3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Minister representing the Postmaster- General when telegraphic communication with Queensland is likely to be fully restored.
– The latest information I have was furnished to me yesterday evening by the Secretary to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, who in formed me that the Deputy PostmastersGeneral of Sydney and Brisbane had. been instructed to spare no effort or expense in restoring communication. He forwarded me copies of the messages received by the Victorian Deputy Postmaster-General relative to the position of affairs on the 14th, 16th, and 17th. Those of the last-named date will put honorable senators in possession of the latest news I have on the subject - 9.40 a.m. - Sydney advises -
Queensland practically cut off. Business only up to 6 p.m.,16th. 10.40 a.m. - Telegraph manager, Sydney, advises -
As there is no immediate prospect of restoration of land lines to Queensland, business for that State may be circulated vid New Zealand - rate,9d. per word.
30 p.m. - Sydney is now starting on a batch of old business received there by train, timed 12.15 p.m.,16th.
10 p.m. - Sydney has 350 Queensland messages received by train.* Queensland still cut off. Manager, Sydney, will advise us the moment the line is O.K. 1.40 p.m. - Sydney clear of the train of
Queensland business received by train.
*These were sent from Brisbane to Armidale by wire, and thence sent on by train across the break.
– Do I understand that the interruption is in New South Wales?
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– It is not the intention of the Government to appoint a Royal Commission. On Friday last, when the Supply Bill was before the Senate, I undertook to bring the complaints’ referred to underthe notice of the Cabinet, so that there might be a determination by Ministers as to the course to be followed in regard to them. Unfortunately, we could hold only a somewhat hurried Cabinet meeting this morning, and the matter did not receive full consideration. Ministers determined, however, that there should be no Royal Commission, but that the complaints, particularly as to organization, should receive the earliest attention and the fullest consideration.
– What steps is the Government likely to take?
– The exact course to be followed will be a matter for subsequent determination.
– Am I correct in interpreting the Minister’s answer to mean that, whilst a Royal Commission will not be appointed, an inquiry will be conducted by officials who are responsible for the complaints info which they will have to inquire ?
– My honorable friend has placed a construction on my words which they do not bear. The Government has determined that there shall be an inquiry as to the alleged disorganization.
Easter Encampment at Nairne: Conveyance of Horses : Condemned Waterproof Tents : Unsuitability of Site: Supply of Boots.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable senator’s questions are these -
This was a comment written upon a detailed report submitted by General Hutton’s Chief Staff Officer, and that officer stated as follows : - “The camping ground at Nairne was well selected, and there was good natural drainage …. The water supply was sufficient.”
Sincethat was promulgated, the Military Board has had under consideration the question of amending it, and it is one of the subjects which will be dealt with at the next meeting of the Board with consultative members present, on the 31st instant. In the meantime, the Commandant will be requested to see if some satisfactory arrangement cannot be made with the Commanding Officers of the. several units for the supply of boots where required.
I may add, in reference to my promise to obtain information for Senator Millen in regard to the unfitness of horses for service, thatI am informed that -
On the occasion of the camp at Nairne five years ago, the horses hired for the Field Artillery had apparently been used by the owners the day before’ they were required to proceed from Adelaide to Nairne, a distance of thirtyfour miles through hilly country. The result was that some of the horses were knocked up on arrival at camp. On the present occasion the horses will be conveyed by rail.
I think the idea in the minds of some honorable senators was that the knocking-up of the horses was due to the water or to the feed.
– They must have been poor horses to be knocked up by a journey of thirty miles.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : - 1 and 2. While information furnished by experts was considered, the Government deemed the fixing of minimum quantities to be a question of policy, and in fixing those quantities so as to extend the benefits of the bounty as widely as possible, they have determined that question in a manner which is regarded as carrying out the intention of Parliament and likely to prove the most effective means of establishing the industries.
– Are they sufficient?
– The Government think so.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
– I desire to ask. the Vice-President of the Executive Council if he is in a position to say whether the surtax levied by Cape Colony is imposed upon the ground that our sugar is bounty fed, or that it has been grown by white labour?
– Upon the ground that it is bounty fed.
– Do I understand the Vice-President of the Executive Council to say that any sugar which is grown by white labour is assumed to be bounty fed?
– The only question which the authorities of Cape Colony consider is whether the sugar is bounty fed. IF it is, the surtax applies to it.
Invitation to President RooseveltRepresentation of British Navy.
Whether, in view of the acceptance of the happily conceived invitation extended to the American Fleet by the Commonwealth Government, and in recognition of the interest evinced by President Roosevelt in Australian Affairs, the Government will invite the Head of the United States to visit Australia during the sojourn of the Fleet of the Great Republic in Australian waters ?
Whether, for the purpose of enhancing the national and historic import of the events the Commonwealth Government will invite the Imperial Authorities to provide for an adequate representation of the British Navy in Australian waters during the visit of the American warships ?
– I appreciate the spirit in which my honorable friend has asked the question, but it is most unusual for the President of the United States to leave that country, and I feel, therefore, that it would be useless for us to extend the invitation to him. As to the adequate representation of the British Navy in Australian waters during the visit of the American warships, I would remind him that the invitation was conveyed through the Imperial authorities, who will, no doubt, recognise the importance of the occasion and the need for being fittingly represented.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Have the Government given consideration to the question of the advisableness of amending the Patents Act 1903 in the direction of preventing harsh and burdensome restrictions being made conditional on the purchase or lease of the patented machinery, and is it their intention to introduce a Bill to deal with this matter this session ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Any legislative action of the character indicated would have to be taken otherwise than in connexion with the Patents Act.
It is feared there will not be an opportunity of considering the question this session.
– Has the attention of the Government been directed to the latest action of the Imperial Government in regard to patents? It is proposed that after a certain period it shall be compulsory for all articles patented in Great Britain to be made there.
– Whilst acting for the Attorney-General, I was interviewed by Senator Pearce on the subject, and then had occasion to go fully into it, and to give consideration to the more recent provisions of the English patent law. I asked that a rough draft of a Bill should be prepared, with the object of bringing our legislation up-to-date. No doubt, in due course, that Bill will be presented to Parliament ; but I see no possibility of its introduction this session.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Will the Minister inform the Senate what action it is proposed to take in connexion with the request of Mr. Myers, letter carrier, of Perth, to retain his seat on the Claremont (W.A.) Roads Board with the consent of the Governor-General in Council ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows -
In view of the further facts which have been presented the Public Service Commissioner has no objection to the permission asked for being given. The Postmaster-General concurs, and the matter is now awaiting the approval of the Governor-General in Council in terms of section 79 of the Public Service Act.
Motions (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That two months’ leave of absence be granted to Senator Walker, on account of urgent private business.
That one week’s leave of absence be granted to Senator Pulsford, on account of urgent private business.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 17th March, vide page 9088) :
Postponed Division VI. - Metals and Machinery.*
Item 185. Barbed Wire, ad val. (General Tariff), 30 per cent. ; and on and after 30th November, 1907, 15 per cent.; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent. ; and on and after 30th November, 1907, 10 per cent.
*Motive Power, Engine Combinations, and Power Connexions are dutiable under their respective headings, when not integral parts of exempted machines, machinery, or machine tools.
Item agreed to.
Item 186. Wire Netting ad val. (General Tariff), 30 per cent.; and on and after nth October, 1907, 10 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent.; and on and after11th October, 1907,5percent.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [11.20]. - In pursuance of notice given by me, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item186 (imports under General Tariff), free.
I admit that the duty originally proposed by the Government has been greatly reduced by another place, but on the other hand, I would point out that this item was previously free. Now, if there be one article under our Tariff which should be made as cheap as possible to the consumer it is wire netting, which is so requisite for the suppression of the rabbit pest - a pest which has developed such formidable dimensions as to render great areas of the best grazing land of. Australia no better than a howling desert, useless for the support of any of the live stock industries which play so important a part in the production and wealth of this continent. I believe that in one of the Victorian gaols an attempt is being made to manufacture wire netting. The fact that such an occupation has been found for prisoners is no reason why the whole community should be penalized by being required to pay extra for this very necessary article.
– Honorable senators will observe that the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended the imposition of a duty of 25 per cent, upon this item. The Government originally proposed that a duty of 30 per cent, should be levied upon it under the general Tariff, and of 25 per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom. The House of Representatives, however, reduced the Government proposal under the general Tariff to ic» per cent., and that under the Tariff for the United Kingdom to 5 per cent. The Government regard this industry as one of the most important in the Commonwealth, and feel that there is no reason why Australia should not make every mile of wire netting that is required by our people. Let us look at the matter from a practical stand-point. We know that wire netting of the value of £521,000 is annually imported into the Commonwealth. We also know that we have in our midst an industry in which a capital of something like £100,000 has been embarked.
– Not solely for the manufacture of wire netting.
– Not solely for wire netting, but for the production of wire netting mainly, to the extent of something like half-a-million sterling in value. The local product is acknowledged to be equal, and, indeed, superior in many respects, to the imported article. If we realize the facility with which this wire netting can be made here - if we realize that we have all the plant, and can command all the skilled labour necessary without any difficulty - why should we deliberately encourage importation with a view to crushing out the local industry ?
– That is not fair !
– There can be only one construction placed on the action that the honorable senator is taking. He knows as well as I do that there is an European, also, I believe, a British combine in connexion with this industry. Ever since the introduction of the Tariff, the importers have deliberately made Australia a dumping ground, and reduced their price from £40 to£30 per mile, with the sole object of crushing out the local industry. As a matter of fact, locally-produced wire of A quality,1¼-inch mesh, 17-inch gauge, and 42 inches wide - which I understand to be the rabbit netting most in demand - was from the 7th March, 1907, to 7th September of the same year, quoted at£43 10s. ; but, according to the list issued on the 6th February, 1908, the price had been reduced to£3610s.
– I have a printed list here which shows that the figures of the honorable gentleman are wrong.
– According to the printed list issued on 14th January, 1908, the price of local wire netting was then £39, but the list of the 6th February showed a reduction to£36 10s.
-That is£36 10s. for the second grade.
– No, for the A quality which I have mentioned. The point is that, while this Tariff is under consideration, all the manufacturers are struggling to hold their own against immense odds; and they are practically obliged to continue their output without any degree of profit to themselves.
-Prices have fallen because the price of wire has fallen.
– No, it is because of the dumping operations of the importers; and I could quote, if necessary, the prices of other qualities. For the B quality, 1¼-inch mesh, 17-inch gauge, and 42 inches wide, the price has come down from , £40 10s. to £3310s., and in similar proportions for other qualities.
– Quote the prices.
– I shall be glad to do so. The next is A quality,1¼-inch mesh, 1 7 -inch gauge, and 36 inches wide, and the price for that from the 7th March, 1907, to 7 th September of the same year was £37 15s., whereas, according to the list issued on the 14th January, 1908, the price had been reduced to £33 17s. 6d., and, according to the list of the 6th February, to £3110s. For B quality, of 1¼-inch mesh, 17 -inch gauge, and 36 inches wide, the price from the 7th March, 1907, to 7th September, of the same year, was£355s., whereas, according to the list issued on the 14th January, 1908, the price had been reduced to£317s6d., and, according to the list issued on the 6th February, it was£2815s.
– Has the Minister got any quotations for wire netting of 18-inch gauge ?
SenatorW. Russell. - How much does it cost to make a mile of wire netting in gaol ?
– At the present moment I am not concerned about the wire netting manufactured in gaol, but with the upholding of this industry, which is one of the best and most important in New South Wales. Why should we deliberately give an incentive to the importer to’ crush this industry ?
– The Minister has no right to say that the importers are going to crush the industry.
– The necessary effect of making the item free will be to crush the industry.
– A combine abroad and a monopoly at home !
– We are prepared to deal with monopolies, and we can much more easily deal with monopolies at home than with monopolies abroad. The moment the foreign combine succeeds in crushing the industry, the whole of the supply of wire netting will be in its hands. The combine, as has been the case in the past, certainly in regard to other industries, will be able to dictate its own terms ; and it is a most short-sighted policy, in view of our past experience, to enable such a power to be exercised. At the present time there is competition between the local industry and the foreign industry, but our own manufacturers are struggling.
– How long will the competition exist if we retain the present duty ?
– The competition will come to an end very soon if the proposal of Senator Neild is carried.
– How long hasthis industry been in existence?
– It was established about twenty-three years ago, under the Dibbs protectionist Tariff of 10 per cent.
– And it reached the zenith of its output under free-trade.
– Ten years ago that duty of 10 per cent. was removed by the Reid Government.
– And the industry has not “ gone bung “ yet.
– During those ten years, without some aid and protection, the industry has been a strangled and struggling one.
– Why, theoutput has been increasing !
– So far as I can gather, the honorable senator is wrong. My information is that during that period the industry has been struggling.
– The representative of the Wireworkers Union told the Tariff Commission that the industry was suffering from want of adequate protection.
– And undoubtedly the industry is suffering.
SenatorStory. - Is 10 per cent. adequate protection ?
– I do not think it is.
– Then the Government will support an increase?
– I intend, if I can, to have the duties increased to 15 and 10 per cent. We have, first of all, the recommendation of the, protectionist section of the Tariff Commission ; and it must appeal to our common sense that this industry ought to command the local market. We may safely rely on the competition, which will result from reasonable protection, to secure that the farming and pastoral industry shall not suffer. The New South Wales Tariff of 1886, and the amending Tariff of 1887, imposed a duty of 60s. per ton, or a little over 10 per cent. ; in 1892, the duty was reduced to 30s. per ton, or a little over 5 per cent. ; and in 1895, the commodity was made free. I urge: upon honorable senators that this is an industry to which we should give reasonable protection. It is already established, and employs something like 400 men and. lads, with an output valued at £500,000.
– And the industry was built up without any duty.
– The industry was built up at the outset with a duty of 10 per cent., and I learn from inquiries that during; the time there has been no duty it has been struggling, and that it will be utterly impossible to carry it on unless reasonable protection is afforded by the Federal Legislature. Under all the circumstances, we are called upon at this juncture to come to the rescue, and see that fair and reasonable protection is extended. We ought not to give an invitation to the importer to dump his goods here for the purpose of crushing the industry, and, when that has been accomplished, enable him to hold the pastoralists and farmers completely in his owns hands and dictate his own price.
– Will the Government support a request for higher duties ?
– The Government intend to support duties of 15 and 10 per cent.
– We have just listened to a speech which would have been convincing but for the simple facts of the case. I invite honorable senators’ attention while I review what the Minister said. The honorable gentleman pointed, first of all, to the fact that this industry, during the last few years, has secured half the market, with an output of approximately £500,000; and yet he calls it a struggling industry. He invites honorable senators to believe that this industry is being strangled, because of the dumping which has taken place; and, as evidence of dumping, he points to the reduction of prices. Iask honorable senators to bear in mind the facts, and judge for themselves. During the time there was no duty, prices were high; and now there is a duty, prices, according to the Minister’s figures, have been reduced.
– Is that not always so?
– I shall show directly whether that is so or not. At present I am dealing with the Minister’s statement about dumping; and I ask where there was any dumping when the commodity was free, and, to use his own words, every invitation was given to the importer. As a matter of fact, Lysaght’s price rose to ^45, and he could not supply orders.
– What was the price of the imported article at that time?
– Less than that of the local article.
– How much less?
– At this particular moment I could not say.
– The honorable senator does not want to say.
– That remark, of course, is entirely characteristic of the honorable member. I wish I were in a position to say exactly what the imported price was at that time. i do know Lysaght’s price, because, in common with others, I am every month furnished with ordinary trade lists, but, as I did not desire to buy wire netting at the time referred to, I made no inquiries as to the price of the imported article.
– And the importer did not send you a list?
– Of course he did not.
– How does the honorable senator reconcile his statements? He has said that at the time referred to Lysaght’s price was higher than that of the imported article. How was that ?
– It was for the reason that neither Lysaght nor the importers could supply orders. I have myself waited three months for a miserable three miles of wire netting from Lysaght ; and I was told by the firm of Gibbs, Bright, and Co. that Lysaght would not undertake to supply orders in less than three months.
– And the importers could not supply orders?
– They could not. Through the firm of Gibbs, Bright, and Co. i booked a line of imported wire netting, and had to wait three months for the arrival of a shipload’. . The Minister has made a pathetic attempt to rig up the bogy of dumping. For the last six years there has been no duty ; and we might have imagined that dumping ‘ would have assumed gigantic proportions, but the fact is that during that period prices rose to a figure they had never reached before in Australia, and I hope never will again. On the 14th May, 1906, Lysaght’s quotation for wire netting, of 1 1/2-inch mesh, 17-inch gauge, and 42 inches in width, was .£45, less the ordinary trade discount of 2 J per cent. That was at a time when the. industry is said to have been struggling. The only struggle connected with it was that made on behalf of the wretched employes who publicly disclosed a tale as to their treatment that should have made their employers heartily ashamed of themselves. We have had in Australia no industry, the’ operations of which have been inquired into, in respect of which a more disgraceful state of affairs has been disclosed. The wealthy firm of Gibbs, Bright, and Company, who were obtaining ^45 per ton for as much wire as they could turn out, were paying the men in the. factory wages that were scarcely sufficient to keep body and soul together.
– They are importers.
– Messrs. Gibbs, Bright, and Company do not import wire netting, because, in a financial sense, they are really Lysaght Brothers. The Minister used the expression “wiping out this industry.” Why has it not been wiped out within the last six years, with no Tariff restrictions, with every opportunity for any one to import or to obtain his wire netting through a shipping firm, and with several recognised shipping merchants, in Sydney at all events, anxious to import netting? Concurrent with that state of affairs prices rose to the abnormal figure I have quoted.
– It is probable that prices would have been higher but for the existence of the local factory.
– The establishment of the local factory led to a reduction of prices.
– The local factory, selling at £45 per mile, was the factor which caused importers to sell for less ! The suggestion is ridiculous.
– In the absence of competition, the importers could charge what they pleased.
– They are now doing so. The trouble of late has not been so much a matter of price as of being able to obtain wire netting. That is why Lysaght Brothers have been able to charge £45 per mile - a price considerably higher than that charged for the best imported netting. Had a duty been imposed, there would have been a corresponding increase in prices.
– According to the honorable senator, prices are regulated by the supply, so that the position would have been the same had there been a protective duty in operation.
– A duty would have added to the price of both the imported and the locally-made article. Although the price appears considerable, the labour involved in weaving a mile of ordinary wire netting is only 23s. 6d. The prices quoted by the Minister are, therefore, misleading. Are honorable senators proposing to impose a duty to enable a solitary manufacturer to make a profit, or to insure good conditions for the employes in the industry ?
– For both reasons.
– And to enable the farmer to get cheap wire netting.
– Does Senator W. Russell think that the duty will cheapen the wire netting?
-He is not in rabbit country.
– He is sufficiently familiar with the struggles of the farmer to be able to say whether or not this duty will assist them. I desire honorable senators to consider what they propose to do in order to enable employment of the value of 23s. 6d. per mile to be given in respect of every mile of wire netting used? It is rather difficult to ascertain the average price per mile, because of the various gauges and meshes used, but if I state that prices range from £28 to £37 per mile I presume that I shall be fairly within the mark. The average of those prices is about £32 per mile. I understand that the labour involved in the weaving of wire netting does not vary much in respectof 17-in. or 18-in. gauge. The labour consists really of feeding the machines - and this work is done largely by boys - after a superior workman has set the gauge.I am assuming for the purpose of my argument that a mile of wire netting, taking the whole output of the factory, costs about £32. Ten per cent. on that would be £3 4s. per mile, whilst5 per cent. would be £1 12s. per mile. In view of the suggestion made by the Minister as to an increased duty, I propose to assume that we are discussing a 10 per cent. duty.
– Is the honorable senator taking the invoice prices?
– Iam taking the average price of wire netting sold at from £28 to £37 per mile.
– But that is not the price on which duties would beassessed.
– Then, if honorable senators please, I shall take the average at
– There is an even greater disparity in prices than the honorable senator has allowed for. It isasserted that the wire netting made at Pentridge is worth £45 per mile.
– The honorable senator is showing that I have endeavoured to take as the average a rate so low that it cannot be questioned.
– The wire netting made at Pentridge is 17-in. gauge, and is twice as strong as is Lysaght’s.
– Lysaght’s are turning out 17-in. gauge netting. There is a great deal of confusion on the point. South Australia uses 18-in. gauge, whilst in New South Wales 17-in. gauge is regarded as the standard. I do not know in what direction Victoria is working, but since the Government of New South Wales started to import wire netting we have begun to fall more into line with South Australia. As the number of wire-netting fences is being multiplied and subdivisions are increasing, the necessity for the stouter wire is becoming less. I am forming a moderate estimate when I put down the average cost of 42-in.1¼-in. mesh netting at £32 per mile; but to satisfy honorable senators generally I shall assume for the purpose of my argument that the average price is £30. Ten per cent. on that amounts to£3, so that we are asked to levy a duty of £3 upon a mile of wire netting, the labour cost of which is 23s. 6d. Is that reasonable, even from the point of view of a protectionist, having regard to the fact that rabbit-proof fencing has become to-day absolutely necessary for the salvation of the man on the land?
– How does the honorable senator arrive at the wages cost?
– Men employed in the industry made the statement in connexion with an inquiry into the condition of the employe’s.
