3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether he has brought under the notice of the latter the statements which I placedbefore the Senate on Wednesday evening last in reference to the removal by the Public Service Commissioner of a postal official from the Claremont Road Board.If so, I desire to know whether the Postmaster-General will give consideration to the application of that official to be allowed to be reinstated as a member of. the Road Board, and whether he will exercise his right under the Public Service Act either to give consent or to disallow without reference to the Public Service Commissioner?
– The representations referred to were made by the honorable senator on the adjournment motion the other evening, and were communicated by me to the Postmaster-General the first thing on the following morning. I understand that my honorable colleague is now considering them. I am not in a position to say whether he will act in the matter without consultation with the Public Service Commissioner. I shall make inquiries during the day to ascertain what action he is taking, or intends to take.
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council lay on the table a copy of the circular communication sent by the Customs Department to the various Chambers of Commerce in Australia in reference to the engagement of commercial agents by the Commonwealth instead of by the States ?
– If such a circular has been sent out, there can be no objection, and I shall see to its production.
– The paper was laid on the table on the 25th ult.
– It is stated in a paragraph published in yesterday’s Melbourne Age that -
One of the clauses which the South Australian Parliament desires to tack On to the agreement providing for the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Federation includes the following words: - “Such surrender is subject to all freehold, leasehold or other estates or interests in, or agreements, securities or rights in respect of land within the said Territory in existence at the time of the acceptance of such surrender by the Commonwealth.” The Commonwealth Parliament will, of course, treat the land owners in the Northern Territory with equity, but it will not take over any obligation to preserve intact for all time a condition of transfer which formed no part of the original agreement between the Prime Minister and Mr. Price.
Is it not the intention of the Government to preserve intact rights in fee-simple, in leases, or any others acquired bona fide in the Northern Territory ?
– I invite my honorable friend to give notice of the question.
– I should like the Vice-President of the Executive Council, when replying to the question just asked, to state what steps the Commonwealth Government will take in respect to lessees and conditional purchasers who have forfeited their leases or conditional purchases for non-payment of rent or nonfulfilment of other conditions ?
– I cannot now give a definite answer to such questions. Each case must be dealt with on its merits.
– May I suggest that it will be well for the Commonwealth to acquire the Northern Territory before the Government makes up its mind how itwill deal with the people there, or with their property ?
– I agree with the honorable senator.
– Are the papers yet available respecting the promotion of a public servant in Tasmania, respecting which, on Wednesday last, I asked a series of questions, upon notice?
– I have not seen them, but I have been informed by the Secretary to the Department of Home Affairs that the Public Service Commissioner is leaving for Sydney, where he will spend a few days, and that all matters in hand in respect to which he has had communication with me have been attended to. I presume that the matter referred to is covered by that message.
– I have communicated with the Department of the PostmasterGeneral, and, as I anticipated, have learned that the break-down has already received attention. In a letter received from the Secretary to the PostmasterGeneral this morning, I learn that the following telegram was received from the Deputy Postmaster-General, Adelaide, on the 29th February -
Our Victorian lines badly damaged by bush fires both sides of Murray Bridge, and business is subject to delay. Gangs of repairers are out on the faulty sections, and the quadruplex circuits should be restored early to-day.
Subsequently he reported that the AdelaideVictorian quadruplex circuits had been completely restored about 3 p.m. on the 29th ult. Since the honorable senator’s question yesterday, a further report has been asked for as to the nature and extent of the damage.
– Perhaps my honorable friend will communicate the contents of that report to the Senate ?
– Yesterday the VicePresident of the Executive Council, in replying to my questions if it was correct, as stated in the press, that the Government’ had obtained information justifying the institution of proceedings under the Australian Industries Preservation Act, and if such proceedings had been instituted, said that the Government had received such information, and that it would be fully considered when an amending Bill was passed. Am I right in interpreting that answer to mean that the Government will not proceed under the existing law ?
– Without consulting my colleague, the Attorney-General, I think I am justified in saying that we do not propose to proceed until we can make more certain of our ground by the passage of the Bill to which I have referred.
Motion (by Senator Stewart) agreed to-
That there be laid upon the table of the Senate a return showing -
The number of boys examined for positions as telegraph messengers in each of the States during each of the four past financial years.
Number who passed in each State during the same period.
Number appointed in each State during the same period.
Number retired at age of eighteen in each State during the same period.
Number appointed to General Division in each State during the same period.
Number appointed to Clerical Division in each State during the same period.
Numberusually employed in each State during the same period.
Ministers laid upon the table the following papers -
Copy of report by the Director of Agriculture of Papua on the work of the Departments under his control, for the month of January, 1908.
Copies of further Papers re Promotion of E. A. Blakney, Postmaster-General’s Department, Tasmania.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 3rd March, vide page 8553) :
Postponed Division VI. - Metals and Machinery* -
Item 138. Ammunition, viz., Shot, Bullets, and Slugs, per cwt. (General Tariff), 5s. 6d. ; (United Kingdom), 5s.
*Motive Power, Engine Combinations and Power Connexions are dutiable under their respective headings, when not integral parts of exempted machines, machinery, or machine tools.
– Entering on the consideration of this very important division, I may be permitted to remind honorable senators that this is the 4th March, and I fear that it is almost too plain that the good intentions of the Senate to have the Tariff put through by the nth March will not be realized. There are some sixteen divisions, and so far we have dealt with only seven, and these do not! constitute the heaviest. We have, moreover, to deal with the Excise Bill, and, under the circumstances, I make an earnest appeal to honorable senators to shorten the discussion on the various divisions as much as possible.
– Some of the Adelaide newspapers have charged us with rushing tilings through.
– I wish those newspapers could prove their words. I should also like to suggest that it would be of great’ convenience, not only to the Government, but to the Senate generally, if, say, twenty-four hours’ notice could be given of amendments. Of course, I know that honorable senators are not bound to give any notice, and that it is not always possible to do so, but, at the same time, if my suggestion be acted upon as far as possible business will be greatly facilitated.
Item agreed to.
Item 139. Arms, viz. .: -
Barrels or Actions other -
Tools, and Cartridge Belts, ad val. (General Tariff), 22½ per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.
Senator. Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [11.17]. - I desire to bring under the notice of the Committee a small verbal amendment which I think is necessary in this item. A few weeks ago a Sydney firm wrote informing me that they had a shipment of Winchester rifles in bond, and that the Customs authorities, for some extraordinary reason, claimed that those wellknown arms should come under paragraph c, which comprises revolvers, pistols, saloon and pea-rifles, and air guns and pistols. In my opinion, if Winchester rifles do not come under paragraph b, which contemplates single-barrelled guns and rifles, I do not see that they can come anywhere in the Tariff.
– What is the bore of a Winchester rifle?
– A Winchester rifle is 22 bore.
– Then that is a pearifle.
– I am not concerned so much with the small arms, but I take it that Winchester rifles under the old Tariff came under a similar heading to that of paragraph b. These rifles, I am informed, are largely used in the country for. amongst other purposes, fox shooting. A Winchester rifle is certainlynot a small saloon rifle, and the latter, I understand, was made dutiable with the object of keeping such arms out of the country, seeing that they are so great a danger, and cause so much loss of life, especially amongst young people. I think that Winchester rifles would more properly come under paragraph b.
– I may explain that when the Tariff was originally introduced pea rifles were admitted at a lower rate, and the trade claimed that the Winchester rifle was a pea rifle. It so happens that the higher rate is put on the same rifle, and the trade now. suggest that it is not a pea rifle. I think that it is properly classified.
– I wish to call attentionto an anomaly. When a barrel comes in unfitted, it is required, under paragraph g, to bear the British test mark. Apparently it is thought desirable that unfitted barrels should be tested before they come in; but under the previous paragraphs a barrel, so long as it is fitted to a stock, can come in whether it be tested or not. ‘ It seems to me to be an anomaly, that manufacturers abroad can put the most rubbishy barrel they like on to a stock, and send it in without having it tested, but that, if they attempt to send in a barrel alone, and unfitted, it is required to bear “the British test mark.” What I am specially refering to is a Government test mark. No barrels are allowed to be sent out of a factory in Great Britain or Belgium until they have been officially tested. Therefore my argument would apply more appropriately to the use of the words “a Government test mark.” If it is desirable to have a barrel tested before it is fitted to a stock, it must be equally desirable to have a similar test made in the case of a barrel which is fitted, making the weapon ready for use.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to make any suggestion?
-I have assumed, in this case as in many others, that, with expert advice, the honorable senator could have offered a more suitable suggestion to remedy the anomaly than I could have done. I candidly admit that the question of whether or not a. Government test mark should be stipulated for is dependent to a great extent upon the laws which prevail in each country. I am not certain that in America there is such a law. I should hesitate to put in a stipulation that no gun barrels shall be admitted here unless they have been tested, because I venture to say that throughout the world any one would take the stamp of the Winchester Company in America as equal to that of any Government test. If it is not thought desirable to require that test there, it would be absurd to require it in the case of paragraph g. The effect of that condition, if it have any effect at all, will be to increase the tendency to bring in guns completely mounted and ready for use.
– We dealt with this question, to some extent, when we provided in paragraph g that if a barrel bears the British test mark it shall be admitted at a duty of 5 per cent., and free, whereas if it does not bear that test mark it shall be dutiable under paragraph d. It will be seen that there is a distinct discouragement to persons to bring in untested articles.
– According to the statement of the Minister, the Government is giving a preference of 5 per cent., but, as a matter of fact, it is giving a preference of 15 per cent., because if it happens to be an American barrel, it will be dutiable at 15 per cent, under paragraph a or paragraph b. The Committee must understand that if an American rifle be made by a reputable firm, such as the Winchester Company, and bear the American Government test mark, it will not come in as persons might assume, under paragraph g at 5 per cent., but at a duty of 15 per cent., so that the preference is not 5 per cent., but 15 per cent. I submit that the only thing for me to do is to move a request for the deletion of the words “bearing theBritish test mark” from paragraph g.
– I believe that every imported rifle and gun should bear a test mark. Instead of that condition being taken out of paragraph g, it should be retained and applied to the previous paragraphs.
– Perhaps when we come to paragraph g I may propose the use of these words : “Bearing the British or other Government, or approved test mark.” That would, I think, meet the objection of the honorable senator and Senator Millen.
– Weknow that a large number of accidents have been caused by the introduction and use of cheap barrels. It is always better for a man to pay a pound more, and get a gun bearing a test -mark. If a man acquires an inferior barrel, he may get crippled for life. I have known a good many of these barrels to burst. I hope that the Government will insist upon the insertion of a condition that every gun shall bear a well-known test mark before it is admitted into the Commonwealth.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [11.27]. - I desire to know whether the Minister is prepared to agree to a request for alimitation in paragraph b with regard to the bore of the rifle. If that were done, it would put an end to the disagreementsto whichI have drawn attention. It would be a very simple alteration to; make, and, no doubt, my honorable friend has the necessary particulars at his command. I admit that I am not sufficiently versed in these small bore weapons to submit a request.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 139, paragraph A, by inserting after the word “Rifles” the words “bearing the British or other approved test mark.”
If that request be carried I shall submit a similar proposition with regard to every other paragraph of the item.
– Is the honorable senator willing to increase the duty on the non-tested guns?
– I assume that the Government will deal with the case of a gun which does not bear a test mark. There will be no difficulty in making that’ provision if the Committee approve of my request.
– We should impose a large duty on the other guns.
– Yes. The Government can submit a request to that effect, unless already there is an item in the Tariff which will meet the case of such guns.
– As a matter of fact there is, but the duty would not be satisfactory.
– It will be easy for my honorable friend to submit a request for the imposition, under a separate paragraph, of a much heavier duty on non-tested guns.
Request agreed to.-
– Is the Minister prepared to agree to the insertion in paragraph b of some words to limit the size of the bore of these weapons? If so, an amendment for the purpose should be submitted before that suggested by Senator Millen is dealt with.
– How would it do to strike out saloon and pea rifles altogether?
– I suggest to Senator Neild that it will be unnecessary for him to amend paragraph b of this item in the way he proposes, if -he moves a request in connexion with paragraph c for the omission of “ Saloon and pea rifles, and air guns and pistols.” The honorable senator wishes to remove the little Winchester rifles, which are covered by the term “pea rifles,” from the guns charged the higher duty. Perhaps the honorable senator will adopt the suggestion I make, because other rifles are included which are simply toys, and I wish them removed from the category of firearms and included in a more appropriate item of the Tariff.
– -I have no objection to the suggestion made. It occurred to me at the same time as to the honorable senator.
– I wished to bring Winchester rifles under paragraph b.
– That is where they would come if the honorable senator adopted Senator Millen’s suggestion.
Request (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 139, paragraph B, by inserting after the word “ Rifles “ the words “bearing the British or other approved test mark. “
Request (by Senator Colonel Neild) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 139, paragraph c, by leaving out the words “ Saloon and Pea Rifles, and Air Guns and Pistols.”
Request (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 139, paragraphs
Dr and Da, by inserting after the word “guns” the words “bearing the British or other approved test mark.”
Request (by Senator Best) agreed to - That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 139, paragraph c, by inserting after the word “ Match “ the words “and fittings.”
Requests (by Senator Millen) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 139, paragraph c, by inserting after the word “ British “ the words “or other approved.”
.- lt is very difficult at the moment to formulate an amendment to exactly meet the suggestion which has been made. Perhaps it would be as well to request the House of Representatives to insert a new paragraph to this effect -
Guns or rifles fitted with barrels which do not bear the British or other approved test mark, or such barrels imported separately.
For double-barrelled guns.
For single-barrelled guns.
I think we should impose a substantial duty, and perhaps it should be £2 each in the case of double-barrelled guns, and j£i each in the case of single-barrelled guns.
– Make the duty prohibitive.
– My object is to impose a prohibitive duty, and I suggest that the duty should be ^3 and £2 on double and single-barrelled guns respectively.
– I am not going to demur if the Vice-President of the Executive Council thinks lit to adopt this form, . though it seems to me that this is one of the things over which the Government have power under the Customs Act enabling the Minister of Trade and Customs to prohibit the importation of certain goods. If the Minister has power to regulate the size of cornsacks, and if that power is a proper one to use, surely it would not be improper to use it when the article proposed to be imported is likely- to be injurious to life and .limb. I would suggest to the Minister that he should leave it to the Customs Department to prohibit absolutely the importation of these things.
– I suggest the passage of this request in the meantime, and I will consider my honorable friend’s suggestion between now and when the item is again before us.
– I am sorry that Senator Best does not adopt the clean and wholesome way of dealing with this matter suggested by Senator Millen. If he will do so he will get the support of the whole Committee. . He should propose to insert a line to say ‘ ‘ the importation of the undermentioned, articles is hereby prohibited.”. Similar action has been taken by Executive authority in regard to cornsacks, and Senator Best ought to welcome the opportunity of ‘securing a parliamentary ratification of that sort of pro- cedure. Probably he thinks that a duty of j£$ would be prohibitive. The safer, and I venture to say the more fitting, course to adopt is to say straight Jut, “ We are not going to let these things in at any price.” It ought not to be a question of duty. I want to put the matter beyond all dispute. I do not want non-tested guns or barrels to come in at all, and I” urge Senator Best to take the bull by the horns and to say deliberately - supported as he will be by every member of the Committee - that Australia’s policy with regard to these dangerous weapons is that they shall not be allowed to come in.
Senator BEST (Victoria- Vice-President of the Executive Council) [11.44.!. - I must say that it is a very unusual thing to. put in a Tariff an item prohibiting the importation of goods. There is no doubt that there is a provision in the Customs Act - which at the moment is not before me - which enables the Government under certain circumstances to prohibit’ certain importations. As a matter of fact, we have suggested the_duty, °f £,Z> because it is in truth prohibitive. If my honorable friend would prefer a duty of £5 I should be’ quite satisfied.
– No,. I would rather have a straight-out declaration.
– Can the honorable senator., give us an illustration to show conditions that might arise when importations might take place that would not be injurious as anticipated by Senator Clemons?
– That I cannot say. But might I suggest that a duty of £5 be inserted ? Of course there will be a” further opportunity of considering the matter if desired. But I am not aware of any Tariff schedule in which goods are mentioned as being prohibited.
– I must point out that, as everybody knows, Executive authority has recently been exercised with regard to the prohibition of certain cornsacks.
– That is because we have power under a particular section.
– In what position has Senator Best put himself? He is. asking the Committee to believe that the Minister of Trade and Customs has done something which he did not know that he had a right to do in prohibiting the importation of Certain cornsacks.
– I have no doubt about our power to do that.
– If the Minister has no doubt about it, why should he not allow Parliament - which ought to have powers superior to those of the Executive - to do what he says the Executive has a right to do? I think that we shall be deliberately putting the Senate in a position inferior to that occupied by a Minister - who, of course, is always temporary - if we admit that he has a right to prohibit an article by Executive authority, whilst we have no right to provide for such a prohibition in an Act of Parliament. It should be impossible for Senator Best to hesitate for a moment to invite the Committee to confirm the action of the Minister. I cannot understand the position which Senator Best puts himself in. He has now an opportunity to give public confirmation to the action of his; own colleague
– Is not the Customs Act an Act to. provide the conditions under which goods shall be imported?
– Probably Senator Trenwith is in accord with me on this subject.
– The idea certainly accords with my view, but the question is whether a Customs Tariff Bill is the proper measure under which to do what we desire.
– If it was a proper thing for the Minister, of Trade and Customs to prohibit absolutely the importation of specified articles, it is a right and proper thing for us to confirm his action. The Minister of Trade and Customs did not say that he would impose a dutyof £5 per cornsack, but having decided - rightly or wrongly - that cornsacks of a certain size ought not to be imported into Australia, he prohibited them. While I am loath to move an amendment which would seem to be in opposition to the Minister in this respect, I feel very much inclined to do so, because I think we ought to test the attitude of the Committee. I shall move in that direction if nobody else does. But I had rather that Senator Best himself, as leader of the Senate, recognised the position that a strong man ought to occupy, and instead of seeking to impose a duty of£5, proposed that these goods shall be “hereby prohibited.”
– I am really surprised at the attitude taken up by Senator Clemons. I say, with some experience in these matters, that it is a most unusual, thing, and it might possibly be illegal- though I do not suggest that definitely at the present moment - in a Customs Tariff Bill, which is submitted for the purpose of the imposition of Customs duties, to insert an item specifying that certain goods shall be prohibited. I have shown my honorable friend that the same thing can be achieved by the imposition of a prohibitive duty, and I can also assure him that I would, if necessary, adopt the suggestion of Senator Millen.
– I am going to withdrawthat suggestion for a reason thatI shall give directly.
– The Minister himself may be invited to make a declaration. Since I am prepared to meet my honorable friend in a way consonant with the spirit of the Act and of the Constitution by proposing that the duty, should be £5 instead of £3, I do not think this is a matter over which we need quarrel.
.. - I suggested just now that this matter might be dealt with under the section in the Customs Act which empowers the Minister to prohibit certain importations. It seemed to me at the time that that would be the best way of dealing with the difficulty. I would remind honorable senators, however, that the validity of that provision in the Act has been contested. Whilst we have a right to assume that our laws are valid until they are upset, it seems to me that we ought not to run any risk in regard to this proposal, and that my suggestion is, therefore, out of court. We have either to impose a prohibitive duty, as suggested by the Minister, or to simply insert in the schedule, as suggested by Senator Clemons, a statement that such goods are prohibited. It is a matter of indifference to me by which method we achieve our object, butif Senator Clemons proposal is in order, perhaps it would be the more desirable to adopt.
Request (by Senator Best) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 139 by adding the following new paragraph : - “(h) Gunsor Rifles fitted with barrels which do not bear the British or other approved test mark; or such barrels imported separately - per double-barrelled pun or rifle or barrel for such - per single-barrelled gun or rifle or barrel for such, each, £5”
Item 140. Iron, Plate and Sheet, viz. : -
Corrugated Galvanized, ad val. (General Tariff), 25 per cent., and on and after 25th November, 1907, per ton, 30s.; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent., and on and after 25th November, 1907, per ton, 20s.
Galvanized not Corrugated, and Corrugated not Galvanized, ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent., and on and after 25th November, 1907, per ton, 20s.; (United Kingdom). 15 per cent., and on and after 25th November, 1907, per ton, 10s.
– In this item, which is of some importance, fixed duties have been substituted for the ad valorem duties originally proposed. I wish specially to direct attention to the fact that these duties, although seemingly moderate, are really very heavy, since they are not in any sense a duty on the total value of the iron, but represent an impost on the simple work of galvanizing and corrugating the iron. In a Bill which we shall have, sooner or later, before us, provision is made for a substantial bounty on the production of galvanized iron.
– That provision may not be carried.
– I anticipated that interjection. The honorable senator would contend that, in dealing with the Tariff, we ought not to take into account the provision in the Bounties Bill to which I refer, because it may not be carried ; when that Bill reaches us we shall certainly be told that we must accept the proposed bounty on iron because we framed the Tariff on the understanding that it would be accepted. The process of galvanizing and corrugating iron is very , insignificant. In “Victoria and South Australia flat iron is imported, and simply corrugated. In New South Wales the process of galvanizing is also carried out. In one case the industry employs four boys, who’ have to carry the sheets of iron into the galvanizing bath in which they are dipped, and to lift them out again. The work of corrugating gives employment to two or to four men - I am not quite clear which is the correct number - who pass the sheets under the stampers. The labour involved is but an insignificant proportion of the total value of the completed sheet.
– Surely more labour is involved than the honorable senator says. What about the men engaged in carrying the fuel, and so forth?
– The labour involved in the process of galvanizing and corrugating iron is very small indeed. That was admitted by Mr. Thornley, the manager of the Eskbank works.
– Is that the only branch of the industry in Australia ?
– It is a curious fact that corrugators inVictoria and South Australia told the Tariff Commission that no galvanizing was being done in Australia. They were absolutely unaware that the pro: cess of galvanizing black imported sheet was being carried on at Lithgow.
– At Lithgow the black sheets are also rolled.
-Out of scrap iron. The Lithgow mills are the only ones in connexion with this work in Australia that are entitled to be designated an industry, and the manager said that the labour was insignificant compared with the total value of the completed product. All that Mr. Sandford asked for was a duty of 12½ per cent. in respect of the iron industry - from the production of the pig iron to the turning out of the completed article. That being so, I am unable to see why we should levy this charge upon the simple work of galvanizing and corrugating iron. Galvanized iron is largely used for roofing the poorer class of houses in our cities ; and in the bush, where, in many cases, there is no other roofing material available, it is absolutely essential. In many cases building material is so scarce that corrugated galvanized iron is used not only for the roofs, but for the walls of the houses of settlers, mining prospectors, and others who do the pioneering work of Australia. The Tariff Commission didnot obtain definite figures as to the cost of the labour involved in corrugating plain galvanized iron, but I find that it is about 4s. per ton.
