asked to deal with what is purely a revenue duty, in nine times out of ten. some excuse is hunted for to justify them in supporting heavy taxation upon the people by alleging that the duty will have a protective effect. There is no more protection involved in this duty than there was in the duty on carpets, and the amount of protection given by that duty was represented by some vague, shadowy possibility of the. manufacture of carpets in. Australia at some time which no one could define. ‘
– What ‘does the honorable senator advocate in this instance?
– I am suggesting to Senator Stewart that he is now given another opportunity to deal with a purely revenue duty.
– What is the proposal ?
– The proposal is to reduce it.
– Let the honorable senator move a request to make the item. free, and I will support him.
– If the request before the Committee be temporarily withdrawn,I shall be prepared to move a request that the item be made free. I have not the slightest hesitation in proposing to reduce these revenue duties.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator Clemons) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 118 (imports under General Tariff), free.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Colonel Neild) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 118 (imports from the United Kingdom) free.
Postponed item 1 19. Furs and other Skins : - (a) Furs, being Apparel or Attire or other article in part or wholly made up, including Furs sewn together, ad val., 35 per cent. (b) Fur and other Skins n.e.i., dressed orprepared for making up, ad val., 15 per cent. (c) Hatters’ Fur, not on the skin, ad val., 15 per cent.
– If I attempt to reduce these duties I shall be told that they represent the taxation of luxuries, although I do not for a moment believe that to tax luxuries is the whole intent of the proposal. These fur duties are graduated, and the object is to afford protection for the sewing together of imported furs. This is imposing a heavy revenue duty on a particular class. I have no particular sympathy with the people who use furs, but this is distinctly a class duty, and I think 35 per cent. is too high. I see no chance of putting the goods on the free list, and, therefore, I shall vote for the same duty as was imposed under the old Tariff. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 119, paragraph a, ad val., 25 per cent.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [11. 41]. - I have with almost undeviating regularity voted for reductions because I think this Tariff is needlessly heavy, and the imposts upon the taxpayers are unnecessarily high. But in view of the heavy duties which this Committee has insisted on placing on articles used by the whole community, I really cannot in this instance support Senator Clemons in his proposal to reduce the duty upon an article that certainly is much more an article of luxury than of necessity - at least in our Australian climate. I really cannot see my way to reduce a duty in favour of the rich and the well-to-do, in view of the duties imposed upon the clothing of the enormous mass of the people - in fact, upon everybody in the country.
– I shall not quarrel with Senator Neild’s argument, but I should like to point out that we are not confronted with the alternative of placing a tax upon the rich or the poor. We have already imposed taxes upon the poorer classes. The only question now is whether we shall help them in any way by imposing a tax upon another section. If the alternative were between saying whether a tax should be imposed upon the poor or not, I should not hesitate as to my answer. But the question now is whether the masses of the people will be relieved of the burden which has been placed upon them if we vote to put a duty upon another section of the community.
– The position as regards this duty is that, as a result of their investigations, the protectionist section of the . Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 35 per cent. on the articles included in this paragraph. It will be observed that under paragraph b furs and other skins n.e.i., dressed or prepared for making up - that is to say, the raw material - are taxed at15 per cent.But when furs are made into apparel, it is proposed that they should pay 35 per cent.
The design is, of course, to encourage the making up of furs throughout the Commonwealth. Under these circumstances, what is proposed is a reasonable protection.
– Senator Millen has said that we are not faced with the alternative between taxing the rich and the poor. Now I contend that these are purely protectionist duties, but, assuming that they are revenue duties, it certainly is a fact that a certain amount of revenue is required, and it is also a fact that if you tax one person to the amount that you require, you do not need to tax the other. But what I have risen to submit in this connexion is that in Australia we produce a considerable quantity of very fine furs - not the best in the world, but still furs of an excellent character.
– Opossum fur is one of the best in the world, some say.
– It is a very fine fur, and one of the best for certain purposes. It is not by any means the only fur we have. In addition to that, we have dotted over Australia establishments where furrying is carried on for the treatment of Australian and imported furs. This duty would have the double effect of reasonably taxing the people who can afford to use what are very costly, and, to a large extent, useless luxuries, and also protecting the furrying trade. Therefore, I hope that in this connexion the protectionist senators, at any rate, will not be led away by the continually reiterated declaration of Senator Clemons in regard to revenue duties. We have hardly passed a duty yet as to which Senator Clemons has not declared that it was a revenue item.
– Has the honorable senator himself yet acknowledged any item to be a revenue duty ?
– Personally, I am not now dealing with the question of whether revenue duties are or are not desirable.
– Does the honorable senator think it is wise for him to refer to reiteration?
– No, perhaps, it is not. But I relate facts every time, and as the facts do not vary, I must reiterate. But honorable senators opposite have a very much larger range.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [11.46]. - If there is anything in Senator Millen’s argument, it would ap ply just as forcibly to an article in respect of which the honorable senator gave a vote similar to that which I am about to give as to furs. I refer to champagne. It would be just as proper to refuse to place a reasonably high duty upon champagne, because the money derived from the tax would not benefit the poorer classes of the community - the beer drinkers - as to refuse to put a reasonably high tax on furs because the money derived from them would not benefit those who wear cottonsand woollens.
– I think the honorable senator will recognise the differencebetween alcoholic drinks and ordinary articles of apparel.
– I do recognise the difference. For instance, I could not clothe myself in champagne, nor could I swallow articles of apparel. Irc that respect I am entirely in agreement with my honorable friend. , But there is another consideration. If my honorable friend chooses to say so, it is a sentimental’ one. But “a fair go is a fair go” all the world over, and whether it is merely sentiment or not, there is a sense of propriety, and even of right, that appeals to me in connexion with the imposition of taxation. I am not one who favours the idea of offering advantages in- reference to matters of luxury, whilst matters of every day use, “ the bread and butter goods “ of the community, as the phrase goes, are being heavily taxed. I do not like to think that the Chamber of which I have the honour to be a member devotes itself to such unequal taxation of the people. Senator Milieu’s argument does not seem to me sufficient to induce me .to alter the vote which I have announced my intention of giving.
– I am sorry that Senator Neild hasadopted the attitude which he has explained. I think he has attached far too much importance to sentiment. The use of his own sound judgment on these duties would, I believe, convince him that he is making a mistake. This is, first of all, an ad valorem duty. The consequence is that if an imported article is of great value, the amount of duty on it will be high. Further, Senator Neild is, I think, taking up’ very dangerous ground in adopting the principle of class taxation, as he is doing now. To say that people who use fursrepresent a particular class, and ought to pay, is, I think, an unsound argument.
– What has the honorable senator to say regarding the incidence of an income tax? That is a class tax.
– I hope that it is not in Australia - that nearly every one here has an income.
-It is a class tax, particularly in New South Wales, where there is now an exemption up to £1,000.
– In Australia, I should allow an exemption of somewhere between £120 and £160 a year, and no more. Let me point out to Senator Neild what his position is. We have to remember that this is an ad valorem duty, so that if the articles to which it applies are expensive, a heavy duty is collected. Clearly, according to Senator Neild’s own showing, furs are used by only a limited class, so that the duty will be confined to them. Why should they be singled out in that way ? There is no element of justice in it. Anyhonorable senator who suggested a reduction of the duty on furs would be met at once with the cry - “ Oh, he wants to free luxuries - to let the rich off lightly.” We should recognise, however, that such an argument is hollow, and, very often, unfair. If these goods are costly, 25 per cent. is a very high rate of duty.
– The honorable senator is aware that the Committee have been imposing duties of 44 per cent. upon the most common necessaries of life.
