4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is it the intention of the Government this year to make provision for the payment of a portion or the whole of the. law costs incurred by the agricultural implement makers in what is known as the Harvester Case?
– There is some provision on the Estimates for that purpose.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General lay upon the table of the Senate copies of the correspondence with the Canadian Government in connexion with the Vancouver mail contract?
– I shall consult the Postmaster-General in respect to the matter, and have the correspondence placed on the table of the Senate.
– I have to announce that I have received the following cablegram, in reply to the resolution arrived at by the Senate last week and forwarded to the British Prime Minister : -
London, 19th November, 3.20 p.m. The President of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, Melbourne. r have to thank you for your telegram con veying the expression of opinion of the Senate on the results of the enfranchisement of women in Australia. .
London. PRIME MINISTER.
– I have to announce that Mr. Speaker and I have arranged to have the debates on the Constitution Alteration (Legislative Powers)’ Bill and the Constitution Alteration (Monopolies) Bill reprinted for the convenience of members of the Parliament in a manner similar to that in which the debates on the Constitution Alteration Bills of last session were reprinted, and that three copies will be issued to every honorable senator.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon ito tic e -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– It has already been pointed out that such questions as have been asked by the honorable senator on this occasion ought to be made the subjectmatter of returns, because they involve a good deal of trouble, and also affect members of each House of the Parliament. I feel certain that Senator Givens would be the last to strike from behind, and is always prepared to come out in the open. If a return were moved for, the motion could be discussed, and such statements or reasons might be given as would explain it. If the honorable senator will move for a return the Government will do all they possibly can to furnish him with the desired information.
– I should like to know whether the Government would facilitate the passage of a motion of that kind at this stage of the session, because, if so, I should be very happy to adopt the suggestion of the Minister. Honorable senators know that at the close of a session if anybody calls “ not formal “ a motion cannot be moved.
– I merely ask whether the Government will treat as formal such a motion, and facilitate the obtaining of the information ?
– The motion could not be treated as formal, because then no statement could be made, but no obstacle will be placed in the way of the passage of such a proposal.
– T can get all the information I want on the Estimates if the Government prefer the matter to be dealt with in that way. I shall give them a fulldress debate.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
In administering clause 3 of the Post and Telegraph Bill of this session, will the Government respect contracts already entered into by private persons in regard to telephone lists?
– The answer to the question is as follows : -
The Government is not a party to, and cannot recognise contracts entered into with respect to, lists which contravene the provisions, of the Act referred to.
– Is it the opinion of the Department that the Act is not to be retrospective, but is only to apply to matters occurring in the future?
– I should say that the Act is operative from the day it received the Royal assent, but I am not going to commit myself to that opinion. If the honorable senator will ask a question later in the usual way I shall endeavour to get an answer which will be satisfactory to him and those interested.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : - Superannuation Scheme for Commonwealth Public Service : Report by Commonwealth Statistician.
Papua- Amending Land Ordinance of 1910.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That standing order No. 67 be suspended for the remainder of the session for the purpose of enabling new business to be commenced after half -past 10 o’clock at night.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with an amendment.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the message being at once considered and all consequent action taken.
In Committee : Clause 4 - 112. - (1) The Governor-General may by proclamation prohibit the exportation of any goods -
the exportation of which would, in his opinion, be harmful to the Commonwealth. (.3) All goods the exportation of which is prohibited shall be prohibited exports to the extent to which the prohibition extends.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Insert after the word “extends” the following words - “ Any proclamation made under paragraph b shall be notified to each House within seven days of the issue of such Proclamation, if the Parliament is in session, but, if not in session, then within seven days after the meeting of Parliament.”
– I move - That the amendment be agreed to.
The amendment is not one which it is necessary to debate at any length. It was moved by a member of the Opposition in another place, and accepted by the Government. The object is to give either House an opportunity of knowing the nature of any proclamation issued under this Bill. If any proclamation so issued is not approved by either House, it can express its opinion in the ordinary way. The amendment is in the interests of all sections, and should be agreed to.
– The amendment is one which I think honorable senators will readily agree to. It provides a guarantee that when the Government think it well to exercise their powers under this Bill, the obligation is laid on the Minister, to notify to each House, within seven days from the issue thereof, if Parliament is in session, and, if not, within seven days after the reassembling of Parliament, the issue of any proclamation under paragraph b of proposed new section 112. I, personally, heartily support the amendment, but T take advantage of this opportunity to direct the attention of Ministers to the desirability of devising some means by which honorable senators may have put before them promptly any amendments which they are asked to consider. The Government have at their disposal all the machinery of a big printing office, and it is surely possible for them to have circulated to honorable senators copies of these messages from another place before they are asked to agree to what is proposed. I cannot believe that honorable senators are prepared to take these things for granted - to buy a pig in a poke - without knowing what it is they are being asked to do. In this case, the amendment proposed is a very simple one, but a similar difficulty might arise in connexion with a very complicated amendment, and I again appeal to Ministers to take such steps as may be necessary to put honorable senators in possession of a statement of any proposal they are asked to accept.
– The Government will do all they possibly can to further the desire of honorable senators for information. If the amendment now submitted were of a vital character, we should not have insisted upon going on with it as we have done. The amendment is so simple that, in view of the fact that it is so desirable that we should get on with business, we thought it as well to consider the House of Representatives’ message forthwith. In future, every effort will be made to place honorable senators in possession of the information they desire in connexion with any business brought before the Senate.
Motion agreed to.
Resolution reported ; report adopted.
The PRESIDENT announced the receipt of a message intimating that the
House of Representatives had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this Bill.
Debate resumed from 18th November (vide page 6407), 011 motion by Senator Findley -
That this Bill be now read a second time. Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) [3.19]. - This Amending Customs Tariff Bill is merely a display of fiscal fireworks. It contains nothing but blank cartridge. If there were any doubt on this point, the speech made by Senator 0’ Keefe must have dispelled that doubt. The honorable senator gave certain reasons why the Government have not, consistently with their platform promises, brought forward a comprehensive measure for the rectification of the alleged anomalies in the existing Tariff. There is not a member of this Parliament who does not perfectly well understand the position of the Government in the matter. Nor is there a single Protectionist in Australia who does not understand it. I do not know whether Senator O’Keefe ought not to be complimented for his audacity and candour in respect of this matter. But certainly both his audacity and his candour have been indorsed by the Vice-. President of the Executive Council. The former declared that the reason ‘why the Government had not undertaken a comprehensive revision of the Tariff was that the people of Australia were not going to be “ fooled “ again. He affirmed that any such revision of the Tariff was to be contingent on the electors, at the forthcoming referendum, empowering the Commonwealth to control industrial conditions throughout Australia. But I intend to deal with the statement of Senator O’Keefe that “‘we had been fooled.”
– The honorable senator could not have meant that, because he used the term “ we.” Evidently he was speaking for the members of his own party._ He declared that the Government were justified in refusing to enter upon a complete revision of the Tariff until they had ascertained their constitutional position. The expression “ fooled “ as used by him had no reference to the conduct of the previous Government or of the ex-Prime Minister. Who was “ fooled “ in this matter ? Nobody. Senator O’Keefe urged that the High Court had determined that the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act was unconstitutional. That is the “ fooling “ to which be referred, and I object to allowing his expression to pass unnoticed.
– That was only a small part of my argument.
– At the time the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act was under consideration in this Parliament, many members of the Opposition pointed out that in all probability it would be declared unconstitutional. Their speeches - as will be seen by reference to Hansard - reveal that. Everybody was aware of the risk which was being incurred. In order to emphasize the fact that Senator O’Keefe, when he spoke of “ fooling,” was referring to the action of the High Court, I need only point out that during his speech he inquired “ Who was -it assailed the constitutionality of that Act?” To his own question he replied that it was the Chambers of Manufactures and the Federated Employers Association. Does he suggest for a moment that there was anything wrong in either the manufacturers or the Employers Association testing the constitutionality of that Statute?
– When they had promised that they would not do so?
– Who promised that?
– The manufacturers of harvesters.
– I am glad of the interjection because the honorable senator is making it abundantly clear that the “ fooling “ which Senator O’Keefe had in mind was the action of the tribunal which I have indicated. But no Act of Parliament can bind a man to refrain from testing its- validity.
– Not if his word cannot be regarded as his bond. .
– We have established the High Court for the express purpose of interpreting the provisions of the Constitution. Let me illustrate how hard driven are the Government when they urge an objection of that sort. Suppose that a landlord who has more land than he can till agrees to let a portion of it to a tenant, and that a dispute arises between them as to the terms of that agreement. Is there anything wrong in either party asking the Court to determine the exact position ? Such an argument will not hold water for a moment.
– The expression “fooling,” as used by me, had reference chiefly to the ex-Prime Minister’s action in failing to redeem his promises in regard to the new Protection.
– The whole tenor of the honorable senator’s argument was in the direction which I have indicated. For him to endeavour to place the fault upon the ex-Prime Minister is an afterthought. This Bill is intended to correct and to legalize the decisions, and it may. be the indecision, of the Customs Department - no more and no less. It is not designed to develop any fiscal policy - either Free Trade or Protection - but is intended to assist the Customs officials to interpret and administer our Customs Tariff Act. In other words, it is purely a departmental measure. When we come to consider it in Committee, we shall find that its enactment will only make confusion worse confounded. But I do not intend to pursue this aspect of the question, although a great deal might be made of the disappointment which Protectionists must experience when, they look at the provisions of the measure. There are no less than a dozen rectifications in this Bill, which, instead of being in the interests of the industries that are springing up in various parts of the country, are absolutely prejudicial to them. The Bill has been built up, not with an honest and intelligent desire to rectify anomalies and assist industries, but is from top to bottom a Bill made by officers of the Department of Trade and Customs, and put into the Minister’s hands to submit to this Parliament. The Minister has become a second “ rubber stamp” in this Government. Protectionists and Free Traders alike will rage at some of these amendments. What probably happened was this : The Minister said to his officers, “For a long time you have had some difficulty in administering the Tariff. For goodness sake frame a Bill to facilitate the working of it, and to legalize your decisions and your indecisions. Bring the Bill to me. 1 will put the rubber stamp upon it, and submit it to Parliament.” I sympathize with the disappointment experienced by Protectionists in both Chambers of the Legislature, and throughout the country.
– I suppose that no Tariff that could possibly be passed could be expected to be perfect. Certainly the last Tariff passed by this Parliament has revealed many anomalies. That is as might have been expected. No doubt it is the duty of Parliament to rectify anomalies as they become apparent. One of the prominent planks in the policy of the late Government was a promise to rectify anomalies from a Protectionist stand-point. But in that Government there was the shadow of Free Trade. A scare on Free Trade grounds was raised in the country ; and some of those who at one time were prepared to support the late Government, including many manufacturers, and even the Chamber of Manufactures, were scared because of the fear of Free Trade influence in the Cabinet
– And they were quite right.
– The honorable senator is very seldom right. Some manufacturers, who first of all assisted Mr. Deakin into office - one man in particular has been referred to in the Senate as having a good deal of influence in that respect - afterwards assisted to turn him out, for the reason, as I have said, that they were scared. Manufacturers and workers alike were persuaded that they would secure a rectification of Tariff anomalies from the Labour party, not from the Fusion Government. That was the cry that went out. all over the country during the late elections.
– The people believed it.
– They did not know the honorable senator’s party.
Senator VARDON. The people believed that they would get a quicker rectification of anomalies and higher duties from a Labour Government.
– And so they will.
– The Labour party went into office mainly for that reason.
– Nothing of the sort.
– The Labour partywas supported, not because of any specious promises-
– The Labour party went into office because of specious promises made with regard to this very matter.
– That is pure humbug.
– If there is any party in this community that has been betrayed by the Labour Government it is the Protectionist party. They realize today, more fully than any one else in Australia, that, instead of getting what they were led to expect, they have been presented with a measure that does nothing to realize their hopes.
– We are Protectionist Labour people, not Protectionist Conservatives.
– The honorable senator and his party are Protectionists of any sort that will catch votes.
– This Bill is said to be for the purpose of the rectification of anomalies. But. as a matter of fact, it creates more anomalies than it rectifies. It: is simply a pistol held at the heads of the manufacturers and the industrial workers of Australia. The Government say to them, in effect, “ Carry these referenda or there shall be no Tariff alterations ; give us power to control all industries, or there shall be no Tariff reform. Anomalies may remain and industries may languish, but you will get no relief from these evils until you carry the referenda.” That is the meaning of this Bill. In fact, the Minister who introduced it in another place said distinctly and frankly - and I always admire a man when he speaks straight out - that the Tariff is not going to be touched until the referenda are carried.
– Hear, hear. Senator McGregor. - I said that on the platform.
– Exactly. Here, then, is a pistol held at the heads of the manufacturers and industrial workers. No fewer than four questions are submitted to the electors at the one referenda. The Bill before us will do no more than help the departmental officers to administer the existing Tariff. But, at the same time, it will inflict a very heavy blow on certain industries. It will gravely injure the boxmaking industry throughout the Commonwealth. I speak about this matter because, while I am not in any way interested in the box-making trade, I happen to know something about it, and if one has knowledge with regard to a subject I think he ought to make his fellow-senators acquainted with it. I believe in protecting industries. If there is an industry that has been established, or can be established, I am prepared to give to it a full amount of protection, but I do not believe in giving protection to one industry at the expense of another.
– Sometimes with the effect of killing another.
– That is what is being done by means of this measure. Take the matter of boards referred to in item 356. I admit that there has been some little difficulty, but it is one which might very easily be overcome. The opinion is prevalent, I think in every State except Victoria, that the Australian Paper Mill has the Trade and Customs Department by the wool. I am told that it has made a boast to that effect, and that it obtains practically whatever decisions it wants in regard to these matters. That ought not to be possible; there ought to be some better method of deciding the questions. If the mill makes strawboard, brown .paper, and paperboard, give it all the protection it wants in regard to those articles, but why kill other industries in that attempt? That is what is being done in this Bill. The Australian Paper Mill does not produce pasteboard, cardboard, manillaboard, woodboard, leatherboard, or greyboard for boxmaking. I am quite willing to admit that there may have been a little confusion in regard to the classification of grey- board, because years ago, before the boxmaking industry came into existence, the’ greyboard of commerce was practically a second-class millboard, and, therefore, some regulation might have been needed to define the matter, but there need not have been any difficulty in that regard, so far as I can see.
– The importers have only themselves to blame, because in many instances they have been trying to get at the Customs Department by importing stuff under the lower duties.
– That does not apply to leatherboards.
– I do not think that it applies to any of these boards.
– Yes, it does. Senator VARDON.- Tt is not difficult to find out what a board is. Here, for instance, is a sample of pulpboard. Everybody knows what it is. It is used for many purposes. It is used very largely by picture- framers as well as by boxmakers. There is no difficulty about that board. Here, again, is one class of greyboard. The refuse of boxmaking materials is ground into a pulp, and made into a board of this character, being a good deal stiffer and tougher than an ordinary pulpboard. It could be easily ascertained what it is.
– What about leatherboards ?
– Here is a sample of leatherboard. It is called by that name simply because of its colour and toughness.
– It is not leatherboard.
– Why not? It is altogether distinct from that which is an imitation of leatherboard.
– Why do the Government bracket them, all together?
– Here is a sample of leatherboard,. which is used largely for making tailors’ boxes, for suits, and so on.
– It is not leatherboard.
– It is simply called leatherboard because of its colour and toughness. It is not the leatherboard which is used in the shoemaking trade, but it is a board which is known well to all boxmakers, and might easily be known to the trade itself. Here is a sample of greyboard, which the Minister can see if he wishes. It is made out of newspapers, which are pulped up. It gets its grey colour simply from the ink which was used on the paper. There would be no difficulty in identifying a board of that character. Yet all the manufacturers are called upon, improperly I think, to pay duty on these boards.
– Because some of them have been getting at the Customs.
– Are not the Customs officers able to manage their own business? Senator Findley. - Na
– Then more shame to them.
– Order ! The Minister will have an opportunity to reply.
– Here is a sample of a board said to be made by the Australian Paper Mill. It is called a paper- board, and would probably be called by some persons a pulpboard. It can be seen that it is different from other boards. Simply because a mill in Victoria makes this board, why should the whole of the trade be subjected to a duty to protect that mill ? The raw material of the men who make boxes is subjected to a duty simply to protect an article like that. It is not right that that should be done.
