8th Parliament · 1st Session
The Clerk announced the unavoidable absence of the President.
The Deputy President (Senator Bak- hap) took the chair at 3.1 p.m., and read prayers.
Rates of Exchange
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information isbeing obtained.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice-
– The information isbeing obtained.
SenatorPRATTEN asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What were the importations of bananas, in centals, into Australia for the five-year periods ending 30th June, 1910, 30th June, 1915, and 30th June, 1920, and for the year ending 30th June, 1921?
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What were the total importations into Australia of candles of all grades, and their approximate value; for the five-year periods ending 30th June, 1910, 30th June, 1915, and 30th June, 1920?
– The information sought is as follows: -
Five years ended 30th June, 1910, 5,983,050 lbs., valued at £ 127,507; five years ended 30th June, 1915, 3,17 1,309 lbs., valued at £71,740; five years ended 30th June, 1920, 931,598 lbs., valued at £32,238.
Commonwealth Bank as Trustee.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice-
As it is possible that many wealthy persons have not left money for charitable or national; purposes because there is no Commonwealth Government Department authorized to act as trustee under such a bequest, will the Government pass a short Bill enabling the Commonwealth Bank to act in this capacity?
– The matter is now under consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Is the motion for the third reading of the Tariff Board Bill formal or not formal ?
Motion (by Senator Russell) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– Mr. Deputy President
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The motion may not be debated, because the Senate has determined to recognise it as a formal motion. .
– There is some misunderstanding, then.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- No objection was offered when I asked if the motion were formal or not formal.
– Seeing that there is a misunderstanding, would it not be possible to ask again whether the Senate wishes the motion to be treated as formal ? In the House of Representatives, the procedure that we follow in regard to formal business is not known, and I am more accustomed to that procedure than to the procedure of this Chamber.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Ample opportunity was given to honorable senators to object to the motion being taken as formal, and no objection was raised; therefore I must putthe question.
– Does the Minister press for this?
– I have nothing to do with the matter. I merely called “formal,” on behalf of the Government, when Mr. Deputy President asked whether the motion was formal or not formal.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read the third time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 19th July, vide page 10218) :
Schedule - division 1.- ales, spirits, and beverages.
Item 1 -
Ale and other beer, porter, cider, and perry, spirituous : -
In bulk, per gallon, British, 2s.; intermediate, 2s. 3d.; general, 2s.6d. And on and after 17th September, 1920, per gallon, British, 2s. 6d.; intermediate, 2s. 9d.; general, 3s.
In bottle,* per gallon, British, 2s. 6d.; intermediate, 2s. 9d.; general, 3s. And on and after 17th September, 1920, per gallon, British, 3s.; intermediate, 3s. 3d.; general, 3s. 6d.
On which Senator Pratten had moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item a (general), 3s. 6d.
– As the Committee is now entering upon the consideration of the first item of the Tariff, it will probably facilitate business and behelpful to honorable senators who have not previously taken part in the discussion of a Tariff ifI state for their information what is the invariable practice in the Senate in dealing with the schedule to a Tariff Bill in Committee. Senator Pratten has moved on sub-item a of item 1 that the House of Representatives be requested to increase the duty under the general Tariff from 3s. to 3s. 6d. per gallon. If the Committee negative the request, it will not be in order for any other honorable senator to move that the duty he increased to 4s. ,or any higher duty than that moved for by Senator Pratten, but a request can be submitted by an honorable senator for the increase of the duty to 3s. 3d., or any figure below that moved for by Senator Pratten. If honorable senators desire a reduction of the proposed duty, and an honorable senator moves a request for the reduction of the duty from 3s. to 2s. 6d., should that request be negatived, it will not he in order for any other member of the Committee to submit a request for a reduction of the duty below that amount, hut it will be competent for any honorable senator to submit a request for a smaller decrease.
– I presume that, where a request is moved for a higher or a lower duty, and some other member of the Committee desires to submit a request for a still higher or a still lower duty, that can he done provided the honorable senator submitting the first request is willing to withdraw his motion to enable it to be done?
– That is so.
– Otherwise I take it that the Chair will not take notice of any further request?
– Undoubtedly. In the case of the item at present ‘before the Committee, if the proposal is not for a higher duty than that suggested by Senator Pratten, assuming that honorable senator’s request to be negatived by the Committee, the request will be accepted.
– Senator Pratten has moved a request for an increase of duty in the general Tariff under sub-item a of 6d. per gallon. Some other member of the Committee may desire a greater increase in the duty.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The only way in which that request could ‘be made would be by Senator Pratten withdrawing his request for the purpose.
– Suppose that Senator Pratten says, “ I will not withdraw “?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.That will settle the matter.
– Then are we, as members of the Committee, to be in the hands of any member of the Senate who may submit a request quickly, and so settle the matter?
– The honorable senator will have the same opportunity as anybody else to submit a request. I have mentioned what is the invariable practice of the Senate in dealing with the “schedule of a Customs Tariff Bill.
– If Senator Pratten takes up the attitude that he will not give way to an honorable senator who thinks that the increase in the duty should be more than 6d. per gallon, it appears to me that other members of the Committee will be deprived of freedom of action.
– Order ! There is no point of order before the Chair. At present Senator Pratten has moved a request. If Senator Wilson desires that the duty should be increased beyond the amount suggested by Senator Pratten, he can ask that honorable Senator to temporarily withdraw his request.
– I think, sir, that the Committee is indebted to you in opening this very important duty imposed upon it, for a clear expression of the procedure to be followed. I understand from what you have said that there is nothing to prevent an amendment upon a request for a higher or a lower duty, and that by courtesy of the honorable senator first moving a request, such an amendment may, if necessary, be first dealt with. I have moved a request to increase the duty in the General Tariff under sub-item a of item 1 from 3s. to 33. 6d. per gallon, and 1 propose to submit a further request for an increase of the duty under sub-item b, also in the General Tariff, from 3s. 6d. to 4s. per gallon. I am not so much concerned as to the extent to which the Committee is willing to go in connexion with these two sub-items, but I think the duty should be increased. I have a few words to say with regard to the incidence of the General TarifF to which my request applies. It will be remembered that throughout the war it was the generally accepted opinion that we helped to provide the golden bullets for Germany by encouraging rather than discouraging trade between that country and Australia. If trade with Germany is resumed, as in my opinion it must be in the not distant future, unless a special Tariff is brought in, which is not likely, the duties that will be. imposed on German importations will be those set out in the General Tariff of the schedule we are now discussing. For that reason we must take into consideration what the future has in store for us in regard to importations, not only from America, Japan, France, and Italy, but also from Germany. In regard to the item bow under consideration, the facts as I see them are these : Prior to the was a considerable quantity of German lager beer was imported into Australia, and some people will have- it no matter what the cost. There are six imperial quart bottles ito the gallon,, and am increase of ‘6d. per gallon will increase the duty on foreign beers by Id. per- quart bottle. I admit that that increase is not considerable, and if the -Senate desires that a further increase shall be made, I shall be glad to withdraw my amendment temporarily in order to enable .a higher duty to be moved. With regard to this and other items that practically affect Germany, and no other country,, we ‘should consider what will be the incidence of the Tariff in the future as well a3 at present. The proposed increase will not affect British trade detrimentally ; . on the contrary, it will help it. The United States of America is now “dry,” and it is unlikely that there will be importations of beer or porter from that country. The importations of Danish beer are, I think, trivial, and I specially ask the Committee to consider these items with a view to insuring that when in future we see German lager beer consumed we shall have the satisfaction of knowing that people are paying a considerable contribution to the revenue for the pleasure of drinking that beverage.
– I move - 0
That the request be amended by leaving out 3s. ed.”, with la view to insert “-4s.” in lieu thereof.
If that amendment is .agreed to, I shall later move a further request with a view to making the duty on ale, &c., imported in bottles 6s. per gallon. I indorse Senator Pratten’s remarks regarding the necessity for keeping in view the probability of our re suming business relations with former enemy .countries, including Germany. As regards the Tariff generally, I consider that as Australia has practically all the necessary raw materials, our people should use goods manufactured by Australians; but I am not a whole-hogger, and will not support high Protective duties on industries that I do not consider require them. Whilst advocating increased duties on beer, stout, &c, I would not favour increased duties which would spoon-feed certain already powerful and wealthy manufacturers, and thereby unnecessarily increase the high cost of living, more particularly when those high duties, ‘if imposed, would increase the cost of the necessities of life. I ‘am in favour of substantial Imperial preference. Several honorable .senators and others have misjudged my attitude in regard to the manufacture of woollen goods. Notwithstanding our immense production of wool, we are importing a greater quantity of manufactured woollen goode than we make locally; that is a very serious anomaly. We should manufacture locally the whole of our requirements in woollen goods; but .the factories already established have such a magnificent start that very high duties are not necessary for many reasons, which I will state in detail when the Committee reaches £he .duties on woollen goods. I am strongly in favour of substantial or adequate’ Protective duties on infant industries, and I do not desire my remarks on the woollen industry to be misconstrued. Whilst I am urging increased duties on ale, beer, and cider, and will favour lower duties om some woollen goods, I desire it to be understood that I am in no way interested in the brewing trade, nor have I been approached directly or indirectly by any interested party; whereas, on .the other band, I am a shareholder in two Victorian woollen mills that are about to commence operations, and a director of a cooperative woollen mill in New South Wales. We should protect infant industries such as the manufacture of woollen goods-
– I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks ito the item before the Committee.
– I was about to say that I believe that the best way -to foster industries like the manufacture of beer and woollen goods would be to allow the necessary machinery to be imported free, or at very low duties. As regards beer, stout, and cider, I stress the fact that, whilst I am not a prohibitionist I voted for a reduction of licences at the recent referendum in Victoria. One reason why I shall fight for protection for the lager beer industry is that the people of Australia should be encouraged to drink light beverages such as lager, which contains only4 percent. of alcohol, as against imported beers and lager, which are very much stronger, and therefore more injurious. The German, Japanese, Dutch, and other lagers require to be loaded with spirit in order to enable them to carry properly, but they are no better than are our own beers. We know, too, that cider is made from apples, and applegrowing is an industry which is well worthy of our encouragement, more particularly as many returned soldiers have embarked upon it. They will need all the protection thatwe can give them. I am strongly in favour ofdecentralization, and the brewing of beer and lager is an industry which has led to decentralization. In Victoria alone, there are seventeen breweries, only two of which are in the metropolitan area, whilst fifteen are in the country.In Australia, there are seventy-two breweries employing 3,750 hands. In the glass works of the Commonwealths - and the manuf acture of beer bottles is the backbone of the industry - there are sixteen factories employing 2,500hands. In addition, there are fifty-nine malt-houses employing 700 hands, 2,000 barley growers, and 600 employees in the corks, seals, and label industry. Dealing with the duties upon ale, beer, and cider is a totally different matter from dealing with the duties which have been imposed in respect to many other industries which are highly protected. In some industries, the manufacturers do not obtain their raw materials in this country. Foreign competitors who are engaged in the brewing of beer and lager do not purchase here any of the raw materials that they use. Therefore they are of no benefit to the producers of Australia. I intend to support the imposition of high duties upon luxuries, and imported beer is a luxury. If there be anybody in the community like Senator Wilson, who is not satisfied with the magnificent beers that are brewed in the Commonwealth-_ such as Abbotsford lager, Foster’s lager, or Ballarat lager, he can afford to pay a, higher price for the imported article.
-Is the honorable senator satisfied that Victoria is the only State which brew good beer ?
– I have never been asked by the honorable senator to test the quality of the beer that is brewed in South Australia, but I shall have much pleasure in doing so if. the honorable senator will guarantee that; it does not contain more than 4 per cent. of alcohol. In framing a Tariff, we have also to recollect that it is necessary to protect the local industry against the cheap labour of countries such as Germany and Japan, in which lager beer is chiefly brewed. Some people may ask what is the value of the lager beer industry in Australia. That industry not only employsa vast amount of capital and labour, but is conducted under good conditions and under Arbitration Court awards. We must also have regard to the ingredients which are contained in the local article - ingredients such as sugar, hops, barley, and, as regards cider, apples - as well as the corks, capsules . and labels which are used in the industry. I would rather drink good Australian beer than imported beer, especially German beer. In connexion with this industry, let me point to the consumption of barley alone. The Carlton United Brewing Company, of Melbourne, uses annually 500,000 bushels of malt, which is equal to more than 600,000 bushels ofbarley. It may also interest honorable senators to know that 95 per cent, of the total hops grown in Australia are consumed by the Australian breweries. Consequently, those breweries are, to a large extent, responsible for making barley growing a profitable industry to our primary producers.
– How much tobacco do they put into the beer?.
– I do not know, because I do not frequent hotels the licensees of which would be guilty of such a practice.
– The tobacco is not put in at the hotels, but at the breweries.
– I do not think that our breweries do that sort of thing.
They brew a pure and a particularly good article. They are subject to inspection, and no honorable senator would seriously accuse them of being guilty of the practice which Senator de Largie has suggested. If I thought that they were capable of doing such a thing I would not take the stand I am taking to-day. I have not been approached, either directly or indirectly, by anybody who is interested in the trade. I am arguing this question simply from the stand-point of principle. It may be urged by some honorable senators that the increased duty proposed is unnecessary. But I would point out that in 1913 we imported from Germany 804,622 gallons of bottled* beer in addition to 14,600 gallons in bulk. That is a trade which is quite unnecessary.
– Under the honorable senator’s proposal, if the same quantity of beer were imported from Germany during the current year, the Customs authorities would collect an extra revenue of £50,000.
– Yes. But my object is to make it difficult to import German beer and to compel those who insist upon purchasing luxuries to pay for them. In 1913 the Australian manufacture of beer amounted to 60,000,000 gallons, and in 1920 - thanks to German lager having been eliminated- the quantity had increased to 69,954,000 gallons. In addition, the total Excise paid by the brewers of the Com- monwealth amounts to the magnificent sum of £5,600,000 per annum. It may be urged that the lager beer or the beer-brewing industry of Australia does not require protection, because it is already making good profits. But I find upon inquiry that’ that is not so. It is not, at all events, making excessive profits. I gather from a glance at the share register that most of the brewery shares are below par, and that the Carlton and United Brewery, which embraces, with the exception of the Cooperative Brewery, all the breweries of this city, and is a large and well conducted enterprise, has never been able to pay by way of dividends more than 8 per cent. It has been able more frequently to pay a dividend of only 4 per cent. The highest rate of interest being paid by any brewery at the present time is that paid by the Swan Brewery of Western Australia, which is returning about 9.3 per cent. No brewery in Australia is making sufficient from brewing to pay a dividend of 10 per cent.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I regret that the Government have failed to put in the hands of honorable senators the information to which we are entitled. This Tariff Bill means a radical change in import duties, but, so far as I have been able to ascertain, the Government have not furnished us with any information to sustain the case for the increased protection for which it provides.
