8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I give notice that on Tuesday next I shall move -
That this Senate records its deep appreciation of the high-minded action of the Prime Minister of South Africa in seeking to effect a settlement of the Irish question, and fervently trusts that the result of his efforts will be the extension of a full measure of self-government to Ireland on the Dominion pattern, and the maintenance of the unity of the Empire at the same time.
– In view of this notice of motion, I ask if it is the intention of the Government to make an early appeal to the country?
– I do not understand the question.
– For many years an indication of the approach of a general election has been a movement by Senator Lynch to make himself right with one section of the community.
In, Committee (Consideration resumed from 4th August, vide page10758):
Schedule. divisioniv.-agriculturalproducts andgroceries.
Item 58 (Grain and pulse), item 59 (Hay and chaff), item 60 (Herbs), and item 61 (Honey, jams, jellies, &c.) agreed to.
Hops, per lb., British,6d.; intermediate, 9d.; general,1s.
.- In my opinion, it is necessary to increase this duty to insure the security of the hop industry. The duty on imported beer has been increased, and that in itself is some justification for increasing the duty on hops, although, while hops are essential to the manufacture of beer, only a pound of hops is used in 29 or 30 gallons of beer, so that the cost of hops is not a very large item in a brewer’s expenses.
– What is the price of hops?
– Hops have been imported at a cost of 6s.1¼d. per lb. No other rural industry gives employment to so much labour as hop growing. None but the best valley loam is suitable for the growing of hops, and much labourhas to be employed in clearing such land. Then come the planting of thehops, the training and tending of the vines, and finally the picking of the crop. The hop vines have to be trained on poles,’ to which they are fastened with strings or runners, and the industry thus employs a larger number of men, women, and children to the acre than any other rural industry. Tasmania could supply Australia’s demand for hops, and most of our hops are grown there, though some hops are grown in Victoria. In the old clays, the labour employed in the hop industry was paid very little, and in those times growers made a fair profit by selling hops for1s. per lb. Now, however, everything is changed. Thecost of materials - such as wire, poles, fertilizers, and farm implementsis very much greater than it was, and wages have more than doubled.
– At what are hops sold for to-day?
– The price fixed by the Hop Pool was 4s. 6d. per lb.; but, as I have said, hops have been imported at a cost of 6s.1¼d. per lb.
– Then why is a higher duty needed?
– Because the buyers of hops would rather pay 50 per cent. more for the’ imported article than give the local growers a fair price.
– Are the local hops so bad?
– When a small number of people are interested it is very easy for them to determine that, rather than pay what they consider to be an inflated price - and 4s. 6d. per lb. was not an inflated price under the circumstances - they would pay 50 per cent. more for imported hops in order to beat down the price asked by the local producers.
– What has been the retail price of hops in recent years?
– I cannot say, but in the previous year the wholesale price was1s. 6d. per lb., and, although last year’s Pool price was fixed at 4s. 6d. per lb., the hops were actually sold, at 3s.. 6d, per lb- I. have received the following letter from:the representatives of the hopgrowers in Tasmania, written, with the object of seeking greater protection upon hops : -
We understand that the Minister for Customs has been informed: that the Tasmanian Hop-growers’ Pool.fixed their price much higher than the. market warranted. We enclosc figures obtained from the Customs Department, which we shall be glad if you will submit to the Minister,’ as they will prove that on the date we fixed the price, viz., 8th April last,at 4s.6d., this was not so.. We also have a cable from England quoting Kent hops, on 8th April, at 3s.11d. c.i.f. Australian ports, which means, with duty and other charges, at least 4s. 7d., while the figures enclosed show that importers had paid on average price of 6s. lid. for 3,800 bales from America before out price was fixed, a very large proportion of which are still in bond, banked up against our 1021 crop. The total importation from all countries reached the large figure of 5,500 bales since 1st June, 1920. Through these large stocks being here, we have now had to sell the proportion of our crop which we handle at 3s.6d. per lb. We also wish to point out that nineteen breweries signed contracts last March to pay Pool price on condition that their quantities were guaranteed, which was done, and yet they, backed up by the middlemen, have now refused to pay more than 3s. 6d., despite the fact that imported hops have cost much more, viz., an average of 5s. 7¾d., duty paid, from all countries.
– Is the honorable senator sure of the correctness of that last statement?
– I have every confidence that it is absolutely correct. The letter proceeds -
We will also be glad if you will point out to the Minister that during the three years he put an embargo on foreign hops we did not take advantage of it to exploit the brewers, as. far 1919, when we fixed our price at la. 6d., they wore really worth 2s: 6d.; and, in 1920, when we fixed the. price at 3s. 9d., the balance, of the Tasmanian crop was immediately sold at from 6s. to 7s. We would also stress the point that the enclosed figures show £202,774 was sent out of the Commonwealth to pay for foreign hops, when we could easily grow all the Commonwealth requirements if we were assured of adequate Protection, but hop growing is such a costly business that the hop- growers, from the bitter experience of. the past, are afraid to launch out in extending, their grounds without it. The great thing at the present time that is threatening our industry, is the fact that, owing to America being a prohibition country and the hops there being largely grown by Japanese and Chinese labour, they are offering 1921 season’s hops, to be harvested next September,, at 20 cents f.o.b. San Francisco.
– Surely it cannot pay to grow hops- at that price under American conditions.
– It might pay to grow them by Japanese and Chinese labour. I am not familiar with the labour conditions, in America, but hops grown by cheap labour, such as we had in the early days when they could be sold at 9d. or1s. per lb., can be sold at a. profit at a very low price.In any case I can understand American hopgrowers selling abroad at a low price a crop which, owing to the prohibition against the manufacture or sale of intoxicating liquors, would otherwise; be useless to them.
– If it can be proved that hops are produced at a cost of 20 cents per lb. in America I would support the honorable senator’s request, but the hop-growers cannot use cheap labour in , America, because they are not allowed to do so under the local laws.
– There are 11,000,000 blacks in America. Does the honorable senator contend that these blacks are receiving the standard wage paid to white men ? There are also large numbers of Japanese and Chinese at work in America. Are they also receiving the standard wage paid to white workers?
– What is the honorable senator’s authority for the statement he has made?
– I am quoting from a letter written by the chairman and secretary of the Hop Growers’ Association.
– But they do not give any authority for the American price they mention.
– I shall be. glad, to hear the honorable senator’s authority for saying that the assertion of these gentlemen, in whom I have every confidence, is not true. It is a poor argument to contend that a. statement is untrue because one cannot personally vouch forits accuracy. At any rate, until some one can show that the statement which, has been made is wrong it must be accepted as correct.
– It is quite likely that the fact that America has gone “ dry “ will have an effect on the price of American hops.
– The letter which I am quoting says -
Owing to America -being a prohibition country and the bops there being largely grown by Japanese and Chinese labour, they are offering 1921 season’s crops to be harvested next September at 20 cents f.o.b. San Francisco, which means, with charges and duty added, 2s. Cel. per lb. landed here in .store.
– The .honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I would like to hear the continuation of Senator Earle’s argument before entering upon :a lengthy address on the matter. So far, he has convinced me that the hop-growers are .getting three times more than they used to get, .and yet he wants to give them a .little more.
– I” thank the honorable senator for .giving me ,the opportunity to speak again, but not for .his remarks.
– Can you .give the cost of producing hops?
– My information is that it costs at lea3t 2s. 6d. per lb. to grow hops.
– “What is the .price of hops to-day?
– The price fixed by the Pool is 4s. 6d. per lb., but last season’s harvest was sold for 3s. 6d. per lb.
– That is a rattling good profit.
– But out of that extra -ls. the hop-grower has to pay interest .on the capital value of his property and maintain his family.
– But it is a profit of SO per cent. The profit on selling at 4s. 6d. would be 100 per cent.
– The highest return from an acre of hops is only 1,600 lbs.; but I want to conclude reading this letter, which goes on to say -
And we understand some importers are talking of making three-years’ contracts at this figure. It is impossible for hop-growers to compete with such a price as this, as we can easily prove from several growers who keep accurate books that it is costing them 2s. 6d. to grow them; and we feel sure that if this fact is pointed out to the Minister he will agree that America, being a prohibition country, and unable to use its hops, ought not to be allowed to dump them down in Australia at ls. 6d. plus duty, .unless the duty is much higher than that now in force, viz., ls.
I have the figures relating to the importation of hops for ten months from 1st June, .1920, to 31st March, 1921, taken from Customs Department statistics. They are as follow:-
Importers, thorough obstinacy, were prepared to pay as high as 6s. lid. per lb. for imported hops rather than give 4s. 6d. per lb. to the local producers. Of course, having more money at their command, they “were able to beat the local producers and ‘compel them to accept 3s. -6d. per lb.
