6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Selection of Officers
-Is the Minister of Defence aware that officers are being sent away in charge of troops from New South Wales in preference to others who have attended a School of Instruction, have passed the necessary examinations, and have had previous experience, and that the officers who are being sent away have not passed any such examinations, have never been - in camp, and cannot drill the men on the green 1 If so, will he cause inquiry to be made with a view to prevent a repetition of the same ?
– I am not aware of anything of the kind, but I would point out to the honorable senator that owing to the way in which the question is asked it would be very difficult to get the desired information. For instance, there are some thousands of officers in the camps throughout Australia, and I dare say considerably over a thousand in New South Wales. If the honorable senator will tell me what officers are referred to I shall then be able definitely to get the information, but in the case of a general question such as he has submitted it would be extremely difficult to arrive at finality. I take it that his question is based on some information he has, and if he will let me have it either officially or privately it will enable me to have a definite inquiry made. I may add that if such is the case “it is certainly in defiance of the regulations and of instructions.
– I ask the Assistant Minister if he will get the return which was ordered by the Senate on the 25th August, and about which I asked a question about a week ago ?
– Prior to the meeting of the Senate I ascertained that the return is nearly complete, and may be available at almost any time.
The following papers were presented : -
Customs Act 1901-1914-
Proclamations prohibiting Exportation (except under certain conditions) of -
Metals, Alloys, and Minerals.
Diamonds (except to United Kingdom).
Proclamations prohibiting Importation (except under certain conditions) of - Sugar. “The Galvo Filter and Water Sterilizer.”
Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway. - List of Office Staffs.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 - Land acquired under, at -
Deloraine, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Strathfield, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Public Service Act 1902-1913 - Promotions - Department of Trade and Customs -
Department of Defence -
– Having - regard to the apparent dearth of recruits according to diminished lists of recent date, and with the view to stimulate recruiting, will the Minister of Defence consider the advisability of further reducing the height standard ?
– I think, sir, that it would be better if I asked permission to make a statement on this question.
– The honorable senator has raised the whole question of recruiting, because his suggestion to still further reduce the height implies that under the existing system we are not getting sufficient recruits. It has to be remembered that Australia has already raised over 160,000 troops, all of whom have complied with the present standard. According to the latest statistics as to losses and casualties the number of reinforcements per month required to keep the forces at the front up to their full strength is 9,000. The two parties in Parliament constituted a War Committee, to which the Government referred the question of recruiting. The Committee has considered the subject and laid down a scheme which it believes will result in at, least keeping our forces in the field up to their full strength ; in fact up to the present time it has done more than that, forit has had an overplus, which has been organized into new units, and the policy of the Government is to continue that. In other words, at the least we will keep our forces in the field up to the full strength, but if we have more than sufficient we will form the overplus into new units to be sent to the front. The question should not be judged solely by the effect in any one State.For instance, a few months ago in Victoria we had the singular and gratifying spectacle of the State contributing in something under two months over 20,000 men to the forces as the result of the special recruiting campaign. The Federal War Committee; in conjuncti’on with the Recruiting Committees of the various States, has organized recruiting campaigns so that each State may be taken in turn. The idea is that if that course were not taken, perhaps all the States might start a recruiting campaign in the one month, and we might have a large response in the month, causing difficulty in regard to equipment and training, whereas in subsequent months there might be a falling off, and we would not raise the number required. A recruiting campaign is about to conclude in New South Wales, and at the beginning of November a campaign will be commenced in Queensland, to be followed by a campaign in South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. In Victoria a campaign has been planned to commence with the New Year. The returns so far show that we are able to keep up to the standard of 9,000 men per month. It has to be borne in mind that in addition to the additional brigade that has been raised there is a large number of reinforcements in the camps, so that for at least three or four months ahead we shall have sufficient recruits to keep up to that standard.
– But you have already included them in the 160,000 men.
– That is quite true. The number of reinforcements, of course, is not based on a field force of 160,000 men, but is based on the number of separate units that have been formed. For instance, the first reinforcements for Colonel Tivey’s Brigade, which is still in Australia, are being trained, although that unit has not yet left Australia. So the number of reinforcements is based, not on the total number of troops that we have raised, but on the number that has been organized into separate units. Upon that basis, reinforcements to the extent of 9,000 men per month are required.
– But the impression might be created by the remarks of the Minister that we have a field force of 160,000 men at the front.
– I did not intend to convey that. I wish also to point out that we are now getting information from the census which was recently taken, and the returns indicate that we still have a large reservoir of fit men of military age to draw upon. “We believe that, by means of the systematic campaign which is now being undertaken, we shall experience no difficulty in securing the 9,000 men per month who are required to keep our units in the field up to their full strength. As I have have . already remarked, we have at present, men sufficient to meet our requirements in this connexion for three or four months ahead. It will be the policy of the Government to form any troops in excess of requirements into new units. But our essential duty is to see that the units already in the field are kept up to their full strength, because, with them we have the trained officers, the equipment, and . the organization. We do not encounter the same difficulties in reinforcing existing units that must inevitably confront us in the formation of new units. Moreover, I would point out that the supply of senior officers is not inexhaustible. Whilst company officers may be turned out in a comparatively brief period, officers for the higher commands cannot be’ turned out so expe ditiously. For these reasons I do not think it is advisable at the present time to consider the question of lowering the height standard. The standard can be easily complied with. There are in Australia a large number of men who exceed the standard height, who are physically fit, and who have not yet enlisted for service at the front.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - What is the minimum height?
