8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon.T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented: -
Defense Act. - Regulations amended - Statu tory Rules 1921, No. 138.
War Service Homes Act. - Partial revocation of notification of acquisition of land at Waratah, New South Wales.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice-
– This matter is under consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In view of the decision of the Full Bench of the High Court, as delivered in Sydney on8th August, to the effect “ that the enactment and regulations of the Commonwealth Navigation Act 1912-20, to the extent to which they purported to prescribe rules of conduct to be observed in respect of ships engaged solely in the domestic trade of a State, are beyond the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament,” and as such decision appears to limit the application of the Act to some four or five Inter -State shipping companies, will the Government, in the interests of economy; consider the advisability of disbanding the Department created under the Act, and of arranging with the various State Governments for the administration of those sections of the Act not declared ultra vires to be carried out by the already existing State Navigation Departments?
– The provisions dealt with in the High Court judgment constitute a small and relatively unimportant portion of the Navigation Act. The control of the Commonwealth, not only of the Inter-State shipping, but also of all oversea ships trading to the Commonwealth, remains unimpaired. There is, therefore, no intention of disbanding the Commonwealth Navigation Branch, as suggested.
.- I move -
That Statutory Rule No. 138 of 1921, being Defence Regulations, be disallowed.
Statutory Rule No. 138 of 1921, to which I direct attention, provides for certain amendments of the Australian Military Regulations of 1916, and gives authority to the Government to constitute a legal branch of the Defence Department. It seems to me that, if this step is to be taken, provision should be made for the contemplated legal branch by an amendment of the Defence Bill which is now before the House of Representatives. I understand that it is intended to appoint to the proposed branch a number of lieutenant-colonels, majors, and captains of the Citizen Forces, together with a judge advocate-general, a deputy judge advocate-general, and other officials. Replying to questions on the subject which I put lastweek, the Minister for Defence said that the cost of the proposed branch would be between £890 and £900 a year; but that must provide only for the officers of the Citizen Forces who may be appointed to’ the legal branch; it cannot cover the salaries of the judge advocate-general or deputy judgeadvocategeneral, and the necessary staff of clerks and officials, and must, therefore, be less than the actual cost of the proposed branch would be. Although many of the officers of the legal branch will be officers of the Citizen Forces, they will not merely be officers connected with a battalion or a battery who happen to have legal qualifications. The present practice is to nominate officers from the different units to serve on courts martial ; but apparently it is now proposed to create a special legal corps. I object to this on the score of economy asbeing unnecessary. The Minister, in answering my questions, admitted that it is not anticipated that there will be many courts martial during a time of peace. It might be contended that a legal corps of the kind proposed would be necessary in war time, when a great many courts martial are held ; but in peace time, when courts martial are rarely held, they could be constituted of officers of legal qualifications serving in the ordinary way. My reason for moving in the matter is that, unless this proposal be debated, its defects cannot be made known. One defect that I see in it is that, whereas the Judges of Civil Courts have no hope of promotion and nothing to fear from Government action, the lieutenant-colonels, majors, and captains who will constitute the proposed legal branch or corps will hope for promotion, and may be influenced in their decisions by the knowledge that head-quarters is watching them. It may be said that that is absurd ; but during the recent war our experience was that head-quarters watched pretty closely the proceedings of courts martial, and officers were made to feel that their efforts on behalf of an accused man would be remembered against them.
– That is a very serious thing to say.
– It is.
– Was the honorable senator influenced in that way?
– I sat on only one court martial during the whole of the war, and therefore I could not have been influenced. Recently I had a conversation with an ex-officer, who is now one of the leading solicitors .practising in Sydney, and he informed me that during a period of convalescence at the camp at Salisbury Plain there were 200 men awaiting court martial on one occasion. A batch of thirty came before the court martial on one occasion, and he appeared before the tribunal as prisoner’s friend. He added that twenty-five or twenty-six of these men were acquitted, and that he was promptly called before one of the staff and told that they did not at all want these men to be acquitted. He was thereupon transferred from ‘Salisbury Plain to Weymouth. It seems to me that if we constitute this “legal department” we shall be doing something that has been done in no other country of the world, so far as I know. In any case, this course ought not to be taken until the whole proposal has been dealt with by Parliament. We should not part with any of our privileges in this way by allowing legislation by officials in the Defence Department.
– But in passing the Defence Act we authorized regulations to be made, although not necessarily this particular regulation.
– But those regulations are subject to approval by the Senate.
– Can the honorable senator tell us why this new Department is. not necessary?
– It is unnecessary in peace time, because the number of courts martial is so few. These regulations, and the power of appointment thereunder, should be reserved for time of war. Amongst other duties, these officials will be expected to instruct Citizen Force officers in military law, but we maintain a Military College in New South Wales at a very great expenditure. The graduates of that institution pass in military law, and, presumably, they know something about it, so surely they ought to be in a position to instruct our Citizen
Force officers in that law during peace, time. Therefore, there should be no necessity to make these special appointments. The Minister admitted that their duties would be chiefly instructional, and I suggest that at a time like this, when economy is so necessary, we should not put the country to the expense of these fresh appointments.
– Would not legal officers have special qualifications to impart instruction in military law?
– I do not think so. There is nothing to indicate that any of these officers would be specially qualified in the principles of military law. They may have qualified at our universities in ordinary law, but military law is not a subject laid down for examination to qualify as a barrister and solicitor, whereas graduates of our Military College are compelled to qualify specially in military law. For these reasons I submit that the regulation should be disallowed.
– I may inform the Senate that when I learned that this notice of motion was to come on for consideration to-day, I inquired if the regulation had yet been tabled, and ascertained that it, had not. As a matter of fact, it was only made at the end of last month, and in the Acts Interpretation Act there is provision that thirty days may elapse before a regulation is laid on tha table. I laid the regulation on the table to-day, otherwise this discussion would not have been in order. Before I proceed to explain the necessity for the course decided on by the Government, I may bs permitted to refer to one or two matters mentioned by Senator Elliott in regard to information given to the Senate about this corps. The honorable senator said that the return did not cover all the expenditure. That is incorrect. It does. He also said that it did not provide for a judge advocate-general. I may inform Senator Elliott that there is a judge advocate-general now - Mr. Le Gay Brereton, a lawyer, of Sydney, who acts in the capacity of a Citizen Force officer, and who has rendered very valuable service to the Commonwealth. I do not propose to follow Senator Elliott’s references to the gossip about what took place at Salisbury Plain. We are not concerned with: that matter to-day. He also said it was unnecessary to make this regulation, because very few courts martial are constituted in peace time. I admit that; but that will by no means be the only duty to be performed by these officials, as I shall explain later. In order that I may put this somewhat technical matter clearly before the Senate, I trust that I may be excused if I enter into some detail. An army is divided into what are termed departments, and this, apparently, furnishes the daily press with the opportunity for the use of adjectives in their endeavour to mislead the public. For the purpose of this discussion, I may say that an army rs divided into three tranches, one consisting of the fighting troops, the second of the administrative services, and the third of the administrative departments. . We need not concern ourselves with the fighting troops, which constitute the first branch of the army. The second includes such services as the army medical, veterinary, transport, and other services necessary to maintain in the fighting troops, while the Administrative Department includes the Pay Staff Department, Chaplains’ Department, and others. One has only to mention these to see how ridiculous it is to suggest that because they are called Departments they necessarily include all the paraphernalia of a Government Department.
– Some people believe they are a Department of State. (Senator PEARCE. - Yes, and the paragraphs that have been appearing in the press are intended to give that impression. In the Army the chaplains are included in a Department, but there are no clerical staff or permanent officers connected with it. It simply means that all those who are chaplains are in the Chaplains’ Department. And then, of course, there is the Legal Department, auxiliary to the administrative services, and also necessary, as one can see, for the wellbeing and also for the discipline of an army. A mistaken idea, has arisen as to the scope and functions of the Australian Army Legal Department owing, I think, to the use of the term “Department.” That term, as used in the designation of the proposed legal section, is in no way analogous to the term as employed in re ference to the ordinary Federal Government services, but is applied to sections of the Military Forces in the way I have stated. The proposal is not, as has been erroneously stated, to form a new Federal Department involving the appointment of a number of permanently employed officers and the creation of large staffs. The appointments which may be made in this Department - it does not follow that all of them will be made - will not, at the outside, exceed seven lieutenant-colonels, fifteen majors, and eighteen captains. They will in every case be officers of the Citizen Forces. There are quite a large number of officers with similar ranks in the Citizen Forces, but they do not receive any pay unless and until they are called up for duty. When they are called up for duty they have to leave their ordinary avocations to go into camp, so that in such circumstances they are, of course, paid. That will be exactly the position of these Citizen Force officers in the legal section. Although they are on the establishment, and will be given these ranks, unless and until they are called up for duty they will not be paid.
– Is it proposed to have six deputy judge advocates-general?
– Yes ; one for each division. We have a judge advocategeneral at the present time. These officers will not be employed except for an equivalent of approximately sixteen days in each year. That is the maximum period, as distinctly laid down in the Defence Act, and we cannot exceed it. It is the ordinary duration of the annual training of the Citizen Forces. If they are called up they will receive the pay of their rank, and if employed for the full sixteen days in any one year they will receive - Lieutenant-colonels £30, majors £24, and captains £18. This, I may say, is less than the amount annually received by a Citizen Force officer of corresponding rank in a unit of the Artillery or Engineers, since such officers may be called up for twenty-five days a year. Assuming that all these officers were appointed and called up for the maximum period of sixteen days a year, the total payments made to them would be, as I have already informed the Senate. £894.
It is anticipated that most of these appointments will be made from oxAustralian Imperial Force officers now serving in the Citizen Forces. They will be attached to the staffs of the various formations, and Will be distributed throughout the Commonwealth. -No new staff, clerical or otherwise, will be required or formed as the result of the creation of this section.
– But they soon will be required.
– Not at all. They will not be required any more than we require to make clerical appointments because we have a Chaplains’ Department. The ordinary staff of the Defence Department has to do the clerical work of the Pay Department and the Chaplains’ Department, and it will also have to do the clerical work of this Department, so that no additional expenditure other than that which I have mentioned in respect of pay will be involved. Assuming that all these officers are appointed, and called up for the maximum number of days, the total annual payment for the Commonwealth will be £894.
– But duties may arise which will involve their employment for more than sixteen days per annum.
– We cannot call them up for more than sixteen days, so that any additional duty extending beyond that period would have to be carried out by these officers in an honorary capacity. I repeat that we have no statutory or other authority to call them up for more than sixteen days. That is the maximum under the Defence Act.
In one respect, to which I shall refer later, this legal section, in my judgment, will be responsible for a saving in Government expenditure.
– That is interesting.
– It is anticipated that the formation of this section will lead to a saving in Government expenditure. Its formation is the result of our experience in the late war. On the outbreak of war it was found that the members of the Citizen Forces, both officers and non-commissioned officers, were greatly lacking in their knowledge of the administration of discipline, and officers generally were almost totally ignorant of the mere procedure to be followed in laying a charge. During the first months of the war, and especially in Australia - not overseas, but in Australia- this lack of knowledge on the part of the Citizen Forces which formed the nucleus of the Australian Imperial Force was responsible for much indiscipline, and it was not until after some months’ experience ora service that the administration and discipline as a whole began to work efficiently. That condition was by no means peculiar to the Australian Army. Subsequent to the war - and I drew attention to this when I was dealing with the Defence Bill - numbers of illegal awards made during the war through, ignorance have had to be rectified, and even at this period cases keep cropping up for adjustment. It was this lack of knowledge also that, in some instances, involved the Commonwealth in expensive litigation. The training of the Citizen Forces is in itself a preparation for war in the event of this country being again forced to take up arms; and if the Citizen Forces are to be trained they must be trained in this respect as well as in others. Should we train them in every other direction and leave them untrained in this most essential particular, which has so much to do with discipline?
Not only does the formation of the legal section provide an essential organization ready for immediate service in the event of war, but.it also provides a system by which officers of the Citizen Forces can be thoroughly trained in peace time. Court martial work, although very important in itself, will, it is anticipated, form a minor portion of the functions of the legal section in peace. Its most important duty will be the instruction of officers, not only in the administration of the Act and regulations in relation to military, law, but also in the administration of the provisions of the Acb relating to the prosecution of defaulting trainees. Our Citizen Force is almost entirely officered by Citizen Force., officers, and those officers are the machinery by which we enforce the compulsory provisions of the Defence Act. They deal, for instance, with defaulting trainees.
– Do not the adjutants attend to that work!
– -They may do a certain amount of routine work, but the direction of that class of work is under the control of the commanding officer, and his is the responsibility. It is necessary, therefore, that these officers should be suitably instructed in the law they have to administer. The Department, with a view to saving expense, has insisted on these prosecutions being conducted by military officers, and has not permitted the employment of barristers and solicitors, with all the heavy expense that would thus be entailed. This system, by which prosecutions are conducted by officers without legal training, although desirable from the financial point of view, cannot be expected to operate without mistakes being made, involving damages against the Department, unless the responsible officers receive very careful instruction and advice. Here is a case in point: In one training area alone, the Commonwealth some “years ago was obliged to pay over £600 in compensation for illegal detention. One or two such cases would involve the payment of more than is proposed to be expended in respect of this legal section. The amount of £600 paid by way of compensation does not fall far short of the maximum payment that can be made in connexion with this scheme.
– Was the illegal detention awarded by military officers or by a bench of magistrates?
– It was illegal detention by military officers.
– The civil Courts had nothing to do with it ?
– No. Had there been available to the responsible officer the legal advice and instruction which this scheme will afford, I doubt whether one penny of that expenditure would have been incurred, to say nothing of the other unsatisfactory phases of the occurrence. Although it is not intended to ask the legal officers to undertake prosecutions, yet their advice and instruction on such matters will be invaluable. In addition to the important instructional duties of the legal section, one of its functions will b& to advise formation and other commanders on all questions affecting military law, and the administration of the Act and regulations, and in its advisory capacity it will be of the greatest assistance to our Citizen Forces. In regard to their services in relation to courts martial, one of the most important duties of legal staff officers will be to act as judge advocates, in which capacity not only will they advise the courts as to the proper procedure, and on all points of law that arise, but also it will be their duty to insure, that all accused persons requiring it receive legal advice as to the conduct of their oases, and that the accused do not in any way suffer through their inability, perhaps on account of the expense, to provide themselves with counsel. This is a very important function, and soldiers should not be deprived of this assistance in setting out their defence. (Senator Lynch. - Did they not have this right before?
– Not in this way. There was provision for what is known as the “ soldier’s friend “ at a court martial. These regulations are not simply to enable the Department to secure convictions against soldiers, but also will help a -soldier to get advice and a fair trial.
– Will the soldier not be permitted to’ have a “ soldier’s friend “ in future?
– Yes; and, in addition, he will be entitled to this advice. Legal staff officers will also be appointed to act as members of courts martial and courts of inquiry when the cases before the courts entail questions of. law, with which ordinary officers cannot he expected to be familiar.
In connexion with this question, I would like to invite the attention of senators to some extracts from the report of the Committee constituted by the Army Council to inquire into the law and rules of procedure regulating courts martial. The Committee assembled in July, 1919 - quite recently, when it had the advantage of the war experience - and was composed of twelve members, included among whom were the following: - Mr. F. Cassel, K.C., Judge Advocate-General; Lieut.-General the Earl of Cavan, K.P., G.C.M.G., KC.B., M.V.6.; the Eight Hon. Lord Hugh Cecil, M.P. ; MajorGeneral Sir B. E, W. Childs, K.C.M.G., CB., Deputy Adjutant-General; and Mr. Horatio Bottomley, M.P., as well as other members of Parliament. I draw particular attention to the fact that ,the Eight Hon. Lord Hugh Cecil and Mr. “Horatio Bottomley were members of this Committee because they both are well known for their impartiality, indepen9dence, and outspokenness. The following extracts are taken from the report of that Committee, which was composed of such eminent men - men who could be relied upon to consider every phase of the question, and not only the aspect which would present itself to the military mind: -
No disciplinary code, however well drafted, can be expected to work satisfactorily unless the officers chiefly concerned with its administration are not only fairly familiar with its provisions, but have also a fair knowledge of the principles of criminal law and of the rules of evidence, and are reasonably familiar with the practice and procedure in ordinary criminal Courts. We concur in Lord Cavan’s opinion that the remedy for most of the hard cases complained of is to be found “ not so much in any great alteration of the existing law as in the more effective instruction of the proper tribunals for administering the law.”
During the war the system was introduced of employing in connexion with the work of courts martial special officers, who were either barristers or solicitors, and who were called court martial officers. There appears to be a consensus of opinion among both witnesses and persons who have submitted suggestions that in some form or another this system should be made permanent.