– The honorable senator has overlooked a book of information which has been supplied to all honorable senators, and a copy of which no doubt he will find in his box. He should at least be fair to the Government.
– If that is so, I apologize to the Government. Side by side with the Tariff Bill put before us on a former occasion, information of a very full description was supplied in the form of a memorandum showing the rates prevailing under the former Tariff, the rates proposed under the new Tariff, the quantity and value of imports in respect of the various items, and the revenue received from each. If the memorandum to which the Minister (Senator Russell) has referred supplies that information I have no more to say on the subject; if it does not, then I hold that the Government have fallen short of their duty. I am with Senator Guthrie in his request for an increased duty on ale and other beer, because I look to this particular class of imports as offering a fieldof revenue that the Government may very well exploit. In considering the Tariff schedule we shall meet with many items which are not fit subjects for exploitation, and the duties on which will deserve and command a very severe cutting down. There are duties in the schedule which I am not going to support. There are others which I shall not support unless
I am satisfied by the most conclusive evidence that the industries to which they relate need such increased protection. Speaking generally, although I am a Protectionist, I am going to support only such duties as will equalize the “difference between the cost of production in this country and the cost of production in the countries of export. While on this subject I may say that this Tariff falls far short of what I consider a Tariff should be. Import duties are imposed by rule of thumb, no distinction being drawn between goods coming from countries in which high wages prevail, and those coming from low-wage countries; but provision is made for intermediate duties which may be brought into operation at the discretion of the Government of the day.
In the case of the item before us fixed duties are provided, whereas in many other instances provision is made for ad valorem duties. In respect of those items on which ad valorem duties have been in operation during the war period, or the period of enhanced prices, the Government have been in the happy position of having their revenue almost doubled. Where an article, which in pre-war days cost 10s., rose in value, as happened in so many cases, to 20s. or 30s., the existence of an ad valorem duty in respect of that article enabled the Treasury to benefit accordingly, whereas when a fixed duty is in operation the Treasury in such circumstances stands to lose. That is why I should like an ad valorem duty to be provided in this case. The prices of alcoholic liquors markedly increased during the war period, but with fixed duties applying to them the Treasury gained nothing in the way of increased revenue from those enhanced values, whereas the ad valorem duties applying to agricultural machinery and many other items led to the Treasury gaining materially by reason of the advanced values. By way of compensation, therefore, I am supporting Senator Guthrie’s request for an increased duty. A further reason why I support it is the old and threadbare one that luxuries are always a fit subject for Customs taxation. In dealing with the schedule we shall meet with items the duties on which it is proposed without rhyme or reason to increase. Spirituous liquors, except in very rare cases, can neither be designated as tools of trade or as necessary to the health, progress, or advancement of the community. Broadly speaking, they are a luxury, and we dare not attempt to load the necessities of life while luxuries can stand a further burden. Senator .Guthrie is endeavouring to make good the shortcomings of the system so far as this item is concerned. In order to encourage local industries - in order to give them a chance to expand as well as to enable the Treasury to get revenue from the consumption of luxuries - I am supporting this request. As a parting word I may say that I was very glad on a former occasion to take a hand in adjusting the Tariff so as to provide for higher Protection, and we are all pleased that in this broad continental area of ours, where a few years ago lager beer of Australian production was unknown, only locallymade lager is being consumed, and it is just as good as, if not better than, the lager beer that we were in the habit of importing from other countries. There is no reason why we should not attribute this very wholesome change to the in° creased Tariff.
– I was impressed by a phrase used by Senator Lynch, namely, that certain duties appear to have been imposed without rhyme or reason. I trust that this Committee will neither act without rhyme or reason, nor for merely sentimental considerations, but that it will carefully examine the facts. Australians do not want to drink German or Japanese or other beers; the local product is good enough for any one. Before the war the retail price for Beck’s German lager was about 7d. for a pint bottle. The general duty upon bottled beers is now 3s. 6d. per gallon. If that imposition is not sufficiently heavy, there is a prohibitive freight rate.
– At present, but not for long.
– The difference between the Excise and the Customs duty represents the degree of protection afforded to the Australian brewer. The Government have been most careful to adjust this difference, and local brewers appear to be well satisfied. At any rate, there has been no protest, and the browns nave prospered. Senator Guthrie’s proposal really amounts to a prohibition. He seeks to add ls. per gallon.
– Twopence per bottle.
– In addition to the amount already imposed under the schedule. The difference between the present general rate and the Excise rate amounts to ls. 9d., which is equivalent to a clear protection of ls. 9d. per gallon ; and I emphasize that, since the Australian brewers have not protested, it may bo taken for granted that they are satisfied with the degree of protection afforded them.
– If the present duty is prohibitive, what harm can follow from making it a little more so?
– There is no doubt about the completeness of the. prohibition. With existing freights added to the general rate of duty, there is no hope of the German brewer competing in this country. If Senator Guthrie’s request is agreed to, it will involve the presentation to Australian brewers of ls. for every gallon consumed, which is to say, 69,000,000 shillings.
– Would not that be better than to present the Germans with the money?
– But I have already pointed out that there is no hope of the Germans competing here. Why, then, seeing that the brewers are satisfied, should the additional ls. be. given to them?
– The Australian sugar-grower, hop-grower, barley-grower, and bottle-maker - all will be benefited.
– There can be no justification for giving the Australian brewer so huge and unexpected a bonus. If the increase of ls. were granted, and the Government were to make an equivalent addition to the Excise duty in order to maintain the present margin, the Excise duty would be higher than the British preferential duty.
– Would that not be all the better for the finances of the Government ?
– If British beer could be imported at the rate of1d. per pint less than the cost of beer in Australia, the local industry would immediately suffer.
– No attempt is being made to alter the British preferential rate.
– I repeat that if ls. is added to the general rate, that will involve an equivalent increase of the Excise duty, with the result that the British preferential rate will actually be lower than the Excise. The effect of adding ls. to the general rate would be, I repeat, to present that ls. to the Australian brewer, who ha3 neither asked for it nor is entitled to it.
– Would he raise his price by a shilling? He could not.
– I do not know; but he would have the chance to do so. I know one or two Australian brewers, and I have no hesitation in saying that they would take advantage of the opportunity to put up the price.
– They are not doing too well now.
– I should like positive proof of that statement. While I agree with the sentiment that we do not want German or Japanese beer here, I warn the Committee that they will not cure Australia’s troubles in this direction by giving bonuses to brewers.
– I most strongly object to that phrase.
– This is a Tariff. Nobody suggested giving bonuses to brewers.
– I am telling the Committee what the effect of the proposal will he. Is the Committee prepared, while increasing the import duty in the general Tariff by1s., to add1s. also to the Excise duty on Australian lager? I am not suggesting that as a remedy, but if the Committee does not adopt, that course it will increase the effective protection on the Australian article by ls. a gallon. The most effective protection we have had against foreign beer has been the embargo on imports.
– That will not last as long as the Tariff.
– I think that what is done in the future will depend on in- ternational agreements when peace is finally declared.
– That relates only to German lager. What about the American or the Japanese?
– I do notthink any comes here from America or Japan.
SenatorGuthrie. - I have drunk lager from both countries.
– My information is as follows : - “ The great bulk of imports is, and has been always, British. Prior to the war Germany supplied about 20 per cent, of the total imports. During the war a small proportion of Danish beer was imported. The small imports in 1917-18 and 1918-19 are due to the prohibition of imports dated 10th August, 1917.”
– If the bulk of the imports is British, your argument about the price going up here has not very much in it.
-No; but if we allow a margin of1s. 9d. per gallon on Australian beer, and the proposal to increase it by1s. is adopted-
– This proposal is not to interfere with the rate in the British preferential column.
– The Excise Tariff Bill, which the Senate has yet to consider, fixes the Excise on beer manufactured in Australia at1s. 9d. a gallon. If we increase the import duty in the general column by1s. a gallon, and do not increase the Excise duty by1s., that will mean an increase of the margin by1s.
– -That is in comparison with the import duty in the general column, but not in connexion with the British preferential column, and you say that the bulk of the imported stuff is British.
– If we leave the Excise duty at1s. 9d., we shall be giving the Australian brewer 1s. per gallon more protection than we think he is honestly entitled to.
– As against German lager beer only, but not against British.
– If we increase the Excise duty to meet the difficulty about the German article, it will make the Excise in Australia1d. per gallonmore than the import duty on British beer.
– These . are purely import duties. The Excise duty is not in question.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the import duties have no relation to the Excise duties?
-.- The only question is : Are we going to increase the difference between German and British lager beer in our Tariff?
– The honorable senator wants to alter a basic principle. We must consider, in respect of all these articles, the Excise duty in its relation to the import duty to ascertain what encouragement is given to the Australian industry. The Government propose a protection of1s. 9d. a gallon to the Australian article. If the import duty in the general column is increased by1s., it will mean a protection of 2s. 9d. per gallon.
– We are giving a difference of1s. 3d. between the Excise duty and the British preferential duty.
– I am speaking of the general Tariff rate. Senator Guthrie’s proposal is to make the import duty 4s.
-Four shillings per gallon in bulk and 6s. in bottle.
– That is even worse than I thought. It will increase the margin by1s.
– The margin in favour of Australia against Japan.
– Not necessarily against Japan.
– I propose to give the, Australian brewer a protective rate of 4s. a gallon against foreign countries, as compared with a protective rate of 2s. a gallon against the British article. I am not proposing to interfere with the British preferential rate.
– If1s. 9d. a gallon is a sufficient protection to enable the Australian brewer to command this market-
– But it is not.
– Order! The honorable senator has exhausted the time allowed under’ the standing order.
– I desire to clarify a position which, since the Minister made his speech, has become somewhat involved. My sole desire in moving a request was. as I said, to make those persons who continue to drink German lager, once trade with. Germany is resumed, pay for it. Under the Government proposal, the duty on British beer in bulk is 2s. 6d. per gallon. The Excise duty on Australian beer is ls. 9d. per gallon, the protection given being, therefore, 9d. per gallon. The Government proposal on foreign beers in bulk is an import duty of 3s. per gallon. The Excise duty on Australian beer being ls. 9d. per gallon, the protection afforded against foreign beer is ls. 3d. per gallon. The Government proposal on British beer- in bottle is an import duty of 3s. per gallon. The Excise duty is ls. 9d. per gallon. Without allowing anything for the extra cost of bottles or bottling materials in Australia, and wo all know there is a big extra cost, the protection on bottled beer as against Great Britain is ls. 3d. a gallon, or 2½d. a quart bottle, or lid. a pint bottle. The Government proposal on foreign beer in bottle is an import duty of 3s.- 6d. per gallon. Again, deducting ls. 9d. Excise duty, and not considering anything extra for packages in favour of the Australian brewer, the protection is ls. 9d. per gallon, or 3½d. per quart bottle, or 1¾d. the pint bottle. I am not a beer drinker, but I am quite convinced that we ought to consider what is going to happen when we renew our trade relations with Germany.
– And when there is no anti-dumping Bill !
– Quite so. During the war it was freely acknowledged that we had been supplying golden bullets to Germany to fight us, and most of us, I think, said, “Never any more!” I support the amendment of Senator Guthrie because it will not interfere with British beer importations, or place any handicap on our friends across the water, and will, at the same time, put a further check on the importations of German lager beer. Here I might be allowed to say that Beck’s beer is already coming into Australia under another name; and if people insist on drinking it, in the belief that the best beer comes from Germany, the amended duty will make them pay for the privilege, and the revenue will thereby benefit.
– If Beck’s beer ia coining in, it is being illicitly imported.
– As I say, the revenue will bo increased by the importa tion of this lager beer, with some possible relief to the much-harassed taxpayer in other directions.
– Whom will the extra protection benefit if the Excise is not adjusted ?
– I do not call it extra protection; my mind is rather in the direction of. imposing a super-duty on German lager, if people will insist on importing it. If lager beer is not imported, then the beer drinkers here will be thrown back on- British or Australian beer, in the price of which there will be no difference. It seems to me that Senator Russell should have seized with avidity on the suggestion which has been made, so that, in the first place, we may be consistent with regard to our future attitude towards German trade, and, in the second place, benefit the revenue.
– I think the Minister overlooks the fact, when comparing the cost of German lager with Australian lager, that the cost of the bottles largely enters into the question. The cost of a bottle in Germany is about one-third of the cost of manufacturing one in Australia.
– Is there not a duty on bottles?
– There is a small duty. Prior to the war, Germany more or less swamped the market here with* lager beer. The Minister has said that a comparatively small quantity was coming in, but for the year 1913 the importations amounted to 815,000 gallons.
– I said so! I said that German beer was 20 per cent, of the imports.
– Well, we wish the people of Australia to make up that 20 per cent, with Australian and British beer. The prices of beer, if the duty be increased, will not be raised unduly, because there will still be the competition of the British beer, the duty on which it is not proposed to increase. Furthermore, there is local competition, for, as I have said, there are seventy-two breweries in Australia. There is no collusion amongst those breweries, which give a vast amount of employment to bottlemakers, hop-growers, barley-growers, and others, and contribute over £5,000,000 per annum to the Excise revenue. If German and other foreign lagers are excluded, there will be the further advantage that the consumer will be supplied with a less spirituous and purer article than we have ever had from Germany. I cannot see why Senator Russell does not agree, not only with the sentiments expressed, but with the practical argument that the proposed increase is against foreign countries like Germany and Japan. It is of no use saying that lager beer does not come from the latter country. There may not have been much imported lately, but I happen to be connected1 with a company which acted as agents for Japanese lager. The Australian brewing industry is one which might be given the benefit of a little increase in the Tariff with harm to nobody and a good, deal of good in many directions. °
– In my opening remarks I expressed the belief that every member of the Commonwealth Parliament is in full sympathy with the desire to exclude all German and Japanese liquor, and surprise is expressed that I have not immediately accepted the amendment. As I say, I fully favour the exclusion of these foreign beers; but I emphasize the fact that this question has .to be considered. in conjunction “with the Excise Tariff. We have deemed’ it necessary to give a preference of ls.- 9d. in favour of Australian brewers, and the proposal now before us is to give protection to the extent “of another 13. per gallon.
– It is not proposed t> interfere with British preference.
– Of course, if the price of beer were unduly )raised, too doubt the Tariff Board would take a hand. I do not wish for one moment to impute that there is any co-operation between brewers and members of this Parliament; but it is quite clear that the amendment does mean an additional ls. per gallon.
– As against foreign countries, not as against Britain.
– Quite so; but instead of ls. 9d., which we have deemed sufficient protection, it ;is proposed to make the advantage 2s. 9d.
