8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T: Givens) took, thethechair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
.- (By leave) -I desire to make a personal explanation in regard to tie correspondencewhich has been placed on the table of the Library for the information of’ honorable’ senators. Thewhole incident; I may say; arose from the allegation made against me by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) that until I had been refused a divisional command Ihad not made any objection to the divisional scheme, or to any other of the Defence proposals recently before us. In refers ence to that statement, I pointed out that; bo far from being eager for a divisional command, I had, atthe very earliest opportunity, when itwas officially mentioned to me, stated that Iwould not accept any such appointment until I had had an opportunity of consideringin detail the Government proposals. That was I understand) denied by the Minister, whereupon Senator Duncan, contrary ‘to my wishes, bb expressed to him at the time, requested that the papers be laid on the table of the Library. On examination of the file, I saw no trace of the original letter on the subject, and requested its production. It is now explained that such a letter was sent, but that it was a personal letter to me, and has been destroyed.
– But in that letter the honorable senator was not offered a command? -
– It was never stated by me- that an offer of a command was made. It is suggested- also that there might have been two letters relating to the subject. As a fact, there was only this one letter at the time in question. As nearly as I can recollect, it ran as follows : -
As ons of the senior officers of the Australian Imperial Force your claims to appointment as a divisional commander cannot be overlooked. Will you please inform me whether, in the event of your being recommended to the Minister for a divisional command, you would be prepared to carry out Hs duties f Also, as this would leave a vacancy in your present command, will you please state who of your battalion commanders youwould recommend to succeed you and whom you would propose to succeed in turn, to Mb battalion.
I treated that communication as being, for all purposes, official, even to the extent of complying with regulation 827, by returning the original letter to General Brand, with my minute thereon. That minute was to the effect, now admitted by General Brand, namely, that I declined to bind myself to accept any appointment under the scheme until I had had an opportunity of considering the -whole of the Government proposals. Why should I have volunteered that information if, as suggested, I had merely been asked to make recommendations as regards my subordinate officers? It is obvious that the facts must be as I have all along contended. I also, complied, of course, with the second part of the letter, and made the recommendations asked for, treating the. whole matter throughout ae official and confidential; and it was not until I was forced, in self defence, by the’ Minister’s accusation, to mention this fact, that I mentioned the matter’ to any person whatsoever.
Now that the matter has been brought to a head, I want to say that I never, e any time, contemplated accepting a divisional command,’ and that if it had been offered to me I should have refused. I should have refused, firstly, because I should have found myself in an impossible situation. To do my duty to my constituents, I should have felt compelled to continually criticise proposals put forward by one who, to all intents and purposes, was my commanding officer; and no officer should be placed in that position. I should have refused, secondly, for the reason that I am not at present prepared to devote ninety-one days a year - onethird practically of the year - as required, to military duties. I trust that this is the last time that the Minister will resort to the tactics of drawing a red-herring across the path -by making personal insinuations in regard to myself, and declaring it to be a matter of pique on my part.
My reason for retiring from active military service was, as I have already publicly stated, to draw attention to the constitution of the Military Board, which tends to reduce officers to a state of slavery, without rights, and without appeal; and also to draw the attention of the people to the attitude of the Minister towards those unjustly treated whilst on active service in the Australian Imperial Force. I want particularly to draw the attention of the Senate to the minute of the Military Board, which was approved by the Minister; -
The Board reluctantly records Us opinion that the substance and tone of General Elliott’s statement of his grievance shows him to be lacking in the restraint, and judgment necessary for high command. %
I invite .honorable senators to peruse the file, and say whether, in their opinion, that judgment is correct. In my opinion, I stated the facts plainly and simply, without any disrespect, but insisted on my rights. That, the Board, apparently, has treated as a crime. In another minute, ‘’ it is stated that -
The Military Board is of opinion that BrigadierGeneral Elliott has no reasonable grounds for considering -himself aggrieved. The Board has, therefore, recommended to the . Minister that- no further action be taken with regard to this matter, which has received the fullest consideration by the highest tribunal to which any officer or soldier has the right’, under the regulations, to appeal.
