7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Transport “ Medic
– Is the Minister for Defence aware of the complaints made of the landing in New Zealand of certain officers from the transport Medic, which is now in quarantine in Sydney, owing to the outbreak of Spanish influenza ? Has he received any communications, such as those referred to by Dr. Arthur in the New South Wales Parliament, and, if so, will he make them available to the Senate?
– I am not aware of the nature of the complaint made by Dr. Arthur. If any complaints have been made they have not yet reached the Defence Department, but immediately we noticed in the press the allegations that certain officers went ashore in New Zealand an order was issued by the AdjutantGeneral for a court of military inquiry to be held as soon as the officers concerned are available.
– I ask the Minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s Department whether the information asked for in some questions of which I gave notice a few days ago, concerning the option for the Blythe River iron deposits, is yet available?
– I am under the impression that, in the absence of Senator Thomas, his questions were asked by another honorable senator on his behalf, and answers to them were supplied.
- Senator de Largie was good enough to ask the questions for me, but the reply given was that the information was not then obtainable and the Government would let me have it as soon as possible.
– I have no doubt that that promise will be faithfully kept. I shall endeavour to ascertain to-day when the information can be obtained.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– In the absence of my honorable colleague, Senator Russell, I have to say that the answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
Bill received from the House of Repre sentatives, and, on motion (by Senator Millen), read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and, on motion (by Senator Millen), read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the report be now adopted.
– I think that a number of honorable senators, in addition to myself, would like the Bill to be recommitted with a view to carrying a request for the amendment of clause 6 in such a way as to provide that the increase of 30 per cent, in the income tax shall not apply to the fixed tax of £1 on incomes of not less than £100. It was mentioned by Senator Pratten that this tax would be increased, but I do not think that it was generally realized by honorable senators that that would be the effect of the measure. I therefore move -
That the Bill be recommitted for the purpose of reconsidering clause6.
Motion agreed to. (Recommittal) .
In Committee: -
Clause 6 -
In addition to any tax (including additional tax, if any) payable under the preceding provisions of this Act other than sub-section (5) of section 4, there shall be payable a supertax equal to 30 per centum of the total amount of e tax so payable.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be re quested to amend the clause by inserting after “sub-section,” line 3, “ (4) and”
I remind honorable senators that the bulk of the persons who will have to pay this flat-rate tax of£1 will be women workers in receipt of about £2 per week. The additional taxation involved by the clause as it stands will not amount to a great deal, but it may still be regarded as a burden on a large section of the community, who are required to exercise considerable thrift to enable them to make both ends meet.
– Women receiving £2 per week are better off than are men receiving £3 per week.
– That is a matter of opinion, and personally I do not agree with the honorable senator, especially in the case of women who are living away from their parents’ homes.
SenatorMILLEN (New South WalesMinister for Repatriation) [11.13]. - Naturally, one ‘has a great deal of sympathy with proposals for remitting taxation, but if sympathy were our only motive for action, taxation bills would be smaller, and the receipts of the Treasurer would be smaller still. I suppose that no one, with the exception of Senator Grant, is in favouT of any tax; but taxation is necessary to obtain money to defray the cost of the public services. One object of taxation measures should be to see that the burden falls with some regard to the ability of the taxpayers to bear it. But what does Senator Crawford ask the Committee to do? Unfortunately, consequent upon the expenditure due to the war, and to provide foT repatriation, it has become necessary to ask the taxpayers to give the Treasurer a larger amount of revenue than was deemed necessary last year. We are imposing heavy taxation upon many sections of the community. The Government proposal here is that single men and single women who have no dependants, and are in receipt of a net income of not less than £100, shall pay an additional sum of 6s. per year by way of income tax. If there were any substantial reason for Senator Crawford’s proposal, it would have been more logical for him to move for the repeal of the tax of £1 which these persons are called upon to pay under the existing Act.
– That would be a wise thing to do.
– It might, or might not, but in any case Senator Grant has already approved of that tax.
– I did not vote for it.
