3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
ThePresident took the chair at11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I am not aware.
– H as the attention of the Minister of Home Affairs been drawn to a statement in a publication called the Federal Service, to the effect that a duly elected divisional representative in Queens land has been prevented from attending Boards of Inquiry, in whose work be should have taken part?
– I read the statement, I think, yesterday ; but otherwise, at present, I know nothing whatever of the circumstances.
What is the present position regarding the legal proceedings pending in London to recover the amount of the letter of guarantee given in connexion with the Laing Mail Contract?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The statement of claim has been filed, copy of which has been received by mail. The statement of defence has probably been filed by now, but has not yet come to hand.
– Can the VicePresident of the Executive Council inform the Senate who was responsible for the drafting of the agreement between the Commonwealth and Sir Jas. Laing and Company ?
– I think that it was drafted in London by Mr. Hill, the leading counsel, after the Senate had dealt with the provisional agreement.
Officer for Cadets, New South Wales ?
What “ honors “ has he received, if any ?
Motion (by Senator Henderson) agreed to-
That the report of the Printing Committee of the Senate, presented to the Senate on the 5th March, 1908, be adopted.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 5th March, vide page 8672) :
Postponed Division VI. - Metals and Machinery.*
Item 162. -
*Motive Power, Engine Combinations and Power Connexions are dutiable under their respective headings, when not integral parts of exempted machines, machinery, or machine tools.
– I hope that the fans used for the ventilation of mines, which are now subject to very heavy duties, will be placed on the free list, because they are not made in Australia, and I have not heard it alleged that they can be made here. The death-rate amongst the men working in our deep mines is so appalling that all possessing any spark of humanity must wish to do everything possible to prevent it. The effect of working in badlyventilated mines is to produce phthisis or miners’ complaint, a lung disease clue to the accumulation of impure air and foreign substances. Although the question of mine ventilation comes within the jurisdiction of the State Parliament, still we can help by allowing the free admission of machinery for the purpose. If we placed an embargo upon the mines obtaining such machinery, which as honorable senators know, is not made in this country, we could be justly charged with doing something to hinderthe achievement of a very desirable object. So far as the statistics show, the death-rate in the deep mines of Victoria is the highest in the world. I have not yet come across any return approaching the appallingly high death-rate from phthisis in the deep mines in this State, and the appalling increase which is continually going on calls for urgent action. In 1906 - the latest year for which any statistics are available - the death-rate was 29 per 1,000 miners employed per annum.
– Was it not 29 per 1 0,000 miners?
– The figures I have quoted are given as representing the death-rate from lung diseases, but, of course, they may include death-rate from accidents.
SenatorStory. - Is not the death-rate 29 per 10,000 ?
– Well that is what appeared in the newspaper the other day.
– I think that that was a typographical error. I cannot understand how they could say that the death rate was 28 per 1,000 according to the figures which appeared in the Age. In 1880, it was 40 per thousand.
– The Age said, “ per 10,000,” in each instance.
– I think that the honorable senator is wrong.
– No, the honorable senator himself is wrong.
– I may be wrong. I should not like to speak too positively on the point.
– But even so, the death-rate was considered great.
– Yes. I have paid some attention to the death-rate in mines, and I know that there are no figures approaching in any degree those which have recently been presented to us.
– It was stated by the secretary of the Miners’ Association that, in Bendigo, 2 out of every 100 die of phthisis.
-I know that the death-rate is very high. I thought that, perhaps, the death-rate from causes other than phthisis was included. But be that as it may, we know that there is an appalling and increasing death-rate from this cause in our deep mines. There is only one way in which it can be reduced, and that is by better ventilation. It cannot be lessened or prevented unless we give miners fresher air than they have been getting. If anything approaching that state of affairs prevailed in any other part of the world, public men and newspapers would continually make reference to the fact. This evil has not cropped up here suddenly. It has existed during the last seven years, since I have resided in Melbourne, and perhaps it had existed for a very long time previously. During my residence here, nothing has been done to effect a remedy.
– If we make the articles free, it does not follow that the mines will be better ventilated.
– That may be so, but it could not then be said that -we had increased the cost of the imported articles, and so deterred the mine-owners from taking advantage of them. There is no escaping from the position that if we were foolish enough to place a high duty on the articles, it would make them more costly to the mine-owners who wished to utilize them in order to reduce an evil, which, I am sure, every one must deplore. But to say that it cannot be remedied is, in my opinion as a practical miner, to utter a lot of nonsense. I dare say that on no question agitating the public mind in Melbourne during the last seven years, has so much nonsense been uttered. Public men who are, to a certain extent, responsible for the working of the Mines Department, have declared that because twenty years ago an English Commission reported unfavorably against a certain apparatus, known as Root’s blower, nothing could be done. .The fans I am referring to are in use in the coal mining districts of Illawarra, Newcastle, and other places in New South Wales. Victoria is there furnished with an example that by the use of mechanical means, the problem of ventilating, a mine can be solved in a very satisfactory way. It is simply owing to the want of legislation compelling mine-owners to provide fans, that they have not been utilized in the deep mines of Victoria. In New South Wales the law compels the owner of a coal mine to supply 100 cubic feet of air per minute to each miner. If that quantity of air cannot be measured in any part of the mine where miners are working, he is subject to prosecution. If Victoria had a similar law in force here it would very quickly get over the difficulty. An amending Act recently passed in Victoria provides for the supply of 75 cubic feet of air per minute to each miner.
– I hope that the honorable senator will not enter into a general discussion on the question of ventilating mines. . So far as the employment of fans is concerned, he is quite entitled to discuss their value as ventilators.
– I am making these remarks, sir, in order to illustrate the point that unless we enable the mine-owners^ to obtain mechanical means of ventilations at a reasonable price, the Victorian law will be inoperative. We have no right topass a duty which would prevent such, humane legislation from being applied. I understand that it cannot be put in operation simply because the mine-owners do not. know of any existing appliances which canbe utilized for the purpose of ventilating; mines.
– No wonder they havebeen in the dark for the last twenty years.
– I quite agreewith my honorable friend that they are in the dark in this matter. It is really astonishing to notice the amount of ignorancethat prevails on this simple question, whichwas solved more than a generation ago ire other parts of the world. To my knowledge, the fans I am referring to have been’ used for over a generation in deep minesand mines which it was difficult to ventilate. It is pretty hard to understand why the fact should not be known in Victoria. The fans I am referring to are of a naturewhich brings them under this heading. When a fan was recently imported for * new mine in New South Wales, a duty of” 20 per cent, was imposed. I have here ar communication which will prove my statement.
– What do they cost?-
– The fan towhich I. refer cost £600, and 20 per centduty had to be paid upon it. .
– Some of these fans cost as much as ,£2,000.
– I speak of thecost of the fan as placed on board thevessel for importation, but honorable senators will ‘ recognise that its erection and? fitting for use in the mine would involve a>. very great additional expense. A largechamber, known as the exhaust chamber, into which the vitiated air from the mine; is drawn, must be erected, and this is. of course, only part and parcel of the system, of ventilation in connexion with which, these fans are used. They have a very large diameter, and the one to’ which Y refer, though by no means the largest f an? of the kind in use, has a diameter of 70- feet. I may say that the system of ventilation by fans in the way I have described is the only satisfactory system, adopted. I have heard of attempts toventilate mines by means of 12-inch tubesrun down the shaft, but that, to me, appears to be the height of foolishness-
Mines can only be properly ventilated by utilizing the whole volume of air that finds its way down the shaft, and it is only by exhausting the vitiated air in the mines by the use of fans placed on the surface at a second shaft, and used for this purpose only, that an adequate and satisfactory system of ventilation can be provided. I hope that the Committee, in the interests of the health of the poor fellows who are obliged to work in deep mines, will see their way to agree to a request to remit this duty. Five years ago a pamphlet was issued by the Bendigo Advertiser, comprising a series of articles contributed to that newspaper on the subject of the ventilation’ of mines, and it would scarcely be possible to find a more graphic account of the horrors of work in deep mines than is given in this pamphlet. We have heard a great deal from time to time of the white slaves of England, and the dreadful effects of phossy-jaw on girls who are obliged in the Old Country to work in match factories, but in the pamphlet to which I refer are to be found passages quite as sensational as are any descriptions of the conditions under which people have to work in other parts of the world- I propose to make a quotation from the pamphlet, in order that honorable senators may be seized with the’ importance of the subject, and the necessity of doing what is possible in dealing .with this Tariff to assist the poor fellows who :are obliged to get a living in the very deep mines of Victoria. I have said that the articles contained in the pamphlet were written some five years ago, but as nothing has since been done to remedy the conditions described, we cannot be charged with acting hastily, or with interfering with the work which should be done by another Parliament. The articles were written by a journalist who visited a number of mines in order to secure information on this very important subject at first hand. He visited the 3,175-feet level of a mine in the Bendigo district, which I shall not name. 1 may say that mining is carried on at such a depth in very few places, but in the particular mine referred to work is now carried on at a level 1,000 feet lower. If the conditions were so bad as the writer describes at the 3,175-feet level, we can imagine what they must be at a level over 4,000 feet from the surface. The writer says -
My mate and I signalled for the 3,175 feet level*, and an easy descent through a current of «ool air soon brought me below the 180. Thence forward there was a gradual change in the conditions, until at last the air became stifling. A slackening of the speed of the cage, and a shadowy vision of blackened, sodden, shaft timber, betokened our approach to the plat at which we were to emerge. The mouth of the plat appeared, and simultaneously a glimmer of light revealed part of the naked body of a man splashing in apparently deep water, for only his head and shoulders were visible. “ Hallo, there, feeling it warm?” was his greeting, as the cage splashed into water, and we experienced the unpleasant feeling of water creeping up our legs inch by inch as the cage sought the bearers. We splashed out of the cage on to the plat sets and looked around wonderingly on a scene which was dreadful, even for the bowels of the earth. A gloomy chamber, illuminated by candles, with its floor covered by water which reached over our knees, and inhabited bv men clothed only in trousers and boots, who squatted up to their necks in water to cool themselves, as they enjoyed, or rather suffered, a brief respite “from work. The water was warm, but the air above it was hot. Our bodies steamed, perspiration ian down our faces, instead of dripped; it trickled down our bodies, and fell from our wrists and hands to the water. We felt like being steamed to death. It required no effort for us to imagine that we were the prisoners of some subterranean people, and were undergoing a steaming process in order that we might be the better able to play a prominent part in some weird orgie. I remember experiencing a feeling of satisfaction at the thought that there would be little left of me after the process if it was of long duration. The noise of a coming truck reached us, and I looked out with interest for the newcomer. On the truck came, raising, like a miniature liner, a swell on the water, while the chest and face of the trucker glistened in the candle-light. It was with a sigh of relief that he gave the truck a final push, and sinking down into the dirty water, which was greasy with the drippings of many candles and smelt as “ underground “ as it could smell, enjoyed its apparent coolness after his exertions in the drive. We made our way along the drive, and had not left the water more than half-a-dozen feet behind when we felt more forcibly than before the vapour bath into which we had plunged. If we sat or stood still we perspired more than freely, but the slightest movement caused us to be drenched with sweat.- To our legs the water was warm when it. closed round them first, but when we left the water and the atmosphere encircled them they felt hotter still, the atmosphere being much higher in temperature than the water. The drive was suffocating, but we succeeded in making our way to the face, which was slightly more endurable, a compressed air pipe bringing along some air, and an exhaust pipe taking away a little of the vitiated air; not much, for a candle at its mouth did not flicker much. How men work there at all licks creation, but at the same time it is absolutely certain that they can do but little - they cannot do a half-day’s work under such conditions. This level is being driven in order to connect the mine with the 1S0 at 3,17; feet. It will be about 450 feet in length, and there are between 50 feet and 60 feet to be driven yet, and a rise of 25 feet to be put up. God help the men who have the work of putting up the rise unless the ventilation is improved. One of the men stated that the thermometer once registered 104 degrees in the level,’ but .1 think he must be mistaken, for I have never heard of any mine being hotter than 40 degrees, which, it must be remembered, is equivalent to a very much higher temperature on the surface. Back to the pint we went, to find the water cool in comparison with our heated bodies. We steamed away for another ten minutes, . and then regained the cage. The knocker line was pulled, the cage slowly drew out of the water. “Good-bye, old chap,” our guide waved his hand to us, the plat disappeared from view, and we were going up 3,000 feet for a breath of fresh air and a gleam of sunshine. Past the 2,500-feet level we went, and the air whistled around us again. I buttoned my coat about me, for the air seemed keen to my body, and my legs felt wet and chilled. Another couple of minutes and a light, like the light at dawn, appeared on the frame sets, the noises of the upper world fell on our ears, and then our journey ended. Never had the sky seemed so blue, and never had the air appeared so bracing. Such were the conditions under which we found men working.