– 5 ft. 3 in.
– Does not the Minister think that a 5-ft. man is better than a 6-ft. man]
– Some 5-ft. men are better than 6-ft. men, but, as a general rule, the man who is physically well developed exceeds the standard of 5 ft. 3 in.
– I ask the Minister of Defence whether his attention has been drawn to a Sydney publication called the Mirror, in which a disloyal cartoon was published last Sunday, supposedly at the instance of the Liberal party, and whether the Government will take steps to prevent similar cartoons being circulated by the press?
– The matter to which the honorable senator refers is now engaging the consideration of the Crown law authorities.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs -
– I have taken the matter in hand, and I am endeavouring through the State Rivers and Water Supply Department to obtain the fullest information’ for honorable senators. I am hopeful of being able to hang on the walls of this chamber all maps relating to the waters of the Murray-
– At the earliest possible moment. I am now in touch with the State Rivers and Water Supply Department.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made from the Military Commandant, Tasmania, and as soon as the information is to hand it will be made available.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the prospective excessive freights for the transport of wheat, the Government contemplate the formulation of a scheme for financing wheat-growers on the security of their grain until such time as reasonable freights can be obtained?
SenatorRUSSELL.- The Conference of representatives of the States and the Prime Minister are now considering this question, and it is hoped that a decision will be reached shortly.
Report of the Public Works Committee relating to additional accommodation at the Victoria Barracks Melbourne, presented by Senator Lynch.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional
Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
May I say that the measure is merely one to continue an Act which is already in existence, and if any honorable senator desires the debate upon it to be adjourned after the Assistant Minister has moved its second reading, there will be no objection to that course being adopted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Billbe now read a second time.
Honorable senators will doubtless recognise in this measure a very old friend. I think the present is about the seventh occasion upon which we have had an Iron Bounty Bill before us, and some honorable senators may wish to know the necessity which exists for the introduction of this Bill, seeing that the. Commonwealth has already decided in favour of the adoption of a protective policy, either by means of the Tariff or by the payment of bounties. In 1909 it was determined that effective protection by means of a bounty should be given to the iron industry. That has been renewed from time to time, and the time has now come, I think, -when we should do something more in the interests of the iron industry. About eight months ago I was instrumental in securing an pxtension for twelve months of the Iron Bounty Act, and the Government are now asking to have the amount under that Act increased from £30,000 to £60,000. I might mention that the InterState Commission have inouired into the ramifications of the iron industry. We are waiting for the report of that body, two members of which, I understand, are experts in the iron industry, and we are particularly anxious to give consideration to their complete report, so that we may be able to do something substantial for the industrv. Hitherto the bonus has been in regard to pig-iron. but since the last Iron Bounty Bill was passed we have introduced a Tariff giving steel manufacturers protection at the rate of 25s. per ton as against foreign countries, and 17s. 6d. as against the steel products from the United Kingdom. Therefore, in this Bill we are exempting those manufacturers except in regard to pig-iron for foundry purposes. Though the manufacturers of steel will not enjoy the benefits of this Bill, they are now protected in an indirect way, because the price of steel rails manufactured in Australia is the price, plus the freight, at which we could purchase steel rails from any other part of the world. The Government desire to review the iron industry as a whole as soon as possible after the receipt of the report from the Inter-State Commission. In the previous Act we made provision to refer the question of wages and industrial conditions generally to the President of the Arbitration Court, for we felt that as we had to pay a bonus to manufacturers, we ought to have the power to determine the industrial conditions. Without going into the details of the award, I may mention that the President of the Court said he had no power to deal with that matter without a decision of the High Court. Mr. Hoskins, who is the only receiver of the iron bounty, has, however, given an undertaking to the Minister of Customs that, subject to the bounty being reimposed, he will agree to the wages as previously paid by him, plus the admitted increase in the cost of living at the present time. Therefore, while we are not bringing about a regulation of the wages in this industry in the manner that we desired, the basis is a fair one.
– Did Mr. Hoskins get the whole of the bounty ?
– But the Broken Hill Proprietary people are producing pig- iron.
– I am aware of that. but. as I have pointed out, the manufacturers of steel rails are protected to the extent of 17s. 6d. per ton against the products of the United Kingdom, and 25s. as against the products of foreign countries.
– Then the assumption is that they use all their pig-iron for the manufacture of rails?
– Yes. For the information of the Senate I may give the amounts .paid each year in bonus, which are as follows: - 1st January, 1909, to 30th June, 1909, £2,314; 1909-10, £23,510; 1910-11, £20,462; 1911-12, £15,611; 1912-13, £16,949; 1913-14, £40,121; 1914-15, £31,813; 1st July, 1915, to 30th September, 1915, £10,270.
– There was a diminution in the bounty in that period.
– Yes, last year we reduced the bounty from 12s. to 8s.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - What bounty will be paid under this Bill?
– Eight shillings. It is practically a continuation of last year’s measure. The total amount paid to 30th September, 1915, was £161,050. To illustrate that we are doing something to build up the iron industry in Australia, I have only to mention, that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company have established their steel works at Newcastle. I will now put on record figures relating to the importation of pig-iron, and give the country of origin : -
We believe that the body which has been investigating the iron industry has gone to a good deal of pains, and is very competent to deal with the question, and the Government intend, when they receive their report, to deal comprehensively with the whole question. We are much wiser to-day than we were a few years ago on that subject, and so the Government promise to deal with it as soon as the report comes to hand, -and parliamentary business permits, in a way benefiting one of the basic industries of the Commonwealth.