– Which, ,on your own showing, was 50 per cent, above the cost of production.
– It would be nearer 30 per Bent. ; but, if the honorable senator were a hop-grower, he would not regard a profit, of ls. per lb. as sufficient.
– I would like to have that percentage of profit on wool.
– I am surprised at the honorable senator advancing ‘that argument. The cost incidental to the preparation of a hop field in one place cannot be ‘based upon the cost incurred in preparing a field in another locality.
– The return on a yield off 1,600 lbs. of ‘hops per acre a* 3s. 6d. per lb. is £280. Surely that is a. good return 1
– Honorable senators must not draw an analogy between an acre of hops and an acre of wheat. An acre of hops may support a whole family and also afford employment to persons ‘ outside the family. Unless one can see the work attached to preparing a hop field, he can have no conception of the amount of labour it involves. There is no comparison .between the amount of work entailed in working a vineyard and that employed in working a hop field.
– Can the honorable senator tell us what the local production was for the period he has just quoted?
– I cannot, but I am assured that Victoria and Tasmania can, without any trouble, supply the whole requirements of Australia provided there is stability of trade. If, however, importers, at their own sweet will, are allowed to import large quantities of hops, and the hop-growers are always in danger of having their crops left on their hands, it will be very difficult, of course, to induce people to carry on the industry. Under such circumstances, the local production may be less than the requirements of Australia.
– According to the last statistics the production of hops in Australia is 18,778 cwt., practically” all grown in Tasmania.
– That means about 9,000 bales, and there is no reason why, with proper encouragement, Tasmania should not produce an abundance of hops for the Commonwealth.
– What duties does the honorable senator suggest?
– Taking into consideration the increased cost of production, I suggest, while leaving the British column as at present, that the intermediate duty be increased to1s. and the general duty, to1s. 6d. per lb. I feel that I am really too modest in making such a suggestion - that I really ought to be asking for a duty of 2s. under the general Tariff. If the brewers make up their minds that they will not use local hops, I know that the duty of 2s. will not prevent them from importing, but should they do so in their obstinacy, the result will be to bring in a few extra thousands of pounds to the Treasury. We shall accomplish that, if nothing else, by the acceptance of my suggestion. The imposition of the higher duties will, in my own State anyhow, stabilize the industry, and more land wit be put under cultivation, with the result that the full requirements of Australia will be met. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, per lb., intermediate,1s.; general,1s. 6d.
– Has the honorable senator any request to that effect from the Hop Growers’ Association of Tasmania ?
– The honorable senator was not present when I read an important letter in that connexion, and I shall be glad to hand the document to him.
– The hop-growers of Victoria have not made any move at all.
– I suppose the Victorian growers are relying on the growers of Tasmania,which is the premier producing State.
– The speech of Senator Earle was certainly interesting, but there are one or two facts, which ought to have been obvious to him, but which, apparently, he has forgotten. I happened to be connected with a Hop Pool during the worst times that the Tasmanian growers have ever experienced. We have been told that the hop-growers made a great sacrifice in regard to the fixing of the price at1s. 6d. during the establishment of the Pool. The fact is, however, that the growers and the brewers met in conference, and came to a mutual arrangement, without intervention by any arbitrator, and that arrangement was accepted by the Government.
– That was the wholesale selling price?
– Yes ; the whole of the hops were pooled as in the case of wheat and wool. On the same figures as supplied by Senator Earle this morning, there was a return of £120 per acre at the then price of1s. 6d. There is one fact that we ought to remember, and that is that all the hops grown in the world are not of one common flavour, and the embargo was subject to permission being granted by the Minister of the day for the importation of hops for the making of special ales; that is to say, permission could be given for the importation of hops of different flavours.
– That largely arises from prejudice, which, however, is now being got over.
– Just so, but the growers at that time agreed that there might be these special importations. Per- sonally, I was sympathetic with the growers at the time, because I recognised the great difficulties which they were then experiencing. According to the figures of Senator Earle, the price was 3s. 6d. last year, and, as 1,600 lbs. is a very good crop, it means a return of £280, as against £120. The importations from the United Kingdom between 1913 and 1918 dropped from 168,150 lbs. to 59,000 lbs.; New Zealand from 246,000 lbs. to 104,000 lbs.; and from AustriaHungary, or Bohemia, from 49,920 lbs. to 31,000 lbs. The importation from the United States of America was- 801,000 lbs. Germany, of course, was out of the business altogether, though she had previously sent us 195,000 lbs. These figures show an immense growth of the local industry. The Australian production had increased in 1917-18. to 2,103,136 lbs., and in 1918-19 it was 1,858,080 lbs. I regret that the figures for last year are not available, but I believe there was a considerable increase.
The duties in the previous Tariff were 6d. and 6d., and in the present Tariff, while not increasing the British duty, we have increased the intermediate duty by 50 per cent., and the general duty by 100 per cent. There are limits to such increases; and I wish to say that all the hops produced have been readily sold within Australia.
– I believe not; I think that Victorian hops are not yet sold.
– I understand that sufficient hops are not yet locally grown to meet the requirements of Australia, but I offer my congratulations on the very rapid development of the industry, which is, indeed, very promising for the future. If the progress of the last six years be maintained, I believe that in a very short time sufficient hops will be produced to meet all the demands of the Commonwealth. The importations, I believe, represent just about what the Australian production is short;’ so that if our production be increased by onethird there will be a complete market for the grower. It would be difficult for Senator Earle to point to a single Australian industry which has so steadily grown; it is- still growing, and is now within reasonable reach of a complete monopoly. I may say that there have been no applications from the hop growers for any increase in the duties except, of course, indirectly through Senator Earle; and the Government therefore assumed they were doing something wonderful in offering the increases I have mentioned. On the whole, I think the Government are doing very well for the hop industry.
– I think we should have the Tariff Board at work in regard to this industry ! *
– Doubtless the Tariff Board will find plenty of work” to do. Australia’s production was 1,166,672 lbs. in 1913-14; 1,798,048. in… 1914-15 ; 2,127,888 in 1915-16; 1,752,240 in 1916- 17; 2,103,136 in 1917-18; and 1,858,080 in 1918-9. I have not the figures for last year, but those’ I have quoted show a steady growth.- ‘I* think that at the time the Pool was formed- hops was selling at lOd. and lid. in Australia; and I ask the Committee to be satisfied with the increases proposed by the Government.
– Senator Earle certainly made out a convincing case, but it was not for an increase of duty. Indeed, it was for a reduction. The figures which ho quoted were utterly astonishing. I had had no notion of the profitable nature of hop-growing. In my ignorance of Tasmania, I had considered that its most profitable industry was the promotion of Tattersalls sweeps, but the particulars provided by Senator Earle place hopgrowing on the same plane at any rate as the other. Tasmania is one of the most favoured parts of the Commonwealth. It does not suffer from droughts.. Its soil is rich, and its climate is beautiful. One of the most superb sights on the island is the hop crop at picking time, although I understand that there are only about 1,200 acres under hop cultivation. Seeing that the produce from one acre, at the rate of 4s. per pound, equals more than £400, tow much more profitable does Senator Earle wish the industry to become? The honorable senator remarked that there was a lot of work attached to hop-growing. I can quite believe .that there is. All those who work on the land, one way or another, must get up early and work pretty hard. But, if a grower can make £400 per acre, and if his toil upon one acre does not extend for more ‘than three months in the year, is he notto be envied ?
– The honorable senator is talking nonsense. The hard work is spread all over the year.
– According to the honorable senator’s description of the industry, one does not require to work more than three months per annum in the cultivation of an acre of hops. At any rate, Senator Earle has provided such attractive information as may en- courage considerable competition from the fertile valleys of New SouthWales. The old price per pound was1s. Conditions have changed, and the hop-growers must now pay more for their labour; but the increase has not been great. It cannot be claimed that there hasbeen any considerable advance in the rate3 of wages paid to hop-pickers. According to present selling prices, the return per acre has increased by about £300.
– The wages of hoppickers have risen about . 300 per cent.