– Both the honorable senator and I have been resisting the imposition of such duties, but because we have been unsuccessful, should we fall into this trap? I consider that it is a trap. Are we to say, “ We could not free of taxation such and such a Section, why should we let off this section ? ‘ ‘ That is a very dangerous argument. It is tempting, and has tempted me more than once. I have felt so annoyed when certain duties have been passed, that I have been inclined to say, as Senator Neild probably feels disposed to do, “All these people have been taxed, although they ought not to have been, and I shall not be a party to letting any one else gofree.” I repeat that it is a. very dangerous argument, and I hope that Senator Neild will recognise that even if this item relates to a luxury used by only a limited class, 25 per cent. is a very high rate of duty to pay on anything which does not actually represent a vice.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland)
Executive Council has defended this item on the ground that it is in accordance with a recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission. He seemed to consider that a sufficient reason. On a former occasion, when the honorable senator was asked why the Government proposed a duty in excess of the recommendation of that section of the Commission, he declined to reply. He will pardon me for sayingthat such an attitude on his part is not likely to expedite business. When the Government favour the imposition of high duties, and have the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission with them, they put forward that fact for all it is worth ; but when they propose duties in excess of the recommendations of that section of the Commission
– The Opposition bring out that fact.
– And the Government remain silent.
– What else could they do?
– I do not know whether the honorable senator offers that observation more in sorrow than in anger ; but I believe that the Government think it desirable in such circumstances to remain silent, and also to induce their followers to be dumb.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 119, paragraph a, “ Furs, being apparel or attire, &c.,” ad val. 25 per cent. (Senator Clemons’ request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Colonel Neild) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 119, paragrapha (imports from the United Kingdom), ad val., 30 per cent.
– I was under the impression that most of the furs imported into the Commonwealth came, not from Great Britain, but from Russia and other countries, but I find, upon reference to our statistical records, that it is not so. Out of a total of £15,000 worth of furs imported last year, I learn that £10,000 worth were of British origin.
– That amount is worth giving a preference upon.
– The figures quoted by the honorable senator refer only to dressed furs, and not to furs used in connexion with apparel.
– Of the £15,000 worth of dressed furs imported into the Commonwealth, I gather that Great Britain is the country of origin for £10,000 worth. I presume that the Vice-President of the Executive Council agrees with that statement.
– They certainly come from that country.
– Let us be perfectly frank with each other. Will the proposed preference apply to the furs to which I have alluded?
– I think so.
– Let us suppose that furs in a raw state are imported into Great Britain from Russia or Canada, and that they are dressed or prepared there. Under such circumstances would the proposed preference apply if the dressed furs were subsequently exported to the Commonwealth ?
– If they were imported into England in a raw state, and were manufactured there, of course it would apply.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Colonel Neild) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 119, paragraphb (imports from the United Kingdom), ad val., 10 per cent.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [12.10]. - With a view to encourage Colonial industry, and Melbourne factories in particular, I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item119, paragraphc (imports from the United Kingdom), ad val., 10 per cent.
Having given this splendid evidence of my perfect desire to assist local industry, I hope all . true protectionists will vote with me.
– I desire some information with regard to paragraphc. Does “ fur not on the skin “ mean the fluffy material separated from the skin?
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …. 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
Postponed item 120. Gloves - (a) Men’s Gloves of all kinds, and materials, ad val. (General Tariff), 30 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent. (b) Gloves n.e.i. of all kinds and materials including Mittens, ad val. (General Tariff), 30 per cent., and on and after 14th October, 1907, 15 per cent.; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent., and on and after 14th October, 1907,10 per cent.
– It is singular that during the whole of the sittings of the Tariff Commission, no one in any part of Australia mentioned, so far as I can ascertain, the subject of gloves. The reason is that there is no manufacture of gloves in the Commonwealth.
– Does not the honorable senator think it desirable to restrict the use of gloves?
– The real question is : How far does the honorable senator want a revenue duty on them? There is not a single glove factory in Australia, although I dare say a few people have made a few pairs. The whole item, whether it relates to men’s or women’s gloves, gardeners’ gloves, or driving gloves, is purely a revenue duty. That being so, there is not the faintest reason for discriminating between different kinds. I propose to move that the whole item be free.
– We must have a revenue duty on gloves, surely?
– I am voting against revenue duties.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 120, paragraph a, by inserting after the word “ materials “ the words “ sizes 7¼ and upwards.”
It is difficult to define what are men’s and what are women’s gloves, a small man’s and a large woman’s glove being of the same. size.
– Would it not be possibleto evade the duty by adopting a different standard of sizes?
– Not if the division which I propose were adopted.
– Why make any distinction? Why not admit all gloves free, if they cannot be made in Australia ?
– I am informed that men’s heavy leather gloves for driving, harvesting, and gardening are made in Australia.
– Are women’s gloves made here?
– Not women’s kid gloves.
– Is it the Minister’s intention to make those who have large hands pay a heavier duty than’ their fellows ?
– We desire to protect the existing local manufacturer of gloves by duties of 30 and 20 per cent., placing duties of 15 and 10 per cent. on gloves which cannot be. made here.
– The Minister in this case proposes protective duties of 30 and 20 per cent.; but so few gloves are made in Australia that there is practically no industry to protect. Saddlers occasionally make thick leather gloves; but I doubt if £100 worth of gloves is annually made in the Commonwealth. If effect is given to this proposal, great confusion will result, because every case of gloves that is imported will have to be opened and examined throughout by the Customs officials. Certain sizes in gloves are common to both men’s and women’s wear. Women’s sizes begin at 6 and go up to 8, but sizes 7¼, 7½, 7¾,and 8 are worn by both men and women. The proposed differentiation will not produce £5 in duty, but it will create £50 worth of additional work for the departmental officers, and cause great annoyance to honest importers, since almost every case will have to be. opened to prevent fraud. I intend to propose that the duties shall be the same whether the gloves are intended for men’s or for women’s wear. If the Committee favours that proposal, it will not agree to the insertion of the words which the Minister wishes to insert.
– I protest against the way in which the Committee has been misled. According to the information given to me, Senator Best has been wrongly advised, the ordinary men’s glove not being made here. The only gloves that are made here are a few housemaids’ gloves, and driving gloves.
– It would simplify matters to leave out the word “ men’s.”
– Itis generally admitted that gloves of fine quality are not made in the Commonwealth ; but I am credibly informed that there are two factories in Melbourne, one employing something like fifty hands, in which the coarser kinds of gloves are made. That is a very fair beginning for the industry, and, seeing that this is to be a protective Tariff, justifies the giving of a fair measure of protection to those concerned. Glove-making is an occupation from which are absent many of the objectionable features associated with some kinds of women’s work, and if the industry is established in the Commonwealth, we shall not go far wrong in protecting it. If gloves are to be taxed as a luxury, the tax should fall on men’s - not on women’s gloves.
– If there were fifty hands in any factory in Melbourne making gloves, the Tariff Commission would have had representations from them.
– I am satisfied with the reliability of my informant; but even if fewer than fifty persons are employed, we shall be justified in giving a fair measure of protection to the industry.
– There is no mention of glove factories in the Victorian inspector’s report.
– The Minister seems to think I was joking when I interjected that the effect of his proposal would be to make the duty heavier for unfortunates who had big hands ; but that is the case. Nothing could be more absurd, and no doubt Gilbert and Sullivan, if they were still collaborating, would turn the incident to good use in a comic opera. Why not go a little further, and have a sliding scale, making the duty higher as the size got bigger? Would a similar proposal, in regard to boots or anything else, have been tolerated? The whole thing is too absurd for serious consideration.
– I suggest making a separate paragraph for gloves for harvesting, gardening, and driving, which are being made here, and whose manufacture we desire to protect, and dealing with other classes of gloves afterwards. To that end I ask leave to withdraw my request.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator Best) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 120, paragraph a, by leaving out the words “ Men’s Gloves of all kinds and materials,” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “ Gloves, being harvesting, driving, housemaids’, and gardening.”