In the course of the Board’s recommendation, which was approved by the Minister, the following paragraph appears : -
The Board happens to be aware of the circumstances in which this officer was superseded in the Australian Imperial Force. His bravery and capacity to command cannot be questioned ; but other officers, who also possess these attributes, were selected because, in the opinion of competent authority, they were more fitted for the command of a division.
Remembering the personnel of this Board - General White, General Sellheim, General Forsyth, and Colonel Thomas - and knowing, as I do, the history and records of those gentlemen, I must come to the inevitable conclusion that the only one among them who happens to be aware of the circumstances is General White. General White was intimately associated with the matter. When I protested to him in the field against my supersession, I informed him that, although I was under military discipline, and must perforce obey orders, I intended to refer the matter to the Minister. His comment was, “ Finally, you actually threaten me with political influence. You have written hurriedly, and in regard to your letter, let me say that if the decision rested with me I should send you off to Australia without the least hesitation; calmly and deliberately, you repeat your intention to seek political aid; and if you manage to raise a dozen political military inquiries, I will fight you to a stand-still on that.” That communication is in General White’s own handwriting.
– Was that said in France?
– It was written in France.
– And good enough, too! I should not have threatened - he would have gone!
– It will be seen that after twenty-five years of service, with no crime against his record, no charge against his courage or capacity, an officer must have certain other mysterious qualifications which are nowhere defined but in which I was supposed to be lacking. Not having those qualities an officer is placed on the shelf, though the Army Act and our Defence Act both provide for an appeal from the authorities in the field in the event of an inquiry. It is also seen how any attempts on the part of an officer to assert his rights are treated1 as a crime, apparently with the approval of Senator Cox. It is against that system I have protested, and shall continue to protest; and I am not alone in my objection to such a system. I now desire to read a brief extract from Sir Phillip Gibbs’ book, The Realities of War. Sir Phillip Gibbs, referring to a conversation he had had with an officer, writes -
He said that G.H.Q. was a close corporation in the hands of the military clique who . had muddled through the South African War, and were now going to muddle through a worse one. They were, he said, entrenched behind impregnable barricades of old, motheaten provisions, red tape, and caste privilege.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) . - Senator Elliott isnow going beyond the limits of a personal explanation. The honorable senator has been all right so far, but he must not enter into controversial matters which transgress the bounds of a personal explanation.
– I bow to your decision, Mr. President. My purpose will be served if honorable senators will for themselves read the extract to be found on page 200 of Sir Phillip Gibbs’ book. I thank honorable senators for their courtesy in allowing me to make this explanation.
– In accordance with standing order 64, I have received an intimation from Senator Gardiner that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate until 3 p.m. on Friday for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgency, namely, “ The claims of Captain J. Strasburg,. who held the position of Acting Lieutenant with the Rabaul Expeditionary Force, for a war gratuity.”
Four honorable senators having risen in their places,
.- I move-
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until. 3 o’clock p.m. on Friday, the 19th inst.
I desire to discussthe case of a gentle- man - Captain J. Strasburg - who offered his services to the Rabaul Expeditionary Force, and was given a position as acting-lieutenant, but who is now debarred from receivings a. war gratuity. I propose to deal with the case almost in that gentleman’s own words, and by quoting from original documents and copies of correspondence, which prove unmistakably that as actinglieutenant he not only rendered service, but excellent service, to Australia.
– Do you mean that he gave his services, or that he volunteered his services ?
– He volunteered his services, and received, I think; the pay of a lieutenant. He was outside the service when war came upon us, and he possesses knowledge of the islands, perhaps greater than is possessed by any other man in Australia. He volunteered his services, which proved invaluable, and he was paid, just as Senator Cox was paid, for his services.
– I understood you to say that he gave his services.
– I thank the. honorable senator for the correction. I shall now quote the correspondence of which I spoke. Thefirst communication was as follows: -
I am directed by the Captain-in-Charge to request that yon will be good enough to come over to Garden Island at your earliest convenience; and that you will bring all your papers with you.
Then a telegram was sent to Captain Strasburg on the 14th August, 1914-
Captain Strasburg, 42 Porter-street;
Please come Garden Island soon as possible.
– He was not.
– I think he was.
