3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have no comment to make on the subject.
Senater STEWART.- Is the Government responsible for every utterance of individual Ministers, and, if so, is it also responsible for the utterances of each individual member of the Senate and House of Representatives ?
– I can only say in this connexion that I am not my brother’s keeper.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
In view of the statement made in the Senate on 12th February regarding contracts for matches, what steps, if any, are the Government taking for the protection of the people of the Commonwealth ?
– The matter is forming the subject of inquiry by the Department of. Trade and Customs.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
What is the basis upon which such estimate is arrived at, having particular regard to -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
– Then how is it that the newspapers have been supplied with the information by the Treasury officials?
– I should be surprised to learn that they have been so supplied. The honorable senator must be aware that in the Blue Books, published in connexion with this matter, certain facts transpiring at the Conference in London are made known, and, no doubt, the newspapers have availed themselves of the information.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 21st February, vide page 8308):
Division V. - Textiles, Felts and Furs, and Manufactures thereof, and Attire -
Postponed item 121. Hats, Caps, and Bonnets -
Upon which Senator Colonel Neild had moved - ‘
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.
.- I feel sure that, the Committee will not accept the request which has been moved, and I think I should not have risen to speak at this stage were it not for the fact that on Friday afternoon Senator Millen worked himself into a state of frenzy in an . effort to prove, from his point of view, that high duties mean increased burdens on the consumers. The facts and figures are against the honorable senator in respect of hats, and of almost every other item in the schedule. Prior to the imposition of what might be considered protectionist duties in Victoria, imported hats of inferior quality, as compared with the locally-manufactured article, brought much higher prices than are being realised by imported hats of similar quality to-day. As a matter of fact, the establishment of the Denton Hat Mills at Abbotsford has led to an improvement in the quality of the hats sold to the public, and also to a considerable reduction in the price. Recently, in Western Australia, the importers, particularly of English hats, were asking for and receiving higher prices for their hats than they asked for or received for the same goods in Victoria, the reason being that there is no hat factory in Western Australia, whilst in Victoria the importers have a ‘very important competitor in the Denton Hat Mills. Senator Millen referred to some remarks made in this Chamber by the late Sir Frederick Sargood, and I ask the honorable senator to listen for a moment towhatI have to say with respect to the remarks quoted’. The late Sir Frederick Sargood,. in the speech to which Senator Millen referred, claimed that he was largely interested in the hat business in New Zealand, and that in that Colony the duties imposed on hats were much lower than those proposed in the Commonwealth Tariff, whilst the local industry there was in a flourishing state. According to the Federal Hansard of 8th May,1902, page12405, the late Sir Frederick Sargood said -
In passing, I may say that while the duty in Victoria has been up to 160 per cent., the duty in New Zealand has never been more than221/2 per cent., and yet the factories there are doing well. I may add that my firm has just established a very large felt hat factory in New Zealand under the 221/2per cent. duty.
It is true that at the time referred to a hat factory was established in New Zealand, mainly by the late Sir Frederick Sargood, but it is not true that at that time, or at any period in its history, the factory was in a flourishing state.
– Is thatwhy the factory was started, because the industry was not in a flourishing condition?
SenatorFINDLEY. - It was started, probably, in the belief that with the measure of protection represented by a duty of 221/2 per cent., it would be possible.to establish a profitable business. But after the factory had been established only a short while, those interested in it were convinced that the duty was inadequate. Because of the insufficiency of the protection afforded, the factory had a struggling existence and remained for a period of only about six years. As a matter of fact, the inadequacy of the protection afforded by a duty of 221/2 per cent., absolutely killedthe hat manu”facturing industry in New Zealand. I am prepared to prove that by a reference to statements appearing in the columns of the Otago Daily Times of 28th February,
– That the closing of the factory was due to the insufficiency of the protection afforded ?
– I say that in my opinion, it was the insufficiency of the protection afforded which brought about the closing down of the factory which was established, as the late Sir Frederick Sargood said, under a 221/2 per cent. duty. In the Otago Daily Times of 20th February, 1907, I find the following: -
The industrial dispute between the Otago Felt Hatters Union and the Felt Hat Manufacturers of Dunedin was proceeded with in the Arbitration Court at Dunedin. Mr. Scott appeared for the D.H.M. Ltd., Ross and Glendenning, and the Otago Felt Hat Coy. (Messrs. Sargood’s). Mr. W. Scott said “that this was a case which should never have been brought before the Court, and certainly not at the present time. Thousands of pounds had been spent and lost in endeavouring to develop the felt hat making industry, which should have been one of the foremost in the colony. That the industry had been disastrous to the employers was shown by the fact that the mill in Auckland had to be shut down. In Wellington he would be surprised to hear that there were three men engaged ; and in Dunedin, the largest factory (Messrs. Sargood’s), had practically closed its doors, and of the other two mills one had never declared a dividend, and had not got anything like the number of men employed to-day theyonce had, and the other had not declared a dividend for three years. Fifty per cent. of themen who had been engaged in the trade had had to leave New Zealand. The Union had taken a time when the bottom had fallen out of the industry to come to the Court and endeavour to tie the employers down to rates of payment and conditions of labour that wouldonly be justified were the business on a sound financial basis and thoroughly established.”
This gentleman, who I assume wassolicitor for the employers before the Arbitration Court, said, in effect, that if the business had been thoroughly established, and on a sound financial basis, there might have been more justification for the union hatters’ application to the Court for better rates of payment and conditions of labour. This statement, as will be observed, was made in 1907, five years after the time when the late Sir Frederick Sargood stated in this
Chamber that the business had been thoroughly established under a 22J per cent, duty. I shall not weary the Committee by going into figures and details in- connexion with this industry. It is sufficient for me to know that whilst it is in a better state to-day than perhaps was the case some years ago, there are numbers of hatters in Victoria and New South Wales who find only partial employment during each year, and at the same time Customs statistics and official figures prove that over a very considerable period our importations of hats have been on the increase. I wish to cut. the importations down as much as I possibly .can. Personally I do not care how high are the duties we impose for the protection of this industry. From my point of view the higher they are the better and the greater . the advantages to the Commonwealth.
– Would the honorable senator prohibit the importation of hats ?
– As I have more than once said, it would be impossible to bring about absolute prohibition of importations. I am satisfied that no matter how high the duty may be,’ the wearers of ‘ hats will not be in any way disadvantaged.
– How does the honorable senator reconcile that with Senator Needham’s statement on Friday, that, ewing to the low wages and long hours of work in Italy, they could land hats here at half the cost of production in this country ?
– There is a certain amount of truth in that. Owing to the small wages which the Italian workmen receive, and the long hours they work, those who are interested in the importation of such hats could land them in Australia cheaper than they could be manufactured in any one of the States. Anterior tq the establishment of hat factories in Australia, imported hats, notwithstanding these low conditions from a labour view point, were retailed at a higher price than is the case to-day. The absence of local competition always gave the importers a better opportunity of exacting a higher price from the wearers of hats than is. now the case when we have the competition of the local industry. Not only in this, but in connexion with every other protected industry, it can be shown conclusively that the establishment of local manufactures has had the effect of reducing the price of commodities, and has, in all cases, as far as I am aware, improved the quality of the goods. I know that the opinion which I hold in respect of these duties is shared by every protectionist in the Senate; and, for reasons which I have given, I do not care how high the duty is made.
– I indicated on Friday that when the request now before the Committee was disposed of I should move to request the House of Representatives to add the words “or 35 Per cent., whichever returns the higher duty.” Three or four objections have been raised to the proposal at present before us. First of all, the fixed duty has been objected to on the ground that it is inequitable, and also because it is applied to this item ‘differently than to others. That there is no force in that objection can be seen . at once by referring to the schedule, in which there are quite a number of fixed duties. We have already passed duties per lb., duties per cental, and other forms of fixed duties.
– But in the case of the duties per cental the value of the article upon which they are imposed does not vary. ‘
– It does, though it may not vary in the same degree.
– Not on the one day ; that is to say, if rice is imported to-day the value is the same all round.
– But there is rice and rice, just as there -is starch and starch. They are not all of the same quality. They do vary, though not, of course, in the ‘ degree that the quality of hats varies.But the- argument that we are treating this item differently from others is not effective, because it is not correct. Fixed duties are not at all novel. In the United States of America, which may be said to be the pattern protectionist country of the world, fixed duties are the rule. It is an exception to see a variation from them; whilst fixed and ad valorem . duties together are very numerous. The same applies to France, and other protectionist countries. A fixedduty is pre-eminently a wise one from a protectionist point of view.
– Why not have it on boots then?
– We had a fixed duty of 5s. per pair on boots in Victoria.
– I hope that was high enough !
– It was. We also had a duty of 3s. each on Rats. A fixed duty is pre-eminently a wise one from the protectionist point of view, for the reason that it is a high and heavy duty on common and easily manufactured articles, whilst it is comparatively a slight duty on articles which are ‘more difficult to manufacture. Therefore, a fixed duty has the effect of giving to a new industry absolute control over the trade in that particular line that it is at first capable of contending with.-
– Why should we not encourage the manufacture of the better class of goods?
– All new beginners at anything do the least difficult parts first. Therefore it is well to give those who embark upon a new industry control over that portion of the trade with which they are quite capable of dealing.
– Give them prohibition.
– If the honorable senator likes. I see no offence in the term prohibition, as applied to goods which we can produce, and that are natural to us. It has been urged that this is a heavy tax upon the poorer classes of the community. In pursuance of that argument Senator Millen, on Friday, said that the duty ‘had the effect of enabling the local manufacturer to charge for his goods as much as the importer charges, plus the duty. If that were so, his argument that this is a tax upon the poorer sections ot the community would have great force. But fortunately the facts disprove that statement. As I pointed out to Senator Millen just now, in response to his interjection, we had for some years in Victoria a duty of 3s. per hat, or 36s. per dozen. If his argument were correct, no Aus.tralianmade hats would have been sold except at a penny or two less than the importers would have sold them, plus the duty. Certainly no Australian-made hats could have been sold for less than 3s. per hat if the duty were 3s. But as a matter of fact, during that period I myself bought Australian-made felt hats for my own boys for is. 6d. each. The regular price retail was is. 6d. each when the duty was 36s. per dozen.
– Clearly a duty of 3s. was not required for that hat.
– Obviously the duty was not charged to the consumer, if the duty was 3s. and the retail price was is. 6d. The factory cost- was is. 2d. per hat.
– It might have been sweated out of the worker, though.
– It was not. I am pleased to be able to say that the hat industry in Victoria, and I believe in the rest o.f the States also, is the best paid industry in the Commonwealth. The . minimum wage for skilled hands is £3 7s. . 6d. a week. There is not- muchsweating in that. Clearly these facts dispose of the assertion that the duty is added cn to the cost of the local product. But there is another and more striking instance of how the duty benefits the consumer. There is a hat that is, I suppose, very well known to most honorable senators. It is manufactured by Woodrow, the celebrated English maker, whose product is admitted to retain a high-class standard all over the world. In ‘ Victoria, before . the State Parliament imposed a duty of 3s., Woodrow hats’ were1 retailed at 1 6s. each. ‘ If, as Senator Millen contends, the duty is added to ‘the cost, those hats, with the imposition of that duty, should have been sold at 19s. each. As a matter- of fact, however, the duty developed the local production of a very excellent imitation of the Woodrow hat, which was sold at 10s. 6d. each, with the result that the price of the genuine Woodrow was reduced to 13s. No one pretended that the imitation was as good as the Woodrow hat.
– The price came down to 12s. 6d.
– I am speaking of what immediately followed the imposition of the duty.
– The honorable senator admits that the imitation was not as good as the Woodrow. The whole point relates to the matter of competition.
– The competition was of such a character that the public purchased the locally-made hat, selling at 10s. 6d. each, in preference to the Woodrow hat, formerly sold at 16s., with the result that the importers were induced to sell the Woodrow hats at 13s. each, instead of 16s. each, as before. Instead of paying 1.6s. for his “Woodrow,” the individual paid only 13s. for it,’ and kept in his pocket 3s., which, but for the imposition of the duty, he would have had to pay. But that was not the only advantage that he reaped. After making such a purchase at a shop he left with the knowledge that the importer had paid into the revenue 3s. to help to carry on the government of the State. Thus every Woodrow hat sold at 13s., within a week or two after the imposition of the duty, benefited Victoria to the extent of 3s. - it meant 3s.’ less out of the pocket of the purchaser, and 3s. paid into the revenue. Those who are considering the poor consumer ought to be delighted to know that a fixed duty of 3s. had the effect of benefiting the consumer directly to the extent of 3s. per hat, and of benefiting him and other consumers indirectly to the extent of 3s. - the amount paid into the revenue in respect of the duty.
– Would not an ad val orem duty have the same effect?
– An ad valorem duty sufficiently high would, no doubt, have the same effect; but the advantages of a fixed duty are .two-fold. I have pointed out its effect on industry; that it protects beyond dispute the lower’ lines.
– Would not an ad val orem duty, if it were high enough, have the same effect ?
– Yes. if the honorable senator were prepared to vo’.e for a sufficiently high ad valorem duty. I should be ready, practically, to do what he pleased in the -matter. A fixed duty is not novel; and it has the advantage of ensuring simplicity -of Customs administration. No question of quality is involved in respect of goods to which it is applied.
– And there is no question of faked invoices.
– That is so. The Customs officer simply charges on the number. If the fixed duty is applied in relation to weight, he simply weighs the goods; if it is applied in respect of measurement, he measures the goods and charges according to their measurement.’ Obviously, Senator Millen will reply, “ In these circumstances we do not want a duty of 3s. on hats selling at is. 6d. .If the local industry can make hats in competition with imported hats, why is such a duty necessary ? . If the local manufacturers do not want to raise prices, why do they want it?” My reply is that in the production of a profit, an extended market is far more important than are high prices. We have often .known business men who appeared to be, so to speak, “ on their last legs.” Although they were charging high prices their business has appeared to be vanishing. Suddenly they have commenced to advertise what they declared to be alarming sacrifices, and have . thus drawn crowds to their shops, and, as the result of low prices, have put themselves on their feet once. more. What is wanted to insure success is not necessarily high prices, but a large market, and completely effective protection secures a large market to the local manufacturer. Senator Millen proved on Friday that- the hat trade of Australia is extending. We are delighted that it is, but we must not forget at the same time that the imports are increasing, so that the expansion of the local industry is not as large as it ought to be. The trade of an industry of this kind ought to. embrace the whole of the Commonwealth. We produce the wool and the fur required in the production of hats, and we have workmen as skilled as are .to be found elsewhere. That being so, the hat industry of all others ought to be absolutely our own.
– Could it not be made so by means of an ad valorem duty ?
– I think it could, but I repeat that a fixed duty has many advantages, and up to a certain point, at all events, I prefer it.
– The honorable senator omitted to mention one of the advantages of a fixed duty - the fact that it disguises from the people the actual amount of the tax that is being levied.
– Surely not. While some people may be unable to calculate percentages, I have not yet met a man’ who did not know the value of 3s., 2s., or 2s. 6d. If Senator Millen were to say to a consumer, “In respect of these cheaper hats we are charging you a duty of 2s. 6d. each,” the man would know at once what the duty meant ; but he would not think that the honorable senator was trying to deceive him until he remembered that he had to pay only is. 6d. each for them.
– At the last elections the consumer fold Senator Millen that he was right.
– I was dealing with the question, “If you do not want to raise prices, why do you want this duty? “ Let me give a simple illustration of the point that I have in view. Let us assume that a hat manufacturer is turning out every week 1,000 hats at. a profit of 6d. each. That gives him a weekly profit of ^25, which may not be sufficient for the maintenance of his whole establishment. His factory may be running half time, or be working at half its capacity. If he can enlarge his market, and sell 2,000 hats per week without charging an additional price, he has a weekly profit of ^50 instead of .£25, and that may be sufficient for his requirements. If his factory is running at half time, or at half its capacity, and he is able to double his output, he also reduces the cost over the whole area. If, for the sake of argument, when his factory was working at half its capacity, his interest on capital, buildings and managerial expenses represented 6d. per hat, by enlarging his output to 2,000, he would reduce the cost by 3d., and by having obtained twice as large a market as he had before, he would secure twice as great a profit.
– Could he not progress with a lower duty when he had done that?
– I say that by means of a duty which gives him the whole market, so far from having to raise prices in order to get a larger profit he can reduce prices by 3d. per hat, and thus give to the public£25 per week in the shape of savings on the hats which they purchase, whilst at the same time doubling his profit. That illustration is so simple that any person can grasp it. I may not have used the exact figures applying to the hat business or any other industry, but the illustration completely shows the principle that operates to reduce cost, and thereby increase profits, and render possible a reduction of prices to the people. The hat industry in Australia has already achieved three very desirable results. In the first place it has provided a considerable amount of employment at extremely liberal wages. All will admit that that is a very desirable thing. The industry has also returned substantial profits to the manufacturers. Surely that is not a bad thing solong as the hats which they produce do not cost the public too much. The Denton Mills, which are the most successful hat mills in Australia, have generally paid dividends of 10 per cent. Their last dividend was only 8 per cent., but, roughly speaking, they have returned to their shareholders 10 per cent. upon the capital which they have invested. Surely that is not an exorbitant profit. But what profits are the importers getting? Only the other day I read in the Draper, a journal which is published in the interests of the softgoods trade, that Messrs. Buckley and Nunn had paid their shareholders a dividend of 10 per cent., had granted their employes a bonus of 21/2 per cent., and had placed a sum of£30,000 or£40,000 to the credit of their reserve fund. At a meeting held at Finsbury recently, Messrs. Robert Reid and Company also declared a dividend of 10 per cent., voted a bonus of21/2 per cent. to their employes, and carried forward an enormous amountto their reserve fund.
