8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 8 p.m., and read’ prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act -
Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1921, No. 141.
Transfer of amounts approved by the- GovernorGeneral in Council- Financial Year 1920-81- Dated 3rd August, 1921.
Land Tax Assessment Act. -Regulations amended.- Statutory Rules 1921, No. 142..
New Guinea. - Ordinance No. 10 of 1921. - Supply’ (No. 1) 1921-22.
– On 4th August, Senator Pratten asked the following question : -
Whatwere the total imports of manufactured superphosphates into Australia in the five-year periods ended 30th June, 1910, 30th June, 1915, 30th. June, 1920, and for twelve months ended 30th June, 1921 -
Iamnow in a position tofurnish the honorable senatorwith the following information relative to the imports, of superphosphates - nodistinction being made in the departmental - statistical classification between manufactured and unmanufactured superphosphates: -
– Then these figures include phosphatic rock as well as superphosphates!
– On 4th August, Senator Pratten asked the following question : -
What were the total numbers of pianos- imported into Australia in the fire-year periods ended. 30th June, 1910,30th June, 1916,30th June, 1920, and. for twelve months ended 30th June, 1921-
I am now able to supply the honorable senator with the following information. ; -
asked the. Leader of the Government, upon notice -
– Particulars in connexion with the Commonwealth’s participation in theadministration of Nauru are contained in the Naru Island Agreement Act No. 8. of 1919.
– I hope to supply to-morrow the information asked for by Senator Pratten in the questions he has set down on the notice-paper regarding the appointment of a Commonwealth Trade Commissioner in the East.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 5th August, vide page 10779):
Schedule. divisioniv.-agriculturalproducts andgroceries.
Item 75 -
Milk (including cream) -
Upon which Senator Gardiner had moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-items (a), and (b), British, free.
.- I desire to obtain from the Minister (Senator Russell) some information in regard to sub-item a, which provides for a duty of 2d. per lb. under the British preferential Tariff, 2½d. per lb. under the intermediate Tariff, and 3d. per lb. under the general Tariff on sweetened and unsweetened, preserved, condensed, and concentrated milk. I find that the 1914 Tariff imposed on sweetened milk a duty of only l½d-. per lb. under the British preferential Tariff and 2d. per lb. under’ the general Tariff, and duties of1d. and l¼d. in respect of unsweetened milk. We have had no explanation from the Minister in justification of this large increase. I understood the honorable senator to say on Friday that the industry had become so firmly established here under the old Tariff that the great bulk of its product was now being exported. If that is so, why should these additional duties be neces sary unless they will directly benefit those engaged in the primary industry of dairying. If the increase is solely to enable those engaged in the manufacture of concentrated and condensed milk to make larger profits I am not disposed to support it. We must not overlook the principal use to which condensed milk is put in Australia, and where it is most largely consumed. Honorable senators will agree with me that condensed milk is most largely sold in mining camps and among those living outside big centres of population. If the increased duties will mean an increase in the price of condensed milk to Australian consumers, and will not confer any corresponding benefit on the suppliers of the raw material, and so enable dairymen to cope more successfully with the difficulties of their industry, I shall not support them. I take it that no honorable senator will support an increased duty unless it is necessary to build up or stabilize the industry or will give some direct benefit to’ the primary producer. The price of condensed milk is high enough already, and I think the Minister should be asked to justify the proposed increases.
– I regret that Senator Payne compels me to repeat information which I placed fully before the Committee on Friday last. There is no reason why we should import any condensed or concentrated milk, since Australia is largely exporting those commodities at the present time. The object of these duties, is to induce the people of Australia to use the Australian product, which is equal, if not superior, in quality to the imported’ article, and is certainly much cheaper. The importations of condensed milk over a number of years have been as follow: - 1913, sweetened, 120,786 lbs., valued at £2,913; unsweetened, 1,029,261 lbs.,, valued at £23,652; 1914-15, sweetened, 1,086,460 lbs., valued at £24,134; unsweetened, 1,091,322 lbs., valuedat £28,816; 1915-16, sweetened, 1,617,833 lbs., valued at £39,354; unsweetened, 1,931,949 lbs., valued at £60,091; 1916-17, sweetened, 39,482 lbs., valued* at £1,305; unsweetened, 1,287,391 lbs., valued at £48,361; 1917-18, sweetened; 7,271 lbs., valued at £232 ; unsweetened, 101,931 lbs., valued at £10,554; 1918-19, sweetened,. 15,657 lbs., valued at £478; unsweetened, 9,912 lbs., valued at £307; 1919-20, sweetened, 37,876 lbs., valued at £1,263; unsweetened, 464,362 lbs., valued at £16,062.
– So that our imports are becoming less and less.
– Are they not confined to ships’ stores used on the coast?
SenatorRUSSELL. -We are practically supplying pur wants, with the exception of ships’ stores.
– That is my point. I say that under the old Tariff the industry has ‘become so well established that it is supplying the needs of the people.
SenatorRUSSELL. - There is still a prejudice against the local article. The following are the average prices per lb. of the imported condensed milk and dried milk, as shown in the official statistics : -
It will be seen from these figures that there is no reason for admitting unsweetened milk at a lower rate of duty than is imposed on sweetened milk. The high value of importations of unsweetened milk in 1917-18 was due to importations from “Norway, which were, no doubt, of a special kind, probably tinned cream.
.- Although the figures given by the Minister are very interesting, they do not touch upon the point that I have made, namely, that in view of the fact that industries have been successfully established in Australia for the manufacture of condensed milk, and have proved very profitable to their proprietors, there is no necessity for increased duties. Already the local article has pushed the foreign product out of the market, and I quite agree with SenatorRussell that we ought to be in a position to supply our own needs in this direction. As a matter of fact, we are doing so. The figures quoted by the Minister show that the foreign milk has gradually been pushed out of the local market.
SenatorRussell. - That was merely during the war, hut now the products of foreign countries are coming into our markets very rapidly.
– The last figures quoted show that the importation is now very small as compared with previous years. I am anxious to refrain from imposing a heavy duty unless it can be shown to be necessary, in the interests of some Australian industry. If it can be shown that the condensed milk factories of Australia cannot furnish a wholesome article without further protection, I am prepared to favorably consider giving them that protection ; but, so far, it has not been proved that our factories are not able to carry on their operations eminently satisfactorily under the rate of duty contained in the old Tariff. On the other hand, they have demonstrated that they can supply a wholesome article, which is so much appreciated by the Australian public that importations have practically ceased, and we have evidence that largequantities of condensed milk are exported from Australia. There would be some reason for imposing this extra duty if the dairymen were to gain some benefit from it, but there is no indication that the additional impost has been placed in the Tariff for that purpose, and I am not prepared to vote for a higher duty simply to provide for the possibility of an immediate increase in the price of a commodity so largely used in Australia, particularly, by people who live so many miles from the centres of population, and where fresh milk is unobtainable.
– During the last four years, when overseas producers of condensed milk failed to keep Australia supplied, certain local companies spent their capital and extended their factories for the purpose of providing the people of the Commonwealth with condensed and unsweetened milk. The industry thus became well established, not because of the protection afforded by the Tariff, but because of the great difficulty of getting supplies from overseas. But overseas producers are now beginning to export condensed milk to Australia, and the possibility is that eventually, when conditions become more normal in other countries where this article can be pro- duced more cheaply than in Australia, the Australian manufacturers, if we do not afford them effective protection, must be prepared to sacrifice the capital they have spent. At any rate, they must face the fiercest and keenest of competition from other countries. Surely what they did for Australia during the war period ought to be appreciated by us to the extent of giving them reasonable protection against that keen competition ! Our policy in this regard should be to stick to those who stuck to us in our hour of trouble.
– It would be a grave mistake in the circumstances of to-day to reduce any duty unless very strong reasons are advanced in favour of doing so.
– No one proposes a reduction of the old Tariff, but we are anxious to know why the new Tariff shows an increase.
SenatorCRAWFORD.- The Tariff we are now discussing has been in operation for a considerable time. In view of the fact that we have a number of condensed milk factories, and that during the war period we built up a considerable export, there is no danger whatever of unfair advantage being taken by the manufacturers of the protection afforded to them in the present schedule. We know that the conditions of the world are very unsettled. There is over-production in many directions, and in a number of countries manufacturers are experiencing great’ difficulty in finding a profitable market for their products. It may be that there is a danger of having condensed milk dumped here. At any rate, it is our duty to see that our local manufacturers’ trade is not likely to be dislocated by large quantities of other countries’ products being suddenly dumped into our market. We were able to build up a big export trade during the war because the manufacturers in Australia were getting their sugar at half the price paid by manufacturers abroad. I am told that our export trade in condensed milk represents about 30 lbs. of sweetened to every lb. of unsweetened milk.
– Our imports were larger during the war period than they are now.
– That may be, but we have to remember that during the war period, after a few months had elapsed, there were thousands of soldiers returning to Australia; and I presume that the milk they required on their homeward voyage had to be purchased abroad. It would be impossible to calculate to a few cwts., or even to a few tons, the milk required on such a voyage, and, consequently, on our troopships a considerable quantity of condensed milk, along with other ship’s stores, would be brought into Australia. This milk, I understand, was calculated as having been imported, although it might be re-exported the next week or the next month. The Committee should hesitate to interfere with the existing duties. The trade conditions of the world are unstable at the present time, and, although at present our industries are flourishing in the absence of interference toany extent, they may be in. a very different position a few months hence. Very shortly we may hope to have the Tariff Board in working order, and that should be able to protect the public from exploitation by the manufacturers of condensed milk or other products.
– This is another instance of the theoretical formula for the imposition of Customs duties, or for the increase of them, being stretched to an extraordinary degree.
SenatorRussell. - Is. the honorable senator not overlooking the price of freight during the war ? ‘
– I am not overlooking anything; I am approaching this question from a purely communal point of view, always bearing in mindthe necessity to give adequate protection, but no more, to those engaged in these enterprises, and, at the same time, give a “ fair crack of the whip “ to the consumers.
– Is the honorable senator not aware that fiscalism is now an exact science.
– I can understand Senator Crawford keeping in mind the possibility of this industry being carried on in Queensland in the near future; and he is so infatuated with the idea of imposing duties for all conceivable purposes, that he thinks it is only necessary to do so in order to make everything flourish like the “green bay tree.” Indeed, he has Customs duties so much on the brain that if he were to wake up in the night and. find his house on fire, I believe the first step that, would suggest itself to him would be the imposition of a duty I Sena- tor Crawford has told us, in effect, that nothing will grow im Queensland unless there i3 a duty at the root of it; but when I was there years ago it was possible to. grow anything without any such aid. However, it is now proposed to increase these milk duties by 50 per cent, and 100 per cent. - a very respectable jump at one time. So far as we can gather from the daily press, the manufacture of this most necessary article for inland life is gradually drifting into the hands of one company.
– There are four companies in Victoria alone!-
– The Minister had better wait until I have furnished the f facts, from which he may then draw -hia own deduction. In the Argus of 1st July last the public were informed -
A limited company was registered on 30th June in Sydney, under the name of the Nestle’s and Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company (Australasia) Limited, with a capital of £4,000,000, the first directors being Messrs. A. C. Hargrove (Sydney), chairman and managing director; S. E.. Levy,. F. A. Waller, G. Aguet (London), A. Roussy (Vevey), F. Page (Cham.), A. Liotard-Vogt (Paris). It is understood that the Australasian; company has arranged to acquire the Australasian interests of the Nestle and Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company, and also those of the Bacchus Marsh Concentrated Milk Company Proprietary Limited,, the Standard Dairy Company Limited, and the Australian Milk Products Limited. Some time ago steps were taken by the shareholders of the Bacchus Marsh. Company to authorize the directors to carry through an alteration in- the constitution of tha company to enable the Nestle’s interests to acquire the business.
The- Age on the following day contained this- -
The parent Nestle and Anglo-Swiss Company, which was formed’ in Switzerland in 186$ at few weeks ago issued 2,000,000 £1 8 per cent, cumulative preference shares at par, and these were fully taken up. Its manufacturing business in Victoria and other parts of the Commonwealth is already large, and it carries, on extensive undertakings on the- Continent, in England, Canada,, and the United States.. Profits for 1920 have not yet been notified’, but for- the preceding seven years they averaged £839,903’, and for the fourteen years’ to 31st December, 1919,. dividend was never below 15 per cent. At the latter date the value of the assets was. £7,071,250..
It ia quite clear that this is not a totter^ ing industry so far as the Commonwealth is concerned; on the contrary, this one company is stretching out im all directions and acquiring the interests* of other existing companies. Yet the Government propose to give this growing company increases of duty represented by 50 and 100 per cent., although, so far as I can learn, these increases have not been- asked for. The figures I have given are sufficient, without any comment, to warrant the Senate in rejecting the proposal for the increased duties. According to1 the Minister’s own figures, imports have dwindled almost to an invisible point’; indeed, as I said by way of interjection, they could all be carried on one spring, dray. But the exports- of which the Minister told us nothing, have increased in the five years’ .period, as I previouslyquoted, from something in the neighbourhood of 70,000 lbs. in 1016 to 1,500,000 lbs. last year. Is it not time we called a halt in this mad career? Is it not time we stopped giving unnecessary protection to an industry -which is not only firmly established, but is holding its own in the markets of the world. T move -
That the House of Representatives, be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), general, 2d.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria- Vice*President: of the Executive Council) [3.38J. - Senator Lynch complained about my not giving information, and I now wish to place before the Committee a point which that honorable senator hasgrievously overlooked. During the warperiod Australian supplies of condensed milk from overseas failed.- Amongst other difficulties were the high freights, which: reached as much as £12 per ton, with an enormous demand for this commodity in other parts of the world. The- then duty, plus the high freights, was much higher than the duty now proposed. No duty was desired then, but men took the. risk of entering into the industry, and now they have to meet conditions that are ap,proaching the normal. I have no hesitation in saying that cargo that then cost £12 per ton could now be carried at £5- per ton; this, of course, means that the protection afforded by high freights, together with other war difficulties, has disappeared. It was not an Australian duty which established this industry and changed Australia from an importing into an exporting country. I believe that during the war the manufacturers -of this commodity made undue profits, not locally, but. overseas. The ^prices locally were fixed after full investigation, but the world’s demand enabled exporters to obtain practically any price they liked during the war period. If Nestles were to send their milk from Switzerland, the price would be fixed in that country, and the Commonwealth Government would have no control. The industry being established in Australia, however, there is power o/ control. The Government can prevent the exploitation of the public by any Australian industry. J wish to quote now some illuminating particulars concerning one class of milk. In August, 1916, the net price for No. 1 size was 12s. 2d. For No. 2 size tin, the price was 22s. 8d., and, for the 57-lb. tin, hospital size, the price was 90s. To-day, the quotations are respectively, 17s., 29s., and 129s. lOd. I eai! particular attention to the lastmentioned figure, comparing it with the quotation of 90s. in 1916. The local prices to-day, however, are 15s. 4d., 25s. 7d., and 117s. 9d. respectively. Thi3 comparison shows considerably in favour of the Australian manufacturers. Naturally they have been anxious to build up successful connexions.. They have realized that there was a strong bias against the Australian product. Very many people considered it somewhat .inferior to imported lines, but analysis has proved that the Australian article is actually superior ; and, in addition, local milks are much fresher, since they can be placed on the market several months before imported lines”. Surely, in a country like Australia, it is ridiculous that we should be importing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of milk products.