I think that that account of a journalist’s visit to the bowels of the earth in these hell holes of Bendigo- where men are expected to work under conditions such as I venture to say miners in no other part of the world know of - is sufficient to warrant ‘me in taking up the time of the Senate in showing that these f ans for mines which are not made in the country ought to be brought in free. By providing to that’ effect we ‘shall help to bring about a humane change in the conditions obtaining in the deep mines of Victoria. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 162 by adding the following new paragraph : - “ bb. Fans for mines, free.”
– There is not a member of the Committee who is not moved by some of the facts stated by my honorable friend who has just resumed his seat. . There is not one of us who would deny the necessity for the ventilation of mines and the desirableness of offering every facility in that direction. But what we are considering at present is not the ventilation- of mines per se, but whether machinery for the ventilation of mines is made, or can be made, in the Commonwealth. It is possible that in some instances particular fans are imported from abroad. Those fans may be preferred by certain companies. But it is equally certain that we have in our midst iron industries and machinery industries by which fans equal to those to which my honorable friend refers are made.
– Does the honorable senator think that mine-owners would go . to the expense of importing fans .if they could get them made locally ?
– Where are they made locally ?
– I do not want to name the individual companies, but my- honorable friend must know of some. Suppose we attempted to mention, one particular class of fan which may be preferred by some mining companies and to provide that it should be free. That would be grossly unfair to other fan makers, and would be a most undesirable feature to introduce in the Tariff. It would also be unfair to our own fan makers. How is it possible for ‘ our people to compete in the manufacture of fans, and how can Australian, conditions of labour be observed if one particular class of fan can be introduced duty free? The whole question of protection is involved in this issue.
– Is protection of more consequence than the lives of human beings ?
– That is dragging a herring across the track in the usual way. The whole question is - can these fans be made here ?
– Are they made here ?
– Yes; my information is that they are made in nearly all the States.
– Oh !
– If my honorable friend says that some particular patented fan of which he has knowledge is not made ir» Australia I shall not pretend to contradict him. What I do say is Chat fans for the ventilation of mines are made in Australia, and that it is unfair-
– Give us one case to show that ventilation fans that are a success are being made in Australia. I do not mean fans to blow round a man’s house.
– That is not the class of fan we are referring to at all. Lara informed that both in Sydney and Melbourne fans for the ventilation of mines of a similar character to those referred to by my honorable friend, Senator de Largie, and equally effective are made. If it were possible to prove that a particular class of fan used for the ventilation of .mines was not, and could not, be made in Australia, my honorable friend would have made out an irrefutable case, to which we should have to listen in the interests of humanity. Of course, it is for honorable senators to say whether under the circumstances stated t’hey prefer that our own industries should suffer, and that these fans for mine ventilation should be introduced duty free in the interests of the community.
– - Whether or not the whole question of protection is involved in this matter, as stated by die Vice-President of the Executive Council, there is certainly an infinitely greater question involved, and that is the preservation of human life. We who have had some experience in this matter have rubbed shoulders with very many ventilating fans used for the ventilating of mines in Australia. It is a strange thing that within the wide range of that experience we have not come across any of those Australian made mine ventilating fans to which .Senator Best has referred. I admit at once that fans are made in Australia. I have seen them myself - fans made with a bit of wood and a lining of galvanized iron, and worked with a little wheel for small boys to twirl round. But that is not the kind of fan that Senator de Largie has been talking about. It is not the kind of fan that is going to bring about civilized conditions in the mines throughout Australia. I feel so keenly about this matter that if there was but one fan. that would be prevented from being imported, and if it were an advantageous, useful, and effective fan for the ventilation of mines, 1 say that it would be an act of cruelty to place any obstacle in the way of its importation.
– It was just the. same with tanks.
– I am not talking now about tanks, bur about something to which I am afraid my honorable friend is an entire stranger. Miners in Victoria, at all events, unless they have seen them at work in other States, are strangers to them. For many years we have been endeavouring in Australia, by means of humane legislation, to improve the conditions under which miners labour ; but, unfortunately, Victoria in this respect is still, so to speak, groping in the darkness of the middle ages, and it would be absolutely wrong for us to place any barrier in the way of the introduction of the most effective fans for the ventilation of mines. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has asked us to particularize, to name the best fan that is introduced. I presume that he has in mind the Waddell fan, which is made abroad, and was regarded for many years as the most useful of all. Recently, however, there have been invented fans of equal value, for which there is just as large a demand among the mining companies of Australia. Why should we say that the imposition of a protective duty is more important than is the preservation of human life? Senator de Largie has placed before the Committee abundant information as to the deplorable results of working in ill-ventilated mines. He has told us of the long death-roll, the ruined lives, and the desolate homes, due to defective ventilation in mines. The friendly societies of Bendigo for years have been playing the part of charitable institutions to’ the mine-owners in that part of this State. The mine-owners, by reason of their failure to provide a proper system of ventilation, have been sapping the miners of their vitality- robbing them of their health. The statistics of the work of friendly societies in Bendigo disclose a state of affairs the like of which is not to be found in any other part of the Commonwealth.
– That is due to the want, not of an effective fan, but of an effective law.
– That is so. Those who desire- to see improvements in that direction now see a ray of light. We have some reason to hope that Victoria, before long, will have in operation humane laws in respect of the mining industry. That being so, we should do nothing to impede the march of civilization - to hamper any steps that may be taken to preserve the lives of our miners. I hope that the Committee will support, the request moved by Senator de Largie.
-. - I intend to support the request moved by Senator de Largie, on the ground that we should place no obstacle in the way of the introduction of the most approved appliances for the ventilation of mines. I have worked in mines, have had a good deal to do with the mining industry, and, as one who has suffered from what is known amongst miners as the “dust complaint,” can speak feelingly on this subject. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has referred to the construction of fans in Australia. I may tell him that, there has been invented, at Charters Towers, a waterspray, for laying the dust in mines.
– That is not a ventilating fan.
– It is a combined ventilating fan and water-spray.
– It is not what is generally know as a fan.
– I am prepared to pay great respect to the honorable senator’s opinion on a question of law, but I certainly do not accept his views on such a question as this, of which, I think he knows nothing. I saw the model of the appliance to which I have referred, and know that it has been patented in the Commonwealth. Experts who inspected the working model predicted that it would be a success, but whether we can or cannot invent in Australia effective ventilating, fans, I contend that we should not shut out the best that the inventive genius of the world can give us. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has put forward a contention that is simply ridiculous. Surely we should not place a heavy impost on appliances designed to save human life? Many mining companies have quite enough difficulties to contend with without being called upon to pay a high duty on fans. If the Minister knew anything about the work of a miner, he would not ‘ take ‘ up the position that he does. I have had something to do with a mine 2,500 feet deep, and know that there is always great difficulty in securing perfect ventilation at a depth of even 1,000 feet. I listened with interest to the pamphlet read by Senator de Largie, and have no hesitation in saying that too much stress could not be laid on the point which the writer sought to make. The presence of a little water or sludge in a mine is nothing, provided that a supply of fresh air is available. But one of the most unhealthy jobs that a miner could have is that of working in ‘ a rise. Compressed air has to be carried to the face to work the drill, and there is generally a jet for ventilating purposes ; but until the miner “ breaks through,” and thus obtains ventilation, he finds the air very bad. On the ground “that it will be fbr the good of humanity, we ought to adopt the course proposed by Senator de Largie. Senator Henderson’s picture of the miners’ lot . in Bendigo is not one whit overdrawn. We know that ‘even in the best ventilated mines the health of a large percentage of miners is broken down by reason of the presence of foul air and dust. Consequently the man who can invent a fan which will avert this danger to health must be regarded as a public benefactor. For that reason I intend to support the proposal of Senator de Largie. I hope that within, the’ Commonwealth a fan will be invented!; which will be superior to that produced by the inventive genius of any other part of” the world. But until we can produce such a fan, from a humanitarian stand-point I do not think that we ought to block theintroduction of a superior . article from any other country.