We agree with this view, and we recommend that both in the Army and in the Royal Air Force large formations - say, commands and areas- - should have qualified legal advisers, who would be available for general legal work as well as for court-martial work. These legal advisers should bo barristers or solicitors; they should also have had experience of military discipline and administration, and should hold a commission so as to render them amenable to military or Air Force law. They should be appointed on the recommendation or with the approval of the Judge Advocate-General, and should be responsible for the proper discharge of their duties.
We have adopted practically in toto the recommendations of that Committee.
– The Committee makes no recommendation as to form. It simply says in some form or another.
– That is so; but any one who compares our regulations with the Committee’s- recommendation will see that they give effect to what the Committee- recommended. We were forced ultimately to adopt in the Australian Imperial Force the system mentioned by the Committee of appointing court martial officers, and found it to be of the greatest value. It will be seen that the proposed regulations are intended to do exactly what the Committee so strongly recommended, but go further, and not only provide for efficient instruction in peace of officers, including regimental officers, in duties that will fall upon them in war, but also furnish a most valuable factor for the efficient’ administration of the Army at such a time. The unjust attacks which have been made against the scheme on the ground that the setting up of a new and expensive Department is being attempted are misleading and unwarranted. I am confident that honorable senators will realize that the return for the money expended will be out of all comparison with the small cost entailed, and that the proposed scheme is very necessary for the efficient training of the Citizen Army.
Before concluding, t must express some surprise at Senator Elliott’s attack upon these regulations, because, having taken careful note of his remarks on the Defence Bill, I considered that he would be favorable to a change in this direction. I may have misinterpreted his views, but I ask honorable senators to judge from certain remarks of Senator Elliott, which I shall quote, whether I was not right in believing that he was favorable to a change in the system as adopted in the Australian Imperial Force towards the close of the war. Senator Elliott said, speaking on the Defence Bill -
It is useless to give the valuable, rights conferred by the clause just passed unless wo surround them with some sort of legal sanction which will keep officers administering the Act “on the rails.”
Again, when he was advocating . that all cases dealt with by courts martial should be open to review by a civil Court, he said -
I contend, however, that the investigations should be made by a Judge who is accustomed to weigh evidence.
The inference was that decisions had been arrived at by people who were not trained in the weighing of evidence. But, perhaps, this is the most forceful of the honorable senator’s remarks -
The common law applies, I admit; and 1 urge on the Minister that he instructs his Law officers to codify that law so that the public may understand it, and not be obliged to pay high fees to lawyers in order to have the law pointed out to them. I have endeavoured here to produce something in the nature of a code, and the proposed additional sections deserve the serious attention of the Commitee.
Again, he said -
A permanent officer of the Defence .Forces might have a fairly good knowledge of the military law, and, perhaps, of the common law, but the average citizen or soldier would not have that same, knowledge.
All these remarks tend to show that the honorable senator believed there was necessity for a change in these matters. Senator Drake-Brockman, speaking on the point, said -
Analyzing the matter, the position was that there was a lawyer on the Brigade HeadQuarters Staff, another on the Divisional HeadQuarters Staff, and another on the Corps HeadQuarters Staff; there was a whole staff of them at Army Head-Quarters, there were more at General Head-Quarters, and finally in London there was the Judge Advocate-General, who had a large staff of trained lawyers at his disposal to assist him in reviewing all the cases which came from the Armies operating everywhere. That was .the system in operation, and honorable senators will see that it provided for the protection at each case being considered from the calm and purely legal point of view.
Senator Elliott’s comment was
We’ have had a fine picture of the perfection of the military jurisdiction painted for us.
I had fair ground for assuming that when Senator Elliott was criticising what he declared to be faulty administration he indicated his belief that the fault was due to lack of acquaintance with the law, or the administration of the law, on the part of Citizen Force officers in the Australian Imperial Force, and that it was necessary they should get proper advice and instruction in order to enable them to carry out the military law. That is just what this legal section is intended to do, and, in my judgment, the regulations are framed with that intention. Senator Elliott has not shown that they will not carry out the object in view, and I ask the Senate not to disallow them.
.- I am glad that Senator Elliott has asked us to veto this new regulation. Admitting that all Senator Pearce says is correct, I ask whether this is the time for the creation of a new , Department. It is all very well to say that this Department will cost nothing, but how are Departments created? First, an officer is found, and then a room in which to house him, then a chair and a table are followed by a telephone. It then becomes necessary to have a secretary, who requires a typist, and by that time the .Department has grown to be of such importance that a messenger is necessary outside the door. So it goes on and on until the Department which was going to do a great deal for nothing does very little and costs much. I realize that Senator Pearce, as Minister for Defence, is engaged on the business of perfecting the Defence Department, and
I have no complaint on that score. I do think, however, that Senator Pearce, and the other members of the Government, should realize that in Australia this is the time to “go slow” in the matter of expenditure. If we have been able to get along without this Department or Branch for twenty years, surely we can continue to get along without it until we see exactly where we stand financially? Any new departure of this kind is certainly inadvisable at a time when the Defence Department has not the money with which to meet its legitimate obligations. Only this’ week I had brought under my notice the cases of two returned soldiers, one permanently laid -up owing to injuries received in trench work, and the other with a doctor’s certificate to the effect that he is incapacitated from following his occupation, and never again will be able to follow it; yet one of these men has had his pension reduced from ?1 to 10s. a week, and the other is refused a pension because the Government have no money.
– That is not done by the Defence Department.
– The Minister may endeavour to transfer the responsibility to some other Department, but I only mention this as an illustration of how short the Government are of money for legitimate purposes.
– That would not be the reason for cutting down the pensions. “
– A legal branch may be very necessary in order to train our officers in the knowledge of military law. I venture to say, however, that if we desire to defend Australia, rifles are also necessary; yet, owing to lack of_ funds, hundreds of men are being turned out of the Government workshops, and valuable machinery is laid idle, which should be used in manufacturing .these arms. I refuse to bolster up the perfecting of the Defence Department by the crea- tion of a legal branch, when the very men who make the material needed for war are being deprived of their employment. As a matter of fact, it is said that we have not rifles to last for three months should they be required.
– What was the reason that the rifles turned out were said to be costing as much to produce as machine guns?
– There was a lot of talk to that effect about Cockatoo Island, but when evidence was taken on oath the statements were found to be incorrect; all the statements made here were known to be wrong, as the report of the Royal Commission shows. At the very time that these men are being deprived of employment, and thousands of pounds worth of valuable machinery is laid idle, the Government propose to create a new Department or branch. I do not believe that Senator Pearce thinks this new branch will cost much, but I never knew a new Department of which that was not believed at the beginning* The creators of our Constitution believed that the government of the Commonwealth would not cost more than 2s. 6d. per head of the population, but we now find it to be costing a hundred times as much, owing to sublime indifference and the lack of practical men to stop the excessive expenditure.
– Was it not the Fisher Government which started that debauch of expenditure?
– Not at all. I venture to say that all the expenditure entered upon by the Fisher Government is justifying itself. For instance, the Commonwealth Bank has accumulated £4,000,000, and only the other day, in connexion with the note, issue, ‘ about £7,000,000 was paid in.
– That scarcely has to do with “ the question before us.
– I realize that it is disorderly to reply to interjections, but, at the same time, I think it was almost unfair that they should be fired at me. We cannot hold any one Government responsible for the increased cost of the government of the Commonwealth. There never was a time in our history when the need of economy was so great as at present; and if we have waited twenty years for this new Department or branch we can surely wait twenty months longer. I congratulate Senator Elliott on affording the Senate an opportunity to say whether or not it will sanction this inroad on the finances of the country. As I have said, we are ceasing to manufacture rifles, and, at a time of unexampled unemployment, hundreds of men are being turned on to the labour market. The Defence Department is retrenching in all other quarters, and it certainly shows a lack of “conscience” to place such a proposal as this before the Senate. I shall take up no further time, but simply promise Senator Elliott my support.
.- The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), in his statement, quoted from my speeches on the Defence Bill, but those quotations have absolutely no application to the question before us. What I i was then referring to was the necessity for providing some machinery whereby officers who misuse their powers may be punished; that is the meaning of the “sanction” to which the honorable gentleman refers. I am well aware that officers of the Citizen Forces, and also of the Australian Imperial Force, are not well acquainted with the principles of military law, but I fail to see how that state of affairs will be materially affected by the proposal of the Government. A great number of Citizen Force officers are at present commissioned, and provision is made for a small number of legal officers, lieutenant-colonels, majors, and captains, who, apparently, will be available for sixteen days in the year to impart instruction to the remainder. I wish to know when that instruction is going to be given. Is it to.be given during the camp training ? In addition to the duties that the officers have to perform in the daytime in training the men, are they to be called upon to undergo instruction at night?
– What about the instructional school for officers?
– It may be there are going to be legal schools.
– I do not mean legal schools, but general schools.
– Then how much time of these general schools is to be devoted to the study of military law? In order to render the Citizen Forces incapable of the mistakes of the past, the officers will have to undergo a very extensive training in law, military and otherwise. The law of evidence is not absolutely confined to military law, and the officers will have to study both the law of procedure and the law of evidence, which are separate subjects at the University. How are these officers - scattered, as they will be, in a few of the principal cities - to be expected to perform their duties of instruction? They will attempt to do so, of course, and the Government will take the credit of having dealt with the matter. But we will be living in a fools’ paradise, imagining that the mistakes which were made in this direction during the war will not be repeated. The whole matter is an absolute farce from beginning to end.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 9th August, vide page 10821) :
Schedule. division iv. - agricultural, products and groceries.
Item 94 (Soap).
– I suggest that consideration of this item be taken in conjunction with items 103 and 104, “Waxes”- with the discussion of which the postponed item, “ Candles,” is also to be linked. By grouping soaps, waxes, and candles, debate will be facilitated and probably condensed.
Item postponed until after consideration of item 104.
Item 95 (Sparklets) agreed to.
Item 96 (Spices).
– Are spices being so considerably manufactured in Australia as to warrant such impositions of duty as 2d. and 4d. per lb.?
– We are importing a quantity of spice, and grinding it here, which provides a good deal of employment.
Item agreed to.
Item 97 (Starch).
Request (by Senator Gardiner) negatived -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item, British, free.
Item agreed to.
Item 98 (Starch, flours) agreed to.
Item 99 -
Straw, per cwt., British,1s.; intermediate, 1s; general,1s.
– This duty has been imposed in an endeavour to convince the people who produce straw that the Government are doing something to help them, but they are not like those engaged in coddled industries in Queensland and elsewhere, because they do not require any such help. They have sufficient manliness to say that they do not require any such protection. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item, free.
Question - That the request be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 100 (Tea).
– I desire to raise the question of whether it would not be wise to impose a duty on tea imported from countries outside the Empire. Senator Gar diner, who is so keen on giving preference to Great Britain, will, if he moves in this direction, have my support.
– Duty is imposed only on tea imported in packets.
– Yes. Tea in bulk is admitted free; but there is no differentiation between that grown within the Empire and that produced outside the Empire. The latest figures show that nearly one-half of the tea we import is grown outside the Empire - principally in Java - and the balance in Ceylon or in India. The bulk tea imported into Australia in 1919-20 consisted of about 29,000,000 lbs. in weight from Ceylon and India, of which Ceylon supplied over 20,000,000 1bs., and about 26,000,000 lbs. in weight from Java and China, of which Java supplied over 25,000,000. lbs. If we are to have a Tariff under which reciprocal trade arrangements may be made, con- . sideration might be given to the imposition of a small duty of½d. per lb. under the intermediate Tariff, and1d. per lb. under the general Tariff on the bulk tea imported from countries outside the Empire. From the figures I have quoted honorable senators will see that there is far more tea than is generally supposed being imported from foreign countries as compared with Ceylon and India.
– What quantity is imported in packets?
– Considerably less than one-hundredth part ofthe total importations. I am not now referring to tea in packages, but to sub-item b, “ Tea, n.e.i., free,” under which all tea in bulk is imported. The free importations aggregate over 50,000,000 lbs., as against about 300,000 lbs. imported in packages, and dutiable at1d. per lb. Nearly half of the bulk tea imported comes from Java, and I submit for the consideration of the ‘Committee that some small duty might be imposed on tea in bulk imported from countries outside the Empire. My suggestion is in accordance with the principle of preferential trade within the Empire, and its adoption would help reciprocal arrangements to be made with countries outside the Empire should that course appear to be advisable.
– I should like to know from the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) why it is considered advisable to impose a duty of1d. per lb., or £9 6s. 8d.per ton, on tea imported in packets into Australia. Does the imposition of this duty lead to a great deal of employment in the Commonwealth?
– Yes, it does.
– Does it settle the country to any extent? I moved only the other day a request for an increase of a duty to1d, per lb. on a product grown and manufactured in Australia by a most elaborate process, and that was considered too high. Here, merely in order to support an industry for putting tea into packets, it is considered that a duty of £9 6s. 8d. per ton is only fair and reasonable. I presume that it is because the business of packing tea is carried on in all of the States instead of in only one or two. The duty can return but very little revenue, because but a very small quantity of tea is imported in packets. It is farcical to impose such a high duty on packet tea for the purpose of giving a little more employment to residents of our big cities.
– I want to know why the Government have not stood to their guns in this matter. Why do they permit tea in bulk to be imported free? What has become of the argument so studiously exploited in the past that we should impose duties upon articles which come into competition with articles produced in the Commonwealth? What about the coffee plantation in Queensland, of 70 acres? Does not tea imported in bulk come into competition with the product of that plantation? In the interests of the owner of the large-sized stock-yard in Queensland which has been converted into a coffee plantation, I suggest to the Government the wisdom of imposing a duty upon an article which comes into competition with a primary product of Queensland. I sub- mit no definite motion. ‘ Like Senator Pratten, I first take soundings, and see how the cat jumps, and in the mean. time I suggest to the Government the wisdom of imposing a duty on tea in bulk, which comes into competition with the products of a 70-acre plantation in Queensland. In the interests of this single coffeegrower in Queensland I raise my voice in protest against the free admission of tea in bulk.
– The idea actuating the Government in admitting tea in bulk free of duty has, I think always been that it is one of the necessaries of life. On the other hand, a duty has been imposed upon packet tea, and has led in the last twenty years to the establishment of a considerable industry. The packing of tea is associated with the blending of the article. No tea is used just as it is imported to Australia. It is all blended, and there are big warehouses in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, in which the blending of tea is carried on. There is very little revenue derived from the duty imposed on packet tea, but it has been the means of giving a lot of work in Australia. Tea is packed in tins in small quantities as low as from 5 lbs. to $ lb., and in connexion with these packages very fine work is’ done from a printing and embossing point of view. Tea is not produced in Australia, nor is it produced within the Empire by white labour. In packing the article in Australia thousands of girls are engaged under white employees’ conditions. The question which has been raised on this item has been previously discussed on more than one occasion. On one occasion, which Senator Gardiner will recollect, it was suggested that a duty should be imposed upon tea in order to provide funds for the payment of old-age pensions, but Parliament has always adopted the policy of making as cheap as possible articles of universal consumption.
We tried the experiment at one time of imposing a duty on tea in order to obtain the tea we required from within the Empire. That led to no end of protests, because people prefer a blend of different teas. The blending and packing of tea is a big industry, and finds employment for workers in other industries, and particularly in the tin-plate industry, which is one we wish especially to develop in Australia.
– I am glad that my persistency has caused Senator Pratten to realize that his opposition to British preference may affect trade. He now wishes me to move an amendment which he says will increase the trade within the Empire. The Committee’s decisions have shown, however, that, with the exception of the few stalwarts who have voted with me, honorable senators do not wish tq trade with Great Britain, or, at least, desire to make trade with that country as difficult as possible. Senator Pratten has suggested that I should move to impose a duty of id. per lb. on tea, which would mean an impost on the tea drinkers of the ‘Commonwealth of about £100,000. I pay no duty on stimulants^ which are taxed heavily, and, if it were possible, I would remove that taxation; but the difference between tea drinkers and the drinkers of alcoholic stimulants is this: The brains of the former are so clear that they will not allow tea to be taxed, while those of the other fellows are so muddled that they will submit to any taxation. Senator Pratten was the leader of those who imposed taxation upon the visitors to picture theatres, and, watchdog of the people’s interests though I have been, I allowed him and his party to sneak through a duty on the peanuts which are crunched in those places of entertainment. Now he asks me to move for a duty on tea, under the pretence of assisting the trade of the Empire. When we wished to remove the duty on straw, he opposed the request, though I do not know how that duty can benefit our farmers. I am glad that tea is free. The Minister has told us that in all the States there are to be found large tea warehouses and blending establishments, where the employees work happily and under pleasant conditions, and that occupation is given also to printers, packers, and many others connected with the business of distributing the tea. This state of things is due to the fact that we have no duty on tea. When the trammels are removed from trade, an intelligent people will develop it. Why not, then, remove other duties? No Parliament would dare to impose a tax on tea. The late Sir George Reid when Premier of New South Wales, offered the Labour party old-age pensions and early closing if it would permit him to impose a duty of 3d. per lb. on tea, and went out of office because it would not. There has never been a compromise on the tea duty. As to fostering Empire trade, nearly all my requests have been moved with a view to improving our trade with Great Britain.