– But we are actually exporting now.
– These are normal times, or times approaching the normal; and “freights are coming down. Goods are now being imported after .a period of practical cessation during the war years. Australian manufacturers are meeting with more and more competition. The Government are pledged to practically encourage and assist those new industries which helped Australia during the war to carry on. Now that matters are daily growing more settled, the -Government and Parliament cannot go back upon their promises.
– The Australian manufacturers have been carrying on for years under the old duty.
– They have expanded under the protection of increased duties. .It is of .no use for honorable senators to talk .of the .natural protection afforded by freight rates. Freights are falling to the old quotations. Numbers of manufacturers pluckily established themselves during the war. They would not have done so, but .for the knowledge, in the first place, that*, the Government had pledged themselves to safeguard their interests, and, secondly, if it had not been for the natural protection afforded ‘hy high freights and the like.
– They did not anticipate retaining the protection of “high freights.
-Certainl.y not; but they looked forward to establishing themselves firmly by the help of .such protection. With respect to the profits made by certain Australian firms, I am bound to admit that there have been reasons for complaint, and grounds for the -control of prices. I remember how, on one occasion, the representatives of a -certain firm bluffed their way into the Customs ‘offices at a time when they knew that -the prices o-f their commodities were under consideration. As they failed to act with ordinary courtesy, they were summarily ordered out. Inside of about ten minutes, one of the most noted King’s Counsels in the land - their counsel - returned to apologize to Mr. Whitton. The latter official asked for my advice concerning ‘his course of action, and I advised that the’ King’s Counsel also should be requested to depart forthwith. The Government were determined that there should ‘be no interference with their policy of controlling prices of Australian manufactures - ‘thus protecting the Australian public. No such action could have 6een taken, however, in respect of the -conduct of, or the prices fixed by, an overseas company.
– Senator Payne has already given -notice of a request. I may explain ‘to honorable senators that the procedure of the Committee has been to deal first with requests concerning the general Tariff. The Com mittee has been discussing Senator Gar. diner’s request, and, as it is necessary to have a fixed procedure, perhaps it will he better if Senator Gardiner temporarily withdraws his request
– I am prepared to do that.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I wish to move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, general, 2½d.
– I intimated, Mr. Chairman, that I intended to move for a reversion to the old Tariff rates.
– Whichever request involves the- greater reduction will have to be taken first.
– The duties under the old Tariff were, British1½d., and general 2d. There was no intermediate duty.
– Senator Gardiner’s request would have precedence over the honorable senator’s motion with reference to the British preferential duty.
– I understand that Senator Gardiner’s request must first be disposed of.
– Senator Gardiner’s request has been temporarily withdrawn.
– I desire the British preferential duty to be l½d., and the general duty 2d.
- Senator Payne’s request must be taken first unless the honorable senator moves for a greater reduction than is contained in Senator Payne’s motion.
.- I have suggested a duty of 2½d. per lb. under the general Tariff because I desire to be fair to the condensed milk manufacturers in Australia. The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) has said that the duties have been increased to place the condensed milk manufacturers in a similar position to what they were in during the war period. I think a reduction of½d. per lb. will do that.
– I listened with interest to the remarks of the Minister (Senator Russell) and also the statements made by other honorable senators, and I was struck by the fact that when those honorable senators who favour high protection - in some instances amounting to absolute prohibition - find the figures are against them, as they are in this instance, they trot out the old familiar bogy of dumping. I desire to appeal for those . engaged in the back country, who are compelled to use condensed milk because fresh supplies are not available. The Protectionists have no consideration for these unfortunate people, but appear to be interested only in the development of huge, unwieldy cities. They have not the slightest interest in those engaged in railway construction and other similar work, who are assisting to develop our out-back country.
– But these industries are all established in the country
– BROCKMAN. - They are all in the State of Victoria. There is not a condensed milk manufacturing industry in Western Australia, which is a State that needs developing. There is not oneimpost in the whole of this terrible Tariff that is of the slightest assistance to men who are engaged in isolated places, and it is time we showed them more consideration. We speak in very strong language concerning the necessity of encouraging people to go on the land, and then the Government introduce a damnablething like this to discourage people from going out, which naturally results in retarding development. I am appealing on behalf of those in country districts; and in connexion with this and other similar items I shall not hesitate to seek a. reduction of duties in an endeavour to see that supplies of necessary commodities are made available at reasonable rates. It is ridiculous to say that we can hold this immense continent with a paltry 5,000,000 people, particularly if we continue encouraging those who are here to remain in the cities. People have been encouraged by Commonwealth and State Governments to engage in rural pursuits, and undertake work in country districts; and it is our duty, when framing a Tariff, to make the duties on imported goods sufficiently low to enable certain commodities to be made available to them at reasonable rates. I appeal to the Committee to adhere to the rates that were in force before the present Tariff was introduced, because they were adequate and allowed these industries to flourish.
– They have been paying 15 per cent. and adding to their reserves.
– BROCKMAN.Yes. I am a Protectionist, but I do not believe in prohibition. I do not think we should give more protection to industries that are already established and paying handsomely. I appeal to honorable senators not to take any notice of the absurd arguments submitted from time to time, because in this and other instances there is no justification for increasing, the duty on commodities produced by local industries already firmly established.
– With other honorable senators, I am entirely opposed to. the proposed increase of duty on this article for many reasons, some of which have been strengthened by the arguments advanced by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell). The honorable senator said that we must encourage the man on the land by increasing the duty on these goods for the ‘benefit of the manufacturers of condensed milk. His assumption, of course, is that the factories producing condensed milk use a very great deal of milk in its natural state, and so increase the demand for the milk produced by the primary producer. That is the honorable senator’s argument.
– I venture to say that the milk used in the production of condensed milk represents but a very small proportion indeed of the total supply of milk in its natural state produced in Australia. Great quantities of milk are used in the production of butter and cheese, which have to compete in the world’s market, in which, according to Senator Russell, our danger lies so far as condensed milk is concerned.
– The quantity of milk used in the condensed milk factories in Australia has increased from 3,600,000 gallons to 13,253,000 gallons, thus benefiting thousands of primary producers.
– The honorable senator refers to the total quantity of milk in its natural state used by the factories per year, but there is that quantity of milk used in Melbourne in a week. The proposal is ridiculous. What we are really asked to do is to permit an increase in the price of condensed milk. Senator Drake-Brockman has pointed out that, while condensed milk is the finished product of the condensed milk factories, it is largely used by out-back settlers who are unable to obtain milk in its natural state.
– The honorable senator would leave them dependent on the imported article.
– I shall deal with that aspect of the case later, and shall show the fallacy of the Minister’s argument. To-day in out-back areas that are not dairying districts there are tens- of thousands of little children who are being raised from infancy on condensed milk. Honorable senators should recollect that we have provided in this Tariff that infants’ foods shall be admitted free of duty in order that babies who are unable to get mother’s milk may be given a reasonable chance to live. That is another reason why we should not allow of any increase in the price of condensed milk. When the Minister suggests that I would permit condensed milk brought from other countries to compete with that manufactured here, I ask him to consider the facts. It has already been pointed out by another honorable senator that the bulk of the condensed milk produced in Australia is produced in factories that are offshoots of the firm of Nestle’s, which is the principal firm .abroad that local producers have most to fear from in the matter of competition.
– Npt at all. There are fourteen different companies in Australia at the present time producing condensed milk.
– I challenge the Minister to deny that the principal factories producing milk in Australia are what have been called “pups” of the Nestle’s combination in Europe and other countries that is responsible for most of our importations of this article. We have been told that this combination is spending millions in building up this industry here; but do honorable senators think that that is done for the benefit of Australia? This combination commenced operations here because, under the previously existing Tariff, it paid to do so. It came here because it found that it was able to obtain cheaply the raw material for the production of condensed milk, and it has paid it so well to manufacture here that it has been able to export condensed milk manufactured in Australia to other countries which it previously supplied from its factories iD
Europe. If it were able to produce condensed milk so much more cheaply in Europe, as we have been invited to believe, surely it would supply countries abroad from its factories in Europe rather than from Australia.. The fact we know is that it can produce this article as cheaply in Australia to-day as anywhere else. In spite of these facts, we are asked to consent to an enormous increase in the duty, which can only have the effect of sending up the cost of condensed milk to consumers in Australia. In view . of the fact that . the firms . employing the largest capital in this industry, and responsible for the largest production of condensed milk in Australia, are merely offshoots of the great Nestle combination that operates in Europe and other countries abroad, and in view of the fact that the only competition we need fear in Australia in this article will be from this combination, the proposal to increase the duty is farcical. I hope the Committee will not consent to it, but will carry the request moved by Senator Lynch for a substantial reduction in the proposed duty.From the stand-point of the protection of an Australian industry, we have nothing to gain by increasing this duty, whilst we have much to lose, in view of the inevitable effect upon the health and well-being of thousands of infants in Australia.
SenatorEARLE (Tasmania) [4.7].- I intend to support a . reduction of this sub-item, but I do not feel disposed to go so far as Senator Lynch has proposed. I am more in agreement with the request suggested by Senator Payne. It is not my intention to inflict a speech upon the Committee upon all these different items, but I wish to say a word or two on the way in which . the Tariff appears to appeal tohonorable senators. I do not regard the imposition of a duty on imported goods as necessarily involving an increase in their price to consumers here. Some honorable senators seem to infer that the imposition of a duty of ‘2d. per lb. on condensed milk actually means charging settlers in the black-blocks 2d. per lb. more for this article.
– The honorable senator must know that that will be the inevitable result.
– Senator DrakeBrockman claims to be a Protectionist, and he should know that whilst that might be the . result for a . short period, the effect of Protection is to build up the production of the article in Australia,, and that, ultimately, it will be sold to the local consumer at its actual or proper value. In my speech on the first reading of the Bill I intimated that there were many instances in which the effect of Protection moist be controlled in order to . secure that the consumer as well as the manufacturer should be dealt wish equitably. I am not in a position to say whether the duties proposed by the Government on this article are absolutely necessary to keep the industry going here, but I take it for granted that the Government, with the assistance of their officers, have made investigation, and are satisfied that the duties proposed are necessary, otherwise they would not have been submitted. “What will be the position of the back-blockers, and what price will they be called upon to pay if competition by the local producer of condensed milk is eliminated, and they have to depend on the imported article? Senators Drake-Brockman and Duncan are not considering the best interests of the back-blockers or the ‘little children in remote areas of settlement. We want to consider what will be the effect of a reduction in duty upon the local industry. I am prepared to support Senator Payne’s proposal, but not to run the risk of destroying the local industry by going so far as suggested by Senator Lynch. That is the position I take up. I want honorable senators to realize that the imposition of a duty upon articles manufactured in Australia will place local . manufacturers on a sound footing, and make it possible, to cheapen rather than increase the cost of production.
.- I- am glad that Senator Earle has put the other aspect of this very important matter, and I would like to say a few words with regard to other points in f avour of retaining the duty. I well remember the efforts that were made about twenty years ago to build up the condensed milk industry in Australia. Those efforts cost a lot of . money, but were unsuccessful. Then in 1908 a duty of1½d. and1d. respectively was imposed, but even withthis assistance . the industry made very little progress. Again, in 1914,, the. duty was reimposed, but not raised, and, speaking from, memory, I think that most of the condensed milk consumed in Australia, before that was imported either from Switzerland or Norway. The war came, and as the result of the natural protection due to- higher freights and shortage of commodities overseas, the condensed milk manufacturers in Australia made very considerable progress. The great firm of. Nestle established themselves in Australia, spending, I believe, a million pounds in building up the industry on the promise of the Government that adequate protection would be afforded if they placed the industry on a. satisfactory basis.
– Have we any evidence that they started business here on that understanding?
-We have the. evidence in this Tariff, introduced by the Government in March of last year, and which honorable senators are now debating. This matter; to my mind, touches on a. very important principle that the. Senate will have to decide, namely,, whether,, in the ease of such industries as the manufacture of condensed milk, and of iron, and sugar production, commodities which were bought by Australians during the war at prices’ lower than the world’s parity, it. is wise now to reduce the duties when, they are: so badly wanted. It seems to- me that a company which purchases 13,000,000 or 14.000,000 gallons of milk yearly for the production of condensed milk, and which pays, in the aggregate, about £1,000,000 to our primary producers-, is entitled to some consideration. We have heard something this afternoon about the effect of this duty upon the back-Mocker. I do not think that the back-blockers, without a cow or two within reasonable reach, are very numerous.
– There are very few of them who have not.
– There are very few, as SenatorFairbairn has suggested, that are not in a position to keep a cow or two if they care to do so. I sympathize with the view taken by my honorable friends, from Western Australia, and admit, that the Tariff, in relation to this item is, to some extent,, a handicap upon, the people of that State,
– Your sympathy is about all we get.
– I may remind my honorable friend that, during the first ten years of Federation, Western Australia got certain- concessions through the Customs, as well as the East- West railway, which is involving the Commonwealth in; a loss of at least £250’,000 a year. The position of a geographical Protectionist is a very dangerous one.. So far as the condensed milk industry is. concerned, I. want honorable senators to realize that, whilst there is a great deal in the arguments that have been advanced this afternoon, the companies here, in addition to supplying the whole of the Australianrequirements during, the war, built up a very important export trade with the East,, all for the benefit of the Australian milk producer. In view of a diminishing world’s price for butter, is it not better to have, some alternative direction in which the milk may be used, and is it likely that milk would be supplied to condensed milk factories, if the milk producer could get a higher price from butter factories ?
– I remember, when the condensed milk industry was started, the butter manufacturers came as a. deputation, and asked: me as chairman of the Butter Pool, to prevent these concerns from paying 2d. more for the milk than the butter factories were prepared to pay. That,, I think, indicated that the companies benefited the primary producers of the Commonwealth.
– Yes, that is undoubted. Do honorable senators think, that £100 a ton would have been paid for galvanized iron during the war if we had then been manufacturing our own. requirements of it; and cannot the same be said of oil, iron wire, and other commodities that had to. be imported? In my opinion, it is not a crime for investors to make 15 per cent. on the capital which they bring here, and, with their brains, and knowledge, and organizing ability, employ to the best advantage.. I hope that the duties will not be interfered with.
.- I shall support the Government in. this matter. We have heard at various times a great deal about the need for . decentralization, and the manufacture of condensed and dried milk is an industry which tends to produce decentralization, because its products must be made in the districts in which the milk is obtained. Milk cannot be sent for manufacture to what have been referred to here as the “ bloated “ cities.
– There are fourteen factories in Australia, situated in three States.
– I presume that those States are Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, because these are the dairying States of the Commonwealth. The condensed milk industry uses a great deal of sugar, and those who make condensed milk in other countries obtain their sugar for less than the Australian manufacturers have to pay. We give a rebate on ‘ the sugar in condensed milkthat is exported, but in the local market’ the Australian article has to compete with the imported article at a disadvantage. It has been urged as a reason against increasing the duty on milk products that the chief firms manufacturing them in Australia are branches of concerns that are in business in other countries. That may be so; but it must not be forgotten that those interested in these concerns were induced by the promise of protection to invest their capital here. They have expended millions of money on their enterprise, and their operations give employment to a great number of persons.