– That is a very high estimate.
– I am taking the highest estimate. The cost of galvanizing is about 2s. per ton, or, at all events, comparatively trivial. That being the case, why is it necessary to impose a duty of 30s. per ton upon an article, the total labour connected with the manufacture of which does not exceed 6s. or 7s. per ton?
– It depends upon how many tons are used. Seven shillings multiplied many times would be a matter of very great importance.
– But does not Senator Trenwith recognise that the multiplication many times of the 7s. would involve the multiplication many times of the 30s.
– At the present time the whole business is being carried on at a loss.
– My honorable friend is quite mistaken if he supposes that the iron industry is involved in the item under consideration. It is merely the work of galvanization. When we come to consider the iron duties, quite a different position will be presented, both for his consideration and for mine. As the total labour connected with the galvanization and corrugation of plate and sheet iron does not exceed 7s. per ton, it is unjust to levy a duty of 30s. per ton upon it. All that protectionists have ever asked for is a sufficient duty to permit of the equalization of the labour conditions in the Commonwealth and elsewhere. No case has been made out for anything like a duty of 30s. per ton upon the simple work of corrugation and galvanization. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to ‘ make the duty on item 140* paragraph a (imports under General Tariff), 15s. per ion.
If my request be agreed to, I shall subsequently submit . a proposal in favour of making the duty under the Tariff for the United Kingdom ios-. per ton.
– I hope that the Committee will not accept the proposal of my honorable friend, “whose remarks, I think, were made under a misapprehension so far as some of the facts are concerned. In respect of paragraph a, which relates to corrugated galvanized plate and sheet iron, it will be recollected that the Government originally proposed a duty of 25 per cent, and that this impost was subsequently reduced by the House of Representatives to 30s. per ton. The rate operative under the old Tariff was j 5s. per ton, and the recommendation of the A section’ of the Tariff Commission was 15 per cent. Honorable senators have a right to ask: “What ad valorem rate is represented by a duty of 30s. per ton upon the articles enumerated in .paragraph a, and what rate is represented by a specific duty of 20s. per ton?” As a matter of fact, the former represents the enormous protection of 9 per cent., and the latter of 6 per cent.
– Upon the total value of the product.
– Yes, upon the value of the product imported. The sheet and plate iron are admitted free under item 229, paragraph c, and the Government propose that when it is galvanized and ‘corrugated it shall be liable to a duty of 9 per cent, under the General Tariff, and of 6 per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom. Senator Millen has referred to what took place before the Tariff Commission, and to the evidence given by various witnesses, including Mr. Sandford, who stated that he would be satisfied with a duty of 12 J per cent. As a matter of fact, under the proposal of the Government, he will not receive a protection of 12 *</inline> per cent., but the lesser protection to which I have referred.
– Does not the VicePresident of the Executive Council think that it would be only fair to’ calculate the percentage of duty upon the added value resulting from the operations here?
– No. It is calculated upon the value of the imports. The recommendation of the A section of the Tariff Commission was 15 per cent, on the value of the imports, not upon their added value. The Government sought to give effect to that recommendation, but another place substituted a fixed duty, which was less than the ad valorem rate originally proposed. Under the circumstances, I ask honorable senators to say whether a protection of 9 per cent, under the general Tariff, and of 6 per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom, will afford this industry unreasonable encouragement ? We have distinctly laid down the principle of affording every encouragement to industries of this kind. Why- should we make an exemption in this case ? The proposal contained in the schedule is a most reasonable one, and certainly will afford the industry less protection than we should have liked to extend to it.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South’ Wales) [12.8]. - In my judgment, there is no justification for the very heavy increased, duty proposed. Senator Millen pointed out that galvanized iron is very largely used by the poorer classes of the community. As a matter of fact, it is used in a wholesale manner as the roofing material for very large establishments in our midst, and it is in general use by most trades, and by the primary industries, particularly by the agricultural and mining industries. “ Therefore, I am not prepared to support the proposal of the Government. I shall . vote for Senator Millen’s request, and, if it is defeated, I shall, in accordance with notice, submit a proposal in favour of levying a duty of 20s. per ton upon corrugated and galvanized plate and sheet iron, under the general Tariff, and of 15s. per ton under the. Tariff for the United Kingdom. That would bring the duty on British imports into line with the previous one. It may be said that it is not sufficient, but the one great object we should have in view is the keeping out of Australia of a great deal of the foreign rubbish that comes here. Years ago a galvanized iron roof once placed in position remained in good order indefinitely. Now I find that it does not take many years for a nominally galvanized iron roof to become a rust patch. Undoubtedly great rubbish is coming into the Commonwealth, and I believe that it does not come from England. Whatever the faults of the British manufacturer are, he cannot be accused of turning out “ cheap and nasty wares.” I believe the stuff comes from some foreign countries, and we should rather seek to foster the importation of a sound article, if we are going to import it at all. We shall be putting a pretty heavy embargo upon it even at’ 20s. a ton. I regard 30s. a ton as too high. I do not think there is any likelihood of our setting the rate that Senator Millen proposes, and certainly if we get down to 15s. on imports under the general Tariff there will be no hope of any British preference. Therefore, while to maintain some degree of consistency in my votes T suppose I must vote for the lower duty. T shall do so unwillingly for the reason that if 15s. is nut in the first column we cannot get anything lower in the second, and shall bs encouraging the importation of a second class rather than of the best article^
Senator BEST (Victoria - Vice-President of the Executive Council’) r12.11]. - I was challenged -bv Senator Millen when on my feet as” to what percentage these duties would represent on the added value. In the meantime T have had a calculation made. The difference in price between sheet and galvanized and corrugated iron is about -£8 per ton. The United Kingdom rate of 20s* is therefore only 12 J per cent, on that difference in value, so that even then we do not come up to the recommendation
– What are your figures ?
– £16 and j£8 per ton respectively.
– I have visited Lithgow and seen this work carried out there. The establishment has been a long time in existence, and we know full well the difficulties that’ have had tq be encountered. I am therefore convinced that the duty proposed on this item is not high enough. This is a manufacture which is worth carrying on in Australia, and more encouragement should be offered to it. The rate of duty could well be increased, but I will support the item as it stands.
– - I intend to support the item as it stands, because I believe it is not excessive protection, for this industry. When visiting Lithgow on several occasions I have seen the work carried on from the production of the black sheet up to the turning out of the finished article. I was informed that in the western portions of New South Wales and a hundred miles north of Sydney the Lithgow works were able to compete with outsiders, not on account of the duty, but by reason, of concessions granted by the New South Wales Railways, while in Sydney itself and all other parts of Australia the importer had the advantage. There is no place in Australia that has the same advantages as Lithgow has for an iron manufacturing centre, and if Lithgow can compete successfully with the importer to the northwest and outside of the hundred-mile radius north of Sydney only by means of railway concessions, that shows that the protection afforded the industry in the past was not sufficient, and that what we are offering now is just a bare existence.
– I hope the Committee will agree to the amount of protection proposed in this item. If there is one industry in the history of the industrial life of Australia that has had a continuous .struggle, in which one man has had to fight against “adverse circumstances, it is this.
– Mr. Sandford did not have a struggle in this particular industry.
– He certainly had a long struggle in the iron industry generally, and this is about the only article for which he has had anything like a good market, or in regard to which he has been helped by consideration in the matter of railway freights, and the right to purchase scrap-iron from the New South Wales Railways. By those means he was able to continue for years, but I am sorry that after struggling so well and” successfully up to a certain point he is now out of the industry. If there is one manufacturer in Australia who deserves credit for the way in which he has endeavoured to keep this industry alive, it is Mr. Sandford. I regret very much that his works are now in possession of others. The history of the industry ought to be sufficient to show that, unless we grant a reasonable amount of consideration, it is impossible to carry it on. I cannot understand even the freetrade side moving for a reduction in the amount of duty proposed. The item is reasonable, and I hope the Committee will adopt it.
– With regard to the iron industry as a whole, I intend to make an exception to what some of my friends might call consistency in regard to certain principles which I hold. I believe that the iron industry is one that should be made permanent and successful, not only from a purely business aspect, but also because it dovetails in a great many ways into the prosperity of the Commonwealth. I intend, therefore, to give it all the support I possibly can, to make it permanent. Whilst that is so, I recognise that the item before us is dissociated from the iron industry as a whole.It is a mistake to suppose that Mr. Sandford was unsuccessful in the production of this article at Lithgow. He was a most successful man until he launched into the broader and higher elements of the iron industry, and established those large works. The Railway. Commissioners of New South Wales, recognising the value of his work, gave him concessions in regard to freight, and the purchase of scrap iron, which caused complaints to be made by others who thought that they should be treated with equal favour; but, personally, I think that, from a business point of view, the Commissioners had good ground for what they were doing.
– The honorable senator will admit that Mr. Sandford could not have carried on without those concessions.
– I only know that the industry carried on at Lithgow was most successful, and reflectedgreat credit on Mr. Sandford. The making of corrugated iron, as Senator Millen has shown, does not give much employment, and as this material is a necessary throughout the Commonwealth to farmers, settlers, miners, and all engaged in the development of our resources, we should show our practical sympathy with them by enabling them to buy it as cheaply as possible.
– In yesterday’s Argus, galvanized iron was quoted at about £14 12s. 6d. per ton. Under the old Tariff the duty was 15s. a ton, but the’ raw material was admitted duty free. Yet, nowithstanding, in 1906 the public; of Australia paid £47,000 in taxation in connexion with galvanized iron, the importations being something like 60,000 tons.
– That shows that the duty of 15s. per ton was not sufficient protection to the local industry .
– I do not know that it does. We have been told that not much labour is employed in the corrugating and galvanizing of iron, and the amount spent in the purchase of spelter would not benefit Australia materially. Are we then going to increase taxation on what is an absolute necessity to our people, to protect an industry of comparatively little value, giving employment to very few, and those mostly boys?
– It is a pity that some honorable senators are confusing the duty on galvanized iron with the duty on iron generally.
– One dovetails into the other.
- Mr. Thornley, a gentleman intimately connected with the galvanizing of iron, was one of the chief witnesses before the Tariff Commission, and being asked -
If you had 12½ per cent. on the black sheet and an additional15s. a ton on the galvanized, would that be sufficient ? he replied -
Yes; that would be all right.
We are at the present time dealing wholly and solely with the duty on corrugated iron. When Mr. Thornley gave his evidence, plain iron was admitted duty free, but, in his opinion, he would be compensated by an additional duty of 15s. a ton on galvanized iron’ for a duty of12½ per cent: on the black sheet.
– He gets the advantage of both duties.
– That is an unfair way of viewing the matter. In regard to the making up of apparel, for example, the evidence taken by the Tariff Commission showed that the sole concern of the maker-up was the securing of a proper margin.
– To complete the parallel, thehonorable senator must assume the maker-up to be also a manufacturer of piece goods.
– If the matter is to be dealt with consistently and. properly, we must dismiss from our minds the fact that the man who is making the galvanized iron may also be making the plain sheet iron. It is proposed to make the duty on corrugated iron twice as high as the gentle- . man most concerned in the industry says is sufficient to give him a fair margin of protection. In regard to the industry generally, let me quote this extract from the report of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission -
As an illustration of the small amount of labour concerned in the manufacture in Australia of corrugated iron, and of the burden any duty on such an article of general consumption would be on the community, a witness in South Australia admitted that his plant, which was one of three in that Slate, would be able, with twenty-four men as a maximum, to produce Hie entire requirements of the Slate. These requirements were estimated at 6,000 tons per annum. When asked whether it were worth while to impose an additional charge of 15s. per ton (equal 4,500) on the annual consumption of corrugated iron in the State, in order to employ sixteen additional hands, the witness declined to express an opinion.
– There is a boom in the building trade now.
– That has nothing to do with the matter under discussion. All we are concerned in discovering is what protection should be given to makers of corrugated iron. The witness to whose evidence reference is made in the report just quoted was forced to admit that ,£4,500 of public money would have to be voted to give employment to those concerned in the industry. The evidence of witnesses engaged in manufacturing was that the labour cost of corrugating is equal to 2 per cent., or to 4s. or 5s. perton. That being so, why should we give a protection of 30s. per ton ? A manufacturer frankly admitted that if a high duty were imposed the price of corrugated iron would increase, because the manufacturers would be able to add the duty to the price. Therefore, Parliament in increasing the duty would not be giving employment to more labour, but would be assisting the manufacturers to increase their profits. We are told that twenty-four men could produce all the galvanized iron needed in the State of South Australia. And yet under these circumstances it is proposed -to impose a duty which will simply have th6 effect of penalizing ‘consumers.
– I think there must have been some mistake, either in regard to the evidence of Mr. Thornley, or as to the construction which has been placed upon it. In the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission there is the following reference to the evidence of that witness- - -
Witnesses in New South Wales said that the duty of 15s. per ton on galvanized iron was inadequate, and business was practically at a stand-still.
This is a different version of Mr. Thornlev’s evidence; and the question is whether this or Senator Clemons’ version is correct.
– I quoted verbatim question No. 84095.
– I merely wish to bring under the notice of the Committee this other version of Mr.. Thornley’s evidence, which was the most important heard in the course of the inquiry into this industry. The report goes on to say in reference to Mr. Thornley’s testimony -
In New South Wales the experience of manufacturers was that during the term of the £2 per ton duty on plain and corrugated galvanized iron satisfactory trade had been done, Hut that when the duty had been removed in 1896, business fell off to such an extent that one of the mills at. one factory had been stopped, and the other used intermittently.
This portion of the report ought, I think, to be brought under the notice of honorable’ senators.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [12.38]. - The Committee are asked to increase the duty on corrugated galvanized iron by 100 per cent. ; and for such a step very real and substantial reasons ought to be given. It is actually suggested, however, that the extra duty is intended to kill two birds with one stone - to compensate for the duty of 12^ per cent, on black sheet iron, and to give an additional duty in respect of the galvanized corrugated product. That is a principle absolutely foreign to the construction of any Tariff. If that be the real object, the result will be to put the- duty into the pocket of people engaged in the corrugating iron business, who are not iron masters, and do riot produce black iron. The only reason urged for doubling the duty is that black sheet iron, in some other part of the Tariff, is, for the present, freeland ‘that’, if that’ be so, there are people engaged iri corrugating iron who are getting the whole of the 30s. per ton duty. ‘ Can anybody justify a duty on a footing of that kind? We are not now dealing with preference, but with the question of what is a fair duty on this commodity. It is true that nearly the whole of the corrugated galvanized iron comes from England; and I have always taken the view that under such circumstances a reduction of duty in the second column is pure pretence and sham. According to the figures, we may say, almost literally, that the entire importation is from the United Kingdom.
– About 50,000 cwt. conies from other countries.
– That is 50,000 cwt. out of 1,250,000 cwt. Do not let us try to salve our conscience by voting a duty of 30s. under the general Tariff, and making a reduction in the pieference column. No reason has been given for doubling the duty. The testimony quoted may be taken with any qualification that may be suggested. Mr. Thornley had no business to mix up a duty he desired on black sheet iron, which he produces, with a duty on a totally different article, which wy be produced by people who are not ironmasters. I know myself that in South Australia there are two rr three firms engaged in this industry, and the biggest of them has, for years and years, been corrugating iron in their back yard, and giving employment - I do not know whether this was the phrase that was used - to one man and a boy. The corrugation of the iron is nothing, and it is idle to talk about encouraging such an industry as a means of giving employment. If there is a commodity in Australia that ought to be relieved of any burden it is that of corrugated galvanized iron, which has assisted more than anything else to the development of the primary industries from one end of the continent to the other. This class of iron is used everywhere; and the advantage of duties on bacon and other products cannot be compared to the advantage which accompanies a reduction in the price of corrugated iron. I ask the Committee not to be induced to impose a burden of the kind proposed on the backs of the producers.
– I should like a vote to be taken on this question without any misconception, and I rise to reply to some statement made by Senator Clemons, based on the evidence of Mr. Thornley. I believe I am incidentally supported in my attitude by Senator Symon, considering that the view of the latter is that we should not take into ‘consideration evidence given by any manufacturer interested in the production of black sheet iron.
– I did not say that.
– That was the inference I drew from the remarks of the honorable senator, when he said that we should not confuse the two commodities.
– Exactly ; that is right.
– The honorable senator said that we should not confound the interests of those who manufacture galvanized iron from imported black sheets, with the interests of those who manufacture black sheets, and then corrugate them. Mr. Thornley, as a manufacturer or as a manager of iron works, requested a duty of 12J per cent, on black sheets. He was then asked whether, if such a duty were imposed, a duty of 15s. per ton would be enough on the corrugated product ; and he said that it certainly would. The black sheets, as manufactured at Lithgow, would, if imported, cost from £8 to £10 a ton. on which a duty of 12J per cent, would be represented by £1 or £1 2s. 6d. This, with the addition of 15s. a ton after corrugation, would mean a duty of 35s. or 37s. 6d. a ton ; honorable senators can see, therefore, how such a duty would suit Mr. Thornley. It is surprising to me to hear that it costs only 4s. a ton to galvanize or corrugate iron. I invite honorable senators to ascertain the price of black sheets, and the cost of corrugating galvanized iron, and if they do, that will give them an idea of the difference in the cost. If the difference in the cost between corrugated galvanized iron and black sheets, runs from £5 to £j, and sometimes £&, a ton, does not that show either that it is costing more in labour to corrugate and galvanize, or that those who are corrugating and galvanizing are robbing the public? I want honorable senators to look into all these questions, and consider what value they can place upon the - evidence quoted by Senators Clemons and Lynch.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 140, paragraph a, “Iron, plate’ and sheet - corrugated galvanized “ (imports under General Tariff) per ton, 15s. (Senator Millen’ s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Although my last request was defeated by a majority, still I do not care to allow the item to pass without testing again the feeling of the Committee. Therefore, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 140, paragraph a (imports under General Tariff), per ton, 20s.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
Request (by Senator McColl) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 140, paragraph a (imports under General Tariff), per ton, 25s.
The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Millen) put-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 140, paragraph a (imports from the United Kingdom), per ton, 15s.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I do not propose to submit any further requests on this item in view of the result of the divisions which have just taken place, but I should still like to remark that I regard the duties under paragraph b, as well as under paragraph a, of the item, as altogether unnecessary and excessive.
Item agreed to.
Item 141. Lamps and Lampware, viz. : -
– I should like to know why, when the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, to whose recommendations the Government have attached so much importance, suggested that the duty on this item’ should be 15 per cent., and when under the old Tariff the duty on a number of articles included ranged from 15 to 20 per cent., and some were admitted free, the Government now propose the imposition of a duty as high as 25 per cent.
Senator SirJOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [2.26]. - I think we shouldhave some information from the Government as to the reasons which have guided them in proposingthe increase of this duty to 25 per cent. This item covers the lamps which, I take it, are ordinarily used in almost every household for the burning of kerosene as an illuminant.I suppose there is some reason to be given for the increased duty proposed.
– Then I should like to hear it. I have some objection to voting for these increases in the dark.
– Under the Tariff of 1902 the duties imposed on the articles included in this item ranged from 15 to 20 per cent., and one of the items, lamp irons, was free. The Tariff Commission recommended that the duty should be 15 per cent., and the Government proposed that duty upon imports from the United Kingdom, accepting in respect of them the recommendation of the Commission. We were desirous of giving a very substantial preference to the United Kingdom under this item, because the imports of these articles from Great Britain were valued at £36,000, whilst the value of the imports from other places was £64,000, covering importations chiefly from Germany, from which country we import a cheap and very undesirable class of lamp. In the circumstances the Government have proposed the very substantial preference of 15 per cent. on imports from the United Kingdom as against 25 per cent. on imports from other countries. That is, I consider, a very good reason for increasing the duty under the General Tariff to 25 per. cent., andin addition to that’ from the protectionist standpoint I direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that at the present time we make in the Commonwealth almost alt the articles covered by this item.
– Iquite recognise the futility of arguing against a particular duty once it is said that the article upon which it is imposed can be made in Australia, but I should like to mention that the Tariff Commission expressed the opinion that it was not possible to describe this as one of the struggling industries, and they further pointed out that no application was received from any manufacturer of lamps in Australia for the imposition of a higher duty on these goods. That being so, it is utterly ridiculous for this Committee to be showering duties upon people who have not asked for them arid do not want them.
– Not even when it is shown that we are importing largely goods which we ought to make here?
– We are importing these goods largely, and will continue to do so. The evidence given before the Commission went to show that the local manufacturers were carrying on a prosperous business, and we’re steadily overtaking the local market. If we imposed a duty of 100 per cent, on these goods it would not enable the local manufacturer to secure the whole of the local market at once.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [2.29]. - We should be paying the Vice-President of the Executive Council but a poor compliment if we did not acknowledge the information he has raven the Committee in connexion with this item. It is because I appreciate the honorable senator’s attempt at my request to supply the Committee with information that I feel under some obligation to point out how ineffective the information supplied is to justify the proposed increase of this duty. My honorable friend says really that this duty is raised to 25 per cent. in. order - I will not say to assume lb give,’ because that would not be courteous to him; but, according to his idea, to give a preference to the United Kingdom , over the United States and Germany. This is one crucial example of the kind pf preference that is being given. There is very little in the contention . that you are giving any preference whatever to the United Kingdom.
– Under the old duty the importations amounted to £100,000.
– No; to £60,000, I think.
– From all sources the importations amounted to over £100,000.
– I quite appreciate the fact that, taking the three principal countries of origin, the United Kingdom had rather more than one-third of the importations. But what I want to point out is that by leaving the duty at what it was before we are not assisting the English manufacturer one atom.
– But the duty is 5 per cent, less than it was before on some articles.
– One article, lamp irons, came in free previously. We are not offering one farthing of favour, so far as the amount of the duty is concerned, to the people, of the United Kingdom.. We are merely putting up the duty against Germany and the United States.
– Is not that an advantage to Great Britain?
– I do not think that it is of the slightest advantage in regard to this article, because the lamps that come from the United States and Germany are of a different character altogether, and they will still come in, or, my protectionist friends may say, be excluded in favour of the Australian article.
– Are thev not patented ?
– I feel with Senator Millen that this rate of duty is unduly increased all round. We may be giving some kind of preference to England - some kind of advantage - so that her lamps of a superior quality may come in. I do not want importations to supersede our own lamps if we can make them as good as any that are imported. ‘ “Not at all. I am as much in favour of developing the industries .of Australia as .any one can be. But let us give some decent preference to the United Kingdom. In order that the matter may be tested, I shall move that the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty 20 per cent, with a view to making the duty in the second column 10 per cent.