– Why does the honorable senator omit to mention the etceteras in connexion with the Denton Mills?
– One etcetera which I omitted to mention is that the company has written down to£3,000 machinery which cost it nearly£30,000. I admit that the Denton Mills are doing very well, but we must not forget that neither Anderson’s factory in Sydney nor the hat factory in Adelaide has yet paid a dividend. At a meeting recently held in Adelaide the fact was revealed that the establishment had made a profit of£85 during the half year, and as a result the directors were very jubilant.
– Is Anderson’s factory a limited company ?
– I have it on the best authority that it has not paid a dividend.
– It cannotpay a dividend if it is not a limited company.
– I am informed that it has never beenable to pay anything to the contributors of its capital.
-Who is the honorable senator’s authority for that statement ?
– I do not purpose mentioning any names, but I may tell Senator Gray that my information is derived from a competent authority. I admit that the hat industry is a profitable one.
– And the Denton Hat Mills do not ask for an increased duty.
– They will be very glad of the duty which I propose.
– The honorable senator has not advanced a single reason why an increased duty should be levied.
– Then. I will advance one. In 1903 the hats imported into the Commonwealth were valued at £316,000, but in 1906 their value was nearly £400,000.
– Had not population increased in the interim?
– Yes. But our population ought to increase, and the, progress of the industry ought to enable it toobtain control of the whole of this trade.
– The honorable senator speaks of the increase in our importations. Does he deny that the manufac-
Sure of Australian hats has increased in even greater ratio?
– Of course ft has. I am delighted to know that it has.
– That shows that the industry is holding its own.
– It- shows nothing “of the kind. That it is not holding its own is evidenced by the increase in our importations.
– If the local manufacture of hats has increased by 80 per cent., surely the industry must be progressing?
– Does the honorable senator think that we should be satisfied with 80 per cent, of the trade ?
– Can the honorable senator explain why the hat industry is singled out for a prohibitive duty ?
– We do not propose to levy as high a duty upon. hats as has been levied upon some forms of apparel. We intend that they shall be dutiable at ]6s. per dozen, or 35 per cent, ad valorem, whichever yields the larger revenue. Having shown that the industry provides employment to a large number of operatives at remunerative wages, that it returns a reasonable profit upon the capital invested in it, and that it supplies the consumers with cheaper and better hats than they were able to obtain previously, I say that it is one that we ought to encourage, if necessary, even by the imposition of a prohibitive duty.
-1!)] - lt is about time that the Government were reminded of the fact that when this Tariff was introduced into another place an ad valorem rate, and not a specific duty, was levied upon hats. The Treasurer did not change his mind as to the form of duty which ought to be imposed until he was compelled to do so. But it now seems that the Government - as the result of the arguments advanced by honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber - have to some extent retreated from the position taken up by the Treasurer in the House of Representatives.
– -Nonsense !
– It is as impossible to deny that statement as it is to ignore the presence of chandeliers in this chamber. The duty originally proposed by the Treasurer was an ad valorem rate, but at a la:er stage a fixed duty was substituted. Now, as the result of the arguments urged by honorable senators upon this side of the chamber, the Government pro pose, to some extent, to climb down. They ought to climb down entirely, because, not-“ withstanding the specious plea of Senator Trenwith, who is a most persistent and able advocate of protection, the fixed duty will, under some conditions, be highly oppressive to the man who can afford to buy only cheap hats, and much less oppressive to the man who can afford to purchase the best hats. There may be conditions of local competition under which, even with a high duty, hats would be much cheaper than the duty imposed, but the history of manufacturing throughout the world shows that those conditions are very exceptional, and that, as a rule, the price of goods in protected markets tends to rise gradually right up to the level of the duty. The following figures, given by the Tariff Commission in their report, ‘as based on the evidence, are, to my mind, irresistible -
On ten different lines, ranging from 15s. to 60s. a dozen, they (the representatives of the Adelaide Society of Felt Hatters) said that the average rate of duty would be 60 per cent, ad val. A South Australian hatter said that a duty of 30s. a dozen on felt hats all round gave the following percentages : - On hats invoiced at 15s. a dozen, 200 per cent.; 20s. a dozen, 150 per cent. ; 25s. a dozen, 120 per cent. ; 30s. a dozen, 100 per cent. ; 35s. a dozen, S5 per cent. ; 40s. a dozen, 75 per cent. ; 45s. a dozen, 66 per° cent. ; :os. a dozen, 60 per cent. ; 55s. a dozen, 54 per cent. ; and 60s. a dozen, 50 per cent.
Thus the higher the value of the hat imported, the lower the rate of duty.
– Did not the honorable senator know all that before he read it in the report?
– That is rather an impertinent question, because, even if I did know it, my remarks are intended for the benefit, npt merely of the leader of the Socialist or Labour Party in this Chamber, but also of the public’ We sometimes have to speak, not merely to the geniuses of protection on the other side, but to the public, so that thev may understand who is really seeking to impose heavy burdens of taxation on absolute necessities of life. If we were merely to speak to one another, many of us could afford not to speak at all. We wish the public to be clearly informed as towho is responsible for this utterly unjustifiable taxation. I have taken out other striking figures with regard to tlie progress of the hat industry. I do not know that they will do much to convince the leader of the Labour Party, or the Government, but -it is as well “ that they should be published, because they make the position remarkably clear. .There is no answer to them. There is no answer to the position as it has been laid down, from this side, so ably by Senator Millen, except the off chance which Senator Trenwith has indicated, that severe competition amongst the local manufacturers may reduce prices to below the level at which the importer can sell. But now-a-days, when manufacturers are concentrating their operations as well as their capital, it is not likely that the hat makers of Victoria will suddenly become, in the case of cheap hats, a set of inspired philanthropists, manufacturing hats only for the good of the people. They will not enlarge their capital for the manufacture of cheap hats simply to benefit the public. Does any one think that they will not consider how much they can make out of the public by every variety of hat, cheap or dear?
– There will be a combine directly.
– There is every incentive under high duties to form a combine. With duties amounting practically to 200 per cent, upon cheap lines, the temptation to the hat makers to form combines in order to keep up prices is almost irresistible. They always have the high wall of duty to lean against. With high duties, the large capitalist with the command of the market can crush out any small man who sets up against him. With low duties the small man has a chance, but with a high wall of protection the big man fires at the consumer with a double-barrelled gun. He puts up his prices to the level of the duty, and can crush out any other manufacturer who tries to lower prices. Before Federation, Victoria exported to the other States only £603 worth of felt hats. I take these figures from the report of the Tariff Commission, as given by a witness, who quoted the Victorian Year-Book as his authority. .In 1903, Victoria exported to the other States £28.000 worth of hats, and in 1964 £32,270 worth. Before Federation, in 1899, there were in Victoria, according to the reports of the Inspector of Factories, thirty-three hat mills in operation. In 1905, the number had fallen to twenty-seven, but whereas in 1899 there were only 896 hands engaged in the ‘ industry, there were 1,047 hands employed in 1905. A similar tale of progress in the hat industry is told in New South Wales. In that State, in 1901, just before the imposition of the first Commonwealth Tariff, there were ten hat factories. In ‘1904 there were eighteen - an increase of nearly 100 per cent, under the operation of the Tariff of 1902. In that State, in 1901, there were 330 hands employed in the hat factories ; in 1904 there were 729. In 1901 the value of the plant and machinery was £7, 034;. in 1906 it had risen to .£26,117. New South Wales produced in 1901 £54,698 worth of hats, and in 1904, £95,442 worth. The wages from 1901 to 1904 increased from £15,055 to £29,496 - that is in thr.ee years.. The Queensland industry, consequent upon the Commonwealth Tariff, and the competition of New South Wales and Victoria, had been temporarily damaged, but, when things had settled down, it recovered to such an extent that it is now in a fairly healthy condition.
– Was all this not the result of Inter-State free-trade?
– Yes. The Queensland manufacturers, who were in the weakest position, set to work, when matters settled down under the 1902 Tariff, to work up their industry and have, as I say, in a measure succeeded in doing so. In 1899, there were in Queensland three factories, with only twenty-seven hands, and £5,290 worth of plant, whereas in 1904, after an interval of five years, there were six factories, with 128 hands - an increase, of over 400 per cent.- and plant worth £12,621, representing an advance of considerably over 200 per cent. The Victorian hat mills, of which those of the Denton Proprietary are the most striking example, have done so well that in 1907 they could not supply the market; and in this connexion I shall read a copy of a letter which was quoted in another place. A. M. Kirkland Limited, of Brisbane, wrote to the Denton Proprietary in 1907, asking for a’ quotation, and received a reply, the date of which I am not able to give, but which is as follows -
M. Kirkland, Ltd.,
Dear Sir, -
We were duly favoured with your letter of February 26th.
This was probably in 1907 -
We are sorry that you should have been disappointed at the contents of our last, but we would state that you are quite under a misapprehension in thinking that we had undertaken, to send you a ranee of samples within a week or ten days
Whilst we have ample accommodation and power at the factory to deal wilh a largely in- ‘ creased turnover, the difficulty is that the supply of labour in certain branches of the trade is limited, and having already a large clientele in the various States we naturally study first those who have done a satisfactory business with us for years.
I ask the Committee to mark this admission by the Denton Proprietary -
The orders which we have now on hand are fully as much as we can cope with for many months, exclusive of the repeat orders that are regularly arriving, so that, much as we regret it, we are compelled on this ground to pass your firm, as were we to encourage you to send us orders we fear our inability to deliver to time, which would be a disappointment to you, as well as unsatisfactory to ourselves.
In the meantime, we are,.
The Denton Mills Hat Factory Coy. Ltd. (Per Secretary.)
If that has been the result of the Tariff on the hat industry of Victoria, it becomes at once apparent that the factories are working to their full power, that there is machinery enough to supply gradually the whole market of Australia, and that, under ordinary circumstances, they are likely to be confronted with competition by means of which prices may be kept down. But if we raise the duty as proposed, and the Victorian mills are not able to supply the market - and probably the same conditions prevail in New South Wales - then the market is absolutely at the mercy of the manufacturers. If the Denton Proprietary and Messrs. Anderson, as has been incontestably shown, cannot supply the Australian market, what becomes of the chances of purchasers of Australian hats? Although, as an incidental fact of high protection, the consumer may, for a time, get a cheaper hat, the chances are ninetynine to one against such a result.
– Cheaper in price and cheaper in quality !
– I shall not argue that point. But the evidence irresistibly shows that the more firmly the industry is established in Australia, and especially in Victoria., the more and more clamorous become the manufacturers for higher duties.
– The trouble is that Queensland hats are cutting into their trade.
– I dare say that the Victorian manufacturers are now beginning to fear competition from both New South Wales and Queensland. But is that not the very condition we desire to introduce when we imposed a fairly high Tariff in 1902 ?
– Hear, hear.
– But when this competition arises the Victorian manufacturers donot like it.
– That is so, and they clamour for more and more protection. If the Denton Hat Proprietary, which is probably the most successful in Victoria, and possesses the largest plant, were dissatisfied with the Tariff of 1902, why did they not straightforwardly tell the Tariff Commission so? There is nothing but conjecture as to the reasonwhy this higherduty is proposed. Is it a sort of sop to the Denton Proprietary? On these points we ought to have an explanation fromthe Government. Why should the Tariff be changed from the original form in which it was introduced by the Treasurer? Howis it that the Government, forced to some extent by the criticisms from this side, have offered to meet us half way ? Why should they not come the full way ? An ad valorem duty, at whatever rate, would be just as powerful an aid to the manufacturers as would a fixed duty. I hope the Government will abandon the fixed duties, and follow the example of the Treasurer who, wisely advised by his officials, made the imposts ad valorem.
– Senator Trenwith, who is the one Government supporter, and who, I presume, represents the Government, has for the first time this afternoon, frankly stated that he is prepared to support prohibition pure and simple. What does that statement mean? In the first place, it means that the Government have set aside all their promises to the people in regard to the character of the Tariff. It was declared that if would be simply a Tariff to do away with anomalies. But it is a Tariff based upon protectionist lines.
– I ask the honorable senator not to deal with the Tariff as a whole, but with the item before the Committee.
– I recognise that there is a principle involved in Senator Trenwith’s statement concerning the hat industry, and I thought that in thecircumstances I would be entitled to refer to that aspect of the position.
– The honorable senator will be quite in order in traversing any statement) of Senator Trenwith concerning the hat industry.
– I asked Senator Trenwith whether the prohibitive duties he was advocating would dovetail into the other duties, and he distinctly said that they would. There has been a very strong feeling entertained bv the commercial community that this Tariff when it was. settled would be–
– I ask the honorable senator to obey the ruling of the Chair.
– If I am. not permitted o enter into that aspect of the question. L can” only say that the duty on hats is prohibitive, and meets with my opposition. I consider that the arguments out forward by Senator Millen are in themselves sufficient to refute any arguments brought forward by the Government and Senator Trenwith. I regret that the rules do not permit me to express my views to (he Committee.
– I draw attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
Sena or GRAY. - It is absolutely certain that this duty, although it may bs carried here, will te unsatisfactory to the public. I think that the Government may rely upon it that the fiscal question will not be settled for a series of years as regards either the hat or any other industry in Australia.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) T3-47]- - I am very anxious that we should take a simple vote as to whether or not if is advisable to levy an impost upon hats on the ad valorem principle, lt seems to me that in voting on the amendment of Senator Neild honorable senators may have their eyes fixed on the figures rather than on the principle on which it is proposed to levy the duty. If, however, the request of Senator Neild be withdrawn, and I move that the. Senate request the other House to revert to the ad valorem principle, that will leave honorable senators at liberty to say whether or not they prefer an ad valorem duty. My desire is to take a vote of the Committee on the ad valorem principle alone, because there pay te some honorable senators who believe in having a duty fixed on that basis, but prefer a duty of 40 or 50 per cent, to a duty of 30 per cent., as proposed by Senator Neild. I would prefer to have an ad valorem duty higher han 30 per cent, rather than have the .-A duty as proposed in the schedule. With the concurrence of Senator .Neild. I ask leave to withdraw his request, in order that I may submit a proposal.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to fix the duty on item 121, paragraph a (imports under General Tariff), on an ad . valorem basis.
If my proposition be carried, then Senator Neild can move a request with regard to the rate of the duty, and any one who prefers a higher rate than is proposed will lie able to give effect to his wishes by moving an amendment. My object is, without complicating the issue, to procure adirect expression of opinion from the Committee, and I submit that my proposal is the best way of doing so. If the request is rejected, it will be open to Senator Trenwith, or to any one else, to move for a composite duty. °
– I do not think so.
– It must be borne in mind that the Committee has before it, not an amendment, leaving out certain words, but a request, asking the House of Representatives to do a certain thing, and I feel sure that the Chairman will hold that if the Committee refuses to request that body to do one thing, it may, if it thinks fit, request it to do something else.
.- It seems to me that if the request were defeated, Senator Trenwith would be de: barred from moving a request asking for composite duties. What should be done now is to move a request to substitute 30 per cent, ad valorem for 16s. per dozen. That would give a vote on the direct issue.
– No; the vote would then be on the rate of duty, not on the principle in regard to which I wish an expression of opinion.
– It is open for any honorable senator to move, as an amendment to the request, the substitution of the words “ at 30 per cent, ad valorem, or 16s. per dozen, whichever rate returns the higher duty,” or other similar words.
– I think that the best way to obtain a direct opinion from the Committee is for Senator Millen to move a request asking that 30 per cent, ad valorem, or some other rate, be substituted for 16s. per dozen1.
– If .the Committee agreed to Senator Millen’s request, it would determine whether ad valorem or composite duties should be adopted; but if the request is defeated will you, Mr. Chairman, allow Senator Trenwith to move a request asking for the imposition of a duty of so much per dozen, or a certain percentage ad valorem, whichever rate returns the higher duty?
– I was afraid that if Senator Millen’s request were negatived, I should be prevented from moving for composite duties.
– No. A request in this Bill is not on all-fours with an amendment of a clause in a Bill which the Senate may amend.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Millen) put -
That the House ofRepresentatives be requested to make the duty on item 121, paragraph a (imports under General Tariff), 12s. per dozen.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 121, paragraph a (imports under General Tariff), 16s. per dozen or 35 per cent. ad val., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
These rates will apply to importations from Italy and Germany, where labour is very cheap. I intend, if the request be carried, to propose preferential rates in favour of Great Britain.
– I rise to a point of order. The Committee has just now decided that the duty shall not be on an ad valorem basis. I submit that the present proposal, though perhaps not wholly in opposition to the recent decision of the Committee, is sufficiently at variance with it to render it out of order.
– We discussed that point fully before, and the Chairman has given a ruling upon it.
