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 : -
Defence - Report of the Inspector-General of the Australian Military Forces (31st May, 1981).
Defence Act. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1921, Nos. 120, 131, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 143, 144, 145, 146,. 147, and 148.
WarService Homes Act. - Land acquired in New South Wales at- Carlingtord; Cessnock; Waratah (two notifications); Waterloo; Willoughby.
– Towards the end of last year, a Bill was introduced to indemnify the individual members of the various wool and other committees against legal proceedings for action taken by them. When is it proposed to go on with that Bill?
– Certainly not before more progress has been made with the Tariff.
– It has not been dropped?
– If the honorable member will repeat the question to-morrow, I shall then be in a position to speak more definitely on the subject.
– Yesterday, replying to a question that I had asked about public servants’ furlough, the Minister representing the Prime Minister said that the Government were considering the matter. Can the honorable gentleman tell me how long the Government propose to consider it, and when we may expect a definite reply?
– The Government will consider the matter until they arrive at a final judgment. How long that will take I cannot say, but the period may be affected bythe detention of Ministers in this chamber.
– On 28th July, Senator Fairbairn asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs the following questions : -
Iam now able to furnish the honorable senator with the following replies: -
– During my absence last week, the Minister for Defence, in reply to a request, promised to lay certain papers relating to me on the table ofthe Library, and I ask him if hewill have the file completed by adding to itcorrespondence of some months earlier date, the substance of which was an inquiry by the Commandant of the 3rd Military District whether I would be acandidate for theposition of divisional commander, and my reply thereto? It is those letters which, I understand, Senator Duncan wishes to see.
– I saw that the honorable senator had stated in the press that there was such correspondence, and I askedto be supplied with the papers, whereupon a search was made, and I was informed that they are not in existence, and that no such offer was made. I then gave the instruction that a telegram should be sent to Brigadier-General Brand, who was’ Commandant for the district at the time the offer is said to. have been made, and he replied that, neither privately, personally, nor officially had he made to Brigadier-General
Elliott any such offer as has been mentioned. In view of the honorable sen a tor’s further statement to-day, I shall again inquire whether there are such papers in existence, or any record of any such offer as he has spoken of having been made.
– If, on further search, it is found that the Minister has been misled by his officers, will there be any vacancies in the Defence Department!
– If I find that any officer has deliberately misled me in the matter, there will certainly be a vacancy.
– The Minister in charge of the Department concerned being absent from town, he has not been able to approve of the reply -prepared in answer to Senator Pratten’s questions; butI understand that he is coming back to-day, and I hope that before we adjourn I shall be able to give the information asked for.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 10th August, vide page 10867) :
Schedule - division v. - textiles, felts, andfurs, andmanufacturesthereof,and attire.
Item 105 -
Piece goods, viz.:-
(1) Cotton, linen, and other piecegoods n.e.i., oil baize not containing wool, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 15 per cent.
Calico, for bag making, as prescribed by departmental bylaws, free. (aa) Cotton piece goods, knitted, in tubular’ form -
On and after 21st May, 1921 -
For the manufacture of goods other than apparel, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, ad val., British, free; intermediate,5 percent.; general, 15 percent.
Other, ad val., British, 20 per cent, ; intermediate, 30 per cent. ; general,. 35 per cent. .
Cotton and linen piece goods . ad val., British, 6 per cent.; intermediate, 10 per cent.; general, 20 per cent.
Piece goods, n.e.i., … ad val.,
British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 15 per cent.
Silk … ad val., British and in termediate, 15 per cent.;, general, 20 per cent.
Woollen, or containing wool, n.e.i., ad val., British,, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (a) by inserting after the word “ Baize.” the words “ and Leather Cloth.”
In previous Tariffs leather cloths have been admitted free under this particular sub-item.
– Leather cloth is included in another sub-item.
– That is so. It appears in paragraph 3 of. sub-item h of the item now under consideration. This is ‘the first Tariff in which it appears as a separate entry. Leather cloth, as known to the trade, is practically the same as oil baize, and is used by householders for the same purposes. Oil baize, as honorable senators probably know, is oiled muslin, or other fabric, samples of which I have here. Leather cloth is a material of much the same kind, .made in various colours, but for household use is usually i darkbrown or black. I have samples of it here, which honorable senators may .inspect. Leather cloths are used in many ways, and chiefly for upholstering and other manufacturing purposes. They are used very extensively in the upholstering of cheap furniture which is within the reach of the masses of the people. This article does not enter in any way into competition with leather. The person who is in a position to buy a leathercovered suite of furniture will naturally do so] but the ordinary individual whose income is limited may look at a leather suite with admiring glance, and wish that he had sufficient capital to purchase it, but his means prevent him. from doing so. As a result there has been brought into -existence an article called leather cloth, which is used for manufacturing purposes, particularly to meet the needs of the masses of the community. I do not know why there has .been a departure from the practice adopted in previous Tariffs of including leather cloth in subitem a, unless it is contended that it enters into competition with leather. I contend, in the interests of the users of leather cloth, that a duty should not be imposed upon it, because the material is not manufactured in Australia. No industry for its manufacture has been com- - menced nor has there been any suggestion that its manufacture is likely to be started here. A great deal of the leather cloth imported comes from Great Britain, where its manufacture is a very large industry.
– Some comes from America, and is called “ American cloth.”
– Yes, a great deal. The name “American cloth” does not necessarily mean that the material is made in America. It was originally made in America, but British manufacturers established the industry in such a way as to be able to more than compete with the American product, and it is a ,very large industry in Great Britain at the present time. The Americans still continue their industry, and have enlarged it considerably, especially since the advent of motor cars. Leather cloth plays a very important Dart in the upholstering of motor cars. Motor traffic has come to stay in Australia, and I am sure we are all anxious to. see it increased as much as possible, Rapid transit is very important to our business community, and people, of small means engaged in business find it essential to provide themselves with the mo3t rapid means of locomotion..
– Why not deal with leather cloth when we come to the special sub-item which covers it? ‘
– Under sub-item h it is dutiable at 5 per cent., 10 per cent., and 15 per cent. I desire to have that specific line of the Tariff deleted, in order that leather cloth may be included, as it has previously been, amongst cotton, linen, and other piece-goods n.e.i., and oilbaize not containing wool, which are admitted free from Great Britain.
– How much will a duty of 5 per cent, on leather cloth add to the price per yard ?
– I have something which I can quote to give honorable senators an idea of what a duty of 5 per cent, means -
Every 5 per cent, levied by the Customs Tariff becomes, when the article reaches the consumer, 9.9 per cent.
– The honorable senator might say 10 per cent.
– We might say 10 per cent. That calculation is based on the average profit received by distributors. It might be more in some cases, and as the article upon which the figures I quoted are based takes up much less room than leather cloth, it is possible that, in the case of leather cloth, the 5 per cent, would represent 11 or 12 per cent, when the article reached the consumer.
– At what price is leather cloth retailed - ls. or 2s. a yard ?
– At various prices. The ordinary leather-cloth used for household purposes, which could be purchased for ls. 3d. or ls. 6d. per yard in pre-war time’s, is now about 2s; lid. per yard, admitted free of duty.
– The price of this material went up to Ss. per yard during the war.
– I am referring to the ordinary leather cloth used by householders for table coverings, and so on. There would be a proportionate increase in the price of the better qualities.
– The better quality is used for motor cars.
– It is’ used for upholstering motor cars and for motor car covers. Leather cloth is chiefly used for upholstering, and a very considerable proportion of our importations are used in that way. It is essential to the upholstering trade.
– Is this material imported from Great Britain or America ?
– It is imported from both countries. In the general Tariff there is a duty of 15 per cent, on cotton piece goods, and there is no suggestion that it should” he reduced against the American product. Unless good reason is shown why there should be a duty on this article, a mistake was made in another place by inserting it as a new sub-item.
– Can it be made in Australia ?
– Does it come into competition with leather?
– If the honorable member looks upon it from that point of view-
– It is a very important point of view, at . all events.
– It is, from the consumers’ stand-point.
– Leather does npt come into competition with this article.
– I think it does; but I am not prepared to support any proposal to place additional burdens on the bulk of the people unless it can be shown that it is necessary to do- so in order to meet the financial exigencies of the Commonwealth. No suggestion has been made, so far as I am aware, that theproposed duty on leather cloth in paragraph 3 of sub-item h has been imposed to produce revenue; and in view of the fact that we do not manufacture leather cloth in Australia I desire it to be free.
– There is a large trade in light leather material for furnishings,, and I understand that this cheap imitation leather cloth, is, to some extent, injuring its development. I have here samples of both materials, which I shall he glad. if honorable senators will examine. L’ am informed that leather cloth is practically knocking out some branches of tha Australian leather trade, and it has been, deemed advisable to afford it some protection against this poor imitation.
– Then a poor article* is knocking out a good article?
– It is a cheap imitation of certain classes of ‘leather.
– But even in the sub-item h the British duty is only 5 per cent, on leather cloth.”
– It may be inadvisable to prevent the introduction of leather cloth altogether, because it is useful for certain purposes. The Australianleather industry is a very important one, and it should he our purpose to protect it against cheap imitation materials, theintroduction of which might seriously injure one of our basic industries. This material is not accurately described, because it is really enamelled cotton goods. If people buying it knew that they were not purchasing leather, there would hot be the same objection to it.
– The Customs authorities would not allow its introduction if it were improperly described.
– But there is no leather in it, and it should be our desire to protect the Australian leather industry.
– A duty of 5 per cent, will simply increase the price of the cloth without protecting our leather industry.
– The article is an imitation of leather, and is being used as such. We ought to stop this, as far as possible, though I understand we have not the power under the Customs Act to do that. Those who handle the article should not be allowed to deceive the people. I believe that one of our officers discovered the other day that American leather cloth was being supplied instead of the real article, and as there are big possibilities for the Australian leather trade, not only in this country, but overseas, we ought to do all that is possible to protect it. Leather cloth is really enamelled cotton, and its name should be changed. This deception is going on all over the world. A little while ago the Japanese were selling inferior flour as “ Brunston’s flour,” suggesting that it was the output of Brunston’s the well-known Australian millers, and in that way they did some injury to the Australian flour trade. This is happening everywhere, and we should do all we can to stop it in Australia.
– If, as the Minister states, the duty of 5 per cent, is placed upon leather cloth in order to protect the Australian leather industry, it is totally inadequate. I do not look upon leather cloth as a substitute for, although it certainly is an imitation of, leather. In the course of my business I purchase thousands of yards of it under various names. It is used mostly for upholstering purposes, and also largely in connexion with bookbinding.
– And sold as leather binding.-
– Not at all. For book-binding purposes it could not take the place of leather ; it cannot be used, for instance, in the manufacture of accountbooks. If the Government require this duty of 5 per cent, for revenue purposes, I am content to let it pass, since it will not materially affect the price. Leather cloth, however, cannot be described as a substitute for leather. It certainly is an imitation of leather, and serves a very useful purpose in connexion with many manufactures.
.- I am very glad that the Minister (Senator Russell) has not said that the duty of 5 per cent, under the British preferential Tariff has been imposed for purely revenue purposes, since I am satisfied that it has been introduced for a wholly different reason. Leather cloth, as Senator Vardon has said, is used largely in the book-binding industry, and the duty will increase the price of many of the articles used by the masses. It will really mean an increase of 10 per cent, in the price of articles in which a certain ‘proportion of American leather cloth, is used. The average man on wages cannot afford to pay more than £10 for a suite of furniture, and purchasers of suites covered with leather cloth will have, as a result of this duty, to pay £10 10s. instead of £10, as’ hitherto. Why should we penalize such individuals to the extent of 10s.- when there is no good reason for the impost?
– Why should we not convert into leather all the skins andhides that we now export?
– But suites of furniture covered with genuine leather are beyond the reach of the masses. The price of leather in ‘ Australia to-day is probably three times greater than it was a few years ago. We must refrain from doing anything that will increase the cost of living to the poorer sections of the community. I have here a lot of samples of leather cloth, but shall not .attempt to describe the various uses to which the material is put by many manufacturing industries. It is used in connexion with book-binding as well as for upholstering purposes, and surely a suite of furniture covered with leather cloth must be far more economical than is one covered with., ordinary cotton fabric. Leather cloth. has met a need in Australia in connexion with the manufacture of furniture. It is a good-looking, useful substitute for the cotton fabric with which cheap furniture was formerly covered, and it gives four times the wear. No one with any intelligence would mistake a suite so covered for a leather suite.
– I know many cases where people have been so deceived.
– I have not met a man in the furniture trade who has had the audacity to offer as a genuine leathercovered suite a suite covered with leather cloth.
– From my own personal observation, I would say that it is done every day in the week.
– Persons who resort to such misrepresentation should be prosecuted. I have had dealings with furniture establishments in New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania, and have not seen in any one of them a suite covered with leather cloth exposed for sale as a leather-covered suite.
– How is the average person to distinguish between the two? The face is the same.
– There is a very material difference, and the difference in the price is in itself a sufficient guide. No one suggests that a suite covered with genuine leather can be obtained for the price asked for a suite covered with leather cloth.
– Many people think they are getting a genuine leather suite when in reality it is only a suite upholstered with leather cloth that they are buying.
– This material is not described as leather cloth with the object of misleading the public. It was imported long before the leather industry of Australia had become established. I can remember it being sold. here forty years ago. The duty will not protect the leather industry, hut will serve only to increase the cost of articles in ‘ the manufacture of which leather cloth is used; I hope, therefore, that the request will be agreed to.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) f3.39]. - Will the Minister (Senator Russell) be good enough to inform the Committee of the extent to which cotton’ piece goods are manufactured in Australia, and the number of persons employed in the industry? While the request is that, in accordance with what has been the practice for the last eleven years, the sub-item shall be free so far as British imports are concerned, we are asked to agree to an increase of 10 per cent, in the duty on imports from other countries. A duty of 15 per cent, is neither for protection, purposes nor for revenue purposes. If it is for the latter I want to know the justification for it. If it is for the former, I want to know what it will adequately protect. The great bulk of the cotton piece goods used in Australia come from Great Britain, and it is proposed to admit them free from that country, but America and Japan are also sturdy competitors with the Old Country in regard to supplying this household requirement to the vast majority of our. working people. But what reason can be advanced for imposing this duty on goods coming from those countries unless a corresponding gain is to be derived, according to the theory of the Government, by the establishment of a local industry?’ We may be straining this tendency to give a preference to Great Britain to an undue degree. Hitherto in going through this schedule we have been affording preference to the United Kingdom in respect of a lot of products that do not come from that country, but we are now on the threshold of a portion of the Tariff covering items which have been coming to Australia from Great Britain for years past. The British Parliament has not given any. protection to British people who are engaged in the manufacture of cotton piece goods, yet we propose, in effect, to tell the Mother of Parliaments that it does not know its own business in this respect and seek to penalize ourselves by doing something which the Old Country has shown an unwillingness to do. The immediate effect of our action will be to increase the price of cotton- piece goods. I want to know what people are engaged in the manufacture of cotton- piece goods in Australia, how many persons they are employing, and what their output is. I want this information so that I may. understand what I am doing in agreeing to impose a duty of 15 per cent, on a necessity of the people, which .comes to us from countries other than Great Britain.
– The protection suggested is not for the purpose of affording an opportunity for the establishment of the manufacture of cotton piece goods in Australia, but is to give the British manufacturers of cotton piece goods an advantage over the manufacturers of these goods who are established in other countries. In 1918-19 we imported £10,485,200 worth of cotton piece goods from the United Kingdom, as against £5,560,183 worth in the previous year, but the value of our importations of these goods from Japan has increased from £49,508 in 1913 to £1,542,400 in 1918-19. Surely these figures show that Ave ought to afford some advantage to Great Britain in respect of these goods, particularly when we do not manufacture them in Australia. The rates, as proposed in the schedule, will give the United Kingdom a preference of 15 per cent, against the products qf any country to which the intermediate Tariff is npt extended, and 5’ per cent, preference against any country .to which the intermediate Tariff may bc extended. While the value of imports of United . Kingdom . origin advanced by 167 per cent, from 1913 to 1918-19 that pf Japanese cotton piece goods imported into Australia increased by 3,015 per cent, and that of United States of America origin by 755 per cent. The increased value of cottons imported from the United Kingdom does not indicate an increase in the quantity of such goods, as is evident from the fact that the price of American raw cotton, which chiefly controls the price of the cotton piece goods, advanced from 13.31 cents per lb. in July, 1914, to 30 cents per lb. in July, 1919, this being an increase of 135 per cent. The comparatively higher increase in the cost of labour and coal in the United Kingdom added to the higher price of the raw material would certainly show a greater percentage increase than is observable in the value of the imports from that country in 1918-19, as compared with 1913. The advance in the value of imports from the United States of America and Japan- represents, on the other hand, an enormous increase in the actual quantity of the goods supplied.
The competition of these countries, especially of Japan, is assuming a very serious aspect in other countries as well as in Australia; for instance, in India, and, in respect of the United States of America, in European markets. His Majesty’s Commercial Secretary at Yokohama, in a report published in the Board of Trade Journal of the 11th September, 1919, states -
The superior position obtained by Japanese cotton yarn and fabrics on the Chinese market, whence they have driven Indian goods, and their recent rapid advance in India and Australia, has been obtained without doubt by the absence of strict restrictions of working hours and the low. level of wages.
In the same report the hours of labour in textile factories are thus described -
The hours for both day and night work are from 0 to (Jj rest periods being as follows: - Fifteen minutes between 9 and 0.15; thirty minutes from 12 to 12.30, fifteen minutes from 3.15 to 3.30. Day and night shifts are changed once every week or ten days, when twenty-four hours’ complete rest is given:
There is no Saturday afternoon holiday in Japan. ‘ These facts’ show the necessity for extending greater preference to Great Britain than has hitherto been given. I am sure no one in. this Chamber wishes our Australian girls to work in clothing factories under conditions similar to those operating in Japan, and’ I think we are ali ready to extend a preference to Great Britain in this regard, because the working conditions in the Old Country are entirely different from those in the countries with which it has to compete in the manufacture of cotton goods.
.- The remarks of the Minister (Senator Russell) quite justify a preference of 15 per cent, to Great Britain, and I agree Avith every word he has said; but I desire to be consistent. I find that this leather cloth has hitherto been free in the case of Great Britain, with a 15 per cent. Tariff against other countries; but now the preference to Great Britain is being reduced.
– There is still a 10 per cent, preference to Great Britain.
– I submit the request, because I desire to do all I can for those people in Australia who have to use a cheaper material than leather, and who have hitherto been able to obtain it free of duty; and, at the same time, I wish Great Britain to be given some encouragementand help by Australia in building up her industries which were so interfered with by the war.
– Leather cloth is not cheaper for furniture, because it does not stand the strain.
– But people who have not the necessary money cannot buy leather.
Question - That the request (Senator Payne’s) be agreed to - put. TheCommittee divided.
Ayes . . . . 6
Noes . . . . . . 17
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives bo requested to amend sub-item (a), paragraph 2, by leaving out the words “ by departmental bylaws.”
This simply leaves the words “as prescribed.” The words “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws “ occur so frequently in the Tariff that it seems to me necessary for Parliament to retain the power of imposing duties, or, at least, be in a position to know what duties are imposed, removed, or modified. If we leave the words in as they appear, too much power is given to the Customs Department without any supervision from Parliament, which should be the real author of all duties. In the case of the Defence Department regulations are from time to time laid upon the table, and we have an opportunity to approve or disapprove of them; but in the case of the Tariff we are asked to place all the power in the hands of the Comptroller of Customs. The words “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws” occur four or five times on this one page of the Tariff.
– I understand that there are already 14,000 Customs rulings.
– That simply shows the farce - if I may use the word - of Parliament imposing duties, if it is possible to have 14,000 rulings by which those duties may be removed or modified, according to the will of the Customs officials. It may be said that Parliament has not time to attend to such matters, but we are paid to do so, and ought to do our duty.
– When this matter arose earlier in the week I undertook to make inquiries concerning whether it would be advisable or feasible for the Government to accept an amendment of the phrase. Regulations ordinarily laid upon the table of Parliament deal with legislative matters. In the present instance, however, the Minister for Trade and Customs has been given certain powers. To cite an example, calico used for making bags in which to export flour may be imported free. Every care has to be taken, however, to insure that this special permission is not abused. Guarantees are required from millers that the calico which they desire to import free of duty shall be wholly exported as flour bags.
– My requested amendment does not propose to interfere with necessary safeguards taken by the Department. The words, “as prescribed “ are not sought to be deleted. The sole intention is to have the by-laws laid before Parliament in the form of regulations.
– But there are probably thousands of decisions of this character throughout the year. If every by-law had to be laid upon the table of the Legislature in the form of a regulation, the work would be endless. Parliament would be flooded with documents. The Governor-General would never be free from the task of affixing his signature to them. If the words “as prescribed “ remain alone, the effect will probably be to give the Minister much wider powers that those to which he is limited to-day. Every time an individual in the commercial (community sought to evade the Customs laws, to meet which evasion the Department framed a new by-law, there would be required an Order in Executive Council. Altogether, the situation would be chaotic. The same phrase to which some honorable senators are now objecting appears in practically every Tariff in the world ; and, so far as is known, neither abroad nor in Australia have there been complaints on the part of the commercial community.
– There have been very many.
– Then, before speaking further, I should like to hear the honorable senator’s facts.
– The Minister (Senator Russell’ has reminded the Committee of his promise to look into the matter of amending the phrase “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws.” He undertook to announce whether the Government could meet the views of honorable senators in the direction of so amending the phrase as to take out of the hands of the Minister for Customs and his Department, and to place within the control of Parliament, the right of imposing or remitting taxation. No honorable senator will deny that the imposition of taxation is solely the function of Parliament. I desire to state the position as viewed by the commercial community, and also from the stand-point of the law.
– I direct attention to the state of the Committee. There should be a full attendance of honorable senators to participate in this allimportant debate.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap).
T-Order ! There is exactly a quorum present. Will Senator Pratten please proceed?
– The enormous powers of the Minister for Trade and Customs are not generally realized. He lias authority to prohibit the importation of any article. He possesses the power to determine whether an article shall enter free or be dutiable^- at any rate, in very many cases. First, there is the power of prohibition, as provided in section 52 of the Customs Act, which sets forth what are prohibited imports. Then there is power under which goods may be prohibited from importation by proclamation. When the Minister takes upon himself the power of prohibition he entrenches on the rights of Parliament, and assumes the prerogatives of the National Legislature. Any layman, reading the sections of the Customs Act which hear upon the power of prohibition, would come to the conclusion that they must be read in conjunction with certain other sections, and that the goods prohibited by proclamation from importation must- be shown to be goods that might be harmful to” the community. The High Court has recently decided that the Minister for Customs undoubtedly has the powers which he claims under the Customs Act, and that he possesses a discretion, in the exercise of those powers, with respect to almost every commodity that can be imported or exported.
– Surely Parliament never had any such intention as that?
– I agree that it had not.
– If the Minister exercises the power the Court will not consider the class of goods in connexion with which it is exercised.
– Then the honorable senator agrees with my arguments.
– What has this alteration to do with it? “ Senator PRATTEN.- I am coming to the general powers given by Parliament to the Minister for Trade and Customs in connexion with imports and exports, and I desire to make the actual position quite clear. Senator Senior referred to the power of the Minister in determining which articles shall be free and which shall be dutiable, and the additional power, which is very far-reaching, of deciding whether articles placed on the free list by previous Ministers shall be removed to the “dutiable list. Recently there have been a number of cases in which this power, which Senator Senior desires to restrict, has been exercised. A previous debate showed what : occurred in connexion with certain brands of infants’ and invalids’ foods. Shovels were formerly free of duty if imported from the United Kingdom, and liable to a duty of 10 per cent, if imported from other countries.
– -Shovels were not free of duty.
– I can prove that what I am saying is correct.
– Shovels imported from the United Kingdom were not free of duty.
– The honorable senator must necessarily be restricted in his allusion to shovels on this item. Whilst I desire to give honorable senators every latitude I possibly can under our Standing Orders, I do not see how shovels can he extensively referred to in discussing an item relating to calico.
– Surely I am in order in referring to items under which the power which, we desire to restrict is exorcised*
– The honorable senator will be quite in order in briefly referring to such items by way of illustration, but he must. not do so extensively. The discussion of the schedule in such a manner would lead to great confusion.
– Formerly shovels were imported from the United Kingdom free of duty, and were liable to a duty of 10 per cent, if imported from foreign .countries. They are now declared to be subject to a duty of 30 per cent. when imported from the United Kingdom and 35 per cent, when from foreign countries. Plough and teamsters’ .chains were once admitted free or dutiable at 5 per cent., according to the country of origin, but since the 1st December last they are dutiable at 30 per cent, and 35 per cent., according to the country of manufacture. Those are two specific instances where the Tariff has been amended and duties imposed under departmental by-laws.
– The honorable senator does not suggest that those duties were unauthorized by this Tariff schedule.
– Let us consider how item 219 has been dealt with.
– The Tariff is specifically divided into items, and I cannot allow the honorable senator to pass numerous pages of the schedule and proceed to discuss, item 219.
– If you will permit me, Mr. Chairman, I shall, merely refer to this item in support of the request moved by Senator Senior. Item 219 reads -
Tools of trade, for the use of artisans and mechanics, and tools in general use, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, ad val., free, 5 per cent., and 10 per cent.
– That gives a wide discretion to the Department.
– Shovels were classified as tools of trade and were largely imported, free of duty, from the United Kingdom until, owing to the exigencies of war, supplies were received from the United States. Since the Tariff has been in operation that classification has been altered, and these particular articles have been brought under the item, “manufactures of metals n.e.i.,” and are now held liable to a duty of 30 per cent, when imported from the United Kingdom, and 35 per cent, when from foreign countries. Needless to say, very strong protests were made .to the Minister, but without effect. Here we have a specific case where tools of trade - and. surely to Heaven, ,a shovel is a tool of trade! - came in free until the classification was altered and the duties ‘I have mentioned were imposed. If the request is adopted it. will be necessary for such alterations in duties to be embodied in a regulation which would have to be laid on the table of the House and accepted or rejected. I do not think a regulation imposing such duties would be accepted by this Parliament.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I am intervening at this juncture because the question under consideration is not really a Tariff matter,, but one which concerns the machinery of our administration, and in the hope that honorable senators will not adopt the suggestion put forward by Senator Senior and supported by Senator Pratten. Senator Pratten has made certain statements with which we Gan all agree, particularly concerning the imposition of taxation being a function of Parliament. Of course it is. These words in the Tariff do not in any way interfere with that function; it is Parliament’s way of expressing its authority. The reference of the honorable senator to the powers given to the Minister under the Customs Act have no bearing on this question. Senator Pratten complains that the Minister for Trade and Customs has taken on himself certain powers, but that is not so. The honorable senator’s reference to the Customs Act shows that these powers have been conferred on the Minister for Trade and Customs by Parliament to facilitate the administration of the Tariff and to protect^ the interests of the Commonwealth. Parliament would not have given these powers to the Minister for Trade and Customs had it not been convinced that they were needed. The honorable senator says, further, that the power of the Minister to determine what goods shall be admitted free, and what shall .be subject to duty, is affected by the point raised by Senator Senior; but that is not so. Section 2 of sub-item a says that calico for bag making, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, shall be admitted free; that is, that whereas calico imported for anything .but bag making may be dutiable, that material, when imported for bag making under conditions which the Minister for Trade and Customs shall prescribe, will be admitted free. The Minister for Trade and Customs must be satisfied that the calico is imported for bag making. Members of Parliament cannot wish to be bothered with all the details of importation, and the safeguards necessary to protect the revenue by preventing importers from improperly taking advantage of this provision. It is not necessary that the conditions of importation shall be set out in Executive minutes to become regulations to b’e laid before Parliament. Members complain already that they have, too many regulations to read. The Minister for Trade and Customs has his directions from Parliament. He is told that calico imported for bag making must be admitted free, and it is for him to prescribe the conditions with which the importations must comply. If a Minister for Trade and Customs dishonestly, corruptly, or wrongly uses the power given to him, some person interested in the importation of calico will soon make known the facts, and answer must then be made to Parliament. Senator Pratten, in trying to make his point, cited an item which he said enabled the Minister for Trade and Customs to use his power to do some thing contrary to the will of Parliament; but he could not have made a more unfortunate citation. The implement to which he referred is a tool of trade which Parliament has declared shall be dutiable. But Parliament also says that if the Minister is satisfied that this tool ‘of trade is not made commercially in Australia, he may put it on the free list. When the Minister found that these particular tools of trade were being made in Australia, he exercised the power which Parliament had given him to levy a duty on them.
– Under the Tariff, tools of trade are free.
– “As prescribed by departmental by-laws.” There are fifty-four items in the Tariff which may be affected by departmental by-laws, and if the Committee were to adopt the proposal which has been put forward, it would be taking a course which has not been taken in connexion with any other Tariff in the world, and has never been followed in Australia, either since or before Federation. If we took from the Minister for Trade and Customs the power of making departmental by-laws governing the importation of certain articles, we should hold up business, and subject this community to the ridicule of the world. I ask honorable senators to think of the expenditure of public money on clerical labour and printing which would be uselessly’ incurred if the proposal were adopted. By-laws have, frequently to be altered. You cannot make a set of them, and say that you have finally dealt with the subject. Every manufacturer may wan,t some variation of a by-law, because variation is required by all manner of conditions. . I am assured by the Customs officials that in regard to nearly every application some variation i3 required to meet the convenience of a manufacturer, whilst at the same time giving effect to the will of Parliament. To deal with these matters by regulation, with all the routine that that would involve, would be very clumsy in comparison with the method now followed.
– What has this to do with the question of duty in the case before the Committee?
– It has this to do with it, that if the calico is not imported in accordance with the departmental bylaws it will be dutiable.
– Does the importer know the by-laws? Has he an opportunity to see them?
– “When he makes his application, he is informed of the conditions applying to the importation. I ask Senator Senior not to press the request.
– The astonishing reference of the Minister for Defence to the way in which the powers given to the Minister for Trade and Customs are used confirms my determination to pursue this matter further. In regard to shovels, the Minister told us that if ,the Minister for Customs” is satisfied that they are being manufactured in the country, he may impose a duty on them. That is the sort of thing to which I object. ‘ Recently, in the course of conversation, the manager of our State Brickworks told me that the cost of shovels was now 14s., whereas before the war it was 4s., and he asserted that there was a heavy duty on shovels, which, at first, I was inclined to deny.
– The Tariff imposes a duty on shovels.
– The Tariff makes tools of trade free; but, when the Department discovered that on being satisfied that shovels were made here they could impose a duty on them, shovels were made dutiable.
– No. Shovels were already dutiable.
– The question is: Shall the Minister or shall Parliament determine whether a duty shall be levied on any article? As Senator Senior has pointed out, there are, on the page of the Tariff with which we are now dealing, no fewer than five kinds of imports in regard to which the Department may pass by-laws affecting the duties. The Minister might allow calico to be imported free for the making of bags to contain flour, and might make it dutiable if imported to make bags for other purposes; or he might allow calico to be imported free for the use of one person; and not for the use of another. I would remind Senator Pearce that there is as much cost in preparing and publishing a departmental by-law as in preparing and publishing a regulation; but the regulation has to be laid before Parliament, and may be objected to. I do not read all the regulations put before Parliament; but I know that if a commercial man finds that a charge is made on him to-day which he was not asked to pay yesterday, and that this is in consequence of the passing of some regulation, he soon complains to a member of Parliament, and the regulation .can then be called in question. I realize that it makes it easy for the Department to have the power to prescribe conditions by by-laws. This arrangement takes power from Parliament, which is constituted of the representatives of the people, and gives it to those entrenched in the Public Service who, though responsible to the Minister, as he is to Parliament, are so far removed from popular control that inconveniences are constantly being heaped oh the commercial world. These are not suffered in silence. One has only to move among those who have business with the Customs Department to hear complaints, whisperings, and suspicion. Dissatisfaction and discontent are rampant in the commercial world of Australia, and one of the chief causes of this state of things is this power to make departmental bylaws. Just as the Minister for Trade and Customs can benefit one set of candlemakers to the injury of another, so he can act unfairly towards some manufacturers and importers, and help others.