– Do they not import the pulp to make that?
– I do not know where they get it from. Originally item 356(1) read-
Browns, and Sugar (grey, blue, and other tints) ; Fruit Bag Paper, Candle Blue and Grey Paper, Candle Carton Paper, per cwt., 5s. and- 4s. 6d.
It is now proposed to amend that item -
By omitting the whole of sub-item (1), and inserting in its stead the following sub-item : - “ (1) Wrapping of all colours (glazed, un- glazed, or mill-glazed), brown -
The Australian Paper Mill makes brown paper, but it is proposed to tax - caps, casing, sealing, none of which the mill makes. These arrtides are put in simply to force persons to use its browns, instead of those particular papers. I see no other reason for the proposal sulphite.
That is not made here, nor is it likely to be. It is made of pine wood from Norway or Sweden. Why tax the raw material of our manufacturers in this way without rhyme or reason? sugar, and all other bag papers, candle carton paper and boards of all colours, strawboard, lined or unlined, weighing less than six ounces to the unlined sheet of strawboard of 25 by 30 inches, or its equivalent, per cwt., General Tariff, 5s. ; Tariff on goods the produce or manufacture of “the United Kingdom, 4s. 6d.”
There has been an increased duty put on boxes and cartons, which are plain, or only partly made. These strawboards, lined or unlined, have been subjected to a duty of 5s. per cwt., which is equal to 110 per cent, ad valorem. While the Government have increased the duty on the manufactured article by about 10 per cent., they have raised the duties on the raw material by no per cent. The proposal is, I think, outrageous. Here is a sample of a board which is called a 4-oz. strawboard’, measuring 25 by 30 inches. A board measuring 20 by 25 inches weighs 79 lbs., and because it does not weigh 80 lbs., it cannot be put in as a board. It is a straw board which is used for many purposes in the way of making boxes or cartons. Here is one partly made up. The duty on this article has been raised to about 35 or 40. per cent., but the duty on the raw material has been raised from is. 6d. per cwt. to 5s-
– What is the raw material ?
– This bit of strawboard would be the raw material.
– Can we not make strawboard in Australia?
– Is there not a mill in Victoria? *
– There is already a duty of is. 66. per cwt. on this strawboard, and the mill has all the work it can possibly do, and more, I think. I am not complaining about the duty on strawboard. It is proposed to raise the duty on the manufactured article by about 10 per cent., but the manufacturer has to pay a duty of 5s. per cwt. on the whole of his raw material, including all the waste, so that the duty is probably 115 per cent. ad valorem. Here is a sample of another article. If this is imported with printing on it, it lias to pay a duty of 6d. per lb. If, instead of bearing print, it comes in without anything on it, and a wrapper can be put round it here, it is subject to a duty of 35 or 40 per cent. But the raw material is taxed up to £5 per ton, which is equal to nearly 120 per cent. Is there any sense in that? Why should we penalize manufacturers in this way? It is said that the Government have raised the duty on the manufactured article. While the duty on that article has gone up 10 per cent., the duty on the raw material has gone up over 100 per cent. Here is another sample which is dealt with in exactly the same way. It seems to me to be the height of folly to pretend that we help our own manufacturers when we raise the duty on the manufactured article 10 per cent., and tax their raw material 100 per cent., or more.
– The raw material for one manufacturer is the manufactured article of another.
– That does not apply so much here. If I am an upholsterer, the frame of a couch is my raw material; but we are not dealing with such things. Again, take item 356M. Originally, it read -
Paper, n.e’.l, including Pulp board;
In a footnote, there is a very good definition of pulpboard -
Cloth-lined Boards; and Cloth-lined Paper; Floor Paper; Paperhangings, or Wall Papers; and Toilet Paper in rolls or packets, ad valorem 30 and 15 per cent.
It is proposed to amend that item -
By omitting the whole of sub-item (m) and the footnote to that sub-item, and inserting in the stead of the sub-item the following subitem : - “ (m) n.e.i., Boards, n.e.i., lined or unlined, Cover Paper, Pressings, Carpet, Felt Paper, Paper-hangings or Wall Paper . . . ad val., General Tariff, 20 per cent. ; Tariff on goods the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom, 15 per cent.”
Take out the strawboards and the unlined boards, and every board which is made here is dragged into one net, and made to pay a duty. Yet we are told that this is a Bill to rectify anomalies, or better our definitions. It will not do anything of the sort. I want to know what justification there is for dragging in all the boards which are the raw material of our own manufacturers, and which are not made here. These are not and will not be made here, and why impose this duty when its only possible effect will be to raise the price of the article to the consumer? With regard to cover papers, I believe that the mill here makes one line of cover paper. I have been in business a good many years, but I have never had one of their travellers call’ upon me and show me any article they make. There is in the Tariff no definition of a cover paper, but because the local mill makes one particular line every other kind of cover paper is to bear a duty. There are what might be called cover papers on the weekly papers issued in Australia such as the Australasian. They are really coloured printing papers, but they are used as cover papers, and might be charged duty under this proposal as cover papers. I am told that the mill here makes carpet felt paper, but that if you “want it you must go to the mill and take it away on a lorry yourself. Apparently those who are running the mill are not particular whether it is asked for or not. I do not know anything of the item myself, but one firm, writes to me in connexion with it in these terms -
As to Carpet Felt Paper, this has been removed from Tariff item 115, apparently for convenience, but increasing the duty from 15 and ro per cent, to 20 aird 15 per cent. The local manufacture of this paper is practically a monopoly. Quotations given are j£i6 per ton foi half-ton lots, and £18 for smaller quantities. Prices net; with 5 feet lengths about 65 yards, 18 rolls to the ton. The imported article is quoted at 14s. yd. per roll, less 2% per cent, (no quantity limit) of about 130 lbs. per roll, being about £16 per ton.
As I say, the whole of the boards used in the manufacture of folding boxes are to be dragged in under this proposal without benefit to any one but those interested in this particular mill. This is accentuated in connexion with item 3560, “ Pulp board in the reel for coating, subject to departmental by-laws; free.” This is to be amended to read, “ Boards in the reel for coating.” I should like to ask how much coating is done here, and to know whether the machine that is here was imported for coating boards at all, or whether it was brought out for coating paper and was found to be a failure. This is another proposal in the interests of one particular firm, and will be of no benefit to the community as a whole. There is another item 356AA. “ True vegetable parchment, free.” It is to be amended by omitting the whole sub-item, and inserting in its stead the following sub-item - _ (aa) True vegetable parchment -
So that if the parchment is of a size not less than 12 x 48 inches, it may be imported free, and if it is nf x 48 inches, it will have to pay duty at 15 or 10 per cent. I do not know why the particular size 12 x 48 inches has been chosen.
– That is the butterbox size.
– I believe that is the idea. There would be in 12 x 48 inches 576 inches, and in 20 x 30 inches, the ordinary size of double crown, there would be 600 inches. That, I suppose, would come in free, because it would be the equivalent of the size in the proposed subparagraph 1, but all of a smaller size is to be dutiable at 15 or 10 per cent. The item of tags has to be considered in this connexion, and under the item 3561 the duty on tags will be raised 10 per cent. There is a duty of £5 per ton on the paper from which tags are made. Tag paper is manilla paper, and if it does not come up to 80 lbs. to the reel of 20 x 25 inches, it has to pay a duty of £,s per ton. The man who imports tags will have to pay an increased duty of 10 per cent., while the raw material is to be taxed at about no per cent. I ask the Minister to say whether he thinks there is any reason for a proposal of this kind. I certainly can see none. I do not know how it can be contended that it will help us from a Protectionist point of view. It may assist one or two firms to secure a kind of monopoly, but it will not help the general community. There is an item 258 in the Tariff, “ Bottle stoppers, n.e.i. ; also glass bottle stoppers, free.” We all thought we knew what a bottle stopper was, but, as honorable senators can see from the stopper which I produce, which is used in bottling up milk, it is an article that could be manufactured here by the million, and in the simplest possible way, and yet, because it is called a “ bottle stopper,” it is admitted duty free. That is one of the anomalies which, I suppose, the Government do not intend to rectify. Item 364A is “ Pens, n.e.i., without holders, or not including holders, ad vol., 5 per cent, and free.” This is to be amended by omitting the item, and inserting in its stead the following subitem -
Pens, n.e.i., without holders, or not includ ing holders - r. When in fancy boxes, ad vol., 30 per cent, and 25 per cent.
I point out that there is in the Tariff no definition of a fancy box. Will the Minister tell us what a fancy box is? I have here a box containing a few Magnum Bonum pens. Perhaps the Minister will examine it, and say whether he considers it a “ fancy box.”
– I should not think that it is a fancy box, because I see it is made by Sands and. McDougall, of Victoria.
– Similar boxes might be made elsewhere, and outside the Commonwealth. Is that what is to indicate the difference? If Sands and McDougall make it, it is a plain box, and if it is made in London it is a fancy box?
– The honorable senator knows that a box made by Sands and McDougall is not dutiable; therefore, why discuss it?
– I have here another box, inscribed “ William Dawson and Sons, First Class Steel Pen, 69 Bishopsgate Avenue, London,. E.C.” Is this a “ fancy “ box?
– It is plainer than the other box shown.
– Are we to pass this proposal without a definition of what a fancy box is? Nearly all pens are packed in boxes of this character. The point is that if the pens are imported in what is described as a “ fancy box,” they are to be dutiable at 30 or 35 per cent., and if they are not in a tancy box they are to be dutiable at 5 per cent, or free. It is necessary, in the circumstances, that the Minister should give us some explanation of what is to be considered a “ fancy box.”
– When I mentioned that the box produced was made by Sands and McDougall, I should have said that it is used solely for pens. The boxes referred to in the item might be used for pens or for anything else.
– Will the honorable senator produce a sample, and let us see what a “fancy box” really is? The same objection applies to item 364B, which it is proposed to amend in such a way that inkstands, fountain-pens, pencils, n.e.i., and rulers, when imported in fancy boxes, shall be dutiable at 30 and 25 per cent., but if they are not imported in fancy boxes they are to be dutiable at 5 per cent.’ or free. We are being asked to legislate in the clark, when we are given no definition of the terms used in the Tariff, and we have no illustration of what a fancy box is.
– That might be done in Committee, but we are not in Committee now.
– Perhaps, when we get into Committee, the Minister will be able to explain these matters. It seems to me that, instead of remedying anomalies, we are creating more, and that for the sake of one or two firms. We are putting an increased tax on the manufactured article of 10 per cent., while we are taxing the raw material to the extent of from 100 to 120 per cent. How are we to encourage our industries by legislation of this character? I hope the Minister, when we get into Committee, will be prepared to accept some modification of the schedule. There has been a good deal of correspondence of one sort and another with regard to these items. In connexion, for instance, with greyboard, I may say that it was being admitted free, and then suddenly a duty was charged upon it. When an importer threatened to take action, the Department backed down and refunded him his duty, with costs. One firm in South Australia that I know well, and which is in a somewhat large way of business, on seeing that the duty had been removed, in all good faith immediately cabled to London for 500 tons of this greyboard, but the duty was shortly afterwards again imposed, with the result that when the paper reached Australia it was dutiable, and the firm in question had to pay the full duty on their order. I do not think that kind of thing ought to be allowed. This firm took all the trouble they possibly could to assure the Department of their bona fides. They sent in samples of their board with an indorsement by the following well-known firms -
Thos. Frame and Co., Sydney; Jas. Spicer and Sons, Sydney ; Parsons Trading Company, Sydney; Fred. Warberg and Co., Sydney; J. R. Firth, Sydney ; Wm. Brooks and Co- Ltd., Sydney; Fuerth and Nail, Sydney; Jno. Sands Ltd., Sydney; Geo. Morgan and Co. Ltd., Sydney; Vardon and Sons, Adelaide; E. S, Wigg and Sons, Adelaide; Hussey and Gilingham, Adelaide; W. Silver and Co!, Adelaide; A. Cowan and Sons, Adelaide; J. H. Sherring and Co.. Adelaide; and F. Cocking ton, Adelaide.
Notwithstanding that fact, the Customs authorities insisted that the firm should pay the duty. The firm write -
Our greyboard is made from the waste collected from box factories, and differs from pulpboard inasmuch as it contains a large portion of leatherboard cuttings and other materials not used in pulpboards. Also the chemicals and methods or manufacture are different.
They also say -
We wrote to the Comptroller of Customs, agreeing that he should write to the British Government Stationery Expert, and we would abide by his decision, this the Customs would not agree to.
As a result, the firm wrote themselves, and, in reply, received the following communication -
I have duly brought your letter of the 14th December last before my Committee, with reference to the classification of your granite board, sample of which you submitted.
My Committee are of the opinion that !1 greyboard “ is the proper heading under which the board should be classified.
I have been instructed to see Mr. Worthing-‘ ton, of the Board of Trade, on the matter, and see what steps should be taken to approach the Commonwealth Customs Department as to classification.
Apparently the Government were not prepared to accept the word of an expert in this matter. I do not know that I need trespass upon the time of the Committee any further. But I do say that, before the Minister inflicts a great hardship upon the boxmakers of the Commonwealth, he should obtain true definitions of pasteboard, cardboard, pulpboard, leatherboard, and Manillaboard. I have here a sample of Manillaboard, which any person would be able to identify. Here is another sample of bendingboard, which contains a grey filling, and is pulped on either side. The Minister ought to experience no difficulty in securing expert information which would enable us to adopt a proper classification of these boards, with a view to imposing a fair duty upon those which are produced here, whilst admitting free others which are the raw material of our manufacturers. We ought not to penalize Australian manufacturers by imposing a duty of 120 per cent, upon their raw material. I hold in my hand another sample of board which is made of very thin 4-ounce strawboard. It consists of several rolls of that paper, and is dutiable at 35 or 40 per cent., whilst the raw material is dutiable at no per cent. I have in my possession another sample of the same material. In its present form it is dutiable at 6d. per pound, but if the label were taken off it, it would be dutiable at no per cent. We ought to see that all our industries are fairly treated.
. - This is a Bill which is intended to rectify anomalies, but it seems to me that its effect will be to create more. I am not in a position to say what is the difference between strawboard, leatherboard, Manillaboard, and other boards. But I have received letters from all parts of Australia protesting against this proposed alteration of- the Tariff. One of the writers states that its adoption will mean an additional expenditure by him of ,£400 per annum. It seems to me that we are being asked to legislate purely for the benefit of Victoria. I have visited the place in this State where strawboard is made. I have also examined the samples of other boards which are in the possession of Senator Vardon, and I say that to distinguish by the touch between the boards which are produced at the factory which is established within 30 miles of Melbourne and those boards a Customs officer would not require to be a very intelligent man.
– There is a difference between strawboard and pulpboard.
– But the proposed duty is only intended to protect the mill which has been established in Victoria. I take it that the people who are engaged in the trade understand as much about this question as does the Honorary Minister, notwithstanding that he is a printer. I repeat that the board made in Victoria is easily distinguishable from leatherboard and other boards. Although I am a Protectionist, I believe in that form of Protection which will benefit the people of Australia, and not merely a section of it. When Senator 0’ Keefe was speaking of the woollen industry on Friday last, I interjected that certain woollen mills didnot desire the benefit of higher duties. That statement is perfectly true. When the Tariff was last under consideration Parliament increased the duty upon woollens. Yet to-day I know of one manufacturer who is charging 2d. a yard more for his goods than he did previously. If it can be shown that the difference between the wages paid in Australia and those paid upon the Continent is 15 per cent, or 30 per cent., I am prepared to accord that measure of protection to our Australian manufacturers, in order to place them upon a level with their outside competitors. But I am not willing to increase duties for no purpose whatever. When the Tariff was being considered we were assured that, under Protection, our revenue would decrease, whilst the cost of living would not be increased. But what do we find? Our revenue is increasing by leaps and bounds; and only to-day I read of a meeting of clerks in the fifth class of our Public Service who are demanding increased salaries, upon the ground that the cost of living has been increased by the Tariff. Where is this sort of thing going to end? Are we always to foster the industries of the towns as against those of the country? Time after time we are asked to increase our Customs duties, but the primary producer is never considered. According to Senator Vardon, we are now invited to increase a duty from 10 per cent, up to 100 per cent. If we continue to act in that way, manifestly the workers will not be able to live, unless they are granted an increase in their wages. The more wages are increased, the higher does the cost of living become. In every vote which I recorded upon the Tariff, I adopted the principle of extending a reasonable measure of protection to our manufacturers, for the purpose of enabling them to pay fair wages to their employes. At that time I knew manufacturers who did not desire the imposition of higher duties, because they recognised that such duties meant an increase in the price of their manufactures. When an article which for years has been retailed at is. id. per yard is increased in price to is. 3d. per yard, the consumers feel the disability under which they are placed very acutely, ls that the object of a Tariff? Certainly not. Yet that has been the effect of our Tariff.