– That will leave the amount of preference exactly the same.
– But it will give a real preference.
– Against our own people.
– Surely these duties are ample.
– No ; they are not.
– £100,000 worth of goods came in under the 15 per cent, duty
– They always will come in, because, for one reason, as Senator ‘ Gray has said, many of these lamps are patented, and also because there is a certain quality that people will have. But lamps are the means by which the people in the country get their light, and’ to put on a duty of 25 per cent. - 3d. in the is. - on such .articles is an atrocity that ought’ not to be agreed to. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested, to make the duty on item r4i, paragraph a (imports under General Tariff), 20 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [2.39]. - In view of the last division, I shall not move a further request, because the difference of 10 per cent. is, I think, enough.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [2.40]. - I do not suppose that it will be of any use to attempt to make any change with regard to the duty on lamp and gas stoves in the General Tariff ; but I point out that whilst all the other articles dealt with in this item have a preference in favour of the United Kingdom, there appears to be none in regard to paragraph c. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 141, paragraph c (imports from the United Kingdom), 10 per cent.
– I wish to know whether gas heaters for heating baths are covered by this paragraph?
– Yes, they are.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Neild) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 141, paragraph c (imports from the United Kingdom), 15 per cent.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I understand that the duty on incandescent mantles is an entirely revenue impost.
– It is not.
– I should like to know why a duty of 25 per cent. in respect of imports under the General Tariff should be imposed, having regard to the fact that a duty of only 15 per cent. was recommended by the Tariff Commission. The Government originally proposed a duty of 40 per cent., but that duty was reduced by another place. I have here a letter from an entirely disinterested expert who writeswith respect to the duty on incandescent lamps -
This can in no way be considered a protective Tariff, as the construction of these lamps requiries so numerous and delicate types of machinery that it is doubtful whether even a 200 per cent. duty would induce manufacturers to establish this industry in Australia, and the present Tariff, therefore, simply serves the object of increasing the price to consumers.
Incandescent lamps are used largely by the poorer classes, and are to befound in general use in the country as well as in our cities. The Government might well agree to a reduction of the duty. Can the Minister assure me that these mantles are made in any quantity in Australia?
– They are made largely in Sydney.
– I am acting on the letter which I have read, and which was written by an engineer of considerable standing in the community.
– I should like to have from the Minister a statement as to whether or not incandescent mantles are made in Australia, and, if they are, whether the Australian article is as good as the imported. Although I am a poor man, I use incandescent mantles in my house, and find that, while they last, they are a great boon.
– The Welsbach Company within the last six months has established in Sydney a factory for the purpose of making incandescent mantles. Nothing could be more satisfactory. The original manufacturers of these mantles have come from abroad and established a factory in Australia - a step in the direction at which a protective Tariff aims. It is reasonable, in the circumstances, that we should grant the local manufacturers, as proposed, the assistance of a protective duty not greater, so far as imports from the United Kingdom are concerned, than prevailed before, but greater only as against the foreigner.
– Protection against themselves.
– No, they are established here. The recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission was that a duty of 15 per cent. should be imposed, and that rate has been fixed in respect of imports from the United Kingdom.
– I am satisfied.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) cutive Council has correctly stated that incandescent mantles are being made in Australia, but he must not assume that the factory has been established here as the result of the Tariff. The real reason is that mantles are, as we all know, exceedingly frail, and the breakages in transport are enormous. All that the company is doing in Australia is this : It imports the textile frames, dips them in a solution of mineral earth, takes them out again, dries them, applies a light to them, burns out the textile substance, and what we know as the “mantle” then remains.
– My correspondent refers particularly to the higher class filament lamps recently produced abroad. He writes -
We beg, however, more especially to draw your attention to the high efficiency metallic filament lamps, such as the Tantalum, Tungsten, and Osmium lamps which have been recently placed on the market, with a view to reducing the current consumption per candle power, and so lessening the cost of electric light to the consumer.
These are recent inventions, and certainly are not made in Australia.
Item agreed to.
Item 142 (Lamps, Miners’ safety) agreed to.
Item 143. Sheet Lead and Lead Piping, per ton, 50s. ; and on and after 15th November, 1907, free.
– The Tariff, as introduced in another place, provided in respect of this item a duty of 50s. per ton, as recommended by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission. That recommendation was made because it was thought that the lead industry ought to be native to Australia, where lead is very largely produced. Honorable members of another place, however, considered that a duty of 50s. per ton was so high, that by imposing it they would run a risk of giving a monopoly to a certain company at present operating in Australia, which has control of the smelted lead, the raw material of these manufactures.
– What company is that?
– The Broken Hill Proprietary Company.
– Which fought very hard for the imposition of the original duty by another place.
– Honorable members of another place thought that the duty would give rise to a monopoly, and drive out of the market all the smaller firms engaged here in the production of sheet lead and lead piping.
– Is not all the lead produced by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company sent Home to be desilverized?
– No, the metal is now separated at Port Pirie. It was the custom years ago to send the smelted metal Home, where the metal merchants extracted from it the different metals. I understand, however, that the company now extracts both the gold, silver, copper, and antimony from the lead. Another place, fearful of giving rise to a monopoly, went to the other extreme, and made the item free. So far as I can understand, however, a lower duty than that originally proposed would be of great assistance to the industry in Australia, and would not expose us. to the risk I have named. Manufacturers of sheet lead, lead piping, lead for stained-glass windows, and so forth, would be in a much better position if some assistance were accorded the industry. At present the Broken Hill Proprietary Company ships to London and elsewhere all its lead, and will supply local manufacturers only at the rates ruling in London, making no allowance for freight and other charges. The manufacturers ofsheet lead and piping are to some extent at their mercy. If our manufacturers can obtain a duty, say, of 25s. per ton instead of 50s. per ton, they will be in a position to carry on the industry here, and probably in the near future the company which has control of the business at the present time may become more reasonable and extend to them a little more consideration by making them some allowance to compensate for the freight) Home and the freight out again. Within a few hundred yards of this very building there is established one of the biggest roller mills outside of the Old Country, and it is for the purpose of enabling such an establishment to successfully carry on its operations that I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 143 25s. per ton.
– It will be observed that’ when this Tariff was introduced, the Government proposed to lew a duty of 50s. per ton upon sheet lead and piping. For reasons which I need not now enter into, the House of
Representatives decided that these articles should be admitted free.
– The other Chamber went to extremes.
– Exactly. The object of the Government was to encourage the making up of sheet lead locally. Under the item in its present form, the made-up article- sheet lead - is introduced into the Commonwealth free. What is the real position of affairs in this connexion? It is that we export in a raw state upwards of 1,000,000 cwt. of lead to the Old Country, and whatever proportion of this we get back we get back in a manufactured state. Why should we not manufacture this sheet lead for ourselves?
– Because the Broken Hill Proprietary Company will not allow us to do so.
– If a substantial duty be imposed upon lead, there is every reason to believe that we shall manufacture the sheet lead here.
– We shall not achieve our object in that way.
– I think that we shall. Senator McGregor has proposed that the duty upon this item shall be 25s. per ton. I have given some consideration to the matter, and I would suggest to him that he should amend his request by substituting 20s. per ton. If this compromise should meet with his approval, I think it is one that the Committee might reasonably accept.
– As I desire to extend some assistance to the persons engaged in this industry who really require it, I am willing to accept the compromise suggested.
Request amended accordingly.
– Whatever desire honorable senators may entertain to create an industry in the manufacture of sheet lead, they will certainly not achieve their object by the imposition of the duty proposed. Senator McGregor affirmed that the difficulty experienced by local manufacturers was that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company would not sell them lead - which is the raw material of sheet lead - for less than its price in London. That statement is morethan confirmed by the evidence tendered to the Tariff Commission by one witness, who stated that the cost of the raw material in the Commonwealth, where it is produced, was higher than it’s cost abroad. Consequently, so long as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company maintains its present policy, whatever duty we may impose upon this commodity will merely have the effect of enhancing the price of the manufactured article.
– Why ?
– Because the Company which has control of the raw material can continue to charge whatever price it may please.
– But at theworst, it can charge only the same price as is charged in London.
SenatorMcColl. - The freight will be saved.
– Nobody will save the freight except the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. One witness before the Tariff Commission stated not merely that the company in question charges the same price for lead in Australia that is charged for it in London, but that the raw material is actually cheaper abroad than it is here where it is produced. That means that the company is doing something more than was alleged by Senator McGregor. If I can purchase the product of the Broken Hill Proprietary mine cheaper abroad than I can obtain it here, it is evident that the company is charging an unjustifiable price.
– Then we shall have to put into operation the provisions of the Australian Industries Preservation Act which relate to restraint of trade.
– We have been told to-day that the Government have no intention of enforcing the existing law.
– I said that we were awaiting the completion of that law.
– I recognise that the Vice-President of the Executive Council possesses a better command of diplomatic language than I do. Nevertheless, his announcement was practically an admission that until the amending Bill had been passed into law, the Government were not prepared to move in the direction suggested. So that in whatever form we may agree to this item, we shall do so in the knowledge that there is no Act in existence which can control the operations of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, or any other company.
– But there will be by the time this Tariff is enacted.
– No difficulty is experienced in passing a Bill to deal with offences in restraint of trade - the trouble is to get a Ministry with sufficient courage to give effect to its provisions. That the present duty upon sheet lead and lead piping is not necessary is clearly evidenced by the fact thatunder a lower duty the industry has made steady progress. Further, by increasing the taxation levied upon these articles, we shall merely be imposing an additional burden upon those who consume them, so long as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company unfairly treats those who have to purchase its material.
Request, as amended, agreed to.
Request (by Senator Neild) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 143 (imports from the United Kingdom),15s. per ton.
The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item144. Mangles, Clothes-Wringers, and Washing Machines, n.e.i., ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent. ; and on and after 25th November, 1907, 12½ per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 144 by inserting after the word “ and,” line 1, the word “ clothes,” and by leaving out the letters “n.e.i.”
Of course, the washing machines to which the item refers are clothes-washing machines. The only other washing machines specifically mentioned in the Tariff are wool -washing machines, which are in- cluded under item 165, paragraph a. The amendment requested is necessary for the sake of greater clearness.
Request agreed to.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [3.15]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be re quested to make the duty on item 144 (imports under General Tariff), ad. val., 15 per. cent.
The previous duty was12½ per cent. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended 12½ per cent., and 10 per cent. was recommended by what is known as the free-trade section. I know no reason for imposing a duty so much higher than those recommended by the two branches of the Commission. The articles enumerated in this item are used by some of the poorest and most industrious members of the community. They are used in the homes of the not well-to-do, and particularly by laundresses-
– And, therefore, those people should have them cheap. The only way to get them cheap is to have them made locally.
– The honorable senator is extraordinarily erratic. In one five minutes he wants a heavy duty, to make an article cheaper, and in the next five minutes he clamours for a duty in order to enhance the price. That may be an evidence of his humour, but, unfortunately, he is not recognised as a humourist, and so we are inclined to take him seriously. I never know whether he is serious or not. In this instance I do not think he can be.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item 145. Agricultural, Horticultural, and Viticultural Machinery and Implements, n.e.i., including Cane Loaders on wheels, Channelmaking Graders, Garden and Field Spraying Machines, Garden and Field Rollers, Garden Hose Reels, Garden Syringes, Horse Road Rollers and Machines, Lawn Mowers, Sweepers and Sprinklers, Road-making Ploughs, Road Scoops and Scrapers, Scoops, Stump Extractors, ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent., and on and after 26th November,1907, 15 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent., and on and after 26th November, 1907, 12½ per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 145 by leaving out the words “on wheels” after the words “cane loaders.”
I do not know the object of putting in those words. There are very few cane loaders in use, but whether they are on wheels or not they should pay the same duty.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Chataway) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend’ item 145 by inserting after the word “loaders” the words “cane unloaders and cane harvesters.”
.- I notice that the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended 12½ per cent. on the articles enumerated in this item, while the B section of the Commission recommended 10 per cent. Twelveandahalf per cent. is not a protective duty. I am opposed to revenue duties, and desire to know from Senator McGregor what moved the protectionist section of the Commission to make that recommendation. These things should all be free, or a sufficiently high duty should be imposed to encourage their manufacture in the Commonwealth. If they are not made in Australia, and there is no immediate likelihood of their being made here, they should be admitted free, but if they are made, or are likely to be made, here within a reasonable time, the duty proposed is altogether inadequate. If the protectionist section of the Commission cannot give’ very strong reasons why they recommended a duty as low as 12½ per cent., I favour making the item free.
– The Tariff Commission had not a great deal of evidence with regard to one or two of these implements. The reason why, in cases of this kind, they recommended a low duty was that the greater portion of the value of the article was in the materials it was made of, and that there was not a great deal of labour required in putting it together. They came to the conclusion, seeing that the labour was not such a great factor, that the duty they recommended would be high enough. The Government have acted wisely in making the rate 15 per cent. If we increased it, we should not be able to carry the increase in another place.
Request agreed to.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 145 by leaving out the words “Road-making Ploughs.”
In the next item the words “ploughs, other” appear. I am advised by the Department that it is quite impossible to differentiate between road-making and a number of the other ploughs. To leave out “road- making ploughs” from this item will bring them under item 146.
Request agreed to.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales [3.28.] I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item id? free.
The articles enumerated here are essentially necessary for the great producing interests of every State of the Commonwealth - interests for which even the golden State of Western Australia is now clamouring to receive public admiration. Western Australia is seeking to attract attention less through her gold deposits than through the rapid progress she is making in agriculture.
– They did not get much of the honorable senator’s appreciation when he was there.
– The honorable senator will make his own remarks, and I hope that he will be careful to see that they are accurate. In every State of the Commonwealth the development of agricultural resources is regarded as of paramount importance. If her agricultural interests were taken from Victoria, and her gold deposits left, she would sink into insignificance, and so would New South Wales, even though her coal and other mineral deposits were left. The same remark applies in greater or less degree to the other States. However rich the underlying mineral deposits of Australia may be, it is the surface industries which produce the vast volume of exports which make our position among the peoples of the world so noticeable. They support a much larger part of the population than do the mining industries. That being so, instead of striking at the pri- mary industries, we should do all that we can to foster them. The demand for facilities to go on the land is constantlybeing made; but what is the good of settling people in the country if their presence there is to be regarded merely as providing an opportunity for the tax gatherer to harry them. However, short speeches being the order of the day, I shall content myself with allowing my proposal to go to a vote without supporting it by a variety of propositions which would be pleasing to my friends, but obnoxious to those who take an opposite view.
– - The Committee has become accustomed to the eloquence of our gallant colonel, Senator Neild, which we have heard on behalf of the agriculturist, the horticulturist, the miner, the poor washerwoman, the widow, and the orphan.
– And the poor importer.
– Yes; on every conceivable occasion, unnecessarily. I wish to point out that in the interests of the agricultural population of Australia we should give encouragement to those concerned in manufactures.
– Does the honorable senator consider this a protective duty ?
– I should not vote for it unless I did. It is the Australian blacksmiths, engineers, and mechanics, who have brought into existence the machinery and appliances best adapted for our agricultural and. horticultural operations. If the item were made free, these primary industries would be deprived of “the genius which has assisted so much in their development. As to the protective effect of the duty, I would point out that many of the articles to which it applies, such as hedge knives, pruning knives, and clippers, may not be manufactured here now, but are likely to be so manufactured in the near future. If they are not being made here, the duty is not so high that it will bear heavily upon our primary producers, while it will offer encouragement to their manufacture in the near future.
– - In respect to the ‘articles covered by the item, our local manufacturers, who are very strongly established, have not to meet the keen competition which is forced upon many manufacturers in other lines of production. I . do not think any of these articles are not made here, though, perhaps, some of them may not be made locally of the finest quality. Under the Tariff of 1902 they bore a duty of12½ per cent., which the Tariff Commission, after inquiry, found to give a sufficient protection to their manufacturers. The Government has accepted this recommendation in regard to importations from Great Britain, giving that country a preference of 2½ per cent. against foreigners. The duty is protective in . that it will prevent foreign makers from clumping their goods here. If we knock down this fiscal wall, our primary producers will be left at the mercy of importers.
.- Although I am not in favour of high duties on agricultural implements, I think it would be a mistake to make the item free. In the framing of former Tariffs consideration has always been had to the requirements of those engaged in the rural industries. Agricultural, viticultural, and horticultural implements and machines of all descriptions can be imported into New Zealand from Great Britain free of duty, there being an impost of 20 per cent. on importations from other parts of the world. In my opinion, however, it wouldbe a mistake to make the item free, and also a mistake to impose a heavy duty. I agree with Senator McGregor that we should encourage’ our own mechanics to make the implements and machinery necessary for our own cultivators ; but we should not penalize the latter by burdensome imposts.. Among the advantages obtained from the making of agricultural implements and machines locally is that the farmers get exactly what suits their ‘ requirements, whereas when they buy from other countries they have to take whatis sent, and the inventions of other places may not always meet our local needs. Then, when machines are made locally, duplicate parts can be easily obtained, and repairs effected with little trouble or cost, whereas for spare parts importers can charge their own prices. I shall oppose the placing of high duties on agricultural machinery and implements, because the man who goes on the land has already a large expenditure to incur before he can make a start. A farmer cannot commence the growing of grain without implements and machines costing £248, at present market prices, or £347 if he wishes for the very best and the very latest. A dairy farmer must spend £179 in implements and machinery to make a” start, or £290 if he wishes to be specially well equipped. In addition to this expenditure, the man going on the land has to clear and fence it. It takes a year or two before he can make a start, and then he has to run the risk of his crop failing, through various reasons. That being so, we should reduce his burdens as much as possible. But I am not in favour of abolishing the duties on agricultural machinery and implements, because I think it better that our farmers should buy from local makers than that they should be at the mercy of importers. I have not yet met any farmer who objects to a duty of 12½ per cent. on British goods, which are superior to those imported from other countries. I shall, however, strenuously oppose any attempt to increase the duty on this item, or on agricultural implements generally.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 145 free (Senator Neild’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [3.50]. - Having in view the rate of duty on the articles comprised in item 152, I think I am quite justified, in spite of the large majority against me on the last division, in moving that the duty be 10 per cent. The commodities in item 152 are used in exactly the same industries as those specified in the item under discussion. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 145 (imports under General Tariff) 10 per cent.
– There is much force in Senator Neild’s contention, and honorable senators ought to seriously compare the duties in the two items mentioned. Agricultural or horticultural and viticultural implements and machines are comprised in each item, and as item 152 imposes a duty of 10 per cent., 1 can see no reason why a similar duty should not be imposed in the present instance, except the reason that in one case the duty is printed 15 per cent., and in the other case it is printed 10 per cent.
– There is a vast difference between the two items. Speaking generally, one set of things is made here, and the other set of things is not.
– I welcome the interjection, and invite the Committee to consider the position. The VicePresident of the Executive Council practically tells us that he is willing to accept 15 per cent. as a protective duty in the case of item 145.
– I have already at length explained why.
– It is a fair inference, from Senator Best’s interjection, that item 152 represents a revenue duty. I am amazed that any protectionist should say that a duty of 15 per cent. is high enough; and, in face of the views expressed against revenue duties, I shall be surprised if many honorable senators support item 152.
– I do not say it represents a revenue item, but I do say it represents a preference item.
– I am not dealing with preference, but with the General Tariff in each case. In regard to one branch of agricultural machinery, we are told that a duty of 15 per cent. means protection, and that, in another branch, a duty of10 per cent. must remain, because it means revenue. A duty of 10 per cent. is too high for revenue purposes, and a protective duty of 15 per cent. is an amazing condescension on the part of protectionists. I think the distinction is decidedly unwise and unwarranted from the point of view of simplicity, and, if for no other reason, I think honorable senators ought to support Senator Neild’s request. Why should a man who uses one class of machinery be charged 15 per cent., and a man who uses another class of machinery be charged only 10 per cent. ? If we have to impose burdens on any class the burdens ought to be equal. Senator Best may say that 15 per cent. represents protection, butwe have had enough to do with the Tariff to understand to what extent we may discount that statement. What is meant is an attempt to adhere to the Tariff as printed, whether the object be protection or revenue.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 145 (imports under General Tariff) 10 per cent. (Senator Neild’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 145 (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 20 per cent.
I am submitting this request quite as much in the interests of the primary producers, who seem to be specially catered for here, as in the interests of any other section of the community. I appeal to those who are bent upon securing ‘ a protectionist Tariff to take heed of the total value of the importations at the old rate of 12½ per cent. It ought to be a sufficient ground to a protectionist to increase the rate when he is reminded that in 1906 our imports under this item were valued at£162,172.
Those figures include articles which come under item 146, and perhaps other items.
– That total covers a large number of items.
– It should be an unchallengeable argument with any person who wants to see a reasonable protectionist duty imposed on item 145. Let me take the articles which it includes. Cane loaders on wheels are farming implements for the use of cane-growers in Queensland and New South Wales. While we give a protection of £6 per ton . to cane-growers in Australia, I do not see any logic in not asking them to stand a reasonable burden of protection in. order that their farming implements may be made locally. If we protect the products of the primary producers - for instance their butter, - cheese, bacon, hay, corn, and other articles - is there any injustice in asking them in their turn to bear a share of the burden of protection in order to help a large body of consumers alongside them?
– It is a burden, then?
– It will be a burden until such time as our industries are firmly established, and then I believe that the farmers will get their implements very much more cheaply than they do at the present time. However, if it really be the purpose of the Committee to help the primary producer, I want to know why the duty on this item, which does not concern that person very much, is fixed at a lower rate than the duty on the following item, which specially concerns him. Where, for instance, does the primary producer use garden and field rollers; garden hose reel and garden syringes? I submit, with all deference to the majority, who, I believe, will vote against me, that those are not strictly implements of the primary producer. Lawn mowers, sweepers, and sprinklers are also in that category. They are the implements of a section of the community, who. devote a portion of their time to a pleasurable occupation. All the implements I have mentioned are certainly not the implements of the man WhO enters the virgin forest, and strives to reduce it to some form of productivity. Why should- we place a duty of 12^ per cent, on implements which are not essentially tools of the primary pro.ducer, and a duty of 20 per cent, on such implements as “corn huskers, cultivators other than disc, harrows, ploughs, other ; plough shares, plough mould boards, scari fiers “ ? The. latter are in every sense of the word the implements of the farmer - the man who is battling against great odds. I contend that every implement which comes under item 145 cannot strictly be said to be the implement of the struggling farmer. And since they can be produced here profitably - without the application of very much skill or -ingenuity - I submit this request for the purpose of securing some kind of simplicity, and, if honorable senators like, symmetry in the Tariff. I notice that under a later item, mining machinery will be taxed at the rate of 25 and 20 per cent. I ask honorable senators, in all fairness, why the struggling mine owner should be called upon to pay 7J per cent, more than the other man who is not a primary producer. That is, I think, one reason whysome kind of uniformity should be observed in the construction of this part of the Tariff, whilst drawing no unreasonable or unfair distinction between the genuine struggler and the man who for the time being is lifted above that condition.