– -What is the reason for the proposal in clause 2 to add these words to section 4 of the principal Act -
Provided further that no bounties shall be paid on pig-iron manufactured after the commencement of the Iron Bounty Act 1915 for other than foundry purposes.
– That excludes steel rails and other manufactures from steel upon which we have granted in the new Tariff more protection than the bounty would amount to.
– If the iron is not converted into steel for making steel rails why should the bounty be withheld?
– I take it that the Bill deals with practical conditions. It may be that, the iron ia not turned into steel ; but I cannot say from my own personal knowledge whether or not there has been any difficulty in that direction. I am, however, informed by the officers of the Department that these portions of the steel or iron industry are excluded because they were granted by the last Tariff 2s. more protection per ton than if they had been allowed to remain under the Bounty Act.
– The amendment seems to imply that we are never to hope for an export trade in pig-iron.
– I am not in a position at this stage to go into that matter.
– I have no desire for the adjournment of the debate offered by the Leader of the Government, nor do I anticipate that there will be any difficulty in dealing with the Bill at the present sitting. It is not only the continuation of a policy previously approved and adopted, and for some time in operation, but will appeal to all sections of the community for two distinct and well recognised reasons. Since the outbreak of the war it has been brought home to the people that if there is any branch of our industrial activity that we should endeavour to stimulate it is the iron industry, which is the first essential of quite a number of others. It is one of the very fundamentals of the creation of a self-sustained community at a time like the present, and is therefore an industry which we ought in every way possible to assist, encourage, and promote. Another reason why any attempt to develop the iron industry appeals to me is that it is an industry essentially for men. If we have to choose between industries that employ men and those which attract a number of women into factories I prefer the former kind, especially when they offer, as this one undoubtedly does, an opportunity for fair wages for a large number of adult men.
– Women are not excluded from it in the Old Country.
– I am not aware that we are legislating for the Old Country. The honorable senator is here because he did not approve of the conditions that existed there, and, rightly or wrongly, he has been trying to see that such conditions do not re-erect themselves in Australia. I heard with pleasure the Minister’s announcement that the Bill was to be regarded merely as a carry-over, anc?; that when the Government and Parliament were in possession of the information which we may reasonably expect from the inquiries of the Inter-State Commission it is intended to review the whole position, with the inclination, if circumstances warrant it, to deal with the iron industry more on the lines of the accepted protective policy of the Commonwealth than by means of bounties. The weak point about the bounty system is the uncertainty of its duration. This measure is only for a year, and previous Bounty Acts were for quite short periods, involving the disability that those induced to go into the industry never knew what was going to happen for any long period of time, as Parliament might or might not renew the measure. The first thing to aim at in a question of this kind, not only in fairness to undertakings already entered into, but to encourage further similar undertakings, is continuity of policy. We should therefore have from the Government a pronouncement disclosing a fixed and settled policy, so far as any one Parliament can fix it, with regard to this very important industry. I am not in a position to contradict Senator Russell’s explanation of clause 2 as given in answer to Senator Bakhap’s interjection, but it seems to me that its purpose is to prevent the payment of the bounty on iron used as ballast for export. I can see no other interpretation of the wording of the clause, because- all pig-iron is suitable for foundry work, and, before it can be utilized, except as ballast, it must undergo some foundry process. I would therefore ask the Minister to place himself, before the Bill goes into Committee, in a position to speak a little more definitely than he has done so far as to the real purpose of clause 2. I shall be only too pleased to help forward the measure, if any help is needed, because, following previous measures of the kind, it is going, I think, to have a very useful effect in building up what must necessarily be one of our most important industries.
.- A Bill of this kind might very easily arouse a fierce debate. The temper of the Senate at the present moment is not in that direction, but we have in this measure all the ingredients necessary for a full dress debate on the fiscal question. That, however, is out of the question, through our political friends on the other side having hauled down the fiscal flag, but I remember many big debates on the fiscal aspect of the iron industry in Australia. There seems now to be a wonderful unanimity amongst the members of the Federal Parliament on the subject of bounties and protection and fiscal matter generally; but we have had some very fine debates in the past as to what should be done to establish the industry of making raw iron, such as this Bill provides a bounty for. The war has brought home to us the fact that no country without an iron industry can be considered self-contained. . Iron is the basis of the defence of a country. It is an essential element, and, indeed, the mainspring of quite a large number of industries. It is a pity that our iron industry was not further advanced when the war was declared. During the debate on the Small Arms Factory, honorable senators will remember that reference was made to the difficulty of securing the raw material required for the manufacture, of rifles. Without the raw material necessary for the manufacture of arms, we should be in a very dangerous position. Anything that is calculated to foster the production of raw iron in the country should receive our encouragement. There are so many different kinds of iron produced that to deal comprehensively with the industry we should require to go into much greater detail than is proposed by this Bill.
– Why not do it now?
– We have not the time, nor have we the necessary information. We cannot now definitely say how much bounty should be given for the production of the different kinds of raw iron required in Australia. There are technical questions involved upon which only experts could give us a valuable opinion. Though I have been more or less connected with the iron industry for a long time, I would not presume to say what rate of bounty is required to foster the production of the different kinds of raw iron that are used in this country. I do not agree with Senator Millen that the purpose of clause 2 of the Bill is to avoid the payment of bounty upon iron which is likely to be exported. We have not yet reached the stage in the development of the industry when’ we are in the position to export iron.