– It always will be so, as long as we have a revenue instead of a protective Tariff.
– When the duties were raised from 25 to 40 per cent., the natural result was to increase the cost of articles manufactured in the country, because the competition from outside was decreased. Take the case of woollens manufactured in Tasmania. The manufacturers were perfectly satisfied with the fair and reasonable duty which they formerly had. But Parliament altered the Tariff. Let any honorable senator ask a business man what he pays for his pink -or grey flannel now as compared with what he previously paid. The reply will be that he pays 2d. per yard more.
– It was not the duty that caused the increased price. It was the demand.
– The honorable senator does not know what he is talking about. Surely a man engaged in the industry knows a little more about it than Senator Ready does.
– The honorable senator has been in the trade for many years.
– I do not believe that he has had anything to do with manufacturing. He may have sold a few yards of shoddy, but that does not entitle him to speak about the manufacturing side of the question. One of the manufacturers admitted to me that he now charges 2d. per yard more for his flannel.
– Did he say that that was the result of the duty?
– Yes; he said, “I have more orders than I can fill ; when you put up the duty on the article which I manufacture, I found that I could sell it at an increased price, and I shall do so every time. There is nothing that can come in to compete against me, and I should be a fool to sell my goods at is. id. per yard when I can get is. 3d. for them.”
– ‘Can the honorable senator explain-
– I am not here to explain things for the benefit of the honorable senator.
– The Tariff was not responsible for the increase of price. The manufacturer in question raised the price on his own account.
– If the duty h’a’d not been increased the manufacturer could not have raised it. Competition would have kept down prices.
– Why did not the -manufacturer raise the price of flannel in
Tasmania when he raised it 2d. per- yard in the other States?
– This man manufac:tures to sell. He sells thousands and thousands of yards of flannel on the mainland as well as in Tasmania, and he raised his price all round.
– No, he did not.
– Of course, I have to excuse the honorable senator, because he does not know better.
– The honorable senator ‘ cannot get away from the fact.
– When I have done the honorable senator can speak for two hours if he likes, but I do not want to hear his impertinent interjections.
– They are not impertinent. Senator Ready has been in the business for many years.
– I am talking abou* what was told me by a manufacturer, who does more business in a week than Senator Ready does in a year.
– Senator Ready has done business with the manufacturer.
– I also have done business with him on behalf of people on the mainland, but I do not on that account put myself up as an authority. If the duty had not been increased, does any one suppose that the price of Tasmanian flannel would have been raised 2d. per yard? Of course, when the retailer nas to pay more for his goods, he raises the price to the consumer to an extent greater than the extra amount which he has to pay. The greater the price he has to pay for his goods the more profit he requires. The consequence is that retailers are selling now at is. pd. a yard flannel which they previously sold at is. 6d. So that the consumer is handicapped in every instance. Is that what our Tariff was intended for? Why is it that every association, every union, that is concerned with wages, is agitating for an increase? I noticed the other day that the men engaged in the railway yards in Melbourne were asking for increased wages on account of the increased cost of living. The Judge of the Arbitration Court, Mr. Justice Higgins, has applied the same rule. It has been applied in the . mercantile marine. In all directions it is being stated that the cost of living has gone up. What is the reason for that?
– It is caused by monopolies, trusts, and combines.
– We are creating monopolies by means of this Bill. Senator Vardon showed that manufactured boards such as he produced were not made in Australia. He produced specimens of the boards that were manufactured here. Any one can see the great difference between these classes of goods.
– Is the honorable senator aware that the card used in connexion with the census is manufactured in Victoria?
– It seems strange to me that some honorable senators should assume to know more about these matters than do people engaged in the trade. Numbers of people have informed me that these increased duties on strawboard will make it very difficult for them to conduct their business. One man tells me in a letter that the alteration of the duty will make to him1 a difference of ^400 per annum in reference to the cost of manufacturing boxes for tailors and milliners. Why should we impose this extra duty, except the Government require it for revenue purposes? It cannot be a protective duty, because the goods are not made in Australia. It is true that there is a mill for making strawboard in Victoria, but it does not make the class of board required for the manufacture of tailors’ and milliners’ boxes. Yet we are asked to increase the duty on these goods by no per cent. Is that Protection? I say again that this is a revenue duty pure and simple. We were promised a Bill for the rectification of Tariff anomalies, but the only rectification proposed by the Government is that contained in this Bill. There are hundreds of other articles enumerated in the Tariff as to which rectifications are required. We were told that as soon as the Labour party secured command of the Treasury benches these rectifications would be made.
– Can the honorable senator bring any proof of the statement that we promised that if we were returned to power we would bring in a Bill affecting the whole of the items of the Tariff as to which complaints have been made?
– Several members of the honorable senator’s party argued that the Tariff needed amendment. Now, however, we are told that we shall have to wait until the referenda are held, and until the electors consent to give the Government the extra power they are asking for.
– The Government have said so.
– The Government make the threat that, unless their proposals are carried by the people, there will be no rectification of Tariff anomalies. In fact, it is practically threatened that there will be a reduction of duties.
– That follows as a logical sequence.
– What is the reason for using this kind of language? The reason is to try to frighten people into voting for the Government’s proposals at the referenda. That is the only conclusion’ to which I can come. I was speaking the other day to a Melbourne manufacturer, and he said to me, “ We really do not know where we are. We believe that if the referenda are carried against the Government, duties are going to be reduced. If they are carried in favour of the Government, we do not know how we shall stand.” I do not think that an attitude of that kind is worthy of any Government. Ministers are not justified in holding a threat over the electors, and saying to them, “ Unless you comply with our wishes now, we will punish you somehow ; if we cannot do it directly, we will do it indirectly.” Surely we are not here to legislate for the benefit of one class. In my own State, for one manufacturer there are hundreds of consumers. Are we here to legislate for the one manufacturer regardless of the interests of the consumers? I am prepared to give manufacturers a fair and legitimate amount of protection. If the Government can show me that goods that are made in Australia have to compete with goods manufactured in Europe, or in America, where wages are 25 per cent, lower than they are here, I am prepared to vote for a duty of 25 per cent. But I am not prepared to give any manufacturer a duty of 40 per cent. These men are only human, and the higher the duties that we give them the more they will make out of the public. They will use the Customs Tariff to fleece the consumer. Already the general public are crying out about the cost of living. Deputations have waited upon Ministers, and unions of employes are applying to the Arbitration Court for increased wages. In all cases, the cause given is the increased cost of living through increased duties under the Tariff.
.- I have listened to the speeches of mv Honorable friends, especially that of Senator Vardon. I have received letters from some large manufacturers regarding the duty on strawboards. I confess that I am not conversant with the business at all. But I think that the writers of these letters have made out a very good case. I would urge the Government not to adhere to a course which will be hurtful to these manufacturers who look upon the Tariff us a legitimate aid in the prosecution of their enterprise and the making of a living. I am more than ever convinced that the Parliament ought not to deal with Tariff details, because it is not composed of experts. It would be far better to allow all these questions to be threshed out by a Board, such as the late Government proposed to create. That is, I think, the only satisfactory way to deal with Tariff minutiae. It is a great pity that the present Government did not submit a proposal of that kind before they introduced this measure. I hope that when the duty on strawboard is reached the Government will see their way to do justice to persons who use that article in a large ‘way. I trust that our appeal will not be made in vain.
.- I did not intend to speak to the motion, but ;is certain statements made by a senator on the other side, particularly in connexion with the Labour party, call for rebuttal. T am aware that the senator considers himself an authority on most matters, and looks upon those who dare to disagree with him as either impertinent or as not knowing what they are talking about. That is an attitude which ought not to be exhibited in our debates. A senator who tries to make noise serve the purpose of argument does not throw any light on the subject under consideration. Roaring like the bull of Bash’an is not argument. I trust that on another occasion, when an interjection is made to help the honorable senator to elucidate his argument, he will not regard the interjector as trying to trip him’, and accuse him of being impertinent, etcetera.
I do not make a claim of infallibility. I prefer to be a little more modest than some honorable senators. Senator Sayers has referred to a woollen mill in Tasmania, and argued that the cause of its increased prices is the protection which it gets. That is not so. The fact is that the woollen mills in Tasmania are turning out an article of exceptionally good quality. They have to compete with the mills in the Commonwealth, but they have the advantage of exceptionally good water, and their machinery will not adulterate - it will not weave cotton into wool - and, therefore, the pro ducts are excellent. I am sorry to admit that certain employers have turned out good products and made very satisfactory profits assisted by the devious method of underpaying their employes. One of the reasons which have enabled them to compete with other mills has been the regrettably low rates which they have been paying to their employes. I hold in my hand a copy of the report of the Royal Commission on wages and wage-earners in Tasmania, which every honorable senator should consult if he wishes to know the conditions obtaining in that State. It was compiled by gentlemen who went very exhaustively into the whole subject. Regarding the woollen mills, they commented on the evidence in these terms -
The two establishments engaged in the woollen industry at Hobart were investigated, and it was there ascertained that the female piece-workers at one factory earn from 14s. to 30s. per week, while girls on day-work are paid, from 7s. to 15s. weekly; male workers receive from 15s. gd. to £2 10s. per week. At this factory the usual number of hours worked is fifty-two per week, but as part of the mill is worked with two shifts it necessitates some hands being employed six nights a week, a total of sixty-five hours.
That will give honorable senators an idea of the conditions which, according to swon evidence, pertain in the woollen mills. The report continues -
Al the other establishment the weavers, who are all females, earn from 8s. to 22s. 6d. per week; wool-workers (male and female), 8s. to 30s. per week. Overtime is necessary at times, and is paid for. The weavers work fifty-three hours, and the wool-workers fifty-six hours, per week.
At the Launceston woollen mill visited, it was found that the weekly wages paid to the male hands range from 30s. to £2 ros. ; girls, 7s. to 14s. ; weavers, who are on piece-work, from 12s. to 20s. 6d. ; and boys, 10s. per week. The hours per week range from 54 to 56. Day workers receive eight public holidays through the year without having their pay stopped.
In a number of instances in Hobart we found employes in receipt of very low wages - girls with four years and two years and eight months’ service being paid 8s. and 7s. respectively per week; male adult, with eight years’ service, engaged principally on night work, receives 24s. 6d. per week of sixty-five hours ; and a youth nineteen years of age, with two years’ service as a general hand, T2S. per week. The hours generally in both cities are too long, more especially when the female workers, by reason of their occupation, are compelled to be standing throughout the day.
– And that is the State you represent.
– That is the State which is looking to the enforcement of the ne’w Protection, so that manufacturers who receive the benefit of Protectionist duties may be compelled to pay their employes a decent living wage.
– Give them higher duties and they will be able to pay decent wages.
– We intend to give the manufacturers as high duties as they ask for in reason, when we are satisfied that they will treat their employes with the consideration to which they are entitled.
– They cannot pay their employes more wages until they get higher duties.
– -That is a splendid admission from that side.
– “We make no secret of our intention.
– We know it, but we want the country to know it, too.
– We shall tell the people from every platform. It is well known that the best flannels made in the Commonwealth” are produced iti Tasmania. Having handled a good many of them, I can speak with some experience.
– Ask Geelong to indorse that statement.
– It can easily be verified.
– It is generally acknowledged. ‘
Senator READY__ I found that if I wanted Tasmanian flannels I had to order them about twelve months in advance.
– The mills must be mighty slow if they could not increase their plant*
– The mills are increasing their plant. A large woollen mill is about to be established in Hobart and Launceston, partly with English capital, and the enterprise will be a huge success.
– With English capital ?
– The Labour party does not frighten capital away.
– Of course it does not ; that statement is about exploded.
– The honorable senator is going away from the question by answering interjections. All interjections are disorderly.
– As regards flannels, in Tasmania the mills were getting a certain price wholesale ; and owing to the superior quality of the article they were able to get 2d. a yard more in the other States, but they did not raise the price in Tasmania.
They were able to raise the price in theother States on account of their article being much better than that produced on. the mainland. Senator Sayers made a misstatement when he said that that was owing to the Tariff. The extra price is obtained by reason of the good article which they produce, assisted by the lower cost of production. Moreover, the market is very brisk for woollen goods, and our mills are able to compete very successfully with the other mills in the Commonwealth.
– Under the old Tariff they would have been shut out.
– The Tariff has certainly assisted the woollen mills in Tasmania. In this case it has not forced up the price of the article and increased thecost of living, as has been asserted so oftenby honorable senators on the other side. We in Tasmania hope that we shall get the new Protection before we increase the duties. I have heard a good deal about letters being received from various States urging an increase in duties.
– Does the honorablesenator claim that the present duties arehigh enough?
– Certainly not.
– How does the honorable senator expect manufacturers to pay. higher wages if the duties are not in-
– Order !
– I have received only three letters from persons in Tasmania asking for the imposition of higher duties at present. During my visits to the State, I have heard of dozens of industries which have admitted that increased protection isrequired. But at present some of the manufacturers do not ask for an increase of protection, because they recognise that whenthe people have empowered the Parliament to impose the new Protection they will beable to put forward a very fair claim for increased duties.
– And if that does not come?
-“ Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” I am not a thought-reader, and, therefore, do not intend to read the mind of this Parliament six or eight months hence. It will be quite capable, I think, of dealing with the question then. The point is, are we going to give the manufacturers increased protection, and let them do what they like with their workers? I, as a representative of Tasmania, say “ No.”
– How can they pay higher wages unless they obtain sufficient protection? ‘
– Order !
– They have sufficient protection at present to enable them to pay a living wage.
– Then they do not need any more.
– They do, in some cases.
– Why ?
– They have sufficient protection to pay a living wage, and that iis not a high wage, but a bare minimum.
– They have sufficiently high duties in Tasmania to pay a living wage.
– Undoubtedly j but they will not do so until they are compelled by this Parliament. The people of the Commonwealth will, I feel sure, take that view. We do not intend to make a secret of our intention. The Labour party will appeal confidently to the people, and place the issues before them. I feel convinced that we shall obtain the majority which we seek, and shall be empowered to give effective protection to the whole of Australia, and, better still, protection to all the people who are engaged in industries, besides those who own the industries and make the profits.
[4-55J- - Some honorable senators have expressed regret that this Bill is not a more comprehensive one. Senator Givens said that, in respect of one industry, there exists at present a very grave anomaly. The honorable senator referred to the banana industry. He pointed out that under the present Tariff there is a duty of 2s. per cental on green fruits, and a duty of only is. per cental on bananas. He told us that a banana is a fruit, and we all know that; but I remind him that the Cus- toms officials have no difficulty in distinguishing bananas from green fruit. When Parliament dealt with the Tariff, it understood exactly what duty it was imposing on green fruits and on bananas. There is no anomaly in these duties, and the question raised is one which should be dealt with on a general revision of the Tariff when ihat is proposed next session.
– But the Government are proposing some additional duties under this Bill.
– In some cases a slight increase in the duty is proposed, because it is a matter of impossibility to the departmental officers to distinguish between certain items, and in such cases it is the invariable rule for importers to claim that the article they are importing is dutiable under the item bearing the lower duty.
– That does not apply in the case of Sarven wheel castings.
– There should be no such difficulty about bananas.
– I have said that Parliament knew that there would be no difficulty in distinguishing bananas from green fruit.
– Parliament put Sarven wheels on the free list, and now the Government propose to include them in the list of dutiable goods.
– I shall deal with that later. The duty to be imposed upon bananas is one which should be considered in connexion with a general revision of the Tariff. Senator Givens has exhibited three samples of cotton goods, and said it would be impossible to distinguish one from the other. Some cotton goods contain silk, or stuff representing silk.