-I am not prepared to believe that the pay of the women and children, who chiefly do the picking, has been increased by so much. And, after all, the process of picking is only a small part of the general operation of cultivating and placing the product on the market. Seeing that the industry is being particularly well treated, and that it has reached a stage of prosperity which could not have been imagined a few years ago, the request now under consideration by the Committee is merely a greedy claim to heap up further prosperity. There is no chance, if the rate of duty be increased, of the wage earners making a little more, for the cry among employers throughout Australia’ to-day is that wages must be reduced in order to bring down the cost of living. If the hop-growers were not getting a fair deal I would readily agree that - the policy of this country being Protection - they should be given that degree of protection to which they are entitled. I do not believe that the people engaged in the brewing business, who are the chief buyers of hops, are deliberately refraining from encouraging local pro- duction by buying at a cheaper rate than the price at which hops canbe imported. Such a policy would be foreign to common sense; and the brewers are not fools. If 4s. 6d. per lb. is four and a half times as much as the price at which hops were quoted some months ago, how can Senator Earle reasonably advance his request’? I am. glad,at least, that the honorable senator is sufficiently liberal not to propose to tax further British-grown hops.
SenatorLYNCH (Western Australia) [11.53]. - I have before me a volume containing the most recent available congressional reports from the United States of America. These suggest that the hopgrowing industry in that country has undergone many fluctuations. The figures quoted have to do with the seasons from 1908 to 1910.
– That was before prohibition.
– They were normal years,before the war ; and the tendency is to return as rapidly as possible to normal conditions. The exports are set out in detail, and the following paragraph is added : -
Itwill be seenthat theaverage value of the exports in the 1908 period was 3.34 cents per lb., in the 1909 period 12¼ cents, and this season nearly 20 cents. The imports of hops into the United States of America during the ten months ended 30th April, 1908, were 8,211,535 lbs., the average value of whichwas 23½ cents.: in the 1909 period, 6,923,655 lbs., with an average value of slightly under 20 cents; and, for the ten month’s ended 30th April, 1910, 3,057,041 lbs., with an average value of nearly 47 ‘cents per lb. The import duty is now 16 cents per lb.
That is about equivalent to8d. The value of the imports in those normal years was in the neighbourhood of l0d. per lb. maximum; yet Senator Earle is asking that a rate of duty shall be imposed which, in itself, would be actually far above the price of the product brought into the United States of America. I agree with Senator Gardiner that in dealing with the Tariff theGovernment and the Parliament have started from . the wrong point. They have set out on the false assumption that the industries ‘of this country require protection to make them succeed. It is necessary that safeguards should be provided, of course, to enable producers and manufacturers to fairly hold their own. But the degree of protection should not be such as to amount, practically, to a premium upon laziness. We should not coddle our industries and manufactures to the extent of permitting them to grow flabby and lazy for lack of competition. Every penny imposed beyond what is absolutely necessary is, I repeat, nothing but a premium upon laziness. And that has been the effect of the rates upon many items in the Tariff. I blame the Government more than, anybody else. It is their duty to propound a leading policy. Otherwise what hope has Australia.’ of becoming a self-reliant and self-contained nation’? I am proud to think that there are some manufacturers who are so keenly alive to thi public interest that they refuse- to ask the ^Government for excessive protection. There are others, however, who greedily take the opportunity to “ thrust their hands in to the elbow.” This Committee should not tolerate such a state of affairs. I shall, certainly vote against the request.
– I have listened with interest to the remarks, of Senator Earle. I was quite prepared to be convinced concerning the need for increased duty. I admit that the senator made out a most convincing, case, but it was emphatically not for an increase. If it was for anything, at all, it was for a substantial reduction. That being so, I am bound to oppose Ms request, and, indeed, to seriously consider, whether it would not be proper to suggest the re-imposition of the rate of 6d. per lb-, duty.
– It is’ obvious that there are no hop-growers at Yanco.
– There are more consumers of hops in New South Wales than in any other State. Of the total quantity of” hops used in Austrafia, according to Senator Earle, two-thirds are locally produced, practically the whole in Tasmania, where production amounts to Iti cwt. per acre. Senator Earle saysit is impossible to-day to import hops under 6s. 1¼d. per lb.
– The honorable senator misrepresents me.
– Those are the honorable senator’s own figures.
– 1 stated that hops had been imported at that price.
– The local price, as fixed by the Hop-growers’ Association - Senator Earle informed the Committee - is 4s. 6d. per lb. There is a natural protection, amounting to ls. 7 id. per lb., ‘ provided by the difference between those two prices.
– I wish the honorable senator would not deliberately misrepresent me.
– I am merely referring to the statements made by the honorable senator, and other honorable senators who were in the chamber will admit that my deduction is correct, because the amount of 6s. 1¼d. has been referred to* by other honorable senatorsOn the honorable senator’s own figures there is already a natural protection of ls. 7¼d. per lb., which, when we take into consideration the area under cultivation for this purpose in Tasmania shows a natural protection of £85 14s. 4d. per acre, whilst the total production per acre is valued at approximately £360.
Senior Senior. - But it is necessary to look at’ the facts.
– I have to be guided largely by the facts submitted to the Committee by Senator Earle, who isa representative of the Tasmanian hopgrowers, and who should know the position.
– The honorable senator would realize the true position if he considered my statement carefully.
– I do not wish to misrepresent the honorable senator, but I recorded the figures when he quoted therm.
– The honorable sena tor is deliberately misrepresenting- me.
– I ain. not. I have already shown by the attitude. I have adopted in connexion with the discussion of the Tariff that I am anxious to assist primary producers ; but when I find that those who are pleading on behalf of theprimary producers are asking for more than a fair thing - as is the case in this instance - and are endeavouring’ to fleece the consuming public to an exorbitant extent, I am not likely to’ render any assistance. The proposal of the Government, giving as it does an additional duty of 100’ per cent, on the old Tariff, is quite sufficient. The hop-growing industry in Tasmania was established under the old Tariff, and the hop-growers in that State have done exceedingly well; but notwith- standing that the duty is to he increased by 100 per cent., Senator Earle now submits an additional impost of 50 per cent.
– In 1913 the hopgrowers were “ down and out.”
– And the Government propose to assist them by increasing the duty by 100 per cent.
– “We are still importing one-third of our requirements.
– Exactly. The Minister has shown that it is necessary to import a certain quantity for blending purposes. Surely he is not pleading that we should exclude hops from other countries.
– I referred to that matter in a differentmanner. I said that the users of hops were now purchasing the Australian product instead of imported hops.
– I am glad to hear it. While I am willing to give fair protection, and perhaps a little more, to an industry such as this, I am not prepared to give it an unreasonable degree of protection such as that proposed by Senator Earle, and in view of the figures submitted I must on this occasion be found side by side with Senator Gardiner. The case presented by Senator Earle would be an admirable one if he were seeking a reduction in duties, and when an honorable senator submits a request of this kind to the Committee it is his duty and responsibility to prove that an increase is justified. Perhaps Senator Earle has not made out as good a case as the hop-growers may desire. I am. under the circumstances, prepared to support the duty proposed by the Government.
– I desire to correct a false impression which seems toprevail in connexion with the industry of hop growing - quite apart from the duties - and shall endeavour to throw some light on the matter. Senator Gardiner inferred that the cultivation of hops was a simple process, but his experience in that direction must be limited.
– I have not had any experience.
– The honorable senator’s knowledge must be very superficial, or he is- misinterpreting the posi tion. There is no work in connexion with production from the land which requires more careful and continuous attention than that of hop growing. Senator Duncan and Senator Gardiner have endeavoured to prove that substantial returns are derived from hop growing. Some years ago, in the Mount Gambier district, in South Australia, where the land is of the richest quality, large quantities of hops were grown, but, although the yield was uncommonly good, hop growing was found to be altogether unremunerative. At present, there is not a single hop plant grown for commercial purposes in that district, and the land is now used for the production of wheat, barley, and oats. If there is so much to be made out of hop growing as some honorable senators suggest, it is notlikely that the growers in the Mount Gambier district would be such idiots as to discontinue producing a remunerative crop.
– Will the honorable senator give us some idea of the methods adopted in cultivating hops?
– In the first. place, the ground has to be well tilled before the hops are planted, and, while the plants are growing, the soil has to be kept free from weeds.
– That has tobe done with a potato or onion crop.
– Yes, once or twice a year, but in a hop garden the work is continuous. After the plants reach a certain stage, stakes have to be procured and placed in position, and after that is done all cultivation has to be carried out by hand, as a horse-drawn implement cannot be employed.
– The modern method is to utilize wire frames.
– Yes. They are more effective and more expensive. When the hops are ready for picking, sufficient labour has to be secured to enable the work to be carried out quickly, because if there is a frost the crop is lost. The work is precarious, difficult, and continuous, and it cannot be . regarded as remunerative. Land could be purchased in the district to which I refer at £40 per acre when hop growing was the rage in that locality.