– Then we are to take it that 23s. 6d. per mile is the total labour cost ?
– Has Senator Trenwith ever seen the weaving machines at work? Senator Findley is familiar with the printing machine, but the process of weaving is even simpler. Once the frames are set, the machines have simply to be fed by boys.
– But in a printing office there is a lot of work to be done before the machine is reached.
– In the case of the weaving machine the frames are set by a skilled workman, and thereafter the duty of the feeder is simply to see that the wire runs freely into the machine. Senator Best has correctly stated that our imports are approximately of the value of £500,000 per annum, and that the annual output of the local factory is about the same.
– Although the hands in the factory are employed only half time ?
– I am prepared to dispute the accuracy of a statement that Lysaght’s factory, during the last few years, has been working only half time.
– We have the statement in a report of the Tariff Commission that there is only one factory, and that the men do not average more than half time all the year round.
– That statement is altogether different from the assertion that the factory has been working only half time. Accepting the statement made by Senator Guthrie as correct, what does it mean? We have had a factory equipped with the necessary machinery, able to sell its wire netting at £45 per mile - a much higher price than that obtained for the imported article - and yet conducted by men so wanting in enterprise that it has worked only half time. In face of the fact that Lysaght’s factory could sell all the wire that it could turn out during the last few years, Senator Guthrie would have us believe that, owing to importations, it has been working only half time. . During the. last few years Lysaght Brothers’ factory has never worked half time. Operations are suspended only at such times as Christmas, in. order that the machinery may be overhauled, and that is exactly what one would expect - that when tradeis brisk, as it has been the firm would get the greatest possible output. I want to pass on to show what this duty means on the total consumption in Australia. The Minister has said that in 1906 the imports were worth £500,000. He has also stated that from the factory of this strangled or struggling industry, £500,000 worth was turned out in the year. That shows that Australia is consuming £1,000,000 worth of this wire netting a year. Ten per cent. on that sum comes to £100,000 a year, and that is the amount of tax which we are asked to levy even as the schedule stands to-day. Lysaght’s firm, through their manager, have stated that their total wages payment in their highest week was £700. If they work fifty-two weeks in the year, never missing a day, and pay £700 a week in wages, that represents a total sum of £36,400. We are asked then to levy a tax of £100,000 in order to give wages which at the utmost come to only £36,000.
– No; Lysaght is only making half the quantity required, and the honorable senator is calculating on that basis.
– It is quite evident that Lysaght could have had the whole of the market if he had been prepared to grapple with it.
– In that case, it would be all right if Lysaght were going to keep up increasing the price of the article, but the result of giving protection is that it lowers the price.
– Is that why Mr. Meeks of that firm was over here, and was so anxious to get the duty ?
– Who is Mr. Meeks ?
– He is the manager for Gibbs, Bright and Company.
– Has the honorable senator seen him ?
– No, but I know that he was over here when this item was under consideration in the other House, and that frequently Sir William Lyne gave that House the benefit of information which he admitted that he had received from that source.
– We know nothing about him.
– That is probably the reason why Sir William Lyne tried to tell the honorable senator something, and I am telling him a little more. Now, £36,400 would be the total wages if Lysaght’s factory worked every day of every month in the year, and in each week paid the highest wages that they have ever yet paid.
– Yes, but there is another side. If we stopped importations the number of employés would increase threefold, and so would the wages.
– And so would the price of the article. I have never doubted for a moment that you can increase the employment in certain industries if you impose a duty. But my object in putting forward these figures is to show at what cost to the. users of the netting it is proposed to give this additional employment. I intend to give briefly a few figures, and to show what a tremendous increase Lysaght has placed on his netting as compared with the price at which imported netting can be purchased. In the first place, I shall give the figures in the tenders submitted to the New South Wales Government, when they recently invited a supply of 4,000 miles of the netting. Honorable senators may assume that Lysaght cut his price as low as he possibly could. It was a big order, and naturally following the ordinary rules of business, he would quote a lower price than he would ask for retail lots. His price then for supplying the New South Wales Government with 18- gauge netting, 42 inches by11/4 inches, was £31. The tender accepted by the Government was for £26, and they are retailing the netting to the Pastures Protection Boards at £26 5s. a mile. To say that the difference is £4 15s. per mile is perhaps hardly the correct way to put it. Honorable senators can see what the percentage is, and that is far and away the more instructive method of judging the difference. Quite recently the Government of New South Wales has accepted a tender for an additional supply of this netting. I do not quite know the price at which the tender was accepted, but I know the. price at which the netting is being supplied to the Pastures Protection Boards. Of course, there is a small additional expense to be added to the contract price before the Government is in a position to hand the netting to the Boards. The price at which the netting is supplied out of the second order to the Boards is £22 10s. a mile. I now turn to a trade list issued by Armstrong and Co., of O’Connell -street, Sydney, in which they quote a price for Lysaght’s netting of a similar kind. It is of no use to ask me why I do not give Lysaght’s price direct. He will not sell to me direct, and the only way in which I can get his netting is by going to those firms whom he will supply. This price list of Armstrong and Co. is in entire agreement in all particulars with the price list issued by Rich and Co., a firm in the same city. Therefore, I am entitled to say that they are the trade prices current for this article on a particular date.
– Will the honorable senator say whether Rich and Co., like Armstrong and Co., are representing Lysaght ?
– No; they are independent firms, and handle either Lysaght’s stuff or imported stuff. I can get either article from them when it is on . hand. If one orders Lysaght’s netting they will undertake to get it if they can; or if one wants to get imported netting they will quote the prices of the brands which they import. They are both ordinary merchants. The price at which the Government of New South Wales is retailing this wire netting to the Pastures Protection Boards is £22 10s. a mile, and the price quoted by Armstrong and Company and Rich and Company for the same kind of netting is £28 12s. 6d. a mile. In other words, there is a difference of £62s. 6d. a mile in the cost of the netting which to-day is ordinarily used throughout Australia to combat the rabbit pest.
– Is not the lower priced netting imported from Germany?
– No. One firm in Great Britain practically took the whole order from the State Government, but distributed it amongst other mills.
– A big order?
– I have shown that Lysaght’s tender on a previous occasion for supplying 4,000 miles of the netting was£31, as against the tender of £26 which the State Government accepted. I do not think that on the last occasion Lysaght tendered, but I know that the Government accepted a tender to supply the netting at£22 10s. a mile, being£3 10s. less than the amount in the previous tender. During the last twelve months, the price has been falling all along the line. Up to then it was on the up grade, but since then owing to the reduction in the price of wire, it has been going down steadily, as in the case of every other metal, and unfortunately a great many articles which are not metals. To-day the State Government is enabled, by having accepted the British tender, to supply the netting to the farmers at £22 10s. amile, and for the same class of netting Lysaght is asking to-day £28 12s. 6d.
-Colonel Cameron. - Is that netting 3 feet wide?
– No; it is 42 inches wide,11/4inch mesh, and 18 inches gauge. On an outlay of £22 there is a difference of £6, and Lysaght is getting it.
– Because it is better netting that he supplies.
– Not because it is better wire at all, but because, owing to the fact that his netting is not rolled so tightly as the imported netting, one does reap an advantage in the erection of a fence.
– For how much less per mile do they put up the netting?
– Nothing. I have used both imported netting and Lysaght’s netting, and I never had a man who would rebate a single shilling. So far as the labour is concerned, I do not know that it makes much difference. But it does make a difference in the appearance of the fence. Netting which has been rolled tightly in order to occupy the least space in a. ship has a tendency when hung on a fence to ripple in waves, but when netting is rolled loosely, as is Lysaght’s, that sagging is absent.
-Colonel Cameron. - That is got over by making the lengths 50 yards instead of 100 yards.
– I have not seen any rabbit netting made in lengths of 50 yards.
-Colonel Cameron. - They cut the length in half now.
– Generally speaking, I think that it is made in 100-yard lengths. I have shown that in the case of 42-in. netting there is a difference of £6 2s. 6d. per mile in cost between the imported article and Lysaght’s article. Let me now take another gauge of the same class of netting, which is being used very largely, and that is the 36-in. width. The Government of New South Wales is supplying that gauge to the Pastures Protection Boards at £19 15s. a mile; whereas Lysaght’s price given to the two firms I have named is .£24 17s. 6d. - being a difference of £5 2s. 6d. Roughly speaking, Lysaght’s price to-day for both these articles is 27 per cent, over and above the price at which the State Government is supplying the Boards. He would not be able to ask that price unless he was selling his netting. Therefore, although the State Government is able to place within the reach of farmers and settlers a much cheaper article, it is quite clear that the factory is not shut up in consequence, because it is going on working, and getting its price. Lysaght would not be able to ask the extra price unless he was getting it.
– Is it not rather strange that he is able to do business at less than the higher price
– No, my honorable friend must recognise that the wire netting supplied to the State Government largely finds its way into the hands of the smaller people. It is issued by the Government to the Pastures Protection Boards, who allot it to the ratepayers in their district, who are invariably the smaller farmers and settlers, and it is allotted too on easy payments. I am merely quoting the fact that “the State Government has been able to buy from Great Britain’ wire netting at the figures I have quoted, and that at. the same time the local price is from 27 to 28 per cent, higher.
– Are Lysaght’s terms easier than the Government’s terms, then?
– No, I doubt very much whether a large holder in New South Wales could get cheap netting from the Government. The system was initiated primarily to assist the smaller farmers, but I do not wish to go into that aspect of the case. I am merely quoting the figures to show that, the State Government is able to buy abroad, and make available here for distribution at ,£22 ios. and £19 15s. a mile respectively, the two widths of netting for which Lysaght to-day is asking 27 per cent. more. A little while ago the representatives of Lysaght put forward the very ingenious plea that if the duty originally proposed were left on they would undertake not to raise prices. A more impudent statement was never offered to the public. With the price at a phenomenally high level, and with the certain knowledge that the material of which they made the netting was bound to come clown, they came forward and magnanimously said, “ Give us the 25 per cent, duty, and we will undertake not to raise our price.” They knew that the price was bound to come down, Tariff or no Tariff, and so their offer not to raise it above the .£40 at which it then stood was not only a useless promise, but savoured very much of an impudent attempt to mislead the public. Prices have been coming down of late days. The Vice-President of the Executive Council sought to show that that was owing to dumping operations. But he must know, or ought to have been informed by those who undertake to advise him, that the fall in the price of the netting has been concurrent and in complete sympathy with the fall in the price of the material out of which it is made.
– Not a corresponding fall. h
– Entirely corresponding with the fall in the price of the wire out of which the netting is made. If it were not so, and if the fall was merely due to dumping, how was it that dumping did not take place when the netting was selling at ,£45 a mile, and that only now, when it has come down to £36 and ^39 a mile, the dumpers have got to. work? A few years ago wire netting was, perhaps rightly, regarded as being of special- interest to the larger land-holders - as merely the luxury of the squatter and not the necessity of the small man. But todayhonorable senators, if they know anything about the matter, must surely abandon that plea. If netting is essential to the grazier, it is doubly so to the man who is farming. No man in certain districts of New South Wales, such as those along the Western line, will venture to put a crop in to-day without reasonable protection against the rabbits. As wire netting has become absolutely essential to the farming community and the small settler, the cost per acre is very much greater to him than to the large man. If there is any sincerity in the demand for closer settlement, any honest desire to assist the man on the land, or to offer greater inducements to others to join him, the last thing we ought to do is to put any impost upon that which is essential to his success when he is there. Let me remind honorable senators to what an extent the ‘small settler is playing his part in the development of the lands of Australia. I have not been able owing to want of time to obtain the figures for all the States, but I have them for New South Wales and South Australia. In New South Wales, out of 72,000 holdings, 70,000 are held in areas of under 5,000 acres. Knowing something of the country, I call men with less than 5,000 acres in New South Wales small settlers. I do not mean that every man with a 5,000-acre block is a small settler, but it is necessary to place the line somewhere.
– Take it on valuation, not acreage.
– If the honorable senator does not like that calculation, I will take the holdings up to 1,000 acres. Even then, out of 72,000 holdings in New South Wales, 65,000 are held in areas of less than 1,000 acre’s. A very big percentage of those holders is faced with the necessity of using rabbit-proof netting, and a still larger number will be faced with it before long. In South Australia, practically the same story is repeated. According to statistics, that State has 20,000 holdings, of which 19,000 are held in areas of under 5,000 acres.
– And a great many under 5 acres.
– I do not know how many are under 5 acres, but the great bulk of the holdings’ in South Australia are apparently between 100 and 1,000 acres. From 1 to 100 acres there are 6,800 holdings, and from 100 to 1,000 acres, 10,600 holdings. Therefore, whilst a large percentage of the area of a country may be in a few hands, . still there is a very much bigger body of nien on small holdings. In the States which I have named there is a tremendously preponderating percentage of small holders, nearly all of whom not only want netting, but must have it. .
– And large numbers of big holders divide their paddocks into smaller ones.
– I am leaving that aspect of the case out, because an argument based even on the necessity for justice to the larger man is apparently not potent in this chamber. ‘ But I expect sympathetic support from honorable senators opposite when so large a number, of those who can only be regarded as small holders are faced with the problem” of rabbit de:struction, and face it, too, with the knowledge that unless they can successfully cope with it they must say good-bye to their holdings, and good-bye to their occupa-tion. Whatever advantage can be conferred upon the wire-netting industry is not far one moment to be considered side by side with the importance of the interests of those people upon the land. It is impossible to say how many men are employed upon the land, but while Australia could go on well without Lysaght’s factory, employing 400 people, mostly boys, it cannot go on for a moment if the man on the land has to give place to the rabbit. That is the alternative before the Com- mittee. The rabbit has ceased to be merely a pest. It is making a challenge for existence against the men who have gone on to the land, and who have done move to open up, develop, and establish Australia than was ever done by Lysaght’s or any other factory.
– Thank God the Labour Party did not bring the rabbit to Australia.
– The Labour Party did not bring it here, but they must be very careful not to do something to establish it here. The honorable senator is evidently disinclined to take any action to eradicate it. The fate of a dozen Lysaght factories hanging in the balance would not compare with the seriousness of the position with which every State in the Union is to-day confronted. Not long ago Western Australia would have laughed at the idea of a rabbit being there. The rabbit is seen and known there now. It is on speaking terms with Western Australians, andtheyare quite familiar with it. Before long the enormous unoccupied areas of that State will cause the pest to become an even bigger trouble there than it has been in the other States. I ask the Committee to put upon one side the mere question of the probable effect of its decision upon Lysaght’s factory, although I have shown that the industry has done very well during the last few years without a duty, and to consider what the effect will be upon the great struggle which is being waged by hundreds and thousands of farmers and settlers on the one hand, and by the rabbit on the other. On which side are honorable senators going to throw their weight?
– If I thought for a moment that to support a duty upon wire netting would have upon the prosperity of Australia the disastrous effects pictured by Senator Millen
– It is quite true.
– The honorable senator does not know what he is thinking about, if he is thinking at all. If I thought that a duty upon wire netting would materialize the dire picture which Senator Millen has drawn with respect to the prosperity of the settlers of Australia, I should vote at once to make wire netting free. Does Senator Fraser understand that?
– I understand it better than the honorable senator does, to my cost.
– Not because a wire-netting industry has been established in Australia, and not because there was a high duty upon wire netting in the past, did Senator Fraser suffer an enormous expense through having some interest in the lands of the Commonwealth.
– Thousands have suffered.
– Butnot because there was a high duty.
– Yes, absolutely.
– How can the honorable senator say so, when there was no duty at all previously?
– I thought the honorable senator meant a high price.
- Senator Fraser has suffered very acutely, in common with thousands of Australian settlers, because there was no duty, and because no wirenetting industry was established in Australia to the extent that the requirements of Australia demanded.
– Because the netting could not be manufacturedas quickly as it was required, and we had to wait six months before we could get an order completed in England.
– That is exactly the position. If the honorable senator would restrain his youthful impetuosity until I have finished, he would probably more thoroughly understand what I mean by supporting, not only the duty in the schedule, but an increase of it. I propose to take that course in the interests not only of the manufacturers of wire-netting in Australia, and of the workers employed in the industry, but also of the settlers on whose behalf Senator Millen has made so eloquent an appeal, and in whose company Senator Fraser has, according to his own declarations, suffered so much because we have not had a wire-netting industry or a duty upon wire-netting in the past.
– Some people are wilfully blind.
– That may be so; but if Senator Fraser considers the experience of the. past he will realize that if he was not blind he must have been going about with his eyes shut, and with his ears closed also. There are some people who. when anything touches them closely, at once put their hands in their pockets, and think that they have them on their hearts. There is nothing they feel so much as that which touches them financially.
– Unfortunately for me. I had to buy the wire netting I required when prices were high.
– I propose to explain to some extent why the prices were high, and Senator Millen must have known something more than he told the Committee while he was speaking.
– It would take me a long time to tell the Committee all I know on this subject.
– If honorable senators opposite will have a little patience I shall tell them what I know about it. I wish in what I have to say to invite the corroboration of Senator W. Russell, who probably knows as much about the matter as I do myself.
– And I am against the honorable senator.
– That may be so, but the honorable senator will admit that when no local industry for the manufacture of wire netting was established in the Commonwealth, settlers in South Australia had to suffer to a far greater extent than they have had to do since.
– That is correct.
– The honorable senator is aware that it. is not many years since the South Australian Parliament passed a Rabbit Proof Fencing Act, under which the State Government were made liable to a very great extent for the cost of the wire netting imported. Shortly after the passing of the Act, and when Vermin Boards, District Councils, and individuals began to take action, there was an immense demand for wire netting, and then the importers and not the manufacturers - because there was no duty on wire netting, and no industry for its manufacture in the State - ran prices up to such an inordinate extent that members of the Labour and Liberal Parties in the local Parliament had to go to the Government and induce them to indent wire netting themselves.
– You have only to send a wire to Ryland, and he will send you any quantity of it.
– I know what I am talking about, whether Senator Fraser does or not. The result of the interference of the State Government in South Australia was to reduce the price of wire netting to the settlers from £5 to £10 per ton.
– Quite right.
– What has been the experience of settlers in Victoria? In this State the price of wire netting went up until the Honorable Thomas Bent was com pelled to import machines for the manufacture of wire netting, and set them up at Pentridge in order to bring down the price to the settlers.
– To employ the prisoners.
– There was no duty on wire netting, and no local industry for its manufacture in Victoria, and what. Mr. Bent did was done to bring down the price charged by importers to the settlers. This applies with equal force to the experience of Queensland, and in New South Wales, even although they had a struggling industry established there, they were placed’ in exactly the same position. The price of wire netting went up, because the Government of New South Wales came to the rescue of the people in two ways. First of all, they passed an Act similar to that passed in South Australia, making the State Government responsible for the cost of wire netting, whether manufactured in New South Wales or imported. The Government, having secured the netting, handed it over to some local authority for distribution to the settlers. A very large number of the settlers desired to take advantage of the opportunities afforded to obtain it, with the result that, on account of the extraordinary demand, Lysaght Brothers were not able to supply all that was required, and! the importers, taking advantage of the position, ran the prices up as high as ever they could. Then the New South Wales Government were forced to do what the South Australian Government had to do, and became indentors of wire netting.
– Because Lysaght’s price was too high.
– It does not matter. I have not the least doubt that Lysaght put in a tender for the supply of a reliable, good article, which it would be in the interest of the people of New South Wales to purchase. But the importers tendered to supply inferior wire netting at a lower price and secured the contract. The proprietor of one of the largest estates in; the southern portion of New South Wales fenced in his property with some of the cheap imported netting, and he is now taking it down and replacing it with Lysaght’s netting at a higher price. He knows now that it would have been cheaper for hint to have paid a little more in the first instance for his netting than to have to fence his estate twice over. We, who know these things, are aware that under free-trade in wire netting the Australian settlers were in every instance bled by the importers and agents in other parts of the world.
– The honorable senator knows nothing about it.
– I am very ignorant, no doubt, and Senator Gray is a perfect Solon. The ramifications of his knowledge are most extensive. He knows more than perhaps any other man in the , world, and his potentialities are not yet exhausted. There are some men who think they know so much that they are ready to meet every statement made by other people with a prompt contradiction. Senator Millen made a very pathetic appeal to the Committee, because about two years ago, or a little more, he made application to Lysaght Brothers for 3 miles of wirenetting, and had to pay a certain price for it. The honorable senator ridiculed Senator Guthrie’s suggestion that Lysaght’s employes were working only about half time. I know for a fact that at the present time Lysaght’s are overstocked. It does not matter what the price of wirenetting may be, men at present employed in the industry can expect to have to work half-time, if not to have their services dispensed with altogether. Two or three years ago, when abnormally high prices were ruling for wire-netting, Lysaght Brothers could not supply orders which they could easily supply now, and Senator Millen must recollect that at that time there was a big strike in Westphalia, where the wire used in the manufacture of wire netting is produced. It is almost certain that the reason why the prices for wire netting were so high at that time was because Lysaght Brothers could not obtain supplies of the wire they required to enable them to manufacture netting, and cope with the competition of the importers.
– That is true, and the reasons that prices are coming down now is that the cost of the wire is lower.