– As against the foreigner.
– That represents a very large ‘percentage increase on the protection which the Government deem sufficient. We have no desire to afford protection beyond what is fair and reasonable - that is, we wish to give sufficient protection to enable the manufacturer to successfully, and more than” successfully, compete with manufacturers overseas.-
– Does the honorable senator not see that the desire is to have an almost prohibitive duty as against German lager? That is all that is intended.
– Quite so; but, at the same time, it adds another ls. to the protection, which amounts to absolute prohibition.
– Without such protection, Germany, with cheap bottles, cheap labour, cheap freight, and in the absence of an anti-dumping measure,, will « still be able to swamp the market.
– Australia is not going to sleep while Germany is developing a trade in cheap beer and cheap freights- Australia must move with the world. If it is proposed to. increase the Excise by ls., for the sake of proportion
– We are not suggesting that.
– If not, it will mean 100 per cent., instead of 75 per cent., in favour of Australian brewers. That would give a still wider margin of protection.
– That is done throughout the Tariff.
– If a duty of 10 per cent, on beer would give fair protection to Australian manufacturers - it would be almost equal to the prohibition of the imported article - we would be saying that, although 10 per cent, is sufficient, we are prepared to make it 25 per cent.
– As regards Germany, there would be no harm.
– But we do not use a sledge hammer to drive in a tack. I am in agreement with honorable senators who desire to prohibit the importation of German beer, and to protect the local manufacturers; but the request goes beyond that. I do not think that the manufacturers in Australia have asked for additional protection.
– The brewers have not asked for any help.
– Under the Tariff we had provided a protection of Is. 9d’., which is fair and reasonable, biit if the’ request is carried the protection of the Australian manufacturer against the foreigner will be increased by Is. . per gallon. If honorable’ senators desire’ to retain- the same margin of protection to the Australianmanufacturer, the Excise- rate would have to be amended. If the Committee agree to the request, I may have to postpone the item’ to enable consideration to be given, to the Excise duties. I believe it is the desire of the Committee to prohibit the importation’ of line German product.
– Then a little higher duty would not do any harm.
– Perhaps not. If additional duties are imposed:, and; the brewers in Australia take advantage of the position,* the rales can’ be considered’ by the Tariff Board’.
-if the’ Board- proves that Australian brewers are charging too much,- the present duties’ can be restored.
– I believe the Board will have power to inquire and make recommendations in connexion with Excise duties, and if the- Committee carry the1 amendment the Excise fates will have to be reconsidered.
– If the request is adopted, I fail to see how it will be the means Of increasing the price of Australian beer. It does not offer any protection to fhe local brewer, arid; all it will do is to practically prohibit all’ importations under this heading excepi from Great Britain. I cannot see any relation between the’ request and Excise duties, arid if it is carried I do hot think if will fee necessary to review the Excise duties, because the position will be practically the same as at present, except that importations front certain countries will in all probability be excluded’.
.- I intend1 to support the- request. I under- stand that at present German beer is- not noing imported into Australia.
– Senator Pratten liaid that it is coming in under another name.
– That is only recently. Supplies were not received’ dur ing” the war,, andI do not think- Australian brewers took advantage of the situation by then increasing their prices. If we were proposing in this request to niake a general increase in the duties- on imported beer, I could understand the Minister’s objection because we would be giving additional protection to the localproduct. British beer, which’ constitutes the’ great- bulk- of- the irivporfcations,- will- be coming- in at the same dutynd as the Australian- beer, in conjunction with supplies from Great Britain, will beable to meet the local demand, there Will be no opportunity to increase prices. If some people must have German beer, they’ should be prepared to- pay a little more in order to satisfy their taste. I support the request.
Amendment agreed to.
Request,as amended, agreed to.
Request (by Senator Guthrie) agreed to- -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty,, sub-item (b) (general)’,6s.
Item agreedto, subject to requests.
Item 2 (Ale, &c, non-spirituous) agreed to.
Item 3 -
When not exceeding the strength of proof, …. per gallon, British, 30s.; intermediate, 30s.; general, 31s.
– I move-
That the- Bouse of Representatives be requested to make’ the duty, sub-item (a), paragraph (i), general, 33s.
I propose also to move for. an increase in the duty under the general Tariff to 33s. Australian brandy is under Excise supervision from the date of the conversion of the wine into brandy until it is two years old in wood, and the Excise on it is 26s. per proof gallon on brandy distilled from grape wine- under 40 degrees over.proof, and 27s. when the brandy is distilled at over 40 degrees overproof; hut this overproof brandy must contain at least 25- per cent, of the pot-still product, and the total of it mu’st he aged oyer two years in wood. In the case of French brandy there is no limit as to the strength of distillation, and the whole of it could be distilled at over 40 degrees overproof, and pay, 31s. per proof gallon Customs Tariff.
It will thus be seen that the actual preference given- to Australian brandy is only 4s> per proof gallon; and even then the local article must have at least 25 per cent, of pot-still spirit in it. ‘Before the Var the Excise on brandy was 10s. per proof gallon on the pot still, and lis. ‘on blended, while the duty on imported brandy was 14s. From a percentage point of view, therefore, the protection has been very materially reduced, and those connected with the brandy industry of Australia are of opinion that the import duty should be at least 33s. per proof gallon under the general- Tariff. One very material factor that more than does away with the entire preference now being given is the want of security as regards the purity and age of the imported article, whether it comes from France, Spain, or any other brandy-producing country: Under the Spirits Act,, brandy is described as an article which moist be derived from grape wine, and nothing but such distillation may be sold as1 brandy in- Australia. Another provision- states that the purity and age of imported, spirits must be vouched for by an official in the country of origin’ as- having been distilled wholly from grape wine. As a matter of fact, brandy is admitted from France on the ‘ certificate of the mayor of the local town. How can- the- local mayor know that brandy has been kept in wood for two years a3 our brandy must be kept ? He is probably simply handed a paper and asked to sign it, and very likely he may affix his signature without looking at the document, or without’ taking the’ trouble to ascertain that the brandy has been kept two years in1 wood. I am informed by authorities in Australia that brandy imported from France has been’ described aS having been kept for two ‘ years , in wood, although chemists and experts have declared that it was absolutely impossible for it to have been sa kept for such a period. This matter affects very materially a big industry in- South, Australia, and in; practically all the southern States of the Commonwealth. We have ‘ in South Australia 760 returned soldiers settled on the River Murray. They grow a great many Bora Dilla grapes, which are used for making wine for distillation into brandy ; and if we do not take care their industry will be ruined by the competition of inferior and worthless spirit imported from France.
– I am disposed to support the views of Senator Benny, for the reasons he has so well set out.. There seems to be a little discrepancy in the spirit duties; and seeing that during the last decade the manufacture of. Australian brandy has been brought up to a very good standard, and having some knowledge of the loose manner in which certificates- can be obtained outside Australia, and of the very strict way in which our Excise regulations are enforced, I think the honorable senator has made out a very good case. Our dried fruit, vine, and subsidiary industries are becoming increasingly important, and medical authorities have informed me that there is no necessity whatever for Australia to import a drop of” brandy. One could also emphasize the aspect of the employment this industry affords to returned soldiers and others, and the development it has attained in South Australia and Victoria, but it is hardly necessary to do so. I support the request.
..’ - I hope that the request will not . be agreed to. All brandy made in- Australia must be made from pure grape spirit^ and! manufactured under certain conditions. Imported brandy which does not comply with the standard fixed for Australian brandy is charged- 43s. per gallon. . Thus, imported brandy is penalized if it is not of the purity of Australian brandy, and made under similar conditions. Brandy which complies with Australian “ conditions is, on the certificate of the Consul of the country of origin, admitted on payment of 30s. per gallon.
– French brandy said to have been two years’ in. the wood has been sold in Sydney for 5s- a gallon, but such, spirit could not be grape brandy-
– I do- not know anything about that; .but we are of opinion that the difference of duty in favour’ of Australian brandy is sufficient for the protection of the industry.
– The Federal Council of Viticulture say that the refusal of a higher duty will mean the ruin of the industry.
– I should like proof of that. Many requests are made which cannot be justified.
– The object of these people is to keep Australia supplied with pure spirit. i . ae,q
– The Department, having given the matter full consideration, and being actuated by the desire to protect the Australian makers of brandy, is of opinion that the protection now given is adequate.
– I wish to draw attention to the difference between the British and Australian legislation governing the consumption of imported spirit, and my remarks will probably support the contention of Senator Benny that immature spirit comes to Australia from overseas. I am informed, on undoubted authority, that the facts which I shall relate apply to whisky, and I assume that the Excise laws aud regulations governing the importation and distribution of whisky apply also to brandy. Australia does a large export trade in whisky to Great Britain, and in the last financial year exported over i200,000 gallons of proof whisky, mostly to Scotland; Much of this whisky, I believe, returns to us as good old Scotch whisky. Now, -the Imperial Immature Spirits Act, which was passed during the year, and is still in force - and I do not think is likely to bc repealed - prohibits the liberation for consumption in Great Britain of whisky of British origin and of imported whisky unless it is proved to have been stored in wood for at least three years. However we may view the liquor traffic, and I view it from the stand-point’ of temperance, we must admit that if persons will drink spirits, the provision which I have mentioned must be beneficial to the public health. The Commonwealth Spirits Act requires that spirit sold for consumption, whether made in Australia or imported, id usb be not less than two years old. Thus, all . spirits consumed in Great Britain, including that imported from Australia, must have been three years in the wood before it can be consumed^ although spirit sent here from France and elsewhere need be only two years old to enter into competition with the locallymade article. Naturally, French brandy makers would prefer to send their spirit to Australia, where it can be sold when only two years old, to sending it to Great Britain where it must be three years old, and thus we must get a large quantity of immature spirit from overseas. However, as this matter appertains more to the subject of Excise, I shall defer ‘ any extended remarks upon it until the Committee is dealing with the Excise schedule; but I trust that the Minister will note what I have said.
– At one time the definition of the quality of spirits was not a.s complete as it might have .been, but nowadays there -.are standards of quality laid down for whisky, brandy, and rum. Brandy that does not comply with the Australian standard - that is not pure grape brandy made under certain conditions - is dutiable when not exceeding the strength of proof at 43s. a gallon; but brandy of the Australian standard, which has been made under conditions similar to those applying in Australia, is dutiable at 30s. a gallon. Most of the imported brandy pays 40s. a gallon under sub-item g.
– But the Department is content with the certificate of a French mayor as to compliance with Australian conditions.
– That has been the case.
– We are now making a very definite attempt to encourage Australian industries, and we are making sure that the certificates are what they should be.
– -Why not raise the duty to insure that the proper standard will be observed?
– Sub-item g refers to “other” spirit.
– It applies to imported brandy which does not comply with Australian conditions - that is, which is not pure grape brandy.
– What about the maturity of the imported spirit?
– It must be at least two years old.
– I think that subitemG must apply, to other kinds of spirit than brandy, whisky, gin, and rum.
– My statement was quite correct. Brandy that does not comply with the Australian standard - that has not been manufactured under conditions similar to those enforced in Australia, and has not been matured for two years - is dutiable at 43s. a gallon.
Item agreed to.
Item 4 (Amylic alcohol and fusel oil), item 5 (Collodion), and item 6 (Wood naphtha, &c), agreed to.
Item 7 (Bay rum).
– I am at present disposed to ask the Committee to take certain action in connexion with item 8, and before item 7 is passed I should like to know whether the action taken in connexion with the next item is likely to affect item 7.
– I intend to ask the Committee to postpone item 8, with a view to further inquiry, and any item incidentally affected as theresult of that inquiry will be given further consideration.
– What will happen should item 7 be agreed to if it is affected by what may be done later in dealing with item 8?
– In that event item 7 will also be reconsidered.
Item agreed to.
Item 8 (Perfumed spirits), and item . 9 (Spirituous preparations), postponed.
Ethers and Chloroform, viz.: -
Ethyl chloride, spirituous or nonspirituous, per fluid oz., British,1s. 3d.; intermediate,1s.9d.; general, 2s.
– I should like the Minister to give some attention to sub-item d of item 10, covering ethyl chloride. I have received a circular pointing out that the duty under the old Tariff on kelene, which is the purest known form of ethyl chloride, was 5 per cent, ad valorem, and under this Tariff is 2s. per fluid ounce. This represents an increase, varying on the different standard sizes imported, of from 1,666 per cent, to 9,300 per cent. That seems to me to be a most extraordinary increase. The circular says -
Taking a concrete example, the size most largely used by the hospitals and charitable institutions is the 100 cc. tube. Our principals, the Societe Chimique desUsines du Rhone, of Paris, recognised this, and in order that the hospitals should get the kelene at the lowest possible price, always invoiced the 100 cc. at a much lower price proportionately than the other sizes, enabling us to supply hospitals under the old Tariff at 2s.8d. per tube before the war to 3s. per tube during the war. Under this new Tariff we could not now supply hospitals at less than11s. per tube. . . . Since kelene, which is the purest known form of ethyl chloride, was introduced into Australia some seven years ago, it has been used in hundreds of thousands of cases without a single accident, this immunity being due to its absolute, purity. By all who use it the increase in duty is considered to- be quite unwarranted, and, in any case, the enormous duty charged on a special drug used to alleviate suffering, and the use of which should be made as cheap as possible, seems altogether wrong.
To sum up, the duty on 100 cc. kelene under the old Tariff was 5 per cent, ad valorem, or 1d. per tube. Under the new Tariff, the duty is 2s. per fluid ounce, or 7s. 9d. per tube, an increase in duty of 9,300 per cent.
If the statements appearing in this circular are correct, we would appear to be running Protection mad in connexion with this particular item. I am astrong advocate of Protection, but it does seem to me that the local manufacturer of kelene should be able to get along with a much smaller increase of duty than that which I have quoted.
– I am very pleased that Senator Elliott has brought this matter under the notice of the Committee. We must, in adjusting the Tariff, see to it that we shall not place a heavy burden on those who are so unfortunate as to require special remedies to secure their restoration to health. I am not in a position to move a request for an alteration of the duty proposed, but I suggest that this item should be postponed in order that a full inquiry may be made into the position as stated by Senator Elliott and myself. I am not able to estimate the value of my authority; but, from the information I have received, kelene, under the old duty, was supplied to the hospitals at 2s. 6d. per tube prior to the war, and during the period of the war, owing to the good offices of those supplying it, the price was increased to only 3s. per tube, while under the new Tariff it is asserted that the article cannot be supplied to hospitals to-day at less than lis. per tube. Our hospitals are doing very fine work, in which it should be our pleasure to assist as much as possible. Although it is admitted that kelene is being manufactured locally, it is stated that the local manufacturers supply only the one size to the hospitals, and 200 per cent, more has to be paid for it than was previously paid. We should ask ourselves whether it is reasonable to give such a large measure of protection as will practically prohibit the importation of a ,drug which, if imported at a reasonable duty, can be supplied at a moderate price for the benefit of suffering humanity, while the protection proposed will serve only to build up an industry which at most can employ but very few people. In common with Senator Elliott, I have received the information that since kelene was introduced into Australia seven years ago, it has been used in hundreds of thousands of cases, and in every case the purity of the drug has been proved by the fact that not a single accident has been caused by its use. If this be a fact, it should be sufficient to induce the Minister to agree to a postponement of the item with a view to considering whether the great increase in the duty is justified. Unless the Minister is in a position to refute the statements which have been made, sub-item d of item 10 certainly requires further consideration.