– It would be no great enormity to pay a bounty on the production of pig-iron for export.
– I am trying now to discover what is the intention of clause 2, and, in my view, it has reference to the uses to which locallyproduced pig-iron is to be put. Some of the iron produced locally may be used for the manufacture of steel rails, for galvanized iron, or for fencing wire.
– Would not all those manufactures involve foundry processes?
– No; as I understand it, a foundry is confined to the manufacture of cast-iron articles. Works for the manufacture of steel rails, steel plates, corrugated sheet iron, or wire, would not be called a foundry. The purpose of clause 2, in my opinion, is, therefore, to avoid the payment of the bounty on iron used in manufactures that are otherwise protected. It is intended to avoid the payment of a double bonus on tha same iron, according to the use to which it may be put. The Assistant Minister, no doubt, in reply to the debate, will be able to more fully explain the objects of the clause. We are all, I think, agreed as to the necessity for encouraging the iron industry. ‘ I- support the measure now before the Senate, but I hope that at no distant date we shall be able to deal with the subject in a comprehensive way, and do a great deal more for the industry than is proposed under this Bill.
– I am entirely in favour of the Bill, but I should like to refer to one or two of the difficulties in which we find ourselves in connexion with legislation of this kind. For instance, a firm that is being paid bounty for the production of iron absolutely refuses to give any assistance to another local industry established right alongside of it. In connexion with’ their manufacture, they require to use the article produced by the works established alongside of their own.
– To what does the honorable senator refer?
– I am referring to the local production of fire-bricks. Large quantities of fire-bricks are used in the manufacture of iron, but the firm to which I refer, though receiving bounty for the production of its iron, will not use the fire-bricks manufactured just alongside of their works.
– What reason do they give for that?
– I do not know that they gave any reason for their refusal. The- Broken Hill Proprietary Company patronize the local firm engaged in the production of fire bricks. They consider the local fire-bricks suitable for their purposes, or they would not use them. Experts say that the locallyproduced fire-bricks are as good as those imported, and some say that they are better. I am merely directing attention to the fact that while, by legislation of this kind, we assist those engaged in a particular industry, they are not prepared, in their turn, to assist other local manufacturers, as they might do. I have had some little experience of fire-bricks, and, after an inspection of the local works for their manufacture, I am prepared to say that those locally produced are equal to the imported fire-bricks. Where it can be proved that an article required by an industry can be produced locally as good as, and at a price very little in excess of, the imported article, I think that industries protected by our legislation should be required to patronize the local production. We got some information in the press the other day. An Australian firm offered to make some beds for the accommodation of officers on the Brisbane at slightly over the cost of articles imported from the Old Country, and the Government, I am given to understand, gave an order to a Birmingham firm in preference to the colonial firm. When we are giving bounties for the production of various things, we ought to look round and find out whether it is possible for the firms receiving the money from the Commonwealth to assist those firms which are trying to introduce the minor industries necessary for the production of iron.
– I agree with Senator de Largie in welcoming the fiscal truce which has arisen in connexion with this particular industry, and trust that before many days the truce will be apparent in connexion with everything which can be produced within the confines of Australia. It is becoming clearer and clearer to most of us every day that the greater the quantity of the commodities a community produces, the more self-contained it is, and the better for the people, not only in time of peace, but also in time of war. In Germany we have a most excellent example before us at the present moment.
Probably most of us have studied, more or less, the industrial history of Germany during the last thirty or forty years. We find that that country has been built up from a condition of poverty to one of great affluence, at any rate in production, almost wholly by a system of Protection. During a comparatively short period her population has been doubled, and her productive power has been very largely increased. From being almost a negligible quantity twenty or thirty years ago in the markets of the world, she has progressed rapidly to the third place. Great Britain, I think, holds the first position, the United States of America the second, and Germany the third. The important thing to be noted in connexion with Germany is that prior to the war her annual rate of progress was greater even than that of the United States of America and very much greater than that of Great Britain. What has taken place during the war is to a very great extent a sealed book to us. The outward and visible evidence of what is going on within is the fact that Germany, notwithstanding that her ports are more or less blockaded, is continuing the war as actively as ever she did, and I do not think that any one outside of her territory knows what the extent of her resources are. In any case, I have no desire to discuss Germany. I have pointed out here, times without number, the advantage of establishing the iron industry in Australia, and I am very pleased to see that everybody is now satisfied that it must be done if the Commonwealth is to go on prospering and become a useful unit in the community of nations. Are we doing the best possible in connexion with the industry now ? The Minister in charge of this measure promises something very much more comprehensive in the near future. We have heard that tale so often that it has become a little stale. I believe that in some of the great American commercial institutions there is a placard all over the place, “Do it now.” Why not do this now ?
– The honorable senator must remember that we gave him a very’ fair instalment in the last Tariff, which has not been dealt with yet. We imposed on steel duties of 17s. 6d. and 25s.
– Yes ; I know that.
– The duties are not heavy enough, I believe.
– We want them heavy enough. We do not want a. revenue Tariff - at least I do not. However much revenue may be desirable and necessary at the present moment - and I admit that it is both necessary and desirable - it ought not to be obtained from that source. When we impose duties, it ought to be done with the view to having the commodities produced within Australia.
– You are a Prohibitionist.
– Why should I not be? In Australia we have iron ore; we have any quantity of coal - I believe one hundred times more coal than is contained in Great Britain, which is the centre of the iron industry - and we have the people. We want far more people than we have.