– I am aware of that, and that Lysaght Brothers will bring down their prices, as any other makers would, when they can get cheap wire. Senator Millen must have known that at the time ho applied for the 3 miles of wire netting to which he referred, Lysaght ‘ Brothers could not obtain the wire they required, because of the strike in Westphalia. When an argument of this sort is introduced to influence the views of honorable senators it is only fair that the whole truth should be known, and that the Committee should be informed of the reason why prices were so high. I direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that if a fair duty is placed on wire netting it is very possible that we shall not be confined to Lysaght Brothers for supplies of locally-manufactured netting, but that the industry will be established in other parts of Australia. If the Honorable Thomas Bent could establish the wire-netting industry in a gaol in Victoria, Government, municipal, or private interest may be expected to be able to establish it in some of the other States. To encourage the manufacture of wire netting in the Commonwealth is the proper way in which to protect the interests of the users of the commodity, and to do good service to the settlers of Australia.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 3p.m.
– Before the adjournment I was endeavouring to show the position in which the settlers of Australia were placed in regard to the use of wire netting when there was no duty, and absolute free-trade conditions existed in regard to the supply of this commodity. I do. not think that any honorable senator can deny the statements that I have already made as to the history of this question. By way of illustration, I wish to show what was done in regard to another article upon which there was no duty. Senator W. Russell has special knowledge of the matter to which I shall refer. In South Australia about ten years ago there was no duty on artificial manures, nor were there any manufacturers within the State. The importers and foreign manufacturers were fleecing the farmers all over South Australia. The Government had to step in, and, through their making the statement that they would be compelled to do the same in connexion with artificial manures as they had previously done with regard to wire netting, the importers practically gave aguarantee to the Government that the price of their manures would not exceed a certain amount - £4 15s. a ton, I think it was. That fact shows that even where there is no duty, the producers are at the mercy of the foreign manufacturer and the importer. As in the case of artificial manures, so it is with wire netting; the only way to protect the users of the commodity is to encourage the establishment of manufactures here.
– With the fall in the price of artificial manures, there was a fall in quality” also, according to the Journal of Commerce.
– The honorable senator is quite wrong, because in South Australia there was an Act of Parliament in existence protecting the settlers against frauds in relation to artificial manures.
– I was not referring to frauds.
– We have been discussing, very recently, the establishment of an iron industry in Australia. What applies to steel rails also applies to the wire which is necessary for the manufacture of wire netting. I should like to ask Senator Neild, Senator Gray, and other honorable senators from New South Wales, who are such ardent advocates of the iron industry, especially in connexion with the supply of rails, bolts, fish-plates, and other articles of that description, why they do not apply the same arguments to the manufacture of wire netting?
– All we are asking is that the same shall be done in both cases - leave the duty as it was under the 1902 Tariff.
– Give us a duty on wire netting similar to that which has been imposed for the benefit of the iron industry of Australia. If we are going to establish an iron industry to supply Australia with iron, we must, to do the work on an economic basis, supply everything that is made from iron. We shall not produce steel rails, and steel rails only, and do it cheaply. We cannot make an economic success of the undertaking by manufacturing one or two commodities only. We shall have to manufacture everything, from the ore right up to the finished article, no matter what that article is so long as it is made of iron or steel. But if we are goingto do that, and to carry out the hopes of the manufacturers of wire netting in New South Wales, we shall have .to manufacture the wire that is used for the making of wire netting. Until we do manufacture that wire in Austrafia, the manufacture of wire netting will not be the success that it ought to be. On that assumption, it must be supposed that in the near future we shall manufacture wire. What are we going to do with it when we have manufactured it? Are we going to send it to America, England, or Germany, to be manufactured into wire netting, and sent back to Australia to enter into com petition with the wire-netting industry of this country? I should like honorable senators to answer that position. But I know that they cannot answer it logically, and- they will not attempt to answer it .at all.
– Send it to Pentridge !
– The honorable senator might be benefited if he went to Pentridge himself and saw what they are doing there. I should not like him to go there as a prisoner, but I should like him to go to see that this work can be done in Australia. And, if it can be done by the criminal classes, surely he must allow that it can be done by the freemen of Australia just as successfully as in any other part of the world. Something has been said by Senator Millen about the duty itself. I’ say that the duty is not high enough. It ought to be at least 15 per cent., and 10 per cent, against the United Kingdom. Senator Millen has declared that an amountequal to £700 a week, or £36,400 per annum, is paid in wages by the Lysaght Company, in Sydney.
– I did not say so; i said that they claimed to have paid £700 in one week.
– That would amount, as the honorable senator said, to £36,400 in a year, assuming that they paid the same amount every week, and worked full time. The honorable senator wanted to make out that because the wages in the weaving of -wire netting only amounted to £36,400 a year, that is an argument why we should not carry on the industry in Australia. But I wish to point out that where the raw material for the manufacture of any article comprises the greater amount of the value pf that article, there is no comparison between the wages paid in connexion with the finished article and the amount of duty that ought to be charged on. it.
– The wages paid are only part of the consideration.
– The wages 1paM by the Lysaght Company are only part of the wages paid in connexion with the manufacture of wire netting, if you begin with the ore, and go through all the processes up to the turning out of the wire netting itself. The greater ‘portion of the wages would be paid, not in the weaving of the wire netting, ‘but in the” mining of the ore the smelting of the iron, and the manufac:.ture of the wire necessary for- the pro-r- duction of the wire netting. If we hope to have those processes carried out in Australia in the near future, we must reckon the effect of this percentage of duty on the raising of the ore, and all -the processes up to the production of the finished article. I hope that honorable senators will not forget such a consideration’ as that. When we realize that the wire has to be imported at the present time, and that the galvanized wire for manufacture into wire netting forms more than three-fourths of the value of the wire netting itself, it is evident that the amount of ,£36,400 should be calculated, not on the basis of ,£500,000, but on one-fourth of ,£500,000, which would be a very different consideration from that which Senator Millen has put. I hope that the facts that have been laid before the Committee will be weighed carefully by honorable senators, and that no selfish consideration will actuate them in giving a vote on a question of such importance, not only to the settlers all over Australia, who have to guard themselves against the ravages of pests, such as wild dogs, rabbits, and other- vermin, but that thev will also consider that there are other interests to conserve, such as the mining of ore, the manufacture of iron, and the weaving of the wire netting itself. I hope that honorable senators will give consideration to all these things, and will come to the conclusion that in the best interests of the settlers themselves, the miners, and the manufacturers, it would’ be well to put a. reasonable duty on the’ article, so that in the future the settlers themselves may reap the benefit of lower prices than they had to pay when entirely dependent on importers and foreign manufacturers.
Senator Lt.-Colonel GOULD (New South Wales) [3.14]. - I am- not inclined to allow an important matter of this kind to pass without saying a few words with regard to the position which I take up and the vote that I am about to give. A great deal of the speech just delivered by Senator McGregor would have been’ very applicable were we discussing the duty upon manufactured wire. His arguments would be .very much to the point if we were considering whether there should be a duty of 10 per cent. or . 25 per cent, on imported wire, but I do not think that his arguments, have very much to do with the duty that it is now proposed to place upon wire netting.’ I want honorable senators to realize that at the present time we are not considering the propriety of imposing a duty upon wire at all. We are discussing the wisdomof placing a duty upon wire netting which may be manufactured in the Commonwealth from wire imported from, other parts of the world. Therefore, the argument of Senator Millen with regard to the amount of labour employed in the production of wire netting becomes a Very important consideration in connexion with this question. We are not called upon to approach it entirely from a free-trade or a protectionist stand-point. We have to regard it from the position of what is best for the Commonwealth at large. It is practically admitted that the rabbits are a curse to the pastoral and agricultural industries. From day to day we read in the press of various proposals which have been submitted with a view to devising some means of coping with this serious menace to the great industries of the Commonwealth. We find that large sums of money have been expended in experimenting with a new system, whereby a disease might be introduced which would destroy the rabbits and do little or no injury to other animals or to human beings. Not only the Government of the Commonwealth, but also the Governments of the States have recognised the importance of the rabbit pest. They have recognised that they are face to face with an evil which may result in the loss of millions annually to the community, if it is not coped with in a reasonable and proper manner. We must do all we can to reduce the cost of wire netting to the lowest possible extent, and we can only achieve that object by removing the duty thereon. From time to time many schemes have been suggested, but we always come back to a recognition- of the fact that the rabbit pest can only be coped with by means of wire netting - by separating portions of a property from other portions of the estates and getting rid of the rabbit within the wire-netted areas. If we try to .cope with, the rabbits, without shutting them out from particular areas of land, we shall find that we have undertaken a work . beyond the capacity of our people. Queensland fenced herself off from New South Wales in order to prevent as far as possible the pest from crossing the border and becoming a worse evil there than, in the other State. From time to time this question has been discussed in New South Wales, and we have always been compelled to realize that the one remedy is the exclusion of rabbits from particular areas by means of wire netting. I want honorable senators to recognise that, so_far, we have not discovered any means of coping successfully with the rabbit pest, but we have found a means by which we can minimize the injury which” otherwise would be sustained. Let me call their attention to the value of one of the industries which are affected by the spread of the pest. In 1906 we exported wool to the value of £22, 000, 000. If there were no other industry to be considered, the value of the pastoral industry alone would justify us in giving every possible consideration to it, even if it were at the expense of extinguishing industries started in order to produce wire netting. When I mention that a pastoralist has to erect wire netting not for a distance of a few hundred yards, but for a distance of many miles, honorable senators will probably realize the immense burden which will be placed’ upon him if they, for the sake of protecting 200 or 300 or 400 men, levy a heavy duty on wire netting.
– How is it that the pastoralists did not get cheap wire netting -when it was free?
– We got it at a cheaper price then than we did after the duty was imposed.
– It has been cheaper since the duty was imposed than it was before.
-Colonel GOULD.- Senator Trenwith has not had the experience of this matter which Senator Millen has had, and an ounce of experience is worth many tons of theory.
– I have had as much experience of rabbit infested country as have most honorable senators.
-The honorable senator is only talking theoretical! v when he says that the imposition of a duty reduces the price of an article.
– I have had to buy wire netting, and pay for its erection.
.- Has the honorable senator as wide an experience as Senator Millen has had?
– No, I do not claim that.
– Then the honorable senator is not so reliable a guide to us as is Senator Millen. From my stand-point, theory leads me to believe that the price of an article is- increased by the imposition of a duty. Why was this item fought so energetically in the other House? Was the duty cut down there in order to increase the manufacture of wire netting in the Commonwealth? In that House there is a number of men who have had a very large, and, in some cases, an unfortunate, experience of the rabbit pest. They were anxious to cut down the duty to the lowest possible extent, and when they could not get the article made absolutely free, they were compelled to accept a reduced duty. Apart from our annual export” of £22,000,000 worth of wool, the output of the agricultural industry would, .1 believe, be valued at from £12,000,000 to £14,000,000. Although the whole of the farmers may not have been menaced by the rabbit, yet a great many of our large wheat producers have suffered from its depredations. We ought to consider what will benefit the greatest number of persons in the Commonwealth, and not what will benefit a few score of persons, or even 300 or. 400. I do not remember at the present moment how many persons are engaged in the pastoral and agricultural industries, but will any one tell me that the number of persons who would be engaged in the manufacture of wire netting would represent a tithe of those engaged in those two great industries ? In a matter of this kind, the interests of the smaller number of people must give way to the interests of the bulk of the community. I remind honorable senators that it is not the manufacturing industries which are going to make Australia great during the next ten years. If they destroy the great pas,toral and agricultural industries, they will destroy the vital foundations on which the welfare of this community is going to rest for many years to come. I do not belittle the great value of manufacturing industries to a country. I should be a foolish man if I did, but “I have a sense of proportion and am enabled to see that with a vast territory occupied by only 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 persons, we shall have to rely on our great primary industries for many years. Any man who does a single act that will destroy or hinder or render less remunerative those industries is striking a blow at the well-being of the community, and interfering wife its foundations. The other day a great deal was said here about the mining industry. We were asked to recognise that it is a great industry, and to make special concessions in that regard. What is the value of goldmining to the country? In 1906 the outputof gold was valued at between £14,000,000 and£15, 000,000. Whereas in that year the output of the pastoral industry was valued at£22,000,000, the output of the pastoral. and agricultural industries combined was worth, I suppose, from£35,000,000 to£40,000,000. I am prepared to assist every primary industry to the fullest possible extent if it can be done without doing any injustice to our two great primary industries. It has been suggested by one honorable senator that the great pastoral magnates can very well afford to bear a little extra taxation in order to assist the smaller, men, who might be employed in the manufacture of wire netting. While I have no sympathy with an argument of that character, I remind that honorable senator that the great bulk of those who are affected by this duty are not so much the great pastoral magnates, as the men with the smaller areas, to whom the exclusion of the rabbit is a more vital matter than it is even to the great pastoralists. There is a class of persons who are taking up land alongside areas held by what some persons are pleased to call the great pastoral magnates. Under the laws of the State the small men are compelled to pay one-half the cost of the rabbit-proof fence which may be erected, and, therefore, the imposition of a duty is a vital matter to them. Where they take up land, apart from anybody else, they have to defray the whole cost of the rabbit-proof fence. We ought to be careful as to how we interfere with their industry just as we ought to be careful as to how we interfere with the industry of the pastoral magnate. I earnestly implore honorable senators to keep in view these points, and not for the sake of giving employment to a few hundred men penalize the primary industries on which the whole prosperity of the Commonwealth is dependent. Some honorable senatorsargue that if the pastoralists have to pay a little more for their wire netting it will not hurt them very seriously. It may not hurt them in good seasons, but it should be remembered that occasionally they are confronted with very bad times when the saving of every shilling is a matter of vital importance in order that the industry may be carried on. It is not an industry which is confined to simply a few individuals, but it is one on which the whole prosperity of Australia is dependent at the present time. Wipe out the pastoral and agricultural industries, and where would Australia be? She would be down amongst the minor places of the earth - a poor country with poor prospects. Our manufacturing industries would have no prospect of success at all if it were not for those great primary industries. We should be simply struggling on as a primitivepeople, little removed from barbarism, instead of being a people who claim to take an advanced position in the’ ranks of civilization. Honorable senators, if they are true to themselves, and to the people whom they are called upon to represent, and in whose interests it is their duty to legislate, will support the proposal to make wire netting free. What I said in the first instance in reply to Senator McGregor cannot be impressed too earnestly upon the Committee - that the wire-nettiing industry is at present only an industry which is manufacturing its product from wire imported free. Its raw material is given to it free. Why, then, when it costs 30s. or so to turn the wire into the finished article, should we give a duty of £3 or£1, or even 15s. a ton? Why give the industry a duty in order that the burden may be placed upon the shoulders of the people who use wire netting? This Parliament has not been unmindful of those engaged in the wire-netting industry because there is now before the Senate a Manufactures Encouragement Bill, in which provision . is made for them to receive assistance, not from a select few in the community, but from the whole of the people. That measure includes the following bounties : Galvanized iron, 10 per cent, on value; wire netting and wire, 10 per cent, on value; and iron and steel . tubes or pipes (except riveted or cast), not more than 4 inches internal diameter, 10 per cent, on value. It is proposed to give a sum of . £50,000 in bounties for the establishment of industries of that character. Is it not far better, if it is thought desirable to establish those industries at the expense of the community, to provide that all the people shall contribute to them directly by means of a bounty, than to tax one section of the community only?
– Give them the duty and they do not want the bounty.
– The honorable senator will find that, so sure as. they are given a duty, that Bill will be brought forward, and honorable senators will be strongly urged to give them the bounty also. I am prepared to vote for the bounty, and, although I have no authority to speak on their behalf, I believe that my colleagues on this side from New South Wales will be prepared to do the same. But I shall oppose most strenuously the imposition of the duty proposed. I am prepared, by means of the bounty proposed by the Government, to encourage the manufacture of wire netting as a branch of the great iron industry which we hope to see established in Australia. I_ again urge honorable senators to think twice before they adopt any other course than the one embodied in the request to make the item free.
– Having listened to the speeches of several honorable senators, including that of the last speaker, not forgetting those of the three leaders - Senators McGregor, Millen, and Best - I naturally feel somewhat nervous and timid in approaching the question. But it is necessary to give reasons for the vote which I intend to give. If I had always lived in a city, I’ might have known a lot more than I do about many subjects, but having lived on the land until the last seven years, I surely ought to know something about a question of this kind. I am not going to sound my own praises, but in addition to having had long experience on the land, I was a member of the Caltowie .District Council for five years, and a member of the Carrieton District Council for three years, and for some time its chairman. In that extensive district, the greatest trouble which we as a Council had to face was the vermin difficulty. Many days, and even weeks, . have I spent without reward in trying to do justice to the district and to the State in combating the rabbit pest. Under the law of the State, the’ Government looked to the councils to see that the rabbits were exterminated, and councillors who took an interest in their duties had their’ hands full. This question of wire netting is not only ai pastoralists’ but also a small holders’ question. It concerns not only the farmer, for in the /north of South Australia men living near the small towns have to protect even their cabbage patches from the vermin.- It is not denied that in order to settle that country and -to check the vermin the principal remedy is to co’m>- pel every man to wire-net his own land, and to kill the vermin upon it. Recently, when I visited Tasmania as the guest of Senator Cameron, I saw the amount of employment which he gave in dealing with the rabbit pest. That reminded me of the time when I was connected with the district councils I have mentioned. Unless the large Crown leases or private estates are fenced, the smaller man has no chance to grow a crop. I ask Senator McGregor to accompany me in his imagination to the district where the Yongala and Canowie estates join. They were, at the time of which I am speaking, held by private owners. I had the honour at that time to be a member of the Legislative Council of South Australia, as Senator McGregor was also, and various Acts were being passed to make it compulsory for land-holders to destroy the vermin on their own holdings. A neighbouring farmer, in the hundred of Belalie, wanted me to see his property, on which he ‘ had about 80 acres of crop ready for reaping. I am sure that on that farm I saw many thousands of rabbits. They came by the tens or hundreds of thousands, and in a night Or two that crop was a thing of the past. Honorable senators may not know it, but when rabbits have eaten out one part of the country, they migrate- to another. Therefore, to place upon wire netting a duty that did not previously exist will not improve matters, but will rather have the opposite effect. Whilst it is compulsory for land-holders’ to destroy vermin, the Government should not expect to collect duty, upon the material which must be used. The large landed proprietor must protect himself equally with the smaller man, and if he does not do so the smaller man is exposed to still greater trouble. It would be a retrograde step to impose the duty suggested. The eloquent speeches to which I have listened have not altered my opinion in the least, because I have had my mind made up from the first as to the attitude I shall assume on this very important question. Senator McGregor referred to what is being done in South Australia by the State Government, and I indorse all- that he said. Private enterprise, in the person of the importers, took advantage of. the consumers, when it had the opportunity, by putting up the price of wire netting by several pounds per mile more than was fair, but Socialism came to the rescue, and the Commissioner of Crown Lands,’ who did not consider the question of free-trade or protection in the matter, said, “ You squatters, and you farmers, who are in absolute want of wire netting, have been got at.” I have no particular liking for the squatter or any other land monopolist, but the State Government could not stand by and see them robbed as they were being to the extent of some pounds per mile.
– There was no duty.
– I know, but that makes no difference. It will not change those men’s hearts. We do not have many conversions like we had last night. The Government could see that the people were being taken advantage of, and they said to the importers : “ Unless you are prepared to sell wire netting at a reasonable price, we shall become importers and compete againstyou.” They did so, and the district councils reaped the advantage in being able to give the people the wire netting they required at a reasonable figure. I may mention that one pastoralist in a very large way, and a highly distinguished man, who is known to Senator Vardon, got £5,000 worth of wire netting from the State Government, although at the time, or shortly afterwards, he was President of the National League, and did not believe in Socialism. I refer to Mr. E. W. Hawker.
– Did he get the wire netting for nothing ?
– No ; but he got it at a low price, and on very liberal terms with respect to the time within which he had to pay for it. I am not complaining that he took advantage of the law of the country. Whether we condemn the laws or not, we. are entitled to make use of them. When I visited the farmer’s place at Belalie to which I have referred, I saw rabbits in thousands, not only amongst his crops, but in his out-buildings, and in his hay-stack, and if a bag of chaff were left about they would get into it. I have said that it is not only the large landed proprietors who must use wire netting ; the smaller men must also use if, even if they ‘ only wish to protect a vegetable garden. A number of people call me a Socialist, and consider that I am a dangerous man, but although I was cried down at the election by the Farmers’ Political Union, I told the people during the election contest that if I were returned as’ a member of the Senate, the interests of the farmers and the primary producers would be my first and last concern. I told the electors, also, that I was a protectionist, and so I am.
– Since when?
– I am not an extreme man like Senator Findley, who puts all the fat in the fire and estranges honorable senators who would otherwise support him.
– I am not a protectionist on Tuesday and a free-trader on Wednesday.
– On fifty different occasions I have expressed myself as I am now doing.
– The honorable senator is a paradox.
– In the Labour Party the fiscal question is an open question.
– No; the honorable senator was elected as a protectionist labour member.