– Notwithstanding that, you let the duty on peanuts slip through.
– That was because of the undue haste with which the Government is rushing the Tariff through Committee, and the print before us. is so small that it is difficult at times to master the contents of an item. Larger type should be used, so that we could read more easily what is proposed. Tea has always been, and always will be, free, and its importation gives satisfactory employment to a very large number of persons.
– It is the duty of Id. per lb. on packet tea that gives this employment.
– No. The Minister said that the merchants import different teas and blend them here.
– I can understand Senator Crawford thinking that it is the duty on package tea that causes the employment to which I have referred. Some persons seem to be absolutely fascinated with the ‘Protectionist doctrine. When a boy I used to read a good deal of verse, and in this connexion recall Browning’s charming poem, The PiedPiper of Hamelin. Honorable senators will recollect how this marvellous piper, by the sound of his pipes, first cleared the tow of rats, the only one of the vermin escaping death in the Weser being an old rat, who told later how at the first shrill notes of the pipe he heard sounds as of the preparation of all kinds of good food. Subsequently, the piper led away .the enraptured children of the town to a mountain where a cavern opened and closed behind them, leaving outside one poor crippled lad, who ever afterwards regretted that he could not have followed his companions to the joyous land promised by the piper, where everything was new and strange and delightful. The Protectionists resemble those who were thus enchanted. They are piped to about good wages and conditions, and follow blindly to their destruction those who play to them of the good things of Protection. All the protection that has been given by the Tariff does not cause as much employment as comes from allowing tea to be imported free. We used to hear in Victoria about the ringing of the anvils and the flaring of the furnaces that would follow the adoption of Protection, but the statistics show that this State has grown in population more slowly than any other in the Commonwealth.
Item agreed to.
Item 101 (Vegetables, dried, &c), and item 102 (Vegetables, n.e.i.), agreed to.
– The imposition of a duty of id. per lb. on shoe-maker’s wax is a very heavy duty, being equivalent to an ad valorem rate of 100 per cent. In sub-item b we have another case in which provision is made for prescription by departmental by-law. Since the Minister has had nearly twenty-four hours to look into this matter, he may now be in a position to inform us of the result of his mature consideration of the position.
– I understand that the Minister is not yet ready to say what decision has been come to in the matter just referred to by Senator Gardiner ; and as it will crop up again, “and I have a good deal of evidence to submit with regard to the variations in these departmental by-laws, I hope that the Minister may find time to #come to some decision.
– I have mentioned it to the Department, but I cannot ask for instant replies in a case like this.
Request (by Senator Gardiner) negatived -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (b) by leaving out the words “ by departmental by-laws.”
Item agreed to.
.-. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), intermediate and general,1d.
I asked for the postponement of the item dealing with candles until this item had been considered, because wax is a raw material of candle manufacture, and I have now moved to reduce the rate to that previously operating. Under the old Tariff, the manufacture of wax candles has been proceeding in Sydney, Melbourne, and Hobart.
– How many men does the industry employ?
– In the aggregate, probably between 400 and 500 hands. I am informed that one factory in Sydney employs over 100 hands. Years ago, when we started to manufacture wax candles in Australia, few, if any, stearine candles were made here. The bulk of such candles, then known as sperm candles, . were imported, well-known brands being the Roubaix and the Gouda candles. The last Tariff put a duty of 1d: per lb. on wax, and the rate has been increased by this Tariff by 100 per cent. The British preferential rate remains unchanged; but we get no wax from Great Britain. The whole of the wax used in making wax candles comes from Rangoon. Practically the only argument in favour of the increased duty is that the raw material is manufactured by coloured labour there. That argument should carry no weight. It is quite true that it is manufactured by coloured labour ; but it is also true that Rangoon is the only place fromwhich we can get paraffine wax in the quantities required by Australian manufacturers.
– We have good material of our own for the manufacture of candles.
– The honorable senator is prepared to look at this matter from only one point of view. I take it, of course, that he is referring to the manufacture of stearine. I admit that we are manufacturing stearine successfully in Australia ; but is it reasonable to impose a duty on raw material so necessary for the carrying on of an established industry in Australia, simply for the purpose of giving another and a larger industry, which has come into existence at a later date, an opportunity of crushing the industry to which I refer?
– But the manufacture of stearine is a local industry also.
– The industry for the manufacture of wax candles gave employment to a large number of people before the manufacture of stearine was undertaken in Australia. Is Senator Reid aware of the fact that the majority of the large mining companies in Australia, when inviting tenders for candles, stipulate that wax candles must be supplied? Wax candles are more suitable than stearine candles for underground use.
– Does the honorable senator say that stearine candles are unsuitable for mining operations?
– No. I am simply stating a fact. The majority of the mining companies believe that wax candles are more suitable for use underground, and so they stipulate that these must be supplied. We must deal with facts as they are, and not do anything to destroy such a well-established industry as this for the manufacture of wax candles. Under this Tariff wax candles, which are the product of paraffine wax, can be imported at a price that absolutely precludes the manufacture of wax candles in Australiawith the present duty on the raw material.
– It is 2d. per lb. less than stearine.
– I understand that the price of the raw material is 4d. per1b.
– It is onlyworth 2d. per lb.
– Well, I have a memorandum to the effect that a company has entered into a contract for the supply of 400 tons of 135 melting-point wax, at 4d. per lb.
– What date is that information?
– July 21st, 1921; so it is only a few weeks, old. This means plus 2d. duty, and practically 2d. for the making, cartoning, papering, and boxing, equal to Sd., which is higher than .the price at which wax candles can be landed in Australia to-day.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that paraffine wax candles can be imported at a price lower than that at which the local article is sold?
– Yes. The policy of the Government and the majority of honorable senators is to give protection to our industries, and in this connexion I claim to be justified in fighting for the retention of the protection hitherto given to this particular industry. The Tariff in this item represents a reduction of 50 per cent, of the protection hitherto afforded the industry. It is our duty to protect the small, as well as the large, manufacturers. I admit that the manufacture of wax candles is a small industry compared with the manufacture of stearine, but it is equally important and therefore deserves every consideration. In the 1909 Tariff the duty was Id. per lb., and the duty on candles at that time was 2d. per lb. Under this revision, the duty on paraffine wax has been raised to Id., while the duty on candles has not been altered.
– How does that affect the wax?
– Does not the honorable senator see that this increase in the duty on the raw material is going to increase the cost of production of candles by Id. per lb. or more?
– But if we put Id. on candles, the situation will be righted.
– The tendency throughout the . Tariff has been, not merely to retain the protection hitherto afforded an industry, but to give greater protection. This, I think, is a fair statement of. the position, in view of the discussion on the Tariff items to date. Now Senator Reid suggests that we should put another Id. duty on candles.
– To maintain the present margin.
– That would bc the minimum protection on the former ratio. Nearly every honorable senator has been arguing that unless it can be shown that an inordinate profit has been made by in dustries in recent years we should give them slightly higher protection in order that they may become permanently established; and in connexion with this matter’ I show that the protection afforded toone particular industry is being reduced by one-half. We should afford it the same protection, as hitherto given, by reducing the proposal to increase the Tariff on the raw material.
– I do not wish to take up very much time in discussing this matter, but I think that if Senator Payne looks at the condition of the industry in Tasmania, and Senator Gardiner, also ascertains the position in New South Wales, they will realize that the best interests of those States will be served by allowing the duties to remain’. It is a great fallacy to contend that the paraffine wax must be imported. There are signs that this commodity will be manufactured in Australia at an early date.
– What are the signs ?
– There are signs of a revival in the shale-mining industry in the Commonwealth.
– Then that will be the time to revise the Tariff.
– We know that there has been an extension of shale mining in both New South Wales and Tasmania, and if those ventures are to be profitable we must expect the manufacture of the by-products to play an important part in their success. At one time there was quite a large industry from the manufacture of wax candles in New South Wales, and it is not quite extinct yet.
– It is being carried on at Alexandra.
– A considerable quantity of wax candles was manufactured in New South Wales. That was when the Joadja shale-mining field was a name to conjure’ with, the wax candles being’ manufactured from the by-products of that industry.
– Do you say that the industry is still being carried on?
– Not at Joadja, but at other places in New South Wales. .
– What is the trade name of the wax?
– I cannot say. It is sufficient, I think, for me to inform the Senate that paraffine wax was then made from the crude oil, and that there is a hoorn now in connexion with shale oil mining in Australia. A large number of new areas have been taken up in New South Wales, and also in Tasmania.
– Does not the honorable senator know that the great Commonwealth Oil Company has recently gone into liquidation?
– I know all about what has happened to that corporation. That happened a good many years ago. If Senator Pratten desires to inquire into the industry, he must go back some twenty-five years in the history, of New South Wales, when . the Reid Administration removed the duty on kerosene oil at a time when shale oil production was being carried on in the Blue Mountains and also at Joadja. The removal of the duty closed the industry, and led to Joadja, which was then one of the bestbuilt and prosperous towns in New South Wales becoming in the course of a few years a deserted village. No greater monument to the folly of the policy of Free Trade is to be found than that which presents itself to . the visitor to Joadja Creek. There* one can see to-day the remains of what were at one time solid sandstone public buildings, workshops, and dwelling-houses. The roofs have disappeared, and nothing but the bare walls remain. I visited the township not many months ago, and saw the remnants of what was once a magnificent plant and the .walls of the factory where wax candles were made. But there is a revival in the shale oil industry of New South Wales, and’ the Joadja Creek area and much of the surrounding country has again been taken up. I need not remind Senator Payne of the shale mining that is going on at Latrobe and elsewhere in Tasmania. There : is every prospect of wax from paraffine being produced here in the near future, and, that being so, I think we should allow the duty to stand. Kerosene is becoming increasingly expensive, and it is a commodity that we must have. So many engines are now being driven by oil that steam engines are rapidly becoming obsolete. If the shale-oil in dustry in Australia is to be remunerative we must encourage its by-products.
– In order that we may produce wax candles, the duty on wax must be reduced or the duty on such candles increased.
– If we are going to reduce the duty on the raw material of the wax candle makers, we must offer those engaging in the principal industry some other incentive.
– What guarantee can the honorable senator give us that Australia is going to produce paraffine wax?
– No industry has better prospects than that we are now discussing. In Tasmania alone there ave immense deposits of shale, and from that shale paraffine scale can be produced. From the scale in turn, the wax is obtained, and is converted into candles. It has been said during this debate that some honorable senators are prepared to give a preference to imports from Great Britain only where it is unlikely to be of any benefit. The imposition of a preferential duty on imports from Great Britain in this case will be of advantage to the Old Country. The Scottish shale mines produce ‘a very good class of wax, and I should be surprised to learn that it was not imported into Australia.
– It is imported.
– I would expect it to be. There is every prospect of our producing paraffine wax in the near future, and the industry is most deserving of protection. There is no reason why this once flourishing industry should not be revived. Far more wax is derived from paraffine than from kerosene. The United States of America, for instance, produces very little . paraffine wax. Paraffine contains a very large percentage of wax, but the percentage found in kerosene”” is very low, and, in some cases, no wax whatever is obtained from it. Here is a native industry that we should foster, and I hope we shall endeavour to do so by retaining the duty as it stands.
– I am not surprised to find Senator de Largie displaying great interest in this important question. As a true son of Scotland, he has told us of the paraffine wax that is manufactured there, and I may add that a relatively large quantity of it is exported to Australia. Unfortunately, however, the Scottish manufacturers of paraffine wax, when they were granted by the Commonwealth Parliament a preferential duty, did not evince that generosity which might reasonably have been expected of them.When they were given a preference of1d. per lb. they added it to the invoice cost of the wax to the Australian manufacturer, and it was the Australian manufacturer who had to “pay the piper.” By placing this additional duty on paraffine wax, we shall increase the cost of what is after all the raw material of many Australian industries. If we want to encourage secondary industries it is up to us to make it as easy as possible for them to get their raw material at a reasonable rate. Paraffine wax is used largely by printers for waxing paper, and also by tarpaulin manufacturers. The New South Wales State Railways Department alone use for that purpose about 50 tons per annum. It is used also by manufacturers of floor polishes, and in the production of other commodities, as well as in the making of candles. Paraffine wax candles are to a certain extent at least necessary to mining. It was stated in another place that wax candles were not used in mines, but where the honorable member who made that statement obtained his information, I do not know. Some of the largest mining companies in Australia to-day when calling for tenders for candles distinctly specify either Rangoon wax candles or candles made from Rangoon wax. The whole of the Broken Hill group, the Mount Morgan, HamptonCloncurry, Chillagoe, Mount Lyell, and other mining companies, which are among the most important in Australia, impose this condition. They specify either Rangoon candles - and we do not want to encourage the manufacture of candles there - or candles made here from Rangoon wax. But here is a proposal on the part of the Government to increase the cost of producing wax candles. Whilst we may by the imposition of this additional duty give, perhaps, a little more encouragement to the firm of Kitchen and Sons - which I am assured is in some way connected with Messrs. Lever Brothers - and one or two other firms, we, on the other hand, will increase the cost of production against several other impor tant industries. That is more than a fair thing to ask of the Committee. I hope, in the circumstances, that Australian manufacturers of wax candles will receive the encouragement they deserve by being allowed to obtain their raw material in the shape of Rangoon wax at as low a duty as possible. The making of wax candles is not an industry peculiar to any one State. The firm of John Miller and Company, of Hobart, uses, not stearine,but only paraffine wax, and Messrs. Farmer, Henty, and Company, of Melbourne, make candles entirely from paraffine wax. Messrs. Upton and Company, of Sydney, are also almost entirely dependent upon paraffine wax for their raw material in the manufacture of candles, and these firms produce by far the greater proportion of the wax candles made in this country. The Government seriously propose to place a handicap on these manufacturers in order that the making of candles from some other raw material may be encouraged; but the mining industry must have candles made from paraffine wax. Is it proposed to permit Rangoon candles, made by coloured people, to come in for use in our mines in preference to candles made by our own people? If it is proposed to make it cheaper to import these wax candles, by all means let the duty remain as it is; but if we are to give encouragement to the local manufacturer the duty on the raw material must be reduced as proposed by Senator Payne.
– Would not an increase in the duty upon candles have the same effect?
– I prefer to guarantee to the manufacturers that they will get their raw material at as low a rate as possible, rather than take a risk as to the degree of protection that may be given to the finished article.
– The honorable senator does not object to the coloured worker producing his oil, but objects to the same worker producing his candles.
– If we could produce oil in Australia I would say, “ Let us give it all the protection it requires.” Senator de Largie has spoken of the possible production at some indefinite time in the future of paraffine at Joadja, in New South Wales, a place I have visited on several occasions. The works there are entirely dismantled.
Senatorde Largie. - Why?
– Because it does not pay to run them, and before they can be put into commission again an expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds will be required.
– I am certain that the cessation of operations there was due to the removal of the duty.
-I do not know that the re-imposition of the duty would insure that the necessary capital would be forthcoming to set the Joadja industry on a proper basis again, but if I thought that the imposition of such a duty would enable this to be done I might be prepared to vote for it. After all, the proposal we have with regard to the manufacture of wax candles is something which is more solid than the suppositions of Senator de Largie. It is an industry already in existence, not something which might exist if we adopted the suggestion of Senator de Largie. A bird in the hand is worth a dozen in the bush. We have an industry here which is crying out for its raw material at as low a rate as possible to enable it to produce wax candles profitably, and it is our duty to see that it gets that raw material to enable it to keep going.
– I am pleased to be in touch with my Protectionist colleagues in this regard, because the old duty on wax enabled the wax-candle making industry to be established. As a matter of fact, it was a “scrap of paper,” a form of guarantee to the manufacturers that they could conduct their operations on certain lines. I am now informed that the increase in the duty makes all the difference between a continuation of the industry or the immediate dismissal of the employees engaged in it. Of course, an increase of½d. per lb. in the duty on wax may not seem much, but upon half-a-pound of candles which possibly costs 5d. or 6d. to produce, it is an enormous percentage, especially when it is spread over a big turnover. But Parliament suddenly, and without rhyme or reason, says to the manufacturer, who has been paying1d. per lb. duty on his raw material, “You must now pay half as much again”; actually going out of its way to interfere with a business which was being carried on with fair success. The suggestion is made that we can balance the matter by increasing the duty on imported candles; but that would penalize the whole of the mining industry, which our Protective policy has almost wiped out already. Those who are engaged in mining operations are well worthy of consideration. They have to take care of the halfpennies. Senator de Largie’s historical recollections of what occurred in New South Wales some years ago need a good deal of revision. He claims that the removal of the duty on kerosene interfered with the oil shale operations at Joadja. As a matter of fact, the New South Wales Parliament imposed no duty on kerosene. The honorable senator will find that when the Commonwealth came into existence, and tried to make peoplerich by taxing them on everything they consumed, a number of industries in New South Wales not only staggered, but fell, because the load of taxation was too heavy for them to bear. The mining industry in Australia is having a very hard time at present, owing to the interference of this Parliament. The cost of every article required by mining companies has been increased.