– We want 20,000,000 more.
– Yes, 20,000,000 is the minimum; and, as Senator Millen very properly pointed out, if we. are to encourage industries - as I hope we shall - let us choose those which give employment to men. The iron industry is one of them. Whether you go to the deposits of raw material, or to the foundry, or to the furnace, there you will find men employed. That is the kind of industry we want in Australia, because there you find men earning big wages, not only in Great Britain, but in the United States, and also, I think, in Germany. _ Wherever you find men employed at high wages, you also find a rapid increase in the population.
– Go to Port Pirie, and see it.
– I do not know anything about Port Pirie.
– Take the smelting works, and see the class of labour demanded of the men, and the wages they receive.
– I know that in Great Britain, where the conditions of labour are supposed to be very much worse than those in Australia in that class of industry, big wages were paid, large families and a rapid increase of population were undoubtedly the result. If the conditions at Port Pirie are bad–
– And the heavy death rate.
– I am very sorry to hear that; but I think that, under proper conditions, all those things could be eliminated. I believe that, unless something very unfortunate happens to Australia, they will be eliminated. I consider that the time has come when the Parliament should take this industry in hand and establish it here on a sound foundation. We cannot live without the industry; it is necessary to our very national existence. And, that being the case, why palter with it? Senator de Largie, in answer to an interjection I made, said that it would take experts to find out the exact fiscal conditions necessary to the establishment of the industry. I have not the slightest doubt that in Australia there are many men who would give the Government all the information they desire within twenty-four hours. My fear in connexion with the development of Australian industries all round is that the altered financial position will militate against the passing of a really protective Tariff. In the past we have found Governments eager to obtain revenue from the Customs. We have found it almost impossible to get them to tackle Protection seriously, or to fix duties at such rates as would compel the establishment of various industries. If we found that to be the case in the past, when there were other alternatives to which the Governments could have resorted so as to raise money, I have been wondering very much-
– I remind the honorable senator that that question does not arise out of this Bill.
– I am quite sensible of that, sir. At the same time, it is a contingency which, I think, has a most important bearing, not only on this particular proposal, but on every attempt which may be made in the future to establish industries here. I desire to point out to honorable senators that it will be very much more difficult to do this kind of thing in the future than it would have been in the immediate past. If the Protectionists here wish to see placed on the statute-book a Protectionist policy, quickening the industries of Australia and adding to its population, they will have to exert all the “ go “ there is in them to bring about that result. There will be an inertia to overcome in connexion with it whichhas not yet been experienced in the history of Australia. I do not wish to prolong the discussion, but I would point out that in 1913 we imported metals, manufactured and partly manufactured, to the value of £1,897,846. This consisted mainly of pig-iron and bar and rod iron.
– In the same year we paid a big bounty.
– In the same year we imported manufactures of metals, including machinery, to the value of £16,625,000. So that, in 1913, of manufactured and unmanufactured metals, we imported to the tune of almost £20,000,000. Apart from every other consideration, it appears to me that the iron industry is one which is well worth establishing in Australia. We know that it is necessary to our very existence. It is just as necessary to us as is food, drink, and raiment. Consequently, we ought, without delay, to take such steps as will put the industry on a substantial foundation, and insure that within a comparatively brief period every ounce of iron required in this Continent is produced within Australia itself.
– During the course of this debate Senator Bakhap expressed a desire for certain information, and his demand was supported by the Leader of the Opposition. In reply, I wish to say that the reason why steel and other manufactures are not covered by this Bill is that they are alreadyprotected under the present Tariff, although that Tariff has not yet been ratified by Parliament. A duty of 25s. per ton is imposed upon the product of foreign countries, and of 17s. 6d. per ton on that of the United Kingdom. To extend the bounty to those manufactures would, therefore, be equivalent to granting them a double protection. That the Government are not disposed to give. The pig-iron used for foundry purposes is rather an inferior iron.
– Mr. Hoskins surely knows something about this matter, and he says that the lowest class of iron used in the production of steel is slightly better than the pig-iron used for foundry purposes.
– Not at all.
– I must leave the question to the Senate to determine.
– What does Mr. Hoskins say?
– He says-
The iron made for foundry purposes is made into pigs, but the iron made for steel is not made into pigs mostly. It is only at the end of the week that we make it into pigs. Thnt would not be sold. Most of the pig-iron made in Australia is used for making cast-iron and chiefly pipes. The pig-iron used for foundry purposes can be easily distinguished from that used for steel or wrought-iroti - one is more brittle. A Customs officer would know exactly which was which. We send a lot of pig-iron to McPherson and Co., in Melbourne. That is for foundry purposes, and cannot be used for steel.
That statement seems definite enough, and it is the evidence which was given before the Tariff Commission, which, I think, we may accept as reliable.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Suppose that pig-iron were exported for foundry purposes, what would happen ?
– I. do not think that there is any limitation imposed in that connexion.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Suppose that raw pig-iron were taken away as ballast?
– Bounty upon it could not be collected.
– If the Assistant Minister’s definition of “ foundry purposes “ be correct, there will be nothing to prevent the collection of the duty on raw pig-iron.
– I am not prepared to give a final answer on that point at present. I am delighted with the general tone of the debate. There is manifestly a genuine recognition of the fact that Australia requires effective Protection in order that she may become a selfcontained country. That circumstance is pleasing to me, as I believe it will be pleasing to the other members of the Government. I hope that we shall realize that policy in the very near future.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Section four of the principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following proviso: -
Provided further that no bounties shall be paid on pig-iron manufactured after the commencement of the Iron Bounty Act 1915, for other than foundry purposes.