– The honorable senator should not get his little bit of hair off. As he is in the habit of holding the fort for hours at a time, he might permit . me to say a few words. Having been a farmer, I understand the in- . terests and requirements of farmers. It is possible that my colleagues in the Labour Party know more about industrial questions than I do, and on those questions I am to some extent guided by them. I think that I have made my position clear in this matter. It is essentially a question of development. The Government on this occasion may be working with Senator Findley, but what do I care for the Government? They make use of the members of the Labour Party when they can, and then apparently they come to some arrangement with Senator Millen, and the members of the Labour Party are dished. For the reasons I have given I am in favour of the free admission of this raw material of the settlers of Australia. We should give every encouragement to the small farmers, and we shall then be in a position to say to the large landed proprietors : “ We want your land, because we wish to put people on it.” I have a few words to say how to Senator Findley. I wish to ask him whether he does not consider that a duty of 5 per cent, on this article, if imported from the United Kingdom, is a revenue duty, and a duty of 10 per cent, on imports under the General Tariff also a revenue duty ? Is the honorable senator here to support revenue duties? I thought he was sent here as an out-and-out protectionist. If so, how can be support revenue duties? I also ask my leader and fellow countryman, Senator McGregor, to say whether these are not revenue duties, and whether he thinks duties of 10 per cent, and 5 per cent, on wire netting are going to make any material difference to those engaged in manufacturing it here?
– The honorable senator must know that I said I was not going to support the proposed duty of 5 per cant.
– That is the duty set out in the schedule on imports from the United Kingdom, and I should like to ask whether the honorable senator has not been informed that, owing to some compact entered into by the members of the Government in another place, the duties submitted in the schedule on this article are not to be interfered with. I am on the same side in this matter as Senators Gould and Millen, and I do not care to be fighting honorable senators who are on the other side. But duty before pleasure. I know a. little about this matter, and I have made up my mind that, ‘vote with whom I may, I shall vote to make this item free.
-Colonel GOULD (New South Wales) [3.54]. - I wish to say but a few words in connexion with some remarks I have already made. I roughly estimated the probable value of agricultural production in the Commonwealth at between £12,000,000 and , £14,000,000. Since I resumed my seat, I have received information from the Commonwealth Statistician to the effect that the estimated value of Commonwealth agricultural production during the season 1906-7 was £25,349,000. This, coupled with the value of the export of wool during the year 1906, represents a total value of . £48,994,745. So that it will be seen that these two industries alone, to. which wire netting is so useful, represent nearly £50,000,000 per annum of -wealth production in the Commonwealth. I have ascertained from the same source that the number of persons in the Commonwealth engaged in agricultural pursuits at the date of census, 31st March, 1901, was 276,074. I am not aware of the number of persons engaged in pastoral pursuits, but I wish to say that it was in the interests of the thousands of persons who are engaged in these industries, and in the interests of nearly £50,000,000 of annual wealth production, that I urged honorable senators to make wire netting entirely free of duty. I have no wish to make a second speech, and I thank honorable senators for the opportunity afforded me to correct the figures I previously used.
.- From the protectionist stand-point, the speech which hasjust been delivered by Senator W. Russell was an extraordinary one. We have already heard of geographical protectionists, but in the honorable senator’s case, the distinction is still further’ narrowed down. He is a rigid metropolitan protectionist, and a rabid rural free-trader. The honorable senator invites the Committee to believe that he is the only person who understands the interests of the farmers, and that, if we were to place a duty on wire netting, the farmers, and the farmers only, would have to suffer a handicap. I venture to say that there is no section of the community in any part of the Commonwealth that has received more direct and indirect benefit from the system of protection than has the farming community. Senator W. Russell should remember that he was returned to the Senate as a Labour protectionist. No reasoning on his part can free him from the charge I level against him here and now - that he is unfaithful to his principles and to the pledges he made when seeking the suffrages of the electors of South Australia.
– The honorable senator has no right to say that.
– I do say it and I mean it. Unfortunately, three or four protectionist industries have been seriously affected by the votes he has recorded in this Chamber during the discussion of the Tariff. When I try to summarize him, I am reminded of the lines in the Biglow Papers, which I vary slightly -
A merciful Providence fashioned him holler In order that he might his principles swaller.
That exactly summarizes the honorable senator’s position.
– The honorable senator must address the Chair.
- Senator W. Russell is here, not as a farmer’s representative, but as a Labour representative, and should be anxious to help onward the interests of the bulk of the citizens of the Commonwealth.
– No, of Victoria.
– No. I am not a geographical protectionist it does not matter to me where an industry may be established if I believe that it requires assistance. I challenge Senator W. Russell to peruse the pages of Hansard, and, if he can, to point out to me any occasion on which I have given a geographical vote on the protectionist policy.
– I thought the members of the Labour Party could do as they liked on the fiscal question?
– I do not mind what Senator Gray thought. I should advise him not to think too seriously or he may break his “ thinker.” This is an industry that deserves encouragement. Australia is- over-run with the rabbits. This pest has almost ruined many agriculturists and pastoralists.
– That is why I want them to have wire netting cheap.
– There is an increasing demand for wire netting all over Australia.
– Why try to shut it out?
– I do not want to shut it out, but I want it to be made in Australia by Australian workmen under Austraiian conditions.
– Not in the gaols:
– That remark opens up a very large question. I do not intend to discuss it. But bad and all as the prison system of manufacture may be, it is far better that the time of the prisoners should be utilized in doing useful work in supplying the needs and requirements of many thousands of agriculturists and pastoralists, than that those people should be held in the hollow of the hand of greedy and rapacious importers.
– Who are selling their wire netting for less than the local manufacturers are charging.
– I heard the statement made by Senator Millen this morning that the importers were selling their material for less than is paid for the locally made article.
– Does the honorable senator deny it?
– I do not deny it, but,, like the Scotchman, “ I ha’e ma doots “ about it.
– Very well, I’ll bet the honorable senator a fiver.
– Senator Millen should not forget that this is a “ place “. !
– Yes, this is a place “ within the meaning of the Act.” Senator Millen’s reply to my question this morning - “ How is it that the local manufacturer is able to get a higher price for. his material?” was that the importers could not supply the demand. Well, if the importers could not supply the demand they, like the local manufacturer, are in business not for health’s sake but to make as much money as possible; and if the local man was getting, say, ,£45 a mile for wire netting, does Senator Millen ask me to believe that the importers would not demand the same price for that quantity of material when they knew that they would be able to get it?
– What is the good of a duty of 5 per cent. ?
– A duty of 5 per cent, is evidently going to affect Senator W. Russell’s vote.
– It is only a revenue duty.
– The honorable senator adopts a pessimistic tone in respect to all duties that he assumes are going to affect a certain section of the community. A duty of 5 per cent, would, in my opinion, not be an effective protective duty.
– I was quoting the honorable senator himself.
– But duties of 10- and 5 per cent, are better than absolute free-trade. They will give some little assistance to an industry that deserves it.. Senator W. Russell is ready enough to vote for protective duties in the interests of his own State, but when aid is required for industries in other parts of the Commonwealth it is not forthcoming.
– That does not apply to me.
– Oh !
– I think he . voted for a duty on salt.
– And he voted for free tanks because the farmers use tanks. It is sufficient for me to know - and it ought to be sufficient for any protectionist - that there is one industry in New South Walesthat is manufacturing this material ; that the price ‘.which it is charging is a reasonable one; that there is an ever-increasing, demand for the article manufactured ; that with additional protection the probabilitiesare that other industries will be established in other States; that the establishment of other industries in other States for the making of this material would create * internal competition ; and that that local and! internal competition would mean bringing; down the price of the imported article, as in. other directions prices have been brought down considerably. In any case, the existence of evenone factory has demonstrated that the importer has been kept from charging an exorbitant price for wire netting. Now, however, it is proposed, in order to give an additional field for exploitation to these importers, who have already had too long a run in Australia against Australian interests, that the small duty which stands in the Tariff shall be taken away ; and honorable senators returned on protectionist principles are going to vote in favour of the free admission of wire netting.
– What did the honorable senator do in regard to corsets ?
– Whatever I did I did not vote for their free admission.
– Five per cent.
– That is a very minor matter when we are considering the item that is now engaging the attention of the Committee. This is a very large and important matter, and every vote that a protectionist gives in favour of the free admission of this material will have to be answered for when the time arrives for them to seek a renewal of the confidence imposed in them.
– Is that a threat?
– I am reminding honorable senators who have been returned on protectionist lines of their pledges. We know very well that the amount of employment available in Australia in these lines of industry is not too plentiful. The men and lads engaged are not too well paid. The conditions generally are not what a labour man would like them to be.
– Hear, hear.
– It is only by the creation of new industries in different parts of Australia, industries which open up avenues of employment for the future manhood of Australia, and by ‘the application in effective measure of new protection principles, that we can hope to have well established industries in which the men and youths of this country may be employed reasonable hours and enjoy proper conditions of labour, dissimilar from those which obtain in other parts of the world. Senator W. Russell asks himself how the imposition of a duty would affect the price of this particular material. If he asks himself that question whenever he is called upon to record a vote in favour of a protectionistprinciple - if his vote is always to be guided by the consideration of cheapness- he will find himself inqueer street, from a protectionist point of view, very often. We know that in many lines of industry prices are momentarily increased as the effect of a duty. If the honorable senator wants cheapness, why not sweep the Customs House into the ocean at once, allow the floodgates of importation to be opened, and permit every commodity to be imported duty free?
– The honorable senator wants a duty of 5 per cent. for revenue purposes.
– I want as much as I can get. A duty of 5 per cent. is not all that I desire, but if I cannot get more than 5 per cent., I am satisfied to vote for that. Mr. Hutchison, a member of another place, representing a constituency in the State for which Senator W. Russell was returned, stated last October that a South Australian firm was erecting buildings for the manufacture of wire netting. If buildings were in course of erection last October, the (probability is that they are now about complete. If that be so, what does Senator W. Russell offer the manufacturers? He offers them no assistance whatever, although he pledged himself indirectly that he would offer the benefit of a protective duty to assist in the development of Australian industries. Yet we have him here to-day joining hands with the rabid free-traders in order to injure an Australian industry, and by so doing to place additional burdens on those who require to purchase wire ‘netting; because, having eliminated that competition, it is certain that the pastoralists and farmers will be at the mercy of the importers.
– It is scarcely necessary for me to mention the fact that Queensland, of all States in Australia, is the one that is most strongly interested in this question. Wire netting is inseparably connected with the cure of the rabbit pest. I intend to quote a few facts and figures from the last report of the Lands Department of Queensland for the year 1907 - that is, the report which includes the operations of the Department for the year 1906. There are several paragraphs in this document which certainly ought to arouse the attention of every honorable senator. I may mention that from many parts of Queensland I have received communications asking me to do what I can to have wire netting admitted free . From not a single body in the whole of Queensland have I received a request for the imposition of a duty, although there are many protectionists in that State. I quote from page 14 of the report to which I have referred -
The cooler months of 1906 and the presence of abundance of food favoured this increase.
That is the increase of rabbits.
But, although such increase was in places serious, it cannot be said that the position was, on the whole, worse than in previousyears. The Warrego and Maranoa districts continue to be the most heavily infested regions.
I may point out that the two districts of Warrego and Maranoa are, I dare say, double the size of all Victoria, and in favorable seasons are amongst the finest pastoral and grazing country in Australia, if not in the world.
A few rabbits were caught in the Darling Downs district, and traces were discovered in the north-eastern part of the Maranoa district, near the junction of the Darling Downs and Leichhardt fences, and in both cases energetic steps were taken by the respective boards to deal with the position presented. The Leichhardt district may still be said to be clean. In the Mitchell district there are rabbits on the runs adjoining the southern fence, and . in isolated colonies in other parts, and at the end of the year they were increasing again in the western section of the district south of the Gregory North fence, and also in the Warrego district, adjacent to the Mitchell district, particularly in the eastern part. Rabbits are scattered over various parts of the Gregory North district, chiefly in isolated colonies. Traces were seen in the extreme north of that district, adjacent to the Burke district fence. A few rabbits were caught in traps on that fence, but the Burke district is probably still clean. Traces were also seen in the Northern Territory, to the west of the Burke district, about twenty miles south of the then terminus of the fence which the Burke Board is erecting along the western boundary of this State.
The force of that paragraph will be apparent to those who are acquainted more or less intimately with the geography of Queensland. It goes to show that the rabbits are beginning to spread, and to become a menace to a large portion of the State. I have made the quotation for the purpose of satisfying honorable senators that, from our point of view, the pastoralists and graziers being the basis of all our primary industries, have a vital interest in the extinction of the pest. Our straight-out proposition is that, in order to enable them to combat the rabbit, the first requirement is that wire netting should be made as cheap as possible. As regards the extent of the operations, the report goes on to say -
The new fences erected during the year included no miles by the Burke Board - fifty miles on the western border, and sixty miles on the southern boundary of its district, completing the connexion of that boundary fence with the Winton check fence. The Gregory North Board completed the Winton check fence by erecting forty-nine miles, and the Moreton Board erected 13¼ miles on the south boundary of the State .
-That is only a moderate distance.
– They are doing more than that. The report goes on to show what efforts the Government, in conjunction with the pastoralists and graziers, are making to abolish or destroy the rabbits.
– It is a wonder that the honorable senator supports the Government doing that, because it is Socialism.
– It may be Socialism, and if it is, I want that netting to be made as cheap as possible in order to enable the Government, the pastoralist, and graziers to free the State from a dangerous pest.
– As long as the fellow who does the graft does not get any benefit from it.
– I dare say that we shall hear the honorable senator on that point. I prefer to see the pastoralist, the grazier, and the farmer assisted, and I have said so all along, because they represent the primary industries. In Queensland, the total length of the netting for fences amounts to 16,514¼ miles, and I dare say that it will have to be doubled, probably trebled, before the work will be done effectively. In 1906, the Government incurred a total expenditure of £38,099 on these operations, and very probably the expenditure in that direction will increase year byyear. As regards the quantity of wire netting which passes through the hands of the Government into the hands of the farmers and graziers, the following paragraph is very significant -
During the year 520 miles of netting were supplied to forty-seven run-owners, the value of the netting being£17,68910s.1d. The corresponding figures for the previous year were 414 miles, fifty-five run-owners, and £9,99615.
That is significant proof of the demand for this material. When we consider the purpose to which it is to be applied, and the persons to whom it is to be supplied, it is a pretty strong argument that it should be made available at as low a rate as possible. I shall now quote another extract to show the extent to which the people of Queensland are interested in this matter. The report continues -
The following figures are offered as an approximation of the cost of measures taken against the rabbit pest in Queensland. They include nothing for the outlay of run-owners for destruction work, as data are not available on which to base an estimate : -
Could any figures more eloquently support our demand that this important industry to Queensland shall receive the most favorable consideration here? In Queensland,
Ave have another pest, against which at times we have to struggle hard, and that is the marsupial. I believe that wire netting of a peculiar character is needed in order to help squatters and graziers to combat that peculiar phase of their difficulties. It has been pointed out here, and I- do not think it can be denied, that it- is upon the development of the primary industries thatthe progress of Australia depends. That is especially the case with Queensland, because in proportion to territory it has probably the largest and richest area of pastoral, grazing and agricultural land that is to be found in any State, not excepting Western Australia. It is the duty of this Parliament, I submit, to assist Queensland in every possible way to develop those industries. Some of us from “Queensland have not taken a bigoted attitude in regard to the question of protection or free-trade. On the whole, where a reasonable demand for assistance to local industries by a duty has been made we have not turned altogether deaf or unsympathetic ears. But we have frequently said that the demand on the part of the protectionist was far too high. From time to time I have told the electors of . Queensland that I would endeavour to see that no undue fiscal burden was placed upon the backs of the primary producers. I have also said more than once that where the manufacturers could make out a strong case reasonable assistance would be granted so as to help them along. That, I submit, is a fair attitude to take up. I remind the protectionists in the Senate, and the workers in the community, that protection to the manufacturing industries will fail them if the great primary industries be unduly hampered. In order to show the development which is going on in Queensland in connexion with agricultural, pastoral and grazing pursuits, I propose to quote a table from the same report -
I dare say that one of the most important factors in that development is more or less directly connected with wire netting. Just as in South Australia it is an absolute necessity to the wheat-grower and the large grazier, so in Queensland it is almost the first thing with which some farmers must begin operations.
– The bulk of the graziers in the area of 3,000,000 acres to which the table refers have not a fence of wire or anything else.
– Although the wire netting may not go through their par,ticular areas, still they are bound to pay for the border fence or for some other kind of fence in another district, because the protection given by the .fence is given to all. A man may not get the wire netting immediately through or round his grazing selection, but he still contributes directly to its cost, because lie receives the benefit of it. I do not know whether every grazier in Queensland is under the Assessment Act, but I believe that a large number of them are, whether the fence touches their property or not. I shall quote one other table to show, the important development of pastoral occupation in Queensland for the last three or four years. In .a table giving the accepted applications for selections in each year under tenures convertible to freehold and leasehold tenures respectively, it is stated that, in the year 1900, 3,063,113 acres were taken up. In 1901, when the drought was coming on, 2,051,156 acres were taken up. In 1902, which was aright in the drought, only 1,035,362 acres were taken up ; while in 1903, 1,061,528 acres, and in 1904 1,658,128 acres, were taken up ; then, as the effect of the drought passed away, the area selected in 1905 was 2,273,094 acres, and in 1906, 3,190,257 nacres. That is a very striking tale of development, which not only reflects credit on the State of Queensland itself, but has materially helped the general prosperity of Australia. The question of wire netting is no unimportant element in that development. No protectionist, or even, prohibitionist, dares dispute the proposition that the tools of a man’s trade must be as free as possible. What is wire netting but a tool of. trade of the pastoralist and the farmer? It is more ; it is an absolute essential. Year by year the danger becomes more menacing, exercising very seriously the minds of the Government as well as of farmers and graziers. It is, therefore/ time for this Chamber to pause before granting a demand such as is now made, especially when another place, after careful consideration, fixed upon the item the low duties of 10 and 3 per cent. There are honorable senators here who would make the duties as high, as possible, but where primary industries are concerned, I like them to be as low as possible. No eloquence or argument could be more convincing as to the importance of the question to the pastoralists and agriculturists of Queensland than the figures which I have quoted. The almost universal de- ( mand of the people of that State, so far as I can gather, is that wire netting shall be as free from duty as we can make it. I echo that demand strongly, because I agree with the statement made so often from this side that to the workers of Australia there is nothing of more importance than that our primary industries shall be allowed to. develop without undue burdens being placed upon them. When they do develop, and we have prosperous seasons, with an increase of settlement, the area of employment for the workers is continuously widened. It is a’ short-sighted and even suicidal fiscal policy to teach the workers that the primary industries and their development are not their great source of strength. It is because I feel that the grazing and farming industries of Australia are of such importance, not only to the States,’ but to the workers in the larger cities, that I appeal so strongly to the Committee not to hamper their development.
– - I should not like to give a silent vote upon this important question. I am not here to advocate free-trade, because it is now taken for granted that the Commonwealth is committed to a policy of protection. That issue is therefore out of the way at present. At the same time, I am not here to advocate what is called the new protection. I do not think that that would be for the best interests of the Commonwealth. During the whole of the long campaign which I have just gone through, I stated that it was my intention to maintain as far as possible the old Tariff, because, so far as I could ascertain, it had been fairly successful, giving a reasonable amount of protection to our industries, and providing sufficient revenue to carry on the government of the Commonwealth. I intend to hold to that position here. I shall endeavour to keep as near to the old Tariff as possible, unless it can be shown that any industry is being unfairly handicapped, or that injustice is being done. In that event, I shall be prepared to give justice to all industries. In the old Commonwealth Tariff, wire netting was free, and, therefore, I am bound to vote for the request to make it free in this schedule. If it could have been shown that any hardship was being done to the manufacturers of wire netting, I should have been prepared to give the matter further, consideration, but I find from the’ reports of the Tariff Commission that no manufacturer of wire netting came before them and made any complaint whatever. One worker in wire netting appeared, but his evidence was exceedingly indefinite, and not much notice can be taken of it. The fact that the manufacturers themselves have been silent is a strong reason why we should allow wire netting to come in free. This item affects the main producers of the Commonwealth - the primary producers - who should receive the greatest consideration at our hands. While I am prepared to help manufacturers in every fair way, I cannot forget that the primary producers’ are the backbone of the Commonwealth. When it is remembered that the value of the wool (produced in Australia in one season is no less than £[28,060,000, and of wheat, something like £[10,000,000, it will be admitted that those industries are of vast importance. This item is of great moment to the primary producers engaged in them. The farmer and squatter are both heavily handicapped.. The farmer has to bear all the expense of clearing his land before he can make use of it, and then he has to combat the rabbit pest. Any one who has travelled through the country, as I have done lately, can realize the immense difficulty of that task. The farmer has to fence and subdivide his land, and adopt all sorts of expedients to protect himself against the ravages of the rabbits: lt is therefore our duty to give him all the consideration possible. Although the rates of duty proposed by the Government in the first instance were very much higher, they were reduced in another place until they became, not protective, but simply revenue duties. Duties so small are not likely to be of any ‘ particular value to an Australian manufacturer. If the manufacturers themselves had been suffering any very great hardship, and were anxious for high duties to enable them to carry on the industry, they would have made their desires known to the Tariff Commission. But, as they have made no complaint, and as this matter is of such great moment to the primary producers throughout the Commonwealth, I must vote to make the item free. I am bound to do so, because I promised the electors of South Australia that I would stand by the old Tariff as nearly as possible. Seeing that those views were indorsed by over 47,000 of the electors, I can fairly claim to represent the opinion of the people of South Australia in the attitude which I am now taking. I shall be prepared tq adopt that attitude also with regard to other items- I shall not support high, and even prohibitive, duties, but shall endeavour to give a reasonable amount of protection to those who need it, whilst offering every encouragement to our primary producers.