– What was the price of hops at that time?
– I cannot give the figure, .but they were not as expensive as they are to-day.
– And hop growing was all the rage?
– Yes ; and the price was not appreciably greater than it is to-day.
– “What period elapses from the time hops are planted until the crop is gathered?
– The first yield is very light, and growers usually have to wait till the second year before a remunerative crop can be obtained.
– Do they not pick hops annually?
– Yes, after the first crop. Land suitable for hop growing, which was sold at £40 per acre, is now worth £60 per acre, and is being used for the production of wheat, barley, oat, and onion crops. If hop growing was as remunerative as some suggest, the land would not have been utilized for other purposes. At the time of which I speak, the opportunities for employment amongst young people were not sonumerous as they are -to-day, and consequently labour could be obtained at lower rates.
– But consider the difference in the price.
– The present price is unusual. We have to take the average price of hops with the known cost of production.
– What did it cost to pick an acre of hops in. those days?
– An able-bodied man would not receive more than 5s. per day.
– How long ago was that?
– Some thirty years ago.
– Is there much child labour employed in the industry?
– A great proportion of the picking was at that time done by women and by children from twelve to sixteen and eighteen years of . age. A child would not receive more than 2s. or 2s. 6d. per day. If the cultivation of hops was unremunerative under those conditions, how can it be remunerative under the conditions prevailing to-day?
I think it is clear from what I have said” that hop cultivation is not gold mining, and there is no halo round the industry.
– How long does the picking season last?
– About three weeks.
– I am always very anxious to support the primary producers of the Commonwealth, but this kind of thing can* be overdone. Bread is the staff of life of the 5,500,000 people in the Commonwealth, and it seems to me extraordinary that the Government should have proposed a duty on wheat which is at the present time inoperative, and should also propose an increase of 100 per cent, in the duty on hops which are used to make the yeast which is necessary in the making of bread.
– The hops used to make yeast for the manufacture of bread should not represent a very big item.
– It is an item which ought to be considered. Senator Earle convinced me of the fairness of a reduction of the proposed duty on hops rather than of an increase in that duty. He desires to spoon-feed a little coterie of hop-growers in one State at the expense of the rest of the people of the Commonwealth. I cannot understand such a request coming from any practical man. Senator Lynch has pointed out that the duty submitted by the Government is greater than the price at which hops can be grown in America. Surely high wages have to be paid for labour, there.
– That is not so.
- Senator Senior has said that when hops were at ls. per lb. their cultivation was all the rage. If that he so the growing of hops at a time when, according to Senator Earle, they are worth 4s. 6d. per lb. should be the most fashionable and lucrative occupation in the world. Senator Earle asks us to believe that the brewers of the Commonwealth are willing to pay 6s. l£d. per lb. for imported hops when they might get them here for 4s. 6d. per lb. It should be remembered that hops at 4s. 6d. per lb. represents an enormous revenue per acre. According to the description of hop-growing by ‘.: Sena tor Senior it should be rather a nice occupation. The labour employed in. the industry is largely child labour, and, in all the circumstances, I find it difficult to believe that Senator Earle can be serious in his request. . If hop-growing on land worth £40 per acre was all the rage when hops were selling at ls. per lb., I cannot believe that the growing of hops on land worth £60 per acre, when hops are at 4s. 6d. per lb., indicates that the industry is in such a parlous condition that we should increase the duty, not by 100, but by 150, per cent., as proposed by Senator Earle. If any member of the Committee will move a request for a reduction of the duty submitted by the Government, I shall feel myself forced, as . a representative of the primary producers===.
– Hot of hops.
– I speak as a senator who takes an Australian view of matters which come before Parliament for discussion, Some members of the Committee speak only for the States which they represent, “ and take such a narrow view of things that they are prepared to barrack for a little State “and for a handful of people in that State, though what they propose may penalize the rest of the people” of Australia. I’ shall not stand “for anything of that kind.
Senator EARLE (‘Tasmania) [12,2’lX -One. pf the most pitiable, things in connexion with debates such as, that in
Which we are now, engaged is the. fact that before an honorable, senator rises, to support a proposal he, very carefully considers whether any of his own electors are. interested- in i% There are about half-a-dozen- hop-growers in Victoria,, and’ consequently they can have, but very- little influence upon. an. election for- the. Senate; Senator- Duncan, is- a very- good’ example of’ the. kind< of senator to” whom. I have just- referred. Only/ yesterday, he de.nounced the Legislature, “with. a. fine show ofl indignation, for- proposing to. place, a special duty, of-‘ 4z$A: per. lb* on. prunes but, when- the. Vice-President qf the> Executive Council (Senator Russell) said that the. increase, in. the- duty had been asked” for. by- the pr,une-growers. of Yanco, Senator Duncan’s opposition to. the- prorposal collapsed- like a. pricked balloon. He veered right round and: supported” a duty idf 4½d. per lb.. To-day Senator
Duncan has transferred his splendid opposition to the duty on prunes to a proposal to impose a duty upon’ an article which is not grown in the State which he represents. He feels quite safe, because there is not a single hop-grower in New South Wales. As the industry is carried on practically only in Tasmania, he can let himself go to the fullest extent in opposition to a duty on hops. The honorable senator has said that I proved that there ought to be, not an increase, but a reduction, in the duty imposed on hops, inasmuch as I said that hops are offered in Tasmania for 4s. 6d. per lb. and that brewers have imported hops at 6s. lid. per lb. I made it plain that, in my opinion, the brewers imported hops at 6s. lid. per’ lb. out of sheer obstinacy. Senator Gardiner refused to believe that brewers would import hops at a price representing 50 per cent, more than that at which locally-grown hops might be obtained, but the brewers secured a portion of their requirements in the shape of locally-grown hops at 3s. 6d. per lb. Some honorable senators appear to be unable to realize the difference’ between the cultivation of hops and of other agricultural and horticultural products. Senator Gardiner referred to the fact that an acre of hops may give a profit of £200. That is very- likely; but the rer turn from- an acre of hops may represent the whole- income of a family, from- which payment for outside labour, at certain periods, must also be provided.
– -Surely a. family can work- more than, one. acre, of’ hops;!
– .The, interjection shows: that Senator Guthrie’ knows, nothing at all about the industry. The cUltvation qf *am acre of bops isi a very fair undertaking for one family. Willi tha honorable, senator.’ contend that. £60.0 or £800 is a big annual return, when the co.st. of. cultivation, fertilizers,, wire, and’ everything necessary in the growing of hops is taken into account ?-
– What’ would’ be the area- of sa large- hop field’ in’ Tasmania?
– I’ suppose that’’ the Shoobridges are- the largest growers- of hops: in’ Tasmania. They have- a’ farm of from 20’ to. 25. acres, But they, have twenty;nine families continuously employed’ in connexion with’ its cultivation. There1 is quite a little- village* oni that- farm.
– That is to say, that an acre of. land supports more than one family.
– In this particular case it is so.
– It must be very valuable land.
– Of course, it has to be to grow hops.
– Are not the Shoobridges also fruit-growers.?
– Yes, they are. Senator Lynch in one of his very eloquent speeches used convincing arguments in favour of my request, and then, in his characteristic style, started to pull down the case he had set up. He said that American statistics showed that hops were produced there for 2.0 cents per lb. That is the cost of production. This shows thatthey are produced in America at at least one- fifth of. the cost of: their produce tion in Australia. The honorable senator further mentioned that at the time the duty on hops in America was 8d. per- lb.
– It is still 8d. per lb.
– That is about 80 per cent. of the value of the hops. Hops in Australia are worth, say, 4s. per lb. Will honorable senators give me a duty of 3s. on hops ?
– Of course, they will not. I ask for a duty of only1s; 6d. per lb.
-Four shillings per lb. is an extortionate price for hops.
-It is not. The honorable senator cannot know the cost of producing hops. I can quite understand that men who have been engaged in the cultivation of an orchard, a vineyard, or a wheat farm are unable to realize the difference between the cultivation of hops and the cultivation of other produce from the land. I do know the difference, because I have frequently gone over the hop gardens of Tasmania. One honorable senator referred to the cost of hops in the making of yeast for the manufacture of bread. I might be somewhat sympathetic with that argument, but the honorable senator did not give the Committee any idea of the extent to which the cost of making bread is increased by the duty on hops. A great quantity of hops is used in the making of beer, but 29 gallons of beer are made with 1 lb. of hops; What is, the contribution, to the hopgrower from the beer-drinker?