– I draw the attention of the Committee to the fact thatthere are three bases upon which duties may be fixed, an ad valorem duty, a fixed duty, or a composite duty. It must, therefore, be competent for honorable senators to propose three separate forms of requests in respect of each item according to the form of duty sought to be imposed. The Committee in this instance has dealt with a proposal for an ad valoremduty, and it is therefore competent for requests still to be made for a composite or a fixed duty. I therefore rule the request in order.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Trenwith) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 121, paragraph A (imports from the United Kingdom), 12s. per dozen or 30 per cent. ad val., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Request (by Senator Trenwith) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duly on item 121, paragraphb (imports under General Tariff), 25s. per dozen or 35 per cent. ad val., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Trenwith) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 121, paragraph B (imports from the United Kingdom), 20s. per dozen or 30 per cent. ad val., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
.- I understand that the raw materials required in the hat manufacturing industry include pull-over hoods, velvet, plush, galoons, and hatter’s calico. In the circumstances, I ask why some of these raw materials should have to pay this enormous* duty of 35 per cent. under paragraph d of item 121? I made some inquiries in Sydney on the subject, and, although Sir William Lyne said that pull-over hoods can be made in the Commonwealth, the hatters assured me that they could not, and the suggestion was made that they should be included in the free list.
– I propose to move that the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the word “ Caps,” with a view to the insertion of a new paragraph e, in which I intend to propose special treatment for caps.
– What special treatment ?
– It is my intention to suggest that there should be an ad valorem duty, with an alternative duty - 35 per cent. or 7 s. per dozen - on imports under the General Tariff, and 20 per cent. or 6s. per dozen on imports from the United Kingdom. The reason why I move in this direction is that the industry of manufacturing sewn hats and caps has not been upon a satisfactory footing under the old Tariff. The importations have been going up by leaps and bounds. In 1903 the imports of hats and caps were valued at £8,200; in 1904, £11,000; in 1905, £21,900; and in 1906, £29,500. The figures indicate that the measure of protection that this industry has received in the past has been most unsatisfactory. My purpose is to single it out for special treatment. I do not propose to alter the ad valorem duty, but I do propose to institute a fixed duty against the foreigner of 7s. per dozen, and against Great Britain of 6s. per dozen. It may be noticed from the evidence taken by the Tariff Commission that a variety of shoddy hats and caps is imported from the Old Country. One witness named Borchardt stated that they could be imported for1s.9d. per dozen, and. that the charges, ashe calculated, amountedto221/2percent. He said that these, hats and capswere sold inAustralia for 3s. 6d. adozen! So that theprinciple obstacleinthewayofthat manufacturing in the Commonwealth in the pasthas been the . easy access which these cheap low-class hats and caps have hadto our markets.I wish to give effective protection to the people engaged in the industry. The makers of apparel under this Tariff are getting a difference of 10 per cent. between the raw material and the manufactured article. That has been agreed to under items 106 and 107. But in this item, as it stands, the protection is only 5 per cent. Why make a distinction between those engaged in making sewn hats and caps, and those who are making other forms of apparel ?
– How would it do to make a differentiation between hats and caps made of Australian material, and those made of foreign material ?
– Some materials that are used in the manufacture of hats and caps are not made in Great Britain at all. Felt cloth, which is a favorite material for cap-making in Australia, is made entirely in Germany. At present it pays 30 per cent. So that the manufacturer of caps from felt in Australia has to pay 30 per cent. on his raw material whilst the manufactured article pays only 30 per cent. Practically he is given no protection at all.
-If he useslocallymade stuff, according to the honorable senator’s argument he pays no duty.
– But some people prefer to buy a felt cap, and the manufacturers have to purchase felt made in Germany. It is not made in Australia.
– Then it should not be on the dutiable list.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 121, paragraph d, by leaving out the word . “ Caps “ with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following new paragraph : - “(e) Caps (General Tariff), 7s. per dozen or 35 per cent. ad. val., whichever rate returns the higher duty; (United Kingdom), 6s. per dozen or 30 per cent. ad val., whichever rate returns the higher duty.” .
.- I have no difficulty in supporting Senator Lynch’s request, because there can be no doubt that we have a very large sewn hat and cap industry in Australia, and there is equallyno doubtthatthereis impdrtedalargequantityofinferior caps,whicharesoldindirectcompetitionwithourown.Firstofall,Icertainly am desirousofhaving our caps made out of our own wool. But the facthas to be reckonedwiththat a considerable portion of the caps usedinAustralia are made our ofimported material.Various classes of persons require various classes of caps. Consequentlythe manufacturers cannot supply thewhole demand simply by making caps out of ourwool, but they should be encouraged to make as large a proportion as possible of Australian material. Under Senator Lynch’s proposal they will be encouraged to do what I have described as desirable. We have to reckon with the facts that a large quantity of these cheap hats are imported, that the cap industry is thoroughly well established, and should’ essentially- belong to this country, and that we are quite capable of making the whole of the caps required in this country. The importations in 1906 were no less than £29,000. ‘ Is there any just reason why we shouldnot make the whole of these caps here? For the very same reason that weighed with me in supporting the fixed duties on hats of 16s. and 12s. per dozen, I feel no difficulty whatever in supporting Senator Lynch’s proposal.
– Before the Committee agrees to the request submitted by Senator Lynch I should like honorable senators to recall those wise and weighty words, . and that pathetic appeal, from the Vice-President of the Executive Council last week not to tamper with the Tariff. He assured the Committee that it had been prepared by the most competent experts in Australia.
– That is not stating the question accurately. I picked out one item, and that is the only item inregard to which I have made such an appeal.
– Then has not this Tariff been prepared under the best expert advice ?
– I said then that the particular item under discussion had been grouped in accordance with expert advice.
– Does, the Minister say that this Tariff has been prepared without the aid of the best expert advice?
– I admit that in some particulars it is capable of improvement.
– Where it suits the honorable ‘ senator’s purpose. Last week we . had the Vice-President of. the Executive Council reminding honorable senators of the skill and care devoted to the preparation of the schedule, and. he asked them not to touch it. But the moment we come to some item, when it suits him to forget all about that appeal, he supports an alteration. The Minister has given, perhaps, the best reason why this item should not be touched. He spoke of the industry as being in a flourishing condition. Well, if that. . be so,” what object is there in agreeing to the request ?
– The imports amount to £29,000.
– Upon my word, some protectionists seem to have got into the habit of thinking that so long as there is a single import it is necessary to impose a higher duty. Of course there are imports. But the Minister did not go further and tell the’ Committee that, while the imports in 1906 amounted to £29,000, there had been a very large expansion of local manufacturing, and that, as a matter of fact, the increase in the output of the manufacturers was greater than the increase of imports. Does the Minister suppose that it is possible to establish industries in a day, so that the local manufacturers will be able to overtake the whole of the demands of the country at once? So far as this industry is concerned, the fact is that whilst the imports only increased 15 per cent. the output from the factories increased by 85 per cent. Those figures show that though the imports may be considerable the local manufacture is increasing at a much more rapid rate. The local factories are overtaking the local demands, so that thereis not only no reason but no common sense in the proposal to place a higher duty upon these articles. Let protectionists say what they like, it must be obvious to everyone who has to buy anything that duties do not reduce prices. Another remark made by the VicePresident of the Executive Council, which struck me as unusual, coming from that side of the Committee, was that the manufacturers of these commodities used imported materials. The answer to that ought to be that the duties on those other good’s should compel the manufacturers of hats and caps, who are securing a large measure of protection, to use the local productions. If they do so they have no duty to pay. If there is any man for whom I have a wholesale contempt it is the individual who asks for a high measure of protection and at the same time objects to. protection being granted to those who produce his raw material.I have an utter contempt . for the man who asks that the duty on his raw material shall be cut down, whilst at thesame time he demand’s increased duties in respect of his own productions. If there is anything in the contention of protectionists that duties do not raise prices the cost of the raw material cannot be great, and it they compel people to use local productions, the hat manufacturers need not buy any imported material. They can buy everything they want from the local manufacturers, and, according to Senator Best and. those who think with him, they will not have anything added as the result of the duty to the cost of their material. Under the Tariff, as it stands, the makers of these goods are protected to the extent of 35 per cent. . That, I think, is more than sufficient, and I shall therefore vote against this request.
– The Committee a short time ago agreed to a request to increase the protection to the makers of hats, and I think that that decision should be followed by a request that increased protection be granted to the makers of sewn caps. I would go so far with my honorable colleague, Senator Lynch, as to support a proposal for fixed duties of 7 s. and 6s. per dozen ; but I would not vote for the latter part of his request relating to the imposition of an ad valorem duty. No ad valorem duty could be made high enough to protect the sewn-cap industry here.
– Senator Lynch’s request is a doubled-barrelled one. A fixed duty or an ad valorem duty, whichever returns the higher rate, is to be imposed.
– I prefer a fixed duty, because the Customs returns clearly show that our imports are increasing. . Under the old Tariff, they increased from year to year, and we findthat this industry has been going down. The number of hands employed in it has not increased, and in some of the factories to-day machines are standing idle whilst the shoddy material of other parts is being dumped on the Australian market.. Senator Lynch has putvery fully before the Committee the case for his proposal, and I rose only to say that. I should support the request for fixed duties, provided he did not press that part of his proposal relating to ad valorem duties.
– I was altogether opposed to the imposition of fixed duties on the hats and caps dealt with in the several paragraphs of this item. I should have preferred to support a request for a duty of 40 per cent, rather than a fixed duty, which, I think, presses heavily on the articles used by the poorer classes. The Committee, however, has adopted the principle of fixed duties, and I, therefore, feel bound to vote for this request that fair protection should be given to the industry. Having decided to request that fixed duties be imposed in respect of the larger items dealt with in paragraphs a and is, I think we might fairly make a similar request in respect of the very small items of caps.
.- When in Sydney yesterday, I interviewed two hat manufacturers and two importers of hats, and the evidence I gathered was that an increased duty was unnecessary. We have, in this case, a repetition of the old, old story of a Ministry with a majority behind it prepared to pass an ultraprotectionist Tariff, which, I am confident,will be prejudicial to the Commonwealth. I venture to say that our industries will not flourish under this Tariff as they did under the Tariff of 1902. The more I study the question, the more convinced I am that, except in regard to a few -anomalies, there was absolutely no reason for amending the old Tariff. We are now working in the direction of considering only those who deluge honorable senators with circulars and indulge in lobbying with the desire to secure increased duties. The evidence which I obtained in Sydney jesterday was that the present duty of 30 per cent., which amounts really to 33 per cent., is sufficient to protect the industry. The progress of the Denton Hat Mills, the dividends which they have paid, and the capital they have accumulated, go to show that the old Tariff was more than sufficient to protect the industry. No representative of the Denton Hat Mills Company appeared before the Tariff Commission.
– We are now dealing with the paragraph relating to caps.
– But, sir, the item also covers hats. Senator Trenwith said that, probably, he had conversed with- representatives of the Denton Hat Mills after I had seen them. It would appear that the has been conferring with them in regard to these duties. They did not dare to go before the Tariff Commission, or to produce their books to it; they have gone to Ministers and others, and worked behind the back of Parliament to secure what they were afraid to urge before the Tariff Commission. I give the protectionists of Victoria credit for honor and integrity of purpose, but I think that the system of protection is a rotten one. It breeds men who do not speak the truth, who deceive and mislead- themselves, and, therefore, mislead others.
– Do the Customs returns give us the truth?
– They do not. They show that with an increased population, and with magnificent seasons during the last three or four years, our imports of these goods have slightly increased. Had we experienced bad seasons, I feel sure that our imports would have decreased. My honorable friend, Senator Needham, however, can see nothing in the world save protection. If one were to put before him a mountain of gold and a claim for protection, which almost required microscopic examination, he would miss the gold, and see the other almost at a glance. A protectionist friend of mine said the other day that it was nonsense to dogmatize about these matters; that good seasons would vary the Customs returns apart altogether from the duties which we impose. Even if our imports have slightly increased, the output of our mills has greatly increased, showing that the protection given under the old Tariff must have been sufficient; that the industry has been firmly established, and is making substantial progress. What more do we want? I understood the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in submitting this Bill to the Senate, to say that he hoped we should agree to the imposition of such protective duties as would make good the difference between wages here and elsewhere, with a trifle to spare. We now find the Government availing themselves of every opportunity to induce honorable senators to increase the duties in the schedule. I hope that another place will not agree to one request that, has been made for an increased duty, because the evidence shows that nothing is wanting to protect and stimulate our industries. I have been told that there are anomalies in this Tariff, and that the raw material of the manufacturer is being very heavily taxed.
Senator Best says that pull over hoods are made in the Commonwealth, but I was assured yesterday that they are not. Can the honorable senator say where they are made ?
– I am assured that they are made here.
– It is a pity, since we have two conflicting statements, that wecannot learn in what part of Australia these pull-over hoods are made.
– The honorable senator has the same source of information that I have.
– I was told in Sydney that pull-over hoods were not made in Australia, although I must admit that I thought we ought to be able to make them. I wish now to refer to another matter which is dealt with in the report of the Tariff Commission. I allude to the fact that the Government are proposing protective duties sufficiently high to establish our hat and cap manufactories, and to enable them to distribute their goods only through the medium of merchants and retailers, who secure a profit of from 25 to 33& per cent. I have no quarrel with the middleman. I make use of him every day of my life ; but, at the same time, I think I may fairly ask whether we are justified in imposing protective duties so high as to enable our manufacturers not only to do well themselves, but to say that the retailer shall purchase their goods only through the agency of a merchant - that the merchant shall obtain out of them a profit of from 25 to 33 J per cent., that the retailer shall secure a further profit of 25 per cent., and that the consumer should bear the whole burden. The Denton Hat Mills Company has declined to sell any hats - to supply even an order for fifty or 100 dozen - direct to a retailer.
– We can deal with that matter under our anti-trust legislation.
– I am pointing out that the present duties enable this to be done. I did not think that the retailer could purchase half-a-dozen or even a dozen hats direct from any of our mills, but I certainly believed that he would be able to buy five dozen, ten dozen, or fifty dozen direct from them. I am told that both .in Sydney and Melbourne such a thing is impossible. If a retailer endeavoured to place an order with Anderson’s mills he would be told at once that every parcel must go through York-street. These facts show .the enormous extent to which our pro tective duties have been worked up ; that they have been raised to a point far in excess of what is necessary, to make the hat and cap industry a progressive one. However, the numbers appear to be up, and it is therefore useless for me to further occupy the time of’ the Committee.
-47]- - We have just been told by Senator Dobson that protectionists are blind to everything but protection. From the Australian stand-point, there is no other aspect of this question. Even the leader of the free-trade party - Mr. G. H. Reid - has repeatedly confessed that the cause of free-trade is dead.
– It is a question not of free-trade, but of imposing such high duties as to pamper the people instead of making them self-reliant.
– When we were considering the duties on hats and caps under the first Federal Tariff, a similar complaint was made by Senator Dobson and others, who are generally associated with him. We then imposed duties to secure not protection but revenue. There is no question that it has that effect.
– When I moved in favour of a reduction of the duty the whole point at issue was the rate under -which the Denton Hat Mills would be able to successfully carry on.
– Undoubtedly the first Commonwealth Tariff was framed for the purpose of raising revenue. Having had five years’ experience of the policy of “ revenue without destruction” we ought now to impose a sufficiently high rate to protect the industry. Last year we imported more hats than were manufactured in the Commonwealth.
– Can the honorable senator name a single industry which was destroyed as the result of the operation of. the first Commonwealth Tariff?
– There is no denying that the duty levied upon hats under that Tariff was not protective in its incidence. I wish to see a substantial impost upon this item so that the industry may receive effective protection.
– With the permission of the Committee, I desire to. amend my request so that it will read “ caps and sewn hats n.e.i.” In regard to Senator Needham’s opposition to an ad valorem rate, I would remind him that such a duty is very necessary to protect the better quality of caps, which will undoubtedly be made in the Commonwealth in the near future. I ask him to reconsider his position in that connexion and to recognise the necessity for levying a composite duty upon this item. The specific duty will protect the lower quality of caps up to a value of1s. 6d. each, and the ad valorem rate will effectively protect the better class of caps and hats!
Request, by leave, amended accordingly.
– I think that we might have a quorum present.[Quorum formed.] Request agreed to.
Postponed item 122. Parasols, Sunshades, and Umbrellas, ad val., 20 per cent.
– This is one of those items in regard to which there is a decided anomaly in the Tariff. The articles specified in it are dutiable at 20 per cent., and there has been a considerable increase in the imposts levied upon the raw materials used in their manufacture. Consequently the manufacturer has no margin upon which to work. It is true that a request has been carried to reduce the duty upon silk from 20 per cent. to 15 per cent., but I would point out that as bands and buttons are dutiable at 20 per cent., leathersat 25 per cent., and sticks valued at more than 7s. 6d. each at 25 per cent., it is clearly necessary to slightly increase the rate upon this item. The industry is an excellent one; itaffords employment to a large number of young girls, and, therefore, we ought to encourage it. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 122, 25 per cent.
– Senator McColl has anticipated me in the request which he has moved, but I scarcely think that he has gone far enough. There are 400 employes engaged in this industry, and the annual wage bill totals £18,000. The duties levied upon the raw materials of the industry range from 20 to 25 per cent. In 1905, the imports of parasols, sunshades, and umbrellas were valued at £17,000, and in 1906, at £14,000. Seeing that we have increased the duties levied upon the raw materials of these articles, I scarcely think that the additional 5 per cent. protection which Senator McColl proposes to extend to the industry will prove sufficient. I therefore move -
That the request be amended by leaving out the figures “25” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “30.”