.- The Vice-President of the Executive Council stated that he intends to support an increase of this duty. He is therefore running away from the proposals which he has submitted. He is also very much afraid that unless a heavy duty is imposed on this article a great deal of dumping will take place. Wire netting is an article which I should like to see dumped on these shores in enormous quantities as cheaply as ever it can be produced, because the question of its supply has to be considered as beyond the bounds of mere fiscalism. It stands in this Tariff almost entirely by itself. Tn dealing with this matter I am prepared to consider only the. users of the commodity. If I were convinced that the imposition of a duty, no matter how high, would have the effect of providing an enormous supply of wire netting as cheaply or more cheaply than, it is possible to get it now, I should not hesitate to support the duty. The Minister says, however, “ Put on the duty and there is a possibility that the article will be manufactured in sufficient quantities in the- Commonwealth to supply the local demand.” I am not going to trust the farmers of Aus-‘ tralia to a mere possibility of that kind. I join with honorable senators who have said that they are prepared to vote against the imposition of a duty and at the same time to support a substantial bonus to’ encourage manufacturers of wire netting in Australia, and then when it has been sufficiently established to impose a duty. Senator Findley has been very unjustly severe upon his Labour colleague from South Australia, Senator W. Russell, because that honorable senator has decided to keep his pledges to the farmers of that State. ‘ I visited the State in October last, and if there was one question on which I found that the farmers were keen it was that of the duty to be imposed on wire netting. I was spoken to on the subject a number of times, and I am satisfied that Senator W. Russell, by voting as he proposes to do on this item, is acting in the interests of and in accordance with the wishes of the farmers of South Australia. It should be remembered also that in another place seven or eight of the honorable senator’s colleagues, in the Labour Party voted for the free admission of wire netting, and some of them are as good protectionists as any member of this Committee. The farmers have had the rabbit pest thrust upon them, and it has been the greatest drawback to farming in Australia. If the pest had never been introduced, farming in this country would have been very different from what it .has been in the past, and the outlook for the industry in the future would also be very different. One of the chief difficulties is that it is in the drier regions and in those places where farming is carried on under hard conditions that the rabbit seems to find his most suitable habitat. In such districts there is very little food for rabbits in the natural herbage, and so they invade the farmer’s crops. The remedies suggested for the eradication of the pest have been legion, but it has been found that the -only effective means to cope with them is to fence them in in order to kill them, and to fence them out to protect the crops. I have represented a rabbit-infested district for twentytwo years. I have been amongst the people settled in that district, and I know what this trouble means. They have to face, not only the first cost of rabbit-proof fencing, but the cost of continually keeping the fences in repair. We req’uire that wire netting shall .be plentiful and cheap. Its manufacture gives employment to comparatively few persons. The machine used in manufacturing wire netting is a simple one, and though a leading mechanic may be required to set it going, an ordinary hand can look after it then until the wire netting is .turned out as a finished article. There is more work provided in the erection of wire netting than in the manufacture of it. For £24 per mile men will undertatke to put up the netting and find the posts, and I suppose they could erect a. mile of wire-netting fence whilst a mile of netting was being manufactured. For the sake of finding work for a few men in a wire-netting factory honorable senators are prepared to take a course which will result in depriving quite a number of men in the country of work. To show the importance of this matter, I may remind honorable senators that the duties at first submitted in another place were 30 and 25 per cent., and the outcry against them was so great that in spite of the express1 determination of the Government to consider the items of the Tariff seriatim they were compelled by the force of outside opinion to consider wire netting out of its. place and to deal with it separately. If we propose to increase these duties as the Minister desires, there will be another outcry .on the subject. A number of protectionists were candidates at the last general election, and when I was- asked what sort of a protectionist I was, I said, “ I am a protectionist on the lines of the old Victorian Tariff. “ I have considered five or six Tariffs, .and in connexion with every one of them the question of imposing duties on wire netting was the subject of a long discussion. We were told that if we imposed heavy duties on wire netting a local industry for its manufacture would be started. I have been returned to Parliament half-a-dozer times as a protectionist, although I have always voted that wire netting should be admitted free of duty. I should not object in this instance to a small duty being imposed under the general Tariff provided that imports cf wire netting from the
United Kingdom were admitted free. But in view of the decision of the Government in this matter to increase these duties, i have no option but to vote that the item should be made free all round. It is strange that in dealing with these duties honorable senators have no regard for the persons who have to use the article proposed to be taxed. Surely their interests should be considered to some extent. i undertake to say that any man going through this country will not find one farmer in one hundred willing that a duty should be imposed on wire netting. They are all afraid that the effect would be to shorten the supply and put up the price, and they prefer rather to -trust themselves to the tender mercies even of the importer than. to have a duty imposed on this article. For the reasons I have given, I shall support a request to make the item free.
. -In common with Senator McColl i have some acquaintance with the farmers, in the north of Victoria.
– Victoria is not Australia.’
– I know something also of States farther north than Victoria. I have been out of Victoria two or three times, and. I have even been in Tasmania. I know quite a number of farmers who would be very glad to see a duty imposed on wire, netting.
– I know a number who would not.
– I dare say the honorable senator does. If a duty on steel rails is a good thing in the interests of the. country,- in the interests of defence - for that was the plea put forward last night - a duty on wire netting must also be a good thing for the country. In this matter we are dealing, not with a probable enemy, but with an enemy at present in our midst. Senator Neild, with great force, pointed out last evening the awful possibility of our supplies of steel rails, small arms and ammunition, being cut off by a hostile navy. I agree that that would be an awful condition of affairs, but would it not be equally serious if our supplies of wire netting, the great necessity alike of the squatters, farmers, and other settlers, were cut off by the action of a hostile fleet?
– That is the reason the honorable senator wishes to keep up the supply of rabbits.
– That is the reason I wish to increase the internal supply of wire netting.. Some honorable senators opposite profess to be extremely anxious about the interests of the selector. Senators Gray, Sayers, Millen, Dobson, and those who profess that a protectionist duty is an impost, which the people have to pay, are perfectly consistent in their action in this matter, and I .find no fault- with them. But honorable senators who say that they believe protection is a good thing, but that protection on wire netting would be a bad thing, are difficult to understand. If a tax on wire netting is an impost which the settler must pay, then a tax upon any other article of manufacture is equally an impost- which those who use it must pay. The honorable senators to whom I have last referred are just as illogical as the free-traders on the other side were for five minutes last night, when they voted for protection whilst they preached free-trade. I refer to protectionists like Senators Mulcahy and McColl, and like Senator Fraser, who was so anxious that it should be clearly understood that he wished to be considered a protectionist that he sent a letter to the Age declaring it, which was published on the morning before the Senate elections, because there appeared to be some doubt about it. I refer, also, to Senator W. Russell, who votes mostly for protection. The honorable senator must be wrong in voting for protective duties, and so saddling consumers with an impost, or else his assertion that these duties will be a tax upon the squatters, farmers, and other settlers must be incorrect.
– I have said that I shall use my discretion in the Senate.
– I admit that the honorable senator should have absolute freedom.
– I am not the Government Whip.
– That is so;. but I assure the honorable senator that he is not more free than is the Government Whip.
– The honorable senator has shown himself to be more free.
– I feel that Senator W. Russell is showing himself now to have been shackled by the company in which he has placed himself lately. Honorable senators opposite appear to have, nobbled the honorable senator. However, 1 am dealing now with the honorable senator’s argument. I do not say that it is not within the bounds of possibility that a protectionist duty, as our honorable friends opposite say, must be in every instance an impost on the consumers, but if it is it is a tax upon one section of the community in the interests of another. I do not believe that it is so, but if I believed that it was in one instance I should have to believe that it was so in every instance. I cannot see how such an argument can have force as applied to one industry and not have equal force when applied to another. I cannot believe that steel rails possess some special quality in respect of which they can be protected at the Customs without that protection being a tax upon the people, if a duty upon wire netting, which is made from the same material, is not an impost or tax upon the people.
– Are wire nails also made from the same material?
– Both wire and steel rails are made out of iron ore in the first instance. I fail to see how any person can logically say that a country is going to be saved by putting a duty on steel rails, and that the settlers who want a railway, will not have to pay more because of such a duty, ^ whilst if a duty is put on wire netting, he will have to pay more for it, and, consequently, the rabbits will overrun the district and destroy them.
– We have heard a great deal from honorable senators opposite to the effect that a duty on wire netting would have the result of decreasing prices. I cannot understand that argument, though those who use it have a perfect right to do so. Senator W. Russell has been taken to task bv some of the members of his own’ party for proposing to vote against the duty. But I hold in my- hand the names of certain gentlemen who voted against the duty on wire netting in another place. I may mention the names of Mr. Thomas Brown, Mr. Page, Mr. Spence, Mr. Thomas, Mr. Webster, Mr. J. T. Brown, and Mr. Batchelor.
– Mr. J. T. Brown has never been known. to vote for a protectionist duty.
– And he is not a member of our party
– My point is that several of the gentlemen whose names I have mentioned know a great deal about the west of New South Wales and Queensland, and understand thoroughly the requirements of the people in the matter of wire netting. One of them represents a district several thousand square miles in extent, in which great quantities of this material are used. I refer to Mr. Spence, who is one of the leading members of the Labour Party. No man in Parliament has better opportunities of ascertaining the requirements of the farmers and settlers in the back country.
– He consistently votes for low duties or no duties.
– Mr. Batchelor comes from the same State as does Senator McGregor, and is a very prominent member of the Labour Party. He voted in the interests of South Australia.
– He was looking after the interests of the fowl-yard fence.
– He was a member of the Labour Government at all events. I suppose that no State in the Commonwealth requires more wire netting than Queensland does. The imposition of this duty will mean” that’ the people and the Government of that country will be taxed to the extent of tens of thousands of pounds. Every year wire netting fences have to be renewed and looked after. When I hear that the duty will give employment to a few people, I remind those who use the argument . that the machinery used for making wire netting is mostly worked by boys. But the erection of wirenetting fences really does give a great amount of employment.
– Would Australian made wire netting give less employment than imported netting?
– I- do not say that it would ; but I urge that we should not impose this heavy tax upon our farmers, and settlers. Whenever a proportion of ‘ Queensland is subdivided for purposes of settlement wire netting fences have to be erected to keep the rabbits out. There are some portions of the State in which they have not yet done much damage. We do not want them to overrun the whole country. The more difficult we make it for the people to obtain wire netting, the more chance the rabbits will have to increase and multiply.
– I should not have risen except for the extraordinary remarks of Senator .Findley. Does he really mean that there can be no exception whatever in the matter of the application of protective duties? That is what I gather from him. Compare the rigid inelastic policy of my honorable friend with the clear, lucid, and statesmanlike policy enunciated by Senator Vardon, who ‘admits that he has come here to apply protectionist principles when he sees an industry struggling and in need of assistance, but declines to impose a tax upon a primary industry.
– I want. to help the primary industries.
– The honorable senator would help them in theory, but in practice he damns them. I honestly believe that the effect of the Labour Party’s policy is to tell the farmer to go to the devil. I can make nothing more out of it. It has been said that the effect of the duty will be to make wire netting cheaper. That argument might be used where the amount of protection is so high as to create strong local competition. But how can it be denied that where there is little or no. competition within the Commonwealth the price will be enhanced as. the result of the duty ?
– There is only one hop industry.
– That is an irrelevant interjection. Senator Trenwith on every occasion takes up the position that we should be protectionists first, and above everything, and that the primary producer must come off second and” third best. We never had such a good illustration as we now have of the way in which the Labour Party would damn the farmer as long as by doing so they could secure some advantages for city industries.
– I wish to ask you, Mr. Chairman, whether a word used by Senator Dobson in his last sentence that the Labour Party wished “ to damn the farmer” - is in order?
– I do not think that an honorable senator is in order in using the word “ damn “ in that sense. I ask Senator Dobson to withdraw it.
– I withdraw the word, sir.
– May I ask Senator . Dobson also to withdraw another phrase which he used earlier in his speech. He said that the Labour Party wished “to send the farmer to the devil.”
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 186, “ Wire Netting “ (imports under General
Tariff), free (Senator Colonel Neild’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Colonel Neild) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 186 (imports from the United Kingdom), free.
Item 187. Electrotypes and Stereotypes for advertising purposes, per block of 12 square inches and under,1s. ; for every square inch over 12 square inches,1d.
.- I want the Committee to agree to a request to delete the words, “ for advertising purposes,” with a view to inserting the words “ and printers’ matrices.” If the Committee agree to the first request, it will be necessary to move a consequential request in connexion with item 357b, in which the words “ printers’ matrices “ appear under the heading of Paper and Stationery. If printers matrices were allowed to come in under that head, at a duty of 30 per cent.’ from foreign countries and at a duty of 25 per cent. from the United Kingdom, it would be little or no protection. First of all, the matter is set up with ordinary type, or composed with a linotype or monoline or monotype machine. It is next sent to a stereotyper, who takes an impression, which is called a printer’s matrix, and from the moulds castings or stereos are made.
– The honorable senator might say that printers’ matrices are merely a few sheets of paper.
– Exactly. I am given to understand that in many of the States there has been a desire on the part of some employing printers, and those engaged in the publication of magazines and other works, to have certain matter set up abroad and a mould taken therefrom, and to import the printers’ matrices. Suppose that they were to come in under the head of “ Paper and Stationery.” The value of the piece of paper in my hand is not, I expect, more than½d. or1d., and if there was a duty of 100 per cent., it would come to only 2d.
– What would the fixed duty that the honorable senator proposes represent on the value of the mould which he has in his hand? Would it not represent several hundred per cent. ?
– On the mould itself, but not on the value of it. At one time the Review of Reviews largely imported printers’ matrices in connexion with the publication of that magazine. I believe that when the Kingston Tariff was introduced provision was made for printers’ matrices to be dutiable to the same extent as stereotypes and electrotypes, with the result that there was a stoppage of the importation of printers’ matrices. By that means employment was found for local printers, and all the readable matter now contained in the Review of Reviews is set up and printed in Melbourne. This duty, of course, will have a general application. It is to me a manifestly unfair thing to deny protection to any section of the community that desires it. This request comes from the Typographical Associations of Australia. They feel that their employment is being affected, and has been affected for some time, by the importation of printers’ matrices. It is unfair, too, to the employing printers who have to observe Australian conditions in respect to wages, overtime rates, hours, and other things.I feel sure that the request I make will appeal to every protectionist.
– The honorable senator should use the words “ stereotype matrices,” instead of “ printers’ matrices,” otherwise all the matrices for linotypes and monotypes will be charged duty. Those are the printers’ matrices, but the matrices to which he refers are stereotype matrices.
– That would be almost a contradiction in terms, because it is not a stereotype until a casting is taken. It is required for making stereotypes. I have some knowledge of the trade, and I thought that “printers’ matrices” would cover the ground that I desire to cover. I know the term “printers’ matrices” is used in connexion with the linotypes. However, I recognise that Senator Vardon is an employing printer, and therefore I shall use the words “ stereotype matrices. “
– lt would be better to use the words “ matrices for stereotyping purposes.”
– Well, I move-
That .the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 187 by leaving out the word “and” after the word “Electrotypes;” by leaving out the words “ for advertising purposes ;” and by inserting after the word “ Stereotypes” the words “and Matrices for Stereotyping purposes.”
Senator VARDON (South Australia) £5.26]. - I am afraid that the request, if made in that form, would lead to a little confusion, because the item deals with. “ electrotypes and stereotypes for advertising purposes.” Of course, printers import free a great many electrotypes for the purpose of doing job printing and illustrating all sorts of work. For instance, friendly societies require to be supplied with coatsofarms. If the words “ for advertising purposes “ were deleted, it would make dutiable the whole- of the electrotypes which are used for general purposes, although’ very many of -them are not worth more than is. each.
– A number of these advertising fakes come in which ought to be set up in Australia.
– I do not see that. there can be any very serious objection to the deletion of the words “ for advertising purposes,” because, for the most part, the electrotypes and stereotypes are used in that way. I understand that others do come in, but the main importations are used in connexion with advertising purposes. Then, my honorable friend desires to bring matrices for stereotyping purposes under the item. This division deals with metals and machinery, and the matrices are’ included in an item which deals with “ Manufactures of paper n.e.i.” What the honorable senator seeks to deal with is simply a paper production, and not the stereotype which is made therefrom.’ . As regards classification, we are trying to keep the Tariff as regular as possible, and I suggest that the proper item with which to deal with these matrices is 35 7B- The value of a printer’s matrix is purely a matter of opinion. Of course, a considerable amount of work is involved, in the setting of the type and preparing the design. That may cost shillings or pounds, but it is out of the question to say exactly what the value of a matrix is. I am disposed to agree with my honorable friend, that’’ if it is to be taxed at all, it should be subjected to a fixed duty, as the value is such an unknown quantity. I see no objection to the amendment itself, but I object to tha place in which the honorable senator desires to have it inserted.
.- Am I to understand that when we reach item 357, paragraph b, the Government will assist me to get the protection sought by the printers in respect of these matrices ?
– I have no objection to its insertion there.
– In the circumstances, ‘ I ask leave to withdraw the request. At the same time, the words “ for advertising purposes “ should be left out. Why should electrotypes and stereotypes for advertising purposes be dutiable at a fixed rate, and those for other purposes come in free ?
– They come in as “ Manufactures of metal, n.e.i.,” at 25 per cent, under the General Tariff and 20- per cent, when imported from the United Kingdom.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Item agreed to.
Item 188. Ammonia’ Condenser Coils,- “and Coils for Sugar Boilers and the like ; Corrugated Cylinders for Boilers, ad val. 25 per cent.
– - Cannot the Minister or his offcers find other words than ‘ ‘ sugar boilers ‘ ‘ ? They probably mean vacuum pans. To those in the sugar trade a sugar boiler is a man who boils sugar. There is no apparatus in sugar factories or refineries known as a sugar boiler. “ Sugar-boiling apparatus,” or “ vacuum pans and evaporators,” would make the item less absurd.
– - ‘There is an increase of 100 per cent, in the duty on this item. Why is that proposed in view- of the enormous natural protection on such large articles?
– The officers say that “ sugar boiler “ is a well- known term in the Department. If Senator Chataway considers the term “ sugarboiling apparatus” more expressive, there, is no objection to its use.
– What item covers’ coils .used for other than sugar-boiling apparatus? . …… L>
– Any other coils would be covered by “ Manufactures of metal, n.e.i.,” dutiable at 25 per cent. (General Tariff) and 20 per cent. (United Kingdom).
– I would suggest the omission of the words “ and coils for sugar boilers and the like.” They would then come under “ Manufactures of metal, n.e.i.” There is no particular reason to single them out and put them in this item in such an unsatisfactory way.
– Ammonia condenser coils are included in this item, and therefore other coils should also be included. This is the proper item for coils for sugar-boiling apparatus. Any other coils; if there are any, will come in under “ Manufactures of metal, n.e.i.”
– Although the duty on this item is 25 per cent., it was only12½ per cent. in the old Tariff ; the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission is “ nil “-
– That means that they did not make any recommendation.
– The free-trade section recommended 10 per cent. Why have the Government disregarded those recommendations and the rate in the old Tariff, and increased the duty so largely ?
– The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended 25 per cent. on “Machines and Machinery, n.e.i.” This item really forms part and parcel of that, and was actually postponed in another place, until “ Machines and Machinery, n.e.i.” were dealt with. It was intended that this item should bear exactly the same duty. I find that the rates on “ Machines and Machinery, n.e.i.” are 25 per cent. (General Tariff), and 20 per cent. (United Kingdom). The duties should correspond, and therefore I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 188 (imports from the United Kingdom), ad val. 20 per cent.
Request agreed to.
Item 189. Plates (except plain tin) and Sheets and Pipes and Tubes of any Metal, plated, polished, metal-cased, or decorated, ad val. 15 per cent.
Senator BEST (Victoria- Vice-Presi
As an amendment consequent on what we did on a previous occasion, I move -
That the - House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out the words “metal-cased.”
Request agreed to.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 189 (imports from the United Kingdom), ad val. 10 per cent.
That will simply be carrying out the Government policy.
– I ask the honorable senator not to press the request. There were only certain items in the Tariff in regard to which we proposed to give preference. Those items, I still say with great confidence, will mean a concession of three-quarters of a million sterling in duty to the British manufacturer. In this case we consider that the minimum duty should be 15 per cent. It is a small protectionist duty. If we intended to give preference on this item, we should have proposed 20 per cent. (General Tariff), and 15 per cent. (United Kingdom), because the principle which’ we have followed is to consider what would be fair and reasonable protection to our own industries.
– The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended no protection at all, according to the tabulated statement issued by the Government.