– Does, the honorable senator know that the. unfortunate people making bread in the back-blocks have to pay 9s. per lb, for hops with which to make yeast?
– The local grower does not get that price. If the consumers paid only a fair price in proportion, to the amount which the grower receives for his hops, the addition to. the cost of keeping a family would be very small indeed.. Do’ honorable senators wish to block out this industry or do they desire Australia to be self-contained? Is Australia” to produce everything it can produce with white labour, or are our people to consume the products of coloured labour in. other countries? If honorable senators will not do a fair thing by this industry, as they have done by other industries in their own States, I must accept the inevitable; but they readily increased considerably the duties on dried fruits. ‘
– The honorable senator wanted to restrict the increase to evaporated apples.
– I voted for a duty to protect Queensland, bananas.
– When we took a division yesterday, the. honorable senator would not supportus because we were increasing the duty on dried apricots.
– I considered that dried fruit’s had sufficient Protection already. I cannot be charged with parochialism in my attitude upon the Tariff.. It is necessary that the important hop-growing industry should he protected against the. importation of cheaply-grown hops from America. The statistics quoted by Senator Lynch prove that if the duty is not fairly high our growers will not be able to producehops in competition with the American product. Senator Gardiner said that he could not believe that brewers would be so foolish as to pay 6s.1¼d for imported hops when they could have bought’ the locally-grown commodity for 4s. 6d. per lb. I admit that the transaction does seem strange, but 7 am confident that the figure I quoted is correct. What’ motive ‘ the brewers have I do not know. It may be. mere obstinacyor a determination to beat the local grower, or an idea of getting the future crop at a very much lower price. L am assured by those who watch the trade very closely that there are at present in store from 4,000 to 5,000 bales of hops, which will come into competition with the 1921-22 crop; so it may be- that the cost of importing a large quantity of hops at a very high price may be more than compensated for by the purchase of the next season’s Australian crop at a low price. I hope that, notwithstanding the unreasonable opposition shown by some senators to my proposal, the majority of senators will vote to maintain the hop-growing industry.
– Senator Earle has spoken of unreasonable opposition to his request, but I think he has been illadvised in raising the question at all. He would have, done better to have allowed sleeping dogs to lie, because by his attitude in proposing a further increase of duty he has raised considerable opposition to the very generous duty which the Government have proposed. His request is most unreasonable. Years ago, hops could be purchased at a moderate price, but to-day the price is extortionate. Senator Earle has made no attempt to reply to the statement made by Senator Russell, that some time ago the hopgrowers were willing to accept ls. 6d. per lb.; and he is now asking for a duty equal to the price for which hops could be purchased a few - years ago. Senator Earle’ has suggested that the brewers are paying 6s. l£d. for imported hops either out of pique or with a desire to defeat the local grower. .The suggestion is too far-fetched; it would take a lot to convince me that business men would act so stupidly. A more reasonable explanation is that hops grown in different countries vary in flavour, and that it is necessary to import hops for brewing certain kinds of ale. ‘ Senator Earle would have better conserved the interest’s of the hop-growers if he had not proposed any increase in the .’duty.
.- Senator Senior seems to think that my lack of knowledge if the cultivation of hops disqualifies me to speak on the subject. I thank him sincerely for the detailed information he gave upon the subject. I stated that in cultivating 1 acre of hops a man would not work more than three months in the year, and I am convinced after having listened to the honorable senator that a man does not work even so long. With a chipping hoe I will break the soil on an acre of hops in a day and a half, or possibly in one day. In regard to the harvesting, Senator Senior has said .that the gathering of the crop does not last more than three weeks. Certainly a large number of children have to be put into the field, but it is evident that I allowed an ample margin when I allowed three months’ work for an acre of hops. I gathered from Senator Earle that there were some hop plantations of 25 acres each in Tasmania. According to the statistics there were only 1,260 acres under hops in that State in 1918; and rather than increase the duty as he proposes it would pay the Commonwealth better to allow each family engaged in the hop-growing industry in Tasmania an income of £500 a year. If Senator Earle would make such a proposal he would be doing a generous act to the Commonwealth as a whole. The attitude I am adopting in regard to this Tasmanian industry will apply equally to industries in my own State. If the cultivators of 1,260 acres of hops are to be allowed, by means of the Tariff, to handicap the rest of the Commonwealth to the extent of £100,000 or £300,000 per annum, would it not be better to give those people £100,000 to go out of the industry and allow hops to be imported free of duty? In taxing an article which is used in the production of bread and beer we are making a levy upon every pocket in the community. I am as willing to give advantages to people in Tasmania as to anybody else, but I would not confer them at such enormous cost to the rest of the community. To-day when the hop-growers are receiving; 4 s. 6d. per lb. for their product they are asking for more duty than they received when they were getting a return of only ls. 6d. per lb. Senator Senior told’ us how a once flourishing industry in South Australia has almost ceased to exist. It is true that the time of which he spoke was thirty years ago, and that workmen were then receiving about 5s. per day. Cannot the honorable senator see that until labour entrenched itself in Par- liament , and its unions, the purchasing power of the people was so ground down that the things produced by the men on the laud could not be sold. Now that wages have increased to such an extent that there is a reasonable purchasing power well distributed throughout the community this product in Tasmania, Victoria, and South Australia is realizing 4s. 6d. per lb. I know that women and children pick the hops, and receive comparatively good wages for that work. According to the figures as to the average production, an enormous return, amounting to something like £400 per acre per annum,’ is secured. Allowing for the cost of cultivating, weeding, and chipping, which is by no means continuous - one chipping every two or three months is sufficient - a very big profit must be secured.
– The honorable senator’s knowledge is again at fault.
– I am afraid the honorable senator is “ chipping “ Senator Senior.
– When I am not “ chipping “ him he is usually “ chipping “ me. There are 1,260 acres of land under hops in Tasmania and 2 acres under hops in South Australia. Is it worth while taxing the consumers of bread and beer in South Australia to this extent, in order to protect one man in that State who has 2 acres under hops?
– We must do justice to every industry, no matter how small it may be.
– If justice were meted out to some of these industries, no one would be advocating more protection for them. It is not justice, but generosity that is demanded of the people who are asked to pay this duty, in order to maintain an industry that can give employment to so few, seeing that the total area under hops in Australia is only1,333 acres. We are asked -to believe that brewers are paying 6s.1¼d. per lb. for foreign-grown hops rather than purchase - the splendid Tasmanian product at 4s. 6d. per lb. I cannot accept that statement. It would mean that the brewers, because of sheer stupidity, or perverseness, so far as Tasmanian hops are concerned, are expending, quite unnecessarily, from £100,000 to £200,000 a year in the purchase of foreign-grown hops.
Just as I cannot swallow the product of the brewers, so I cannot swallow this tale of their alleged stupidity.
– Has the honorable senator no faith?
– I have not sufficient faith to believe that the shrewd business men who have built up great breweries in Australia are prepared to spend from £100,000 to £200,000 more than they need to do in the purchase of hops. Intelligence is the only basis of faith. I wish it to be distinctly understood that I am not taking up this attitude because of any spirit of hostility “towards the Tasmanian hop-growing industry. I shall vote on this item just as I voted against the proposal to increase the duty on dried fruits, although dried fruits are produced in large quantities in New South Wales. My desire is to protect the consumer. We must endeavour to do the greatest good to the greatest number, and, in a case of this kind, I must vote to protect the consumer. If I thought it would be possible to carry a request to remove the whole duty, I should submit such a proposition ; since’ I do not think that in the circumstances a duty is required.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item, British, free.
Tasmanian hops, owing to the climatic conditions under which they are produced, nodoubt, more closely approximate to the Kentish hops than do any other, and I think we should give British hops a special advantage over those produced by cheap coloured labour in the United States of America.
Item agreed to.
Item 63 (Isinglass) ; item 64 (Lard) ; item 65 (Linseed cake) ; and item 66 (Linseed) agreed to.
Item 67 (Linseed meal).
.- Under this item a duty of 4s. per cental is imposed on linseed meal. That is an enormous impost upon such a commodity. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item, British, free.
Item agreed to.
Item 68 (Linseed, n.e.i.) agreed to.
Item 69 (Liquorice).
– I notice that under this item an ad valorem duty of 25 per cent, under the British Preferential Tariff is imposed on liquorice n.e.i “when the home consumption value, including the inside packages, exceeds ls. per lb.” I realize that the basis of all duties is stupidity, but there is no- reason why we should display special stupidity by imposing ad valorem duties on” commodities of this kind. Under such a duty, the higher the quality of the article imported1 the higher is the amount collected in respect of it. Is that just? I ask the Minister to give consideration to that aspect of the question of ad valorem duties. I assume that i-8 will not be the higher-classed imports that will come into competition, with the liquorice we are producing, so that by imposing these ad valorem duties, we shall collect more duty on the article of superior quality than will be obtained in respect of the- inferior article which is likely to* come into competition with our own manufactures.