– The honorable senatorwould rather block the Australian inventor.
– I hope that theAustralian inventor will be able 10 produce a fan superior to that produced in any other part of the world. But I do not wish to adopt a selfish attitude by affirming that if any other country can producea better fan than we can, we ought not to admit it without the payment of a heavy duty. I implore honorable senators to allow these articles to be admitted free. IF we can secure the installation in our mines of a fan which will save the lives of a few hundred miners each year, we shall haveconferred a great boon upon the Commonwealth.
– - I have the greatest pleasure insupporting the request of Senator de Largie, and I really fail to understand the extraordinary attitude which has been taker* up by the Vice-President- of the Executive Council. I can scarcely conceive of a more selfish and unmanly attitude. It almost makes one ill to reflect upon it. The only reason urged by the Vice-President of the Executive Council in defence of his proposal is that he has heard that some ventilating fans are made somewhere in the Commonwealth.
– I said that they were being made in Melbourne and Sydney, and I can give the names of the firms which produce them.
– When Senator Henderson asked in what part of the Common- wealth fans of a similar character to those used in the Bendigo mines are being manufactured, the” Vice-President of the Executive Council was unable to answer. Surely we ought to recognise that if our mine-owners could secure an equally good fan of local -manufacture they would not be prepared to expend’ hundreds of pounds additional upon the purchase of imported fans. The miners recognise, as well as do the masters, the practical results which flow from the installation of the best machinery in our mines. Neither Senator de Largie nor Senator Henderson has exaggerated the conditions under which our miners work. It is our bounden duty to see that those conditions are such as are most conducive to health. The evolution which is taking place in connexion with science and machinery means that conditions which exist to-day will be altered to-morrow. If machinery, the use of which is more conducive to health, should be patented in any other country, I say that instead of placing a handicap upon the introduction of that machinery we should do all that we can to enable it to be imported as expeditiously and economically as possible.
– We have listened this morning to several appeals to the sympathies of honorable senators - appeals which have altogether ignored the real facts of the case. We have only to analyze Senator Gray’s appeal to recognise the nonsense underlying it.
– If the honorable senator were working in a mine he would not regard it as nonsense.
– The honorable senator has declared that both the mineowners and the miners know best what ventilating fans ought to be installed in our mines. So far as the Bendigo mines are concerned, the men do not get a chance of knowing anything about the matter. Those mines are not ventilated in the way that they ought to be. Whose fault is that ? Is it the fault of the duty that we are now discussing ?
– That is the fault of the selfishness of the protectionist education that Victoria has undergone.
– Why does the honorable senator talk about the selfishness of the protectionist education, and the ramifications of everything else? For the last twenty years, to my knowledge, complaints have been made about the ventilation conditions in the Bendigo and other Victorian mines. Is that the fault of the duty which we are now discussing?
– Nobody blames the duty.
SenatorMcGREGOR.- Then why should honorable senators speak in that way? Senator de Largie, Senator Henderson, Senator Sayers, and Senator Gray have all appealed to the Committee to admit these articles free, as though the duty in the past has had the effect of preventing their use in the Bendigo mines. Senator
Gray knows, or ought to know, that there has been insufficient ventilation in the Bendigo mines for a long period in the past, when there was a duty of only 12½ per cent. ; and even before, when there was no duty at all on the fans, the mine-owners never attempted to perfect the ventilation of those mines.
– They did not know anything.
– It can be proved from Senator de Largie and Senator Henderson’s own lips that the mine-owners in Australia must have known, because they both stated that in New South Wales and other States such appliances have been used to ventilate mines under the compulsion of law.
– And without the impediment of a duty.
– There was no Tariff impediment at one time in Victoria, and there has been a duty of only 12½ per cent, for the last seven years. But under the compulsion of law, mineowners were using the fans in other places, while in Victoria they were not. That shows that the duty, whether it was 12½ per cent, or 100 per cent., had nothing to do with the conditions regarding which honorable senators have been appealing to the Committee for sympathy. If fans were free, or even if a premium was offered for their use, the Bendigo mines would not have been ventilated at all, and will not be until the law compels the mine-owners to do it.
– The same as in other manufactories in Victoria.
– The same as in everything else where there is no law to compel those who make their fortunes out of the life blood of other people to protect the lives of those others. Fans are being manufactured in Australia.
– At Martin’s, in Gawler, South Australia.
– I should like some proof of that.
– I will take the honorable senator to Martin’s next week, or the week after, and show him. I cannot bring a ventilating fan into the Chamber. The honorable senator is worse than Thomas. Unless the wings of the fan hit him in the face, he would not believe its existence. He has endeavoured to create a great deal of sympathy for the miner. I do not know whether he has been successful, but I know that the side from which the cheers came is not the side from which he usually receives encouragement. I know that fans are being manufactured in Australia, and that the genius of the Australian inventor is as great as that of the people of any other country. If they are protected sufficiently, they will invent as good fans as can be produced anywhere. That is as much in the interests of suffering humanity as anything that has been mentioned in this debate up to the present. Senator Gray and Senator Sayers, as well as other honorable senators on the other side, continually talk about certain patents, and argue that we cannot manufacture different things on account of those patents. Are they aware that if anything is patented in Australia, if the patentees do not, after the lapse of two years, manufacture it in Australia, any one can apply for a licence to manufacture it, and, if that licence is granted, can manufacture it on his own account? That is true under our patent laws, and also under the patent laws of most other parts of the world. In fact, some countries will not allow their own inventions to be manufactured anywhere else and imported. Our patent law is not so stringent, but the interests of our own people are amply protected.
– The honorable senator is giving only part of the tale.
– I am giving everything that is necessary for the honorable senator to know. I ought to know, because the Act would have been much more stringent but , for an amendment which I moved.I am sorry that I did move it, when I have such unbelievers as Senator Gray and Senator Sayers to deal with. There is nothing in the construction of a fan, or in the material used in it, or in its application, that we cannot effectively manage in Australia. Knowing that we have as good workmen and as good machinery as any other country has, and that the genius of our people is equal to all the emergencies of our country, and being all through an Australian, and not an advocate of anyother part of the world, I hope the request will not be carried.
– I wish to remind Senator McGregor that, before Federation, fans were admitted free in Western Australia, and were used there, whereas in Victoria they were dutiable, and, according to his own showing, were not used. That shows that the duty is a great deterrent.
– In Western Australia there was a law to compel their use; in Victoria there was not.
– It is urged that these articles should be admitted free only for use in mines for the health of the miners, but the health of other people might well be considered. I should vote for the request with far more pleasure if Senator de Largie would add to it the words “ and in the Houses of Parliament.” I think that the health of members of Parliament is quite as valuable as the health of miners. For years we have been struggling to secure good ventilation within these walls, and we have not yet achieved our object. The suggestion conveyed in these few remarks I commend to Senator Lynch.
– Senator McGregor has made a statement which I cannot allow to go unchallenged. The honorable senator has told us that these ventilating fans are made in Australia ; and he has gone so far as to particularize the establishment of Messrs. Martin, in South Australia, as the place. That these fans are made in Australia is news to me, because I find no reference whatever to them, either in the evidence or in the reports of the Tariff Commission.
– The question was never before the Commission; no one was so silly as to think that these fans could not be made here.
– That sort of extravagant statement will not assist Senator McGregor. It has been suggested that we are seeking the introduction of some particular kind of fan, but, as a matter of fact, I have purposely refrained from mentioning any names, and have endeavoured to speak generally of appliances suitable for mine ventilation. We have been told by Senator Trenwith that it is not the duty, but the absence of industrial laws, which has prevented the ventilation of Victorian mines. That cause, however, no longer operates, because towards the end of last session of the Victorian Parliament an Act was passed making it compulsory to supply a certain amount of air in mines. If we now, in the case of an article which has hitherto been free, impose a duty of 20 or 25 per cent., we shall decidedly be assisting in defeating the object of that Act. These fans are not imported for private profit, but wholly in the interests of the miners, whose health in this connexion has been too long neglected.
– If we are to be moved by sentiment or sympathy, we must vote with Senator de Largie, but, when dealing with a Tariff in which are involved very important principles, sentiment and sympathy must be put on one side. Does any honorable senator imagine for one moment that if these fans were made free, the lot of the miner - which has been pictured very graphically by Senator de Largie, on the authority of a local newspaper - will be one whit improved ? The mine-owner is no different from the ordinary employer who is to be met with every day in every part of the Commonwealth; the average employer, whether he be mine-owner or manufacturer, desires to reap as much profit as possible from the labour of those whom he employs.
– In fairness.
– Some employers, are fair, whilst others are manifestly unfair. If all employers were fair there would be no occasion for any restrictive legislation.
– And this is restrictive legislation indeed.
– It was not until there was rigid factory legislation that employers in Victoria were compelled to provide humane conditions for their employes; and there must be compulsory legislation before the ventilation in the Bendigo mines will be what it should be.
– Does the honorable senator contend that the consideration of cost does not enter into this matter?
– The consideration of cost plays but a very minor part indeed. If these fans were admitted absolutely free, there would be no guarantee that the mine-owner of Bendigo would properly ventilate his mine.
– If the question of cost has not been considered in the past, what reason is there for these fans not being employed ?
– The absence of compulsory legislation. Senator de Largie as a protectionist seems to be somewhat inconsistent.
– The protection of human life is the first consideration.
– Thatis merely an aside. No vote of mine shall be given which would in any way have the effect of shortening the life of a miner or any other employe. I am satisfied, however, that not a day would be added to the life of any miner if these fans were admitted free. The result, on the other hand, of the free admission of these fans would be to throw out of employment a number of men whose lives would be shortened thereby.