– That is quite right; machinery is far too expensive.
– Absolutely, it is; and our Protectionist friends would prevent the mines from getting the most up-to-date machinery, enabling them to be worked satisfactorily unless they pay heavy duty upon it. If I were Senator de Largie I would prefer to keep the candle-making industry going, because it is better for the concerns in whose interest he is speaking to have a lot of live customers in business in Australia than to send their output to markets overseas. But the wax candle makers of Australia are not in a position to keep their industry going with this increase in the duty on their raw material - an increase which was not asked for, but was given voluntarily for the purpose of doing something for an industry that may some day come into existence. I am perfectly well aware that Senator de Largie has given a great deal of attention to the possibility of producing oil in Australia. Assuming that he is right, that sufficient capital will be invested here to develop our oil shales to their utmost extent - it will take years to bring this about - and that they will be producing paraffine to meet the requirements of the Australian wax candle makers, it will be time enough to put on a duty when that comes about. Meantime, why should we handicap the candle-making industry of to-day for the sake of an industry that may -come into existence in twenty years’ time ? I shall vote with my Protectionist friends to have the .increased duty on the raw material for wax candle making removed. I do .not know why Senator Russell should seem to think that this is one of the items of the Tariff that must be forced through. I have noticed that when an honorable senator has moved to increase a duty the Minister has never called for a division; yet when it is clearly demonstrated that injustice will be done in all the States by this gross interference on the part of Parliament with the cost of the raw material for a certain industry, he takes a tight grip of the reins, sits firmly in the saddle, and says, “ I will not listen to threats.” I am glad that the Minister has taken up that attitude, because it will give the Protectionists of New South Wales, at any rate, an idea of how little the Government are concerned in existing industries. I shall endeavour to keep the manufacturers fully enlightened as to the Government’s, attitude in this respect. I regret that the needs of the wax candlemaking industry are not regarded in a common-sense way* I do not know what reason the Government have for their attitude. Possibly it is the reason stated by Senator de Largie, that wax candle making can be undertaken in Australia at some distant date, when a- great development takes place in the oil-shale industry, and paraffine becomes cheap. If that is not the Government policy, will the Minister tell us what it is and why those people who are engaged in manufacturing wax candles are to be called upon to pay an increased duty on their raw material?
– From the information I have been able to gather, wax suitable for candle making is landed in Australia and can be sold, after the payment of duty at 2d. per lb., less than the cost of stearine. .
– I would like that statement substantiated.
– I am prepared to oblige the honorable senator with all the information available in the Customs Department upon this matter. In Australia we are not only producing stearine candles by the employment of white labour under white . men’s working conditions, but are also making a superior article. I am astonished at the statements of some honorable senators as to what may happen if the mines are not able to get paraffine wax candles at a lower cost than stearine. I have a better opinion of the proprietors of the Broken Hill mines than to think that they are prepared to take the responsibility of allowing their workmen to be injured rather than pay 1/2 d. or Id. per lb. more for candles. In any case, I understand that the stearine candle is superior to the wax candle for use in hot mines. Wax candles are made, not only in Rangoon, but also by nearly all the black races. I admit that there is a certain amount of difficulty in New South “Wales in regard to making them, but if we open the door by reducing the -duty on paraffine wax, the world will flood us with cheaper candles than we can produce from our own stearine. Importations of wax candles come from a dozen countries. Senator Duncan says that he has no objection, practically, to the coloured man, with his cheap wages.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– The honorable senator took no exception to that proposition, he acquiesced in it if he did not affirm it.
– I did nothing of the kind. Is the Minister in order in imputing to me a statement I neither made nor inferred?
– If Senator Duncan objects to a statement the Minister has made, and regards it as offensive, I ask the Minister to withdraw it.
– I have no desire to be offensive, but when I challenged the statement that Senator Duncan made, .he did not object.
– I did not hear the Minister challenge the statement.
– If my remark is regarded as offensive I absolutely withdraw it. What I said was that, while the honorable senator had no objection to black men producing wax for us, he had an objection to them producing candles for us.
– Quite right.
– If that statement is offensive I withdraw it.
– That is not what the Minister said just now.
– What I said was that the honorable senator acquiesced by taking no exception to my statement that paraffine wax from black-labour countries would compete against our stearine, -which i3 produced by white men under whitelabour conditions. There is nothing done to the paraffine wax when it gets here but to melt it and mould it, whereas in the case of stearine, we have to take into consideration the rearing of cattle, the obtaining and refining of the tallow, and so forth, which all go to build up magnificent industries in this country.
– The stearine industry has gone ahead by leaps and bounds, whereas the wax candle making industry has not gone ahead.
– Wax candle making has been a decaying industry, but I believe the information given me that, plus the duty, paraffine wax is still cheaper than the stearine in Australia, is correct. We are asked practically to subsidize an industry which is not carried on by Aus- I tralian labour under Australian conditions, and thus injure a purely Australian industry. It is our duty to stand by Australian industries, and to protect them from the competition - of cheap coloured labour. I understand that some paraffine is produced in Australia, and an industry might be developed; but the idea to-day is to protect our big Australian industries. There are about six countries, all coloured, that send paraffine wax here, and if we encourage that trade it means that we simply support cheap competition. The statement of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia is to this effect -
The stearine industry benefits the farmer, grazier, and worker, and is a key industry.
If it is to be saved, the duty on paraffine wax of Id. per lb. British preferential, 1 1/2d. per lb. intermediate, and 2d. per lb. general Tariffs, must not be lowered. Candles can be made from Australian tallow or imported paraffine wax, and in the process of the manufacture of stearine candles 1,000 tons of glycerine is annually produced, sufficient to make 2,000 tons of cordite. This is sold to explosives and ammunition works; and during the war, besides supplying local demands, large quantities were placed at the disposal of the British Government.
Senator Gardiner made some reference to that phase of the question yesterday as it relates to America; but even America, so far as I know, consented to the embargo on glycerine, because in that country manufacturers do not use glycerine in the making of ammunition, whereas France and England do.
– How do you explain the position of the wax candle industry to-day?
– I am sorry for the individuals concerned, but we cannot subsidize the industry in the way proposed.
– It is only suggested that the duty shall be left where it was.
– That would open us to the competition of the “world.
– The candle industry grew under the old Tariff.
– But the stearine industry is more than a candle industry, for it produces glycerine, and, as already shown, gives employment throughout Australia in the rearing of cattle and so forth.
– And will continue to do so no matter what duty is imposed.
– But But why practically subsidize foreign industries to the detriment of our own? Our stearine industry is one of which any country ought to be proud, and such an industry ought not to be kept back because of some little temporary advantage for a few employees or manufacturers.
– It is the big industries that the Government support; the smaller industries cannot afford to get consideration.
– Assertions are easily made, and that is one assertion that has to be proved. I do not think I have discussed the item of candles with any of my colleagues. However, to once more refer to the statement by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures-
There are eight factories in the Commonwealth employing directly 1,000 persons, The annual wages paid amount to approximately £250,000, and, in addition, the making of stearine indirectly employs a large number of hands, and uses 25,000 tons of coal a year; the cost of all of which is spent in Australia among Australians. Paraffine wax is wholly imported, and the cost of producing it is spent among black labour, whilst the using of paraffine wax instead of stearine for candle-making would also mean importing Australian requirements of glycerine and oleine. It might be mentioned that for the manufacture of stearine all the money for wages and purchase of materials is spent in Australia, whereas all the money spent in the purchase of paraffine wax is sent out of Australia, and the money spent in making it goes to black labour.
These are statements which I do not think can be denied.We are here to legislate on a constructive policy, not for other countries, but for Australia ; and the view taken is that of Protectionists throughout the world. Why do we insist on a White Australia? It is not only because we object to the nationalities of other countries
– We do not object to those people in their own countries?
– Then why speak of them in the way you are doing now?
– Because this is not a national question, but an economic question. If, as in the olden days, hordes of Chinamen and other coloured men were permitted to come here to build railways and carry out other works for a few shillings a day, the labour conditions here would certainly deteriorate; and if we permitted that sort of thing in. regard to one line of industry, why not in regard to all, and let the White Australia policy go ? My own opinion is that this stearine industry will be one of the grandest in Australia. We have to consider the greatest good of the greatest number in this country, and to that end there must be a healthy development of the stearine industry. The two industries now under consideration cannot be compared, and it would be a bad policy to injure the great stearine industry in order to keep going what might be called a “ dead beat “ industry.
– I shall continue reading the statement prepared by the Associated
Chambers of Manufactures of Australia on the item of waxes -
It will be noted that the House of Representatives increased the duty on paraffine wax by ½d. per lb, intermediate Tariff, and½d. per lb., general. This was essentialto protect the stearine industry, as owing to the peculiar exigencies of the aftermath of the war paraffine wax can now be imported (even after paying the increased duty of 2d. per lb.), at a net landed cost below the cost of producing stearine, by about 2d. per lb.
The stearine industry benefits the fanner, grazier, and worker, and is a key industry. If it is to be saved, the duty on paraffine wax of1d. per lb., British preferential,1½d. per lb., intermediate, and 2d. per lb., general, Tariffs, must not be lowered.
I question the statement that paraffine wax can now be imported at a cheaper rate than stearine can be made. Wax recently cost 4d. per lb., and the proposed duty is 2d., and, consequently, the landed cost was over 6d. I question very seriously whether stearine-makers, who can produce 66 per cent, of stearine from a ton of tallow, cannot produce it cheaper than 6d. per lb., seeing that tallow is in the region of £20 odd per ton. I wish to go a little further, and draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that in the 1911 Tariff and the 1914 Tariff the duty on paraffine wax was1d. per lb. In the 1920 Tariff the Minister for Trade and Customs, presumably after hearing all the representations of the stearine manufacturers, increased the duty on wax 50 per cent, in the general Tariff, and made it1½d. per lb. That has again been increased by the House of Representatives, presumably owing to the representations of the great stearine manufacturers. We have a few little manufacturers in Australia making wax candles from imported wax, because there is a call for wax candles, and if they did not supply them, the supply would be imported from abroad, very likely from Rangoon, where black labour is employed. In 1911 there was a difference in the duty on imported wax and that on wax candles of1d. per lb. The one impost was1d., and the other 2d. In 1914 precisely the same difference was maintained. In 1920, however, for some inscrutable reason which still remains a mystery, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) raised the. duty on wax to 2d., leaving that on candles 2½d. Inevitably, one of two things must happen. If the duty upon candles is increased by½d., the wax candle manufacturer can continue to carry on. If it is not so increased, he ‘will be squeezed out and nearly 200 employees will be looking for work. Further, if the wax candle-makers are crushed, miners and others who require wax rather than stearine candles will still get them from abroad, so that the effect will be to place a premium upon imported wax candles. Honorable senators talk of patriotism in connexion with the stearine industry. Much to my surprise, I learned only yesterday that, instead of soap being made largely from animal fats, 90 per cent, of the soap made in Australia is manufactured chiefly from oil pressed from copra imported from black-labour countries and admitted free of duty. I shall strongly support the request of Senator Payne for a reduction of the duty on imported paraffine wax - first, because the high duty was imposed in another place without consideration of its incidence; secondly, because, unless something is done in the direction of reducing the impost, small reputable industries will be crushed, with no resultant benefit to Australia, but to the advantage of black-labour foreigners; and, thirdly, because I am not impressed with the character of the representations made by persons acting for the stearine candle-makers. Their tactics appear to” me to be unfair ; and I, personally, shall not stand for that. The stearine industry has not grown up since last year, when the duty on wax was increased; but most deserving minor industries have now been hazardously placed. If the duty on imported paraffine wax is not reduced I shall beg honorable senators, at any rate, to maintain the difference between that upon wax and on wax candles which has existed for the past ten years.
– I did not expect that the subject of white labour’ as opposed to black labour would have been raised at this juncture. If there is anything to be deduced from the arguments of Senators Pratten and Duncan, it is that they favour the product of black labour as against that of the white worker. Senator Duncan referred to the preference which the Scottish shale industry receives, and described how the people interested take advantage of that preferential duty to increase prices. The honorable senator furnished nothing in support of that extraordinary statement.
– Nevertheless, it was true.
– Competition would inevitably prevent anything of the sort. I am surprised that New South Wales senators should know so little as they do concerning the new industries established in that State. Only a few weeks ago there was an official opening of the Joadja works in New South Wales.
– There was quite a picnic. The people interested hoped to raise the capital later on, in order to work the mine.
– Men have been working there for several months, both miners and employees on the retorts.
– They were making such preparations before this duty was imposed.
– Probably they had started before, but were depending upon the common sense of the Federal Parliament to impose the necessary duty for the continued existence of the industry. Senator Gardiner challenged my statement in regard to the duty upon oil in New South Wales. I shall quote from the New South Wales Hansard of 10th September, 1895, which records the debate upon the Bill to abolish the Customs duties which had been introduced by the late Sir George Reid, then Premier of the Free Trade Administration in that colony. I intend to give the names of several of those members who took part in the division upon oil. Among those who supported the removal of the duty was Senator Thomas. The monumental stupidity of these Free Traders is surprising beyond belief. More than twentyfive years ago, in their fiscal foolishness, they ruined an important industry, and they are still prepared to carry on in the same manner. The first item to which I wish to draw attention is -
Candles, per lb., or reputed packages of that weight, and so in proportion for any such reputed weight, night lights, and stearine, per lb.,1d.
The duty was1d. per lb.
– For how long ‘had that been operating?
– I cannot say; but it must have been in operation for many years. I emphasize that, at this stage, the duty was removed by a Government whose Free Trade policy was supported by Senator Gardiner, although he was not just at that time a member of the Parliament. The result was that the candle industry of New South Wales went down and down. My next reference from the Hansard volume has to do with “oil, kerosene, naphtha, gasolene, per gallon, 6d.” Included in those who took part in the debate I find the name “ J. Thomas,” who was at that time- representing the Broken Hill constituency. This is the gentleman who a few minutes ago contradicted my statement concerning the duties imposed at “that time. After the duties on oil and candles were removed mining operations at Joadja were continued for a while, although the retorts were not in commission, and shale oil from foreign countries flooded the Australian market to such an extent that the local industry could not continue. For a while shale was exported to Germany, and, later, it became the product from which the German chemists manufactured aniline dyes. As a result of that vote in the New South Wales Parliament, a few calamities took place, an Australian industry was killed, and we now import our oil and wax. A British industry in dyes passed out, and we helped to establish the great aniline dye industry of Germany. So much for Free Trade.
– What did the Germans do before they procured New South Wales shale?
– I am showing that the material raised in New South Wales’ was shipped to Germany and used in the manufacture of aniline dyes, with the result that an industry firmly established in Great Britain was ruined. A determined effort is .now being made by British manufacturers to regain control of the dye industry. The Germans would not have been in a position to compete with British manufacturers if it had not been for the attitude adopted by Free Traders .in the State I have mentioned.
– When did mining operations commence?
– Nearly forty years ago. After the duties were removed the industry collapsed, and Joadja is now a deserted village.
– It does not require a very heated reply from me to answer the statement made by Senator de Largie in response to mine that there was no duty on oil. My statement is not strictly correct if the whole period of mining is taken - into consideration. In 1891 a Protectionist Government came into power, and during their term of office imposed certain duties. An appeal was made to the country in 1894, when that Government was removed from office, with the result that the imposts were removed.
– In 1895.
– Yes. A Free Trade policy was in force in New South Wales until 1891, and from October of that year until 1894 a Protectionist Government managed to exist. When we realize that Sir William Lyne was a member of the Cabinet it is not difficult to imagine the introduction of a Protective Tariff. But the duties then imposed had nothing whatever to dp with the development of the Joadja mine, because it had been in operation for years before.
– It had been struggling.
– It was being worked, and the oil duties were imposed only while a Protectionist”- Government were in office. Technically, it may be said that’ there was a Protective duty on oil, but in reality such was not the case, because the people of New South Wales would not tolerate the imposition of unnecessary duties. The “ tricky “. quotation of Senator de Largie has been submitted in an endeavour to create the impression that if the duties had not been removed the industry would have thrived, but such is not the case. The honorable senator has said that the duties were imposed to assist the mining industry.
– That is so.
– They were imposed merely because Sir William Lyne was a Protectionist, and believed in raising revenue by imposing Customs duties. They were not levied to protect industries, because the industries of New South Wales are quite capable of protecting themselves. What is the position of business men engaged in the industries with which we are dealing? The stearine candle manufacturers have secured the earof the Minister (Senator Russell), and he is using the Tariff as a means of assisting one section of manufacturers to the detriment of another section.