– You do not think that they will compete against themselves, and shut up the Australian factories which they have established at such a cost?
– It is not to be supposed that all the manufacturers of milk products have branch factories in Australia, or are associated with .Australian enterprises, and without protection it might well happen that the local factories might have to be closed because sugar costs more in Australia than elsewhere, and wages are higher. A great deal of money has’ been spent on the factories that I have seen in the Western District of Victoria, in which the employees work under very favorable conditions. The company insists that those who supply it with milk shall keep their’ dairies scrupulously clean, and makes an inspection of these places. It will not poy for milk which has not been produced under almost ideal conditions. That is a guarantee of the wholesomeness of the local product which we do not possess in regard to the imported product.
– I hope that the Committee will not interfere with the item. Before milk-products factories were established in Queensland, the dairymen there had to sell their milk to the butter factories, and in a good season the supply was greater than the demand. When an enterprising citizen started to make milk products in the State he did well, though his enterprise was on a very small scale. Then Nestles took it up, aud two or0 three factories have been established. I do not say that Nestles should run this business, but it must be admitted that, without their enterprise and assistance, the industry would not have made the advance which it hae made. We deplore the crowding of the population into the cities, and this industry takes people out into the country, and creates townships in dairyingdistricts. There is a very flourishing township of this kind in southern Queensland, and a second elsewhere in that State. On the whole, the dairymen have got more for the milk that they send to these factories than they used to get from the butter factories, which shows that they have not been taken advantage of by Nestles. Every State can engage in the business of making condensed or dried milk. Western Australia may now be in a position like that of Queensland ten or fifteen years ago, but I am sure it could develop this business, and soon be able to supply its own requirements. The establishment of milk products factories has benefited not only dairymen, but also those employed in the factories, and those supplying them with material, such as timber for boxes, and it has greatly increased the earnings of the railways. But the difficulty of maintaining these factories under Australian conditions is greater than that of establishing them, and therefore the duties are needed. It is not likely that prices will rise above what is a fair thing, because the production of milk is so large. There has not been an increase in the price of condensed milk in Queensland, where the industry gives employment to artisans-, in the manufacture of tins and boxes, as well as to many others. When Western Australia establishes the industry, Queens- land will be able to supply it with plenty of sugar. ‘
– Before we, who stand for reasonable Protection, meet the defeat which seems inevitable, I wish to make it known that, although primarily, of course, I must consider the interests of the State that I represent, I have spoken and voted on this Tariff, as on previous ones, more in the interests of Australia as a whole than in those of any part of the Commonwealth. Senator Pratten uttered the threadbare gibe that Western Australia has done well out of Federation because of the construction of the East- West railway, on which there is a loss of £250,000 a year. As a keen business man, ‘ the senator should know that the loss of which he spoke is incurred in connexion with the running of the Commonwealth railways as a whole, and is not to be debited solely to the East- West railway”. Moreover, the construction of the EastWest railway was offered to Western Australia as a direct inducement for joining the Union. That offer was made by Mr. Kingston and other prominent exponents of the Federal idea. Had the railway not been built, a pledge made to the State on behalf of the Commonwealth would have been broken. The duties under discussion are equivalent to an- increase in one instance of 50 per cent., and in the other of 100 per cent. Yet it cannot be said; that those who are interested in the manufacture of milk products have done badly. Their balancesheets show the contrary. The industry cannot be said to be struggling, because importations have ceased, and the exportations last year, under the old duties, amounted in value to £1,500,000. Senator Pratten says that he does not object to those who have invested capital in this industry .earning 15 per cent, on it; but it must be remembered that, in addition* to that return, the assets of these persons have more than doubled, being now valued at £7,000,000, whereas the subscribed capital was only £4,000,000.
– The increase is not 100 per cent., as said by the honorable senator, but only from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent.
– The proposal is that the duty on sweetened condensed milk shall be increased from 2d. per. lb. under .the general Tariff of 1914 to 3d. per lb. - that is an increase of 50 per cent. - and that the duty on unsweetened milk, which was 1 1/4 d. per lb. under the general Tariff of 1914, shall be increased to 3d, per lb., which is an advance of more than 100 per cent. The Minister should be sure of his facts before he contradicts me, since I always endeavour to keep my feet on solid ground. The tendency on the part of some honorable senators to impute to others parochial motives is of no avail. Such tactics have been worn threadbare.’ Senator Pratten has alluded to the parochialism of representatives of Western Australia. My answer to him is that five of the six representatives of Western . Australia in the Senate in 1908 voted for a Protective Tariff, which threw into the lap of New South Wales millions of pounds; whereas the six representatives o’f that State at that time were pledged to oppose Protective duties. Five of ,the six representatives of Western Australia in 1908 supported a fiscal policy which by no stretch of the imagination was favorable to that State, but was highly advantageous to New South Wales. My votes are on record, and so are those of the representatives of New South Wales in the Senate at that time, so that it does not lie in the mouth of Senator Pratten to say that honorable senators from Western Australia are influenced by parochialism. I ‘ shall conclude by asking honorable senators not to lose their heads, but to recognise that this- industry has been amply protected under the lower duties imposed by the Tariff, of 1914, and that, as Senator Drake-Brockman has said, all the facts and figures are opposed to the increased duties for which this Tariff provides. The Government, in these circumstances, have resorted to the prop that manufacturers of condensed milk were induced to establish the industry here under a promise that increased duties would be imposed. I invite the Government to produce the record of any such promise. It seems to me that it is very much on a par with the date-grower in Queensland to whom reference was made last week by Senator Crawford - a date-grower who cannot be produced nor his address given. Is it not time that the representatives of the Government attempted to do justice to the intelligence of the Senate ? We “want something more than a mere vague statement that such a promise was given. The facts are that the manufacturers of condensed milk here have been securing a return of 15 . per cent., while at the same time they, have been adding to their assets, and that they have converted our huge import trade in preserved milk into a huge export trade. . This, then, is only a proposal to “grease the fat pig,” and I am against it.
.- WhenI asked this afternoon for further information concerning this item, I did not think that I would open up such a lengthy debate as we have had. I find that when the Tariff was before another place,no information was given by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) as to the reason for these increased duties. He was absolutely silent on the point. The only information I have been able to obtain in support of the plea for higher duties in respect of this item is contained in the Australian Tariff Hand-book, which has been published and distributed amongst honorable senators by a Protectionist organization that is anxious to place before the Parliament reasons why increased protection should be granted to various industries. In an article on the preserved milk industry,which appears in this publication, it is stated that -
The first attempts to manufacture in Australia were made twenty or more years ago; but it is only during the last decade that they can be said to have been successful. The imposition of the duty of 2d. per lb. by the Tariff of 1908 has made all the difference between a possible paying industry and a barely existing or losing one.
That refers to the duty of 2d. per lb. on sweetened milk. My proposal is that the duty shall be the same in respect of both sweetened and unsweetened milk. The article continues -
The duty of lid. per lb. on unsweetened condensed milk compares very unfavorably with that on the sweetened article, and is wholly inadequate. . . . It is to give protection against post-war competition from countries like America and New Zealand that the trade feels itself justified in asking that the duty should be at least1¾d. per lb. That would still be a trifle less per cent. than the duty on sweetened condensed milk. If the two duties were made uniform, viz., 2d. per’ lb., there is no doubt whatever that the manu facture of unsweetenedcondensed milk would be given a great and needed impetus.
It will thus be seen that the duty I am proposing is slightly higher than the rate advocated in this Protectionist publication.
– Why give those engaged in . the industry more than they want ?
– My object is to give the slightly additional protection necessary to meet the reduction that has taken place in the natural protection enjoyed by the industry during the war period.
– The Australian Tariff Hand-book, from which the honorable senator has quoted, was published in 1919. Since then wages have increased very considerably.
– That point is met by the higher rate which I propose, as compared with the rate advocated in the Tariff Hand-book.- According to this article, a duty of 2d. per lb. on both, sweetened and unsweetened milk would afford the industry adequate protection.
Question - That the request (Senator Lynch’s) be agreedto-put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Payne) proposed -
That the House of Representativesbe requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), general, per lb. 2½d.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator . Payne) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), intermediate, perlb. 2d.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (a), British, free.
I hope that Senator Russell will also regard my request in an amicable spirit. The loss of revenue would not be very great.
– I accepted the proposal of Senator Payne because it received the practically unanimous support of the Senate, but I have heard no voice supporting Senator Gardiner’s proposal, and therefore cannot accept it.
Question - That the request beagreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
I have the honour, by direction, to inform you that His Excellency the Governor-General has received a telegram, lodged at Adelaide at 1.30 p.m. this day (9th August), from His Excellency the Governor of South Australia, which, de-coded, reads as follows: -
At joint sitting. Legislative Council. House of Assembly this day Edward Charles Vardon was chosen to hold the place now vacant in the representation of South Australia, in the Senate of the Commonwealth.
I have the honour to he, &c, (Signed) J. H. Starling,
H.E. the Governor-General..
This advice has also been confirmed by a telegram I have received from His Excellency the Governor of South Australia.
Senator VARDON made and subscribed the oath of allegiance.
In Committee (Consideration resumed).
– It is quite clear that by retaining the British rate of 2d. unaltered no preference will be given over the intermediate* rate. I think the Government ought to take steps to establish a preferential rate for British articles, but’ in order to save them the trouble of doing: so, and because of the assistance they have afforded me. in my endeavour to turn out a Tariff creditable to the Senate, I move -
That the House of Representatives be re- quested to make the duty, sub-item (a), per l b., British,1½d.
– The honorable senator will realize that the intermediate rate will apply only to Allied countries or other Dominions with whom we establish reciprocity. But, in any case, the duty which he seeks to reduce will hardly affect Great Britain, because our importations of preserved milk from that country are very small. The same may be -said of the other Dominions.
– I wish the Government would come round to a common-sense method of dealing with trade. We are placing’ a bar in the way of New Zealand and Canadian goods coining to this country. But such goods will’ not come unless we require them; firms do not ship goods to other countries except in return for orders, accompanied with money or good credit. It does nob matter a snap of the fingers to these rich milk firms what the Tariff is; what they desire is the Australian trade. If we, by means of the Tariff, make it difficult to trade, with other countries, these companies, being world-wide in their operations, will . supply from elsewhere. All we are really doing is to interfere with trade by bolstering up a few people, whom we imagine will in some way or other benefit Australia. According to Senator Lynch, the balance-sheets of the company that has been, referred to show dividends of 15 per cent. for the last fourteen years.
– That is not in Australia, but has reference to the European branch.
– How do we know that the profits are not much greater here ?
– In any case, I do not see why we should go out of our way to make their profits still more. The Minister (Senator Russell) apparently is afraid- of New Zealand and Canadian competition, but, personally, I am not afraid of any such competition. I am sorry to say that these great companies, or Combines, being world-wide, set the markets for the different branches, and all that we do here amounts to so much humbug. We know that for months in the year Canadian cattle have to be handfed and sheltered in artificially heated houses, whereas in Queensland, which is also a cattle-raising and milk-producing State, the climate is practically as good in the winter as in the summer. In these circumstances, why, should these firms be nursed and coddled at the expense of the community?
– Denmark, which is similarly circumstanced to Canada, produces the best butter in the world.
– Quite so, but instead of our trying to compete with those countries by using the intelligence there displayed, we shut competition out. There is anything from. 20 to 30 per cent. protection afforded by the . freightage, and, moreover, we have the advantage of climate and of pastures rich beyond the dreams of those engaged in this industry in the countries I have referred to. At the same time, some of these big milk companies here, as soon as the Protectionists in another place impose a duty on timber which gives a little advantage on the side of importing the timber necessary for the cases, send huge orders abroad; they are not Protectionists, but
Free Traders, when it is a matter of obtaining the materials they require. They do not fail, however, to take advantage of every dot and comma in the Tariff-, and we make milk1d. or½d. per quart dearer to enable them to carry on a business which for fourteen years has returned them dividends of 15 per cent.
– For the benefit of foreign shareholders!
-Chiefly. The new slavery with which we are faced is that represented by’ these great companies and Combines obtaining control of the food supplies of the people; and we are helping them by shutting out competition, including that of New Zealand, Canada, and Britain. And what do we get in return? I dare say good employment is afforded for some of our own people; but what, at the same time, do we shut out. We take away employment from all those wharf labourers, shipping people, and others, who would be engaged in trading with other nations. This is the first time I have had an opportunity to say this, and I- could not refrain from taking advantage of it. By these proposals in the Tariff, we are really enriching an already very rich company or monopoly that is world-wide in its operations, and on whose behalf it is openly said that the Tariff makes no difference so far as it is concerned. Why the Government should go out of its way to make these people richer, I cannot understand.
Question - That therequest (Senator Lynch’s) be agreed to - put. The Committe divided.
Ayes . . . . . . 11
Noes . . . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
. -Last Friday, when we were discussing the item of malted milk, I submitted a request which I thought would meet the position so far as it relates to infants’ and invalids’ foods. I now move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (c) by inserting after the words “Malted milk” the words “when not used for infants’ and invalids’ food “.
– How could it be ascertained whether it was or was not so used?
– That is a matter of Customs administration, and there are ample powers under the Customs Act to compel importers to absolutely satisfy the authorities that the commodity is to be used for no other purpose.
– How could the authorities follow the milk once it was taken out of ‘bond?
– Is there not a Tariff Board to settle all these matters?
– I think Senator Crawford will admit that scores of similar cases arise under the Customs Act, and that the Department is able, by administration, to protect the revenue of the country.
– Formerly this article could not be produced in Australia, but now exactly the same article is being produced.
– No ; if the analyses be compared it will be found that in one very important particular there is a considerable difference.
– In moisture?
– No ; in fats.
– However, the point is that this article is very largely used for soda fountains, which have become so popular of late years in the cities of Australia, and if the request were agreed to a very large portion of the milk so used would be found coming in as infants’ and invalids’ foods. I have information here showing that the malted’ milk manufactured in Australia is of good quality, and is used in our own hospitals. I also have comparisons relating to the malted food made by what are called the British Horlick companies ; but, as there are three American factories and only one small one in England, I prefer to call them the American-British companies. The net prices in 1916 for Horlick’s milk compare as follows with the quotations for to-day: - No. 1 size, 3-lb. 14-oz. tin, 12s. 2d., 17s; No. 2 size, 10-lb. tin, 22s. 8d., 29s.; No. 3 size, for hospitals, 57-lb. tin, 90s., 129s. 10d. The local prices - for an almost exactly similar article - are, respectively, 15s. 4d., 25s. 7d., and 117s. 9d.
– The comparisons provide a very strong argument against the imposition of a duty.
– Not necessarily. As I have pointed out over and over again, the natural protection afforded by high freights is steadily passing. I suppose that, in normal periods, freight quotations would be 75 per cent. lower than those which ruled during the war.
– Freights would not make a difference of1d. per tin.
– Can the Minister furnish an analysis of the two articles?
– I provided the particulars last week, but they are as follow : -
There are rather more proteids in Horlick’s than in the local product, but there are less carbohydrates; and the moisture in the imported food is greater. Altogether, the best expert advice is to the effect that the twolines are practically identical.