– If there is a State of the Commonwealth where gloves would be manufactured, it is Victoria. However, we know that under the law three people constitute a factory in order to be registered; and in the report of the Factory Inspector of Victoria there is no record of any place where gloves are manufactured. We know that certain gloves are made here ; but is it worth while imposing a duty of this kind in connexion with an industry which, so to speak, is not worth five shillings to the Commonwealth ?
. -I hope that Senator Best will not press his request, which can only have the effect of creating confusion, seeing that it is so difficult to distinguish as between gloves.
– What are driving gloves ?
– Who can say? The Vice-President of the Executive Council has apparently acted upon some sudden and idle suggestion, but I hope that he will leave the matter alone. The only way to remove any possibility of doubt is to have one duty on every kind of glove. I venture to say that, in view of imports represented by £232,679, gloves representing the odd £679 were not made in the whole of the Commonwealth in 1907. Are we to impose a duty on a remote possibility of its affording some protection ? I suggest that Senator Best should withdraw his request in order that the Tariff may be simplified, especially in view of the fact pointed out by Senator Mulcahy that not a single glove factory is registered in Victoria.
– Senator Mulcahy said distinctly that this particular class of gloves was made here.
.- No doubt this particular class of gloves is made here from chamois, and from leather which we ourselves produce. If the intention is to group these gloves under one item, I think we ought to accept the proposal of the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
.- I hope the Committee will not group these gloves together, because, as a protectionist, I desire to see them separated. I know there is a disposition to lower the duty ; and I am willing to assist in making free all gloves which cannot be produced in Australia. I desire assistance to be given to industries; no matter how small, in any part of Australia; and I ask the Minister to single out the gloves that are manufactured in Australia.
– I have done so.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Clemons) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 120, paragraph a, free.
– I think there must be some little confusion. It is admitted all round that this particular class of gloves can be made in Australia, while the other gloves included in the item cannot.
– What are “driving” gloves ?
– “Driving” gloves are well recognised in the Department. After I drafted the amendment, I submitted it to the Customs officials, and they assured methat “driving” is a well recognised term in the trade. What we are endeavouring to do now is to give proper protection in the case of gloves which can be made in Australia.
– What about dress gloves worn by the man on the “Block?”
– Those dress gloves are not made here, and they will be dealt with subsequently.
– A glove is a glove, and all should be treated alike.
– But I am afraid that we should thereby do injustice to the manufacturer of gloves in Australia.
– Inspector Ord says that there is not a single glove factory in Victoria.
– It iscommon knowledge that this particular class of gloves is made here, in connexion, I presume, with other commodities.
– I voted with the Government on the proposal to subdivide the item, but I cannot agree that this particular class of gloves is made in Australia to any appreciable extent.
– In the official reports these gloves probably appear under the heading of manufactures of leather.
– There is nothingin the report of the Inspector of Factories to show that these gloves are manufactured in Australia. Another objection I have is the absence of any definition of “ driving “ gloves. I have seen glove’s made; and,so far as I can gather, they involve very little manual labour. A large quantity of kid is placed on a table, and cut into hundreds of pairs at a time by means of a knife worked by machinery.
– I am informed that the particular class of gloves under discussion is made in large quantities in the factories of Messrs. Foy and Gibson.
– I have bought driving gloves which I am quite positive were not made in this country.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 120, paragraph a, “ Gloves being harvesting, driving, housemaids’ and gardening (imports under General Tariff),” free (Senator Clemons’ request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
– Is there any request in respect of the second column of paragraph a?
Request (by Senator Colonel NEILD) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 120, paragraph a (imports from the United Kingdom), free.
– I understood, sir, that the last division was taken on the question as to whether paragraph a, as amended at the instance of Senator Best, should be made free.
– The request of Senator Best dealt with only the body of the paragraph, and did not affect the duty in .the second column. It has been our practice to put the duties separately. I put the duty in the first column, and thereupon Senator Clemons moved a request to make the articles in the paragraph free.
– I only rise to point out that there was no necessity for Senator Neild to move a request in respect of the second column at all, because the request of Senator Clemons was to make paragraph a free generally.
– I ask honorable senators to be good enough, even at this late stage, to remedy what was an obvious, mistake in the last division. What we did was to pick out those goods which it was acknowledged could be made here. It was pointed out, and it. must be well known to honorable senators, that driving gloves and housemaids’ gloves are made locally.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I suppose that the Vice-President of the Executive Council is going to accept this request.
– Of course not : I shall vote against it.
– Then I should like to direct the attention of the Committee to the position in which we find ourselves. We have made imports of these goods duty free under the general Tariff, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council, still pursuing the course of the Government in endeavouring to afford magnificent assistance to the United Kingdom, and still urging upon the Committee the desirability of British preference, is now prepared that these goods imported from Great Britain shall bear a duty 01’ 20 per cent., but if imported from Germany, France, or America shall be duty free.
– The honorable senator can take it from me that he is not.
– It is all very well for Senator Best to reply in that way, but I have accurately described the position with which we are confronted.
– These goods are made here.
– It does hot matter whether they are or not. We are in the extraordinarily anomalous position that we have decided to make these goods free under the general Tariff, and Senator Best, as the representative of the Government in the Senate, is prepared to make them dutiable at 20 per cent, if imported from the United Kingdom. I suppose that . what the honorable senator has in mind is a recommittal of the schedule, when he hopes to be able to alter what the Committee has done, and secure the imposition of a duty of 30 or 35 per cent, under the general “Tariff.
– I wish the honorable senator to understand that for present purposes I shall content myself with calling “No “ when the. request is put to the Committee. I do not propose to fight the matter at this stage.
– Will the honorable senator vote for the request to make imports of these goods from the United Kingdom duty free?
– Certainly not.
– Will the honorable senator vote against such a request if a division is called for?
– I do not propose to call for a division, but for the present to let the request go on the voices, and to take another opportunity to rectify the mistake which has been made.
– I have no objection to the honorable senator adopting that course, and if, when I rose, the honorable senator had said that he proposed to recommit the’ item, 1 should’ not have continued to speak.
Request agreed to.
– Owing to a clerical error it is necessary that two verbal amendments should be made in paragraph b of this item. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 120, paragraphb, by leaving out the word “October” where it first appears with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ November.”
Request agreed to.
– It was argued that the duties in paragraph a might be regarded as protective duties, but there can be no doubt whatever that those imposed on the goods included in paragraph b are purely revenue duties. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 120, paragraphb “ Gloves n.e.i.” (imports under General Tariff), free.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved inthe affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 120, paragraphb, by leaving out the word “ October “ where it appears the second time with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ November.”
Request (by Senator Clemons) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 120, paragraphb (imports from the United Kingdom), free.
Postponed item121. Hats, Caps, and Bonnets -
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [2.21]. - When the last Tariff was under discussion, some five years ago, there were some pretty strong fights over the duties on hats, and we finally decided upon duties of 30 per cent. and 20 per cent. In the present instance, we are being asked to agree to a duty of 16s. per dozen, irrespective of. value. That seems to be a most undesirable form of taxation, in view of the fact that every other item in this division of the schedule is made dutiable at an ad valorem rate. I am unable to understand why the ad valorem principle should not be applied to the duties on hats. There is as great a divergence in the value of hats as in the value of any other line of goods in this division in respect to which we have agreed to impose ad valorem duties. Hats included under this item will run from 2s. 6d. apiece to almost any price. The idea of charging an all-round duty of 1s. 4d. each on hats, some of which willbe worth 2s. 6d., and others worth over £1, is so utterly preposterous that I intend 10 suggest a return to an ad valorem duty, and I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 121, paragraph A (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 30 per cent.
