3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m. and read prayers.
Is the Minister aware that,both under the State and Commonwealth Governments, officers commanding volunteer regiments in New South Wales and other States have for manyyears past so managed the capitation grants made by Parliaments as to provide their men with a pair of military boots annually?
Was not the contracting for and supply of such military boots conducted in precisely similar terms to other article’s of uniform?
Is itnot a fact that recently an order was issued, by authority of the Minister, prohibiting the purchase and supply of military boots from regimental funds?
Is it a fact that officers commanding regiments made strong representations as to the injury that the said order would inflict upon the numbers and attendance of members of the Force ?
As a result of these and other representations, is it not a fact thata fresh order was issued authorizing the expenditure from regimental funds of sufficient money to purchase one-half pair of boots per man per year?
Did the said order specify whether Tight or left boots were to be supplied, or(a) was the matter left to the discretion of commanding officers, or (4) is it considered desirable that the right half battalion shall be supplied with right boots and the left hand battalion with left boots, or vice versa?
If the military authorities have decided thatmembers of the Military Forces are to be supplied with but one-half pair of boots per annum, have they made any satisfactory arrangement by which such members are enabled to purchase the other one-half pair of a similar pattern, or is a citizen soldier permitted to exercise his own pleasure in purchasing the other boot ?
What steps, if any, have been taken by the Military Department to ‘ make provision for suitable boots for the feet which are not officially shod?
– Order ! I point out to the honorable senator that clearly that question is a departure altogether from the principle on which a question should be framed. It appears to me to be one by which it ‘is sought to bring about a feeling of ridicule and contempt with regard to the administration of a Department. This I do not think should be attempted in the form of a question.
– Mr. President
– If the honorable senator will give notice of the questions, I shall then have made those alterations which I think are necessary in order to comply with the rule relating to the asking of questions.
– I beg to give notice of the questions for Wednesday next. ‘
– I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether he has seen in this morning’s newspaper a statement purporting to give an outline of the work to be undertaken by the Committee of Inquiry into the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department, and, if so, whether he has noticed that it is said the work is to be limited to inquiries into the trouble within the Department, and, further, whether it is to be understood therefrom that the Committee will not inquire into the causes of the complaints which have emanated from the general public?
– The complaints which have been made in Parliament, and I should say those which have been categorically stated in the press, will be inquired into.
– I beg to ask the Minister of Home Affairs, without notice, whether any progress has been made with the inspection of the Launceston post-office, about which I asked a question some weeks ago, when he stated that it) would be taken in hand?
– I cannot speak of my own knowledge. I know that immediately after the question was asked here, the Deputy Postmaster-General was instructed to send an officer to make the necessary inquiry and furnish a report. I shall ascertain during the “day what stage the inquiry has reached.
Senator BEST laid upon the table the following paper -
Bounties Act - Provision.il Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 32.
– I beg to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, when the papers relating to the delay of a nomination paper at Bowen at the recent Senate election are likely to be laid upon the table, of the Senate? It is some time since their production was ordered by the Senate, and I think that we should be furnished with the papers without further delay, so that we may see what was done.
– I do not quite know whom the papers will be available, but I shall make inquiries on the subject during the day, and do all in my power to have them tabled as early as possible.
ADJOURNMENT (Formal). Northern Territory.
– I have received from Senator. Sir Josiah Symon an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate, to call attention to a matter of urgency, viz., “the submission to Parliament for consideration of the proposed agreement for the transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth.”
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [11. 10]. - I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 10 o’clock to-morrow morning.
Four honorable senators having risen in their places,
– I need hardly say that I am sorry to interpose, even for a few minutes, before the resumption of the consideration of the Tariff: But I -think that honorable senators will feel with me that the matter to which I propose Vo call attention is of very grave and serious importance, and that constitutes the best apology I can offer for even briefly occupying their attention. ‘ I believe that they will agree with me that the public mind has become possessed, or is certainly becoming possessed, of what we all feel is .a highly important national need - the taking over of the Northern Territory and its control by the Commonwealth. I think that1 there is a settled feeling on that subject now, and that it will not be satisfied unless at as early a date as possible Parliament has the opportunity of considering and deciding the terms on which that transfer, whose accomplishment is inevitable, shall take place. In view of that, I recently asked a question of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, which I repeated at his courteous invitation at a later date. I must say that the answers which he then gave me, courteous as they were, advanced the matter very little farther, and, indeed, were calculated to fill with considerable concern those who are deeply interested in this question.. My honorable friend’s first answer was that the matter would be introduced as soon as the stale of business on the notice-paper would permit, That is a stereotyped formula to which we are not unaccustomed - it is not meant to tell us anything, and of course it does not. I quite agree that whilst there is a pressure of other business, some matters of more or less public importance must remain in abeyance. But it gives us no indication of when this very vital question - vital in the national interests of Australia - is likely to be brought under the consideration of Parliament. The second answer which my honorable friend gave, in response to an interjection of mine, was that the matter was not likely to be introduced, in fact, that it would not be introduced to this Parliament until the South Australian Bill had received the Royal assent. We all admit that business must’ be arranged by the Executive Council according to its importance, , but it is the second answer of the Minister which is of great importance in relation to the consideration and decision of this question. I have adopted this method of moving the adjournment in order that the Minister may have an opportunity of giving a fuller answer, with some explanation in it, and, if I may say so without implyingany reflection upon him, a more definite answer. There have been promises for a long time back that this matter would be dealt with at an early date and expeditiously. Those promises have not been fulfilled. I do not make any complaint, nor do I move this motion for the purpose of offering any censure, but it is a fact that promises of the clearest character have been made extending over a considerable time, and’ in the most formal and solemn manner. Let me recall to the Minister’s recollection the real position of this great national question. The terms were arranged between Mr. Deakin, the Prime Minister, and Mr. Price, the Premier of South Australia, about Christmas time in 1906, and embodied in writing in the form of an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia. They contain a stipulation, to which I invite the attention of the Minister and of the Government.
– Was the agreement arrived at before or after the general election ?
– I think it was immediately after the general election, but the Minister will be able to state definitely whether that was so. This was the stipulation to which I refer : -
The conditions set out above are to be submitted to the respective Parliaments of the Commonwealth and the State for consideration without delay.
In a great national transaction of this character it is on the face of it essential that there should not be a moment’s delay. Suspense only leads to difficulty and complication. Delay produces apathy in some quarters, and on the other hand may produce a great deal of inconvenience and difficulty in others. Therefore, ‘the Prime Minister undertook that the conditions set out should be submitted for consideration to the Commonwealth Parliament without delay. That is essential, because there may be the greatest and widest differences of opinion as to the terms embodied in the agreement. In fact, when it was originally notified to Parliament, and the agreement became a parliamentary paper, indications were given that there was not absolute unanimity in regard to its terms. The Vice-President of the Executive Council will therefore see the urgent necessity of ascertaining whether or not the agreement in its present or any other form is to be adopted by this Parliament. The agreement further stipulated that its terms were not in any way binding -
Until and unless approved of by both Parliaments, and legislation is passed enabling the Commonwealth and the State to legally carry out the proposed surrender and acceptance of the Northern Territory.
There was first of all, therefore, the obligation undertaken to submit to the Commonwealth Parliament, without delay, the terms of the agreement, and secondly, the arrangement that it should be in no way binding on either side until adopted by both Parliaments. The next thing ‘that happenedwas that Parliament met in February of last year. On that occasion, owing to the, intended departure of the Prime Minister for London to attend the Imperial Conference, no real business was brought before Parliament, but the arrangement for the control of the Northern Territory was considered of such surpassing importance that in the short speech then made by the Governor-General, it was one of the few subjects, if not the only subject, of . first-class importance mentioned. It was referred to in these terms: -
The general agreement which My Advisers have arrived at with the Government of the State of
South Australia fdr the transfer to the Commonwealth of the Northern Territory will also be then submitted for your approval. “Then” meant upon the return of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister returned, and Parliament re-assembled at the end of June or the beginning of July of last year, but nothing has been done since. I am not putting it,, nor do I ask the Senate to say, that there may not have been difficulties, because on the reassembling of Parliament the other Ch’amber had, after a little while, to undertake the consideration of the Tariff. But I do think - as a senator of South Australia, and having regard also to the national interests of the Commonwealththat in a question of this magnitude an opportunity should have been made for the consideration of the terms of the agreement. South Australia performed her part. She kept her word,’ but the Ministry, for reasons that I dare say they felt were sufficient, dd not keep theirs. South Australia adopted the agreement.
– At what date?
– As early as November last. I am glad the honorable senator asked that, because there is one particular circumstance which I wish to point out in connexion with it. The Ministry in South Australia, carrying out the obligation which rested upon them, introduced the agreement attached to a resolution, in order that Parliament might express its approval of the terms and conditions upon which the transfer was sought to be made to, and accepted by, ‘the ‘Commonwealth. They desired to secure the approval of their Parliament to those terms before they introduced the Bill. That is what ought to have been done here.
– That is the advantage of having a Labour Government - they do things.
– I will not say that it is because it is a Labour Government, but the South Australian Government are entitled to credit. Whether we agree or disagree with the terms of the instrument, it ought not to be kept in abeyance, when undoubtedly there will be considerable criticism of it in the Federal Parliament, so far as I can gather. The Sou’.h Australian ‘Parliament carried that resolution before the middle of November, but when the Bill w.as introduced early in December, a good deal of objection was taken on the ground .that the South Australian
Government and Parliament had done their part in approving of the terms of the agreement, and ought to take no other step until the Commonwealth Parliament had also approved of them: That was business, but in deference to the wish of the South Australian Government the Parliament overlooked that and passed -the Bil], which was then reserved for the Royal Assent. I suppose that was done because of some little doubt that exists with respect to the power of South Australia to deal aBsolutely on her own account with the transference of the Territory. I ask the Minister to make clear to the Senate why we have been hanging back all the time. Why are we hanging back now?
– Can we set the Tariff aside?
– We could have Had- opportunities. I am not putting this in the way of censure, but there will come a time, I hope soon, when we shall be free of the Tariff in this Chamber for a little while.
– We have the Navigation Bill, which will take some considerable time.
– We have been informed that that Bill is -not to be introduced this session. This question is of equal importance with any other measure that has been indicated as- likely to come under the consideration of Parliament. I submit that we might very well adopt the course adopted in South Australia.
– And sit here on Saturdays and Mondays?
– I am quite willing to do so in the interests of having this question settled. All that is desired to be known is not whether we are passing the Bill or not, but whether v.c are agreeable to the terms to which South Australia has assented, and to which the Commonwealth Prime Minister agreed.