– “ Nil” in that case means that they made no recommendation.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item igo. Antimony (known as Star Antimony) ; and ‘ Antimonial and Lead Compounds, viz. : - Type Metal, Linotype Metal, Antifriction and Plastic Metals. On and after 30th November, 1907, ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.
– There was no duty on this item before. This star antimony is made in Sydney, and from inquiries and representations made it ls believed that there is every prospect of “its manufacture becoming a very good industry. For that reason it has been considered desirable to impose these duties.
– - I point out that in this case the Committee is being asked to impose a higher duty on an article that is the raw material for the manufacture of type than we have agreed to impose on type itself. lt seems to me that that is not likely to give much encouragement to the type foundry established in New South Wales.
– - The honorable senator has made a mistake. Under item 173 we have imposed a duty of 20 per cent, on type. The duties proposed in connexion with this item are. 20 per cent, under the general Tariff and 15 per cent, on imports from the United Kingdom. As a matter of fact, therefore, the duty on this material, instead of being higher, is lower than the duty we have agreed. to impose on type.
Senator VARDON (South Australia)
T5-52]- - Type metal is a manufactured article and is not used in type foundries, but in type-casting machines, such as the monoline, monotype and lino.type machines. It comes under exactly the same heading as linotype metal or metal used in any type-casting machine. The duties proposed are rather heavy ‘imposts to put upon the printer who requires to use this metal in type-casting machines, whilst i do not see that they will afford any advantage to any local manufacturer.
– i move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item igo (imports under General Tariff), ad val. 10 per cent.
I know that this linotype metal is being made-.in one of the suburbs of Sydney, and it is largely used by printers in Queensland,, As it was previously manufactured in the Commonwealth without any duty, I see no reason why country newspaper proprietors who require to use it should now be suddenly faced with the necessity of having to pay duty on it to the extent of 20 per cent. We have received no recommendation in connexion with this item from either section of the Tariff Commission, and the Government are under an obligation to submit some reasonable evidence in support of a proposal to impose a duty of 20 per cent, on an article that was never previously subject to taxation.
.- I hope that the request will not be agreed to. Newspaper men receive greater advantages under this Tariff than do people engaged in any other industry.
– So they ought.
– Why should they? I’s it because the honorable senator desires to create millionaires ?
– No; because I think we should have the best literature we can get.
– The honorable senator, and other members of his school of thought, require it very badly.
– The only difference between us is that I acknowledge it, and the honorable senator does not.
– Newspaper proprietors are allowed to import monotypes, monolines, linotypes, a great deal of printing machinery, and other things, free of duty. .
– What are the other things ?
– Most of the paper they use is free, and there is but- a very light duty imposed on paper that can be manufactured here. I may say that all the paper required in the publication of a newspaper is admitted free, and duties are imposed on the requirements of printing establishments only where industries for their production have been established in Australia.
– The honorable senator supports the capitalistic printer.
– I do nothing of the kind. It is not* the small printer who complains of the duties. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has just said that there is a foundry established in New South Wales for the manufacture of the metal required for linotype and other type-casting machines.
– I think it is at Balmain.
– If I am not mistaken, there is such a foundry established in Melbourne. These establishments can supply the metal required by printing establishments using type-casting machines.
– They have never asked for any protection.
– It does not matter whether they have or not. I am satisfied that they need assistance.
– Their representative asked for it in another place.
– I know that the conditions under which this metal is manufactured in their foundry are very different from those which prevail in similar foundries in other countries. According to the Vice-President of the Executive Council, a representative of the establishment at Balmain requisitioned another place for the imposition of a duty. Honorable senators must admit that a duty of 10 per cent. on this item would not be a protectionist, but a revenue duty, and I therefore ask them not to agree to the request.
– I express no surprise at the reasons which Senator Findley regards as sufficient to justify the levy of an additional impost, but I think the Committee is entitled to some further reason than that advanced by the honorable senator. He has asked for these duties because he is satisfied that the local manufacturers want them. We have passed through various stages in dealing with this Tariff. At one time attempts were made by submitting evidence to show that there was some justification for the imposition of a duty. Later on, honorable senators opposite have suggested that a duty ought to be imposed because some one has asked for it, but Senator Findley now desires that the Committee should impose a duty in this case, not because any one has asked for it, but because he is satisfied that some one wants it.
– I am satisfied that an industry is in existence, and needs protection.
– Five minutes ago the honorable senator was not aware that this industry was in existence in Australia.
He does not know how this item came to be introduced into the Tariff, but in five minutes after he has discovered the existence of the industry, he is satisfied that those engaged in it want a duty. The Tariff, as at first introduced in another place, was innocent of this item. At the close of a long sitting, a colleague of the Vice-President of the Executive Councilin another place told a tired Committee, that had been overridden by a brutal majority, that he intended to propose an entirely new item, because he heard that a certain industry had been established at Balmain. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has said that a representative of the industry asked for the duty, but no one ever asked for it but Sir William Lyne.
– That is not so.
– Some one may have asked Sir William Lyne for it, but that is quite a different matter. I suppose that the honorable gentleman was prepared to submit the proposal for the duty, because, like Senator Findley, he was satisfied that some one wanted it. Apart from the fact that no evidence has been brought forward to show that any duty is required, it does appear to me that the duty proposed approximates too closely to the duty on the finished article, type.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 190, “Antimony, &c.” (imports under General Tariff) ad val. 10 per cent. (Senator Chataway’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item191. Aluminium, bronze, yellow metal, Britannia metal, nickel and German silver, viz. : - Pigs, Ingots, Scrap, Blocks, Bars, Strips, Sheets (plain), Plates (plain), Pipes (plain), and Tubes (plain), free.
Requests (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 191 by inserting after the words “Britannia metal” the words “Magnolia metal “ ; and after the word “ Bars “ the word “Rods.”
Item 192 (Anchors) agreed to.
Item 193. Anodes and hooks for plating purposes, ad val. (General Tariff), 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 193 by inserting after the word “Anodes” the word “Cathodes,” and by inserting a comma after the word “Hooks.”
Anodes and cathodes are the positive and negative poles of a battery, and it is anomalous that one should be inserted and not the other.
Request agreed to.
Item 194 (Bolts, Carriage) agreed to.
Item 195. Brass, viz. : - Scrap, Bars, Sheets (plain), Pipes (plain), Tubes (plain), and strips, free.
Request (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 195by inserting after the word “Bars” the words “Rods, Blocks, Plates (plain).”
Item 196 (Capsules metallic) and item 197 (Chain n.e.i. not made into serviceable articles) agreed to.
Item 198. Copper, viz.: - Strips, Scrap, Bars, Rod, Wire, Sheets (plain), Pipes (plain), and Tubes . (plain), free.
Request (by Senator Best), agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 198 by inserting after the word “Rod” the word “Blocks” and after the word . “Wire” the word “Plates (plain).”
Item 199 (Cylinders for Anhydrous Ammonia and for Gas), item 200 (Droppers), item 201 (Eyelets and Eyelet Studs), item 202 (Fasteners, Machine belt), item 203 (Thimbles and Block Fasteners for Lasts), and item 204 (Leaf and Foil of any metal) agreed to.
Item 205. Locks; including Knobs, Keys, Escutcheons, and Transom Catches, ad val. (General Tariff), 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free.
.- I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council how it is that locks and keys are to be admitted at 5 per cent. under the general Tariff and free from the United Kingdom?’ Locks can be, and are being, madein the Commonwealth. I have seen some locks which were made in. Tasmania. As a matter of fact, they have been made there for a considerable time. The industry was established under a 20 per cent. duty. It does seem strange to me that the manufacturer should be disadvantaged by- this item. I know that there are locksmiths in other States as well as in Tasmania.
– Was any evidence given before the Tariff Commission?
– Not in respect to locks.
– The Tariff Commission did not recommend a duty.
– No. I do not know whether an invitation was extended by that body to this gentleman, who now asks for the imposition of a duty, or why he did not appear before them. I have seen a communication from him and also exhibits of his locks and keys, which demonstrate conclusively that the industry is established. That he has given satisfaction is shown by the fact that he has supplied the Tasmanian Government with innumerable locks. He has also satisfied large orders from the Mount Lyell Company, and no doubt in Tasmania he has executed other orders.
– In spite of there being no duty !
– No. His statement is that his industry was established under a duty of 20 per cent., but now British locks are placed on the free list.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [6.17]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 205 by inserting after the word “ Transom “ the words “ and Window.”
I do not see why transom catches should be singled out for favour and window catches not be included in the item. A transom is, after all, a window. I may be wrong, but I understand that the catches are used as much with windows as with transoms.
– There is no objection to the alteration desired by Senator Neild. As regards the statements of Senator Findley I remind the Committee that the more important and valuable classes of locks are patented and are not made in the Commonwealth. I believe that a few locks of a simple character are made locally.
This question was brought under the consideration of the Tariff Commission. In their report the protectionist section. say -
A lockmaker of Victoria, established in 1890, complained of competition with’ the cheap labour of other countries, of the provisions of the Factories Act, and of the relatively higher price of his raw material, all of which militated against the progress of the industry. The witness proposed a duty of is. each on imported lever or tumbler locks up to the value of 4s., and 25 per cent, on all other locks; staples, 25 per cent, j iron brackets (shelf), £d. per inch ; barrel and flush bolts (iron), £d. per inch, (brass), id. per inch ; keys and knobs to remain free ; rolled brass, free. That locks remainunder special exemption.
– The free-trade section of the Commission recommended a duty of 15 per cent.
– That was a revenue duty.
– I draw the attention of Senator Neild to the fact that it will also be necessary to request the omission of the word “ and “ before the word “transom.”
– I ask Senator Neild to afford me an opportunity to submit a prior request.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I move -
That the Ho.use of Representatives be requested to amend item 205 by leaving out the words “Locks; including.”
I understand that if the Committee agree, to the request locks will fall under item 170A, “ Manufactures of metal n.e.i.,” and be liable to duties of 25 and 20 per cent., according to the country of origin. I see no reason why locksmiths should not receive protection. The Minister, has stated that many imported locks are . patented. That is perfectly true, but I hope that he will not urge that as a reason why protection should not be given to those who are engaged in the making of various kinds, of locks in different parts of the Commonwealth.
– Where are they made?
– Locks are made in Victoria ; they are extensively made in Tasmania, and I venture to say that they are made in every State. I may mention incidentally that a manufacturer in Tasmania has requisitioned some honorable senators to do what they can on behalf of the industry. It is no protectionist argument to say that because certain rights are held by outside manufacturers of locks the local maker should not be protected. The patent right argument was trotted out by the free-traders many times in connexion-, with the machinery items, that have been made dutiable. In support of their requests for the free admission of such articles, the free-traders urged that, inasmuch as they were patented throughout: the world they could not be made in Australia. We know that , ho one can, without: running the risk, of a penalty or punishment, infringe the patent rights of any manufacturer; but, no doubt, local manufacturers have .taken out patent rights for the particular kinds of locks that they make. The fact that one manufacturer in Tasmania has given entire satisfaction to» its Government, and ample satisfaction lo private railway managers, should carry weight with honorable senators.
– Does the honorablesenator know that they do not use any other locks but his?
– I’ do not know. But the Tasmanian Government has given* Mr. Jackson large orders for various kinds of locks, and the Mount Lyell Company have given him repeat orders. I feel certain that orders would not be repeated if” he had not given full satisfaction, and hisprices were not as reasonable as those charged for imported locks. It is true that it may be considered a small industry to-day, and that it may never grow to very large dimensions. But if protectionistsenators will multiply the hundred and onesmall industries which exist throughout Australia, and which will continue to exist i f a measure of protection is given, they would find that, in the aggregate, there is a large army of persons employed. I believe ‘that Senator Mulcahy is in a positionto amplify some of the statements I have.’ made in respect to the lock-making in-, dustry which is carried on by Mr. Jackson* at Launceston.
– I hope that honorable senatorswill support the request. Surely if we canmanufacture a locomotive in Australia, wecan also make a lock ! I remind protec.tionist senators that, in order -to promote local industries, they have imposed duties-‘ on many articles which are much more intricate in their construction than are locks. It has been stated by the Minister that many of the more valuable locks arepatented in other countries. It is the same-‘ with everything else. We are continuallyhearing something about inventions that have been discovered by persons in other countries, and patented all over the world, including Australia. I hope that that fact will not restrain the Minister in any direction. I trust that the members and supporters of the Government here will not allow themselves to be bound by any arrangement that has been made in another place with respect to locks and keys, or anything else of that description.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to7.45p.m.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [7.45]. - We have heard nothing to warrant any confidence in the idea that these articles are being made in the Commonwealth. We have heard some vague assertions, but no solid facts have been offered for our consideration. The proposed enormous increase of duty on locks would strike a blow ata great many of our industries. One industry which is coming rapidly to the front in Australiais the manufacture of the common hag, suit case, gladstone bag, and trunk, articles all of which have to be fitted with locks of a more or less intricate kind. Commonplace locks, that anybody can pick, will not do for the traveller - and the Australians are a great travelling people. They travel more, perhaps, than the majority of the peoples of the world do. If we put duties of 30 and 25 per cent. on locks, we shall interfere with a rapidly growing industry of considerable importance. I believe that practically the whole of the articles of a carrying capacity used in Australia are now made here. There are comparatively few imported, as they are bulky, and for freight reasons alone it pays to make them locally. If every lock used upon a trunk or bag is to be charged 30 per cent. duty because there happens to be a little factory in some only recently discovered corner of Tasmania, the industry will be seriously affected. That little factory has been discovered by somebody, it may be by Senator Mulcahy. Necessarily it cannot be a large one, or we should have heard of it before. Why is everybody in business making those articles, of which I have enumerated only a few, to be penalized ? Why is every user of a receptacle, fixed or portable, that is fastened with a lock, to have his or her requirement’s penalized with a duty because somebody somewhere is said to be doing something? The position is about as indefinite as that. Let me mention, also, the cabinetmaker, the furniture maker, and the fancy goods maker, because there are an abundance of fancy articles fastened with small locks. How many locks are used on the tables in this chamber? How many in the drawers all round the chamber? The matter of locks is a serious one.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the locks needed here could be made here?
– If the honorable senator’s request were limited to some of the commonplace varieties of locks, which no doubt could be made in Australia, he would be standing on much safer ground than in seeking to penalize every lock that comes into the country, the expensive kinds of which cannot be made here, just because locks of a more ordinary character may be made in one or two places.
– A duty of 15 or 20 percent. would be a terrible impost on a 3d. lock !
– The honorable senator’s idea of locks must be extraordinary if he thinks that he can buy them for 3d. There are numbers of patent locks that cannot be made here. There is no possible hope of their being made here, for the very good reason that the expense of making them would be out of allproportion to the number for which therewas a sale. That is really one of the difficulties in which we find ourselves. This Tariff was introduced under the supposition that it was to remove anomalies, but I beg to suggest that it is a Tariff which is creating ten anomalies for every one that existed under the previous Tariff, and this proposal would make confusion worse confounded. If by anyill-fortune the request were agreed to, the mover need not feel assured’ that locks would come under the item which fixes the very high duty that he suggests, because I am sure that there will be found in this chamber some honorable senator who will move for a new paragraph making locks dutiable at a much more moderate rate than 30 per cent.
– If the honorable senator will permit me, I have a proposal which will meet his views.
– I am sure that the honorable senator, from the assertions that he was good enough to make about me last night, cannot regard me as a rabid free-trader, and will not think that, in the opposition I am offering to his request, I am going at all out of my way to give the slightest indication of fiscal bigotry.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator Findley) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 205 by leaving out the words “ Locks ; including,” . and inserting the following new paragraph : - “B. Locks, ad . val. (General Tariff), 20. per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent. To come into operation on proclamation by the Governor-General in Council that the industry is sufficiently established to supply the requirements of the Commonwealth.”
– - I have great pleasure in supporting the request in its present form, particularly because when thePrime Minister was in Tasmania opening an exhibition of productions and manufactures of the Commonwealth he was greatly struck with the skill and ability shown by a certain firm there in the manufacture of locks of the very best type, and involving skilful workmanship. The Prime Minister’s experience has only just come under my notice. In discussing the matter with me he thought it most desirable that we should give every encouragement to this Tasmanian industry. There is also an. industry in Victoria, and I trust that likewise industries in otherparts of the Commonwealth will be given encouragement by the means now proposed. The request follows the lines of other items in the Tariffand I commend it to honorable senators as desirable in the interests of an industry which should be firmly and strongly established here. I admit the force of the argument from the other side that locks enter largely into so many industries throughout the Commonwealth that we should hardly be justified in imposing a big duty straight away, but if we give the nucleus of, an industry which is now established the reasonable encouragement suggested, we shall have no reason to despair of its increasing in volume and rapidly meeting the demands of the local market.
– - Will it be possible for the Minister, in issuing the proclamation, to admit free Chubb ‘s or Milner’s locks if they are notmade here, while making dutiable other locks which are made here ? ‘ Will the Minister have power to differentiate ?
– No. The Ministry would have to be satisfied that the requirements of the Commonwealth could be supplied by our own estab lished-industry ; otherwise the locks would come in duty free.
– Senator Findley’s. proposition is widely different from the one which he first intended to move. The effect of his original proposal, if another place had agreed to it, would have been to impose immediately high duties of 30 and 25 per cent. upon locks of all kinds imported into Australia. The honorable senator has considerably modified that proposition in a way that very largely, although not entirely, meets my views. I wish to suggest a further alteration to make it quite acceptable. Lock-making has been referred to as a Tasmanian industry. With every duefeeling of patriotism to my little State, I do not think that the work can reasonably, be regarded yet as an important Tasmanian industry. We have in the samples- lying before me evidence of a very high class of handiwork, but practically only in one particular direction. The maker was em- - ployed for several years by Chubb’s, one of the best lock-making firms in the world. He was engaged to proceed to Japan to instruct the Japanese in the manufacture of locks, and he fulfilled that engagement satisfactorily. I am’ somewhat at a lossto know how a man of such attainments decided to settle in Tasmania, but he did so, and has begun the manufacture of what Tasmania is renowned for the production of, and that is a really good article. I do not think, however, that it would be fair to impose a high rate of duty in the interests of what is, and is likely for some time to be, quite a. small industry. We should be prepared to assist an industry when it has justified a demand for protection ; but in the meantime we must recognise that hundreds of thousands of locks of all kinds are required every year in the Commonwealth. I am satisfied that the locks which have been produced were made in Tasmania, but I am sorry to say that I have not information, with respect to the cost of their, production and the price charged for them, which the Committee is entitled to be furnished with, when a request is made for the protection of the. industry.
– A label attached” to one of the locks produced bears the statement that 1,600 of those locks were supplied, I think, to the Railway Department of Tasmania.
– That is so, but I am unable to give any information ‘beyond the fact that the man to whom I have referred is a contractor for the supply of certain classes of locks to the Post and Telegraph and Railway Departments of Tasmania. He can manufacture locks, but whether he can do so on a sufficiently large scale is quite another matter. I suggest to Senator Findley, in the circumstances, that he should agree to alter his request to read - “ . . . Proclamation to issue so soon as a joint address has been passed on the motion of Ministers by both Houses of Parliament, stating that the manufacture is sufficiently established in the Commonwealth ; but until the issue of such proclamation : Locks, free.”
– That is not the request before the Committee.
– No ; but I think it is the form which the request should take. I do not believe in delegating to Ministers powers which should be retained by the Legislature. I am not concerned about the rate of duty proposed’, if Parliament is given the opportunity, ‘ by the easy method proposed, of deciding when the industry has sufficiently progressed to justify the imposition of a duty for protective purposes. As a representative of Tasmania, and a protectionist, I should certainly be justified in asking the Committee to give as much consideration to a Tasmanian manufacturer as has been given to manufacturers in other States, but I have not the slightest desire that Tasmanian industries should be given special treatment. I should like to know whether Senator Findley is prepared to accept my suggestion.
– I have no objection to the amendment of the request in the way suggested by the honorable senator.
– Then I shall resume my seat.
– I shall, by leave, submit the request in the following form -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 205 by leaving out the words “ Locks ; including,” and inserting the following new paragraph - “b. Locks, ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent. To come info operation on a date to be fixed by Proclamation. Proclamation to issue so soon as a joint address has been passed, on the motion of Ministers, by both Houses of Parliament, stating that the manufacture is sufficiently established in the Commonwealth ; but until the issue of such Proclamation, Locks, free.”
Request, by leave, amended accordingly.
– Whatever my personal views about the Tariff are, I think that if it can be shown that we have established an industry with some promise in it it is entitled to as much as, and no more, consideration than we have extended to every other industry. The trouble is that I am well within a proper limit when I say that there must be several hundred different kinds of locks used in Australia. The information before the Committee is that there is one man, who, from the samples of his work produced, is obviously a skilled! mechanic, who is making one or two kinds: of locks. We have no information, however, as to whether he has sufficient machinery and the financial strength necessary to enable him to put a quantity of these locks upon the market.
– Nor have we any information as to the price
– That is so. Obviously, it would not be wise for us to impose a duty on all locks merely in order to give a little encouragement to an enterprising man, who in a small way is making one or two kinds of locks.
– That is not proposed.
– As I understand it, the honorable senator’s original request, as well as that now before the Committee, includes all locks in the same category, and he must admit that that is a weakness. As I read the request, it means that every lock required in Australia would have to be made here in reasonable quantities before protection could be given to the manufacture of any class of locks.