– The proposal of the Government is a new one. It is that the various infants’ and invalids’ food products shall be gathered up under the heading of malted milk, and be made dutiable. This means very much to those who are dependent upon such foods. Underthe Customs by-laws, the following arere garded by the Department as infants’ and invalids’ foods -
Coombs’ Malted; Horlick’s Malted Milk; Lorimer’s Malted; Nestles Dextrinized Malted
Milk Food ;. Nestles Dextxinized and Malted Starchless- Milk Food; Pulv. Ext..Maitic. Sacch. Lactis- (F. H. Faulding and Company, London); Three Spires Brand Malted Food; Hooker’s Malted Milk; Lacto Malted1 (Howard Lloyd and’ Company, Leicester) ; Manhu Flaked Barley, identical with Manhu Diabetic’ Barley; Manhu Special Flour, identical with Manhu Diabetic Flour ; Manhu Special Biscuits, identical with’ Manhu Diabetic Biscuits.
The fact is that the Government have taken a dozen’ varieties of overseas products, which were formerly imported free, and have imposed a duty of between 25 and 30 per cent.It Would be interesting to learn the values of these compounds. The Committee should be informed exactly what the Customs imposition means to purchasers.
– The duty means, upon the three sizes respectively, 14 per cent., 18 per cent., and 22 per cent. Surely those rates arenot too high !
– The effect, at any fate,’ is to penalize infants and invalids. That fact cannot -be gainsaid.
– According to present wholesale prices, the first size of Horlick’s food costs 6s. 1.85d., while the similar size of Lactogen, which the Minister describes as identical - although it does not resemble Horlick’s- is 2s. 10.5d. The prices for the second size are, respectively, 4s. 11.43d. and 2s. 8d. ; and for the third size, 4s. 2.52d. and 2s. 3.43d. In the matter of prices alone, therefore, there is an advantage in favour of the local protected products-grouping all the sizes - of 89.96 percent. And it should not be lost sight of that Horlick’s prices include the 20 per cent. duty. The Minister (Senator Russell) argues that the removal of the duty will endanger the Australian manufacturing firms.
– But Lactogen isnot a malted milk.
– I cannot understand the. Minister. He has said that it is the Bacchus Marsh Company’s pro- duct which compares practically identically with Horlick’s.
– It is their malted milk to which I refer.
– The article is not quoted in the latest wholesale druggist’s list.
– The honorable senator must be making a mistake. It has beenquoted in the druggists’ lists for the past two years, and it has been manufactured for only about three years.
– The Bacchus Marsh product is usually known in the trade as a dried, or condensed, milk, and it is put up in sizes similar to Horlick’s products. Taking the first size of the Australian manufacturer as- against the first size of the imported line, the prices reveal a difference of 114.06 percent. Is not that an adequate advantage? The Government appear to have made the duty absolutely prohibitive. If the item under discussion were a luxury, I would have nothing to say; . but here is an absolutely essential food for infants and invalids. I have just given the percentage of advantage in respect of the first size. The comparison, of prices for the second size favours the local product to the extent of 85.72 per cent..; and, for the third size - that usually purchased by hospitals - by 70.1 per cent. In every instance there is a very considerable handicap favouring the local manufacturer.. When considering condensed milk, L recognised that a duty of 25 per cent. was necessary ; but we are now dealing with an infants-‘ and invalids’ food, on which we are imposing duties averaging 95.81 percent. I ask the Committee to consider whether it is reasonable to say that, because we are producing a similar article in Australia, a duty of 95 per cent. shall’ be imposed. Does it mean that the local industry cannot carry on without such a duty?
– I do not know where the honorable senator is obtaining his figures, because, according to the information I have, the lowest duty is 14 per cent., and the highest 22 per -cent.
– The figures I have quoted are correct.
– The figures quoted by Senator Senior are misleading, and do not in any way agree with those supplied to me by the Department. Since we were discussing this item on Friday last I have ascertained that the prices to wholesalers for the No. 1 size, which contains 4 lbs. 14 oz. per dozen net, are - for Horlick’s, 17s. per dozen, or 3s. 6d. per lb., on which the duty of 6d. per lb. is 14 per cent. ; and for the Australian article, 15s. 4d. The price for the No. 2 size, which contains 10 lbs. 14 oz. net per dozen, is - for Horlick’s, 29s. lOd. per dozen, or 2s. 9d. per lb., on which, the duty is 18 per cent. ; and for the Australian article, 25s. 7d. The price for the No. 3 size, which contains 57 lbs. net per dozen, is - for Horlick’s, 129s. 10d., or 2s. 3d. per lb., on which the duty is 22 per cent.; and for the Australian article, 117s. 9d. I have quoted the sizes, weights, prices, and duties imposed, and surely that is sufficient.
– I knew the Committee will understand that this matter is of no personal interest to me; but in discussing this item there are certain principles to be considered. I understand that under item No. 55 infants’ and invalids’ foods are admitted free of duty, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, which are framed with the idea of imposing heavy duties on commodities when a similar product is manufactured in Australia. In other words, the item passed permits duties being imposed by the Department, and not by Parliament. This particular duty is aimed at Horlick’s malted milk,, which has been imported into Australia for seventeen years free of duty because it has been a recognised infants’ and invalids’ food, but, owing to the fact that during recent years it has been also used in soda fountains, the Customs Department said that it was dutiable, or at least that portion of the commodity used in soda fountains. This particular malted food is used throughout Australian hospitals for invalids and infants, and if the Committee have laid .it down that such foods are to be admitted free of duty, Horlick’s malted milk imported for the use of infants and invalids must also be admitted free, or an absolute injustice will be done.
– We can supply a similar and fresher food.
– That has nothing to do with the matter, because imported foods may be just as fresh as local foods are when sold to the consumer. I indorse all Senator Senior has said, and so far as my information goes this particular malted milk is nearly double the price of Australian foods now on the market. I have been supplied with figures which show that Glaxo, Lactogen, and Bacchus Marsh food’ are about one-half the price of this commodity, and it is difficult to understand why it is necessary to impose any duty at all. The fact that a duty on malted milk has not been previously imposed leads one to think that it is definitely intended that Horlick’s malted milk shall not be on the free list of infants’ and invalids’ foods. I have submitted my request, which is in conformity with the principle adopted in connexion with item No. 55j under which similar foods are admitted duty free if used by hospitals or as infants’ or invalids’ food.
– Previously this commodity was imported under the heading of oilmen’s stores. There are now specific duties ranging from 14 per cent, to 22 per cent., and there has really been a reduction.
– Until two or three years ago Horlick’s malted milk was admitted free of duty, and it was owing to the arbitrary act of the Department that it was placed under oilmen’s stores. I have no personal interest whatever in the matter ; but in discussing duties I desire to be fair to both importers and local manufacturers.
– The present rate is really a reduction.
– The Minister has shown that the highest duty is imposed on the size supplied to hospitals.
– The cost is less because it is supplied in larger quantities, and consequently the increase is heavier.
– The position of the Government in this connexion is untenable and inconsistent, and I do not think their action should have the support of the Committee.
.- The trade in malted milk for many years has been held by the American manufacturers -Horlick’s, who have spent enormous sums in Australia and elsewhere in advertising, and thus creating a demand for their product. This expenditure has, of course, been passed on to the consumer. For many years Horlick’s has been the only malted milk on the market, and the name has become a household word. The bulk of the population are unaware that any other malted milk is. on the market, and it was only during the war, when supplies were difficult to obtain from overseas, that the local manufacturers embarked on the project of manufacturing malted milk with a view to relieving the shortage. The local manufacturers have been able to produce an article in every way similar to the imported malted milk, and to place it on the market at a considerably lower price than was previously charged by the American manufacturers, because” they have not had to pay enormous sums in advertising. The works already established are confined to Victoria, but there is every prospect of this valuable industry being extended to every other State in the Commonwealth where dairying is undertaken. There is at present in New South Wales a large factory equipped with the necessary plant for producing malted milk as soon as the trade demands it, but unless the present duty is maintained it is almost certain that the industry will fail.
– Why not impose a similar duty on all such foods?
– The local manufacturers do not intend increasing their prices.
– Why not be consistent? Impose duties on all or admit all of them free.
– During the war period we proved that this commodity could be produced, and the industry should therefore be protected. If manufacturers can show that other foods similar to those imported can be produced here, they will necessarily ask for similar protection.
– Is Horlick’s malted milk produced in England ?
SenatorRussell. - There are three factories in America and one in Great Britain.
– It has been said that, as the price of Horlick’s malted milk is considerably higher than that of the local product, no protection is necessary. The prices hitherto ruling for Horlick’s malted milk have not been based upon the cost of production, but have been unnecessarily inflated to meet the expenditure involved in advertising. Now that the product is well known the manufacturers can amend their prices by reducing their advertising, and thus be in a better position to compete with Australian manufacturers. The Australian product can be supplied to consumers immediately after it is manufactured. It does not have to pass through the tropics and risk deterioration as is the case with imported foods.
– The jams and other commodities we export to England have to pass through the tropics and do not deteriorate.
– Australian jams are boiled and preserved. The Australian manufacturers of this article, do not contemplate increasing their present price to the consumers if the duty is retained.
– What was the price in 1920, and what is it to-day?
– I have no record of that. Malted milk is a more scientifically prepared article than either dried or powdered milk, and its manufacture therefore affords an opportunity for the development of chemical industries in Australia. As the local manufacturers are able to gradually obtain more of the trade and control the Australian market, their prices will tend to diminishrather than increase, by reason of the fact that their overhead charges will be decreased as a result of greater production.
– That is not according to experience.
– It is a universal argument for Protection, that by securing our markets we are able to give the benefit to local consumers of lower prices due to increased production. It has been proved in many cases that as soon as the local market has been secured to the manufacturer he can quote better prices to local consumers.
– I hope the Committee will sup- port the duties proposed in the schedule. Some honorable senators are prepared to impose duties on agricultural implements, pianos, and such things, but they are not equally disposed to protect the primary producer. During the war this article was extremely difficult to obtain, and local manufacturers came to our aid by supplying an article which, I am informed, is quite as good as Horlick’s malted milk. I think we should encourage our primary producers, and should support the duties proposed by . the Government on this article, the manufacture of which in Australia gives considerable work to other branches of industry.
– I want to make some reference to the prices quoted for Horlick’s malted milk and for the articles produced at Bacchus Marsh. I find that the price of Horlick’s malted milk on the 1st January, 1920, was 216s. per dozen, and it rose to 240s. in the course of twelve months, or 11.11 per cent. The Bacchus Marsh article was quoted on the 1st January, 1920, at 150s. per dozen, and its price on the 1st January, 1921, was 192s. per dozen, or a rise of 28 per cent. Yet the Minister tells us that if we impose this duty the local article will he sold more cheaply. He cannot dispute the figures I have given, and I am therefore at a loss to understand how he can claim that the imposition of a duty will lower the price of the local article. As soon as the duty was imposed on Horlick’s malted milk, the price of the Bacchus Marsh article went up. When heavy duties are imposed which have the effect of prohibiting the importation of an article it follows almost as a corollary that the price of the local article in competition with it goes up. I have quoted the prices for the 7-lbs. sizes of these milks,’ because they are the sizes chiefly used in hospitals. In the case of the smaller size, 6½ ozs., the price of Horlick’s malted milk on the 1st J anuary, 1920, was 25s. per dozen, and on 1st January, 1921, it was 30s., or a rise of 20 per cent.
SenatorRussell. - My figure is lower, but perhaps the honorable senator is quoting retail prices.
– I am quoting wholesale prices fromRocke Tompsitt’s list. During that time a duty of 20 per cent. was imposed on the article, so that the increased price really represented no actual rise in the price charged . for Horlick’s malted milk. The price charged for the 8-oz. size for the Bacchus Marsh article was 15s. 6d. per dozen in 1920, and 18s. on the 1st January, 1921, or a rise of 20 per cent., which is equivalent to the duty imposed on Horlick’s malted milk. This is the price charged by a firm which is not an Australian firm, because, as Senator Lynch has shown, it is but an off-shoot of a large European firm. The Government, in this case, have said to the Bacchus Marsh people, “We shall take one particular article which comes into competition with yours, and will impose a duty of 20 per cent. on it”; and the company carrying on the industry here said, “ All right, we shall take that as a nest-egg for our firm operating here.” And, as my figures have shown, they have increased the price of the local article by the amount of the duty. I do not desire that any particular article or firm shall be singled out for the imposition of a duty. There are many of these malt foods imported, as can be shown from wholesale grocers’ lists. If the Government desired that they should all be. dutiable, well and good; but they have singled out one particular malted milk which is in competition with the Bacchus Marsh article, and have imposed a duty upon it, the whole benefit of which has been appropriated to the advantage of the Bacchus Marsh manufacturers, and not of the people of Australia.
– There is one matter in connexion with this item which I overlooked, and which I might mention for the information of honorable senators. Up to within a few months ago Horlick’s advertised that their malted milk was good for children of any age, but the Board of Health threatened to take action against them unless they ceased to advertise in that way, and stated on their labels that it was not suitable for children under six months old.
– Does the Minister say that Horlick’s malted milk is not suitable for infants?
– I say that they have agreed to state on their labels that it is not fit for children under six months old.
– There are doctors’ certificates to show that it is suitable for infants.
– All the milk companies, including Horlick’s, have agreed to print this statement on their labels.
– The Minister is bringing all the big artillery of the Trade and Customs Department against a particular firm, in order to get his own way.
– I am informed that the Board of Health brought pressure to bear upon the milk companies in the direction I have indicated, under a threat that if they did not do as requested action would be- taken against them.
– What Board of Health?
– The Victorian Board of Health. The purpose was the protection of infant life. The companies have agreed to advertise on their labels that the article is not suitable for children under six months old.
– Who put the Board of Health up to that?
– I do not know.
.- The Minister says that Horlick’s malted milk is not suitable for children, and he gives that as a reason why a duly should be imposed upon it. His previous argument in support of the duty was that a similar article was being manufactured in Australia.
– The condition to which I referred applies to all the malted milks.
– Here is an article which for forty years has been in the market, and which has the imprimatur of doctors all over the world as suitable for infants. This is absolutely the first time in its history that it is suggested that it is not suitable for infants. The Minister has been arguing in support of the duty that Horlick’s malted milk is exactly similar to an article produced in Australia, so that he now confesses that the article made in Australia is not suitable for infants. There should be duties imposed upon all of these goods or upon none. The Government should not select one and make it dutiable.
– I have so far refrained from discussing this item. After listening to the debate, I think that the request made by Senator Pratten deserves, our support. There can . be no reasonable ground for making foods for invalids and infants dearer than they are at the present time. It strikes me that the very heavy duties imposed on this particular article have been imposed because of the world-wide popularity it has gained. It is claimed that an equally good article is being produced in Australia.
– I have just made the statement that the- Board of Health compels them now to put a label on their packages, “Not suitable for children under six months.”
– In fairness the Minister should say that Australian manufacturers of a similar article have to do the same.
– Yes, there is no exception.
– It may be that this kind of food is too strong for infants under six months’ old, but after they have passed that age children may require this very excellent food. Its excellence has been proved to such an extent that the company producing an article with which it competes want a special duty to meet that competition. The Minister should tell us how the local company secured that special duty.