– It is Parliament that gives this power.
– It is the Minister for Trade and Customs himself who proposes that it shall be given, and the servile following of the Government that agrees to his proposal. If the Minister for Trade and Customs is given this power, why should he not be allowed to prescribe exactly what duties shall be imposed, and what exemptions shall be made? When the Department discovers that things are not being used for the purposes for which they were admitted ‘ duty free, it makes them dutiable; but I ask why cannot that be provided for specifically in the Tariff?
– The Minister is only empowered to prescribe the conditions under which importations shall take place.
– The Minister means the Department. It is suggested, probably by an interested party, that unfair competition is taking place because of the free importation of certain articles, and the Minister gets it into his mind that he can level up things to suit his informant. He finds that under the power to make by-laws he can tax the article that has been coming in free.
– In this case, calico imported for the making of bags can be taxed only if it is not being used for that purpose.
– That is the wish of Parliament.
– The importation may be for a purpose so closely related to bag-making that Parliament would desire the free admission of the calico. When the Minister should intervene, how, and on whose initiative, are all matters which I claim should be left to Parliament. If we want proof that in the opinion of the community these matters should be left to Parliament, all we have to do is to go amongst the people who suffer from departmental by-laws. They find their business interfered with, their trade interrupted, and no consideration given to them in respect of expenditure they have been called upon to make.
– They would smilingly accept all .the regulations, I suppose, if the new procedure proposed were adopted ?
– If - these matters were dealt with by regulation those affected by them could make their appeal to responsible members of this Parliament.
– There would be finality also.
– That is so. A business man in Sydney, believing that a gross injustice was inflicted upon him by a regulation of the Trade and Customs Department, would need only to write a letter to a newspaper to call public attention at once to his grievance, and in this Parliament we have a public institution in which the matter could be threshed out.
– Can he not do the same in respect of a departmental by-law?
– Yes, but he has no remedy. Who is to take a hand to help him? If these matters were dealt with by regulation the regulations would have to run the gauntlet of public discussion. At the present time they are dealt with by the Minister in his Department, where everything is smothered up, which is itself an encouragement to injustice. I brought this matter up myself only the other day, but I am afraid that there is very little hope that we shall be able to secure any improvement in the practice adopted in view of the majority behind the Government, the members of which, by the way, are outside while matters are being discussed, and enter the’ chamber only when they are being decided.
– I would be prepared to take a vote of those who are present now.
– Very well, I shall sit down if the honorable senator will do so.
– If I thought that the words objected to authorized the Minister for Trade and Customs to impose a duty or to remove a duty, without the authority of Parliament, I should support Senator Senior’s request. If, again, I mistrusted the Minister as generally as Senator Gardiner appears to . do, I should support . it. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has very properly pointed out that these words appear in all the Tariffs “of the Commonwealth since its inception. A practice has grown up under them. I do not suppose that any individual members of this Parliament, unless they may happen to have held office as Ministers for Trade and Customs, know very much of the practice. There has been established, during the last eighteen or twenty years, a practice in connexion with the prescription of departmental bylaws which I personally do not consider altogether satisfactory. Parliament is not given the same opportunity of reviewing departmental by-laws that it has of reviewing regulations under ordinary Statutes. I think there is not one of us who does not realize that already there are being issued far too many regulations under different Statutes for any one to properly read, much less understand. If that volume of ordinary regulations is to be swollen by Customs regulations similarly framed, I do not know that we shall be very much better off as a Parliament or as individual members so far as exercising a check on what is done is concerned. I believe* that the departmental by-laws that have been made in the past have been very numerous. They have been varied from time to time, on occasions, very suddenly, and in many intances, without any (notice whatever to those affected by them. I do not know whether there is any publication in the nature of a compilation of by-laws of the Trade and Customs Department, or whether they could be published in a single volume or in volumes as large as those which now contain the regulations under ordinary Statutes. I have heard complaints in the past, though not, so many recently, that some business people arc absolutely unacquainted with and uninformed as to departmental by-laws which affect them in their relations with the Trade and Customs Department. They have sometimes found that these by-laws have been framed almost on the very eve of their approaching the Department m connexion with certain business, and apparently in view of that particular business. Again, I have heard it complained that a departmental decision may be one thing this morning and another this afternoon; one thing to-day, and another tomorrow. Individuals throughout the Commonwealth have been subjected to very unfair competition as a result of these sudden changes of front on the part of the Trade and Customs Department. I do ‘not know that we should gain much by multiplying the regulations circulated amongst us, but I do think that the practice of prescription by departmental bylaws needs something in the nature of a general review and the adoption of some procedure under which these by-laws may be given more publicity, ‘ be made more readily accessible to the public than they have been in the past, and also be given a greater degree of permanence than has characterized them in our past experience. For the present I cannot see my way to support Senator Senior’s request. The same point was raised on an earlier item, and I then understood the Minister in charge of the Bill to indicate that it wa3 his intention, if the objection to the USE of those words was lot pressed at that time, to give consideration to the whole position. I was under the impression that before the Customs Tariff Bill finally leaves the Senate it would be settled one way or another, whether the past and present practice of carrying on the administration of the Department under the system indicated in the use of these words in the Tariff should be continued or some other method adopted. If the Minister is still of that mind that is one more reason to justify my refusal to support the request. I should like the Minister to say whether I have correctly indicated the position he takes up, and whether a*n opportunity will be afforded us to deal with the question generally. I understood from the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), that, there are fifty-four items yet to be considered in the words to which Senator Senior takes exception appear. If we could get some assurance from Senator Russell that the procedure in connexion with these matters will be open to discussion at a later stage of the Bill Senator Senior might be willing to withdraw his request.
– As soon as the consideration of the Tariff is completed it is intended to consolidate the departmental by-laws covering the whole of the Tariff, and to issue them as one volume.
– I am afraid that that does not touch the point at issue. The real question is how the volume will be added to afterwards.
– That raises a question too big for an answer now.
– We ‘ are dealing with a practice that has existed since the establishment of the Trade and Customs Department of the Commonwealth, and, as Senator Pearce says, a similar practice was followed in the different States before Federation, and is adopted in other countries of the world in which Tariffs are imposed. If Senator Senior’s request were agreed to and accepted by another place, it would involve a very radical departure from all past practice and experience, and I hardly think we would be justified in deciding to adopt such a course in connexion with the discussion of a single item of the Tariff. I should like to have some assurance from the Minister in charge of the Bill that the whole practice of the Trade and Customs Department with regard to these matters will be considered before the Bill leaves the Senate. If an opportunity is afforded to discuss the matter thoroughly, the Minister can put the whole case for the Department, and those. who desire to submit an alternative procedure will be in a position to do so. If an assurance that we shall have an opportunity to discuss so important a matter in all its bearings is given definitely now, it will facilitate the passage of the remaining items of the Tariff in which the words under consideration occur. If it is not given, we may have a repetition of the present discussion on every item in . which the words occur.
– I have only a word or two to add to what I have already said on this subject. I have expressed the view that it is utterly impossible for this Parliament to discuss the many decisions and departmental by-laws which may be promulgated from time to time by the Trade and Customs Department. We have been told that there have been some 14,000 different decisions given in connexion with a Tariff consisting of 450 items. If this Parliament insisted upon its right to separately discuss all these decisions, we should hardly have time to do anything else. The rest of the public business of the country would be sacrificed to the discussion of the details of the administration of a Department in charge of a responsible Minister. I do not think that Parliament should take upon itself such a grotesquely impossible task. With regard to Senator Pratten’s allegation that good citizens _ are called upon suddenly to pay an increased duty on their importations, it is hard that they should be so called upon at any time, whether suddenly or after notice. But it may be equally hard for other persons if the course objected to were not adopted. Senator Pratten’s shield, like every other, has two sides. People who manufacture shovels in this country under the wages and conditions attaching to their manufacture here may not unreasonably feel aggrieved if they find that they are called upon to compete with shovels more cheaply manufactured in Great Britain and admitted to the Commonwealth free of duty. There are two sides to this question. The manufacturer was suddenly given a measure of protection, but, I believe, the general policy of other manufacturers is to get protection by means of this Tariff, and, therefore, the manufacturer of shovels, if his operations warranted the imposition of the duty, was entitled to consideration. I am sure Senator Pratten would not deny the manufacturer this privilege. But I do not like the very liberal use that has been made of this power. It is introduced three times in one item. It did not appear in the former Tariffs, the duty then being directly prescribed in the schedule. Wow we nave three special provisos that goods as prescribed by departmental by-laws may be admitted according to the exercise of the discretionary power of the Minister for Trade and Customs for the time being. But the principle is working somewhat in my favour, for the reason that I regard this Tariff as a monstrosity, and the power vested in the Minister under these headings may be exercised to give relief to an already overburdened community. I am delighted to think that by the exercise of this majestic power the Minister may admit an article free or at a lower duty than is fixed in this schedule.
– I do not want to prolong the debate, but I should like to have some definite assurance from the Minister concerning this particular provision, which occurs so frequently in the schedule.
– It appears fiftyfour times.
– Then, in respect of fifty-four items, the Minister of Customs will have authority to judge at what psychological moment the Tariff may.be varied. If the Minister (Senator Russell) will give honorable senators an assurance that before the schedule leaves this Chamber he will make some definite statement, I shall not delay the Committee. I seized this opportunity because it was the first that presented itself of’ getting a definite pronouncement on the subject. I am not concerned so much about calico used for certain purposes being in the free list as about the authority to determine important issues of this nature by departmental bylaws. Lower down in the item there appears provision, by virtue of departmental by-laws, to reduce the duty on certain articles.
– If they comply with the conditions laid down.
– But there is the danger that a by-law may operate in the other direction, and that duties which Parliament thought were fixed in the schedule may be raised. Parliament should not shed its responsibility in this way upon the shoulders of the Minister for Trade and Customs,” who again may place it upon the shoulders of departmental officials.
– Do you say that Parliament should determine these questions when they arise?
– Parliament should exercise the same control over these bylaws as over other measures. For instance, no one questions, or would attempt to interfere with, the power of Parliament to levy taxation; but by means of departmental by-laws in this schedule Ave are practically departing from that principle. I should like some assurance from the Minister that he will make a definite statement before the Tariff leaves this Chamber.
– We have had an hour’s discussion on it. Why not decide the question on this vote?
– Does Senator Earle think that honorable senators can place their responsibility upon the. Minister for Trade and Customs and his officials by giving them power to make regulations which may differ materially as between Hobart, Sydney, or Melbourne and Adelaide?
– It may be very necessary.
– How can it be necessary? Moreover, it is contrary to constitutional law, contrary to common justice, and contrary to, the best interests - of the Commonwealth. It will result in friction with the commercial community, and expose Parliament to ridicule for having evaded its responsibilities.
– Ridiculed by importers who cannot get their own way, perhaps. »
– The importer has a perfect right to say that if he imported goods on the basis of this schedule it should not be varied against him. If by means of departmental by-laws there was some variation in the duty on sugar operating against Queensland, I. think Senator Crawford would be the first to raise his voice against it.
– What about the question of shovels?
– All along, shovels have been interpreted by the Customs authorities as tools of trade, but departmental by-laws changed that. There was the same trouble over infants’ and invalids’ foods, which hitherto had been admitted free; but by virtue of departmental by-laws the Tariff was varied and certain lines were made dutiable. For these reasons, I think it is very desirable that the Minister should make a statement to the Committee.
– Earlier in the debate, I realized that this was a vexed question, and I promised to bring it under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr.’ Greene), but, unfortunately, the Minister is away, and I have been unable to get in touch with him. I cannot undertake to hold up this schedule until he has been able to give the matter some consideration.
– No one asks the Minister to do that.
– I was asked to hold up the Bill until I could make a statement with regard to thi3 matter, but I am not prepared to do that. I have some suggestions to make to the Minister. These I will submit to him, and, if necessary, confer with other members of the Cabinet to see what can be done to meet the wishes of honorable senators, and in order to reach finality. I shall endeavour to make a statement before the schedule is finalized; but I cannot undertake to submit a definite proposal, because that is the province of the Minister for Trade and Customs, and he will probably want to look into the matter very carefully.
– The Minister, I think, has made a very fair statement. I am glad this matter has been raised, because the commercial community is in a difficulty with regard to the operation of departmental by-laws, under which dutiable articles may be transferred from one part of the schedule to another, or duties imposed or reduced. I am sure the Minister will realize that the commercial community desire uniformity of administration. Take the case of shovels, which have been mentioned. Clearly, they are tools of trade; but when a manufacturer of shovels established himself in Australia, shovels were removed from the free list to n.e.i., and chargeable 35 per cent, and 40 per cent, respectively as manufactures of metals, though shovels contain wood. An importer of shovels, expecting them to come in duty free, would thus be unexpectedly met with a duty. I am not quarrelling with the policy of giving every encouragement to infant industries, but as the matter has been raised I think some means could be devised by which the business- community could get uniformity in regard to Customs duties.
– So far as the element of suddenness is concerned, the position would be the same if the matter were decided in every case by the Parliament itself.
– Th,at is so; but the publicity that would be given to a proposal to vary a Tariff item if i.t came ^ before Parliament would prove a solution of the problem. At present honorable senators are unable to follow Tariff alterations made under departmental bylaws, and often their first information of such changes is received from importers who, because of them, have been called upon to pay additional duties. If some means could be devised whereby the Parliament would be apprised of what is going on in regard to Tariff alterations under departmental by-laws, and could disagree to anything that it considered objectionable, that, I think, would meet the requirements.
– In view of what the Minister (Senator Russell) has said, I propose, with the consent of the Committee, to withdraw my request. If similar cases crop up later on the Minister will have had an opportunity to confer with the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr.
Greene) in regard to the matter, and I shall then be able to renew my request.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
. - Under section 2 of sub-item a calico for bag making, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, is free, although it has hitherto been dutiable under the general Tariff. This means that the flour-millers and the exporters of meat, oatmeal, and other commodities will be able to obtain, duty free, the material necessary for their cotton bags and wrappers. Why should we differentiate between such firms as Robert Harper and Company and the men engaged in filling these calico bags in their factories, who have to pay duty on the dungarees used in the manufacture of their working clothes ?
– Dungaree from the United Kingdom is free.
– I am aware of that; but there is a duty of 15 per cent, under the general Tariff, and most of this material comes from the United States of America. I am speaking, not only for the men engaged in putting flour into calico bags - not only for the miner and the ‘men in. our forests - but also for the “ poor denizens of Toorak,” who go out shooting in. their overalls. This is clearly an attempt to tax what is a very common article of wearing apparel so far as the vast majority of our working men are concerned. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives he requested .to insert in sub-item (a) the following new paragraph: -
Dungaree, for making into garments, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, British, free; intermediate, free; general, free.
– Dungaree from the United Kingdom is free, and large quantities of that material are imported from Great Britain. By making dungaree free under the general Tariff we should open the door to large imports from Japan and other countries where the labour conditions are not as good as those prevailing in Australia. I read to-day what I believe to be a true description of the industrial conditions of the cotton workers in Japan, and I am sure we do not want to come into line with them here.
– Let us have the figures as to imports from Japan.
– Dungaree is brought in from Japan, but I am assured by the Customs officials that we also import it from the United Kingdom. Is it the desire of the Committee that Great Britain shall not be given a preference in respect of imports of this material? There are other countries which are able to produce more cheaply than we can do, not because their workmen are smarter or their workmanship better, but because their people live on less than we are prepared to do.
– We are somewhat in the dark in dealing with this request, since we have not had put before us Customs statistics showing the countries from which our imports of dungaree chiefly come. I am convinced, however, that dungaree is largely manufactured in Manchester, the seat of the cotton industry in the British Empire, and that we obtain considerable supplies from that source. Although we are anxious to have the most amicable relations with the United States of America, we cannot lose sight of the fact that that country has imposed a duty of 100 per cent, on Australian wool. That being so, why should we allow their cotton piece goods to come in free? If we allow dungaree from the Old Country to come in free, I think we shall find that mo3t of our imports of that material will come from there. I feel sure that the workers and the Toorak sportsmen, to whom Senator Lynch has referred, will not be heavily penalized by the passing of the sub-item as it stands.
– Even if Senator Lynch’s request were carried, I am afraid it would be very difficult for the Department to determine what is and what is not dungaree. I know of quite a number of cotton piece goods which are used practically for the same purposes as is dungaree. Cotton khaki i3 used to a very great extent in Queensland in ihe manufacture of working garments, and quite a number of varieties, of cotton piece goods coming from India are used for the same purpose. I should think that hundreds of thousands of yards of cotton khaki are imported every year into the Common wealth. I see .no more reason for admitting dungaree from all countries duty free than there is for admitting free of duty cotton goods of a similar character that can be put to the same uses. It is probable that more cotton goods are produced in India, than anywhere else in the world, and some are of a very high quality.
– As Senator Fairbairn has pointed out, we ought not to import material from America free of duty so long as that country prohibits the importation of our wool. I object to cotton piece goods coming into Australia from America for the purpose of. making dungarees and competing with our low-grade crossbred wools, which can be manufactured into even better dungarees than can be made from American cotton goods. I understand that we get a lot of our dungaree material from Manchester, and I object to allowing American and Japanese material to come in free of duty when we can supply a- suitable wool for the purpose at 3d. per lb.
– It is very interesting to note that Senator Russell and Senator Guthrie are quite ready to give no protection to the Dear Old Land when material is required for making bags for Harper’s starch or Brunton’s flour, but they are prepared to do so when it is a question of providing clothing for the man who puts the produce in those bags. They’ will not permit the Japanese to send us the material required for the manufacture of that clothing unless they pay a duty of 15 per cent, upon it.
– We do not want our people to be clothed in such rubbish. We want them to be clothed in wool.
– Then why permit our starch and flour to be clothed in rubbish from America or Japan? But I would like honorable senators to be consistent. Their desire is not to protect the working man from an inferior article, but to make him pay all the time.
– One way of providing him with cheap flour is to supply the miller with cheap bags.
– Who are responsible for the American prohibition ob our wool? When that country wanted our wOol we would not sell it to them.
– That is not the reason for the prohibition. America got supplies of wool to make khaki during the war.
– That is not so.
– I know of one lot of 480,000 bales invoiced to America. That country has prohibited our wool because it wants to protect its own breeders of sheep.
– The impetus given to the protection of American wool was the fact that when America required our wool it could not get any from us.
– That is not so.
– I have already quoted our Statistician’s figures in regard to the quantity of wool exported to America during certain years of the war. We entered into an agreement to sell all our wool to Great Britain, and for two years America did not get the supplies it required.
– Honorable senators must not discuss wool or what was done in the case of America, because such a matter has no application to the question before the Chair.
– I hope that you, sir, will be entirely fair. The attitude of America towards our wool has been urged as a reason for not permitting the importation of dungaree material from that country. When I made a re;ference to that subject my statement was contradicted and said to be not true, but immediately I commenced to prove my assertion I found myself ruled out of order. You, sir, seem to think that no one is out of order but myself.
– I did not say that the honorable senator was out of order. I simply said that any prolonged discussion of Australia’s treatment of America in connexion with wool had no relation to the question before the Chair.
– I wish to correct an impression my previous remarks seemed to have made on Senator Keating. He says that I seemed to treat the Minister with suspicion. As a matter of fact, the Minister in charge of this Bill (Senator Russell) has no connexion with the Customs Department, which is controlled by another Minister, and as I know nothing to the detriment of that Minister in connexion with his administration I could not treat him with suspicion. I was referring to a system which is apt to create suspicion; I had not the slightest intention of saying anything personal in respect to the Minister for Trade and Customs, or any one in his Department. My argument was that any alteration which might bestow an ‘advantage on some firms and place others at a disadvantage would be apt to create sus»picton. When I have suspicion against any Minister I’ will’ say so in straightforward language. ‘In regard to -these particular duties, I am pleased that what I have been struggling for all through in the discussion of this schedule is conferred, namely, a real preference to Great Britain, in respect to goods which that country can produce. But, as it is the working man who will be called upon to pay for the cotton piece goods imported, I see no reason why we should not allow these goods to come in free from America. I am not particularly keen about Japan having the trade in these goods, but I venture to say that both Japan and America will need to turn out a better article than the manufacturers of Great Britain can supply to us before Australians will prefer to buy them.
– Those countries may be able to produce a cheaper article.
– If the article is cheaper it will be betters An article to be really cheap must prove that, although the actual price i3 smaller, it will give equal service to that rendered by an article on which the price is higher.
.- 1 am sorry that I cannot support Senator Lynch’s proposal. I do not think that he has quite grasped the position. He is anxious to provide that certain material used by a large number of working men shall bo admitted free from any country; but it is already provided in the schedule that this material shall -be admitted free -if it is of British manufacture, and as far back as I can remember dungarees have been manufactured in Great Britain. I admit that other materials which may be used for the same purpose are imported in very large quantities from America, and even from Japan, but they are not dungarees, and I doubt whether the dungaree material manufactured in America is of better value than that turned out by the British manufacturer. We must do all we can to assist and encourage the industries of the Motherland to recover their former position, and we can do this by giving Great Britain a certain amount of preference, particularly in respect to that article known to the trade as dungaree, of which England can supply us with quite as valuable an article as that produced in America. Senator Crawford has mentioned that there are many other cotton substitutes for dungarees. We are not manufacturing anything in Australia that can be used as a substitute for this material. It is made of a strong class of cotton, and thus has a strength not possessed by similar material.
– We could manufacture such material from Lincoln wool.
– I hope that the time will come when we shall manufacture everything we require in Australia, but for the present we ought to be satisfied with the fact that dungaree material is to be admitted free from Great Britain, while it will pay 5 per cent, duty under the intermediate Tariff and 15 per cent. under the general. I am sure Senator Lynch is as anxious as I am to help in the restoration of the manufactures of Great Britain. It is not a reasonable suggestion that we should put America and Japan on the same plane as the Mother Country in respect to goods which can be supplied to us by British manufacturers of a quality equal to the money we are prepared to pay for them.
– I promised to give what figures I had in regard to the importations. Dungaree is not kept separate so far as these figures are concerned, but is included with denims, moleskins, and corduroys. It appears that the importations from the United Kingdom represent £25,985; India, £128; Belgium, £171; Italy, £82 ; Japan, £862 ; and the United States of America, £19,803. As to the whole of the cotton piece-goods, the im portations are, from the United Kingdom, £10,485,200; Japan, £1,542,400; and America, £1,216,360.
– How much of the dungaree comes from the United Kingdom?
– About one-half.
Question - That the request (Senator
Lynch’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives he requested to make the duties, sub-item (a), paragraph 2, ad val., intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 15 per cent.
In order to preserve symmetry, as far as that is possible - though it is, perhaps, expecting too much of this thing known as a Tariff schedule, framed on scientific lines according to all the rules of Euclid and mathematics, but with the rules of economy ignored - there should be no distinction made between the man who wears dungarees and Robert Harper & Co. and other flour exporter’s who use calico for encasing their wares.
– While I am sympathetic with the request, so far as Great Britain is concerned, we have to remember that Englanddoes not supply anything like the requirements of calico for Australia. We have, therefore, to be very careful what we do in this regard. The Senate would not, I think, deliberately place a duty of 15 per cent. on the calico which is so essential in this country, and which we do not produce ourselves. I have known cases in which a commodity wrapped in tissue paper could be bought for less than the same commodity wrapped in a calico bag, owing to the cost of calico during the war time. That was so in the flour trade, at any rate, and possibly other trades were similarly situated. Consumers of flour in the East demand their flour in small bags; and if the request be agreed to it will mean a heavy impost on those who have to use calico bags in their export trade. The flour industry is one that we desire to build up, because the more flour that is sold to the East, the better it is for the wheat-growers and the millers. In order to keep the fruit export trade going, an opportunity was offered for importing sugar practically free of duty; so, in the present case, it is desired to enable the millers to supply as much flour as possible to consumers in the East. “
– Is this calico used for meat wrappers?
– No; meat wrappers are free when used for meat purposes.
.- I should like to know from which country the calico is imported that is used in the manufacture of flour bags. I have always been under the impression that no part of the world can give better value in ordinary plain manchester goods than England. My experience in trade was that I could always rely on bedrock values in these plain goods from the Old Country. If England can supply our requirements, why should we not give her a preference?
– Unfortunately, I am not able to supply Senator Payne with figures; but I have information here to the effect that in sub-item a, paragraph 2, provision is made for the free admission of calico for bag making in the interests of the flour export trade, and that, as it is impracticable to arrange for the drawback of duty, owing to the difficulty of distinguishing between United Kingdom calico and calico of other origin, the flour export’ trade is at a disadvantage in competition abroad, on account of the duty on ‘the material used in the bags. That is to say, it is difficult to tell where the calico comes from ; but I believe the bulk has been coming from America.
– It is probable that cotton goods were imported from America during the war. English factories and English workmen were then being used for far different purposes than that of producing piece goods. But in Manchester to-day there are thousands of factory hands out of work because the manufacturers cannot get sufficient orders to keep their mills going. To say that Manchester cannot supply the Australian demand is absurd. Here is an opportunity to help Great Britain. If cotton goods can now be secured more cheaply from Manchester than from American makers, Australian exporters of flour in bags will bo able to provide all the discrimination necessary. The Customs Department need not keep constant watch to ascertain whether the calico comes from America or Great Britain. If the Australian millers can buy English calico for less than American they will use the English production.
– I shall put Senator Lynch’s comprehensive request in separate form.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the general duty 15 per cent. - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bequest agreed to.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the intermediate duty 5 per cent. - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
– Section 1 of sub-item aa contains the objectionable phrase, “as prescribed by departmental by-laws.” I again take exception to it, but perceive that it would be useless for me to request its deletion. Following the splendid display of interest shown by some honorable senators who were anxious to help British trade by injuring American trade, I now expect them to undertake to assist British trade by injuring nobody. Therefore, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (aa), paragraph 2, British, free.
– I wish to know what is covered by the word “other”, in section 2. What industries are protected by the duties respectively of 20 per cent., 30 per cent., and 35 per cent.?
– There are several activities, in various parts of Australia, which will derive protection from the ratesjust quoted. There is one, for example, at Clunes, in this State, where cotton mills are producing goods in a kind of tubular mould. Where knitted cotton goods in tubular form are imported from Britain for use in wrapping meat, no duty is imposed. But with respect to tubular goods made for “other” purposes - namely, for wearing apparel- the ad valorem rates of 20, 30, and 35 per cent. will be imposed.
– I am still at a loss to understand the real purpose of section 2. The British duty of 20 per cent. on cotton piece goods, knitted, in tubular form, must have been suggested with some specific objective. What was that purpose? I would like to know with what Australian industrial interests these tubular importations come into competition. Unless there is actual and direct competition I am not inclined to support an impost of 20 per cent. upon any form of cotton goods made in England. Are there any factories in any other parts of Australia than at Clunes?
. - It is interesting to learn the views of Senator Pratten. The honorable senator avows that he will not be a party to the imposition of a duty of 20 per cent. on any form of British-made cotton goods. But he refuses to divide the Committee, merely because there is a small factory at Clunes producing this material. Whenever I see high duties being imposed I know there is some “ tinpot “ industry in Victoria which has to be protected and paid for by the people in the other parts of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator is quite right.
– I am glad some one agrees with my contention. I could go through the Tariff item by item and in almost every instance where a high duty is imposed I would find that there was some industry in (Victoria which had to be protected at the expense of a large majority of the people in the Commonwealth. But that is Protection. I do not think the Minister (Senator Russell) will claim that the Victorian industry to which he has referred supplies one-tenth of the people of the Commonwealth with this article, but, notwithstanding that, the other nine-tenths have to pay a duty of 20 per cent. on the importations from Great Britain. Senator Pratten, keen Protectionist as he is, does not agree with the imposition of such a heavy duty, because it is ridiculous. I intend to call for a division, but as I do not expect sufficient support to divide the Committee, I- must take this opportunity of recording my protest.
– Before I record ‘my vote on this sub-item I desire some information from the Minister (Senator Russell). I am inclined to agree with Senator Gardiner when he says that one could go through the Tariff, item by item, and find that heavy duties have been imposed merely for protecting some “tin-pot” industry in Victoria. Qf course, this is the result of having the Federal Capital in the city of Melbourne. It is admitted that the merchants and manufacturers in Melbourne can approach Ministers and officials in a way that those in the other States cannot, and, consequently, they are able to receive consideration which is denied to others. t
– Quite as many requests have been received from manufacturers in other States as from Victoria.
– I have not seen a single “lobbyist” from Western Australia, but I have been pestered from morning till night by Victorian manufacturers, and that is why I doubt the necessity. of imposing this duty. I would like to know what quantity is manufactured, what it is used for, and whether it is essential to the industry to impose such a duty? If it is not, I intend to move that the House of Repre.° sentatives be requested to reduce the duty to 5 per cent.
.- I also desire further information. I do not intend to refer to the Victorian industries as “tin-pot” shows, because I believe that Victoria has done as well as any other State in developing the Commonwealth. I want to know if there is any industry in Victoria producing tubular cotton material for wearing apparel, and, if so, to what extent it is supplying the needs of the people?
– The Victorian factory is producing’ large quantities of this material, and I produce a garment manufactured in Victoria, which shows the quality of the work.
– Do they import the cotton thread?
– And the rest of the work is done here?
– It has been said that this duty has been imposed because there are one or two “ tin-pot “ industries in Victoria requiring protection. The policy Victoria has adopted in the past has made this State the most prosperous in the Commonwealth. In one factory alone 800 people are employed in producing this material; factories are also being established in New South Wales; and I understand that another establishment is being erected at Albury. The Committee should allow the duty to stand, as it will not only protect Australian manufacturers, but be the means of creating employment for our own people.
.- The garment produced by the Minister (Senator Russell) appears to be a lady’s undervest; but, although there is nothing on the label to indicate that it is made in Victoria, I accept the Minister’s assurance that such is the case. I find that the wholesale price is 35s. per dozen, which means that the retail price to the purchaser would be 4s. 6d. to 4s. lid. each. In pre-war days an article of similar quality could be imported from Great Britain and sold to the purchaser at from 2s. to 2s. 3d. each. If we are to bolster up industries and compel people to use Australian goods at double their actual value I do not intend to give my support to the proposal.
– But cotton is double the price it was prior to the war.
– It has been, but it is not to-day.
– To-day it is 7§d.
– A short time ago it was considerably less than 7d.
– When the cotton in that garment was purchased it was more than ls.
– We do. not know when it was purchased. I am quite prepared to give a fair measure of protection to any Australian industry established on a reasonable basis, and I am glad to be assured by the Minister that we have, ia Australia, a flourishing industry manufacturing tubular cotton garments to assist in meeting the requirements of the Australian people.
.- This is an industry which deserves all the encouragement we can give it, more particularly as one factory is employing over 800 operatives. In portions of Queensland, Western Australia, and New South Wales there are millions of. acres of land - which does not require to be rich in quality - suitable for the production of cotton. Mr. Crawford Vaughan, an exPremier of South Australia, has, in company with two other gentlemen, been touring the Commonwealth in the interests of a British syndicate, and I had the pleasure of recommending a friend of Mr. Vaughan’s to a friend of mine in North Queensland, who has helped him to settle on the Burdekin. I understand that approximately 200 ‘tons of cotton have recently been exported from Queensland, and that a good deal of money is being invested in the industry. Cotton production could be successfully undertaken in various parts of the Commonwealth if the necessary labour could be secured at a proper time. The Committee should not lose sight of the prospective value of the cotton industry to Australia. In Queensland a man can make a good living by growing cotton, but the difficulty is to find labour for the harvesting of the crop. I trust that everything will be done to assist the cotton industry.
– I agree with Senator Reid about the potentialities of Queensland as a cotton-producing country, and, -as I have said often before in this Chamber. the more I know of that State the greater my wonder grows that its resources have not been more developed. At the same time, I do not see why the wearers of cotton garments who live in New South Wales, or the other States, should pay exorbitant prices for them. Senator Payne has produced a sample, which he says would sell for about -4s. lid. - the wholesale price being 35s. a dozen - ‘but the full value of which is about ls. 6d. Why should we have a duty of 20 per cent, against British cotton goods ?