Section proposed to be amended -
The Governor-General may authorize the payment . . . of bounty on the manufacture in Australia . . . of pig-iron . . .
! - I did not speak upon the motion for the second reading of this Bill because I am heartily in accord with its object. But I think that the language of this clause is somewhat obscure, whatever may be its intention. While I am quite prepared to deal with all questions from a national stand-point, I cannot forget that I am here specially to safeguard the interests of Tasmania. In that State, there are very large deposits of iron ore, and I know that the State Government hope shortly to find themselves in possession of a large amount of hydraulic power which they will be able to convey cheaply to all parts of the island for use in its industries. I wish to know what will be the position of a Tasmanian industry which produces pig-iron and exports it to another State for conversion into steel rails ? Such a contingency is quite within the bounds of possibility. I would like to see the ‘clause state specifically what the bounty is not to be paid upon. If it is not intended that it shall be payable upon pig-iron which is to be manufactured into steel rails, we ought to say so. I think the Assistant Minister will be wise to allow the clause to remain in abeyance until he has an opportunity of consulting the draftsman of the measure with a view to making its intention perfectly clear.
– In reply to the suggestion by Senator Bakhap that that clause might well be postponed, I would point out that the Bill is intended to operate only for one year. Within that period, it is hardly likely that Tasmania will be in a position to export pig-iron.
– She has already sent iron ore to New South Wales.
– I am quite aware of that.
– She has exported thousands of tons of pig-iron before to-day.
– I only regret that she did not continue to do so. She is nut likely to be exporting pig-iron during the currency of this measure, and therefore the suggestion of Senator Bakhap loses its cogency. The answer to Senator Bakhap’s inquiry as to whether the State of Tasmania, by exporting pig-iron to be converted into steel rails in another State, would receive the bonus is “ No.”
– It should not be so.
– The Minister^ reply to the inquiry is entirely unsatisfactory so far as the exporting States are concerned. Senator Russell said that the provision made to protect the manufacturers of steel rails was considered adequate, but what consolation is that to the man or the State producing pig-iron intended for the manufacturer of steel rails? I cannot, of course, conceive of any manufacturer of steel rails purchasing the pig-iron with which to make the rails, and I understand that Mr. Hoskins’ evidence supports this view.
– He is altogether out of it.
– I understand that in modern manufactories some portion of the process of making pig-iron for the rails is eliminated, and thus a saving in cost and time effected.
– I saw old pig-iron and castings being put into the furnace of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company’s works at Newcastle.
– I have no personal knowledge of this matter, I regret to say, but the explanation given by Senator de Largie as to the term “ pig-iron for foundry purposes ‘ ‘ seems to make the Bill absolutely clear, showing that there is a class of pig-iron which is used solely for the purpose of castings, and that pig- iron is not, as Mr. Hoskins said, utilized for steel rails. Now there must be some reason for that.
– There is, and Mr. Hoskins very cleverly concealed the reason in his reply to a question. I cannot understand why the members of the Commission did not see the fallacy of his remarks.
– I do not know the reason, but I assume there is a reason why pig-iron is not used for steel rails. When I raised the point first I was in doubt as to what was meant by “ foundry purposes,” but Senator’ de Largie has now made that perfectly clear to me. The manufacturer of steel rails is not bound to buy pig-iron; he can buy the crude iron ore, and, I understand, by a process of elimination can convert it into steel rails more economically than by first converting the raw product into pig-iron.
– If a manufacturer could buy pig-iron for steel rails cheaper than by adopting the other process, he would do so.
– Why should we assume that a manufacturer would be able to buy pig-iron from Tasmania at a cheaper rate?
– Because Tasmania will shortly have a large supply of cheap hydraulic power.
– Then if that is so, I am sure this Parliament will give Tasmania’s interests that careful consideration which has always been shown to them. .Meanwhile it seems to me that the language of the Bill is quite clear and the purpose quite reasonable.
– The clause drawn attention to by Senator Bakhap is likely to create a considerable amount. of discussion, and rightly so. Any one who understands the process of iron-making knows quite well that the first stage is the conversion of the iron ore into pigiron, and after that comes the process of steel-rail manufacture, the manufacture of malleable iron, and iron intended for a hundred and one other purposes. Those who are acquainted with the history of the iron industry in Australia are aware that there are only two iron works here - one at Lithgow and the other at Newcastle - and in view of that fact it is perfectly clear that the purpose of this Bill is to provide a bounty for the Hoskins Bros., of Lithgow, because the Newcastle people have declared on more than one occasion that they could work on a Free Trade basis and make a commercial success of their steel industry. They are making pig-iron there, of course, but it is run from the furnaces right into the converter, consequently no pig-iron leaves the Newcastle steel works, as it is made into steel rails. The object of the Bill, therefore, is to pay a bonus to Hoskins’ works at Lithgow, and instead of the measure being entitled an “Iron Bounty Act” it should be described as an “ Iron Bounty Act for the Lithgow Works,” because no other works will get a single farthing of the bounty. I am not saying anything against the Lithgow works. I realize that they should have every encouragement; but it is just as well that we should know what we are doing. There was some doubt as to the meaning of the clause, but after reading a statement made by Mr. Hoskins I am quite clear on the matter. Senator Bakhap referred to the possibility - because it is only a possibility, and is not a probability of the near future - of Tasmania producing pig-iron.