– Would it not be well to let the Tariff be passed, and then the tempers of some members might be better ?
– I do not think that any question of temper will ‘be introduced into the consideration’, of a subject of this kind. It is too big a subject. Every man who, like Senator W. Russell, is not indisposed to take a large view of these great questions, feels that the Northern Territory must inevitably be taken over by the Commonwealth Parliament. We ought to have an opportunity of dealing with the terms of the agreement. We have had them before us for eighteen months, and if we had that opportunity we should be able to say whether or not we assent to them, or whether we desire to modify them. The course adopted by the South Australian Parliament is an excellent one for us to follow, and I. can see no difficulty in the way of the Government affording the Senate, if not the House of Representatives, an opportunity of dealing with the matter at an early date. If we wait for the Royal Assent to be given to the South Australian Bill, as the Minister’s second answer indicated, and this Parliament disapproves of the terms of the agreement, that Bill will simply become waste paper, and all that has been done in South Australia will be as if it had never been done at all . In themeantime, difficulties have arisen in South Australia in connexion with Northern Territory lands, and I saw by the newspapers only the other day that actually litigation is about to begin in connexion with some question of the leasing of lands in the Territory. If we are going to take over the Northern Territory, let us say so at once, and if it is desired that there should be some modification of the terms so far agreed to, let that be said at once. It is only fair that the people of South Australia should be relieved from any uncertainty or suspense, and that this national question, as I call it, should be solved at the earliest possible opportunity. It is for these reasons that I invite the Vice-President of the Executive Council . to give the Senate some definite information on the subject. I ask the honorable senator, to begin with, whether, when the Tariff is disposed of in this Chamber, an opportunity will be afforded of considering the agreement. And, above all, if there is a prospect, as I am sure we all hope there may be, of our having a little relief from our legislative duties. I hope we shall be told that an opportunity will be given, before even that happy event takes place, of dealing with the’ agreement. I point out to the Vice-President of the Executive Council the serious importance of the question, not merely as a matter of business, but in view of the desirability of having it settled, not only in the interests of what is best for the Commonwealth, but of giving the Commonwealth that which is urged in many quarters, an opportunity of having control of lands and territory of its own; wherein it can make an effort to develop at least one portion of Australia according to whatever the enlightened policy of the Commonwealth itself may be, irrespective of any State interference.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [11.34]. - The matter which hasbeen sprung on the Senate this morning is undoubtedly one of great consequence, but I venture to say that it does not possess anything like so strong a claim to the consideration of this Chamber or of another place as another question which I shall only name and not argue, and that is the question of the establishment of the Federal Capital. The question brought forward by Senator Symon is one of quite recent origin ; and while I admit its importance, I must say that I have never heard any very urgent reason why at a stage of the session when matters are very confused, and a gigantic question like that of the Tariff is still far from settled, we should set aside every other question to consider a matter which, although it may have been deeply studied by Senator Symon and his colleagues in the representation of South Australia, has occupied far less of the attention of honorable senators from the other States than perhaps South Australian senators imagine. I know perfectly well that at the last State election in Queensland the honorable senators who were returned were pledged at almost every meeting to oppose the proposal which has been made.
– I know what happened in Queensland, and the honorable senator should not contradict me when I speak with knowledge.
– And the honorable senator is speaking of the successful candidates at the Queensland election.
– Of course I am. Senator Guthrie may have some knowledge of the doings of candidates in whom this Chamber is not at the moment interested.
– Let us get back to the Tariff.
– I agree with Senator McGregor that we should get back to the Tariff. I venture, with great respect for the honorable and learned senator who has introduced this subject, to say that I for one shall most strongly oppose the Commonwealth being involved in this new proposal until the question of the Federal Capital is settled.
– It is settled ; it is to be at Dalgety.
– I ask honorable senators not to discuss that question, though they may allude to it incidentally.
– That is all I propose to do. I repeat that I should oppose the Commonwealth entering into a wild and great proposition, while a constitutional obligation, which is to be found set out. in the Statute creating the Commonwealth, remains undischarged and undecided. The question introduced by Senator Symon involves, if it involves anything at all, not only the taking over of the Northern Territory, but heavy financial obligations, including a couple of millions sterling of debts, and also the building of railways which will cost several millions. The building of these railways is a part of the proposition which has been submitted. There is a Northern Territory railway,which some honorable senators desire should be given an easterly curve, that it may be linked up with the railway systems of Queensland and New South Wales - a proposal, in which, by the way, I entirely concur. It will be of no use for the Commonwealth to take over the Northern Territory without some reasonable means of communication with it. We can never secure a reasonable connexion with ‘the Territory by water ; whilst a connexion of the railways in the Territory with those of Queensland and New South Wales would be to the advantage of the Commonwealth as a whole. Still, the project is a gigantic one, and the financial obligations it would involve are tremendous, and can only be faced if the Ministry and those who keep them in power are willing to adopt a very different policy of Commonwealth finance than that which has hitherto been followed. We cannot entertain these huge projects until we are prepared to face the inevitable policy of public borrowing. Certainly the cost of the works involved in the proposal which is being discussed, could never be defrayed out of the public revenue. The proposal involves new and great complications and difficulties, and that being so, to argue that there should be immediate action in this matter is unreasonable. The action taken in bringing it forward this morning, as a matter of urgency, is one which I venture respectfully to protest against. It may possess some element of urgency from the South Australian standpoint, but from the Commonwealth standpoint it cannot be said to be urgent as compared with other matters which have been clamouring for settlement, and which if the proper order of precedence be observed should be settled before it. The one which above all these matters I name as demanding the earliest settlement is the question of the Federal Capital.
– I must confess that this motion for the adjournment of the Senate came upon me with very considerable surprise. I thought that at- least Senator Symon might have communicated his intention to move it.
– I am sorry I did not.
– My surprise was great when I heard from the honorable senator that, in his opinion, this was a matter of urgency, and much greater when I heard him state there had been delay on the part of the Government. I cannot admit that the matter has been hung up by the Government, or that there has been any unreasonable or undue delay in its consideration. I agree that it is a matter of very great importance. I regardit as a gigantic project which is certainly entitled to the deliberate and calm attention of the Senate, certainly not at the closing hours of an extraordinary session, but at a time when we should be in a position to deal with itquietly and deliberately. What has actually taken place so far is this : A provisional agreement was entered into, and months after that, it was taken up by the South Australian Government, and then only at the close of a session of the State Parliament, that is to say, in December last.
– No, in November. The resolution was adopted in the early part! of November.
– I speak subject to correction, but my recollection is that the Bill was passed by the South Aus-. tralian Parliament in December last.
– That Bill was passed in the beginning of December, but the agreement was adopted a month before.
– That may be so, but the point I was making was that the provisional agreement Had been entered into some eleven or twelve months prior to that, and the South Australian Parliamentdid not deem it a matter of urgency, or that it was necessary to deal with it at all until December. If it was considered a matter of urgency there, we might have expected that when the South Australian Parliament met, I think in June, 1907, it would have been one of the first matters dealt with. As I have said, the South Australian Parliament did not attempt to deal with it until December last.
– They dealt with it as soon as they could.
– I am dealing with the suggestion that the matter is one of great urgency.
– The Commonwealth Government in the GovernorGeneral’s speech did not refer to the Bill at all, but said that the agreement would be submitted immediately Parliament reassembled.
– I am dealing with the matter from the stand-point of urgency, as so strongly put by my honorable friend, and I say that so far as South Australia is concerned, there has certainly been no sensationalexcitement there on the subject.
– There was a reason for that in the trouble existing between the two Houses of the State Parliament.
– The South Australian Parliament having dealt with the Bill in December last, the Bill was sent on to us and we found that it contained something which we did not altogether approve of, and which we regarded as to some extent a departure from the provisional agreement. Following that, in February last - and we are now only in March - there was a Conference of representatives of the South Australian and Commonwealth Governments, and as a result, it was determined that a Bill should be drafted by the Commonwealth Government, and when drafted should be submitted for the consideration of the Government of South Australia. That Bill is now being drafted, and it is proposed to submit it in the ordinary way to the Government of South Australia for their consideration. As a matter of fact, were not this an extraordinary session, . as. has been hinted by my honorable friend, this Parliament would, at the present moment, be in recess, and the matter could not possibly be dealt with until late in the year. That, of course, was recognised at once by the South Australian Parliament itself. They could not definitely know our arrangements, and could not possibly be aware when we could get the Tariff through. They were fully aware that in the ordinary course of affairs, the Commonwealth Parliament would not deal with it until August or September, or perhaps December next.
– At the earliest, in June.
– At the very earliest, in June. I think that it is obvious, from the action of the South Australian Parliament itself, that there has been no room for reproach on the ground of delay, so far as the Federal Government is concerned. My honorable friend was, I think, hardly fair to the Government in that respect. He must recognise that since we met on the 22nd of January last, we have been absolutely absorbed in the Customs Tariff Bill. This Chamber, at the present moment, is devoting itself incessantly and assiduously to its duties in relation to that measure. The other Chamber was equally absorbed in the Tariff last year. It is true that they saw fit to indulge in a short recess, to which they were reasonably entitled after their arduous labours.
– I hope that the Minister will think the same of the Senate.
– I ask honorable senators - even if the Government felt disposed - even if everything as between the Federal Government and the South Australian Government were settled, so far as the terms were concerned - whether, in relation to a gigantic project of this kind, this would be a reasonable or proper time to introduce it to Parliament? I think it would not. I think, moreover, that it is a matter of such importance that fuller time and consideration will be necessary in order to do justice to the Commonwealth, and, indeed, to South. Australia itself.
– And what about justice to the Northern Territory ?
– We have to do justice to the Northern Territory also- justice to all parties concerned. Under all these circumstances, it would, I think, be misleading the Senate for me to suggest that there is any reasonable prospect of the matter being dealt with this session. I view the prospect hopefully from the way in which honorable senators are concentrating their energies upon finishing the Tariff, and getting rid of what I submit is a subject of infinitely more urgency, although not of greater importance. There are also other important matters with which we have to deal, one of which has been mentioned by Senator Neild. We are keeping faith, to the very letter, with the South Australian Government. We have never suffered the remotest reproach from them. There is nothing which could be suggested by way of urgency which would call upon this Parliament to deal with the subject during the closing hours of this session. While I admit, therefore, that it must take an early place in our business during the next session, I also say that, in the ordinary course, that is the place that it should take, and it is one which, I think, will be satisfactory to all concerned. As far as relates to the assent of the Imperial Government to the Bill passed by the South Australian Parliament, to which my honorable friend has referred, the Government would prefer that assent to be received. But I mentioned to my honorable friend a little while ago. that if he would repeat the question which he asked I should be very glad indeed to give him a definite statement as to whether we would permit the lack of that assent to stand in the way. I have considered that point, and discussed it with the Prime Minister. If other public business did not impose an obstacle, we should have no difficulty in going on with the matter, notwithstanding that the assent has not been obtained.