– As lieutenant he was acting in command, the captain not being there. Then came the following : - .
Please allow bearer (Lieutenant J. Strasburg, R.N.E.) to proceed on board H.M.H.T. Berrima without hindrance.
Thatis an original document. The following is a copy of another letter which goes to show that this man did everything, possible to deserve, at any rate, a gratuity, if he did not get one -
This officer joined the H.M.A.S. Berrima on 18th August, 1914, and producedthe. following, statement : - Lieutenant - Commander Cayley, Garden Island, 15th August, 1914.. “The Naval Board has approved of Captain Strasburg’s services being utilized onboard H.M.A.S Berrima. Hewill receive a commission as acting lieutenant, R.N.R.”
No communication whatever was. received from the Naval Board direct regarding this officer. He subsequently having asked me what rate of pay hewould receive, I conferred with Commander Stevenson on the subject,, who agreed to my. promising Acting Lieutenant Strasburg £25 per month, plus pilotage whilst serving in the Berrima.
From the date the Berrima returned to Syd-. ney - 4th October; 1914 - Lieutenant Strasburg was employed under the Administration, but hasbeen retained on the books of the naval section of the Expeditionary Force: (Sgd:) A. T. B. Liversay.
The following is a copy of another letter : -
The Naval Board has approved of Captain J.
Strasburg’s services being utilized onboard H.M.A.S. Berrima. He will receive a commission as acting lieutenant, R.N.R. (Signed) H. P. Cayley.
Then comes a copy of a letter that was addressed to the President of the Imperial Sailors and Soldiers’ League -
From the Officer Commanding Troops, late N: andM.E. Force, German New Guinea,
To the President Imperial Sailors and Soldiers League.
This is to certify that Captain J. Strasburg. was employed as pilot and navigatorin the Naval and Military Expeditionary Force to German New Guinea, with the rank of acting lieutenant, R.N.R. (Signed) W. R. Watson, Colonel.
The next document in the series is an original letter, addressed to “ Lieutenant Strasburg, Rabaul,” from Major Heritage, Military Secretary, as follows : -
I am directed by the Administrator to inform you that the services of a Government pilot are not considered to be necessary.
He, therefore, approves of your services being dispensed with, and you being permitted to return to Sydney at the first opportunity.
Then follows another original communication:
Commander, s.s. Meklong,
You will proceed in the Meklong, at 4 p.m. to-day, to Bougainville, calling at’.Buka, and afterwards at Kieta.; or, ifrequired to do so by Lieutenant-Colonel W.R. Watson, V.D., you are to proceed to Kieta first, or/and such other place or places as he may direct you.
You will take orders from him as to the landing of troops, and will return to Rabaul when instructed to do so by him.
I have appointed A.B. Jackson as First Mate, and A.B. Wills as Second Mate, for this voyage.
The letter is signed by Commander Lambton, R.A.N.R., King’s Harbor Master, and is dated from Rabaul, 7th December, 1914. That covers the whole of the correspondence, and it satisfies me that Lieutenant Strasburg was entitled to the gratuity. I shall now place before the Senate some information which Lieutenant Strasburg compiled, at my request, from his diaries and logs. The following statement compasses his case as he sees it, and all I ask is that, if there are any good reasons why this officer should not receive the gratuity, the Government should make them known. I certainly am aware of none ; - 12th August, 1914. - I was summoned to Garden Island, and to producemy papers. After my papers were inspected in Sydney, the reportswere sent on to the Naval Board in Melbourne for their approval. Three days later, I received instructions to go and board the s.s. Berrima, and report myself to Commander Stevenson. I also handed him a letter from Lieutenant-Commander Cayley, R.N., stating the Naval Board has approved of Captain Strasburg’s services being utilized on boardthe H.M.A.TBerrima.He will receive acommission as Acting Lieutenant, R.N.R. We left Sydney on the 19th August, and arrived atRabaul on 11th September. I piloted the Berrima at Kaba Kaul, and pointed out the road to the wireless station. We anchored at Herbertshohefor the night. 12th September, 1914; - Piloted the Berrima from Herbertshohe to Rabaul. Assoonasthe vessel was tied up at the wharf, and before the troops had ‘landed to garrison the place, I went on shore, together with Brigade-Major Heritage and Commander Brown, to secure a flagstaff for hoisting the British flag, and also selected a suitable spot for erecting the same. 13th September.