– Mercerised cot- ton
– Mercerised cotton, or imitation silk goods. Cotton goods are on the free list, while silk goods are dutiable at 15 or 10 per cent. Although it may have been impossible for Senator Givens, or the firm that imported the cotton goods he exhibited, to distinguish between those which are dutiable and those which are not, I may inform the Senate that, in all such cases, the departmental officers send samples to the Government Analyst, and he nas no difficulty whatever in discovering whether there is mercerised silk, real silk, or imitation silk in the samples. That is the course which is invariably followed when the departmental officials are in any doubt regarding the character of such importations. Senator Vardon referred to the amendments proposed in connexion with the items covering certain paper boards. Under the existing Tariff, Parliament decided to give a fair amount of protection to those engaged in the pulpboard industry. It was considered an industry deserving of encouragement, and Parliament imposed a protective duty of 20 and 15 per cent. It was naturally thought that the effect of the duty would be to encourage the local industry to the fullest extent, and that importations, which seriously affected it, would be reduced. As a matter of fact, it has been found that the industry has received little or no assistance from the Tariff, because almost every kind of board, and in many instances pulpboards, have been introduced as leatherboard, greyboard, Manillaboard, or other kinds of boards, which are dutiable at 5 per cent., or free.
– Has the Minister a sample of pulpboards?
Senator Fraser__ We have not the raw material with which to make pulpboard in Australia.
– Nor have they in other countries.
– They have it in Canada.
– Yes; but there is a greater quantity of pulpboard made in Germany than in Canada.
– Though we may have to import the raw material, there is no reason why the manufactured article should not be encouraged.
– That applies to many industries; but the Government are not pretending to revise the Tariff at this time.
– The Senate can accept the assurance from me that this schedule is proposed after serious consideration, and in the light of the experience gained by the Department since the passing of the 1908 Tariff. They find it impossible to do justice to all under that Tariff, because some importers show themselves to be most anxious to introduce all kinds of boards free, or under a duty of only 5 per cent.
– As raw material?
– No; sometimes in the finished state. If there is any trouble in connexion with this matter at all, it is the importers themselves who are responsible for it. If they had played the game fairly, and acted as men in other spheres of commercial life have acted, under the Tariff, honorable senators can depend upon it the Department would not have proposed to move in the direction in which we are asking the Senate to move now. This proposal is made because serious danger is threatened to an existing industry. Senator Vardon has admitted that there is such an industry in Australia. The statement has been made that it is bordering on a monopoly. If it is a monopoly profitable to those engaged in it, that is an admission that there is something in the industry worth protecting from an Australian viewpoint. «
– But if it is paying dividends, the present duty must be high enough.
– When an industry is flourishing,- and paying good dividends, it not infrequently happens that competition sets in, and similar industries are established, if not in the same place, .then elsewhere in the Commonwealth. Therefore, the statement that this industry is to-day bordering on a monopoly, and is paying substantial dividends, is not an argument against the alteration here proposed.
– Then these are revenue duties.
– Duties of 20 and 15 per cent, cannot be called high duties.
– If they are not high enough to be protective, they must be revenue duties.
– Unless the alteration proposed is agreed to, this industry will not be sufficiently protected. All that is asked for here is the protection which Parliament intended to grant under the 1908 Tariff. It was granted in order to reduce as much as possible the importation of boards that came into competition with those manufactured by the local industry. A case recently came under the notice of the Department in which strawboards had been dyed to the colour of leatherboards, classified as such, and so brought in under the item dutiable at 5 per cent., or free. The importers went to the extent of dyeing the boards the colour of leatherboard, in order that they might be introduced at the lower duty.
– Of what use were the departmental experts, if they could not tell the difference?
– In this case, they were able to discover that a fraud had been attempted.
– Just now I understood the Minister to say that the analytical chemist has no difficulty in distinguishing between real and imitation silk. I should think that he would have no greater difficulty in determining between real and imitation leatherboards.
– It all depends. The trade sometimes call boards leatherboards that are not leatherboards. In such cases the Department has to go to the experts, who, in some instances, are interested persons, and are not always anxious to give a conscientious opinion.
– Is not the general expert of the Department interested in nearly all the decisions given under these items ?
– No, he is not.
– Will the honorable senator tell the Senate his name?
– I am giving the information supplied by the departmental officers. In introducing the Bill, I said, as I say now, that I considered that there is nothing of any great importance in the proposed schedule. In a few instances the duties will be slightly, increased, but these increases are imperatively necessary, in order to properly carry out the intentions of Parliament in passing the 1908 Tariff. The amendments proposed are necessary for the convenience of the Department to make it absolutely certain what duties shall be imposed on different goods about which, under the existing Tariff, there is much difference of opinion and doubt as to the item to which they properly belong. They are, also proposed for the convenience of many importers and manufacturers.
– Is there any case in which the duty now to be proposed is lower than the duty under the existing Tariff? ‘
– I do not know that there is.
– I should like the Minister to inform the Senate definitely whether the Department has experienced any difficulty in deciding the duty which should be imposed on Savern wheels.
– I shall get that information for the honorable senator when we are in Committee.
– But the honorable senator is making a statement, and the answer to my question would show that it is incorrect.
– The honorable senator is complaining because I am not immediately fortified with information which he has himself been able to get.
– I got the information from the departmental officer sitting behind the Minister.
– The honorable senator got certain information which. T think, he conveyed to me. I do not know that it is altogether satisfactory to him.
– It is perfectly so.
– Then what does the honorable senator want to worry about? He told me that he got the assurance that the Tariff provided that a kind of wheel that is not manufactured here may be introduced duty free.
– I was dealing with the Ministers statement that the alterations . were proposed to enable the departmental officials to determine whether an article is dutiable under one item or under another, and my point is that that difficulty does not exist in regard to Savern wheel castings.
– There is a way in which that difficulty, if it really exists, may be overcome. If it be found that such wheels can be made in the Commonwealth, a duty will be imposed upon them. I do not know that I need detain the Senate at any greater length. I trust that the second reading of the Bill will be unanimously agreed to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time. hi Committee -
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Introductory paragraph agreed to. Item 4 agreed to.
– I wish to know whether I shall be in order in moving an amendment in respect of bananas, which are not included in this Bill?
– By way of request? Senator STEWART.- Yes. I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 59 of schedule A to the Customs Tariff 1908, “ Bananas,” by increasing the duty in the General Tariff from is. to 2s. per cental.
– Even if that proposal be submitted by way of request, it relates to an increased charge or burden on the people.
– If an honorable senator is at liberty to move a request in regard to one item, he can continue to submit requests till the crack of doom.
– I wish to point out that a very much larger measure of protection is accorded to other fruits than k accorded to bananas. For instance, the duty upon citrous fruits is Jd. per lb., and upon fruits n.e.i., 2s. per cental. I do not know why bananas should be placed at a disadvantage as compared with other fruits. The persons who are engaged in this industry have to compete with the black labour of Fiji, and other places.
– I understand that the practice hitherto observed has been that all decisions from the Chair which have been accepted have the force of standing orders. A decision has already been given by a past President, and accepted by this Chamber, to the effect that -
A request to increase the amount of a bounty is in order, but a proposition to alter the destination of a bounty, or to include a new tax, cannot be received, either as an amendment or as a request.
– I would direct your attention, sir, to what occurred very early in the history of the Senate, when Sir Richard Baker was President. An effort was then made by way of request to increase the duties upon certain items in the Tariff schedule, and, I believe, to include fresh items. Sir Richard Baker then held that it was quite competent for an honorable senator to do that. What recalls the circumstance so clearly to my mind is that it created this anomaly : that, whilst honorable senators were in a position to act in that way, the members of another place were not at liberty to move for an increased duty upon any item.
– But that was not to happen again.
– The position was never raised or disputed. Nor did the other Chamber agree to the practice which was then adopted in order to overcome, a passing difficulty. That is one point which I desired to make. The other point is as to whether or not Senator Stewart is entitled to move, even by way of request, an amendment of this nature to an amending Bill. Under a decision which has_ been given in this Chamber, I think he is entitled to move any amendment in that portion of the main Act which the amending Bill seeks to amend.
– Is the Leader of the Opposition quite sure that the increased duty proposed was not challenged in another place?
– I know that the other Chamber did not agree to it as an act of grace. It may have taken notice of it. But the Senate held to the view that it was entitled to make those requests, and that it was for the other branch of the Legislature to say whether or not it would assent to them. The question of whether it is competent for Senator Stewart to move an amendment to a Bill which is, in itself, an amending Bill, was decided by SiT Richard Baker when he filled the office of President. He affirmed that any amendment was in order which sought to touch only that por-tion of the main Act which the amending Bill sought to amend. Senator Stewart seeks to insert an amendment in the schedule of this Bill, and it is the schedule of the main Act which it is proposed to amend. Therefore, I contend that his proposal is in order.
– I wish to point out that if it be competent for an honorable senator to move for an increase or for a reduction of duty upon any item, the whole Tariff may be reopened for consideration from A to Z.
– That has been done in another place.
– Was it ever contemplated that such an opportunity should be afforded to honorable senators in respect of an amending Bill?
– The question is whether we have power to reopen the Tariff.
– The question is whether we have power to do so from a taxation point of view, and whether we have power to amend an amending Bill’ except in so far as it amends the original Aci Without; any desire to show disrespect for the opinions which have been expressed, it does not seem to be common sense to permit any honorable senator to move for the addition of items to the schedule, or to move either for an increase or a reduction of duties. Personally, I shall be very much surprised if such an opportunity be given.
– Irrespective of what may be our opinion upon the merits of this proposal, I think that honorable senators upon both sides of the Chamber are %’ery much in earnest in their desire to uphold our rights and privileges. If we cast our minds back to the time when the first Tariff battle was being waged here, we shall recollect that upon that occasion the Senate took up a very decided stand, and emerged triumphantly from a trying ordeal. We differed from another place, and, if my memory serves me accurately, we determined that certain duties should be increased. The other branch of the Legislature would not agree to our requests. They were sent back to us, and we returned them to another place, where they were finally accepted. Having established our position, it would be a mistake to forego any of our rights. I make this statement without any consideration as to the side of the Chamber upon which I sit. I view it purely from the stand-point of the Senate. 1 hope that you, sir, will stand by the decision which was given on that occasion, and which was arrived at after prolonged consideration. In my judgment, the proposal of Senator Stewart is perfectly in order.
– The introductory words to the schedule of this Bill are -
That Schedule A to the Customs Tariff 1908 be amended as hereunder set out, and that on and after the seventeenth day of November, one thousand nine hundred and ten, duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the Customs Tariff as so amended.
That is a proposal which governs every item in the schedule. What the Government are now saying to us is this - that the Customs Tariff pf 1908 shall be amended in certain particulars; but that it shall not be amended in respect to any item which they themselves have not proposed to amend. Senator Stewart contends that we have a right to request an amendment in any other item, if we please. That, of course, does not involve the assertion that we have a right to compel the House of Representatives to accept our request. But we surely have a right to request another place to insert another item in the schedule. For that reason, 1 hope that Senator Stewart will press his proposal.
– In the first place, I ^direct attention to standing order 327, which reads as follows: -
An. instruction can be given to a Committee of the Whole on a Bill to amend an existing Act, to consider amendments which are not relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill, but are- relevant to- the subject-matter of the Act it is proposed to amend, provided that such motion shall be carried by at least fifteen affirmative votes.
In this instance,- no instruction has been given to the Committee to discuss an item with reference to bananas. It appears to me that standing order 337 to some extent affects what is proposed, because, while an item with reference to bananas would be relevant to the subject-matter of the original Act, it is not relevant to the subjectmatter of the Bill, in the- schedule to which it. is not mentioned.
– The whole of the schedule to the original Act is before us.
– Precedents have been established for our guidance by decisions given by past Presidents of the Senate, which have been confirmed by the Senate itself. I may quote a decision from page 6 of Decisions of the President of the Senate for the Years 1903 to 1908. It is as follows: -
Where the schedule to an Excise Tariff Bill includes glucose, but not paraffine wax and plaster of Paris, a senator may submit a re quest for the insertion of an item dealing with confectionery containing glucose, but not for confectionery containing paraffine wax or plaster of Paris.
That seems to me to have a bearing on the question now raised. If the Committee wishes to act consistently with decisions which have been previously given and confirmed by the whole Senate, I must hold that Senator Stewart’s request cannot be received.
– I do not see that standing order 327 has any bearing upon the present situation. No matter what the Government may say, the whole Tariff has now been thrown upon the table, and I contend that we have full power to deal with it as a whole. The Tariff contains a number of anomalies which we desire to see removed. The Chairman rules that our discussion cannot go beyond the lines laid down by the Government. If that ruling be assented to, we are placed in this position - that the Senate, as a whole, is inferior to the members of the Government, and can only deal with such business as the Government submit, with the limitations which they choose to impose. Here we have a Bill laid before the Senate. It proposes to amend a number of items in the existing Tariff. We may desire to see a number of other amendments made.
– Hundreds of others !
– That does not matter. I submit that when “this schedule of amendments is laid upon the table, it becomes the property of the Senate, and passes out of the hands of the Government. The Senate has a right to do what it thinks right and proper with the schedule. If, however, the Chairman’s ruling be upheld, we can only deal with such amendments as the Government place before us. That is a position which we ought not to agree to take up. Standing order 327 simply says that -
An instruction can be given to a Committee of the Whole on a Bill to amend an existing Act to consider amendments which are not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill.
The request which I have submitted cannot be said to be irrelevant, to the subjectmatter of the Bill.
– The subject-matter of the Bill is schedule A of the. original Act.
– That is so. .My request proposes to deal with a portion of that schedule. The request ought to be dealt with, because the treatment of bananas under the Tariff is, I think, clearly an anomaly. For these reasons, I move -
That the ruling of the Chairman be disagreed with.
– It will be necessary for the honorable senator to submit his motion in writing, together with his reasons for dissenting from my ruling.
In the Senate -
The Chairman of Committees. - I have to report that Senator Stewart has dissented from my ruling that it was not in order to move a request for the insertion of an item relating to bananas, after item 4 in the schedule to the Bill amending the Customs Tariff of 1908. Under previous decisions of the President, which have the force of Standing Orders if they have been accepted by the Senate, it seemed to me that I should not be in order in accepting his proposal. My ruling was obviously not based on the merits or demerits of the case. I was simply carrying out, as far as I could, the procedure of the Senate, as it has been laid down from the Chair, on questions which seemed to me to relate to this issue. On page 6 of The Decisions of the President, 1903 to 1908, you will find a decision which appears to have a very close relation to the question under consideration, and which obviously, has been accepted by the Senate, otherwise it would not appear in this book.
– I challenge the honorable senator’s statement that the President’s decisions have the force of Standing Orders.
The Chairman of Committees. - I submit that the decisions of the President, if they have not been . questioned or overruled,’ obtain the force of Standing Orders.
– It is your duty 10 uphold them.
The Chairman of Committees. - Yes. If I think that a proposal conflicts with a previous decision of the President, I take it that it is my duty to rule that it cannot be received. The decision to which I desire to call your attention reads -
Where the Schedule to an Excise Tariff Bill includes glucose but not paraffine wax and plaster of Paris, a senator may submit a request for the insertion of an item dealing with confectionery containing glucose, but not for confectionery containing paraffine wax or plaster of Paris.
The item bananas is included in the schedule to the Customs Tariff Act, but there is no reference to that item in the amending schedule. While it may be competent, of course, for Senator Stewart to move that the other House be requested to increase the duty on any item relevant to the schedule, I take it that it is not competent for him to propose the insertion of a new item in the schedule. I am not concerned with the merits or demerits of his proposal, but only with the procedure of the Senate. If,’ as is suggested by certain interjections, the Senate restricts its procedure and upholds my ruling, that will not be my fault, but its own fault in having decided that decisions given from the Chair shall have the force of Standing Orders if not disagreed with.
– We can disagree now.
The . Chairman of Committees. - Undoubtedly. It is not my place to give a new decision. I take it that if I had accepted the request it would have been tantamount to annulling the decision of a previous President. It is for you, sir, to say whether I am right in contending that this is similar to the case in which a certain decision was given, and, if so, whether or not that decision shall stand.
– It seems to me that the question before the Senate presents itself in two ways. First, is it competent under the Standing Orders for Senator Stewart to submit this request; and, second, even if the Standing Orders permit that to be done, would it be constitutional? I submit that the honorable senator was quite in order in submitting his’ proposal at the present juncture. Standing order 327, which deals with instructions to a Committee of the whole, has no bearing on the present point. Hitherto it has been competent for an honorable senator to submit any amendment to an amending Bill which covered a section of the principal Act which was being amended, but not to propose an amendment of any portion of the principal Act which was not covered by the amending Bill.