– Hear, hear.
– I hope that that assurance will prove satisfactory to my honorable friend. I can only say in addition, to my honorable friend and to the other South Australian senators, that the subject will receive prompt attention, and I trust will find an early -place in our programme during the next session, having regard to the many other urgent measures which are engaging’ the attention ofthe Government and of Parliament.
– I desire to discuss this matter free from any carping or fault-finding spirit. I. wish to emphasize the point put by my honorable colleague, Senator Symon, relating to urgency. I look upon the settlement of the Northern Territory question as being urgent from a’ national point of view. I think that the Commonwealth ought to take over the Territory, and devise means for its occupation and development. I was glad to hear the Minister say just now that the Government do not intend to hang up the matter simply because the Royal assent to the Bill passed by the
South Australian Parliament has not been received. From the reply given a few days ago I rather gathered that it was the intention of the Government to wait.
– We cannot take over the Northern Territory until the Royal assent is given to the Bill.
– The Federal Bill, as well as the South Australian measure, will require the Royal assent. Therefore, it is necessary that both Bills should be passed. It would be useless if the Royal assent were given to the one and not to the other. The South Australian Parliament have fulfilled their part of the contract so far as the agreement is concerned. They may have made some alterations which, perhaps, will not be acceptable to the Commonwealth Parliament. But for that reason it is the more necessary that the agreement should be taken up and its conditions considered. This is not a matter of importance simply to South Australia. It is also important to Western Australia, because the matter of the railway to the western border of South Australia is involved in. this same agreement. From mypoint of view, therefore, the matter is urgent. Senator Symon has quoted the last paragraph of the agreement, which shows that it was promised that, without delay, the subject would be introduced to Parliament in order that an agreement might be arrived at by the State and the Federal Parliaments. There is a good deal of force in the argument used by theVice-President of the Executive Council, that there have been very important matters with which this Parliament has had- to concern itself. I think that my colleague will be satisfied with the answer that has been given. We now know definitely that there will be no undue delay, but that as soon as possible this matter will be taken up and dealt with. I am very glad to learn that there is no intention of shelving it, but that it will be handled in a practical way.
– I, on behalf of those who are associated with me in the Senate, beg to say that our desire for. urgency in the matter that has been brought under our notice by Senator Symon, cannot be . exceeded by any one. But I would add that, so far as the Commonwealth Parliament is concerned, the Tariff is at present the most important piece of legislation that can be dealt with. It was because it was felt that no time ought to be wasted that no member of the party with which I am associated has attempted to urge the Government to do. anything hastily. I, for one, am thoroughly satisfied with the explanation that has been given by the Vice-President of the Executive. Council-, and with the promise that early next session the matter will be dealt with. Every one must admit that this Parliament, in the ordinary course of events, would have prorogued last December, if not at the latter end of November. Neither the Parliament nor the people of South Australia could have expected the. Government to deal with it before June or July next. Consequently, I am thoroughly satisfied with the assurance of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, that the interests of South Australia will be conserved by the consideration of the subject early next session.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [11.56]. - I merely wish to say, in withdrawing the motion, that I trust that theVice-President of the Executive Council will acquit me of any discourtesy in not giving him notice of my intention to bring this subject forward. There were circumstances whichmade me overlook what otherwise I certainly should have done, in intimating to him before the” Senate met today that I intended to ask the indulgence of’ honorable “senators in order to call attention to the subject.
– The honorable senator might have informed his colleagues from South Australia as well.
– I informed Senator McGregor this morning.
– That is so.
– The honorable senator left early last night.
– Yes. I do not for one moment suspect my honorable friend and his colleagues of failing to appreciate the great importance of this question. I think that the people of South Australia, as well as the people of the. Commonwealth, will be satisfied with the declaration that my honorable friend has made in respect of hisappreciation of the magnitude and national importance of the subject. I am satisfied to have received the intimation that there is no reasonable probability of the agreement being brought under the consideration of Parliament until early next session. My desire was, as I said before, that there’ might be a clear and definite intimation that operations in reference to the taking over of the Northern Territory, with which South Australia is so seriously concerned, would not be sus pended. I am also satisfied on a point, which gave me a little uneasiness, as to its being considered an essential condition of the consideration of the agreement by this Parliament that the Royal assent should be given to the South Australian Act. I am glad that my honorable friend has informed us that, after consultation with the Prime Minister, nothing of the sort is anticipated, and that, if it were convenient to do so, the matter would be dealt with irrespective of that Royal assent. Iam sure that my honorable friend will accept1 my assurance that, the matter being cleared up in that way, satisfaction will be given to those who are interested in the question. and the people of Australia will be enabled to feel that, at the earliest possible moment next session, the whole subject will be brought under consideration. I ask leave to withdraw my motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -.
Mr. Thomas Henley, M.L.A., of New South Wales, having stated in the Sydney Morning1 Herald a few days ago - That a farmer in the Riverina had expended fifty pounds in placing’ a telephone in his home, and upon making application for the connexion to be made at the nearest post-office, which would cost two pounds, the reply was given that no funds were available. The gentleman offered to loan the two pounds on the ordinary terms - Will the Minister state whether any such offer was made, and if so, whether it was acceptedby the Department?.
– Inquiries are; being made, and an answer will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Minister of
Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The Public Service Commissioner supplies the following answer -
The Public Service Commissioner is not aware that either the Deputy Postmaster-General or Deputy Public Service Inspector has expressed any opinion on the extracts quoted from report of Public Service Commissioner. In the papers already laid before the Senate) the Public Service Commissioner has given the full reasons which actuated him in awarding an increased salary to Mr. Blakney.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 26th March, vide page 9684) :
Division XIII. - Paper and Stationery - Item 356. Paper,, viz. -
.- When the Tariff was introduced in another place the articles mentioned in this paragraph were dutiable at 6d. per lb. in each column of the schedule. Those rates were considered satisfactory by those who are interested in the business, but for some reason or other the House of Representatives reduced the duty against the United Kingdom to 4d. The United Kingdom is the only competitor in this kind of work, and. T do not know why any preference should b?. given to it. I am not particular as to whether a request for a higher duty in the first column is carried, or whether the duty in the preferential column is increased ‘ to 6d. I hold in my hand a copy of Wise’s Post Office Directory. Those* who are running this work employ a very small number of men. What their employes do is to take from the municipal, State, and Federal rolls the names and addresses of the residents in the various towns of the different States, and to get other informa- tion that is compiled by municipal and Government officials, and also Australian ad vertisements. The information and the matter is printed in1 England, because it can be printed more cheaply there than in Australia.
– Is the honorable senator sure “that that statement is correct ?
– Yes. These people have the work printed in England, because I understand that in Australia there is no firm which is prepared to undertake the publication of this directory at the price which Wise’s people are prepared to pay. As it is intended to be a purely Australian publication, as its income is derived in Australia, and as the Government assist indirectly in procuring much of the information embodied in the work, there is no reason why, if Wise’s people will not have it printed in Australia, they should not be made to pay for having it printed abroad. No doubt honorable senators are aware that there is published in Victoria a directory known as Sands and McDougall’s Directory. In connexion with that work a large army of men is employed year in and year out who, unlike Wise’s men, do not go to the municipal, State, and Federal rolls for information, but from house to house. A special duty intrusted to the men is to ascertain who lives at a certain house, and what their occupation is, and I warrant that all the information contained in Sands -and McDougall’s Directory can be taken as absolutely reliable. The firm, therefore, are handicapped in that respect because they have to pay for the information which they obtain by these methods, whereas Wise’s people obtain the information indirectly through the expenditure of effort and energy by the various authorities.
– Have there been any complaints that Wise’s Directory is not to be relied upon?
– I am. not complaining about Wise’s Directory, but stat-. ing that Sands and McDougall’s Directory, compiled as I described, is much more reliable than is the other one.
– That does not follow.
– It is recognised by business men as being much more reliable.
– Is that the honorable senator’s statement?
– Yes ; and it is one which I am prepared to confirm. I know which directory the honorable senator as a business man would prefer if he were living in Victoria.
– I should want the best one, whichever it was.
– However, I am not here to make disparaging remarks in respect to this publication, but to boldly proclaim that if these people will not have the work printed in Australia they should pay an import duty. All I desire is that there shall be at least a duty of 6d. per lb. against the United Kingdom as was originally proposed. I ask the representatives of the Government whether they will agree to increase the duty in the generalTariff to 8d., or to increase the duty against the United Kingdom to 6d.
– Originally the Government proposed a duty of 6d. per lb. on Australian directories, guides, and time-tables, that is, directories, guides and time-tables the contents of which related particularly and practically solely to residents in. Australia and other matters of Australian concern. It has been recognised by the Government for a long time that the very undesirable practice has been followed of getting much of this material printed abroad, and, as the honorable senator said, the printing has so far been confined to the United Kingdom. When the Tariff was submitted elsewhere a proposition was made by the Government to impose a duty of 6d. per lb. on all such printed matter. Some very strong representations were made to the Minister of Trade and Customs by deputations which waited upon him before the proposal was considered inthe other House. But he announced emphatically that the Government desired to discourage as far as they possibly could the printing of such matter abroad because it peculiarly relates to Australia and therefore should be printed in our midst. If there is any printing that local printers who have erected buildings and established plants might justly expect to be called upon to do it is the printing ofdirectories, guides, and books for Australian purposes. Under the circumstances we should like to see the duty of 6d. per lb. as originally introduced by the Government adhered to, and will support a request to make the duty6d. all round without any preference to the United Kingdom.
Request (by Senator Findley) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item356,paragraph c (imports from the United Kingdom), per lb., 6d.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Item 356. Paper, viz. : -……
. -I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 356, paragraph d, by leaving out the words “6d. : and on and after 10th December, 1907, free “ and inserting in lieu thereof the words “6d., up to and including 9th December, 1907.”
As the item now stands, newspapers are not exempt under it. While the item bore a duty, “ newspapers registered for transmission through the post “ were excepted from it by its wording, but when it was made free, “newspapers registered for transmission through the post “ became excepted from the “free” provision, also by the very wording of the paragraph. The amendment which I propose will make the paragraph operative only up to the 9th December, 1907, and so newspapers registered for transmission through the post will fall, as they ought to, under item 371, and be free. The wording which I have proposed will still validate the collection of the duty up to and including the 9th December.