– Because the British cotton manufacture is highly developed.
– For every £1 worth of cotton garments that they buy, the people of Australia are required to pay 4s. in taxation. Would it not be better, if our .desire is to establish the cotton industry in Australia, to invest in the erection of mills a sum equal to that which is taken from our 5,000,000 of population in duties on cotton goods than to continue this Protective policy? When a duty results in the establishment of a factory, the proprietors of that factory make the things which are most profitable to them, and keep out of use, not only goods of the same class which could be imported, but also similar goods, and the community derives no advantage from the high prices which it has to pay for supplies. It would pay this community better to settle life annuities on all those who are connected -with many of our protected industries than to continue to bear the taxation which the Tariff imposes for the protection of those industries.
– The sample garment exhibited by Senator Payne is a very good article for the price, as prices go now. I sold such garments twenty years ago, and know something of the quality of such goods.
– At what price did the honorable senator sell them twenty years ago?
– At one time they were sold at ls. lid., but of late it has not been possible to get them.
– The honorable senator’s statement bears out what I have already said about the value of this garment. Largely because of the duties, the public now has to pay practically 5s. for a garment which, twenty years ago, cost ls. lid. The Tariff makes everything dearer, and increases the cost of living, and the effect in the end must be to so overburden industry’ as to break it down. That is my reason for attacking .each -item as we come to> it. It is not the public that benefits by Protective duties. I do not regard these proposals from the State point of view. The industries of Victoria are “well looked after, and there must be a good reason for that.
– It is because Victorians have enterprise and energy.
– For getting* special Tariff concessions?
– The most insignificant Victorian industry has always been well looked after by the Tariff.
– And why not?
– But Victorians will not assist industries in Other States; they say that they are too small.
– The most insignificant industries of Victoria are well looked after, and that notwithstanding that it is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to hold the balance even as between the States. The whole Commonwealth has to pay enormous duties for the protection of Victorian industries.
– “When we get to Canberra that gibe will be flung at the honorable senator in regard- to New South Wales.
– This Parliament will meet at Canberra before very long. If the present Government will not allow it to meet there, it will meet there directly a Labour Government gets into office, and will never return to Melbourne. The industries of Victoria have received consideration at the hands of this Government altogether out of proportion to that given to the industries of the other States.
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 p.m.
– It will be seen that under subitem b, cotton and linen piece goods designed for the manufacture of a certain class of articles are subject to duties of 5, 10, and 20 per cent. These goods were previously free if imported from Great Britain, and otherwise dutiable at 5 per cent. Piece goods subjected to such fanciful processes as being teased, treated, combed, or fluffed, are admitted free from Great Britain, and are otherwise dutiable at 5 and 15 per cent.
– That will be altered.
– I am dealing with the Tariff as it stands. We have decided that calico for bag-making shall be free for Great Britain, and otherwise dutiable at 5 and 15 per cent. The question arises whether it is wise or fair to put an extra impost on cotton and linen piece goods which are to be manufactured into handkerchiefs, serviettes, tablecloths, towels, or window blinds, which are common requirements of every home in the country.
– These are partly manufactured goods. They are marked for cutting.
– Why an extra impost should be- levied upon cotton and linen piece goods imported as described in sub-item b is for -Senator Crawford to explain if he approves of it, and not for me. I am trying to point out that cotton and linen piece goods are the same, whether they are used in the manufacture of flour sacks, packages for oatmeal, or for handkerchiefs, towels, and window blinds. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (b), general,’ 15 per cent.
I intend, if this is carried, to move that the sub-item should be free in the British, and 5 per cent, in the intermediate columns. The adoption of this request will restore the conditions which existed before this Tariff was introduced, and it will put an end to the discrimination which is made in the Tariff as it stands between piece goods used for the purposes set out in sub-item b and similar piece goods used for other purposes. Why should we single out people who use handkerchiefs, . serviettes, tablecloths, towels, and’ window blinds, and make them pay more for the material they use?
– Does, not every one use these things?
– It does not matter to Senator Crawford what may be said, so long as a higher duty is proposed he reaches up for it. I want to see a Tariff passed which will do credit to the intelligence of the Senate.
– The example given by Senator Lynch was a rather unfortunate one for his argument. He referred to bags for the export of flour, arid I remind him that these are made from calico goods brought here in the piece. The work of making the bags is done in Australia. The printing of the bags also gives work to ‘local printers. Sub-item b covers piece goods that are practically manufactured. They are designed for different articles, and though a little hemming may be necessary in the case of each article, it is practically the finished article that is im: ported. This work ought to be done in Australia.
– What protection will . a duty of 5 per cent, afford?
– The honorable senator would’ not suggest that there should be the same duty imposed, for instance, on pig iron as upon a finished machine. The pig iron in the machine might be worth only £4 or £5, whilst the machine might be worth as many thousands of pounds. It is a wellacknowledged principle of the Tariff that where we have not the raw material required for an industry we give protection to cover the additional cost of the manufacture of the finished article in Australia, under Australian conditions. (Senator Lynch. - The Minister must remodel the Tariff if he thinks that a duty of 5 per cent, is sufficient to protect Australian labour.
– It will give some protection. If I had my way the goods covered by sub-item b would be regarded as finished manufactures,” and be made dutiable accordingly.
.- I hope to throw a little more light upon this sub-item than has the Minister. He has given us an explanation of what is meant by cotton and linen piece goods (being “ defined “ for cutting up for the manufacture of the articles referred to in the sub-item. A piece of linen may be introduced free of duty for the manufacture of serviettes; but if it has woven marks on it to show whore it ought to be cut for the- manufacture of serviettes of a particular size, it is liable under this Tariff to a duty. The con.sumer is penalized by the imposition of a special duty if these goods are so marked as to enable the ultimate user to cut them into the correct sizes required.
– Is that the meaning of “defined”?
– Yes. The same thing applies to these goods introduced for the manufacture of window blinds and the other articles referred to. For instance, a roll of window union may be imported 30 yards in length, and it vill be marked at every two yards to in dicate the places at which it should be cut for the manufacture of blinds. ^ The Minister contends that that marking constitutes a certain portion of the manufacture of the blinds. It has nothing to do with their manufacture, though it may be an assistance to the manufacturer of the .finished article. Up to the introduction of this Tariff these goods were admitted free from Great Britain, whilst there was a small duty on the foreign article. I should like to know why it has been considered advisable now to impose a duty of 5 per cent, on these goods imported from Great Britain merely because they are marked by the manufacturer to assist the ultimate user in cutting off the required quantity of the material for the article he wishes to make. I do not see how this marking of piece goods interferes with the manufacture of articles from them here. If they were imported as finished articles they would come under a different item and ‘be dutiable at 25 per cent.
– That is what they are dodging.
– There is no dodging about it at all. The sub-item refers to piece goods that are defined for cutting up, and that means merely that they are marked to assist the user to cut off just, the quantity that is required for the finished article.
– These goods are partly made up.
– No; they are merely. “ defined “ for cutting up for the manufacture of the various articles enumerated.
– Those articles have still to be cut and” made up, and all the labour has to be done here.
– Of course it has. I can give honorable senators a simple illustration. A piece of linen damask, for instance, is sent out for cutting up into serviettes. The serviettes required are, say, 24 inches square, and at every 24 inches of this piece of material there will be an extra thread, or one thread short, in the weaving of the piece, to indicate where the user of the material is to cut it in order to make a serviette.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that a piece of material is dutiable’ if marked so that it may be cut into a dozen serviettes ?
– Yes, according ‘to this Tariff.
– I should like to hear the Departmental explanation of that
– It is printed clearly in sub-item b, which covers cotton and linen piece goods, “ defined for the cutting up for the manufacture of hemmed or hem-stitched handkerchiefs, serviettes, tablecloths, towels, or window blinds.”
– The material is made purposely to be cut up.
– Of course it is. The work in connexion with these articles, the cutting up and hemming by seamstresses, represents a fairly big industry, and, therefore, the marking of the article in the way I have indicated’ should not be sufficient to justify the imposition of a duty. I am prepared to support a more liberal British preferential duty than was fixed in the original Tariff, and I cannot see the advisability of imposing a duty on the British article in this sub-item.
– In considering this schedule we should, I think, remember that the Tariff is designed to serve a double purpose, namely, to protect such industries as can be established in the Commonwealth and to yield some revenue. It seems to me that there is a disposition to put on the free list all articles which, it is thought cannot be manufactured immediately in the Commonwealth, but if this purpose 13 given effect to the country will be placed in a very difficult financial position indeed.
– Let us specify which are protective and which are revenue duties.
– Our knowledge of Australian industries, actual and potential, ought to guide us in determining which duties are designed to be protective and which are expected to yield revenue. Direct taxation in Australia, both Federal and State, is exceedingly heavy, and if we remove the duty upon articles which it is thought cannot be manufactured in this country, we shall be doing a great deal more harm than good. Although I am aware that Senator Payne has had considerable experience in the softgoods line, I cannot accept his interpretation of what is meant by the language in this subitem. I think that if, say, half-a-dozen serviettes are imported in the piece, and if each serviette is a separate pattern, the piece will come within the definition of this sub-item, and be dutiable. It is not necessary that there should be a missing or coloured thread between serviettes, handkerchiefs^ or even table cloths imported in the piece in this way. The goods will be dutiable in the same way as if each article was imported in a separate piece.
– What is the difference?
– There is a considerable difference, but just what has prompted the Department to separate this particular kind of article from the ordinary piece goods I am not in a position to say, except that it would be very difficult to draw a distinction in any other t way. I have seen half-a-dozen towels imported in one piece with a woven fringe between each, the custom being to cut the fringe through in the centre to separate the towels.
– I propose to support the amendment, for the reason that I have seen statements in the press to the effect that the increased duties in this Tariff over the former Tariff on cotton goods alone amounts to over £300,000, and I think that whenever we can give consumers a little relief without inflicting an injustice upon local industries, we should do so. The articles referred to in this sub-item constitute the raw material for those dealt with in item 120, and this is purely a revenue duty, so that it will hurt nobody if we take it off. If the amendment to give preference to Great Britain is -agreed to, we shall then be extending muchneeded support to Lancashire and Yorkshire industries. Even as a revenue duty, the requested amendment would mean a considerable advance on the old general Tariff of 5 per cent, on American and German goods, which came here in large quantities. . Senator Lynch now proposes to impose a duty of 15 per cent, on goods from those countries and to allow British goods to come in free. This, I think, is a matter in which sentiment should have some play. We should give some advantage to our kinsmen across the water, and see to it that if, in future, goods do come from Germany, they shall, at least, pay a reasonable duty, not 5 per cent., as in the old Tariff, but 15 per cent., as suggested by Senator Lynch.
Question - That the request be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item b, British, free.
I submit this request because I wish to take honorable senators at their word and give them an opportunity to vote for preference to Great Britain, and in order that we may provide raw material free for our seamstresses.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
. -I am led to believe that sub-itemc, piece goods, n.e.i., relates to flannelette. I cannot understand the basis upon which this Tariff has been drawn up. On flannel, which is a much safer, cleaner, and healthier article, made of Australian wool, duties of 30 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent, are imposed; whereas flannelette, which is inflammable, dangerous, unhealthy, and a rubbishy imitation of flannel, is free under the British preferential Tariff, and is subject to duties of only 5 per cent. and 15 per cent. respectively under the intermediate and general Tariffs.Flannelette, which is made of American cotton in England, America, and Japan, and enters into competition with Australian flannel, made of Australian wool, is free under the British Tariff; whereas in section 2 of sub-item aa, duties of 20 per cent., 30 per cent., and 35 per cent., are imposed on other cotton piece goods. Evidently,- this Tariff is designed to encourage the people of Australia to wear flannelette made of American cotton rather than flannel made of Australian wool. I therefore intend to move a request that the duties under sub-item c be 20, 30, and 35 per cent., which will bring them into line with the duties we have just passed in respect of another branch of cotton goods.
I have always had an objection to flannelette, which is highly inflammable and dangerous. During the last six years an average of eighteen women and children per annum have died from burns caused by their flannelette clothing catching fire. Our importations of flannelette have run from £320,000 worth in 1917-18 to £432,000 worth in 1919-20. Seventy-five per cent. of it comes from Great Britain, but a large quantity is also imported from Japan and America. Thisrubbish is made of American cotton, which to-day is nearly double the price of the Australian wool which enters into the composition of Australian flannel. My desire is that the people shall be encouraged to wear the healthier article. Let me here point to another inconsistency on the part of the Government. This afternoon, when we were dealing with leather cloth, which is used in the kitchens of the poor, the Minister in charge of the Bill (Senator Russell) said that it was necessary .to impose a duty on that material because it entered into competition with Australian leather. In order to be consistent, surely the Government will agree to impose the duties I have mentioned on flannelette, which enters into competition with Australian flannel. I am pointing out as politely as possible the glaring inconsistencies in the Tariff. It is full of anomalies.
The Minister said this afternoon that oil cloth - that horrible stuff which enters into competition with Australian leather - was largely the product of the cheap labour of Japan. He was quite right in referring to the cheap labour of that country. Those employed in Japan’s textile trade work seventy-two hours aweek for a weekly wage of 20s. That is another reason why I want substantial duties on foreign-made flannelette - the product of the cheap labour of Japan - which competes with our splendid Australian flannels. By encouraging the use of flannelette we are fattening up the cotton-grower of America, and the Americans, in return, have put a prohibitive Tariff on Australian wool. I repeat that we are encouraging our people to wear flannelette made of American cotton, yet when we want to “sell our wool to the United States of America we find the door definitely closed against us. As every one knows, flannel is a healthy material. It is a non-conductor of heat and cold, and is almost uniflammable whereas flannelette is not only a conductor of heat and cold, and therefore the cause of much sickness on the part of those who wear it, but dangerous also because of its inflammability. Having regard to the price pf wool to-day, it should be possible for us to make flannel at a price equal to that at which flannelette can be obtained. The average price of cotton is just on 8d. per lb., whereas the average price of the wools used in the manufacture of flannel - such as second and third lambs, locks, and second cross-bred pieces - is about 3d. to 4d. per lb. Thousands of bales of such wools are obtainable in Australia to-day at about that price, and it should be our object to encourage the use of the more healthy Australian article by the Australian people.
The Government, again, are going to reduce the duty on luxuries such as vel vets, yet they have carried duties of 20, 30, and 35 per cent, on cotton piece goods. Flannelette, on the other hand, for some extraordinary reason, is free when it comes from Great Britain. If I had my way, I would prohibit its importation, since it is dangerous to the community. As illustrating how cheaply pure woollen flannel can be made in Australia, I would mention that the owner of a certain mill in Geelong made a huge fortune out of a Government contract for 4,000,000 odd yards, at ls. 3 1/2 d. per yard. That gentleman boasted that he had put over £100,000 into the war loans. I had the unpleasant task of exposing his firm in this House, pointing out the immoral way in which portion of the huge profit had been made by the adulteration of the flannel. This fortune was made during the war period, and even at that time the firm in question could have made flannel at lid. per yard. The average price of greasy wool was then 154d. per lb., and the wools which go into the manufacture of flannel were at least double their present-day price. If the gentleman to whom I have referred could make a fortune out of a Government contract for the manufacture of flannel from wool purchased on the basis of 15 1/2 d. per lb., there is no reason why, with an abundance of much cheaper wool in Australia to-day, flannel should not be available at a greatly reduced price.
– How does flannel compare .with flannelette in the matter of durability ?
– It will last four times as long as flannelette. No one will deny that flannel made of pure wool is more durable, and in every other respect better, than flannelette, which is only teased cotton. With a view to discouraging the use of this dangerous imitation of flannel, and of encouraging the greater use of Australian wool, as well as with the object of trying to secure some measure of Tariff uniformity, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (c), general, ad. val., 35 per cent.
If that request be carried, I shall move further requests that the duty under the British preferential Tariff be 20 per cent, and under the intermediate Tariff, 30 per cent. I am not in favour of exceptionally high duties in any ‘ case, and the rates which I am now proposing are considerably less than those proposed by the Government in respect of all-wool flannel.
.- I have quite enjoyed listening to Senator Guthrie’s appeal on behalf of the health and welfare of the people of Australia, but some of his statements cannot be supported by statistics, and would not be indorsed by the average citizen of the Commonwealth. For instance, the honorable senator says that the health and well-being of the people of Australia have been injured by the use of flannelette, but it is strange that practically every year, as this article has come to be more and more used in Australia, the health of. the community has improved.
– Does the honorable senator mean that flannelette is healthgiving?
– It is much more conducive to the good health of the community than were the materials that had to be .worn before it came to be made.
– That is no argument. I am arguing ‘for the use of an all-wool flannel. :Senator PAYNE. - It is ridiculous to say to the 5,000,000 people of Australia that, no matter what their financial resources may be, they must either wear a fabric which is beyond the reach of the majority of them, or go naked. .
– What about that lady’s garment you were handling before the tea adjournment with so much care and knowledge, and which you declared to be made of cotton?
– That has nothing to do with the question. We were then discussing a tubular cotton material which Senator Russell informed us was being manufactured by Australian mills, and which was being afforded the protection of the duties set forth in the schedule. Can Senator Guthrie point to any industry in Australia in existence or likely to commence operations for the manufacture of flannelette?
– We do not want the people to use flannelette. We want them to use flannel, which is a much better material.
– When we get all we want we will not be discussing Tariffs.
I was sorry to hear Senator Guthrie, with whom I am in accord in regard to many items in the schedule, referring to one of the greatest successes attained by British manufacturers engaged in the textile trade as “imitation rubbish.” Possibly he finds it beneficial to himself to wear this awful imitation rubbish.
– I have never worn it.
– The very best grades of pyjamas are made from British flannelette. The honorable senator is wrong in suggesting that this “ imita-tion rubbish” comes from Japan and elsewhere. The great bulk of it is made by reputable British firms, who have built up their establishments after many years of research, and are turning out an article which is absolutely essential for the wellbeing of . the people of Australia.
– Not at all; it is a dangerous article.
– I regret that children have lost their lives through being allowed to stand in front of log fires in their night attire, when the draught of the chimney has drawn their flannelette garments into the flames, but the same accident would probably have occurred if they had been wearing white calico nightdresses.
– But not if they had been wearing flannel.
– I am prepared to do all I can to save the lives of our children, but it is a stretch of the imagination to suggest that, because regrettable fatalities have occurred, not through the wearing of flannelette garments, but from some other reason, we should prevent people from obtaining flannelette.
– A former Federal Government was asked to prohibit the importation of flannelette.
– I remember reading the. debate on this subject which took place years ago; but, fortunately, the intelligence of the legislators in recent years has shown that those who preceded ns here were wrong in their conclusions. As a matter of fact, this item was not discussed in the House of Representatives from the point of view raised by Senator Guthrie, and if a proposal had been made there for the prohibition of the importation of an article so essential to the great bulk of the community it would have been held up to ridicule. What is flannelette?
– Imitation flannel.
– No onewho handles flannelette is led into believing that it is made to imitate flannel.
– Then, why is it called flannelette?
– That is merely a trade name that has caught on. In some countries the name “ flannelette “ is very seldom used, and it is called “molleton.” Before the war the great bulk of our coloured flannelette came from England, anda large portion of the cream and white from Germany, Holland, and other foreign countries.
– Do you not wish to prevent that trade with alien countries?
– Senator Pratten knows that I do not wish to trade, if it is at all possible to avoid it, with any alien country. I want our trade to go to the British manufacturers, and I do not wish to see any impediment placed in the way of the rebuilding of our British industries. I think we ought to do all we can to encourage the Australian people to use articles of British production, while at the same time giving fair and adequate protection to whatever goods we can manufacture ourselves. But we cannot manufacture flannelette, or any substitute for it. Let us compare its price with that of the article which Senator Guthrie suggests should be used by the people of Australia. Ask the average housewife how she would like to be compelled to clothe her children and herself with flannel. She would immediately say, “ If you will double the wages of my husband, I will consider doing so.”
– She would not be clothing her family with flannelette.
– If she were a wise woman, she would not have it in the house.
– If the honorable senator would come with me and interview some of the housewives in the industrial suburbs of an Australian city, he would get direct evidence from those who have to make ends meet, and are just as solicitous for the welfare of their children as arethe wealthiest of women, that they are ready to do all they can for the comfort of their children by clothing them with an article which is within the means at their disposal. If Senator Guthrie’s proposal is agreed to, the same quantity of flannelette will continue to be imported, but its price will be at least 30 or 35 per cent. more than it is to-day. A good serviceable plain flannelette, which has taken the place of calico and other cotton materials, because it is more comfortable to the skin, and is considerably warmer, could be bought retail for 9d. per yard before the war. Flannelette of the same quality will be sold retail at1s. 3d. per yard within the next month or two. That is about the price of the next shipment coming to hand. Compare that price with the 3s. or 3s. 6d. per yard one is asked to pay for Australian flannel, which before the war was sold at1s. 3d. per yard.
– And1s. per yard; and it will be sold at that price again. Senator PAYNE. - No, it will not. Once you give the people who control this trade the opportunity of making big profits, they are loath to give them up.
– What is the wholesale price of flannel to-day?
– I know that within the last week or two it has dropped by 5d. per yard. Just at the beginning of the winter, when the people wanted flannel, its price was increased by 5d. per yard, and now that the season is nearly over, and after the public have been compelled to buy at the higher figure, the price has been reduced. I have a sample of flannel I procured from a mill a fortnight ago, and the price was 2s. 6d. per yard. I have another sample I obtained two days ago, and the price is 2s.1d. per yard.
– On account of the cheapness of wool the price of flannel will soon be down to1s. per yard.
– Let us compare the 2s.1d. per yard, when the raw product of flannel is at its present price, with the price of111/2d. per yard which was charged before the war, when the wool cost more. These figures do not confirm Senator Guthrie’s assurance. However, I am putting up a fight for the people of Australia who have limited incomes. Nothing should be done to increase the price of this necessary article to them.
– It is a very dangerous material.
– It is not. I know dozens of people who have worn flannelette for years, and have not run any risk of danger from fire, because they have avoided the possibility of it.
– They have been lucky*
– Nonsense! The honorable senator had better bring in a regulation prohibiting the use of gunpowder, because some people get blown up through sitting over it with a lighted match. I shall not give a vote to place an additional duty on an article we are not producing ourselves, but which is manufactured in Great Britain, whence we draw our supplies of it.
– I do not know that I should have spoken on this item but for the remarkable speech we have just heard from Senator Payne, to whom I listened with great interest as an authority on flannels. While I do not profess to have anything like his knowledge on the subject, I should like to refer to one or two of his statements in order that I may, to a certain extent, support the request of Senator Guthrie. In the course of his speech Senator Guthrie said that since flannelette had come to be extensively worn in Australia, it had been a cause of illhealth, and of an. increase in the death rate. In reply to that, Senator Payne asserted that the health of the community had improved, thereby asking us to infer that that improvement was due to the wider use of that material.
– That was merely a retort to Senator Guthrie’s statement.
– Senator Payne apparently attaches no importance to the vast sums of money that are spent by the various Health Departments throughout Australia in the advancement of public hygiene, and he attributes the happy conditions shown in the health reports to the use of flannelette. The honorable senator also warns lis that’ unless the people can obtain flannelette they will have to go naked. I must say that that warning caused me to pause before I decided to support the proposal of Senator Guthrie. It would, indeed, be shocking if Senator Payne were forced to the extremity of having to walk about without any flannelette.
– I do not wear flannelette.
– The honorable senator does not wear flannelette, and still he is not compelled to go about naked.
– Every person does not receive the salary that I do; I can afford to buy flannel.
– I cannot believe that the people of Australia would b© forced to the dire extremity pictured if we increased the duty on flannelette to the slight extent proposed. Senator Payne has informed us that flannelette is not an imitation’ flannel, but if we look at” the item as drafted by. the Government and the Customs officials, we see the words, “fluffed, or raised, or surfaced in imitation of, or resembling, flannel in feel or appearance.”
– I am not responsible for the drafting of the item.
– If Senator Payne, in the face of those words, says that flannelette is not imitation flannel’ he is asking us to believe too much. Then,, in order to further bolster his weak case, Senator Payne offered to take Senator Guthrie with him on a visit to some of the working-class suburbs in order toshow the extent to which* flannelette is worn.
– To inquire.
– Well, to inquire. I’ can” picture Senator Payne, accompanied by Senator Guthrie, knocking at the door of some worker’s home, and then saying to the wife of the house, “ Excuse me, madam, do you wear flannelette’ underwear ?”
– I think I referred more to the children.
– It appears to me, as to Senator Guthrie, that- those who designed the Tariff desired to give a preference to imported flannelette as against our home-grown and home-manufactured flannel.
– That is not shown in the difference of the treatment meted out to these commodities.
– -It is shown by the Tariff, in which it is proposed to place a very high duty en flannel1-
– 4 -
– Which I thought the honorable senator and others said would encourage the production of flannel here.
– The high duty can only have the one effect of increasing the price of flannel to the consumer, whereas the admission of flannelette at a low rate of duty will have the opposite effect on that material. If the price of the local article is increased, while that of the imported article is decreased, the community will be practically forced to use the imported article. Senator Guthrie has pointed out that we produce all the low-grade, cheap wool necessary for the manufacture of flannelette.
– Which Senator Guthrie says is controlled by profiteers.
– That is absolutely incorrect; I made no such statement.
– What Senator Guthrie said was that certain cloths manufactured from, the wool were controlled by profiteers. We have the wool, and we have factories, and, previous to the war, it was possible to produce flan’nel at a price within the reach of every section of the community. All medical and other authorities agree that it is infinitely better to wear flannel than to wear cotton, and that if people wore lees cotton and more flannel, influenza, pneumonia, and other similar diseases would not be so rife. The arguments against the proposal of the Government are so forcible and so logical that I shall be surprised if the Minister does not consent to meet Senator Guthrie, and I believe the Senate will insist on giving every encouragement to our own primary producers, about whose interests we ought to be most careful. Senator Payne allies himself with the Government in an attempt–
– That is apparently an offen’ce in your eyes.
– It may be a virtue; perhaps, before many items are passed, I shall find myself allied with the Government. On this occasion, however, Senator Payne allies himself with the Government in an attempt to force alarge section of the community to wear flannelette when they ought to be wearing the more wholesome material.
Senator GARDINER (New South
Senator Duncan and others, who are sent’’ here to make the cost of living higher, endeavouring to cloud the real issue by causing a little, amusement .when we. come to commodities used mainly by the working classes. I do not know that I should have spoken, but for some remarkable statements by Senator Guthrie. The honorable senator informed us that he had exposed a manufacturer of flannel who had made a fortune out of military contracts. I am quite aware that Senator Guthrie has made remarkable state-, ments about manufacturers of flannel making large profits.
– And the statements were proved up to the hilt.
– To the honorable senator’s satisfaction.
– To everybody’s satisfaction.
– I happen to have had the advantage, which Senator Guthrie bad not, of being at that time one of the officials who let the contracts to the gentleman in question. The price at which the flannel was supplied was ls. 3d. a yard, and. that was when, wool was considerably higher in price than it is at the present time. Further, our experts . examined every piece of flannel, and whenever there were more threads of cottonfound than the contract permitted, thecontractor reimbursed tha Government according to the decisions of the experts. This manufacturer was compelled by the Government to supply flannel at ls. 3d. a yard, and that was at a’ time when a market could have been found for as much as could be supplied at 2s. 6d. If a fortune was ma’de out of the contract at ls. 3d. a yard, what would have happened if the Government had not compelled the manufacturer to supply the soldiers’ goods at ls. 3d. ¥
– I remind the honorable senator that the contract price was ls. 4jd. per yard, as the files will show.
– All right; I shall accept the honorable senator’s statement. There’ may have been a contract at that price; at any rate, the retail price outside was 2s. 9d. or 3s. Why rage in Parliament, where one is protected by privilege, at a man who was compelled to supply flannel at ls. 4$d. ? Why complain if a fortune was made? I am glad our manufacturers did well, because they supplied us with good material at half the price which we should otherwise have had to pay. I believe in both sides of a question being considered, and, so far as I am concerned, I shall see that both sides are considered when any man is attacked in this way. Contractors were prevented from making any extraordinary or exorbitant profits. At the present time, with wool at, say, half the price it was then, and the cheap wools which Senator Guthrie says can be used for this manufacture
– They are the only wools which are used for flannelette making.
– With cheaper wool, we are told that flannel is fetching from ls. lid. to 2s. Id. a yard. Why is not the honorable senator protecting the people now by assisting, rather than hindering them, in their efforts to get the very necessary material, flannelette, at reasonable prices? Does he want flannel to displace flannelette in popular usage? The whole purpose of the Tariff schedule appears to be to make more profitable the businesses of men who are already amassing fortunes
– I advise the honor- able senator to wait until he reads the incometax returns for the past year.
– No doubt, they will -be very great. A country cannot engage in the luxury of war without paying for it. During the last financial year this Tariff took from the pockets of the people £32,000,000. During last month, the first of the current financial year, the Tariff extracted more than another £2,000,000. The” workers chiefly Contributed, and I shall not be expected to complain of the bearing, of taxation upon the fortunate possessors of large incomes. Wages are not sufficient to maintain families to-day. They are far below the basic.- standard determined by a Commission appointed by this Government. But for the extravagant methods of the Government, added to the costs of the war, there would have been no need to employ the Tariff as a means for raising money from the workers. The effect of imposing Customs duties upon materials used by the working classes is to make the latter provide the great bulk of the revenue for carrying on the affairs of the country. If Senator Guthrie’s purpose in seeking to impose a high Tariff is to encourage greater production, he is going the wrong way about it. If he desires to discourage the use of flannelette, which he regards as a dangerous material, the logical course would be to make the duty prohibitive. Then, I suppose, flannelette would be manufactured here.
– Where would local manufacturers get cotton?
– I do not anticipate that’ a high duty would be imposed upon cotton required as a raw material for such purposes. But one can imagine honorable senators from the northern State saying, “Wait till Queensland grows it.”
– Where does England get its cotton from?
– The interjection reminds me that Australia is nowadays as close to the world’s cotton fields as Great Britain was at the time when it built up its great textile industries. However, I am not surprised that Senator Guthrie should endeavour to clear the field of rivals in order to make room for his wool. His policy is, “Let wool be the material for the masses.” No doubt, the outcome would be very good for the wool-grower and manufacturer. Senator Guthrie would be content to let the people pay.
.- I cannot support Senator Guthrie’s request. The honorable senator is going the wrong way about securing his ends, and his statements cannot be borne out by facts. I can corroborate the remarks of Senator Payne with respect to the use of flannelette. Speaking for the poorer people of Queensland, and I think I can say for the public generally, flannelette is the most popular material used. In Queensland, very few people wear flannel in the summer months.’ Flannelette is almost universally worn, . and it has proved to be the very opposite of detrimental to health. Previously young and old were compelled to wear calico; flannelette is very much warmer and in every way better. Another important consideration, in comparing the two materials, is that flannel cannot be washed and kept clean as can flannelette. The better the quality, the harder flannel gets with washing, and the more it shrinks the sooner the garment becomes useless. In Queensland, unless the people wear flannelette pyjamas they must wear silk, and the great bulk of the public cannot afford silk. No one would think of wearing flannel pyjamas. Most of the flannelette worn in Australia is imported from Britain. Very little comes from Japan, and that is of low grade. Although Queensland is a great woolproducing State, I have no hesitation in expressing myself a3 I now do; for I know that even the wool-growers refrain from wearing flannel garments, and they certainly do not wear silk pyjamas. Flannelette is the universal material. If Senator Guthrie doubts me I invite him to take a train journey through. Queensland or any of the States. And I will ask him to pay particular regard to the washing on hack-yard clothes lines., He will quickly perceive the proportion of flannelette garments to that of other materials. I shall be no party to forcing the Australian public to wear a material which is not half so sanitary or cheap as flannelette.
. –Senator Gardiner referred to the fact that, in this chamber some months ago, I had exposed a big swindle. This had to do with a flannel contract let by the Government, in respect of which the individual concerned had openly boasted about having made profits. I know the facts, and I am willing to stand by them, as I have -already made them known. I do not desire to hide behind the privileges of this Parliament. I am willing to repeat from any public platform in Victoria the whole of what I have said here.