– I am quite at a loss to understand Senator Needham’s statement that if the present duty of 20 per cent. be retained the industry will be afforded no protection. How does he arrive at that conclusion ?
– Because we have increased the duties upon the raw materials of the articles specified in this item.
– We have done nothing of the kind. As a matter of fact, instead of having increased the duties upon those raw materials, we have carried a request to decrease them. Consequently there is no necessity either for Senator Needham’s amendment or for Senator McColl’s request. Even the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended the imposition of a duty of only 20 per cent., and I cannot understand why we should increase taxation without some reason being assigned for our action. Did Senator McColl make out a good case for a larger measure of protection being extended to this industry ? Certainly not. If it were merely a question of whether any duty should be levied upon this item. I admit that his arguments would stand. But that is not the point. The point is whether 20 per cent. affords the industry a sufficient measure of protection ? Personally, I think that it does.
– I would suggest to Senator Needham the wisdom of withdrawing his amendment, which he evidently moved under a misapprehension. It is quite true that some umbrellas are made from silk and some from cotton. If they are made from silk, the raw material is dutiable at 15 per cent. If they are made from cotton, the cotton is admitted free. As a matter of fact, the majority of umbrellas are made from silk, and, as the Committee have decided to request the other Chamber to reduce the duties upon silk to 15 per cent. under the general Tariff, and to 10 per cent. under the Tariff for the United Kingdom, our umbrella manufacturers will have a clear margin of 10 per cent. As that is the mar-‘ gin which has been recognised in other items between the duties levied upon the raw materials and those imposed upon the made-up fabrics, I would suggest that Senator Needham should withdraw his amendment and support Senator McColl’s request.
Amendment of the request negatived.
– I merely wish to draw attention to the fact that in almost every instance the increases of duties proposed in this Tariff have been submitted at the instance of the Government. At the same time, they have not put forward a single reason for the assaults which they are constantly making upon their own schedule.
Request agreed to.
SenatorDOBSON (Tasmania) [5.6].- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 122 (imports from the United Kingdom), 20 per cent. ad val.
This is an item upon which we might give some preference. I desire to re-echo the words of Senator Millen. It is a great pity that the Government accept every motion to increase duties. If would serve them right if all our party went out of the Chamber and took no more interest in the Tariff. We cannot fight a Government who are determined to listen to every individual that asks for a concession, even though it be above the recommendation of the Tariff Commission.
– The Government are working on well-defined lines. If the honorable senator and his party could get reductions, they would move for them on every occasion.
– The honorable senator is trying to “ bluff “ me. The Tariff Commission went on well-defined lines, trying toget to the bottom of every industry, and recommend rates that would give every man a fair protection, but the whole of the judicial aspect of their work is being cast upon one side, because the Government desire to give every man exactly what he asks for.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item124. Waddings and Cotton Wool, ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent., and on and after 14th November, 1907, free; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent., and on and after 14th November, 1907, free.
.- I desire to move a request that the House of Representatives should restore the dutiesas they were originally proposed by the Government, and insert the letters “n.e.i.” after the word “Wool.” . For some reason with which I am. not familiar the duties first proposed by the Government were withdrawn when the item was reached in another place.
– If the honorable senator proposes to insert the letters “ n.e.i.” he must move a request to that effect before he proceeds to deal with the rates of duty.
– Then I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 124 by inserting after the word “Wool” the letters “n.e.i.”
My object is to provide that medicated wool, which comes in free under item 442,. shall not be made dutiable under this item.
– Here is another of those marvellous instances to which I must draw attention. A private member, without giving any reasons, proposes aduty on things which are made free in the Tariff.
– I have simply moved for the inclusion of the letters “n.e.i.’.’ I shall give afterwards my reasons why the duty should be imposed.
– The Minister should give reasons.
– I will do so.
– As the Minister is going to turn over anentirely new leaf, even though we are some way through the Tariff, I shall sit down.
.- I thought I would save time by moving first for the inclusion of the letters “n.e.i.,” without going into, the reasons why I desire the duty to be restored. There has been established in Victoria for a considerable time an industry turning out wadding and cotton wool. The firm, which is located at South Melbourne, is not wholly and solely engaged in turning out these articles, but is manufacturing them in a general way, at a price which has caused them to meet with a fairly ready sale in certain parts of the Commonwealth.
– Is this the firm that shifted its head-quarters to the lobby ?
– That is unfair. This is an industry that ought to be assisted. I am reliably informed that the firm have for a considerable time utilized Queensland-grown cotton, and if they were assisted by the measure of protection asked for they would use ‘ Queensland cotton more extensively than is the case now. It is well-nigh impossible for the industry to be carried on if wadding and cotton wool can be imported free. .Every other indus,try in Australia rightly claims to be protected against free imports. The firm have to pay 25 per cent, ad valorem on the gelatine which they use in their manufacture. They do not complain of that. They say they have to pay that duty because up to the present the particular kind of gelatine which they use ls not made in Australia. This item will not in any way affect medicated wool, which will still come in free under item 442. The firm, according to their own statements, have expended considerable sums in their endeavours to build up the industry, have paid and are paying reasonable wages, and have observed fail conditions of labour. But because of what they consider the unfair competition, caused by the absolute free admission of commodities, their business is being seriously affected. On this ground they ask for a small measure of protection in order that they may extend the industry, give further employment, find a larger market, and enable wadding to be provided for charitable institutions at probably a smaller cost than at present.
– I rise to urge, by accepting the proposal submitted, that further protection may be given to this industry, because, where an industry can be protected, it is our duty to protect it. In this case the original proposal of the Government was on all fours with that now suggested ; and the reason is that we know that wadding and cotton wool are manufactured within the Commonwealth. It is true that the production of this one factory is represented by only £3,500, whereas the total consumption in Australia is represented by something like £60,000.
– Where does the Minister get that information?
– Does Senator Millen protest against my giving the information?
– I asked the question, because, according to the Tariff Commission reports, there is no record of the imports.
– The information supplied to me is that the total consumption is represented by something like £60,000, and, therefore, I have no hesitation in accepting the proposed request, remembering as I do that it ‘falls in with the original proposal of the Government. The firm already mentioned uses, as far as possible, a portion of the cotton produced in Queensland. We have decided to grant bounties for cotton cultivation; and what can be more reasonable or natural than to encourage an industry which proposes to utilize the raw material ?
– - ‘What I desire to know is where the Minister got his information as to the value of the total consumption of cotton wool in Australia. And I am justified in asking the question when I find it stated in the document put forward by the Government that there is no record of the quantity imported. Has the Minister obtained his information from the firm which has been supplying Senator Findley with his figures?
– Cotton wool is grouped with another item.
– Then there is a record. It is- strange that in regard to other articles so grouped the items to which they are attached are indicated. Why are we told that there is no record, if the commodity be included in another item ?
– The question is. whether the honorable senator is in favour of the duty?
– I do not think the honorable senator should waste time by asking such a question. Seeing that in the case of many other items on which the House of Representatives has seen fit to reduce the duties originally proposed, there has been an attempt to restore the original impost, are we to take the present attitude of the Government as an indication that similar action will be taken in all instances ?
– Not necessarily ; we shall be guided by other considerations.
– By the numbers, I suppose. I think I am justified in saying that the Government are endeavouring- to get back lo the Tariff as originally imposed, unless, indeed, they can obtain still higher duties. In every case the Government shirk the responsibility of making the increase, leaving the proposal to be made by an honorable senator who may or may not have been prevailed upon by the Government to make it.
– The honorable senator is making bad shots !
– In such a case, if the proposal is adopted the Ministry take the credit, whereas if it is rejected there is no Government defeat.
– “ Heads I win, tails you lose !”
– The honorable senator, with his knowledge of the pastimes of the back country, has supplied a happy illustration. I do -1101 know to what extent the Tariff Commission dealt with this matter, but I may assume that there was some evidence, and even the hardened protectionist section could find it in their heart to recommend only one-fourth of the protection which Senator Findley proposes.
– What did the freetrade section propose?
– They proposed to bulk this, with a great many other items, under a duty of 10 per cent., items which the honorable senator has assisted to make dutiable at 35 per cent. I protest against this reckless increasing of the duties in a Tariff already sufficiently high. We have now had three attempts to increase duties beyond the Tariff as it reached this Chamber. It would not be- so serious if these fresh proposals were listened to by a reasonable proportion of honorable senators and discussed on their merits ; but the Committee is reduced to the condition that, no matter what the proposal is, so long as it involves an increase there are honorable senators prepared to come in and vote for it. Without rhyme or reason certain honorable senators have made up their minds to vote blindly for all increases, and if every free-trader in the Chamber walked out, we should be justified in doing so.
– And then we should complete the Tariff by nth March.
– We should not, ana I shall tell the honorable senator why. If the free-traders did leave the Chamber there would be one of the biggest Kilkenny fights amongst the protectionists themselves. The free-trade senators believe that the Tariff should be kept within reasonable bounds, and all we can do in the face of tactics, the object of which is to make the Tariff even more protectionist than it is - in the face of a great dereliction of duty committed by those who vote for increases without hearing reasons - is simply to enter a protest and vote the contrary.
– After an exhibition of heroics a little common sense may be acceptable. Honorable senators on this side have beer* twitted with voting blindly, but it is a noteworthy fact that honorable senators opposite have been much more conspicuous by their absence. The benches on the freetrade side of the Chamber are almost empty, and yet honorable senators are found to come in and vote for a decrease in the duties every time.
– For a very good reason ; there is a big difference in the position, as I shall show presently.
– I shall be gladto hear the honorable senator, who is always interesting. There is a good reason why the request, proposed should be adopted. The Commonwealth Parliament has decided that cotton growing is an industry that ought to be encouraged by means of a bounty.
– The consumption! of wadding will help that industry remarkably, will it not?’
– The honorable senator, with his large ideas, may think that a market represented by ^60,000 per annum is nothing, but we must remember that our population, though comparatively small today, will increase and multiply the demand very considerably. Having decided that it is necessary to grow cotton, we ought to provide an outlet for the cotton so grown.
– The woollen mills will take all the cotton that Australia is. likely to grow for many years.
– I hope the woollen manufacturers will not take any of the cotton, hut confine their attention to wool. At any rate, I desire that we shall have the local market for cotton, which I hope and believe will be grown extensively in the Northern Territory and other portions of Australia, and I cannot see why any honorable senator should object to the request now submitted. If an immediate market can be found for the local production, without any of the present heavy intermediate charges, the industry will be considerably encouraged, and the request is one which ought to commend itself to the good sense of every honorable senator.
– - I point out to Senator Givens, whose interest in the cotton industry we can all understand-
– Are we not all interested in the cotton industry of Australia ?
– I quite sympathize with the honorable senator in his desire to. promote this industry, but I point out to him that he need not be at all alarmed about the market. The Victorian woollen mills supply an ample market for all the cotton grown in Queensland. Speaking from memory, I believe that these mills purchase annually about 1,250,000 lbs. of cotton.
– What mills?
– The Victorian mills.
– None in New South Wales ?
– Yes, the analyses did show that, following the pernicious example of their older brethren, even the New South Wales mills were beginning to use cotton in the manufacture of their so-called woollens. But there can be no doubt, that the analyses made under the auspices of the Department showed conclusively that the big consumers of cotton were Victorian wool manufacturers. That should offer every guarantee to any one wishing to grow cotton in Queensland that, there is a ready market for it at his own doors, and the cotton-grower can always tell the woollen manufacturer that there is no need for him to face the enormous cost of sending Queensland cotton to England and fetching, it back in a manufactured form, and to be fleeced by halfadozen middlemen. He can buy direct from the cotton-growers in .Queensland, and so save all intermediate expenses. That being so, what particular necessity is there to put a higher duty on COttOn in this form than that which was recommended by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission ?
– Or the free-trade section.
– Or even the ‘ freetrade section. 1 can see no justification for it.
– A protective duty is.useless if it is not effective.
– From the honorable senator’s point of view, many of them are useless even when they are, inasmuch as they do not keep out all imports. The statement that £60,000 worth of the goods which come in under this head are used in Australia is a pure assumption. ‘ There are no definite figures available. All that has been obtained has been an estimate made in respect of other items that represent £60,000 in value. If the officers of the Department were in a position to speak with any definiteness, they would have left a blank in the. column. It must be obvious that the thing was so indefinite that in preparing the document -they hesitated to give any figures. It is apparently only under the pressure of this debate, and probably a request for information, that they have put forward an estimate. Therefore. Senator Givens has no right to speak of there being a local market for ,£60,000 worth of this material.
– That is the best estimate that I can get.
– It is. not even an estimate.
– The honorable senator said just -now that it was an estimate.
– I am corrected. It is a mere guess. It is only a drop in thebucket compared with that much larger and’ much more permanent market which is te* be found in the Victorian woollen mills.
– Then why does the honorable senator kick up all this fuss?
– It ii only a .drop in the bucket so far as a market for cotton is concerned. I am not saying that it is a mere drop in the bucket of taxation which is being imposed. This- is one of those cases where, in my opinion, we are asked to impose an excessive duty.
– - At the suggestion of an honorable senator sitting on the back bench opposite the Government propose to increase a duty. In my last speech I pointed out that again the Senate had been asked, at the suggestion I think of private members of the other House, and, possibly, of private senators, to increase a duty. This is the first occasion when I have known a revising Chamber to ask for higher duties than have bEen agreed to by the people’s representatives.
– We are equally representative of the people.
– That may be so, but we have the unexampled precedent that the Senate is asking for more and more taxation to be laid upon the shoulders of the people.
– Every reform is an unexampled precedent.
– It may be a reform. But I wish to accentuate the fact that when the Government cannot extract in the other House every sovereign out of the people they come here and, not on their own initiative but at the suggestion of honorable senators sitting “behind them, asked for higher duties. Last week, this week, and probably until the end of the chapter, the Government will come here and ask for more and more taxation, although the House of Representatives was quite satislied with the duties contained in the schedule. On this item I take the opportunity of pointing out what I think ought to be emphasized. Although the House of Representatives, which is more directly responsible to the people than we are for imposing a- burden of taxation, has stated distinctly by large majorities that it was satisfied with the duties, yet the Government come down here and say, “ We are not satisfied with the decision of the other House. The constitution of the Senate is such that, notwithstanding the fact that we are an indiscriminate force of two and a-half, we can rely upon those who profess to represent the workers, and call themselves Socialists, to screw more taxation out of the people.” On a previous item I pointed” out in strong terms that, relying upon the votes of the Socialists, the Government were asking for higher duties. But I recognise that a speech, no matter how strong and reasonable it may be, is not likely to influence the vote of a single senator. The Tariff has now reached a very critical position. Through the forbearance of honorable senators on this side items have been allowed to pass which probably ought’ to have met with stronger opposition.
– Order. I ask the honorable senator to come to the item before the Chamber.
– The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 10 per cent, on this item, and I am not satisfied with the reasons which the Government have given for asking us suddenly to double it. It illustrates a most important fact, and that is that the Senate is now being asked by the Government to carry the Tariff beyond the wish of the other House, and probably to bring it into accord with their own original intention, in order to screw out of the people every cent they can possibly get. ‘
– I do not see eye to eye with Senator bt. Ledger, and I propose to support the request, and I do so on the same grounds as I gave when I endeavoured to get the duty on cotton seed restored. First of all we gave a bounty upon the production of raw .cotton. I supported that proposal, and I have every reason to believe that the cotton industry will be a large and important one in Australia. When we reached the item of cotton-piece goods we promptly made them free. Next we came to two items dealing with cotton seed. In an ingenious sort of way the Government put a duty of 4s. per cental on cotton seed in one line and took it off in the next line by allowing the article free admission when imported for the manufacture of cottonseed cake and denaturated cotton-seed oil. Now we have come to the item of cotton wool. This is the one ewe lamb which is left for the cotton industry, and I intend to support the request that the duty be restored. I have received a copy of a telegram which was sent by the Queensland Government to the Prime Minister, and in which they urged that the reconsideration of the cotton duties should be taken in hand, and that some protection should be given to the cotton industry of the State.
– The honorable senator should have shown that to Senator St. Ledger.
– I am not Senator St. Ledger’s keeper, and I for one am not prepared to howl him down when he wishes to express his opinion. The gentleman from whom I received the copy of the telegram was. the Acting Premier, Mr. Denham. If we wish to encourage cottongrowing in Australia and to make the cotton bounty effective we should do what we can to encourage the local manufacture of certain goods which will give a market to that cotton.
Question- That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 124 by inserting after the word “ Wool “ the letters “n.e.i.” (Senator Findley’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Findley) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make theduty on item 124 (imports under General Tariff), ad val. 20 per cent.
– Do the Government intend to support the request?
– I have endeavoured to show by such information as I had at my disposal what an iniquitous course honorable senators opposite are bent on following; but as all arguments based upon the general interest of the community seem to have failed, I advance now the only one remaining in my armoury, which is, that, as the item was made free in the House of Representatives at the instance of the Treasurer, the Vice-President of the Executive Council ought to retrace his steps.