- TheBritish flag was hoisted at Rabaul, and theProclamation read to the white residents. An address to the natives in pidgin English, drafted by me, was also read to the natives, and three hearty cheers were given by them, which showed that wewere welcome visitors. 16th September. - The s.s. Madang arrived from Kieta. Iwas sent on board to takean inventory of crew, passengers, and cargo. 17 th September. - We commenced to coal the Berrima. I engaged 84 Chinese labourers for coaling. 19th September. - TheChinese labourers struck, and wantedmore pay. They struck for1s. a day more, eight hours’ work, and no night work. Being stuck up for Chinese labour, I took command of the motor schooner Laurengau, and proceeded in her to Matupi, and North coast New Britain. Recruited 135 native labourers to coal the ship. 20th September. - Being successful in supplying labour, I was sent for by the Admiral of the Fleet to supply labour to coal the following ships: - Murex,Grantala, and Aorangi. 22nd September. - We finished coaling the Berrima at 6 a.m., 970 tons. The coal bill - Chinese labour, £87 10s.; native labour, £21. 7s. 6d. The natives did the most of the coaling and all the night work, and the Chinese day work only. At 9.30 a.m., we left for Frederich Wilhelmshafen, the flagship Encounter and the French cruiser Montcalm escorting us. When at Rabaul, I discovered many recent German plans, and also several reports and soundings, tides, and currents for the whole of the Bismarck Archipelago,German New Guinea, Caroline, and MarshallIslands. This work had taken the German surveying vessels many years to complete, and when translated and published in the South Sea Directory, should prove of great value to navigators. These plans and papers I passed on to Commander Stevenson, and I believe he transferred them to the Admiral the next day, when he and the Brigadier, Colonel Holmes, visited ‘the Flagship at sea. 24th September. - Piloted the Berrima to Frederich Wilhelmshafen Harbor,and after the passage entrance had been swept for mines, we entered the harbor at 9.30 a.m. The flagship and Montcalm remained outside. The entrance is very narrow, and not enough swing room inside. We landed troops to garrison the place, provisions, stores, and ammunition ; leftat 5 p.m. the same day for Rabaul. We were complimented by the Admiral for the quick discharge, and for safely bringing the Berrima in and out of port. 26th September. - Arrived at Rabaul.Received information of the Whereabouts of the German vesselsCondor, Komet, and Planet. Communicatedsame to Commander Stevenson. 30th September. - IwasappointedCommander of s.s. Summatra. Thisvesselwas captured by the flagship on the day of arrival at Rabaul, on the 11th September. 2nd October. - I was appointed in command of s.s. Meklong. This vessel was in a very neglected condition, nearly all her furniture had been .taken out of her, and even the little charthouse on the bridge had been removed, and even, too, her compass lamps had been stolen. Her bottom was very foul, and had not been docked for two and a half years. Her engine-room and engines were in good order. I had some difficulty in securing a crew for this vessel, as they all had been allowed to go ashore. Her bottom being so foul, she would only steam 3 to 4 knots, and being flatbottomed, ‘She could not make any progress against fresh winds, sea, and current. 4th October. - The Berrima left Rabaul for Sydney, and I was transferred to the Administrator, who thought my services would be very useful on account of my local knowledge of those waters, and also of native affairs. After being appointed in command of the Meklong and getting her ready - for sea, the King’s Deputy Harbor Master was sent on board to bring her alongside the wharf, and I was asked to take a day off. She was sent down with Captain Komini as pilot, and despatched to Kapa Kaul to take on board some wireless gear and other .matters which had been captured at the Wireless Station. When she returned to Rabaul late that night, I took charge of her again,’ but was cautioned not to take the hatches off, and not let anybody know the contents of her cargo. 6th October. - S.S. Meklong’s engines were dismantled, and she has laid up, awaiting instructions. 