– In one sense it was music to my ears to .hear the last speaker give away the whole protectionist principle at once. He asked, Why should one part of the community have the benefits of the protectionist policy - I suppose he meant higher profits - and not give a quid “pro quo to somebody else ? He forgets that a number of the articles enumerated in this item are necessary to the producers. Many of them are patented in America and Europe. I imagine that no one will assert that all the articles produced in Australia, especially agricultural and garden implements, are equal, at all events in the first instance, to the products of older countries. It would be a’ very cruel thing to impose a duty which would prevent agriculturists and gardeners from purchasing at a reasonable price the smaller articles which are of dail v use in gardens, orchards and farms. It is certain that articles which are patented abroad and cannot be made here must bear whatever duty may be imposed before they can be offered to the public. Why should they be offered at a price which would inflict a hardship upon the users?
– A patent does not prevent an article from being made here.
– Often it does.
– It need not do so.
– As a matter of fact, it does. For instance, the honorable senator could not get Ransomes’ lawn mowers made in Australia. If he assures me that they can be made here, I shall be pleased to know where.
– The odds are ten to one that the patent has run out.
– Old patents can be renewed, and new patents are always being obtained and used. The brains of people in America, Europe, and elsewhere are exercised for the benefit of the people of Australia as well as of the people of the countries where patents are taken out. Believing that the duty in the schedule is high enough for all legitimate purposes, I shall vote against the request.
– Having already dealt fully with the duties on this item, 1 do not propose to offer further argument. I point out to Senator Lynch, however, that the duty of 15 per cent. in the first column is practically founded upon the recommendation of the Tariff Commission, who were satisfied that, as a protective duty, it would be effective. Above all, I remind him that it represents a compromise which was arrived at in another place, and by which I, of course, intend to be bound:
– As a friend, I ask Senator Lynch to withdraw his. request. I recognise in him a genuine protectionist, but with a tendency sometimes to go a bit too far. If he persists with his request, I shall not follow him. It affects the producing interests, which, 1 contend, ought not to be saddled with any further burden.
Item 146. Chaffcutters and Horse Gears ; Chaffcutter Knives; Corn Shellers; Corn Huskers ; Cultivators other than disc; Harrows; Ploughs other;Plough Shares; Plough Mould Boards; Scarifiers; ad val., 20 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 146 by leaving out the words “other than disc” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the letters “ n.e.i.”
The reason for this request is that in item 147 disc cultivators are included and made dutiable at 25 per cent. Later on hand-worked cultivators are specifically mentioned and made dutiable at 10 per cent. It will be patent to honorable senators that the words “other than disc” in item 146 are inconsistent with the refer ences to cultivators in other items. The requested amendment is therefore necessary for departmental reasons.
– I take this opportunity of saying, with regard to thisand subsequent items, that in view of the fact that the validity of the Excise Tariff Agricultural Machinery Act is engaging the attention of the High Court, it appears to me that it would be injudicious to disturb these duties, which were imposed with a knowledge of their bearing on the provisions of that Act, until we know whether the High Court is satisfied as to its validity. The probabilities are that the decision of the Court will be available before the Tariff finally leaves the Senate. I am not suggesting that the Senate should allow the Tariff to pass from its hands until it knows the effect of the Act, but that at present it seems to me wise that there should be no alteration of these duties, though if anything should happen as the result of the application before the High Court it might become necessary to review them later on.
Request agreed to.
– I was about to point out that items 146, 147, 149, 150, 151 and 152 are items which were dealt with by another place and by the Senate in an Act passed in 1906. After a very lengthy discussion of the Customs duties we then agreed upon certain Excise provisions in connexion with the articles dealt with in these items.
– Not all these articles.
– -When we come to deal with each of the items I will point out the alterations appearing in this Tariff and the reasons for. them. It will be necessary for departmental reasons to make some further amendments, but with those exceptions I intend to ask the Committee not to waste time in further discussing these items. They were very fully discussed in 1906 when we fixed these duties, and it would be very unwise to disturb them now after having decided upon them so recently. The operation of the provisions of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act may depend to some extent upon some of these duties. I am not dealing with the matter from that standpoint, but from the stand-point that these duties were passed by the Federal Parliament so late as 1906. As they faithfully represent the desire of the Parliament at that time, it would, I think, be unwise for us now to disturb them. It is true that certain alterations have been made, and it is proposed to make others, but these are only such as have been justified by experience, and, I venture to say, will meet with no disapproval. I omitted to say that in this item we have included chaffcutters, the reason being that this is the proper place in which they should appear in the Tariff, and that there has been an express recommendation on the subject from the Tariff Commission.
.- I think there are other articles included in this item which were not dealt with in the Excise Tariff Agricultural Machinery Act of 1906, and amongst them I may refer to plough mould-boards. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 146 by leaving out the words “ Plough Mould Boards.”
I submit this request because plough mouldboards are not made in this country, and the effect of the duty is to increase the price of ploughs, whilst it would benefit no local industry.
– The honorable senator is making a mistake. Plough mould-boards are dealt with in the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act of 1906.
– I was not aware of the fact. They should be omitted from this item, because they are not made in this country.
– They are admitted free in the rough.
– I am aware of that. There are two classes of mould-boards - steel plate mould-boards, which are made of hardened cast steel, and soft centre mould-boards, with glass-hard face. No attempt has ever been made to produce the steel plate mould-boards in the Commonwealth, and it is not likely that any such attempt will be made for years to come. The soft centre mould-boards form a comparatively new type, and it is only of very recent years that the largest steel manufacturers in Sheffield have overcome the great difficulty of producing this class of mould-board. It is becoming very popular in the Commonwealth, and its landed cost is fully five times the price of the steel plate mould-boards. These mouldboards have to be imported from Sheffield or elsewhere finished complete, as they cannot be worked here after they are glass- hardened by the special process. The duty of 20 per cent. on soft centre steel mould-boards is a very serious item, and is a big handicap to the implement manufacturers in the Commonwealth, whilst it does not in any way benefit any industry here. I trust the Committee will take a commonsense view of this matter, and that, in view of the fact that these mould-boards are not made here, and that no substitutes for them are made here - that as they are required and must be imported, honorable senators will see that the imposition of a duty upon them only increases the cost to the manufacturers of ploughs, and tothose who have to use the ploughs.
– I appeal to the Committee not to disturb any of these duties, for the reasons I have already urged. I direct attention to the fact that mould-board plates in the rough maybe introduced at a duty of 10 per cent. under the General Tariff and free from the United Kingdom, under item 152. The question raised by Senator McColl’s request has been the subject of a special report by the Tariff Commission, who say -
We cannot recommend the granting of the request that mould-boards should remain free. Mould-boards rounded, shaped, or cut, are finished or nearly finished parts of ploughs, and should bear the same duty as a complete implement. If finished mould-boards are admitted free it encourages the performance of a considerable amount of work in the country which exports the plate, and which could and should he done in the Commonwealth. Cutting plates into lengths, rounding, trimming, and twisting them into shape is comparatively simple blacksmith’s work, which can and should be done in this country. The plate iron, out of which the mould-boards are made, should be admitted free, providing it is in an unaltered and improved state as plate.
So that even on the merits of the case the Tariff Commission do not support the view taken by the honorable senator. Apart from that, I appeal to Senator McColl to be bound by the suggestion I have made that the Committee should not consent, except in so far as may be necessary for departmental reasons, to alter the 1906 Tariff on these items.
.- I am entirely in accord with Senator Millen when he suggests that we should not disturb these duties at the present time, since they affect a matter which is before the High Court for decision. But I do not agree with the Vice-President of the Executive Council that they should not be disturbed because a former Parliament discussed them, and agreed to them in an Excise Act passed in 1906. The Minister appears to have entirely forgotten that there are now a number of honorable senators in this chamber who we’re not members of the Senate in 1906. In this matter I am prepared to ask Senator McColl, who has been figuring as a high protectionist in connexion with many other items, to take a little of his own gruel. The honorable senator has said that mould-boards are not made in Australia, but I could give him the name and address of a small factory for their manufacture in a little town away up in the north of Queensland, where an enterprising man has laid down the necessary plant for the purpose. I am prepared at present to support the duty, not because it is either a protective or a revenue duty, but because, for the reason given by Senator Millen, it would be unwise at this stage to interfere with these items.
Senator MCGREGOR (South Australia’) [4.29I. - T hope that Senator McColl will withdraw his request in view of what has already been stated by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I was under the impression, as were some members of the Tariff Commission, that we were unable in Australia to harden the face of metals, as they are hardened in other countries. That may have been true at one time, but it is not now a fact. We can now chill both iron and steel, harden faces, and do almost anything with metals which is done elsewhere. I hope that- Senator McColl will agree to leave these items as they are.
Item 147. Combined Corn-sheller, Husker and Bagger ; combined Corn-sheller and Husker ; Discs for agricultural implements;’ Disc Cultivators; Drills (fertiliser seed and grain) and all attachments thereto; Stump-jump Ploughs; Winnowers (horse and other power) : Seats. Poles : Swinglebars; Yokes and Trees for agricultural machines when imported separately, ad vol., 25 per cent.
– - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 147 by leaving out the words “ Discs for agricultural implements.”
Honorable senators are well aware of the nature of a disc. It is proposed that, as disc ploughs are made here, and as this is practically the raw material, it should be admitted on the terms I have mentioned.
– Why should we not take out the disc cultivator as well ?
– No; we make d.’sc cultivators here, but we cannot make discs.
Request agreed to.
– Item 347 is the same as the corresponding item in the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act, with the following additions : - Discs for agricultural implements, which we have just dealt with; seats, poles, swingle bars, yokes, and trees for agricultural machines imported separately. As a matter of fact, these very same parts, which have been added to the item, have been charged the same duties under the previous Tariff. But it was “thought advisable, to save confusion, that the articles should be enumerated. The additions do not involve any* alterations ot duty. As a matter of fact, we had the right to charge duty upon those articles under the old Tariff, and it is fair to the public to mention them in tlie item.
– Under what item were they taxed previously ?
– Under the same item as they now appear in. They were charged duty as parts. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 147 by adding the following new paragraph: - -“11. Discs for. Agricultural Implements, free.”
Request agreed to.
Item 148. Churns of all kinds; Cheese Presses p Dairy Coolers; Dairy Refrigerators; - SupplyCans; Incubators n.e.i. ; Foster Mothers, ad val.,. 25 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 148 by’ leaving out theword “Dairy” before the word “Refrigerators.” 1 understand that dairy refrigerators and ordinary refrigerators cannot be distinguished, and the inclusion of the word in this item is a source of much friction. Under the present item dairy refrigerators would be dutiable at 25 per cent., but under my proposed request they will be dutiable at 25 per cent, and 20 per cent. So that there is not much difference.
– Can the Minister see his way clear to strike out “churns” as well ?
– We make them by thousands.
Request agreed to.
– May I ask why no preference to Great Britain is proposed in connexion with any of the items with which we are dealing?
– It was practically agreed between the leader of the Opposition and myself, with the consent of the Committee generally, that those items which were in the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act should not be disturbed. I think that was the general desire.
– Not at the present stage.
Item 149. Stripper Harvesters, each £16; and on and after 13th December, 1907, £12.
.- Would it not be advisable to postpone this item until we have dealt with the rest of the Tariff ? I am greatly interested in the subject of stripper-harvesters. It will be remembered that these goods were singled out twelve months ago - before the general Tariff schedule was placed on the table in another place - and protection was specially extended to the people engaged in the manufacture of these machines conditionally on the employers paying reasonable wages and observing fair conditions towards their employes.
– The matter was rushed through.
– It was rushed through with express speed.
– It took a week.
– I do not suppose that any industry in any State of the Commonwealth ever received such earnest consideration as did the stripper-harvester industry. The manufacturers were given a large measure of protection conditionally on certain treatment being extended by them to their employes.
– Is it not a pity to open up that question now?
– I will ask the honorable senator not to open it up.
– I shall open it up, because it is a matter affecting thousands of men and women throughout the Commonwealth. It is evidently very important, because the Commonwealth is now suing McKay for no less than£20,000.
– That is the very reason w hy we should not discuss it.
– ThenI ask that the consideration of the item be postponed until the end of the Tariff.
– I ask my honorable friend not to do that.
– It is un-British.
– I do not know that it is. McKay and Company showed themselves to be un-British. In fact, they are outlaws.
– The honorable senator cannot use too strong a word concerning them.
– They are outlaws ; they have defied an Act passed by the Parliament of this Commonwealth. After we had passed that Act, McKay actually had the brazen audacity to appear before a Court of law and ask for exemption on the ground that his firm was paying reasonable wages, when it was clearly shown, from evidence, that they were not.
– We all want to discuss the matter; but we want to do it at the proper time.
– I consider that this is an opportune time. I move -
That the item be postponed.
– I am sorry that my honorable friend Senator Findley has seen fit to submit this motion. Nothing is better understood in parliamentary practice than that we should not make any reference to a case which is sub judice.We have fully discussed, and practically determined upon the advisableness of passing these items as they appeared in the Excise Tariff Act of 1906. It is quite true that there is a possibility that some decision which may hereafter be given may result in our having to reconsider this item. But it seems to me that the present is not the proper time to consider it at all. We have to assume that everything that has been done is right; and it is our duty to carry out the general understanding arrived at, and to pass the item in the usual way. I therefore ask the honorable senator to withdraw his motion, and to allow the item to be proceeded with.
– I understand that Senator Findley wishes to make certain that honorable senators will have an opportunity of discussing the duty on stripper-harvesters before the Tariff is disposed of. This is a special item in which we are particularly interested. I think that Senator Findley is perfectly justified in making it an exception, and in asking the Minister under the circumstances to promise to afford us an opportunity of discussing the whole question.
– I wish to put another point before the Minister, in reference to item 149. I should be very loth to discuss anything connected with a law suit, but there are occasions when it is absolutely necessary that something should be done in regard to a matter of great public importance. I point out that if this item is agreed to as it came up from another place, we practically dispose of it. I have no desire to deal with the subject from the point of view of Mr. McKay or of his case. But I wish it to be clearly understood that I hope to see, in the future, fair wages paid and good conditions observed, and everything done that will tend to the improvement of the industry in Australia. With that end in view, I do not think that the duty proposed is high enough. I was considering the wisdom of moving that the duty be raised to -£16 as originally proposed by the Government.
– I ask the honorable senator not to do that now.
– I wish to have an understanding from the Vice-President, of the Executive Council that an opportunity will be given, as soon as the law trouble has ceased, to give adequate protection to the industry in question. ‘ We know why it has not been given, and we want to grant it in the future when everything has been put right.
– - I indorse Senator McGregor’s remarks, but as a new member I occupy a position rather different from that held by him, since I have not had an opportunity to discuss the question here. I had the honour recently to present to the Senate a petition signed by manufacturers in South Australia praying - and in my opinion the request is a reasonable one- - that the duty be raised from £12 to £16. I intend to move a request that the duty be so increased, recognising that it would not raise by one farthing the price of these machines to producers. The prices are fixed by law, and in order to enable our manufacturers to compete with the .Yankees who clump various goods on our market, a higher duty is necessary. Mr. Darling, a leading South Australian merchant, speaking as a free-trader, told me that on one occasion he and his father visited the. United States of America and desired to purchase amongst other things a number of Fairbank weighing machines. An- enormously high price was quoted for them, and Mr. Darling replied, “ I can buy these machines in South Australia at a much lower rate.” As soon as. the American firm learned that the machines were to be delivered in a far-off country they reduced the quotation by 60 per cent. Mr. Darling quoted the incident as an illustration of “ the evils of protection,” but he overlooked the fact that the prices of Australian stripper-harvesters are fixed by law. If I believed for one moment that the farmers would have to pay more for their machines as the result of the imposition of an increased duty I should not suggest’ such a request, but I do not believe anything of the kind. I shall move -
– The honorable senator will have an opportunity later on to submit his request. We can recommit the item at any time.
– I shall be satisfied if I have an oportunity later on to move the request I have indicated. I have no consideration for Mr. McKay. We have often heard it said in the Senate that “ the Government are playing second fiddle to McKay.” What a difference in the tune played to-day. I ask only for justice, and think that a duty of £16 is not too high a rate to impose on these machines provided that our new protection legislation is held to be constitutional.
– When we approached the consideration of item 146 I suggested that all the items affected by the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act should be passed as they appeared in the schedule on the understanding that they would be recommitted after the constitutionality or otherwise of that Act had been determined. Whilst I have to admit that the Vice-President of the Executive Council did not formally assent to my proposal, I certainly thought from his nodding to me that he did. It. may be that he was merely approving the course I was suggesting from an Opposition point of view, but was not assenting to it in. the full sense I took him to be. I understood him to mean, however, that he would be willing to recommit- these four items after the validity of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act had- been determined. Senator W. Russell says that he is not prepared to support a request to raise these duties if it will mean an increased price. I would remind him that if the Act be held unconstitutional, there will be no legal barrier to any price being charged for these machines. We have already dealt with two items covered by the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act, and it would. seem rather foolish, having passed those items, to propose now to postpone two others occupying exactly the same position.
– I recognise that only one firm has been defying the law.
– No one has more strongly criticised that firm or more vigorously opposed the measure of protection given to the industry than I have done. But I wish to consider this matter apart, from the position occupied by Mr. McKay or any one else. The abstract position is that we are making in Australia certain machinery, on which an Excise duty and a Customs duty have been levied. Those who voted for the Customs duty did so with the knowledge that an Excise duty was- to be imposed, and vice versa. I certainly should not have allowed the duty on stripper-harvesters to pass without further comment, if I thought that the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act was not to be in operation. If we are asked to grant a straight-out duty of £12 per machine, without any Excise duty, I want to vote against anything of the kind. On the other hand, if the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery)’ Act is constitutional, that is a strong reason why even a freetrader cannot vote .to reduce the Customs duty below a certain level. Senator Findley. Senator W. Russell, and I are at one in this respect; we want an opportunity to consider this and other items later on, when the fate of the Excise Act has been determined. We can secure that opportunity “either bv the postponement of these items or bv the Minister consenting to recommit them later on. But since we have passed two items affected bv the Excise Act, I think that, for the sake of uniformity, it would be better to agree to the items as thev stand, on the understanding that the Minister will consent to their recommittal Hater on.
– - I did not definitely assent to the suggestion of Senator Millen, that I should, as a matter of course, recommit these items at a later date. The only consideration operating in my mind at the time was that we could not hang up the Tariff until the judgment of the High Court in the stripperharvester cases is given. It is exceedingly likely that the judgment will be delayed beyond the period during which this Tariff, in ordinary circumstances, will be tinder consideration. My honorable friends know that the points involved in the case before the High Court- are of the most serious character, and may give rise to great delay. The judgment may or may not be delivered for months, so that it would be very wrong for me to promise not to attempt to deal finally- with the Tariff until the delivery of that judgment.
– I did not suggest that the honorable senator said that.
– The Government take the responsibility of the position. If . we do obtain the judgment in the usual way, the responsibility of making’ alterations or proposals, if they think it necessary, will rest with the Ministry. If we get the judgment in the ordinary way before the Tariff is finally passed, and any substantial section of the Senate desires the recommittal of any of these four items, provided it is within our power and jurisdic- tion to do so, I shall have no hesitation in agreeing to their recommittal. Senator Millen knows that I could not bind myself, and I hope that he will not ask me to do so, to hang up the Tariff pending the delivery of the judgment. Supposing the Tariff goes through in the ordinary way 00 the basis of the Act of 1906 - we have to assume that the law is correct for our present purposes - and the judgment is nod then delivered, the position is that the Government having firmly and definitely announced their policy upon this question, must take the responsibility of subsequent action. I do not think I could say anything fairer.
– To what does that statement commit’ the honorable senator?
– To recommit the items.
– If we can do so without the assistance of the Government.
– Let me say that if Senator Millen or Senator McGregor asked me to recommit the items in the circumstances I have explained, I should not have any hesitation in doing so. What I wish to make clear is that I cannot be expected to hold up the Tariff until the judgment of the High Court is delivered. Could I say anything fairer? In the event of the judgment being delivered after the Tariff has passed in the ordinary way, the position will be that the Government have already committed themselves to a policy in this direction, and will have the responsibility of taking action in regard to it.
– If the policy is unconstitutional, what is its value?
– I hope that honorable senators will see that I could do nothing else in the circumstances I have mentioned. Provided the judgment is delivered and the Tariff is still within our power and control, I shall be pleased to recommit any of these items if the leader of the Opposition or the leader of the Labour Party in the Senate asks me to do so.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has gone a long way in the direction I desire, but the saving clause that he will only undertake to support the recommittal of the items if the judgment of the High Court has been delivered, scarcely meets the case. I wish to discuss these items irrespective of whether or not the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act is held to be valid, and I say that it is futile to discuss them now upon the assumption that the Act is valid, in view of the fact that next week it may be declared to be invalid. I suggest that we should abstain from debating these items to-day until we know the exact position. Let us suppose that the High Court has not delivered judgment in the cases now pending before the Customs Tariff Bill passes this Chamber. I still want to be afforded an opportunity of debating these items.
– That is an unreasonable Attitude to take up.
– No. Let us suppose that there were no Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act in existence. I believe that the Committee desires to be afforded an opportunity to discuss the question of what protective duties shall be imposed upon the articles specified in these items. There is bound to be discussion upon that matter. The only point which we have to consider is whether we shall have one or two discussions. If we debate the question now, it will, to a great extent, be debated upon an assumption. Tomy mind, it is most undesirable that we should discuss an Act, the validity of which has been questioned. If time should prevent us from waiting for the judgment of the High Court, I still desire to be afforded an opportunity of saying whether I am prepared to levy a duty of£12, or any other amount, upon stripper harvesters. We are not asking the Minister much. “ All that we want is an opportunity to discuss the matter when we are in possession of the very last piece of information that we can hope to get before the Tariff passes from us. The Minister has said that he is prepared, at a later stage - if the judgment of the High Court has been delivered - to recommit these items if either Senator McGregor or myself should request him to . do so. Why cannot he go further, and say that in consideration of honorable senators not discussing the matter now he will afford them an opportunity to do so later on ?