Under the old Tariff, the duties imposed were 30 and 20 per cent. ; the duty recommended by the A section of the Tariff Commission was 30 per cent. ; and that by the B section, 15 per cent. Taking into consideration the two rates under the old Tariff and the two rates recommended by the free-trade and protectionist sections of the Tariff . Commission, I submit that in suggesting a duty of 30 per cent. - an increase of 10 per cent. on the old rate in respect of a large proportion of the imports - I am submitting a very moderate rearrangement of the duties proposed in the schedule. It must be clear that in the case of some hats a duty of 16s. per dozen would not amount to anything like 36 per cent. It will be crushing on the poor man and will amount to scarcely anything on the high class of hats. I therefore suggest a moderate rate, a fair compromise between the two rates under the old Tariff and the two recommendations of the Tariff Commission. I am advocating a materially higher duty than the old one, and one with which the Government ought to be satisfied.
– I had intended to move for a request wilh the object of securing a vote on the question whether we shall have ad valorem duties or fixed ‘rates on hats. For that purpose I thought that I might move the omission of the word “ and “ with a view of subsequently moving the omission of all the words after “ and.” At present the duty stands at 16s. per dozen. The duty before an alteration was made in another place was 35 per cent. I am quite willing to allow that duty to stand, because it would operate equally on all sorts of hats, but I am opposed to the fixed rate of 16s. per dozen.* I have before me some particulars showing the cost of importing hats. The cost price in London of one consignment of hats was £.111 3s. Transport and landing charges amounted to £25 7s. od. The actual duty paid was £105 12s. at 16s. per dozen. Those particulars relate to the cheap class of wool hats landed in Melbourne. The gross percentage comes to 120 per cent. The natural protection is about 22J per cent, on hats such as are worn by large ‘ numbers of people, and. which are sold retail from 3s. 6d. to 4s. 6d. The duty upon the cheaper class of hat is actually much higher than on the superior class. That is an anomaly which the Committee should be eager to remedy. Figures before me show that the duty on a 10s. hat at the fixed rate amounts to about 100 per cent., and to only 43 per cent, on a 15s. hat. We ought to have an ad valorem rate so that the higher the quality of the hat the more duty it will pay Another consideration we have to bear in mind is that machinery imported for the hat industry comes in duty free. If it is not protection run mad to charge from 100 to 120 per cent, on the cheaper class of hats and to allow the local industry to import its machinery duty free I do not know what is.
– If the honorable senator wishes to get an ad valorem duty imposed, he will have his opportunity by voting upon Senator Neild’s request, which is for an ad valorem duty of 30 per cent. Of course, if he wishes a lower ad valorem rate than that he will have to ask Senator Neild to withdraw his request.
– I take it that we wish to vote upon two things- first for a reversion to an ed valorem duty and then, for the determination of the ad valorem rate. Any honorable senator who may be in favour of an ad valorem rate of 35 per cent, will vote against the 30 per cent, duty now pro posed. On the other hand, a senator may be in favour of a fixed duty, and he will vote against Senator Neild’s request. Can we not have a vote definitely in the first instance on the question whether we shall substitute an ad valorem for a fixed duty?
– If Senator Neild’s request is agreed to it will be an intimation that the Committee is in favour of an ad valorem instead of a fixed duty. If the Committee rejects that request it will be still open for an honorable senator to move, for an ad valorem duty of 35 or 40 per cent.
– There may be a number of honorable senators who are prepared to vote for a duty of 30 per cent, ad valorem on hats as being in their opinion sufficient protection. For my own part I do not think that that ‘ rate is quite sufficient. Although I am in .favour, of an ad valorem duty, I am not in favour of the 30 per cent. rate.
– Is not that enough?
– It ought to be enough on an article on which the natural protection is from 30 to 35 per cent. But I am prepared to concede that there are special circumstances connected with this industry that justify a higher rate for the purpose of capturing the trade. I certainly shall not, however, vote for a fixed duty. I do not believe in the principle of it. I cannot accede to a principle which applies a duty of 100 per cent, or over to a 4s. hat, whilst it applies a duty of 43 per cent, to a 9s. or 10s. hat, and a duty of 25 per cent. to. a 15s. hat. We are now asked to vote for a duty of 16s. per dozen on every hat that is imported, no matter what the quality or value of it may be. It may be the commonest hat made or it may be one of the very best. As we all know, hats are made in Italy which are invoiced at 10s. a dozen. I am prepared to give the local producers protection against such competition. I should not like to see our workers brought within coo-ee of it. Speaking for myself I should be quite prepared to vote for an ad valorem duty of 40 per cent. What would the effect of such a duty be? It would mean that, taking shipping charges and freight into consideration, the importer would have to pay from 70 to 90 per cent, on the original cost of the article. If that is not sufficient protection for any Australian industry) I say that that industry is a failure, and I speak as a protectionist when I say so. Experts have told me that if there were no increase cif duty whatever the Australian manufacturer would speedily make a cheaper kind of hat’ more suitable for the trade.
– Then the reduction in duties would simply mean inferior goods to the people.
– No, it would mean the local manufacture of a lower grade article for a lower price - giving equal value. Senator Sayers has referred to the cost of importing hats under present conditions. I have inspected an invoice for £113 worth of hats, such as are worn by those whom we are all desirous of protecting, namely, working men. These hats would be retailed at from 3s. 6d. to 4s. each in Melbourne. As a matter of fact they are being retailed at that price to-day. But that £113 worth of hats was called upon to pay duty to the amount of £105.
– Hear, hear.
– Is not that practically giving a monopoly to the local trade ?
– To our own people - yes.
– In addition to the £105 paid in duty, the actual cost of importation - the natural protection - on that £113 worth of stuff was something over £25. The duty, landing charges, and freight together amounted to the extraordinary sum of £132. It is true that the hat industry employs a large number of hands, and pays a high rate, of wages.
– And good dividends.
– I understand that the profits earned in the hat-making industry in Melbourne have been remarkably good.
– Have they usually been 10 per cent. ?
– If the hat manufacturing companies have been able under the old Tariff to pay dividends of 10 per cent., can the honorable senator furnish any logical reason for increasing those duties by 200 per cent, in the case of hats worn bv the poorer classes? Before these fixed duties came into force they could have been imported at a very much lower rate. I am speaking now of hats worn by artisans and labourers and retailed at about 4s. each. What about the hat worn bv the middle-class man - the man who can afford to dress respectably?
– Cannot a working man dress respectably?
– I had in mind the man who can afford to dress more expensively - to pay 9s. each for his hats. He has not to pay upon them a duty of 100 per cent. Hats sold at that price can be and have been made here, but, as a matter of fact, men who can afford to pay such a price are offered a premium lo purchase imported hats, since they are dutiable at only 40 per cent., compared with a duty of 100 per cent, in the case of the inferior articles. Then, again, those who can afford to wear a still better class of hats - Woodrow’s hats retailed at 15s. each - have to pay a duty of only 25 per cent. In other words, we have a duty of 25 per cent, in respect of hats worn by the rich man, a duty df 45 per cent, in regard to hats worn by the man who can afford to pay, and a duty of 100 per cent, on those worn by men who cannot afford to pay a big price for them. This is done in the interests of a petted industry, representatives of which have been able to gain access, not to the Minister of Customs, but to the man who really occupies that office - Sir William Lyne - and to persuade him that we should deal with this item on a plane different from that of others.
– This is the only line in the Tariff, which has Ministerial representation.
– I do not impute any thing of that kind.
– I am imputing nothing ; I am stating what is a fact. I refer to the position of the PostmasterGeneral.
– I thought that the honorable senator was suggesting the possibility of some Minister being personally interested in this duty.