– It is a probability.
– It cannot be a probability of the near future, because, before the works could be established and pig-iron produced in Tasmania this Act will have expired.
– I will admit that, but the honorable senator appeared to be throwing cold water on the idea that Tasmania would produce pig-iron.
– I had no such intention, for I realize that Tasmania has enormous quantities of the raw product for the making of pig-iron. I pointed this out years ago, before Senator Bakhap came here. It was absurd for Mr. Hoskins to say that a Customs officer could tell if pig-iron would be suitable for steel or malleable purposes. That point could only be determined by scientists, and even then laboratory tests would be required to settle the matter. Mr. Hoskins must have known quite well when he gave the evidence that it was all moonshine.
– If there was any doubt, the Customs officers would ask the assistance of scientists and experts.
– An expert, of course, could determine the point after testing the product, but it could not be expected that this work could be done by the ordinary Customs officials.
– You were saying that the Newcastle people do not make pig-iron for foundry purposes.
– There is nothing whatever to prevent pig-iron being made in the blast furnaces at Newcastle.
– But they do not do it.
– Therefore they do nOt make pig-iron upon which a bounty will be paid under this Bill.
– That is so, because they have as much as they can do to provide themselves with sufficient pig-iron for the manufacture of steel rails. They have, not yet reached that stage when they can manufacture pig-iron for general purposes, and therefore the real purpose of the Bill is to pay a bounty to the Lithgow works. I do not begrudge it, because they are the pioneer iron works in Australia. As probably most honorable senators are aware, Mr. Sandford established the industry, and subsequently the works were taken over by Hoskins Bros., who now deserve every encouragement. It would ill become Parliament now to begrudge them the assistance which the Bill gives to them.
.- I am not in the habit of creating imaginary difficulties, and I must admit that what Senators Millen and de Largie have pointed out, namely, that the Bill will not have statutory currency beyond another year, practically does away with the difficulty which I felt had been created under clause 2. Therefore I am not going to stress the point. It could not be said, of course, that the Tasmanian Government, or any corporation in Tasmania, would be able to produce pig-iron in one year, and before the expiration of the term for which the Bill will apply. As a representative of Tasmania, and of those larger interests which may be called national, I shall not vote for any scheme which does not include the payment of the bounty to the manufacturers of pigiron, even if they export it from one State to another to be converted into steel. I hope the Minister will see that the Government take this feature of the whole business into consideration, if we are to develop the iron industry, which, as has been truly said here to-day, must be the foundation of all our national industrial progress. Without an Australian iron industry we cannot perfect our defence schemes, and must, therefore, do our best to stimulate iron production in every part of the Commonwealth where iron ore exists, irrespective, as Senator Gould suggests, of the purpose for which it will be ultimately used.
– Why not give a bonus on the raw ore?
– That suggestion may have somelaudable features; but I hope the Minister, in connexion with the comprehensive scheme which he has adumbrated, will see that the bounty is provided for every ton of pig-iron, irrespective of where it is manufactured, or the purpose for which it is destined. .
– Provided it is manufactured in the Commonwealth.
– Why should not the bounty be paid, even if the iron is exported? Is it undesirable to create an export trade in connexion with Australianmade pig-iron? This industry is a big thing if undertaken on a big scale; but there is no mystery about it. I went through forty or fifty small smelting works in another country, where iron brought from the mines near by was turned into pig-iron and converted into steel, and in some instances cast into various articles of utility which formed the basis of a considerable trade. I saw no mystery about the thing, and I looked into the smelters and saw the whole process. I presage a considerable future for the iron industry in Australia. We have plenty of coal, and in our State we have plenty of water-power, and an abundance of iron ore of the very best quality. The Tasmanian Government, like Private Mulvaney, want to help themselves to what is going; and if a bounty is to be provided by the National Administration, it should be available for any pig-iron produced in our State, irrespective of its destination, or of whether it is to be converted into steel rails or other useful articles. If the Administration, as I “believe it is, is sincere in this matter, I hope the comprehensive scheme of which the Minister has spoken will be put on the stocks in the immediate future.
.- Had it not been that the duration of this measure is to be very limited, I should have been on my feet before to advocate consideration for Tasmania on the lines indicated by Senator Bakhap.
– Poor Tasmania.
– We have not done too badly.
– That is a frank, but very indiscreet, admission.
– I remember some thousands of tons of iron ore being smelted in Tasmania nearly forty-five years ago. The bulk of the iron was exported. Some was sold on the Scotch market, and pronounced the finest ore obtainable at the time. The company which produced the best iron did all their smelting with wood and charcoal, which, Senator de Largie will agree, produces the best results. The bigger companies - the British and Tasmanian Charcoal Iron Company - smelted their ore with coal imported from Newcastle; and I believe the principal difficulty they found in continuing was the cost of bringing the coal to Tasmania.
– I think the presence of chrome in some of the pig-iron affected the sale at the time.