– Where are men now employed in Australia making these f ans ?
– Senator McGregor has stated that these fans are made in Australia. Since the discussion began, I rang up a big engineering firm, and their representative told me that, although they are not making these fans, they could: easily make them, and that they have not been made because, owing to the want of proper protection, Australian engineers cannot compete with those of other countries.
– For years prior to Federation the Victorian engineers had a protection of 25 per cent.
– I am astounded to hear honorable senators belonging to the party with which I am associated suggest that, although Australian workmen are able to make locomotives, to carry on bridge work, and to produce many kinds of machinery which have been of immense advantage to our industries, they cannot make fans for the ventilation of mines. Our workmen and inventors are, on the whole, as good as those of most other places. Evidence, given on oath before the Tariff Commission, shows that some of the best machinery in the Broken Hill Proprietary Company’s mine is covered by patents taken out by Australians.
– Australian-made fans are being used in the Broken Hill mines.
– What fans? Small ones, such as are used to ventilate this chamber?
– I am not sufficiently acquainted with the technicalities of mining to know what fans are used.
– The honorable senator must refer to fans worked by little boys at the ends of the drives.
– It does not become the honorable senator to try to be facetious on this subject. I was born in a mining town, and know something of the lives of miners.
– Does the honorable senator know the death rate among the miners of Broken Hill?
– Does the honorable senator suggest that, because Australian fans are in use at Broken Hill, the death rate there is higher than where imported fans are used? I intend to give effect to the principles for the advocacy of which I was returned. I maintain, without fear of contradiction, that these fans can be made in Australia, that they are being made here, and that if sufficient protection is given, many of the imported fans now in use will in time be superseded by fans made by Australian workmen, under conditions better ‘ than those obtaining abroad.
.- This matter may be viewed from two aspects, the fiscal and the humanitarian. In regard to the former, Senator de Largie has not a leg to stand on, because I am advised that these fans can be made by the Austral Otis Company, by the Mort’s Dock Company, and by a third company, whose name I have forgotten; while Senator McGregor says that they are also made by Martin, of Gawler. The making of fans for driving air is a simple engineering matter. The fans made in Victoria are equal to any made elsewhere. But some honorable senators are proving themselves efficient advocates of the interests of wealthy English mine-owners and manufacturers.
– The Bendigo mines are chiefly locally owned, and they must need these fans.
– The honorable senator said that the death rate from miners’ complaint in Victoria is twenty-nine in 1,000, a statement so alarming that I at once rang up the Statist’s office and asked for information on the subject. The Department prepared a statement for Dr. Summons, who last year made an elaborate report on the subject, at the instance of the Argus proprietary, according to which, in Victoria, the death rate from phthisis is only 10.78 in 10,000. It seems to me that this is a case in which we might very well agree to the duty, with the provision that it should not operate until both Houses of Parliament had declared themselves satisfied that suitable fans are being made here.
– Is it not a fact that many miners, directly they know themselves to be attacked with miners’ complaint, change their avocation, and, therefore, if they die of it, their deaths are not recorded as the deaths of miners?
– Some honorable senators have spoken as if the owners of the Bendigo mines were bloodsuckers, having no regard for those in their charge.
– I did not make that charge; but if the honorable senator likes to make it, he will not’ be far from the truth.
– Such a statement is a slander on the mine-owners and mine managers of Bendigo.
– The honorable senator is putting into my mouth words which I did not use. I did not insinuate that the mine-owners or mine managers of Bendigo were responsible for the present state of affairs, though I pointed out exactly what conditions exist.
– I accept the honorable senator’s explanation ; Hansard will show exactly what he did say. The statement to which I take exception was certainly made by other honorable senators. I have been connected with the Bendigo mines for more than thirty years, and know that in nine-tenths of them the ventilation is as good as in any in the world.
– It is deplorable. The honorable senator knows nothing about the matter.
– His statement is as ridiculous as any I have ever heard.
– There are dead ends where the air is close and bad, and the temperature high; but we have in Bendigo one of the most efficient mining inspectors in Australia, a most experienced man, who does his duty without fear or favour to mine-owners or miners.
– There are a number of dead men as well as dead ends in Bendigo.
– That is a sample of the abuse which we hear from some honorable ‘senators of all who have put money into investments to find employment for labour. The ventilation of the Bendigo mines is as good as that of the mines in any other mining district , in the world.
– The honorable senator does not know what he is talking about.
– That is a positive fact.
– I know the mining managers and directors in Bendigo, and have had to do with them, for the last 30 years ; but I have never heard of a mining manager’s request for improvements or safety appliances being refused. The mining men there are as good as any in the world, and thousands of pounds have been spent in driving levels and making connexions from other mines to allow cool air to pass through the workings. I am willing to take honorable senators down any of the Bendigo mines to prove my statements.
– I ask the honorable senator not to enter into a general discussion of the ventilation of mines.
– For some time past an attempt has been made to get the Victorian Minister of Mines to instal a blower. He has sent experts there, and they have reported to him that these blowers would not be effective in that district. Whether effective or not, I am sorry that he does not see his way clear to try them. I agree with Senator Best that if we yield on an item of this kind, we shall give away the whole policy of protection. We need not take off the duty. We can meet the whole position by putting in a proviso for the issue of a proclamation, so that those implements which are required can come in free for the next few years, and, in fact, for ever, unless some person steps into the breach and is prepared to make blowers as good and effective as any imported. The whole position can be met by that method, and without frittering away the policy of protection, as must be done if the request be carried.
– I intend to vote against the request, and as on that account I may be accused of indifference to the well-being of a large number of miners, I wish to state very shortly my reasons for taking up the position I do. We have set out a national policy for Australia, that is, a policy by means of which we intend to establish a large number of industries. The reasons for adopting that policy are so obvious that I need not go into them, and, so far as I have been able to discover, no argument has yet been adduced sufficiently strong to induce me to make an exception even in connexion with the mining industry. No one sympathizes more deeply than I do with the men who work in deep mines, indeed, in any mine, and who suffer in their health on that account. But I do not think the remedy for that sort of thing lies in free-trade in machinery. I think that it lies in compelling the owners of mines to ventilate them or to close them, just as a man is compelled to keep his factory, workshop, or shop clean and properly ventilated, or to suffer the penalty. It may be advanced - and has been advanced, I believe - that the mining companies are not financially strong enough to take that step. That may be the case in some, probably in a great many, instances. But I know that in numerous cases the additional expenditure which would be incurred by putting in locally-manufactured machinery would be so little as not to be felt by the companies concerned. We know that mining is probably the most speculative of all industries, that very much more capital is embarked in the industry than ever finds its way into the mines. That is the point where a tax on mining comes in. It is a continual gambling with the shares, watering of the capital, and so on. It is not the money that is expended in actual development of the mines themselves. I believe that if this Parliament does something to discourage that sort of gambling, it will have done at least one good thing. The reason why a large number of persons are willing to put their money into mining ventures is because the business is so speculative. If it were put on a more substantial footing, I believe that the returns from the industry would be very much larger, a much greater amount of capital would be available for investment therein, while the condition of both the shareholders and the miners would be very much improved. That is how I look at the matter from that particular point of view. Whether fans can be manufactured in Australia is a question which I think has been answered in the affirmative. Some time ago Senator Sayers told me that in the township of Charters Towers persons were manufacturing fans with which mines nearly 3,000 feet deep were ventilated. If that can be done on the Towers, where the appliances, I presume, are of the most primitive character, surely it can be done in other portions of Australia, and as I am assured not only that it can be done, but that it is being done, I intend to vote against the request.
– The ventilation of the deep mines on the Towers is also very bad.
– I know thatit is very bad.
– Does not the imposition of a duty lower the price?
– Not in this case.
– If the mineowners must have cheap fans, so far as the welfare of the miners is concerned, why not go a little farther and say that if labour were cheap, if shafts could be sunk at a less cost, if other things in connexion with the mines could be done more cheaply, how much better things would be for both the workers and the shareholders?
– This request, if carried, will cheapen labour in the mines.
– It will throw into the mines other people who are now employed differently.
– The honorable senator cannot name one place where a person is employed making fans, nor can any one else.
- Senator McGregor told usthat fans were being manufactured in a particular place at Gawler, and he offered to take the honorable senatorthere next week and show him the articles in the course of manufacture.
– We have to settle the question of the duty now.
– I know that we have; and while I have every sympathy with the miners who work in the deep mines, and while I would insist upon those mines being either ventilated properly or closed, I. cannot see my way to vote for the request, because if I did so I should simply be outraging the policy of protection, which I have made up my mind is the best for the Commonwealth.
– The debate onthis item has proved very instructive to me. On. earlier items we have always been assured that the effect of a duty is to lower the price of an article, and Senator de Largie, who has moved this request, has been persistent in voting for the imposition of duties. If the effect of imposing duties be to lower prices, how can he now object to the imposition of a duty on fans which he desires to cheapen in the interests of the working of mines?
– Simply because they are not made in Australia.
– That brings me to another point. There have been several articles in exactly the same position as these fans. That some manufacturer may claim that he is able to make them I am’ prepared to admit. I am also prepared to accept the statement of the honorable senator that as a matter of practical business they are not being made here. But that applies to thousands of other articles, and Senator de Largie has always been assuring us that they never will be made here unless we give the local manufacturers, some encouragement. I believe in making the acquisition of fans as reasonable and easy as possible to those who want them. But I also believe that with regard to hundreds of other articles which are included in the “n.e.i.” item - the next one to be dealt with. . We are asked to pick out one thing, as the honorable senator and his associates did yesterday, used by a particular section of the community, and to place that on a different level from commodities used by other persons.Ideclineto do that. I am prepared to go with Senator de Largie to secure a reduction of these duties generally. But I decline to help him to take one item out of the “n.e.i.” line, and so leave him in a position to vote against a reduction of the duty on an item containing the multiplicity of articles covered by those mysterious initials.
– Let me know what comes under the head of “ n.e.i.,’.’ and then I may be able to tell the honorable senator.