– Heaven forbid ! I am not going to make imputations.
– The Committee is entitled to receive from the VicePresident of the Executive Council an explanation of the reason why he proposes a duty per unit regardless of value in respect of the output of one particular industry, whilst a fixed duty is not imposed upon other manufactures. If a fixed duty ought to be imposed on hats, why should we not have a fixed duty per yard on flannel, per lb. on blankets and other goods? What is the reason for this discrimination? Labour in the production of cheap tweeds, dress materials, and woollens in Europe bears the same relationship to the total cost as does the labour in the manufacture of hats there. Why does not the Minister propose a fixed duty per lb. upon tweeds? Why did he not take the unit as a basis in that case?
– It would have been very much better had he done so.
– It would have been in the opinion of an extreme protectionist like my honorable friend. Such a system of taxation, however, is not protection, but prohibition, and prohibition of the most unfair sort. It does not prohibit the importation of goods worn by the man who can afford to pay, but it imposes a serious embargo upon the importation of hats worn by the poorer class of the community, or upon anything else to which it is applied. The hat industry has come into prominence in many ways since the famous “ Six hatters “ episode, but if there is one fact more than another in relation to it which has been fully establish ed, it is that good wages are paid in it. I happen to know that the standard of wages paid by the Denton Hat Mills Company is practically higher than that paid in any branch of the textile industry.
– A minimum wage of £3 7 s. per week.
– That is the wage paid to journeymen; I am speaking, however, of the wages paid in all branches. I hav e good evidence that the wages paid by the Denton Hat Mills Company-
– And by the Austral and other hat-making firms.
– The wages rank above those paid in kindred occupations in Melbourne. If that be so, in the case of the industry in Melbourne, I am sure that the position is the same in Sydney. I pay that tribute to the hat manufacturers of thee States. That fact, however, does not, to ray mind, justify us in imposing protective duties, as we are doing in this case, at the wrong end. If any honorable senator will satisfy me that a duty of 40 per cent. upon an article, plus a natural protection ofabout 25 per cent. in respect of the cost of importing, making a total of 65 per cent. in favour of the local manufacturer, is not adequate protection, I shall say at once that I know nothing whatever about the question.
– My hon- orable friend, Senator Mulcahy, has de- livered a sensational sort of speech essentially in the interests of the poorer classes of the community. The design and object of this Tariff is to protect that class. We have, first of all, to bear in mind that the hat industry with which we are now dealing is one of the best and healthiest that we have ; that its chief raw materials - wool and rabbit furs - are obtained on the spot, and that what is sought to be done by the Tariff is to recognise conditions as we find them. The honorable senator himself furnished the very reason why there should be a fixed duty, as we propose. He has told us that hats invoiced down as low as 10s. per dozen are being imported from Italy, and he expects the industry here to pay good wages - he admits that it pays the best of wages- to flourish and prosper while exposed to the competition of the products of sweated labour from abroadthe rubbishy hats imported into Australia at an invoiced price of 10s. per dozen.
– The honorable senator is unintentionally misrepresenting me. I said that hats made in Italy were invoiced as low as 10s. per dozen ; I did not say that they were being imported into Australia.
– But I say that they are. We have to recognise as a fact that there are huge importations of the rubbishy hats to which my honorable friend refers.
– My honorable friend, in this as in several other matters, pits his own knowledge against the whole of the expert knowledge of the Department.
– Does the honorable senator accept the statement of the Department as against the invoices?
– Those who are dealing with this matter every day, and having goods of this class coming under their notice, cannot but realize that a great injustice is being done to our own people by the rubbish, from Italy and other places, which is dumped from time to time into Australia. The very object of the fixed duty is that practically all these lowerpriced hats - all the rubbishy hats to which my honorablefriend has referred, and which come into competition with our own productions - shall be subject to almost prohibitive imposts. It may be perfectly true that, in respect of hats invoiced at 10s. or 12s. per dozen, duties ranging as high as 100 or110 per cent. are imposed. Such duties are imposed because, in the first place, we do not want that class of goods, and, secondly, because those who wear the poorer class of hats can be, and are, better served by our own manufacturers. We impose a fixed duty of 16s. per dozen to prevent the importation of these lower-class hats, and to give our own productions a reasonable chance. I appeal to honorable senators to say how it is possible for our manufacturers to compete, in the absence of a fixed and almost prohibitive duty, with the class of hats to which reference has been made. Every importation of the kind comes into unfair competition, and tends to drag down the wages of our own people.
– The honorable senator is now making a sensational speech.
– The honorable senator does not altogether appreciate these facts. The value of the importations from abroad during the last few years have been as follows: - 1903, £315,900; 19047 £342,700; 1905, £349-300; and 1906; £369,56* . These figures bear eloquent testimony to the fact that a duty of 30 per cent, is ineffective. Importations have been gradually increasing. I hope that I have made it clear that we require a fixed duty. I am more or less in sympathy with the contention raised by Senator Sayers and Senator Mulcahy as to the duties on the better class of hats. I admit that the Tariff, -as it stands, imposes upon the lower class of hats, which the poorer class of the community here really do not require, a high duty, which gradually becomes less as it is applied to the more expensive varieties, and I may relieve the mind of Senator .Mulcahy, who is prepared to support a’ duty of 40 per cent., by telling him that I have already been consulted as to a request that a duty of 16s. per dozen or of 35 per cent, ad valorem, whichever is the higher rate, shall be imposed on the more expensive classes. I gladly give my assent to that proposition.
– Everything to get the higher duty.
– Everything for the purpose of making the duties as equitable as possible.
– Does the honorable senator think that that relieves my mind?
– It -should, since my honorable friend was much concerned about the comparatively low duties on the higherprice goods.
– I was concerned at the higher priced article not .being charged sufficient.
– Very well, I will put the matter in that way. I can assure my honorable friend that that error is about to be rectified.
– Not rectified, but minimized.
– The error is about to be rectified. In the first place, the fixed duty of 16s. per .dozen will operate only in the case of the lower class of hats. In regard to the higher priced goods, Senator Mulcahy’s mind will be relieved by a proposal which will be submitted by Senator Trenwith to charge 16s. per dozen, or as an alternative an ad valorem rate of 35 per cent., whichever returns the larger revenue.
– And still he is not satisfied.
– It is only fair to recognise that Senator Mulcahy is not satisfied because of the modesty of Senator Trenwith. The latter intends to propose the imposition of a duty of only 35 per cent., whereas Senator Mulcahy advocates a 40 per cent. rate.
– I do not. I said that I would agree to the imposition of an all round duty of 40 per cent., which is quite a different proposition.
– Did not the honorable senator intend to apply the 40 per cent, duty to the higher class of hats?
– If the honorable senator cannot get all he desires, surely he will recognise that half a loaf is better than no bread. We propose to give him-
– I will vote for a 40 per cent, duty if Senator Mulcahy submits an amendment upon my proposal to that effect.
– And he will meet with no opposition from me.
– Make it 60 per cent.
– If Senator Macfarlane will propose a duty of 60 per cent. I will consider it. The hat industry in one of our healthiest industries. It pays splendid wages, and I can assure my honorable friend that it produces excellent hats for that particular section of the community about which he is so concerned - the humbler classes.
– They will have to pay through the nose for their hats.
– Mv honorable friend has suggested a hypothetical case, in which the consumer will be called upon to pay 100 per cent. by way of duty. But, as a matter of fact, if we impose a fixed duty of 1 6s. per dozen upon hats, we shall not be troubled with those huge importations of rubbish which have hitherto come into competition with our own productions.
– I stated that I would support a duty of 35 per cent.