– The honorable senator does not follow the Treasurer.
– Certainly not; but I thought that what the Treasurer had done might prevail’ with his colleague. If not, I can only assume that, instead of seriously discussing the Tariff, we are playing with it, concerted action in regard to it on the part of Ministers being apparently the last thing for which we can look.
.- As I wish to propose duties of 15 and10 per cent., I. shall be glad if Senator Findley will withdraw his request temporarily, in order that I may put my proposal before the Committee. I do not know why he wishes to make the duties as high as20 and 15 per cent., especially since the Government in the House of Representatives allowed the item to be made free. I have been informed by manufacturers who have interviewed me that they would be content with rates of 15 and 10 per cent.
.- While the manufacturers who interviewed Senator McColl may have expressed themselves content with rates of 15 and 10 per cent., the firm most interested - Messrs. Laycock, Son, and Nettleton - ask for rates of 20 and 15 per cent.
– Although the Treasurer in the House of Representatives allowed this item to be free, the Vice-President of the Executive Council has announced that he intends to vote for the rate of duty proposed by Senator Findley. As there is a difference of opinion on the part of Queensland representatives on’ the subject, I wish to know exactly how things stand. Ifeel that I cannot logically vote for fair duties in all cases where my State is not specially interested, and’ vote for very high duties whenever Queensland interests are affected. I do not profess to have much knowledge of the cotton industry, but I wish to do what is right by the State which I represent and by the Commonwealth at large. My honorable colleague cannot be a more ardent protectionist than the Treasurer, who allowed the item to be made free; yet he, as well as Ministers, is going to support a rate twice as high as that recommended by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, namely, 10 per cent. Had Senator Findley proposed a duty of 50 per cent., I, as a Queensland representative, would have been strongly tempted to vote for it in the interests of my State; but I have hitherto endeavoured to vote for what I thought fair compromises between the proposals of protectionists - or, more properly speaking, prohibitionists - and those of free-traders.
– The proposal for higher rates is made, not on behalf of Queensland, but on behalf of Australia.
– The increase, if it benefits any State, will benefit Queensland chiefly ; but it seems to me that I should be inconsistent in voting for a high duty solely in the interests of my State, without regard to the welfare of the Commonwealth generally. Since the VicePresident of the Executive Council is not following the Treasurer, in this matter, he should give us reasons for what he intends to do. Usually when Tariffs are being considered it is the Government that take the responsibility for increases of duty ; andsurely reasons should be given by Ministers when they leave it to supporters to move, instead of submitting straightforward proposals of their own, to explain their action. In this instance, the taxpayers are concerned to the extent of ^64,000.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of, or against, the duty ?
– The honorable senator displays phenomenal intelligence in view of the fact that I have already voted to keep the duty as low as I could. Senator Trenwith has asked me to explain to the Committee why this proposal has .been made, but in order to do so I should have to delay the .Committee until the sun rose in the morning, and without any disrespect to the honorable senator’s intelligence, I feel that I should be unable to convince him even if I had the precision of logic of an Aristotle, and were armed with all the information of the greatest Chancellor of the Exchequer. I think I have established the fact that, as in connexion with many other items, the Government have not been game to ask directly for these extortionate duties, and my object in rising on this occasion was to accentuate that fact.
– I do not propose to do more with regard to this item than point out’ one fact based on the admission of Senator Findley. The honorable senator, as the basis of the request, read from a letter from Messrs. Laycock, Son, and Nettleton. I am not quarrelling with the honorable senator for that, but I say that what is taking place in the Committee at the present time is an advertisement to manufacturers throughout Australia that if any of them desire the imposition of a duty upon any article not already taxed, or the increase of a duty, all they have to do is to interview a private member of the Senate, and get him to undertake the responsibility of proposing a duty or an increase of duty, and they will be able to rely upon the support of the Government for the proposal, whilst the majority of the Committee will readily swallow it whatever it is.
– Suppose the leader of the Opposition made the proposal?
– Then it might be taken for granted that the honorable senator would vote against it.
- Senator McColl has just made a proposal which the Committee accepted. What more does the honorable senator want?
– I was referring to Senator Turley.
– I have supported every proposal for an increase of duty that has come from the other side.
– Then the honorable senator must have a very clean sheet, if that is all he has done. I have risen to direct attention to something which does not appear to me to be very creditable. Senator Findley, I am sure, will not claim that he has looked into this industry. The honorable senator has submitted his request without a full investigation of the industry.
– The matter was considered by the Tariff Commission.
– Who recommended a duty of 5 per cent.
– Because they did not fully understand the matter.
– They recommended a duty of 5 per cent., but afterwards it appears there was another Commission, consisting of Messrs. Laycock, Son, and Nettleton, who interviewed the too-kindly-natured Senator . Findley. When Senator McColl suggested that the duty should be 15 per cent., Senator Findley said that Messrs. Laycock asked 20 per cent., and, apparently, there is nothing more to be said. That firm employ girls of twelve years of age to make this material. They want a duty of 20 per cent., and the Committee is immediately invited to give it to them.
– Why did they not ask for 50 per cent. ?
– Because they had a higher opinion of the Committee than they were entitled to have. They probably thought that if they asked -for too high a duty they would not get it. But what has taken place here to-day shows that it is only necessary for any manufacturer to get the ear of a private member of the Senate to secure the imposition of a new duty or the increase of one already imposed, because it is idle to say that in this matter there has been any attempt to make a thorough and impartial investigation into the conditions of the industry.
– The honorable senator will admit that the manufacturers of these goods are entitled to some protection.
-Thathasnothingto do with the matter. This proposal rests entirely on the fact that Messrs. Laycock say they want 20 per cent. Senator Findley, in hot haste, asks the Committee to give them what they want, the Government still more hastily rush to support the proposal, and the majority of the Committee are prepared to adopt the suggestion. This is a strange method to adopt in the framing of a Tariff.
– It is a compliment to the industry.
– Where was’ Sir William Lyne when this article was put on the free list? Why did not these people interview that honorable gentleman? The fact is that Messrs. Laycock discovered their mistake in not having interviewed the Minister in his private room.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the manufacturer should have interviewed the Minister in his private room ? .
– I am trying to point out that apparently all that it is necessary for a manufacturer in Australia to do at the present moment is to get hold of some private member of the Senate, interview him, and induce him to bring forward a proposal for the imposition of a new duty or the increase of a duty.
– But the honorable senator said that it was a pity that Messrs. Laycock did not interview the Minister in his private room.
– Exactly. If they had done so, the chances are that the article would not have been put on the free list. What is happening now has happened before, and when a manufacturer has prevailed upon some private member to move a request of this kind,itisimmediately approved by the Government and a majority of the Committee proceeds to swallow it. It would not be so bad if there had been any investigation, but it cannot be contended for a moment that there has been any examination of this industry, and yet we are asked, with our eyes open, to deliberately tear up the report of the Tariff Commission. I say with all respect to those who differ from me that in this matter the Committee, in my opinion, is not discharging the duty which devolves upon it.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 124 “ Waddings “ (imports under General Tariff), 20 per cent. (Senator Findley’ s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to. .
Request (by Senator - Findley) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 124 “Waddings” (imports from the United Kingdom), 15 per cent.
Item 125 (Bunting, &c.) and item 126 (Saddlers’ Webs, &c.) agreed to.
Item 127. Horse-hair Cloth and Cloth of Horse-hair and Cotton, or Horse-hair and Wool combined ; Hop Cloth ; Filter Cloth for mines ; Camel Hair Cloth for pressing crushed copra, free.
Item agreed to.
Item 128 (Milling Silk), item 129 (Canvas and Duck), and item 130 (Hessians’ and Brattice Cloth) agreed to.
Item 131. Fringes of Textile Materials not being for Attire, free.
– For departmental reasons, and for the purpose of avoiding difficulties of interpretation, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 131 by inserting after the word “Fringes” the words “or Edgings.”
Request agreed to.
Item 132. Socks and Stockings of all kinds for human attire, ad val. (General Tariff), on and after 14th November, 1907, 25 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), on and after 14th November, 1907, 20 per cent.
– I think I am correct in saying that the Tariff as originally framed provided for a different treatment in the case of socks made of wool and those made of cotton and other fabrics. For some reason that difference has apparently been wiped away, and socks and stockings of all kinds are now brought together in one item. The proposal is that the duty shall be 25 per cent, on the general Tariff, and 20 per cent, in the British preference column. The old Tariff did make a difference, woollens being charged 15 per cent., cottons ip per cent., and silks 25 par cent. Without wishing to see these figures repeated in the present Tariff, it seems to me that there should be varying rates of duty. It may be said that the Department finds a difficulty in ascertaining whether a sock is ma,de of one material or another. But that point was not raised when we were dealing with apparel, and I do not think it should be raised in this case. I am not sufficiently acquainted with the details of the trade to know how best a change might be made. But the suggestion that occurs to my mind is this. We should, I think, reduce the duty in the first column to 20 per cent, and make a corresponding reduction of 5 per cent, in the duty on British goods. A duty of 20 per cent, represents a compromise between what is now proposed and the duties in the 1902 Tariff. “ The probabilities are that the mean between those duties would be somewhere about 18 per cent., so that my proposal is a shade higher than the average under the 1902 Tariff. I do not say that I look upon a duty of 20 per cent, as ideal, but I quite recognise the impossi bility of looking for support for anything lower than the duty under the 1902 Tariff?
– The honorable senator’s proposal leaves the principle of the duty as it stands.
– Just so. All that 1 am proposing now is that the duty shall . be reduced to 20 per cent, -iri the general1 Tariff. I move -
That the House of Representatives be re- “ quested to make the duty on item r32 (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 20 per cent.
Senator McCOLL (Victoria) [6. 25 J. - 1 am not in favour of reducing the duty om woollen and silk stockings, but I think we ought to reduce the rate for cotton, socks and stockings, even if we do not make them free. They are not manufactured in the country.
– Cotton socks and stockings come into competition with woollen goods.
– That may.be a reason why we should make all cotton goods free. When we were dealing with the Victorian Tariff, years ago, this subject was threshed out, and cotton stockings and socks were allowed to come in at a low rate of duty.
– I will withdraw my request if the honorable senator desires ,to move another, one.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator McColl) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item r32 by leaving out thewords “of all kinds.”
– I hopethat my honorable friend, Senator McColl, will not persist in attempting to differentiate between the goods imported under thisitem. Under the Tariff of 1902 hosiery was dutiable according to the materialsfrom which it was made. When it waswholly cotton the duty was 10 per cent. ; when it was wholly wool, or made of wool and cotton mixture, the duty was 15 per cent. ; and when it was silk or silk mixture the duty was 25 per cent. That was found to be most unsatisfactory and a source of irritation and vexation. First of all, it was very difficult to differentiate between the various classes of goods, and, in the next place, it involved the opening of an enormous number of cases and no end of work and trouble in that connexion. In formulating this Tariff there was a deshe to meet the wishes of the trade as well as of the Department by grouping the various kinds of goods together under one heading. Socks and stockings are, of course, made in the Commonwealth, woollen stockings particularly. While, of course, it may not be true that cotton stockings are made here at present, there is no reason on earth why they should not be, and this duty will give- a very substantial inducement for their manufacture in the country. The importations are exceedingly great. In 1902 they were £124,800, in 1903 £281,200, in .1904 £390,800, in 1.905 £422,200, and in 1906 £462,000. These figures do not include silk hosiery, which is grouped with apparel. To simplify the Tariff is one of our objects, and the duty as it stands will have that effect. We also have an opportunity of giving a substantial impetus to a most excellent industry. The duty of 25 per cent, will prove effective, and I do ask honorable senators to realize that there is a possibility of our having a very large industry in the making of woollen and cotton stockings and socks.
– How can we have a big industry in cotton stockings?
– Cotton comes in free, in addition to which we hope to develop our own cotton industry to a large extent. It would be a very great mistake to breakup the item against all the experience of thu trade and of the Department.
– I think that there is another view to be taken of the Tariff than that of obtaining simplicity. We have laid down the principle of making articles which we consider to be purely revenue producing free.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 f.m.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council urged that these goods should be grouped under one heading in order to secure simplicity. He said that it would save, not only the Customs officials, but the importers a great deal of trouble if the present system of grouping were adopted. I do not know that we ought to attach much weight to that plea. Whilst it is certainly desirable that we should endeavour as far as possible to simplify the Tariff, there must be some limit to the sacrifices we are prepared to make in order to achieve that object. If simplicity were the all-important consideration, we might obtain it by deter mining that one rate of duty should apply to every item. Then, again, we cannot attach very much weight to the contention that this grouping would save a great deal of labour. The object of a protectionist Tariff is not to reduce, but to increase, employment; and even if it gives increased employment to Customs officials or importers’ clerks, I do not know that it is a violation of the principles of protection. Be that as it may, we must not overlook the fact that we have already differentiated between cottons and woollens. That being so, we should extend the principle to similar items in the Tariff. We have before us a case in point. I cannot conceive of any argument in favour of the free admission of cotton piece goods that does not supply equally to the free admission of cotton socks and stockings. I am therefore unable^ to reconcile the attitude taken up by the Vice-President of the Executive Council in regard to this item with that which he has adopted in respect of other items. It has been our’ endeavour as far as possible to distinguish between luxuries and necessities of life. We have imposed on all luxuries - whether they consist of silks, champagne, or anything else purchased chiefly by the man with more than the average purse - heavier duties than we have imposed on goods in everyday use, purchased principally by the poorer classes of the community. That being so, we have every reason for differentiating between the duties on cotton socks and silk or even woollen socks. We have heard a great deal as to the undesirableness of bringing cotton socks into competition with woollen hosiery. If we desire to foster the manufacture of woollen socks, we ought to place upon them higher duties than we impose upon cotton socks. I do not know that the result would be altogether what we should desire, but, having regard to the way in which we have distinguished between luxuries and necessities, I think that we ought to differentiate between these two lines. I therefore intend to support the request which has been outlined by Senator McColl.
.- I believe that this is the first Tariff framed in Australia in which these lines have been grouped in one item. As Senator de Largie very properly asks, if we are to distinguish between cotton, linen, and woollen bodywear, why should we not differentiate between cotton, silk, and woollen footwear? This duty affects the poorest classes of the people.
Cotton socks and stockings can be purchased’ at from 6d. per pair upwards ; but a pair of woollen stockings costs from 2s. upwards. The Government proposal would be all very well if every one could afford to purchase woollen hosiery. Having regard to the climatic conditions of Australia, it would be a good thing if every one could ; but, unfortunately, the factory girl or a general servant, earning from ios. to j£i per week, cannot afford to purchase such expensive footwear, and has usually to be content with cotton hosiery. That being so, this duty would penalize them ; it would place them on the same plane as the rich, who can afford to pay for woollen or silken hosiery. In preFederation days, Victoria imposed a duty of 25 per cent, on woollen stockings, but cotton stockings were free. In New South Wales they were free; in Queensland a duty of 15 per cent, was in operation ; in South Australia and Tasmania a duty of 20 per cent, prevailed, and under the Western Australian Tariff there was a duty of 15 per cent. I find that this matter was very carefully considered by. the Tariff Commission, the protectionist section of which reported that -
Cotton socks and stockings were not at present manufactured in Australia. There was no immediate prospect of the successful initiation of this branch of hosiery production here, and therefore these goods did not require to be protected by a special duty. The hosiery manufacturers who appeared before your Commissioners were interested in securing an increased import duty upon woollen socks and stockings only, but some of them incidentally stated that if the present duty of 10 per cent, on cotton hosiery were increased to 20 per cent, or 25 per cent, and the raw material locally produced, they could compete with imported cotton socks and stockings.
That might have been an attempt on the part of the woollen hosiers to have the importation of cotton hosiery prohibited. But if that course is to be adopted in respect of hosiery or foot-wear, why should it not have been adopted in respect of body wear? Why, for instance, should Senator McGregor and I appear in the. Senate wearing light suits when, by reason of the imposition of a heavy duty, we might have been compelled to wear woollen goods? The recommendation of the protectionist section of the Commission was that the various lines’ should be separated; that socks and stockings, woollen, with or without silk or other ornamentation, should be dutiable at 25 per cent. ; that socks and stockings, cotton, with or without silk or other ornamentation, should be dutiable at 15 per cent. ; that socks and stockings, silk or partly of silk, should be dutiable at 15 per cent., and that yarns should be free. That is a sensible recommendation, and I trust that the Committee will request that the item be divided. Tariff simplicity is desirable, but it is not so important that we should endeavour to secure it at the cost of penalizing the poor, while the rich go free.
– My honorable friend, in his opening remarks, based his contention upon a misapprehension. He said we were making a distinction between .woollen and cotton clothing. As a matter of fact, we are not.
– The Government are allowing cotton piece goods to come in free* while woollens are dutiable.
– We are dealing now with apparel.
– That is only a quibble.
– Socks and stockings are items of apparel, and we have already decided to impose on woollen and ( cotton apparel uniform duties of 40 per cent, and 35 per cent.
– Because we are making apparel here. We are not making cotton socks and stockings in Australia.
– Why can we not make them?
– There is no reason why we should not.
– May I take it, then, that Senator Best’s argument is an indication that no attempt will be made to reverse the decision on items 106 and 107 ?