– No; Ministers would have to be satisfied that the locks in ordinary general use were being made here.
– And they would then have to move Parliament to issue the. proclamation.
– That is so; Parliament would have to be satisfied before the proclamation could be issued.
– Neither the item nor the requested amendment upon it refers to locks in ordinary use. I ask the Minister to accept my assurance that I desire to meet Senator Findley, and as I read the request, the proclamation could not issue until it could be shown that the local industry was sufficiently developed to supply the people of the Commonwealth in respect to all kinds of locks. I think the difficulty could be overcome by the adoption of the conditions governing the issue of the proclamation with which the Tariff has already made us familiar.
– That is what has, been done.
– I have overlooked that. I accepted the request in the form in which it was handed to me by the Chairman. I am content if the issue of the proclamation is to be left to the action of Parliament, because if Parliament at the time it was asked to deal with the matter felt that there ought to be a discrimination, it would be easy to pass a short Bill if it were found otherwise impossible to deal effectively with the matter. I regard the request in its present form as merely postponing the operation of the duty suggested until, in the opinion of Parliament, it is desirable that it should be imposed.
– I think there will be some difficulty in deciding what are locks. How are we to decide that locks of all kinds required in Australia are being made in the Commonwealth in sufficient quantities ?
– That will have to be decided by a resolution of both Houses of Parliament, and the Minister will be responsible for satisfying Parliament that locks are being made here, and that the industry is sufficiently established to warrant the imposition of the duty.
– On the evidence that was submitted to them, the Tariff Commission did not recommend any duty on locks, on the ground that there was only one manufacturer of locks in the Commonwealth, who has been making locks since 1890. There is no doubt that locks of a more or less ornamental character are beingmade in Tasmania, but they are made in limited quantities, and are useful for veryfew purposes.
– The man w nc makes locks can make any kind of locks.
– I do not think he could. I do not think the locks produced were made by machinery, and we know that machinery would be required to - make locks in large quantities. Many kinds of locks require a considerable quantity of machinery for their manufacture. If the matter is to be left to a future Parliament to decide, I see no objection to the request.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.16]. - I understood from the Minister’s- ejaculation that he desired that the duties should be 15 and 10 per cent.
– No ; 20 and 15 per cent.
– I. should like the lower rates, and feel inclined to move an amendment upon the request. We are now fixing a rate of duty, though we do not fix the date when the duty will operate. However, as the sense of the Committee is evidently against me I will not submit an amendment.
Request, as amended, agreed to.
Request (by Senator Colonel Neild) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 205 by inserting after the word “ Escutcheons “ the word “ Window.”
Item 206. Pins (not being gold or silver, or gold, or silver-plated) viz. : - Gimp ; solid headed short toilet; plain wire hair; plain safety; and crotchet hooks, ad val. (General Tariff), 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free.
Request (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That the . House of Representatives be requested to amend item 206 by inserting before the word. “ and,” line 3, the words “ also hooks and eyes.”
Item 207. Platinum, viz. : - Bars, strips, tubing, pipes, sheets, and plates, free. “Request (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be re- quested to amend item 207 by inserting after the word “Bars” the words “Bods, Blocks.”
Item 208 (Retorts, Pans, &c.) ; item, 209 (Printers’ Materials); item 210 (Rabbit Traps, etc.); item 21 r (Rivets, bifurcated) ; item 212 (Saddlers’ and Harness-makers’ Materials); item 213 (Scales); item 214 (Scrap Iron and Steel); item 215 (Screw Hooks, Eyes and Rings) ; and item 216 (Sprinklers for perfume bottles) agreed to.
Item 217. Standards, steel fencing of all lengths and Pillars, Wedgers, patent, for Droppers and Standards, ad val. (General “Tariff), 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free.
Request (by Senator Best) agreed tc -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 217 by inserting after the word “ Standards “ the words “ and Pillars “ ; and by leaving out the words “ and Pillars,” line 2.
– I ant going to ask the Committee to assist me to increase the duty proposed under this item from 5 per cent, to 17^ per cent. ; and to make the duty against goods from the United Kingdom 121 per cent. To do so will only be consistent .with what we havealready done in regard to item 200, Droppers patent steel of all lengths. The original duty on that item was 5 per cent., but the House of Representatives increased it to 17
– I think the honorable senator is under a misapprehension. The item with which we have dealt related to the finished dropper. We are now dealing with wedgers for droppers. These goods go to make up the droppers.
– But the item with which we are dealing also affects standards. All these goods are part and parcel of the same industry. I propose that we shall deal with this matter as we have dealt with other items. We have in some cases described a certain machine ai d then dealt with the fittings connected with that machine. Take also the iron industry. Item 181 deals with iron pipes, cas* and wrought, n.e.i., and cast-iron fittings for’ pipes are dealt with under item 182. We want to deal with the question comprehensively and as a whole. Strictly speaking, the matters dealt with in items 200 and 217 should have been in one item. But they became separated, and by an oversight the duty of 17i per cent, was not inserted in item 217. I urge honorable senators to recognise that this is an Australian industry, and that my request ought to be accepted. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 217 (imports under General Tariff), ad val. 17^ per cent.
– The Minister has stated, I “think quite accurately, that this item is kindred with one previously passed. The fences referred to are constructed of metal uprights, and are used in country when*, timber is scarce. As is . the case with .lost fences, posts are erected at certain distances, and in between them are placed droppers, which are attached to the wires, and not fixed in the ground. In item zoo we dealt with the droppers. This item covers the posts, standards, or pillars which are first set into the ground, and to which the wires are attached, the droppers’ being subsequently attached to the wires. The articles included in this item are on all fours with the droppers. The Minister stated the only argument for an increase of the duty when he said that the treatment meted out to the one item ought to be meted out to the other. I regret that I was not present this afternoon when item 200 was reached. After sitting here for a long while, I happened to go out for a few minutes, and upon my return, I found that the Committee had absolutely bolted. I was staggered at the evidence I found of indecent haste. Whilst I admit that these items ought to be on all fours, I by no means assent to the proposition that the duty ought to be 17j per cent. I am therefore obliged to oppose the request. If it be defeated it will be incumbent upon the Minister, on his own showing, to get item 200 recommitted in order to bring the two items into line. He was a little inaccurate when he said that this is an Australian invention. Types and patterns have, I believe, been made here, but I am correct in stating that the iron upright for fencing was first used in South Africa where timber is not obtainable.
– Forty years ago I saw them in use in Great Britain.
– No doubt the hon- orable senator did see them used forty years ago in a short line of fencing ; but I am speaking of their use in grazing country where the land is held in large areas. The Minister has stated that this is an established industry. That is true. Thousands upon thousands of these ar- tides are being turned out every year in Australia without the aid of a duty. There is no evidence that the industry is struggling or depressed. As timber is being cut out in many places, and railway freights are being reduced, there is an increasing tendency to use iron droppers and standards, but the industry, has developed without any artificial aid, and there is no evidence that it needs to be helped now. On the contrary, as it has acquired a position of some stability, we are asked to do what is quite unnecessary, and what, so far as I know, no one has asked for. These iron standards, pillars, and droppers are only used in country which is void of timber. Any land-holder or occupier who has timber handy finds it infinitely cheaper to use the timber than to use iron substitutes. If we impose the duty and the effect of its imposition is to increase the price, we shall still further penalize the man who is already under a great natural disability. To my mind that will be a little unjust, seeing that the industry is already doing well. I ask the Committee to pause before it makes these unfortunate persons pay for their misfortune in not having a supply of timber. In view of the fact that a big struggle is being made by a large number of our settlers, especially small men, to go out and conquer the more remote portions of Australia, we ought not to do anything which will place a handicap upon them, more particularly when it is not shown that there is any necessity for us to confer a special favour upon those who are making these articles.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.35]. - I wish to draw the attention of the Minister “to the’ fact that by his request he is proposing to alter the whole idea of the item. He starts the item with standards and pillars, then puts in a semi-colon, and next mentions steel fencing.
– No; it reads “ Standards and Pillars, steel fencing of all lengths;”
– I am inclined to think that the’ steel fencing ought to come first, to show that the standards and pillars are connected with it, because otherwise a brilliant Customs officer may discover that the item is meant to cover all metal pillars which are imported. It is the fencing, and not the pillars, .which ought to govern the item.
– This item “is worded in the usual way. For instance, look at item 221, which reads -
Steel, rough-shaped, for chaff-cutter and other knives.
– In that case the steel is rough-shaped for making the chaff-cutter and other knives, and the item can be understood. But in this case the item starts with standards and pillars, without defining what they are for or saying anything about them, and then follows steel fencing. I think that the item will have to be recommitted in order to make the fencing’ govern the pillars.
– In Tasmania, these droppers are made very largely of wood.
– Those are not droppers, but battens.
– They are the same as the droppers, which do not touch the ground.
– When made of wood they are called battens.
– Not necessarily.
– If wooden droppers are used in Tasmania, what difference will the imposition of a duty make?
– In Tasmania, wooden droppers are used, because it is found that they are considerably cheaper than the droppers made of steel or iron.
– Then a duty will not affect the people in Tasmania.
– I submit that there is no necessity to impose a duty. If the price of other droppers be increased by the imposition of a duty, it will increase the burden upon country people who have to use wire fencing.
. It is rather unfortunate that item 200 was allowed to pass while we were in a more or less complacent mood. I “noticed at the time that it dealt with droppers, and that item 217 dealt with standards; but, as I have more than once said, I am not sufficiently familiar with many of those things to be able at the moment* to offer any advice or suggestion. I. am rather sorry, however, that I ‘ did not draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that it was about to pass an item under which droppers were made dutiable at 171 and 12j per cent., according to country of origin. In a large part of Australia, a dropper is a most important portion of a fence. I could not have delivered the speech that I did with regard , to the duty on wire netting without knowing that a large portion of my remarks applied to the duty on droppers. It would be far more consistent if the Government were to accept the pretty strong intimation which we then gave by our vote. I contend- thai the droppers and standards should be treated in very much the same way as we dealt with wire netting. From personal. observation, I can say that the droppers and standards are used extensively ‘in Queensland. They are used in .places where it would otherwise be impossible to have any kind of fencing. I should fancy from the extent of. their use that they are included among the most needed requirements for the settlement of many portions of that State, and I feel certain that they are equally essential to the settlement of New South Wales and South Australia. After doing so much to assist graziers and farmers by seeking to give them free wire netting, the Committee will stultify itself if it allows the duty on standards and droppers to be increased. In many parts of Australia it will be almost impossible, or at any rate highly expensive, to go on with fencing if these articles, which are of such valuable assistance to the pastoral and kindred industries, are made dearer. Why should they not be free of duty ? We are eternally being told what the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommends. In this case they recommended that the item should be free.
– That shows all they knew about it.
– If Senator Trenwith does not agree with the protectionist section of the Commission, he tells us what, sort of asses they are, but when he does agree with them he regards them as geniuses. He looks upon them as a sort of Joss, to be kicked when a recommendation does not suit him, and to be smiled on when it does. In recommending that this item should be free, the protectionist section of the Commission had some mercy and consideration for the struggling settlers in the back portions of Australia. I am sorry to see that the influence of men who cannot get their vision off the Yarra, or who possibly have, never been away from the Yarra, is so strong in this Chamber. On this item, as on others, we have had to struggle against the gross provincialism of the Melbourne prohibitionists. If we ask for some assistance for, or some recognition of the struggles of, the settlers in the back-blocks of Australia, they seem to think that we are asking for something which will destroy the foundations of Australian industries. But we are doing nothing of the kind. In spite of the fact that the item was free in the old Tariff ,’ these articles are still being made in large quantities in Australia, and the product of the Melbourne or Sydney manufacturers is being sent out to1 the back-blocks. The industry is, therefore, apparently flourishing, and assisting in the development of Australia. It has done so notwithstanding the absence of a duty. ‘It is. therefore, clear that the manufacturers do not need an increase of duty, and it is equally probable that if it is given to them they will, as they are not in the business for the good of their health, take the full benefit of the enhanced duty. To be consistent, the Committee ought to have made droppers absolutely free under the previous item. The two items ought hot to have been differentiated. It is because I do not want the Committee to stultify itself that I shall strongly assist the movement to make standards and the other articles mentioned in this item free, in the same way and for the same reasons as wire netting was made free.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.55]. - I desire to move a request, but I am not sure whether it will not be necessary for the request now before the Chair to be first withdrawn. We have fixed duties of 17 J per cent, and 12 1/2 per cent, on droppers, and it would be appropriate to make the articles of the same class in this item dutiable at the same rates. But I desire to impose a lower rate of duty on “ standards and pillars and steel fencing of all lengths.” I must, to be consistent, vote for duties of 17^ per cent, and 12& per cent, on the other articles in the item, but I wish to separate “ standards and pillars, and steel fencing of all lengths “ from them.
– The honorable senator could achieve his object by moving to insert, after the word “lengths,” the words “ad valorem” and whatever rates he wishes to propose.
– I wish first to move a request in the body of the item. I am not at all satisfied with the way the item has been drafted. I accepted the Minister’s explanation a little while ago as satisfactory, but Senator Neild’s reading of it shows that there is a danger of its being incorrectly interpreted. “ Standards and pillars, steel fencing of all lengths “ might be regarded as three articles, but I take it that the real intention is to place a duty ‘ on “steel standards and steel pillars intended for use in fencing.”
Usual way is to print the principal articles with initial capitals, and then the description follows. So, in this case, we have “ Standards and Pillars,” and then comes “ steel fencing of all lengths,” which is a description of the Standards and Pillars.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) [8.59L - I thought that that was the intention, but it is evident that -the item is open to another construction. I suggest the insertion of the word ‘” for “ before the words “ steel fencing.”
– I assure the honorable senator that it is all right.
– These assurances that it is all right are very comforting, but one requires to know the point of view from which they are made. If we have gone beyond the point at which the amendment I suggest could be made, I shall not press the matter, but I repeat that the first line of the item, as worded, is open to the interpretation that there are three classes of articles made dutiable under it, when,as a matter of fact, there are only two.
Request,, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.1]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 217 by inserting the following new paragraph - “a. Standards and Pillars, steel fencing of all lengths, ad val. (General Tariff), 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free.”
– I ask the Committee not to adopt the request. A reference to item 200, which we have already passed, and to the item now under discussion, must satisfy honorable senators that these articles form part and parcel of one industry. .
– What kind of dropper is used in connexion with patent steel fencing ?
– I am advised that it is technically described as the “ triangular slotted dropper.” The item covers articles which we can manufacture in the Commonwealth. We already . turn out thousands of pounds worth of these articles every year. It is true that there are still importations, but the competition that exists in connexion with these articles throughout the Commonwealth is such that the consumer has no reason to fear an increase in their price as the result of the imposition of protective duties so reasonable as 17
– What is meant bv the words “ steel fencing of all lengths “ ? .
– The item does not cover steel fencing of all lengths, but standards and pillars of all lengths made of “ steel.
– The item is not” expressed in English, . and it’ is impossibleto say what it means.
– - I have already directed attention to the cumbersome way in which the item, is expressed. However, the time has gone- by for amending it at this stage, and it. remains a question whether it is worth, while recommitting it in order to alter thewording. If Senator Neild will look at theitem more closely, he will find that thepatent wedgers are. used for standards aswell as droppers. They are pieces of metal which fall into a slot, and which can beused with some forms of standards, as well as with droppers. I point out, however, that we are proposing - to impose a duty on patent wedgers, and I should like toknow under what . item wedgers that arenot patented, or the patent for which hasexpired, would come.
– Under item 170, Manufactures of metals n.e.i.
– I suggest to Sena-; tor Neild that he should withdraw his request in view of the discussion that hastaken place, but I am prepared to join with him in resisting the attempt which the Minister proposes to make to raise the duty.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.7]. - I am prepared to withdraw my request in view of the light which Senator Millen has thrown upon an utterly incomprehensible jumble of words. In so describing it, I speak with some little knowledge of the English language. I ami not more dense than is the average human being, and the words in this item have been so strung together as to convey to my mind nothing that I can understand. I was discussing with Senator Macfarlane the possibility of “ steel fencing of all lengths ,r covering the metal hurdles known as deer or park fencing.
– They might be interpreted to cover that class of fencing.
– If the wording of the1 item is considered to be ambiguous it will” be possible, should the request I have moved be carried, to put it in some better form in another place.
– By leave of the Committee I will withdraw my request after the explanation given by Senator Millen, but I cannot agree to vote for the proposal to raise the duty to 17½ per cent.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator Best) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 217 (imports under General Tariff), ad val. 17½ per cent.
– I take advantage of the suggestion made by the Minister that if the request he has moved be carried an opportunity will be afforded when the item is being considered in another place to amend the wording, and I suggest that the honorable senator might intimate to his honorable colleagues in another place that the item should read “ Steel Standards and Pillars for fencing.” There would then be no possible doubt as to what is intended.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority …… 4
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Best) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 217(imports from the United Kingdom), 12½ per cent.
Items 218 (Steel for band-saws), 219 (Steel grit, &c.), 220 (Steel Knives for hand tobacco cutters), and 221 (Steel, rough shaped, for chaff-cutter and other knives), agreed to.
Item 222. Steel and Steel-rimmed Wheels of over 18 inches diameter in the tread, for trucks and waggons, and all steel parts for such wheels, on and after 30th November, 1907, ad val. (General Tariff), 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free.
– I should like to know why this item is confined to wheels of over 18 inches diameter. Does it include wheels for railway carriages, tram-cars and vehicles of that description ? Unless a satisfactory reason is given for not doing so, I shall submit a request to strike out the words “ of over 18 inches diameter in the tread.”
– The item provides that steel and steel -rimmed wheels of over 18 inches diameter shall be 5 per cent. and free ; the reason being that we do not make in. the Commonwealth wheels over that diameter. Wheels under 18 inches diameter come under 380g, and are subject to duties of 35 and 30 per cent. as parts of vehicles.
– We make smaller wheels. Is the Minister satisfied that we do not make the larger kinds?
– We find that that is so.
– I should like to ask the Minister whether he is quite clear as to whether item 222 has reached the Senate as it left the House of Representatives? I find a discrepancy between the item as presented to us and the Hansard record showing the diameter limitation adopted elsewhere. It might be as well to clear up the matter. I can give the Minister the reference to Hansard if he likes.
– We can only deal with the Bill as it comes to us, providing with regard to wheels of over 18 inches diameter.
– I have no objection to that, but I draw attention to the discrepancy.
– I have the assurance of the Customs officer who is assisting me, and who was in the other House at the time; and he informs me that the 18 inches provision is. correct. Apart from that altogether, however, we have to deal with the Bill officially and duly signed, as it is before us, and we are bound by the terms of the Bill. Probably the inaccuracy to which my honorable friends refer may be due to a printer’s slip in Hansard.
– I have been informed that wheels of a greater diameter than 18 inches are being manufactured in the Commonwealth. I notice that the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 20 per cent. on this item. I shall therefore submit a request to leave out the words as to the diameter.
I intend to move later on for a duty of 20 per cent, in the first column. That is the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, which made no recommendations that we could not safely adopt. No doubt they were rather moderate in some of their recommendations, but they never overstepped the mark. This matter as to the manufacture of steelrimmed wheels is worthy of consideration. I have no direct evidence before me, but I have been informed that “wheels over 18 inches diameter can be and have been manufactured in Australia, and that there is no earthly reason why the limitation should be made. For these reasons I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 222 by leaving out the words “ of over 18 inches diameter in-the tread.”
– There is no necessity for striking out the words to which Senator Story objects. If he wishes to accomplish the object that he has indicated, when we come to deal with the duty he has simply to propose that it be increased from 5 to 20 per cent. But if we were to leave out the words “ of over 18 inches diameter in the tread “ Senator Story , might find that he was not able to amend the provision as to the. duty, and then the item would have to stand with a duty of 5 per cent, on all steel and steel-rimmed wheels of whatever size. That is not what Senator Story wants. There is a higher duty on wheels under 18 inches in diameter.
– I ask my honorable friend Senator Story not to persist in his request. Wheels under 18 inches in diameter are by this Tariff made liable to duties of 35 and 30 per cent. But under the item as’ it stands, wheels above .18 inches in diameter are dutiable at 5 . per . cent. and free. The reasons for that are, first, that it is understood that the larger wheels are not made- in the Commonwealth, and secondly, that wheels above 18 inches in diameter are greatly used in coal and other mines, and to impose a high duty on them would be a. mistake.
– Is there not a plant in Melbourne for manufacturing wheels?
– I believe that the Australian Forge Company had a plant, but I do not think that it made wheels above 18 inches in diameter. It is urged that as these wheels are not made in the Commonwealth, a heavy duty would be an undue tax on the mining industry. Under these circumstances, the other Chamber came to the conclusion that a duty of 5 per cent, on the general Tariff would be sufficient. I may add that- my colleague, the Treasurer, himself moved the amendment imposing the duty as it stands.
– I find that the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 20 per cent, and the free-trade section one “of 10 per cent. Yet the other House made the duty 5 per cent. Surely that matter should be explained.
– I cannot find that the Commission made any. recommendation at all as to wheels.
– On page 18 of report No. 49 of the protectionist section there is the line -
Steel and steel-rimmed wheels for coal or shale trucks and waggons, 20 per cent.