– Under the arrangement proposed by the Minister, will magazines still be free, notwithstanding that they contain any quantity of advertisements ?
– Yes, they come in under item 371.
Request agreed to.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 356, paragraph e, by leaving out the words “ 10 per cent., and on and after 10th December, 1907, free” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “10 per cent. up to and including 9th December,1907.”
That will make the duty operative only up to and including the 9th December, and thereafter of no force or effect. The result will be that “ newspaper “ will fall under paragraph f, “Printing Paper, n.e.i., on and after 10th December, 1907, free.”
– Will country papers get their paper free?
– Yes .
Request agreed to.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives’ be requested to amend item 356, paragraph G, by inserting after the word “inches” the words “and not in stationery packets.”’
Stationery packets come in under item 357, paragraph a, at 30 per cent, (general Tariff) and 20 per cent. (United Kingdom). Plain writing paper, in sizes larger than 16 x 13 inches, is dutiable at only 5 per cent, (general Tariff) and free (United Kingdom). That encourages the cutting up into smaller sizes and packing of it in the Commonwealth. Paper in sizes less than 16 x 13 inches, imported in stationery boxes, competes with our own manufacturers of stationery.
– The request will mean an increased price to all the people in the country.
– Not at all.
Request agreed to.
– I am informed that the cartridgepaper specified in paragraphj is used largely in the drawing and exercise booksof school children. All modern educationists regard drawing as an essential, on the same level as reading, writing, and arithmetic. That being so, and as the drawingbooks so largely used in schools are an absolute necessity for the children, it is highly advisable to make cartridge paper free. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requestedto amend item 356, paragraphj, by leaving out the words “ Cartridge and “ ana inserting the following new paragraph : - “ (JJ.) Cartridge, free.”
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Minister of Home Affairs [12.27]. - I am not aware whether cartridge paper is used to any great extent in children’s exercisebooks, but the better classes of cartridge paper are used for drawing. Cartridge paper is being, and can be very easily, manufactured in the Commonwealth. There is, therefore, no reason to omit it from this item and exclude it from the policy of protection.
.- Senator St. Ledger has probably moved this request with the idea of conveying the impression that Australian school children are to be handicapped by a duty upon cartridge paper. Probably he believes that Australia is not capable of turning out paper suitable for drawing at a price acceptable to those who require it. But the mills in Australia are turning, out an article equal in quality and as reasonable in price as that imported.
– The paper mills operated by the Paper Trust.
– I would sooner have the operations of a Paper Trust within the Commonwealth than the operations of a Paper Trust outside the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator will have his wish amply gratified.
– Honorable senators know my views and those of the party to which I belong with respectto all trusts.
– Talk against them and legislate for them !
– I am not doing so. That is an unfair way of putting it. I am here as a protectionist Labour man. If I were to refuse protection to an industry because it is alleged to have become, or to be becoming, a trust, I should be untrue to the principles upon which I was re-‘ turned. I ask that this industry should be given protection, and if the free-traders opposite are anxious to put down trusts let them help the Labour Party in their efforts to nationalize industries in order that they may be controlled and managed by the people. For the edification of these antiAustralians who are always declaring that we cannot in Australia turn out certain articles and commodities. I wish to exhibit samples of paper turned out by the paper mills in Australia which will be found equal in quality to and as reasonable in price as the paper manufactured by any firms abroad.
– I think the point is being missed. The question is not whether this paper can be manufactured in Australia ; and I take this opportunity of saying that I have never used that argument in dealing with any duty. It is not denied that this cartridge paper is very largely used in all schools as drawing paper, and that being so,I am entitledto ask the Committee to permit as much freedom as possible in the use of it. If honorable senators are not willing to make it absolutely free of duty, on the ground that some cartridge paper is being made in Australia - and I do not know that that can be proved - I am entitled, at any rate, to ask that we should not impose a duty of½d. per lb. on it. If it will satisfy the Governmentor my honorable friend, Senator Findley, who is now looking after the interests of the Paper Trust, I am willing as a compromise to agree to a percentage duty in this case, but I think it should represent very much less than½d. per lb.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 356, paragraphj, by leaving out the words “ Cartridge and ‘ ‘ and inserting the following new paragraph “ jj Cartridge, free” (Senator St. Ledger’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item 356. Paper, viz. : - . . . .
– I intend to ask the Committee to consider a request for a reduced duty on strawboard. Qf course, I am not at all hopeful that I shall be able to carry any reasonable request in this Chamber.
– If the honorable senator proposed a protective duty he would carry it.
– The honorable senator must know that the duty on strawboard is one of the highest duties in the Tariff, as on the lower qualities it runs up to 60 or 70 per cent. What is more, whether the duty is imposed for that purpose or not its effect is certainly to fatten one wealthy man at the expense of every box manufacturer in Australia.
– That is only the honorable senator’s statement.
-I shall endeavour to prove it. I say that there is in Australia to-day in connexion with this industry no stronger or more perfect combine or trust than that which exists in connexion with the manufacture of paper. Not only do the proprietors come together, but when a mill was recently started in Sydney an arrangement was made under which Australia was divided into the particular spheres of operation to be worked by the Melbourne and Sydney concerns respectively.
– We shall deal with ‘the trusts.
– What honorable senators are doing now is to put the manufacturers in a position to levy toll upon the people .who require to use their products as the raw materials of the industry in which they are engaged.. The manufacturers of paper have not the decency to rest content with a duty of 25 or . 30 per cent, on the article, but do not hesitate to ask for 50 per cent. .’ Why, the daughters of the horse leech were never in it with the people who run these particular concerns. I do hot wish to mention the name of any firm, but they are known, and their - representatives have been seen around the lobbies of this building within recent hours. The first objection 1 take to the duty proposed is that being a fixed duty upon an article the value of which varies very much it is comparatively low, I should say as low as or 15 per cent., on some qualities of the article produced, whilst on other qualities it is a .tremendously heavy duty.
– What would be the average duty ?
– The .average is never any comfort to the man who happens to be using “the article on which the duty presses most heavily.
– The honorable senator says that it runs up to 70 per cent. If he proposes to make the duty 60 per cent., I will support him.
– Senator Givens probably would do so, but I venture to say that the. Committee .as a whole is not game to put down here in ad valorem terms the rate of duty proposed to be levied as a fixed duty. Apart from the fact that a fixed duty upon an article that varies in price is unjust in its incidence,. I wish, the Committee, .seeing that ‘ the industry .is fairly established, to assent to a proposition that a duty of .25 or 30 per pent, would afford sufficient protection.
– There is only one mill.
– I am aware that there is only one mill here, but there are very many people who have to use the products of that mill, and every additional -Qi of advantage we give the proprietors of that mill in the form of a protective duty enables them to levy toll upon those who are forced by circumstances to use its products. During the inquiry by the Tariff Commission, one witness, who was a repre sentative of the .industry,, offered to give a guarantee that the price would not be raised if the duty for which he asked were imposed. I have it on the. authority of persons who are not afraid to put their names to the statement that the new price list issued after the Tariff was introduced showed an increase in the old prices of ficm ;£7.ios. to £9.
– For the same quality of article?
– There would be nothing in the statement if it did not apply to articles of the same quality. It is quite true’ that the price list was issued by the Australian Paper Mills, which I believe is ‘ the Sydney firm, and that the statement that the price would not be raised was made by a representative of the Melbourne firm, but when I challenge contradiction ‘ of the statement that the Sydney and Melbourne manufacturers are working in close unison- ‘
– Is it not a good thing to get rid of Inter-State jealousy ?
– I do not disguise what my honorable friends opposite want By every means possible, they are seeking to bring about the establishment of these combines in the belief that, having built up combines and trusts, and brought opera*lions in a particular line of business under one control, they will then have a better chance of being able to nationalize the busk ness.
– That will come, for certain. -
– I am not quarrelling with honorable senators about their policy, but I say that their object is clear. Although they may thunder against trusts; they are prepared to favour - them, arid build them up if by. so doing they can bring ‘ the operations of a particular business under one roof, when, I admit at once, it would be an easier matter to nationalize it than it would be if it continued in the hands of competing firms.
– Have we not voted for the fullest power to contra trusts ?
– That remains to be seen, but I am speaking of the attitude of the honorable senator’s party.
– There are plenty of trusts in free-trade England.
– That is not the point. We have here to deal with a trust that is doing remarkably well, and there is only one power at present by which we can do so, until our anti-trust law is put on a better footing, and that is, whilst giving them a reasonable measure of protection to make it impossible for them to unduly fleece the consumer. That they will fleece the consumer to some extentI have not the slightest doubt.
– Why not prevent them from fleecing himat all ?
– Ishould be prepared to move that the item be made free, but I have to recognise that this industry has had the benefit of a duty for some time, and that a large number of honorable senators would not support me in such a proposition. I have to submit a practical proposal. Under a duty of 25 per cent, the industry ought to be able to develop. One of the representatives of the manufacturers, Mr. McDougall, declared that a duty of is. was equal to only 12½ per cent. Of course that is not the truth. It was true so far as regarded one quality, but it did not apply to the whole range of qualities.
– What is the average price of the whole range?
– I am not prepared to say. A duty of 25 per cent, ought to be enough in all conscience. It is difficult toagree upon a fixed duty, because much depends upon the qualityof the article.
– Would the honorable senator be prepared to make the duty 1s. or 25 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher amount of duty ?
– I have to be a little bit cautious about suggestions coming from the other side, and I do not claim to be a lightning calculator. I know nothing about these various ranges of qualities, but I should be inclined to say that the suggestion might be accepted.
– Fifteen per cent, is high enough.
– I admit that it is high enough, but I know the protectionist feeling of the Chamber. I by no means think that a duty of 25 per cent, ought to be imposed. Indeed, I think it is outrageous.
– Why move it then?
– We have fairly gauged the strength of opposing parties by this time, and I know that, if I started to try to give effect to my own views on every . item, I should soon be sent to Coventry as simply wasting the time of honorable senators.
– The honorable senator has no hope of carrying a duty of 25 per cent.
– Senator Findley does not know the size of my hopes. I have no hesitation in submitting this request. I ask honorable senators to remember two things - first of all that a duty of 25 per cent, is clearly quite sufficient ; and further that it is more equitable to have an ad valorem than a fixed duty upon an article the price of which varies very much. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 356, paragraph k (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 25 per cent.