– The honorable senator must know, because he gave notice at one time to make the item free.
– To get at this one article, which I afterwards found is only one of many.
– I am not going to assist the honorable senator to make one article free unless he is prepared to extend similar consideration to the users of all other articles covered by the “ n.e.i.” item.
– I may, if the honorable senator can pick out an article with any resemblance to the one which is now under discussion.
– Who is to judge whether it is a similar article or not? The honorable senator! ‘It ‘is quite evident from his having selected this article that, in his judgment, it is the only one which ought to be made free. I cannot make a difference between a mechanical appliance used in one form of industry and a mechanical appliance used elsewhere. I am, therefore, going to vote against the request the effect of which will be to leave the article still under the “n.e.i.” item. And in connexion with that I ask the honorable senator if he is not prepared to proceed with the request to join with me in trying to get the duty on the whole of the articles reduced.
– I do not know what comes under that head.
– The honorable senator knows that it covers a multiplicity of things, which are all essential to the progress of the mining industry. This is another instance of that particularly narrow and selfish view of which we had an evidence yesterday - a desire to secure an advantage for a particular section. I am not going to treat the Tariff in that way.
– Will all the items under the heading be used for mining?
– There are scores of them in exactly the same position as fans - all very necessary to modern mining, and, if the honorable senator likes, to humanity, but in respect of which it is Said that they are not being made here, whilst wehave Senator McGregor’s assurance that there is a man prepared to make them. I am prepared to go with Senator de Largie in making mining requisites free or as low as possible.
– The honorable senator cannot make them free.
– I am going to try to make these articles free, as the honorable senator will see directly.
– All right; they were dutiable at 12½ per cent. under the old Tariff.
SenatorMILLEN. - The honorable senator can join with me in trying to secure a reduction of the duty. That is the only safe road I see before me.’ Not being able to determine exactly to what extent the multiplicity of things covered by the letters “ n.e.i.” can or cannot be made here all I can do is to endeavour to reduce the duty equally, and with some regard for fair treatment toevery one whose industry requires the assistance and the facilities afforded by these particular mechanical appliances. But I decline, altogether to single out special matters - for that is what it means - for favoured treatment. If there be anything in this protectionist policy at all let honorable senators distribute their legislative favours equally all round.
– Hitherto the users of this fan have been principally located in the honorable senator’s own State.
– That makes no difference to me, but I can quite understand the force of the interjection coming from the honorable senator. He shows by his words to-day what his action showed us yesterday - a desire to advantage some of the mines in his own State.
– Not in my own State, because it has not yet reached that stage.
– It is of greater interest to a State which is approaching that condition than it is to a State in which the fans are used.
– What about new mines ?
– The idea in the honorable senator’s mind when he made the interjection shows that he is viewing the matter entirely from a State point of view. That may sway him, but I decline to allow it to sway me. Just as on the oil duties I refused to consider my State, so on this item I shall act with equal impartiality. Whatever measure of relief is to be conveyed to a particular section of the mining industry should be neither more nor less than that conveyed by the items covered by the letters “n.e.i.” to other sections of the community.
– I am quite in accord with Senator de Largie as to the desirability of admitting these fans free of duty, but I cannot help saying that I think the honorable senator is making a great mistake in attempting to separate them from the general item 162B, “ Machines and Machinery n.e.i.” First of all, because the value of these fans imported must represent but an infinitesimal portion of the total value of the imports under the item; and, secondly, because, as Senator de Largie must admit, the use of these fans in mining depends very largely on the progress of the mining industry. It is quite conceivable that if, by reason of the duties we impose under this Tariff, we interfered with the progress of the mining industry, the necessity for these fans would disappear, since all over Australia at the present time the progress of the industry has become a question of the profits to be obtained from the working of low-grade ores..
– Or mining at great depths.
– The honorable senator should know quite as well as I do that mining at great depths in Australia depends very largely upon the freedom of the industry from any sort of handicap by means of a Tariff or otherwise, which would add to the cost of working. We shall not, in Australia, continue mining at great depths, or, generally speaking, continue the development of low-grade propositions, unless, on the one hand, we are able to free the mining industry from every possible handicap and unnecessary charge, or, on the other; we reduce the wages of the men employed in the industry. I have no need to ask Senator de Largie whichof these alternatives he would prefer. The honorable senator must be aware that in Western Australia this question is rapidly reaching a climax, and that either the total mining cost must be reduced by every fair means, or the men employed in the industry must accept lower wages. In viewof this fact, I am astonished at the honorable senator’s attitude.
– What application have the honorable senator’s remarks to the proposed duty on ventilating fans?
– The honorable senator has, by interjection, practically led the Committee to believe that if he can succeed in removing the duty on fans used for the ventilation of mines at a depth, he does not care - and I am sorry to hear it - what duty is imposed on any other machinery covered by the item “ Machines and Machinery n.e.i.”
– I have already said that I do not know what other machinery is included in paragraph b of this item, and I am prepared to deal with each article on its merits.
– If Senator de Largie will consult the information supplied to every member of theCommittee, he will find that paragraph b,” “ Machines and Machinery n.e.i.,” covers nearly all the machinery used in the mining industry.
– No, item 176, and some other items which we have already disposed of, cover the greater portion of. mining machinery.
– I point out that the importations in 1906, under paragraph b. of this item, represented a value of £643,000, on which duty at the rate of 121/2 per cent. was paid to the amount of £80,000, every penny of which, I venture to say, was a direct tax on the mining industry, and the removal of which would conduce to the maintenance of a fair rate of wages in the industry.
– The honorable senator is altogether wrong. The item to which he refers is a dragnet item, covering the’ balance of agricultural, motive power, mining, and other machinery not dealt with specifically in other items.
– Beer engines come under it.
– If they do, the amount of revenue collected on them would not cover the last digit of the figures I have quoted. The£80,000 of revenue collected last year under a duty of121/2 per cent. was almost entirely levied on machinery necessary for the proper development of our mines.
– That is quite incorrect-
– Why not let beerengines and fans stand on their own. merits ?
– I do not object to consider each article of machinery on its merits, but I do object to Senator de Largie’s attitude when he practically says, “ Let ventilating fans in free and I do not care how you tax the other articles included in the item.”
– That is not my attitude. I am prepared to deal withevery item on its merits.
– It is estimated that about 10 per cent. of the£80,000to which the honorable senator has referred was collected on the balance of miningmachinery covered by the item.
– The other 90 per cent. might have been collected on beerengines.
– If the honorable senator can regard that as a palliative for his conscience it is not of much use for me to address any arguments to him. I find this in the latest printed publication issued by Senator de Largie and dealing with requests proposed to be submitted in connexion with the Tariff - 162B. Machines and Machinery n.e.i. : Leave out “ 25 per cent.” and “ 20 per cent.” and insert “free” in lieu thereof.
I ask Senator de Largie whether he intends to adhere to the printed notice he has caused to be circulated amongst honorable senators of his desire that the whole of the articles included in 162B should be admitted free of duty, or, if he can remove ventilating fans from the item, to abandon his previous intention to secure the free admission of all other machines and machinery embraced by it.
– When I gave notice of that request I was not aware that the item was such a dragnet as it is.
– I suppose that the honorable senator is prepared to allow the imports under it to be dutiable at 25 per cent. merely because it is a dragnet.
– I am not prepared to impose a duty of 25 per cent. on agricultural machinery and allow beer engines to come in free.
– The honorable senator may take the beer engines as an excuse to some beer shop. It is an extremely poor excuse to put forward in this
Committee. I have said that the revenue derived in 1906 under paragraph b of this item at a duty of 12 J per cent, was £80,000. I ask Senator Best if he is prepared to substantiate his statement that only 10 per cent, of that revenue was derived from mining machinery.
– That is the rough estimate.
– I should -be glad if the honorable senator could give the Committee some particulars of the machinery on which the balance of the revenue was collected. The Tariff’ Commission discussed this matter exhaustively. I admit that the Government might easily deceive a member of the Tariff Commission or any member of the Committee by their classification of these items, and they might, as they have already done in connexion with these n.e.i. provisions, mislead honorable senators into voting for duties on some items on which they would never agree to impose duties if they knew what the items covered.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) £2.15]. - I must confess that I have no extensive practical acquaintance with mining machinery. But I have listened carefully to the debate, and have read a great deal upon the subject. I hope Senator de Largie will pardon me for saying that I hardly understand his position. Possibly, that is my misfortune rather than his fault. But I cannot forget what occurred yesterday. It strikes me that the Government are amusing themselves by playing off one senator against another, whilst their thoroughgoing protectionist supporters sit down smiling, and “ await the result. A school-boy could very soon fathom the game that is going on at present. Senator de Largie wishes to get out of the Tariff bag a particular article of mining machinery, and to allow it to be imported duty free. On a previous occasion, some of us on this side of the chamber helped him with regard to another article affecting’ Western Australia.
– This matter does not particularly affect Western Australia. It is rather in the interests of Victoria.
– It may be. I am not at all solicitous as to the particular State that it is intended to benefit.
– What about Charters Towers ?
– I have not the slightest doubt that what Senator de Largie proposes would help Queensland. But it seems to me that we are simply playing a game of fiscal poker on these machinery items generally. There is no expression that I can think of that more adequately represents the position. Many of us are being tempted to play that game, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council, representing the Government, wants to know where the cards are.
– Up his sleeve.
– His trouble is that he does not know how they are going to be played. I take this opportunity of indulging in a little satire to illustrate - and if I may say so, it shamefully illustrates - the position of the Government. I must express my regret that in a matter involving tens of thousands of pounds, and a great industry, and when we are confronted by conflicting interests, we have not in office a Government that is strong enough to say, “This is what we want, and what we intend to get.”
– The Government have said most distinctly what they are going to do, and the honorable senator does not like it. .
– I am glad to know that the Vice-President of the Executive Council feels happy in his position.
– The Government want to change the game from poker to cutthroat euchre.
– It may be so, but we want to know who is going to be affected when the cut-throat operation goes on.
– What connexion is there between all this and the subject of blowers?