– Prom the point of view of pounds, shillings, and pence this is not ari important matter ; but it affects a very vital principle in connexion with the development of Australia. Ethyl-chloride is an anesthetic. It is vitally necessary that we should manufacture our own anaesthetics . in Australia. For this reason their manufacture must be regarded as a key industry, and we should hesitate very much to do anything which would be likely to destroy at least two infant industries established during ?he war, when, but for their operations, Australia would have been short of supplies of anaesthetics.
– And the local manufacturers have sold the drug more cheaply than the imported article.
– I strongly urge upon the Committee, for the reasons I have mentioned, considerable hesitation about altering the proposals of the Government in this regard. With all respect to Senator Elliott, I will go so far as to say that, from .information I have received, the whole of the statements in the circular from which he quoted are not true.
– They are admitted to be true by those opposed to my contention.
- Senator Elliott quoted from a letter signed by an importer of this particular anaesthetic, and I want to say deliberately that so far as my information is concerned, the whole of the statements in that letter are not true.
– I have the opponents’ statement basing their case on the figures I have given to the Committee.
– During the war the particular article which competes with the locally-made article covered by this item of the Tariff could not be obtained. The local manufacturer charged for it 8s. per container, and various allowances made brought the price down to 7s. 6d. The Tariff now under consideration has been in operation for one and a-quarter years, and this anaesthetic was supplied by the local manufacturer during the longest period of the war and since to the Prince Alfred Hospital, in Sydney; the Children’s Hospital, -Sydney; the Sydney Hospital; the Alfred Hospital, Melbourne; the Children’s Hospital, Melbourne; the Eye and Ear Hospital, Melbourne; the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, Melbourne; arid the Melbourne Hospital, at 7s. 6d. per container, net. Whether that is a fair price or not, I frankly admit that I do not know. But what I do know is that as the result of the establishment of this industry in Australia, the hospitals in this country were placed in a position to secure supplies of this anaesthetic when but for the establishment of the industry it could not have been secured at all.
– Were they getting all the supplies they required from the local factories ?
– This anaesthetic was being supplied, and is being supplied, to these hospitals. Whether or not the whole of their supplies are being drawn from these factories, I cannot say, but I am informed on the most credible authority that had these factories not been in existence, Australia would have been short of anaesthetics during the war.
– It was short.
– This is a key industry that must be fairly considered. During the war, the factory I have mentioned supplied this anaesthetic at 7s. 6d. per container, net.
– What is the size of the container?
– In trade parlance, it is 100 cc. Whether or not 7s. 6d. was an abnormal charge, I cannot say, but the fact remains that, by virtue of this factory being in existence, the anaesthetic was obtainable. I admit frankly that, owing to the increase of prices generally, including the prices of ingredients, the factory has raised its charge to 9s. per container, since this Tariff was imposed. I do not know whether that increase is right or wrong. A fluid ounce of anaesthetic is sufficient for more than one operation. I cannot say whether it would average three, four, or six operations, but, assuming that the ounce suffices for four operations, the duty will increase the cost of each operation by 3¾d. We have to ask ourselves whether it is worth while to nurse these little industries in the hope that they will develop into something bigger, and produce their article more cheaply, or whether we should relieve every surgeon and doctor who operates of the extra 3d. per operation for his anaesthetic.
– The actual increase is 2½d. per operation. The local article is to-day cheaper than the imported article.
– I submit that for the sake of continuing this key industry, and allowing it to develop in the direction of displacing a lot of drugs which were formerly imported from Germany, it will be worth while to bear the increase of 2½d. in the cost of each operation.
– I was at first rather staggered by the report read to the Committee by Senator Elliott, but I have had an op portunity of considering this matter from the other side. Upon two points we are all agreed; firstly, that the, hospitals must be served as cheaply as possible; and, secondly, that we should obtain our supplies locally, because, during the war, we narrowly escaped being without anaesthetics. Ethyl chloride is now selling at 3s. 9d. per oz. An operation takes on the average one-sixth of an ounce. The duty is1s. 3d. per oz., which is equal to 2½d. per operation. I am president of a large hospital, and have discussed this matter with the chairman of the Melbourne Hospital, and I do not think the hospitals object to that extra charge. We are getting an excellent drug, quite equal to the imported article, andsome of the hospitals use nothing but the local anaesthetic. Having had a conversation with members of the hospital supply board, and others, I do not think there is any objection to the duty. The only danger is that if the foreign article is excluded, the local manufacturer may raise his prices considerably. If that is done, we shall have to take action. The manufacturers must make a decent profit, but we do not wish them to make unreasonable profit out of the manufacture of supplies for the hospitals. I do not think that there is any danger that this duty will seriously embarrass our medical institutions.
Item agreed to.
Item 11 (Amyl acetate and ethyl acetate), item 12 (Sparkling wine), item 13 (Still wine), item 14 (Grape wine), and item 15 (Wine, n.e.i.) agreed’ to.
Item 16 -
Lime juice . . . (a)In bulk, per gallon, British,1s. 3d.; intermediate,1s. 6d. ; general,1s. 6d.
– The duties under the former Tariff on lime juice and other fruit juices were 9d. per gallon in bulk and1s. 6d. per gallon in bottle. In this schedule the duty on juices in bulk has been increased by 6d., and on juices in bottle by 6d. I think that the increase on juices imported in bottle is not relatively big enough. The competition from overseas is practically all by juices in bottle.; I doubt if any fruit juice is imported in bulk, ex- cept lime juice, which, is not produced in Australia.
– The greater proportion of our lime juice comes from Norfolk Island, and is admitted free.
– Having regard to the extraordinary increase in the prices of bottles and packages in Australia, the duty upon juices imported in bottles is not relatively high enough. I submit that the duty on bottled juices should be increased in the same ratio as has been the duty on juices in bulk. I suggest that the preferential duty on juices in bottles should be, say, 2s. 3d., and the intermediate and general duties 2s. 6d. per gallon.
.- Senator Pratten has overlooked one important fact, namely, the additional natural protection afforded in respect of juices imported in bottles by reason of the higher cost of freight, packing, and other charges. Those charges upon juices imported in bottles would be quite double the charges on juices imported in bulk, and, having regard to that fact, the increase of duty upon the bottled article is proportionately equal to the increase of duty upon the goods imported in bulk. That fact must be obvious to everybody, and it is one which should be taken into consideration. The Government have been actuated by a desire to impose upon lime juice as fair a duty as is possible, bearing in mind the different classes of packages in which it arrives from overseas. It would take many cases of bottled lime juice to equal in bulk a hogshead of the juice. . The freight upon an equal quantity of lime juice in bottles would be quite double that which is charged upon juice imported in bulk. The ordinary bottles contain a reputed quart. Upon reconsideration, the honorable senator will, I think, admit that the duties proposed upon this item are relatively fair ones.
.- Under the previous Tariff the duty upon lime juice and other fruit juices was 9d. per gallon iu bulk and ls. 6d. per gallon in bottles. I do not know why a departure has been made from that ratio. It seems to ine that it has created a slight anomaly here. Probably the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator
Russell) can offer some explanation of it. We certainly ought to encourage the bottle-making industry in Australia, and to provide employment for our people in connexion with the corking, labelling, and capsuling of bottles. If the duties imposed under the previous Tariff were satisfactory, I cannot understand why the Government have departed from the ratio which then existed.
– This is one item upon which we shall have to be particularly careful lest we discourage the bottling industry in Australia by the imposition of duties which, relatively speaking, are not fair ones. Without going into details, I may say that the present duty upon 100 dozen of lime or lemon juice consisting of 26- ounce reputed quart bottles, if all the materials are imported and the juice is bottled in Australia, amounts to £24 17s. ; whereas the duty upon 100 dozen bottles of lime or lemon juice, packed and finished abroad, represents only £21 13s. 4d. Thus we have the anomaly of an imported article, bottled overseas, being admitted at a lower price than it would be charged if bottled here. Is that fair? I think that the Minister might well agree to a slight increase in the duty upon bottled fruit juices. There are a considerable number of persons who grow lemons in Australia, and a big trade has grown up locally in lime juice and lemon squash, as well as a small export trade. I hope that the Minister will meet me in respect of an increased duty upon bottled fruit juices.
– Senator Pratten has complained that the duties proposed upon fruit juices imported in bottles will penalize the local product.
– The duty upon fruit juices imported in bottles is not high enough as compared with the duty upon fruit juices imported in bulk.
– The proof of the pudding is in the eating of it. The existing duty has been so effective that there is no need to increase it, inasmuch as the greater proportion of the lemon juice imported, is imported in bulk. That fact goes to show that the duties previously operating weresufficiently high to keep out fruitjuices in bottles. Consequently, we are not preserving the ratio . which formerly existed between those duties. It is not necessary to do so to achieve the object which Senator Pratten has in view.
– May I point out to the Minister that when the duties upon lime juice and other fruit juices were lower than they are to-day, considerably lower duties were being collected upon packages.
– The honorable senator is forgetting that there is a duty of 7d. per dozen upon the bottles. That is why fruit juices are imported in bulk.
– - I have already said that the duty upon 100 dozen bottles of lime juice, packed abroad and imported, amounts to £21 13s. 4d. That sum is made up as follows: - A hundred dozen bottles are equal to 200 gallons, and, under the British preferential Tariff, a duty of 2s. per gallon upon that quantity would represent £20. The duty upon 81/3 gross of the bottles, under item 253 of the Tariff, at 4s. per gross, would make the total duty payable upon the articles in question, £21 13s. 4d. I do not think that leaden capsules are made complete in this country - at least in any quantity.
– They are made here very largely, and so also are labels.
– Not the particular capsules to which I am alluding. Cork has also to be imported, and so has wrapping paper.
– We can make it locally.
– Not the thin tissue wrapping-paper.
– That is admitted free of duty.
– Item 334 of the Tariff does not bear out the Minister’s statement.
– Capsules are admitted free.
– But I was talking of wrapping paper when my honorable friendinterjected.
– And I was referring to capsules.
– I think that I have proved to my honorable friend that there is a discrepancy herewhich could be remedied. I ask the Minister to consent to an increased duty of 3d. per gallon upon fruit juices imported in bulk, otherwise there will he no protection to a local manufacturer.
.- I understand that Senator Pratten desires an increase of the duty upon lime juice and other fruit juices in bottles to 2s. 3d. per gallon. He is anxious to secure a scientific Tariff, so far as these particular commodities are concerned. But if he will carefully analyze the position he will find that we have . already secured such a Tariff. He claims that if there be a duty of1s. 3d. per gallon upon fruit juices imported in bulk, there should be a duty of 2s. 3d. per gallon upon fruit juices imported in bottles. He has admitted that there is a duty upon the bottles, and if he will calculate the contents of each bottle he will find that the actual duty imposed upon bottled fruit juices is 2s. 3d. per gallon, which is exactly what he is asking.
– How can the honorable senator: say that, when the Customs authorities themselves compute six bottles to a gallon?
– The honorable senator knows that there is a duty of 7d. per. dozen upon the bottles. He is also aware that the contents of a bottle of lime juice averages l1/2 pints’, so that the duty works out at about 3d. per gallon. Under this schedule there is a duty imposed upon fruit juices in bottles of 2s. 3d. per gallon, which exactly meets his contention.
– The amount of protection which it is proposed to extend to lime juice and other fruit juices is altogether too low. Throughout the schedule I find that the protection extended to tropical products is not anything like so large as the protection accorded to the products of the temperate parts of Australia.. This afternoon, we agreed to a duty of 3s. per gallon upon grape wine, unfermented, which is simply grape juice. I can see no reason why the duty upon lime juice should not be at least as high asthat upon grape juice.
– My argument referred only to the relativeness of the two duties, and not to the amount of them.
– I know that. I quite recognise that sugar is a tropicalproduct, and I only wish that the measure of protection which has been extended to that industry was comparable to that which has been accorded to many of the products of the southern portion of this continent.
.. - I would point out to the Committee that the protection hitherto operating has been very effective, as shown’ by the fact that in 1920 we actually exported 100,000 gallons of fruit juices. The figures quoted bySenator Pratten are very interesting, but are based on the assumption that the manufacturer of fruit juices here has to import his bottles and wrappings. As a matter of fact, bottles and tissue paper are made in Australia, and corks also are cut here,so that the local manufacturer of fruit juices is not called upon to pay shipping freights and duties in respect of those items.
– Can the honorable senator say whether any lime juice was exported in 1920’?
– The Customs returns group all fruit juices under the one general heading. Out of a total of 90,427 gallons of fruit juices imported into Australia last year, Norfolk Island supplied 22,127 gallons. The agreement under which we took over Norfolk Island provides for lime juice from that country entering Australia free of duty. Norfolk Island is the largest exporter of fruit juices to the Commonwealth.
– I am not prepared to accept any assertion to the effect that we are not- importing at least lime juice into Australia. Considerable quantities of the well-known brand of Montserrat lime juice and limejuice cordials were imported before the war; but I do not know whether they are still coming in. Norfolk Island is not the only country that exports- fruit juicesto Australia.
– Our imports last year included 79,330 gallons in bulk, and8,906 gallons in bottles. Out of that total Norfolk Island last year supplied us with 22,127 gallons.
– In other words, of our total importations of fruit juices approximately 25 per cent, come from Norfolk Island. As Senator Crawford says, we can grow practically everything in Australia,, and surely the local production of the fruit juices , now imported from countries other than Norfolk Island would be worth something to the lemon, lime, and raspberry growers of Australia.
– Lemon-growing does not pay to-day.
– That is so; and I shall have something to say on that subject when the duty relating to lemon peel is before us. There are two points to be considered. The first, raised by Senator Crawford, is that we should increase the duties on fruit juices in bulk and in bottle, and the other is that the relative difference as between the duties on bulk and bottled fruit juices should be fairer. If Senator Crawford is not prepared to move a request for an increased duty I shall do so.
– I will leave it to my honorable friend.