– The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat has referred to this duty as penalizing a number of persons who are using strawboard. Perhaps it would be as well to traverse briefly the history of this industry in Victoria. Before any strawboard was made here the cheapest that could be obtained cost £17 per ton. The Victorian Parliament imposed a duty of £4 per ton. That, according to the reasoning of honorable senators opposite, should have made the price£21 per ton. But what it really did was to reduce the price to £12. It established the manufacture in this country of an article which was sold for less than theprice of the imported material. Theeffect upon the consumer was therefore to put £5 per ton into his pocket, and also to put £4 into the revenue. I have a perfect recollection of these facts and they cannot be disproved.
– Is the honorable senator sure that he is considering a comparison between strawboards of similar quality ?
– I am dealing with the lowest priced strawboard. My honorable friend does not expect me to have the intimate technical knowledge of the industry that he himself probably possesses.
– What was the price before this duty was imposed?
– It was £8 per ton.
– The price list shows that on the 24th August, the price of Broadford strawboard was increased from £7 10s. to £9.
– There is a sufficient reason why it should be dearer. This has been a dry season throughout Austra-
Iia, and straw has an immense value everywhere that it did not possess before. The reason for the increase is so obvious that 1 am sure that Senator Millen will recognise it as being a sufficient one. The price of straw last year was comparatively unimportant, and it was even permitted to rot in many places.
– The point is that on the 24th August, when the Tariff was tabled, the price of Broadford strawboard was increased from £7 ios. to £9. Later on, when the House of Representatives reduced the duty from 2s. 6d. to is. 6d., the manufacturers lowered their price.
– I am not in a position to say that the honorable senator’s statements are incorrect, and have not sufficient information to deal with “that aspect of the case. A point in the correspondence referred to by Senator Millen was that the strawboard made at Broadford is not of the same quality as that imported.
– The only reference to quality was that a fixed duty falls with unequal incidence upon varying qualities.
– I shall not deal with that point, because it has been sufficiently discussed. The allegation has been made that the finer qualities of strawboard suitable for the manufacture of the smaller, kinds- of boxes cannot be made in this country - that, in fact, the card made “is not good enough. It has been said, for instance, that jewellery boxes cannot be made of it. I hold in my hand a jewellery box made from Broadford card. As far as I am able to judge it is as good as could be obtained anywhere, and as small as could be desired. I wish, to intimate that when the present request is disposed of, I intend to submit one in favour of an increase., of duty in the general Tariff column. I do not propose to affect the duty against the United Kingdom.
– As nothing comes from the United Kingdom that does not matter.
– That may be so, but I see no reason why as good strawboard should not be made in the United Kingdom as in Holland.
– Does the honorable senator know of ore mill in Great Britain ?
– I do not, but I see no reason why it should not be made there. Probably it will be if we give a substantial preference to Great Britain.
– What is strawboard made of ?
– It is made of straw.
– What sort of straw?
– Of the straw that goes to waste very frequently on Victorian farms.
– In Holland it is made of rye straw.
– In this country it is made from ordinary wheaten and oaten straw. I intend to propose that .the dub be 2s. per cwt. under the ‘general Tariff. I should move that it be 2s. 6d., but as an- . other’ place reduced the duty from 2s. 6d. to rs. 6d., I think there is a better prospect of a duty of 2s. being agreed to. No duty could be too high upon this product, be’-, cause it is made from a raw material which is frequently permitted to rot because there is no use for it in Australia.
– The honorable senator could better achieve his purpose by prohibiting strawboard from being imported.
– If the Committee were willing I should have no objection to such a proposition. My views on that point are so well known that the honorable senator might have saved himself the interjection. The industry gives employment to a number of wood-cutters and carters and other workers to the extent, -in one firm alone, of nearly £100 per week.
– Does the honorable senator say that £100 per week is paid in - connexion with the manufacture of strawboard alone?
– A great deal more - nearer ,£300.
– The man who would say that would say anything.
– I state ‘the facts. In addition to that, it is alleged that one manufacturer at any rate is making an enormous fortune. So that we have these facts combined - that strawboard is now immensely cheaper because of the- local manufacture; that a considerable number of persons are provided with employment in its manufacture; and that at least one capitalist is making immense profits out of the industry. Surely these are effects which we should like to see increased.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.13 p.m.
Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) [2.15!.- In submitting his request for a lower duty Senator Millen gave as his main reasons two statements whichj upon examination, will not be found to be correct. He said that the existing duty was in the interest of a paper combine or trust, and that since it had been formed the price of strawboards had been increased. So far as my information goes, there is no . combine, or trust. It is true that in 1895 there were in Victoria three mills known as the Barwon Paper Mills, the Broadford. Paper Mills, and the Melbourne Paper Mills. They have been formed into one company, and dulyregistered under the Companies Act, and the statement that has been made frequently here and elsewhere that it is an industry run . entirely by Sands and McDougall is absolutely incorrect. It is true that about twenty years ago, Mr. McDougall, of that firm, looking into the future, and anticipating it too rapidly, embarked in the strawboard mill industry located at Broadford. I am informed that he invested no less than£50,000, and. like many men who do the pioneering work in particular lines of commercial enterprise, he, so to speak, blazed the track, but he suffered a considerable loss. However, during that period theindustry has had a somewhat varied career. With the small measure of protection which it has had, it has succeeded, but not succeeded to that extent which every well-wisher of Australian industry would desire. It has had to contend against manifestly unfair competition. Those who advocate free- trade principles trot out, not infrequently, the argument that many industries have a very great natural protection in the charges that are made for the carrying of particular commodities. In one of the circulars which have been sent to honorable senators by a Sydney firm, the statement is made that the freight on strawboard equals £2 a ton.
– Why not state that if runs from a lower figure up to that sum?
– In a circular, Firth and Company state that the freight on strawboard runs from a lower figure up to £2 10s. a ton, while Fuerfh and Nail state that the freights per sailer equal 18s.
– Is that by weight or by measurement ?
– That is by measurement.
– It would not pay for the handling of the material.
– They want it foil stiffening.
– They want straw - board for stiffening?
– It is carried for as low as 2s. 6d. a ton measurement, and, as, 1 ton of boards equals i tons measurement, that means 3s.9d. Senator Millen also said that in consequence of an increase in the price of strawboard, the different users had been forced to increase their prices by from 10 to 20 per cent.
– I did not say anything about from 10 to 20 per cent.
– The circular does.
– But the honorable senator connected my name with the state-! ment.
– Before theTariff Commission, Mr. Auslebrook, a box-maker of Brisbane, was examined in regard to a suggestion that an additional duty of1s. should be placed on strawboard.
What would the additional1s. per cwt. upon strawboard add to the price of a dozen of such? boxes? - You are coming down to the infinitesimal ; but, as I consume about 200 tons of straw board per annum, the additional duty would mean a difference of £200 to me.
But what would that £200 distributed over the whole of the work you do mean? - An additiori of about2 per cent, to the cost.
In spite of that admission, made by a man engaged in a similar line of industry to the two firms which have circularized honorable senators, other makers of boxes say that, because there has been a slight increase in the price of strawboards, they have been compelled to increase the price of their boxware by from 10 to 20 per cent.
– Why was there anyis crease at all ?
– The increase is not due to the duty.
– Why did it take place concurrently with the movement of the duty ?
– It is due, so I am informed, to the fact that there has been an increase in the price of the raw materials Although this straw is -absolutely useless to the average Victorian farmer, yet he, knowr ing that there is a scarcity of rain, and in some parts a water famine, and also that there is only one maker of strawboard in the State, has held out for an increased price for his straw, as lie sometimes does in the case of other commodities.
– Why was there a fall in the price of strawboard in December after the other House had lowered the duty?
– I am dealing with the particular period when those engaged in the industry had to pay an increased price for the straw. There have been periods when the people interested in the factory at Broadford have been able to get straw at £1 a ton. There have also been periods when they have had to pay as much as £2 a ton for it.
– It is curious that these things happen just as the duty moves up or down.
– We know that certain things happen at certain times of the year, and by a stretch of imagination one can fit them in with a statement that is made with the desire to damage the reputation of this industry or a- particular factory.
– It is not a statement, but a- fact, which is on official record.
– This is an industry which deserves every . encouragement. It is a natural and a primary industry. The farmers have received a very great advantage by its establishment at Broadford. Those engaged in the wood industry are materially concerned in its progress. As much as £4,000 a year is paid to the woodmen in and around the district. And, apart from what is paid to the lime-burners, as much as £5,000 a year is paid to the farmers for the straw. In fact, over £6,000 a year is paid in wages to those engaged in the industry.
– Whence does the honorable senator get all this information?
– I got the information from those who are directly concerned in the mill which I, in conjunction with others senators, visited last Saturday. I did not count the hands, but I do not doubt for a moment that there are 82 engaged in the factory. It is worked on the threeshifts system. There is no doubt that, with the additional protection for which Senator Trenwith asks, the strawboard from Holland and Japan will not have such a big market, and the local industry will be in a far better position than hitherto it has teen in. I am informed, that recently the New South Wales Government called for tenders for the supply of a certain quantity of strawboard. Three tenders were received, namely, one from Victoria, one from japan, and one from Holland. The price of the Victorian tenderer was £8 10s. a ton ; the Japan tenderer asked £7 2s. 6d. a ton, while the price of the Holland tenderer was £7 a ton. Although there is a duty of 30s. a ton on strawboard, still the representative of the Holland mill was able to put in a tender at £1 10s. less than the Victorian price, and the Holland tenderer quoted 2s. 6d. a ton less than the Japanese tenderer. Last night, Senator Vardon pointed out how acute the competition is becoming in respect of the Japanese, who are engaged in certain lines of industry; he exhibited calendars that were printed at Yokohama; and no doubt what is taking place in regard to the printing trade there is occurring in almost every line of industry in Japan. Japanese, it is said, are now extensively engaged in the making of strawboard. There is no reason why the Committee, having declared in favour of a protectionist policy, should not give to this industry that protection to which it is entitled. Last year we imported about £24,000 worth of strawboard from Holland and Japan.
– How much from tach country ?
– I have not the statistics for each country at hand.
– We imported £1,000 worth from Japan, but the honorable senator always trots in the bogy.
– There is no bogy about Japan. The very fact that a Japanese mill tendered to the New South Wales Government for the quantity which it required recently shows conclusively that. Japan as a competitor is not a bogy, but an actuality. The wages in Holland are in some cases about a quarter of those paid in Australia, while the hours run’ from twelve or fourteen per day. In Japan they are from twelve to sixteen, and we know that the wages there are only from 6d. to is. per day.