– The honorable senator will be afforded an opportunity of doing so. In view of the character of the industry, I hope that the reasonable proposal which appears in the schedule, and which is to be supplemented in the way I have indicated, will commend itself to the good sense of the Committee.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has endeavoured to make it appear that the proposed substitution of an alternative form of taxation will meet the objection which has been raised by Senator Mulcahy. It will do nothing of the kind. Under certain circumstances it will mean morerevenue to the Customs, but the gross anomaly to which Senator Mulcahy directed attention will still exist. What are we asked to do by the VicePresident of the Executive Council ? We are asked to impose upon hats an ad valorem duty of 35 per cent., or a fixed duty of 1 6s. per dozen, whichever returns the larger revenue. Senator Mulcahy ‘s objection was that a fixed duty of 16s. per dozen would be a crushing impost upon the lower class of hats which are used by the poorer sections of the community, while it would be relatively a lighter charge upon the higher priced hats which are used by the wealthy classes. Let me put a concrete instance : Under this proposal hats valued at 16s. per dozen will be called uponto pay 16s. duty, because under a 35 per cent. rate they would contribute only 5s. 6d. The Vice-President of the Executive Council does not propose to lessen the taxation upon the cheaper class of hats. He intends that they shall still pay 16s. per dozen.
– They should not come here at all.
– By imposing this high measure of protection upon hats we shall enable Australian manufacturers to keep up their prices to the level of the imported article plus the duty.
– What about internal competition?
– I am surprised that anybody should venture to suggest internal competition as a means of reducing prices, seeing that we are living in an atmosphere of combines and trusts.
– In Sydney.
– They exist all over Australia, and no party professes more opposition to them than does the Labour Party. Yet when they get close to than in practice they shrink from applying the only remedy within our power.
– Canthe honorable senator supply us with any evidence of the existence of a trust in the hat trade?
– Day after day during the present session I brought before the Government facts which suggest the existence of a trust. They promised to inquire into them, and I presume that they are still endeavouring to probe the matter.
– I asked the honorable senator whether a trust existed in the hat trade.
– If no combination exists in that trade to-day, it will not be long - as matters are developing - before one does exist.
– We can deal with it when it has been created.
– Then why does not the party to which the honorable member belongs deal with the combines already in existence? I wish to show honorable senators at what stage in the rising value of hats the proposal of the Government will begin to take effect. Upon hats valued at 1 6s. per dozen, an ad valorem duty of 35 percent. would amount to 5s. 6d. The Government propose that these goods shall be dutiable at 16s. Upon hats worth 32s. per dozen the duty would still be 1 6s., because the ad valorem rate would only be equivalent to11s., and the higher duty would be collected. Upon hats valued at 48s. per dozen an ad valorem rate of 35 per cent. would be 16s. 6d. It is only when we reach that stage that the alternative proposal of an ad valorem duty will begin to operate. All hats the import value of which is below 48s. per dozen will be required to pay a duty of 16s. per dozen. Thus the great majority of the hats used by the poorer classes of the community will be called upon to contribute the higher rate, namely, 16s.a dozen.
– They will not. The people will wear Australian-made hats.
– Senator Findley is the last individual in this Chamber who should make that interjection, because when he was battling for free-trade the other day, and I asked him whether the duty then under consideration would or would not have the effect of lowering prices, he merely smiled.
– What was the item upon which I battled for free-trade? I battled for the free admission of goods which cannot be made in the Commonwealth, and in doing so I was consistent.
– The honorable senator, I admit, has been fairly consistent - perhaps as consistent as one can be in dealing with a Tariff like this. The proposal of the Vice-President of the Executive Council will in no sense lessen the heavy duty which will be imposed on the lower class of hats imported, although it may have the effect of causing a larger revenue to be collected upon the higher class. The honorable senator has’ affirmed that the hat industry is one of the healthiest in the Commonwealth, and that it is paying the highest wages. I believe that the statement is correct, and I am glad to hear it. But that statement does not justify the present demand for higher duties. If the industry had been in an unhealthy condition, the Vice-President of the Executive Council would have had better grounds upon which to rest his case. But he has told us that under the operation of previous duties of 30 per cent. and 20 per cent, the industry had become healthy, and was in a position to pay the best wages. If that be so, why are higher duties required? Surely we are entitled to some reason in this connexion before we levy an additional impost. The very’ statement of the Minister absolutely destroys any claim which might otherwise have been made for an increased measure of protection. Assuming that the industry is a healthy one, let me remind him that not a single representative of the largest hat establishments in Sydney and Melbourne took the trouble to appear before the Tariff Commission. Why? Have the Victorian manufacturers shown themselves shy about asking for more protection? Have they ever hesitated to make it appear, either by petition or by deputation, or by means of lobbying, that they were entitled to further consideration? Nevertheless the fact remains that in the two largest States of the Commonwealth the representatives of the biggest factories religiously abstained from presenting themselves for examination. Why ? There is only one explanation possible, and it is that if subjected to cross-examination they feared that they might disclose the fact that their industry already was too highly protected. As they have declined to give information which would have been of value, I propose to present a little to the Committee. From the figures which are available in respect of three of the States, I find that there has been. a steady advance in the industry from -the stand-point of the number of hands employed, the wages paid, and the plant in use.- In Victoria the number of hands increased between 1899 and 1905 from 896 to 1047. In 1899, Victoria sent only £5,900 worth of hats into the other States, whereas last year she sent £46,000 worth. It is a pleasing and startling fact that Victoria managed, in five years, to multiply her exports of hats to other States by from eight to nine times. Could an industry want more? I find in New South Wales evidence of the same gratifying progress. That State had, in 1899, -five factories, with plant worth £4,000, and employing 184 hands. In 1905 the number of factories had jumped to twenty-seven, and of hands to 918. I have not the figures showing the value of the plant for that year, but I have them for 1904, when it was £26.000, so that the plant had multiplied nearly seven times in five years.
– And, in face of all that evidence, the honorable senator is still a free-trader !
– In face of all that, and because of all that, I resent the attempt to place a high tax upon those who have to buy the commodities turned out in those factories. Neither I nor any other free-trader has denied that if a sufficiently high duty is imposed an industry wil spring up. The point is whether you do not pay too highly for the advantage secured.
– Can the honorable senator show how we have paid too highly i
– You are paying too highly for a thing when you could buy it for a lower price. As it is quite clear that that splendid advance has been obtained with duties of from 20 to 30 per cent., there is no justification for, or commonsense iri, raising the duty to 100’ per cent., as the Government now propose.
– Has the honorable senator any evidence showing the price of hats for those two periods?
– I have evidence from an authority which no one in this Chamber will venture to dispute. I shall give it presently. In 1899 Queensland had three factories, with plant worth£5,290, and twenty-seven hands employed. In 1904 she had six factories, with plant worth £12,621, and 128 hands employed. Putting the figures for the three States together, I find that the hands increased from 1,100 to 2,093, or practically doubled in five years. No wonder the Minister says that this is one of the healthiest industries, paying the best wages. Seeing that in every way we view the. industry there is evidence of satisfactory substantial and sound progress, what justification is there for still further increasing the duty?
– The £400,000 worth of importations is the justification.