– I do not wish to deal unreasonably with the Committee in this connexion. On the contrary, I desire to meet honorable senators as far as I possibly can. But the point which I urged was that until the judgment of the High Court has been delivered we shall get no further forward by discussing this matter, and, therefore, we are justified in accepting the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act of 1906 as valid. I also pointed out that it would be a little unreasonable to disturb that Act until we had been furnished with the judgment to which I have referred. That is a logical position to take up. But I cannot prevent honorable senators from discussing these items if the Committee desire a recommittal of them before the Tariff finally leaves us. In such circumstances, I can assure them that I shall not seek to thwart their wishes. But I thought that I was making a very fair offer when I said that we ought not to disturb the provisions of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act of 1906, all of which are sub judice. Senator Millen - and in this he was supported by Senator McGregor - does not appear to think that I have gone far enough in that connexion. If they still desire these items to be recommitted in order to avoid discussion at the present moment-
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council is proceeding on the assumption that we should necessarily accept the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act as valid.
– I am assuming that judgment has not been delivered before the Tariff leaves this Chamber, and I am paying special regard to the fact that the validity of the Act in question is at present sub judice, and that a degree of relationship exists between the Customs duties upon stripper harvesters and other agricultural implements and the Excise duties. Is it not rather unreasonable to disturb the Customs duties, seeing that the Excise duties are related to them?
– We do not want to do that.
– I am quite aware of that. If the Committee will assent to my proposal to accept the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act as it stands until the judgment of the High Court has been delivered in the cases which are now pending, we shall then be in a position to act in the light of that judgment.
– But if the Tariff has been passed before judgment is delivered, those who desire an increase’ in the duties proposed, and those who want a decrease in them, will be placed in a very unfair position.
– We do not propose to alter the Excise provisions of the Act in question, but we do propose to make an alteration in the Customs duties levied upon these articles. Is that a fair thing ? As the Government have their own responsibility in the event of the Tariff passing before judgment has been delivered, I think thatthe offer which I have made is a fair one.
– I hope that the consideration of this and two or three succeeding items will be postponed. Whilst I do not question the right of any individual to take his case to the highest court in the land,. I say that there is a moral obligation on the part of our agricultural implement manufacturers to extend to their employes a fair share of the high protection which has been accorded to them. If the Government are not prepared to postpone the items to which I have alluded, I am ready to take independent action in respect of Messrs. McKay and Company. I am committed to the policy of refusing high protection to manufacturers unless the workers are permitted to share in it. We have undoubtedly granted to our agricultural implementmanufacturers a high measure of protection, and we are now asked to renew it. In return for that high protection what are the workers getting out of the manufacturers? The Arbitration Court has declared that they are receiving as much as £52 per annum less than what it regards as a fair wage-
– Of course, if the consideration of this item is going to involve a discussion on a matter which is sub judice-
– It involves my vote as well.
– I have a clear duty to perform, and that is to avoid the discussion of a matter which is sub judice. In order to prevent that I shall have to agree - reluctantly I confess - to recommit these items if either of the leaders of parties in this Chamber ask me to do so before the Tariff leaves the Senate.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [5. 11].-Surely it is as appropriate to postpone the consideration of these items as it was to postpone the consideration of the duty upon dried fruits because there was an industrial “ shindy “ at Mildura.
– The one case is very different from the other.
– I shall not consent to these items being passed under the promise that they will be recommitted. I shall proceed to discuss it, and I do not care twopence whether the matter is sub judice or not. I consider that there is infinitely more justification for postponing these items than there was for postponing the item of dried fruits.
– This is practically a. postponement.
– There is nothing in the nature of a postponement about it seeing that we are asked to agree to the duties proposed. Besides, we know from experience that accidents happen that honorable senators are sometimes absent, and that occasionally they forget. There are three separate items here, every one of which is the subject of litigation at the present moment. ‘ To go through the formality of passing them is to perpetrate something worse than a farce. But if honorable senators agree to do a thing of that kind it is their business. The whole of the circumstances attending the Tariff” discussion has been nauseating to everybody who has any regard for principle. But if honorable senators think that conducting public business in such a manner is consonant with their self-respect, Ishall only enter my protest against such an extraordinary and unsatisfactory proceeding.
– In view of the promise given by the Minister, which meets with my approval, and that of the party with which I am associated,I desire leave to withdraw my motion.
– I draw attention to the absence of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– I object to the withdrawal of the motion.
Item agreed to.
Item 150 (Strippers) agreed to.
– I object to the people being taxed without the presence of the legal number of honorable senators. [Quorum formed.]
Item 151 (Metal parts of Stripper Harvesters and Strippers) agreed to.
Item 152. Agricultural, Horticultural, and Viticultural Machinery and Implements, viz. : -
Testers and Pasteurizers ; Cotton Gins ; Fibre Scutching Machines ; Hand-worked Rakes and Ploughs combined; Hay Tedders; Horse Rakes ; Lucerne Bunchers ; Maize Harvesters; Maize Binders; Milking Machines; Mouldboard Plates in the rough and not cut into shape ; Potato Raisers or Diggers; Potato Sorters; Root Cutters Pulpers and Graters; Straw Stackers; Sub-surface Packers; Threshing Machines; Winnower Forks (wood and steel) ; Hand-worked Cultivators, ad val. (General Tariff), 10 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free.
Cream Separators, ad val. (General Tariff), 10 per cent., and on and after 26th November, 1907, free.
– I invite the Committee to make this item free. It is not pretended that this is a protective duty, but there are articles in the item the importation of which it is desirable to encourage. I may instance cotton gins. If there is one country likely to send us machines of that kind”, it is America. We have taken steps to encourage the growth of cotton in Australia, -and it seems an anomaly to place at the same time an impost even of 10 per cent. upon cotton gins coming from the country which is most likely to assist us in our efforts to develop that new industry. What I am saying now in no sense affects any local manufacturer, for none of these articles is made in Australia. Another example is maize harvesters. I believe I am correct in saying that there is only one machine of that kind made, and that it is made in the country which produces maize - the United States. Australia is a maizeproducing country, and as we are not manufacturing the machine ourselves, it is rather foolish to put an impost on its importation. I find also maize binders. The reaper and binder is familiar to most people, but I doubt if any one present has seen a maize binder. I know of only one in New South Wales. It was brought out purely as an experiment, and is proving highly successful. I have no doubt that others will be imported later. At present, that machine is obtained only from America, and isnot being made here. This duty, therefore, becomes not merely a revenue duty, objectionable to many honorable senators, but an additional discouragement to people who are inclined to bring out new forms Of machinery. The very introduction of those new forms might start ideas here, and lead to the development of their local manufacture. Another implement coming from the United States is the sub-surface packer. I appeal to Senator McColl with regard to this, because he has given particular attention to the new science of dry farming. The packer is purely an American tool, and quite recent. It is not made here. It ought to be of immense use to Australia, and the Government would be rendering a greater public service by offering a bounty for its introduction. It is proposed to start a Federal Department to encourage agriculture, and to tell people what implements to use and how to use them. Here is a new implement, and I doubt very much whether the ordinary agricultural implement makers of Australia, if asked to make one, would know anything about it, because there are so few in use. It is to the advantage, not merely of our agriculturists, but of our manufacturers, to offer as much inducement as possible for the importation of these new forms of machinery, as they are not made here. I propose, therefore, to move a request that the item be made free.
Request (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 152. by inserting the letters “a.” and”b.” before the words “Testers” and “Cream Separators” respectively.
– I desire to move a request to include testers and pasteurizers in the free list. If Senator Millen’s request is negatived, I shall be shut out.
– Senator Mulcahy raises what may be regarded as a difficulty. I do not want to shut him out, but if my request to make the whole of the item free fails, I submit that he will not be prevented from moving to make specific articles free, as we are dealing with requests, and not with amendments.
– This is one of the items under the Act of 1906.
– These articles are not covered by the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act.
.- The articles which have been added to this item are - testers and pasteurizers ; cotton gins ; fibre scutching machines; horse rakes; lucerne bunchers; milking machines; root cutters pulpers and graters; straw stackers ; threshing machines ; winnower forks (wood and steel); hand-worked cultivators, and cream separators.
– Those articles were free under the old Tariff, and the Government are trying to put 10 per cent. on them now.
– Yes; we propose to make this a preference item, and put on a duty of 10 per cent. as against everycountry other than the United Kingdom.
– It may be necessary’ for me to move to make free each article separately.
– Let us deal straight away with the proposal to make the whole item free. This is one of the items which I have to recommit if I am asked to do so.
– Although the Minister says that this is a preference item, it covers articles which we must import at present, and which must come from America. England is not a competitor in the manufacture of sub-surface packers or maize machinery, nor is she ever likely to be. There is, therefore, no preference to England in saying that America must pay for sending us implements which America makes and which we want.
– If Senator Mulcahy desires to move that certain articles in the item be free, he must take priority of Senator Millen, because, if the Committee negatived Senator Millen’s request to make the whole item free, Senator Mulcahy would be precluded from moving his request.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 152 by leaving out the words “ Testers and Pasteurizers.”
My object is to include those articles in paragraph b with cream separators. . I have received the following memorandum on the subject from the. Melbourne Chamber of Commerce -
The above description “ testers and pasteurizers “ is not sufficient. When this Tariff was introduced into the House of Representatives, last August, this item read “ cream separators; testers and pasteurizers,” &c. The House decided on the 26th November last to put cream separators on the free list and apparently overlooked testers and pasteurizers, leaving them still subject to 10 per cent. under the General Tariff. Under item 448 (f)” Apparatus for testing and analysis of milk,” &c, is free. Cream is the fat of milk and when separated therefrom wilt still contain a certain percentage of the latter, and is practically very rich milk. Therefore it is considered that an apparatus for the testing of milk being free, an apparatus for testing cream, should also be free, and be so provided for in the Customs Tariff.
– I should like to move to make all the other items in paragraph b free.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 152, paragraph a, free.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [5.33]. - A short time ago Senator Millen voted for the imposition of a duty on the articles coming under item 145. He wished to impose a tax of 15 per cent. on the primary producers who use those articles. Now he proposes to place similar articles on the free list. I cannot allow such an extraordinary piece of topsy-turvy - dom to pass without comment. I am surprised that he is not an enthusiastic supporter of the Government proposal to place a duty of 10 per cent. on these articles. If imported from the United Kingdom, they, as the schedule is framed, come in free, and, no doubt, if any of them are not now made in that country, the preference of10 per cent. would be as great a stimulus: to English manufacturers as a similar advantage would be to those of Australia. As I have a reputation for consistency to maintain, I shall vote for the request, but I do not think that it will be carried. If it is carried, it will be a gift to nations other than our own.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
– I wish the Committee to make shearing machines free. When the Tariff was introduced into the House of Representatives, shearing machines were included among the articles in what is now paragraph a, whichis their proper place; but J. did not think it advisable to jeopardise the request just carried by putting forward a proposal of which the’ Committee might not approve. At the present time shearing machines are dutiable under item 162, paragraph b, as “ Machines and machinery n.e.i. , “ notwithstanding the fact that only an insignificant part of each machine is made in Australia. When the dutywas being discussed in the House ofRepresentatives, I believe that a machine was fitted up in one of the corridors, and exhibited as an Australian-made machine; but the handpiece, the combs, and the cutters were not made here, and the hand-piece was stamped with the name of a maker abroad. The only piece of local manufacture is the joint, which is patented by a local firm. It seems absurd to impose duties of 25 and 20 per cent. on the whole machine merely to protect the manufacturer of a part. Five or ten years ago, it was difficult to get men to use shearing machines ; but now they are so popular that it is hard to obtain hand shearers, and not only are shearing machines found in the sheds of the large squatters, but they have become an absolute necessity even for small sheep-owners. Every grazier, whether in a small or a large way, is recognising that he must have these machinesin order to obtain competent shearers. No young man will go into the sheds now and learn the hand-shearing, but, on the contrary, all are keen on mastering the machine. The result is that this impost will fall most heavily not on the owners of the larger sheds, most of which are already fitted up, but on the smaller men, and on the shearers themselves. I may point out that no country in the world, where there is sheep and shearing, imposes any tax on machines of the kind. I am not asking that the driving gear which can be made in Australia shall be free; I am dealing only with what the shearer calls the machine. And here I may say that it is a common practice for shearers to purchase their own machines. Although the proprietors of stations undertake to provide the machines and do so, the shearer gets used to a particular machine, and prefers to provide his own, all being interchangeable with ordinary gears. Speaking generally, the value of the machine is about £10, and a duty of 25 per cent. means £2 10s., which it is proposed to impose in order that a little joint, which is made in Australia, shall have some measure of protection. According to the Treasurer, the intention is to impose a duty on the machinery from the beam down to the comb. I do not know whether the Officials of the Customs Department find it easy to carry out that intention, but I suppose a duty is charged on everything from the bevel wheel downwards. As to whether the duty will result in an increased price for the. machine, I suppose that honorable senators, in common with myself, have received a circular from the firm who desire this protection. With remarkable frankness - or it may be an oversight - the members of this firm practically admit that if the duty be imposed, more will be charged for the machine. ‘ The fact is not stated in that way, but the circular denies a statement, said to be current, that they were going to charge 50s. more per machine, and points out that, having consulted their manufacturer, the members of the firm will find it necessary to charge only10s. more. I venture to say that the portion of the machinery made in Australia is not worth 10s., and I cannot see why, in order to further the local production of so small a proportion of the machinery, a duty should be passed entailing an additional cost of 10s., especially when we are told that these machines are being turned out locally in increasing numbers every day. I do not wish to say one word against this particular machine, but I dp know that the standard or most favoured machine inthe market is the Wolseley, which forms, I suppose, 90 per cent. of those in use. For reasons which I have already indicated, I venture to say that the number of machines in use to-day is very small compared with the number that will be brought into use during the next five or ten years. Why should small sheep-owners and others be taxed to the extent of10s. per machine in order to assist one firm, not in the manufacture but in the sale of the article ? I can speak with knowledge of a district in which there are a number of small graziers, and so necessary are these machines that they are being erected on the co-operative system in one shed to supply several stations. If it were a matter of making the whole of the machinery here the considerations would be different. I admit that the machines could be made here, but when this firm showed the machine, they honestly admitted that the hand-piece was not made locally, but was imported. This would seem to show that it has not been profitable to make these pieces here, except experimentally, and that it is recognised they can be better supplied from elsewhere.
– What is the cost of these hand-pieces?
– Three guineas, I think, is the price.
– That is for the whole machine.
– No, £10 is the price of the whole machine.
– But the honorable senator was speaking of the portion carried by the travelling shearer.
– That portion costs about three guineas.. Why I referred to the statement of the Treasurer-
– Why does not the honorable senator confine himself to the handpieces ?
– I was under the impression I was doing so.
-But the honorable senator is referring tothe whole machine.
– Except Sir William Lyne himself, no one calls that other part the machine. It is called the driving gear; and the machines are interchangeable, and may be fixed to any driving gear. What I am asking is that the shearing machine shall be placed on the free list, and I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 152 by inserting in the second paragraph after the words “ Cream Separators” the words “ ; Shearing Machines.”
– I find it my duty to oppose this request. It is quite true that originally the Government proposed that these machines should be free.
– Then why not stick to the original proposal ?
– It is equally true that on better knowledge the Government sought to impose the duty which is now submitted to the Committee. The information the Government had at the beginning was that these machines were not made in Australia, but it appears that a Sydney firm at Wooloomooloo - I do not know that it is desirable to mention the name - satisfied the Department that not only did they have plant for making these machines, but that they were actually making them.
– Not the whole of the machine.
– The whole save the combs and cutters, which, according to the Tariff as presented, are admittedfree.
– The honorable senator is wrong.
– I am giving the information as supplied to the Department, and I may explain that special inquiries were made in consequence of representations when the Tariff was originally introduced. My honorable colleague was not satisfied with the representations; and the result of the inquiries was to show that these machines are being made by a large firm in Wooloomooloo.
– Does the honorable senator mean a large firm in connexion with the manufacture of these particular machines, or with some other industry ?
– I mean a. firm which includes this manufacture amongst others. The result was that the Government decided to make these machines dutiable at 25 and 20 per cent. When this item was free, models were made in Australia, copied in America, and the machines sent here in thousands, to be admitted free. The information is that there is nothing in connexion with these machines that cannot be made in Australia, and necessary encouragement should be given to their manufacture. So far as I understand, the custom is not for the shearers to travel with machines, butsimply to supply combs and cutters; and. therefore, the proposed duty will be no tax on the shearer, seeing that those portions which cannot be made in the Commonwealth are admitted free. In the face of all the information, the result of deliberate inquiry, why, I ask, should not a simple machine of this character be made in Australia under the encouragement suggested by the Tariff?
– Have inquiries been made from any who have used this machine ?
– Inquiries have been made from the manufacturer, and he has shown to the Department that the machines are actually produced in Australia.
– Most of the machine exhibited was imported.
– Why should thehonorable senator make a statement, which, I venture to say, is without a scintilla of foundation. What right has he to say that the machine which was shown to the Department was imported?
– I meant the machine which was shown in the other House.
– I do not know what machine was shown in another place, but I know that the Department satisfied themselves as to the making of the machine in the Commonwealth.
– Then we must swallow everything because the Department are satisfied ?
– The Government were quite satisfied on that point; hence they proposed the imposition of a protective duty for the purpose I have mentioned. I understand that the patentee of the machine was present when it was exhibited, and vouched, of course, for its manufacture in the Commonwealth.
– The Minister will penalize the pastoral industry on his voucher.
– Will the Minister tell me who vouched for the fact that the implement was made here?
– If the honorable senator desires the name, I will give it.
– I do not want the Minister to give the name; was it the manufacturers who vouched that it was made here?
– No; the patentee.
– Did the patentee vouch that the machine which was shown in the other House was made in the Commonwealth ?
– I do not know. But I can say that he did vouch that the machine shown to the Department was made in the Commonwealth. I understood the honorable senator to say that the manufacturers had stated that they intended to raise the price of the machine by 50 per cent. My instructions are that the Department has received a statement from the manufacturers that they do not intend to raise the price at all.
– Then why did they send to me a letter saying that they would do so?
– I do not know.
– Mr. Spence asked in another place that the machine should be made free.
– I am giving to my honorable friends information which we have secured. The officers of the Department have no reason to mislead, nor would they be capable of deliberately misleading any one.
– Oh, no ! They have no bias towards the Government’s policy !
– That is a very unfair remark for the honorable senator to make. The officers had a duty to perform, and that was to make certain inquiries. From my connexion with the heads of the Department, I can say that the officers generally are most conscientious in the discharge of their duties, and may be relied upon to give reports by which they are prepared to stand.
– I ask the Minister to listen carefully while I read a sentence from the letter sent by the firm to which he has referred.
– I hope that we are referring to the same firm.
– I mean the firm which exhibited the machine in the other House;
– The honorable senator had better name the firm at once.
– I am referring to Moffat and Virtue.
– And I am referring to Hipsley and Waddell.
– That firm is never heard of by the sheep shearers of Australia.
– The firm make Moffat and Virtue’s machine.
– Hipsley and Waddell are large manufacturers in Wooloomooloo, and no doubt Senator Neild can confirm my statement.
– I ventureto say that there is no shearing machine known by that name on the market. If, however, they make Moffat and Virtue’s machine, it is known on the market by that name only. Moffat and Virtue - the name bv which the machine exhibited in another place is known - sent out to honorable senators a circular in which they say -
The only increase we propose to make will be to the extent of ros-, par stand on our regular selling price of £ia.
I’ only mention that fact in answer to the Minister’s statement that there was to be no increase in the price.
– Do they say anything as to the cause of that increase?
– Yes, they state clearly the reason. Their letter reads as follows -
Having in view a knowledge of the fact that the item “Sheep Shearing Machinery” will shortly come up before the Senate for final consideration, we take this opportunity of addressing you with regard to same. When this particular item was’ being debated in the House of Representatives, the fear was more than once expressed that any protection that might be afforded to the Australian Manufacturing Industry of Sheep Shearing machines would be misused to the extent of the manufacturers increasing the price of their goods to the pastoralists and other buyers. Our manufacturers, Messrs. Hipsley and Waddell, notify us that the only increase they propose to make in their charges to us will be at the rate of about 5 per cent, on former prices, the advance being rendered necessary by the increased cost of the raw material used in the production, and also on account of the rise in wages brought about by the award of the State Arbitration Court, and is absolutely necessary in order to guard against a loss.” As evidence of our bona fides in this respect, we wish to take this early opportunity of pointing out .to you that, so far as we are concerned, the only increase we propose to make will be to the extent of 10s. per stand, on our regular selling price of £10 per stand. The increase will certainly not be more than 10s. per stand, and it may probably be less than that figure. lt is a remarkable thing that the firm did not raise their price until the Tariff came in.
– They do not say so, anyhow.
– They made no difference in the price until the honorable senator came along and put them in a position to demand another 10s.
– They have made no difference, but they say that, on account ot other causes entirely, they will have to do SO
– The letter continues -
It has come to our knowledge that importers of sheep shearing machinery are moving very strongly in the direction of having such machinery restored to the “ free list,” and we have further heard that such importers are stating that we propose to advance the selling price in’ Australia by £2 per stand. We wish to give, such statement an absolute denial, as the preceding part of this letter will undoubtedly show.
It is quite evident from that quotation that the extra 10s. which they propose to charge is the result of the imposition of the duty.
– That is as clear as daylight to any one other than Senator Trenwith.
– Anybody who understands English knows that the letter does not say that.
– I do not know what would, then. The letter proceeds -
We hold that, having given our undertaking that no misuse of protection in our favour will he made, and in consideration of the fact that we are the only firm in Australia manufacturing sheep shearing machinery (and that on a very largescale), we are justifiably entitled to the protection as passed by the House of Representatives. We trust .you will find time for a careful perusal of this letter, and respectfully claim your warm, practical sympathy in the matter of assisting to build up an important industry in Australia in competition with the manufacturers of the world.
Now, this large and important industry consists, not in the making of the machines at all. That question was thoroughly threshed out in the other House, and what was proved and admitted by Sir William Lyne was that, whilst the firm had made some hand-pieces, they were not making them to any extent in the factory. If Senator Trenwith likes to turn up the report of the debate, he will see that that is so. What was stated there and proved - and the firm were quite honest about it - was that they exhibited a hand-piece marked-
– They were free originally.
– Quite recently the honorable senator told us that the machines were being largely made ‘here.