I desire to make a brief reference to the statements of the Minister concerning the products of what he terms “ blacklabour” countries. If there is anything discreditable to this Parliament - and it is more discreditable when a Minister is involved - it is the use of contemptuous and despicable expressions concerning the products of black labour. I believe in the White Australia policy because I do not wish the coloured races from foreign countries to mingle with our own people; but I believe that we should be permitted to trade with them in their own country on a fair basis. Tea grown by coloured labour is admitted free, and why should we decline to trade in other commodities with business men in foreign countries?
These contemptible expressions concerning black labour can appeal only to the ignorant, and instead of pandering to our local manufacturers, as we are doing, an effort should be made to trade amicably and freely with people who are of a different colour from our own . I sometimes wonder, when it is said that our neighbour, Japan, is threatening our liberty, if statements such as those used by the Minister are not likely to make that threat a reality. Why should he refer to the coloured races in such contemptuous terms?
– I was merely referring to the economic conditions prevailing in foreign countries.
– The Minister is pandering to sentiments which are not acceptable to the majority of the people by endeavouring to arouse feelings of animosity towards the coloured races. In effect, the Minister has said, “ We cannot import wax from Rangoon because the people who live there have coloured skins.” It is mean and despicable to submit such a proposition to any Parliament. We are asked to interfere with the importation of paraffine wax. because the stearine candle manufacturers do not wish to encounter competition.
– I was referring to the economic conditions.
– The Minister should be very careful in the language he uses, and when he reads the proof of his speech he will see the manner in which he referred to the economic conditions in other countries. I enter my strong protest against an attempt to interfere with the White Australia sentiment by statements such as those made by the Minister. Surely it is not contended that we should not trade with other countries because the people are of a different colour ? We want Australia for British people and for Europeans who become British by their association with us. We should exchange our commodities with those of other nations, and there is no reason why we should insult our foreign neighbours merely because their skin is of a different colour.
– Has not the White Australia policy, which thehonorable senator supports, the principle of Protection as its basis?
– The honorable senator does not require one to explain my attitude towards Protection. I realize that Protectionists, feeling that they cannot compete with other nations, require a barriersuch as this Tariff to protect them. British people can compete with other nations without any such protection. We have in Australia the stearine and paraffine wax candle manufacturing industries, and it is evident that the stearine candle manufacturers cannot compete with the imported product, and have appealed to Parliament, through the Minister, for assistance. There has been a direct and deliberate attempt to increase the price of a raw material required in the manufacture of paraffine wax candles by 50 per cent. , and the Minister has made it quite clear that he is endeavouring to assist one industry to the detriment of another.
– Wax candles are sold to grocers at 8d. per lb. and stearine candles at 9½. per lb.
– That may be so; but the Minister is assisting one industry and retarding the development of another.
– The stearine candle is dearer, and the honorable senator wishes to increase the price.
– Not at all. I am not asking for increases, but merely suggesting that the duties under which industries have thrived may be allowed to remain. , Those engaged in the wax candle industry say that if the old duty remains they will be able to employ large numbers, because they will be able to secure their raw product at a reasonable price, whereas if the duty is increased by 50 per cent, they cannot continue. If we are to impose heavy duties on commodities required in an established industry to benefit another undertaking of a similar character, I do not know where we will end. I am in favour of the old duties being retained, because they were sufficient to enable these works to conduct operations on a profitable basis. I am against, any alteration of the previously existing duty on wax, because business mcn in a position to know say that the increased duty proposed means the closing up of one of our industries.
.- We have heard too much of a desire on the part of the Minister and those who support him to crush an industry that was established under the previous Tariff. If the wax-candle industry is as flourishing as has been said, and is so essential in Australia, it will not be crushed by the proposed increase in the duty on wax. Senator Gardiner, in making so much of what he described as the contemptuous way in which the Minister referred to the coloured races of other countries, overlooked the fact that Senator Russell objected to the competition of the products of coloured labour purely on economic grounds, as he definitely stated. By the awards of Arbitration. Courts and in other ways we have established certain standards and conditions of labour in Australia, and we should not allow the products of cheap labour countries to compete with the products of industries carried on under Australian conditions. I would prevent the competition of the products of cheap labour countries, and for that reason I am in favour of “a duty on wax and on wax candles which come into competition with stearine candles made here from Australian raw material. There may bc a few hundred people employed in the manufacture of candles from imported wax, but the stearine candle industry, which produces the best candles, has progressed by leaps and bounds.
– Without an increase in the duty. on wax?
– I admit that that is so, but it is now threatened with the importation of cheap wax candles. Senators Duncan and Pratten have told us that the mines must have cheap candles. I know of no reason why mine-owners should prefer wax candles except that they are cheaper than stearine candles. That is a consideration which does not influence me in, dealing with this item. I have no desire to penalize the mining industry, but in compiling a Tariff we cannot consider every one, and I am concerned now to protect .the stearine candle industry, which should produce the best candles for use in mines, since they do not gutter and waste so much in a draught as wax. candles do. Every one knows that wax candles double up if used in a hot place, and for this reason they are of no use in Queensland in hot weather.
– Wax candles are of no use in a mine where there is a draught,
– That is so. I am informed that there are 1,000 persons employed in the stearine candle industry, and the wages paid amount to £250,000 a year, while the candles are made entirely from Australian products. I come from a State that breeds better and more cattle than any other… State in the Commonwealthy and as stearine candles are largely made from tallow, . which is one of the by-products of the cattle industry, I cannot understand Protectionists objecting to an increased duty on wax. I know that the manufacture of wax candles is established in a small way in Sydney, and representatives of New South Wales desire to protect it.
– It is established in Tasmania also.
– The wax-candle industry in Tasmania is not worth mentioning. The centre of the industry is in Sydney.
– All that we are concerned about is to get fair play.
– 1 am prepared to give the industry fair play. I should be quite prepared to vote for an increased duty on wax candles, but I am not in favour of a reduction in the proposed duty on wax, because in my opinion that would interfere with the stearine-candle industry, which uses entirely Australian materials.
As I have said, tallow is very largely used in the stearine-candle industry, and on this account the local price of tallow is higher than the price that can be obtained for it in London. That alone would be sufficient to induce me to vote for the proposed duty on wax.
– The local demand has not much effect on the price of tallow. We are large exporters of tallow.
– I have no personal knowledge of the matter, but I have it on good authority that the present price “ of tallow in Australia is higher than it is in London, and this is due to the demand for tallow by the stearine-candle industry in the Commonwealth. I direct the attention of senators from New South Wales to the fact that Mr. Upton, the gentleman whom they are sticking up for-
– We are not sticking up for any gentleman, but for an in- * dustry.
– He is at the head of the wax-candle industry in Sydney.
– Who is at the head of the honorable senator’s opposition to it?
– I believe that Kitchen and Sons are the principal makers of stearine candles; but I am not supporting Kitchen and Sons, but the industry in which they are engaged.
– Then why should the honorable senator say that we are supporting Mr. Upton?
– I wanted to say that in giving evidence before the Inter-State Commission Mr. Upton admitted that the stearine candle was the best on the market.
– That may be so.
– Then, why should we interfere with an industry that is producing the best candle made in Australia? I make the statement on authority that the price at which wax can now be imported .gives the makers of wax candles an advantage of 2d. per lb. over the manufacturers of stearine candles.
– That is not so.
– I make the statement on authority, and if the honorable senator can prove that it is not well founded, he should do so.
– The honorable senator should not make the statement unless he is able to substantiate it.
– Senator Pratten has denied the statement.
– I gave my figures; let the honorable senator give his.
– I repeat the statement on the authority of those engaged in the industry. I have no desire, as a Protectionist, to injure any Australian industry; and while I am not prepared to support a reduction of the duty on wax, I am in favour of giving the wax-candle industry an equivalent by increasing the duty on wax candles.
– If the Minister will say that, it will settle the matter.
– I do not know what the Minister is prepared to do. I have said what I am prepared to do myself. In my view, if the” community wants wax candles made from a raw product imported from a -cheap-labour country, I would let the community pay for them. I am personally in favour of the Australian product made from Australian materials.
– Why did not the honorable senator adopt that attitude on a previous item?
– So far as I know, that is the attitude I have adopted on every item in the Tariff.
– Why did not the honorable senator insist on a duty on cocoa beans, which are admitted free, though they are grown by black labour?
– Where are cocoa beans grown here?
Senator- Duncan. - They might be grown in Queensland.
– There are many things which, in time, may be grown in the tropical climate of Queensland. When the cocoa-bean industry is started in Australia I shall be prepared to support it. If my honorable friends from New South Wales will make a request for an increase in the duty on wax candles, I will support them, but an Australian industry carried on by the use of Australian products will have my preference every time.
.- I do not know that I should have risen to speak on this matter again had it not been for the speech delivered by Senator de Largie in reply to my previous remarks. I used arguments which I believed should be advanced in support of the position I was taking up, and as they were addressed to the Committee in a courteous way, I think they at least merited a courteous reply from those who attempted to answer them. I do regret that Senator de Largie, who is associated with the Government to the extent of being a paid officer of it-
– Why paid officer ?
– Should have seen fit to go out of his way to make, not a reply to my argument, but a personal attack upon myself. I apologize, most humbly, to the honorable senator for the fact that I am a number of years younger than he is, and have not the grey hairs which adorn his lovely countenance. Perhaps later on in life I may have them, and I hope that when I’ do I shall be ready to give those younger than myself credit for knowing a little.
– The honorable senator has yet to learn courtesy.
SenatorDUNCAN. - I may yet have to learn a number of things, but Senator de Largie seems to imagine that he knows everything and that no one can teach him anything. I regret the episode very much. It was bad taste on the part of a supporter of the Government to attack another member of the party of which he is a more or less inefficient Whip. I still contend that it is in the best interests of Australian industry - not only the candle-making industry, but other manufactures as well - to reduce the duty proposed by the Government. . Under a rate of l½d. per lb. the stearine industry has not suffered from the competition of imported paraffine wax; on the contrary, it has grown to be the mighty industry, employing 1,000 persons, which the Minister has described. What, then, is the need for increasing the duty, especially when to do so must crush another industry, and harass and increase the manufacturing costs of several more? These other -industries are surely worthy of consideration. A large amount of capital is invested in them, they give a great deal of employment, and contribute to the prosperity of the Commonwealth. Surely Kitchen and Sons do not require further protection, and Lever
Brothers are well able to look after themselves. The latter firm has built up an enormous business because of the commercial astuteness of its leaders and of the opportunities of which they have taken advantage. It will not allow its Australian business to shrink if we reduce the duty on paraffine wax to the rate originally proposed by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) when he introduced the Tariff schedule. He fixed that rate after meeting representatives of the interests concerned, and carefully considering the facts placed before him; but other interests got to work and induced members in another place to clamour for an increase of the duty, Whereupon the Government weakly consented to make the rate 2d. As it was originally proposed that the rate should be l½d. the attitude of the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) towards the amendment is tantamount to a declaration that his colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs, did not know what he was doing when he fixed the rate at l½d.
– Have not conditions changed since then?
– Had conditions changed materially, the Government would have proposed an increase in the rate; but that did not happen.
– We have already amended the Tariff contrary to the wish of Ministers.
– Yes; and I hope that the honorable senator has sufficient backbone to do so again by voting in this instance for the rate originally proposed. I want him to show that he thinks that the Minister for Trade and Customs fixed that rate because of the opinion formed after a thorough inquiry into the circumstances. I hope that the Committee will agree to the request.
.- The proposal before us presents a difficulty which is often experienced in the discussion of a Tariff. There is a sort of triangular duel in this case between the importers of raw material, the manufacturers of a finished product, and the general community. The interests of the last-named, I am sorry to say, do not receive much consideration from the Committee. We are asked to increase this duty by 100 per cent. The manufacturers of candles cannot agree among themselves as to what would be a fair imposition on their raw material, and consequently the Committee has no easy task in endeavouring to hold the scales level between the interested parties. Personally, I have great difficulty in making up my own mind on this duty. I do not wish to aim a blow, however slight, at tha stearine industry. My - desire is to inform my mind as to what is really needed, not only by that industry, but also by every other industry in the Commonwealth. The Tariff, in my view, is merely a device for artificially protecting and encouraging manufactures without unduly increasing prices to the local consumers. The old duty on stearine was Id. per lb., and the effect of its imposition has been to reduce the importation of that .product to a negligible quantity, while the local manufacture and exportation of it has assumed encouraging proportions. During the five-year period ending last year, the exportation of stearine from this country has almost doubled, its value increasing from about £50,000 to over. £100,000,’ which shows that the local manufacturing industry has not done badly. Not only has it held its own against the importation of paraffine wax, it has also entered with success the markets of the world.
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 p.m.
– In this proposal for a reduction in the duty there are very many questions involved. Stearine being the finished product of certain industries in this country is also the raw product of another, and as honorable senators are aware, persons engaged in the manufacture of the finished article show very little consideration for other persons engaged in the same industrial field in the production of the raw material. In this case the manufacturers of candles have a grievance against the manufacturers of the raw product, unless they can secure some reduction in the duty to meet their own requirements. In the case of paraffine wax, the Government proposed to increase. the duty by Id. per lb. representing a clear increase in the protection afforded to the stearine industry of 100 per cent. If this additional protection is warranted, the proposition may be a reasonable one, but if it is not warranted, then I trust the Senate will express its opinion on the matter because it has rights co-equal with those of another Chamber. As has been pointed out by » other honor’able senators, the Tariff item now before the Committee is not a Government proposal at all. When the Tariff was introduced in the House of Representatives the Government proposal was for an increase of duty, general, of 1/2 d. per lb. on. the articles included in this item, but as the result either of outside pressure or the debating talent of another place they agreed to an increase in the duty of Id. per lb. on paraffine wax, representing, as I have already said, 100 per cent. The same procedure has been followed in regard to many other items, the schedule as introduced in the House of Representatives being altered, notably in the case of bananas, and the schedule as altered elsewhere has come before this Committee as the Government policy, when, as a matter of fact, it is not the Government schedule at all so far as some of the items are concerned, but the schedule as it emerged from the House pf Representatives. With all due respect to the Government, I remind honorable senators that it is our privilege to express our individual views as to the items that come before us for consideration, otherwise this Chamber will be merely a pale reflex of Ministerial opinion, or of another Chamber.
– Nobody will object to the Senate exercising its privileges, but the honorable senator will see that we have to do the best we can with our measures.
– Of course. What I am objecting to is that the Government should bring this Tariff before the Committee as the Government schedule, when, as a matter of fact, it is not their well considered policy at all, but the result of pressure exerted, in another place ; a schedule, in fact, that has been really forced upon the Government. We have our own legislative mission to fulfil, and for my part I am not prepared to support any suggestion that we should slavishly accept what has been done elsewhere, but exercise our own judgment in these matters. I do not wish to inflict any injury upon the industry that has been men- tioned during the debate on this item. The manufacturers of stearine in this country under the former protection succeeded in stopping the inflow of’ that product, and were able to build up an export trade. I may be told that influences due to the war or the aftermath of the war were responsible for this state of affairs, but the outstanding fact is that, on the authority of the Customs Department, there was quite a respectable balance to the credit of the industry in the shape of export values for the year ended 191Q-20 ; and so when we are asked to double the duty in the case of an industry that has thus flourished, we are being asked to do something contrary to all the canons of Protection. Paraffine wax is in strong competition with stearine. The existing duty has not succeeded in stemming the tide of trade in this particular commodity, the volume of imports having risen from about £70,000 in 1915 to over £250,000 last year. Stearine is the local product of tallow, which is produced in this country, and therefore we have to consider the best means of counteracting the position that is being developed. Notwithstanding what has been said about the necessity for using wax candles in the mining industry, I am satisfied that candles of first-class quality can be produced from stearine; and, taking all the circumstances into account, I think the balance of consideration is in favour of the stearine industry. What are we going to do? The Government are asking us to double the duty. By increasing the duty on paraffine wax by Id. per lb., the Government are keeping pace with what was done in another place by imposing a duty on candles. The Government’s original proposition in respect of wax candles was for a duty in the general column of 2d. per lb. ; but the House of Representatives, exerting an authority which I hope this Chamber will be as ready to exercise, increased the duty by one halfpenny per lb., whilst the duty on the raw material was increased by one penny, thus creating a serious anomaly.
– In the House of Representatives the increase was a halfpenny oh the raw material and also on candies.
– I am dealing with the position as it was on the introduction of the Tariff. I am not in favour of Senator Payne’s proposal. I am rather inclined to revert to the old duties.