– That is what we are doing in this case.
– No. This Bill, in clause 2, distinctly proposes to amend schedule A to the principal Act.
– In certain directions.
– It is Senator Findley who refers to certain directions, and not the Bill. Clause 2 reads -
Schedule A to the Principal -Act is amended as set out in the Schedule to this Act, and Duties of Customs are hereby imposed in accordance with Schedule A as so amended.
And under the head of “Schedule” we read -
That Schedule A to the Customs Tariff 1908 be amended as hereunder -
This Bill is for the .purpose of amending schedule A to the principal Act, and therefore is in the same position as a measure to amend section 1 or 2 or 3 of an Act.
– The words “ as hereunder “ are used.
– Suppose that, instead of being a Bill to amend schedule A, it was one to amend a section of the Customs Tariff Act. Would it be contended that we were not competent to amend any portion of the section, and that the only portion which we could amend was that specifically referred to in the Bill? Previous decisions from the Chair have been that any portion of an existing Act which was brought under review by an amending Bill could be amended in other directions if the Bill permitted. A schedule stands in the same position as a clause of a Bill. On that point, I submit that Senator Stewart has not contravened the Standing Orders. But a more serious matter arises, and that is whether the request, if in order from the stand-point of procedure, would exceed the powers conferred on the Senate by the Constitution. I need hardly remind you, sir, or the Senate, that here we are on much more delicate ground. If we make a mistake in regard to the interpretation of our Standing Orders, that affects nobody but the Senate ; but if we make a mistake in the exercise of our constitutional powers, the other House might, and I think ought to, call us to account. The case quoted by the Chairman of Committees is not quite on all-fours with the present case. Then, the proposal was to introduce a new item into the schedule to an Excise Tariff Bill, but now the introduction of no new item is proposed, because, the whole of schedule A to the Customs Tariff Act is under review. On the contrary, Senator Stewart is seeking to amend an item in the original Tariff, which I submit is brought under review by the Bill. On the occasion referred to by the Chairman, the Senate was dealing with the whole Tariff. Senator Clemons moved to insert as a new item, “ Confectionery containing glucose, paraffine wax, or plaster of Paris, per lb., 2d.” The Chairman ruled that the request was not in order; his ruling was dissented from, and referred to the President, who, on page 507 of the Journals, gave this decision -
The Senate could not ignore the provisions of the Constitution, which limited the powers of this House to requesting amendments to, or the omission of, items already in the Bill. The proposal to which exception had been taken was not an amendment of any item in the Bill, but rather a request for the insertion of a new item. He, therefore, upheld the ruling of the Chairman.
It is clear from that decision that had a new item been proposed, it would have been beyond the power of the Senate - in other words, Senator Stewart’s proposal would not have been in order. The whole question hinges on the point whether or not the whole of the Tariff is brought under review by this amending Bill. If it is not, Senator Stewart is clearly out of order according to previous decisions, because what he proposes would become a new item. But if the existing schedule be brought under review by a Bill which proposes to amend it, Senator Stewart’s proposal becomes an amendment of an item already there. That being the case, the decision I have just read, which affirms the right of the Senate to move amendments upon any item already in the Tariff, whilst limiting the right of the Senate as to the introduction of new items, having been followed in the past, ought to be followed now.
– Senator Millen has satisfied himself that a decision given on a previous occasion, when an attempt was made to include a new item in the original Tariff schedule, is in accordance with his own view.
– I have not said that.
– If a new item could not have been added to the original Bill, how can a new item be added to an amend.ment of the original -Bill?
– It cannot.
– I say that it cannot. Now, what does this Bill say -
Schedule A of the Principal Act is .amended as set out in the schedule to this Act.
– Then we can make any alteration in the schedule set out in that Act?
– The clause continues^ - and duties of Customs are hereby imposed in accordance with Schedule A as so amended.
I maintain that the schedule cannot be added to, and that new items cannot be introduced, although they are dealt with in the existing Tariff.
– If we make this request, and the House of Representatives agrees with it, schedule A of the existing Act will be amended in the way we propose.
– It must appeal to the common sense of honorable senators that this is a rectification of anomalies Bill, and not a Tariff revision Bill. If it were permissible on the part of any member of the Senate to move an increase in the duties, a reduction of the duties, or new items, apart from those referred to in the schedule to this Bill, there would be no necessity for a Bill of this kind. The Bill states clearly what it is. It is “ A Bill for an Act “-
– To amend schedule A of the existing Act.
– It proposes that Schedule A to the Customs Tariff 1908 “ be amended as hereunder set out.”
– That is as we leave it, and not as the Government bring it in, surely ?
– It is proposed to amend the existing Tariff schedule in the way set out in this Bill.
– We could not alter a comma if that view were correct.
– All the items enumerated in the schedule can be discussed.
– Have we no right to alter this at all?
– I do not say that. The honorable senator knows that we have the power to make requests in regard to any particular item included in the schedule to this Bill, but I maintain that we have no right to make additions to this schedule or to introduce new items.
– Could we ask that an item be taken out?
– We could request the deletion of certain items, because that would not affect taxation in any serious way, but to introduce new items would be to alter the Bill completely. I maintain that we have no power to alter the Bill in the way proposed, or to make it, as some honorable senators would like to do if they had the opportunity, an allembracing, comprehensive Tariff Bill. If >ve have the power to add one new item to the schedule of this Bill, we must have the absolute power to consider the existing Tariff de novo, and deal with it from A to Z. Such a power was never contemplated in connexion with an amending Bill, and especially in respect of the Tariff.
– The position, as- I understand it, is that Senator Stewart has moved in connexion with this Bill toinsert in the schedule an item making, bananas dutiable at a certain rate, although there is no reference to the item bananas in the schedule. Senator Millen has argued that the Senate has the right to amend any portion of the Act under review.
– Not the Act, but that portion of it which is under review.
– Exactly ; that portion of the Act under review. On the sameline of argument it might be contended that the Senate has the right to move any amendments in connexion with any Act which’ a Bill is introduced to amend, although not covered by the amending Bill itself. That has been always ruled to be not in order. We have made special provision in our Standing Orders in reference to cases of that description. We provide that an honorable senator may, after the second reading of a Bill, move that it be an instruction to the Committee to consider certain amendments.
– Which are not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill.
– Which are not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill; that is to say, which are not included in the amending Bill.
– But this amendment is relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill.
– This is a Bill to amend the Customs Tariff Act.
– Schedule A.
-But if honorable senators could move amendments upon every item contained in the original schedule, this could hardly be called an amending Bill at all. In the first place, it would open up the whole of the Tariff question, and would be altogether outside the methods adopted on the introduction of this Bill. Apart from that, I consider that the case quoted by Senator Millen applies equally to this Bill as to the Bill which is now the principal Act. Here is a Bill introduced with a certain object, and Senator Stewart endeavours now to include an item which is not in the Bill as presented to this Chamber. That is what wasattempted to be done by Senator Clemons in the case quoted by Senator Millen ; and’ in that case the proposal was ruled to be not in order, not because it was not altogether in order under the Standing Orders, but because under the Constitution it was not competent for the Senate to consider a matter of that description. According to section 53 of the Constitution -
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden upon the people.
– - Might I be allowed to say that that draws a distinction between amend and request? By request, we have practically proposed amendments that would increase proposed charges on the people.
– That is so, by request to the House of Representatives. In this matter I shall uphold the Chairman’s ruling, because I believe it is in accordance with the practice generally followed, so far as I can gather, by the rulings laid down and the precedents established. I believe that it is in the best interests of the Senate that that practice should be maintained.
– I move -
That the ruling of the President be disagreed with.
I submit this motion because clause 2 of the Bill says -
Schedule A of the Principal Act is amended as set out in the schedule to this Act.
That, I take it, means that schedule A of the principal Act is on the table of the Senate, and subject to amendment.
– It is not.
– The schedule to this Bill contains the amendments desired by the Government of the day, but those amendments may not seem desirable to certain members of the Senate. They may wish to cut out a number of them, to add to them, or to deal with them in any manner they may think proper. I hold that the ruling involves a limitation of the rights of the Senate, to which honorable senators ought not to agree. It is a serious limitation of our powers. If we agree to a thing of this kind, we shall simply place ourselves in the hands of the Executive for the time being. If the Executive say that there are to be no amendments of a particular measure, but such as they submit, and this ruling is upheld, it will simply mean that representative government, as we understand it, is a farce, and we shall have government by the Executive instead of government by Parliament. Every member of the Senate will agree with me that it is government by Parliament that we want. Setting all party views aside, and taking our stand upon the broad principle of representative government, and upon the rights, duties, and obligations of the Senate, I think we can only come to theconclusion that when a particular sectionof an Act is submitted to the Senate for amendment the Senate can make any. amendments in that section which it pleases. If it does not assert its right to do so, I maintain that it will place itself deliberately in hobbles. It will chain itself up.
– Hobble skirts are fashionable just now.
– That is so, and it would appear that the fashion is to be allowed to invade the sacred precincts of the Senate. That is the position no matter how honorable senators may look upon it,. whether from a party point of view-
– There is no party about this.
– I am not suggesting anything of the kind in connexion withthe ruling given by the honorable senator.
– It is purely a matterof the way in which we should carry on our business.
– I quite understand that. I am not suggesting evenparty bias in the mind of the honorable senator. When I say “ party “ in this connexion, I refer to the probability of honorable senators supporting the Government: upholding the ruling against, it may be, their own interests and their own better judgment.
– That is taking us down, surely?
– I have no wish’ to take the honorable senator down. If he . does not abrogate his rights as a member of the Senate, I am not going to snatch’ them from him, or to attempt to take them away from him. But I say that if the honorable senator upholds the ruling of the President, he will deliberately abrogate a right, a function, and a duty. I am sure that will appeal to him as a member of the Senate.
– - The ruling seems to me to be common sense.
– Schedule A to the Tariff Act of 1908 is now before the Senate for alteration. I say that, that being the case, every item of the Tariff schedule is open to amendment, and not merely- such items as the Government for the time being choose to submit for amendment. I direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that on the schedule now before us for amendment we have a choice of two courses. We can confine ourselves to the amendments tabled by the Government, or we can say, as I think we have’ a right to say, and ought to say, that, since the schedule to the principal Act is before us for amendment, we shall, if necessary, amend it throughout. I hope that we shall make such requests for its amendment as we may deem desirable from end to end.
– The Tariff is before us only in the form in which it appears in the schedule to this Bill.
– The schedule merely sets out amendments which are proposed by the Government. I hope that the Senate will assert its rights - that it will not abdicate them in favour of any Government. I trust that it will take possession of the measure which has been laid upon the table for amendment, and that it will amend it according to its own judgment. I move -
That the ruling of the President be disagreed with, because it unduly restricts the right of the Senate to amend the schedule which has been submitted to it for amendment.
– Standing order 424 provides that when a motion of this character is submitted, the debate upon it shall forthwith stand adjourned until the next sitting day, unless the Senate decides that the question requires immediate determination. As this motion requires immediate attention, I move -
Motion (by Senator Findley) agreed to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I feel that there is an obligation on the part of every honorable senator, not merely to assist you, sir, in the conduct of business, but to help the Senate to carefully pick its steps, in view of the possibility of a conflict with another branch of the Legislature. Upon the merits of the general proposition I expressed myself some time ago, and I see no reason for departing from the view which I then held. But still, I am influenced by the fact that you, sir, take a different view of the matter. In the circumstances, therefore, I would suggest to Senator Stewart that he should not persevere with his motion. If we are to enter upon a conflict with the other Chamber we want to be sure that we push our rights only so far as we can stand by them. I should not like the Senate to take up a position from which it might have to retire. As your ruling, sir, has influenced me in this matter, I would suggest that Senator Stewart should allow the matter to drop until it crops up again - as it probably will at no distant date - when we shall he free from the dual difficulty which has been created by your decision and by our Standing Orders.
– Then we shall be bound by this precedent.
– No. On account of the doubt which has been created in my mind, . I would suggest that it is extremely advisable that we should pick our steps warily.
Motion (by Senator Stewart) negatived.
In Committee : Items 71 and 72 agreed to. Item 106a -
Amend, By omitting from the item the words, “ including articles cut into shape,” and inserting in their stead the words, “ including materials made or cut to length or made or cut into shape therefor.”
– Since this item was discussed in another place, it has been found that if we agree to it in its present form it will inflict hardship upon those who are engaged in the tailoring business in a small way. There are many men engaged in that occupation who buy their materials in limited quantities, and this provision would seriously handicap them. Because we do not wish to subject them to hardship the Government have decided to delete certain words. I, therefore, move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out the words “ made or cut to length or made or.”
The amendment, and other proposed amendments to the schedule, are not in print because they were decided upon only very recently. This proposal was decided upon only an hour ago, as the result of certain representations which were then made to the Minister.
– All the amendments emanating from persons in Melbourne will receive consideration, whilst those from other people may go hang.
– I am extremely sorry to hear that remark, because it is so manifestly unfair. The men who are engaged in the tailoring business in a small way are not confined either to Melbourne or Victoria.
– Had the people of Western Australia and Queensland an opportunity of approaching the Minister an hour ago?
– In the first place, the persons who desire this amendment did not approach me. They approached the
Minister of Trade and Customs, and they spoke, not for themselves, but for the whole of those who are engaged in a similar line of business throughout Australia.
– I do not object to persons in Victoria receiving consideration ; but I do object to those who are resident elsewhere being denied the same consideration.
– The amendment is designed in the interests of the small men who are engaged in the tailoring business, and who, because of their limited resources, have to buy their materials in limited quantities.
– I would seriously suggest to the Honorary Minister that the further consideration of this Bill should be postponed. It is quite evident that, although the Department has had years in which to determine what should be classed as anomalies, it has failed to present its recommendation in a satisfactory form. Even after the Bill was introduced in another Chamber, the Minister came down with a printed list of further amendments ; and now the Honorary Minister has brought forward still another amendment. If the debate upon this measure were adjourned until to-morrow, I am quite sure that some more amendments would be forthcoming.
– The same thing might be said if we adjourned the debate for a hundred years.
– We were assured that the proposals contained in this Bill related to office anomalies, the rectification of which was required by our Customs officers. But the amendment which is now proposed is not one of that class of amendments. It has been secured by the importunity of some persons who live - where? Some exception was taken to a remark made by Senator Givens. It is obvious that when amendments are proposed on the floor of the Senate, without there being time to. get them into print, the people interested, whose ready lips are near to the Minister’s ear, are not living at the other end of Australia. If this Bill be intended merely to deal with anomalies, let it be confined to them. But if the Government are going to give relief to certain industries and individuals, and to remove anomalies which are troublesome to some firms, we ought to go further, and take the whole of the anomalies into consideration. But the only anomalies which the Government are prepared to deal with now are those affecting Melbourne businesses.
– This affects industries all over Australia.
– Those engaged in industries all over Australia have not had an opportunity of making representations. Let it go forth to the world that any firm that can get near to the Minister’s private room can secure an amendment in the Tariff. Let it be generally understood that, the Government, having put off certainpeople with the assurance that while they have full sympathy with them, time does not permit of dealing with matters- in the Tariff affecting their industries, and that the only thing they propose to deal with are those anomalies the removal of which will permit of a smoother working of the Tariff, nevertheless, finds time and opportunity to extend kindly consideration to the interests of some lucky individuals who may happen to have approached the Minister within the last hour or two.
– The honorable senator ought to have been Scotch. He is a great humourist.
– This is not a matter of humour to people who are just as much entitled to consideration as are those for whom the Government show such solicitude.
– This is proposed in the interests of Protection.
– Is this the greatest contribution which the Honorary Minister is prepared to make in the interests of Protection? Let honorable senators recollect the attitude which Senator Findley maintained on the public platform before 13th April ! Let them turn up the reports of his speeches then, and compare his large promises with the fulfilment here made ! Then they can realize how much’ he has done in the interests Of Protection !
– The honorable senator ought not to turn my remark inside out. I say that this amendment is proposed in the interests of Protection.