– Those items were most wisely dealt with uniformly, that course being adopted to simplify the Tariff. Few items have been a source of greater anxiety, both to importers and the Customs Department, than has that of socks and stockings. As the result of many conferences, it was determined to group these lines together. It is all very well for my honorable friend now to attempt to differentiate between them, and to say that he has no objection to the duty in respect of socks, woollen or containing wool ; but he will discover that such a differentiation would at once give rise to an anomaly. What would be the position in regard to silk stockings? Would he make them free?
– No, I should support a heavier duty upon them.
– Then, again, what are silk socks and stockings? Is it to be said that socks containing a thread or two of silk or having a binding of silk shall be classed as silk socks,; although with that exception they consist wholly of wool or cotton? Nothing is more usual than to have silk worked on socks and stockings. Hence in regard to all these matters it was found desirable to have these different line’s grouped together. There is a cheap line of hosiery known as military socks, which are made entirely of cotton. Yet they are so got up by the process of dusting wool upon them that they have the appearance of woollen. hosiery, .and unfortunately are sold as such. If cotton socks are admitted free, I have not the slightest doubt that we shall have a very substantial increase in the importation of military socks. Apart from that point altogether, however, I would say that first of all in order to achieve simplicity - and the Committee has carefully applied itself to an effort to secure simplicity in respect of other items - we ought to agree to the present grouping of the item. Then, again, this is a protective duty of 25 per cent, as against the old duty of 10 per cent., so that there is no reason why the industry of making cotton socks should not be immediately started in Australia. The duty is a distinct encouragement to the manufacturers of cotton hosiery to set up an establishment here. It would be a great mistake to amend the -item, and I would urge that the present uniformity be maintained. Let us discuss the question of duty and fight it out on its merits, but if the item be amended in the way proposed, I feel satisfied that we shall have a continuation of the confusion that has hitherto existed.
– The Minister has put forward as his principal argument the plea that by agreeing to the item as it stands we shall facilitate the work of the Customs officials, since simplicity will be secured by having all socks and stockings grouped under the one heading. That may be perfectly true, but we have to ask ourselves at what cost to the consumers this simplicity would be obtained. It is not contended, that the duty can be anything but an impost upon the users of cotton socks, seeing that they are not made in Australia.I am not in a position to say what propor tion of the socks we import are cotton and what proportion are woollen.
– The imports of plain cotton hosiery are valued at £150,627, and those of other lines are valued at £311,403.
– That makes it plain that in order to save the Customs officials, and possibly the importers of hosiery, some little trouble, we are asked to impose a duty of’ 25 per cent, on an annual importation of £150,000 worth of cotton hosiery, which is not being made in Australia, and which even the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission admitted is not likely to be made here for some time. To that extent the Committee are now asked to sanction the imposition of a purely revenue duty. Under . the circumstances, one may reasonably inquire, whether 25 per cent, upon £150,000 worth of imports - nearly £40,000 annually - is not too high a price to charge the people of the Commonwealth merely to convenience the Customs officials and the. importers.
– In order to secure simplicity.
– That means to ease the work of the Customs Department - which has been established for the convenience of the public - and to simplify the passing of entries by importers. It seems to me that the price is altogether too high. If the difference were one as between 20 per cent, and 25 per cent., we might very well allow it to pass unquestioned in the interests of the attainment of simplicity, but it is a matter of 25 per ce.it., or one-fourth of the value of the goods.
– This is a proposal to tax the public, in order to prevent the Customs officials experiencing trouble.
– Exactly. Not even the representatives of the Government or Senator Trenwith will venture to say that the articles mentioned in this item are being made in the Commonwealth, or are likely to be made here.
– I do say that.
– I admit that I incur a big risk when I say that there is something which Senator Trenwith will not assert sooner or later. But I must take risks upon occasions, and I am taking one now. Senator McColl himself read a paragraph from the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, which stated not only that the industry was not being carried on in Australia, but that it was not likely to be. To the extent of our cotton importations this duty is purely a revenue impost. Therefore, the whole question that we have to consider is, “ Are we justified in charging the purchaser of cotton socks and stockings 25 per cent. merely to facilitate the passing of Customs entries?” The difficulty might have been obviated if a less duty than 25 per cent. had been proposed. Had a 10 per cent. or a 15 per cent. rate been suggested, possibly we might have been willing to purchase simplicity at that price. But, merely to attain simplicity, I am not prepared to indorse a proposal to levy a duty of 25 per cent. I hope that upon every occasion the Committee will request the remission of revenue duties.
– I would suggest to Senator McColl that he should test this question in a different way from that which he has proposed. For instance, he might move to insert after the words “ socks and stockings “ the word “namely,” and to strike out the balance of the item, with a view to introducing the following new paragraphs, (a) “ Wool or containing wool,” (b) “ Silk or containing silk,” and (c) “ Cotton.” His present proposal I fear will lead to trouble.
.- My present proposal is merely to leave out the words “ of all kinds,” and subsequently 1 shall move to add new paragraphs in the form suggested by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. It is quite immaterial to me how my purpose is achieved, so long as we can insure a straight-out vote being taken upon it.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 132, “ Socks and stockings of all kinds for human attire,”by leaving out the words “of all kinds “-put. The Committee divided.
Majority …… 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator McColl) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 132 by inserting after the word “ attire “ the word “ viz.”
Request (by Senator McColl) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item132 by inserting the following new paragraph : - “ (a) Woollen or containing wool ad val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent.”
– Earlier in the evening I submitted a request to impose a duty of 20 per cent. upon this item, but I withdrew it to enable Senator McColl to move in the direction that he has done. Therefore, I now move -
That the request be amended by leaving out the figures “25” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “ 20.”
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator McColl) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty in new paragraph a (imports from the United Kingdom), 20 per cent.
.- I. now desire to move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 132 by inserting the following new paragraph: - “ b. Silk or containing silk (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 25 per cent.”
– It has been suggested to me by the Department that it would be better to divide the item in the following way -
– I am willing to accept that classification. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 132 by inserting the following new paragraph : - ‘ b. Cotton, free.”
– I wish to draw Senator McColl’ s attention to the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission. With regard to cotton hose, they recommend the wording : - “ with or without silk or other ornamentation.” Men’s cotton socks commonly have a little silk thread run up the side, terminating in what is technically called a clock. That would be simply a cotton sock, but that little silk thread would, if the Vice-President’s friendly suggestion were adopted, bring it underthe heading of “ silk.” It would be absurd for the Committee to undo the work which it has just done by charging cotton socks so ornamented as “silk.” Ninety per cent. of the socks that have come out have a thread of silk on them. I am quite content in this case to accept the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission-
– What !
– It may seem astonishing and unwise to do so, but the circumstances are notordinary. I am pleased that Senator Turley begins to recognise the absolute folly of accepting a recommendation from them in ordinary cases. But the Committee have decided upon a certain course, and, that being so, let us give effect to the last vote, which was distinctly to differentiate between woollen and cotton socks. If we adopt the suggestion to make cotton socks free, and later on the further suggestion - that gift from the Greeks - of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, to make silk hose dutiable at 25 per cent., it will simply be another way of putting cotton socks back under the same duty as woollen ones, and we might have saved ourselves the trouble of the last and the next divisions. The Vice-President of the Executive Council suggests that any cotton sock, with the slightest piece of silk in it, should be made to pay exactly the same duty as it would have paid under the item as it came before us.
– Supposing that a cotton sock has one thread of wool in it?
– My answer to that is the wording of the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission - “ with or without silk or other ornamentation.” I believe that the Customs Department is fully possessed of the knowledge to enable it to tell whether a piece of silk or of any other material woven into a sock is an integral part of it, or merely ornamentation. I repeat and emphasize that if we adopt the suggestion of the Vice-President of the Executive Council we shall simply be determining that the vote we have just given shall be undone, and that a very large percentage of cotton socks shall, because of that little piece of silk ornamentation, pay exactly the same duty as woollen socks do, and continue to be, as they were designed by the Government to be, a revenue-yielding item.
– Senator Millen is, I think quite unconsciously, misleading the Committee. The way in which it is proposed to divide the item gives the Committee the freest opportunity of deciding exactly what they mean. So far we have merely decided that woollen socks, or socks containing wool, shall bear a certain duty. We havenext to decide as to cotton socks as now proposed in new paragraph b. Thethird question to decide is the rate ofduty upon socks “ silk or containing silk, but notcontaining wool, and n.e.i.” When we reach that paragraph, it will be for the Committee to decide exactly what the duty shall be. Senator Millen wants the Committee to believe that by voting for new paragraph b they will be undoing what they have already done. My answer to that argument is that we have dealt only with woollen socks and stockings. As Senator Turley suggested, suppose that, instead of the silk ornamentation described by Senator Millen, a sock contained one, two, or half-a-dozen threads of wool, or 40 per cent., or any other percentage of wool. Undoubtedly it would then come under the 25 per cent, duty. Senator Millen says that a cotton sock may contain one thread of silk by way of ornamentation. Does he propose to move an amendment allowing cotton socks to contain one thread of silk? Where is the line to be drawn? What if a sock is ornamented by a man’s initials in silk, or tipped at the toe with silk? It is quite impossible to differentiate as to the degree of ornamentation which will take it out of “cotton” and bring it under some other heading. It is all very well to talk in a light and airy fashion about a sock containing merely one thread of silk as ornamentation. But if we are to avoid confusion, we must draw the line firmly. We must ask, “Does it contain silk, or does it not?” We have already decided that if. a sock contains any wool at all it ‘shall be liable to a certain duty. . Why should we fail in the case of silk to come to a similar clear, firm, and clean-cut decision? Let us vote distinctly as to whether it shall be cotton, or cotton and silk mixed. If it is to be cotton alone, let us vote accordingly. If, on the other hand, the question becomes the adoption of new paragraph c, as suggested by me, “ Silk or containing silk, but not containing wool, and n.e.i.,” it will be for the Committee to say what duty shall be imposed. That is the clear way of dealing with the item, and the only proper method of achieving complete simplicity.
– If the duty on this item is to be reduced, my vote will go for making it absolutely free, because I am not in favour of imposing what’ is merely a revenue duty, without protective incidence. But one aspect of this subject, which has been brought under my notice, is worthy of a little consideration, and has been so far entirely overlooked. I am informed that there is in this city a firm of manufacturers who do to some extent make cotton hose. Item 400 of the Tariff makes cotton yarn dutiable at 15 per cent, (general Tariff), and 10 per cent. (United Kingdom). If, then, cotton hose is made free,’ those Melbourne manufacturers of cotton socks willbe charged at the rates of 15 and 10 per cent, on the yarns which they use to make the socks - and there appears to be no chance at present of these yarns being produced here - while cotton socks manufactured in other countries will be admitted free of duty to compete with what they produce. I am prepared to vote to make cotton hose free if I am assured that there are no manufacturers of it in Australia at present, and that there is no probability of there being any. But my information is that there_,is already one firm making cotton hose in Australia.
– What firm is that?
– I am credibly informed that it is Messrs. Foy and Gibson. Why should there be a duty on cotton yarn, which is the necessary raw material, while the manufactured article is admitted free ? If the duty on cotton yarn is retained at 15 per cent., then a duty of 25 per cent, is not too much to impose on cotton hose. I shall therefore move, in order to test the feeling of the Committee -
That . the request be amended by leaving out the word “free” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words and figures “ (imports- under General Tariff), 25 per cent, ad val.”
– I am unable, to understand Senator Givens’ remarkable change of front. Not ten minutes ago he helped to take “cotton hose” away from the 25 per cent. duty. Having done that, he now, like the good old Duke of York, proposes to put it back again. He was firmly convinced that cotton and wool socks ought not to be treated alike, and helped to separate them. Now, however, because of an intimation he has received from Messrs. Foy and Gibson - we shall get familiar with these names directly - he’ has changed his mind. Messrs. Foy and Gibson have found that it is only necessary to get some honorable senator to move a new duty or an increase of duty, knowing that the Ministry will support it, and they have been quick to follow the example of Senator Findley’s interviewers. Why did Messrs. Foy and Gibson not tell the Tariff Commission that they were manufacturing these socks?
– No one connected with the firm of Messrs. Foy and Gibson has said a word to me.
– And I do not believe that they have said a word to any other honorable senator.
– I got the information from somebody quite apart from the firm.
– Only recently we had scarcely entered upon a discussion before the lobby was filled with gloves by interested persons, who must have been telephoned to.
– It was not Foy and Gibson, but Dodds.
– It is marvellous how this information is rushed about the city - a debate is started, and the next minute representatives of firms arrive. An ordinary common-sense man would look to the report of the Tariff Commission in preference to information received even by Senator Givens. Unless substantial proof or justification is shown for the belief with which Senator Givens has become inspired in the last few moments, we ought to rely on the statements of the members of the Tariff Commission, whose report states -
Cotton socks and stockings were not at present manufactured in Australia. There was no immediate prospect of the successful initiation of this branch of hosiery production here, and therefore these goods did not require to be protected by a special duty.
What has Senator Givens to advance as against that statement? Only his own assurance, made in good faith, I have no doubt, that he has’ reason to believe “ - he does not even affirm.
– I do not know of my own knowledge.
– Senator Givens merely says that he believes these goods are being made here ; and, in consequence, he asks us to impose a duty on£150,000 worth of goods which the Tariff Commission tell us are not made here. This only illustrates the recklessness with which some honorable senators are prepared to impose duties; and we ought to refuse to go any further on the lines which honorable senators opposite are mapping out for us. If there is an industry worth protecting, the Tariff Commission would have ascertained the fact, because those interested, like those in the woollen industry, would have asked for legislative assistance.
– Which the honorable senator would have refused all the same.
– The honorable senator must remember that only a few minutes ago he voted with me on the strength of the report of the Tariff Commission’. Honor able senators ought, in all seriousness, to ask themselves whether, because somebody has said that they think an industry exists somewhere, it is right and proper to impose a duty of 25 per cent., or one-fourth of the value of an annual importation of goods worth £150,000, which are used by every man, woman, and child, and which the members of the Tariff Commission tell us are not now being made here, and are not likely to be made here for many years to come. Quite apart from the rival principles of free-trade and protection, the proposal before us shows extreme recklessness, which does not redound to the credit of the Committee, or make the struggle for existence any lighter for the masses, and will cause the Tariff and its framers to stink in the nostrils of the citizens of Australia.
– Whether or not cotton socks are being made in Australia, I do not know; but there is no reason why they should not, except that there is not sufficient inducement. Surely cotton socks can be made as simply as woollen socks. It is only very recently that woollen stockings or hosiery of any kind was manufactured in Australia, although they have been made in New Zealand a good many years. Every protectionist should feel disposed to assist in insuring that this very simple manufacture shall be carried on in Australia. Cotton, we hope, will be grown here, and we desire to open out as many avenues as we can for its local use. Cotton stockings are made in England in very large quantities, although all the raw material has to be imported without the slightest prospect of its local production. We can obtain the raw material just as readily as can the manufacturers of Great Britain, and I hope that every protectionist will vote for a protectionist duty without regard to whether cotton socks are being made here now, but with the certainty that if the inducement be sufficient they will be made here in the near future.
– We are certainly getting into a very peculiar position. I dare say that if Senator Trenwith, or some other protectionist or prohibitionist, could show that halos and wings could be manufactured by Messrs. Brown, Jones, and Robinson, or Messrs. Foy and Gibson, they could get a law passed that nobody should have Christian burial unless their next-world raiment were made by some Australian firm. Senator Trenwith is always telling us that if a commodity is not being made here now, there is strong prospect of its being made here in the “ sweet byandby.” If in the next hour or half-hour anybody within a few hundred yards of the Senate can show the slightest prospect of something being manufactured at some time or other, we shall have a duty proposed ; Collins-street or Bourke-street has only to be represented at the lobby in order to secure a duty on cotton socks, halos, or anything else.
– If they can prove that the commodities can be made here - that is what the honorable senator is afraid of.
– But Collinsstreet and Bourke-street are not Australia. Manufacturers of South Australia, New South Wales, or Queensland are not within call of the Senate lobby when protectionists send the word round. The proposals nowbeing made are not the Government proposals, as has been shown over and over again to-night. I rejoice that my criticism should have called forth the interjection made just now by the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– The item before us is cotton socks.
– In answer to my question, Senator Givens said, that these socks are being made by Messrs. Foy and Gibson.
– That fact can be referred to only incidentally ; the question before us is the duty on cotton socks.
– When we ask for whose benefit this high duty is proposed, and we are told that it is Messrs. Foy and Gibson, and when, further, the Vice-President of the Executive Council sees no reason why firms should not come to the lobby, I think my remarks are particularly pertinent. I am pointing out the difficulties under which we are constructing a Tariff for the whole of Australia. . As a matter of fact, the Government know now that the Committee is in a state of “go as you please,” and that they have no control. The proposition emanating from this side is, in my opinion, remarkably fair and reasonable, and I hope that it will be carried, because it is highly advisable in the case of a Tariff which is practically gorging the Treasury and screwing out of everybody
– The honorable senator is not in order in discussing the Tariff generally.
– By means of this item, sir, some sovereigns are being unjustly screwed out of the people. I submit that the Treasurer . has screwed out ot them too many, and in connexion with their cotton stockings I will not allow one farthing more to be screwed out of them without entering an emphatic protest. It is downright and unjustifiable greed and tyranny on the part of the Government to heap these additional burdens upon the people, and I shall assist my leader with all the power I possess to resist their proposals. I wish to throw this responsibility upon the Government, who are a mere gramophone, a sort of organ which any one on the other side can grind. I protest against the imposition of this duty.