– I challenge the honorable senator to do so.
– I accept the challenge. I offered to do the same in Geelong, where I live, and where the person concerned also resides. That gentleman, however, Was not game to go upon the platform with me. I resent the suggestion of Senator Gardiner that I make statements within the shelter of these walls which I am not prepared to repeat outside. I. say, emphatically, that the whole business as detailed by me in this chamber, was proved up to the hilt, and supported by the tests of Government analysts. I drew my facts from the records of the Defence Department, and I challenge Senator Gardiner, or any one else, here or in any other place, to dispute those facts.
.- The reiteration of Senator Guthrie that flannel supplied by the contractor in question was not up to the quality which he had contracted to furnish to the Government is probably justified. But the honorable senator should ‘ have learned - or,, if he knew, he should have stated publicly - that the contractor reimbursed the Government in satisfaction of the difference between his sample and the material supplied. Possibly, the Government may have perceived that, although the flannel was not up to sample, the fact of its being mixed with cotton made it a better wearing material. The fact remains that the Government used it. There was no question of a swindle. I shall be surprised, indeed, to learn, that Senator Guthrie has followed up his acceptance of the challenge. I feel confident that if he has the temerity to do so, that will not be the last of it.
.- I desire to make a further brief statement in opposition to the request of Senator Guthrie. If I had anticipated this evening’s discussion I would have secured many samples of materials and garments with which to prove my case. It has been urged that the use of flannelette has proved injurious to the flannelmaking industry of Australia. If Senator Guthrie will give me the opportunity, I shall undertake to prove to him tomorrow that the Australian mills have been unable to supply the quantity of flannel required by the people of the Commonwealth, because the demand has largely exceeded the supply. Although the mills have been working longer hours and producing a larger output,- there is a good market for all they manufacture. No injury is therefore being inflicted on the flannel industry by the use of flannelette. If I could be convinced that the use of flannelette was interfering with the output of the woollen mills I would not so strongly oppose the request of Senator Guthrie. I have been informed that retail establishments in Victoria and Tasmania have been unable to obtain all the flannel they require, and distributers generally cannot procure sufficient quantities from the Australian mills.
– When the request submitted by Senator Guthrie is disposed of it is my intention to move to make the duty under the general Tariff 20 per cent. Whilst I am particularly anxious to protect and advance the interests of the woollen industry and the manufacture of flannel and tweed in Australia we have to remember that two-thirds of the people in the Commonwealth live in a climate where woollen garments cannot be worn throughout the year. Senator Payne has said that the demand for flannel cannot be met by the Australian mills, and if such is the case it is our fault. It has been said that wool is one-half the price of cotton, -and as wool can be woven just as cheaply as cotton there is no reason why we should be compelled to pay the exorbitant prices demanded for woollen materials. Even if we detain the Committee at some length in discussing this question we shall bo able to show that woollen goods are dearer than they should be according to the price of the raw material of which they are composed. If we desire to encourage woollen manufacturers we must discourage the use of materials containing cotton..The effect on the people’s health depends very largely upon the climate in which woollen or flannelette garments are worn. It would be unhealthy to wear flannel in Queensland and in parts of New South Wales, and it would be equally undesirable to wear -cotton goods in the southern portions of the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable senator propose submitting a request in connexion with the British and intermediate duties?
– Yes, I desire the duties to be 5 per cent., 10 per cent., and 20 per cent. respectively. The imposition of such duties would not result in raising the price of flannel if the output from our woollen mills is being increased. The impression prevails that a number of our mills have not been working up to their full capacity, and if they are able to nearly double their output we should encourage the use of the locallymanufactured material. It is difficult to overcome prejudice in this regard, and if the Australian people had been accustomed to wearing woollen garments, it would be just as difficult to thrust cotton goods upon them.
Request (by Senator Senior) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (c), general, 20 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Are cotton tweeds included in this sub-item?
– They are in subitem a (1).
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to insert a new sub-item, “ Cotton tweeds, British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.”
I produce samples of rubbishy cotton tweeds now being imported in large quantities from Japan, Belgium, and Great Britain.
– In order to prevent the honorable senator from unnecessarily occupying the time of the Committee, I desire to inform him that sub-item a, which has already been exhaustively discussed, includes the article which he is now discussing. The honorable senator is well aware that he cannot be deprived of his rights. If the honorable senator can persuade the majority of the Senate to support the proposal, he will later have an opportunity to get the Bill recommitted, but wecannot, at this stage, retrace our steps.
– I submit that there are two ways in which I might deal with the matter now : either by moving the insertion of a new sub-item, or by moving to amend sub-item o.
– I take the point of order that, the Chairman having given his decision, Senator Pratten, if he dissents from the ruling, must move accordingly, but cannot discuss it as he* proposes to do.
– I wish to show that the article to which I have alluded could be brought within sub-item c.
– As the article- in question comes within sub-item a, with which the Committee has dealt, it cannot be referred to further now.
– I should like you to consider, sir, whether this article cannot be brought within sub-item o, which deals with “ piece goods not elsewhere ineluded?”
– But the article in question is elsewhere included, namely, in sub-item a. The matter cannot be further discussed.
– Do I understand that I cannot move the insertion of a new sub-item to include it?
– That is my ruling.
– In another place members generally referred to silk as a luxury, as, no doubt, it may be in the colder parts of the Commonwealth - in Victoria, for instance - but in Western Australia, Queensland, the Northern Territory, and a great part of New South Wales silk clothing is as much a necessary as cotton clothing. I admit, of course, that articles like silk stockings and silk brocades are luxuries, but ordinary silk wearing apparel is necessary in a hot climate, and the greater part of the Commonwealth has such a climate. Silk is not produced in Australia, and does not come from Great Britain as an origin nal product of the country, all our importations being therefore, in origin at least, from foreign countries. There is no silk industry in Australia which it is desired to protect; and, presumably, the duties here set down are proposed as revenue duties. The policy of the country, however, seems to be that revenue duties should be levied, not upon essentials, but upon non-essentials, and I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (d), British, 5 per cent. ; intermediate, 10 per cent. ; general, 15 per cent
– I shall submit first to the Committee the proposal for the reduction of the duty under the general Tariff.
.- I hope the Committee will not agree to the request. This is a very old duty, and in 1918-19 yielded £563,000 in revenue.
-Brookman. - Why not get that revenue with a duty on an article used by all the people of Australia instead of with a duty on an article used by a section of the people? Why not get it by a duty on tea, or kerosene?
– A duty on kerosene would be a duty on an article used by only a section of the people, because kerosene is very little used by the population of our cities. Honorable senators must remember that if we do not get sufficient revenue from the Tariff, we must increase the direct taxation, and, although the alterations that have been made in the schedule may not separately affect the revenue much, in the aggregate they have made a difference that is becoming serious. In my opinion, silk goods are fairly taxable, especially goods of superior quality. If the course suggested by the honorable senator is followed in dealing with the Tariff throughout, it will involve a reduction of about £1,000,000 in the revenue from Customs duties, and that must be made up by additional direct taxation. I am not fond of revenue duties. I believe that all those things which cannot be produced in Australia should be admitted entirely free, and where Australia produces the raw materials of industries I believe that the duties imposed upon them should be much higher than those which are imposed by this Tariff. However, I am not free to carry .out these theories, because to-day Australia owes war debts, and we must have revenue with which to meet our financial obligations. If the matter were referred to the people, I have not the slightest hope that they would express themselves in favour of higher direct taxation than they are being called on to pay now. Some are paying as much as 14s. in the £1, and the average taxpayer,’ especially the family man, with five or six children, is at the present time called on to pay very heavy taxes.. We cheerfully undertook big responsibilities, which have involved us in heavy debts; and I think it would be difficult to suggest a more suitable article than silk as the subject of revenue duties. If Senator DrakeBrockman would deprive us of some of the revenue obtained from the duty on silk, he should accept the responsibility of suggesting some other article from which revenue might be derived. He has suggested tea; but I think that is a very unsuitable article for revenue duties. I think that if a man wants a silk suit, or a lady a silk dress, it is not too much to ask them to pay taxation on this material.
– The honorable senator cannot have lived in the hotter parts of Australia.
– I have been in Western Australia and in New South Wales. I .saw a number of persons wearing silk suits; but I saw a greater number in Perth and in Kalgoorlie wearing some sort of khaki.
– This item covers that material, because it contains silk. (Senator RUSSELL. - I was not aware of that; I was under the impression that it was mostly cotton. In view of the fact that we must have revenue to meet our financial obligations, I hope that honorable senators’ will assist by agreeing to impose duties on an article of luxury such as silk.
– The sub-item under consideration covers silk or material containing silk or having silk worked thereon except “piece goods enumerated in sub-item f.” Sub-item f reads, “Woollen or containing wool n.e.i.,” and lower down it will be seen that paragraph 1 of sub-item h reads, “Woollen or containing wool.” Sub-item f and paragraph 1 of subitem h are dutiable at rates differing from those imposed under sub-item d.
– What is meant is that if the material is made of both wool and silk it comes in under the woollen duties.
– I remind Senator Millen that sub-item f makes no reference to silk. <
– No; but a woollen material may have silk in it, or a silk material may have wool in it, and where in a material silk and wool are mixed it comes in under the woollen duty.
– I have been particularly impressed by the ingenuity of the Go-1 vernment in their efforts to squeeze revenue from this particular commodity, which is made dutiable at 20 per cent., from the countries from which it really comes, and 15 per cent, from the Mother Country, from which it does not come. In endeavouring to preserve something Uke a balance between the taxation of what I call the necessities of the people and the taxation of luxuries, the Government in this Tariff have marked the difference between the two by 5 per cent. I disagree with my colleague Senator Drake-Brockman on this subject, as I consider that silk is a luxury. In the Tariff as originally introduced, it was dutiable at SO per cent, in the general Tariff column, but for some reason not stated by the Minister it is now proposed that it should be dutiable at 20 per cent. It must be a source of gratification to the wharf labourer who lives at Toorak to find that he is asked to pay 15 per cent, on his dungaree, whilst the lady of fashion who lives at Collingwood or Footscray is asked to pay a duty of only 20 per cent, on her silk dress. According to the Government, the difference between rich and poor is 5 per cent. That is the Government policy up to date, as disclosed by this scientific Tariff. The Minister does not attempt to suggest that this is a protective duty. What the Government have managed to do is to mark the difference between the denizen of Pott’s Point and the denizen of Footscray by 5 per cent. Unlike Senator Drake-Brockman, I suggest that in this particular matter the Governmentshould return to the frame of mind inwhich they were when the Tariff wasoriginally introduced, and’ impose a reasonable duty of 30 per cent, on this articleof luxury. If we desire to do justice to- the man who wears dungarees we should not charge him 15 per cent, duty on it if we only charge a duty of 20 per cent, on silk. I think that the Government should make a wider difference between the duties on silk and on dungarees than 5 per cent. Therefore I intimate that I intend to move for an increase in the general Tariff on silk beyond the 20 per cent, fixed in the schedule.
– I am sorry that Senator Lynch has taken this line of thought, because we are not a silk-producing nation, and therefore there is no good reason to increase the duty on silk goods. If the duty is raised, silk as wearing apparel will become so costly that only the wealthy people in the community will be able to wear it. I want the workers also to be in a position to wear silk, and I am sure that quite a number of them would look a great deal better in silk than do many of the people whose wealth enables them to wear it. I ask for the very best that is obtainable for the toilers of Australia. They are entitled to the best, and should get it. I can quite understand a certain section in this community taking the view at one time held in England, where a penalty was sought to be imposed on those who attempted to wear the kind of clothing which the titled people affected and desired to reserve for themselves. I want everything, including silk, to be made available at the cheapest rate, so that the people of this country may become the best dressed people in the world. Silk is not produced in Australia, and, so far as I am aware, we have no industry big enough to justify Tariff protection on the article. Surely Senator Lynch does not want to get the duty back to 30 per cent. ! In ‘my opinion, 20 per cent, is too heavy altogether, and Senator Drake-Brockman is quite right in moving for a reduction. In view of the invaluable service I rendered to the Government on the last division, I think they might accept my suggestion now, and allow silk to come in free, so that our people may be clothed in silk and other fine raiment.
– There has been a reduction in duty from. 30 per cent, to 20 per cent., not with the idea of appealing to the vanity of the people who desire to wear silk, but for the purpose of preventing an injury being done to those engaged* in the umbrella, tie, and blouse making industries, for which this class of goods is required.
– Then it is a protective duty after all.
– It is protective to that extent, tie-making being a fairly important industry. Silk ties which were usually obtainable at from 3s. 6d. to 4s. before the war, rose in price to 13s. and 14s., owing to the increased cost of the silk, and as the situation is becoming more normal, it is desirable to do what is possible, by means of the Tariff, to keep such industries going.
– Would not a reduction in the duty on silk further help those industries ?
– Are silk stockings manufactured in Australia?
– Yes ; silk stockings are being manufactured in Sydney. I hope the reduction will not be agreed to, and I ask Senator Lynch, in the interests of our local industries, not to press his request.
– The Minister’s argument has strengthened the position I have taken up. Not only is silk a necessity as an article of wear for the people in the hotter portions of Australia, but it is also the raw material for certain manufacturing industries in the Commonwealth. As a matter of fact, I know that in Melbourne, not very far from Parliament House, there is a factory engaged in the making of ribbons, for which silk is the raw material. -My request is a most reasonable one. I have not asked that silk be introduced free, although I would have been fully justified in doing that.
– The Minister has admitted that this is a revenue-producing item.
– Tie-making as an industry is being carried on in nearly all of the States, and silk is its raw material. In the hotter States, particularly Queensland and Western Australia, silk wearing apparel is a necessary article. Why should the people of those States be -penalized because the climate compels them to wear silk? Senator Lynch declares silk, as an article of apparel, to be a luxury. In the southern States people are accustomed to wear dull, heavy clothing, but in the northern parts of the Commonwealth light washing material is the popular article of apparel, and what can be better than silk?
– There is more silk worn in Victoria than in any other State.
SenatorREID. - Then I think it must be worn in the ball-rooms, for it is certainly not seen in the streets. This duty on silk is simply a tax on the people who live in the hotter climate. People who wear heavy clothes in a hot climate look warm and uncomfortable, but those who have travelled in Western and Northern Queensland know that the womenfolk there dress in light clothing, and always look cool and pleasing. Here the womenfolk wear dull, stuffy clothes.
– The honorable senator does not see the right sort of people. What part of Melbourne does he visit?
– I sometimes visit The Block. Silk is a necessity in hot climates, where it is largely used for women’s and children’s clothing, so that this duty is a special tax on certain States designed to produce revenue to help the other States out of their difficulties.
.- I feel inclined to resent SenatorReid’s reference to the ladies of the southern States, who, he tells us, do not know how to dress attractively, but wear dull and stuffy things. My observation leads me to say that no branch of the industry in the southern States of late years has grown to such an extent as has that engaged in the making of silk blouses and ties. Those industries have grown up under a Tariff which has been in force for some time, and I am glad that it is not proposed to increase it. I do not want the cost of living to be increased, and, like Senator Gardiner, I desire to sec the womenfolk of those who earn their living by the sweat of their brow given an opportunity to make themselves as attractive as possible. They have a perfect right to such an opportunity, and have enjoyed it under the Tariff which has been in operation for some years. The Government in the Tariff as introduced proposed that the duties on silk should be increased, but that proposal was defeated in another place, so that we are back again to the rates prevailing under the Tariff of 1914. We should allow them to stand. The Treasurer will have a difficult task in making ends meet, and we should hesitate to deprive him of a considerable amount of revenue, as we should do by securing a reduction of the duties on silk. There is no justification for such a reduction as is requested unless it can be shown that the duties have become a burden. I hold that they are not too heavy. They cover all classes of silk. I -believe we could impose a heavier duty on some classes of silk without affecting the welfare of the people, but itwould be difficult to differentiate.
– We could differentiate according to prices. If the people want good Japanese silk they should pay for it.
– But there are a hundred and one varieties of silk ranging in value from 2s. to £3 and more per yard. These are subject to ad valorem duties, and consequently the more expensive the article used the greater will be the revenue. The duties on silk are not oppressive, they have been in operation Tor some years, and I urge that they should be allowed to stand.
Question - That the request (Senator Drake-Brockman’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (f), general, ad val., 35 per cent.
I intend further to move requests for a reduction of the duty - intermediate, ad valorem, to 30 per cent., and British, ad valorem, to 25 per cent. I think the time . has arrived when we should refrain from imposing heavy duties on the imported woollen materials referred to in this sub-item. I am as much in favour of the continuance and extension of the woollen industry in Australia as is any other person in the community ; but I think our woollen mills can do without this prohibitive duty. The people of Australia require flannel for underwear, tweed for men’s apparel, and tweed and other fabrics in thousands of forms for women’s attire. Before the war our mills had made a reputation with the limited plants in operation for turning ‘out flannels of better value than those produced anywhere else, and having the raw material at their door they were in a position, if they could have turned out a sufficient quantity, to export and compete with the rest of the world. Also in certain classes of tweeds they were just as favorably situated. They were able to produce cloth equal in value to the tweeds manufactured in any other part of the world. But in respect to cloth for women’s attire we have practically done nothing in Australia. We have certainly manufactured admirably- serviceable tweeds for women’s winter wear in the colder portions of the Commonwealth, but there is a large list of other fabrics essential for the comfort of our women folk which have to be imported. Textiles, fabrics of excellent quality, are produced by the Bradford mills of Great Britain, and Australia has always been a good customer for them; but Prance is the home of the best dress fabrics so much favoured by women. Cashmeres, voiles, and all sorts of materials are woven there as they cannot be woven anywhere else. This industry has been built up in France as the outcome of applied scientific research extending over many years ; and as the Australian mills are not in a position to produce these fabrics as they can be turned out in France, there is no neces sity to impose a duty of 45. .per cent, against that country: particularly when it really means 50 per cent, to the people here without taking into consideration the cost of transport. I want to bring under the notice of the Committee an article which shows that, notwithstanding the wonderful advantages the Australian manufacturer of flannel enjoys, he has not within the last few years been entirely fair to the people whose patronage has enabled him to build up his industry. I have a sample of all-wool flannel, manufactured by a mill in Tasmania, and whatever I say in regard to this fabric can be said in regard to the product of mills on the mainland. Flannel of at least 25 per cent, better quality Avas sold by this mill in 1914 to a retail establishment at 11 1/2 d. per yard, and the user of the flannel could buy it anywhere at the retail price of ls. 3d. per yard. Another mill was producing a slightly superior flannel at ls. $d. per yard, and it Was retailed at ls. 4Jd. per yard; but the mill which sold the flannel at 114d. per yard in 1914 sold on the 16th May of this year a flannel inferior in quality at 2s. 6d. per yard. The flannel sold at 11 1/2 d. per yard was, as I say, 25 per cent, better in point of quality. Is there any justification for such an imposition?
– Is 2s. 6d. per yard the wholesale price?
– It is the mill price to a retailer in a large way.
– Would it have been sold to a distributer in a small way?
– I doubt if a small retailer could have obtained the flannel at 2s. 6d. per yard. I have another sample here of very excellent Crimean flannel, though I do not think it is of quite such good quality as that produced at the same mill in pre-war days. However, before the war this flannel Avas sold at the mill at ls. 4 1/2 d. a yard, whereas the invoice of 1st May, 1921, shows that the price to the retail distributer this year is 3s. 6d. per yard.
– Can you tell us what increases of wages have been made in the mill?
– Taking into consideration all the increases, in overhead charges, this flannel, I should say, could be produced at the date of this invoice for ls. 7d. per yard, arid show a larger proportion of profit than when it was produced at ll$d. I understand that quite recently the mills have reduced the price of flannel by 5d. a yard; and this is a matter to which I referred on the second reading of the Bill. The facts are that, at the beginning of this winter, just when people were wanting flannel, the mills, instead of, as every one anticipated, reducing the price as compared with the high-water-mark price of last year, put it up 5d. a yard, and within the last week they have reduced it to the previous high figure.
– “Were the mills fulfilling the demand at the higher price?
– The demand for Australian flannel ever since the industry started has always been greater than the supply. Flannel was manufactured in pre-war days at the prices I have mentioned, and the industry was built up on such prices, at which the mill-owners did very well. What “kind of profits are they making at 2s. 6d. a yard for material not quite so good as formerly? Is it reasonable that those engaged in the textile industry should be given more protection? I think I have shown sufficient to justify my proposal.
– You are proposing to give the local manufacturer less protection against the British article than he has had for years.
– The protection under the 190S Tariff was 25 per cent., and under the 1914 Tariff it was 30 per cent. ; and I propose that the local manufacturer shall have less protection now because he has taken advantage of the people of Australia., As a matter of fact, there is no need for protection to such an extent. The Australian mills are not producing a great many woollen textile fabrics which must be used in Australia. I wish to see our tweed industry go ahead, and I dare say that other speakers will submit to the Committee prices at which good tweeds can be produced at a profit. 1 leave honorable senators to decide whether the public have been getting a fair deal in view of the prices that consumers have to pay. However, I now wish to refer specially to materials which are not produced in “Australia, but which aTe in everyday use here. I refer to dress materials worn by our wives and daughters.
– If those materials are not made here, why not put them on the free list? Why mix them- up with the local tweeds?
– The duty on. these materials has been imposed for many years, and I am not prepared to put them on the free list, simply because I believe we cannot afford to give up any revenue at the present time, in view of our financial obligations. I advocate no big reductions in any hitherto existing duties, but suggest, fair duties in order to return the necessary revenue, and, at the same time, adequately protect our local industries. 1 might have brought with me to-night hundreds of samples of. different fabrics which I say advisedly are essential to the comfort, well-being, and general appearance of our population, but which, although they are not manufactured here, have to bear a duty, if manufactured outside Great Britain, of 45 per .cent. That, of course, means 45 per cent., plus at least 15 per cent, or 20 per cent, transport and other charges. Further, it does not mean simply £45 on every £100 worth, but, in view of the departmental 10 per cent, on every £100 worth, duty has to be paid at 45 per cent, on £110. I think I have shown conclusively that my proposal is worthy of consideration, and that the industry will flourish with the protection I propose. I do not suggest anything that might cause difficulty to the Treasurer, but I submit that it is a wrong attitude to impose a heavy Tariff on articles which the people need, and must have, and which are not produced in Australia.
– The. honorable senator is mixing up two things; he is attempting to reduce the duty in the case of a basic industry and also the duty on things that are not made here.
– I have endeavoured to keep my remarks separate.
– Then, why not make the requests separately?
– There is no need.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Quite a number of honorable senators intend to address themselves to the subject of wool, as covered by sub-item f.
In view of the fact that its consideration cannot be completed by any means in a few minutes, I suggest that it would be reasonable for the Minister (Senator Russell) to report progress.
– I cannot accept the. proposal.
– Surely the Minister does not wish to stifle discussion?
– I have not nug- “gested that, and do not desire to do so.
– It is my purpose to discuss the subject-matter of the sub-item fully; and several other honorable senators are like-minded. I do not anticipate that the debate will be concluded to-night, however late the sitting may be prolonged.
– It cannot be said that the Government have unduly pressed the Tariff upon the attentions of honorable senators. There are still about 50 pages of the schedule to be dealt with, and not one page has been turned over to-day. Bearing in mind the days on which the Senate does not sit, it would seem that another three months will be occupied in completing the Committee’s deliberations - that is, unless there is more rapid progress with the schedule.
– If progress is reported to-night, the Government may prolong the sittings - so far as I am concerned - for as long as they care next week.
– This is, perhaps, the most important page of the schedule.
– I can imagine the honorable senator saying that of many a page yet to be dealt with. The Government have no desire to stifle dismission, but, in view of the slow progress of the Committee, it is not unreasonable to request the disposal of the sub-item before adjourning. ‘
– If the Government intend to force a test of physical capacity, I shall be prepared to carry on for as long as any other honorable senator. The Committee is trying to do its duty. I cannot plead guilty to wasting time.
– Much time has been wasted by speeches upon unimportant matters.
– By the Minister himself. There are experts among the members of this Committee, who will be able to speak with complete knowledge of their subjects. I desire to hear them, in order to record intelligent votes. The eyes of a .great many of my constituents are upon my actions in this Chamber, and I desire to justify my every word and vote. If it is a waste of time to discuss the Tariff, why do not the Government announce that they desire the schedule to be returned to another place without the slightest alteration? If they do make such an announcement, I shall support the abolition of the Senate.
.. - I have anticipated that the debate upon the duties in connexion with woollen goods and materials would be the most interesting of all. The Senate meets tomorrow at 11 a.m.; this is not a good night for a prolonged sitting. I support the request that progress be reported, in order that honorable senators may come to-morrow with refreshed minds to deal with sub-item f. The Government will find that no time has been lost. It is my purpose to contribute to the debate, but I shall not have a great deal to say upon much else in the Tariff. Much important information will be provided for honorable senators and the country in the course of the consideration of the imposts upon woollen goods. I understand that the Government are about to propose that the Senate shall sit for considerably longer hours next week and thereafter. Any such proposition will have my support; but my desire for an adjournment at this stage is due to the importance of the matter under discussion. Honorable senators should be able to bring alert minds to its consideration.
– As the Leader of the Government (Senator E. D. Millen) is not prepared to grant an adjournment, I shall endeavour briefly and plainly to give my reasons for supporting the request submitted by Senator Payne. This extraordinary Tariff is full of anomalies and contradictions, and is an indication of Protection run stark-staring mad. As a shareholder in, and a director of, woollen mills, there is, in my opinion, no proposal in the whole of the Tariff more ridiculous or unreasonable than the attempt on the part of the Government to impose higher duties when they are not required, which in this case results only in fattening the rich and forcing up the cost of living to such an extent that the Government will in the end be compelled to pay the basic wage recommended by the Commission they appointed. It will be hard indeed for the Government if they insist on imposing such heavy duties to prevent the country population being driven into the cities and millionaires becoming ‘multimillionaires. This Tariff is an instance of Protection run mad, and a. strong indication of that can be found in the fact that the Government have actually imposed a duty of ls. per cwt. on straw, a product which is burned in thousands of tons every year.
-I must ask the honorable senator not to . discuss the item of straw, which has already been passed by the Committee.
– Very well, I shall deal with wool. This Tariff has been framed with the idea of spoonfeeding the wealthy city dwellers and making millionaires multi-millionaires.
– Where are the millionaires?
– One wealthy Victorian woollen manufacturer died quite recently, and left close on £4,000,000 sterling, and in my own town, the executors of a comparatively small manufacturer paid probate duty on £680,000. In dealing with this question I shall be as fair as possible. Protection such as this will cause’ a steady drift to the cities, which National Governments have at all times stated that they deplored. On ‘ every public platform in every State, Federal and State parliamentarians have said that they favour decentralization, but what has been the result? Instead of giving effect to that desirable policy they have been spoon-feeding city industries, which are highly protected, and which are making huge profits, to such an extent that it will not be long before every one will be leaving the land. In the State of Victoria 52 per cent, of the people are living in one city, and the number is likely to increase, because the legislation which the Government have been passing is favouring only the city dweller.
– Are there woollen mills in Melbourne?
– Yes, but not as many as there are in the country. What are’ the Government doing under the Tariff to protect the interests of the primary producer? Imposing duties on straw and wheat! The Tariff has been framed with the object of fattening Melbourne city manufacturers, and in encouraging centralization. What consideration has been shown to consumers? Everything is unnecessarily high in price, and the cost of living has increased out of all proportion to the rise in wages. I was not elected to the Senate to represent the interests of Labour; but I claim to be able to speak for all sections of the community in this State, and I can say without hesitation that the Government cannot prove that wages have increased in the same ratio as the cost of living. These excessive duties on woollen goods will mean that higher prices will be charged, and that consumers will be robbed although large quantities of wool are practically going to waste.
In the Tariff the Government are slavishly following the dictates of a leading Melbourne daily, and the. opinions of a gentleman named Mr. Ambrose Pratt. I have npt the honour of Mr. Pratt’s acquaintance, but I judge him to be just somewhat of a Protectionist.
– I thought the honorable senator was a Protectionist.
– Yes, I am a sane Protectionist. Mr. Ambrose Pratt has placed before honorable senators a most extraordinary publication, the contents of which are beyond my powers of comprehension. I desire to give one statement the lie direct on behalf of the primary producers. It is to be found on page 179, and reads -
These industries, dependent on the great sheep flocks of Australia, provide a good market for every part of the sheep, and their influence on the wool industry is so favorable that the revenue derived from the sale of the by-products of wool-growing that form the raw material of the frozen mutton, the tanning, and the fell mongering trades provide revenue sufficient, on the average, to pay for the cost of maintaining the sheep flocks, and the wool can be placed on the market at a cost of but a few half-pence per pound.
What is the truth about that?
– When was that statement made?
– Last year. But it was apparently written to influence honorable senators when the Tariff was under discussion. The by-products that Mr. Pratt says are so profitable that we can practically give our wool away are unsaleable, as hides, skins, and fats are in many cases not sufficiently remunerative to cover railway freight and charges.
– I must askthe honorable senator not to make a secondreading speech and introduce such items as hides, skins, and fat on this sub-item.
– The sale of these products is very closely associated with the wool industry.
– Sub-item f deals with textiles.
– I have seen debit notes sent to consignors of by-products, and, in face of that, Mr. Pratt says that they are being marked at profitable rates. Some crossbred wools, which this gentleman says is selling at such a profit, is not paying the cost of shearing, classing, pressing, and packs, freight, &c. So much for Mr. Ambrose Pratt’s statement. He seems to be quite an important man in the opinion of the Government, and is endeavouring to mould the opinions of honorable senators. I am not attacking the woollen manufacturing industry, because I believe in Australian goods being used by Australian people. We should be manufacturing the whole of our requirements here, but we have to consider the effects of the duties proposed, not only on the manufacturers, but on the consumers. I believe in reasonable Protection, not in the fattening, at the expense of the people, of those who are already fat, which is what will take place if we pass the duties here proposed. The schedule actually increases the duty on woollen goods.
– Against whom ?
– Against all imports and the consumers.
– Not on the importations from Great Britain.
– The duty on importations from Great Britain is 30per cent., which is an increase on the rate in the 1914 Tariff, with which the local manufacturers told the Inter-State Commission they were well satisfied. The rates proposed on woollen goods are so stupid as to cause one to lose faith in the whole Tariff. I wish it to be clearly understood that I am in favour of protecting our industries, especially our infant industries. I would like to see the whole of the woollen goods required by our people manufactured in Australia, and that could be done.
– And we could manufacture for other countries as well.
– Yes. Without any protection, we could make a profit out of this manufacture, and a rattling good profit with a duty of 25 per cent. I have always considered it an anomaly that Australia should manufacture for its own use less than 5 per cent, of its wool, though, if we supplied all our requirements in woollen goods, we should not use more than 10 per cent, of our wool. But why increase the duties, and add to the cost of living ? To do so is unnecessary, and enrages the public, which reads the balance-sheets of the woollen companies, and knows that the Inter-State Commission reported that higher duties were not needed. I shall show that the Inter-State Commission, the Bureau of Science and Industry, the chief Protectionist journal of the land, the Age, and that high Protectionist, Mr. Ambrose Pratt, do not apparently support the proposal, of the Government. Let me begin by quoting from a report of the Inter-State Commission. It says -
One of the applicants (for specific duties), in referring to woollen piece goods, said, “ The higher the duties, the cheaper are the goods imported - the quality deteriorates. Heavy duty increases importing of shoddy, more particularly to sell over the counter . . . The duty has increased the importation of cotton tweeds.” .
It is desired, in the first instance, to encourage our woollen mills, and thus directly utilize in the home market the manufactures of locally produced raw material. The encouragement already given has resulted in a total increase in the local output from £596,000 to £925,000- equal to £329,000, or 55.2 per cent., during the years 1909-13.
Under the 1914 Tariff the manufacture was profitable. During the period referred to above, the imports increased by only 9 per cent. -
According to the statistics of production, the output of the- Australian woollen mills in. quantity during this period increased -
As to tweed and cloth, 47 per cent.