– The Government have not brought in this Bill as a contribution to Protection. They have shirked that portion of their obligations. They say they have brought forward the Bill to remove certain anomalies in the working of the Tariff. Representatives of the Government have said time and again, “ We are not attempting to deal with the Tariff as a whole; all that we want to do is to get a little of the sand out of the departmental machinery.” But this amendment is unnecessary from that point of view. The officials of the Department have not asked for it. If they had done so it would have been included in the Bill originally. This is merely another instance of the success of importunity. The Government are going to allow that importunity to succeed. They are going to allow a few people to have their grievances redressed whilst the rest of the people of Australia are to remain unsatisfied.
– They will get what they want next year.
– Why should they wait until next year, when a few persons in Melbourne can secure immediate relief? The Minister has pretended to tell us the reason for this amendment, but I venture to say that if there had not been somewhere close to the Minister’s office persons who are immediately interested in this amendment, it would not have been proposed.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 -p.m.
.- In the course of the debate the Minister in charge of the Bill, Senator Findley, stated that amendments affecting this and other items of the schedule were not in print because they were only decided upon very recently - in fact, that amendments have been brought under the notice of the Government within the last hour or so. I interjected that that was accounted for by the fact that Melbourne people could get their grievances objection whatever to the Minister receiving deputations from people engaged in business up to the last minute, and if he finds that a mistake has been made or that an injustice is being perpetrated, I quite agree that he ought to rectify it. He adopts the proper course in doing so. But why should representations made from one State be attended to whilst representations made from other States receive no attention? Have other representations received equal consideration from the Minister? Nothing of the kind. We are told that this is a perfectly innocent measure intended merely for the rectification of departmental anomalies. In looking through it I find that it is a great deal more than that. In some cases it removes items from the free list and puts them where they will be subject to a duty of 25 per cent. That is a great deal more than the rectification of an anomaly. I have no objection to it. If a local industry was suffering hardship through importations being on the free list, it was quite the right thing for the Government to make this proposal.
– The goods were not on the free list, but people who were importing them were taking advantage of the free list.
– The goods to which I refer are to be taken out of the free list and put under a 25 per cent. item. I have, I say again, no objection to that. If any injury was being done to a local industry, attended to, while persons m distant Mates no matter where it was situated, the procould not. Senator Findley took umbrage’posal is quite right but why should a few at that statement, and alleged that it was totally unfair. I say that my statement was absolutely true, as proved by his own words that up to an hour or two before the time when he was speaking the Government listened to representations made by people in Melbourne, whilst people in Tasmania, Queensland, or Western Australia had no opportunities of making representations affecting them an hour ago. Furthermore, I point out that whilst it appears that the Government were willing to accept representations from outside people up to the last moment, they are absolutely unwilling to listen to - in fact, they resist - the demands made by representative people from other States.
– Does the honorable senator know that one deputation that waited on the Minister asked for a reduction of duties?
– I do not know anything of the sort. I have absolutely no people be singled out for this treatment whilst others are allowed to go hungry without securing any rectification whatever of the anomalies that affect their industries? That is what I want to know. A deputation of fruit-growers made representations to the Government with regard to the anomaly that exists between preserved fruit in the form of jam and tinned fruit. Nearly every State in the group is interested in this matter. Yet the Government tell us that they cannot do anything. I venture to say that if a Victorian industry were suffering, the Government would jump at the chance of rectifying the anomaly in question.
– Queensland is always to the front.
– Queensland is no more to the front in this matter than is any other State. There is no State in Australia to which so large and generous a measure of protection has been extended as
South Australia. The salt industry of South Australia enjoys a protection of 200 per cent. If there is any other industry that; gets an equal percentage of protection I should like the honorable senator to tell
Hie what it is. The wine and olive oil industries of the same State are also well protected. Good luck to South Australia. I do not grudge, her that protection. South Australia is also interested in the growing of fruits. So is Victoria. But there are two States which are especially interested in the fruit trade- Tasmania on account of her temperate fruits, and Queensland on account of her tropical fruits. Why should a Tasmanian, if he buys a ton of fruit and a ton of sugar, boils the two together in a copper to the consistency of a pulp, puts them into tins, and seals them up, get the advantage of a certain protective duty, whilst if he puts the same fruit through another process he gets no protection whatever ? Surely that is a gross anomaly. Then there is the case of bananas, cited by Senator Stewart. We have been told that the banana-growing industry mainly affects the Chinese. So it did for a long time, and while it was chiefly a ‘Chinese industry I was not much concerned about getting a duty for it. But now it has come largely into the hands of Europeans. Further than that, if we are to refuse a protective duty to bananas because the trade is largely in the hands _ of Chinese, why should we give a protective duty to the Melbourne furniture industry, which is almost entirely in the hands of Chinese? When I first came to Melbourne, and did not know my way about as well as I do now, I went to a shop to buy some furniture. Under the Victorian law, furniture made by Chinese has to be branded as Chinese made. I went to a reputable house, and asked to be supplied with European-made furniture. But when I got it I found that one article, right away back in one of the drawers, was stamped as made by Chinese. There is no more reason why the industries that I have mentioned should not receive fair consideration than why the industry in which the Government are now so keenly interested should be picked out for special treatment. I have no objection to any Australian industry receiving consideration. I will vote for the highest duty being imposed for any industry conducted in this Commonwealth. But when I find that right up to the present hour the Government are open to receive representations’ - and to be influenced by them - with regard to industries conducted in Mel bourne, I am entitled to ask why industries carried on in other States have not an equal right to that privilege? I shall continueto urge that argument until I receive somesatisfactory reply.
– In the one case we are dealing with an item included in theschedule, and in the other cases we should not be.
– Why are not the other items included in the schedule? Because those concerned in them have not the ear of the Minister down in Melbourne.
– I quite agree with what has been said by Senator Givens. The position is this : The Government are giving protection to the ear, while they deny it in fact. They told us that they intended to rectify anomalies. A Bill was brought down toremedy certain defects in the Tariff, discovered by officers of the Department of Trade and Customs. The Bill did not profess to deal in any way with the general principles underlying Protection and its incidence. The Government profess to haveonly one end in view. They told us that the Bill did not alter the incidence of taxation. But in that respect the Government are not treating us fairly. Later on, .thereare certain other points to which I shall direct attention, where they are not rectifying anomalies, but creating them. I think that the Minister ought to tell us plainly whether the Government intend to carry out the promise incidentally made in another place that they will rectify mistakes which have been made in proposing to alter duties.
– I cannot understand the attitude of some members ‘of the Opposition. In the past they have complained that every measure has been cut and dried, and that it was impossible to induce Ministers to entertain a suggestion for an alteration. Here is a measure on which there can be a difference of opinion regarding each item. I recognise that it is wrong for a man when he introduces- a measure to take up the attitude that there can be no alteration made, no matter what information may come to hand. I cannot blame the Honorary Minister for the attitude which he is taking up on this occasion. If, since the measure was considered in another place, he and the Minister of Trade and Customs have learned that certain alterations are desirable, why should they not be made? So far as I can understand the position, the Bill, if passed in its present form, will create anomalies. Surely the Ministry are to be commended for taking prompt steps to prevent such a thing.
– Representations from other States cannot reach Melbourne.
– Surely the honorable senator will recognise that, because people in Western Australia cannot, owing to their geographical position, keep in touch with the Minister up to the last moment, and point out anomalies which are being created, that is no argument against people in Victoria pointing out how, if the measure be passed in its present form, certain anomalies will be created.
– A copy of the measure cannot have reached Western Australia.
– Exactly, and I agree with Senator Givens that people in the distant States have not the same opportunity to approach the Minister as have people in Melbourne. But is that any reason why we should perpetuate wrong decisions which have been come to in another place? I do not think it is. 1 regret that people in Western Australia have not an opportunity to bring their grievances before the Parliament, and to get them dealt with as effectively as have people in Melbourne. But that is no reason why I should take a course which will put the latter at a disadvantage. I hope that any proposal which may be made regarding the measure will receive due consideration, no matter from which side it may emanate.
– I should like to know the reason for this proposal. I do not understand the item at all.
– I am surprised that Senator Vardon asks that question at this juncture of the proceedings, because, when I submitted the request some time ago, I gave reasons which I thought would convince those who were interested in the encouragement of Australian industries that the words should be eliminated. I pointed out that their retention will inflict a great hardship on a number of men engaged in the tailoring industry throughout Australia, whose purchasing power is limited, and give an advantage to big men as against little men.
– The honorable senator makes a statement that it will be so, but he does not show how that will happen.
– I do not think that I could give reasons which would convince honorable senators on the other side. It is represented that, if this restriction be persisted in, it will place certain persons at a disadvantage. Surely they ought to be the best judges.
– We are the judges now.
– Probably we are. Honorable senators state, and keep on repeating, that the Government have yielded to representations made by Victorians in respect to the amendments proposed in the Tariff. Whilst in a measure that is true ive must not be unmindful of the fact that the whole of the items in this schedule appeared in telegraph form in nearly all the leading newspapers in the capital cities, together with the reasons why they were proposed. Since” their publication business men in different parts of Australia have had time to consider the amendments. Certain persons have pointed out to the Minister that an injustice will be done to some persons if these words be retained in item 106A Surely no honorable senator desires that the Minister shall close the door to deputations in respect of this or any other matter.
– Why does not the honorable senator show us where the injustice will be done?
– By the retention of the words “ made or cut to length or made or.”
– Show us how it will work out in actual practice. The honorable senator is not helping us a bit.
– I am not a practical tailor, and therefore cannot demonstrate that to the honorable senator.
– Surely the honorable senator can tell us what the effect of the alteration is- likely to be.
– I am informed that unless the alteration be made, the importers will have an advantage over a man who is restricted by the use of the words. .
– The honorable senator is only making a statement. He is not giving reasons at all.
– I do not expect to be able to give reasons to convince honorable senators opposite as to the justice of this proposal. I am satisfied that it is in the interest of the Protectionist policy of
Australia to delete the words, and that their retention will be detrimental to that policy.
– I do not think that it has ever been my lot to hear a more extraordinary statement from a Minister than that which has just been delivered by Senator Findley. Senator Vardon has asked, and I am sure that other honorable senators desire, to have an explanation as to the effect of deleting, these words. The Minister has simply stated that certain representations have been made to the Government that, unless the amendment be made, an injustice will be done to somebody. The Committee should be informed as to the way in which an injustice will be done. I am sure it will not be slow to act if it is pointed out that a legislative proposal is likely to act injuriously. Surely we ought to have something more than the vague statement of the Minister that he is convinced that it is in the interest of the Protectionist policy of Australia to delete the words, and that unless that be done an injustice will be inflicted on some person because that person has told him or the Government so. That is no reason why we should vote for the request. I suggest that he should tell us clearly what difference will be effected by the omission of the words. I am surprised that he cannot see what the Committee wants. He has taken part in too many Tariff debates not to know exactly the kind of reasons which are sought. When the item of corsets was under discussion, he gave very cogent reasons, and showed how the duty proposed would work out if retained, and he fought against it, not only strenuously, but successfully. We desire to hear similar reasons on the present occasion, and not vague statements.
– I understand that if the words be retained a length for a suit will be dutiable at 40 and 35 per cent., and that if the words be deleted small men will be able to buy in larger quantities piece goods, which are dutiable at 30 and 25 per cent.
Request agreed to.
Item 107 -
Amend, By inserting in the item, . after the word “materials,” the words “made or cut to length or made or “.
Request (by Senator Findley) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item.
Items 115 and 121 agreed to.
Item 123 -
Amend, By omitting from sub-item (d), the words’ “Ribbons, Galloons not being bindings “, and the words “ Boxed Robes when not shaped or sewn”.
By inserting in sub-item (d), after the words “Lace for Attire”, the words “exceeding eighteen inches in width “.
By inserting in sub-item (d), after the words “ Lace Flouncings “, the words “ Exceeding eighteen inches in width “.
By inserting in sub-item (d), after the words “Millinery and Dress Nets”, the words “ exceeding eighteen inches in width “.
By inserting in sub-item (d), after the words “ Embroideries in the piece “ the words “ exceeding eighteen inches in width.
– I wish to ask the Minister whether he will consent to reconsider the position with respect to ribbons and galoons not being bindings? We are told that this is merely proposed to secure smoother working in the Department, but if the item be carried these goods will have to bear a higher duty than that charged upon them now. They are not made here, and they must be capable of distinction and definition by the Department. They are very necessary for costume-makers and dressmakers, and it will be of great assistance to them to leave these articles as they are in the existing Tariff. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out the words “ ‘ Ribbons, Galloons not being bindings,’ and the words “.
– The Government cannot accept this request, because if it were agreed to these articles would be dutiable at 15 and 10 per cent., and we desire that they should come under an item dutiable at 25 and 15 per cent.
– Another rise in duty.
– It will mean, of course, a higher duty on these particular articles. But it has been found to be a matter of absolute impossibility in some of these cases for the Department to properly classify these articles.
– What is it that they cannot be distinguished from?
– They cannot be distinguished from trimmings. The Department finds it impossible to distinguish genuine trimmings from ribbons, and galoons not being bindings. They desire to have their difficulty removed, and in order that that may be done it will be necessary to place these articles in an item in which they will be dutiable at a slightly higher rate than at present.
– Are they manufactured in the Commonwealth?
– I understand that some of these trimmings are manufactured in a very limited way. In order that the importers shall not be given the opportunity to import trimmings at a lower duty than was intended to be placed upon them by the Tariff of 1908, it is considered necessary to place these articles in an item in which they will be dutiable at 25 and 15 per cent.
– The Minister says that these articles are being manufactured in a small way, and if that be so, I should like the honorable senator to tell us who is manufacturing them in Australia? My information is that, as a matter of fact, no attempt is made to manufacture any of these articles here. It would be an assistance to costume-makers and others in Australia to leave these articles as they are in the existing Tariff, and the only effect of the proposed amendment will be to increase the revenue. It cannot have any effect hi promoting manufactures in Australia.
– It is not easy for the Minister to explain technical matters of this kind.
– We do not expect that, but we do expect the honorable senator to get information from the -departmental officials who are sitting behind him. I am disposed to divide the Committee on my amendment if some better reason is not given for the proposal now made.
– The only information I can gather from the discussion is that if this alteration is made it will mean only more revenue. So far as our information goes no attempt is made to manufacture these articles within the Commonwealth. The proposal of the Government will only have the effect of increasing the duty on them from 15 and 10 per cent, to 25 and 15’ per cent., and if that be soI cannot support it. If the alteration meant that there would be a probability of these things being produced in Australia, I should willingly vote for it. But, so far as we can learn, that is not so, and the alteration is proposed merely in the interests -of departmental officers, who find some difficulty in classifying ribbons and things of that sort. There should be no such difficulty in the way of men who are, or ought to be, experts in these matters, and if that is to be the only reason given for the proposal, I shall be unable to vote for it.
– This proposal merely means a little added cost to the general public. The only reason given for it by the Minister is that the officers of the- Department have some trouble in dealing with this matter under the existing Tariff. Surely Parliament does not alter a Tariff to save trouble to departmental officials ? What are the officers of the Department appointed for? We know that no attempt has been made to make ribbons in Australia. They are imported into this country from France and from England. Of what use is it to attempt, in the name of Protection, to increase duties which can only act as revenue duties, and which must add to the cost of the articles to the consumer ? If the duty is increased on these articles, people who use them in making dresses will have to charge more for their work. Staunch Protectionist as the Minister is, he will not claim that it is necessary to make this alteration for the purpose of Protection. The officers of the Department cannot tell him that these articles are made, or are likely to be made, in the Commonwealth in our time.
.- I take it that we are not here to reduce the duties imposed upon anything that can be manufactured in Australia. If these articles can be manufactured here, and the Government proposals will assist those engaged in their manufacture, I shall have no great objection to the consequent increase of duties upon them. But if they a re not made here, I do not think it can be contended that we need an increase of duties for revenue purposes, or to facilitate the work of the Customs Department. This proposal will not assist any industry here, and will only increase the cost of goods, in connexion with which these articles are used, to the extent of the increase in the duty. I refer honorable senators to another part of the same item, in which it is proposed to add after the words “lace for attire,” “ Lace flouncings,”- “ millinery and dress nets,” and “ embroideries in the piece,” the words “exceeding 18 inches in width.” A gentleman in the trade showed me some of these things, and explained that the narrow widths below 18 inches are used by the poorer people. I take it that it is not the desire of honorable senators that the poorer people should have to pay more for these articles than they already have to pay under the existing Tariff. 1 understand that the proposal will not affect people who are sufficiently well off to be able to afford to get these goods 18 inches or more in width, whilst it will make a difference in the case of goods of a less width, which are now used by the poorer people. That being so, 1 cannot see any justification for the proposed alteration.