– Then, to begin with, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, ' sub-item (a) - British,1s: 6d.; intermediate,1s. 9d.; general, 1s.9d'.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Pratten) proposed -
That the. House of. Representatives be requested, to make the duties, sub-item- . (b), per gallon. British, 2s.6d.; intermediate, 2s. 9d.; general, 2s. 9d.
– Honorable senators have raised a plaintive appeal that the bulkrates should not be interfered with. Upon the heels of that request an effort was made to secure proportionate increases.
– To which the Minister was adamant.
– The honorable senator makes a mistake in assuming that all these juices and syrups have been imported.
– What about limejuice ?
– Limes are being grown in this country to a markedly increased extent, and the industry is being steadily builtup. The request of the honorable senator is immoderate.
.- Senator Pratten has adopted the attitude of a Protectionist gone mad. Earlier this afternoon he made no reference to any injustice being shown to Australian fruitgrowers by the importation of fruit juice in bulk, but he proposed an increase of 3d. per gallon. Having succeeded, he is now . asking for a double increase upon importations in bottle. Surely sufficient protection is already provided by the rates in the schedule! It should not be lost sight of, either, that thereis considerable natural protection by way of freight and other charges. When Senator Pratten attempts to place wine in the same category as fruit juice, hesays to the public, in effect, “ You shall be penalized and made to pay the same proportionately, by way of duty, for fruit juice as for wine.”
– What is the use of ranting like that when the honorable senator knows that we produce out own wine?
– The trouble with the honorable senator is that, having secured an inch, he is now trying to take a yard.
– We can produce all the fruit juice we need in this country.
– I believe we can. But why go to this extreme of protection ?
– The Committee should be as keen upon Australia producing its own requirements of fruit juice as any other product or commodity. Thiscountry grows as fine a sample of raspberry . and strawberry as is raised anywhere; but, in connexion with the growing of raspberries, in particular, there has recently been difficulty in finding a profitable market. If a moderate duty is imposed upon fruit juices it should encourage manufacturers to buy such fruits as raspberries and strawberries. “ Thus a market would be created, which would be infinitely better, of course, than that those fruits should go to waste for lack of demand. If the request errs at all it is on the side of moderation. The same duty should be imposed on fruit juices generally as upon grape juice.
– I am inclined to agree with the opinion of Senator Payne that, some honorable senators are going Protection-mad. Under the 1914 schedule the duty on fruit juice, in bulk, was 9d. ‘per gallon. It is now proposed to raise the rate to 2s. 6d. - a disproportionate and altogether inordinate increase, particularly in view of the fact that there has been some export of this product. I have to complain again that the Committee has not been supplied with the information to which it is entitled, and which it requires in order to deal justly with the schedule. Honorable senators are working in the dark in their efforts to decide what may be fair rates to impose, while remembering, as they should, the interests both of the manufacturer and of the consumer. Practically all the information at my hand is contained in a book which, although it bears the imprimatur of the Government, has been compiled, it would seem, by one, Ambrose Pratt, who may evidently be ranked among the “ gone-mad “ Protectionists. This Committee has nothing like the same range of information as was provided fourteen years ago. When the Tariff was being considered in those days full particulars were given concerning the previous rates. The existing duties were, of course, set out; and, side by side with them., the recommendations of the Royal Commission which had been diligently inquiring into the whole subject. Further, the country of export was indicated, and the values of the various importations were all provided. Honorable senators can only hope, in the present circumstances, to make the best of a bad job. I shall not support the proposed request. I have some incomplete information before me to the effect that in 1908-the Tariff then being 9d. per gallon - there was imported 43,468 gallons of fruit juice; the duty paid amounted to £1,664. It is ‘ unfortunate that no information should be available concerning later years. The position has been reversed in the thirteen years between 1908 and 1921. From being importers of lime-juice in 1908, we have become exporters, yet Senator Pratten has just succeeded in putting a 70 per cent, increase of duty upon a commodity which we are exporting.
– We are still importing it.
– As with other articles, w© may be both importing and exporting, but I should like the Minister to state the net position as between imports and exports.
– The duty has been just doubled since 1914.
– Senator Pratten’s proposal means a protection of 70 per cent.
– But it is an increase of 100 per cent, upon the 1914 rate. We are getting fiscally drunk as far as giving fair protection is concerned. We are starting off in a way that will satisfy the blind enthusiasts on one side, but we may have to sober up before our course is run. If the net position is that we are exporting, Senator Pratten’s proposal is not warranted. The Government are inexcusably lacking in their duty in not giving the Committee full information about imports and exports.
– Will the Minister say what the export position really is regarding fruit juices? I assert with confidence that there is no considerable export of them from Australia.
– One hundred thousand gallons.
– I do not want the Minister for Defence to confuse fruit juices with fruit pulp. I am referring to lime, lemon, or raspberry juices.
– How much did we import ?
– Eighty thousand gallons.
– We exported in 1919-20, of fruit juices and fruit syrups containing not more than 2 per cent, of proof spirit, a total of 99,678 gallons.
– I say, without hesitation, that there was no considerable exportation of lime juice, lemon juice, or raspberry juice from Australia last year. If the figures quoted by the Minister are correct, the export must have consisted of grape juice, or something of that sort. I believe honorable senators would like to do something for the lime, lemon, and raspberry growers of Australia.
– What other fruit juice is there which is not included in that item?
– Very little. We imported last year 20,000 gallons of fruit juices from Norfolk Island^ and 60,000 gallons from other countries across the water. Our imports of fruit juices, on those figures, are bigger than they have ever been before. I have a publication which states the importation for the previous year at 38,000 gallons. The Committee has agreed to a request for an increase in the duty on fruit juices in bulk from ls. 3d. to ls. 6d. per gallon in the British rate, and from ls. 6d. to ls. 9d. in the other columns. My proposal is now to bring the duties on bottled fruit juices into reasonable conformity with those rates by raising them from 2s. to 2s. 6d. in the British column, and from 2s. 3d. to 2s. 9d. in the other two columns. That will preserve a fair balance, and I claim Senator Payne’s vote for it. He twitted me with asking for 3d., and said I .was inconsistent in asking for 6d. on bottled juices. Since I asked for 3d., the Committee has agreed to request an increase of 3d. in the duty on bulk juices. I hope the Committee will agree to my request, as a protection to the packers and to the manufacturers of mineral waters and syrups in Australia.
Question - That the request (Senator Pratten’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Item agreedto, subject to requests.
Item: 17 (Table waters), item 18 (Tobacco unmanufactured), item 19 (Tobacco for local manufacture), item 20 (Tobacco cut n.e.i.), agreed to.
Item 21 (Tobacco manufactured n.e.i., including weight of tags, &c).
– I do not propose to move any amendment to the tobacco duties, but-
– Then why not sit down ?
– If the honorable senator will allow me, I shall . explain. It is pretty well known that the manufacture of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes in Australia is in the hands of one firm or organization. I am not displeased that a Tariff Board will be established, because, perhaps, Parliament will at last be able to obtain some reasonable and fair information with regard to the incidence of the ad valorem and other duties on imported tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes.
– That is one of the big organizations which will bo able to successfully defy the Tariff Board.
– It was for that reason, I should like to inform Senator Lynch, that I rose to make one or two remarks. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that I may return to the subject at some future time.
Item agreed to.
Cigarettes . . . per lb.’, British,11s. 6d.; intermediate, 12s.; general, 12s.
– This item calls for special comment. It is proposed to make a very respectable increase in the duty on cigarettes; but I am somewhat surprised that Senator Pratten does not try to induce the Government to “ go one better “ with some extra duty.
– You mean the Excise?
– I mean both duties. It is well within the knowledge of us all that the use of cigarettes by the youth of this country is a dangerous development. We have only to look around when we walk abroad in any of our thoroughfares to see boys of nine or ten, or even younger, ‘investing in cigarettes the moment they can scrape a few coppers together. This practice of smoking, of course, stunts their growth, and makes it impossible for them to grow up to be proper men. In my opinion,the time has come when we should take the lesson to heart, and, if we cannot stop this practice on the part of these youngsters, at least make it as difficult as possible.
– That would mean a tax on the lady smokers as well I
– My sympathy for women smokers is very scanty. Whenever I see one smoking, I think she has deserted her womanly instincts. I can understand the old women in Ireland,, and, I suppose, elsewhere in the British Isles, in the olden days resorting to the “ dudeen “ in order to satisfy a physical necessity, and as a positive comfort; but when I see, on steamers and in other public places, pasty-faced women smoking cigarettes, I really think that - well, I shall say no more. It is conceded by our medical faculty, and confirmed by our own observation, that cigarette smoking, particularly amongst the young, has farreaching and damaging effects, and my desire is to do everything possible to prevent it. According to the scanty information supplied to us by the Government, it appears that tobacco, unmanufactured, in the 1908-11 Tariff, was subject to a duty of 3s. 6d., which in 1914 was increased to 4s. 8d., and, by the Tariff before us, to 5s. 4d. The Excise duty for the corresponding thirteen years was1s. in 1908-11,1s. 8d. in 1914, and, under the present Tariff, 2s. 4d. The net protection to the manufacturers of this tobacco was 2s. 6d. in 1908-11 ; 3s. in 1914,. and 3s. under the present Tariff, showing an inclination on. the part, of the Government to increase; that protection , by only 6d. over that period. That is to say, as the; import, duty kept increasing, so did the- Excise: duty. In the case of cigarettes, theuse of which I wish to remorselessly put down, the duty in 1908 was 6s. 6d.; in 1914 it was 10s. 6d.; and, under the present Tariff, it is11s. 6d. and 12s.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I was. directing, attention- to what I. conceived to be the injurious effects of cigarette smoking, particularly among the. youths of the community, and, if the. statements of some honorable senators are correct, also among certain adults of both, sexes. I desire to emphasize the fact that unless those who have the welfare of the. youths of this- country at heart unite in- an endeavour, to prevent, young people being supplied with cigarettes, little good will result. There is hardly an honorable senator who has not seen at some time or other, particularly in. our public thoroughfares and reserves where youngsters congregate, young people smoking cigarettes: Although we. cannot absolutely prohibit the use of cigarettes,, it is our duty, as senators charged with the framing of legislation, to make it as difficult as possible for young, people to obtain, them, in the hope that they may be gradually weaned from an injurious habit. I have already said that during the- last thirteen- years no special effort has been made -by Parliament to- discourage their use.
– Would it not be better to make it illegal for any one to sell them to a person under age ?
– There are many remedies that might be suggested; but this is the opportunity’ for us to do something on our own account ; and, although my proposition might not be entirely effective, it is a remedy on the principle that when- an article is difficult to obtain it is somewhat sparingly used. I desire- by means of the Tariff to make the price of cigarettes so high that youngsters will be compelled, if they consume them at all, to use them in limited quantities. While we should have a jealous, regard for our responsibilities as senators, that responsibility is reinforced when our action can to a. great extent alter and improve the habits of our young people. I submit that this remedy might not be altogether effective, but it would make cigarettes so expensive . that, consumers would have to curtail the practice and alter their tastes, which would have a corresponding effect upon the health and stamina of our young men and women.
– Will it not be necessary for the honorable senator to submit a request, concerning a previous item?
– Perhaps so. This commodity has received very little consideration, as is shown by the fact that since the period 1908-1911. to the introduction of this Tariff the increase in the protection given in the case of cigarettes has been 9d., whereas in the case of tobacco, it has been 6d. perlb. The difference between the import duty and Excise duty constitutes the. protection given to the manufacturers, and the encouragement or discouragement in the use of this commodity as far as theFederal Parliament is concerned has remained neutral.
– Does, the honorable senator think that Parliament has remained neutral when a duty of11s. 6d. per lb. is imposed?
– Yes, in view of the increases- that have’ been made in other directions. During the afternoon the Committee has been discussing the duties on ales, spirits, and beverages, and, as a result of a request submitted by Senator Guthrie, the House of Representatives is to be asked to increase the duties by 200 per cent. If we go back to- the period 1908-1911, and. institute a comparison with the dutiesprevailing at that time, there is an increase on those articles of 600 per cent; These increased duties have been suggested for the special purpose . of encouraging the production of beer and ale in this country.
– No, in order to keep out the German product.
– Will not. that have the effect of increasing the production in this country?
– It may increase British production.
– A new construction has now been placed upon the action of the Committee. I thought it was for encouraging the production of those liquors in the Commonwealth.
– Except for the purpose of a passing illustration, it is undesirable for honorable senators to discuss items already dealt with by the Committee.
–I. intended only to make a passing reference to the item, Mr. Chairman, and, if I may be permitted,’ I desire also to refer to an item discussed by Senator Pratten in connexion with which the duty has increased in thirteen years by approximately 70 per cent.. I am not suggesting that the duty on cigarettes should be increased to that, extent, but I desire the Committee to support my proposition to increase the rate to 15s. per lb. on manufactured cigarettes.
The. CHAIRMAN.- Will the honorable senator explain his request?
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty (general) 15s.
– I desire to approach this question from the stand-point of the consumer. The proposal now before the Committee is to increase the duty by approximately 40 per cent. The manufacturers of cigarettes in Australia have, f or some years, had very effective protection; indeed, it has been so effective that I desire to call the attention of honorable senators to the actions of the huge monopoly that has been controlling this particular branch of the tobacco trade fora number of years. A few years ago, when there was some competition, and before the duties were increased, it was possible to buy cigarettes of good quality for about half what is charged to-day. Not only has the price been increased, but the Tobacco Combine, which has been given a monopoly, was able to exercise its own sweet will’ upon consumers to such an extent that it not only increased the price, but decreased the number of cigarettes in the packets. What is even worse than that, the quantity of tobacco in the cigarettes was reduced to such an extent that they bent in the middle - theyhad not the courage to stand up ! It appears to me that the manufacturers of cigarettes in Australia have not only had a very good time under the old Tariff ; but they are able, even now, to do just as they please, because of the absence of outside competition. They- are treating consumers in a way that is grossly unjust, and that aspect of the matter should not be overlooked. Instead of increasing the duty, I think it. is time we began to consider whether we should notdecrease it, and compel this monopoly to face some competition which, would be the means of it. producing a better article. The-tobacco that is being used is fairly satisfactory.
– That is. hardly consistent with the argument that the- duties on all luxuries should be higher. Is- not a cigarette a luxury?
– Perhaps it. is ;but my attitude is not inconsistent with the opinion of honorable . senators. I hope the attitude that has been adapted will continue, because it is our duty, as far as possible, to protect, not only the manufacturer, but the consumer. This is an instance in which the consumer is not getting a fair deal from a huge organization,., which, without the suggested increase, has been able to accumulate enormous profits and place large sums to its reserve funds. It has been able to do that even under the old rates. No case has been made out for increased protection for this industry.
– It is a splendid subject to refer to the Tariff Board.