– If there is any doubt, there is no greater exponent in the art of blowing than the honorable senator who has just interrupted. In the matter before the Committee, Senator de Largie wishes certain mining machinery to be admitted duty free. The Government are going to resist his proposal. I remind the Western Australian representatives that when they were asking for the free importation of other mining machinery, they did not assist us in making free machinery which is equally necessary for the development of agricultural and other industries in other States.
– If the honorable senator opposes my request be can never go back to Charters Towers.
– I am not opposing it. But I am skilful enough to know that some birdlime is being spread about, and that the Government wish to know exactly who are going to be caught. I again express my regret that the Western Australian senators did not help us when we wished to secure the benefit of free machinery to other industries than the mining industry. I should like to know distinctly from the Government whether they are going to allow Senator de Largie to go as far as he likes and not to allow any one else to go a step farther than the proposals in the Tariff. As I said at the commencement of my speech, I do not profess to have expert knowledge regarding mining, but I do know what is going on. I am sorry that the Government are not strong enough to enforce their own position. The game that is being played is as plain as a pikestaff. They should clearly define their position. I wish to know also from Senator de Largie whether if we help him to get in this machinery free he is going to help us to get in more machinery free. If he will, we shall possibly help him ; but I do not think that at present I am inclined to help him. I do not feel disposed to assist in repeating the game that was played yesterday.
– Senator Millen’s chief complaint against Senator de Largie was that he took the particular article under discussion out of the drag-net item in which’ it is placed in the Tariff, and sought to make it free. He intimated his willingness to oppose him in doing so. But Senator Millen spoke while the memory of his own action on a previous item was fresh in our minds. On item 160 Senator Millen singled out a special sawing apparatus and asked to make it free. The good sense of the Committee recognised the need for doing so, and accordingly his view was adopted. On similar grounds, Senator de Largie has moved that mining fans be made free. On the general question of ventilating machinery I am sure that honorable senators will recognise the need for making means of ventilation according to scientific methods as easy of adoption as possible. At Parliament House at the present time splendid means are being taken to improve the ventilation of the building. The Government, with unlimited funds at their disposal, have secured scientific advice and are coping with the problem of the ventilation of this and the other chamber. What must be the position of mine-owners who haveto overcome much greater difficulties than are encountered with respect to the ventilation of this building. There are greater difficulties in the way of the ventilation of some mines, and we should not add to them by shutting out improved machines manufactured in old-world centres. . In Germany, where at present mines are being sunk to a depth of between 3,000 and 4,000 feet, sanitation and ventilation are carried out on scientific lines. I question whether any other country pays greater attention to the protection of the health of miners. Having regard to our comparatively small population, there is no warrant for erecting here the plant necessary for the manufacture of these machines. That being so, it is unwise to bar their introduction from abroad.
– The honorable senator presupposes that if this duty were removed, the mine-owners would atonce instal a proper system of ventilation in their mines. Nothing but the law will compel them to do so.
– A mineowner will not hesitate to avail himself of an effective system of ventilation if he believes that it will reduce the cost of his operation.
– If the bad air killed the average mine-owner’s horses ininstead of his men, he would soon have his mine properly ventilated.
– The difficulty is to obtain a sufficiently economical system of ventilation. We have seen the evolution of the bicycle; in the first place, we had the old wooden velocipede without pneumatic tyres; but improvement followed improvement, until to-day we have a perfect machine. That is an illustration of what is possible in respect of the ventilation of mines. Humanitarian considerations should induce us to deal specially with these machines. Medicines, surgical appliances, and other things for the alleviation of pain and suffering have been placed on the free list, and I fail to see why we should not. go a step further by refusing to shut out machines whose use in mines would reduce the percentage of death and suffering amongst our working miners. I am surprised that Senator Millen, who succeeded in inducing the Committee to request that saws be specially dealt with, should oppose this request.
– And when I tried to obtain an all-round reduction the honorable senator voted against me.
– The honorable senator singled out an item for special treatment for the benefit of the saw-milling industry, but he refuses to support a request in the interests of suffering humanity. The value of an effective system of ventilation is shown by what has been done in the West Berry Consols No. 1 shaft. A small ventilating appliance installed in the mine has been the means of reducing, from 45s. to 1 8s. 9d., the cost of breaking ore in the face. Those who urge that mine-owners will properly ventilate their mines only when they are compelled by law to do so, miss the point-
– When they find that a perfect system of ventilation reduces the cost of operations to the extent just indicated by the honorable senator, they will soon instal the necessary machinery.
– But the imposition of this duty will narrow the area of selection. It is admitted in the report of the Tariff Commission that certain’ machines are not, and are not likely to be, manufactured here. These fans come within that category. No more forcible argument could be advanced in support of. this request than the contention that it is designed to preserve the lives and the health df the miners of Australia. I trust that the leader of the Opposition will reconsider his position, and vote for Senator de Largie’s proposal.
– - I should not have risen but for the contention that those who favour the imposition of a duty on these machines are lacking in humanitarian considerations.
– Those who fall back on that contention must have a fairly bad case.
– I think so. It has been repeatedly stated that the cost of these fans is the sole reason for the failure to introduce, them in our deep mines. I understand that in Victoria mines have been successfully ventilated to a depth of something like 1,600 yards - or nearly a mile - at a cost of £2,000. Of that expenditure the outlay on the fans amounted to about ^400. Assuming that a duty of 25 per cent, is imposed, the additional cost of installing such a system will be only ^100. Will any honorable senator assert that a mine-owner who is prepared from humanitarian or business considerations to expend ^2,000 upon the introduction of an effective system of ventilation in his mine would withhold its installation if the cost were increased by £100? We have absolute proof that an effective system of ventilation reduces the cost of working a rhine, since it enables the men below to do more work.
– Is there any evidence that an effective system of ventilation has been brought about?
– There is. Let me give my authority for the statement that the cost of one of these fans represents but a small proportion of the total outlay of the ventilation of a mine. The Age of 18th ult., in an article on Mines Ventilation, writes -
Mr. R. B. Squire, mining manager of the West Berry Consols Co., . . . may be allowed to tell his own story : - Until September, i8g4, it did not occur to any one in this district or the State to increase the carrying capacity of rile pipes to keep pace with the ever- increasing magnitude of the great alluvial mines. The Madame Berry West Co. had bv this time started to open the great deep gaseous lead known as the Australasian. There was great difficulty anc? loss of time through the presence of gas. The Madame Berry, Berry Consols, and other companies could stand this loss of time because of the great richness of their mines, but I recognise that in the case of the Madame Berry West, with the lower average value of its wash, it would be fatal. I made several small experiments by increasing the size of the branch ventilation pipes to the faces and rises from 6 to S inches, and’ always found an improvement. What a vast improvement would be made then by increasing the size of the main artery from the blowers. After Carefully weighing the matter, I decided that 16-in. pipes were the most suitable size for the main drive ; would give twice the capacity of one ii-inch and one-third less friction than two n-inch, thus actually equalling three n-inch. Then I fixed a second blower. The result was a complete abolition of all difficulties resulting from the bad air.
In .the interests of -the Australian engineering industry, I am going to support the imposition of a protective duty on this item, believing that it is idle to suggest that an additional cost of .£100 would prevent the introduction of these fans in mines. It has been said that- the question of cost is at the bottom of the failure to instal proper ventilation in the mines of Australia. The real reason, so far as Victoria is concerned, is that the Minister of Mines will not avail himself of the administrative powers that he possesses in this regard. In’ support of this contention, I quote the following paragraph from a special article which appeared in the Age of 18th ultimo.
– Is that a reliable source of information?
– I believe that in this matter it is. It writes - “ The Government- is only too anxious,” says the Minister of Mines, “ to adopt any system that would help to improve the ventilation in deep mines.” The professional officers of the Department have started afresh to experiment with “mechanical appliances” to make atmospheric tests, to conduct inquiries, and to write reports, just as if reports and accounts of tests exactly similar had not been going on for years, for the piling up of hundredweights of Departmental lumber. At the same time Mr. McLeod - the Victorian Minister of Mines - has stubbornly set his face against a fair trial of a ventilation system that has given perfect satisfaction wherever it has been installed. When the miners of Bendigo demanded its use by way of experiment, the Minister made so many excuses that some of them at least accepted his objections as fatal and resigned hope.
– And the honorable senator is going to give Mr. McLeod a handle to his argument.
– I regret that such an interjection should have been made by Senator de Largie, who knows full well that I would not place an obstacle in the way of any attempt to properly ventilate our mines. But it is idle to say that the ventilation of mines will be brought about by shutting down this branch of our engineering industry. When steps are taken to secure the proper ventilation of mines, the honorable senator will find me working side by side with him to compel mine-owners to adopt, irrespective of cost, an effective system.
-Colonel GOULD (New South Wales) [2.45]. - The whole debate appears to have centred round the desirability of permitting the introduction of these machines into our mines at the lowest possible cost and to the detriment of other industries. Perhaps it is not quite correct for me to say “to the detriment of other industries,” but certainly the proposal under consideration constitutes an attempt to place the mining industry in a more favoured position than that occupied by any other industry. The first difficulty in connexion with it which occurs to my mind is, “ How are we going to differentiate between fans intended for use in the ventilation ofmines and fans intended to be used for other purposes?” I take it that a fan which can be used for ventilating a mine can also be used for ventilating a. factory, and whilst it is eminently desirable that we should insure a good supply of fresh air to miners working underground, it is equally desirable that we should insure a good supply of fresh air to the employes of factories. Seeing that we can confer this advantage upon every person working in a factory as well as upon the underground employes in mines, it would be very unjust if we confined it to mines. Senator Lynch has urged that in endeavouring to’ obtain an advantage for the mining industry he is merely following the example of Senator Millen, who attempted to secure the free admission of saws used in the sawmilling industry. As a matter of fact, the cases are by no means parallel. The particular saw which Senator Millen desired to have admitted free is used only by one trade, but in the present instance the fans which are employed for ventilating mines are not confined to the mining industry, but may be used in other industries. If they could be used only in the mining industry the cases would be parallel, and no doubt a majority of the Committee would then be prepared to support Senator de Largie’s request. But my objection is that we are asked to confer this advantage upon oneindustry only. Of course, everybody recognises that the mining industry as a primary industry is worthy of every possible consideration. But that consideration ought not to be extended to it at the expense of other industries. We violate every principle of justice when we attempt to deprive one section of the community of benefits that we are willing to bestow upon other sections. How, I ask, arewe to differentiate between the uses to which these fans are to be put? We all know that they are employed for the purpose of providing for forced draughts on steamers and to insure a supply of fresh air to men working in the stoke-holds. We also know that these men labour under far more unfavorable conditions than do the miners of Australia. I understand that notice has been given of a proposal to admit machinery n.e.i., under paragraph b, free. I am assured that if ventilating fans are placed upon the free list the rest of the machinery covered by that paragraph maygo hang so far as the efforts of a number of honorable senators to relieve it of the present impost of 25 per cent: are concerned. If that be so the advocates of the proposal under consideration are affording those who may be anxious to assist them very substantial grounds for refusing to do so. I ask honorable senators whether it is not desirable, not only in the interests of the mine owners but also of the men, to admit machinery used in connexion with mines free? If we cannot do that, would it not be wise to bring about a reduction of the duty proposed to, say, 121/2 per cent. ? We must not regard this matter merely from the stand-point of the wealthy mining companies, who can show good balance-sheets and pay fat dividends. The majority of the mines of the Commonwealth are low-grade propositions in con- nexion with which thesaving of every penny is a matter of importance.