– Exactly, since November. When the duty was imposed the firm started to make them.
– I have just about as much regard for their statement to that effect as I would have for a death-bed conversion. When these people were showing a shearing machine in another place,- just before Christmas, they candidly admitted that they did not make it. To the other House - whether under a misapprehension or not, I do not know - Sir William Lyne made a statement which induced its members to believe that he was doing then what Senator Best is doing now - vouching for the fact that the whole machine, ‘ bar the combs and cutters, was being made here. When the facts came to be analyzed it was found that, so far as workmanship was involved, quite an insignificant portion was being made here. The particular portions which are made here are the transmitting gear and the friction wheel. The labour involved in the making of those parts compared with the total cost of the machine is quite insignificant. I ask honorable senators to remember that these articles will have to be made by machinery, ‘and that consequently the amount of labour which will be devoted to their production will be altogether out of proportion to the amount of injury which will be inflicted by allowing the’ firm to charge10s. per machine more than they are doing at the present time.
– Could we not manufacture the machines for making the shearing machines ?
– Does the honorable senator really know what “a shearing machine is? Of course we can make the combs and the cutters here, but does anyone, even the most ardent protectionist, think that we can make them to-day in competition with Sheffield? Not even Sir William Lyne during the debate elsewhere ventured to say that they would be made here, and even he, ardent protectionist as he is, proposed to admit combs and cutters free.
– Would they be10s. each ?
– Certainly not. A comb or a cutter is a matter of a few pence.
– But I point out to the honorable senator that the articles have to be constantly replaced. No one asserts that we are going to make everything profitably in Australia to-day. My contention is that the time has not yet) arrived when it will be profitable to us to endeavour to force the manufacture of the machines here. What honorable senators will do if they reject my request will be to lay an impost on both the shearers and the small wool-growers. In addition towhich they may to some extent shut out the superior instrument and allow one which is not so highly regarded to be used in its place.
– I ask the honorable senator to substitute these words, “ hand pieces for sheep-shearing machines “ because at present the words of his request are far too comprehensive and will include other things which he does not intend to include.
– There is something in what the Minister says. But I do not want the hand-piece to include merely the box or cover which contains the mechanism.. When I speak of a shearing machine I mean that which a shearer carries about with him in his swag from shed to shed.
– The hand-piece.
– But if I adopted that term the Department might say that by “hand-piece” we meant that which a man grasps in his hand irrespective of what is inside it.
– I am assured by the Department that such a construction will be impossible.
– A shearing machine is contained in a box from which, when it is thrown open, the mechanism can be removed. A manufacturer would refer to the case as the hand-piece - that is, the thing which the man carries in his hand. The mechanism is inside the case, and works through the portion which he grasps in his hand.
-I hope that my honorable friend will accept my suggestion because I am assured by experienced officers that if his request were carried in its present form it would include the whole of the machine.
– The driving gear as well as the hand-piece?
– All except the shafting and the pulleys. A departmental decision to that effect has already been given.
– I am always willing to take a suggestion which will assist me. The only object I have in view is to free all the machine. I do not want the Department to be placed in the position to say, “ By hand-piece we mean the only portion of the machine which the hands touches. That which is inside the case we regard as something else.” But if Senator Best says that there is a departmental decision to treat the contents of the hand-piece as forming part of it, I may ask leave to modify my request later on. I should first like to hear an expression of opinion from honorable senators who can throw further light on the matter.
– I feel that if Senator Millen can induce the Vice-President of the Executive Council to accept a proposal to make these machines up to but not inclusive of any part of the driving gear, free of duty, he” ought to accept it. What shearers understand as a shearing machine is the part that can be detached from the driving gear. I believe that Senator Best is prepared to make that machine free of duty, but is apprehensive that if Senator Millen’s proposal be accepted it may include some part of the driving gear.
– I am advised that it would include the whole machine save and except the shafting and pulleys.
– Perhaps the Minister would accept such a description as “ shearing machines up to but not inclusive of any part of the driving gear.”
– I suggest that the words should be “ sheep-shearing machines not including the flexible shafting or any part above it.” Of course, I am not prepared to agree to the request in any case.
– Then I hope the honorable senator will find himself in a minority. I think the description suggested by the “Vice-President of the Executive Council will meet all that is required, and I advise Senator Millen to accept it. It differentiates the machine which the shearer carries about with him from the flexible shafting which is a fixture in every shed. Senator Story, or some other honorable senator from South Australia, has said that these machines are almost universally owned by the proprietors of the sheds, but that is not the case, and if Senator Story has any doubt on the subject I invite him to write to the secretary of the Shearers’ Union of his own State.
– The honorable senator is speaking under a misapprehension. I have not referred to the matter.
– All through the States it is becoming a common practice for shearers to purchase and retain the use of these machines, and if a tax is imposed upon them it will be a tax upon almost every shearer in Australia.
– The shearing machine is the shearer’s tool of trade.
– That is so. It is as much a tool of the shearer’s trade as a chisel is a tool of the carpenter’s trade.
– Very few shearers carry these machines about with them. They are usually found by the sheds.
– The combs and cutters are all that are carried by the men.
– I am sorry to differ in opinion with Senator Turley, but I venture to say that there are thousands of shearers in Australia who own the shear ing machines they work, and that the practice is growing every day more common. I hope the Committee will decide to make these machines free of duty.
– I ask the permission of the Committee to amend my request as suggested by Senator Best.
Request amended accordingly.
Senator Lt.-Colonel CAMERON (Tasmania) [6.22]. - There is one matter which it occurs to me may be of some interest in this connexion. A new invention has been discovered which I think will materially alter the method hitherto adopted in connexion with shearing. I therefore ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council not to hastily determine to oppose Senator. Millen’s request. The new invention to which I refer renders the ordinary shafting required to work the shearing machines at present in use unnecessary. By the application of electricity it does all the work required at half the cost of the present machines. New gear is being introduced into the hand piece, which is worked with electricity in much the same way as dentists’ instruments are driven by the same force. I am at liberty to publicly state that the new machines can be placed on the market at under £6 a-piece instead of costing £10 a stand, whilst they will do the work effectually and well. I am further able to say that already an order has been sent to England for a supply of no less than 1,000 of these machines, which, I have no hesitation in saying, are calculated to. revolutionize sheep shearing in Australia. In the circumstances, I think I am justified in asking Senator Best to hesitate to impose a heavy duty, which will be injurious to the interests of all engaged in a very important Commonwealth industry. The honorable senator is in danger of inducing the Committee to impose a duty for the protection of a local firm, whose machine may not be worth a snap of the fingers in six months’ time.
.- I did not intend to say anything on this subject, but I heard the statement made that shearers are not in the habit of carrying their own machines. I have in my possession a letter from a sheep shearer who would be called a “ ringer,” and who carries his own machine. Just as a miner prefers to use a hammer to which he has become accustomed, an axeman a particular axe, or a rider a particular saddle, so the shearer, who must do as much work as he can in the shortest possible time, prefers to use a machine which he has become accustomed to. He knows that ‘it must occupy some time for him to become expert in the use of a new machine. I appeal to honorable senators to allow these machines to be admitted free in the interests of a hard-working body of men, who, in a short season, have to travel hundreds of miles and work against time to obtain a living.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to’7.45 p-vt.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [7.45]. - The proposal before the Committee is to make sheep-shearing machines free. Like other members of the Committee, I have received a certain number of communications with reference to this matter. I have therefore had an opportunity of considering it pretty fully. I must admit that there is something to be said on both sides. While I do not wish to say anything unpleasant, I must admit that I was astonished at the extreme heat with which Senator Millen attacked a firm which, as far as I know, has done nothing more heinous than to try to make an honest living. Whether the machinery which this firm-make or profess to make is entirely Ls own, or whether some of it is imported and put together in Australia, I do not know. At all events, if the parts are put together by the firm, it is an extremely venal offence. But I am inclined to look at the. matter from a very much wider stand-point than one affecting the fortunes of an individual firm. The wool industry of Australia is not only at the present time our greatest and most important industry, but for many years to come it will probably lead all others. Therefore, we must consider rather the fortunes of that great industry, employing a vast number of people, than the fortunes of a- single firm, however worthy and well-intentioned. I have not visited the firm at Wooloomooloo, to which reference has been made. I have had communications with it. The gentlemen at the head of it seem to be business people, who are %’ery . courteous in their correspondence. I have no fault to find with them - none whatever. Thev certainly submitted a proposal, which I pointed out to them the difficulty of giving effect’ to, namely, that they would undertake not to raise their prices beyond a certain figure if the duty that they desired were imposed by the Commonwealth Parliament. I pointed out to them that it is practically an impossibility for a firm to give any guarantee as to the prices they will charge. A thousand causes would operate to prevent any such undertaking being reliable. If I thought they were in a position to give a guarantee that would limit the cost of machinery to those who require to use it, I might give a different vo*e from that which I propose to give. But I have already pointed to the vastness of the wool industry, and necessarily it follows that a very much greater number of persons are employed in connexion with that industry than can possibly be employed in the making of any class of machinery that will be used for stripping wool from the sheeps’ backs. I must, on the principle of “ the greatest good for the greatest .number,” consider the greater number rather than the smaller. That h?<: been my guiding principle throughout the Tariff discussions and divisions. I own. that no question of free-trade or protection affects the present issue or anything connected with the Tariff. There is no pretence of securing free-trade and no hope of revenue duties. The decision of the Committee is so overwhelmingly in favour of the nearest possible approach to prohibition, not only in connexion with this item, but with all others, that I own to a feeling of more than hopelessness in respect of any other endeavour than to “ temper the wind to the shorn lamb” - that is, to temper the wind of Tariff affliction to the shorn lamb of the Commonwealth. I feel, in connexion with the present duty, as well as in relation to a great many others, that it is the many who are being sacrificed for the few. The consumers who must always immensely outnumber the producers, have been too often sacrificed in the interests of the producers, in the secondary industries particularly. In this case we are dealing practically with certain primary industries, and I cannot see my way to do otherwise than vote for freeing the industry, as far as it is within my power to assist in doing so, from an undesirable impost. What I am saying, and the vote that I shall give, may be to the disadvantage of the firm to which reference has been made. That I cannot help; Still, I cannot see any need for attacking them. I am sorry for them.
– Who did attack them ?
– Even if I were disposed -to make an attack upon them, and to accuse them of a variety of more or less offences-
– No one has done so.
– Yet I have heard very heated observations made about the lack of bona fides of a firm that-
– Not by me; if. the honorable senator says .so of me he states what is not correct.
– I am not now making any reference to a particular speaker.
– But the honorable senator did earlier in his address.
– If I did, Senator Millen must have a singularly uneasy conscience, and a most unnecessary faculty for “ fitting the cap “ upon his own head.
– The honorable senator mentioned me by name.
– I know that I did seven or eight minutes ago, but it does not follow that because I mentioned Senator Millen’s name then he continually fills my political horizon. At the same time, as Senator Millen has thrown out a challenge, I will say that I think his remarks were most uncalled for in relation to one of his own constituents. If it comes to that, I do not make any hesitation about saying so.
– Question ! Question !
– Does not the honorable senator think that it would be fair, having said so much, tq state what the remarks of Senator Millen were?
– Well, it seems to me that certain honorable senators Stave extremely touchy consciences, and that they are trying- to look for trouble. I do not want to make any trouble, and do not think that, up to the present, I have done so. But, while I am talking about the matter, .1 go on to point out that this dutywould be no. .more a burden upon the people than are the duties of 15 per cent, for which Senator Millen voted this afternoon upon articles used by agriculturists, orchardists, and the whole set-to of people engaged upon the soil. If I am going to be challenged and drawn into a fight, I am quite as willing as anybody in the Committee to participate in one. But I do not wish to be drawn into one. What I have said is plain, straight-out-from-the-shoulder talk. I may, perhaps, be considered to be a little sore at Senator Millen’s action in voting against the request which I submitted this afternoon. I certainly am not; but I own - I will say this much - that I can see a difference between consistency and inconsistency. I will put it this way - that Senator Millen understands the wool industry, I believe, very fully, and very likely he feels very much stronger on the subject of sheep-shearing machinery than I do. I find myself in this position : There are some of my constituents who are trying to make an honest living from the making of these machines. They ask for a duty such as has been asked for by residents in every State of the Commonwealth. Somebody or other starts an industry - whether it be chipping a block of marble into a tombstone or making a lollypop in Collingwood - and at once asks Parliament for a duty. I see nothing more heinous in a firm in my State asking for a duty for the benefit of their output, than I see in ether firms in other States of the Commonwealth doing the same. I should like to give it to them. ‘ I would vote in their favour except that, as I have said, I have throughout acted on the principle of voting for the “greatest good for the greatest number.” On that principle, I intend to vote for Senator Millen’s request.
– I wish to give two illustrations which, to my mind, are absolutely convincing as to trie determination to which the Committee ought to come in connexion with the proposed duty. The two most important bodies of persons in the industry affected are the employes, who work in the sheds, and the employers, who own the sheep. Their interests, surely, should be considered in this matter, arid their evidence should be conclusive as to the value of the machines, which enable them most economically to do their work.
– Should not those who manufacture the machines have some consideration ?
– The manufacturers of these machines are a firm who carry on business in my own State, and whose operations I thoroughly desire to encourage. ‘ i wish to see their business prosper and develop. If they can, by their industry and ability, turn out a machine which proves to the satisfaction of those who use it, to be the best on the market, I take it that they will not require a duty of this nature.
Their business will become prosperous without the imposition of taxation. But Mr. Spence, who is the secretary of the largest union in Australasia - a union composed of 20,000 members, who are all shearers; and Mr. Foxton, another gentleman who has had experience of the industry, and thoroughly knows all the business connected with sheep-shearing; together with the pastoralists who have to pay for the machines and to conduct their business in the manner that is the most, economical to themselves - have, in this instance combined to convince us that the most popular machine, and that which brings about the best results from a business point of view, is not that which is made by the firm that would be benefited by the proposed duty. No one desires to inflict any injustice- upon the firm for whose benefit the duty is designed. The evidence proves that 80 per cent, of our sheep are shorn by machines other than those made in Sydney. We must recognise that those who are directly interested in sheep-farming are the best judges of what is the most economical and satisfactory machine to employ. The evidence given by Senator Cameron should warn- us against hastily agreeing to a proposal to impose a duty on sheep-shearing machines. The honorable senator has told us that j , 000 machines of a new pattern have been ordered from England, and that they will cost only £6 instead of £10 each. They appear to be likely to revolutionize the trade, and having regard to all these facts I think we should vote for Senator Millen’s request.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [8.3]. - I intend to vote for the request, not because of any observations that may have been uttered in respect of some firm engaged in the making of a machine used for the purpose of shearing sheep, but because I regard sheep-shearing machines as coming within the category of tools of trade. Although I listened to most of the speeches made on this question, I did not detect that degree of heat to which Senator Neild has alluded. This is not the first time during the consideration of the Tariff that an attempt has been made to enforce duties in the interests of some particular firm, or even some individual, engaged in a so-called industry. It is greatly to be deprecated that the question of the rate of duty to be imposed is treated in that way. This question involves a very important principle in rela tion to the ground taken up by free-traders in dealing- with the Tariff.” I regard sheep-shearing machines as I regard what are ordinarily described as tools of trade. It is on that ground that I intend to vote for this request, and, therefore, whilst I admit that there was great force in what Senator Neild said, I think, if he will allow me to say so, that he was slightly mistaken in assuming that this proposal could be dealt with apart from any feeling we may have in respect of free-trade and protection. A good many of my honorable friends are probably opposed to this request because they regard it from a purely protectionist stand -point. On the other hand, a number of honorable senators support the making of sheep-shearing machines free on the broad, intelligible ground always taken into consideration by free-traders that they may be regarded in the same light as tools of trade. That is the view I take, and that argument will be fortified by giving attention to what Senator Cameron has said with regard to the possibilities arising from day to day in relation -to a machine of this kind. For the sake of one particular locality where there is being manufactured a machine which by common consent is not at all equal to the imported machine, we are asked to impose a heavy duty, and in doing so to place a burden on every person who buys or uses what is known as the best sheep-shearing machine in the market - the Wolseley - as well as upon those using any other imported machine that may be infinitely better than the locally-made .article. The duty would be actually a preventive. If the news went abroad that it had been imposed, it would discourage those who are seeking to improve these machines from giving us the benefit of their improvements. We ought to pay great attention to the fact that sheep-raising is now the pursuit of the small farmer as well as of the large pastoralist. .It is so, at all events, in South Australia, where the raising of sheep is one of the greatest sources of profit to the agriculturist. Happily our fanners have taken to running a few sheep on their farms, and the position in which the whole industry stands justifies our doing everything we can to reduce any impost that may be placed upon it. It is upon these broad grounds, and not because of any question affecting the methods of a particular firm or individual, that I propose to vote for the request. “
– I agree with the last speaker, and my vote will be given in support of the request on precisely the grounds urged by him. A sheep-shearing machine to the sheep shearer is as much a tool of trade as is a chisel or a plane to a carpenter. After reading the remarks of Mr. Spence, who is well-known throughout Australia, one can have no doubt that the sheep-shearing machine is, to a very large extent, atool of trade. I would remind honorable” senators that at common law tools of trade have always been exempt, within certain limitations, from distress. That principle has been extended in Queensland, where things which are not usually regarded as tools of trade, such as sewing machines and typewriters, under certain conditions are exempt from distress. Unless the Government are very hard-up for revenue, I shall regard the sheep-shearing machine as a tool of trade, and vote for the request to make it free.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 152, paragraph b, by inserting after the words “ Cream Separators,” the words “ Sheep Shearing Machines, not including the flexible shafting or any part above it “ (Senator Millen’s request, as amended) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request, as amended, agreed to.
Item 153. Cutlery of all kinds n.e.i. ; including Plated Cutlery; Knife Sharpeners; ManicureSets ; but not cutlery inpart or wholly made up of gold or silver, ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent.; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.
– I do not think that even the VicePresident of the Executive Council will deny that this is purely a revenue duty, and as such I regard 20 per cent. as altogether too high. The item is to a certain extent disfigured by the introduction of the words “ manicure sets,” because we know very well that these sets form a very insignificant portion of the importations under this heading. So far as I am aware, cutlery for household purposes has not yet been manufactured in Australia, nor is it likely to be. Seeing that the duty upon this item is purely a revenue impost, and that the people of the Commonwealth already contribute sufficient through the Customs in a hundred different ways, I move -
That theHouse of Representatives be requested to make item 153 free.
– I think that the proposal of Senator Clemons is a very unreasonable one in view of the fact that the duty proposed by the Government is lower than that which was operative under the Tariff of 1902. That Tariff imposed a duty of 20 per cent. upon plated ware, whereas our proposal is that it shall be dutiable at 20 per cent. under the General Tariff and at 15 per cent. under the Tariff for the United Kingdom.
– At the present moment we are dealing only with the duty under the General Tariff.
– Precisely. At the same time, I am at liberty to point out the full bearing of the honorablesenator’s proposition. Seeing that we have reduced the duty upon cutlery under the Tariff for the United Kingdom, I think that we are justified in maintaining the rate proposed.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Croft) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 153 (imports under General Tariff),10 per cent.
The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Sayers) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 153 (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 15 per cent.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Colonel Neild) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 153 (imports from the United Kingdom), ad val., 10 per cent.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Item 154 (Crucibles), and item 155, (Diving Apparatus), agreed to.
Item 156. Nails,viz.: -
Tariff), 8s. 3d. : and on and after 26th November, 1907, 8s. ; (United Kingdom), 7s. 6d.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.35]. - The duty under the old Tariff, on paragraph a, was 5s. The recommendation of the A section of the Tariff Commission was 7s. 6d. Apparently that of the B section was 5 per cent. It would be fair to differentiate between the old Tariff- and the proposal of the protectionist section of the Commission by fixing the duty on imports under the general Tariff at 6s. instead of 8s. a cwt.
Senator Sir Josiah Symon. - No.
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 156, paragraph a (imports under General Tariff), 6s. per cwt. being, of course, willing to withdraw if any honorable senator desires to move a lower rate.
– I shall not be deterred from moving a request for a lower rate than that indicated bv Senator Neild because I fear defeat. I have not feared defeat, and, if I had, I have become so accustomed to it that it does not matter. Very interesting evidence was given before the Tariff Commission on. this item. ‘ Some of it would be worth the while of the Committee- to listen to. There is only one man - Mr. Pender - in the whole of the Commonwealth who manufactures these nails, and he happens to live in Victoria. What I shall quote is practically from his examination. He admitted at once that he derived an enormous advantage in his business from Inter-State free-trade, in consequence of which he had made fairly good profits, and had put them into his business. Upon that I am glad to congratulate him. But when ive began to examine him it came out, on his own evidence, that the reason why he did not succeed as he thought he ought to do was that in nearly every other State he could not get the consumers, to use his nails. He made a plea for further protection to “ overcome prejudice.” When we asked him what he meant by “prejudice,” he was forced to admit that it consisted in the fact that, although he offered his nails throughout the Commonwealth - and could afford to do so - at a lower price than the imported nails were being sold at, he could not sell them. On further examination it became evident that the reason why he did not do a bigger business was that the consumers of horseshoe nails in many parts of Australia preferred to give a higher price for the imported article. He told us incidentally that he had reduced his price outside Victoria lower than he sold at in Victoria by at least £1 a ton, in order to induce the people in other States to buy his nails, but they still refused to do so.. He had no grievance as to being undercut in the trade. He did not come with the usual complaint that he could net compete with the foreign importation, but admitted frankly that he sold at a profit at a lower price” than the imported nails were bringing. He detailed his efforts to get his nails used in other States, and told us that although he sent his nails to other States and sold them, he seldom got repeat orders, which meant, as he admitted, that the users there did not care after one trial to go on with them. We began to wonder why this was. Incidentally we discovered the reason. There are two distinct processes of manufacture. The imported nails are generally made bv what is known as the cold process. This Victorian manufacturer admitted that that process was not as costly as his own, which he called the hot-forge method. He contended that it was not as good, and produced an inferior article. But in contradiction to his statement was the fact that the imported article was preferred in most of the States, even though its price was higher, by people who had an opportunity of sampling his nails. ‘ He declined to go into the cold process, and seemed to be an obstinate man who thought that his own way of making nails was the best in the world, and that no other was wanted. He admitted that he could not sell as many as he thought he ought’ to, and asked for a higher duty to overcome what he called prejudice. We went into the question of the cost of production, and of the total labour cost in the Commonwealth with one man manufacturing the lot. The f.o.b. price of horse-shoe nails in England is £25 per ton. The cost after landing here is from £32 to ,£34, and the duty on top of that brought the price up to £40. This maker began to sell his nails at £42 per ton, but in order to stimulate their consumption in other States, especially New South Wales, he came down to £35, and still could not sell his nails there. It is to be regretted that, although he was asked many times and in many ways as to his wages cost, his attitude during the whole of the sitting was one of continual evasion. But incidentally we discovered from his own admission that the output of his factory was worth about £9,000, and that the total amount he paid in wages for all his hands, who did other work besides the making of horse-shoe nails, was about £50 a week. So, with an output of £9,000, the total amount he paid in wages - which were not spent entirely on horse-shoe nail making - was £2,500. That represents from 30 per cent, to 33 per cent, of the cost. If the manufacturers of horse-shoe nails in Great Britain and elsewhere paid nothing for wages, a duty of 8s. per cwt., or £8 a ton, would more than compensate our manufacturer. He was asked what would happen if the duty were increased to 12s. per cwt, and he said at once that he would then be able to’ get an additional profit of 2s. 6d. per cwt. That was the statement of a man who admits that he has done fairly well, that he holds one-third of the trade of the Commonwealth, and that he has put a fair proportion, of his profits into additional plant. He did . not pretend to. be hard up, or that his industry was strangled. But because of the preference of the blacksmiths there for other nails, he could not force his article into New South Wales, nor, to any extent, into South Australia, and therefore he asked for a- higher duty to compel them to buy the local manufacture. He is the one and only maker of horseshoe nails in the Commonwealth, and indicated that he had such a pull that, whether the duties were increased or lowered, he would remain the chief maker in Australia, and that probably no one else would come in to compete with him. But he objected to the importation of nails, even though it was shown that he had never been undersold by importers. It was clearly proved that there had not been a case of dumping in regard to horse-shoe nails, supplies being invariably ordered beforehand. As a duty of 5s. will more than compensate this man for any extra payments which Ite may have to make in wages or for material, and as I desire to prevent purchasers of nails from being charged more for them, I mp ve -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 156, paragraph a (imports under General Tariff), per cwt., 5s.