7th October. - I was appointed in command of the M.S. Laurengau, and made a trip in her .to the Duke of York Groups, circumnavigating the same. 8th October. - Was sent to Wotam Islands looking for a wireless plant. 15th October. - I was appointed the Commander of the Nusa, a Government yacht, and left in her on the 27th October on an expedition to New Ireland, to secure the release of the British Consul, Mr. Jolley, Brigade-Major Heritage iu charge of the expedition. At Kawieng, New Ireland, we hoisted the British flag, and secured the release of Mr. Jolley, and left Lieutenant Holmes and a few men to garrison the place; and left the same day at 9 p.m., for Gardner -Island, where we expected to find the s.s, Sier. It was in Kawieng where the transport Eastern got stranded last January, and damages to the vessel’s bottom amounted to £4,000. The stranding of the Eastern took place in the middle of the day, and had I been the pilot on board, it would never have happened. All leading marks and beacons in the harbor had been destroyed by the Germans. I took the s.s. Meklong through after dark twice. 18th October. - I found the s.s. Siar and M.S. Matupi and M.S. Senta hidden in a small cove called “Tekarake.” This place is not marked on any chart published, and known to very few local people, and I do not believe that there is a navigator in the whole of Australasia that knows the place. Those ships were .taken by great surprise, the captain and officers being on shore. When they saw us coming, they ran down the wharf to board their own boats; but we came so suddenly round the corner, entered’ the harbor, and took possession, and sentries posted on each ship, before the Germans had time to go on board. The s.s. Siar had no coal on board, so I took her in tow of the Nusa, and the other two boats following in their own steam. We arrived off Kawieng after dark, and were unable to enter the place, the two motor vessels having broken down, and I had .the three ships in tow the whole night. It was rather dangerous work, as we were within half-a-mile of the breakers. We arrived at Kawieng on the morning of the 20th; there we provisioned, coaled, and watered the ships, and left on the 21st for Rabaul. We arrived off Rabaul at midnight,’ but did not enter the harbor until 7.30 next morning. On arrival, I was heartily congratulated by the Administrator and his officers, and the whole of the garrison. 24th October. - I taas appointed in command of the s.s. *Madang. I had previously been informed of the whereabouts of the auxiliary schooner Samoa, and was commissioned to capture her. Leaving the wharf, Commander Lambton jumped aboard, and informed me that he was to command, and that I was navigating officer only. This took me rather by surprise, as if I had been informed previous to leaving the wharf that Mr. Lambton was to be Commander, I should have protested against going in the vessel. We arrived at Kalili Bay at 6.30 a.m., on the 25th October, found there the schooner at anchor in a small cove, and hidden behind trees, where we could just see the top of her mast. Whilst Commander Lambton was making .arrangements for his men to board the ship, I steamed into the harbor, calling out to the captain of the Samoa to lower his boats down out of the davits so that I could come alongside. Commander Lambton and two A.B.’s jumped’ on board, pulled the German - flag down, and hoisted the Union Jack. There was no resistance offered, and what firearms they had on board were dumped overboard when they saw us coming. We left at 8 a.m., and the Samoa followed under her steam, and arrived at 6 p.m. the same day at Rabaul. 26th October. - I was again appointed in command of the s.s. Meklong, and left Rabaul with troops, stores, and 154 tons of general cargo, for Kawieng, New Ireland. 29th October. - We arrived at Kawieng at’ 7 a.m., landed troops, stores, and cargo, and left at 8.30 p.m. for Namatanai, where we arrived at 6 p.m. Landed shore party, who marched along the coast some 20 miles, and captured some of the Germans who were connected with the flogging of the English .missionary, t 31st October. - We hoisted the flag at Namatanai, landed a small garrison force, and left at 6.30 p.m. for Kawieng. On 1st November, O I captured the auxiliary cutter Hilalon at sea, took her into tow, and arrived at Kawieng at 3 p.m. the same day. 2nd, 3rd, and 4th November. - We discharged cargo, and loaded copra at Kawieng, and three other ports; and commenced to inaugurate an inter-island trade service. 