– The interests of the consumers are being overridden to such an enormous- extent by the Australian manufacturers of cigarettes that I hope this will be one of the first matters referred to the Board by the Minister for investigation and reform.
– Senator Lynch has told us that cigarettes are injurious, and proposes to help the consumers by not allowing them to get cigarettes excepting at a very high price.
– Senator Lynch may be right; but from the stand-point of practical politics his proposition cannot be considered seriously. The menace of which he spoke cannot be removed by increasing the duty, even to the slight extent he suggests. If ‘ a boy cannot get cigarettes he will smoke something else. It would be more practical for us to see that the cigarettes he smokes contains pure tobacco, and that he gets decent value for his money, which to-day he is not getting from the Combine controlling the manufacture in Australia. In any case, it is for the State Parliament to prohibit the sale of cigarettes to boys. I know that it would be farcical for me to attempt to reduce the duty by 50 per cent., because I would have no hope of getting such a proposal carried ; but I hope that the Government will consider the advisability of remitting this question to the Tariff Board for the fullest inquiry and report, so that Parliament will know what to do in the matter when it has the full facts placed before it. No doubt, the Government, have good reasons for increasing the duty upon cigarettes, but I think it should be substantially reduced.
– I cannot agree with Senator Lynch’s suggestion to add to the already considerably increased duty on cigarettes, but I may be a little prejudiced, seeing that I am probably the largest consumer of them in this Senate. The honorable senator, in his anxiety to produce the desired effect on senators, has drawn a most distressing picture of the youth of Australia going to the dogs through indulgence in the pernicious habit of cigarette smoking. I do not know whether he has been in France.
– BROCKMAN. - Then he must have seen children there from the ago of three years upwards smoking cigarettes - and French cigarettes at that, the worst brand produced in the world. The smoking of cigarettes by youths may be a most pernicious habit, but it cannot be controlled by this Senate, nor stopped by any Customs duty we may impose on smokers generally. The proper place to deal with the habit is in the home by the use of the stick, and if the stick does not prove effective it is time for the State Parliaments to intervene and pass legislation prohibiting the sale of cigarettes to youths; but it would be futile and ridiculous for this Chamber to attempt to pursue the absurd course suggested by Senator Lynch.
– There would be nothing to prevent the Australian youth from getting tobacco and making his own cigarettes.
– BROCKMAN. - Yes. If he cannot get tobacco he will smoke cane, and if he cannot get cane he will smoke tea leaves or brown paper. I know, because I have done all these things myself. I am rather inclined to agree . with Senator Duncan’s -suggestion that there should be a decrease in the duty. I can speak of my experiences in 1912, when the Australian manufacturers did not have this huge protection, and yet had already established a big monopoly. I had occasion to act in a legal capacity for a Perth firm, which endeavoured to introduce on to the Western Australian market a new variety of tobacco and cigarettes, only to find that there was hardly a retailer in the State who would sell their wares, because they knew that the minute they attempted to do so the Combine would say, “ If you sell that tobacco, or those cigarettes, you will sell none of our lines, which are - the best known on the market, and have the biggest demand.” One or two retailers defied the Combine, and what happened ? Shops were promptly opened up next door which could get all the varieties controlled by the Combine, and the unfortunate individuals who attempted to fight went to the wall. If this duty is to be regarded as one which is likely to produce revenue, well and good; but if it is for the purpose of protecting the cigarette manufacturers of Australia, then I say that they have more than sufficient protection already.
– Has not the honorable senator noticed the deterioration in the quality of the locally-made cigarettes?
– Yes, I have. We cannot deal with this monopoly simply by increasing the duty and attempting to prohibit the importation of cigarettes, because the increase would simply be passed on to the unfortunate consumer.
– On the other hand, it would have the effect of building up the local monopoly.
– Of course. I urge the Minister to seriously consider a big decrease instead of a big increase in this duty. In fact, in order to test the matter, I shall take an opportunity of moving for a reduction.
– The value of cigarettes imported from the United Kingdom in 1919-20 was £115,516, and from other countries £18,091. The average value was 14s. per lb., so that the duty is already 80 percent. ad valorem. The value of cigarettes manufactured in Australia in 1919-20 was £4,715,320. An increase in the duty on imported cigarettes would simply affect the revenue, because this is principally a revenue-producing impost. Cigarettes are universally used, and in the present state of our finances the idea ofthe Government is to get extra revenue cut of those people who do not mind’ helping the country in a trying time by paying heavy duty on luxuries. I am not too sure that indulgence in cigarettes is beneficial to any one. I do not smoke them, hut many people do, and if it is their wish, I think they ought to be allowed to do so.I am in favour of protecting children, but adults can look after themselves. In any case, it is a question that is subject to State legislation, and there are not sufficient quantities of cigarettes coming in from other countries for the position to be affected by the imposition of a still higher duty. My opinion is that if cigarettes are to be made available for those who enjoy smoking them, we might as well have them made in Australia.
– I do not propose to record a vote for the alteration of any of these tobacco or cigarette duties at this juncture, but in touching upon these duties and their relation to the practical mono-‘ poly now in existence in Australia, we are opening up a subject which I hope will be dealt with in the not very distant future, because not. only is it a big question, it also affects our primary producers to a very great extent. In my opinion, without being ableto state it as a fact, the consumption of tobacco grown in Australia is strictly regulated, not by its suitability or quality, but because there are cross-currents at play directed by American tobacco-growers. When, therefore, we come to the Excise duties, we may possibly see our way clear to give further encouragement to the Australian tobacco-growers, who can grow tobacco equally as well as it can be grown in any other part of the world. If the manufacturers of the day are anxious to use Australian-grown tobacco, ways and means can be found of using it just as easily as tobacco imported from abroad can. be used, whether it comes from the Philippines, or J ava, or the United States of America.
– How is it that we have never been able to do that?
– I am in considerable doubt as to whether a bona fide effort has ever been made here to grow the whole of the tobacco requirements of Australia. Some years ago, the growers of Tamworth, in New South Wales, and Texas, in Queensland, were not able to sell to the only consumers of tobacco more than a certain limited quantity. As to what was the reason for that I am not sure.
– The reason was that we have not the proper soil here.
– At any rate, it is a matter for inquiry. I hope that this Senate will carry the subject further when we. come to the Excise duties, and take some step which may result in our producing from the soil a little more tobacco than we have grown in the past.
– I wish to draw attention to the fallacies which honorable senators have enunciated by way of objection to my proposal. It has been said that if it were adopted it would, to some extent, bolster up a Combine; but it should be plain to the intelligence of even a school girl that all that would be needed to right the balance would be to increase the Excise duty to 15s. If that were done, the cigarette-making industry would have no protection whatever.
– Hear, hear!
– I claim the honorable senator’s vote. If the Committee has courage enough to increase the Excise sufficiently, it will, at a stroke, wipe out the protection which a Combine is said to enjoy, and leave the manufacturers of cigarettes to face the cold blast of competition from the outer world. We have it stated on the best of authority that cigarette smoking is injurious to the young; but if the Committee in its colective wisdom thinks that cigarettes should be made cheaper, by all means let it negative my request. The medical faculty and our own common sense- a veryuncommon commodity - tell us that cigarette smoking is undermining the health of our young people; but when I draw attention to the fact, I am told that it is for the State ‘Governments to do something in the matter. What we have to determine is, Shall there be brought within, or kept out of the reach of, the children of this country something which is undermining their health; shall cigarettes be made cheaper or dearer? I say, make them dearer and harder to get. We have brought up the duties on alcoholic liquors to rates more than 300 per cent, on their cost, and we have encouraged the local manuf acture ‘ of that innocent beverage and blood purifier, lime juice, by a duty of 70 per cent. To discourage a practice which is harmful to our youth, I ask for an increase of the duty on cigarettes of only66 per cent Why should we wait for the “other fellow” to do something ? The “ other fellow.” is a great help to the persons who wish to shirk responsibility. Legislation of the kind that I propose has been adopted before now to diminish or put a stop to practices injurious to the community, as in the case of opium. Senator Duncan gave us a disquisition on the locally-made cigarette, showing us how it would bend and twist. I ask him to support my request for an increase in the duty, and also for an increase in the Excise to such an extent that the profits of the manufacturers will be reduced to the point of invisibility. I have already pointed out that during the last thirteen years this Parliament has given virtually the same protection to the manufacture of tobacco as to the making of cigarettes, showing an indifference to the vice of cigarette smoking.
– Have you anything to say against the smoking of cigarettes by adults?
– When in a frivolous frame of mind, I smoke cigarettes; but I am treating the matter seriously now. The Committee has asked for the increase of duties for the benefit of industries which do not require more protection, and I propose that it shall ask for the increase of a duty which, by making cigarettes dearer, may diminish the practice of smoking them. The speeches that
I have heard convince me that I am on the right track, and when the opportunity presents itself I shall, even if I stand alone, use my voice and voteforthe amendment ‘of the Excise, so that cigarettes may be made as dear as possible.
Question - That the request (Senator Lynch’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Because of some information that I have received from the departmental officials, I do not propose to move for any reduction in this item.
Item agreed to.
Item 23 (Tobacco, unmanufactured). agreed to.
Cigars, …. per1s., British,11s.; intermediate, 12s..; general, 12s.
– Imove -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty (general), 13s.
The effect of the alteration which I propose would be to increase by1s. . per lb. the duty on cigars coming from foreign countries. Honorable senators may be surprised to hear that 80 per cent, of the cigars imported into Australia come from countries where coloured labour is employed, in their manufacture. It is about time to put an end to that.
– Will the proposed increase be sufficient for the purpose?
– It has been fixed, after consultation with the cigarmakers of Australia, and1s. has been taken off the Excise duty. We think that this will keep the cigar trade in the hands of white labour countries.
– I support the request, because upon whether the amendment is made or not depends the employment of 1,100 Australians. During the war it was shown that Australia could manufacture a very decent cheap cigar, and’ in 1920 53,000,000 cigars out of a total consumption of 70,000,000 were made in this country. The reason for increasing the duty is that very large orders booked, prior to the war have been delivered since, the cigars coming from countries employing coloured labour. There are men out of employment in the industry in Australia, and they are up against the competition of black labour. It is as well to know that men who have suffered injuries in the war, as, for instance, men who have lost a leg, are able to find employment in cigar-making, and this should induce honorable senators to support the request. No monopoly is being asked for, as there are two factories in Adelaide, three in Melbourne, and two in Sydney. The employees of the industry are seeking to help themselves by making provision for sickness and unemployment, and they are also banded to-, gether to secure homes for themselves. In every way the encouragement of this industry should be helpful to our population, and I have much pleasure in supporting the request.
.- I have it on the authority of a cigarmaker of world-wide experience in the industry that if cured up to a proper standard, a result which he believes will shortly be achieved, the Queensland leaf is the best in the world. He is a mechanic in one of the local factories, who, as an unmarried man, has been round the world following his occupation in various countries. I asked him what he thought of the Queensland leaf, and he said that if it were properly cured it would be the best leaf he had ever handled. I give the Committee the information to induce honorable senators toencourage the man on the land who is engaged in the production of tobacco.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to request:
Item 25 (Snuff) agreed to.
Tobacco destroyed for manufacture of sheepwash or other purposes, as prescribed by departmental by-laws - free.
– This item covers a very important insecticide known as “Black Leaf Forty,” which was referred to when the item was under discussion in another place. So far as I can ascertain from press reports, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) agreed to place the article on the free list.
– Special provision is made under item 269 to put the article’ referred to on the free list.
– I am very glad to hear that the Government have dona this, because Black Leaf Forty is an insecticide very largely used by fruit and vegetable growers throughout Australia as a spray for the destruction of insect pests. Its inclusion in the free list will not injuriously affect any Australian industry, but will be of considerable service to fruit and vegetable growers.
Item agreed to. divisioniii. - sugar.
Item 27 -
Glucose . . . per cwt., 12s.
– I do notwishto raise what might be a controversial question as to the fairness of the duty of 12s. imposed upon this article. Under the Tariff as introduced the duty was 8s. per cwt. I think the consensus of opinion in another place was that a duty of 10s. per cwt. would be sufficient. The duty is particularly valuable to the maize-growers of Australia, because glucose is largely made from maize.
– The last time a Tariff was under discussion in this Chamber a high duty was asked for on glucose because of its use in confectionery and its deleterious effects, upon children.
– The duty now imposed will help the primary producers and was strongly supported in another place by honorable members who profess to exclusively represent the primary producers. I am not quite sure that the incidentally higher duty than was originally intended, will not be found to be a blessing in disguise, because glucose is’ often used in substitution for sugar in confectionery, jams, and also, I believe, in beer and ale.
– It is a bad substitute for sugar, as I understand there is no nutriment in it.
– I am informed that a continual diet of glucose has a very injurious effect upon the human system. The increase of duty should mean the use of less glucose and more sugar.- A considerable quantity of glucose is used in the manufacture of various foods, and I should like to discourage its use in that way. On that account, I shall support the increase of the duty although it is 2s. per cwt. higher than, I believe, was originally intended.
Item agreed to.
Sugar, the produce of sugar cane, per cwt., 6s.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty lis.
It might be objected that it is unnecessary to grant this or any other increase in the duty on sugar at the present time, because the crops now being harvested and those for the coming year are covered by an agreement between the State and Commonwealth Governments for the purchase of the product at the price of £30 6s. Sd. per ton of 94 net titre raw sugar. The present duty of 6s. per cwt. is equivalent to something less than two-thirds of a penny per lb. This has to cover the cost of ali the operations of growing and harvesting the cane, the manufacture of raw sugar, its transport to various refining points and its conversion into refined sugar. These are all very costly, undertakings, and involve a great deal of labour. It is estimated that in the growing of cane and the manufacture of raw sugar the. labour cost .amounts to SO per cent, of the total cost. Sugar being a tropical product is in competition with the products of countries having a superabundant supply of very cheap and reliable labour. It is true that the sugar industry is identified chiefly with the State of Queensland, but I maintain that an industry carried on in a particular State is just as much an Australian industry as one carried on in all of the States. If every State could be self-supporting and self- contained, one of the principal arguments for the establishment and maintenance of the Commonwealth would be gone. One: of the chief reasons which induced the people of some of the States to join the Federation was that it would result in a free interchange of commodities throughout the whole of Australia. The sugar industry is a very important one. lt is estimated that it directly supports over 100,000 people in the State of Queensland, whilst there are a great many more who in one way or another are indirectly benefited by the industry. At the present time, over one-sixth of the population of Queensland depend entirely for their maintenance upon the sugar industry.
– Those employed in it make very high wages do they not?
– The wages are certainly good, and I do not think, any one can find fault with that.
– I have heard a number of Queensland people finding fault with it. They have to pay £2 and £3 per day to men for cane-cutting.