– Senator Clemons has approached this question as if he were dealing with the interests of a man instead of with those of the Commonwealth. He said that Mr. Pender has done well. But what we have to consider are the interests of the people of Australia. Senator Clemons stated that the Victorian-made nails could not find a market in the other States, and that the local manufacturer asked for an increased duty to compel the people of the other States to buy them. At the same time, the honorable senator told us that this man admitted that Inter-State free-trade had been of immense advantage to him. In what respect can it be of advantage to him, if he cannot get the people of the other States to use his nails ? As a matter of fact, the people of the other State* have bought his nails to a considerable extent, but he very properly argues that the manufacture of ‘ nails is an industry of which the Commonwealth should have complete control.
– The honorable serator is dealing with the question as if we were concerned with the interests of only one man. He desires that one man shall have complete control of the manufacture of horse-shoe nails in Australia.
– No. I pm contending that Australia should have complete control of the industry. It is absurd to say that Mr. Pender will be for all time’ the only maker of horse-shoe nails in the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable senator regard a duty of 8s. a cwt. as prohibitive?
– It is obviously not prohibitive, because importations of horse-shoe nails take place under it. Since the first Victorian duty was imposed, the price of horse-shoe nails has come down from is. 2d. to 4fd. per lb. The price of iron recently has been higher than it was some time ago, and therefore the price of nails should have increased, especially if duties have the effect of increasing prices.
– If duties do not affect prices, why did the price of nails fall when a Commonwealth rate lower than the old State rate was imposed?
– I do not know that the price of nails did fall then.
– Mr. Pender said that that happened.
– When the Victorian duty was first imposed - I do not remember the rate, but I know that it ultimately rose to 7s. 6d. per cwt. - the. ordinary blacksmith had to pay is. 2d. a lb. for the horse-shoe nails which he used ; but directly these nails caine to be made in Victoria the importers brought down their price to nd., and now it is less than half that, although the cost of material has not been reduced by 50 per cent.
– Then, if we wish to cheapen things, we should double the duties?
– The honorable senator is on right lines.
– Mr. Pender said that if the duty were increased, he would increase the price by 2s. 6d. per cwt.
– He said that’ he would get more profit, which is compatible with a reduction of the price.
– It is a pity that the honorable senator did not give evidence for Mr. Pender. He would have made out a better case.
– I am dealing, not with the evidence, but with the facts. Nails are cheaper now than they ever were before, and that is due to the competition between the local manufacturer and the importers. Horse-shoe nails are, and always have been, since the imposition of the Victorian duty, cheaper in this State than in any other When Victoria first put a duty on wire nails, they could not be obtained for less than ^21 a ton. The duty was £5 per ton, and, according to free-traders, should have increased the price to .£24; but, as a matter of fact, it reduced the price to j£i6 on both the locallymade and the imported nails. Thus every user of nails saved £5 a ton, and the revenue benefited to the extent of £3 per ton from all importations. That was the effect of the duty on the “ poor consumer.” Nails have never reached anything like the price since then, although the cost of iron has fluctuated very considerably, and has been higher than at that time.
– Has not the price of nails fallen in England?
– I do not wish to take up the time of the Committee, but I should like to refer to the last statement made by Senator Clemons.
– I think Senator Trenwith might answer the question as to whether the price of nails has not fallen in England.
– The question for us is whether the price of imported nails is lower in consequence of the duties, and also whether the duties have established an industry which gives employment to our own people and, at the same time, keeps money in the country.
– We do not want that stale old argument retailed.
– Permit me to say that all we can get from the other side is a statement to the effect that if a duty be imposed, we shall tax every consumer in the country. That such is the case has never been demonstrated ; but I am producing facts in the history of the Commonwealth, and of Victoria, which bear out my arguments.
– That statement is denied in toto by the protectionist manufacturer.
– He is not here to defend himself, and I do not know that his views have been correctly stated by Senator Clemons. However, even if everything that is said about Mr. Pender is true, I am not concerned whether he wishes to have 2s. 6d. or £1 more profit; what I have to consider is whether this duty will give employment, and enable nails to be produced as cheaply or more cheaply than formerly. All the evidence is in favour of the “assumption that it will. Senator Clemons’ statement presents an auditor’s difficulty, in that it does not balance. We are told that Mr. Pender cannot sell his nails in the neighbouring States, and yet, at the same time, it is said that he does one-third of the trade of the Commonwealth. Both of these statements cannot be true.
– It is what Mr. Pender says.
– Is Senator Trenwith suggesting that Mr. Pender should be prosecuted ?
– I am at present dealing with the statement of Senator Clemons.
– It was not my statement, but Mr. Pender’s sworn evidence.
– Then all I can say is, that Mr. Pender’s sworn evidence does not square or balance. It cannot be the fact that the nailmaker, or the nailmakers of Victoria cannot get their wares into neighbouring markets, while, at the same time, they do one-third of the trade of the Commonwealth.
– Why does the honorable senator make a mis-statement and say, “ nailmakers “ ? There is only one nailmaker, and the honorable senator knows the fact.
– Does Mr. Pender make all the nails that go out of his factory ?
– What does that question mean?
– I think it is a pertinent question. I am dealing with the persons who make the nails. To me, Mr. Pender, or the owner of the concern, is the least significant or important; those I consider are the men who, by means of this industry, earn their living, maintain their wives and families, and assist in the development of Australia. Both of the statements to which I have referred cannot be true. I, therefore, urge on protectionists that, in view of the fact that nails can be made in Australia which are declared, at any rate, by Senator Clemons-
– By Mr. Pender.
– Nails which are declared to be of sufficient quality to suit and supply one-third of the people of Australia ; and considering that the price has been continuously reduced to the consumer, we ought to impose such a duty as will give absolute control of a trade which is essentially one that ought to belong to Australia.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 156, paragraph a, “Horseshoe Nails” (imports under General Tariff), per cwt., 5s. (Senator Clemons’ request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.5]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item156, paragraph A (imports under General Tariff), per cwt., 6s.
That is what I suggested just how as a fair compromise between the old rate of 5s., the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, which was 7s. 6d., and the recommendation of the free-trade section of that Commission, which was 5 per cent. Having regard to the differences between 5s., 7s. 6d., and 5 per . cent., which is equal to about 7d. or 8d., I think that I am offering a suggestion which is reasonable, and one which I hope may commend itself to the members of the Committee.
– I want to point out two things to the Committee.
– Do not say something which I shall have to answer, because it will take up a lot of time.
– In the first place, I desire to point out that the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission was a. duty of 7s. 6d. per cwt. So far as the United Kingdom is concerned, we are adopting that recommendation. The second thing which I wish to point out is, that horseshoe nails are valued at 32s. per cwt., and that a duty of 8s. is equal to only 25 per cent.
– No; 25s. per cwt. f.o.b. London is the- ordinary price of horseshoe nails, and 32s. per cwt. is the price with all the freight added.
– My information is that the value is 32s. per cwt.
– With all freight paid, that is c.i.f. Melbourne.
– On that calculation, it is a matter of 25 per cent. But even if it be 30 per cent., it is an industry which we have a right to protect. This is a class of work which can be readily done here. It is an industry of a native character, and one which I thinE is entitled to the home market.
– As regards the Minister’s statement about the percentage of duty represented by . the fixed charge proposed to be levied, I’ wish to point out that he is calculating on the total value of the product. He altogether overlooks the fact that a large proportion of the value represents the iron on which the manufacturer pays nothing. To calculate the percentage we must, therefore, have regard to the weight. What is the cost of making the nail and the Labour involved therein, I am unable to answer, because Mr. Pender flatly refused to give any information. In the absence of such information, I am entitled to assume that the labour cost is very low, as we know it to be in the case of ordinary nails used for building purposes. If we deduct from the price of the nail a fair figure for the value of the iron, honorable senators will see that the protection afforded, instead of being 25 per cent., as -the Minister said, must be nearer 60 or 70 per cent., in relation to the labour which is involved in the manufacture of the article.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.10]. Just now, I implored the Vice-President of the Executive Council not to make a speech, because it might provoke another speech from myself ; but he was obdurate, and now he must pay the penalty. In connexion with this colonial horseshoe nail industry, I wish to relate an incident in the early history of the trade, which may be of some interest to those who will remember it on receiving a reminder, and of more interest to those who have not heard it previously. Some years ago, when the good folks of the great State of Victoria were busy re-arranging their Tariff, a number of deputations waited upon the
Minister. Amongst the deputations which went imploring for increased duties was one representing the horseshoe nail industry. Two gentlemen waited upon the Minister, made their most graceful obeisance, and put forward their best propositions on behalf of this struggling industry, that offered such great inducements to the inhabitants. of the then premier State. The Minister - a predecessor of Senator Best, I think- was a rather hard-headed man, who made some inquiries into the circumstances of the industry. He discovered that the number of hands employed consisted of the two members of the deputation and one small boy. It was on behalf of the two members of the deputation, who, by. the way, were brothers, and the one small boy, that an urgent appeal was made for increased protection. I do not exactly know whether the same two gentlemen and the same boy, now happily grown up, are thesole representatives of the industry to-day. But it does seem to me that there is no rational excuse for raising the duty from 5s. in one- act to 8s. per cwt:, after the industry has existed, and apparently flourished for a quarter of a century. I hope that the Committee maugre - I do not mean, the Postmaster-General - the opposition of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, will vote in favour of my request for a duty of 6s.
– I have voted pretty consistently for what I have thought reasonable protection. In this case, I intend to vote in that way. I cannot regard this industry as a national one. As a matter of fact, there is only one factory throughout Australia for the production of horseshoe nails. The quantity which is imported, if made here, would be valued at only ^£12, 000 or £13,000. I cannot, therefore, regard it as an industry justifying the imposition of an exceptionally high duty. At the same time, it seems to me that the former duty was rather too low, and that the duty now proposed by Senator Neild is also too low. I should think that a duty of 6s. per cwt. on the British nail, and a duty of 7s. 6d. on the foreign nail, would be a very fair protection to the industry, and as much as we should be justified in giving. . Some question has been raised as to what the value of horseshoe nails is. According to the figures supplied by the statistician, the horseshoe nails imported during 1906 averaged in value a little over 32s. per” cwt., and out of £12,000 worth ‘ imported, over£7,000 worth came from Germany. If, therefore, we impose a duty of 6s. on imports from the United Kingdom and 7 s. 6d. under the general Tariff’, we shall be giving a very fair preference to British nails, and arriving at a reasonable compromise, which I hope the Vice-President of the Executive Council will express his willingness to accept.
. -I can assure the Committee that we are dealing in this instance with a very peculiar industry. If we imposed a duty not of 8s. but of 12s. or 20s. the New South Wales users of horseshoe nails would still continue to use imported nails. Mr. Pender convinced the Tariff Commission that he made every possible effort to induce users of horseshoe nails in New South Wales to take his, and failed to do so. The consumer of this article in New South Wales has become accustomed to the use of a different kind of nail manufactured by a different process. Rightly or wrongly they think that the nails they have been accustomed to use are better than the nails manufactured in Australia, and will continue to use them. I admit that Pender’s nails are universally used in Victoria, and to a large extent in Western Australia, because, as he explained, a good many people using them in that State came from Victoria. In the circumstances, there can be no doubt that this duty will operate as a special imposition upon the users of horseshoe nails in New South Wales, whilst it will not enable Mr. Pender to increase his trade in that State to the extent of 1 per cent. in the next fiveyears. As he has already control of one-third of the Commonwealth market, I do not see why we should be asked to impose increased duties on horseshoe nails for his benefit, and at the expense of users of these nails outside Victoria.
.- Senator Clemons has argued that the duty proposed will operate as an undue tax upon the users of horseshoe nails in New South Wales. He has said that, although he tried hard, Mr. Pender found it impossible to introduce his nails into that State. It is true that when he approached the importers of horseshoe nails he found that they would take up the sale of the article he manufactured only if they could get his nails 10 per cent. cheaper than imported nails. Mr. Pender was unable to supply them at that price, because to have done so would have been to manufacture them for the pleasure of engaging in that kind of work. But it is not true that Mr. Pender was unable to find a market for his’ nails in New South Wales. After the importers had declined to take his nails, except at a great reduction in price, Mr. Pender succeeded in doing business directly with those who used horseshoe nails, and he found he was able to supply them at1d. per lb. cheaper than the importers could supply them.
– He certainly never complained about being under-sold by the imported article.
– No; but it is remarkable that horseshoe nails were very much higher in price before Mr. Pender began to do business in New South Wales, and had become an important competitor of importing firms in Victoria, than they afterwards became.
– The honorable senator is not going to claim that Mr. Pender’s operations have affected the price of horseshoe nails throughout the world?
– If the figures had been the other way, and the price of horseshoe nails had increased after Mr. Pender’s business had become established, Senator Clemons would have urged that fact in support of his contention that protection always results in an increased cost to the consumer. I find that in 1902 the price of imported horseshoe nails was 36s. 6¾d. : in 1903, 35s. 3½d. ; in 1904, 32s. 10d. ; 1905, 32s. 4½d. ; and in 1906, 31s. 3½d.
– What is the honorable senator quoting from?
– I am quoting from a circular which has been handed to me, and I am assured that the figures can be relied upon as authentic.
– Was the circular handed to the honorable senator by Mr. Pender ?
– No; but it is signed by Pender and Co. We know that under the Victorian Tariff the duty on horseshoe nails was 14s., and that was reduced to 5s. under the first Commonwealth Tariff, with the result that the imports considerably increased.
– And Mr. Pender’s price came down.
– It did, because he could only hope to continue his business by cutting down his price to the lowest limit at which it was possible for him to make a living. As a matter of fact, much of the machinery he introduced, in anticipation of the duty continuing under the Commonwealth to be about what it was under the Victorian Tariff, has been idle on his hands since the introduction of the 1902 Tariff, although it cost a considerable amount of money. Protectionist senators will be doing very wrong if they agree to any reduction of this duty. The industry is one which deserves encouragement, and it has been demonstrated that the article turned out here is as good as the imported article in the opinion of those who use it.
– Has the industry not had thirty years of encouragement?
– I should not care if it had fifty years of encouragement. New South Wales has had more than fif ty years’ experience of free-trade, and yet the honorable senator sometimes slips as a free-trader, and gets back to reason and protection. I find that the industry has not had thirty years’ protection.
– More information from Mr. Pender. The gentleman must be in the gallery.
– If Senator Clemons wishes to know what the note I have just received contains, I can tell him that it is an intimation that the figures I have quoted, and to which some objection was raised, were taken from the statistics published by the Customs Department, and can be relied upon as accurate. I hope the Committee will not agree to any reduction of the duty.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 156, paragraph a, “ Horseshoe Nails “ (imports under General Tariff), per cwt.. 6s. (Senator Colonel Neild’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 156, paragraph a (imports under General Tariff), per cwt., 7s. 6d.
I point out that a duty of 7s. 6d. is not quite 25 per cent., so that it would not be a prohibitive duty. I intend subsequently to move that the duty on imports from the United Kingdom be 6s. per cwt., which is about 20 per cent. The actual average value of the goods under this heading imported in 1906 was something over 32s. per cwt.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Mulcahy) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 156,. paragraph a (imports fromthe United Kingdom), per cwt., 63.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item156, paragraphb, by leaving out the letters “ n.e.i.” after the word “ Staples.”
It will be noticed that the heading of the item is “Nails,” so that the letters “n.e.i.” following the word “Staples” are unnecessary.
Request agreed to.
– I have a request to propose which I hope will be more successful than the one disposed of a few moments ago. The old duty upon brads was 3s. per cwt. It is now proposed to increase that duty to 5s. 6d. per cwt. under the general Tariff and to 5s. per cwt. in respect of imports from the United Kingdom, an increase of from66 to over 70 per cent. upon the old rate of duty. There is an obligation upon us before we sanction such an increase to ascertain whether the nail making industry hasprogressed or retrogressed under the old duty. The statements I am about to make are taken from evidence givenon oath before the Tariff Commission. That evidence discloses that in 1906 our imports were 104,000 cwts., whilst in the sameyear the local production was practically three times greater, namely, 300,000 cwts.
– Hear, hear. We want only the remaining fourth.
– When would the honorable senator expect to obtain it?
– Next week.
– The honorable senator’s mental view is disclosed by the fact that he assumes it is possible, by any Tariff action, to. immediately enable the local manufacturers to supply the requirements of Australia.
– Before many days we should be able to do so.
– The local manufacturers are rapidly overtaking the local demand.
– After twenty years.
– The honorable senator is now referring to the little coddled industry run in Victoria. The main fact is that the local manufacturers are not doing badly.
– The main fact is that the local consumers are doing very much better than they did.
– The Tariff Commission was appointed to inquire whether any industries were being injured by the old Tariff, and no injury was shown in connexionwith this industry. On the contrary, it was proved that it was expanding in a most satisfactory manner. It was disclosed before the Commission that within the last three years the hands employed in the industry had doubled.Any man who wants a more rapid rate of progress is seeking for something which he will not obtain, Tariff or no Tariff. The report of the Chief Inspector of Factories shows that whilst in 1903 - immediately after the passing of the first Commonwealth Tariff - forty-one men were employed in the industry, the number of hands in 1906 had increased to 106. Seeing that the local factories are gradually securing the trade of Australia, there is no need to enable them, even for a year or two, to raise theirprices higher than they are to-day. In a very little time they will have the whole of the trade of Australia.
– We want to enable them to lower prices.
– It is remarkable that we should have put forward in the Senate the statement that protection will reduce prices, seeing that Senator Trenwith, whenever he addresses a public meeting, always preaches the doctrine that cheapness is a curse. It is only when he is in the Senate, face to face with the bare facts, that he seeks to make us believe that the effect of a protective duty is to reduce prices.
– To increase wages and lower prices.
– By means of protection the manufacturers are to_be enabled to pay higher wages, to reduce their prices, and at the same time to make a bigger profit ! I have on the one hand to take the unsupported and reckless statement of my honorable friend, Senator Trenwith, and on the other page after page of the evidence given before the Tariff Commission by manufacturers, who said, “ If you place, a higher duty on the things we have to buy, we shall have to ask for a corresponding increase of the duties on the goods we have to sell.” Why did they put forward that plea? The answer is that if they had to purchase material produced locally under a protective duty, they would have to pay a higher price for it. When interrupted I was pointing out that the number of hands in the industry had steadily increased.
– The fruits of protection.
– As the manufacturers were doing so well under the old duty, what justification is there for imposing a higher tax on those who have to buy their nails for the sole reason of enabling them to do a little better ? In addition to this increase in the hands employed, two new factories, have been opened in New South Wales, another one is now commencing operations, and I understand that factories are also being established in South Australia and Western Australia. It was recently disclosed in the balance-sheet of one of these companies that on a capital of .£12,250 a dividend of £2,092, equal to 16 per cent., had been, declared. What justification is there for increasing, bv even a farthing, the cost of these nails to assist an industry that is already doing very well ?
– Had not the honorable senator better demonstrate that the effect of protective duties is to raise prices ?
– Does Senator Trenwith desire me to read the voluminous evidence taken by the Tariff Commission upon that aspect of the question? In order .to prove that protective duties do increase prices, let me invite his. attention to the sworn testimony of witnesses connected with the woollen trade - with the cap trade, for instance. These persons declared that as they were asking for a higher duty upon textiles, it would be necessary to increase the impost upon the manufactured article. In other words, they affirmed’ that the duty levied upon the articles they were making would have the effect of increasing the price of the manufactured article.
– Is it not a fact that we passed a law to prevent manufacturers charging more than a certain price for their goods ?
– Exactly. I thank the honorable senator for his interjection. It a protective Tariff has the effect of lowering prices, that legislation was manifestly unnecessary.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator.
– Then why did Senator Trenwith assist to pass the Bill ?
– I did so in order that some persons might have an assurance which they appeared to require, but which I did not.
– At any rate, the disclosures made in the Federal Arbitration Court showed that that legislation was necessary.
– Another portion of it.
– The duty’ proposed upon nails is equal to two and a-half times the cost of the labour involved in their production. If the object of protection is to equalize the conditions under which labour is employed in the Commonwealth and elsewhere, the most that a manufacturer can ask is that we shall pav his wages bill.
– What is the price of nails at the present, time ?
– The factory cost in Australia is 1.2s. per cwt.
– In New Zealand, where a duty of 2 s. per cwt. is operative, the cost is only 8s. per cwt.
– What is the cost of the iron from which the nails are manufactured ?
– The iron is admitted free. The factory cost of a cwt. of nails is about 8s.
– And the cost of the iron from which they are manufactured is about £8 per ton.