– I had it on the word of the Chief Engineer that he could extract the chrome, but waa not given an opportunity. The presence of that substance is not now considered a difficulty. It is actually required in ‘ making the best class of steel, particularly for armour purposes. The chrome produces a very close texture and great hardness, which is very useful for some purposes, but a disadvantage where tools have to be used to turn, chip, or dress it. Tasmania has an unbounded stock of iron ore, the best class being on the North-West Coast. There is also the other kind of ore referred to on the Tamar, and I am told that one can hardly walk 300 yards anywhere in the State without tramping over bodies of ore. An old Scotchman who had worked on iron all his life once pronounced the Tasmanian ore the best he had ever seen. We have in that State harnessed up a great water power, and are producing^ electricity. All this points to the possibility of a large production of iron in the State. If a bounty is to be given, Tasmania ought to have just as much chance of getting it as any other State, whether for pig-iron or for manufactured metal plates.
– Why raise the question of States?
– Because apparently in one case the bounty is available, and in the other it -may not be. I join with Senator Bakhap in urging that when the bounty is given Tasmania ‘should be allowed to participate with the other States in what is going.
– The bounty will be paid for pig-iron exported, provided that it is suitable for foundry use. We have already exported about 235 tons to New Zealand, and upon this the bounty has been paid. I do not purpose attempting to answer to-day the point raised by Senator Bakhap, because Senator Millen showed that it was not involved in the Bill. He, and afterwards Senator de Largie, showed clearly that no steel works ‘ would dream of importing the pig-iron itself from one State to another, and would rather import the crude ore.
– They are doing it now in Victoria.
– If so, it is only a small quantity. Protection given on any finished article is supposed to in clude protection to the raw material. We are giving a protection as against foreign countries of 25s. on the Broken Hill Proprietary Company’s steel rails, and if that company is using Tasmanian ore the protection for the Tasmanian ore is included in that 25s., but only an expert could allot the fair proportion of the bounty or protective duty to each branch of the industry. This Bill does not involve that question, but if the high hopes of Tasmania are realized, as we all trust they will be, we can safely leave it to Senator Bakhap and the Tasmanian Government, seeing that this is only a Bill to cover a gap, to get into touch with the Federal Government, and see that the matter ia thoroughly investigated and worked out on a practical basis. In the meantime, I ask the Committee to let the Bill pass as it stands.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) f4.48].- It is evident that the Bill as at present worded does not express our purpose of encouraging the iron industry. I admit that unless a man has been taking a particular interest in the industry there is some excuse for him not being au fait with the whole trade in Australia, but the fact remains that we have steel made at the present time in Australia from pig-iron. At Williamstown Messrs. Grey Brothers have a small converter of pig-iron into steel, but that pig-iron can be; and is being, made only at one place in the Commonwealth. The Minister will require to thoroughly understand this phase of the question or he will be faced with difficulties in the administration of the law. Clause 2 provides for the payment of bounty only on pig-iron used for foundry purposes. Without a definition of “foundry purposes” the clause will lead to all kinds of complications. Suppose, for instance, the works at Lithgow sell pig-iron to Grey Brothers, who are waggon manufacturers at Williamstown. They convert it into steel in their small converter for the purpose of the manufactures in which they are engaged. Will that pig-iron be regarded as having been manufactured for foundry purposes? I think that it will not, and that bounty could not be rightly paid upon it under this Bill. I hope that the Minister does not resent my reference to the difficulties which I think may arise in the administration of the measure unless it contains a definition of foundry purposes.
– The Bill has been framed on the assurance of manufacturers of pig-iron that it cannot be converted into steel. If it is found that it oan be converted the Act will have to be further amended.
– I can assure the Minister that any kind of pig-iron suitable for foundry purposes can be converted into steel.
– That may be, but it is a question of whether it will pay.
– We have not to consider whether its conversion would be a commercial success for any particular manufacturer. What we are trying to discover is the locally manufactured iron upon which bounty will be payable under this Bill.
– Mr. Hoskins has said in evidence, which he gave upon oath, that he sends a lot of pig-iron to McPherson and Company, of Melbourne, but that it is for foundry purposes, and cannot be used for steel.
– That is the merest moonshine. The raw material of steel is . pig-iron, and any kind of pig-iron may be converted into steel. Different kinds of pig-iron, according to the amount of phosphorus and sulphur it contains, are used in the manufacture of different kinds of steel. Bessemer steel, for instance, is made only in a certain kind of furnace. Fig-iron containing more than a certain percentage of phosphorus cannot be converted into steel by the Bessemer process, but it may be converted by the Thomas Martin process, which waa invented for the purpose of treating inferior kinds of pig-iron, containing a large percentage of phosphorus and sulphur. The Bill is loosely, framed, and I do not see how the Customs authorities can administer it without a definition of “ foundry purposes.”
– It is to be in operation only till the end of next year.
– That is the only saving clause in connexion with it.
– Mr. ‘ Hoskins, in giving evidence upon the subject, said -
We make different pig-iron for foundry purposes with¾ per cent, phosphorus in it, but for steel-making we eliminate the phosphorus as far as possible.
– That must be done for the manufacture of steel, but all kinds of pig-iron may be converted into steel. . The question we have to consider is how this Bill can be administered. I do not know whether the Minister has been advised that it can be administered as it stands, but I personally do not see how it is to be administered in its present form.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 to 5 and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I understand that the Supply Bill will have been passed through another place and that we shall be in a position to consider it to-morrow. Honorable senators are aware that on the first reading of that measure an opportunity will be afforded them to discuss general questions of administration. We hope that the other Bills which have been referred to will have reached the Senate by the time we have dealt with the Supply Bill.
– When does the Minister expect to receive the Murray Waters Agreement Bill?
– I hope that we shall have received it by to-morrow night.
– Do the Government expect to pass it this session?
– Certainly they do.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 November 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1915/19151103_senate_6_79/>.