– I cannot understand the attitude of Ministers with regard to the part of the item affected by the request moved by Senator St. Ledger. I understand that the Department has experienced considerable difficulty in differentiating between the item now under review and ordinary trimmings. That being so, it naturally desires to bring all these articles under one heading, and to subject them to the one rate of duty. With that desire we all sympathize. But in order to secure that uniform classification, the Ministry now propose to levy a higher rate of duty. As these articles are not made in the Commonwealth it is quite clear that that duty will be in no sense a protective one. But it so happens that these very articles are the raw material of the dressmaker. I have no knowledge of the dressmaking trade, but I can see at once that if we increase the cost of the raw material pf the dressmaker, we shall, to that extent, grant her a lesser measure of protection against dresses which are imported. Do the Government desire that? Is that the position to which Senator Findley, the apostle’ of high Protection, has been reduced ? Surely there is a way out of the difficulty. If he wishes to bring ribbons and galloons under a uniform duty, as neither of them is made in Australia, he should subject them to the lower rate of duty. That would produce the desired uniformity without in any way lessening the protection which is extended to our dressmakers.
– The Leader of the. Opposition desires to secure uniformity in the matter of these duties. But in order to achieve his purpose, he wishes to make the duties as low as possible.
– On raw materials which cannot be manufactured in Australia.
– In other words, the honorable senator would prefer duties of 15 per cent, and ro per cent, upon all the trimmings enumerated in this request as against 25 per cent, and 15 per centHe says, in effect, that whilst there may be difficulties in the way of departmental officers differentiating between certain kinds of trimmings, he does not desire to do an injustice to those persons who are engaged in a particular line of business. Neither do the Government nor the Department. But it is doubly difficult for the Department to differentiate between certain classes of trimmings and trimmings which are beingmanufactured in Australia. A little while ago Senator St. Ledger asked where trimmings are being manufactured in the Commonwealth. From inquiry, I have since ascertained that they are being manufactured in Melbourne and Sydney. Because they are being manufactured in Australia, we wish to give the industry as much encouragement as possible. .Under the present Tariff they enjoy a protection of 15 per cent, and 25 per cent.
– Those rates do not apply to ribbons and galloons.
– We do not desire to do an injustice to an Australian industry. In some of the States the importers probably get ribbons and galloons- admitted at the lower rate of duty, whilst in other States they have to pay the higher rate. In Victoria the practice has been for the Department to insist upon payment of the higher duty whenever a doubt has existed in respect of any article. But that rigidity has not been observed in other States. We desire uniformity in order that all may be placed upon the same plane.
– The Minister has now definitely declared that these trimmings are being made in Australia. A. little while ago he was extremely doubtful on the point. It is quite clear that in the balancing of the industries which the Ministry seek to advantage by the Tariff, they are more inclined to study the interests of the manufacturers of trimmings than the interests of our dressmakers. In proportion as we impose a duty upon ribbons and galloons which cannot be produced in Australia, we increase the cost of the raw materials to our dressmakers, and cut into that measure of protection which has- hitherto been extended to the finished article. There is no escaping the logic of that position. This great
Labour Ministry practically tells the dressmakers of the Commonwealth that they must look after themselves.
– When the Tariff was under consideration in this Chamber the Honorary Minister constituted himself the great champion of those persons who make up clothes in the Commonwealth as against the importers of ma’de-up clothing. He declared that every protection should be extended to them. I do not know why he now seeks to deprive them of that measure of protection. Apparently he wishes to reduce that protection by 5 per cent, or 10 per cent. Merely because an individual proposes to manufacture trimmings in Australia, is he to be protected at the expense of the thousands of women who are employed in the dressmaking trade? Surely we are not going to that extreme. This particular manufacturer has not yet materialized. But because a small quantity of trimmings may be’ manufactured in Sydney and Melbourne, are all the dressmakers of the Commonwealth to be penalized? Why is it proposed to do this? Simply because the Department wishes it. But is the Department to rule the Commonwealth ? I hope that the Minister will accede to the request, which is a reasonable one.
– It is quite plain that this particular item, if adopted, will have the effect of bringing in revenue whilst affording no assistance either to an established or a prospective industry. In this item it is proposed to draw a sharp distinction between lace flouncings 18 inches in width and lace flouncings of a lesser width. What is the object of distinguishing between these flouncings? To flouncings 18 inches wide it is proposed to give a protection of 10 per cent, and 15 per cent., and to flouncings of less than that width of 25 per cent, and 20 per cent.
– If flouncings are less than 18 inches in width they will be imported as piece goods.
– That is all the more reason why we should leave this item severely alone. If we are going to amend the Tariff by rectifying anomalies, we should admit free of duty articles which are not made in the Commonwealth. If we cannot do that we should defer their consideration until such time as we are able to undertake- a comprehensive revision of the Tariff. There are three classes of adornments, namely, lace flouncings, millinery and dress nets, and embroideries, in re spect of which an arbitrary limit of 18 inches in width has been fixed. Why has that limit been adopted ?
– We have had no explanation of it yet.
– Its only, effect will be to impose a duty upon a particular class of article without the compensating advantage of establishing an industry in this country. The adoption of the item will certainly destroy that margin of protection which is already given to the manufacturers of the article itself. I shall oppose the item.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out the words “ Ribbons, galloons, not being bindings, and the words “ - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative. Request negatived.
– I will direct the attention of the officers to the matter.
– If there is no prior amendment, I intend to move that the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the last paragraph of the item. The effect of the amendment would be to leave embroideries dutiable at 15 and 10 per cent.
– The objection raised was that the Bill would create confusion by placing these goods under two rates of duty. The Minister now proposes to make a lower rate of duty apply to the more costly fabrics, whilst the higher duty will affect those which are used by the poorer classes. I do not know whether the Minister, intends that that should be the result of the differentiation.
– The omission of the last paragraph of the item would place embroideries in exactly the same position as they were in under the 1908 Tariff. It is considered that duties of 15 and 10 per cent, will be ample.
.- Apparently the proposed amendment is to affect only embroideries, but the same argument applies to the paragraph which deals with laces. I have before me a specimen of lace which is largely used by the white workers for goods which, are purchased by the poorer classes. I am informed that if the Bill goes through in its present form, these goods will pay 25 and 15 Der cent. I have before me also another kind of lace, which is made in widths exceeding 18 inches. It is used for a rather attractive and delicate kind of dress. Under the Bill, this superior kind of lace will be dutiable at 15 and 10 per cent. Surely this differentiation does not benefit the poorer classes. The Minister is proposing to remove the anomaly with regard to embroideries, but not with regard to laces.
– The observations of Senator St. Ledger are calculated to leave the impression that there is a desire on the part of the Government to impose burdens on the poorer classes of the community. We do not desire to do anything of the kind. The reason for the differentiation in the case of laces is this : There are in Australia many women, some of them in poor circumstances, and some of them rather better off, who are busily engaged in the making of laces which are utilized for the manufacture of apparel. Laces over 18 inches in width will be dutiable at 15 and 10 per cent. When Senator St. Ledger innocently pointed out that that would give an advantage to members of the better placed section of the community in that they would be able to have nicer flounces on their dresses than could persons in less happy circumstances, he spoke beside the question, because the duty neither affects the quantity nor the quality. If a person with not a very large purse wishes to purchase lace over 18 inches in width, she will be able to do so on the same terms as any one else.
– Which section of the community the more freely uses 18-inch lace?
-These matters were considered exhaustively when the general Tariff was under review, and it was with a view to give facilities to all sections of the community that a width was stipulated, because lace’s over 18 inches wide could come in as piece goods. It is not intended to do an injustice to the poor or the wealthy.
– I know that it is not, but it will.
– They will all be placed in exactly the same position except in regard to laces over 18 inches wide. But in regard to ether laces it gives a measure of protection to a number of persons throughout Australia. By allowing laces over 18 inches to come under the lower duty we do not impose a disability on any person-.
– The longer the debate is continued the more surprised I am becoming, and I venture to say the more is Senator Findley losing that foothold which he, as a Protectionist, has held. I was surprised to hear him state that it is beside the question whether the duty is going to affect the rich or the poor. It may be beside the question so far as he is concerned, but I hope that is not the case with the Committee. Surely that is one of the factors which we ought to take into consideration when it is not a matter of protecting an industry. The Minister does not pretend that these articles are made in Australia, and, therefore, this is simply a revenue duty. It is not beside the question when we are asked to consider whether we shall put a higher duty on poor people, and a lowe duty on rich people, or reverse the process.
– Quality or quantity does not affect the argument.
– -How many 18-inch flounces does the Minister see on the dresses of poor persons ? He knows well the section of persons who use the wider laces. Of course, the value will determine the rate which will be paid, but he knows 18-inch lace is not to be found on the dresses of those who have least of this world’s goods. It is used almost exclusively by the wealthier section of the community. Therefore, it is idle to say that the question of rich or poor does not enter into the debate. If the amendment be carried the effect will be that the cheaper narrower laces which are worn by the great masses of the people will be dutiable at 25 and 15 per cent., while laces 18 inches wide and over will be dutiable at only 15 and 10 per cent.
– If the laces are to be made cheap, that is all the better for those who are not in a position to pay the higher duty.
– The effect of the amendment, if made, will be as I have just stated.
– Does the honorable senator assume that all laces under 18; inches in width are inferior ? ‘
– No. It cannot be denied that the bulk of the narrow laces are worn by the less- wealthy section of the community. There can be no question here about easing the work of the Department. It is not a question of inability to differentiate between 6-inch lace and 18-inch lace. It does not need an expert to do that. It can be done by a boy or a blind man with a foot rule. What can be the object of this reclassification, except to place a high duty on laces which are the more largely worn, and which, therefore, will yield a larger revenue? If, under the pretence of rectifying anomalies, the Minister wants to impose a revenue duty, the bulk of which will necessarily be paid by the less wealthy section, he should have been frank with the Committee, and admitted his object. I understood, when I was asked to consider the measure, that it was primarily introduced for the purpose of easing the work of the Department. Will any one tell me that a public Department can find any difficulty in determining the width of lace? Do they really claim that they wish to be relieved of the difficulty of measuring these goods ? That argument will not hold water for a moment. If the Minister does not want to establish the reputation of one who seeks to impose revenue duties on the poorer section of the people, he should deal willi this item as he did with- the last one, and allow the articles to fall under the lower rate of duty. No question of Protection is involved, because the goods are not made in Australia to-day.
– Laces are made h> Australia.
.- I am informed that these laces are not made in Australia, but are the raw material of those who make up certain articles, and, therefore, the imposition of this extra duty will reduce practically the protection on those articles. The Minister does not seem to have any ground to work on at all. Perhaps if progress were reported he might be in a position to give definite information tomorrow.
– I can claim to speak with a certain amount oi authority, as I have handled thousands of yards of lace. I hope that the Government will withdraw this proposal to increase the duty on common insertions and common laces, because it is a revenue duty pure and simple, and in no way a protective duty. These laces are made in factories with- a very expensive outfit. And what is more,, they are used to the extent of millions of yards throughout the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorablesenator say that all laces under 18 inches in width are made in factories?
– I am dealing now with the cheap insertion, which is used by practically the whole of the working people and the middle classes of Australia.
– From the day they are born until they go to the grave.
– Practically. This kind of insertion is used throughout life.
– Is it made in Australia?
– It cannot be made here until up-to-date factories are established, and, therefore, it must be imported. On whom will this heavy duty fall ? Not on those who can best afford to pay, but on the workers - the Democracy of Australia. I, as a good Protectionist, cannot support what is undoubtedly a revenue duty. Because a few lace manufacturers, who make a better class of lace than that which I hold in my hand, and who probably make a very superior lace and insertion, want protection, are we to penalize the thousands of persons who use the cheap insertion, and cannot do without it? No. I cannot support for a moment a proposal to take money out of the pockets of the workers. I hope the Minister will see fit to withdraw it. Were there a factory in existence, or any chance of producing the article locally, I would not take this stand; but, as things are, it must be imported.
– It is quite apparent to me, unless I am making a very serious blunder, that this item will bring in revenue- without securing any advantage. Prior to this anomalous attempt to remedy anomalies in the Tariff, lace goods could be imported as piece goods, at 5 per cent, and free. But by this measure they are removed from item 123, and subject to duties of 15 and to per cent, if they measure 18 inches and over in width, whereas lace goods under 18 inches wide are .removed from the item under which they were dutiable at 15 and 10 per cent., and made “dutiable at 25 and 15 per cent. I regard this as an extraordinary attempt, not to rectify an anomaly, but rather to increase the revenue through the Customs. These two qualities of lace which are now admitted duty free, would, under this proposal, be dutiable at 10 per cent, and 15 per cent., and the duty on laces of less than 18 inches in width would be increased. I hope that the Government will retire from the position they have taken up in connexion with the item.
– I am afraid that the Minister has embarked upon a dangerous sea, and it would be well for him to seek a harbor of safety before he is shipwrecked. If I thought this proposal would be protective in its incidence, I should support it. When the existing Tariff was before this Chamber, I supported every item which would give protection, and as consistently opposed every merely revenue item.
– With one exception.
– The honorable senator cannot mention a single exception.
– Mining machinery ; that was all.
– The honorable senator might have thought so. I have always been anxious to secure the highest protective duties on goods which can be made in Australia, and have opposed every duty which would be merely revenueproducing. I have seen some of the samples of lace exhibited this evening, and I recognise that they cannot be made in Australia.
– There is some lace made here.
– If the Minister would not be so impatient, I may tell him that I was about to say that I have seen lace made in Australia.
– Of what kind?
– I have seen superior Irish lace made by girls in Syd- ney, but it was for exhibition purposes. It is quite impossible just now to put in the costly plant necessary to establish lacemaking as a commercial success in Australia. If I thought it would be possible to secure the establishment of factories for the manufacture of this lace, whether 18 inches in width or less or more, I should be prepared to support this proposal. The Committee is called upon at the request of the Government to remove anomalies in the existing Tariff, but if we accept this proposal we shall create a worse anomaly than at present exists in connexion with these items. The majority of the people of Australia are to-day using these insertions, and a proposal to penalize them by increasing the duty upon them by 10 per cent, is one which it is impossible for us to entertain. It might have been wiser for the Government not to have brought down any proposal affecting the Tariff than to have proposed to remove anomalies in this way. My ideas of Protection may not be as Himalayan as those of the Minister in charge of the Bill, but I should advise him to agree either to recommit this item or to delete it altogether.
– I believe that this proposal is not only one for revenue duties, but is antiProtectionist. No one can say that these laces are being made in Australia. Though a better class of lace is being made as a pleasant occupation by young ladies in various parts of the country, it is not being made on a commercial scale anywhere in Australia. It is proposed to increase the duty on this class of goods very considerably, and I ask what we should accomplish by that? The white workers of the Commonwealth engaged in making up dress materials, underclothing, and such things, require these goods as their raw material. If we increase the duty on their raw material, we shall be giving them so much less protection against made-up garments which are imported from abroad, and in which these materials are used. There is no proposal in this amending schedule for increasing the duties on made-up garments in which these materials are used, and yet it is here proposed to increase the duty on the raw material used in the manufacture of the madeup garments here. By adopting this proposal, we shall be progressing like the crab - backwards. We who claim to be Protectionists wish to progress forwards. It is strange that we have had no adequate explanation from the Government for the proposed alteration. The whole item appears to come under the same category, and, instead of rectifying, it will create, anomalies. I ask honorable senators to refer to the paragraph dealing with braids. It is proposed to lift them out of the free list, and put them into the list dutiable at 25 per cent. What will be the effect of that? One can go into any draper’s shop in Melbourne and see samples of plain braids, and of braids made up into fancy patterns. Under this proposal, the duty on plain braids and braids made up into fancy patterns would be the same, and the result will be that, instead of the patterns being worked in plain braids on the materials by Australian workers, braid would be imported made up in fancy patterns, and all that would be necessary then would be to tack it on to the dress materials. I repeat that this proposal is not only a revenue Tariff proposal, but is absolutely an antiProtectionist proposal. Yet we have a Government asking a presumably Protectionist party and a Protectionist Senate to accept them. I, for one, am not prepared to do so, and shall vote against the item.