– It is a reduced duty. The article previously came in under oilmen’s stores at a higher rate of duty than that now proposed.
– According to the schedule, malted milk is dutiable at 6d., 7d., and 8d., whilst dry or in powdered form milk is dutiable at 3d., 4d., and 4d. ; and sweetened or unsweetened at 2d., 2½d., and 3d. per lb. Malted milk comes into competition with the product of a firm at Bacchus Marsh that is on the telephone and handy enough to reach the ear of the people revising the Tariff,and I think the very high duty proposed upon it requires explanation.
– It is a much more valuable article than the others referred to.
– That is why the duty is higher !
– That may be one reason for a higher duty.
– It is more valuable per unit.
– I suppose it is a better article than dry or powdered milk, or . sweet or unsweetened milk. Is it not a fact that Horlick’s malted milk has won a reputation for itself, and is in world-wide demand ? When people here are prepared to pay more for it than for the local article it is apparent that the protection imposed on the imported commodity does not, in effect, protect the local manufacturer at all. It merely compels consumers . here to pay more for the. product.
– That was in abnormal times.
– I do not think that we can regard the present, as abnormal times. If people- insist upon getting the imported article, evidently they areunshakeable in their belief that it is superior. Of course, the Minister brushes’ this assertion aside by saying that there is a ‘ prejudice against the Australian product. ‘ If there is any such prejudice, it has been, catered for to some extent ‘ by the practice of branding some Australian products as British or foreign. It has been asserted, and the assertion has been unchallenged by the Minister, that the imported article is selling, at a higher price than the local product, proving, as I have already said, that the only effect of the duty is to make local consumers pay a higher price for the article they insist upon having. But, after all, do we want to get revenue out of invalids and infants? - Has the Commonwealth Government come down to this level? Of course, this is Protection run mad. As a matter of fact, we had Protection run mad many years ago. It never was ‘ a Bane policy. I cannot understand why, in the case of this commodity, which is so much required by infants and invalids, there should be any desire on. the part of the Government to make it dearer by the imposition of a duty. If consumers can get the local product more cheaply, but still prefer the imported article, we have no right to make it dearer by means of the Tariff. The local manufacturers are in a position to market their product in a much fresher condition, and if they are protected to the extent of at least 20- per cent. in freight on the overseas product, what occasion is there, by ‘means of a duty, to restrict the use of this infants’ and invalids’ food ? I intend to support Senator Pratten’s amendment, which represents a common-sense view of the position, It should be our duty to enable those people who need this . commodity most to get it as cheaply as possible.
Question - That the request (Senator Pratten’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Are we to understand that all malted foods, will now be dutiable? So far only one has been in this category. I should . like to know if in future all malted foods are to be treated alike.
– All malted milk will be dutiable because it is now being made in Australia-
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be re quested to make sub-item, (c), British, free.
This amendment is similar to amendments which I have moved in respect of other items. -I am gratified to think that the number of’ Nationalist honorable . senators who are now prepared to trade with Great Britain has increased. Last week I could not get a division, but to-, day, apparently, quite a number of - honorable senators are prepared to trade with the Mother Country in regard to some commodities, and so I . do not wish to lose’ an opportunity of enlisting their support. The. British Tariff on this article, 6d. per lb., appears to me to be enormous when compared with the retail price.
– It is 3s. , 6d. per lb. wholesale.
– Then 6d. per lb, is a heavy duty.
– It is 3s. 6d-. per lb. retail. I buy the article in Toorak, so I should know. -
– Senator Drake-Brockman has just told us that the retail price in Toorak,. which is an aristocratic, ‘ and certainly,not a cheap suburb, is” 3s. 6d. per lb. Therefore,the duty is Very considerable, and,” in view of all the circumstances,it is not required. I suppose that it costs 1s. 6d. to deliver the British commodity in Aus-. tralia, because . it has to be put up in bottles and specially packed for transportation. Surely this is protection enough for the local manufacturers. In the preparation of these particular foods the British manufacturers have had experience which, possibly, we shall never have in Australia. When local manufacturers have to face competition from abroad, they are compelled to keep their article up to the standard of the imported article, in respect not only of quality, but also of appearance, and the country must suffer if we say to our manufacturers, “ Continue’ if you will, in slip-shod practices. As you are manufacturing in Australia, no one will be. allowed to compete with you, no that, although the public may not like your goods, it will have to accept them, we shall not compel you to make an article to suit the tastes of the public:” We are a go-slow . community.
– Does the honorable senator refer to this Committee?
– No. The progress of the Tariff has been exceptionally rapid. Unfortunately, the duties which we are discussing have been levied from, the date of the introduction of the Tariff schedule. Had the public not to pay them untilParliament had agreed to the Tariff, we should- get on much more slowly. On this item, it. cannot be said that our manufacturers need protection against the cheap labour products of Great - Britain, because, the labour employed on the British dairy farms is as well paid as that’ similarly employed in Australia, and probably the British factory labour is as ‘well paid as ours. In any case, much of the work in the factories under discussion is done by juveniles The analyses read by the Minister seemed to show that, in one important particular, imported milk products are superior to those made in Australia. That being so, if . the local manufacturer bad to compete with the imported article, and the latter, notwithstanding the handicaps of distance, freight, and climate were obtaining a hold of” the market, our producers would set their chemists to work to. ascertain in what way their pro- duct was inferior to. the imported pro- luct. I am not inclined to accept the statement that . Australian goods are not purchased in this market because of the superstitious belief that imported goods must be better. In a community consisting to the extent of 86 percent. of Australian- born persons. Australian-made goods can have no -prejudice to fear.
– Do you think that the local manufacture needs the protection of a duty amounting to £75 per ton?
– Not many infants would consume a ton of milk food; but in the aggregate a good many tons of milk products must be consumed in Australia. The Minister has handed me to taste a glass of locally-preserved milk, which seems to me’ excellent. Perhaps, after the ‘dinner adjournment, we shall be able to sample the imported product, so that we may compare the two. But if an article as . excellent as that which I have just tasted cannot hold its own on the Australian market, we shall, be unwise in trying to break down- by, force the prejudice against it. Assuming that there is such a prejudice, there is no good reason for compelling those who are influenced by it to’ purchase the Australian article, or to pay more for the imported article. Parliament should interfere as little as possible with the individual likes and dislikes of the community. The position might be different if ‘the profits of the manufacture were wholly retained in Australia. The industry which we are protecting is, however, controlled by companies operating all over the world, and making big profits because of their immense production, their customers being numbered by millions. I appeal to honorable senators to Bay that they are. prepared to trade with Great Britain.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I should be glad if Senator Gardiner would temporarily withdraw his request, since I have a prior one to submit.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to. make the duty, sub-item (c), general, per lb., 4d.
If this proposal be agreed to, I shall then move a request, to reduce the duty under the intermediate Tariff from 7d. to 4d. so that the two duties will harmonize. My proposal is that the duties on malted milk shall agree with those on milk dried or in powder form which have already been passed. The present duty of 8d. per lb. under the general “Tariff is equal to £314s. 8d. per owt., or nearly £75 per ton.
– That is a little more than, the duty on dried prunes.
– And more than the duty on’ sugar. Having regard to the fact that malted milk is used largely by invalids and children, the duties as they stand are altogether unreasonable. In their overweening anxiety to protect the industry, the Government seem to have lost sight of the fact that such duties as these must enhance the price of malted milk to the consumer. Surely we have not lost our sense of perspective. The people will have to pay these duties.
– I hope that they will not have to do so.
– I have already shown that the price of the local article has been increased to the extent of 20 per cent. since the introduction of this Tariff, so that there is no reason to believe that the honorable senator’s hope will ever be realized. I think it only reasonable to reduce the duty under the general and intermediate Tariffs to the rate applying to milk dried or in powder form.
Question - That the request be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Mustard, including French mustard, per lb., British, 3d.; intermediate, 4d.j general, 5d.
– I move -
That the. House of (Representatives be requested to make the item, British, free.
I need not dwell upon the capacity of British firms to manufacture excellent, mustard. Colman’sand Keen’s mustards are sold wherever civilization exists. The age and experience of those firms have enabled them to produce a condiment that is unequalled. We profess to be anxious to live on terms- of good fellowship with Great Britain, and I do: not know why we should impose a duty on British mustard, and so make it more expensive to our own people, regardless, of the fact that if the whole of the mustard required here were locally produced it would not add much to our wealth or give much employment.
– In what part of Australia is mustard manufactured ?
– I do not know. This may be a duty which, like that on dates, will bear fruit 100 years hence.
– The duty in respect of British imports has not been increased. The same rate was in operation under the Tariff of 1914.
– That, to my mind, is a good reason why we should reduce it. Will the Minister (Senator Russell) tell us whether there are any factories in Australia turning out a substitute for English mustard?
– There are dozens of local factories producing mustard.
– I -should like to know something as to their wages sheets and as to the kind of article they are producing. Even if such factories exist in New South Wales, I shall vote to make the imports under the British preferential Tariff free. I have no time for an industry that requires the pennies of the poor to keep it going. The average man no sooner employs a hand or two than he feels called upon to complain that the workers are “going slow,” but as soon as a Tariff is introduced we always find that the Government of the day is so subservient to the interests of the wealthy classes as to collect the pennies . of the poor to enable these people to conduct their businesses. If we were - to “pass the plate” round, and tell the people that we wanted assistance for local manufacturers of mustard to enable them to compete with Colman and Keen, I do not think, we would get a threepenny piece.
SenatorRussell. - During the last few years the price of English mustard has increased from1s. 2d. to1s.11d. per lb. ‘
– I have no doubt that it has increased very much of recent years. Even Protectionist members of the. Senate have said that Protection means increased prices. We have a continual clamour for increased wages, not because the workers are unwilling to do as much, as they have ever done for their employers, but because the purchasing power of their wages has depreciated largely because of Customs’ duties. The Government collect from them 6d. per lb.’ in re- spect of malted milk, 3d. per lb. on mustard, and penalize in the same way all their groceries. To the man in affluent circumstances, who probably knows nothing of the cost of maintaining a household, these duties are of no concern, but they are of serious moment to the workers, particularly in these days of unemployment. When we find that the cost of living is added to’ by increased duties on almost everything the working man and his family consume, because of a wild desire on the part of the Government to help . people, to establish factories in Australia, it. is not to be wondered at that demands are made by organized workers for increased wages. One of my saddest thoughts is that the cost of living pressesso heavily on the wage-earner.
– The cost of living is steadily f alling.
– The cost of beef and mutton may have dropped temporarily, but just imagine sugar costing 6d. a lb. in a country like this! A shilling’s worth of mustard would last an average family for a considerable time, but when we find that an extra halfpenny or an extra penny has to be paid on this or that commodity through the operation of this Tariff it is making life not too pleasant for the people who have very few halfpennies or. pennies to spare. There are very few working-class families whose wage-earners are paid the £5 16s. 6d. per week which the Basic Wage Commission appointed by the present Government assessed as representing the cost of maintaining a man, his wife and three children.
– Tell us something about the Mustard Combine.
– There are very few trades that organized capital has not secured, or’ attempted to secure, possession, of, and the sooner we realize that no possible good can accrue to the people of Australia by shutting out the product of the British Combine, merely to bolster up an Australian Combine, the better we will understand how to deal with this Tariff.
– Is it not better to have a Combine wo can control than one we cannot?
– I claim that the Australian Combines control this Government.
– There, are twenty firms in Australia manufacturing mustard, and the raw material is admitted free.
– Itis a wonder that there is no Protective duty on mustard seed, in order to induce the growing of it here.
– We have tried to do so, but have not been successful
– These duties are not in the interests of the people I represent.
– Some of them may be in the interests of the Consolidated Revenue.
– If the idea is to obtain revenue we should not seek to get it from people who are least able to pay taxation. We would not make a’ direct call upon our returned soldiers to pay interest upon the money we borrowed for the- purpose of carrying on the war and keeping them fighting, but apparently it is quite safe for us to tell the soldier on his return that he roust pay 3d. more for his mustard and a little more duty on nearly every one of the 430 items in this schedule, which mostly refer to commodities the people require.
– The honorable senator is slighting his comrades in another place..
– The members of the Labour party are at liberty to vote as they wish on this question. The party certainly has a Protective policy in its platform, but the protection it advocates is not for the manufacturer, only. We also seek to protect the interests of the consumers, and secure good wages for the employees. This Tariff merely protects the manufacturers.
– The Arbitration Court protects the workers.
– Without this Tariff, we still have the protection of the Arbitration Court for the workers, but I claim that this schedule has been prepared by the Chamber of Manufactures.
– Then why did the honorable senator’s confreres in . another place support it, and even move for higher duties ?
– The Chairman would not permit me at this stage to give the honorable senator the information he seeks. In this country, Protection has become a disease. Just as you can persuade a foolish person that he can lift himself up by his bootlaces, so can you persuade the people of Australia that they can lift their country to a higher plane by imposing taxation. You can get them to believe that, in time, Protection will not be necessary, because industries will be well established here ; but how long have the people of Victoria been waiting for the establishment- of some industries which have been protected for . forty years past?
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Item agreed to.
Mustard seed, free.
– I would like to know why this item has been made free whereas in previous Tariffs there was a duty of½d. per lb.?.
– An attempt was made to establish the growing of mustard seed in Australia, but it proved a failure.
None is grown here now.
Item agreed to.
Item 78 -
.- Protectionists and Free Traders must agree with me that the words in sub-item a, “as prescribed by departmental by-laws,” are objectionable.
It would be. a most iniquitous system to permit officers of a Department to prescribe what the Tariff should be. When I was a member of a Government, a nice-looking, proposal was submitted to- us that as glycerine, a by-product in the manufacture of soaps, was very necessary for the manufacture of explosives, we should not permit the importation of soaps, except from allied countries. At that time America was not allied to us in respect to actual participation in the war; but one would have imagined that, when that country did actually associate itself with us, it would be placed on the same footing as Prance or Italy.
– America did not use glycerine in the manufacture of munitions. I think that the honorable senator ought to add that this step was taken at the request of the British Government.
– I do not mind adding that, nor do I mind adding that this action was taken at the request of Lever Brothers, through the British Government, a fact which I found out afterwards. But did the British Government ask us to permit American soaps to come in?
– They requested us not to make any alteration.
– That is so; and there again the influence of Lever Brothers was at work. But Parliament ought not to put temptation in the- way of officers of our public Departments by giving them the power to prescribe a Tariff by departmental by-laws. Surely we are capable of fixing duties on any item?
– On the occasion, referred to by the honorable senator, what was done was by direct action of the Government, and not by officers of the Department.
– I thought I made that quite clear.
– In 1914, when the honorable senator’s own party was in power, exactly the same provision appeared in the Tariff.
– That may be so, but I do not know that there is any inconsistency in that. I was as innocent then as most honorable senators are now; but when we see a company refusing to give up an advantage, and using departmental by-laws for its own purposes, it does not matter what was done in 1914, we ought not to permit the same thing to be done in 1921. However, the Government have large enough majorities in both Houses to fix duties, and the responsibility should not be thrown on the officers of the Department.
SenatorRussell. - In the case referred to every member of the Government supported what was done.