– Did the honorable senator give the total imports as over
– I gave the importation of strawboard as £24,000.
– According to the official return it is £I6;000. The honorable senator must have included other kinds of boards.
– To show, from an industrial point of view, what increased protection given to the manufacturer means, since the imposition of this higher duty by another place the hours of the employes at Broadford have been reduced from twelve to eight per day, which means to those who have embarked their capital in the industry a further expenditure ‘ in wages of considerably over £1,000 per year. Therefore with the eight hours system and better wages, and the fact that the industry has never been on what might be called a substantial basis, the measure of protection which it asks for ought to be readily given. They are making at Broadford a board equal in quality to any imported either from Holland or Japan. The users of the boards have no fault to find with their quality, but some folks in Sydney are complaining about being handicapped owing to the suggested increase. It is remarkable that we have heard .few, if any, complaints from any “Victorian boxmakers about it. The. wail comes from New South Wales, the State which has for a considerable period been wedded to the free-trade fallacy.
– Here is a complaint from a boxmaker.
– A Victorian?
– No, New South Wales.
– That is what I am saying. No complaints have been made by the Victorian boxmakers.
– For the obvious reason that the manufacturers have a complete trust here and can practically do what they like with the Victorian boxmakers.
– That statement has been made more than once to-day. but so far as I know there is no such thing as a complete trust in this industry.
– Does the honorable senator deny that it exists?
– I want proof that it doe’s exist. There existed at one time independent companies, which have now been formed into one company, and they may have regulated prices, but that has been done in a hundred and one lines of business in various States.
– Such as tobacco ?
– If the honorable senator can point to anything that these people have done similar to what has been done bv the Tobacco Combine in Australia, then, strong as my protectionist principles are, I will not be so enthusiastic in supporting the proposal for an .increased duty. This is an industry, anyhow, that deserves encouragement. It has had to struggle for existence, .and has demonstrated that an article equal, and in some cases superior, to the imported, can be turned out, while since its establishment wages have been increased, hours have been reduced, and the users of the commodity have been in no way disadvantaged.
– 1 do not intend to give a silent vote on this item. I intend strenuously to oppose Senator Millen’s request, and to support the one which will be moved to increase the duty. I am not afraid to say that in company with other honorable senators I visited the strawboard mill at Broadford last Saturday. I was pleasantly surprised to see the conditions obtaining there. My visit removed from my mind the idea that I had regarding the insanitary and offensive conditions that sometimes obtain in -similar manufactures. The occupation is very clean and healthy as conducted in the Broadford mill. If there is a natural industry in Australia, the manufacture of strawboards .is essentially one. I see no reason why we should have only one mill throughout this great Commonwealth. I believe that if the protection is increased it will lead to the establishment of similar mills in the agricultural portions of Australia. I have here a copy of the circular from F uerth and Nail Limited, from which Senator Millen has endeavoured to make great capital, regarding the statement made to the Tariff Commission by the manufac- ‘turers of strawboard that if the protection was increased, they would not increase the price of their product. I admit that they have since increased the price, but that was due, not in any way to the increased protection, but to conditions over which neither they nor any one else in Australia had control.
– If the honorable senator means that it was due to the increase in the price of the raw material, I quoted portion of Mr. McDougall’s evidence, in which he pointed out that he would take the risk of that, and still give a guarantee not to increase his price.
-.- I quite agree that Mr. McDougall made that statement, but the meteorological conditions - the want of rain - increased the price of straw.
– Mr. McDougall said he would take that risk.
– Instead of the increased duty playing into the hands of the alleged paper combine, the farmers who had straw to sell took advantage of the situation and charged an increased price to Messrs. Sands and McDougall.
– Mr. McDougall said they would take all. that risk and still guarantee not to raise the price.
– I do not attempt to deny that, but here is a product, or byproduct, which, but for this mill in Broadford, would have gone entirely to waste, and because there was a scarcity of it, the people who had supplies of it increased the price. If Senator Millen wants to make capital out of his assertion that Mr. McDougall- :
– It is not my assertion.. It can be found in question 80789, which Mr. McDougall now tries to repudiate through the honorable senator on the floor of this Chamber.
- Mr. McDougall never asked me to make this statement. I am speaking from what I saw. I went to the mill last Saturday in order that I might be able to deal with the subject the more intelligently when it came before the Committee. Every member has not a technical knowledge of all the industries which the schedule touches, and it is our duty, if we have the time, to make investigations 011 the spot in order to satisfy ourselves as to the conditions obtaining, and the probable results of any duties that we may impose. Reference has often been made in the discussion on this schedule to the new protection. It has been stated that it will never be put into effect by the Government, or by the manufacturers who are receiving increased protection. But in .this case the manufacturers, immediately the. duty was increased gave the benefit of it to their employes.
– How could it be any benefit to them unless they raised the price?
– They reduced the- hours of the employes from twelve to eight per day, and the only reason why the price of the manufactured article was increased was that the price of straw went up. For those reasons I shall vote against Senator Millen’s request, and support the highest possible duty that can be imposed, not only in order to protect the manufacturers in the Broadford mill, but in the hope that the industry will be established in every agricultural centre in Aus tralia. The principal components of strawboard are straw, lime, and alkali, and its manufacture gives work, not only to the men engaged in the mill, but to those who cut and ca.rt the timber, and burn the lime.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [2.42]. - I cannot make out who on earth receives the £6,000 worth of wages said to be paid in connexion with this industry, because the investigations of the Tariff Commission show that in one case it was said that thirty-one men and seven boys were, employed, and in another case “about a dozen hands and a few more carting firewood.”
– Then there is Mr. McDougall’s admission that the manufacture of strawboard was largely automatic.
– I was coming to that. It was stated positively that the manufacture of strawboard is largely an automatic affair, and does not require the employment of many hands. On the other hand, the box industry in Australia employs at least 6,000 hands. To set up a demand for high rates of duty on behalf - to put the figure as high as we can - of somewhere between fifty and sixty adults and lads, who, according to the protectionist theory, are to be benefited^ while 6,000 other persons are to be injured, is a proposition that does not appeal to me. ‘ On me principle of the greatest good to the greatest number, I shall certainly’ vote against a high rate of duty, and in favour of Senator Millen’s rather extravagant proposal. I wanted him to move something lower. I think his proposal is extravagant, but I must vote for it, as the best filing that offers. This tax is not opposed merely by a few honorable senators from New South Wales and other States. It was opposed before - the Tariff Commission by the South Australian boxmakers, in. whose interest Mr. Silver gave evidence; the Victorian Master Printers’ Association, represented bv Mr. Pratt; by Alexander Auslebrook. of Brisbane: by the New South Wales Printers and Boxmakers’ Association : and by a Mr. Firth, who is in business in a very large way as a box manufacturer.
– They want free-trade in the raw materials of their industry and to be protected against imported boxes.
Senator Colonel NEILD. Thev do not want anything. of the kind, and the honorable senator’s statement is not only extravagant, but inaccurate. On the item which we are now discussing, they have made a simple request, that the duty should be 15 per cent, ad valorem. I believe that that would be a fair thing in the interests of. all concerned, but as Senator Millen has moved a request for a duty of 25 per cent., it should certainly receive the support of honorable senators who do not desire to crush a widely-spread industry for the salce of one Victorian combine. . In addressing the Committee, Senator Findley denied that there was a trust in the paper manufacturing business, but by way of interjection, when Senator Needham was speaking, he said that the effect of the proposed duties would be to bring other competitors into the field who would destroy or crush the trust. The honorable senator gave away his own panorama by absolutely contradicting himself. One minute there was no trust, and five minutes afterwards there was a trust to be crushed. That is typical of the brilliant but very unconvincing oratory to which we have been treated on this item. However, we can quite understand the enthusiasm displayed by a few gentlemen who were the happy guests of this combine last week. We all know the influence of environment, and recognise the unconscious bias which may be created by hospitalities courteously extended. It should not be forgotten that the boxmaking trade is one winch affects almost every retail industry throughout the Commonwealth, since these paper boxes are very largely displacing the everlasting brown paper and string to which, some time ago, we were accustomed. When the Tariff was first introduced in August last, and the duty was fixed at as.
– The boxmakers raised the price of their own volition, and blamed the Tariff.
– When the House of Representatives, with the coinciding action of Sir William Lyne, as Minister in charge of the Tariff, reduced the duties from 2s. 6d. to 1s. 6d. per cwt., the Sydney boxmakers reduced their prices to within 5 per cent, of the prices they charged when the duty was only1s. per cwt. I do not knowwhat the Victorian boxmakers Bid then, but let us hope that they were fair, and did likewise. There has been so much said, and very well said, by Senator Millen on this subject that I shall not repeat any of his statements, or attempt to enlarge upon any of his arguments. I have, however, felt it to be my duty, before his request is put to a vote, to bring under the notice of the Committee the matters to which I have so briefly referred.
– Before we go to a division, 1 should like to give the Committee the benefit of some information I have received on this important question. Honorable senators opposite have several times called for the authority upon which statements have been made from this side, and my authority for the information which T propose to give the Committee is a circular issued by the Queensland Master Printers and Allied Trades Association. I do not suppose that the conclusions at which they have arrived after careful consideration, or any speech I may make on the subject, will influence a vote, but I still think it is right that information supplied by so responsible a body, comprised of men who may be supposed to know all about this business, should be placed before the Committee. I take the opportunity of saying that the circular seems to me to fully confirm the judicious, and, indeed, the moderate, proposal submitted by Senator Millen. I quote the following from the circular : -
The old duty of1s. per cwt., with freight and expenses, amounts to a protection of 75 per cent., and there does not appear to be any reason why it should be increased to -any further extent to support one strawboard mill, which only employs about twenty hands.
I do not know that that statement is absolutely correct, because, as a guest of the important firm concerned in the manufacture of strawboard, I certainly saw more than twenty hands employed at the mills.
– Did not the honorable senator see more than fifty hands?
– I do not know the exact number that T saw employed, but as I am giving the statement on one side, it is only fair that 1 should admit that when I was at the mills I saw more than twenty hands employed. The opinion of the members of this Association should be placed before the Committee, as well as that of honorable senators.
– No. If the honorable senator knows the statement to be incorrect,he should not quote it.
– I do not shelter myself behind the statement appearing in the circular or behind the information I personally acquired.
– But the honorable senator is reading a statement which he knows to be untrue.
– I’ do not know why I ‘ should be so frequently interrupted when. I am adopting a perfectly impartial attitude in ‘ presenting this information to the Committee.