.- Whilst I admit that the last vote taken might be considered a test vote, I feel that some honorable senators holding strong protectionist opinions were not fully seized of all the circumstances, and I include myself amongst that number. I shall give place to no honorable senator in my desire to protect to the highest extent all those industries which can be, are being, and have been established in any part of the Commonwealth. So far as I have been able I have been consistent, in common with most honorable senators belonging to the Labour Party, in desiring to strike out all the revenue duties. When the last division was taken some honorable senators, including myself, were of opinion that cotton socks ‘were not manufactured in Victoria or any other State. We thought that this was essentially a revenue duty, and our opinion was strengthened by the extracts which were read from the Tariff Commission’s report by Senators Millen and McColl’ Taking that report as the best guide we could get we voted, although it was a test vote in a measure, for free cotton socks.
– Under a misapprehension.
– Yes. Since the division was taken Senator Givens has told us that in Collingwood an industry exists, and I think he said that it is carried on by Foy and Gibson. Whether that firm is making or intends to make cotton socks I am not in a position to say. But a gentleman who has no other object to serve than to fortify honorable senators - at any rate, protectionist senators - with all the information that will be helpful to them in con- nexion with the items, has taken the trouble since this discussion was initiated by Senator McColl to make inquiries on the subject. As the result of his inquiries he has informed me and others that Murray and Company, of Richmond, are making, and making extensively, cotton socks. What they are doing in Victoria probably many firms are doing in different parts of the Commonwealth. As a protectionistI cannot, therefore, vote for the free admission of cotton socks.
– The honorable senator cannot vote for a low duty.
-No. I would sooner vote for no duty than vote for a revenue duty. I have no sympathy with any one who desires the imposition of revenue duties. I remind those who may be in a state of indecision that the raw material - cotton - is admitted free of duty. The imposition of a duty of 25 per cent. on manufactured cotton goods, particularly hosiery, will give to the industry a stimulus which it never had before, and with that stimulus, of course, additional industries will be created and further employment found for the people. The certainty is that with the establishment of the policy of new protection this State, and indirectly the whole Commonwealth, will be advantaged bythe passing of the duty suggested by Senator Givens.
– We are getting a little more information now as to the source from which honorable senators draw their inspiration. Here is another gentleman who, a few minutes ago, believed - he had no other information available than the Tariff Commission’s report - that cotton goods were not made in Australia, and, therefore, voted to separate them from woollen goods, with the ultimate intention of making them free. We did not start the discussion on this matter until 6 o’clock. Yet we find that when business and public offices are closed, and there is no opportunity to get information from a reliable and official source, some person comes along and whispers to Senator Findley that somebody is doing something somewhere.
– The firm is named.
– The honorable senator cannot tell us on his own authority that it is so.
– According to some honorable senators it is a crime to get information.
– No, but why was not the information placed before the Tariff Commission? Why was it kept back tor the private use of honorable senators? Why was it given through the medium of the lobby instead of in the open room of the Tariff Commission? It is indeed a crime to encourage the men who declined to go before that body to come here now. Was there any hesitancy on the. part of manufacturers generally to give evidence? None at all, and it is only in a case where, apparently, we can get no official information concerning any industry that these gentlemen suddenly dare, either by themselves or by agents, to come here and influence honorable senators.
– Didany one say before the Tariff Commission that these articles were not made here?
– A manufacturer of woollen goods distinctly told that body that cotton goods were not being made here, and I presume that it was on his evidence that it mentioned thatthey are not made, or likely to be made, here.
– It is nearly two years since they took evidence.
– So far as I know not one honorable senator has ever received a straightforward, open circular putting in a plea for the manufacturer of cotton socks.
– Because, with the duty of 25 per cent. in the schedule, he was protected.
– I venture to say that if he had been protected he would have howled against the proposed duty on cotton yarns.
– There was the difference between the duty of 15 per cent. on cotton yarns and the duty of 25 per cent. on the other things.
– That would not have prevented him from objecting to the duty on cotton yarns, seeing that the whole of the evidence was as to the impossibility of spinning cotton yarns in Australia.
– The duties on cotton yarn were imposed at the request of people in Queensland, and hence the manufacturer of cotton socks had to get his protection between the 15 per cent. duty and the 25 per cent. duty.
– The manufacturer of cotton socks did not happen to be known when the Tariff Commission was taking evidence. It is idle for honorable senators to suppose that they are putting before us. anything which can be called evidence. Senator Best would simply scout the idea of calling this report of rumours, put forward in the way it has been, anything on which the Committee should act. If I were to say that somebody had told me something, or that I had just heard, or had reason to believe, something, would they take me seriously? It is only when, apparently, a step is taken by some one in the direction of putting on a duty that the thing is entertained for a moment, otherwise it would be laughed out of court. If Senator Findley and others have any substantial proof that an industry exists, or has recently come into existence, surely they can find a trace of it in the report of the Chief Inspector of Factories or in the Victorian Year-Book. Let them bring forward some evidence to show that it does exist.
– In the stocking industry there are upwards of 250 persons employed.
– The honorable senator cannot say that any one has ever turned out the toe of a single sock.
– I am informed that they do.
– The question of whether this duty is to be imposed is to be determined on idle remarks conveyed to two honorable senators, without any official authority, by somebody who, for all we know, is simply engaged in a pleasant pastime.
– What has chiefly determined my attitude in this matter is that cotton yarns are dutiable. Cotton yarns being dutiable, articles manufactured of them should also be dutiable.
– I think that what has really determined my honorable friend’s attitude is the mysterious message from the spirit-world to which I have referred. According to the report of the Tariff Commission, Australian manufacturers do not spin cotton yarn, and cotton spinning is distinct from wool spinning. As no manufacturer has yet attempted to spin cotton yarn in Australia, does the honorable senator think that a duty of 15 per cent. will bring the industry into existence? A duty of at least 25 per cent. would have to be imposed, and if such a duty were imposed, the duty on socks and stockings spun from cotton yarn would have to be made at least 40 per cent.
– Would the honor- . able senator support a duty of 25 per cent. on cotton yarns?
– In this Committee I have only to support a proposal and it is sure to be lost, though if honorable senators could be trusted to vote in accordance with reason, I should win every time. The mysterious whisperings in the lobby are much more potent with some of them than arguments or statements of facts and figures.
– The honorable senator has only to say, “ revenue Tariff,” and a number will follow him.
– Ministers, having failed in their effort to disguise a revenue duty, are now seeking to frighten those who are anti-revenue tariffists into believing that it is really a protective duty. Not long since, Senators Findley and Turley, on what was practically a test vote, supported the making of this item free, believing the duty to be a revenue one; but now, because of the statement, which is not substantiated, that some one is making these articles, they put on one side an official document, the work of Commissioners who for months heard and discussed evidence on the subject. I do not think that any business man would place ex parte statements, unsupported by evidence, before the clear and definite pronouncement of the Tariff Commission. If only for their own credit, honorable senators who have nothing more definite to go on than what has been put before us to-night should insist on the postponement of the item until it can be determined whattruth there is in these lobby whisperings about a factory at Collingwood.
– If Australia is making woollen socks, she ought to be able to make cotton socks.
– There are circumstances connected with the manufacture of cotton socks which make it a much less likely industry in Australia than the manufacture of woollen socks. Senator McGregor will confirm my impression in regard to the circumstances connected with the making of cotton socks being such as to cause the industry to be an unlikely one in Australia. .
– As I was a member of the Tariff Commission, it devolves on me to saywhy I have altered my views on this subject. In the first place, it must be recollected that it is nearly two years since a great deal of the evidence of the Tariff Commission was taken, and many things have happened since then. It was at the instigation, or with the support, of a free-trade representative of South Australia that the three items relating to socks and stockings were consolidated, and it was at the instigation of a number of Queensland representatives that duties of 15 and 10 percent. were imposed on cotton yarn. Why was a bounty granted for the production of cotton? Was it only to stimulate the exporting of raw cotton ? Those who supported the bounty must have had in view the manufacture at some future date of cotton yarn. When cotton yarn is spun here, what are we to do with it? Export it? Surely much of it must be used here in the manufacture of cotton socks and stockings.
– According to the Tariff Commission’s report, we are not yet making woollen yarns or hosiery.
– Yes, we are. If we can manufacture our wool into woollen socks and stockings, surely we should be able to manufacture our cotton into cotton socks and stockings. To stimulate and protect that industry, I voted against the division of the item as it has come before us, and I shall now vote for the highest duty I can obtain - even’ for 40 or 50 per cent., if Senator Millen will propose those rates.
– Senator McGregor has just affirmed that woollen yarns for the manufacture of hosiery are being made in Australia. I do not dispute the statement, but I propose to quote one sentence from a report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission signed by himself -
None of the present woollen mills have so far tried to make hosiery yarn.
– But the honorable senator has altered his mind since that report was written.
– I do not object to the honorable senator altering his mind, but in view of. the definite statement he has now made that he is aware that woollen yarn for the manufacture of hosiery is made 111 Australia, the sooner it is understood that not a single line in the reports of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission can be relied upon the better, because those who signed them are just as likely to repudiate them at any moment.
– Evidence was given to the Commission that one factory would manufacture woollen yarns for hosiery and might obtain a monopoly. That was the danger that had to be provided against.
– I am not dealing with an affirmation that some factory may make these yarns. I am not referring to what will happen in the indefinite future, but to a very definite statement made in a report by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission.
– Two years ago.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the spinningof woollen yarn for hosiery was started within that time?
– I do not, but Senator McGregor knows that it has been started.
– I doubt whether Senator McGregor could mention the name of the factory where these yarns are spun. Woollen yarns I know are being spun, but not for hosiery purposes. The evidence of competent witnesses engaged in the manufacture of socks was that no woollen yarn was spun in Australia for the manufacture of socks, and that a special process was necessary. One witness said that the matter required careful looking into, as it involved the expenditure of a considerable amount of capital on a plant entirely new to Australia. The evidence generally was to the effect that the industry was not likely to be established in Australia for some time to come. I am speaking now of woollen yarn, and clearly the manufacture of cotton yarn for hosiery purposes is still more remote. If honorable senators are willing to be fooled into believing that this is a protectionist duty, I cannot help it.
– I ordered inquiries to be made, and the statement that cotton socks are being made in Australia is confirmed. I find that they are being made here by Messrs. Foy and Gibson, Murray and Company, and Youl and Company.
– Then we should know something about the industry we are supposed to protect, and this proposal to impose a duty for its protection should not be brought forward in this more or less surreptitious fashion. It would have been very much more creditable if those concerned in it had brought the matter before the Tariff Commission.
– They were not making them then, but we know that they are making them now.
– Are they making half-a-dozen pairs of socks? What is the extent of the industry? I rose to point out that Senator McGregor has just given a flat contradiction to the statement in his own report that there was no manufacture of woollen yarn for hosiery purposes in Australia.
– When the item cotton stockings was being discussed in another place in the consideration of the Tariff of 1902, we heard just the same stories that we are hearing tonight - that they were being made here and there. If they were being made at that time those who were making them must have struggled along under a 10 per cent. duty, but not one of them came before the Tariff Commission to say that they were struggling, or to ask for a higher duty. Now we are told that because we have decided to give a bonus for the growing of cotton, we must impose a duty on cotton socks because some one in the sweet by-and-by will start an industry for their manufacture in the Commonwealth. Let me tell honorable senators that the industrial conditions in Australia at the present time are not favorable to the investment of capital in industries. It is all very well for men who would not put 6d. into an industry to reckon on the chance of others doing so. In the meantime, the poor people who must buy these goods are to be asked to contribute £40,000 a year to the revenuein order that in the remote future some one may start this industry. The whole thing is a hollow sham.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator McColl) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item132 by adding the following new paragraph : - “ (c). Silk or containing silk, but not contain ing wool, and n.e.i. (imports under General Tariff), 25 per cent. ad val.”
Request (by Senator McColl) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item132 by making the duty in new paragraph (c) (imports from the United Kingdom), 20 per cent. ad val.
– This is a proposal for the imposition of what would be purely a revenue duty. The
Committee has already decided that stockings made from cotton yarn shall be free on the ground that it is not likely that they will be made in Australia. It is much less likely that silk stockings will be made in Australia, and, as I am opposed to the imposition of any duty which isnot calculated to lead to the establishment of industries and the employment of labour in Australia, I must oppose this proposal.
– But the Committee has decided to impose a duty of 25 per cent. under the general Tariff.
– Then I am sorry that I am too late. I certainly intended to record my vote against the proposal.
Request agreed to.
Item 133. Tents and Tarpaulins, Sails, and Flags : -
– I do not know anything about this item, but I have noticed that the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommendeda duty of 5 per cent., thatthe duty under the old Tariff was 5 per cent., and that the Government have submitted in paragraph a a duty of 15 per cent. I do not know why this duty should be increased by 200 per cent.
-The free-trade section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 15 per cent.
-Ishouldliketo point out, as I have done before, on behalf of the absent members of that section of the Tariff Commission, that they classified all fabrics and textiles under certain main headings - cottons, woollens, and so on. They put down a duty which represented an average in order to simplify the Tariff. They said : “We know that this duty is very low on some articles, whilst it may be high on others, but for simplicity’s sake, we are going to group articles under one heading.” That is why they recommended 15 per cent. But the protectionist section did not adopt that course. They found that aduty of 5 per cent. was quite sufficient. But the Government have proposed 15 per cent. I do not think 1 am doing anything unreasonable when I ask the Committee to agree to split the difference.
– That is always the honorable senator’sprinciple in arranging a Tariff - split the difference ! .
– No it is not; I will move instead of that, if my honorable friend thinks it will mend matters -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item133, paragraph a, free.
.-I do hope that the Committee will not agree to make paragraph a free. This is not a revenue duty at all. It is quite true that those who make tents, tarpaulins, and sails get their raw material in free, but it must be within the knowledge of every honorable senator that a large number of men are engaged in the manufacture of these goods throughout the Commonwealth. To suggest for one moment for the purpose of catching votes, that this is a revenue item is simply too absurd.
– Does the Minister say that I have moved my request for the purpose of catching votes?
– That will be the effect of it.
– The purpose and effect are two quite different things.
– There is quite a charm in suggesting that such and such items are revenue items, but to make such a suggestion as to tents, tarpaulins, and sails is to do something which is in absolute opposition to the knowledge of honorable senators.
– I trust that the Committee will not reduce this duty. We have passed the item admitting canvas and duck free. This item is similar. Theduty ispurely protective. Its purpose is to permit the making of tents, tarpaulins, and sails in the country. No costly machinery is required to make them ; it is all hand work. This is a very fair duty - in fact it is rather low, if anything -and might fairly stand as it is.
– I have how received a little information from the Government. I moved my request, becauseI had a right to assume that the Government, in (riving no reason why they had raised the duty by 200 per cent. above the proposal of the Tariff Commission - which only recommended 5 per cent. - had no reason to give. It appeared to me that this was a revenue duty. But after the explanation of the Minister,I quiterecognise that it is a protective duty, and I ask leave to withdraw my request.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator Millen) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item133paragraph a (imports from the United Kingdom), 10 per cent. ad val.
The Committee divided.
Majority … …4
Questionso resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Chataway) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item133, paragraph 11 (imports from the United Kingdom),15 per cent. ad val.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 134. Trimmings and Ornaments n.e.i. for Bonnets, Hats, Shoes, and other attire, not being in part or wholly of gold or silver; including Buckles; Clasps; Slides; Buttons; Badges n.e.i.; Fringes n.e.i.; Braids n.e.i.; Piping; Gimp n.e.i.;. Crowns and Bandeaux for Hats; Natural and Imitation Birds and Wings; Tinsel Cloth; Tinsel Belting and Thread; Frillings; Ruffling; Pleating; and Ruchings, ad val.; (General Tariff), 25 per cent. ; (United Kingdom),15 per cent.
.- We have decided to request the House of Representatives to make the duties in respect of paragraph d of item 123, which relates almost wholly to trimmings, 15 per cent. and 10 per cent. In pursuance of that policy, and with a view to secure that simplicity and uniformity so eagerly desired by Ministers and the Customs officials I move -
Thatthe House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item134 (imports under General Tariff) 15 per cent. ad val.
– I have a prior request to move.
– Then I am prepared to temporarily withdraw my request.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– I desire to move a request for the omission of the words “ Frillings ; Ruffling ; Pleating ; and Ruchings with a view to the remaining lines in the item being made free.
– Hear, hear ! They are the raw material of the milliner.
– The remaining goods covered by the item are the raw materials of other manufactures. They are not made here, . and a duty upon them would therefore be merely revenue producing. Trimmings, ruffling, pleating, and ruchings on the other hand may properly be subjected to a duty because they can be made in Australia. The other lines are not at present being made here, and there is no reasonable prospect of their being manufactured in Australia in the near future. I desire that goods that are the raw material of other manufactures, and which are not being made here, shall be free from taxation.
– I have a prior request to move.
– Then I shall re frain for the moment from proposing my request.
– I. move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item134 by leaving out the words “ and Imitation.”