– I know, but every member of the Government was duped into supporting it. The request came from the British Government, and, personally, I thought it was a legitimate and honest request. But when America came into the war, the British Government not only did not request that America should be put on the same footing as the Allies, but because America was a competitor with. Lever Brothers, asked that the reverse should be done. Under suchcircumstances I had to use my own common sense, and I knew there was some power being used behind the British Government to bring that about. I object to a provision being placed in the Tariff which I regard as representing a rotten principle. It means handing over the taxation of the community to the officers of the Customs Department, and I cannot allow that to be done without entering my protest. I would never dream of questioning the honesty of the Minister (Senator Russell) or of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) in handling the Tariff ; but I realize that combined interests can so place their case before Ministers and Governments as to make a fair deal to the rest of the people impossible. The general public no doubt have community of interests, but they have no organization, and they find themselves at the mercy of the organized few.
– Are these departmental by-laws never laid before Parliament for veto or otherwise?
– No ; in the instance to which I have referred what was done was by by-law under the Customs Act, and such by-laws do not come bef ore Parliament.
– I think the honorable senator is misreading the item. The words “ subject to departmental by-laws “ refer to the words “ and other substances.” How do we know what new substance may be invented to-morrow ?
– I am making no mistake as to the principle of the thing.
– If a new industry were developed having as its basis some product of the coconut, which thus became the raw material of that industry, it. could be proclaimed free; that is what the words mean.
SenatorGARDINER.- The point is that Parliament proposes to hand over the power of taxation to the Customs Department. Let us suppose that one firm finds that another is Using a product of the coconut, and that that product, not being included in the Tariff, gives that firm a distinct advantage-
– This item deals only with coconuts whole.
– It also deals with “ other substances, as prescribed by departmental by-laws,” which set out the extent to which the substance shall be taxed. If in the manufacture of soap, for instance, there is discovered some product of the coconut not provided for in the Tariff, it is the duty of the Government to introduce a Bill to amend the Tariff so that the matter may be decided by Parliament. I am not prepared to surrender one iota of my representative capacity to departmental officers and bylaws.
– The honorable senator did that when he supported Senator Pratten’s request to-day in regard to the free admission of certain milk for the use of infants and invalids. Such a request could only have been carried into effect by a provision similar to that to which the honorable senator is now objecting.
– That was a distinct proposal that the duty should not be charged on invalids’ and infants’ foods.
– But these could not be severed from the general importation without some such provision.
– The purpose of Senator Pratten’s request was quite definite and clear.
– But how could one lot of imports be severed from the others?
– Nothing could be more simple; the importer would sign a statement showing the purposes for which the imports would be used, and if a duty were then charged, it would have to be refunded.
– This item refers.- to the importation of coconuts, whole.
– The total importations were only £910 worth.
– The item not only covers coconuts whole, but “ other substances.”
– The item is “ coconuts, whole “ for the manufacture of “ other substances.”
– Does the honorable senator wish me to read the item as meaning coconuts for the manufacture of oil and other substances?
– Very well; if there are “other substances” for the manufacture of which coconuts, whole, can be used, why do we not say what those substances are? There is no need for the Government, with all the business advice at their disposal, to be in doubt as to the purposes for which any commodity may be used, or as to the duty which ought to be fixed. Here is an opportunity for Parliament to maintain its supreme right to impose taxation in face of the growing and unwise practice of leaving much to departmental by-laws and regulations. There was a period in English history when encroachments on the people’s liberty might be carried out by force, but so complex has society become that no one would now dream of using force for such a purpose. Therefore, we ought to be more alert than ever, and refuse to allow proposals of this kind, however harmless in themselves they may appear, to form a precedent. I can see in this provision an encroachment on the rights and duties of Parliament. Taxation is the most sacred duty we have to perform, touching, as it does, so closely the whole life and business of the community. To permit a slight encroachment because it is convenient for the Government means to permit an interference with us in our representative capacity.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– It is not often I find myself in agreement, on a matter of principle, with Senator Gardiner, but mymany and varied experiences of the working of the
Tariff and departmental by-laws lead me to believe, from the representations that have been made to me, that it would be as well to eliminate, wherever possible, the reference to the departmental by-laws, and to set out what we mean in clear, simple, unmistakable, English. I do not suppose that anything in the Tariff has given so much trouble and caused so much inconvenience, and, at times, loss, as the constant alteration of departmental bylaws. I think I can speak for the Sydney commercial community, and I can say that time after time complaints have reached me that goods, once free under departmental by-laws, have suddenly become dutiable on the recommendation of some one inside the, Department, indorsed by the Minister. These matters never come before Parliament; in fact, extra taxation is thus raised through the Customs House on the dictum of the Minister and not on the dictum of Parliament. These words “ subject to departmental by-laws “ occur in scores, if not in hundreds, of cases ; indeed, on the next two leaves of the Tariff there are five distinct repetitions of the words. What would be wrong in substituting the word “ regulation “ for the words “ departmental by-laws ?” In those circumstances the regulations would have to be laid before Parliament; and, unless they were objected to within a certain period, they would become law. The important consideration is that members of Parliament would be given opportunties of knowing what was going on . and could intervene.
SenatorKeating. - The honorable senator’s purpose would be served by retaining the words, “As prescribed.” That phrase, under the Acts Interpretation Act, would involve the framing of regulations rather than the mere gazettal of by-laws.
– I thank the honorable senator, and move, accordingly
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (a) by leaving out the words, “by departmental by-laws.”
– I thought that, as a commercial man, Senator Pratten would have had ample experience of commercial practice where it touches the Customs Department. Does he not perceive what would be the effect of his proposal? A new industry may he about to be launched having copra for its raw material. If Senator Pratten’s amendment were agreed to it would he necessary for the Government to secure the passage of a Bill through Parliament in order to do what a by-law could bring about to-day. If Bills had to be introduced to authorize every alteration in the Tariff, the work of Parliament would be endless. And what would be the situation during a long parliamentary recess? Would everything be held up? Would a proposed new industry be compelled to await the calling together of Parliament?
– By retaining the words “ as prescribed,” would not the Government and the Department have all the powers they now possess?
– I do not know at the moment; but, if they had, what good purpose could be served by the requested amendment?
– Departmental bylaws would come before Parliament in (he shape of regulations.
– Would Senator Pratten care to hold up a new industry, sometimes for three or four months?
– Such a situation would not arise. A regulation would operate until the meeting of Parliament, and up to the moment of its rejection, according to the present procedure.
– If all departmental by-laws are made regulations it will be necessary to appoint DeputyGovernorsGeneral to share the burden of signing the documents. However, I shall undertake to look into the matter and to see if some compromise may not be arrived at. I suggest that the request be temporarily withdrawn, seeing that the same phrase arises in association with many other items yet to be dealt with.
– The reply of the Minister (Senator Russell) is reasonable, and, for the present, I shall be satisfied. The practical point which I have raised is that, in many scores of cases, importers have found that goods which hitherto have been admitted free have been unexpectedly subjected to duty. In many cases firms have suffered loss-
– While in others they have gained a reduction of duty
– I think there may have been a few cases of remission of duty by departmental by-law. I de not know of any, personally. But there have been many instances in the other direction which have come within my own knowledge.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– I am sorry the request has been withdrawn. I was about to point out that departmental by-laws cut both ways. Until I interjected, Senator Pratten had studiously refrained from referring to the other side of the case. The stand which I take with respect to the phrase “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws” is just as determined as that adopted by Senator Pratten, but for opposite reasons.
– Although the request has been withdrawn, I have not withdrawn my opposition to the phrase as a whole. The amendment suggested was so plainly protective of the rights of Parliament that I cannot understand why the Minister (Senator Russell) should not have accepted it immediately. The effect would have been most important. Any departmental alteration proposed, no matter upon what item, would have to be made by way of regulation, which procedure would bring the administration of the Department, where it went beyond the scope of the Tariff schedule, within the control of Parliament. The business of Customs collection would be in no way delayed or interfered with if the present system of prescribing matters by by-laws were changed to the gazettal of regulations. And if Parliament were not sitting, the procedure would not be delayed for one moment. The regulation would be valid until Parliament had met, and had considered and rejected it. At present a departmental by-law is a secret affair. Nobody is likely to know anything about its incidence until some importing firm has come up against it. From what the Minister has just said, it would seem that these departmental regulations are much more numerous than I had dreamed of. If the Minister is afraid of overworking the Governor-General by requiring His Excellency to sign innumerable Customs regulations,; I can imagine the state of affairs existing in the commercial community. The Minister has given Senator Pratten a promise. After mature con- sideration he may came to the conclusion that he cannot accept; any change in the departmental system. Where will this Committee be then ?
– I must be given- an opportunity of learning what the’ amendment requested would involve. The point is important, and it has been suddenly raised.
– The Tariff has not come upon us suddenly, and I am opposed to departmental officialsfilching this power from Parliament’ and imposing taxation which should be imposed by Parliament. The words “as prescribed” would leave the power in the hands of the Minister, and if any alteration in the Tariff were necessary a regulation would be prepared and laid upon the table of the Senate. If that . were done, an honorable senator could object . within, fifteen days of the meeting of Parliament, and that would give Parliament an opportunity to allow or disallow. . the regulation. The Minister spoke of the huge number of departmental regulations that had to be framed and signed, and if there are a large number it is very necessary to take the power from the Department and place it in the hands of Parliament. The Department will always consider the most expeditious way in which its operations can be carried out without paying any regard to the interests of those who are vitally concerned. At the moment, I cannot recall any particular -regulation, but I have heard of numerous -complaints in connexion with departmental by-laws which have been so strained as to inflict gross injustice upon commercial men, who had not the slightest redress. After this Tariff has been finally adopted, I do not suppose we shall have to consider another “ scientific “ Protective Tariff for many years. In the meantime, we can regard itas a sop to -those already highly protected industries that desire to take -still more money out of the- - pockets . of the people. During the next ten or twenty years the departmentalofficers will go on issuing’ regulations - I do not. -knowif they- are gazetted, but I suppose- they , are - and Parliament will not be consulted.
– If they are gazetted, it isnot under any statutory obligation, but merely for the purpose of giving ‘information’, as is done in connexion, with the issue of a proclamation. -
SenatorGARDINER.- I am obliged to the honorable senator for the information. ‘
– The gazettal is compulsory.
– Under what authority?
– Under the Customs Act.
– When author rities differ perhaps I had better form my own opinion. If they are compulsorily gazetted, they have to be signed by some one, and the whole of the work referred to by the Minister has to be undertaken; There is no more work attached to the framing of a gazettal notice’ than to a regulation, and there is certainly no more printing. Money should’ not be collected or disbursed without the consent of Parliament, and as a representative of the people I am on safe ground in advocating that thatshould always be done. I do not think it will make it more difficult for the Customs Department, nor do I -think it will affect the revenue to any appreciable extent. If the Customs officers found that advantage was being taken of the Tariff in a way that they thought Parliament would not favour, the position could be met by framing a regulation for submission to Parliament. The Australian Parliament to-day occupies a similar position to that occupied by the Parliament of Great Britain fifty years ago. Many of the rights that are sacred to Parliament are exercised by officers in a slipshod fashion, and it is time the Government realized’ that their actions should always have the support of Parliament. Senator Pratten has withdrawn his request;” But it is my intention to submit one which is, perhaps, more comprehensive, “ and on which ‘ I shall call for a division. AlthoughI may not havethe support of the Committee, 1 will have the satisfactionofknowing that I took thisopportunityof preventing another inroad being- made into the rights of Parliament. Parliament should have the control of the purse, and the Department should not have the right to inflict or impose duties in this . way. We would not allow the King to impose one penny of taxation of his own free will, because it would be a serious encroachment on established practice.
– This will give us power to exempt from duty.
– I cannot agree with the Minister, because that is not the true position. The sub-item reads -
What are these other substances that are to be manufactured? Is the answer to that question to be left to departmental, officers? What if the Department decides that something coming in free should be dutiable? The officers of the Department may think that there is - an opportunity of collecting additional revenue, and may impose a duty. Would not that mean increasing taxation?
– Manufacturers who use copra would not have to pay duty?
– Coconuts come in free.
– For certain purposes.
– Does the oil of the coconut come in free, or is there a duty? When we consider the byproducts of the coconut, a very wide range is opened up. Before’ the war, Germany was using coconut in the production of butter to’ an extent hitherto undreamed of.
– Does the honorable senator call it butter?
– Yes ; but it is not butter, similar to that produced from the milk of the cow. Some of this material might be coming into Australia, and a person interested in the butter trade might submit that its introduction free of duty would interfere with his business. The officers would be approached - in the correct form, of- course- by interested persons, who would say that the introduction of this, product free of duty was detrimental tohis business.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! As the honorable senator’s time has expired, I ask him’ to submit his ‘request.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (a) by leaving out the words “as prescribed by departmental bylaws.”
.- I do not desire to in any way assist in depriving Parliament of its authority, but by adopting the suggestion made by Senator Pratten and Senator Gardiner serious difficulties may result. In dealing with a commercial enterprise it may be necessary for the Government to act promptly, without waiting for the approval of Parliament. Some genius may be able to produce a new commodity from the coconut, and after doing so would approach the Government and inform them that a syndicate had been formed in which there was a prospect of investing, say, £25,000 or £30,000 for the development of an industry. Insuch circumstances, he would ask the Government if they would be prepared to assist by allowing a product ofthe ‘ coconut to be admitted ‘ free, and the Minister, af ter consulting his officers, would probably agree, because there would be the prospect of establishing a new industry. On the other hand, if a regulation had to be framed and submitted to Parliament for its approval, a delay of six months might elapse, and members of a proposed syndicate might not be prepared to go on, because investors would not be willing to subscribe capital under such conditions. That is the main objection to framing regulations for dealing with Customs matters. I have no knowledge of instances in which departmental by-laws have been put into operation to protect tax dodgers, or those who were avoiding legitimate duties. I believe it is necessary to have the departmental power to deal with such persons; but, in connexion with the question now under consideration, grave difficulties might arise, and the establishment of important industries be interfered with simply because the’ Government would not be’ able, on the spur of the moment, to give ‘ the assurance desired. The present practice is not unreasonable.