– Upon Senator McGregor’s own showing the cost of the labour involved in the manufacture of nails ia 4s. per cwt. Yet we are asked to levy a duty of 5s. per cwt. upon them. In other words, we are invited to sanction the imposition of a duty which will defray the whole cost of the labour employed and leave the manufacturer a shilling per cwt. for himself. According to the evidence of the manufacturers themselves the total factory cost of nails is 12s. per cwt.
– As a matter of .fact they are sold for us. 6d. per cwt. f.o.b. rail or steamer.
– I am content to accept the evidence given before the Tariff Commission. Upon Senator McGregor’s own showing, the cost of the labour employed in the manufacture of nails would be 4s. per cwt. at the most. Yet we are asked to impose a duty of 5s. per cwt. upon them. Protectionists who at the cutset of the Tariff debate maintained that heavy duties were required to. equalize the labour conditions in foreign countries and in the Commonwealth have long since abandoned that argument, and it has become apparent to everybody that what they really require is something to enable the manufacturer to reap a profit which he would not get if he carried on his industry in fair competition with other people. One of the reasons why I intend to ask the Committee to reduce the duty from 5s. to 3s. per cwt. is that in this industry there is one of the most complete combines or trusts to be found in Australia or outside of it. So much was admitted by Mr. McDougall, one of the manufacturers, who said that the makers of nails had not merely agreed amongst themselves as to the prices at which they would sell, but had gone to the extent of absolutely pooling the trade. As a result, if one manufacturer received ‘ more orders than represented his fair share of the business, those orders were passed on to another manufacturer. It has often been said that the advantage of having local manufacturers is that they keep down the price of the imported article.
– The importers in Adelaide are doing the same thing.
– The honorable senator is referring to a foreign combine. I repeat that a close trust has been formed in connexion with the nail industry. This combination restricts prices and apportions trade, so that there is absolutely no such thing as compe tition amongst our . local manufacturers. That being so, it is reasonable that the general public should at least be safeguarded to the extent of seeing that prices are not raised unduly. If we increase the duty upon nails to 5s. per cwt., the effect will be to enhance the price of the imported nail, and the combination will then increase its price practically to the level of the imported article.
– What is the price of imported nails in Victoria?
– As a purchaser of nails, all I can tell my honorable friend is that the moment the Tariff was introduced I had to pay a higher price for nails required for ordinary purposes. As internal competition has become a thing of the past, it is npt desirable that we should sanction the imposition of such a heavy duty as will prevent external competition. Without competition monopolies must be created. Already a monopoly exists by reason of the combination amongst local manufacturers. Seeing that we have no internal competition in the industry, I ask the Committee not to sanction such a high rate of duty as will’ exclude external competition, for it is only as the result of competition of one sort or the other that the public will be able to obtain nails at a fair price. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 156, paragraph u (imports under General Tariff), 3s. per cwt.
– Senator Millen concluded by saying that there is no competition in this trade within the Commonwealth, but it is within my knowledge that there are two price lists in Melbourne alone that vary to the extent of is. The Anchor Nail Company is selling nails as low as 10s. 6d. per cwt., and the Austral’s price is us. 6d. That disposes of the statement that there is no competition.
– Does the honorable senator say that there is competition ?
– There are two nail factories selling the same article, one at 10s. 6d., and the other at us. 6d. Senator Clemons. - Where is the Anchor Company carried on?
– In Richmond, Victoria. Senator Millen alleged that the cost consequent upon this duty must fall upon the people. If that were so, whereever there were low duties, there would be low prices. There is in New Zealand a low duty - only 2s.- not sufficient to induce any one to start the industry, and as we have a duty of 5s. 6d., and had a duty of 3s., nails ought to be much cheaper in New Zealand than they are here, or, at any rate, they ought to be cheaper to the extent of the difference in the duty. But, as a matter of fact, I have here the Hardware Journal for ‘ January, 1908, containing quotations as to wire nails in New Zealand. It says -
Wire nails have reached 17s., receding to 15s. 6d. in increasing larger lines.
Thus, 15s. 6d. is the lowest price quoted in New Zealand, where the duty is only 2s. Here Senator Millen himself has quoted 10s. as a factory price. That effectively disposes of the cheapening influence of low duties, and the enormously increasing influence of high duties.
– Can Senator Trenwith tell me who conducts the Anchor Nail Factory?
– Mr. Gold.
– I shall show, from sworn evidence given before the Tariff Commission, how much those two firms do compete.
– I was talking of to-day.
– I shall show what this man, Frank Gold, the” proprietor of the Anchor Company - although he did not disclose that name to us - said with regard to the competition in Victoria. This is the evidence - 69450. As to this arrangement between the Austral Nail Co. and . yourself, how do you arrange to gel five-elevenths of all the trade in Victoria, and they get six-elevenths? - Our books are inspected by an accountant. If I have done more than my share I have to give the difference to the Austral Co., and if they have done more than their share they have to give the difference to me. 69451. How is that done? - We pass on the orders.
That is the competition which Senator Trenwith says is now going on in Victoria.
– When they came down to bedrock, and could go no lower, they had to come to that arrangement.
– That arrangement was going on when we examined Mr. Gold before the Commisison. Now, Senator Trenwith says that cheapening is coming about through competition in Victoria, one firm selling at “11s. 6d. and another at 10s. 6d.
– I said that at present .there are two price list’s, and that is correct. I object to being taken back two years.
– That evidence was not given so very long ago. It is, at any rate, the sworn evidence of the man concerned in one of the factories mentioned by Senator Trenwith, and not a statement by a Victorian Senator. That disposes of the .question of the internal competition in Victoria.
– Something has brought the price down.
– I will leave Senator Trenwith to ruminate over that evidence. I wish to deal now with the wages in the industry, and to show how enormous the protection is with regard to the wages cost. I shall quote from the evidence of the same manufacturer, who, I may fairly assume, did not underrate the wages cost - 69423. You have told us you pay £7,000 in wages and incidental charges, and the value of your output is roughly ^50,000? - That is right. 69424. If you pay ^7,000 in wages, and your total output is ^50,000, that means that the proportion of wages is 14 ner cent. ? - Yes. 69425. Now I ‘want you to consider this. You’ have told us what beats you is the wages you have to pay ? - The wages, and the hours that the men have to work. 69426. Same thing. Now just listen. How much less do you think they pay in England than you do for wages? - About 50 per cent., I should think. 69427. Well, take it at 50 per cent. ; that does not include the difference in hours? - No: there is a difference of 25 per cent, in hours. 6942S. That means- about 75 per cent, altogether. It seems a liberal allowance? - It is none too much to allow, if you take into consideration that in the Old Country they work night and day. 69429. Well, take it at 75 per cent. You pay ^14 in every £100 you produce. That means that in England they pav about what say, /S? -£6 or £8. 69430. It could not.be ^6?- Make it £8. 69431. Then I want to draw your attention to the fact that it comes to this : That, whereas we pay ^14 in wages on every ^100 of goods, in England, where the nail makers compete with you, they pay £8. The difference is £6 per £100 value in goods. That is 6 per cent. Have you not got a protective duty to the amount of 6 per cent ?
Rather, he has a protective duty to the amount of 60 per cent, and yet, on his own evidence, 6 per cent, would cover his extra wages cost.
– How do you make 3s. 60 per cent, on 12s. ?
– The duty, under this Tariff is 5s. 6d. ‘
– Even that is nearer 40 than 60 per cent.
– On certain classes of nails, it is quite 60 per cent., but I will take it at 40 per cent. We have Mr. Gold’s sworn evidence that the total difference in his wages cost, as compared with England, the chief competing country, was £6 in every£100. Subsequently, he admitted the difference to be 7 per cent. The proposed duty is equivalent to at least 40 per cent. on nails of the best quality, and to as much as 60 per cent. on inferior nails, while a duty of 3s. is equivalent to at least 25 per cent. on some nails, and to as much as 40 per cent. on others. In adopting such a duty we shall not only do more than equalize conditions in respect to wages, but shall also have regard to differences in respect to incidental charges. The evidence clearly showed that there is a combine in Victoria. Witnesses swore that one of the factories here does five-elevenths of the trade of the State, and the other sixelevenths, and that the business is shared between them. A high duty is not necessary to protect the industry; but it will strengthen the hands of the combine. I am sorry that a lower rate than 3s. has not been proposed, because I am satisfied that in Victoria the combine will continue in existence, even with a duty of 3s.
– I am surprised that Senator Clemons did not deal with the quotation made by Senator Trenwith from a journal giving the price of nails in New Zealand, where the duty is. only 2s. per cwt.
– He did not mention any particular brand of nails.
– I quoted the lowest price.
– I remember that, oh many occasions, Senator Clemons very cleverly obtained evidence as to the percentage of wages to the cost of manufacture. But, while he has mentioned incidental expenses, which, he states, have been taken into consideration, he has not told us what they are. Consideration has not been given to the fact that the Australian manufacturer has to pay nearly twice as much for the iron that he uses as is paid by his competitors abroad.
– Is iron here twice as expensive as in Great Britain, or in any other country ?
– It is at least 30 per cent. dearer. Our manufacturershave also to pay more for the coke, coal, or other fuel which they use. Probably, too, their buildings and plant are much more costly than would be needed in the older countries of the world. Wemust take all these facts into consideration, and the value of the finished product. Every one must admit that Senator Clemons can put a case as cleverly as any other honorable senator. But it must be remembered that, notwithstanding the smallness of the competition here, prices have not been as high as in New Zealand, where there is no competition. Those concerned in the local manufacture of nails showed that they had cut prices to such an extent that they could not go lower, and that they had to come to terms, and to work together, unless one was to put the other out of existence. Those who know the combinations of importers which we have had in almost every State will not blame manufacturers for combining. In Adelaide, Melbourne, and other large cities, the importers in various lines have come to arrangements in respect to prices, which, in many instances, did not injure the public, though in others the public have suffered. These arrangements, when prices are not increased unduly, are not detrimental to the community, and the manufacturers to whom Senator Clemons has referred were forced by the competition of importers to come together for their own protection.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 156, paragraph b (imports under General Tariff), 3s. per cwt. (Senator Millen’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Colonel Neild) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item156, paragraphb (imports under General Tariff), 4s.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Millen) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 156, paragraphb (imports from the United Kingdom), 4s.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item 157. Tanks containing goods, or empty. - For every 100 gallons capacity or port thereof, 3s. ; and on and after 27th November, 1907, free.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 157, 3s.
On paragraphs a and b of item 140 we have imposed a duty on what is essentially the raw material from which the tanks dealt with in this item are manufactured. If we impose a duty on the raw material and allow the manufactured article to come in free, we shall create at once an anomaly. It may be urged as an objection to my request that the tanks, when admitted, contain either confectionery or some other commodity. But I point out that the item relates to tanks either containing goods or empty. There is just a possibility that under cover of this item tanks containing goods may come in, and, when empty, be sold at less than the manufactured cost. Theevidence given before the Tariff Commission proves that that is likely to happen. The greater the capacity of a tank, the greater resisting power in the frame is required. We know that there are in general use tanks made of galvanized iron, either corrugated or not corrugated, with a capacity of from 100 to 2,000 gallons.
– Did the honorable senator ever see an imported 2,000-gallon tank ?
– Nor did anybody else.
– The point is that such tanks may be imported, and my desire is to prevent that event from happening. In the Commonwealth we can produce the raw material from which any tanks are made, no matter whether their capacity be 100 or 50,000 gallons. If the capacity of a tank be increased necessarily the resisting power of the frame must be increased. Tanks made of plate iron vary in thickness from one-eighth to halfaninch. On previous items it has been demonstrated that inAustralia we can produce the raw material for making such tanks. Surely we can roll the plate or the sheet as the case may be, rivet the various parts, and form them into tanks?
– We cannot make them at double the price at which the farmers now get them.
– I venture to disgree with the honorable senator. From my knowledge of the iron industry, I know that we can make them just as cheaply as they are now being sold to the farmer.
.- I hope that the Committee will agree to the request. .
– I hope that it will not.
– The honorable senator commences to slip, as a protectionist, on tanks. No true protectionist can do other than support the request.
– Itis purely a revenue duty, as the honorable senator knows.
– It is not.
– There are no tanks made in Australia.
– Tanks innumerable, and of exactly the same kind, have been made for a considerable period in different parts of the Commonwealth. According to the Customs return, in 1906 7,000 tanks, either filled or empty, were imported, and their total value was given’ at£1 7,000, averaging £210s. each. In some cases they came in filled with goods, and as soon as they were emptied they were put on the market and sold at a price at which they could not be manufactured in Australia.
– Hear, hear ! That is exactly what we say.
– No true protectionist could approve of that, nor does it bring about fair competition. Before the Tariff Commission one Victorian witness stated that in 1905, 6,095of these tanks, valued at£15, 888, were imported into the Common wealth. Most of these tanks were imported full of goods. They were really packages, and cost more to manufacture than they were sold for here.
– That is perfectly correct.
– It is in order to prevent the importation of these tanks to the detriment of Australian workers and manufacturers that I hope the Committee will agree to Senator Needham’s request. A Brisbane ironfounder named Harvey told the Tariff Commission that these tanks could be locally made, were really in common use, and a duty should therefore be imposed to encourage their local manufacture. I am certain that witnesses might be found in the other States who would confirm this evidence. I am quite at a loss to understand why honorable members in another place agreed to allow these tanks to be admitted free of duty. The imposition of a duty upon them is a protectionist proposal, and would lead to employment being given to a large number of men in a line of industry in Australia in which men are not at present fully employed or highly paid.
– I trust the Committee will leave the’ item as it stands. The request which has been made seems to be of a part with the game that is being played by the socialistic party in running amok at the farmer every time they get the chance.
– This is not a socialistic move at all.
– On every occasion we find the members of the socialistic party banded together against the farmer.
– I rise to a point of order. Is Senator McColl in order in referring to certain honorable senators as Socialists - though I have no objection to being called by such a name - and suggesting that they are running amok at the farmer?
– The statement is of so utterly indefinite a character that I cannot rule it out of order.
– The tanks included in this item are used very largely by farmers, and are especially valuable to them in the dry districts, and at times of great stress due to scarcity of water. Farmers have on such occasions to go for miles to get water for their families and stock, and at such a time the addition to their troubles of a tax upon the tanks which they require to use would be considered a very great hardship indeed.
– The farmer asks for the protection of his own industry.
– And a lot of ithe gets.
– He gets it every time from the members of the Labour Party.
– And he has had very little of it from Senator McColl.
– These tanks are of a very convenient size; they will just lit in the farmer’s cart and hold about as much water as one horse can draw. In view of all that the country owes to the farmers, honorable senators should have no hesitation in allowing them to obtain these tanks free of duty. I am satisfied that honorable members in another place had good reasons for rejecting the duty proposed on these tanks, and I hope honorable senators will follow their lead. .
– I trust that the Committee will agree to the request. I quite realize that the remarks just made by Senator McColl have included wild and whirling charges, which have been correctly described by the Acting Chairman as vague and indefinite ; but, at the same time, they are intended to carry with them a certain insinuation.
– I must ask the honorable senator not to discuss a point which has already been decided.
– It seems peculiar that, when a definite charge has been levelled against certain honorable senators, they should not be given an opportunity to reply to them.
– If the honorable senator wishes to explain that he is not .1 Socialist, we will take his word for if.
– - The sting is in his suggestion that the members of the Labour Party are always against the farmer. We know that has only been said lor a purpose.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order !
– If it is now my turn, I should like to say that I do not disown the term which Senator McColl has applied to the members of the Labour Party. No one has done more to assist the farmers to obtain protection for their industry than have the members of the Labour Party. An honorable senator from South Australia is against the imposition of a. duty on these tanks, because he believes that would be against the interests of the farmers. That honorable senator had the honour of suggesting definite protective duties in the interests of the farmers, and I should like to ask him, as a farmer’s representative, to say who assisted him to carry his proposals for the benefit of the farmers ? It should not be forgotten that here are other persons in this country besides farmers, and, as one who has been en gaged in the industry affected by the item we are now considering, I claim some protection from the farmers to whom I have voted protection. If there is any dumping done in Australia, it is in connexion with the importation of these tanks. They are brought out here as packages for goods which would be imported in zinc-lined chests if a duty were imposed on these tanks. They are put on the market here at a price at which they cannot be manufactured in Australia. I claim, on behalf of this industry, that it has as much right to be established in Australia as any other industry ; and I trust that the same measure of protection as has been extended to the workers in other industries,- will be given in this case.
– I should not have spoken except for the unwarranted attack made upon the Labour Party by Senator McColl. Apparently he harbours such bitterness in his breast that he can scarcely speak without practically damning the party to which I belong. As I said before, quoting the words of Robert Burns, he “ Damns all parties but his ain.” As to the question before the Committee) I, like Senator McColl, looked at it from a farmer’s point of view. I have been a real, farmer. I know what the interests of the farmers are, and am here to fight for them. I am also here as a protectionist, and, in spite’ of what Senator Findley may say, I have been true to protectionist principles in the votes I have given. But tanks are used by hundreds of thousands of people as well as by farmers; in the towns as well as in the country. They are a necessary of life in carrying on agriculture and many other industries. When I myself was farming, I sometimes had two tanks on a waggon to cart water for the stock, and sometimes two or three on the ground to hold water in case of an emergency. In some cases farmers have to cart water in tanks for distances of 5, 6, and even to miles. The ordinary tin tanks made in Melbourne would not be worth a straw when put on a waggon. Something solid is required. We need square tanks, that will stand the wear. I am astonished at what the last speaker - my namesake - has said ; but on account of his youth I can excuse him. Next time the honorable senator wishes to speak on a similar question, I hope he will come over to the corner where I sit, and have a chat with me.
– Why, I have made tanks ; what is the honorable senator talking about?
– My honorable friend should, take a broader view of things. This is a primary producers’ question, and we cannot, and ought not to, let anything interfere with the progress of the primary producer. We must assist him in every way to develop the country, and In doing that he must be able to store water for his family and his stock. When a farmer goes to a new place, before he can have wells dug underground he must store his water in tanks. Let those tanks be obtained as cheaply as possible. Another place, by a. large majority, reduced the duty. I hope that we shall retain the reduced rate. Already tanks are costly enough. A 400-gallon tank used to cost me £3. If. Senator Findley had his way he would make such a tank 12s. dearer. I’ am also sorry that a senator coming from Western Australia, and especially a brainy man like Senator Needham, should have made such a mistake as he has done. I ‘ hope yet that he will show his wisdom and vote with me on this question.
– I do not know what justification there is for the statement that this is a farmer’s question only. I dare say that if a calculation could be made it would be found that in. Western Australia’ quite half-a-dozen . of these tanks are used by miners for every one used by a farmer ; and I think that it would be found that in the drier portions of Australia the same proportion or thereabouts would be maintained. On the gold-fields underground wells are an impossibility, and the people are compelled to have iron tanks. Therefore, a high duty will not affect the farmers only. But even were it true that this is a farmer’s question, it would be no argument why the artisans who make these tanks should not have a share of protection. It is a one-eyed way of looking at protection to adopt the attitude of Senator McColl.
– Does the honorable senator intend to vote for this as a protective duty i
– It will have to be very much higher if it is to be protective.
– If the duty is not high enough to be protective in its incidence I hope that the honorable senator will assist those who wish to make it really protective.
– I shall not help such an iniquity.
– I see no reason for the charge made by Senator McColl that this duty will press heavily upon ‘the farmer. If it is a burden it will fall on the miner .just as heavily as it will fall on the man on the land. Considering the extent to which the farmer is benefited in other directions by the State it is’ only right that he should bear his fair share of the burden of taxation. Senator McColl should be the last to talk about! a desire on the part ‘of honorable senators to put a load on the shoulders; of the farming community. Not long ago I read a report of a conference at which he made a speech, the whole tenor of which was “ Socialism for the farmer.” He went so’ far that Mr. Swinburne, the Victorian Minister of Agriculture, declared that the - honorable senator must be a Socialist. If he is, then I hope I shall not have the name applied to myself.
– The honorable senator is absolutely distorting the facts.
– J am not distorting them as they appeared in the press. He would be a very one-eyed Socialist who would confine to any one section of the community all the benefits of public expenditure or of a protective Tariff. The tinsmiths, plumbers, boilermakers, and others who make these tanks are entitled to consideration as well as the farmer. It is only fair that a certain measure of assistance should be extended to them.
– I wish to speak in this connexion of my experience as a farmer..’ I have purchased imported tanks that were scarcely put to use on the farm before they commenced to leak ; rotten, corroded, black iron tanks which are now the only class, available to the farmer, because they are not made locally to any extent. Those made here are usually of galvanized iron. A fanner who buys a black iron tank - and these tanks are exceptionally convenient for carting water - sometimes, obtains a good one and sometimes a bad one. He always gets a very old secondhand tank instead of anew one, as he ought t’o do. Senator McColl condemned this proposal on the ground that it would prejudicially affect’ the farmer. ‘ He claimed to be a protectionist. He can believe in protection only because he considers that it is a sound policy. If it is a good policy to apply tothe rest of the community how can it be a bad policy to apply to the farmer? I read some time ago a paragraph that seemed to me to very aptly apply to protectionists who take up this stand. It was pertinently put that if a protectionist of this class had been about when the Ten Commandments were promulgated he would have said, “ Provided that these provisionsshall not apply to agricultural, pastoral, or horticultural pursuits.” I say unhesitatingly that a duty on tanks would establish the industry here and enable the farmer to obtain - probablyfrom a neighbour on whom he could rely - a new wellmade tank instead of his being compelled to buy haphazard whatever tank may be. available when he wants one. Some years ago there was no duty on packages, and black iron tanks as such came in free. Often they contained a small quantity of goods which were packed in them in order that they might come in free and be sold in competition with the locally-made article. Some one has said that these tanks are sold below their cost. I venture to say that that is not so - that they could be made for less than the price at which they are sold. No doubt the reply to this will be, “ Then why is a duty necessary”? The answer is that no man dare invest capital in machinery and plant to make these tanks with a knowledge that they can be sold a great deal cheaper than they are at present. One of the greatest disabilities from which the farmer is suffering in this connexion is the absence of a proper development of local iron tank making.
– It is strange that the farmers do not know it.
– The farmers have returned to this Parliament a majority of protectionists. That is evidence that they do know it. Senator McColl at the last general election claimed to be a protectionist; otherwise he would not have been elected. He claimed to be a protectionist, and the people, desiring to be represented by one, gave him a very heavy vote. If it is right that Senator McColl should vote protection in respect of one thing it is right that he should be a protectionist in respect of all goods that are capable of local production.
Senate adjourned at11.5 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 March 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080304_senate_3_43/>.