.- I am hopeful that I shall be .able to induce Senator Lynch to alter his opinion. I do not think he has grasped the position as I placed it before the Committee this afternoon. I have listened to the debate, but have no intention of replying to everything that .has been said by honorable senators. I shall confine my remarks to the more important points that have been raised on my suggestion that the duty on the raw material for the manufacture of wax candles should be reduced. One of the objections is that it will seriously affect the stearine industry, and I want to remind Senator Lynch that instead of the paraffine wax-candle industry being a fierce competitor of the. stearine-candle industry, the position is exactly reversed. The’ stearine-candle industry is a fierce competitor of the. paraffine wax-candle industry, because the latter was started very many years ago, and was supplying the needs of Australia as far as possible with the machinery and capital at its command. The industry has been built up with a great deal of care and the expenditure of a large amount of capital, and it has been obliged to obtain its raw material from Rangoon, the only available source. No paraffine wax is procurable from Australian sources. A great deal has been said in opposition to my proposal because imported paraffine is the product of black labour. Does that affect the position? Cannot honorable senators, in perusing the . Tariff, find innumerable instances of raw material the product of black labour, but necessary for an Australian industry, being admitted duty free? Por instance, cocoa beans, which are imported chiefly, I understand, from Ceylon, are the product of black labour, but a day or two ago we agreed that, as the raw material of an Australian industry, they should be admitted free. I am asking now, not that the raw material of the wax candle industry shall be admitted free, but that the duty shall be Id. per lb., as under the Tariff of 1914. And yet my proposal is opposed. The history of Australian manufacturing industries is that quite a number of small enterprises that were of great value to the country, and made good progress in the early days, have been gradually squeezed out of existence by large firms which, combining and so commanding a colossal capital, have been able to use such influence, as to obtain a Tariff favorable to their particular businesses to the exclusion of all those carrying on operations in a small way. I say without hesitation that this high duty, which is equal tq 50 per cent, on the value of the raw product of the wax candle-making industry in Australia, has been brought in to suit a combination which commands a very large capital and is engaged in the manufacture of other candles. Its effect will be to put up the price of candles. If the wax candle industry of Australia be destroyed we shall be face to face with the possibility of a higher price to the users of candles.
– Even if no wax candles were made in Australia the position would remain unaltered.
– I appeal to honorable senators to preserve the paraffine wax candle industry, which has been of great value to Australia. Wc should not allow our sympathies to go wholly in the direction pf a branch of the caudlemaking industry which employs 1,000 operatives when, by neglecting to look after the interests of the smaller capitalist in another branch of the same industry, we may jeopardize the employment of, say, 300 operatives. That, I think, is about the proportion of employment obtaining in the two branches of the industry. I learn that when this item was under consideration in another place the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) said the higher duty was necessary in order to prevent the stearine industry being prejudicially affected by importations of paraffine wax.
– Being swamped.
– Any one who suggests that there is any likelihood of the stearine industry in Australia being swamped by the local manufacture of wax candles can have no idea of the true position.
– Especially when . we export millions of pounds’ weight of stearine.
– Quite so. It has been suggested during the debate that those who support my request will be acting prejudicially to the interests of the primary producer.
– That is a farfetched argument.
– It is; but it is often advanced to secure the sympathies of the primary producer. Those who have used it in relation to this proposal may be interested to learn that I am a primary producer. I raise cattle, and am as keen as is any man to get a good price for my stock. I recognise that graziers are dependent to some extent upon the tallow market, but if we were to ask 100 genuine farmers cultivating the land and raising cattle whether they were prepared to run the risk of having to pay a higher price for their candles as the result of the imposition of an extremely high duty on paraffine wax, they would reply that they were opposed to such a duty.
– They do not use wax candles.
– Where are candles used, if not in the back-blocks ? For every candle used in large centres of population a dozen are used in the country.
– Wax candles are of no use in the country districts of Western Australia.
– I come from a State with a more temperate climate, where for many years the manufacture of paraffine wax candles has been carried on. At one time there were several such factories in Tasmania, but they have been gradually squeezed out.
– Because’ wax candles are not suited to our climatic conditions.
– That is not so. The secondary industries of Australia have been built up, not by men possessing large capital, but in almost every case by men of small means who have been prepared to throw the whole of their energies into them. From time to time industries carried on by men with limited capital have been squeezed out by the larger concerns. I would not submit this request if I thought that a reduction of the duty would increase the cost of candles to the people or prejudically affect the stearine industry. Those en- gaged in the local manufacture of wax candles have put their product on the market at a reasonable price, and are as much entitled to consideration at our hands as are the large Combines. I am here to put up a fight for the small man whenever I can do so. At the same time, I have no desire to handicap the stearine industry. I realize that it is important to Australia, but am sure that it would not be injured by reducing to 1d. per lb. the duty on the raw material of the wax candle industry.
– What about the 250,000 lbs. of paraffine wax which came in last year?
– The honorable senator might just as reasonably inquire as to the millions of pounds’ worth of other raw materials which have been admitted free in Order to give employment in various secondary industries. Surely he does not suggest that we should shut out the raw material necessary to the continuance of the wax candle industry in Australia. Irrefutable evidence has been advanced that that industry is worth protecting, and that the reduction of the duty to1d. per lb. will not affect the larger industry of making stearine candles which hasbeen carried on so successfully in Australia.
– I desire to move a request that the duty on paraffine wax under the general Tariff be reduced to 1½d. per lb. Shall I be able to do so after Senator Payne’s request has been dealt with?
– Senator Payne’s request is that the duty under the general and intermediate Tariffs be1d. per lb. In view of Senator Lynch’s intimation, I shall put, first of all, the request that the duty under the general Tariff be1d. per lb.
Question - That the request (Senator Payne’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), general, per lb.,1½d.
It is hardly necessary to repeat the arguments advanced in favour of the proposition that has just been defeated, and which, in a sense, I supported; but I would point out that if the Government’s proposal is retained the schedule will contain a serious anomaly, injuriously affecting the manufacturers of paraffine wax candles in respect to the ratio between the duty on the raw material and that upon the finished article. The Government have increased the duty on the raw material by1d. per lb., while the increase on the candles themselves is only ½d. per lb. My object is to preserve the balance fairly by making the duty upon the raw material what the Government originally intended it should be.
– I heartily support the request submitted by Senator Lynch, and am fully in accord with the position he has put as regards our rights as a legislative Chamber. Apparently whatever amendments are made in the House of Representatives to the Government’s original proposals are expected to be agreed to in this Senate with every “ i “ dotted and every “ t “ crossed. I am not prepared to take up that attitude. Beyond the fact that Senator Lynch has established that his request, if agreed to, will make the duty on paraffine wax what the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) made it in March, 1920, after giving the matter ample consideration, is the further fact that, so far from the stearine industry requiring more protection, and being ruined ifwe do not increase the duty on wax, during 1920, when the duty was Id. per lb., the importations of wax were comparatively small, and our manufacturers of stearine ‘were not only supplying all the home requirements, but were also able to export 2,385,000 lbs. of stearic acid, an essential part of stearine.
– There have been no exportations during the last six months.
– I am speaking of what happened when the duty on paraffine wax was only Id. per lb. I am not prepared to swallow every catch amendment made in the House of Representatives in connexion with this Tariff. In supporting the honorable senator’s proposal I am supporting the Government’s original proposal to increase the duty on paraffine wax from Id. to 1 1/2 d. per lb. I hope that the Government will agree to this request, because it will, as Senator Lynch has so fairly pointed out, mean an automatic settlement of a proper ratio between the duty on wax and that on wax candles. If this is not done, the small candle-making industries of Australia will be crushed out of existence, and the business will be confined to a powerful combination of candle-makers. This might or might not be detrimental to the public generally, but it would certainly be unfair to the small competitors of this powerful combination.
– Do any of the small candle-makers make stearine?
– No, with the exception of one Sydney firm. The manufacture of stearine in any quantity entails the erection of a very expensive plant, costing from £20,000 to £30,000, which renders it impossible for some of the small manufacturers to engage in the business. I appeal to the fairness of honorable senators, and ask them to look all round the question, and, as Senator Lynch has said, preserve a fair balance between these duties.
– I do not know whether honorable senators are prepared -to vote for everything the Government places before them without thyme or reason, fact or argument; but I have in my hand, two books circulated by the Government ostensibly for the instruction and guidance of senators. One has the high-sounding title of Tariff Hand-booh, and is edited by Mr.
Ambrose Pratt. The other is called, Supplement to Australian Tariff Handbook. In neither of these publications, which constitute, for the Government their Bible or Koran, in respect to Tariff matters, can I find a single appeal for an additional duty on wax for the protection of locally-produced stearine; and these publications are the latest and last word on the subject. Are we to accept the mere say-so of the Government? I hope not. But, apparently, if honorable senators are prepared to accept the Government’s proposal in respect to the duty on paraffine wax they are doing this. In these books are the most extreme views imaginable in favour of “high Protection, but neither of them contains one syllable in. reference to the necessity for a Protective duty in favour of the -stearine manufacturers of Australia. I warn honorable senators that if a duty is placed on the raw product used in the manufacture of paraffine wax candles, later on a proposal must be made for an extra duty on the candles themselves. Honorable senators have neither the time nor the opportunity, unless they devote twentyfour hours each day to the task, to make themselves acquainted with all the facts, figures, and circumstances surrounding every item in this schedule. It is not to be expected of them that they should bc fully aware of the why and wherefore of every duty. ‘ Therefore, I put these facts before them, showing that even in these books of extreme views circulated by the Government for the information of this Chamber nothing is said as to the necessity for this increased duty asked for by the Government itself.
.- I have discovered the reason why the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) proposed an increase on his original proposal for an increased duty on paraffine wax. Here’ aTe his own words -
This matter was brought under my notice quite recently, and I have been looking into it. The object sought -to be achieved in arranging a duty on candles and wax has been, as far as possible, to protect the manufacturers of stearine candles as against the wax candles.
The Minister’s statement is plain enough, bearing out everything said in this debate, namely, that an attempt is being made to crush out of existence the small candle makers of Australia, who are just as vital to the interests of the country as are the large manufacturers. I have no desire to see this industry kept entirely within the scope of one big firm. We must have competition here.
– Let the small man start making stearine.
– It is all very well for the honorable senator to say that, but every one cannot raise the capital that these large British firms can command. We ought to pay some respect to the efforts of Australian people, who have used their brains and invested their small amount of capital in this industry. At any rate, in the Minister’s statement we have an open admission that an attempt is being made to crush these people out of existence, and I appeal to honorable senators to support the request for a lower rate of duty, even though it does not go as far as I would like.
– Some honorable senators seem to be under the impression that the only thing the stearine manufacturer does is to manufacture stearine. They quite forget that there is a wide difference between the origin of the wax and stearine. The raw product of paraffine wax candles has to be imported.
– So has copra.
– That does not alter the point I wish to make. Stearine is not imported, but is produced from tallow, an Australian product. In the manufacture of stearine for the Australian candle maker the process does not stop there, but glycerine is also produced to the extent of, approximately, 1,000 tons annually. Glycerine is used in the manufacture of high explosives, and as we may need it some day for that purpose, the maintenance of the stearine candlemaking industry is necessary for the protection of Australia. Again, I understand that another by-product is used in the manufacture of woollen goods, an industry which we are also anxious to develop. Yet all these considerations are swept aside simply to maintain the moulding of candles from paraffine wax. Are we blind? Senator Lynch has talked about our accepting without question what is placed before us; but are we to close our eyes to the facts I have mentioned - facts which are not disputed? The stearine industry pays something like £250,000 per annum in wages; can the same be said of the paraffine waxcandle industry?
– The stearine industry expanded under the old duty of1d.
– Senator Lynch forgets that, owing to the establishment of the stearine industry here, Australia was able to supply the Old Country with glycerine to make explosives; he is blind to the fact that it was on a by-product of the stearine industry that a profit was made during the war, and attributes the success of the industry to the duty. We have to look at things as they are, and not as they were ; and any one who wishes well to Australia must support the Government on this item. What is the object of Protection? Is it not to protect and establish industries that will consume raw material produced in Australia ?
– The honorable senator and some others seem to think that the object of Protection is to prohibit imports of any sort!
– Will Senator Senior define what Protection is?
– I cannot define two things at once, but Protection means the establishment in Australia of such industries as will work up the natural products of the country.
– High-sounding phrases !
– No, I am stating good solid facts. By way of illustration I may say that when I was a lad I sold soap, introduced into this country from Liverpool before the local article was produced in any quantity, at from1s. 9d. to 2s. 3d., and, in some cases, 2s. 6d. a bar, according to weight; but just before the war I saw similar weights of soap, manufactured in Australia under Protection, sold at7½d.
– I have known South Australian soap to be sold in Broken Hill cheaper than the price at which it was sold under Protection in Adelaide.
– That is easily accounted for. There was an export of candles and soap from South Australia to New South Wales, not at a paying price, but simply to keep the machinery going and the hands employed.
– We in New South Wales got the benefit, and we had no objection.
– This export trade made all the difference between keeping the machinery going and dismissing the hands.
– Was that not dumping?
– I have answered the point raised by the honorable senator ; and, in any case, it does not apply to the present question. The stearine industry will use the raw products of Australia, and become a key industry, supplying useful products for other industries; and that cannot be said of the paraffine wax industry. In a hot climate the paraffine wax candle is not to be compared with the stearine candle.
– Then no protection is required!
– It is urged that paraffine wax candles are useful in mines ; but I think that, if we could arrive at a consensus of opinion amongst miners, it would be found that they never take a wax candle into a hot place, simply because it bends over. All these arguments against the duty are born of lack of knowledge and experience.
– iSenator Senior asked what -is the object of Protection, but abstained from furnishing any answer. In my opinion, the object of Protection is primarily to maintain existing industries, next to bring into being new industries, and then to promote the development of all industries. In the Commonwealth hitherto there have been both a waxcandle industry and a stearine-candle industry; and if we are true Protectionists we will adjust the Tariff so as to maintain and promote the development of both. Senator Senior and others seem to think that it is necessary to have only one of these two industries in Australia, and Senator Senior has suggested that Senator Payne wishes that industry to be tha wax-candle industry. That is not so. Senator Payne’s argument was directed to the maintenance of the wax-candle industry, and the remarks of Senator Senior go to show that there is not the slightest danger of the stearine-candle in dustry being obliterated by the growth of the other industry.
– The stearine industry uses Australian products, while the other industry does not.
– There are many other protected industries in Australia which depend on imported raw materials, and included amongst the countries from which those raw materials come are countries where black labour is employed. Senator Senior has said, no doubt with truth, that the stearine candle is preferable in warmer climates ; and, geographically, that means the greater portion of the Commonwealth. But if there are people here who desire to use wax candles, and who live in localities and temperatures where such candles are serviceable, why should we force “stearine candles upon them ? Is it because the people who manufacture stearine candles are of the greater importance? Do those manufacturers employ such a large number of people that their interests alone should be considered? I asked Senator Pratten whether, as a matter of fact, the manufacturers of stearine were also engaged in the manufacture of candles. At first that honorable senator replied in the negative, but afterwards corrected- himself, and said he understood that there is, at any rate, one in Sydney who does so. It has been said that the manufacture of stearine involves considerable outlay on premises and plant. It is obvious that the small manufacturer cannot face a large outlay of the kind, and, therefore, he will be compelled to go for his stearine to a competitor with him in the supply of candles to the community. That is not a fair position; and those who advocate it are seeking to concentrate the manufacture of candles in the hands of a few or of one. That is not the principle of Protection. I have already stated three objects of Protection, and there is another, namely, to diversify production and not concentrate it in the hands of a few. For the reasons I have given, I strongly support the request moved by Senator Lynch. Although that honorable senator did not do so, I must express my regret that the previous request was not carried; and I sincerely hope the Committee will unanimously - adopt the one before us.
.- I should like the Minister (Senator Russell) to accept the compromise that has been suggested, for he has made many such compromises during the progress of the Tariff discussion. The proposal simply is to revert to the original duty, and, in any case, is not much of a concession to ask. I am given to understand that the manufacturers of wax candles, by means of Australian labour, have built up a considerable export trade; and if we put a duty of even ½d. per lb. on the paraffine wax imported, it means about £5 per ton, and those engaged in the industry have to compete in the open market against cheap black labour.
– I cannot conceive that we can import paraffine wax and export in competition with black-labour countries.
– But the manufacturers are doing so, and the trade has developed in that direction. I was rather pleased to hear Senator Keating’s definition of Protection.
– I did not give a definition; I gave the objects of Protection.
– Protection depends for its existence on glowing periods which proclaim what it is intended to achieve; but, in fact, it never works out quite as predicted. One of the objects is said to be the promotion of new industries; but the Government proposal is to wipe out a little industry in the interests of a big industry.
– That is only the view of Senator Senior and Senator Reid.
- Senator Keating has dealt with Protection in the abstract, but the year in which the present Tariff has operated has seen more unemployment in Australia than I recollect in any other like period. I do not say that the whole of the unemployment is due to the incidence of the Tariff, but the latter is responsible for much of it. Those engaged in the manufacture of wax candles say that the imposition of the duty will cause them to close down and their employees to be looking elsewhere for work. These people, who built up their businesses under former Tariffs, now find that because they are in competition with big interests they must get out of the way. Senator Reid holds that
Parliament must not merely use its power to protect an industry against foreign competition, but that, if there are two Australian industries, it must give the greater measure of encouragement to the interest which happens to be using the larger quantity of Australian products for its raw material. The latter, in fact, must be kept going by every means, no matter what may befall the other. The tendency of the policy of Protection is to place the industries of a country in the hands of Combines, and I know the capacity of Combines to corrupt a whole community. The large industries have the whip hand every time; the small ones must fight their competitors without aid.