– On rare occasions, men may make as much as £2 per day at that work, but I can assure honorable senators that the men who can make £2 per day for any length of time at cutting cane in Queensland are exceptional nien, -working under exceptional circumstances. Senator Wilson is no doubt aware that in other industries men working, as these men do, on piece work, earn £2 and more per day.
– I know only what the honorable senator himself has told! me.
– No doubt, I have told the honorable senator that menworking for me have earned as much as £2 per day, but I do not begrudge thosewages to men who have done honest workfor the payment they have received. I am afraid that there are a great many people who claim to be very strong supporters of the White Australia ideal who begrudge having to pay a little for the realization of it. During the currency of the agreement with the Commonwealth Government no duty is being collected upon importations ; so that if the increased duty is granted it will not make any difference in the.’ price of sugar until’ after the 30th June, 1923.
– Will it not make a difference in the price of jam?
Senator- CRAWFORD.- It cannot until after that date. The proposed duty of something less than1d. per lb. is very small in comparison with the protection which has been given to many of the products grown in. southern States. Hops, for instance, which are chiefly produced in Tasmania, are . protected to the extent of1s. per lb. - twelve times as much as the protection for which I am asking for sugar - whilst dried fruits arc protected by duties of from 3d. to 41/2d. per lb.
– Does the honorable senator think those duties are too high?
– I am not finding any fault with them; but I think that industries which are carried on in tropical Australia are entitled to the same measure of protection as are the industries which arc carried on in the southern States. It is just as important, if not more important, that we should settle our northern areas, and develop their resources, as it is that we should develop the resources of any other part of the Commonwealth.
– What is the average yield of sugar per acre?
– Approximately, 2 tons. The Minister in charge of the Bill (Senator Russell) interjected that the proposed increased duty would mean a considerable additional burden to the people of Australia; but it will be only in proportion to the value of the product. Since the outbreak of war in 1914, the sugar produced in New South Wales and Queensland, including the estimate for the present season, amounted to 1,645,331 tons. When I say that if we had had to buy that sugar abroad it would have, cost Australia not less than £50,000,000 sterling, I am understating the position.
– The growers have been able to do that by means of the Government subsidy.
– No ; practically the whole of the action which the Government has taken since the outbreak of the war has been with a view to providing cheap sugar to the Australian consumer.
– They failed in that effort.
– These are the prices which the people of Australia have had to pay for sugar since’ the Commonwealth Government took control in July, 1915 : For the first six months the retail price was 3d.; then for aperiod of four years and two months, from the 17th. January, 1916, the retail price was 31/2d. per lb., and since the 25th March, 1920, the price has been 6d. per lb. During the five years and eight months of Government control, up to the 25th March last, the average retail price of sugar was 3.9d. per lb.
– Was not the low price due to Government control?
– Yes. But Government control was exercised in the interests of the consumers and not the producers. The growers did not receive world’s parity, or anything like it.
– When we took control in 1915 we gave the Queensland growers the highest price they had ever received for their sugar.
– It was the highest price received since the inauguration of Federation ; but there was a time when sugar in Queensland, and throughout the world, brought an even higher price. I am making no complaint against the action of the Government.
– There was a time when sugar could be bought at £12 or £13 per ton.
– I am showing that what was done was done in the interests of the consumers.
– And the honorable senator wishes to continue war conditions indefinitely.
– No ; I ask that when the Government control of the industry ceases we shall have effective protection of the sugar industry, the same as is enjoyed by every other Australian industry.
– Does the honorable senator hold that 6d. per lb. is a fair price to the consumer?
– Under the circumstances, it is a very fair price. If the consumers had been prepared to pay world’s parity for their sugar - 9d. to1s. per lb. - a few years ago, they might have been able to get it a little cheaper now. I am not asking that the consumers should pay 6d. per lb., and if the increased duty for which I am asking is imposed they will not be required to pay anything like that.
– What about the jam manufacturer?
– He is protected to the extent of £14 per ton against imports from Britain, and to the extent of £18 per ton against imports from foreign countries; therefore, the jam maker is on a very good wicket. The protection afforded him is about three times as great as that for which I am asking for the sugar-grower.
– The consumer is not on a very good wicket in regard to jam.
– Having regard to the price of sugar in other parts of the world, the consumer is on a better wicket in reference to that commodity than he has been in reference to any other Australian product.
– So he should be.
– I do not know why sugar, because it is produced in Queensland, should not have the same’ protection as is given to the products of other States.
– The honorable senator must show us that the sugar-growers are not doing any good with the present protection.
– At the present time the duty on sugar is inoperative. The industry is now being carried on under an agreement by which the Commonwealth Government have undertaken to purchase the entire output at £30 6s. 8d. per ton.
– Can the honorable senator name any other commodity that has been sold to the Government at such a price?
-The sugar industry will be in a very serious position if increased protection is not given to it, as has been given to other industries.
-brockman. - Why ?
– Because the cost of production has increased; wages are almost double what they were at the beginning of the war. The Australian sugar producer is in competition with cheap-labour countries, and the cost of production there has not increased in anything like the same measure as it has in Australia. Certainly wages in Java have increased by 30 or 40 per cent., but as the wages there before the war were only 6d. per day for men and 3d. per day for wemen employed on the plantations and in the mills, an increase of 50 per cent., or even 100 per cent., would not amount to very much.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.– The question of the duties to be imposed on imported’ sugar is of very great interest to Queensland, and I hope that it will receive from the Committee that serious consideration which a great industry in a great State deserves.
Senaotr CRAWFORD (Queensland) [9:12] - The sugar industry is of importance to not only Queensland, but also New South Wales, where there are three large mills. The mills in the two States have a capacity of about 3,000,000 tons of cane per annum. There are about SOO miles of 2-ft. tramway in connexion with the sugar mills of Queensland, and it is estimated that the establishment of the mills in Queensland and New South Wales, with their equipment of tram lines and rolling-stock, has involved an expenditure of £7,500,000. One mill, for which a contract was let before the war, but which was erected during the wai1, and which has very little more than average capacity, cost well over £500,000. According to the latest issue of the Commonwealth Year-Booh, 1S0,000 acres of land are devoted to the production of sugar - of course, the whole area is not harvested every year - and there are over 4,000 sugar-growers. Many of the holdings are small, and the value of the buildings upon them is proportionately very high; in other words, the holdings are highly improved. I have heard some honorable senators speak of unimproved sugar lands having realized £60 per acre. Personally T have never known them to command such a price. The highest price that I know has been given for virgin land, suitable for sugar-growing, is £30 per acre.
– Cleared ?
– No. It was virgin scrub land. That land was equal to the very best country in Australia, - quite equal to land on the Snowy River, which I was recently informed by maizegrowers from that locality is now realizing £180 per acre. The land in Queensland which brought £30 per acre was a comparatively small area which was exceedingly rich. I value the sugar farms in Queensland, as a whole, with the improvements already upon them, cleared, and ready for the plough, or under crop, at £25 per acre. But I know that, in many instances, that amount would not cover the cost of improvements. Valuing the land at that figure would make the total area worth £4,500,000. The average crop obtained from this land during the past five or six years has been about 1,800,000 tons of cane, which, at £2 per ton, would be worth £3,600,000. The total amount represented, therefore, by crops, land and improvements, would be £8,100,000, which, added to £7,500,000, the value of the mills, would bring the sum directly invested in the industry to £15,600,000. But that sum does not by any means represent the total amount invested in the industry, because there are a number of important towns, which, if the industry went to the wall, would have to be abandoned.
– Will that be the fate of those towns if increased protection be not given to the industry ?
– When the agreement enteredinto by the Commonwealth Government to purchase the sugaroutput of Queensland at £30 6s. 8d. per ton terminates, the industry will be unable to carry on without an increased measure of protection.
– A few years ago, sugar could be imported for £12 per ton.
– I do not know that it could be imported for £12 per ton, except during the first two or three years of the Federation, when the growers were employing coloured labour, which was costing them, upon an average, not more than 15s. per week. A very good class of labour it was, too. The average islander, upon those wages, did just about as much work as the average European upon wages will do at the present time. In the north of Queensland to-day, the wage for white labour in the industry is £5 per week. Considering the remoteness of a number of the northern sugar districts, and the fact that the labour employed is only of a seasonal character, I do not know whether the wages paid are unduly high as compared with the wages which are paid in other seasonal industries throughout the Commonwealth. Surely Senator Bolton does not think it is possible for the caue-growers, with wages at £5 per week, to sell their commodity at the same price as they did when their labour was costing only 15s. per week.
– Is not the harvesting done upon piece-work?
– Yes, at so much per ton. The work of cutting the cane and loading it on to trucks is paid for at piecework rates.
– What do those workers get?
– Throughout the whole of the sugar districts of Queensland they average about 30s. per day for eight hours. “ It has always been my opinion that men engaged in hard work like that of cane cutting will do more in the course of five or six months if they work only eight hours per day than they will do if they work . twelve hours per day.
– Does the £9 per week include board and lodging?
– No, it is exclusive of board and lodging. The canecutters board themselves. Of course, there are men who in exceptional circumstances will average for short periods more than 30s. per day.
– Other agricultural industries could not stand paying any such wage as £9 per week.
– If men put the same effort into their work as canecutters are required to do, in order to earn 30s. per day, I doubt if there are not other industries which could pay that wage. Take the fruit industry in the irrigation settlements upon the Murray River. I was a member of a parliamentary party which recently visited them, and we were told that the fruit-growers there were making £50, £60, and £70 per acre out of their vineyards and orchards. These are the people who are receiving a protection upon their products of from 3d. to 41/2d. per lb.
– The honorable senator must know that he is quoting gross amounts.
– We were toldthat the amounts I have mentioned represent the profits of the growers, and that there have been sales of orangeries upon the Murray up to £700 per acre.
– I have been told that the highest price paid for land there has been £90 per acre.
– According to the information which I recently received there is no orchard along the river which could be purchased for anything like that price. Ever since the sugar industry came under the control of Commonwealth legislation, there has been a considerable prejudice in the South regarding it. That prejudice has been due in part to the ‘fact that for a number of years at was carried on largely by means of coloured labour. Another reason is the commanding position in relation to the industry which the Colonial Sugar s Refinery Company has always held. My opinion, after a long experience of that company, is that without it we should not have a sugar industry worthy of the name in Australia. Although the Government have exercised very close supervision over the transactions of the company for five or six years, they have been able to find no fault with it. All that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (.Senator E. D. Millen) has said regarding it has -been in terms of the very highest praise. Another reason why a prejudice has existed against the industry is that sugar is the raw material of a very important industry in the principal southern States - I refer to the jam and preserved fruit industry.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I listened with great interest to the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat, and I would not like ‘to think that such a valuable industry as the sugar industry, which is mainly responsible for the past prosperity of Queensland, and which we hope will be responsible for its future prosperity after the present Government there have been displaced, is in jeopardy. But I still need to be convinced that the industry requires greater protection than it is afforded under this Bill. I should be very glad if he would produce the facts and figures upon which he bases his con clusion that] in the absence of an increased measure of protection, the industry will pass out of existence.
– When under our Standing Orders I was obliged to resume my seat I was just about to speak of the relations subsisting between the sugar industry and the jam and fruit-preserving industry. We have in Australia a very large number of fruit-growers. In my opinion, there is nothing in either the sugar or fruit-preserving industries which should make one antagonistic to the other. They can be carried on side by side to their mutual advantage. During the war if we had not been producing sugar in such large quantities the position of fruitgrowers would have been very’ different from what it was. Speaking generally, “fruit-growers during the war had a very good time. Prior to the war, our exports of jams, jellies, -and preserves were comparatively small, but thereafter they went up by leaps and bounds, with the result that during the six years following the outbreak of war they amounted in value to considerably over £5,000,000. Jam is made of practically equal parts of fruit and sugar. Our exports of condensed milk during the same period amounted in value to over £1,500,000, and condensed milk contains sugar to the extent of 40 per cent, of its weight. It is impossible to say what, will be the position two years hence, hut everything points in tha direction of an increased production of sugar in cheap-labour countries, and a consequent decrease in price.
– I think the tendency is in the other direction.
– I shall be glad to hear the honorable senator’s reasons for differing from me on that point. The world’s powers of consumption, today certainly do not seem to be equal to what they were a little time ago. I do not know exactly how to account for it - whether it is due to the world’s purchasing power being reduced or not - but twelve months ago there was a keen demand for sugar at from £10 to £80 per ton, whereas it is now difficult to sell it at one-third of that price. This falling off in the demand is not due to increased production. The world’s production for the year ended 30th June last was practical^’ the same as for the preceding twelve months- a little over 16,000,000 tons, or 2,000,000 tons less than it was in 1913-14 - yet, as compared with the supplies available during the war period, there seems to be an abundance of sugar at, very low prices. I have here a very interesting letter on the subject, which I do not intend to read iri full, but I propose presently to make a few quotations from it. I do not think the price of sugar has much effect on the consumption of jam. The people of Australia are “not bo poor that, if they had to pay one-sixth of a penny per lb. more for their jam - and that is what would be the result if this additional sugar duty of one-third of Id. per lb. were added to the cost - the consumption would decrease.
– What about the export trade?
– I shall come to that point. I do not think that so slight an increase in the price of sugar, even if it were passed on to the price of jam, would affect the consumption of jam. The increased price would be microscopically small. It is possible that there lias been a decrease in the consumption of factory-made jam in Australia. The. reason for that has been the great increase in the price of jam, due chiefly to the increased cost of containers. I am told that tins to hold 1 lb. of jam have been costing from 2-Jd. to 3d. each.
– They have-been costing 3d. each.
– That, at all events, is my information. Wages in factories have also been increased. When a housewife makes her own jam, she saves, not only the price of the container, but the factory wages, and, consequently, quite as good, if not better, jam is turned out in thousands of homes, even if they have to pay a little more for their sugar, at something like two-thirds the price at which factory jam is retailed. With high prices ruling, and householders on the alert to save wherever they can, many people who previously bought factory-made jam are now making jam in their own homes.
I come now to the export trade in jams, jellies, and preserves. Ever since Federation, it has been the practice to give local manufacturers a rebate equal to the full amount of the import duty on all the sugar used by them in the manufacture of jam for export. Even at the present time, I understand, the Government is meeting the jam-making industry in such a. liberal way that the manufacturers themselves are perfectly satisfied. So far as sugar used in jam for export is concerned, they are able to get it quite as cheaply as, if not more cheaply than, any of their competitors.
– What is going to happen if we increase the duty?
– The present import duty is £6 per ton, and the rebate is £6 per ton. If the duty were increased to £9 per -ton, the rebate would be increased to £9 per ton, so that manufacturers of jam for export would be in just as favorable a position with a higher import duty on sugar as they are to-day.