– If the miners ate nothing, and wore no clothes, plenty of low-grade propositions could be successfully worked.
– If Senator McGregor desires to see our miners paid good wages, he will do all that he can to reduce the cost of mining operations.
– If I could abolish mining in Collins-street, I might secure that result.
.- It would be a very good thing indeed if mining in Collins-street - which means speculation in the buying and selling of shares - could be abolished. But the present proposal does not touch that evil, even in the most remote way. Every countryin the world has innumerable low-grade propositions, which can be profitably worked only by the exercise of the most rigid economy. Many of these are being carried on for the benefit of the men employed uponthem, whom the proprietors keep going in the hope that brighter days will dawn, and that they will be able to make money for themselves. . But when we are dealing with matters of this kind, we must recollect that there are other industries in the country besides that of mining, whose interests must be considered.
– What are the other industries ?
.- Is there no agricultural or pastoral industry ? Unfortunately during the course of the debate upon the Tariff we have time and again seen articles which are in every-day use by those engaged in these industries heavily taxed. The agriculturist and the pastoralist require steam engines.
– But they do not want blowers.
– The mill-owner requires blowers when he is separating his wheat from his chaff. I urge the author of this proposal and his friends to take a broader view of the question, and not to limit the free admission of ventilating fans to any particular industry. Let us say that fans of a certain diameter shall either be admitted free, or at a lower rate of duty. Then’ if no industry other than that of mining requires to use these fans, no harm will result, whilst if they do need them we shall have conferred some good upon them. By agreeing to the re quest in its present form we shall be penalizing other industries.
– If I thought that the adoption of this proposal would have the effect of improving the health of miners underground, I might feel disposed, from a humanitarian stand-point,’ to support the admission of ventilating fans free. But if this machinery were admitted free, there would be no obligation on the part of employers to use it, and I do not think that mine-owners would use any particular appliancesimply to benefit their employes. In other words, if they could obtain cheaper machinery, the use of which would enable them to comply with the law, they would decline to purchase expensive ventilating fans. It has been said that if we admit these fans free we shall enable a large number of lowgrade propositions in the Commonwealth to be developed. I have heard it suggested that a proposal is to be submitted in favour of admitting hat-making machinery free upon the ground that by so doing we shall enable our Australian manufacturers to successfully compete with the foreigner. To my mind, it would be exceedingly dangerous to make any exception of that kind. I am thoroughly convinced that our Australian manufacturers can produce practically any article that may be required by our people. It has been pointed out that ventilating appliances are already being made in Australia. If they are not large enough, we have men here with sufficient enterprise to make larger ones. I read only a few week’s ago of some company - I am not sure whether it was a mining or a dock company - which required a very largeauger for boring for pile-driving, and could not get the size they wanted in any part of the world. An Australian manufacturer made the machine, and it answered satisfactorily. I am convinced that Australian manufacturers are equal to any emergency. I shall vote, with a certain amount of reluctance, against Senator de Largie’s request.
– Various members of the Opposition, especially their leader, have raised the objection to my request that it singles out one article amongst a number. Senator Lynch has pointed out that the leader of the Opposition did the same thing on a very recent occasion.
– The difference was that, having voted for freeing that article,
I voted to free others, but if you get this one free you will not .vote to free others.
– I am quite prepared to consider every article in this dragnet paragraph on its merits. It is because I do not know what articles do come under it that I wish to have them itemized, so that we may be able to examine the claims of each. If the members of the Opposition are anxious to extend the use of the ventilating fan, which I desire to free from duty, I am prepared to see it applied to workshops and any other industries where it may be useful. I hope the time is not far distant when the stoke-holds and enginerooms of deep-sea ships will be better ventilated. I am prepared to have this fan applied to them also. I merely wished to restrict it to mining, because I did n6t know of any other industry which had the same claims. But, whilst I am prepared to have these fans applied to work-shops, stokeholds of vessels, or used for any other similar purposes, there are at present being made in little electrical shops - not factories, because, unfortunately, we have none yet in Australia - little fans similar to those now in use in this chamber. If we free all fans from duty, a lot of that sort of work will come in which I and other protectionists do not want to see brought in. But mining ventilation fans are not made in Australia. I cannot understand the attitude of the Government towards my request. A system of ventilation is about to be installed in this chamber. It would be much easier to ventilate this room than a chamber 4,000 feet down in the bowels of the earth, like the Bendigo deep mines. Yet this protectionist Government are not patronizing the fan-makers who, according to Senator McGregor, are working in South Australia. Senator Findley also said that fans are made in Australia, although he was not able to mention any individual maker, while other honorable senators have referred in a shadowy way to fan-makers living in some part or’ other of the Commonwealth. But how is it that this protectionist Government are not patronizing those Australian manufacturers? I have looked at the machinery in the basement of the building, and find that the fan to be used is an imported Sirocco fan, made by Davidson and Company, of Belfast. Where are our protectionist friends now? Why is not Senator McGregor looking after the interests of the Australian fan-makers? How comes Senator Findley to be supporting a Government who import fans ? Here is a Sirocco fan - a small- one, I admit - being imported for the ventilation of the chamber. Fans on the same principle, but of double the diameter, are necessary . for coal or gold mines. Yet I am told by the same protectionist Government that they will not allow those fans to be brought in free. Surely honorable senators must see the hollowness of the whole claim. How will the great protectionists - Senator Trenwith, Senator. Findley, Senator McGregor, and all the ‘ rest of them - face a charge that they refused to allow the miners of Bendigo to get a fan in to ventilate their mines?
– I might. as well accuse you of playing in the interests of the fat men of Western Australia - the mineowners of Kalgoorlie. You. are here to represent the West, not Bendigo.
– As a matter of fact, the mines “most in need of these fans are the mines of Bendigo. Yet here is Senator Findley, ‘ the great protectionist, prepared to prevent their free admission, while he will allow smaller fans to be imported for his own use in this chamber. What a beautiful position !
– The miners never asked you to take this action for them.
– The honorable senator is supporting the Government, who refuse to allow those fans -in free for the poor miners working 4,000 feet below the surface.
– Did you get a single letter from any of the poor miners? You got your instructions from the mine-owners.
– I am sure that what I am doing is in the interests of the miners. The two honorable senators who are interjecting would not know the bottom of a mine from the top of a- balloon. Yet they are trying to teach me, who have spent a life-time amongst mines. They are landing themselves in a nice position.
– The Secretary of the Chamber of Mines in Kalgoorlie has pulled your leg.
– Neither theSecretary of the Kalgoorlie Chamber of Mines, nor the secretary of any similar institution in any part of the world, has written, wired, or spoken to me in any way to move in this direction. I am doing it solely of my own volition. I know, as an old miner, what is necessary for the welfare of the miners. That is’ more than Senator McGregor does. It is simply because of his ignorance of the question that he is taking up his present attitude, for I know his kindly regard for men in that position.
– He is not so silly.
– The only excuse I can hold out for him is that he does not know anybetter. This morning I referred to some figures which had been published in one of the daily papers. I thought I made it clear that I was not quite sure of their accuracy, as I did not’ have them with me. Since then I have turned up the Age - I thought at first that I saw them in the Argus - and I find that the figures I gave were very far wide of the mark. Still those given in the Age article are so appalling that any one who reads them, and also the other articles which have appeared in the Age in the last week or two upon the subject, can come to no other conclusion than that machinery of this kind is most urgently required: The writer singles out the Bendigo mines. I propose to read for the edification of those who oppose my request a short extract from an article which appeared on 3rd March last, in order that they may understand the position a little better than they do at present.
– We understand that position. You have to understand yours as a orotectionist.
– The honorable senator’s fiscal prejudice will not allow him to learn anything.
– What you should read is the first verse of the first psalm.
– If it were not for the honorable senator’s protectionist prejudices, I should not need to quoteso much or work so hard to put him on the right track.
– You cannot convince me that Australian workmen cannot make fans.
– The honorable senator’s prejudices are so strong that nothing short of an axe would knock an idea into his head. The Age article of Tuesday last states -
During the last twenty-six years the mortality of the Bendigo miners has increased with appalling rapidity. In1880, the death rate was forty eight per 10,000 -
When I referred to that before, I thought it was per 1,000.
– You are only correcting your mistakes, then. It may take you a little more research to correct them on Tuesday.
SenatorDE LARGIE.- The wise man is always prepared to correct himself when he is wrong. An ignorant and stronglyprejudiced one will not admit it even when he knows that he is wrong. There are none so ignorant as those who will not learn. The article continues -
In 1906 it was 129 per 10,000, showingthat it has almost trebled in the last quarter of a century. And science has left us in no uncertainty as to . the cause. The increase is directly and solely attributable to the poisonous atmospheric conditions obtaining at the working faces of the deep mines. The men toil half naked in a temperature that frequently exceeds 90 degrees. The dust from the drills enters their lungs and sets up a state of inflammation which renders these vital organs helpless to contend for long against the omnipresent tubercle bacillus. . . . The weaker miners are dying off like flies.