– The honorable senator did vote for it. Consideration should be had for fairness and justness, as well as sympathy; and it seems to me that a single person without dependants, having a net income of not less than £100, is not unfairly treated if asked to pay 6s. a year by way of additional income tax. In the case of a single man without dependants the amount would be quite a small deduction even out of the sum that he spends upon his tobacco. It would not seriously impair that man’s ability to live in some measure of decency and comfort. In the case of single men or women with no dependants, and who are earning £100 a year, is it unfair to ask that they should contribute to the increasing demand made upon the National Treasury? The amount of increase is not excessive under this Bill, bearing in mind the extra taxation proposed to be thrown upon the shoulders of the people generally.
– What amount of tax do the Government expect to get from this source?
– Presumably 30 per cent, more than was previously received. I cannot state, at the moment, the actual amount which has been obtained from this specific source. We should bear in mind, however, the obligations upon the Treasurer to make both ends meet. Should the time arrive when it may be possible to remit some of these taxes, any Treasurer would naturally make it his first effort that such relief should apply to those in receipt of the smaller incomes.
– That pious undertaking has always been made when Governments have instituted fresh taxation.
– And the undertaking has always been carried out, although the present Government have not yet been in that happy position. Every Treasurer knows that the shortest route to popularity is to remit a tax.
– The Government remitted the bachelor tax.
– Yes, and then honorable senators opposite were not pleased, apparently. This tax is being imposed because of war necessities ; and, in the circumstances, it is not an unfair or heavy impost to place upon single people who have no dependants. It is only right that they should contribute this slight additional increase to our national means. I trust the Committee will agree to the Bill as it stands.
.- When the previous income taxation measure was under discussion I referred to the same circumstances as are now being debated, but I did not push my plea for greater consideration of people receiving small salaries because it was obvious that 1 would not receive sufficient support. Nevertheless, the position still bears unjustly. Until wage-earners are in receipt of £100 they go free of taxation. But immediately a few shillings above that sum are added to their wages they must pay £1 in taxation. Now it is proposed to add 30 per cent, upon that. I remarked previously that this tax would be largely paid by women. It has been stated this morning that a woman in receipt of a little less than £2 a week is quite in a position to pay taxation. No woman can get decent accommodation under 25s., and that leaves about 15s. - even less, perhaps - on which to clothe herself and maintain herself in respectability. When this phase of taxation was initiated a minimum was set down as being the lowest amount which could be fairly expected to be drawn upon as a source of taxation. The cost of living has gone up something like 60 per cent, since that minimum was decided upon, and if the minimum of £100 was fair previously, it should now be £130 or £135. In the case of persons with dependants the minimum should be at least £200. I strongly support the amendment. Senator Pratten has said that the cost of collecting these small sums will nearly absorb the whole amount likely to be received. I am in entire accord with that.
– I regret that I cannot altogether follow the arguments of the Minister (Senator Millen) with regard -to tha equity of the proposed increase. It is obvious that, with an exemption of £100 it will not pay the Income Tax Department to collect from any person with an. income of less than £120, unless some minimum amount is proposed ; because the tax on the first £1 is 3d. and a decimal, and a man must have an income of at least £130 per annum before it is really worth while for the Taxation Department to pay for all the average charges incurred on such a person’s assessment. I agree that a minimum sum must -be set down for the Commissioner, in the interests of revenue; but, in imposing a minimum amount of £1 as the sum payable by all single people without dependants who are in receipt of income above £100 - even if it be only £105 - we are, in effect, making such people pay as much in taxation as individuals are required to pay who receive a salary of £140 per annum. If we raise the minimum by 30 per cent., and impose a minimum of £1 6s. upon every single person without dependants who receives over £100 per annum, by that minimum we bring all people, irrespective of whether they earn £105 or £120, into line with those who receive £160 per annum. That is manifestly unfair, because our principle of income taxation is one of graduation. Although it is obvious that we must have a minimum on which to make an assessment at all worth while, we should not arbitrarily impose also an extra tax on the lower incomes. The minimum average has been placed, for obvious business principles, so as to make it worth the while of the Income Tax Commissioner to assess at all.- The taxpayer having an income of £140 per annum, if he was single and had no dependants, paid, under the table which I have before me, the sum of 12s. 2d. Last year’s Act imposed an additional 25 per cent., that is 16s., roughly. This Bill seeks to impose an increase of 30 per cent, on those two sums together ; so that a man with £140, less his exemption, will under these tables pay only £1. If we go further in respect to how much income is liable for a tax of £1 6s., we get up to £160 per annum. That is to say, single taxpayers without dependants, who are in receipt of incomes of £160 per annum, pay upon £60. The first table gave the payment on £60 as about 16s. Last year’s Act imposed 25 ,per cent, upon that, making the total £1. The Bill now before the Committee proposes to impose a further 30 per cent., which will make the total £1 6s. If we impose a minimum tax of £1 6s. we shall be making a taxpayer in receipt of £101 per annum pay the same amount of tax as an individual earning £1.60 per annum. For these reasons I shall support the request. I do not think it will mean the loss of much revenue to the Taxation Department, and it will certainly be more equitable.