It will be observed that item no includes “ Feathers dressed,” and. makes them dutiable at 30 per cent. Dressed feathers are, so to speak, practically the raw material of those who make imitation birds and wings, the imitation process involving a further manipulation of dressed feathers. That the duty on the raw material should be in excess of that on the more advanced manufacture is of course anomalous. If the request be agreed to, imitation birds and wings will be dutiable under item no at 30 per cent. This is one of the lines challenged by Senator . Givens, who is under the impression that many of the articles enumerated in the item are not manufactured in Australia. As a matter of fact, badges are made here, and the local manufacturers have entered into a contract with the Government for their supply. They have been carrying on the work for many years. The position is the same in regard to buckles and slides. “ Natural birds and wings “ have been included in this item in-order to discourage their use.
– Upon a close investigation of this item I find myself so to speak between two fires. In the first place I do not feel inclined to go all the way with Senator Givens in his proposal that a request be made that almost all the articles in this item be made free. At the same time, I do not think that the request proposed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council goes far enough. The inclusion of buttons in the item is somewhat anomalous. I should like coat, vest, and dress buttons - in fact I think all of these buttons - to be placed on the free list.
– That is Senator Givens’ proposal.
– But I have already said that I cannot go the whole way with Senator Givens. I do not agree with his proposal to admit all the articles enumerated in this item, in addition to buttons, free. Whilst we have duties of 25 per cent. and 15 per cent. upon bone buttons, trouser buttons have been placed in the list of special exemptions. Why this differentiation? Why should not all buttons be included in the’ same category and admitted free?
– To some extent, I indorse the remarks of Senator Needham. As far as I can understand, buttons occupy a very anomalous position under this Tariff in that if they are imported with certain portions of attire they are liable to a very heavy duty, whilst, under other circumstances, they are admitted free. I think that Senator Needham has done well in directing attention to this question, and I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will be able to meet the suggestions which have been made from this side of the Chamber.
. -I have listened to the suggestions which have been made by honorable senators, and I propose to ask the Committee to retain the following articles in this item, and to make the balance free : - Badges, natural birds and’ wings, crowns and bandeaux for hats, frillings, ruffling, pleating, and ruchings.
– I have much pleasure in accepting the compromise suggested by the VicePresident of the Executive Council, which will permit of all those articles which are not likely to be manufactured in the Commonwealth being admitted free, whilst affording effective protection to those articles which can be made locally. I, therefore, ask leave to withdraw my proposal.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 134 bymaking the following articles free : - Buckles, Clasps, Slides, Buttons, Fringes n.e.i., Braids n e.i., Piping. Gimp n.e.i., Tinsel Cloth, Tinsel Belting and Thread.
– It has been suggested to me that it would be desirable to add to this item the articles contained in item 136, with the exception of artificial plants. These things are used mainly as ornaments and trimmings. I put this forward, not as a question of the rate of duty, but to simplify the Tariff. Would the Minister consult the Customs officials about it?
Item 135. Bayonets, Swords, Scabbards, and attachments; Waist Belts; Cross Bells; Medals; and all Accoutrements, Buttons, Braid, andLace for Naval, Military and Militia Uniformsmay be delivered under Departmental By-laws, free.
– There appears to be an important omission from this item. I see nothing about the free admission of the roosters’ tails used to ornament helmets, or of the yards of chiffon which military men wear occasionally. If all the other ornamentation is to be free, why should those articles not be free also? Surely they are an important part of the accoutrement? Instead of enumerating all these articles, why not say “ All articles required for military uniforms may be admitted under departmental by-laws free”? What do military men want lace for? Does it increase their warlike qualities, and make them more formidable opponents?
– I sympathize to some extent with Senator Givens’ request. Some persons do not believe in the wearing of decent collars and ties. If an officer wishes to wear lace, it comes very much in the same category. This only shows how cautious one ought to be not to look at a question with one eye.
– Senator Neild, who is acting as Temporary Chairman, has just pointed out to me the necessity for an amendment which, from his military knowledge, appears to be desirable, and which it is impossible for him. in his present position to move. The item refers to military and! militia uniforms, but makes no mention of cadet or volunteer uniforms.
– They all come undermilitary.”
– They would do so if the word “militia” were not included.. If “ military “ covers all militaryuniforms, it is not necessary to have the word “ militia.”
– Let us strike out the words “ and militia.”
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 135 by inserting the word “ and “ after the word “ Naval “ and by leav ing out the words “ and Militia.”
Request agreed to.
Item 136. Artificial Plants, Flowers, Fruits, Leaves, and Grains of all kinds and materials ad val. (General Tariff), 30 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent.
– This item includes artificial plants which are used for decorative purposes, and mightvery well be kept in an item by themselves. Flowers, fruits, leaves, and grains are distinctly trimmings, and the drapers, and Customs’ agents in Brisbanerequest that they should be subject to the same duty as trimmings under item 134, namely, 25 per cent.
– I agree to that.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives ‘ be requested to make the duty on item i$f> (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 25 per cent.
.- [ hope the Government will not consent to make the duty any lower than that fixed by another place.
– The desire is !o make the duty on the whole of these trimmings 25 per cent.
– Why ? We have been told that the object of the Government is to keep steadfastly to the duties as submitted, and, wherever possible, to in- ‘ Urease them.
– The departmental officers will find it useful to have items 134 and 136 grouped together.
– Are we to consider the convenience of the Department ? We are here, not in the interests of the Department, but in the interests of every State in the Commonwealth, particularly those States where industries have been ‘established. We know that in both Victoria and New South Wales there are several factories for the production of artificial Howe rs.
– According to the Tariff Commission’s report, only two ‘witnesses represented the industry in Australia.
– The Tariff Commission said that there was not one person engaged in the manufacture of cotton socks, and, though that may have been true two years ago, it has been proved to be not true now. I know, on absolutely reliable information, that in both Victoria and New South Wales there are three or four factories where artificial flowers are made.
– A duty of 25 per cent, is an increase on the duty under the 1902 Tariff.
– What I am concerned about is to keep the Tariff as it left another place; and it is surprising to me that the Government should acquiesce in this request. Surely the Government are as anxious as any of their protectionist supporters to give assistance to Australian industries;’ and I should have thought they would have been ready rather to increase the ‘duties than to reduce them. If I am to support the Government, I desire the Government to support their own proposals.
– .Why not have trimmings all under one item?
– When it was proposed to group woollens, the Government consented to do so on the strict condition that the duty was raised; and I contend that the artificial-flower industry is one that should receive every assistance.
– Senator Findley seems to regard it as a grievance that the Government are not adhering to the Tariff, but he ought not to consider a departure to be a virtue on one day, when it is made at his instance, and to be a grievance on another day.
– I do- find fault when the Government go below the duties proposed.
– Then the Government are at liberty, so far as Senator Findley is concerned, to alter the Tariff beyond recognition provided they increase the duties, but they must not, in order to bring about simplification, or for some other reason, even in a comparatively small item, go below the duties proposed ? Senator Findley. - If simplicity is desired, increase the duty on item 134 by 5 per cent.
– The honorable senator is admitting my whole point. The Committee is at liberty, so far as he is concerned, to carry the duty as high as it likes, but let it attempt to go back a single point and he becomes a mass of indignation. The proposal of Senator Chataway if carried would still leave the duty 10 per cent, higher than it was before, but Senator Findley is not satisfied with that. If he will look at the evidence given by the two witnesses who appeared before the Tariff Commission he will find that . the highest duties they asked for were 30 and 33 per cent., and then they referred. to the fact that they had to pay certain duties on their raw material. We have made some portions of the raw material free, arid if honorable senators will allow for that difference they will find that if Senator Chataway’s proposal be adopted it will give a higher measure of protection on the bulk of the things than was asked for. Let me show that the industry has been doing fairly well under duties of 15 and 20 per cent. When the Tariff Commission took evidence there were only two factories in existence, but Senator Findley has assured us that now there are seven factories in existence in Victoria and New South Wales.
If that be correct the smaller measure ot protection which they have had Has stimulated the industry wonderfully when in the course of two years the number of factories has increased from two to seven. Surely we may assume that the larger measure of protection afforded by Senator Chataway’s proposal will stimulate the industry still further, and that the progress will be much more rapid.
– I desire that there shall be no misunderstanding. When I said that I would have no objection to 25 per cent, being inserted instead of 30 per cent, that statement was made after consultation with the Department. I hope that Senator Chataway does not understand that I consent to a duty of 15 per cent., because that, of course, I cannot do.
– I did not think that my honorable friend did.s
– I do not see any necessity for the Government to- depart from the duty as fixed by the other House, nor can I see any occasion to reduce the duty for the purpose of simplification. I see no more need to take that course with this item than with another item. There is a great deal of difference between many of these articles. It is unquestionable that the industry has been established, because I hold in my hand some flowers which were made locally. I think that after inspection of them honorable senators will admit that they compare very favorably with the imported articles: It must be a satisfaction to every one to know that they were made by Australian women receiving reasonable rates of remuneration. Necessarily such work must be much more pleasant to them than are many other occupations. For that reason I would like to see. the industry extended as far as possible. ‘ According to the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, there is a very large importation of artificial flowers from foreign countries, chiefly from Germany, France and Austria. If we desire to secure a protectionist Tariff we should extend the measure of protection which is necessary in order to put the industry on a. fair and sound basis. In view of the fact that we import annually from £15,000 to £20,000 worth of artificial flowers, there must.. be’ room for the local industry to expand very considerably if encouraged. No reasons have been advanced by the Government for departing from the duty as fixed by the other House. I really cannot understand their attitude in not standing by their own proposals.
– I wish to draw attention to the very strange position in which the Minister is leading the Committee. When Senator Chataway proposed to reduce the duty to 25 per cent., on the ground of bringing the two items into line, the Minister said he would accept the proposal, but now he intimates that that acceptance only goes so far as the duty in the general Tariff is concerned.
– Certainly, and that is all that I had in my mind at the time.
– The only reason which the honorable senator gave for accepting the proposal was simplification, and unless he agrees to make a similar alteration in the second column he knocks his own argument on one side.
– I have no alternative but to go to 30 per cent, and-
– I would sooner have the duty as it is than as the Minister proposes.
– Let us have the duty as it is and I will be perfectly satisfied.
– Not so far as I am concerned. On the ground of simplicity and in order to expedite the working of the Department, the Minister agreed to bring the two items into line. The duty on the first line which we have passed stands at 25 per cent, in the general Tariff and at 15 per cent, in the preferential Tariff. I am quite prepared to believe that Senator Best, when he made the acceptance, overlooked the fact I mentioned.
– I -said that we were only arguing in respect of the duty of 30 per cent, and 25 per- cent.
– The honorable sena: tor must have known that there, was a preferential duty as well as a general one, and when he said that in order to bring the two lines into one he would accept Senator Chataway’s suggestion, it must have meant, if it meant anything, that he would accept the duty for both columns and not merely for one column. Otherwise it would not simplify matters ; . it would simply make confus on worse confounded. If the Committee is desirous of bringing the items into line it is incumbent upon Senator Chataway to press his suggestion to a division.
– I made a mistake in endeavouring to show a little consideration in this matter. We were discussing items 134 and 136, the rates of duty being talked of, as Senator Chataway knows, being 30 and 25 per cent. I found, on consulting the departmental officers, that it would be desirable to amalgamate the items, and as at the first glance I thought it was merely a question of 30 and 25 per cent., I said that I had no objection to it. ‘ But, on considering the matter further, I discovered that, in item 134, there was a preferential duty of 15 per cent. The moment I did so, I indicated that I had no intention of extending it to item 136. As the proposed alteration to apply a duty of 25 per cent. to the two items will not secure the simplification originally aimed at, I agree with Senator Millen that it is advisable to let things remain as they are, and thatI propose to do.
– I wish to accentuate the fact to which I have so frequently pointed before, that, no matter how reasonable the proposal which comes from this side of the chamber, no matter how it may be substantiated and supported by authority, the moment a senator on the Government side raises an objection to it, Ministers refuse to accept it. Senator Chataway’s request is founded upon representations from the Brisbane Drapers’ Association, and it is fair to assume that Ministers and the departmental officers knew that something of the kind would be proposed. The Vice-President of the Executive Council was going to meet “us at first; but he backed down directly a supporter objected.
– The honorable senator is quite wrong. When I accepted the request, the only rates under discussion were 30 and 25 per cent.
– I must accept the honorable senator’s explanation. Probably not much will be gained by pressing the matter; but we have done our duty in pointing out how the items could be better arranged, without detriment to the Tariff, and to the facilitating of its administration. The members of the Brisbane Drapers’ Association must be taken to know their business.
– I hope that the Committee will not agree to a reduction in the duty on artificial flowers, the making of which is an industry quite different from the making of trimmings. It is a clean, pleasant, and artistic occupation, which already employs many young women in Melbourne, Adelaide, and Sydney, and if it is sufficiently protected to give them the Australian market, will be a profitable one.
– It may not be generally known that hosts of indigent women who have been reduced in circumstances make a living by manufacturing and selling artificial flowers, which they hawk from door to door. If the duty be reduced, it will take a means of livelihood from deserving persons whom it is not easy to help to employment which will give them a respectable income.
– My proposal is to make the duty 5 to 10 per cent. higher than it was in the old Tariff; under which the persons referred to by Senator Trenwith were able to make a living. His statements with regard to the industry do not fit in well with those of Senator de Largie, who said that good Wages are paidto those engaged in it.
– This item is on a different footing from any other in the Tariff. It is associated with a special industry, which I think we ought to encourage. I heartily indorse what has been said by Senators McGregor and Trenwith. The industry provides an opening for the employment of a class of people for whom it is very difficult indeed to find a suitable occupation. It finds employment for indigent persons who wish to be independent, and object to have to depend upon charity, and it affords to such persons perhaps the only means by which they can make a living. It is also an industry to which our young Australian girls with their quickness of hand and eye and general nimbleness might very well apply themselves. It would bring them into close touch with nature, and should provide for them not merely a profitable but also a refined occupation.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 136, “Artificial plants, flowers, &c.” (imports under General Tariff) ad val. 25 per cent. (Senator Chataway’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 137. Wigs; Hair-nets; and articles of natural or imitation hair, ad val. 30 per cent. ; and on and after 14th November, 1907, 20 per cent.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 137 to read -
Articles of natural or imitation hair : -
Wigs, transformations and fringes, each 10s., or ad val. 20 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Switches, each 5s., or ad. val. 30 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Hair nets and n.e.i.,’ ad val.20 per cent.
I move this request with a view to giving further encouragement, and I hope adequate protection, to the wig-makers of Australia. For some considerable time past, wigs invoiced at from 8s. 6d. to 13s. 6d. each have found their way into Australia, and have come into serious competition with wigs locally made. I understand that it would take an up-to-date wig maker between four and five days to make one of these wigs.
– And they are sold at 8s. 6d. each. The thing is ridiculous on the face of it.
– I do not know thatit is ridiculous when we compare the wages paid in Australia with those paid in the countries from which these wigs are imported. I believe that in France and Germany these wigs are made chiefly by child labour, paid at the rate of 4s. or 5s. per week, and that in England they are largely manufactured by indigent aliens, who are paid a sweating wage. Even theaverage Britisher who engages in this occupation in the Old Country gets a wage that we should consider inadequate for a boy in Australia. To prove the correctness of that statement, I have here an advertisement taken from an English newspaper.
– Which English newspaper?
– I think it is taken from the London Daily Chronicle. It is to this effect -
Wanted, a first-class gent’s hand with knowledge of ladies’ and board work, age about23, terms 14s. a week indoors.
– That means that he is fed.
– Suppose it does. I dare say his keep would amount to less per week than his wages, and might be reckoned at 10s. per week.
– Would that be an advertisement for a bona fide wig-maker?
– Yes, for a firstclass gentlemen’s hand, with a knowledge of ladies’ and board work, which, I understand, is the finest kind of work in this industry. He is offered 14s. a week and his keep.
– Even at that rate of wages it is quite clear that the wigs to which the honorable senator has referred could not have been made for the money at which he says they are invoiced.
– I am not referring now to that particular kind of wig, which, in France and Germany, is made by persons who receive even lower rates of pay. than the advertised rate to which I have referred.
– The bulk of this stuff comes from England.
– I admit that a large quantity of it comes from England, but a large quantity also comes from France and Germany. We know very well that there are more ways than one of killing a dog, and there are more ways than one of getting stuff into this country through Great Britain, although it has been made in France. This advertisement continues -
Close 5 o’clock Wednesdays, 8 o’clock every other day. No Sunday work, Apply.T. A.: Kingsley, 69 High-street, Bognor-on-Sea, Sussex.
It is evident from that advertisement that in many places where this kind of work is done the wigmakers work on Sunday. At one time there were a considerable number of wigmakers employed in the different States of the Commonwealth. But owing to the introduction of cheap wigs and fringes the wig men have been driven out ofthe trade and forced to become barbers. Many who were formerly in receipt of 45s. and £3 a week are to-day working for30s. and 35s. a week. I hope that the Committee will agree to the measure of protection proposed.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Divisions VI. and VIa. (Metals and Machinery) postponed.
Senator BEST laid upon the table the following paper -
Copy of Prime Minister’s letter relative to the invitation of the American Fleet to Australia.
Senate adjourned at 10.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 February 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080225_senate_3_43/>.