Request (by Senator St. Ledger) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out the second paragraph.
– I had intended to move a request for the omission of the fifth paragraph of the item, but as the majority of the Committee have agreed to the request moved by Senator St. Ledger, I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend the item by leaving out the third, fourth, and fifth paragraphs.
Request agreed to.
Item 126 agreed to.
Item 134 -
Amend, By inserting in sub-item (a), after the word “Ruchings” the words” ; Galoons; Ribbons; Lace for Attire Millinery and Dress Nets Embroideries and Lace Flouncings measuring not more than eighteen inches in width ; Braid n.e.i. ; Gimp n.e.i. for Attire ; Tinselled Belting n.e.i. ; Belting for apparel not elsewhere specified and not being cut to length for belts”.
By omitting from sub-item (b) the words “ Braids n.e.i.”, and. inserting in their stead the words “ Braids plain and flat and of one colour and composed wholly of textile”.
By omitting from sub-item (b) the words “ Gimp n.e.i.”, and inserting in their stead the words “ Gimp not for apparel and not being partly or wholly of gold or silver”……
– In view of the action taken by the Committee in dealing with item 123, some consequential amendments are necessary in this item. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out, after the word “ Ribbons “, the words “ Lace for Attire Millinery and Dress Nets Embroideries and Lace Flouncings measuring not more than eighteen inches in width.”
Request agreed to.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend the item by leaving out, after the word “width”, the words “Braid n.e.i. ; Gimp n.e.i. for Attire.”
If this request be agreed to, these articles will fall into the position which they occupy under the existing Tariff, and will be admitted duty free.
– Are there any other items in that paragraph which occupy a similar position?
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Findley) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend the item by leaving out the second and third paragraphs.
Items 137, 139, 141, 156, 162, 165. and 169 agreed to.
Item 170 -
Amend, By inserting in sub-item (b), after the word “ containing,” the words “ not less than 2 per cent, of.”
By inserting in the item a new sub-item as follows : - “ (e) Malleable iron castings. . . . per lb.,1¾d.”
– In this item it is proposed to increase the impost on a very important article which is largely used in certain work in Australia. It is proposed to place an increased duty upon an article which has not been made in Australia - I refer to steel which has been specially hardened by the addition of chromium. If we turn to the schedule in the principal Act we shall find that the item refers to manufactures of metal n.e.i., and that paragraph b of it reads -
Manganese or chrome steel parts, viz. : - parts made of steel containing chromium or not less than 7 per cent. of manganese, which are used in grinding, crushing or pulverizing machinery, and come in contact with the material ground, crushed or pulverized …. Free.
I wish honorable senators to understand that specially hardened steel containing a percentage of chromium or manganese is admitted free. The Government now pro- pose to limit that provision by inserting after the word “ containing “ the words not less than 2 per cent, of.” So that, under their proposal, manganese or chrome steel parts would have to contain not less than 2 per cent, of chromium to be admitted free. Yet what is the actual position? It is that in the hardening of steel, nothing like that percentage of chromium is used. Would the Honorary Minister be surprised to learn that one one-hundredth part of 1 per cent, of tungstic acid is required to make steel of the hardest and toughest kind? Does he know that the highest analysis of chrome steel now used in the biggest works of Australia is only six-tenths of 1 per cent. I hold in my hand a telegram from the general manager of the Mount Morgan mine - -Captain Richard - who is one of the best Protectionists in Australia. He is known as one of the most ardent Protectionists in the Commonwealth. Every item of machinery which could be made in Australia has been installed in the Mount Morgan mine. The magnificent electric winding engine there was made in the Commonwealth. What does Captain Richard say in regard to this proposal ? He telegraphs -
Se amended Tariff on hand steel crushing machinery parts, we use large amount and analyses show six-tenths of i per cent, chromium. Have never used any containing as high as 2 per cent., and only a few makers in Europe make it. Consider it would be fair to make i[ per cent, minimum, and that any duty would not induce makers to start in Australia, except, perhaps, one who would have monopoly and make his own price. Would remind you that we have always favoured Australian machinery.
I should like to learn from the Honorary Minister whether any persons propose to start this work in Australia, and I would remind him that if they do not, the duty can be regarded in no other light than as a revenue duty. If honorable senators will read the schedule to the principal Act, they will see that it contains the words- “ used in grinding, crushing, or pulverizing machinery.” The mining industry is the only industry which will use this particular class of machinery. If steel contains more than 2 per cent, of chromium, it will be admitted free ; if not, it will have to pay a duty of i-fd. per lb. Why should people be penalized for failing to put into steel a needlessly large quantity of hardening substances? I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out “ 2,” and inserting in lieu thereof
There will then have to be an appreciable quantity of chromium in steel before it can be admitted free.
– Let the item stand as it is.
– I am willing to meet the Ministry in this matter. Captain Richard says that the steel which is used in the Mount Morgan mine contains only six-tenths of 1 per cent, of chromium. Only a certain quantity of this hardening substance requires to be put into steel. Anything in excess of that quantity is mere surplusage.
– I hope that the Committee will pay serious attention to the remarks . of Senator Givens. The effect of the proposal of the Ministry would be to increase the cost of the wearing parts of machinery to every mine in Australia which is engaged in crushing hard ore. This matter was discussed very thoroughly when the Tariff was previously under consideration, and it was then recognised that instead of any particular percentage of chromium being required in steel, if only a trace of it were present, it should be admitted free. But the Government now propose to increase the amount of chromium necessary to enable steel to .be admitted free to 2 per cent. What does that mean? It means producing steel of such hardness that it would be unfit for any practical purpose in mining. According to an authority which I have here, steel which contains 2 per cent, of chromium is used only for making projectiles, and tools of trade of the hardness of an emery wheel. As no attempt has been made to produce steel of that quality, and as no attempt is likely to be made to produce it on a commercial scale, the Government proposal would merely add to the cost of mining throughout Australia, without the compensating advantage of establishing an industry here. In addition to the testimony of the manager of the Mount Morgan mine, we have the evidence of Mr. Agnew, the manager of Bewick, Moreing and Company, in Western Australia. He stated before the Tariff Commission that’ the task of renewing the wearing parts of the machinery which is installed in the Lake View Consols mine is very considerable. He added that the authorities had. tried steel parts manufactured in Australia as substitutes for those which had been obtained abroad, and that the former lasted only three months as against the nine months’ wear of the latter, which came from Huddersfield, in England, and from Krupp’s factory in Germany. We have also to consider the loss that is sustained by bringing machinery to a standstill for the purpose of enabling worn-out parts to be replaced by new ones. When that has to be done three times as often in the case of Australian manufactured parts, it is a very serious matter. I hope that the Minister will listen to the appeal that has been made to him on the subject. There are many mining companies that are tottering on the verge of insolvency, and have been so for a long time. The Lake View Consols Mine employs 400 men, and the yield is so small, comparatively, that the manager has to toss every sovereign in the air before determining to spend it. It has not been paying any dividends, and if any increase in the cost of wearing parts is incurred, it may mean closing up the mine. Is it worth while to incur these risks for the problematical chance of establishing an industry in Melbourne? If there were a good chance of establishing an industry of the kind, I should have no hesitation in supporting the Government ; but it is well known that the manufacture of chrome steel is not even a patent. Those who manufacture it in the Old Country are doing so by virtue of their long and varied experience. In the Krupp mills there is in operation plant of very great strength for crushing the balls, and there is specially-devised and heavy machinery for turning out this particular kind of steel. Such machinery is not in use in Australia at ‘present. Mr. Agnew, in his evidence before the Tariff Commission, stated that he is always anxious to give preference to Australian manufactures, but in this case there is no chance of doing so. The duty will place an unnecessary handicap upon the mining industry, without giving any compensating advantage to a steel manufacturing industry. It is peculiar to find the present Government reversing the policy of the last one in this respect. Why they should do so I cannot understand. In the interests of those mines which are on the verge of closing down, I hope the Government will see the necessity of retracing their steps in this particular. With a view to enable me to move that the paragraph be struck out, I ask Senator Givens to withdraw his motion temporarily.
. - I have no objection to withdrawing my proposal temporarily; but I would point out to Senator Lynch that the consensus of opinion is that per cent, of chromium is a fair minimum. If the steel used for mining purposes does not contain per cent., it is not fair to class it as chrome steel. Therefore, I think that Senator Lynch is making a mistake in insisting that steel should be called chrome steel, and be allowed to be imported as such if it contains a lower percentage. There should be a decent percentage, and 1 per cent, will impose no hardship upon “anybody.
Request, by leave, withdrawn. Request (by Senator Lynch) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out the words “ By inserting in sub-item (b), after the word ‘ containing,’ the words ‘ not less than 2 per cent, of.’ “
– Senator Givens has expressed a desire to see some measure of protection given to the Australian manufacturer of steel parts for crushing machinery purposes. But, incidentally, he said that if this item were carried, it would mean the imposition of a duty of an oppressive character on some mining machinery. That, however, would not eventuate. Every part would be charged alike. Machinery would be dutiable at 25 and 20 per cent. The honorable senator desires that the percentage of chromium should be fixed at J. I may point out, however, that there is a departmental rule at present to the effect that the percentage of chromium in chrome steel should be not less than . That rule has not modified the present position as affecting our manufacturing industry. Parts are being manufactured from chrome and manganese steel in Australia at present; but the item in the Tariff as worded has seriously interfered with the industry on account of the heavy importation of parts containing a very small percentage of chromium. We desire to give every possible encouragement to those engaged in the manufacture of machinery, whether that machinery is used for mining or any other purpose. There is no reason why mining should receive more consideration under a protective Tariff than any other line of industry. I believe that Senator Givens desires to give as much protection as possible, but Senator Lynch has expressed the wish to have the item deleted. If that were done he would seriously hamper those who are engaged in the manufacture of many kinds of machinery. Rather than see the paragraph struck out, the Government would accept the suggestion of Senator Givens:, and reduce the percentage to .
– “What has been said applies to stamper shoes and other articles used for pulverizing ores. If these things are to be- imported free, Australian manufactures will be seriously injured. It was the influence of the Western; Australian representatives that prevented a duty being imposed on roek drills under the 1908 Tariff.. ‘ Now the same representatives wish chrome steel to come in free. If the duty on any goods that come into competition with our own manufactures be removed, the effect will be most injurious. I urge the Government to retain the item in its present form.
. - r think’ that Senator McColl is- mistaken. Suppose that chrome steel is used in a crushing-mill. There is nothing, to prevent the whole mill, with the exception of the chrome steel balls, being, manufactured in Australia. The linings are constantly being made in this country. The only parts imported would be the chrome steel parts, which cannot at present, be made here. They must be imported1, no matter what duty is imposed’.
– If we- are1 not care* ful’, we- snail’ allow’ stamper- shoes, whichare made- in Australia, to come1 in- free.
– I think not. I have riot urged the reduction- cf the percentage from 2 to- J per cent, from- a Free Trade point of view. What I have suggested’ is a fair compromise.. But under Senator Lynch’ s proposal steel that contained a mere trace- of chromium would be imported tree. I would asb my honorable- friend; to- accept, my proposal, and withdraw his’ own.
Request,, by leave,- withdrawn. Request (<by Senator Givens)1 proposed -
– As I have intimated, the Government would’ prefer Senator Givens’‘ proposal’ to Senator Eynch’s, but they still think that the better pl’an woul’d’ be to retain the item in its present form.
Senator- Givens.- It would1 merely compel the- importers to put a useless quantity of chromium in their steel.
– I have already pointed out that the Department has made
Bill received from’ the House of Representatives.
Motion (bv Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill Being passed through all’ its stages without delay.
Bill’ read- a first? time.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed1 - That the Senate db> now adjourn.
.. - When I’ asked at certain question to-day the Leader of the- Senate said that1 he thought that it was a- complicated’ question which should have been submitted” in the form of a motion for a return, as it would take a great deal’ of time and occupy a great deal’ of space. In addition to that he said’ he felt sure that I did not want- to hit anybody in the back-. I understood you,, sir,, to say a day or two ago$. andi very properly in1 accordance’ with the StandingOrders, that an- honorable’ senator in asking, a question should not use comment or agrument. If that is right for the questioner - and T do not dispute1 it for a moment - undoubtedly it is also’ right for him-: who answers the question. Why Senator McGregor should convey an insinuation that I desired to hit somebody in the back”, and’ why he should be allowed to do so, is something which I did not understand! then and’ which I do not. understand’ now. I asked’ for a record of facts to be placed at. the disposal1 of the Senate,, and I do not. want to hit anybody, good, bad, or indifferent. If the facts when’ they are communicated hit somebody so* much the worse for that somebody, but certainly it will1 not be- so- much the- worse for- me.
– How can1 the facts hit anybody?1
– I do not know what the answers will be. With regard to the statement that it was a very complicated question and would entail a lot of trouble, let honorable senators look at the noticepaper and see what it means. The first question was -
How many members of the Parliament declined to draw from the Treasury the increased allowance to members of Parliament at the time such allowance was increased from ^400 to £600 per annum?
That question could have been answered by one word. It might have been “one,” “ two,” “ five,” “ six,” or “ sixteen,” but one word would have sufficed. The second question was -
What were the names of such members?
Half-a-dozen words would have answered that question, unless an extraordinary number of members had practised extraordinary self-denial. The third question was -
How many of such members authorized the Treasurer to pay the amounts which they declined to draw into the Consolidated Revenue?
One word would have answered that question also. The fourth question was -
What were the names of the members who so authorized the Treasurer?
Half-a-dozen words would have answered that question. The fifth question was -
How many of those members who at first declined to draw the increased allowance subsequently drew the whole amount that was lying in abeyance in their names in the Treasury?
One word would have answered that question. Half-a-dozen words would have answered the last and concluding question -
What were the names of those members who subsequently drew the amounts as indicated in question No. 5, and what were the dates on which such amounts were drawn by them ; also the total sum so paid to each of such members respectively ?
How can the Minister say that it was such a complicated and difficult matter that it ought to have been moved for as a return ? That was a mere clouding of the issue. The real trouble was that if the questions were answered, they, together with the answers, would appear in Hansard, and the public would know something which they have a right to know. But, if the information is issued in the shape of a return, it will be buried in the Parliamentary Papers, and the public will never have access to it. That was the real reason why the questions were not answered. I protest against that sort of fencing on the part of the Government. They have no right to fence with a matter of public importance, which the people have a right to know. Senator McGregor said to-day that he did not desire to answer the questions in a bald way, without offering some words of explanation. I invite him< to get up now and make the necessary explanation. I have said all I want to say on the matter at the present juncture.
– Senator Givens is very muchmistaken with respect to the questions which he desires to ask. On a previous occasion I declined, on principle, to answer questions of that description as questions, but said I was prepared to give the information’ in the form of a return. It is quite true that three of the honorable senator’s questions might be answered by stating a number, but the answer to the second question, would involve over a dozen names.
– That is news to me. Senator McGREGOR.- The honorable senator thinks that he knows everything, but sometimes he is mistaken.
– I asked the questions because I did not know everything.
– If the Minister has. the information, why did he not give it?
– I would not give the information because, on principle, I object to give, in answer to questions, information which ought to be sought in the shape of a return.
– There have been far more complicated questions asked and answered before.
– I have said today three times that a large number of persons were affected, and some of them in such a variety of ways that it would require a considerable amount of explanation to indicate the real position.
– That is the trouble. Senator McGREGOR. - It is not. But the trouble is in asking for details in the form of a question which ought to be moved for in the shape of a return.
– The honorable senator is going to a lot more trouble now.
– With regard to the other matter, what I did say was that I did not believe that Senator Givens was one of those who would deal a blow in the back to any one, but was prepared to come into the open and ask for a return, and give every honorable senator a chance to express his opinion with respect to the various positions which the gentlemen affected may have been placed in. I still bold that if Senator Givens desires the information, he ought to move for a return. I am sure that the Government will be perfectly willing to assist him in getting the information.
– I ask leave to give notice of motion for a return.
– The honorable senator will have to give notice of the motion to-morrow, because the question for adjournment has already been put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.21 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 November 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19101122_senate_4_59/>.