.- The request under consideration raises a question as to the point at which Parliament must in- the nature of things delegate its power to some other authority. Parliament cannot directly execute its will in connexion with all the minutus of industrial and commercial life. A parliament of archangels . could not do that. Granting this, the question is at what point shall the immediate responsibility of Parliament in such matters cease and be transferred to some other authority. There is provision in this Bill for the imposition of a duty on canary seed, and of another duty on meat-skewers, but there are matters “connected with the industrial and commercial life of the community in connexion with which responsibility for seeing that the will of Parliament is given effect must be left to some other authority or instrumentality- of government, and that authority must be the Minister in charge of the Department concerned, and no one else. . Senator Gardiner has said that officers of the Department are responsible for this, that, and the other, and has sought to attach blame to a body of men who cannot justly be called upon to bear any blame at all. “We are all aware of the tendency of politicians and public men in this country, instead of facing the difficulties squarely and tackling the Minister in charge of a Department, to throw the .blame for something that has gone wrong upon the departmental officers. They prefer to leave the Minister alone and to blame some other persons who, in the circumstances, are powerless to take up the cudgels on their own behalf. I am not that kind of public man, and never will be. I blame the Minister for anything that goes wrong in his Department. If anything wrong is done in giving effect to this provision of the Tariff, to which exception is now taken, it is the Minister and not the departmental officers whom we should blame. The Minister will not be worth his salt if he is not prepared to accept responsibility for what is done by his officers, and critics of what is done are not worth their salt if they do not hold the Minister responsible. I am sure that Senator Gardiner only wants this brought under his notice. I know of officials who try to do their duty honestly ‘and uprightly, and who often have a very hard time because some public man hopes to make a reputation by scoring off men in a position in which they are powerless to defend themselves. It is not equity or justice for any public man to indulge in that kind of criticism of Government officials; I believe that what I have said requires to be emphasized. There are some politicians who are never satisfied unless as Cousin Jack said, they are a-pulling down or’ a- tearing up something. The: sub-item refers to coconuts imported for the manufacture of coconut oil and oil-cake “ and other substances.” They might be introduced for the manufacture of a variety of substances, and it is suggested that on that account we should overload this Parliament with regulations affecting the infinity of purposes for which coconuts might be’ used. Whilst Parliament should be very jealous about surrendering its powers, and it is well that the reserve power of Parliament should be held in terrorem over those who might abuse’ their privileges, I remind honorable senators that in ‘ connexion with other legislation passed by this Parliament provision similar to that . to ‘ which ex- .ception is sow taken has been made. There is always the understanding that if a Minister departs from public policy to such an extent as to warrant censure, it is an easy matter in. this or any other Parliament to make him answer for his conduct. I can well imagine that if there were any departure by the Minister for Trade and Customs from approved public policy in the administration of this measure, Senator Gardiner would not be casting about for an opportunity to censure the Minister. His only trouble .would probably be that he would not have sufficient votes to support him. If the Minister steps aside from public policy, there is power in this, as well as in the other branch of the Legislature, to call him to account for it, and’ make him the subject of a motion of censure.” It is very hard to decide where the immediate control of Parliament should cease, but in connexion with every act of legislation there must be some power of devolution of responsibility. So in my view, whether this matter should be dealt with in the way proposed in. the Bill, or by regulation laid on the table, is as broad as it is long, whilst Parliament has all the time the power to call to account any. Miniates who has defied . publics opinion in the administration of. the Department. In my opinion, the request represents merely a desire for something new. I agree that Parliament should jealously guard, its powers, but how is that to be done by overloading Parliament with the. responsibility for trivial things with which it would, be humanly impossible for. it to deal? It is easy to mention a grievance; it is more difficult to find a remedy. Most people in this world can find fault, but feware prepared with remedies for grievances of which they complain. I think that we would be well advised to leave this provision in the Bill as it stands, knowing that if the Minister for Trade and Customs in giving it effect does anything which justifies censure, he can be easily brought to book.
– The very serious statement by Senator Lynch that I have made reflections upon departmental officers cannot be allowed to go unchecked or unchallenged. I have been a long time now in the public life of the country, and I challenge. Senator Lynch ‘ to point to any occasion on which I used’ my position to’ attack persons in the Public Service. I wasattacking a system which, in- my opinion, is rotten. Senator Lynch says, “We need not worry about this; wecan let this business be done by departmental by-laws “and hold the Minister responsible.” Whynot let this Bill be operated wholly by departmental by-laws, and hold the Minister responsible? Why are we kept here day after day arguing whether there should be a duty of1d. on this article or½d. on another, when by adopting Senator’ Lynch’s proposal we might let the whole business be done by departmental by-laws, and then we could manfully . attack the Minister for Trade and Customs if anything went wrong? Senator Lynch’s argument is, “Let the Department do it. Why should we take the trouble?” One reason why we should take the trouble is that from the institution of Parliament we have been taught that our liberty dependsupon Parliament keeping control over the purse-strings. This is a. matter in connexion with which there should be parliamentary control, because we are concerned about the revenue tobe derived, from Customs duties: I should like to be a member of a -Senate that would let the Minister take the re. sponsibility for everything, that would let Ministers carry on the business by departmental by-laws, and make. them, pay for it if,in our opinion, they did any. thing wrong. That would’ be a glorious: Senate to be a member of: We might, as members of such a ‘body, spend most of our time growing, wheat; or in some’ other useful. occupation, and allow Ministers to conduct all these affairs. The public after long experience: havedecided that the experimentof parliamentary government shall continue. ‘ I realize that it is only an experiment, but it is a continuous experiment, and I should like to assist to make it as perfect as possible. I do not desire to give away anything that was secured to Parliament before I became a member of it. I should like, when I leave Parliament, to be able to say that no power which Parliament possessed when I entered it has been lost without my resisting it. The position would be different if the intelligence of the community decided that Parliament should leave these matters to be dealt with by departmental by-laws.
– Does not Parliament delegate its power ina thousand different ways ?
– The continual delegation of power, and, the handing of responsibility over to some one else, is what I am protesting against, and I shall continue to protest against it. Senator Earle gave us a very lucid illustration of the operation of. a. regulation as compared with a departmental by-law. He suggested that some genius might invent a new process, that the Government might immediately issue a regulation that would have the force of law, but that Parliament might later upset their decision, and he asked us whether any one would be likely to enter upon a- business under such a condition. Under a departmental by-law, some speculator might come ‘along and enter upon a -business, and - there would be no check by Parliament because- Parliament would have given to the Minister power to admit free the. raw material, he required for his industry. Parliament would net interfere in any . matter, of this kind unless for very grave reasons! Under the provision . for the settlement of the matter by departmental by-laws, it is taken out of the power of Parliament to interfere. That is a most excellent reason for objecting to this provision, and substituting for it a provision for statutory regulations. The Minister is up against the hard fact that that would not prevent him from doing immediately what he wished to do. If Parliament were not sitting, a statutory regulation would have the force of law until Parliament rejected it, if it saw fit to do so. I am not proposing that any power should be taken from the Government, but that we should retain a power which properly belongs to Parliament. I realize that the matter which we are at the moment dealing with is a comparatively trivial one, but I raise my objection on principle. On some small matter a new system of bureaucracy may come into vogue, and the people may then have to fight for their privileges, just as Parliament fought, two or three centuries ago, against the prerogative of the King. Alert minds can see that the Government Departments in this and other countries are encroaching in this way upon parliamentary privileges, persistently cribbing where they can prerogatives which properly are exercisable by Parliament, and in other respects strengthening their hands by the exercise of authority. The officials holding important positions in the Public Services have, by reason of the laws which have been passed, more power than a Czar, because’ the latter always has to take the risk of an enraged populace, whereas departmental officials are supported by authority given to them by Parliament. That is what this Tariff item means. It means the handing over of a little more power to departmental officials, and there will always be the possibility of this authority being used to annoy the people for the sake of some trivial advantage to the revenue of the country. Departmental officials so placed may soon get into the habit of believing that it is their duty to extract, by means of regulations, the last shilling from the trading community, without any thought as to the effect of their action upon business concerns. I think I have replied to Senator Lynch’s suggestion that in attacking this system I was attacking departmental officials, but I realize that departmental officers are, after all, only human beings. The history of Tariffs is a history of corruption, for the simple reason that a Tariff is an instrument by means of which certain individuals expect to get substantial benefits at the expense of the community.
– I must ask the honorable senator not to get away from the item under discussion.
– I am under the impression that anything which I may have been’ privileged to say on the second reading is in order in the debate on an item of this description, which leaves the whole Tariff open to departmental by-laws.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Nobody will take away the honorable senator’s right to speak.
– I shall take good care that nobody does. In this connexion, I am pointing out that the purpose of the requested amendment is to take away from departmental officials power to frame by-laws in connexion with any Tariff items. Unfortunately, we have only a limited time at our disposal to discuss these items, as I understand the Government desire to get the Tariff through before Christmas; but there are about 400 items which will permit of about 4,000 requests for amendment if honorable senators desire to move for amendments to each item. But I am not going to do that. As soon as my time for retiring comes, I shall go home and allow the Government to give departmental officials all the authority they wish to give them. If the Government think the Department should’ have the right to make by-laws in this way - by-laws which will have the scant publicity afforded by the Government Gazette- why not deal with the whole of the Tariff in the same way? This course would save Ministers and the Parliament a lot of trouble. Why not agree that the remainder of the Tariff shall be imposed “as prescribed by departmental by-laws,” instead of having a discussion on every item? That is the idea behind Senator Lynch’s argument, because he says that this matter could be left to departmental by-laws and we could hold the Minister responsible.
Question - That the request (Senator Gardiner’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . … 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 79 (Oilmen’s stores, n.e.i.).
.- In this item the Tariff is imposed according to value. Duties imposed according to the value of an article are most obnoxious and pernicious. This item covers oilmen’s stores not elsewhere included - I do not know what are the stores elsewhere included - groceries, including culinary and flavouring essences, non-spirituous, soap dyes, and condition foods n.e.i. ; food for birds in packages for retail sale; goods put up for household use n.e.i.; and goods n.e.i. put up for retail sale. Let us see how the proposed duties will work. Instead of saying that the duty on an article such as a flavouring essence shall be so much per ounce, or per lb., or per gallon, the item says that it shall be so much according to the value of the essence, which means that the duty on a gallon of essence worth £1 will be 4s., and that on a gallon of essence worth £2 will be 8s., so that the more valuable the essence the heavier the duty, the inferior article being taxed less than the good article.
– Quite right, too.
– It is quite right if the desire is to encourage the importation of rubbish, and to keep out articles of good quality.
– The duty on vanilla essence is the same as that on- essence of lemon, although lemons are grown in this country and vanilla is not.
– What good reason is there for taxing exorbitantly products that we cannot produce here? No doubt, vanilla would grow in Queensland. I have seen the vine growing in Fiji, and know that it would grow in parts of Queensland.
– Vanilla has been grown there.
– But vanilla essence has not been made in the Commonwealth.
– To my mind, it is not wise to tax a good article more heavily than a bad article. I would like the Minister to propose specific rates for all these things. Then the better articles would be at an advantage. Even the most enthusiastic Protectionist cannot wish for the importation of inferior articles. What is of poor quality, and perhaps even dangerous to health, should not be at an advantage over an article of good quality, manufactured with exceeding great care. To test the feeling of the Committee, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item, British, free.
This is the line that I intend to take on all these items. I have no wish to delay the Committee unnecessarily, but, as the Minister (Senator Russell) will not accept reasonable suggestions for expedition, and seems determined that the schedule shall pass without the alteration of a line, or even of a comma, I shall try to induce honorable senators to make some alterations.
Item agreed to.
Item 80 -
Onions …. per cwt., 6s.
– As an article of food, the onion holds its own with all other vegetables. There are good oniongrowing districts in New South Wales, the rich flats’ of the Hunter . and Macquarie rivers being particularly suited to the cultivation of the plant.- But onions can be grown only at certain times of the year, and as we cannot supply the market all the year round with fresh onions,’ and have not discovered any method . of preserving onions, except by pickling, it is unwise to prevent our population from obtaining onions from abroad when the local supply has been exhausted. The uses of the onion are manifold. It is employed in a surprisingly large number of dishes, and is used in every wellmanaged home. The Government in preparing the Tariff decided, after careful consideration, that a duty of1s. per cwt. in respect of British imports under this heading was sufficient, but when the schedule was before another place, some enthusiastic Protectionists there determined that it should be increased to 6s. per cwt. They probably have a few Chinese onion patches in their electorate. I do not wish to infer that they took that action merely with a desire to catch votes. I should like a quorum present to listen to my remarks. [Quorum formed.’] I dare say that New South Walesproduces more onions than does any other State.
– Victoria produces far more than any other State.
– I should be glad if the honorable senator would furnish the Committee with the statistics relating to onion production in Australia. I am certainly surprised to hear that the “ cabbage patch “ produces more onions than does a great State like New South Wales. The duty was increased in another place to 6s. per cwt. under the British, intermediate, and general Tariffs. That is altogether too high. I think that a considerable quantity of Italian and Spanish-grown onions are imported into Australia when onions are out of season here, so that it can scarcely be said that they enter into competition with the local product. Onions will not keep for any great length of time, and by means of importations during the off-season the people are able to obtain a continuous supply of this splendid food.
– Senator Gardiner expressed a desire to obtain information as to the production of onions in the various States. I have the figures here. New South Wales, despite all the honorable senator’s talk, produced last year only 784 tons, whereas the little garden State of Victoria produced 71,74.5 tons. The figures for the other States are: - Queensland, 221 tons; South Australia, 1,948 tons; Western Australia, 318 tons; and Tasmania, 127 tons. Eighty per cent. of the onions produced in Australia are grown in Victoria.
– I am much obliged to Senator Guthrie for the information which he has supplied to the Committee. I am rather pleased to learn that Victoria can, at all events, grow onions. It is quite possible that Great Britain may be able to produce some for export, and as one of the outposts of the Empire, we should be prepared to say to Great Britain that when the price of onions here is sufficiently high to make it profitable for British growers to export them to this country, we will not impose a duty on them. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item, British, free.
Item agreed to.
Item 81 -
Peel, preserved in liquid, including the weight of the liquid . . . per lb., British, 1d.; intermediate,1½d.; general, 2d.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, general, per lb., 3d.
This item refers to the thin outside rinds of lemons imported from the Mediterranean in brine. There is not a large quantity imported, and thebrine weighs about 20 per cent. of the whole. It is used for making second-grade lemon peel. I am informed that these skins are practically the waste product of the Italian citric acid and oil of lemon factories. Although the quantity imported into Australia is not large, being only 400,000 lbs., representing about 30,000 cases of lemons, its importation utterly disorganizes at times the market of the local growers of lemons, and, I believe, that if it were prohibited it might lead to the establishment of a citric acid factory in Australia for the utilization of the pulp of lemons, while the peel would be available for ordinary commercial purposes in lieu of the imported article. Unfortunately, the lemongrowers of Australia seem to be at the mercy of a set of conflicting circumstances. When they have the lemons in the winter the peel is required and not the pulp, and, as the weather grows hotter and the pulp is required, the factories are too busy on other things to want the peel. With the importation of this 400,000 lbs. of skins from Italy the whole lemon trade is very often disorganized, and- quite recently New Zealand prohibited the importation of Australian jams and canned fruits, thus closing another avenue to our fruitgrowers. Strong representations have/ been made to me by the Australian Fruit-growers Conference, now sitting in Sydney, to make an effort to increase the duty on this item from 2d. to 4d., but I propose to ask for an increase in duty to 3d. I could adduce a number of arguments from the stand-point of the cost of this lemon skin to justify the request I am submitting. I believe the increased duty I propose would have very farreaching favorable effects upon the lemongrowers of Australia and the development of their industry.
– I have been approached by fruitgrowers to support an increase in this duty. The citrus fruit-growers of Australia have been having a pretty bad time. Within 30 miles of Melbourne I have seen lemon trees dug up. Although the price of lemons to the consumers may be too high, as is the case with other commodities and products, it does not pay the fruit-grower to grow lemons; but if we were to impose a stiff duty upon lemon skin imported from any foreign country we would be doing something practical for the citrus fruit-growers of Australia without in any way unduly penalizing any other section of the community.
– Because the citrus growers are having a bad time it is proposed to collect a little more from each wage-earner.