– The trouble is that the honorable senator acknowledges the statement he has quoted to be an error, and yet, in all seriousness, he asks honorable senators to accept the balance of the circular as true.
– I do nothing of the kind, and Senator Lynch must know it. I am merely placing these facts before the Committee.
– How can they be facts if they are not true?
– Order. I ask honorable senators not to interrupt, but to permit Senator St. . Ledger to continue his remarks.
– I am putting the statements of the members of the Association to which I have referred before the Committee, and honorable senators may judge of their value. I have, at the same time, admitted that I am unable personally to confirm one of the statements made. What fairer attitude could I take up ? The circular goes on to say -
The new duty of 2s. 6d. per cwt. is equivalent, with freight, &c, to a- protection of 102^ per cent. Even” with the present heavy protective duties large quantities of strawboards have to be imported, as the quality made in Victoria only suits a limited class of work.
– The quality is’ good enough for anything.
– It may be so. I am only putting these facts before the Committee. Why should honorable senators be so impatient when asked to listen to evidence which may or may not be correct?
– I am astonished that the honorable senator, as a lawyer, should quote an ex -parte statement and call it evidence.
– Order. I again ask honorable senators to allow Senator St. Ledger to continue his speech.
– I now propose to quote something which may be considered against my own case. The circular con:tinues-
The proposed preference to Great Britain is, unreal, as no strawboard is made in the United Kingdom,
– The quantity of strawboard imported from the United Kingdom last year was 8,000 cwt.
– But what was the country Of origin ?
– The members, of this Queensland Association, I have no doubt, are as strongly in favour of Britishpreference as is any member of the Com,mittee. They further say -
Strawboard is an article largely used by printers, manufacturing stationers, and box manufacturers, and, so far as Australian manufacture is concerned, is only made by the company which controls the paper mills in Victoria, thus constituting an absolute monopoly.
I believe that is. so. I believe that the company manufacturing strawboard in Victoria has a monopoly, and if that be so/ we have an additional reason for being careful about the duties we impose. The circular continues -
The following figures will show the exorbitant rate of this duty -
Home cost, £5 to ,£5 10s. per ton.
Duty at £2 on ^5 Per ton equals 40 per cent.’
Duty on ^5 10s. per ton equals 36 per cent. ;; while in addition to the duty the freight and; charges afford an additional protection of from £3 to £4 Per ‘on> which is equal to another- 60 to 70 per cent. %-i
I have inquired as to whether the freights are really so high, and I think it my duty to say that I have been informed that they! are not. I do not say that the statements contained in the document which I have read are absolute facts. They may not be incontrovertible. But, at any rate, it is well known that there is only one manufacturer of strawboard in this country. A manufacturer will naturally desire the highest duty he can get. It is but human nature. But we have to consider not merely the interests of the manufacturers, but of the consumers. I agree with Senator Millen, and shall vote with him accordingly.
– The direction that this debate has taken seems to me to indicate clearly that the Committee would be weir advised to leave the item stand as it does in the Tariff. On the one side the duty has been criticised as offering too much protection. Senator Millen has moved to make the duty 25 per cent, instead of is. -6d.’ per cwt, and has put if that is. 6d. per cwt. represents a very much higher ad valorem duty than 25per cent.
– On the lower grade.
- Senator Trenwith, however, is of opinion that a duty of is. 6d. is not sufficient. These conflicting views seem to show that it would be well to adhere to what was agreed upon in another place. When the Tariff Commission were investigating matters in relation to this industry, they received evidence to show “that a duty of is. per cwt. was not sufficient. They recommended a duty of 2s., and the Government proposed a duty of 2s. against the United Kingdom, and 2s. 6d. against imports from foreign countries. Representations were made to the effect that cardboard box manufacturers, portmanteaux makers, and bookbinders depended very largely on strawboard as a raw material. These people said that if strawboard were made dearer, they would hardly be enabled to compete against outside manufacturers. Accordingly, the House of Representatives made the duty is. . 6d. all round. I trust that that decision will be maintained, notwithstanding the ‘divergent views expressed as to the inadequacy or supersufficiency of the duty.
– It has to be remembered that the strawboard with which we are dealing is the completed article. But bookbinders and boxmakers use strawboard simply as a raw material. They have shown a desire to meet the strawboard manufacturers in a fair and reasonable manner. Ever since 1902, the duty on strawboard has been is. per cwt. I believe that that was a very fair compromise between the manufacturers of this article and those who use it. 1 am prepared to stand by the Tariff of 1902. If Senator Millen win withdraw his present proposal, and move one to the effect that the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty is., I shall support him.
– My object is to reduce the dutv. I am not at all wedded to one form of reduction. 1 am anxious to meet the views cf those who think that it ought to be reduced. If some honorable senators wish to make the duty is., I shall be glad to withdraw my present proposition.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator Millen) put-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 356, paragraph k (imports under General Tariff), per cwt., is.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Trenwith) proposed -
That the. House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 356, paragraph k (imports under General Tariff), per cwt., 2s.
– I think it is a most unholy sham to pretend that the duty proposed would give any preference to Great Britain. It is perfectly well known that strawboard is made in Holland, and scarcely anywhere else.
– Do I understand that the Government are opposing this request?
– As Senator Vardon has pointed out, the proposed duty would give no preference to Great Britain. There is not a single strawboard mill in the United Kingdom.
– The honorable senator says so; but does he know it?
– Will the honorable senator denv it?
– If Senator Millen will tell me that he knows that strawboard is not made in England, I will believe him.
– Statements of that kind have been made, and have never been contradicted.
– The statistics show that 8,000 cwt. of strawboard came from the United Kingdom, which is given as the country of origin.
– I have been told that there is a small mill near Manchester that makes something like strawboard, but I have grave doubts as to whether what we know as strawboard is made in England.
– It would be very strange if there were not a strawboard factory in England.
– As to Senator Turley ‘s statement, it has always been a matter of some doubt as to whether, when “ country of origin “ is mentioned in the statistics, the goods referred to are absolutely manufactured there.
– That is what we understand.
– These figures are based upon Customs declarations.
– In Great Britain there is not one factory which is turning out the strawboard with which we are now dealing. The bulk of the commodity which comes here does not come, and is not likely to come, from a country where straw commands a far greater value than in Holland. What is attempted to be done is not to give a preference to Great Britain, but to put a higher duty on strawboard.
– On this very point I quoted to the Committee an extract from a circular issued by the Master Printers and Allied Trades Association, in which they distinctly stated that the strawboard which comes under this item is not made in Great Britain, and that therefore the British preference is, to use their own word “ unreal.” Senator Trenwith is using an unreal British preference for the purpose of securing a higher duty on this article, and not for the purpose of even doing justice between the manufacturers of strawboard and its users. In the face of the distinct statement contained in the circular to which T have ref erred, we are entitled to inquire whether the Minister is satisfied that this British preference is not an unreal thing.
– The Minister proposes to vote with the honorable senator.
– We ought to have a definite statement from the Minister as to whether the position of Senator Tren with is sound. I am very glad, however, to learn that he is going to resist the request, and I hope that on this occasion the Government will be strong enough to carry their own proposal.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 356, paragraph k, “ Strawboard “ (imports under General Tariff) per cwt. 2s. (Senator Trenwith’ s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item 356. Taper, viz. -
.- In accordance with the notice I gave, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 356, paragraph L, by inserting the letters”n.e.i.” after the word “ Bags.”
This request is necessitated by the fact that paragraph a includes “ all printed bags and cartons.”
Request agreed to.
Pulpboard*; Cloth-lined Boards; and Clothlined Paper; Floor Paper; Paper-hangings or Wall Papers; and Toilet Paper in roll or packets, ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent.; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.
*Note. - Pulpboard shall mean a pulp paper whether plain, coloured, or coated, which at the size of single royal 20 x 25 inches ot its equivalent, weighs 80 lbs. or over per ream of 480 sheets. Paper, which is below the weight which constitutes “boards,” to be ‘dealt with under the paper duties.
– - With a view to requesting the insertion of the words after “Millboard” in paragraph n, I move - “ That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 356, paragraph m, by leaving out the words “Cardboard; Pasteboard.”
.- I do not agree with the proposal of the Minister to ‘delete these articles from this item with a view to admitting them under paragraph n free from the “United Kingdom and at 5 per cent, from other countries. If we can make strawboard here for every kind of purpose, why cannot we make cardboard and pasteboard which at present are dutiable at 20 and 15 per cent. ? Where does the consistency come in in transferring these articles from one paragraph to the other? I am not looking at this proposal from the stand-point of a mill-owner or- a printer, but from a national aspect. It is just as easy to make cardboard and pasteboard here as it is to make strawboard, But they are not likely to be made locally unless a protective duty is imposed. It seems that there is an eleventh hour kind of unanimity in respect of this request. Strong representations were made to the Tariff Commission in favour of the imposition of a protectionist duty in the interests of those who make ‘straw and other boards, and now, when we are nearing the end of our labours on the Tariff, Ave are confronted with a request desiring the articles to be made dutiable at 5 per cent, in the general Tariff and admitted free from the United Kingdom. I have no objection to them being admitted free under departmental by-law, but if we are going to start admitting them free in that way, on the representation of certain interested printers, then every printer from A to Z will be entitled to make a similar representation, because he requires certain kinds of board. I am rather surprised at the attitude of the Government, because ‘ if we yield to every representation that is made in respect of reduced duties, we shall get ourselves into a very funny position indeed. From a protectionist point of view, it would be much more advisable for the Government to allow these articles to come in under departmental by law than to admit . them free from the United Kingdom, and at 5 per cent, from other countries.
– Is the honorable senator going to submit a motion ?
– Yes; I shall move a request in regard to a departmental bylaw.
– This is a case where all parties are agreed.
– They have only agreed within the last day or two, then. Read the Tariff Commission’s report.
– There is no reason why they should not come to a reasonable position, even at the eleventh hour. The Paper Manufacturers, Cardboard-makers, Manufacturing Stationers, and Master Printers’ Association, asked for this alteration, and the mill-owners joined in their request.
– Where do the public come in ? Have we not a right to say what is good as well as the members of that association ?
– I think that we ought to take the testimony of those who are interested in the trade. If the millowners had felt that it would do’ them any injury, they would not have consented to this proposal. The fact is that cardboard and pasteboard are not made here, and, therefore, there is no reason why duties of 20 and 15 per cent, should be imposed. I am very glad indeed that the Minister has seen fit to move the request, because otherwise I should have done so. This is not a question of giving protection because an industry does not exist.