Yet we have in this chamber honorable senators prepared to allow them to die off like flies. In that connexion, honorable senators must take their own responsibility. If they are prepared in their prejudice to favour protection at the cost of the. lives and health of men in deep mines, I cannot follow them. The moment I find the protectionist policy interfering with the health of miners, or any other workers, . then to the winds with protection and duties so far as I am concerned. If Senator Millen desires to have other industries included in the requestIhavenoobjection.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 162 by adding the following new paragraph - “ (bb) Fans for Mines, free” (Senator de Largie’ s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of ‘ Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 162, paragraph B (imports under General Tariff), 121/2 per cent.
We have already had a lengthy discussion on the commodities covered by this paragraph, and I do no more than submit the request.
– It has already been made quite clear, especially by Senator Best, that this paragraph represents a big drag-net, and, secondly, that no honorable senator knows exactly what it includes. Under the circumstances, I suggest that the consideration of the paragraph should be postponed. Before we vote on a duty, whichis so comprehensive that it brings in a revenue of £80,000, we should know what is included, and I suggest that before next Tuesday the Vice-President of the Executive Council should obtain ‘information from the Customs to enable honorable senators to know, in regard to this and other similar items, the exact articles involved. The Vice-President of the Executive Council tells’ us every now and then that the paragraph does, or does not, include some particular item mentioned by an honorable senator ; but we should have further information in regard to an agglomeration of things, the duties on which, in : some cases, represent a desire for protection, and, in other cases, a desire merely for revenue.
– It means a blind vote every time.
– I largely agree with Senator Henderson, and, therefore, I ask that the consideration of the item should be postponed, in order that we may know on what we are voting. I venture to say that, from the point of view of revenue, this is one of the largest single lines in the Tariff, and that it embraces a considerable quantity of mining machinery, though we are told by Senator Best, on official authority, that only 10 per cent. of the latter is included. No doubt the honorable gentleman believes his information to be strictly reliable, but I am not sure on the point, and, therefore, I suggest a postponement.
– I do not regard the request made by Senator Clemons as at all reasonable, if there is to be any hope ofcompleting the consideration of the Tariff before Christmas. Such a line as this is in every Tariff that I have had an opportunity to consult, and is the only recognised means of dealing with a number of articles that have necessarily to be grouped.
– That is not the point. ‘
– We are by no means discussing a line of this kind for the first time. If I am asked what the paragraph includes, 1 am able to give some idea: but it would be absolutely impossible for any set of officers to set out all the articles; the list would extend from here to Tasmania. I desire honorable senators to understand the scheme of the Tariff. First of ail, in item 160, we deal with motivepower machinery and all appliances except electric appliances, electric appliances being classified separately. Then, in item 176, we go on to deal with mining machinery, the leading agricultural items being kept distinct. We have now arrived at item 162, and I can give honorable senators some idea as to what is included in paragraph b, showing that it is almost completely a protective item. In this paragraph, speaking only of classes, there are included refrigerating machinery and conveying machinery, both of which are made in Australia.
– Could any term be more elastic than “conveying”?
– I am not picking out any particular machinery, but merely giving the classes. ‘ The paragraph includes elevating machinery, lifting machinery - both of which are made here - and also hoisting hydraulic machinery, grindingmachinery. saw-milling. machinery, flour-milling machinery, and machinery for the treatment of bones, soap-making, wood-working, and so forth. Honorable senators are also aware that we have taken the precaution to circulate a proposed by-law, which contains a lengthy list of exempted articles. If honorable senators look at items 160A,162A, 163, and 164, they will see how we recognise the things that are made in Australia and the things that are not made here ; and having regard to the whole scheme of the Tariff, I submit that there could not be, and never was, fuller information afforded to a Legislature.
– Under a 12½ per cent. duty the revenue collected on imported machinery last year was£80,000. That seems to show that the duty is a revenue-producing, not a protective, one.
– It seems to show that the old rate was not sufficiently high to be protective.
– I am of opinion that if the rate be doubled the revenue will be doubled, unless, of course, the imposition weighs so heavily on the mining industry as to check the use of this machinery: That, undoubtedly, will happen in regard to low-grade propositions. But, assuming the progress of our mining and other primary industries to be as great next year as it has been during the last’ few years, the revenue collected under a 25 per cent. duty will be twice as great as that collected under a 12½ per cent. ‘duty. Although the Government wishes for this heavy impost on mining machinery, it has agreed to allow linotypes, monotypes, and other expensive machinery for the printing of newspapers to come in free. In one case, of course, a country industry is affected, and in the other a town industry, and we know that there is no limit to ‘the imagination of the Minister when an opportunity occurs for imposing heavy taxation on a country industry. In my opinion, this item should be made free, and I shall move in that direction if Senator Millen will be good enough to withdraw his request.
– I should like to know, Mr. Chairman, whether, item b having been disposed of, it will be competent to request the addition of a new paragraph modifying or qualifying it?
– I think not. When paragraph b is disposed of, I take it that the whole item will be finally dealt with. If an honorable senator wishes to move the addition of a new paragraph dealing with some article already in the item, he should do so before the item has been disposed of. When we have dealt with the duty under the general Tariff, and the preferential duty only remains to be considered, it will be too late to move the addition of a new paragraph, unless that new paragraph refers to some article now included in a subsequent item. If it deals with an article already in this item, it cannot be moved at that stage.
Request, by leave, withdrawn. .
Request (by Senator de Largie) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 162 by adding the following new paragraph : - “BB. Fans for use in Mines and Factories, ad val., 5 per cent.”
The Committee divided.
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 162, paragraphB (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 12½ per cent.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Millen) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 162, paragraph b (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 15 per cent.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 162, paragraph B (imports under General Tariff), 20 per cent.
– I want to say that the game of poker has been played on this item quite long enough. Honorable senators are piling up duties now on mining machinery. The game has been played openly and palpably, and the Government have see-sawed between honorable senators holding different views as to what these duties ought to be. I wish to accentuate the fact that a low-down game of political poker has been going on.
– Is the honorable senator in order in imputing motives to honorable senators, and in saying that they are playing a political game?
– The honorable senator hasno right to say that honorable senators are playing a political game; and I ask him not to repeat the statement.
– I think the honorable senator should be asked to withdraw his statement.
– If Senator Needham considers the remarks complained of personally offensive they must be withdrawn.
– I think I did say that the Government were playing a low-down game of political poker, and I now withdraw that statement; but I say that it is as plain as the figures on the clock that a game is being worked in connexion with this item. We have been trying to lower the duties on mining machinery, and though in previous divisions we have taken part in a Dutch auction, I think honorable senators’ should be agreed that the duty now proposed is a reasonable one.
– I find that I cannot vote for a higher duty than 20 per cent. on this item. I recognise that the country has spoken in the direction of higher protection generally, but the Committee has already agreed to a duty of 20 per cent. on the machinery employed in another primary industry the agricultural industry, and if that is a fair duty as applied to the agricultural industry it is also a fair duty as applied to the mining industry.
– But there is provision for preference in the one case, and not in the other.
– I am prepared to make the duty 20 per cent. on imports from the United Kingdom, as well as under the general Tariff, but I am not prepared to vote for a higher duty on mining machinery than that which the Committee agreed to impose on machinery required in the agricultural industry. I point out also that the natural protection on mining machinery, because of its bulk and the consequent increased cost of freight, is greater than that on agricultural machinery.
– We have imposed duties of 25 per. cent. in some instances on agricultural machinery.
– Not on imports from the United Kingdom.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I do not propose to submit a request with regard to a preference duty.
My inclination is in that direction, but I recognise, after the three divisions which we have had, that I should only be taking up the time of the Committee unnecessarily.
Item 163. Machinery and Tarts thereof, viz. : - Steam-engine Indicators and Recorders ;
Patent Porcelain and Steel Rollers for Flour Mills; Typewriters (including Covers) ; Zinc Refining Retorts ; Fire Engines; Stitching Machines; ‘ Sewing Machines (including Cabinets and Covers); Button-hole Punching and Sewing Machines; Darning Machines; Straw Envelope-making Machines, ad val., 10 per cent. ; and on and after 16th November, 1907, free.
Requests (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 163 by inserting after the word “Indicators” a semi-colon, and by leaving out the words “ and Recorders,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Revolution and Speed Counters n.e.i.”
Item 164 (Machinery not including motive power, &c.) agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– There is a matter of some importance which I should like to bring under the notice of the Minister of Home Affairs. Unfortunately, the people in the chief centres of Western Australia are at present suffering from a rather severe depression, with the consequence that a large number of men are out of work. Of course, the depression is only temporary. Were these men in Melbourne it would be possible for them to form a deputation to the Minister and put their requests before him. They have not that opportunity. I, therefore, ask the Minister if he will be good enough to cause inquiries to be made as to whether it is possible to push on with all the available work for which money has been voted by Parliament to be spent in the chief centres of Western Australia. I refer chiefly to painting arid building work, which will give employment during this temporary period of depression. That it can be no more than temporary honorable senators will recognise, because the vast possibilities of Western Australia guarantee that it cannot last long.
– I am not in a position to say, without inquiry, what works authorized by Parliament are in progress in Western Australia, or, indeed, what works await the sanction of Parliament - a sanction which will be sought when supplementary Works Estimates are submitted. I shall make inquiries in the direction indicated by the honorable senator. If it is possible to put in hand expeditiously any work which has been authorized by Parliament, and so to relieve the distress of which Senator Pearce speaks, I shall be glad to do so. I may also say that if the authorization of any needed works in Western Australia can be expedited,I shall take steps to secure that sanction as soon as possible.
– There are maintenance works, such as painting, which must be carried out, and might as well be done now as later on.
– Quite so. I shall make inquiries as to any work that may be necessary in that regard, and which might be put in hand now, instead of, perhaps, a few months later.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 March 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080306_senate_3_44/>.