– I hope the amendment will be carried. I have been consistent in my support of all such proposals, because I do not’ believe in income taxation being imposed upon any person in receipt of less than £200 a year. I care not whether it be in war time or peace time. It may be said that a person should be liable if he is single and has no dependants ; but such an individual must provide for the time when he, or she, cannot earn a living. The cost of living has gone up remarkably, and those who have families to maintain cannot reasonably do so under £4 a week, at least. I do not believe in imposing income taxation on people earning less than £156 per annum. The gain to the Treasury in respect of this class of taxpayer is infinitesimal. I believe the amendment has a better chance of being carried because the request has been moved from the other side of the Committee.
– And you are supporting it for that reason.
– If the honorable senator would keep awake, and not be so insulting, it would be the better for him. There is a standing order, Mr. Chairman, which you are usually very careful in carrying out, which provides that no honorable senator shall impute motives to another.
– I did not hear the remark to which the honorable senator objects.
– Senator Guthrie has just made use of an insulting remark concerning myself, but I shall not bother further about it. I support the amendment, not because it comes from the other side, but because its purpose is correct and just. There is a better chance of its being carried coming from the other side than if it came from this.
– The amendment it is proposed to request appeals to me, although the Government do not get anything like enough sympathy for the difficult position in which they are placed. If you are in a shipwreck, you are bound to get wet a bit. This trifling reduction might justly be accorded to people in receipt of very small salaries. They include school teachers, many of whom have to live in the country, pay for expensive lodgings, move from place to place, and keep themselves well clothed and respectable in appearance. “We know what that costs in these days. I have great sympathy ‘for that class, and hope the Government will see their way to meet Senator Crawford’s wishes. The concession will not cost the Treasury much; in fact, it would cost almost as much to collect the tax from these people as it was worth. I sympathize with the Government, who want every penny they can get to carry on the war. Every one should pay his bit; but there are a great many people who are hard hit by the imposition of any sort of tax, because they are right down on the bare living wage. We should make some effort to meet their cases, because they are not getting anything like the rate of wage that we would like to see them get. The motion is a friendly one, proposed by one of the Government’s own party. It is not like a hostile amendment coming from the other side, with a political motive behind it. We know what a splendid fellow Senator Crawford is, and how often he has voted almost against his own convictions to support the Government. In the circumstances, the Government might meet him in this little matter.
– I was surprised, to hear Senator Fairbairn’s last admission, but apparently he made it jocularly, and did not mean it. Surely if Senator Fairbairn thinks there ia inherent justice in any amendment he will vote for it, no matter from which side it comes.
– There is never any justice in anything coming from your side.
– That is the trouble, and I am afraid Senator Fairbairn, like others .opposite, has become so short-sighted that he can see no justice in any proposals coming from us. I support the motion on the principle that one-twentieth part of a loaf is better than no bread. If Senator Crawford had had the regard which he professes for the lower-waged portion of the community, he could have gone a little further by moving to recommit clause 4, which would have allowed us to re-open the question of raising the exemption above the present absolutely inadequate figure.
– I do not think even you, sir, will stop me from saying that the amendment we are asked to request does not insure the amount of justice that should be given to people who receive low wages. Senator Crawford’s arguments are right, so far as they go. The majority of those receiving £2 per week are probably females. Out of this wage they have to pay £1 per head per annum poll tax under preceding legislation, and they are now asked to pay an additional 6s. under this clause. Their wage does not allow them to do anything more than pay for reasonably comfortable board and lodging, and buy their own clothes. There is nothing left to provide against sickness.