As to flannel, 10 per cent. .
As to blankets, rugs, and shawls, 49 per cent. In blankets, &c, the woollen mills have established a good reputation, and are doing a large business; but in tweed and cloth there is an extensive market that the manufacturers have not touched.
Senator Pratten will admit that no attempt has been made to manufacture specialities such as ladies’ dress goods here, and yet it is proposed to put as high a duty on them as on the tweeds, rugs, and other goods that we manufacture. The report continues -
The local manufacturers of woollen clothing desire a wider margin than at present exists between the import duties on woollen clothing and that on woollen piece goods. They prefer, in lieu of an addition to the import duty on apparel, that woollen piece goods should bc admitted free. This applies particularly to women’s light dress material in the piece.
The Government propose a duty of 45 per cent, on goods which we do not manufacture, and which Great Britain does not manufacture, a duty which will injure our Ally, France, who sends these goods to us. That will cause every woman in Australia to pay exorbitant prices for her clothes. ‘ lt is, however, in the greater variety of patterns of piece goods for men’s clothing, and especially in the light materials for women’s clothing, that the woollen mills have shown, so far, but little disposition to meet the demand.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I join with Senator Guthrie in opposing the increase of the woollen duties; but before speaking at greater length on the item I would like him to enlighten this Committee further on the subject with which he is dealing.
– To continue my quotations from the report of the Inter-State Commission -
No application has been made to the Com- mission by the manufacturers for any increased duty on- woollen piece goods.
Why impose a duty of 45 per cent, if the local manufacturers do not want it ? Mr.
We manufacture from year’s end to year’s end men’s tweeds, as there is nothing like the variety required. . . .’ If. the piece goods not made here were admitted free, there is grave doubt as to the Customs Department being able to decide what is men’s and what is women’s. . . .
Mr. F. L. W. Ashby, secretary of the Australian Woollen Manufacturers’ Association, asked that cotton tweeds, which are at present dutiable at 5 per cent., and free as cotton piece goods, should be rated at the same duty as that charged on woollen piece goods, which it was asserted they imitate and displace.
This is the summing up of the Commission -
The woollen mills, apart from flannels, blankets, &c, are only devoting their energies to making tweeds of simple .pattern, /or plain serges, for which there is a large demand. The limited population of the Commonwealth, and the local demand for small quantities of a great variety of patterns -in other lines, do not at present justify the general local manufacture of the latter. The duty, especially on the light material, which the local woollen mills do not intend at present to make, embarrasses the clothing industry in its competition with imported woollen apparel. Several of the women’s clothing manufacturers said they were compelled to import a 11, i and others 90 per cent., of their raw material. The duties on the materials the woollen mills now make would seem ample to enable them to compete with imports and sell to the clothing manufacturers at a profit. It would, therefore, appear that no Protective policy is to be served by maintaining a heavy duty on the light woollens so ‘largely imported and used by clothing .manufacturers.
It has been stated that to admit women’s light material free, or at a reduction of duty would lead to difficulties of administration; but in the Canadian Tariff, “ women’s” and children’s dress goods, &c., composed wholly or in part of wool, not exceeding in weight 6 ounces to the square yard,” when imported in a certain condition, arc admitted at a lower rate of duty, and it should be easy to decide on a standard of minimum weight which would involve no disadvantage to the local woollen mills. The question of ^dealing with the importation of “ end of season “ goods is altogether another consideration. It must be remembered that, we make 80 per cent, of all the apparel consumed locally at present. The Australian manufacture is steadily growing, and the suggestion to remove, or substantially lower, the duty on women’s light woollen dress material will add considerably to the output of the woollen branch of our clothing industry.
The Commission is strongly of the opinion that, to largely increase the clothing duties, as proposed by a few applicants out of several hundred manufacturers, would tend to imduly increase the cost of living, with little compensating advantage. Of the total consumption of apparel in Australia, it is estimated that not more than 4 per. cent, in value consists of what is termed “ end of season “ goods, imported at a low price. To place duties which may” range from 100 to 300 per cent, on many articles of apparel, 30 per cent, of the total of which is made in Australia under present rates (1008 to 1911) of 35 per cent, and 40 per cent., in order to particularly catch 4 per cent., would give the manufacturer opportunity to increase prices all round, for which there would appear to be no warrant. The principal manufacturers state that they prefer free raw material. If they had all their woollen piece goods free, they would have a manufacturing margin of 35 and 40 per cent. Their requests for additional heavy ad valorem and specific duties on the manufactured goods are disproportionately greater than their alternative proposal..
I find further that -
The Commission recommend that no increase in the duties on apparel is necessary.
They go on to say that they think there ought to be a reduction in the duty on women’s dress goods. Those are the recommendations of a Commission directed by the Government to make a searching inquiry into this matter. Then the Bureau of Science and Industry has looked into this question in a very scientific manner.
– Mr. Stirling Taylor?
– Yes. He deals with the matter particularly well. He is of opinion that there should be a considerable extension of woollen factories in Australia. I claim myself that we should have them all over the country. “We should manufacture in Australia as much of our wool as we possibly can. That would give employment to our people, and would turn the wool into a more profitable article. At page 34 of Mr. Stirling Taylor’s very excellent report, he says that an increased duty is not necessary, and that we possess so many advantages that we can make a fortune from our woollen manufactures. He suggests that we should put £14,000,000 into the business. This suggestion was made before the introduction of this Tariff. Mr. Stirling Taylor says -
Owing to the high standard of living which for many years has been adopted in this country, the Australian operative is not only the equal, but the superior, in intelligence, initiative, and efficiency of any other operative the world over.
I think that he is quite right in that. I was brought up in this trade. 1 had to work twelve hours a day at it at Bradford and elsewhere. I have worked also in Australia, and I say that the Australian operatives can hold their own with the rest of them.
– Would the honorable senator consider Mr. Stirling Taylor a seasoned business mau?
– I do not know whether he is or not. I have met him only once or twice. In this matter I am giving the Government the evidence they have provided themselves. Mr. Stirling Taylor asks a specific question on the subject, and his report continues -
The specific question, “ Is there any reason known to you why the works cost of this country should not compare favourably with the works costs in any other country for the same manufactured cloth?” was put to the manager of one of our most efficient mills. After careful consideration, the answer was, “ There is no reason whatever known to me.” On further being asked, “ Can you give any reason whatever why Australia should not manufacture woollen goods for export?” he replied, “ There is no reason.”
That is without this stupidly excessive protective duty. I say that without any heavy protective duty at all we can undersell the world. We have the wool here, and a wonderful natural- protection, as we have to pay no ocean freights on it going or coming. Mr. Stirling Taylor proceeds to show that it is possible to make a weave -of 56-in. width of tweed suiting, allow the manufacturer 20 per cent, profit, and sell the article at 6s. 6d. per yard. This estimate was made when wool was costing 2Sd. per lb., and to-day it is not half that price.
– This is from a Government publication ?
– Yes ; I am giving the Government their own stuff, and I shall give the Aye its own stuff later. Mr. Stirling Taylor says that 6s. 6d. is the price, ex mill, for the highgrade tweed.
– Does he say that that can be done, or is being done?
– We know that it can be done. I know that, as a matter of fact, it is being made for 4s. 6d. per yard. I have mentioned that Mr. Stirling Taylor in the price he gives is adding 20 per cent, profit for tie manufacturer. He is speaking of the use of wool at an exceedingly high price, and sets out every detail of manufacture, including wages and everything else. Then, if it is desired to use the most fashionable high-priced merino wool of 70’s quality, of which we do not produce more than from 20,000 to 30,000 bales out of a total production of 2,000,000 bales of wool in Australia, I can give you Mr. Stirling Taylor’s price for that. He sets out with the supposition, first of all, that- we pay 2Sd. per lb. for greasy wool, when we could buy it at 14d. per lb. The top price in the market this week was round about 16d. per lb., and that for very light conditioned fleece. Mr. Stirling Taylor speaks of 28d. per lb. for wool in the grease, and during the whole operation of the appraisement scheme the record price paid during the war was 31.3d. per lb. Using the highgrade wool, and adding 20 per cent, manufacturer’s profit, . Mr. Stirling Taylor claims that high-grade twill can be turned out for lis. 10 1/2 d. per yard. It is impossible to buy the biggest rubbish imported to-day in the Lane at that price. Why, then, is it contended that we. require this high Protective Tariff? Mr. Stirling Taylor says further in his report -
The best indication that the woollen manufacturing industry is a profitable one is the prosperity of the present mills and the fact that in every State, and even almost in every locality, proposals are before the public for the establishment of further mills.
This is an industry, so we are told by the Government, that wants increased protection. The report of the Bureau of Commerce and Industry proceeds -
On inquiry, we find that the Government had the output of twenty-two mills for the years 1015-1916 and up to the’ end of April, 1917. The capital involved was £1,144,000, and the net profit was £1,197,000,
Thus the mills more than paid back the subscribed capital in under three years. And yet this industry, so the Government suggest, is a struggling one, and requires further assistance!
– What hours were those mills working?
– I have all the evidence here. But, after all, it does not matter what hours they were working -it
– Yes, it does.
– Well, assuming they were working the ordinary forty eight hours per week, I show the honorable senator that one company paid their shareholders dividends at the rate of 90 per cent, per annum.
– Some of the mills were working three shifts, remember.
– And so would I be prepared to work three shifts if I could see the prospect of making £1,197,000 in three years on a subscribed capital of £1,144,000.
– The . honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I think it is desirable that we should get all the information possible on this important subject from the honorable senator, and seeing that he has not been able to conclude his remarks I desire to give him an opportunity of doing so. I do not wish to make any comment at this stage, so I shall resume my seat and enable the honorable senator to proceed.
– The Fair Profits Commission also looked into this subject very carefully, and this is what that body had to say -
After a long and careful inquiry into the Victorian woollen industry, the Fair Profits Commission has arrived at the decided opinion that undue profits have been, and are still being, made by the manufacturers.
Regarding one Victorian company the Commission’s finding was as follows : -
After making all allowances for writing off capital in former years, it could be said - and the Commission adopted the company’s own figures - that shareholders had put more than £60,000 original capital into the business. In addition, within the last few years £30,000 of reserves had been capitalised and issued in shares to the shareholders. According to published statements, at an interim meeting of the company held a few weeks ago, the following distribution of profits for the half-year was made, partly out of accumulated but previously undistributed profits, namely: - Dividend distributed (half-year), £27,000; issue of shares, as a re’sult of writing up plant, &c. - face value £30,000, market value about £90,000. Apart from the shares, the dividend was at the rate of 45 per cent, per annum on the total nominal capital of £120,000, 90 per cent, per annum on capital subscribed by shareholders, and about 90 per cent, per annum on the capital used in the business as shown by the last annual balance-sheet.
That is the opinion of the Fair Profits Commission with regard to this poor “ struggling “ industry, which under the old Tariff was able to distribute 90 per cent, in dividends to its shareholders.
– That was before the Government look over the mills.
– Yes. The Com- mission stated further -
The Commission considered that such figures as the foregoing compelled action. The proposals made, if the immediate future was tested by the immediate past, would enable the industry, on the average, to make 18 per cent, to 20 per cent, total net profit on capital, would permit the more successful mills to make more, and would enable the less successful mills to take a fair, though not a high, profit.-
I want honorable senators to remember that I am not attacking any particular mill or the wool industry. I hold shares in two mills. I am also a trustee in the’ Soldiers’ Woollen Mill, and a director of a co-operative woollen mill company in New South Wales.
– Have those mills turned over the same dividend?
– We have not had a dividend at all yet; we are only buying the machinery. But I am game to go into this business without any increase of duty, and, indeed, without any protection at all, because wo have such an enormous advantage in the possession of the raw material.” Look at the enormous price the public have been paying for cloth. The price of wool has little or nothing to do with it. During tho war the people of this country were absolutely robbed. There is no other way of putting it.
– By whom?
– They all had a finger in it. The manufacturer, the people in the “Lane,” and the large shopkeepers made exorbitant profits. My tailor wanted to charge me £18 for a suit of clothes, and when I protested, he said, “Oh, but look at the price of wool.” The pre-war price of wool was 9 1/2 d. average, and during the war we sold it to the Imperial Government at 15 1/2 d. but the Australian manufacturers got their raw material at the original appraised price. Even supposing they had to pay 15 £d. - but ‘they did not - the increased cost of wool in a suit of clothes would have been only 3s. 6d., yet suits of clothes, which formerly were £5, were raised to £10, and £10 suits were increased to £20, all on the score of the increased cost of wool ! As the result of exposure and propaganda- - I have been hammering at this matter for a long time - prices have come down again within the last few months, and suits are now £5 to £10 again.
– . The £18 suit is not down to £5.
– It is down to £10, and you can now get a suit of good English tweed, if you prefer it, at £5 5s. in the leading shops of this city. In order to show that the increased price of clothing during the war period was a scandal, I propose to quote some figures relating to the Commonwealth Woollen Mill. There were three or four parties exploiting the public. The manufacturers were concerned in it to a certain extent, “Flinders-lane” was in it all the time, and the large retailers were also concerned in it. There was no necessity to compel the people to pay £10 and £20 for a suit of clothes. The Commonwealth Woollen Mill, although at the beginning of the year it naturally had dear stocks of wool on hand, has been making the most beautiful material, out of the very best fleece wool, for 5s. 6d. a yard.
– What is the width of that material ?
– Fifty-six inches; and 3J yards are used in the making of a
Bult of clothes.” The- Commonwealth Woollen Mill is selling this beautiful tweed at 5s. 6d. a yard, blue serges at 7s. a yard, and one special class, 56 inches wide, made of what is practically the very best merino wool, at 6s. per yard. Honorable senators will say that the mill cannot be making any profit when it sells its products at such prices. I have here its balance-sheet for the year, and it shows that it is. It- is admitted that it opened the year with stocks of dear wool, which it had obtained from the Pool at very high prices, and that since then the market has been falling. Wool that you purchased last week at what you considered to be a low price is dear this week, because the market has been slumping. Yet, after writing off £18,449 on account of depreciation, the Commonwealth Woollen Mill, which, has been selling magnificent material at these extraordinarily low prices, made a profit of £26,000 for the year. Had it been able to concentrate on two or three particular lines, it would have made enormous profits. The position, however, is that it is called upon to make small quantities of a variety of goods, and that, we all know, adds greatly to the cost of production. It has had to make a special twill for the Air Forces, highquality thick material for suits and overcoats for naval officers, and special lines for the Defence Department, the Navy, the Railway Department, and trainees, &c. I was astounded when I took His Excellency the Governor of Victoria over the mill the other day to see that it was producing some forty or fifty different lines. If it were able to concentrate on one or two lines it would make far greater profits; but, despite the fact that it has been called upon to produce an infinite variety of material, ranging from rugs and blankets to the finest of tweeds, it shows for the last twelve months a profit of £26,000, plus £18,449 written off in respect of depreciation. And this notwithstanding the low prices charged for its products.
I think I have shown from the report of the Inter-State Commission, as well as from statements by Mr. Ambrose Pratt, Mr. Stirling Taylor, and the balancesheet of the Commonwealth Woollen Mill, that the industry does not need this increased protection. I do not say that we should remove the whole of the protection which it enjoys. We want to make sure of our position, because the high wages now ruling in England and France, as well as the high freights, may fall at any time. When the woollen industry of Australia was started, it was very much in need of protection. When I was working some years ago. in the woollen mills at Home the hours of the operatives were very much longer than they are here, while the wages were only a fourth of what we pay. The freight on our wool to England was only from 1/4d to id. per lb., and the freights back were the same. Here to-day we have a wonderful supply of the raw material. The wool used in the manufacture of flannel, for instance, is obtainable at 6d. per lb. in Australia. That same wool costs, landed in Bradford, 9d. per lb., so that in respect of that one item alone we enjoy an advantage of 50 per cent. Our competitors there have also to lose interest on their money in respect of the time spent in getting their wool Home and sending back the manufactured article. The woollen mills here have at hand the pick of the best wool in the world - they can obtain it to-day and have it on their looms to-morrow - whereas our competitors at Home have to pay delivery charges, freight, insurance, and railage to the mills and back again, plus a highly Protective Tariff on the manufactured article. Since the framing of the Tariff of 1914, under which the woollen manufacturers were making fortunes, wages in the woollen manufacturing industry of England and France have increased 400 per cent., while freights have also increased about 400 per cent. In these circumstances, I ask honorable senators to have regard to the enormous advantages that we have over our overseas competitors, apart from any increased duty.
– All of which advantages mean more protection for the local manufacturer.
– Yes. We have an advantage of 25 to 50 per cent, to start with on the cost of the raw material. I propose now to show that even such a staunch Protectionist newspaper as the Age- which so unkindly Avro te of me the other day, because of my desire to keep out German lager from Australia, that I evidently took more interest in the Australian beer trade than in the wool industry, in which I have made my living all my life - apparently considers that our woollen manufacturers need no further protection. In its issue of the 10th February, 1920, there appeared this statement -
Wool-growing in itself is profitable enough, but the profits of the pastoralists pale before those of the spinners and manufacturers.
– In Australia?
– I will show that that is absolutely inaccurate.
– That, at all events, is the statement of the Age, which loves the primary producer! When this statement was published, wool-growing was payable, but to-day it is the reverse. The wool-grower, however, is not whining for protection for hia wool. ‘He is prepared to take the rough with the smooth.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I have listened with a great deal of interest to the speech made bySenator Guthrie, and unless the arguments which he has so far advanced can be controverted, I shall be almost convinced that the increased duties are entirely unnecessary. If Senator Guthrie has further facts to place before the Committee, I hope that he will let us have them.
– I shall try to conclude my remarks as quickly as possible.
– Will the honorable senator not admit that he represents the wealthiest class in the community?
– No. I got far more votes from the poorer section of the community than from the rich. I may say, indeed, that I received very few votes from the wealthy, because I am generally hitting them, just as I am now doing. I have had to work for my living throughout my life.
– I was referring to the wool-growers.
– The wealthiest class in the community is not the woolgrowers, but the over-protected manufacturers. Wool-growing,’ the greatest industry in Australia, has been built up by the pluck, brains, and hard work of the people of this great country, and to-day we have the cheapest wool in the world. On the 2nd September, 1920, the Age in a leading article said -
Rates of wages and hours of labour are now very much the same in this country as they are in countries from which we import, and it is acknowledged that the Australian workmen and workwomen are as adaptable as any. The raw materials are here, and manufacturing costs in all respects ought to compare favorably” with those elsewhere. There is big money in Australian industries, and especially in Australian wool.
These words are very true, because the cost of labour has gone up in Great Britain and France to the extent I have already .shown. When the 1914 Tariff was framed, giving what was considered to be adequate protection to the Australian in dustries, and which was sufficient to enable the manufacturers to make the big profits they now acknowledge, and which were exposed by the Inter-State Commission, wages in those countries were frightfully low, and the woollen manufacturers of Bradford were getting their raw material carried to their mills al £d. per lb. The natural protection afforded to the Australian manufacturers is from 25 to 50 per cent., according to the value of the raw product, but they also a-void the payment of freight, interest, and duty charges. Yet it is proposed to further penalize the British and French’ manufacturers, though in doing so we shall really be penalizing ourselves. It is unnecessary for me to quote anything further in proof of what I am saying. When Mr. Tudor, as Minister for Trade and Customs, in 1914 raised the duties to 25 per cent. British, and 30 per cent, general, the Australian manufacturers were making fat profits, which they now admit; yet it is proposed to in-‘ crease these duties to 30 per cent, and 35 and 45 per cent, respectively. The duty against France - our brave Ally, and the best customer we have for the finest merino wool grown in Australia - which makes the ladies’ dress wear and babies’ wear which England does not make, and which we have never attempted to make, because it would not pay to do so, owing to the comparatively limited demand, is thus increased by 50 per cent, as compared with the former Tariff. To-day the wages of those engaged in the woollen trade in Franca -and England are slightly higher than they are here. One would think that this Australian industry to which we are giving such an extraordinary protection was a specially good trade for the workers. As a matter of fact, it is a fairly low-wage industry. In 1916, according to the Australian Tariff Hand-booh,* page 180, there were 3.900 employees in the woollen mills, who earned £357,000 for the year; that is to say, £91 10s. 9d. per head per annum, or £1 15s. 2d. per head per week. Wages are as high in France and England.
– Why do you say that?
– Because I have evidence of it.
– Can you give the Committee that evidence?
– Not in detail. I have the figures for Roubaix, but I can assure honorable senators that I have evidence to prove that the wages of those employed in the woollen industry in Great Britain and France have increased 400 per cent, since 1914. I am making no comparison with Germany or Japan, and it is in regard to those countries that I would like to see different rates provided in the Tariff, because, although wool is not manufactured for export in Japan, those engaged in the industry there work seventy-two hours a week for 20s. The time will come when we shall require a very high protective duty against Japan. The wage earned by the average adult male engaged in the woollen mills of Australia for forty-eight hours a week was £3 6s. in 1916, the latest figures made available to us by the Statistician. Even adding 25 per cent, to that amount, to allow for increases awarded since that date, the wages earned by those engaged in a similar occupation in France or Great Britain are, if anything, higher. I have shown the natural protection the Australian manufacturer has, that he has at his door 847 different kinds of wool of the best class in the world to choose from, 2,000,000 bales per annum, and practically no delivery charges to pay; that Australia produces 50 per cent, of the merino wool of the world, and that the Australian manufacturer has no duty to pay, and avoids the payment of interest on outlay of capital which his European competitor is obliged to pay during transit delays. . Is there any reason for this increased duty? I wish success to every mill in Australia. I want mills to flourish all over the place and work up as much of our wool as they can, but, in view of this irrefutable evidence from the Age, Mr. Ambrose Pratt, the Bureau of Commerce and Industry, and the InterState Commission, and in view of the extraordinary natural protection we have, and the huge profits made by our manufacturers under the old Tariff, is not the duty now sought to be imposed’ Protection running stark, staring mad?
– When were those huge profits made by our manufacturers ? .
– It does not matter what the year was; their profits are always good. In view of all this irrefutable evidence I ask the Committee, in fairness to the growers and the manufacturers, and, above all, in fairness to the poor unfortunate people of this country, who have to buy clothing, to- refrain from imposing duties which are not required. Let us keep the high duties for items in regard to which they are necessary, and in a sensible way adopt the Tariff as proposed by Senator Payne, thus securing prosperity for the woollen manufacturers of Australia without unduly penalizing the people.
– The speech of Senator Guthrie more than justifies the request I previously made, that progress be reported. For the sake of the prestige of the Senate it is always to be regretted when an honorable senator, having prepared material for a speech, is not afforded an opportunity to deliver it at the most suitable time; It is most unfair that such a speech, which might have been anticipated from Senator Guthrie, should have, to be delivered at midnight. The Government, I think, might have so arranged matters that we could have heard Senator Guthrie’s remarks at a time when it would have been possible for them to have appeared in the press reports of our proceedings. The Age, which has attacked Senator Guthrie, accuses me of desiring for Australia the cheap products of other nations. I ask for nothing of the sort. I desire Australian money, contributed by Australian people, to be devoted to developing our industries in an intelligent way, without resorting to the indirect method of protection. Ten years ago the Commonwealth Woollen Mill came into existence, and it can now turn out material equal to any in the world. Despite high wages, the year just closed showed a profit of £20,000, and, in addition, the deficit of £18,000, due to the cost of the establishment of the factory and the wastage of machinery, has been wiped out. That is an example of real protection and real development of industry. Give me the £32,000,000 taken out of the people’s pockets last year under the name of Protection, and I venture to say it could be used so effectively that all our natural products could be worked up, and there would not be one unemployed man from one end of Australia to another.
– Is not the Free Trade idea to close up works and pay the employees for going idle?
– That is the full extent to which Senator de Largie is capable of understanding Free Trade.. What I say is that Protection is stupid in its incidence. The Commonwealth Mill, by the material ft produces, by the wages and conditions it offers to employees, and by the profit it earns, shows that high duties are not necessary, or, at any rate, that higher duties are not required. Of course, we have not the balance-sheets of the other mills before us, but in view of the fact that, unlike the Commonwealth Mill, they do not” endeavour to turn out a great variety of materials, but concentrate on one material which pays best, we may conclude that they are earning enormous profits in proportion to the capital invested. We have a statement showing that practically all that capital has been returned to those mills in the years 1916-17-18.
– That was when they were commandeered by the Government.
– When are these mills going to export cloth as we export wheat?
– The mills arc turning out material at 6s., and the very finest at 6s. 6d., so that they can compete even with Great Britain; and the reason is very simple. Britain has to convey all the wool from Australia, whereas we incur no greater cost in transporting the manufactured material than Britain does in securing the raw material. It has been clearly and unmistakably shown that in the case of the woollen industry, when we increase the duties, we deliberately put our hand into the people’s pockets.
– -Give the industry time until it reaches the exporting stage !
– Of course, if a statesman like Senator de Largie were to undertake the development of Australian industries, we should soon be able to compete with Great Britain or any other country. The honorable senator’s desire, however, is not to utilize Australian labour in the most profitable direction, but to create a condition of things under which employers may become as rich as woollenmill balance-sheets show them to be; then, when a Tariff comes before us, not to impose duties for the protection of in- fant industries, but to create greater profits for those which have developed into sturdy manhood. My idea is not to ask the community to put its money into concerns for the profit of individuals, but to undertake enterprises for their own benefit. The statements of Senator Guthrie will stand searching tests. The more closely they are examined the more clearly do they reveal that the Government will be ill-advised in giving manufacturers further scope for accumulating profits while adding to the cost of the materials with which the people must clothe themselves. In everything pertaining to wool, Senator Guthrie is a recognised expert. He has been able .to convince me that, even when the very highest prices were being charged for wearing apparel, the cost of the wool made a difference of only about 3s. 6d. in the price of a suit. For the Government to demand from the community the payment of increased taxes by way of Customs collection, in order to add to the already exorbitant profits df the manufacturers, is utterly without justification. ‘’ As Senator Guthrie emphatically stated, the woollen manufacturers themselves did not ask for what the Government have conferred upon them. The makers realize that they are already upon an excellent wicket. I look with grave concern to the financial prospects of Australia. We shall not be improving the outlook if honorable senators support the Government in further enriching one very small section of the com- munity while further, impoverishing the great mass of the people.
– The Tariff of 1908 gave woollen manufacturers ample protection. That has been proved by the wonderful expansion of the industry. In corroboration of a statement which I made earlier to-day, to the effect that manufacturers are not able to cope with the demand, I quote from a letter which a warehouseman has received within the past day or two from a prominent woollen manufacturer, as follows : -
We beg to advise you that the above company is prepared to allot your firm twenty-eight pieces, for delivery between July and December 31st, 1921. The reduced quantity is brought about by making allowance for probable reduction of working hours in the textile industry. Herewith enclosed is price list for the period mentioned, and we trust to hear from you, by return post, that the allotment has been accepted.
I said, also, that there had been a scarcity of flannel, notwithstanding the enormous profits made. I believe that without any _ protection there would have been the same demand for the output of the factories. My request is not in any way an attempt to secure a reduction upon the duties imposed in 1914. Since the 1914 Tariff was never discussed by Parliament - its imposition having been ratified by legislative enactment year by year - the present is the first opportunity given to the representatives of the people, since 1908, to debate individual items of Customs duties. That being the case, honorable senators are entitled to deal with the numerous matters arising upon their merits and as they are applicable to presentday circumstances, the Committee need not be influenced in any way by the 1914 Tariff.
Sitting suspended from 12.1k to 1 a.m. (Friday).
– I cannot allow the remarks made in connexion with the Australian woollen industry by Senator Payne and Senator Guthrie to pass without comment. The latter, I admit, delivered a strong and wellreasoned speech that calls for and necessitates a reply, but a good deal of the argument used by Senator Guthrie was based upon wrong premises by saying that the duties in this Tariff .have been increased as compared with those in the 1914 Tariff. Before proceeding further with my reply to Senator Guthrie’s statement, I may point out that the British duty now proposed by the Government is exactly the same as embodied in the Tariff adopted in 1914, which duties, as compared with those in 1908, were increased by 5 per cent. There was a duty of 25 per cent, on woollen goods in 1908, 30 per cent, in 1914, and 30 per cent, is now proposed. We are more interested in these British rates, because importations of woollens or articles containing wool into Australia in 1919-20 were valued at £3,429,000, of which £3,323,000 worth came from the United Kingdom.
– In spite of the Tariff.
– Exactly. I admit that the present Tariff differs in comparison with the 1914 Tariff, which comprised only two schedules, and in which we imposed 35 per cent, on goods coming from countries outside the United Kingdom. The duties in this Tariff are 30 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent The 40 per cent, and 45 per cent, practically do not apply, because, the bulk of the woollen goods imported into this country which enter into competition with our woollen materials comes from the United Kingdom. Honorable senators supporting the request have made their first point on the assumption that the duties have been raised, and their second point is that they apply to woollen goods, particularly of French manufacture, which are not made in Australia.
– The duty is raised as compared with the 1908 Tariff.
– The point was made over and over again that the duties have been raised recently.
– I did not say that the British duties had been raised beyond those in the 1914 Tariff.
– Honorable senators have said that the duties, particularly those under the general Tariff, apply to goods not manufactured in Australia, as well as to those which are, and if they had submitted a proposal to differentiate between woollen goods manufactured here and those imported and not made here particularly from France, a better case would have been presented to the Committee. In discussing duties on woollen goods, we have to remember that we are dealing with a basic industry, and one that is rapidly developing. I believe I am correct in saying that during the last three or four years approximately four times the amount of capital has been made available for investment in woollen manufactures as was offering a few years ago because it has been shown by reports quoted that the total capital invested in the woollen industry in Australia five or six years ago was a little over £1,000,000 sterling. Within the last week or two a statement appeared in the press that for developments proposed in Tasmania and the States of the mainland nearly £4000,000 has already been ear-marked for investment in woollen manufacture, inclusive of the capital already employed. I desire to meet the accusation that the Australian tweed manufacturers have not “played the game.”
– Has any one insinuated that?
– I do not think the honorable senator did, but Senator Payne said, “ The Australian manufacturer has not been fair to the local consumer.”
– I was referring to the flannel manufacturers. Senator Guthrie dealt with tweeds.
– I accept the disclaimer. I thought the honorable senator was also referring to tweeds. To prove that the Australian tweed manufacturers, at all events, have been fair to the Australian consumers, I desire to refer to some remarks I made on the 27th August, 1919, when we were discussing the Commercial Activities Bill. I then gave, on the authority of one of the oldest established tweed manufacturers in Australia, the prices at which his tweeds were then being sold ex-factory. It is by the prices that the manufacturer charges to the merchants that he must be judged; he cannot be blamed for what may occur in the wholesale and retail distribution of his cloth or the making of it into clothing. At that time, when wool was considerably dearer than it is now, the lowest price charged for this tweed was 6s. 6d., and the highest 10s. 6d., per yard. The Australian manufacturers at that time supplied only one-third of the cloth used in the Commonwealth, two-thirds of it being imported; and I believe that a good deal of the Australian tweed was bought from the factories at low prices, and illegitimately retailed at a high cost as imported tweed. That, in my opinion, was how much of the profiteering was done in connexion with clothing. The figures which Senator Guthrie has quoted from the Inter-State Commission’s report are, no doubt, accurate; but I would point out that they are for the four years 1914 to 1917, and not for three years ; so that the average profit, which he spoke of as 33 per cent., was really only 25 per cent.
– The figures I quoted were for a three-year period.
– I have figures taken from the Prices Investigation Re- port, No. 11, on Clothing, for the years 1914, 1915, 1916, and 1917.
– Only to April, 1917.
– My figures are for a period of four years, and show a lower average percentage of profit on capital than those used by the honorable senator.
– The manufacturers admitted that the average net capital for the whole of the mills of Australia was 33i per cent, per annum.
– According to the report which I have mentioned, the figures are these -
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I have here some wage figures which I should like to put before the Committee, but I wish to hear the conclusion of Senator Pratten’s remarks before doing so.