– An increase in the duty would not make the slightest difference; it would merely substitute Australian lemon skin for Italian.
– If the producers of lemons are to be helped someone must pay for it, and as the wageearners happen to be the most numerous consumers of all things, the burden of affording this assistance will fall upon them.
– Does the honorable senator prefer to have Australian products used in this country instead of Italian?
– I certainly do not want to see Italian lemon skin used in preference to the Australian product, but I want to give the Australian people the advantage of having cheap lemon peel, seeing that lemons practically grow wild in this country.
– All the more reason for protecting them, in order that use may be made of what is practically growing wild.
– But no effort is made to use them until a duty of Id. per lb. is added and collected from the whole community. Evidently people can only be induced to go into a business - for their own benefit, of course, and not for that of others - by giving them permission to extract a little from the pocket of every member of the community. If workers seeking increased wages were to ask for a direct contribution from every person in the Commonwealth, there would be a storm of opposition from one end of the country to the other, but when the fruit-growers want .a little help they coolly propose to place a direct impost upon every consumer of lemon peel. It is degrading for a country like this to deplore its inability to keep an industry going because of its lack of skill or ability. The doctrine one would not apply to wage-earners is, apparently, to be applied to citrus fruit-growers. If the community generally had an interest in the businesses established by the collection of many thousands a year under a Protective Tariff, it would be a fair deal, but the fact is that the people find that they “get nothing out of it” hut kicks and hard words. When an industry has been so established and is flourishing, and a new Tariff is introduced, higher duties are asked for on the ground that it would prove serious for the country to refuse support in this way. It would be better for our primary industries if the machinery necessary for them, and the materials for keeping orchards free from pests, were admitted free, and those concerned were allowed to conduct their business without any Government interference. Senator Pratten proposes an increase in the duty of 50 per cent.
– And I say, candidly, that I hope the increase will mean prohibition.
– - That is all very well ; indeed, it would certainly’ be more logical to introduce a prohibitive Tariff - to put a ring round Australia and refuse to trade with any other country for fear our own people may lose their employment. A Tariff of that kind would, no doubt, pass in five minutes.
– We wish to save our own people from the compulsory waste of fruit.
– No doubt there is much fruit wasted, but with increased knowledge and the exercise of a little patience, we ought to be able to do away with all waste. Usually in an uptodate business waste is eliminated by the use of the most modern machinery; but, unfortunately, owing to this Tariff, the price of machinery is almost prohibitive. I am merely once more protesting against taxing the whole community for the benefit of a few individuals.
– I hope the request moved by Senator Pratten will be carried. I have had communications, more particularly from the lemon-growers of New South Wales in and around Sydney, and I am informed that to-day hundreds of tons of lemons are rotting on the trees because it does not pay to pluck them. This is a most undesirable state of affairs ; and the proposal before us is an attempt to apply a remedy. Around Sydney, and in other parts of Australia, there are hundreds of families growing lemons ; and unless some steps are taken to save the lemons now wasted, it will be only .a matter of a short time before these people will be put out of business and obliged to compete with the other wage-earners for whom Senator Gardiner is so solicitous. This, of course, would only make confusion worse confounded; but the proposal of Senator Pratten, if carried, would mean additional employment in the preparation of lemon skins, which at present is confined to Italy. From a comparative statement which has been supplied to me I find that the cost of labour in reducing Australian lemon skins to the condition of imported lemons is £22 2s. 3d. per ton, whereas a duty of 2d. is equal only to £21 per ton, showing a difference in favour of Italy of over £2. It is obvious that the duty proposed in the Tariff is quite inadequate, and that without an increase there will be no inducement for people to invest capital in the industry. The great majority of the growers have small areas, on which they work long hours struggling for an existence. They do not have the easy conditions that many larger primary producers enjoy; and, if possible, it is our duty to afford them some additional protection-. I believe that a duty of 3d. will just about meet the case, although the opinion of the growers is that 4d. is necessary; at any rate, it is certain that 2d/is not sufficiently high, in view of the price at which Italian skins can be imported. The proposed additional duty will give the growers hope and enable them to look forward with a greater degree of confidence than would be possible if they were forced to compete in a possibly overcrowded labour market.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item 82 (Pickles, sauces, chutney, olives, and capers).
– There is quite a number of duties proposed in this item, and it seems to me that it is nonsense to talk about British preference. What difference does it make to Britain whether or not we charge France or Germany 3d. more than we do British manufacturers? The hardship and wrong is in charging any duty on British goods. I see that the British duty on quarter pints and smaller sizes is 9d., and this, of course, is largely a revenue duty. Many old English firms produce very excellent products of this kind, but in all our own cities we find up-to-date businesses competing with them. I move - ‘
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (a), “ Quarterpints,” British, free.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (b), “ Half -pints,” British, free.
The imposition of a British preferential Tariff is a curious form of inducing trade with the Motherland. If we want British products we should be prepared to buy them without either inducement or hindrance, and the Government should not attempt to enforce trade by a differentiation in the rates of duties.
Senator GARDINER (New South Wales [10.27]. - I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (c), “ Pints,” British, free.
– Will the honorable senator not- agree to take the fate of his previous request as a reasonable test?
– There should be no question of handicapping trade with Great Britain. The intermediate Tariff will apply, I understand, to importations from New Zealand. Why should such an unfair barrier be raised against our neighbour Dominion ? I know that there is, and has been for years, a suggestion to convene a Dominions Conference at which some policy of preferential treatment may be framed.
– Meanwhile, if the other Dominions will not meet us with special preference, why should we give anything of the kind?
– That is not the spirit in which to bind the Empire in commercial ties. Australia might well set an example, and naturally and inevitably the other Dominions would fall, into line.
Request (by Senator Gardiner) negatived -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (d), “ Quarts,” British, free.
Item agreed to.
Item 83 (Potatoes) agreed to.
– Under previous Tariffs rennet could be imported free ; what is the reason for such heavy impositions upon it as rates of 6s., 7s., and 8s. per gallon? It has been stated that sufficient rennet can be procured in Australia to render importations unnecessary. Those engaged in the manufacture of cheese are divided in their views regarding the advisableness of placing a heavy duty upon rennet. Some say that the imported product is much superior to anything obtainable locally. The cheese industry has been built up at great expense, and has considerably expanded. If that has been due to the fact that a superior rennet has been procurable from overseas, it would be suicidal to make the duty prohibitive. There should be undoubted evidence, before heavy duties are agreed to, that a local product of equal quality is being manufactured.
– Owing to the impossibility of securing imported rennet during the war, the export of cheese materially suffered; indeed, if local rennet had not been procurable, very little cheese would have been sent away. Attention has recently been given to the production of veils, and I understand that the Sydney Abattoirs, which are under the control of the New South Wales Government, are now in a position to meet the Australian requirements of rennet. An adequate supply of rennet would be of great assistance to the cheese industry, and would enable it to export considerable quantities of cheese. Two shipments of Danish rennet, each of 200 gallons, were imported into Victoria, valued at 15s. 5d. and 19s. 5d. per gallon respectively. Taking an average price of 17s. 6d. per gallon, the general duty of 8s. per gallon would be equal to 45 per cent. I have been informed that in the Western Districtof Victoria a cooperative company wassupplying rennet at 27s. 6d. per gallon. The local rennet is sold at 30s. per gallon. If we desire to export cheese we should be careful to do nothing that would curtailthe supply of rennet, and as a duty is imposed for the purpose of encouraging the production of this commodity, I trust the Committee will allow it to remain.
– Does it not involve the unnecessary slaughter of calves?
– I understand that calves are not slaughtered merely for. the purpose of obtaining rennet.
– For the information of the Committee I desire to read the following: -
There are not sufficient calf veils obtainable in Australia, for the reason that the dairyman does not as a rule kill all his calves. He invariably keeps the best heifer calves, and if the. price of stock is a payable one he will not kill the steer calves either; and even when he does kill them he will not bother about saving the veils, as the price obtainable for these is so “low.
The cheese industry is largely dependent upon the rennet imported from countries where it is not of such importance to preserve the lives of the calves as it is in Australia. We ought to be very careful before we encourage the unnecessary slaughter of stock, and should also be sure that our cheese manufacturers can obtain rennet of a quality sufficiently satisfactory to enable them to successfully carry on the industry. If we impose a duty of 8s. per gallon it will make the price of the imported rennet prohibitive, and before we agree to such an impost we should be satisfied concerning the quality of the local product, and whether it is wise to encourage the slaughter of stock.
.” - Calves are not destroyed merely for the purpose of obtaining rennet, and, as I have already explained, the work now being undertaken by the Sydney Abattoirs will be the means of providing an adequate supply. During the war period we were unable to obtain rennet, and the cheese-making industry was in consequence considerably hampered. It is very desirable that we should not be dependent upon other countries for the supply of this commodity, and as the imposition of a duty will be of assistance to the primary producers, I trust the proposed duty will be allowed to stand. I am informed that the rennet produced locally is of a highly satisfactory quality.
– Mr. James Cameron, representative in London of the Victorian Butter Factories Association, says -
The price of good imported foreign rennet is fully 10s. per gallon cheaper, and almost twice the strength of the local manufacture. The latter can be proved by evidence of the principal manufacturers of cheese. Even if the locally-manufactured article could be made of the same strength there is not anything like enough to supply the requirements.
– I admit that in the past the supply has been inadequate, but arrangements nave now been made to meet the demand.
Item agreed to.
Item 85 -
– I do not know why rice meal and rice f our should not be admitted free. It is true that some employment may be given in cleaning and grinding rice; but that is no reason why the price should be increased to those who desire to use it. It will be a long time before rice will be successfully grown in Australia, because at present our energies are devoted to the growing of other crops. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (b) free.
– Nearly all the rice imported into Australia is uncleaned, and a good deal of work is given in Australia in connexion with the cleaning of it. I will not say that it is a very important industry, but it is well established. I think we should not now remove the duty on rice and thus destroy the value of the property of those who have established the industry of cleaning rice in Australia. There is no increase proposed in the duty.
– I think it should be as widely known as possible that this duty is a considerable reduction on those which existed before the introduction of this Tariff. In the Tariff of 1908-11, duties of 3s., 4s., and 6s. per cental .were imposed. The same duties were imposed in 1914, and now, in 1921, a duty of only 3s. per cental is imposed, whilst under sub-item a for the first time in many years uncleaned rice is admitted free.. This should meet with the approval of Senator Gardiner, and I have much pleasure in supporting the Government proposal.
– My surprise is that Senator Pratten did not propose an increase in this duty, as that would be in keeping with what the Committee has done with many items up to the present. The cleaning of rice is an important industry in a flourishing state, and has apparently warranted the Government in departing from their beaten track in the past to the extent of reducing the previously existing duties by one-half. I am sorry that they did not adopt a similar course in dealing with a number of other articles included in the Tariff. If they had done so, many of the items we have already considered would have received my support instead of my opposition.
Item agreed to.
Item 86 (Rice root) agreed to.
Sago and tapioca -
– I should like to know whether sub-item a covers sago and tapioca packed for household use in packages of 1 lb. weight and no more; or those articles imported in bulk to be afterwards served to customers as they require them.
– The intention is to secure that the packing be done here.
– In the same way as tea?
Item agreed to.
Salt, and -table preparations thereof, in packages of any description, not exceeding 14 lb. net weight; ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.
– I suppose that salt is used as: extensively on farms for stock as for any other purpose, and therefore the primary producer is interested in this item.
– The salt to which the honorable senator refers is admitted free under the next item.
– Then in the item under consideration we are once more up against the objectionable system of ad valorem duties, which really means that the superior article has to pay the higher rate of duty. By an ad valorem duty we encourage the importation of the inferior and discourage the importation of the superior article.
– We encourage refining in Australia.
– The encouragement to refining must be enormous in this case. I suppose that the price of salt is about1d. per lb., and an ad valorem duty of 20 per cent. would represent about¼d. per lb. I do not see why we should enable manufacturers of salt to secure an extreme price for an article which every one must use.
– They lost a lot of money last year.
– If they did, there was a lot of money left in the pockets of the people that would otherwise have gone to swell the revenue. There are many preparations almost wholly of salt used for horse licks and cow licks. The practice of using rocksalt has been practically given up, and people now use up-to-date preparations which are almost wholly of salt but contain some ingredients that make them desirable as licks for stock. We should not pretend to encourage the primary producer with one duty and discourage him with another. Some of the English preparations of salt are excellent, and if the Minister will assure me that lump salt used for licks, whether in patent preparations or otherwise, will be admitted free, I shall be satisfied.
– Yes, they will, under the next item.
Item agreed to.
Item 89 (Salt) and item 90 (Sausage casings) agreed to.
.- I notice that in this item there are again the words “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws.” The Minister has promised to consider what may be done in connexion with this provision, and I wishto know whether his promise in the matter applies to all the items in which this provision appears.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (a) by leaving out the words “ as prescribed by departmental bylaws.”
In view of the principles Ihold, I cannot permit an item, to pass that contains these words.
– Why not let it go till to-morrow?
– Because I have no faith in the promise of the Minister. He will simply say that he has given the matter consideration, and that he thinks it advisable to let it stand. I want it on record that I proposed the rejection of the principle, and that Senator Pratten and other honorable senators did not support me.
– I notice that in sub- item b, canary seed, hemp, and rape, also mixtures in which seeds predominate, the British Tariff is 6s. percental. Why should we impose any penalty on youngsters who wish to keep canaries?
– Because Queensland is growing a lot of this seed.
– All I can. say is that Queensland has a wonderful capacity for the production of these commodities.
Item agreed to. .
Item 92 -
Seed - Cotton, kapok, and’ sesame, percental, 4s.
SenatorGARDINER (New South Wales) [10.58].- I think it is about time we had a vote on the question of British preferential Tariff again, so that we may see how many honorable senators are prepared to trade with Great Britain. Therefore I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item (British), free.
Item agreed to.
Item 93 -
Seed- Lucerne, per lb., British and intermediate, (6d. . . . . general, 9d.
– Is this a new duty on lucerne seed ? Lucerne is grown ‘ extensively throughout the Commonwealth, and I. think there should be . some good reason for the imposition of this duty.
.-The Hunter River district of New South Wales grows a fine sample of clean . lucerne seed, and the introduction of impure seed from South- Africa, where it is grown by black labour, is doing more injury than good to theproducers of the Commonwealth. It. is the desire of the Government to protect our producers by insuring clean seed.
.- The Minister’s statement is too thin. There are ample methods available for the protection ofour producers. If imported seed is impure it should be kept out altogether. I have had some experience in regard to lucerne seed. A friend of mine was growing it in the Hunter River district, and although he was prepared to sell it for1s. per lb., ho could not find a market. At that time the market price was 2s. 6d., but when I approached those who controlled the commodity and told them that my friend was prepared to sell’ it to them at1s., they informed me that they had made their own arrangements for buying, and did not want his seed. Although my friend tried hard in a number of towns as well as in the cities, he could not get the wholesale buyers to take his seed, for the simple reason that they had made their own arrangements for supplies.
– Is that cheap . seed still available?
– I am speaking of what happened a couple of years ago, but I shall be glad to give the address of my friend to any one who is interested. He was prepared to sell his seed at1s., but could not find a market for it.
Item agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 11.3 p.m .
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 August 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210809_senate_8_96/>.