Many of the people, male and female, who earn low wages, assist to keep other members of their families, although these may not be dependants in the legal sense. Some one asked, by way of interjection, why these women did not marry. It is obvious that tens of thousands of our finest Australian girls will not be able to marry for many years to come because of the tremendous inroads made by the war on our eligible men. Probably threefourths of the 55,000 of our best Australian men who lost their lives in the war were single. Many fine Australian women will have to depend entirely on their own personal exertion. They have no property, and no chance of getting any, and they certainly should not be Asked to pay this supertax out of their small wages. I suggested the .other night that the exemption was altogether too low. Senator Crawford seems to have become a convert to my arguments at the eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute ; but it would have done him more credit, and he would have done more justice to those for whom he has taken action, if he had gone further and moved for the recommittal of clause 4. It is absurd that people whose personal-exertion income amounts to only £104 per annum should be subject to direct taxation. However, the docile majority behind the Government in both Houses has allowed the Bill to pass right up to the present stage. I hope that this small instalment of justice to those earning low wages will be carried.
– ‘Give us a chance to carry it.
– I would have given Senator Reid a chance to do something more for low wage-earners if I could have secured any support. Senator Guy was the first to raise the question the other night, and I suggested that he should move a request for an amendment to see how many supporters he could get. He did not do so, because no ‘one on the other side ‘ had indicated that there was any hope of carrying it. If I could have seen any chance of support from the other side,- 1 would have moved for the recommittal of clause 4, in order to raise the exemption to £156. I support the motion, and am only sorry that it does not go further.
– Every honorable senator will regret the speech made by Senator O’Keefe. It seems impossible for him to rise without imputing motives and throwing off at those on this side as docile followers of the Government. There is nothing in that sort of talk to induce those on this side to give much consideration to Senator O’Keefe when he speaks. Every time he rises he lectures honorable senators about what they ought to do. God knows, his example ought not to be followed by any honorable senator. I intend to support the request moved bv Senator Crawford, because I believe it is fair to afford some relief to a deserving section of the community, and that the Treasury will suffer very little loss. Throughout Australia there are a large number of persons, and particularly women, drawing fixed salaries in positions as school teachers, postal officials in small offices and in other spheres of employment, and some provision should be made for them. There is another section of the community that, I think, should also be considered. I do not know whether I shall be in order in mentioning them, but I shall do no more than make a passing reference to the subject: I refer to the soldiers and the soldiers’ relatives, for whom no exemption has been provided. Many of our farmers and business people have sent sons and relatives to the war, and in this way they have been put to considerable expenditure. Tn other words, many people have to fight, and also to pay. On the other hand, many people have neither fought nor are they to pay now. I hope that in their taxation proposals - if they cannot effect this ‘purpose through the Taxation Commissioner - the Government will give these people some consideration. The request, I am sure, will meet with the approval of the majority of the Senate, and I hope it will be carried, and not necessarily because it has been moved by one of the senators on this side of the chamber, who, according to Senator O’Keefe, are docile followers of the
Government. The Minister, I know, is anxious to get as much revenue as possible and wishes to stick te- his Bill, which is always a wise course to adopt. In this case it will be seen that the supporters of the Government are not docile followers, but are striking out on their own- account. We are glad to be able to say that honorable senators on this side are free to vote just as they please. That is something which, honorable senators opposite dare not say, or if they do it is only so much camouflage, intended to mislead their bossesoutside.
– The amendment it is proposed” to request does not mean much of a concession, but it is something in the right direction. It would be far better toabolish the minimum tax altogether, but,, as the Government are not prepared to« do that, I shall be glad to support the motion.