– Does this item include railway wheels?
– Undoubtedly. We had to differentiate between wheels made in Australia and those not made here, and therefore we decided to impose duties of 35 and 30 per cent, on wheels- under 18 inches in diameter, and to treat wheels over that diameter under this item dutiable at 5 per cent, and free.
– I wish to know whether the item covers wheels made of steel similar to those used by tramway companies ? .
– -Yes; it includes all wheels.
– Then i think that a glaring mistake is being made: The whole of the wheels used bv the Melbourne Tramway Company have been locally made.
– They are not 18 inches in diameter.
– The common sizes which are made in Victoria, and I believe in the Other States, are 8-inch, 12-inch, and 24-inch wheels. I fancy that the diameter prescribed in the item ought to be increased. It is an undoubted fact that these wheels have been made in Melbourne. It will be a remarkable thing if a protectionist Committee agree to admit at a duty of 5 per cent, from foreign’ countries, and free from the United Kingdom, an article which can be made here.
– So far, we have not received a solitary protest, although this item was passed elsewhere in November, 1907.
– It is a new doctrine for an enthusiastic protectionist, such as Senator Best is, to say that because the Government have not received a protest the item should be allowed to pass. It seems to me that a mistake is being made in the matter of the diameter. I think that we should be furnished with more information than we have.
– Manufacturers are generally alive to everything which affects their interests.
– But the company which made the wheels is dead.
– One section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 20 per cent. I am not quite clear as to what was done in the other House, but it seems to me a remarkable thing to subject an article which is manufactured locally to a duty of only 5 per cent. when imported from foreign countries, and to admit it free when manufactured in the United Kingdom. I propose to move that the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty in the first column 20 per cent.
– The request of Senator Story will have to be dealt with before that request can be moved.
– I was out of the chamber when Senator Story moved his request.
– In the circumstances, it might, perhaps, be well for me to ask leave to withdraw my request and to move for a duty of 20 per cent. in the first column.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 222 (imports under the General Tariff), ad val. 20 per cent.
The A section of the Tariff Commission recommended that rate of duty. Since I spoke a few minutes ago, I have obtained authentic information that railway wheels with a diameter of 2 ft. 6 in. have been made in Victoria for the Queensland Government railways. I am also informed that tramway wheels which are all over that diameter are locally made, and that all Australian steel founders manufacture wheels 18, 20 and 24 inches in diameter.
– Where did the honorable senator get this information?
– The information came from the secretary to the Chamber of Manufactures, and I feel sure that it is authentic. The Steel Company of Australia, which is a local company, has just made 300 wheels with a diameter of 2 feet for the Cape Otway Timber Mills, Warburton. The item has been reached rather quickly, otherwise I might probably have been prepared with more information.I was absolutely certain when I first rose to. address the Committee that the wheels cannot only be made, but are being made, here. The size of the diameter does not enter into the question at all, because it is only a matter of making a larger mould. I hope that Senator Best will support a request which is moved in the interests of protection. This is supposed to be a protectionist Government, but on many occasions I have been very much disappointed to find that simply because the other House had made an alteration, and the Minister in charge of the Tariff there had agreed to it, the leader of the Senate has felt compelled to adhere to it.
– But that has nothing to do with this item.
– I am asking the Minister not to vote, as he has done on previous occasions, against a protective duty simply because his colleague in another place was compelled, by force of numbers to give way. I appeal to him to support a protective duty on an article which can be, and is being, manufactured here.
– Senator Story is not at all logical in what he is proposing to do. I think it will be generally admitted that the larger the casting the greater is the difficulty associated with the work.
– If you go over a diameter of 2 ft. 6 in. it might be.
– The honorable senator is now discarding any limit. Just now he said that in Australia we could make any sized wheel, as it was only a matter of making a larger mould. Any one who has ever walked through a casting establishment knows that when a certain size is exceeded, the difficulty is multiplied tremendously.
– But it is not impossible to make the wheels.
– I am not dealing with that aspect now, but merely stating as a general proposition, towhich I think
Senator McGregor will assent, that the larger the casting the more difficult and costly becomes the operation. That being so, Senator Story must see that in this case he is giving the smallest measure of protection to the most difficult work and the highest measure of protection to the -work most easily accomplished. We are told that the smaller wheels will carry duties of 35 and 30 per cent, as “ Manufactures of metals.” Those are the easily made wheels, which every one admits are being made here. Now, when we are dealing . with the larger wheels, which it is more difficult to make, and -which require a larger plant and deserve greater encouragement at our hands, Senator Story contents himself with proposing a duty of 20 per cent. ‘.The very least that ought to be done is to put them on a parity. If it is desired by the Committee to impose a duty on these wheels, it seems to me ridiculous to put the lowest measure of duty on the wheels which it is most difficult to make. They ought to be brought into line. On this occasion I agree with the Treasurer, who introduced this as a new item. Originally, the Tariff dealt with all wheels under the one heading. Sir William Lyne ascertained, I presume, that the larger wheels were not being profitably made in Australia, and therefore he proposed the insertion of the special .item, -making them practically free. Whilst it may be demurred that the limit of 18 inches is wrong, I still think that the policy represented by the item is right, and I shall vote against the request.
– I can testify that local manufacturers are able to make the larger sized wheels. They are made by W. Bagshaw and Sons, of Adelaide, in connexion with chattcutters, and by J. Martin and Company and others in. connexion- with reaping machines. If Martin and Company can manufacture engines second to none, and send them to the other States, surely it is not beyond their capacity to make wheels over .18 inches in diameter. I wish that Senator Millen would take a different view of Australian matters, and credit Australians with the ability to mam: some articles, instead of saying that any important article must be imported from England or China.
– - If the request be put in its present form, I, of course, shall have to oppose it. What
I suggest to Senator Story is that he should move a request to increase the diameter from 18 inches to 2 ft. 6 in., and, if that be carried, it will not be necessary to have the duty, because the article would fall under item 380c That would certainly’ give the Government ‘an opportunity of ascertaining whether it is quite correct to say that these wheels are made here. If it be found that they are made here, my desire, of course, would be that they should be protected, but my information is that they are not made locally.
– I have a recollection that, while I held the position of Minister of Railways of Victoria, there was some difficulty about the supply of steel-rimmed wheels. I regret to say that my recollection of the circumstances is somewhat imperfect; but I am inclined to think that the larger wheels for the engines to which Senator Russell has referred, and the engines which were made at Ballarat and Williamstown, were imported. I know there was a difficulty about getting the larger steel-rimmed wheels up to the standard required made locally. There is therefore wisdom in extending the limit, within reason. Any one who knows anything of castings is aware that the difficulties multiply’ enormously as the size of the casting increases. Senator McColl would be able to speak with much greater authority on that matter than I can, but I have a distinct recollection of some difficulty in connexion with railway wheels necessary for the engines we were making.
– My only object is to protect an industry of considerable magnitude. If I can do so by again withdrawing my request and substituting another I am prepared to take that- course. I recognise that without the assistance of the Government I cannot hope to carry my request.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator Story) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 23a by leaving OUt the figures “ 18,” and inserting in lieu thereof the figures “ 30.”
– I am certain, without in any way raising the question of whether, certain’ wheels ought to be dutiable or not, that the Committee is being invited to make a mistake. I believe that what is said on the other side about certain wheels being made in Australia is perfectly true. I also have reason to believe that there are’ certain wheels, required for special purposes, not being made here, and not likely to be made here commercially for some time, which this item was specially designed to meet. The alteration was introduced by Sir William Lyne in another place on representations being made to him that that class of wheel was not made, and not likely to be made commercially, in Australia, because of some technicality in their construction. I have suggested to Senator Story to make the limit 2 feet, but apparently he declines to do so. If the request is carried, as the Committee is not in possession of definite information, will the Minister undertake to obtain information on the subject?
– I intend to make inquiries in the meantime.
– I am glad to hear it, because there is now a dispute pending between the States and the Commonwealth as to whether State imports are liable to duty. It is quite possible that this item covers a tremendous amount of the material which forms the subject of the dispute, and it may have been introduced to exclude a considerable portion of State imports from the operation of a duty. The wording clearly indicates a wheel not in ordinary use. The wheels referred to by Senator W. Russell are neither steel nor steel-rimmed.
.- The information which I and my colleague had was that these wheels were made in Australia only to the extent of 18 inches diameter. Further information has come to hand. If Senator Story’s request to make the diameter 2 feet 6 inches is agreed to, the necessary inquiries will be made before the request is dealt with by another place. My colleague and I will have to be satisfied that the particular class of wheel which it was desired to make free will still be free, and that we are able to make wheels up to 2 feet 6 inches in diameter within the Commonwealth, or that there is an immediate prospect of our doing so.
Request agreed to.
Item 223 (Tinned Plates and Tinned Sheets), item 224 (Tubes (collapsible), empty), and item 225 (Washers and Rivets, copper), agreed to.
Item 226. Wire, n.e.i., ad val. 10 per cent., and on and after 16th November, 1907, free.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by inserting after the letters “n.e.i.” the words “also woven wire measuring over twenty holes to the lineal inch.”
As the Tariff was originally introduced, wire cloth and wire gauze were dutiable at 5 per cent. and free. It was subsequently discovered that they were manufactured extensively in the Commonwealth. The item covering them was therefore struck out, and they fell under the heading of “ Manufactures of metal n.e.i.,” dutiable at 25 per cent. (general Tariff) and 20 per cent. (United Kingdom). The representatives of the mining industry then pointed out that battery screens would also become dutiable at those rates. Further inquiries were made, and it was found that battery screens and similar varieties of woven wire measuring over twenty holes to the lineal inch, or 400 to the square inch, were made to a very limited extent in the Commonwealth. The insertion of the words I propose will make free battery screening, fly-door wire, and other woven wire which is not made here.
– Do those words include centrifugal screens?
– Yes; but not perforated metal. They cover only woven wire.
Request agreed to.
Item 227 (Zinc), and item 228 (Zinc Blocks for Marine Boilers), agreed to.
Postponed Division VIa. - Metals and Machinery.
To come into operation (and any then existing bonus to cease) on dates to be fixed by Proclamation, and exempt from duty in ‘the meantime. Proclamation to issue so soon . as it is certified to Parliament by the Minister that the manufacture to which the Proclamation refers has been sufficiently established in the Commonwealth, but no Proclamationto issue except in pursuance of a Joint Address passed on the motion of Ministers by both Houses of Parliament stating that such manufacture is sufficiently established.
– I ask the Committe to pass this division. It is only to come into operation as described in the introductory paragraph.
– To what extent have the duties been increased?
– By 2½ per cent., which is not unreasonable. If this great industry can be established, whether by bounties; or by such other means as we shall subsequently decide, the duties of 12½ per cent. and, in one case, 17½ per cent. represent a by no means excessive protection.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council is quite right in saying that this matter was discussed some few years ago, but two things have happened since then. The first is that the Government have increased the duties, roughly speaking, by 25 per cent., and the next is that they have put before the country a proposal to endow the iron industry concerned in the making of these things with a bonus to the extent of£304,000.
– It is worth it if we can establish the industry.
– I am not now discussing that. I shall not occupy the time of the Committee at length in dealing with this Division VI. a, but I wish to mention that the announcement of the bonus proposal, and the fact that the duties have been increased, differentiates the position with which we are called upon to deal from that with which we were called upon to deal six years ago. I can only say that I think the Committee is entitled to a little fuller information as to the intentions of the Government with regard to these duties.
– I gave all that information in my second-reading speech on the Bill.
– The honorable senator can hardly pretend that he gave any reason for increasing the duties. He certainly referred to the bonus proposal, but his references to it were no justification for the increase of the duties. If I had the slightest hope that I should be able to induce the Committee to join with me in reducing these duties to the rates submitted in 1902, I should be prepared to invite the Committee to do so. But I have not’ assisted to deal with half the Tariff without obtaining some knowledge of the temper and desire of honorable senators, and I therefore content myself now by saying that I object to the increases and see no occasion for them. If any other honorable senator chooses to submit a request for a reduction of any of these duties, I shall be prepared to support it, but I do not myself intend to submit such a request.
– In one form in which the Tariff has been published, I find, as a sidenote to this division, the words “ Free, except Mowers, as Proclamation did not issue.” I should like to know whether that refers to something that happened under the Tariff of 1902, or has any bearing upon what we are discussing now?
– It means that these things are free, with the exception of mowers, as the proclamation did not issue.
– Then what happened to mowers ?
– They were free under the 1902 Tariff, and they are still free.
Paragraph agreed to.
Item 229. Iron and Steel -
Bars and Loops ; or like crude Manufactures, less finished than Iron or Steel Bars, but more advanced than Pig Iron (except Castings), ad val. 12½ per cent.
– On paragraphs a and b of the item the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 10 per cent. I wish the Vice-President of the Executive Council to. give a reason for the increase proposed?
– I should like some information on the subject of reapers. I understand that under the1 . Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act, on complying with certain conditions, the manufacturers are enabled to escape Excise duty. One of these conditions is that they shall sell their reapers at a certain price.
– The honorable senator is thinking of strippers.
– I thought reapers were also included. My reason for referring to the matter is that unless the Act to which I have referred is administered in such a way as to regulate the price of this machinery, we must consider the protection which is to be afforded to the manufacturers. I think that the Government have been very lax in their administration of the law. When I was before the electors in South Australia I said thatI believed in the new protection embodied in the Act to which I have referred, and that the workmen should share with the manufacturers in the benefits conferred by protection. I said that I was prepared to look after the interests of the workmen in this matter, and also to see that the farmer should not have to pay more than a fair price for the agricultural machinery that he requires. I see that Senator Findley has his eye on me, and I wish to make my position clear. I explained that I was prepared to vote for high protective duties only if the interests of the workmen and the farmers were protected. I direct attention to the lax administration of the law by a weak Government. I describe them so advisedly, in view of what they have failed to do. I can inform the Committee that numbers of harvesters, the price of which was supposed to be regulated by Act. of Parliament-
– The honorable senator is now discussing something which is no doubt interesting, but which is not the question before the Committee: The Committee is now asked to consider certain duties which may hereafter be imposed, but which cannot be imposed without action in both branches of the Legislature. The honorable senator is also discussing, machinery which is not included in the item.
– I ask you, sir, tq. credit me with referring to that machinery merely in order to illustrate what I meant. The Government are in this matter bound to see that the workmen engaged in the manufacture of this machinery are fairly treated, and also to check the prices at which it is sold. Unless satisfactory assurances in this connexion are forthcoming, I contend, and I believe other honorable senators will agree with me, that a great deal that we have done in connexion with the Tariff will have to be revised. If the principle of the new protection is not to be given effect-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The matter to which the honorable senator refers has no conceivable connexion with the item now before the Committee.
– Then I have misunderstood the item. It includes reapers and other agricultural machinery, and I wish to say that if the great principle of the new protection is. to be departed from, the protection .to be afforded to the manufacturer will, so far as I am concerned, require to be reconsidered.”
Item agreed to.
– I have to thank honorable senators for the very close attention they have given to the very -important divisions of the Tariff which we have now passed. Having dealt with textiles and me’ ais and machinery, I think we can say that we have practically broken the back of the work before us. We have got through the most intricate and’ difficult portions of the Tariff.
– We should be able to pass the rest of the Tariff this week.
– I am going to ‘make an appeal to honorable senators to specially expedite the consideration of the balance of the Tariff, because the Government is in a most difficult position, and cannot determine what is to be the programme of the session, or when it shall end until the Tariff is out of the way. Senator Needham. - When the Tariff is finished, will that finish the session ?
– Once we get the Tariff out of the way, the Government will have no difficulty in at once announcing what they intend doing. Having regard to the fact that the Tariff has been .before Parliament ‘ since the 8th August last, and has in the meantime been subjected! to the search-light of analysis and criticism in another place, and so far as we have gone to hyper-criticism in the Senate, I ask honorable senators to lend me their aid in dealing with the’ balance of it expeditiously
– There is no need for the VicePresident of the Executive Council to appeal to honorable senators - at any rate, those on this side of the Chamber - to assist him in expeditious treatment of the Tariff. ‘ We have been doing that all along. If there have been occasions when the progress has not been as rapid as it might have been, I ask my honorable friend, in all fairness, to accept at least some measure of the responsibility.
– I am sure that every one of us wants to get through with the Tariff as quickly as possible. We are alive to the serious responsibility that rests upon the Chamber in connexion with it. But I rather differed from my honorable friend when he remarked, in something like the manner of an oracle, that when the Tariff was out of the way the Government would tell us what they intended to do with regard to the business’ for the remainder of the session. I .should like the Government to say definitely that they do not intend to proceed with any other business this session, or that they do mean to do so, “as the case may be. What the Minister practically says is that when the Tariff is out of the way we shall see what we shall see. In the meantime, I suppose, we must wait until the Minister feels disposed to tell us what the Government’s intentions are. I personally shall do all I can to assist in getting-rid of the business before us.
– I, of course, sympathize to a considerable extent with the appeal made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, but when we consider the importance of the Tariff, and the length of time required to deal with it in the House of Representatives, I think that most people who look at the matter fairly will realize that the Senate has done very well up to the present. I agree with Senator Millen when he urges that, as far as the remaining portion of the Tariff is concerned, honorable senators are disposed to assist the Minister in getting it out of the way expeditiously. I hope sincerely also that, in dealing with the remainder of the Tariff, the nonsense that we have heard about compacts made in another place, will not come before us again; but that everything will be plain sailing and that the end of the session will be within view when the Tariff is dealt with. Of course, I trust that the Government will be reasonable enough to come to the conclusion after the long session that the members of both Houses of this Parliament have had to endure, that, after the Tariff is passed, only measures of the very utmost importance shall be dealt with, and that those which can reasonably stand over unto next session will be allowed to wait. At any rate, some kind of recess ought to be afforded to honorable senators.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Copy of Report by the Comptroller-General of Customs in regard to Opium (dated 10th March, 1908).
Census and Statistics Act 1905 -
Trade, Shipping, Oversea Migration, and Finance of the Commonwealth of Australia for the month of October, 1907. - Bulletin No.10.
Trade, Shipping, Oversea Migration, and Finance of the Commonwealth of Australia for the month of November, 1907. - Bulletin No. 11.
Trade, Shipping, Oversea Migration, and Finance of the Commonwealth of Australia for the month of December, 1907. - Bulletin No. 12.
Transport and Communication. - Summary of Commonwealth Statistics for the years1901-1906. - Bulletin No. 1.
Production. - Summary of Commonwealth Statistics for the years 1901- 1906. - Bulletin No.1.
Population and Vital Statistics. - Vital Statistics of the Commonwealth for the quarter ended 30th June, 1907. - Bulletin No. 4.
The Acting Clerk of the Parliaments laid upon the table the following papers -
Return to Order of the Senate of 4th March,
Postal Department : Telegraph Messengers in each of the States - Examinations, Appointments, &c.
Return to Order of the Senate of 12th March,
Papua : Officials employed - Duties and Salaries.
Commonwealth Year Book - Business of the Session.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I notice that the Minister of Home Affairs has laid upon the table a number of returns from the Commonwealth Statistician. I have been informed unofficially that the Commonwealth YearBook is likely to be published during the month. I should like the Minister to inform us whether he is in a. position to state whether the volume is likely to be published at an early date or not? It is a very important work, and one to which we have been looking forward.
– I had hoped that the Commonwealth Year-Book would have been published during the month of February. Unfortunately, however, some information that was necessary for its completion is not yet forthcoming. Two of the States, I understand, have been behindhand in forwarding the necessary information, and although very urgent representations have been made to them and they have promised to supply what is required, up till last week the Commonwealth Statistician had not received some very important information that is absolutely necessary for the proper completion of a record relating to the whole of Australia.
– Which of the States are behindhand?
– Not Victoria; I think the two States are New South Wales and Tasmania. Steps have been taken to procure the information as early as possible. It would, of course, be most regrettable if the Year-Book, were published without the information that is at present lacking. In fact, without that it would perhaps be necessary to bring out the YearBook with information down to 1905 only. As it is desired to bring the volume down to 1906, every effort is being made to obtain the information. As soon as it is available the Year-Book will be published within a few days.
.- May I accentuate the position raised by my colleague Senator Chataway? I also hope .that the publication of the Year-Book will be. expedited. We have been looking forward to the publication of such a volume for a long time. The lack of such a book has been very much felt in the Chamber in dealing with very .important questions.
. ln view of the. utterances of the Vice-President of the’ Executive Council before progress was reported this evening, in relation to the progress of public business, T desire now to ask him whether he’ can inform the Senate ‘what measures of public importance it is intended by the Government to bring before Parliament after the Tariff has been disposed of?
– I -.cannot make a statement at this juncture.
– There are questions relating to defence, the financial’ relations of the Commonwealth and States, the Amending Electoral Bill, and last, but not least, the Navigation Bill - all of which are waiting to be dealt with. The leader of the Senate has appealed to us to deal with the Tariff expeditiously. Can he tell us now - or if not, will he tell us as soon as he can - what particular measures the Government intend to ask Parliament to dispose’ of before the end of the session?
– As soon as the Tariff. is dealt with I shall be able to answer my honorable friend’s question.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned, at 10.25. p.m. -
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 March 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080318_senate_3_44/>.