– The increase of imports was ridiculously small compared with the increase in theoutput of the factories. That increase of importation will always take place when a country enters upon a period of prosperity, bringing “ a sudden increase of purchasing power, and of the demand for these commodities. It is not possible for the mills to extend their operations suddenly, and supply that demand. It takes time to do it. But there is evidence from those figures that the mills are steadily enlarging their plant, adding to the number of hands employed, and overtaking the local market. Grouping together the different kinds of hats shown in the official statistics under the names of felt, sewn, dress, and n.e.i., the imports in 1903 were, in round figures, £314,000 worth, and in 1905 £363,000 worth - an increase of £49,000, or 15½ per cent. What, on the other hand, was the increase in the output of the local factories? There is only one way in which I have been able to ascertain that. I have been able to discover no information showing that output, but there is a very simple way of judging what the operations of the factories were. It may be safely assumed that, having doubled their hands, they have doubled their output. With superior plant and double the hands working it, if the industry is to be carried on profitably, it must turn out at least double what it did previously. Therefore, on thatsimple showing, there was an increase of100 per cent. in the local manufactures, as against the 15½ per cent. increase in the importations. There is another way of checking the expansion of the local trade. Statistics show that the value of the large number of minor articles imported for use in the hatmaking industry increased from £55,000 in 1903 to £100,000 in 1905 - an increase of £45,000, or, approximately, 80 per cent. The factories would not have gone on year after year steadily swelling their imports and purchases of those minor articles until the increase reached 80 per cent., unless they were also turning out a larger quantity of completed goods. Those facts are substantial proof that the industry has advanced very much more rapidly than, and out of all proportion to the increase in, the imports. Honorable senators may say that there are still imports, but, no matter what duty is imposed, local manufacturers cannot overtake the imports in a day or a month, or even a year. It takes some time to develop a local industry. All that protectionists can ask is that the measure of protection given shall be sufficient to enable the local factories, by steady - or, if they like, by rapid - strides, to overtake the requirements of the people. The history of the last five years shows that the measure of protection given has been ample for that, and that the local factories are rapidly beating the importer clean out of the market. Senator de Largie asked me if I could give the prices of hats for the two periods I quoted.
– In order to show the tax which you say we are putting on the people.
– I need only turn to the Tariff to show the amount of that tax. The honorable senator can also find it in the evidence given before the Tariff Commission. It was then made quite clear that when an imported article came in at a certain price the local article, which pays no duty, was placed on the market within a penny or two of the same price.
-Put it the other way round - that the imported hat was placed on the market at a penny or two more than the local article, instead of the shilling or two more which would have been charged if there was no local article.
– That is not correct, because one of the complainants before the Commission pointed out that,as the imported hat wassold at a certain figure, he had to sell under it. It was the importation that was keeping his price down. Had the duty been higher, the price of the imported: article would necessarily have been higher, and, on his own showing, that witness would then have increased the price of his own commodity up to just below that at which the imported article could be landed.
– Does the consumer pay the whole of the 35 per cent, of the duty?
– Yes, and a great deal more under a fixed duty.
– Then, if the consumerpays the whole of the duty,, why worry about giving preference to Great Britain? ‘
– The honorable senator’s mind must be in a constant state of turmoil, because whenever one wants to discuss the south pole he asks, “ What about the north pole ?” I am not discussing the question of preference. Why is the honorable senator so anxious to knock preference on the head?
– I have voted for preference when the honorable senator has not.
– The honorable senator has taken a very active part in trying to knock out preference whenever he saw it.
– Especially when an Australian industry was concerned.
– Say, rather, when a British industry was likely to be benefited.
– Why worry about preference if the honorable senator believes that the English exporter does not pay any share of the Australian import duty ?
– I am showing that he does bear it. The ‘ lower the duty is made, the less is the burden. One of the reasons why I support preferential duties is that they are lower than the others.
– The honorable, senator says that the consumer bears the whole burden of the duty.
– It is the consumer I am thinking of, but of whom the honorable senator never thinks. I said previously that I would give the price of some hats and the rate of duty, worked out on them, according to an authority which I did not think any honorable senator would venture to question. When the Tariff was before us six years ago the late Sir Frederick Sargood published in the newspapers a list of the various grades of stock hats which formed the great bulk of the imports, giving their prices and showing the rates at which the duty worked out. It may be said that prices have altered since that day, but that does not materially affect the percentage represented by the duty proposed to be’ charged. Even if the price has risen a shilling or two per dozen, the percentage of duty may be slightly different, but the argument will not be marterially affected. Applying the proposal in this schedule - and it will.be much worse if the proposal now fathered by the Government is agreed to - to Sir Frederick Sa’rgood’s figures, I get the following results : - Men’s wool felt hats, invoice value, 8s. 6d. per dozen; duty proposed, 16s. per dozen, representing 188 per cent, (general Tariff) and 12s. per dozen, representing 141 per cent. (United Kingdom). I shall not give all the- grades of value set out by the late Sir Frederick Sargood, but will take them by easy- stages, thus: hats, 12s. -per dozen, duty 16s. per dozen represents 133 J per cent. ; hats, at 18s. a dozen, duty represents 88§ per cent.; hats, at 21s. a dozen, 76 per cent.; 24s. a dozen, 66 per cent.; and -31s. a dozen, 51J per cent. If I turn to boys’ wool felt hats, I get something even more startling. These figures are not mine ; they were compiled by the late Sir Frederick Sargood, from invoices in his own warehouse.
– They are calculations on values, which any one could make.
– It would appear that not many have made them. On boys’ hats valued at 6s. per dozen, the fixed duty is equivalent to an ad valorem rate of 266- per cent.
– It is not enough.
– Would the Minister dare to tell the working classes of Australia that they must pay 266 per cent, on the cheap hats which they buy for their children ?
– Sir Frederick Sargood had to close his New Zealand factory for want of adequate protection.
– That is so.
– I am confident that neither Senator Trenwith nor Senator Findley knows ‘why this large firm closed that branch of its establishment. On boys’ hats valued at 9s. per dozen, the rate is equivalent to 178 per cent., and on boys’ hats valued at 18s. per dozen, to 88 per cent. I could give similar information in regard to other makes of hats, but I do not wish to unduly detain the Committee. The figures a.ll point the moral that fixed duties fall- with crushing weight on those whose poverty forces them to buy cheap articles, whilst those who can afford to buy dear articles contribute very little to the revenue.
– There are fixed duties all over the world.
– And there are no faked invoices with them.
– The honorable senator did not know the late Sir Frederick Sargood. Had he knownhim, he would not have made that suggestion about faked invoices.
– The honorable senator has no right to connect my interjection with the late Sir Frederick Sargood. It is like his trickiness of the other day in making it appear that an interjection regarding a 15 per cent. duty had to do with a 15 per cent. dividend paid by the Ballarat Woollen Mills.
– When I was speaking of the 15 per cent duty paid by the Ballarat Woollen Mills, the honorable senator asked was 15 per cent. too much. The only invoices in my mind are those on which Sir Frederick Sargood based his calculations.
– And the invoices in Senator Lynch’s mind were the faked invoices which we all know of.
– Of course, if Senator Lynch says that his interjection was not meant to carry the suggestion which I have attached to it, I accept his explanation.
– No one who knew the late Sir Frederick Sargood would make any suggestion of that kind.
– I spoke of faked invoices in connexion with ad valorem duties, and Senator Millen had no right to connect my interjectionwith the late Sir Frederick Sargood.
– I have shown that the local hat making industry is in a flourishing condition, and is expanding. Its output has practically doubled, while in five years the importation has increased by only 15 per cent. What justification is there then for an increase of duty ? Furthermore, I ask honorable senators why should not ad valorem duties be imposed instead of fixed duties?
– What ad valorem rate would the honorable senator suggest?
– I am not a believer in duties, and therefore make no proposal ; but I saythat the honorable senator is afraid to propose ad valorem rates equivalent to the fixed rates.
– We desire effective protection. The Tariff speaks for itself.
– Ministers would not have the courage to state plainly in the schedule the ad valorem equivalents of the fixed rate. My contention is that, by the adoption of fixed rates, the poorer sections of the community are heavily taxed, while those who can afford to buy an expensive article get off lightly. With ad valorem rates, the more money a man has to spend, the more he contributes to the revenue.
– But the fixed rates prevent dishonesty.