– When shall’ I be in order, sir, in moving a request to insert the words “ under departmental bylaw “ ? .
– If the ‘ honorable senator wants to make the articles dutiable unless they come in under departmental by-law, those who are of that opinion will have to- vote against the present request, and to submit a request for the insertion of a new paragraph ‘ ‘ mm. Cardboard, Pasteboard, under departmental by-law, free.” But I point out that if they should carry a request to eliminate the words in paragraph m, even should they agree to a request to admit the articles under departmental by-law in a separate paragraph, they would still fall under, paragraph’ n, under which they would be admitted at either 5 per cent, or free, according to the country of origin.
.- I hope that the Government will agree to the insertion of the words which I wish to be introduced. All I desire is that if cardboard and pasteboard cannot be made in the Commonwealth, they shall be admitted free under departmental by-law; otherwise I want to make them dutiable.
– The difficulty is thaf when it is provided that an article shall come in either at a low rate or free, as prescribed by departmental bylaw, there is always a purpose for which it is introduced. That purpose is set forth in the schedule, and a departmental by-law is framed accordingly. If no purpose or object is assigned, the Department does not know in what direction to frame its by-law.
– Senator Findley had better vote against this request, and keep these articles dutiable.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
.- I want cardboard and pasteboard put in a separate paragraph, to be admitted under departmental by-law at 5 per cent. (General Tariff) and free (United Kingdom). I understand that the Minister is agreeable to that request if I stipulate the purposes for which the articles are to be imported.
– Why not propose to make them free in both columns?
– Because we have observed the principle of preferential trade throughout the Tariff so far. I will specify the purposes for which these articles are to be utilized as printing, boxmaking, and kindred trades.
– That will admit them for everything.
– These boards are to be admitted free.
– It is a silly request.
– Then let the honorable senator vote against it:
– The honorable senator does not know what he wants.
– I put a compass on the honorable senator the other day to enable him to find his way about, and yet he has lost himself lately.
– I hope the honorable senator will stick to the truth. I will ask him to withdraw that statement.
– Why move the request at all?
– I desire that, as soon as it can be shown to the Department that these boards are being made in Australia, they shall be dutiable at 20 per cent under the General Ttriff, and at 15 per cent, if imported from the United Kingdom.
– If that is Senator Findley’s object, then the course he now proposes is not the right one to take. Where departmental by-laws are mentioned, certain items are subjected to duty or made free as prescribed for certain purposes set out. The Department thereupon proceeds to frame its by-laws to give effect to that provision: If we inserted here a request for the free admission of cardboard and pasteboard for boxmaking, printing, and kindred trades, as prescribed by departmental by-law, the question of their production within the Commonwealth would never arise, and no by-law could be framed under that provision to say that the duty should cease, or that the articles should be dutiable under another heading, when their production had been sufficiently established in the Commonwealth. It would be necessary for the honorable senator, in order to achieve his object, to move that the articles should be dutiable at the lower rate, until a proclamation was issued stating that the local manufacture was sufficiently established to supply the needs of the Commonwealth.
– I will move the request in that way.
– I have no objection to a provision of that sort. Departmental by-laws generally prescribe the sizes to which the particular article shall be cut, so that it may be apparent that it is not being imported for any purposes other than those specified by Parliament.
.- Then. I. shall move a request for the insertion of a new paragraph -
– It will be necessary for the honorable senator to submit the request in the following form -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 356 by inserting after paragraph m the following new paragraph :’ - “ mm. To come into operation on date to be fixed by Proclamation, and in the meantime subject to duty as specified in sub-item (n) below. Proclamation to issue as soon as it is certified to Parliament by the Minister that similar cardboard and pasteboard fitted for the requirement of local industries can be produced in the Commonwealth in sufficient quantity to supply the demands of such industries, but no such Proclamation to issue except in pursuance of a joint address passed on the motion of Ministers by both Houses of Parliament stating that such production is sufficient for the purposes required -
Cardboard and pasteboard, ad val., (General . Tariff), 20 per cent.; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.
– I move accordingly, sir.
– This is carrying to a ridiculous extent, what, under certain circumstances, might be regarded as a good principle. In connexion with iron and other articles, it had perhaps something to recommend it. Senator Findley is the last man in the world to move to reduce a duty if he thought there was any prospect- of the establishment of an industry which it would protect.
– I am not moving to reduce the duty.
– The honorable senator is moving that these articles should be taken out of an item in which they would be dutiable at 20 per cent., and that they should be made free.
– No, the Government took the articles out of the item.
– Senator .Findley is now doing that, and for some reason known only to himself is attaching the pious declaration that some future Parliament may at some future time make the articles dutiable. I wish now to find out whether the Minister is going to support this absurd request. If he is we might just as well attach this pious declaration to every article in the Tariff. I hope that the Minister will not permit the Tariff to be disfigured by attaching such an absurd declaration to the duties on this article when it really amounts to nothing. I should like to hear whether the honorable senator proposes to carry out the original idea of the Government in this matter.
– This is the first time I have risen to speak to-day, and it is Senator Findley who has brought me to my feet. The honorable senator has suggested that I require a compass to find my way about, and- that is about the most ungentlemanly observation that I have listened to since I have been a member of the Senate. In view of what has taken place in the last few minutes, it is extraordinary that an honorable senator who has occupied so much of the time to-day should talk of the necessity of compasses for any other member of the Committee. .Senator Findley has himself made use of three or four different compasses and has called, amongst others, on the members of the Government to help him to explain a matter he did not understand. I think that when an honorablesenator has nothing to say on a’ subject he should leave the debate to those who know something about it. Senator Findley is influenced by too great self-esteem and has a habit of looking down upon other honorable senators. I hope that in future he will treat other honorable senators differently. When other honorable senators desired to speak he called for a division, although he had previously wasted half an hour himself, and then he got up to speak again when he did not know for the life of him what he was talking about.
– I should like to hear what the Minister proposes to do.
– I said that I would support Senator Findley’s request.
– Then I must confess not merely my surprise but my regret. The Minister came forward with an intelligible proposition in asking the Committee to take certain articles out of one item that they might fall into a subsequent item. Honorable senators were with him in the proposal he made, but before it is carried into effect, because of a frown or a threat from Senator Findley he immediately withdraws and tries to compromise in some way by attaching this particular useless and solemn provision with respect to a proclamation which involves practically the passing of an Act of Parliament.
– The honorable senator objects because the Ministerial proposal was in his favour.
– Even Senator Findley does not pretend that these articles are made here, and surely Senator Lynch does not wish to impose a high duty upon articles that are not manufactured in Australia.
– I hope the honorable senator will help us to make these articles free.
– I am glad’ to hear that, because I assume that Senator Givens is going to vote against Senator Findley’s request.
– No, I am going to vote for it.
– Senator Givens does not wish to make this article free, but he does wish to destroy the. preference proposed for Great Britain, and I am not going to join him in doing that. It is deplorable that the Minister after submitting an intelligible proposal should revert to the old position merely because Senator Findley is displeased, and should in reply to a question as to what he intends to do say in effect “I am . going to do what Senator Findley wants.”
-. - I am going to see that the duty shall be 5 per cent, and free until the circumstances provided for in Senator Findley’s request arise.
– We have just witnessed a most extraordinary exhibition of feebleness of purpose. The Government having -declared in favour of duties at a certain rate, withdraw from their position when they find that .it displeases one of their supporters who appears to exercise great authority over them. Senator F’indley, for some reason which he has not divulged, but which he probably knows very well, said that he was not satisfied, offered Ministers the benefit of his advice and requested them to take certain action. If any honorable senator on this side, had adopted a similar course, Ministers would have put their feet down and said “ We propose to take certain action which we believe to be in the interests of the Commonwealth, and we are not going to be diverted from our course. ‘ ‘ These . goods can or cannot be made in Australia, and the action proposed by Ministers showed that in their opinion they could not be made here, and were not likely to be made here in the immediate future. They therefore proposed that the duty should bear some relation to the existing position.
– Does the honorable senator wish to miss the train ?
– -I have no objection to missing half-a-dozen trains. I do not care twopence about the trains.
– We have had all this inane trash before.
– I rise to a point of order. Is Senator Best in order in saying that an honorable senator is talking inane trash ?
– If the words were applied to the honorable senator who was speaking they should be withdrawn.
– Strictly speaking, it is hardly correct to say that they were applied to Senator Gray, but I am very happy to withdraw them.
– I shall not feel hurt by anything the honorable senator can say. Ministers have themselves to blame for the continuance of this debate. Everything was going on satisfactorily until Ministers inspired by Senator Findley took up a new position. I have personally done all I could to assist Ministers in passing the Tariff, but when they go out of their way to accept a proposal, to which they were previously opposed, involving the imposition of duties on articles which cannot be manufactured here, honorable senators on this side have a perfect right to enter a protest. We agreed with the proposal at first submitted by the Government.
– Does not the honorable senator agree that we should now go to a vote?
– As there is such an unanimous desire’ to go to a vote I shall give way, but I give honorable senators opposite fair warning that if there is any more of this kind- of thing I shall do what I can to put a stop to it.
– I should like to know exactly what is to be the effect of Senator Findley’s request if it is carried.
– The Minister proposes to include cardboard and pasteboard inparagraph n.
– So that if the request is carried it will still be open to honorable senators to vote for duties of 5 per cent, and free.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Item 356. Paper, viz. : -
Woodboard ; and Manilaboard, on and after loth December, 1907, ad val. (General Tariff), 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free.
Request (by Senator Keating) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 356, paragraph N, by inserting after the word “ Millboard” the words “ Cardboard ; Pasteboard.”
.- We have heard a great deal during these debates about the necessity of making free such goods as are required for the carrying on of other industries?. The 5 per cent, duty on millboard, paragraph n, isnot protective. It is purely and simply a revenue and preference duty. I am against this sham preference, which disfigures the
Tariff from beginning to end. If there were any reciprocity, I should favour it. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 356, paragraph N, free.
– The articles dealt with in paragraph n are mainly raw material, and are imported both from the United Kingdom and from foreign countries. Certainly if a duty of 5 per cent, is imposed on those imported from foreign countries, it must necessarily have the effect of diverting trade to Great Britain. I therefore hope that the Committee will see the wisdom of adhering to the duty.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I desire that chromo paper, uncoated-, shall be admitted free. I therefore propose to move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 356, paragraph p, by inserting the following new paragraph : - “ pp. Chromo Boards, uncoated, free.”
Senate adjourned at 4.14 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 March 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080327_senate_3_45/>.