– I am obliged to Senator Gardiner for the opportunity to continue. The profits which I have just mentioned are high, and are not justifiable; but in view of the very big figures mentioned by Senator Guthrie in connexion with the operation of two or three concerns - he stated that one Victorian factory made £100,000 in. one year, and another, I think, about £90,000 - it is reasonable to assume that the old-established - and, shall I say, respectable? - woollen manufacturers of Australia did not make an average profit of more than 20 per cent, on their capital for a few war years. Moreover, it is to be remembered to their credit that during nearly the whole of this period they were working for the Defence Department in the manufacture of cloth for military purposes. The Department directed their output, and arranged the prices they should charge, and in some cases three shifts were worked, which meant a great deal of extra wear and tear on their machinery. They did get -20 per cent.; but do honorable senators know what occurred at Bradford during the same period? The whole of the Bradford manufacturers were grossly profiteering upon the world. Mushroom millionaires sprang up there in plenty. It should be remembered that even if the Australian manufacturers did make abnormal profits, and I admit that they did, because 20 per cent, profit is abnormal, there was an excess profits tax in operation at the time, and most of those who made 20 per cent, paid a considerable amount of that back into the revenue as excess profits taxation. I put that forward in fairness to them. I wish now to refer to the report of the Bureau of “Commerce and Industry, of which the Director is Mr. Stirling Taylor, which was quoted by Senator Guthrie. I do not accept many of the statements made by Mr. Stirling Taylor, ‘for the reason that he has grossly misrepresented the amount of capital that is required to manufacture woollens. In his report, speaking from memory, I believe that he fixed the sum necessary to carry out a scheme he suggests at £14,000,000. I am informed on irrefutable authority that in view of the price of machinery to-day, which is three or four times what it was before the war, the capital required to carry out that scheme would not be £14,000,000, but would certainly be over £40,000,000, and probably nearer £60,000,000.
– Perhaps Mr. Stirling Taylor’s figures represent merely a first instalment.
– If that be so there was no necessity for him to mislead the public as to the capital required to give effect to his scheme. I do not consider that a gentleman who will say that £14,000,000 is required for the purpose when certainly over £40,000,000 will be necessary is a well-seasoned business man of ripe judgment and experience.
– Is that an opinion, or is it the result of calculation?
– I assume that it is merely Mr. Stirling Taylor’s opinion.
– “What is the honorable senator’s authority?
– I am informed by one of the leading men in the woollen industry that Mr. Stirling Taylor’s estimate is a gross miscalculation, and is not more than one-third, if it is one-third, of the total amount that would be required to carry out the scheme, under existing world conditions.
– Can the honorable senator say how much money is invested in the woollen mills we have?
– I have informed the Committee that the money invested and ear-marked for the development of the industry amounted, according to the latest information, to £4,000,000, which covers the establishment in Tasmania of a worsted factory that will be able to supply the whole of Australia’s requirements in that direction. If our woollen industry had been sufficiently extensive to have supplied the whole of the treed Australia required during the war we should not have been blackmailed to the extent we were by the high prices charged for imported tweeds. I go so far as to say that if Australia hal been producing the whole of her tweed requirements during the period of the high profiteering by Bradford manufacturers, when we were charged four, five, and six times the prices of prewar days, we might have saved two or three, guineas on every suit of clothes worn in the Commonwealth during that time.
– We might have saved more.
– I want to put the position moderately. I have no hesitation In saying that if, during the war period, this industry h’ad been developed as we hope to see it developed within a very short time, we should have saved two, three, or even four guineas a suit, which we had to pay to the profiteering manufacturers abroad. When Senator Guthrie speaks of millionaire manufacturers and of the manufacturing industry as if it were the only industry making a reasonable profit, I should like to remind him that the wool-growers aTe, on the average, the biggest individual income taxpayers in Australia. I may inform him that 11,493 of them pay an average income tax of £170 each, whilst the manufacturers pay an average income tax of less than £100. The pastoralist companies in Australia pay an average income tax of £1,100 each, whilst the manufacturing companies pay an average income tax of £250. I bid the honorable senator remember these figures when he makes so many unfair references to successful Australian manufacturers. That is all I have to say, and I have made these remarks in justice to a very reputable Australian industry.
– My chief reason for rising at this stage is to supplement some of the remarks which were made by Senator Guthrie with respect to the enormous profits made in the woollen industry, by a quotation- of current rates of wages and working hours in the industry. I quote from the labour and industrial statistics issued by Mr. Knibbs. I find that in the clothing industry the weekly wage in Sydney is 76s. lid. In Melbourne it is 71s. 4d.; Brisbane, 74s. 2d.; Adelaide, 72s. 10d.; Perth, 72s. 4d.; Hobart, 58s. 6d. ; and the average weekly wage for the six capital cities is 73s. fid. Referring to working hours, the figures given are - Sydney, 46.21; Melbourne, 46.34; Brisbane, 44.27; Adelaide, 44.27; Perth, 44.36; Hobart, 46.57; and the average, 45.89. The hourly wage given is - For Sydney, ls. 8d. ; Melbourne, ls. 6 1/2d. Brisbane, ls. 8d. ; Adelaide, ls. 7fd.; Perth ls. 7£d; Hobart; ls. 3d.; and the average ls. 7 1/2d.
Senator Reid. What branch of the industry do the figures refer to - the manufacturing or the making up ?
– There is no statement made as to that, or I would certainly not misquote. The honorable senator’s question is a fair one, and I am inclined to think that in estimating these amounts the manufacturing and making-up branches of the clothing industry have been combined.
– The weekly wage in the manufacturing industry is less than the figure quoted by the honorable senator. It is 66s. for the whole of Australia.
– I am glad to have that statement. The weekly wage I have quoted is higher than that mentioned by Senator Guthrie. This was my reason for joining in the debate, and, perhaps, a reason for continuing is lack of knowledge as to when the Government propose to adjourn. If they intend to put the Tariff through to-night, one might just as well say all that one can on every item. I do not know that there is any wisdom in an attempt to force the Tariff through Committee. Senator Payne’s request scarcely provides a fair opportunity to get anything like Free Trade with Great Britain in those industries in which for centuries the Mother Country has been supreme. Why should Australia, this far-flung outpost of the British Empire, refuse to trade with Britain in this particular commodity except at an advantage of from 25 per cent, to 30 per cent, in Customs duties? On the admission of our manufacturers, there is no occasion for this handicap. Senator Guthrie has proved, I think, to every honorable senator’s satisfaction that, as far as the woollen trade is concerned, the natural protection afforded Australia, approximating 50 per cent., is ample; so why add another 30 per cent., par- ‘ticularly against our own kith and kin? The Minister (Senator Russell) in introducing this matter, emphasized the superiority of our- operatives. Ha dwelt on the subject at considerable length. I rather agree with him as to the great capacity of the Australian worker. I like to hear the Australian workman thus described, because we may depend upon it, other nations will do all they can to discount our value. The Minister proved to his own, and, I think, to every one else’s satisfaction, that our operatives are so intelligent, and can so adapt themselves to new industries that they are the equal of any other workers in the world. What necessity, then, can there be for thus handicapping the operatives of the Mother Country 1 It is difficult to understand why any barrier against trading with Great Britain should be raised by those who profess love for the Motherland. If an enemy had done this thing I could have understood it; but when it has been done by one of her household, so to speak, it must be hard for Britain to bear. I am quite aware, of course, that the Age will attack me on this matter, and suggest that I am displaying more interest in the profitable employment of British than Australian workmen. I am doing nothing of the sort. We have not developed our industries to the extent of being able to supply all our own requirements, and if British mills are idle and British operatives are out of work, surely we can take counsel together and consider whether in trade, as in war, we cannot assist the Empire by the adoption of a policy acceptable to both countries. I should have thought that this Government and their supporters, elected, as they were, chiefly because of their professions of loyalty to Great Britain, would have led the way in this matter. Surely they do not want members of a party, who they suggest are disloyal to the- Mother Country, to point the way in which Australian and British policies may operate for mutual advantage? Even Senator Payne is only prepared to reduce the trade barrier by 5 per cent. On this question I accept Senator Guthrie’s opinion, because I realize that he has expert knowledge of all aspects of the wool industry. I believe that the industry can be carried on in Australia without any duty at all, but the Government, in their desire to protect this most profitable business, evidently think otherwise. That the .Australian mill-owner with the raw material at his door can successfully employ Australian workmen is proved by the results at the Geelong mill, managed by the Government. I do not think there has been any industrial trouble there.
– None at all.
– We know what splendid buildings they have down there; how the health and comfort of the employees are considered, and how ideal are the general conditions.
– -And that pays, too.
– There is no question about that, for a well-paid community soon becomes an intellectual community. If we could extend that principle to the employment of all Australian labour instead’ of the haphazard system of seeking to handicap trade with Customs duties in the hope that they will lead to the investment of capital and the employment of our operatives, our industrial position would be most satisfactory. Instead of having only one mill of our own in Victoria, why should we not have a mill in every State, and, in this way, further help our primary producers? If our secondary and primary industries can thus progress side by side we shall be rapidly nearing that millennium which some people think is far away, because they cannot see beyond the industrial possibilities of their own lifetime. I confess that I commenced consideration of this Tariff schedule with grave forebodings as to the result of its passage through another place. I had publicly stated that I thought the intellectual outlook of Australia, on account of the war, has slumped 300 years. However, judging by the manner in which Protectionists here have met the Minister in his absurd proposals, I feel I can leave the subject, recognising that we are now much nearer an intelligent solution of labour troubles and the question of the development of Australian industries by the Government and people of Australia for the benefit of the people of Australia. We are rapidly approaching the time when the development of any industry will not be left in the hands of private enterprise. I do not speak with an intimate knowledge of the woollen industry; but I received to-day from a gentleman engaged in the manufacture of clothing in Victoria an interesting letter on the subject. I have not met this gentleman, but, becoming interested o in the report -of the Tariff debate in this Chamber, he wrote to tell me that Victoria, after fifty years of Protection, is still unable to produce the serge required for a policeman’s uniform. Whether that is so or not I cannot say; but the statement comes from one who ought to know.
– It is not correct. Such serge is supplied by the Commonwealth Mill, and is used for the uniforms of policemen and railway and postal officials.
– But it remained for the Commonwealth .Mill to produce that class of serge.
– The point I was making was that, apart from the Commonwealth Mill, no woollen manufacturer in Victoria, despite fifty years of Protection, was able to produce such serge.
– Outside the Commonwealth Mill, it is not made in Victoria.
– That is an ex0cellent illustration of the direction which the development of Australian industry should take. If Victoria, after being the home of Protection in Australia for fifty years, is unable to boast of a woollen mill, apart from that owned by the Commonwealth, that can produce the material required for a policeman’s uniform, then there is something defective in Protection as a means of establishing native industries. The Labour party was scarcely in power for a year before it established a Government woollen mill that could produce such material, so that the Labour party’s methods of solving such a difficulty are more intelligent than are those offered by the Protectionists. I am glad to have had Senator Guthrie’s confirmation of the statement contained in the letter addressed to me by a local clothing manufacturer.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– No honorable senator appreciates more than I do Senator Pratten’s contribution to this debate. I recognise the care he has taken to place clearly before the Committee his views with regard to the position of the Australian tweed manufacturers, and I desire to assure him that in the course of my remarks at the outset of this debate I made no attack on the Australian manufacturers of tweeds. I know that they have been producing during the last few years tweeds at the prices quoted by him. That must be patent to any one who has availed himself of the opportunities offering to visit the local woollen mills, to inspect their products, and to ascertain the prices charged for them. But every word uttered by Senator Pratten supports the request I have submitted to the Committee. Senator Guthrie’s contribution, splendid as it was, was not more strongly iri support of my request for a reduction of these duties than was that made by Senator Pratten. My honorable friend has shown clearly that there is no need for this highly Protective Tariff. At the time referred to by him there was nothing that could compete with the excellent tweeds turned out by the Australian mills at the prices quoted for them., nor is there at the present time anything that could compete, in so far as value is concerned, with them.
– Does not the honorable senator realize that the northern, hemisphere at the time was under wau conditions, but that it is rapidly recovering?
– But I am speaking of the present period. The northern countries engaged in the manufacture of tweeds have to draw their supplies of wool from Australia.
– Nearly £3,000,000 worth of woollen goods were imported in 1919-20.
– Because Australia will not be able for many years to supply the demand. Among the woollen textiles so imported were many the manufacture of which has not been attempted in Australia. The great bulk of the enormous sum referred to by Senator Pratten has been expended by the people of Australia, not in the purchase of tweed for men’s clothing, but on textilefabrics which we do. not manufacture, and which are used mainly for female apparel.
– We can supply only one-third’ of our .own requirements.
– While that is so, it is unnecessary to impose this exceptionally high Tariff in order to bring about a considerable expansion of the industry. This industry can stand on its own bottom. I am hot proposing Free Trade in respect of woollen materials; I am merely trying to show that it is unnecessary to continue the operation of a duty of 30 per cent, on woollen textile fabrics imported from Great Britain. In regard to one class of those fabrics we could hold our own even if there were no duty in operation, while as to the other class we do not. attempt its manufacture in Australia. As to the general Tariff, I am quite prepared, to discriminate between British and foreign manufactures to the extent of 15 per cent. The duty for which I ask on the British, article amounts really to 27J per cent., since an ad valorem duty of 25 per cent, means 27i per cent., while the general duty of 35 per cent, amounts to 38£ per cent. Surely such duties are high enough to meet the requirements of the industry in Australia. But for the fact that revenue is sorely needed1, I should certainly have moved a request for a much greater reduction. What I propose is actually no reduction upon the rates operating under the last Tariff discussed by the Australian Parliament. Senator Pratten waa mistaken when he suggested that I had tried to make it appear to the Committee that the duty under the British general Tariff had been raised. I said nothing of the kind. I realize that my proposal in respect of the British Tariff means 5 per cent, less than the rate which appears in the schedule at the present time. We are now for the first time discussing these items, and we should go back to the rates of 25 per cent. British, and 35 per cent under the general Tariff.
– I listened with great interest to the speech of Senator Guthrie. Some of his statements were extraordinary. If the Australian woollen industry is as flourishing as he would make out, why are the people of Australia importing so many British goods at such high prices when the honorable senator says they can buy Australian products at a much cheaper price?
– We have not over-‘ taken the demand.
– No, because the call for Australian woollen goods has not been such as to induce people to invest their money in the industry and attempt to supply the demand. The public will have imported goods. Any tailor will say at once that until recently the majority of his customers preferred to buy imported tweeds.
– There has never been any difficulty in selling Australian tweeds when they have been offered at a reasonable price.
– Nine out of ten persons will choose the British article in preference to the Australian tweed.
– Many people prefer worsted to ordinary wool, because it does not stretch at the knee; and the Australian mills have not been able to turn out worsted.
– The Australian article does not give the same wear and satisfaction as the English material.
– That is a sweeping assertion.
– I speak from twenty years’ experience in supplying the public, 0and l am giving facts. Nine out of ten people will choose the British article because the Australian cloth does not give satisfaction in the wear; at least, it has not until lately.
– It wears all right, but it gets unshapely.
– A suit of clothes made from Australian tweed bags and sags, and gets out of shape, and is done for if it gets a soaking in the rain, because it cannot be pressed into shape again owing to the fact that the packing and canvas cannot be restored to their original positions.
– Would the honorable senator say that that would occur in the case of suits made from the tweeds turned out by the Commonwealth Woollen Mills?
– Those mills have turned out an excellent material, but the samples displayed by the honorable senator do not compare with material of the same quality made in the Old Country. They will not make up so well as English cloth, or stand the same amount of strain. The suit made from Australian cloth may wear well, but it will not keep its shape.
– Is the sample of cloth I have shown inferior to the English material, which costs 30s. per yard
– I am saying nothing against the Australian-made article; but I contend that we have not yet reached that stage at which we can produce a cloth up to the standard of the imported material. That is why I support these protective duties, because they will enable the industry to be built up, and will induce men to invest their capital and use their experience in producing a material equal to that which is produced in the Old Country. We have heard a lot of facts of what it costs to make a suit of clothes. Three and a half yards of the excellent segette turned out at the Commonwealth Woollen Mill at 7s. 6d. per yard will cost £1 6s. According to the latest arbitration award, the labour employed in turning that cloth into an ordinary suit of clothes such as is worn by the majority of people should not cost more than £2 4s. With an allowance of £1 at the outside for trimmings and cutter, and it is a liberal allowance, it should not cost more than £4 10s. to produce that suit of clothes; and whatever more is charged for it goes to Flinderslane or the retailer. English material of the same quality costs 30s. per yard.
– It did during the war.
– The next lot that comes out will not cost anything like that amount. ,
– I am speaking about cloth produced under conditions corresponding with those under which the Australian material is produced at a cost of 7s. 6d. per yard. Yet the people prefer to buy the article which costs 30s. per yard.
– They have been paying the same price for Australian goods, because whoever sold Australian material advanced its price to that of the English article, and, in fact, sold most of it as English cloth.
– The Australian article may have been sold to the public as English made, but the manufacturers sold it to the wholesale houses or the retailers as an Australian cloth. If the Australian mills had seen that their own material was put on the market, and sold at a proper price, the industry would have obtained such a hold that no more British goods would have been handled. But I am ashamed to say that there was profiteering going on, though for that, I do not blame the mills.
– Do you say that no more British goods would have been handled in spite of the inferior quality of the Australian goods?
– I say that the Australian wool- was produced so cheaply that it would have paid people to pay for three local suits instead of one imported suit.
– If the Australian wool can be produced so cheaply, there is no necessity for a duty.
– I am speaking of the conditions during the war period. Senator Payne could not tell us what increases of wages had taken place in the mills in relation to the production of flannel.
– I said that the article was formerly made for Hid. per yard; and that the same proportion of profits could be produced now &t ls. 6d. per yard.
– I shall give some figures to show what the Australian manufacturer has to contend against. In 1913, the wage per week for adult males was £2 2s., as compared with £4. 4s. in 1921, showing an increase of 100 per cent.; in 1913, the wage of females was £1 ls. per week, as compared with £2 2s. now, also an increase of 100 per cent.
– In 1914, the adult male wage was more than £2 2s.
-I am comparing wages in 1913 with the wages in 1921. In 1913, coal was 14s. 6d. per ton as against 34s. 6d. to-day, an increase of 130 per cent. ; oil, per gallon, in 1913 was ls. 3d., as compared with 2s. 9d. to-day, an increase of 120 per cent.; while dye wares in 1913 were 2s. 6d. as compared with 9s. per lb., an increase of 260 per cent. Wages and conditions in Europe may once more reach a low level, and, if so, Australia will not be able, to hold its own even with a high Tariff. The Australian market will be flooded with European goods, and one of our most important industries may have to struggle for its very existence, as it had to do ten or twelve years ago, when many mills - one to my own knowledge, for years - were not paying dividends. That they are now solvent is due to the fact that they were commandeered by the Government to produce flannel and other goods required for war purposes. Then the machinery was kept constantly going.
– If the mills had formerly concentrated on flannel, they would have made the industry pay.
– The mills did not do that until they were commandeered by the Government, and, as I say, made solvent. I am afraid that if we lower the duties we shall find our market flooded with cheap foreign goods. Germany was formerly one of our greatest competitors; she imitated $11 the British patterns, and sent the goods in large quantities to Australia. Some of these goods were of high quality, while others were quite the reverse; but if Germany regains her former position, and acts -in the same way, our mills will have very little chance.
– How could Germany do that with a Tariff of this kind, and a depreciated market?
SenatorREID. - I am simply showing what may take place if we dispense with the duties. Senator Guthrie said that the industry could stand alone.
– I did not say it could stand alone against Germany and Japan, but that it could against England or France, with the present wages and conditions, combined with high freights both ways.
SenatorREID. - We do not know what freights or wages may be in the future ; but we do know the standard that we wish to maintain in Australia. Even if extra profits were made owing to war conditions, I am still in favour of keeping the industry going. I am sure that Senator Guthrie regards it as one of the most important industries in Australia.
– I should like to see woollen mills all over the country.
SenatorREID. - So should I, and, therefore, I am in favour of retaining tie Tariff as it is.
– I do not think that all-night sittings will assist our progress with the Tariff, and although we have not got as far as we should have liked to-day, I suggest it would be only fair to report progress now. The supporters of the high duties ask why the consumption has not been overtaken, and why the duties have not enabled the manufacturers to succeed. I remind honorable senators that Australia has been federated for only twenty years, and that Victoria, which was then the one Protectionist State, imposed a duty of only 15 per cent, on woollen goods. At that time Victoria was competing against Great Britain and all other countries which desired to get control of her market. The wages and conditions in Great Britain then were, as Senator Guthrie has said, and as most of us know from experience, much inferior to those in Australia. Furthermore, the freight on raw material from Australia to the Old Country is now three times what it was prior to 1902. It will be seen that the Victorian manufacturers were Competing against the British manufacturers under most disadvantageous conditions. What did Federation do for the woollen industry? The only Protectionist colony in Australia a little more than twenty years ago was Victoria.
– Queensland also.
– At any rate, Victoria was regarded as the Protectionist State, and the rate of duty imposed upon imported British woollens was only 15 per cent. That was inadequate, bearing in mind the conditions under which Australian manufacturers had to contend with outside competition. Wages are now becoming equalized all over the world. Mr. Ambrose Pratt, in his publication, uses a new phrase when he states that there is an international labour charter to-day. At the time in question, however, wages in England were from a third to one-half of the rates paid in Australia, which fact reveals that the local manufacturers had to fight fierce competition, and were scarcely able to hold their own. When Federation was accomplished, the Victorian Tariff was adopted, and the duty remained at 15 per cent. The difficulties with which Australian manufacturers had to contend were not lightened. The 1908 Tariff provided the first attempt to place the woollen manufacturing industry of the Commonwealth upon a fair footing. The duty was raised to 25 per cent. That marked the point from which the industry began to hold its own. From 1908 to 1914, when the war broke out, the young industry was given a chance to overtake local consumption. Manufacturers had only five or six years in which to perfect their organization, set up plants, meet the worldspread competition, and overtake local consumption. The brevity of that period really explains why the Australian demand has not yet been filled. Now comes the question whether the present duty is fair. Under the conditions, and in all the circumstances, I hold that it is. At any rate, it is one which should be given a fair trial before a heavier impost is placed upon imported woollens. I am prepared to make due allowance for the war period, and for the disturbing effect which it had upon production and consumption. Parliament is endeavouring to frame a Tariff which will cover the transition period during which conditions are sliding down from abnormal to normal. It would be wrong to place an exaggerated value upon the conditions pertaining to the war years. To do so would lead Parliament, perhaps, to cut down the degree of protection to a dangerous margin. The best authorities concerning whether the duty hitherto ruling was fair or insufficient are the manufacturers themselves. What do they say? One of the leading Australian woollen manufacturers - Mr. Vickers, of New South Wales - stated in the course of a public speech about the beginning of last year that the time was fast approaching when the manufacturers of woollen goods in this country would overtake consumption. He said so without asking for increased protection.
– When Mr. Vickers made that remark the British duty was 30 per cent., and it had been so since 1914.
– If such is the case, my argument is to some extent weakened. Possibly Mr. Vickers had in mind the lower rate of duty. Certainly, he would not go out of his way to state that the imposition of 30 per cent, was unduly high, even although, in his heart, he might feel that it was. At the same’ time, there are the statements of witnesses called before the Inter-State Commission, not one of whom asked for an increased duty. Before I record my vote I desire information from the Minister (Senator Russell) or some one else concerning the “hard times” the factories of the Commonwealth experienced prior to the imposition of the higher duties. We shall then have an opportunity of balancing those arguments against the statements submitted by Senator Guthrie, one of which was to the effect that a comparatively small mill-owner in Geelong had made a fortune of £680,000. We hear on one hand that struggling millowners have been driven into liquidation or that they had such a bad time that they could not carry on profitably, and on the other that huge fortunes are being made. I do not wish to do anything which would press unduly upon these men, and I would like some information before a division is taken.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Senator PRATTEN (New South Wales) object of the duty of 45 per cent, under the general Tariff is to prevent the importation of German and Japanese products.
– It is very hard for honorable senators to record an intelligent vote when we have not been supplied with sufficient information. I should like to have further details concerning the industries which are supposed to be in a bad way.
– I did not say that any of them were so circumstanced.
– Has the honorable senator taken into consideration the increase in the capital employed and the cost of machinery as compared with prewar days?
– If we take into account the statements published by the Bureau of Commerce and Industry we should reduce the duties rather than increase them.
– Where does Mr. Stirling Taylor obtain his figures?
– He has a committee advising him.
– He has the advantage of coming in contact with the men engaged in this particular undertaking, and he has a reputation’ to protect. What Mr. Stirling Taylor said has been supported by evidence concerning the Government mill, and even if we ignore his statement there is ample ground on which to oppose any increase in view of the evidence to which I have referred.Reference has been made to the fact that the mills were working three shifts per day; but I do not think that has anything to do with it.
– The Government guaranteed a certain amount to place them on a sound basis.
– Senator Reid ought to explain why the growers of sugar cane, who have been fully protected, have not overtaken the consumption.
– Order ! The honorable senator is not entitled to discuss the production of sugar on this item.
– There is nothing extraordinary in an industry working three shifts a day, and there is no valid reason why extra profits should be claimed on that account. There are ^ other industries which have to work.three shifts per day throughout the year in order to remain solvent. The Golden Mile and other mines in Western Australia have to work three shifts, and blast furnaces used in smelting have to operate continuously. These industries do now show a profit of 30 per cent. In the absence of further information concerning the Government Woollen Mill, I must support the request submitted by Senator Payne.
’. - Senator Pratten questioned the average wages paid in the woollen trade in Australia to-day, and for his information I may say that the average rate for forty-eight hours per week is 66s. for adult male workers.
– Is that in the woollen mills or the cloth mills ?
– The woollen mills. In regard to the profits made, I shall quote the finding of the Inter-State Commission, which is repeated again in the 1920 annual report of the Bureau of Commerce and Industry. It reads -
On inquiry we find the Government had the output of twenty-two mills from 1915 to April, 1917. The capital involved was £1,144,000 and the net profit was £1,197,000.
They received a return equal to .the whole of their capital in approximately two and a half years.
– The honorable senator is quoting from the report of the Bureau of Commerce and Industry, and not from the report of the Inter-State Commission.
– They are the same. ;”-?v’tf-
– I quoted from the report of the Inter-State Commission.
– The Govern- ment are responsible for this publication. The finding was that a profit of -33^ per cent, was made, and the whole of the capital was returned in two and a half years.
– What does the honorable senator consider the decent manufacturers made?
– Twenty to 30 per cent.
– That is more than the average.
– They had badly-managed mills, with obsolete machinery. I do not know how they did it, but they made a profit of from 20 to 30 per cent.
– If the average profit was 33£ per cent., and two or three manufacturers made an altogether abnormal profit, some of the others must have made much less than the average.
– I spoke of one concern that made a profit of £90,000.
– And a Geelong firm made £100,000 out of flannel.
– Those are only two out of twenty-two companies. On the other hand, as I have said, there were mills with obsolete machinery that cannot have made large profits.
– I understand that the Federal mill made 10 per cent, on its output after paying all expenses, and sold its cloth to the Government at fixed prices.
– I. was informed that that mill could have made over 30’ per cent, if allowed to sell its output in the ordinary way. »
– As the Government intends to continue for a considerable time yet, and as I wish to. help Ministers in passing the Tariff, I propose to quote from a book which I am reading with a great deal of interest. It shows that the Protectionists of to-day are just where the Protectionists of 100 years ago stood, having made no intellectual advancement. The book to which I refer is the Life of Friedrich List, by Margaret E. Hirst. List was a German, and a highlyeducated man, who was driven out of his native State ; but after his death a monument “was erected to his memory because he had been a Protectionist. The .writer says -
By the modern bureaucrats and official professors of his native land he is remembered as a rebel against their own class, a rash and dangerous champion of free speech, a believer in democratic institutions, and a Tariff reformer whose doctrines would be altogethersubversive of the so-called “ scientific “ Tariff of modern Germany. If List had had his way there would have been Free Trade from Rotterdam to Memel, and from Memel to Trieste. This great territory he would indeed have surrounded by a temporary Tariff for the purpose of protecting manufactures (but not agriculture) until its “ infant “ industries wereable to resist the competition of their stronger rivals in England. When the time came, and the industries reached the stage at which they could export and compete successfully in neutral countries, the Protective Tariff would be removed, and the consumers who had been taxed during this period of probation in order that the productive capacity of the nation might be nursed into life and vigour would be relieved of their burdens and allowed to enjoy the blessings, not only of cheap food (of which List would never have deprived them), but of cheap clothing, and boots, and tools, and of all the other conveniences of life. This idea of the Tariff as a nursery, grew upon List during his stay in America. Had he lived another half-century to see the American Tariff on worsteds and woollens raised higher and higher, until the natural cost of warm clothing was doubled for the whole American people, he might have begun to question the working value of his theory. Instead of Tariffs falling as industries grow, colonial, American, and European experience tells us that the reverse is usually the case.
I have pegged away night after night in the hope of inducing senators to discontinue taking money from the pockets of the people to put it into those of the manufacturers without hope of getting cheaper materials from those manufacturers. There should, however, be a quorum to listen to my remarks. [Quorum formed,] I see that Tariff history is not appreciated at this hour of the morning, and therefore I shall not weary the Committee with further quotations, but will allow honorable senators to read the book for themselves. They will find it full of interest. I am reading it because it contains the opinions of persons who think differently from me.
– Would you have us believe that you are a broadminded man?
– No; I am as narrow as the class to which I belong. I come here to represent a section of the community.
– And you do it very well.
– I thank the honorable senator. The reading of the book to which I have referred convinces me that the growth of Protection during last century was fostered by the antipathy of Germany and the United States of America to Great Britain. The German States were then struggling into unity, and after the War of Independence a large section of the American public was always anti-British. But why should this country show antipathy to Great Britain, and impose a duty of 30 per cent, on goods which Great Britain makes better than any other country? There might have been a reason for American prejudice arising out of the struggle with Great Britain for American independence. There might have been some influence exercised by party spirit in America, since a political party might hope to secure a’ powerful political pull by pandering to the prejudice against Great Britain. But one would think that political advantage here would be with the party that would try to do something for both Australia and Great Britain. Senator Payne has moved a request for a reduction in the proposed duty on British imports by 5 per- cent., and I appeal to the Minister (Senator Russell) to consent to that reduction. The difference between a duty of 30 per cent, and a duty of 25 per cent, against British imports is not a matter about which the Minister should be obstinate, and he would place his supporters in a better position before the electors if he consented to the reduction than he will by asking them to take part in a division against it. Senator Payne was right in saying that the Tariff of 1914 was never discussed. It was a Tariff of the Government and not of Parliament, because Parliament shut out the discussion of Tariffs during the period of the war, and the 1914 Tariff went through in one day in order that it might have the sanction of Parliament before it was prorogued. I know that my appeals fall upon deaf ears, because the Minister has made up his mind as to how far he will get with this schedule during the present sitting. I think that he will get as far as he intends, but he would get there much more quickly if he displayed a certain amount of reasonableness in dealing with the different items. How he could have sat unmoved after a speech such as that delivered by Senator Guth’rie I cannot understand. A reasonable man would have said that in view of the facts presented by Senator Guthrie he would be prepared to compromise in the matter and accept a reduction of duty which would be more favorable to imports from Great Britain by 5 per cent, than that proposed in the schedule. There ‘ would still be a duty’ “of 45 per cent, against Germany when her goods again came into the market, and 35 per cent, against Canada or New Zealand.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Question - That the request (Senator Payne’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Payne) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (f), intermediate, ad val., 30 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (f), British, ad val., 25 per cent.
I hope that, in this matter, honorable senators will give Great Britain a fair deal. It is absolutely useless to urge that a Tariff of 30 per cent, against British manufacturers of woollen goods is necessary to protect the Australian industry. It has been proved conclusively during the debate that the Australian manufacturers can carry on successfully without any duty at all against British goods.
– And yet, in spite of the Tariff, British manufacturers flood our markets with woollen goods.
– The honorable senator knows quite well that the great bulk of the textile fabrics imported from Great Britain are of the class not manufactured in Australia.