– The Government cannot accept the request. The sentiments expressed by honorable senators are very fine, but figures carry more weight. The men most closely acquainted with the costs involved in the manufacture of a commodity are, necessarily, the makers themselves. The wholesale price charged by the manufacturers of wax candles to-day is 8½d. per lb., while the wholesale price quoted for stearine candles is 9½d. These prices are not fixedby any arbitrary authority; there is no Government control. The quotations are those of the trade and are governed by the conditions of the trade. As a Protectionist, I would be inclined to move in order to bring the prices to the same level. How can any one argue that the manufacture of wax candles must cease with the imposition of the duty set out in the schedule, seeing that they are being sold in the open market for1d. per lb. less than the stearine candles?
– The wax candle manufacturers have had to underquote their rivals because of the competition of the stearine candles.
– I cannot go beyond the facts as they exist to-day, and I could furnish no stronger argument as to the true position of the wax candle industry than is afforded by the actual selling figures.
Question - That the request( Senator Lynch’ s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Postponed item 42 -
Candles, Tapers, and Night Lights : -
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), general, per1b., 3d.
It has been generally admitted that the ½d. difference in the duty upon wax, which is the raw material, as compared with that on the completed candles - boxed, packed, and made abroad, largely in Burmah - is not sufficient to sustain the Australian industry. The wax candle industry, judged side by side with the soap and stearine candle industry, is not very large; but it should be kept alive to provide some competition at least. Unless the duty on wax candles be increased to the minimum amount set forth in my request, maintaining the difference upon the raw material and on the finished article at1d. per lb., the wax candle industry must go under. There is another reason why the duty should be increased. If the wax candle industry should fail, and if the duty be not increased, wax candles will come into Australia, as they are now quoted, at 7½d. per lb. These commodities have not been imported in any considerable quantities during the past five years, in which the difference in the duty upon wax and that on wax candles has been1d. They were not considerably imported during the previous five years, when the rates of duty were the same. But, when the difference was less, very large quantities of foreignmade wax candles came into Australia. I believe an offer has been made to land 10,000 cases of Rangoon candles, duty paid, in Melbourne, at 7½d. per lb. Seeing the’ Committee have decided to retain the duty on imported paraffine wax in order to preserve the stearine candle industry, and that during the last ten years there has been a difference of1d. per lb. between the duty on imported wax and wax candles, I ask the Committee to restore that difference by increasing the duty under the general Tariff by½d. per lb.
– The duty was increased by½d. per lb. in another place, and I do not think we are justified in going further. I have already quoted figures showing that there is a difference of1d. per lb. in the price of stearine and wax candles in favour of thelatter, and if we increase the protection on wax candles the production of the stearine product will be reduced.
– Do you wish to kill the wax-candle industry?
– The departmental officers, after giving this matter every consideration, are satisfied that the present duty is sufficient to enable the wax candle industry to be successfully carried on. Inquiries made by the Department show that the price paid for Rangoon wax candles is 9d. per lb., and if the duty is increased it will be necessary to raise the duty on stearine candles.
– Whose opinion is the Minister quoting?
– This is not an opinion; it is a fact.
– And I dispute it.
– Then it is the honorable senator’s duty to prove that what I have said is incorrect. I am taking the responsibility for the statement I am making.
– I do not intend to accept the statement of the Minister (Senator Russell) that from inquiries made , by departmental officers a½d. difference between the price of imported wax and wax candles is sufficient to keep the wax candle industry alive, because the statements made by the manufacturers are to the effect that if the duty is not increased they must discontinue producing. Representations have been’ made by the manufacturers to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) to the. same effect, . and, notwithstanding this, the Minister says that inquiries have been made which show that a difference of a 1/2d. per lb. is adequate. I cannot accept that statement.
– That is the information with which I have been supplied.
– I am not prepared to accept it.
– The Minister said “ just now that it was not his opinion ; but it was a fact.
– Since the Tariff was tabled in March, 1920, the manufacturers of wax candles have informed the Customs authorities that if the duty is not increased the industry must go under, and time after time they have told the Minister of the unfortunate position in which they arc placed. In October, 1919, the Minister, in reply to representations from waxcandle manufacturers, said that he had forwarded the correspondence to the Minister for Trade and Customs for favorable consideration and reply. That statement was signed by E. J. Russell.
– From what is the honorable senator quoting?
– From correspondence between manufacturers and the honorable member forWentworth (Mr. Marks), the Minister for Trade and Customs, and the Minister in charge of the Tariff in this Chamber. That is sufficient to prove that representations were made.
– I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs to consider the request.
– That is all that I said.
SenatorRussell. - I discussed this and other matters very fully with the Minister.
– If the Minister were to consider this question on its merits, quite apart from official representations, he would see the reasonableness of the request I am making.
– I discussed the matter with the Minister for Trade and
Customs who was not prepared to make any alteration. I am not guided solely by the opinions of departmental officials.
– I also discussed the question with the Minister for Trade and Customs the day he went away, and he appeared to be sympathetically disposed towards the wax candle manufacturers. It is very unfortunate that, in dealing with the Tariff, this Chamber is expected to give all and receive nothing. It is also regrettable that, as the Minister for Trade and Customs is absent from the State, his opinion cannot be readily obtained.
– I have been discussing Tariff matters with the Minister for three or four months.
– Points arise in this Chamber which change the whole as pect of duties. I realize that the Minister in charge of the Tariff in this Chamber is not responsible for the administration of the Department.
– I am at liberty to us my discretion, and when wax candles are sold at1d. per lb. less than stearine candles, I am forced to believe that additional protection is unnecessary.
– Any success which has been achieved up to the present from my point of view has been after hours of debate, and in the end a division. I shall not be responsible for stifling any small industry, or for playing into the hands ofCombines. I know, perhaps, a little more about this matter than 1 am disclosing to the Committee, and I say most deliberately that when wax and wax candles are treated in this way, when copra is coming in free from the islands and we are increasing the duty on soap, it looks something like playing into the hands of the Combines.
– Why not put it plainly, and I would be able to reply?
– I am putting the position clearly. When it is realized that the duty on soap has been increased by 50 per cent., and that nine-tenths of it is largely made from coconut oil, imported free from Lever Brothers’ plantations, where black labour is employed, it appears that something is wrong.
– I do not know a soap manufacturer in Australia.
– I did not . say that the Minister did.
– That is the suggestion.
– The Minister is placing this industry in a most unfair position, when we consider that in previous Tariffs we have allowed a difference of Id. between the price of wax and wax candles. The Minister has now deliberately refused to allow a similar margin, and the result will be that the industry must go under. It must not be forgotten that a large part of the material used in the manufacture of soap is imported from the Pacific Islands. I am sure the Minister will understand that I am not attacking him personally, but am fighting in the last trench for the wax candle-making industry, because if the Committee will not accept my request, there will be less competition, fewer factories, and probably higher prices for the stearine product.
We have passed the first round, and are now engaged in the second. The first false step was taken in the last division. The attitude adopted by the Committee has forced me to do what I am loath to do, and that is support a proposal which necessarily means increasing the cost of a commodity to the consumer. I am, however, prepared to do all I can to prevent small manufacturers being crushed out of existence.
– The honorable senator means the small industry in Tasmania.
– I have that in mind, and I can recall the time when we had three similar industries in that State.
– Working on foreign products.
– The honorable senator wears clothing made from foreign products.
– Nearly everything we use contains a foreign product of some kind, and Senator Reid should realize that we cannot live in “ splendid isolation,” because we are depending on the markets of the world for . the disposal of our surplus production. It is all very well to object to foreign products, but we must have them, and an interchange of commodities with other countries is the life-blood of a nation.
– This is an entirely Australian industry.
– It is not, because its raw material is not produced in Australia in marketable quantities. I rose particularly to refer to, a statement by the Minister to the effect that the price of wax candles to-day is 9d. per lb. wholesale. The honorable senator quoted that figure to show that the duty on the raw material, paraffine wax, together with the duty on wax candles, gives ample protection for the wax candle industry in Australia. Let me quote a price more recent than that quoted by the Minister. This statement was placed in my hands by a gentleman who said, “ Whatever you find on this typewritten sheet I vouch for as being correct.” I quote the statement, which is made by candle manufacturers, in order that honorable senators may see what the Tariff as we have it to-day has led to -
Only this week we have been offered Bangoon 16-oz. wax candles, 135 deg. melting point* duty paid, delivered in our store, at 7$d. per lb. net. We have already ordered 1,000 cases..
Why? Because as a result of the operation of the Tariff wax candle manufacturers in Australia have been forced to import candles manufactured by black labour owing to having been prohibited from importing the raw material they require by the duty which has been imposed upon it.
– The price quoted by the honorable senator makes the difference in price between wax candles and stearine candles 2d. per lb.
– The lowest price at which stearine candles .can be manufactured and sold is 9)d. per lb.
– I am not discussing stearine but wax candles. I am notspeaking in advocacy of the stearine industry, but of the retention alongside it of the wax candle industry. The statement I wish to quote continues-
Having taken advantage of this offer, we have been given an option of buying another 10,000 cases at the same price.
If the statement I have quoted is a fact, and I have every reason to believe that it is, where is the protection afforded to the wax candle manufacturers of Australia today? These people find that they can land the finished article, manufactured wholly by black labour, at a lower price than that at which they can manufacture the article in Australia from raw material turned out by black labour, under the duties now imposed.
– They are going to be importers in the future instead of manufacturers.
– They are being forced into that position by the operation of the Tariff, and are being forced to dispense with the services of the operatives who have been engaged in the manufacture of wax candles. In the circumstances I am compelled to support Senator Pratten’s request. I do so very reluctantly, because I strongly object to a majority of the Committee compelling me to raise the cost of living, if only to a small extent. I am given no option in the matter when I am refused what I consider a fair deal for the manufacturers of wax candles in Australia.
– I have reached the parting of the ways. I have just been associated with some of my honorable colleagues in an endeavour to protect an Australian industry, but I have now to consider that the natural industry of recovering minerals from the earth will bo subjected to taxation if the duty on candles is raised. I stand for the greatest good for the greatest number, and I cannot vote for any increase in the duty on candles which will increase the cost of producing wealth from mines. In welldeveloped coal mines and in some silver and gold mines candles may not be extensively used, unless a new drive or stope is being worked. But any one who has worked, as I have done, in mines in the early days must know that the cost of candles in carrying on the mining industry is very much greater than those who are not acquainted with the industry would imagine. I was anxious to protect the wax candle industry, and to enable it to retain its export trade, by giving it its raw material at the cheapest possible rate. But I am not prepared to place additional taxation on those engaged in the mining industry in Australia who require candles, nor am I prepared to add to the cost of living, especially of people in country districts and in districts outside the large cities, where the electric light and gas are not in general use. The idea of Parliament laying itself out to regulate the whole trade and business of the community by making a particular company rich through the halfpence it is enabled to gather from the whole community never made any appeal to me. It has less influence upon nae in connexion with this item than in connexion with some others, because this will affect the poorest section of the community. The Minister (Senator Russell), his Government, and their supporters have done the Combine a good turn to-night. They have given it an opportunity to wipe out an opponent. No doubt the Combine will recognise the work that has been done for it. But I shall not assist in enabling it to further tax the mining industry and people who live where the electric light and gas are not in general use. This debate has evidenced the hollowness of the Protectionist fallacy which seems to have obtained such a grip of the people of Australia. The divisions which have taken place have shown that while the numbers were on the side of the Government the intellect of even their own supporters was on the other side. The Minister has been supported by a majority composed of men who would be behind the Government no matter what they were doing. I am glad that this self-evident praise is accepted by even the honorable senators to whom I am referring. I am in the habit of watching divisions, and I often feel, though I may be beaten on a question, that if two or three members of the Senate are with me the intellect is on my side, though the numbers may be on the other. I asked the Minister to make a concession some time ago, because I was very anxious to do what was regarded as a fair thing by an industry carried on in my own State as well as in other States. I saw that there were strong reasons for the attitude taken up by the Government. I have quite fathomed them now, and have settled in my own mind what they are. Only a majority of honorable senators could have driven the Government from the very powerful position in which they are entrenched. They are there for. reasons that are very substantial, but. which cannot be brought into an open assembly such as this. They are so strong that the members of .the Government may sit quietly in -their places and be sure of their following. I have been submitting requests in connexion with many items in the schedule, in order, if possible, to induce some members of the Committee to agree to trade “with Great Britain. Time after time I have tried to drive home the argument that the strength and position of the -Dominions depend on trading -with Great Britain.
– My votes as a Protectionist for the last ten or fifteen years are open for inspection in Hansard. : Senator GARDINER. - I do not question the honorable senator’s attitude on Protection. In the words of Mr. King O’Malley, he is as sound on Protection “ as a Rocky Mountain grizzly upon roller skates.” The Minister is still a young man, and if he now holds the views upon Protection which he held fourteen or fifteen years ago, then faith must be stronger than works. Victoria is the fountain-head of Protection in Australia, and here, while wealth has been accumulating, men have been decaying. The census has been taken on’ two occasions at intervals of ten years, and the result has been that_ Victoria, which was represented in the first Parliament by twenty-two members, is, according to the last count of the population, entitled to only twenty members. That is as a result of fifty years of Protection. If the Min- ister travelled with me on each Tuesday morning he would know that between Albury and Melbourne there is ample room for population where no people are ‘to be seen. There is a struggling town or two passed, but there are many miles of unoccupied land. That is one. of the results of fifty years of Protection in Victoria.
– “What of the run from Albury to Sydney? The honorable senator goes over that in the night-time.
– Each item of this Tariff is an example of the stupidity of .believing, as some men do, that they can make their country richer by putting obstacles in the way of its development. Every part of the Tariff lends itself to the discussion of the whole, and without an explanation of my position, my votes may not appear intelligible. I wish it to be understood that my intention always is to make commodities cheaper to the purchasers, and to benefit the workers in our industries. Senator Pratten put up a sterling fight in the interests of small factories that have not the wealth and influence which the big concerns can employ to their advantage, and I regret that we have come to the parting of the ways. He wishes now to take a direction in which I cannot follow him; because, to my mind, the adoption of his proposal would increase prices to the consumers, who, in this case, are the miners. Protection has nearly killed mining in Australia, and if continued long enough will kill all our primary industries. That will certainly happen . if the primary producers continue to send to this Parliament foi” any length of time such representatives as sit in it now. You may tax the community, and inflate prices, to establish and maintain industries, but there will come a time when the people will say that they will no longer submit to taxation for the sake of helping Combines such as that which controls the making of stearine candles. Until that happens, there will be a disposition, whenever a crisis comes, to apply the false remedy of more protection, instead of the true remedy of removing obstacles in the way of proper development.
– - I should like to support the request for the sake of preserving the symmetry of the Tariff, and to give the manufacturers of wax candles the same chance of working at a profit as has been given to the manufacturers of stearine candles ; but the Government having made a blunder, I am not prepared to help it out. Like Senator Gardiner, I have to consider the effect of this proposal on the users of candles, although by all the rules of Tariff adjustment, if the wax candle industry is to prosper, the Government must follow the course proposed by Senator Pratten. The margin between the duties on the raw material and the manufactured article has been altered by the action taken in another place, and while I wish to see the wax candle-making industry preserved, I must have regard to the interests of those who use candles. I shall, therefore, oppose the request. I think, however, that the time must come when the duty will be increased, because of the advantage given to the manufacturers of stearine candles.
Question - That the request (Senator Pratten’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Postponed item 94 -
– I move -
That the House ofRepresentativesbe requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), general, per lb., 6d. ; or ad val., 35 per cent.
If this is agreed to I shall submit a request that the duty, British, be 4d., or ad valorem 25 per cent.; and intermediate 5d., or ad valorem 30 per cent.
– Do you not propose to alter the word “higher” to “ lower”?
– No. I do not propose to interfere with that principle in the Tariff ; I think it is a good one. I am moving for a reduction in the duty for the reason that the material largely used now in the manufacture of soap is not tallow and animal fats, but is the product of the coconut which comes from the South Sea Islands, namely, oil expressed from copra. It cannot, therefore, be argued that it is necessary to protect soap and thus help our primary producers, and seeing that this Tariff has in creased the duty on soap considerably I think it is high time we called a halt when there is no industry to be preserved by raising the duty. In the 1911 Tariff the British preferential duty was 25 per cent., or 4d. per lb ; in the 1914 Tariff it was 30 per cent., or 5d. per lb.; and in this Tariff it has been raised to 35 per cent., or 6d. per lb.; while the general Tariff has been increased in a much greater ratio than the figures I have read. It cannot be argued, either, that the soap industry in Australia is not now on a permanent basis as a result of former Protective duties. According to figures for the financial year 1919-20, the export trade in toilet, fancy and medicated soaps totalled 542,000 lbs., valued at £51,000; while the exports of the commoner soaps totalled no less than 8,000,000 lbs., valued at over £174,000.