– I intend to support the amendment, because I am convinced it is the right thing to do. I am not affected one iota by the fact that it emanated from a senator on this side. I should have been, prepared to support it if it had come from the other side, and I object to honorable senators imputing motives to members on my side. I am supporting the motion because, owing to the war, many of the male supporters of a family have been away fighting for Australia for some years, with the result that other members of the family who remained at home have been obliged to earn their own living, and I think that they should receive consideration. The large number of female teachers throughout the Commonwealth, women who have to live away from home, and receive very indifferent attention, are also deserving of our sympathy. It is quite enough to ask for a minimum of £1 from such people without putting on an additional tax of 30 per cent. Senator O’Keefe, when he was pleading that the concession is a very small matter, overlooked the fact that the Minister might also have argued that as it is a small matterit would not” hurt the people concerned very much. As the motion seeks to do a small measure of justice to these people, I am prepared to vote for it.
. -I may be excused for saying a word or two on the Bill at this stage, because, owing to the brutality of the Government last night, I had either to walk home or forego my right of speaking on the Land Tax Bill.
– Order! The honorable senator is not entitled to say that.
-I withdraw it, certainly, but it is true, all the same. Last night I had either to walk home or forego my right of speaking. Senator Fairbairn has told us that the Government are hard up for money, and I point out again that I can show the Government how they can get £300,000 from New South Wales alone ; but, because my proposal would hit certain interested parties, the Government refuse to adopt it. As New South Wales pays about onehalf of the taxation of Australia, my suggestion would enable the Government to get at least £500,000 of additional revenue at any time they like to pick it up.
– The honorable senator is not in order in discussing that matter.
– I am not discussing it, Mr. Chairman; I am only making a statement to the Government.I shall certainly vote for the motion. I do not see why Ministerial supporters should get offended if members on this side refer to them as docile followers. We had to put up with such remarks for three or four years. If they are followers of the Government, let them be good followers, and not get rusty because some honorable senator on this side might say nasty things about them. Though I was denied the right of speaking last night on the Land Tax Bill, I shall take advantage of another opportunity of expressing my views on that subject.
Motion agreed to.
Bill reported with a request.
I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
It ia a very small and innocent measure. It appears that inconvenience has been caused owing to the fact that whenever an amending Bill has been approved by Parliament it is not competent to insert in the citation clause the name of the Act as amended. For instance, in the reprints of the Defence Act 1903-1917 honorable senators will see that although it has been amended nine times, it is still cited* as the Defence Act 1903. What is sought is power to indicate in the citation clause the name of the amended Act. At present the footnote is inserted to the amending Bill giving this information, and what is asked for now is power, instead of adding the footnote, to set out the information in the citation clause of the Bill itself. It is merely a technical amendment, and I have no doubt the Senate will agree to it without any prolongation of the debate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Mcdougall) adjourned.
I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The principal Act which this Bill proposes to amend was passed in 1901, since when no substantial amendment has been effected. In the meantime some inconvenient defects have been discovered in the Act, and as a result of the experience gained it has been found that some of the provisions are unnecessary. These, it is now proposed to repeal. The principal clauses to which I direct attention are clauses 3 and 16, designed to make effective the law in regard to the manufacture of what are known as “soft” drinks, a beverage to which honorable senators are notoriously addicted. The necessity for this amendment arose in this way: Some time ago a manufacturer of “ soft “ drinks was prosecuted because some of the “ soft “ drink manufactured by him was found to contain more than 2 per cent, of alcohol. The High Court held, however, that though the drink may have contained more than the legal amount of alcohol when obtained by the revenue officer; that is to say, when it was offered for sale, there was no evidence that it contained more than 2 per cent, at the time of manufacture. The effect of this decision has been to make it impossible to obtain a conviction against any brewer, no matter what quantity of alcohol may be contained in the drinks which he offers for sale. Apparently, the percentage of alcohol in such drinks depends entirely on the quantity of fermentable substances which are used in the brew, ‘and can, therefore, be regulated by the manufacturer. The tendency is for the quantity of alcohol in these drinks to go on accumulating.
– That is the natural result of fermentation.
– But the quantity of alcohol can be regulated, and the object of the amendment embodied in this Bill is to throw on the manufacturer the obligation of seeing that the “soft” drinks which he places upon the market shall not at any time during which they are on sale contain more than 2 per cent, of alcohol.