– You know that what I say is quite true.
– It is not true. If we could only analyze the individual items, I feel sure we would find that at least three-fourths of the textiles imported are not manufactured in this country.
– You know that British woollen goods are flooding our markets all the time.
– They are imported only in quantities to meet the demand, and if they were not available our people would not be able to obtain them, because we do not manufacture that particular class of goods.
– And if we open the door to importations, they will never be manufactured here.
– The honorable senator is adopting an extraordinary attitude. These commodities are required for the comfort and well-being of our people, and if a duty is imposed upon their introduction Australian industry will not benefit in any way. We shall simply be increasing the burden upon the people who buy the goods. Surely that is not the policy of this Government. If it is, then I do not wish to be associated with the Government. I do not want to fight against the Government. I came here as a Nationalist, supporting a Nationalist Government.
– But we want a few “ bob “ to carry on.
– And I propose to give the Government a few more “ bobs “ than they collected under any previous Tariff. This Parliament has never imposed a Tariff equal to that which is before us to-day. It applies to goods which are not manufactured here, but are made in Great Britain, and are necessary for the comfort and well-being of our people. I hope, at all events, that so far as the British preferential Tariff is concerned the majority of honorable senators will grant this slight concession. After all, we want the manufacturers of Great Britain to realize that in Australia they have not a fiscal enemy, but a Dominion, which, while giving its own industries a fair measure’ of protection, is prepared at the same time to afford Britain every opportunity to recover the position that she partly lost during the long years of the terrible war.
– Let us tell them that there is plenty of room for them to come here and convert our wool into woollen goods for us.
– The honorable senator does not believe in such a thing as love of country.
– I certainly do.
– The English people have the same love for their country that we have for Australia.
– Then why do they not secure a preference for themselves with regard to their own market)
– I am dealing with this matter from an Australian point of view, and I hold that where, without doing injury to our own industries, we can give Britain a preference, we should do so.
– But it is questionable whether we can do what is proposed in this case.
– Surely sufficient evidence has been brought forward to show that the Tariff I am proposing will give more than ample protection to our industries. It will not merely give them ample protection, but will prove a very high revenue Tariff. Surely we cannot expect, and ought not to ask for, more.
– I am going to support this request for a slight preference to Great Britain by making the duty on woollen goods from that country 25 per cent.
That, after all, is a very heavy duty. I cannot understand the attitude taken up by the Government. It seems to me that they have made up their minds to be as stubborn as mules. They are not prepared to accept any advice from their own supporters, but, on the contrary, seem to be ready to antagonize them. They have not even had the courtesy to reply to the arguments that have been advanced in favour of a reduction of the duty on British imports under this subitem. The Minister in charge of the Bill (Senator Russell) stands stubbornly to the duties proposed by the Government, because he knows that he has here some supporters who will vote as the Government please, at any hour of the day or night. If that is, to be the attitude of the Government, it will not receive my support now or at any other time. If they think they can pull the strings, and’ induce a majority of honorable senators’ to vote as they please, without debate, and without offering any defence of a Tariff which is absolutely ridiculous, they are making a mistake. They talk of being Britishers, and yet when they have a chance of giving a little preference to British imports they are practically antiBritish. Although the British Government in four years paid us £176,000,000 for our wool, plus 2Jd. to 3d. per lb. to get- it to Bradford in order that it might be worked up, and huge freights to bring the manufactured articles back again to Australia-r-freights and charges which give our manufacturers an enormous advantage - the Government want to penalize our own kith and kin; they want to penalize the manufacturers of .the Motherland by imposing a Tariff which is almost prohibitive. I cannot understand this penalizing of British imports, which means at- the same time penalizing our own consumers and increasing the cost of living. The Government appointed a Commission, which recommended the payment of a basic wage of £5 16s. a week; and the cost of living, owing to this policy of Protection run mad, will soon become so high that we shall have to pay that basic wage. The cost of living is far too high.
– It is coming down.
– The purchasing power of the sovereign is still about half what it was before the war.
– I would remind the honorable senator that no other Dominion gives Britain a greater preference than is given by this Tariff.
– Is a duty of 30 per cent, on British woollens a fair thing ? Why have the Government, while increasing the duties on woollens, reduced the Tariff on luxuries? It seems to me that this is a Tariff for” the rich, and not for the poor. It provides for a reduction of the old duties on velvets, plushes, furs, astrakhan, laces for attire, Bouncings, nets, embroidery, and other frills and furbelows. The old duties on such articles are reduced from 30 per cent, to 20 per cent, under the general Tariff. The Government is putting up a very bad case to present to the electors at the next general election by bringing down the duties on luxuries while increasing the duties on woollen goods, which the people of Australia should all be able to use, and which the doctors tell us are absolutely necessary. 1
– Neither Canada, South Africa, nor New Zealand give Britain as great a preference as we do in this Tariff as a whole.
– That has nothing to do with the point under consideration. Britain, to begin with, does not go to Canada for her wool. I undertake to say that the Canadian Tariff, taken as a whole, is not as high, in so far as British imports are concerned, as is this Tariff, which will make living in Australia very dear. I cannot understand why the Government refused to adopt the proposal made by us earlier in the debate. We are not asking for a drastic reduction. We are merely re-, questing a reversion to the old Tariff, and no argument has been brought f orNard in opposition to that proposition. The Government, however, are stubborn, and I suppose will adopt the same attitude throughout the consideration of the
Tariff, so that it is quite useless to debate any of - the items.
– I do not desire to antagonize my honorable friends from Victoria or Tasmania by continually recording a silent vote on these questions. Senator Guthrie seems to think that those who vote for the maintenance of the present Tariff are blindly following the lead of the Minister in charge of the Bill (Senator Russell). I assure- him that he is mistaken. I made up my mind weeks ago that I would vote to retain the duties in respect of this particular sub-item. The argument advanced so eloquently by the honorable senator was well thought out. We know that the present, producers of woollen goods in Australia have been, to some extent,- exploiting the people. I referred to that fact in my speech on the motion for the first reading of this Bill; and if the Commonwealth has not the constitutional power, I want to see the States, which have, take action to prevent such exploitation. But I desire, first of all, to see our industries made secure. Then having made them secure, it will be within the power of the people of Australia to control them. It seems absolutely absurd that we in Australia, where every facility exists for the manufacture of all woollen products, should ship our wool away and buy back woollen cloth made by people overseas. In the Tariff we are giving 15 per cent, preference to Great Britain over, foreign countries, if I may use the term, and 10 per cent, over countries with which reciprocal arrangements may be made. Beyond that I am not prepared to go. I am looking forward to the time when Tasmania will be one of the most intensely settled manufacturing communities of Australia. At the present moment a company is making preparations to commence operations there with a capital expenditure of £250,000.
– That is due to Protection.
– Undoubtedly. I want to see these industries going. I have explained over and over again that unless Protection is controlled it will be to a degree harmful to the consumers, and that if we are to reap the full benefit of it we must control it. The fact that an increase in a duty may give the local manufacturer an opportunity of exploiting the consumers is no reason why it should not be given. Our proper course is to increase the duty and get industries established here. The responsibility will then lie upon the people themselves to preserve their own interests by controlling these industries and providing against exploitation.
– Most of the woollen goods imported from Great Britain are not manufactured here, nor are they likely to be.
– They are likely to be manufactured here. Any product of wool ought to be manufactured here if we give people sufficient encouragement to undertake its manufacture. It has been pointed out that the Commonwealth mills are now manufacturing forty or fifty different kinds of cloth.
– The Tasmanian climate is more suitable than that of any other part of the Commonwealth for the manufacture of many kinds of woollen cloth.
– I have not the slightest doubt upon that point. Some of the material manufactured in Tasmania compares very favorably with anything imported. The preference of many persons for the imported article is largely, due to the prejudice against the local product. If people care to exercise that prejudice in future the Treasury will reap the benefit. I do not want Senator Guthrie to think that I am blindly in opposition to him. I studied this matter long ago, and I do not intend to budge one inch in my effort to retain the duties set out in the schedule. I hope they will be agreed to, and that as a result many new woollen mills will be set up in Australia, when instead of exporting half of the raw material we produce, we shall ultimately be in a position, not only to provide for our own requirements, but also to export and compete successfully with the woollen products of older established industrial centres of the world. We have an opportunity to do so. We have the artisans, cheap power, a suitable climate, and the raw material. What more do we want? If we apply ourselves to the task we must be in a position to successfully compete with any other part of the world in the production of these goods; and that is the object I have in view in supporting the Tariff as it stands. I do not wish to be on my feet continually explaining my position, but I do not want it to be thought that by giving a silent vote I am a blind follower of the Government. The schedule before us is in the best interests of Australia, and I shall vote solidly for it.
– I have been waiting to hear something said to explain the necessity for this duty. We have heard arguments as to the necessity for every increase of duty asked for; but with all due respect to those whose opinions are opposed to those of the advocates of a reduced duty, not one single instance has been given this morning to show that Australia stands in need of a higher duty upon woollen goods. We have had generalities only in reply to specific instances as quoted by Senator Guthrie and not contradicted. Senator Guthrie is perfectly right in saying that Ministers have treated him with studied disrespect by not replying to what he has said.
– Because there is no reply to what he has said.
– I can quite believe that his speech was so unanswerable that there could be no reply to it. It is said that there is a wide field for the expansion , of our woollen industry. Let me repeat that we only made a start to manufacture woollen goods in Australia in 190S, when the duty was increased to 25 per cent. It was impossible to do anything under the previous duty of 15 per cent, at a time when the manufacturers at the other end of the world were so heavily advantaged as compared with those in Australia, but now, on the authority of the hand-book prepared by the Government for the information of honorable senators, conditions of labour have been evened up. If Senator Earle has seen this hand-book, and learned from it that labour conditions in the Old Country are now equal to those here, how can he support a duty of 30 per cent., especially when he cannot furnish a single instance of a woollen goods manufacturer in Australia who has gone into liquidation, or is in a bad way, or is not paying decent wages? The honorable senator is prepared to vote for this increase in duty, although all the facts . supplied in this publication, go to support the arguments put forward by Senator Guthrie, to whom up to date not a single reply has been vouchsafed.
– Two replies have been given to the statements made by Senator Guthrie.
– That is. true, but no thanks are due to the Government for them. I am not here to give a silent vote on such a matter. I have my own opinions, . but propose to keep an open mind in dealing with this Tariff. As a matter of fact, if it were dealt with on its merits, if convinced Free Traders would vote Free Trade and convinced Protectionists were willing to adopt a policy of giving adequate protection and nothing more, those who are in accord with my views would win hands down. But the Tariff is not being considered on its merits. If the Government holds up its hand in one direction, there are senators willing to slavishly and blindly follow.
– You have no right to say that.
– I can say nothing less. Not a single case has been cited of an Australian industry which is languishing as a result of the present Tariff. When the time arrives when it is sought to put other industries on a fair level, we shall see whether there are honorable senators prepared to single out the woollen manufacturers, and give them duties for which they do not ask, while, at the same time, protection is curtailed in the case of industries which, perhaps, are entitled to more consideration. Apparently we are proceeding as though the operatives in the Old Country still received half the wages that are paid to Australian workmen. If we desire to have a well-balanced Tariff, we must see that even-handed justice is done all round, and that not only those who happen to be woollen manufacturers receive the benefits.
Question - That the request (Senator Payne’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to insert the following new sub-item - “ (ff) Woollen, or containing wool, for women’s and children’s dresses, ad val., British,. 20 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent. ; general, 30 per cent.”
This request will appeal to the good sense of the majority of honorable senators in view of the fact that we are not manufacturing any of these textile fabrics. It has been shown very clearly, even by those who opposed my previous requests, that these , are all imported from Great Britain.
– The same point arises with respect to the request of Senator Payne as in the case of that moved by Senator Pratten. Its subject-matter is included in and covered by sub-itemf, which has been disposed of. I cannot accept the proposed request.
– Sub-item freads, “ Woollen, or containing wool, n.e.i.” My purpose is to include something which is not elsewhere included.
– The honorable senator may effect his purpose by securing the recommittal of the item after the schedule has been considered.
– Shall I be inorder in requesting the inclusion of a new subitem which will read, “ Materials for the manufacture of women’s and children’s dress goods other than cotton and linen” ?
– The honorable senator may not move except as is provided under the Standing Orders, and according to the practice of the Senate. I repeat that, since the subject-matter of his requested amendment has been already dealt with, I cannot accept it.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Item 106 -
Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) [3.39 a.in.J. - r moves -
That the. House- of Representatives be. re? quested, to amend sub-item (a.) by insertingafter “ Tinsel’, thread “ the following words:”‘Plain braids- under 3 inches in width, of one colour., webbings, n.e.i.,, and bone belting.”
– Braids- are included in’ the’ next sub-item.-
– But there they would be dutiable, and. my object is- to include these in the free, list, as they are as necessary for manufacturing purposes -as are the articles in sub-item a. Plain braids are used very extensively in making’ dresses, and the webbing and Bone belting is also essential. I produce samples of the materials to which I have referred, and honorable senators can accept my assurance that these articles are not manufactured in Australia. Cotton feather-stiched braids; used extensively in trimming underwear, are admitted free, and the. items, in. connexion with which I have submitted a ‘ request are equally necessary. Webbing is. used as a waist band on skirts. I have been sup- - plied’ with- the- following information: -
Webbings n.e.i. should be included, in item No. 106a… They have been included in the - proposals under sub-item (b),and made, dutiable there at 15 per cent’., 20’ per cent’:, and- 30’per cent., although- they are- not manufactured in Australia,, and. are not worn externally,, being solely, for internal- use in- the manufacture- or women’s wear. At. present, they are all de livered as minor articles (item 404) under Ministerial’ by-law, duty- free British, 10’ per cent, foreign. This- by-law could be- cancelled at’, any moment, thus- automatically restoring the rates of duty provided for by their mention in this Item. Probably when the Tariff has been, finally disposed of, it is intended to cancel the by-law; otherwise; why have these goods been specifically included under item 106b? It .would seem that an explanation is necessary to clear away any doubt.
– What da you want?
– These articles’ are npt manufactured in Australia, and are as necessary in the manufacture of women’s attire as is feather-stitched braid, which is admitted’ free:
– Webbings n.e.i. are mentioned in subitem b, and if the honorable senator’s re quest is adopted those words: will’- have to be deleted.
– I realize that, and shall, if necessary., move, accordingly.
– Some: of’ the articles mentioned by Senator’ Payne are- manufactured. in Australia:. There has been-, a wonderful development, in regard to the manufacture of minor articles, of this description, and I can assure the honorable senator, that those which are not manufactured here- will be: exempt, and that no departmental by-laws will be inrtroduced unless such articles’ are manufactured. in. the. Commonwealth.
– Cotton belting is not manufactured here;
Senate*- RUSSELL. - If such is the case it will be exempt until it is.
– Plain braids are not made. here.
– I am informed they are.
– I made special inquiries, and was assured that they were not: If the- Minister will give me .an assurance that articles that are not manufactured here- shall be exempt, and that by-laws- will not be framed to make them dutiable until they are I shall be prepared to withdraw my request.
– I can give -that assurance;
Request, by. leave, withdrawn.
– L move -
That the House of Representatives be asked to amend sub-item (b) by - leaving, out the word’ “ except “ and’ inserting, in lieu thereof the word “‘including.”-
I perused the-. Tariff to see if provision were made for. imposing a duty am buckles, clasps, and slides of. metal which are trimmings used in the making of various articles of attire, and there is only one other item under which they would be dutiable, and that would be under “ manufactures of metal.” It was never- intended to place them under that item, and I think it is only reasonable tq include them in this sub-item.
– The following’ firms are manufacturing these articles: - Metal Products Proprietary Limited, Collingwood; Platers Proprietary Limited, Melbourne; and H. Arendsen, Melbourne. This industry was started during the war, and while supplies could not be imported the local articles were in demand, but when imports were available the local manufacturers could not compete.
– Buckles, such as are used for boots and shoes, are not suitable) forwearing apparel; and it is not fair to penalize the makers of wearing apparel because of the manufacture of shoe-buckles in Australia.
SenatorRussell. - I am informed that the industry was started during the war, and that while supplies could not be imported, the locally-made articles were much in demand; but that when the imported articles could again be obtained, the local articles could not compete against them, and the local manufacturers,in some cases, found it necessary to reduce their hands. There is not the slightest difficulty in the manufacture of these articles, and we should be able to supply our own requirements of them.
– In view of that statement, I shall not press the request.
SenatorRUSSELL. - The same condition will apply as obtains in connexion with the previous sub-item.
Request, by leave, withdrawn
Item agreed to.
Wovenmaterials in the piece or otherwise.-
Badges . ..Ribbons and galoons having not more than 48 ribs to the lineal inch, ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 50 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out the words “Ribbons and galoons, having not more than 48 ribs to the lineal inch.”
The effect of this alteration would-be to make these articles, which are now dutiable at 35 per cent., 40 per cent., and 50. per cent., dutiable under sub-item b of item 106 at 15 per cent., 20 per cent., and 30 per cent. I have distributed among honorable senators samples of ribbon such as those beforeme, between which an ordinary observer could not see a difference; but one of the ribbons has less than forty-eight ribs to the lineal inch, and the other slightly more, and the one is dutiable under the general Tariff at 50 per cent. and the other at 30 per cent. These ribbons come mainly from France and Switzerland.Women know that there is twice or three times as much wear to-be got from the ribbon having leas than forty-eight ribs to the lineal inch than from the other; but the Department charges a duty of 50 per cent. on the stronger ribbon, which, of course, is the dearer, and a duty of only 30 per cent. on the other, which it is wasteful to buy. A magnifying glass is needed to discover that there are four ribs more in the better ribbon than in the other. I have other samples of ribbons of various descriptions in regard to which there is the same anomaly. They are ribbons in everydayuse by children and by women for the decoration of garments. In’ each instance the ribbons are practically the same, but for the fact that one contains more ribs to the lineal inch than the other. The reason for the departmental differentiation is, I am told, that in Victoria there is a workroom, called a factory, which does not manufacture ribbons or galoons, but embroiders them to make hat-bands for schools and colleges,badges, trade names, and designs for attire. From another source I learn that this concern has manufactured one class of ribbon, but one class only. The factory is also used for weaving names and descriptions into boot tags and work of that description.
I know a good deal about this business, and I regard it almost as a crime that one of these ribbons should be dutiable at 50 per cent., when it does not come into competition in any way with the product of the small factory in Victoria. The Government proposal is to penalize the whole of the community because a factory is engaged in the manufacture of school hat-bands. Surely 30 per cent. in the general Tariff is ample protection for the local industry. The local factory did not find it impossible to carry on its small operations under the previously existing Tariff, and before the introduction of the Tariff now under consideration, the discrimination to which I take exception was not made.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria- VicePresident of the Executive Council [4.3 a.m.]. - I remember this matter coining up for consideration in connexion with the Tariff of 1908. The local industry was at that time a very small one. The honorable senator, by the use of a magnifying glass, has been able to discover that a particular ribbon has one rib over the specified number. I am informed that the articles covered by the sub-item are being manufactured by the Australian Weaving Company, with the exception of plain one colour hat galoons, or ribbons which they can make but are not at present manufacturing in a commercial way. The galoons and ribbons when for use in a hat factory are admitted as minor articles for the manufacture of hats under item 404. The articles specified in the item are commercially known as woven small wares. Their manufacture was started by the Australian Weaving Company Proprietary Limited, Collingwood, in 1910, with one loom. In 1911 they had six looms; in 1912, 12 looms; in 1913, 27 looms; in 1914, 28 looms; and in 1919, 42 looms. The output would be about £20,000 a year, and the capital invested is £20,000. In addition to this company, another company, J. and J. Cash Proprietary Limited, Richmond, are manufacturers of woven labels, coat hangers, names and dress trimmings. The industry is capable of very considerable expansion, as is evident from the fact that in 1918 hat galoons. to the value of £80,000 were imported. The factories here are prepared to make those galoons. I have seen many samples of their work, and I am very glad that such an important and artistic industry is being developed’ in Australia. I may inform Senator Payne that if the articles to which he has referred are not made in Australia and cannot be made here, they will be admitted without the duty until there is proof that they can be made in Australia.
– And Melbourne becomes the Manchester of Australia.
– There is no reason why this industry, should not be carried on in Sydney. I know that the manufacturer of these articles here came from England. He is welcome to Victoria as a citizen of enterprise, and I wish him good luck. I have voted for protection for Sydney industries, and I have voted for the Federal Capital repeatedly.
– One is at a great disadvantage in dealing with a technical matter of this kind when honorable senators are tired. I thank the Minister for his courteous explanation, but it has not in any way refuted my argument in support of the inclusion of ribbons in the previous subitem.
– We have to regulate this by the standards of the machines here now, and the ribbons referred to by Senator Payne are too wide to bo made by them.
– The Minister stated that the object of the increased duty on these goods is designed to protect an industry engaged in the manufacture of hat galoons. I have been delighted to hear that this industry has greatly improved its position year after year under the previously existing duties. The Minister may propose what duties he pleases on hat galoons, but my objection is that this sub-item brings under a duty of 50 per cent a multiplicity of ribbons that can by no stretch of the imagination be described as hat galoons. The Minister’s argument, therefore, falls to the ground.
– The article to which the honorable senator refers will be imported without the duty until such time as we have a plant here to manufacture it.
– Is it not a fact that numbers of ribbons manufactured may contain exactly the same number of ribs as hat galoons, and yet not be at all suitable for the purposes for which hat galoons are used?
– That may be.
– I happen to know that there are various ribbons that would not be used as hat galoons, and yet, because they contain less than a certain number of ribs tothe lineal inch, they are to be taxed under this Tariff at 50 per cent. I have here a sample of a hat galoon manufactured at the factory in Collingwood, and it is described as “Ribbon galoon for school badges.” It isused for bands for school hats.
– I will tell the honorable senator what I am prepared to do. If it is found on further inquiry that there is any mistake in connexion with this matter, and that the articles to which the honorable senator has referred are not manufactured in Australia, I will undertake to recommit the item.
– I do not wish to press the matter at this particular moment, but I suggest that its- consideration bo postponed so that we may deal with it while it is fresh in our minds.
– The Minister’s offer is a reasonable one, and ought to be accepted.
SenatorDRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) [4.13 a.m.]. - Senator Payne was courteous enough to hand me a document relating to this matter containing reasons why the duty should not be as provided in the schedule. This document states that a. workroom, called a factory, in Victoria specializes in supplying hat bands for schools and colleges, but that it does not manufacture: ribbons’ or galoons. It so happens thatI have been through this factory inCollingwood. It started in 19 10 with one loom and a capital of£4,000. To-day, the- capital is £52,000, and the factory manufactures not only galoons, but also all classes of ribbons. I think that nearly every ribbon that is worn by our returned soldiers comes out of that factory.
– They do not manufacture all sorts of ribbons there.
– They manufacture many classes of ribbons.
– But not the sample which I gave the honorable senator.
– I have seen the samples of the ribbons produced at that factory, which now contains 52 looms.- I understand that fifteen more are onthe water, and that manymore are on order. It is a most enterprising and growing concern.
– Which has grown under a30 per cent: Tariff:
– It is referred to in’ this document in most contemptuous terms as being in a room which is described as a factory. Of course, it is a small factory, but during the past twelve months it has continuously employed 100 hand’s, and when the machinery on order is to hand it will employ many mora Each loom that has been set up cost approximately £600. This will give honorable senators an idea of the amount of money that those associated in the business have to provide. I think they should be encouraged’.
– Is that the only factory of its kind in the Commonwealth?
– There is another in Victoria, but it is not quite so enterprising.
-Does Senator Payne intend to persist in bis request for an amendment?
– The Minister has promised to make further inquiries with a view to the recommittal ofthe item. I accept his assurance.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Item agreed to.
Item 108 (Feathers)- agreed to.
Artificial plants, flowers, fruits, leaves, and grains of all kinds, and materials, ad val, British,80 per cent,; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per. cent.
, - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item to read - 109 (a) Artificial flowers n.e.i.,. artificial plants, fruits, leaves, and grains of all kinds and materials, ad val., British,30 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
Artificial flowers are seasonable goods in other countries, and, as a consequence, there is a. certain amount of seasonal dumping which prejudicially affects the local industry. This requested amendment satisfies those engaged in the trade here, and it is believed that it will accomplish the object of the Department.
– I cordially support the request, which is designed to preserve a very active industry in Sydney, and, in my opinion, is only fair play.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Senator PAY3JE (Tasmania) :[4.27. a.m.J - T propose to “move that the House of Representatives he requested to insert a new ..sub-item o relating to corsets. Honorable .’senators are probably aware that sub-item b “ Apparel, n.e.L, for the human body,” includes -corsets, and that it carries duties of 40 per’ cent. British, 50 per cent, intermediate, and -55 per cent, general. Those who give this matter reasonable consideration will regard such duties as appalling. It is positively appalling to suggest that the women of Australia shall be penalized to the extent of having to pay a duty of 55 per cent, on corsets manufactured in ‘Canada, United States of America., or .France, .plus 45 per cent, cost of transit, making the general Tariff .at least 100 per .cent. I am assured -that .the freight alone, including wharfage, storage, and various other charges, accompanying continental and American shipment, will run into over 20 per cent.
– They do not amount to 10 per cent.
– I would remind the honorable senator that every pair of corsets is cartoned in a cardboard boac, in order that ‘it shall Teach Australia in an attractive condition. Honorable senators know that the oversea freight is not by weight, hut ‘by measurement, and it does not take many dozen pairs of corsets to fill a large-sized packing. case when each pair is put up in a cardboard box. I had the charges worked out, but have not them at hand. Speaking from memory, inclusive of the duty, under the general Tariff, they would amount to 100 per cent. Prior to the introduction of the present Tariff the duty on corsets was - British, 10 per cent.; and general, 15 per cent. The present proposal is to make the duty - British, 40 ‘-per cent. ; intermediate, 50 per cent.; and general, 55 per cent., although Australia is by no means providing all the corsets the women of this country need. At this hour of the morning I do not wish to give a lecture upon the hygienic “ necessities of the proper - shaping of these -> articles in-order to make them comfortable to wear? hut every man knows how essential it is to a woman’s, comfort ‘that her corsets ‘should fit well. Before- ‘.the war any woman in Australia with moderate means could buy -<a pair foi 7s. ‘6d. or 8s. 6d., and they would last her for twelve months. ‘To-day the same woman is compelled -to pay 22s. 6d., *«r 25s. per pair, and there is no guarantee that they will last half as long as the others would. I ‘have with me a pair of corsets which would have cost 6s. 4d. to land in Australia under :the old Tariff, hut which -cannot he landed to-day at under 8s. 2d. a pair. I hove also a pair of- better quality, which could have been landed -in -Australia under the old duty at 14s. 8d. a pair, but which -cannot be landed now at under ’24s. 7d. a pair. I have not a -word to say against the article manufactured in Australia, but the corsetmaking industry -of Europe -and America has been developed, as the result of many years of study, to a high degree of perfection. It -is an industry .that cannot he brought to that stage of perfection in -a year or two, and no matter what facilities are ‘given in Australia, it will %e many years before -we -can -possibly hope to supply the whole of the needs of Australian users of corsets. .T have with me a pair of Australian-made corsets, -every item required in the manufacture df which b imported free of duty. In view of the enormous amount of natural Protection our corset manufacturers have, because of the high freight -which has ‘to be -paid upon .these articles, owing, to their great bulk when packed for transport, is it. reasonable to ask for an ad valorem duty of 55 per cent., which must -be calculated not on £100, hut, as I have already oxplained, on £110 f
– Why not argue on the basis of 40 -per cent. British instead of 55 per cent, foreign!
– Because the .hulk- of our imported -corsets are not British made.
– Ib it not time they were British or Australian made ?
– I would like to see the British manufacturers of .corsets ‘keep pace with those of other countries, but the latter have outstripped their British competitors in the degree of comfort they can guarantee to the wearers of their -.corsets. Unfortunately, Great Britain has been somewhat conservative in respect to many of its manufactures.. America -has captured a great portion of the boot :and shootrade of the United Kingdom, because the
British, manufacturers would never consider any proposal to put on the market other than the ordinary stock sizes, whereas America, by introducing new lasts, was able to supply halfsizes to meet the real needs of the people. In the same way, Great Britain has gone to leeward in respect to the manufacture of corsets. At any rate, many women prefer French or American corsets because of their peculiar shape. We are not all built alike. Fortunately there are varieties of feature, and in the same way there are varieties of form. E very woman cannot wear the same kind of corset. It is essential for each woman to wear whatever corset suits her form, no matter where it may be made. The Australian corset-making industry has made good progress, but it was developed under a Tariff of 10 per cent. British and 15 per cent, foreign.”
– What has been done since that Tariff has been increased ?
-The immediate effect of the increase in duty was to put up the price of a pair of corsets of Australian manufacture by several shillings.
– Did the local manufacturers have a fair margin previously, or were they merely existing?
– As they were able to extend their industry very considerably, I take it that they were getting on very well.
– The Australian price is given as 10s. per pair, or £6 5s. per dozen.
– Is that the wholesale price?
– Then it is absolutely beyond the reach of the average woman. Before the war a woman could purchase a good British, American, or French corset for 7s. 6d. or 8s., but to-day for a corset, which will not be of high quality, the price is 10s. per pair wholesale. The request I have moved means protection, so far as the English corset is concerned, of at least 35 per cent. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to insert the following new sub-item: - “(c) Corsets, ad val., British, 15 per cent.; intermediate,20 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.”
-The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I should like some further information regarding this item, because it certainly seems to me, to use a colloquialism, that the proposed duty is “ red hot.” From 15 per cent, to 55 per cent, is a big jump, and represents the highest duty I have yet discovered so far in the Tariff.There must be some adequate explanation, but if there is not we ought to revert to the old schedule.
– The reason the duty is so high is that nearly all the materials for the construction of corsets are dutiable, and, of course, the duty on the finished product must be higher than that on the raw materials.
– Senator Payne produced a corset which scarcely supports that statement.
– I produced a corset without any embellishments. In any case the bones, busks, and, I believe, every thing used in the construction of that corset is duty free.
– There has been a satisfactory development of the industry, and, according to my information, a new company has recently been formed in Sydney, the Paxton Corset Syndicate, with a capital of £25,00.0. The wages paid at present by this company amount to £3,000 per annum, and the capacity of the’ present plant is four dozen corsets per week. By about the end of 1921 the wages will probably be at the rate of £10,000 or £12,000 per year. During the year 1920, Berlei Limited, Sydney, turned out 6,778 dozen corsets valued at £27,260. This company employed forty-five hands in January, 1921, and ninety-one in December 1921, and during the year paid £5,150 in wages. The Australian Hygienic Corset Company, Sydney, has a capital of £85,000, and the output is about 5,000 dozen per year, valued at £6 5s. per dozen, or £81,250. The plant is capable of doubling this output, and when the demand warrants the plant is to be increased to the capacity of 20,000 dozen per year of a nominal value of £125,000. At present seventy-five hands are employed. It will be seen from the information supplied that this is quite a substantialindustry, and is growing rapidly.
-What profits are made on the capital invested in the industry?
– I am not in a position to say, but the industry is ap- parently doing very well. The Australian I ndustries Protection League has fur nished the following information regarding corset making in Australia: -
Names of manufacturers: -
Note. - There are, in addition, quite a number of others who make corsets in a small way. The above munes are the principal makers. Amongst the smaller makers are the following:
Madame Florens, Culwulla Chambers; Mrs. Glasheen, 350 . George-street; A. Govell & Co., 83 Market-street; Madame Pauline, Elizabeth-street; Mrs. A. McDonald, 13 Bathurst-street, Woollahra; Miss McGuinness, Ocean House, Moore-street; Miss Richardson, the Strand Arcade; Airs. S. Glover, Epping; Mrs. Hultgren, Collingwoodstreet, Drummoyne.
Melbourne, Victoria. - Miss Warland, Collinsstreet; Mrs. J. Wade, 114 Russellstreet; Mrs. A. B. Webb,59a Wellingtonstreet, Prahran; Miss Sherman, 16 Alexander-street, Elsternwick ; Mrs. M. Hardy, 98 Elizabeth-street.