– That is to say, our taxpayers would have to pay for cheap jam for the foreigner.
– Not at all. In ordinary circumstances, jam manufacturers at the beginning of the season advise the refineries as to the quantity of sugar they will require for their export -trade, and sugar to that extent is imported specially for them. That was the practice before the war - before the Government took control of the industry - and it will undoubtedly be reverted to when the Government relinquish control.
– But an increased duty would affect the jam manufacturers.
– How could it when the rebate allowed on sugar used in jam for export is equal to the import duty?
– When the local production overtakes the consumption, who will pay the rebate?
– Even if we secure the increased duty for which I am asking, I do not anticipate that the production of sugar in Australia is going to be so profitable that, taking one year with another, it is likely to be in excess of consumption.
– Did my honorable friend see the paragraph in the Bulletin dealing with the wealth of the people engaged in sugar-growing about Innisfail?
– I do not think the sugar-growers in and around Innisfail are wealthy men. I was there in 1918, a few weeks after the district had been visited by a cyclone which destroyed most of the homes, and the greater part of the crop, and I can assure honorable senators that I did not meet a grower who was not in financial difficulties, and who did not require assistance from the banks or some other financial institution to enable him to re-buildthis home and re-condition his farm.
– And within three years all of them are once more financial.
– Those who think that the sugar-growers of Queensland are prospering to a greater extent than are those engaged in other land industries make a very big mistake. They have not the knowledge of the sugarfarmers that I possess. Very few of the sugar-growers are able to carry on from one year to another without assistance from either the banks, the mills, or the storekeepers. The sugar industry is far from being the prosperous industry that people who have no actual acquaintance with it are prone to believe.
– What profit do the mills make in Queensland?
– We have in Queensland a tribunal which regulates the price paid for cane, andin no case are the mills allowed a profit exceeding 8 per cent. Surely no one will say that that profit is too high. It is true, asI have said, that a great deal of the land on which sugar-cane is grown is very rich, and that we have a suitable climate for the production of sugar throughout practically the whole of the Queensland coastal areas; but every season is not a good one. In the Bundaberg and Childers districts, in a good year, from 60,000 tons to 70,000 tons of sugar are produced. In 1919 and 1920, practically no sugar whatever was produced. During those two years the majority of the farmers there had no crops, although they ware under great expense. How they managed to live through that period is often a puzzle to themselves, and while they have promise of a fair crop this year, I am sure that the profits on this year’s crop will by no means cover their losses on the two preceding years. In the north, in 1918, or since, practically every sugar district has had a cyclonic visitation, destroying most of the homes, and doing very serious damage to the crops, so that despite the better prices that have been paid for sugar, the last few years have not been more profitable to the growers ‘than were those which preceded them.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time limit has been reached.
– I am anxious to hear further details of the Queensland sugar industry, bearing in mind that it is one of the few Australian’ industries the product of which is consumed entirely in Australia, and is, therefore, independent of oversea markets, and uninfluenced by the world’s parity. The total of money earned in the sugar industry is so huge that one is bound to be impressed with its national value, seeing that it can carry such a burden of working costs. But how long should the Australian public be asked to continue to pay the high price demanded for sugar to-day? It cannot be argued that 6d; per lb. is not an inordinately heavy impost in a country which can produce the whole of its requirements. Only a few years ago Australian sugar - Al quality - was sold in the southern portions of Australia at 2d. per lb. ; and, even after having been transported hundreds of miles inland, it was retailed at 2s. 3d. per dozen. To-day, the price everywhere is 6s. per dozen.
– I remember currants being sold at 3d. per lb.
– And I have seen currants thrown into the river. I would remind the honorable member that it is the southern fruit-grower who consumes the northern-grown sugar; but that mighty little southern-grown fruit is consumed in the north of Australia.
– I thought the honorable senator was a geographical Protectionist; I know it now.
– I am agreeable to being called a common-sense geographical Protectionist. I trust that the honorable senator will now take the further opportunity afforded him to deal as he should with an industry the product of which is’ consumed within the country of its growth; and that he will bear in mind a fair comparison of that industry with others which must rely upon overseas markets, and are influenced by the world’s parity.
– An industry which produces a commodity worth. £5,000,000, all of which, is consumed in Australia, may surely be claimed to be of greater national value than one whose product must be exported to find a market.
– That is true, so long a? the home-consumed product is not expected to be spoon-fed at the expense of industries which are obliged to seek overseas markets.
– Senator Wilson has referred more than once to industries which seek overseas markets, and which are dependent on the world’s parity May I ask to what extent the factors mentioned apply to the products of his own State, excepting wheat and wool ?
– To practically all of them.
– Prior to the war it was the practice of the Dried Fruitgrowers’ Association to decide what quantity of currants, raisins, and the like should be exported at, say, 3d. per lb., and what quantity should be retained for home consumption at a charge to the Australian consumer amounting to about three times as much.
– The dried fruit-growers learned those tactics from the sugar people.
– The sugar producers have never had anything to export.
– The honorable senator knows the movement to which I refer.
– I confess that I do not. -
– In anticipation of a surplus, the people interested proposed the very procedure to which the honorable senator has just referred. Nature robbed them of a surplus, and the procedure was not put info practice; but that fact does not expunge the intention from the records.
– I have no recollection of the matter. It must have developed before I was connected with the sugar industry, which dates back for only about twenty-six years.
– It was in more recent days than that.
– Although Australia grows many hundreds of thousands of tons of hay, I do not know that any is exported. The home market is just as valuable as any foreign market.
– The home market is the king of markets.
– Then, why should fault be found with an industry which seeks and finds its market at home?
– No one is finding fault with the industry; the fault is found with the price.-
– Like many another southerner, the honorable senator believes in a White Australia; but, again like many another southerner, he is not prepared to pay anything for his principles. . It is most unfortunate that the true attitude of the southern Australian was not made as clear to the people of Queensland before they entered Federation as it has been made over and over again since the union. Queensland came in at the last moment, and very reluctantly; and a majority of the people have since regretted that they ever took the step.
– Would Queensland not have been very much worse off if’ she had remained aloof?
– No ! There is no reason why she should have come in. Unlike every other State, Queensland could be, if she wished, self-contained and self-supporting. Within her boundaries there is practically every range of climate known- throughout the Commonwealth.
– How can the honorable senator argue as he is doing when it is obvious that Queensland could not produce sugar as she does but for the market which the other States afford?
– If Queensland were not hampered by her position as a party to the Federation, she would soon possess a population which alone would be sufficient to consume more sugar than is produced at present. However, there are broader aspects than have yet been touched upon. It is necessary that Australia’ should produce all her own requirements. Sugar is one of these essentials. Germany has recognised that. Throughout a long period of years that nation directed its sugar policy with a t view to destroying the cane-sugar industry of all other countries. In 1896, Germany went so far as to impose an import duty of no less than £20 a ton, and arranged for the payment of a bounty on export of £10 a ton. But for the action of the United States of America in immediately imposing a countervailing duty on bounty-fed sugar and subsequently arranging to give a 20 per cent, preference to Cuba - which policy was followed by all the other interested nations sending representatives ,to the Brussels Convention of 1902 - such inroads would have been made upon the cane-sugar* industry that the world, in all probability, would have been without sugar upon the outbreak of war in 1914. The high military authorities who grace the Senate will readily agree that, from a military point of view, it would be a serious matter if troops had to fight without their ordinary sugar ration.
I am not asking for anything unreasonable. If the sugar industry is to be protected only to the extent of something under Id. per lb., such protection will be lower than that enjoyed by most of Australia’s other industries. Australian wines,, have been given protection ranging from 12s. to 28s. per gallon. I understand that before the war a very good wine could be bought in bulk for 3s. or 4s. per gallon. That means that the protection accorded to the wine industry is equal to an ad valorem duty of from 200 to 300 per cent. Surely an industry which is peculiar to practically one State is entitled to as much consideration as if it were common to all. If each of the States were producing some 10,000 to 15,000 tons of beet sugar per annum, there would be no difficulty in persuading Parliament of the fairness of what I ask. I do not know why consumers are so much afraid of having to pay Id. per lb., more or less, extra for their sugar. I am not an ancient, but I can remember when sugar was sold for 4d., 5d., and 6d. per lb. in this country, and the article was considerably inferior to that supplied to the public to-day. Moreover, the people in those times were not nearly as well off, in the main, as nowadays.
– What proportion of the sugar consumed in Australia can Queensland produce?
– Under adequate protection, Queensland could produce sufficient to supply a population of 50,000,000 people.
– Queensland will produce this year 350,000 tons.
– Not so much as that, I fear. But Queensland could easily grow five or six times as much as she does to-day. We ,have the land - millions of good acres - capable also of sustaining a very large population. I shall harvest this year only 130 acres of cane, but my wages bill will run into the neighbourhood of £4,000. That will give the Committee an idea of what it costs.
– Your return will be £60 an acre, at 2 tons to the acre.
– The cane has to be taken to the mill and treated by an intricate and highly technical process before the sugar is worth £30 6s. 8d. a ton. The manufacture has to be scientifically controlled at every stage. I doubt if a modern sugar-mill, with all the necessary equipment of tramways and rolling-stock, could be erected for £500,000 at present prices. ,
– What is a fair return per acre gross?
– I could not say offhand. The average return is about 17 or 18 tons of cane to the acre, taking Queensland as a whole. With refined sugar at the present price of £30 6s. 8d. a ton, we might say that a ton of cane is worth 45s., but it might be a little more or less. Our costs have been changing so much from year to year, and there have been so many alterations in the price of sugar, that it is impossible to say offhand what the cost of production is.
– According to your calculation, your return would be £40 an acre.
– But consider what it costs to produce. This year it will cost over £1,000,000 to harvest the cane of Queensland. A good many sheep could be shorn for that money. Honorable senators will make a serious mistake, and do the sugar industry a great injustice, if they run away with the idea that it is very prosperous. In the sugar districts there will not be found anything likethe sameaverage comfort amongst the growers as will be found amongst the fruit-growers in the irrigation settlements along the Murray. Nothing would convince honorable senators more of the true position ofthe sugar-growers of Queensland than a visit to some of our sugar districts. They would not find many evidences of general prosperity, nor would they see, as atRenmark and other fruit-growing settlements, practically every grower with his own motor car.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
SenatorRUSSELL (Victoria- VicePresident of the Executive Council) [10.6], - I have to announce definitely that the Government do not feel justified in supporting the proposed increase at the present time. There is an existing contract, which has two years to run, and which we are in honour bound to complete. The sugar-growers have nothing to complain about in the terms of that arrangement, whatever the consumers may say. I am satisfied that the Australian consumers could do better to-day without that contract. Senator Crawford made an unfortunate statement when he said- we were looking after the consumers in that agreement and not after thesugargrowers. That is not so. In 1913sugar could be imported for £10 10s. per ton. That was a mixture of raw and refined. Adding £2 for refining gives a cost of £12 10s. a ton. The lowest we paid to the growers under the pooling scheme was about £18 a ton. We therefore gave them a lift of about £5 10s. a ton in the first year we started the Pool. At that time sulphate of ammonia became scarce, and its price went up, so that it cost the sugar-growers, who use it extensively, particularly in the more northern parts of Queensland, at least £4 or £5 a ton extra, when they could get it. If they did not get it, their crops were light. As they had tomeet that and other difficulties, we thought we were justified during the war period in granting them an increase in the price of sugar. At one time during the war we paid three times as much for the sugar we had to import, when Queensland failed to produce sufficient to meet the Australian demand, but averaging over the whole period of the contract, I am sure ‘ we havepaid for Queensland sugar more than the average price paid for sugar brought from overseas. Before the war the price of Australian sugar was generally fixed by the world’s price outside, plus the £6 per ton duty. On that basis it has cost Australia over £26,000,000 to maintain the industry, which was a proper thing to do, as it helped to keep Australia white. On the pre-war price the protection of £6 per ton represents 57 per cent. Senator Crawford’s proposal would make it a good deal more. If the duty on sugar were increased, we should have to review about 150 other items in the Tariff, affecting industries which use sugar as a raw material When the Tariff Board begins operations it ought to be able to start an inquiry into the condition of the sugar industry, and then, when the contract runs out, if the industry is in a difficult position and wants help, I shall be prepared to consider sym- pathetically a request for an increase of duty . That, however, cannot be done during the period of the contract, under which the sugar-growers are well treated. I urge Senator Crawford not to press the request now, not because we are unsympathetic to the sugar industry, but be- cause it would be two years before the increase could come into operation under the existing contract. Jam-makers and fruit preservers want to know where they arc. We are allowing the makers of jam and condensed milk a rebate of duty on. all the imported sugar’ which they reexport in weir manufactures. Australia must have cheap sugar, because our jammakers and fruit preservers have to compete in the world’s markets. We are temporarily in a difficulty in that trade, mostly for the want of cheap sugar, and cheap tin containers. The tin difficulty will be overcome, because the Broken Hill Company is going to make tin plate at Newcastle, and I am sure that sugar will come back to the world’s’ normal price. We must keep Australia white, and therefore must protect the sugar industry to give the white growers an equal chance against the coloured races. I believe the Australian production of sugar has been a great success to date, but I cannot promise to increase the duty two years in advance of the time at which the increase could operate. I do not want to see a
Bort of vacuum created when the contract expires,. and it ought to be possible .to arrange that an increased duty, if it is required, shall come into operation immediately on the expiry of the contract.
– The more . the sugar-growers stir this business up, the more opposition they will get.
-One way in which to stir up the Australian ‘community to-morrow would be to increase the duty on sugar. The people realize that they are making a sacrifice for the White Australia policy, and I have no doubt they would demand the cancellation of the contract if an attempt were made to force up the price of sugar. I ask Senator Crawford to withdraw the request, because the Government are sympathetic, as they have proved ‘by assisting the industry in Queensland and so helping the Commonwealth as a. whole. I am sure the sugar-growers will get generous support when the. time .comes to review the whole position.
– I hope nothing that I said will be construed into an attack on -the Government, or a complaint against the Government, for their dealings with the sugar industry during arid subsequent to the war period. The representatives of the industry always obtained , a sympathetic hearing from whatever Minister they interviewed, and on the last occasion the Government, with the approval of both Houses, gave’ all that was asked for.
– -1 suppose that is why yon ask for so much this time !
– No; it is because! I have an idea that the. position two years from now will be an extremely difficult one for those engaged in -the production of sugar, unless a higher measure of protection is given. . The growers have to begin at once to prepare their land for the crop to be harvested in 1923. However, I suppose we must take whatever comfort we can get from the sympathetic assurances of the Minister as to what we may expect if, at a later stage, circumstances show that the fears I have expressed to-night have a valid foundation.
Item agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 10.20 p. a.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 July 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210728_senate_8_96/>.