Another provision deals with the Excise stamps, which are the means by which the Excise duty levied by law is collected. It is quite clear that for the protection of the revenue any possible loopholes in this connexion must be carefully watched and stopped. The Act requires that the stamps placed upon vessels containing excisable goods shall be cut or destroyed. But in practice it has been found impossible to obtain a conviction against the person who opens the vessel when once that vessel has left his premises. Let me give an illustration of what I mean. A publican obtains from a brewer a cask of beer to which the duty stamps are attached. It should be the duty of the former, on opening the cask, to destroy the stamps. But he fails to do so, and in course of time, the beer having been consumed, he returns the cask to the brewer with the stamps intact. It . has been found impossible to obtain - a conviction in such cases, and for the safety of the revenue it is’ necessary to make the liability attach to the person who has offended, even though the vessel may have left his possession. It is intended to sheet home to the publican the fact that it is the duty of whoever empties the vessel to destroy the stamps, and if he fails to do so, he will be liable, even though the vessel may have left his possession.
The licence-fee at present charged to brewers is fixed at a flat rate of £25 per annum. Under this Bill it is proposed to. fix the fee upon a sliding scale, according to the quantity of beer that may be brewed. The large city brewer will thus pay a heavier licence-fee than will the small country brewer.
Similarly, it is proposed to deal with the amount lodged as security. At present this amount is fixed by the Collector of Customs. But under this Bill it is proposed to regulate the amount according to the turnover of the brewer, in the same way as the licence-fee is to be adjusted.
A minor amendment deals with the renewal of licences on payment of fees. At present all licences expire on the 31st December unless renewed before that date. It is now proposed to give the Collector of Customs power, in exceptional circumstances, to extend for seven days the period within which the application for a renewal may be made. There are one or two other matters to which I do not think’ it is necessary to refer at this juncture. If information is sought regarding them in Committee, I shall be happy to supply it.
Debate (on motion by Senator McDougall) adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The basic industry for the manufacture of iron and steel in the Commonwealth is, I am pleased to say, now fairly established. It is one of the most important and valuable of our secondary industries, and has, 1 believe, been described as the “ mother “ of the other industries. I think, too, we can claim that the establishment of that industry is largely due to the passing by this Parliament of the Iron Bounty Act. That being so, it now becomes necessary for this country to set about establishing those secondary industries connected with the iron trade which are so closely allied to the parent industry. I suppose there is no industry which would be of greater benefit to this country than would the establishment of the manufacture of black steel sheet and galvanized iron.
– Why not black iron?
– The- manufacture of the black steel sheet is the industry that we think it necessary to assist at the present juncture. But there is another industry which may possibly develop out of it, namely, the tin-plate industry. The black steel-plate industry is the foundation of the tin-plate industry. Now if there be any lesson which we have learned during the war, it is the necessity for insuring an adequate local supply of steel plates and tin plates. This country has paid a very heavy price for the absence of these industries. In this connexion one has merely to remember that, before the war, the price of galvanized iron at the Customs House was, roughly, £12 per ton. But during the war it soared to £50, and in some cases to £70 per ton.
– In some instances it reached more than £100 per ton.
– That is where the profiteer came in.
– ‘“Not necessarily. I may tell the honorable senator that it was not very long after the commencement of the war, before the stocks of galvanized iron in Australia had been practically absorbed.
– The profiteering took place when the price of galvanized iron was between £50 and £90 per ton.
– There is no profiteering if the person who imports an article has to pay an enormous price for it in its country of origin. He is not responsible for the high price, which he has to pass on to the consumer.
– But there were large quantities of galvanized iron in. Australia. Everybody knows that.
– Then it is a notorious fact that there was a great consumption of these articles for war purposes. This industry is of particular interest to Australia, because it is one which has a great bearing on our primary industries. One of the first requirements of the man who settles upon the land is galvanized iron, and especially is this so in our dry areas. There, it is absolutely essential that he should have quantities of galvanized iron and steel sheets, for tanks, &c. If, then, we can produce galvanized iron at a reasonable price, not only shall we establish an industry of value to Australia, but we shall assist other industries, and particularly the primary industries.