6th November. - We -left Kawieng for Rabaul with the auxiliary schooner Harriet Alice in tow. 6th November. - Whilst steaming close along the coast of New Ireland, when off Kalili Bay, several canoes came off and told us that there were several Germans on shore who had illtreated them (flogged them), and they had also been connected with the flogging of the missionary. We landed a shore party at 7 a.m., with instructions to capture the Germans. They retured at noon,, and reported that the Germans had all fled to the mountains. On leaving Kalili, I again picked up the Harriet Alice, which I had left under her own steam while we went into the bay. I steamed further along the coast looking for the Germans, and arrived at 7 p.m. off Labur, and laid to outside for the night. At 6 o’clock next morning I landed Captain Twynan and party at a place called Labur. They returned at 8 o’clock, and we proceeded further down the coast to ‘a place called Bum; but we could find no trace of any more Germans, so we proceeded to Rabaul, where we arrived that evening. 8th November. - At 6 a.m. (Sunday), left the wharf, went alongside the s.s. Matunga, who was anchored in the stream, discharged 250 tons of cargo, and returned to the ‘wharf at 4 p.m. 10th November. - 8 a.m. Anchored at Herbertshohe waiting high tide to beach the vessel” at Matupi for the purpose of cleaning her bottom, which was very foul. I sent the boat ashore with instructions. At 10 a.m., received signal to return to Rabaul; replied, I could not, boat and crew on shore. Signal repeated; name reply. Received urgent signal, leave boat and crew behind and return to Rabaul. On arriving at Rabaul, received instructions to take cargo from the Madang and proceed with cargo and passengers, and to leave the same evening for Kawieng. Replied impossible, vessel requires water, coal, stores, and provisions, and a full complement of crew. We only had Ave natives aboard, and no white officers. At 3 p.m. we commenced to load cargo and coal Madang on port side, and coal lighter on the other side, the ship anchored in the stream. 11th November. - We left at 9 p.m. for New Ireland, with Major Ralston, two other officers, 155 troops, Captain Twynan, 25 native police, 15 native carriers, and 10 native passengers on board. 13th November. - Arrived at . Namatanai, landed Major Ralston and party, and left next day for Kawieng. 16th November. - We left Kawieng for Gardner Island. 17th November. - Arrived off Gardner Island 7 a.m. Anchored at Zigarrigarri, the same place where the three German vessels were captured last month. Landed cargo, and took on board copra, and left at 11.30 for Tatau where we anchored at 1.30 p.m. Here we landed cargo, and took on board four cutter loads of copra. 18th November. - Left Tatau Island at 5 a.m. At 7.30 a.m., we anchored at Terripax, took aboard 252 bags of copra, and left at .1.30 p.m. for Fisoa, New Ireland. Arrived there at 7 p.m., failed to find an anchorage, went to sea intending to return next morning. After leaving the coast, I went below for a couple of hours’ rest, when the officer in charge of the bridge turned back with the vessel without my . authority, attempted to pick up an anchorage, lost one anchor and 45 fathoms of chain, and nearly wrecked the vessel. I went to sea the second time, reported this matter on my return to Rabaul; but no official inquiry was held. 19th November. - We laid to outside Namatanai the whole night waiting for Major Ralston and party to come on board. 20th November. - Received party on board at 10 a.m., and anchored at a place called Muliama at 6 p.m. Immediately we anchored, Major Ralston and party landed in ship’s boat, x and proceeded down the coast to capture some German outlaws. I received next morning a message that Major Ralston had captured two- German prisoners at 3 a.m., and that he was expected to come on board at 3.30 p.m. the same day. I may mention at this place the entrance is very harrow, only 200 yards wide, with a sharp turning; and had we not anchored there after dark, we would have been unable to capture the Germans, as they had scouts out along the coast. We left at 3.30 p.m., intending to go back to Namatanai; but, having several people on board dangerously ‘ill, and
Acting on the advice of the A.A.M.C. detail on board, decided to return to Rabaul.
I think I have quoted sufficient, to show that this man has not only rendered service, hut excellent service, and I am claiming that he should be treated in the same manner as other members of the Expeditionary Force, and be paid his gratuity.