– There are grades of liquorice the distinction between which is so fine that the only way to deal with them is to impose a duty on the value of the article* The liquorice industry has been established in South Australia,, and is proving wonderfully successful. Within a very short time, it will be able to supply. all the liquorice required in connexion with the manufacture of tobacco, as well as for other purposes in Australia.. I hope the duty will be agreed to.
Item agreed to.
Item. 70 (Macaroni) ; item 71 (Malt extract)’.; and item 72 (Malt) agreed *o.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.80 p.m.
Item 73 (Matches’ and vestas) .
– The duties on imported wooden matches have; been increased on the British preferential Tariff from 8d. to ls. Id. per gross, an increase. of over 50 per cent., and on the general Tariff- from ls. 2d”, to 2s. per gross, an increase of about 70 per cent. The protection thus given to the local industry should enable the Commonwealth to supply its- own requirements in these- matches. But, as has been said before, both here and in the other Chamber, if our manufacturers are to keep the Australian trade, they must see that their goods are true to name, and answer to description in both quality and quantity. Imported matches bear on each box a la’bel announcing that the contents of the box average sixty matches, and Australian manuf acturers ‘ should similarly state the contents of their boxes. During the luncheon adjournment I counted the contents of two boxes taken from a sealed’ packet of matches manufactured by the Bryant and May, Bell and Company Proprietary Limited, of Richmond, Victoria, and found that one box contained only fifty-two and the other fifty-three matches, so that the package, accepting the standard of contents as that fixed for imported matches, sixty in a box, was a box and a half short. That is not fair to those who purchase the Australian matches, and we should see that local manufacturers whose business is protected give a fair deal to the public. As to quality, I’ prefer the Australian to the Japanese matches* though they may not be so- good or have as attractive- an appearance as the best Swedish matches.
– It must be remembered that in a box of imported matches there are many which will not. strike, and which should1 not be counted in an estimate of the contents.
– The best brands of Swedish matches, such as the Three- Star brand - one of the best brands on the market, and sold at a higher’ price than the local manufacture - will’ always strike, and the contents of a box average sixty matches’. I counted a box to-day which contained fifty-nine^, and probably the next’ would* hold sixty or sixty-one^ matches’. I trust that this- complaint will be brought under the notice of those responsible, so that the public may receive fair value for the price charged for Australianmade matches.
.- It may be that the Australian manufacturers are really giving good measure, and that their boxes are not intended1 to hold! more than fiftymatches ; but’ if there 5s- an unhealthy and disagreeabl’e. business it is the making of matches, and I cannot understand why Protectionists should notbe willing to leave it to the people of other countries. Australia possesses untold wealth which is yet untouched, and openings for all sorts of healthy and profitable industries, and it wouldbe much better to encourage these. No one would like his children to become match operatives.
– Has the honorable senatorbeenthrough the factory at Richmond?
– Then the honorable senator should visit it, and judge for himself.
- Senator Senior knows all about everything, and he will not saythat the making of matches is a healthy occupation, because that would be contrary to all that we have read of it. I move -
That the House of Representatives be reguested to make the item, ‘British, . free.
Request . negatived.
Item agreed to.
Item 74(Meats, poultry, game, and soup).
SenatorGARDINER (New South Wales) [2.41]. - I notice that there is a fixed duty in respect to most formsof imported meats, poultry,game, and soups, but that in respect of potted or concentrated meats and meat jellies, and preparations in dry form for making soup, an ailvalorem rate of 30 per cent. against Great Britain is provided. ‘As I . said . before lunch, the imposition of an ad valorem rate requires the paymentof a higherduty,the morevaluable thearticle imparted may be.Iwould make ‘the jnferior article pay the -higher duty.
-Should not more duty be paid on luxuries Chan onnecessities ?
SenatorGARDINER.- My idea is to bring luxuries within the reach of the people I represent.There is ‘no sense in demanding the payment of 80 percent. duty on an article of inferior quality and the same percentage on a more valuable article. Apparently the principle followed in framing this portion ofthe Tariff has been to apply fixed rates of duty, except where some firm has, perhaps, got the ear of the authorities and securedthe imposition of a special ad valorem irate to protect its product from competition it fears from outside. For potted or concentrated meats we havethe raw material in Australia, and inrespect ofthese commodities no other country could fairly compete with us, yet, strangely, these particular lines are singled out for a specially heavy rate of duty. It is quite . opposed to what intelligence dictates as the principle that ought to be followed, namely, to make the inferior article pay the higher duty.
– I thought that the honorable senator believed in the taxation of luxuries.
SenatorGARDINER.- I do not. I want thepeopleI represent to be in , a position toenjoy them. However, these preparations . are not luxuries. In the . back country, life is made more comfortable than it otherwise would be because people can take advantage of the efforts of science in successfullydemonstrating thatmeats and soups can be concentrated andpreserved in . small . containers.
– What about pâte de foie gras?
– People in , the back country get very littleof that. Those who prepare Tariffs take care that there is not enough money left to the consumer tobuy a gosling for Christmas,let alone luxuries. ‘If Ihad my way,the luxuries would go to the people who earned ; themby doing the world’s work; I would not allow anyparticular kinds of food or dress to be reservedfor one class, simply because others are not in a position to purchase them. I was ratherstruckby the argument we heardin regard to the quality of matches. In that case, we found that under these Protective duties good qualities and had all -pay the same rate; and I should ‘like to know >why, in the case of the present item, adutyof 2d. per lb. should not be enough . for ; all. Why not have afixed rate,so ‘that the people may know at once what has to fee paid ? Personally, Iwould insist on every grocer setting out, not ‘only the price of thearticle he sells, but also the Customs duty paid upon it. If that were done, Protection would live just about as longas the income tax would if it were submitted to the people.
– I do not think that any tax would live if the question of itsimposition were submitted to the people !
– I take quite a different view of the willingness of the community to tax themselves. At any rate, the people who sent me here are complaining of my trying to save them some taxation, so they are evidently prepared to pay their share.
– In return for Protection !
– Out of which they get nothing, but out of which their employers get everything. The workers know that in the last resort they have to pay the tax, and when we come to articles that can be easily obtained from every storekeeper, I do not see why they should be made 30 per cent. or “40 per cent. dearer, simply because some rich company happens to get the ear of those who prepare the Tariff. The raw materials for these commodities are more easily obtained here than in any other part of the world.
– That is why we do not desire any importations.
– And yet we speak of our splendid workmen who, we say, have not their superiors anywhere !
– We export quite as much as we import. This is only pure vanity!
– If we have started to compete in the outside markets this duty is only sheer make-believe.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Senator Gardiner asks why we impose ad valorem duties. I may tell him that the departmental officers prefer at all times , to have a flat rate; but we have to remember that there are items under one common heading which embrace great varieties of quality and price, and to impose a flat rate in such cases would be wrong. It is much more justifiable to tax luxuries than to tax the necessaries of life. Take, for instance, calves’ feet jelly or bovril, which form the poor man’s luxuries during illness; surely no one would propose to put those on the same list as caviare? The ad valorem principle is not adopted because it affords any specially advantageous means of collecting revenue, but merely because of the varying values, and so forth, of articles which are brought in under a common name.
Item agreed to.
Item 75 -
Milk (includingcream) -
Preserved, condensed, concentrated, peptonized, and frozen : -
Sweetened, per lb., British, 2d.; intermediate, 2½d.; general, 3d.
Unsweetened, per lb., British, 2d.; intermediate, 2½d.; general, 3d.
Dried or in powder form, per lb., 3d. ; intermediate, 4d. ; general, 4d.
Malted milk, per lb., British, 6d.; in termediate, 7d. ; general, 8d.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-items (a) and (b), British, free.
In my opinion, there is not much danger of competition from Great Britain, and the more free we make the Tariff in this regard the more decent we shall appear. If my request is adopted we shall, at any rate, show some kind of desire to trade with the Mother Country. Surely we can permit these children’s and invalids’ foods to come in without adding to their cost by means of a Tariff ? Our pastures are certainly rich and wide enough to meet any competition.
– It is because we can produce these commodities so well that we do not desire that there shall be any importations. All such foods that are not made in Australia are admitted free.
– I do not quite understand that last remark.