The success which has attended the establishment of the iron and steel industry in the Commonwealth is a testimony to the soundness of the bounty system. I do not propose to quote a mass of figures; but; in order to give honorable senators some idea of the requirements of Australia, I may mention that in the year 1913 no less than 3,500,000 cwts. of galvanized iron and black iron were imported, the value of these goods being £2,500,000. The average quantity imported annually for several years prior to 1913 was 170,000 tons. We have merely to look at these figures to realize that the industry is a very important one - so important that, notwithstanding the financial stringency with which we are. faced, the Government feel that this country can afford to pay something to establish it. In considering whether the industry will naturally develop ‘itself from the parent industry, we must remember that this material particularly lends itself to dumping. It can. be carried at the cheapest freight, because it lends itself to that kind’ of loading which shippers seek. Obviously, if an industry of this character is to succeed in Australia, it must be given some assistance in its earlier stages.
Coining to the Bill itself, the amount of the bounty is set out in the schedule. The principle laid down in the measure is that recognising that the freight from other countries to Australia is an important factor in competition, the amount of the bounty will be regulated by the price of freight. Thus, on black steel sheets the bounty payable will be 30s, per ton when the freight is 50s. per ton or under. “When freight exceeds that amount, the bounty will be reduced by the amount of the excess. For example, if freight rises from 50s. to 60s. per ton, the bounty will be reduced to £1 per ton. On galvanized sheets, which represent a further stage of manufacture, the bounty payable will be £2 per ton when freight is 50s. peT ton or under, and it will be reduced, as in the case of black steel sheets, by the amount which the freight exceeds 50s. per ton. In the case of galvanized iron sheets, the bounty will be inclusive of, and not additional to, any bounty paid on the black steel from which the galvanized sheets are made. Thus, if black steel sheets manufactured in Australia, and upon which the bounty of 30s. per ton has been paid, are subsequently manufactured into galvanized sheets, an additional 10s. per ton will be paid upon them. The amount of the bounty will also be affected by any increase in the Customs duties upon these sheets.
– Is there a duty upon them to-day?
– I think so. If the Customs duties are increased, the bounty, which we recognise is only another form of Protection, will be decreased. Provision is made in the Bill that no bounty shall be paid on sheets manufactured under a contract which provides for the deduction of the amount of bounty from the price to be paid. The measure authorizes the payment of the bounty from the 1st October, 1918, to the 30th September, 1923. Not more than £200,000 is to be paid, in bounty during this period, and not moTe than £40,000 in any one year. “Where less than £40,000 be paid in any one year, the unexpended balance may be added to the amount payable during the next year; but, so that the total expenditure shall not exceed? £200,000 during the five years. The bounty is to be paid to the manufacturer only, and he must furnish proof that the goods in respect of which it is paid are of good quality, and that the Act and regulations have been complied with. Hisbooks and accounts are to be subject toaudit by any auditor appointed by the Minister.
The Bill also provides, as do all. our Bounty Acts, for securities as to* the wages and conditions prevailing in the industry. The Minister may apply to> a Court of Arbitration for a declaration that the rates of wages, the hours, and other conditions of labour in the industry are fair and reasonable. The intention is, of course,- that the benefits of the bounty shall not be enjoyed solely by the manufacturer, but that those actually engaged in the working of the industry shall also have their interests protected. The remaining clauses of the Bill are machinery clauses. I have outlined the principles of the measure, and I feel sure that honorable senators generally are agreed as to the necessity for the establishment of this industry.
Debate (on motion by Senator McDougall) adjourned.
The following paper was presented: -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1911. - Award, dated 7th November, 1918, of Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and other documents, in connexion with plaint submitted by Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I take advantage of the opportunity to supply the information sought by Senator Thomas by the questions which he asked,, and which were tentatively replied to two or three days ago, on the subject of the
Blythe River iron deposits. The honorable senator asked the following questions : -
The information now supplied is as follows : - 1.Yes.
Price £110,000, payable-
£3,000 paid for a twelve months’ option of purchase, also £185 18s. 6d. for the following expenses incurred at the request of the Government : -
4.Re ports have been made by Mr. W. H. Twelvetrees, Government Geologist for Tasmania ; also by - Messrs. John H. Darby, M.Inst.C.E., and F. W. Paul, iron experts from the north of England.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 12.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 November 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1918/19181129_senate_7_87/>.