– Is the honorable, member quoting from the Tariff Handbook ?
– No ; I am quoting from official statistics No. 17 of The Trade and Customs and Excise Revenue of the Commonwealth of Australia. In view of these figures, I see no reason for an increase of duty, because, as I have said, animal fats do not now enter so largely into the manufacture of soap.
-Can the honorable senator give the proportion of tallow and vegetable oils used in the manufacture of soap?
– I have it on excellent authority that the bulk of the material now used in the manufacture of soap is vegetable oil, not tallow; but I cannot give the exact proportions.
– That would be for the fancy soaps.
– And for a good deal of the common soap also. While the 1914 Tariff was in operation, local manufacturers exported large quantities of both fancy and ordinary soaps, and therefore there seems to be no reason for the higher duty.
– During the war the Government placed an embargo on the importation of soaps in order to procure glycerine for munitions’, and their action in that respect led to a considerable development in the local soap-manufacturing industry. The business has grown considerably, and it is true that we have some export trade, but there are still many lines of soap which we believe can be manufactured to advantage in Australia. The importations of toilet, fancy, or medicated soap for the year 1913 totalled 1,232,182 lbs., valued at £101,118. The expenditure of this money might well be kept in Australia. The following table shows the weight and value of imports under sub-item a - toilet, fancy, or medicated soap - and sub-item b, which covers the . commoner varieties, from 1913 until 1919-20:-
The enormous increase in the importations of fancy soaps during 1920, as compared with those of the preceding year, suggests that Australian manufacturers are either becoming slacker in the production of such soaps, or that the removal of the embargo has led to an enormous quantity being brought in from America. The Inter-State Commission recommended the duties that we are now proposing, and I do not think it can be said that that was a wildly enthusiastic. .Protectionist body.
– The Inter-State Commission recommended a duty of 8d. per lb., under the general Tariff, on fancy soaps, whereas sub-item a provides for a duty of 9d. per lb.
– At all events, the Inter-State Commission laid down the basis of these duties.
– It would not suit the Minister to quote the recommendations of ;tho Inter-State Commission in nine cases out of ten.
– I have not taken out all the information that has been collected in reference to the various items in the Tariff, and should not like to have to do so. I have something like four portmanteaux full of such details, and I have done my best to put before the Committee all the essential facts, although I do not claim that I am familiar with the details of every item in the Tariff. The Inter-State Commission reported that fancy and toilet soaps were .more or less a luxury, and suggested that a duty of 6d. per lb. under the British preferential Tariff and 8d. per lb. under the general Tariff should be imposed on them, with alternative ad valorem- duties of 30 per cent, and 35 per cent., whichever rate would return the higher duty.
– But the Government have provided for ad valorem duties of 45 per cent, and 35 per cent., so that there again they have not followed the’ recommendations of the Inter-State Commission.
– The production of fancy soaps in Australia has not increased to the extent that the production of the commoner, or household, varieties has done. In 1913 practically only about 10 per cent, of the fancy soaps used in Australia were made here. The industry since then has moved considerably, and I fail to see why we should not be able to compete with the world in the production of fancy soaps.
– “We are doing so.
– Quite so, but the increase in the local manufacture of fancy soaps is not in proportion to the increase in the production of the commoner soaps.
– During what years was the embargo in operation?
– During the years 1917, 1918, and 1919.
– I would invite the honorable senator to note the big drop in the imports of fancy soaps in 1915-16 as compared with the imports during 1912.
– The drop occurred during the most critical stage of the war, when the British Government appealed to us to put on the embargo.
– But, according to the honorable senator’s own statement, the embargo was not imposed until 1917.
– There were several reasons for the falling off. The freight difficulty had something to do with it. As I pointed out last night, during one stage of the war we had vessels that were too slow to be able to venture into the submarine area, carrying wheat to San Francisco, and Great Britain took over the Atlantic trade with steamers that were in many cases faster than the submarines. During a time of shortage of wheat Great Britain obtained supplies from the Argentine, and we delivered wheat, in slow-going vessels, to the Argentine to make good that which Great Britain had practically borrowed from that country. The conditions operating in regard to freights were adverse to Australia. In the middle of our wheat troubles we were unable, for six months, to. charter a vessel. During the whole of that period of six months the only wheat sent out of this country was carried by vessels of the Commonwealth Line. The demand for foodstuffs from countries within a short distance of Great Britain gave those countries a preference over Australia in the matter of freights. In 1918-19 we imported 351,000 lbs. weight of fancy soaps, whereas in 1919- 20 we imported 594,355 lbs. weight.
– That was not a very big jump.
– But there was a considerable increase in the value of fancy soaps imported f rom £52,581 in 1918-19 to £104,241 in the following year.
– In the meantime the value of soaps had increased.
SenatorPratten. - The Minister might also admit that in the same period there was an equivalent quantity of the same quality of soap exported from Australia.
– If we had provided for the whole of our own requirements we would not have had that surplus for export. In any case, there is no reason why we should not be in a position to export.
– For several years ‘ before the war our importations exceeded £1,000,000.
– That is so; in 1913 Australia did not manufacture more than 10 per cent, of the fancy soaps it used, but there is no reason why we should’ not manufacture all the soaps we require.
– We are making good toilet soaps here, but the price charged for them is very high.
– We are making them, but not a sufficient quantity of them. I have the following figures in regard to the average price of fancy soaps imported: -
– Those would be very interesting figures as illustrating the depreciation in the currency.
– The depreciation in the currency is one of our greatest difficulties, more especially in regard to the importation of iron and steel from Belgium.
Senator VARDON (South Australia) [10.181 - I have very reliable information that since the imposition of the latest duty on fancy soaps their manufacture has increased considerably in Australia.
– That is a result which invariably follows the imposition of a high duty.
– It is the object of imposing the duty. Cuticura soap, one of the biggest selling lines of fancy soaps, is now almost wholly manufacturedin Australia. Senator Pratten was wrong in saying that the bulk of the raw material for the manufacture of toilet soaps is derived from the coconut. My information is that coconut oil represents only 15 per cent, as against 85 per cent, of tallow in the manufacture of a cake of toilet soap. In regard to the aspect of lack of competition, seeing that we have twentysix soap-making establishments in New South Wales, seventeen in Victoria, thirteen in Queensland, six in South Australia, three in Western Australia, and one in Tasmania, sixty-six in all, we should have nothing to fear in that direction. There does not appear to be any possibility of anything in the nature of a Combine.
: - Senator Russell is using the report of the Inter-State Commission to justify the imposition of a higher rate of duty than that body recommended. He speaks of toilet soaps as a luxury. The people who send me to this Chamber, and who have .not too much money to spend, need this luxury, and my purpose is to bring it within their reach. The proposal of the Government is to put a duty of 100 per cent, on the article, because I am- sure it does not cost more than 6d. or Od. to manufacture fancy soaps. I would like to go the whole way and wipe out the duty altogether, but I shall vote for Senator Pratten’s proposed reduction. The figures quoted by Senator Russell in reference to the value of soaps show that the cost of the imported article has been greatly increased, which makes one wonder why a higher duty is required, but the peculiar feature about a Protective policy is that the more protection one has, the more one wants.
– Is it not well to develop competition against those imported soaps whose cost has so greatly increased?
– Tes ; but it is impossible to say that there is not a corresponding increase in the cost of producing soap in Australia. Despite the fact that in our Mandated Territories we grow a large proportion of the raw material used in the manufacture of soap; and th at we have the tallow here cheaper than it can be got in any other part of the world; and although the cost of fancy soaps imported from Great Britain, Italy, America, or France is at least 20 per cent, or Z(r per cent, higher than it was in prewar time, our local industry, which we have encouraged and petted till it has grown almost to manhood, asks for more protection. I wonder when it will all end. I wonder when we shall get a set of business men in Australia to put their money into a business without all this protection. Senator Pratten informs us that our local soap manufacturers have been selling their output in the outside market, yet this infant industry - I say “ mf ant “ because in the early days of Protection the only talk was that of protecting infant industries, and the very word Protection itself almost assumes that it is an infant we are dealing with - which we have protected until it is now able to compete in the outside markets expects the people of Australia to pay more for the article it manufactures, although it may get less for it in the markets of the world, where an endeavour is made to sell it. I was surprised to hear the Minister read the figures showing the increased prices- of imported fancy soaps, because they surely show that there is now sufficient protection. When are the increases of duties going to stop?
– We have been losing ground, and I wish to stimulate competition against those prices. _
– We are inducing men to provide sufficient capital to employ a few people, and calling upon the whole of the community to pay higher prices for the commodities they require.
– This is a £100,000 a- year job.
– Is that what we pay for imported soaps?
-We pay more than that. I am referring to fancy soaps only.
– I think the Minister must be quoting the figures for an abnormal period. However, during the war fancy soaps were prevented from coming here at all, from America, at any rate; and I can quite imagine that when the embargo is lifted the American trader will determine not to be caught again by tricky departmental regulations. He will take caro, to have an ample supply on hand for the retailers, .and the increased duties will give him a very handsome profit. Great skill and ingenuity have been devoted to the production of most beautiful soaps, and I only wish these were in common use by the humblest families. But it . appears that common soap is quite good enough for the “ common” people; there is no desire to put extraordinary duties on the soaps which the “common” people use. Fancy soaps, however, are kept for the “fancy” people; they are made too costly for the men and women wage-earners who do the work of the country, and who have to be content with the commonest rubbish.
– I guarantee that there are very few working girls in Australia who use the ordinary soaps for their skin.
– I realize that things have changed somewhat in the last thirty years, and no doubt they will change very much more in the next thirty years ; but why should persons in humble employment not have the best possible soaps at the cheapest possible rates ? The manufacture of some of these highly superior soaps has never been attempted here, and never will be, unless the secret of the process is_ discovered. Soaps of the kind have been on the market for perhaps a century, and no country or firm has even commenced to compete with them.
– Very few countries have the necessary ingredients in such profusion as Australia.
– There is no doubt Australia presents many advantages for the production of soaps; but by means of the Tariff we impose a penalty of 5s. on every person who desires to use £1 worth of British soap. I suppose that is done for the prestige of the dear old flag - for the honour and glory of the Empire! It is remarkable to find that that section of the community which boasts so much of its loyalty- and patriotism is quite content to impose such fines when it comes to a matter of trading with the Old Land. The majority of honorable senators are from the other side of the world, and they have done so well in the pioneering of this country as to attain their present representative position ; .yet they are using their talents against the land which gave them birth ! These gentlemen would be prepared to fight any persons who opposed Great Britain in other directions, but when it comes to trading, which, after all, holds the Empire together, they take quite a different view. It is, indeed, strange that then such men are prepared to treat England as almost a foreign country. Of course, they may say that there is a preference given’ to Great Britain in a lower percentage of duty. What love for the Mother Land ! What magnificent patriotism! What an Empire-binding community does this preference show us to be!
– The honorable senator would make goods free of duty from everywhere.
– I would; but when I find that to be impossible, I take a sensible line, and every request I have submitted ‘has been in the direction of making trade with Great Britain free. I find ,1 cannot even bring that about,, so what would be the use of my tryingto get freedom of trade with other countries? The man who does not realize that Protective Tariffs are really warfare has not realized the position. We are practically declaring trade war against Great Britain, and that in a very narrow, selfish spirit. The present Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) is a native of Great Britain, and the most persistent amongst the honorable senators here in the support of high duties are also from the Old Land. I am pleased to be able to vote with Senator Pratten on this item, and I only wish that he would go the whole way, and propose to strike but all the duties.
– - Long before a Tariff embargo had been placed on the importation of soaps, Australian manufacturers had at:tained prominence. They were not only holding their own in the local market, but were able to compete fearlessly outside, In 1915-16, when, shipping difficulties were not acute, the exports of soap from Aus-, tralia amounted to about 8,400,000 lb, weight. That was under the old Tariff. The value of the product was . in the neighbourhood of £109,000. In 1919-20 - the embargo having been imposed and then lifted again - Australian manufacturers not only maintained their ability to supply Australia’s requirements, but were able again to export about 8,000,000 lb. weight. The value of the exports, however, had very nearly doubled.
– In 1919-20 tallow was selling at the highest prices ever known.
– Quite so, but the point is that, without protection, Australian manufacturers not only held their own at home, but continued to exploit overseas markets. Where is the. need for imposing a duty to assist such an industry? I look upon a Tariff as a form of handicap - one which will aid a young, locally-reared industry against strong foreign competitors. Parliament is the handicapper. It is its duty, in the interests of the public, to insure a close commercial race. The handicappers are not performing their duty if they give such favorable weights to home starters that they can finish ahead of the foreign field, even though they go slow. I do not propose to be accused of unfair handicapping. I shall be no party to the encouragement, within Australia, of go-slow industries, slack and flabby enterprises, for lack of competition. I realize that in any moderate application of Protection I may not be acting in the best interests of the State I represent; but I am swayed by the greater interests of the people of the Commonwealth at large. I do not know what will be the outcome of this Committee’s consideration of the Tariff schedule. A beginning has scarcely been made. Almost all the more important items are ahead. There will be a scattering of the forces which have hitherto grouped themselves in this Chamber. There are some honorable senators who have consistently, blindly, and inexplicably supported the Government, no matter what may have been the interests at stake, nor in what direction the considerations of the Committee may have tended - that is to say, whether towards an increase or a ‘modification, which has hardly happened yet, of rates of duty. I shall support Senator Pratten’s request, and when common soap is under consideration I shall move to revert to the old rate. I say that neither the Tariff Guide nor any responsible authority urges - the necessity of additional protection to the soap industry in this country.
– Whenever Senator Lynch speaks I think of the primary producer, and in discussing this item I recall the splendid encouragement given to primary production by this Protectionist Government in imposing a duty of1s. per cwt. on straw. The primary producers have not a Combine; but the Government have imposed for their benefit a duty of1s. per cwt., which the Committee, in its wisdom, have indorsed. The duty works out at about one-eleventh of 1d. per lb.; but when it is a question of soap, the production of which is controlled by wealthy Combines, the duties are6d., 7d., and 9d. per lb. Perhaps the Minister (‘Senator Russell) will explain the disparity. Are the Government imposing the duty on straw to lead the primary producers to believe that their interests are being safeguarded?
– Honorable senators are entitled to make an allusion to an item that has already been dealt with; but it cannot be discussed in detail.
– I realize that. I have brought the matter forward to give the Minister an opportunity of. explaining why such scant consideration has been given to the primary producers and why such heavy duties are imposed on imported soaps.
– Senator Lynch said that the farmers did not require such protection.
– They are not likely to be fooled. If we are to afford protection it should be on an equitable basis, so that every one in the community shall benefit; but, in my opinion, Protection is so unjust that it does not benefit any one.
Question - That the request (Senator Pratten’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . .5
Question so resolved in the negative.
– As the last was a test division on a reduction of the whole of the duties on soap, and did not particularly refer to the general Tariff, I shall not submit requests in respect of the other two columns of the schedule.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives bo requested to make sub-item (a), British, free.
That is in accordance with a line of policy upon which I have determined in the en- deavour to induce this community to trade with Great Britain without any handicap or interference.
Item agreed to.
Motion (by Senator., Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- Just before the Senate adjourns, and’ to save the time which would be occupied in moving the adjournment to-morrow, I want to ask the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), although the matter may not be connected with his Department, if ‘ he will interfere to secure a fair deal for two badly broken returned soldiers. One of these poor fellows is suffering from a ohest complaint. The Government . Medical Officer of his town and the Repatriation doctor have- certified that he will never befit for employment again. The other is in the Sydney Hospital with his lower limbs paralysed, and he will never work again. The first soldier referred to, who is suffering from tuberculosis, has quite recently had his pension reduced from £2 per fortnight to £1 per fortnight, or 10s. per week. Thishas been done in spite of the fact that the Government Medical Officer in the town in which he lives has certified that he will never work again. The other case is that of a returned soldier who was five months on Gallipoli, and who was an able and capable young man when he went away, and must, for the rest of his life, be a cripple with, his lower limbs paralyzed. I ask the Minister if hewill intervene in the interests of these poor men, whose names I do not desire to make public, and will see that their cases are properly inquired into, and that they receive the consideration which I am sure the people of Australia would demand for them.
– The honorable senator may be aware that the administration of war pensions is under the” Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen). If Senator Gardiner will let me have the names of the returned soldiers to whom he has referred, I will give the promise on behalf of the Minister for Repatriation that their oases will be fully inquired into, and that he will see that justice is done to them.
– I shall give the Minister the names to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 August 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210810_senate_8_96/>.