– In the case of a pure baby’s food, it is admitted free ; but a number of such foods are common to all countries, and we can produce them more readily than they can beproduced elsewhere.
– Take the case of an old British firm, which, for a hundred years, has been manufacturing such foodstuffs by means of some secret process. When people, who know the virtue of such a food, endeavour to buy it, they are offered a substitute by a local company, a substitute which has not those properties which give value to the old British recipe. However, Protection is so blind and stupid as not to take into. consideration the real value of such articles. If a commodity is produced here that looks like something else, then for Tariff purposes it is something else, and the real article is shut out. Surely the Government ought to relent when it is a matter of children’s foods. Only one or two Australian companies are affected by this duty, and they ought to be able to compete, in view of the seacarriage and other charges. We all know from the letters we receive how good Protection is for the individual, and how bad for the community - that is the whole history of Protection. Apparently, whenever a company that is interested presents a case, that case is accepted by the Government.
– I am not acquainted with the position of affairs in other States, but in Victoria this industry has proved particularly beneficial. Nestle’s have a magnificent establishment at Warrnambool, and it is a factthat, in some cases, the firm offer better prices for milk than are given by the butter factories; and, of course, the higher the price for milk the better it is for the dairymen. Protection in this connexion has proved a success. Glaxo is a sort of dried milk, not- a pure child’s food. Duty has now been imposed upon similar importations, and, as an outcome of this protection,, a magnificent factory has been established at Port Fairy, so that the product is now being made in Australia, from Australian milk, and it is no longer necessary to import from New Zealand. Indeed, Australia has become a big exporting country in respect of these lines. If a dried milk can be prepared which will retain the whole of the qualities of ordinary milk, there will be a fortune in the discovery. Briefly, the policy of the Government has been, in respect of every line of infants’ and invalids’ food which is not manufactured in Australia, to admit it duty free; but upon imported products, which are similar to foods now manufactured here, duty is imposed.
.- I wish to know why there is no differentiation in the duties upon sweetened and unsweetened milk. The previous Tariff imposed a preferential duty upon sweet ened milk of1½d. per lb., and a general duty of 2d. The duties upon unsweetened milk were, respectively,1d. and lid. What has influenced the Government in making the duties upon each variety the same, namely, 2d. preferential and 3d. general?
– The following are the average prices per lb. of imported condensed milk and dried milk, as shown in the official statistics : -
It will be seen from those figures that there is no valid reason for admitting unsweetened milk at a lower rate of duty than sweetened milk. The high value of unsweetened milk in 1917-18 was due to importations from Norway, which were, no doubt, of a special kind - probably tinned cream. The importations of sweetened condensed milk over a number of years are shown as follows : -
In 1913, 120,786 lbs., valued at£ 2,913; 1914- 15, 1,080,460 lbs., valued at £24,134; 1915- 10, 1,617,833 lbs., valued at £39.354; 1916- 17, 39,482 Km., valued at £ 1,305; 1917- 18, 7,271 lbs., valued at £232; 1918-19, 15,657 lbs., valued at £478; 1919-20, 37,876 lbs., valued at £1,263.
These particulars reveal very rapid decreases in the importations - due, of course, to the establishment in Australia of such works as Nestle’s. These establishments have proved of considerable value to our dairying industry.
.- The Minister (Senator Russell) remarked just now that duties are not imposed upon imported foods unless similar lines are manufactured locally. Is there a food manufactured in Australia which corresponds with Horlick’s?
– Yes, a similar line is produced by the Bacchus Marsh Company.
– There is a difference of 100 per cent. or more in the prices of the two, and yet a duty is imposed upon the dearer article. The
Minister said that Horlick’s malted milk’ cannot be regarded as an infants’ or invalids’ food.; but, according to analysis, it is oneof the purest invalid foods imported, because it is more easily digested, and does not contain any unaltered starch. Many of the imported infants’ foods contain unaltered starch, and are, therefore, more difficult for invalids and infants to digest. It seems strange that a food which has been proved by careful analysis to be one of the purest manufactured ‘should be penalized to the extent of 20 per cent., which makes it more expensive for those who have to purchase it when other similar foods are admitted free.
– What does the honorable senator mean by ‘20 per cent. ?
– The product sold by the Bacchus Marsh Company, the interests of which have recently been acquired by Nestle’s, is supposed to be equal to Horlick’s malted milk. Both products are put up in . three sizes, and the wholesale price of Horlick’s is 6s.,, and Bacchus . Marsh 3s. The second size of Horlick’s is sold at4s.11d., and the . Bacchus Martsh product at 2s. 6d., which means, in that case, that there is a difference of 96.8 per cent. between the price of the two. “When there is such a disparity in the price of the two products, there isno need to make . the price still higher for thosewho require it. Even if we deduct the duty of 20 per cent., there is stilla difference of75 per cent. intheprice, . and when we add to the prices already . quoted the margin between the wholesale and retail rates, honorable senators will see that ‘the cost is practically prohibitive. The analysis shows Shalt Horlick’s cannot be . regarded as other than a good food. It has been in use all over the world for forty years, and is largely used in public and. private hospitals. The . following foods are admitted free of duty:- Mel- lin’s,.’Benger’s, Savory and Moore’s, Allenbury’s Carnrick’s, andFrame Food, but Horlick’s malted milk is dutiable at20 per cent.
– That is the result of departmental administration.
– Departmental interpretation followed by departmental administration. We are asking immigrants to settle in the Commonwealth,and it ‘is ‘only natural thatwhenthey arrive and require ‘an infants’ or invalids’ food they should ask for one which they have been accustomed to use. It would be useless telling them that Bacchus Marsh product is just as good as the imported article.
– I have already ex- . plained that, in the opinion of a reputable analyst, the foods are practically the same.
– According to an analysis, Horlick’s milk contains an admixture of 50 per cent. of desiccated milk, ‘26.25 per cent. of wheat flour, 23 parts of malt, 0.75 per cent. of soda bicarbonate, and does not contain any unaltered starch when mixed. Frame food, which is admitted free, consists of thoroughly baked flour, cane sugar, extract of bran ; it is not specially rich in mineral ingredients, nitrogenous matter is abundant, and it also contains much unaltered starch. Allen bury ‘s No. 1 food, which is also admittedfree,contains desiccated cows’ milk from which the casein has been removed, sugar and cream, and a proportion of soluble vegetable albumen; it doesnot contain any starch. If the imposition of this duty is to protect the dairying industry in Australia, why are the foods I have mentioned admitted free.; and if it is . to protect thefour milling industry, why are foods in which flour is an ingredient also admitted free? If we are to be consistent, we must impose a similar duty on . all of . them, or . admit them free.
SenatorDrake-Brockman. - Theyare all so expensive that it is not necessary to impose duties to protect local (industries.
SenatorSENIOR.- Theduty doesnot protect our local industries,becausethe difference in price is ‘sufficient to do that.
– The Government propose an in- crease in the duty on sweetened milk from 2d. to3d. per lb., or a jump up of 50 per : cent. In the case of unsweetened milk the proposal is for an increase in the duty from1¾d. to 3d., or more than 100 per cent.The . stereotyped argument used in support of a Protective ‘duty in thisChamber ‘and elsewhere is that it is necessary in order to ‘create or foster an industry It is, contended further that whenan industryhas been fairly established, Parliament ‘may step in and reduce or abolish, the duty. In this case, all these arguments are flung contemptuousliy on one side; or are ignored. During the last- five years under the previously existing duties the imports of these commodities declined almost to the vanishing point, and I am happy to say, the exportshave been on the increase. The only effect, in the circumstances, of increasing the previously existing duties by 50 per cent. and 100 per cent. must be that those consuming these commodities which are now receiving a wholly unnecessary degree of protection, will have to pay more for them.. There is one factory for the production of these articles at Bacchus Marsh; there are, I believe, one or two in Queensland, and. there may be one or two in New South Wales. Because ofthe circumstances surrounding their manuf acture, there are probably less thanhalf-a-dozen factories in Australia engaged in producing . these articles*. Under the duties levied by the old Tariff the- imports of these articles in 1915-16 were valued at £99,000. They dropped to the value of £708 in 1917-18, and to £17,000 in 1920’. The value, of the exports ofmilk preserved and concentrated in 1915-16 was £23,000,, and the value of the exports of this commodity in 1920 reached £1,285,000. Thesefigures supply the clearest evidence that the duties on these articles previously existing were more than sufficient.. We are now asked to impose duties for which there can be no justification. Under the old. duties the manuf acture of preserved milk in this country flourished to the point of extinguishing imports, and I am happy to say that our products have held their own in outside markets. Yet the Government propose an increase of 50 per cent. in one case and of 100 per cent. in another on these articles. I ask the reason. If it is desired that an increased duty should be imposed merely in order to increase the cost of these articles to our own consumers, let that be admitted. Thenecessary consequence of the increase of these duties must be an increase in the cost to local consumers without any corresponding advantage to the industry, which the import and export figures I have given show, does not require a higher duty. I am against the Government proposal.