– I believe in the capacity and ingenuity of the departmental officers to prevent evasions of duty. It is idle to say that only in that industry are rogues to be found, prepared to present what Senator Lynch has called “ faked “ invoices.
– Does the honorable senator advocate the importation of sixpenny hats ?
– I am not advocating the importation of anything.
– But that is the whole basis of the honorable senator’s argument.
– Is SenatorBest advocating the manufacture of sixpenny hats?
– And I am not advocating the importationof any kind of hats; and the question of the honorable senator has nothing todo with my argument. All I say is that the duties represent a monstrous impost, which enables the local manufacturer to keep prices up as high as he chooses. Although we were told by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in introducing the Tariff, that all he desired was sufficient protection to equalize conditions, with, perhaps, a little over in favour of Australia. WhatI desire is sufficient protection to give the manufacturer the market, accompanied, however, by a warning that if he raises his prices too high, and thus seeks to fleece the public, the importer will step in.
– We now have the manufacturer to step in, and that is better.
– Blind as Senator Trenwith is to the faults of manufacturers, he must know that “ working arrangements,” combines, and trusts, are rampant in Australia.
– I have discovered combinations in connexion with importers, but not in connexion with manufacturers.
– Let me refer the honorable senator to an admission made by the Prime Minister.
– What about the confectionery combine ?
-That is the very industry in connexion with which the Prime Minister admitted there was a combine. If there be no such thing as a trust or arrangement in connexion with the confectionery industry, why the veiled remark of the Minister the other day that it was not advisable in the public interest for the Government to disclose what they were doing in the matter? I accepted that statement, and have since refrained from putting any questions in regard to the matter; because, if the statement meant anything, it meant that the Government were getting information, but that it was not advisable for the peopleoutside to know what the officials were doing. What is the good of the Vice-President of the Executive Council asking us to put forward a proposition when he tells us beforehand that he will not consider it? Personally, I would much rather see an increase in the ad valorem duty than the fixed duty as now proposed.
– The question which appeals to me is whether this Australian industry can compete, in view of importations from abroad ; andI have come to the deliberate conclusion that it cannot under existing conditions.
– The Minister says that the industry is healthy now.
– I am not concerned at present with what the Minister has said ; I am simply trying to give the Committee the benefit of my investigations. Evenadmitting for a moment that the Minister’s statement is correct, I contend that the industry ought to be in a more healthy condition ; and by my vote I intend to make its health more vigorous. Another point that appeals to me is the difference between the wages paid to the employes in Europe, and those paid to the employes in Australia - a point I notice that Senator Millen religiously avoided. The wages paid in Italy vary from 15s. to 25s. per week of sixty or seventy hours, as compared with £3 7s. 6d. for a week offorty-eight hours in Australia. In view of these figures the vast difference in the cost of manufacture will be at once realized. I have in my hand a document fromwhich I gather that in England, the country to which we propose to give preference, the conditions, so far as wages and hours of labour are concerned, are very little better than those obtaining in Italy, and a few figures will make the matter clear. The cost of producing a dozen hard felt hats here, without yielding any profitto the manufacturer, is £2 18s., whilst in England they can be got f.o.b., including the manufacturer’s profit, at £1 14s. The cost of producing a dozen soft felt hats here, without giving any profit to the manufacturer, is £3, while in England they can be got f.o.b., including the manufacturer’s profit, at £2. The facts all go to prove that the conditions under which the local industry has to struggle are such that it cannot compete successfully with the importations unless it gets effective protection. I did not consider that the old duty was effectively protective, nordo I think that the proposed duty will be. In 1906, under duties of 30 and 20 per cent., we imported these articles to the value of £369,561, which yielded a revenue of £19,021. In the course of his very interesting address, Senator Millen said that no manufacturers had ever complained of the duty, and thatnot one of them had gone beforethe Tariff Commission.
– None from Victoria and New South Wales, I said.
– There is a Victorian manufacturer’s statement given here.
– I do not know which report the honorable senator has been reading, but I notice in the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission that manufacturers, warehousemen, and employés were examined.
– Oh, any number of employés gave evidence.
– And manufacturers, too.
– There was no manufacturer from a large factory who gave evidence.
– The honorable senator is now qualifying his original statement.
– No; the only manufacturer who gave evidence was a man who makes a few dress hats.
– In their report, the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission say -
Under the protection afforded by the State duty, the felt hat industry prospered satisfactorily. The Victorian duty, whilst it allowed many hats to come in, at the same time gave the local manufacturers the control of the Victorian market, and enabled them to keep their hands fully employed.
As a member of the Labour Party, I am not so much concerned with the manufacturer or the importer as Senator Millen would think. I am particularly concerned with those who are earning their bread and butter in the industry.
– The honorable senator does not seem to trouble about the poor man who has to wear a hat.
– I wish that the honorable senator had always been so solicitous about the poor man. When he does not agree with the duty on any item, he always trots out the cry of the poor man or the poor washerwoman. In the . past, the employes in the hat-making industry in Victoria, and in other places where it is carried on, have had casual employment. They have not been sure of getting constant work - at least, a great many of them have not. Seventy-five per cent, of the hats have been coming in-
– Seventy-five per cent, of what hats?
– I am taking the whole item - hats, caps, and bonnets.
– Which are imported ?
– Yes. In the past the employes in- this industry have been walking about the streets, but if it had been effectively protected they would have had more constant, if not full, employment.
– They have doubled the number of hands in the factories. If the honorable senator will look at page 167 of the Blue-book he will see that I was justified in stating that not one of the manufacturers went before the Tariff Commission.
– The honorable senator is quoting from the report of the free-trade section.
– What I said was that no representative of the large factories appeared before the Tariff Commission.
– The honorable senator is now falling back upon a quibble. In order to prove my arguments, I will read the following quotation from the report of the. protectionist section of the Tariff Commission -
The hats already competing with the Australianmade articles were two extremes (r) very low priced Italians which came into this market very largely; (2) a better class of Italian hats known as “ Bors’ linos,” a very good article made of fur. The high class imports had chiefly affected the Denton Mills, while the low class had prejudiced the other mills. The high class of imports included fur frames, soft hats, and all colours of Italian make. In hard hats the competition came from England under wellknown names. (Poulter). These goods, it was stated, could undersell the Victorian-made hats.
The report quotes the following passages from Mr. Poulter’s evidence -
How is that ?= - Because including freight charges they can put their goods on this market at a lower price than we can put ours.
– Senator Trenwith says that the local manufacturers put them on the market more cheaply.
– We may be able to do that in the future -
Does that mean that the cost of production in the exporting country is less -than it is here? - It is due to that to a large extent, and to the materials they use, as well as to the hours of labour worked.
You therefore consider that an equalizing duty is necessary ? - I do.
Was the old Victorian duty of that character? - The old Victorian duty, while it allowed many hats to come in, at the same time gave the local manufacturer the control of this market, and could keep our hands fully employed.
The two points I want to make are, ‘first, that the industry is not progressing and is not as healthy as it ought to be.
– What is the honorable senator’s idea of what it ought to be?
– I should like to see our factories in a position not only to make all the hats required to be worn by Australians, but also to export Australianmade hats to Europe, instead of importing hats made by Europeans under conditions which Australians would not tolerate.
– Does the honorable senator advocate sending hats to Europe? He has just said that in Europe the manufacturers make hats under such conditions as to hours and wages that we cannot hope to compete with them.
– Not under present conditions. The honorable senator, in his usual style, is endeavouring to draw a red-herring across the trail. I have made my position plain. I hold that under the new Tariff we will not be able to compete successfully with European-made articles. I want to increase the proposed duty, in -order, not only to give effective protection to the manufacturers, but also to insure a fair and reasonable wage to the employes with constant employment.
Senate adjourned at 4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 February 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080221_senate_3_43/>.