– He did not get a commission. I have read the instructions of the officer who sent him abroad, and possibly the Department is “ jibbing “ because it did not issue a commission in accordance with its ‘promise. If he was not given a commission it was not his fault. His services were offered and accepted, and he should, at least, be treated in the same manner as other members of the Expeditionary Force in the matter of a war gratuity. The payment of this amount does not depend upon legal technicalities; but can be given or withheld if desired. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) who, doubtless, is aware of all the circumstances, will have to make out a good case, and explain why this officer has not been paid an amount to which
I contend he,is-entitled. So far- as I am concerned I shall not rest until he receives what he. believes he is entitled to. I hav.e had an opportunity during, many, months of testing this man’s, veracity^ and’ I have not found him unworthy in any sense of the’ word. With the honorable, member for Wentworth’ (Mr. Marks). I accompanied a deputation from the” Returned Soldiers- and1 Sailors’ Imperial League of Australia which waited upon the Assistant Minister for Defence (Sir Granville Ryrie) in connexion’ with another matter. At that deputation on which the League was represented- by the<. secretary or- the president, such a strong:case was made out that, the Assistant Minister for Defence- immediately granted . the- request- which was made. He wanted a settlement which the Government ‘were prepared to approve with this, difference : They wanted Captain Strasburg- to sign an agreement renouncing- his claim to a gratuity, his claims in connexion with certain lands, and any claim for prize money in connexion- with the capture-1 of certain ships. The Assistant Minister was of opinion that he should not have to sign away those rights, and said thathe would be paid the amount. Captain Strasburg, accepted that condition; but the Crown Law officers instead of paying him £100 paid him only £50, and refused to pay the remaining £50 until he supplied them with certain documents. ‘ He is . a poor man who has been harassed and annoyed for a considerable time, and I am. bringing this matter before the Senate in the endeavour to secure- for him that justice to which he is entitled. I .am not pressing his legal claims, as they could be brought before the Court. The claim for a. wor gratuity is not a legal one, and the facts which I have disclosed show that he. has a strong moral claim. I appeal tothe Minister for Defence, either to grant, his claim, or to give some valid reason why his request cannot be complied with. Honorable senators know that I do not move the adjournment of the Senate unless the matter which T have to bring for- , ward is of urgent public importance; and I have moved the adjournment on this occasion because I believe the matter will receive sympathetic consideration, even. at. the hands of the Government..
.- Thiscase is by no means a new one to. me, and before I deal, with, its merits may X . say . that I shall .ha-ve to speak, somewhat. in1 a collective capacity as the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy (Mr.. Laird Smith) as it is, not a- defence matter in so far: as- that Department is.-‘ concerned. I shall also- have to speak as’ the Minister representing the Treasurer (Sir -Joseph. Cook) in. the matter of ., a war ‘gratuity, the payments’ of which are” controlled by the Treasurer and not bythe Minister for Defence. The first letter quoted by Senator- Gardiner- is, one-, issued,. I understand, by the officer- in command at Garden Island.- He had’ no authority to grant a commission to any, one; nor does his letter purport so to do. The .letter indicates that.it was- intended to use Strasburg’s services, and that he -would receive - the appointment of lieutenant. Defence and. the Navy were at that time - in 19.14- 15. - under the control of one Minister, and’-when-. Strasburg was. engaged the De-1 partment waa under- my administration. Later the Departments were separated, andi Strasburg’s claim for a war gratuity, has been dealt with, since- then! Each- De- partment has to determine the eligibility of the members of the Forces who served under it. Therefore, it was not a question which I had any authority to determine. In- 1915 Captain’ Strasburg made certain claims which came before me, and T referred them to Colonel” Holmes, who was administering what. was-< then German New Guinea. A number of” reports were received from officers who had dealings with Captain Strasburg, and these, together with the Administrator’s remarks; were sent to Melbourne. On receipt of these reports I referred his claim, together with the report, to the Naval Board, and I have ‘here the recommendation, of that body. The following is a copy of the minute by the-First Naval Member, which was forwarded for the Minister’s information : -
Captain Strasburg claims on various grounds for pilotage. The pilotage includes services; other than its literal meanings-certain coal-‘ ing,- launching, and painting -. of ship, and capture of ships through his instrumentality* I understand that it was. due to his guidance that, the captured vessels Samoa,- Star, Mathupi and Sente were,found and. .secured. Colonel. Holmes) had. expressed, his, -inability to- estimate the value of Captain . Strasburg’s services, .as he is not, a naval officer. The Naval Department have, assessed the value of the technical service of pilotage. according to ‘Naval Regulations. Colonel .Holmes still expresses himself /Unable to 1 estimate the worth of , the remaining services, though it does not appear to me to be a .question of great difficulty by the officer engaging a person for ‘certain duties :to :state the .worth of that duty. I am not r able to . judge how far Captain . Strasburg’s knowledge, information, and guidance contributed to those captures - certainly not so well as Colonel Holmes, who was at Rabaul .and”en- gaged his .services. If Captain Strasburg’s assistance andi knowledge placed us in possession of these vessels, and they are now -our property, he has carried out a service worth at least f 100, and .to this should be added a few pounds for length of time he has remained here waiting for his money.