Adelaide, South Australia. - Miss E.Gibb,
Perth. - Miss A. Kyle, Bairde Arcade.
Brisbane. - Madame Jenyns Corset Coy., 327
Value and quality of output (three factories only) : -
Another says- “ The quality of all our goods compare with any imported model, and prices average from 33 per cent, to 40 per cent, below prices asked for a similar grade imported article.” - (Australian Corsets Ltd.)
For your further information, it may be added that the league learned, on excellent authority, that should the Tariff be adopted, it is the intention of Warmer Bros., of America, to open a factory in Australia.
It is also probable that the Canadian D. & A. Corset Co. will open in Australia if the ‘Tariff schedule be adopted. Mr. Hopwood, their Melbourne agent, might probably be able to give some information on the matter.
I do not say that these manufacturers produce all the requirements of Australia, but it is evident that they are making an effort to establish the industry, and have met with considerable success. The particulars of importations of corsets over a period of years are as follow: -
In view of the strong representations of honorable senators I shall be prepared to accept a request for the reduction of the duties by 10 per cent, in each instance. The situation as it may then develop will be carefully watched by the Tariff Board.
– The information furnished by the Minister (Senator Russell) fails tosatisfy me of the need for even the modified rates just indicated. The Australian manufacturer say they can produce better corsets than those imported, at from 33 to 40 per cent, less cost. Surely, the local manufacturers do not need any further protection.The schedule rates provide an instance, not of protection gone mad, but of prohibition gone mad. There are some 2,000,000women in the Commonwealth requiring these essential articles of apparel; so that, in the light of the facts and figures provided concerning the local output, an enormous proportion must be imported. In my view, the previous rates of duty were more than sufficient for the protection of an industry which, so far as the quality and value of its products is concerned, can easily hold its own. I shall support Senator Payne’s request.
– The rather discouraging figures quoted by the Minister (Senator Russell) disclose the inability of the local, manufacturers to hold their own under high protective- duties; and the fact that the only competition comes from America and Canada, which are white-labour countries where wages and conditions are, if anything, better than our own, lead one to believe that if we cannot carry on under these rates a duty of 100per cent, would not be adequate. In these circumstances I am inclined to support the request submitted by Senator Payne.
– I understand that the Minister (Senator Russell) has offered a concession of 10 per cent.
– But it has been rejected.
– Not by the Committee.
– The suggested amendment is. tantamount to nullifying it.
– The Minister has agreed to make the duty 30 per cent., 40 per cent., and . 45 per cent., instead of 40 per cent., 50 per cent., and 55 per cent. I am concerned only in the British preferential rate, as the higher duties operate only against Germany, America, and Japan. I do not care, if the duty on importations from those countries is 75 per cent. The, intermediate rate on the Minister’s suggestion would be 40 per cent, but it would not operate at present: With a reciprocal arrangement with.
France and Canada, which? is well within the range of practical policy, a duty of 40 per cent would operate against those countries. The Minister has shown how this industry has grown, and the facts are these. About £300,000 worth of corsets, are imported annually into Australia. Until these duties were imposed the corset business was practically non-existent; but since they have been in operation considerable development has begun, and. from June, 1920, to July last Australianfactories have produced £100,000 worth of corsets, which is equal to one-third of the total importations. The Minister has informed us that the D. & A. Co. of America intend establishing a factory here, and a drastic reduction of the proposed duties would prevent the rapid development of the industry, and probably be the means of American capital being kept out of the country.
– They would soon wipe out our manufacturers if they came under these conditions. .
– Protection encourages local competition, and it would not make much difference to Australian users so long as they were purchasing the corsets made by Australian workmen.
– If available at a reasonable price.
– That is the point. It is not fair to be continually harping on pre-war prices, particularly when we have heard, over and over again, that the rates of wages, and the prices of material, machinery, and everything else are three or four times more than before the war. Yesterday afternoon, when discussing the duties- on woollen goods, we were informed that the wages in France were four times higher than before the war.
– The new season’s corsets will cost about 70 per cent, more than the pre-war article.
– It has been said that, before the war, corsets were available at a . low price. I ask the Committee to consider the matter carefully before drastically reducing these duties.
– The proposition is to increase them-.
– -They have been increased, and the result has been that within twelvemonths one-third of the country’s requirements in ‘the way of corsets has been manufactured in Australia. According to the figures of the Minister., Australia used to import annually about £300,000 worth of corsets., but during the last financial year three factories - now there are four, and also a number of individuals making to order - made £94,000 of corsets, of which £35,000 worth were made in the first six months, and £59,000 worth in the second six months. As a Protectionist, I think that the duties have fully justified themselves.
– I do not wish any honorable senatorto vote under a misapprehension, and therefore rise to point out that if a division is taken on the request of Senator Payne, and the request is defeated, it will not becompetent to accept the offer of the Minister. The Committee having rejected a duty of 15 per cent., will be taken as having rejected any higher rate.
– Our practice has been to deal with the lower rate first.
– The Committee is considering not a proposed reduction of the rate,but a specific proposal to make corsets dutiable at 15 per cent. If the Committee decides that they shall not be dutiable at 15 per cent., the decision will he taken to mean that they shall not be dutiable at morethan 15 per cent.
Question - That the request (Senator Payne’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
– I move -
That the -House of Representatives be requested to insert the following new sub-item: - “ (d) Undershirts, undervests, underpants, andcombinations, British,25 -per cent.; intermediate, . 30 percent. general, 40 percent.”
Those articlesare at present included in the item “ Apparel, : n.e.i.,” and are ‘dutiable at 40, 50 and 55 per -cent. Such duties would only maintain the very high prices at presentbeing charged for underwear, and make it almost impossible for the bulk of the people to clothethemselves with suitable underwear. There is a great deal of underwear which Australians are accustomed to use that is not manufactured in Australia. The underwear that is manufactured here would be amply protected by the factthat we have the raw material here, and by duties of 25, 30, and 40 per cent, plus the cost of freight and other expenses of importation.
– Would it not be better, since the honorable senator istaking so manyarticles tout of the main item, to propose thatthere should be lower -duties onthose that are now left?
– I have adopted this method because I had an opportunity of looking through the Canadian Tariff, and I find that in Canada they are very careful to define the variousdutiable articles. The articles with which I am now dealing are referred to in the Canadian Tariff as”undershirts, drawers, and knitted goods.”I am suggesting an item which is a little clearer than that. My request covers all classes of woven underwear. I was speaking to a gentleman today who told me that he had to pay as high as 25s. a pair for woven natural wool underpants. I do not wish to make comparisons with pre-war prices, but the ordinary quality of either of the articles included in my request worn by individuals of moderate means would he merino finished and would he imported under certain conditions at from4s. 6d. to 5s. per pair.
– The honorable senator would put woollen and cotton goods on the same footing?
– Yes, I think it is inadvisable todifferentiate, because we are making thearticles here of a misters of cotton andwool, as well as of all wool. I am of opinion that duties of 50 and 55 per cent, on these articles are absolutely prohibitive.
– We have previously agreed to higher duties on woollen goods than oh cotton goods.
– Ifit is the feeling of the Committee that we should do so in this ease in order to ho consistent, I shall confine this request to woollen goods, and will move for the insertion of another item covering these articles made of cotton at a lower rate of duty. With the consent of the Committee I can amend my request by inserting after “combinations “ the words “ wool or containing wool.”
SenatorRussell. - The duties the honorable senator proposes will be lower on these garments than on the raw material. The duty on woollen goods and goods containing wool are 30, 40, and 45 per cent., under sub-item f of item 105.
– That item covers woollen piece goods. I am dealing with woven fabric, which is a totally different thing from textiles. The difficulty might be overcome by a further alteration of my request, and I ask leave to amend it to read -
That the House of Representatives be requested to insert the following new sub-item: - “ (d) Woven undershirts, undervests, underpants, and combinations,’ wool or containing wool, British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, SO per cent.; general, 40 per cent.”
Request, by leave, amended accordingly.
, - I am a little perplexed about this proposal. I certainly regard the duties
Bet out in the schedule as extremely high. At the same time I want the manufacturers of these garments to be given some protection against the imported goods. As has been pointed out by the. Minister the duties proposed by Senator Payne are lower than those imposed under sub-item f of item 105. I should like an assurance that the rather sweeping reduction which has been suggested by the honorable senator will not remove the reasonable amount of protection at present afforded to those engaged in making up these particular garments; and that importers will not have an opportunity to import garments from cheap-labour countries, thereby disorganizing what is probably an extensive industry in this country.
– There may be something in the contention that the Tariff in the proposed new sub-item would beinconsistent if it were less than the duty on textile fabrics, which has been fixed at British, 30 per cent., intermediate, 40 per cent., and general, 45 per cent. With the permission of the Committee I wish to again amend my request.
Request further amended accordingly and agreed to.
Request (by Senator Payne) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to add the following new paragraph to sub-item (d) just inserted: - “ (2) Cotton, ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.”
– I think we should have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Item 111 (Articles of natural or imitationhair), item 112 (Purs and other skins and articles made thereof), item 113 (Gloves, except of rubber), and item 114 (Hats, caps, and bonnets), agreed to. Item 115-
Socks and stockings for human attire, viz.: -
Cotton, ad vol., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent. ‘
– This item deserves some attention from the Committee. Speaking from memory, in the 1908Tariff, cotton socks and stockings were free. In the Tariff of 1914 they were again free, but under this Tariff they are subject to duties of 30 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent. As Senator Payne informs me that he has given notice of a request for a reduction of the duty, I shall make way for him.
– I thank the honorable senator for his courtesy. I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, sub-item (a), British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.
– Does the honorable senator propose to deal with the duties on woollen or silk socks and stockings?
– I propose to move a request for a slight reduction in the duties on woollen socks and stockings; and if, in the ‘interests of a very important industry which has grown up in Australia, it is necessary to increase the duties on silk socks and stockings, I shall be prepared to support such a request. Cotton socks are worn very extensively in’ Australia. The foot, is perhaps the most sensitive portion of a man’s . anatomy. Many men cannot wear worsted or woollen socks, while others cannot wear cotton socks. Cotton socks have been worn by many in recent years because woollen and silk socks have been beyond their reach. As cotton socks -under previous Tariffs have been admitted free, why” should we impose upon them duties of 30 per cent., under the British preferential Tariff and 45 per cent, under the general Tariff? It has been suggested that cotton socks and stockings of an excellent quality are made in Australia in sufficient quantities to supply the needs of the people. ‘I have had sent to me a pair of Australian-made cotton stockings.
– “We all had a pair sent to us. They are not a bad example.
– No ; but for the credit of Australia I hope that we shall not turn out many more according to this sample. The colour is execrable, but having regard to the conditions which have been obtaining they are fair value. That, however, is not the point. We have been told that the cotton-hosiery industry is carried on extensively in . Australia. Being anxious to see the different classes of hosiery that are being manufactured in the Commonwealth, I took the liberty of visiting the warehouse from’ which this sample pair of stockings was sent to me. I was courteously received and taken round a well-stocked warehouse. I was naturally anxious to see what classes of goods were manufactured by this. firm, and was shown what in their boxes appeared to he beautiful, attractive, silk hosiery. I do not say that they would be as attractive when worn, but they were a really fine sample of that particular class of hosiery for which there has been a good demand. It- has become the fashion of late to wear silk hose. We have been living in an era of extravagance, and our lady friends have not been guilty of greater extravagance than that which is involved in their slavish adherence to silk hose. Heads of families recently are beginning to feel the strain. I am glad to know that the manufacture of silk hose in Australia has extended so rapidly. 1 was then shown, one or two samples of cashmere hose. They were a very fair product; but the warehouse had no assortment of them. Having inspected quite a number of samples of different grades of hosiery, I asked for samples of Australian-made cotton hose. The manager of the establishment said, “ We have not any. We can make them, but there is no demand for them.” They had no cotton hosiery in stock, nor could they show me any cotton half-hose. We have been told that they are supplying the needs of the people in the matter of cotton hosiery ; but that is not the case. I was told a.t this warehouse that there was such a demand for cashmere and silk hose that they were not making any cotton goods.
– It pays them better to make silk and cashmere hosiery.
– Yes. I do not think we have reached the stage at which it pays to make cotton hosiery. For the reasons I have given, and .because I want to see the people who cannot afford to buy expensive hosiery in a position to buy at a reasonable price, I have moved to reduce these heavy duties. Under the old Tariff this hosiery was admitted free from Qre.lt Britain,’ and paid a duty of 10 per cent, when imported from foreign countries, and I think it reasonable to fix the duty at 15 par cent. (British and 30 per cent, general. This impost, while bringing in- revenue, will at the same time give people the opportunity of getting a serviceable article at a fairly mode-, rate price. It will not interfere with the silk, cashmere, or woollen hosiery already made in Australia with success.
– One of the largest manufacturers of cashmere socks says that the whole of his machinery can be used for making cotton hosiery.
– But it is not being done-.
– I understand that 500,000 pairs of cotton socks are stored in Flinders-lane at the present moment awaiting a reduction in this duty. No cotton hosiery was manufactured in Australia under the old Tariff, but a good deal is being manufactured here now, and as an indication of what is going to happen in the future, I may mention that large quantities of cotton have been ordered for spinning in Australia, i
– That cotton is for use in the manufacture of silk hosiery, which has cotton tops and heels.
– The figures of the importation of cotton hose for 1919-20 are .as follows: - United Kingdom, £201,603; Japan, £70,765; United States of America, £342,890; ‘other countries, £17,424; total, £632,682. In its report, the Inter-State Commission stated -
For the reasons stated in the Commission’s report on cotton-growing, .there are at present difficulties which, for a time at least, will preclude the possibility of cotton yarn being made here, but that is no reason why the manufacture of cotton socks and stockings should not be encouraged.
Poy and Gibson made 40,000 dozen pairs of cotton hose during 1919. Their plant has been largely increased, and they expected to turn put during the following year 40,000 dozen pairs. Other firms in Victoria who propose to engage in the manufacture of cotton hose are the Lincoln Knitting Mills and L. H. Mellor and Company. ‘Two firms in Sydney - Hughes and Mayor and G. H. Bond and Company Limited - also intend to manufacture these articles. The latter firm estimate their possible production during the next two years at £500,000.
– Their manager assured me that they had none in stock, and that they could not manufacture them, because there was no demand for them.
– The manufacture of cotton hose presents no special difficulty. Its establishment and expansion depend wholly on effective Protection being given. The raw material, cotton yarn, is provided for in item 392a, under which it is proposed to admit it free under the British and intermediate Tariffs, and to impose a duty of 5 per cent, ad valorem under the general
Tariff. As an indication of the progress made in the cotton hose industry and related industries, the value of the importations of cotton yarn increased from £40,214 in 1913 to £184,436 in 1918-19. In view of this wonderful increase in the importations of cotton yarn, and seeing that the hosiery makers can fill their spindles just as easily with cotton as with wool, there seems to be no reason why we should not be able to manufacture cotton hosiery here.
– But the duty I am proposing ought to be ample protection for them.
– The rate of 15 per cent, which the honorable senator proposes seems to be rather low. We ought to give a reasonable protection to the industry. Mr. Lincoln, of the mills at Coburg, which employ 700 people, says that he can undertake the manufacture of these socks if he is protected. He is evidently at present dealing with wool, . which is protected, and from which he probably gets a better return. He says that he only desires a certain amount of help, and that to-morrow, if necessary, he could convert the machinery so as to deal with cotton goods. All the raw material for the manufacture of cotton goods is free of duty, and we ought, I think, to do something that has at least the appearance of giving a little protection. The Government suggests 30 per cent., and Senator Payne suggests 15 per cent. At 30 per cent., on the lowest-priced cotton stocking at ls. a pair, the duty is 4d. - or 2d. under the honorable senator’s proposal - and on the highest priced, at ls. 7d., the duty is 6£d., or a mean of 5d. These are prices for ordinary cotton stockings, not for the high grades, which are much dearer. On prewar prices, with the lowest at 4d. and the highest at 7d., the duties would be ld. and 2Jd. respectively, or a mean of, say, 2d.
– I do not like sweeping reductions of duties, and if there is any possibility of building up an industry some effort should be made to do so. At the same time, I think the duty is rather high, and I suggest that Senator Payne should make the British preferential duty 20 per cent.
– We are given to understand that the industry was started by Messrs. Foy and Gibson without any duty.
– That does not seem to be so. I suppose that of late years there has been very little demand for this class of goods.
– Up to March of last year there was no duty at all against Great Britain.
– That is so, but it is reasonable to assume that in years to come there will be a greater demand for these goods. Personally, I would not use them on any consideration, though, I dare say, some people prefer them. If there are goods of such large value coming into Australia, surely it is worth while manufacturing them here, for, evidently, there are people who use them. If Senator Payne were to move that the duties be 20 per cent., 30 per cent., and 45 per cent., I should be inclined to support him.
– I arn prepared to make the’ duties 20 per cent., 25 per cent., and 35 percent and ask leave to so amend my request.
Request, by leave, amended accord,ingly
– In quite a large number of retail establishments in Hobart and Launceston, I have been informed, during the last few months, that none of these goods are in stock and have not been offered, and my experience has been similar in a dozen other places in Melbourne. I do not dispute the statement of the Minister, but I fear that it may convey, the impression that Australian, cotton hose is in general use.
– The difference between the conditions in Australia and in Japan represents more than 15 per cent.
– I do not think that the British preference in any case exceeds 15 per cent.
Request, as amended, agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request. -
Item 116 (Parasols), item 117 (Blankets), item 118 (Carpets), item 119 (Coir articles), item 120 (Textile articles), item 121 (Curtains and blinds), and item 122 (Articles n.e.i.), agreed to.
– The increase of the rates of duty on waddings from 15 per cent. British and 20 per cent, general to those- set out in the schedule requires explanation. It had been my intention to request an amendment; but if the Minister (Senator Bussell) can satisfy me of the need for the enhanced imposts I shall be content.
– Waddings and cotton wool are being manufactured by Messrs. Laycock, Son, and Nettleton, Melbourne. In June, 1919, that firm wrote to the Cuatoms Departments as follows: -
So great was the demand that firms who never bought the Australian article before 4th August, 1014 (except as a convenience when short of imported stock), declared they would give us their full support and “ stick to us “ after the war if we would only accept and execute their orders, which we did; and we claim that we supplied the requirements of the Commonwealth for over four years, sending our manufactures to all States direct. We feel compelled, however, to direct attention to the change which has come over our -new-found friends since 11th November, 1918. The raw material is pure cotton, which we obtain from India and Queensland. It may be of interest to state that we purchased by public tender the entire cotton crop grown in Queensland last year from the Agricultural Department, and we hope to do so again this and the succeeding years. -
The large increase in importations during 1918-19 supports the statement made by this firm and indicates the need for higher duties.
– In view. of the statements made concerning the Melbourne company I shall not proceed with my proposed request. I was aware that, some years ago, Australia was dependent upon outside supplies. I am glad to know that there is now a local industry which, up to 1919, at any rate, claimed to be able to meet the requirements of the Commonwealth, and which was, at the same time, using for its raw material cotton grown in Australia. It is only fair that the company should look for support from the community to-day seeing that it supplied its wants during the war years, when foreign importations were not available. I was interviewed on Wednesday by a representative of a firm concerned in the manufacture of engine-cleaning waste. I was to be supplied with certain interesting information, and it has not yet come to hand, since I informed my interviewer that the item could not be reached before Friday.
– Engine-cleaning waste is subject only to a 10 per cent, general duty.
– I am concerned as to whether the industry should not be given some reasonable degree of protection. The firm of Frederick S. Holt and Company Proprietary Limited, of South Melbourne, hae established substantial mills, and has been. turn-, ing out an excellent cotton^ waste, among other things. The plant was recently enlarged in order to cope with rapidly expanding ‘ orders. Will the Minister consent to postpone the item that I may secure the information which is to be made available for me?
– I suggest that the item be agreed to. It can be subsequently recommitted.
– During the war it was almost impossible to secure supplies of waddings and cotton wool such as are used for padding in clothes and the like. And such stocks as were obtainable were of poor quality. The Queensland Government are encouraging the cultivation of cotton^ and have furnished substantial guarantees. More cotton is now being grown in Queensland than can be .consumed locally, and some of the product is being exported. Any encouragement, therefore, that can be given to an industry using Australian cotton as its raw material should be afforded. I am pleased to learn that the firm using cotton purchased the whole of the Queensland crop last year. I believe, however, that the area has been increased to such an extent that that State has been able to export 200 tons.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives .be requested to insert the following new sub-item: - “ (d) Kapok, per lb., ad val., British, 6d.; intermediate, 9d.; general, 9d.?’
I have submitted this request with the object of giving encouragement to a very important undertaking, recently established in Sydney, which is closely associated with the woollen industry. Arrangements have been made whereby scoured low-grade wools are now being used for packing mattresses, and the firm which has undertaken this work has received orders from the proprietors of large new flats, and also from the Hotel Australia. In the past it has been the practice to fill mattresses with kapok, and it is believed that if sufficient protection is given to this undertaking by imposing duties on kapok, a very important industry will develop. Practically the whole of our supplies of kapok are obtained from Java and the East -Indies, and out of the 5,500,000 pounds weight imported 5,314,000 pounds came from Java. The disposal of low-grade wools is somewhat of a problem at the present juncture; but if they can be utilized in this way considerable assistance will be given to primary producers, and purchasers of mattresses will be able to obtain a more sanitary article.
– No. I have seen a mattress packed with wool which after having been in constant use for thirty years has not matted in the slightest degree. Medical men have said that a woollen mattress is much healthier than one of kapok, because Eastern diseases are sometimes introduced in kapok, and the material, when powdered, is detrimental to health. A mattress made of scoured wool is springy, comfortable, and warm. The pre-war price of kapok was about 6d. ‘ per lb., but to-day I am informed it is ls. per lb. If an effort is made to encourage this industry ‘by imposing duties on kapok it is only to’ be expected that the exporters in Java will reduce their prices in an endeavour to compete with the locally-manufactured mattress. Senator
Guthrie is keenly interested in “this particular industry in a general way, and he has informed me that there are large quantities of low-grade wools in Australia available at approximately 3d. per lb., which, after scouring, would be worth about 9d. or lOd. per lb.
– Would a similar quantity of wool be required?
– I am informed that, to make mattresses of the same bulk, 40 per cent, more wool would be required.
– Would not the price be double?
– No. The cost would be a little more; but I am sure that larger orders would not have been placed with the manufacturers if the price hod been in any way excessive.
– Would the honorable senator agree to duties of 3d., 4d., and 5d.?
– They would be inadequate. This matter was carefully considered and a duty of ls. per lb. was suggested by the manufacturers, but when I examined the costs I informed them that I was not prepared to ask for more than what I’ considered fair. A duty under the general Tariff of 9d. would give sufficient protection. It may appear somewhat heavy, but it will give the industry an opportunity to extend, and will at the same time enable primary producers to profitably dispose of their lowgrade wools.
– According to the honorable senator, the value of kapok in prewar days was 6d. per lb:
– The price is more than that to-day, and the Dutch are not going to lose their trade if they can help it. They have before to-day elsewhere dropped the price of kapok down to almost nothing to prevent competition. We ask for a chance for this new industry, which will create a demand for a class of wool which we want to get rid of. Hundreds of thousands of bales of this wool are. now available, and much of it will be left on the hands of the producers if it is not used in this way. If the Minister gives this industry a chance, he will do something of infinite value to the Commonwealth.
– On the honorable senator’s own figures, the duties for which he asks are exorbitant. If the pre-war price of kapok was 6d. per lb., it is not likely to be more than 9d. per lb. now, so that the duty on the general Tariff, which is the only rate likely’ to affect the importation of kapok, is equivalent to 100 per cent, ad valorem.
– We might come to an arrangement with the Dutch, and make the intermediate rate apply.
– Most of the kapok we use comes from Java.
– Practically the whole of it.
– On that kapok the honorable senator proposes’ an import duty of 9d. per lb. I am afraid that the’ adoption of his proposal would increase the cost of the people’s bedding considerably. We do not know that the establishment in New South Wales of the industry of which he spoke will make up for this. I wish to encourage industries where there is a possibility of doing so at reasonable cost. The honorable senator himself took strong exception to a request for a duty not nearly so high comparatively as that which he proposes.
– That duty was proposed to benefit an old-established industry. The duty I now propose is to protect a new industry.
– Possibly this new industry may create a much-needed demand for certain classes of wool; but I think that the rates fixed are too high, and that 6d. on the general Tariff would be enough.
– In my opinion, the request is on the steep side, even though the industry which it is sought to protect is a new one. If there can be made of wool a material superior to kapok, it will be welcomed; but we do not wish to have to pay too much for it. Wool will get back to normal values much sooner than those interested in it will like, and recently refuse pieces, such as locks and bellies, have been sold at from 3d. to Id. per lb.
Two honorable senators’ have lately sold wool at Id. per lb. If. should not need, a very costly process to convert such wool into an. article suitable for bedding; and a duty of 6’dv per lb. would be almost 500 , Der cent, *ad valorem** I think- that’ Senator Duncan would be well advised to’ accept a duty of 2’0 per cent., putting this article on the same footing, as cotton wool.
– NO other article competes with cot-ton wool. These duties are proposed to assist a new industry.
– I am not inclined #o support the high rates proposed, with such meagre information concerning the industry -Senator E. D. MILLEN (New South “Wales - Minister for Repatriation) [6.38 a.m.]. - I suggest” that Senator Duncan should withdraw the request, so that it may be- considered in connexion with item 402, which seems a more appropriate place for it,, that item dealing with hair- and fibre suitable for upholstering purposes. That course would give the ]Department time to look thoroughly into the matter. At present, very little informmation is available.
Senator DUNCAN (New South- Wales) ][6.39 a.m.]. - I am prepared to meet the Minister in- this matter, being assured by those who are making these mattresses - Newlands Brothers - that, they have northing to1 fear, and court the fullest investigation: So confident are they of the merits of their case that I am sure they would be willing to leave this matter, to the Department for inquiry. I wish to know, however, whether I shall be in order in moving to amend item 402. I do not wish to be told when we come to ihat item that I have lost my opportunity 4o do anything. On the understanding that I shall be allowed to move my request on item 142, I ask leave to with.draw it now.
Request, by leave, withdrawn; Item agreed to.
Item 124 (Braids); and item 125 (Felt) agreed to.
Item 126 -
Saddlers’ Webs, Upholsterers’ Webs, Collar Check and Collar Cloth 36 inches and oyer in width, Saddlers’ Kersey, Saddlers’ Serge and Felt; Pelt- for lining horse and cattle rug’s, ad’ val., British free, intermediate free, general 10 per cent.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia)? (&.41 a.m/.) - This; item) includes1 collar cheek to which Senator Guthrie! made some reference? and I suggest’ to- the Minister that in view of what Sen’ator Guthrie said he might postpone the consideration of this item! until’ the honorable senator is present. If there is an industry in Melbourne engaged in production of collar check, I see’ no reason, why it’ should’, not be given a chance;
– My colleague would have moved a’ request on this item, which, in.his. absence, I submit. We propose, instead’ of- including so: many articles’ inr item. 126, to divide them at- different rates of. duty. I move -
That the House of Representatives be. re* quested to amend the item, by adding, the following words: - “And on and’ after 1st January, 1922- (a)’ Saddlers’ webs, upholsterers’ webs, saddlers’ felt, and felt for lining horse and cattle- rugs,, ad - val., British, free; intermediate, free* general, 10 per cent’. (jb)’ Collar check, collar cloth, saddlers’ kersey, and saddlers’ serge; ad’ val:, British, 30 per cent;; intermediate, 40 .per cent.; general, 45 per. cent.”
-Bboceman.. - Why such high duties’ on the. proposed* sub- item b ?
– The1 reason, I am informed,, is that’ an industry has been started! for the weaving’ of these things in this country,- and in conformity with what I understand to be the’ acccepted policy of the Commonwealth it is desired to give the industry the: benefit of the protective duties, proposed.
– I am prepared to go as far in the direction, of protection as any member of the Committee, but collar check is “a material that is very widely used throughout Australia,, and it would require a factory of very great dimensions to cope with our requirements; If there:is only a small industry established here for the weaving of this cloth it will not be capable of- supplying one-tenth of our: requirements, and in the circumstances, a duty of 45’ per cent, is altogether too high.
p#B a.m.].– I :admit that Senator Plain taas raised an important point. Ho inquires
*8 to the ‘‘extent ‘of .the industry that ‘has been started here. Unfortunate^ I ;canudt give him the details for which Ibo asks, but I am informed lhat a factory has been started in Collingwood with every prospect of being able ‘to supply. -a very large proportion of Australia’s ‘requirements lor these goods, and it te considered that with the encouragement of the duties proposed the factory would in a - short time be in a .position to supply the whole of our local requirements.
.- The duties proposed tin connexion with sub-item b of the Minister’s request would involve considerable additional expense to mors of these materials. If there is only one factory in Collingwood making them, it cannot hope to supply the whole of the requirements of Australia, and duties as high as 45 per.cent are unreasonable. If we could be assured that an industry was aboa t to be established that would be capable of meeting the demand for these goods, and that it was likely to suffer from the competition of similar goods from industrial centres where our conditions of manufacture do not prevail, I should he prepared, to. give the protection necessary to permit of the manufacture of the goods here at a reasonable rate. I think,_ however, that a duty of 45 per cent, cil the actual value of the goods is too high.
– ,1 should like to have some particulars as to what the Collingwood factory “is capable of turning’ out, Immense quantities of these materials are required for horse collars, and for cattle and horse rugs. It would take an enormous mill to supply Australian requirements for these materials. To ask for a duty of s-5 per cent, in tha .interests of a ‘little mill that cannot supply our requirements for these materials is imposition pure and -simple. Unless we are given particulars of what the factory is capable of turning out, I do not think we should be justified in supporting a duty of even 25 per cent. Bud requests are calculated to deter honorable senators from giving fair .protection to enterprises of .this kind. To agree >to <tlie request would I think, create a very unsatisfactory precedent.
, - I quite recognise the force d£ Senator Plain’s contention. The position is (hat, judging by the rate of .progress! which the Committee .has hitherto made with the schedule, the officers advising the> Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) did not anticipate that we would reach this item by this time. I suggest that if the Committee ‘will pass the item as it stands, we can recommit it, together with other items which, no* doubt, will be recommitted, ‘for further consideration. I am sot abandoning the proposal. 1 ask the Committee to pass it on the understanding -that when full information is available it will be reconsidered. The Committee can then decide the proposal on its merits.
Request, ‘by “‘leave,’ withdrawn.
Item agreed to.
Item 187 (Hop cloth, ,&c), item ASS (Milling silk), item 129 (Hessians, ito.), item 130 (Canvas and duck), item 131 (Tents, sails, and flags), item 1S2 (Diving dresses), agreed to
Item 133 (Bags and Backs of calico).
– I should like to know if bags and sacks, -included in this item, are for purposes ‘other ‘than those indicated in item 184? If they ore intended for wheat, I shall have a good steal ;to say about the duty which, in the general Tariff, is 35- per cent., as we can,only obtain these bags from one source.
– Cornsacks come under item 184, free.
– Meat wraps, under this item, are dutiable. It seems to me that they should come in free, in the sama category as cornsacks, unless the Minister can advance some good reason to the contrary.
– There is- a particular reason, though I cannot ‘say if ‘the honorablesenator will regard it as adequate, why meat wraps, under ‘this item, .should be dutiable. The raw material is admitted. free under a previous item, and the desire is to have the meat wraps made in Australia. For that reason a duty has been imposed on meat wraps that are partly or wholly made up.
Item agreed to.
Item 134 (Bags, sacks, packs, &c.), and item 135 (Accoutrements, buttons, braid, &c.), agreed to.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 8 p.m. on Tuesday next.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millet?) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
, - I desire to make an explanation with regard to a vote I gave on item 105. I - had arranged a pair with Senator John D. Milieu, and unfortunately I forgot all about the matter. I make this explanation in order to put myself right with honorable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative,
Senate adjourned at 7 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 August 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210811_senate_8_96/>.