SenatorPRATTEN (New South Wales) [3.25]. - The only, item in connexion, with which I am disposed to submit a request is that covering malted milk.
– Senator Senior has indicated his intention to move in that matter. .
– Then I may be able to support. Senator Senior’s request. The duties on condensed milk and unsweetened milk are entirely inoperative because, as shown by Senator Lynch, our exports of these articles during the- last five or six years have-, enormously increased owing to the activities of Nestle’s firm. Australia is now making condensed and preserved milk and supplying nearly the whole of the markets of the East that were previously supplied from Switzerland. So far, so good; and it is all for the benefit of Australia that we should increase our exports.. I therefore do not disagree with the action of the Government even in proposing, an. increase in these duties, because I regard them only as a cover, for the very extreme contingency of Australia, being short of milk. So f ar as. local prices are. concerned,. I do not think that the duties make any difference whatsover in the.’ cost to the local consumer. I. think that if the duties were- double those proposed the price would not be increased.
– That, is a curious interpretation of the effect of duties.
– I assume that prices would not be increased because our production exceeds . the requirements of our own population. I wish to bring under the: notice- of the Committee a new item - that of malted milk. In the Tariff hand-book issued to honorable senators explaining the. incidence of the various duties it is mentioned that malted milk,, sub-itemc, is new. ‘ It is proposed to. impose upon this article duties of 6d., 7d., and 8d. per lb. This commodity has been imported into Australia for a great number of years,, and has obtained a good reputation on the market. Its consumption’ as children’s and invalids’ food has been- considerable. Until recent years it was admitted free. It was recognised by the Customs Department that it was an infants’ and invalids’ food.
– And also by the health officers1.
– That is so. Two or three years a01) the point was very properly raised by administrative officials of the Trade and Customs Department that as this food is not used exclusively by infants and invalids, but is very largely used in connexion with the soda-fountain trade, it should be subject to the same duty as preserved or condensed milk, which is used for the same purpose. That duty was less than the duty imposed under the schedule now under consideration. I have the greatest admiration for the very fine development that has taken place in Australia of the preserved and condensed milk industry. But I fail to see, under the circumstances I have related, why a special set should he made against Horlick’s malted milk by the introduction of a new item for malted milk, upon which is imposed a duty twice as great as that imposed upon condensed or unsweetened milk. It seems to me to be an indication that, in spite of the imported commodity being very much higher in price than the locally made article, influences have been at work to, through the Tariff, practically debar Horlicks malted milk from coming into Australia. I cannot stand for that; and I see no reason why the special sub-item for malted milk should not be struck out, and that commodity allowed to be imported under the item for infants’ food, as under all previous Tariffs.
– Why does not the honorable senator say what he means? He is insinuating that there is something wrong.
– As a controversy between the agents for malted milk and the Customs Department has been in progress for two or three years, my intelligence tells me that, when this new item is added to the Tariff, the Customs authorities have adopted that method of ending the controversy in their own favour.
– A superior article is .being produced in Australia.
– Is not enough protection provided under the item “ Condensed and unsweetened milk” without tho addition of a new item? When there has been a violent controversy between the agents of this imported -article and the Customs Department as to whether it is an infants’ and invalids’ food, and therefore entitled to be admitted free, and when a special sub-item has been inserted in the Tariff for malted milk - this being the only malted milk that is imported in any considerable quantity - I must assume that the Customs Department has its own method of settling the question. If Senator Senior will move a request that this new item which has been introduced into this Tariff, and was never included iri any other, be struck out, I shall support him for the reasons I have stated. Then the importers of Hor.lick’s malted milk can fight out with the Customs Department or the Tariff Board the question as to whether or not their commodity is an infants’ and invalids’ food, and entitled to come in free, or whether it should pay duty as a condensed or unsweetened milk.
– I always understood that the purpose of Protection was to help the establishment of Australian industries, and to extend them as far as possible, for the production of greater wealth in Australia. When we are producing a good children’s food in Australia, we should give the industry adequate .protection y. but we give a free choice to mothers as to, the artificial foods they shall use, because they differ as to which is most suitable for their children.
– My wife thinks that Horlick’s malted milk is the best.
– That may be so ; but the preference for Horlick’s malted milk- is largely due to bias against the Australian article. Mr. Percy Wilkinson, Analytical Chemist to the Customs Department, than whom there is no more capable analyst in Australia, has made the following comparative analyses: -
It must be remembered, also, that the imported article is several months old be- f pre it gets into the hands of the public, whereas the Australian-made article goes into the stores from day to day as it is freshly made. That is a consideration of very great importance, because the fresher the food, the better it is for the child. Imported malted milks are toeing sold at higher prices than the Australian article; but they are subject to a duty. If tUc duty is removed, they will be able to compete on a parity with the local industry, and it would be very easy for large foreign manufacturers to crush out ibo small and unprotected Australian maker. When the manufacture of malted milk in Australia was first suggested, the price of Horlick’s malted milk was increased, and the extra money thus obtained was used in propaganda to prevent tho establishment of the Australian industry. The Government Analyst’s report shows that the local article is just as pure as the imported. Where we can make an article equal in quality to that which is imported, surely we should be prepared to give a preference to it. Glaxo used to be classified under the hea’ding df infants’ or invalids’ food, but ite use is not confined to children, and when we proceeded to collect a duty upon it as “dried milk,” the manufacturers determined to set up a factory in Australia. They have to-day, at Port Fairy, a magnificent establishment, which must have cost some hundreds of thousands of pounds. That is the sort of thing we want to encourage.
– But why differentiate between Horlick’s malted milk and other infants’ and invalids’ food?
– Because practically the same food is being manufactured in Australia by a firm which intends to extend its factory.
– The local industry already enjoys a very good duty under another part of the schedule.
– But why should we import milk of any kind? Have we not an ample supply of good milk? If the Tariff is not to encourage local industry; then what can be its object? As to the suggestion that the duty is excessive, I would point out that on the .pre-war price of this milk the duty was equal to 20 per cent., whereas on the present-day price it is equal to. only 15 per cent.
– What is the retail, price of malted milk at the present time?
– I will obtain that information for the honorable senator. Oi. the pre-war prices a duty of 6d. per lb. would be equal to from 20 per cent to ‘ 30 per cent, according to whether the article was packed in large or small tins. Malted milk is largely used as a beverage in soda fountains, and that fact, combined with the local manufacture of the article, is the reason for the imposition of a duty. Malted milk consists of about one-third dried milk and two-thirds malt extract
– Will the Department undertake, under its regulations, to free all -malted milk for use in hospitals or to be used as infants’ food?
– I shall be glad to bring that suggestion before the Minister (Mr. Greene).
– Will the honorable senator undertake that the departmental regulations will provide that malted milk for use in hospitals shall be admitted free?
– Why should that be done? Why should we give a preference to Horlick’s malted milk, when an equally satisfactory article is. being produced locally, and is used to-day in many of our hospitals 1
– I think that the honorable senator misunderstands my request.
– In order that I may be able to supply the Committee with information as to the’ price at which malted milk is being sold to the public; and also to enable consideration to ‘ be given to the request that malted milk for use in hospitals shall be admitted free under departmental by-laws, I propose to report progress. A big industry is involved, and I am very anxious that there shall be no misunderstanding in regard to it.
– The honorable senator will not lose sight of the fact that, under an item with which we have already dealt, infants’ and invalids’ foods, subject to departmental by-laws, are admitted free?
– That is so. I shall obtain, for the guidance of the Committee, the fullest .information on thesubject
The following- papers were presented : -
Papua. - Ordinances of 1921- No.2- Native
LabourNo.3. - Timber. No. 4. - Sage.
Was Service Homes Act, -Land acquiredin NewSouth Walesat - Alexandria ; Fairy
-The period of service of Senator Vardon having expired, and no choice of a senator to fill the vacancyhaving been made in accordance withthe requirements of section 15 of the Constitution, a vacancy exists in the representation of South Australia in the Senate. As required by section 21 of the Constitution I have notified HisExcellency the Governor of South Australia that thisvacancy exists in the representation of that State.
Senate adjourned at3.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 August 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210805_senate_8_96/>.