On that I approved of the payment of if 125 in full :and final .settlement of all claims. Colonel Holmes, as honorable “senators are ‘aware, died on active service in France. I have here the reports of the various persons to whom. this matter , was from time to time referred.
– Was the recommendation that of Mr. Macandie, or .that of the First Naval Member?
– It was the recommendation of the First .Naval Member sent forward by Mr. Macandie. The history of the case subsequently may be briefly . stated as follows: - Senator Gardiner first raised the question of the PaY.ment of war gratuity to Captain Strasburg in the Senate, and at the time pointed out that the Director of Navy Accounts had disallowed the payment of gratuity on the grounds that he was not a member of the Commonwealth Naval Forces. Senator Gardiner quoted extracts from several documents and publications at the time to prove that Captain Strasburg had been granted .an appointment in the Naval Forces. .The Central War Gratuity Board thereupon gave consideration to the eligibility of Captain Strasburg for gratuity, and ruled .as under : -
The Central War Gratuity .Board has considered this case .and decided .that Captain Strasburg is mot eligible for gratuity. The file relative to the case indicated an apparent intention to ‘grant Captain Strasburg a commission, but this is not an appointment, .and the Naval Board, .therefore, did -not appoint him. He was, .therefore, not a member of .the Forces, and .is not entitled under the Act to war gratuity.
I point out that .the only appeal from .the Central War Gratuity Board is to. the Treasurer,, and not to me.
The Secretary, for Defence, in a minute dated 16th November, 1920, -sought information from the Adjutant-General as to whether it was proper for the Department to employ Captain Strasburg in a civilian capacity -on military operations of the nature referred to; and, further,- if it was improper to do this whether it would not be -equitable to now appoint Captain Strasburg to the Forces for- the duration of his employment in order to -make him . eligible to benefit under the War Gratuity Act. The Adjutant-General pointed out that Captain Strasburg was employed for Naval service, and not military, and, therefore, the question is one for decision by the Navy Department, but no objection could be seen why a person should not have been employed in a civilian capacity for navigation work during the war. A similar query to that addressed to the AdjutantGeneral was on 24th December, 1920, forwarded to the Navy Department, which Department replied on 10th February, 1921, to the effect that the Naval Board, after full consideration of all the circumstances attending the case, -are unable to concur in the proposal to appoint Captain Strasburg to the Naval Forces for the period Ot his employment, as such action would create a very undesirable precedent, which other persons would seize upon. Captain Strasburg was not “the only person employed in- the -same locality in a civilian capacity for pilotage and other such work. Moreover, under the Naval Defence Act, Captain Strasburg, feeing an alien, is ineligible to be granted a commission in the Commonwealth Naval Forces. On the. 26th November, 1920, Senator Gardiner again brought this matter before the House, and spoke at length
On the subject. I then replied that it would appear that .the Navy Department ;are taking up fie attitude that, technically speaking, .Captain Strasburg is not entitled to a war gratuity, and if such was the case- representations would be made to the Minister for the Navy to consider whether he could -see his- way on the- facts. I .said that I did not propose to pass any “judgment on them,, to recommend Parliament to vote. a sum of .money to Captain
Strasburg for the services he had rendered if he was not entitled, technically speaking, to the war gratuity. That I have done; but so far no decision has been arrived at. Captain Strasburg had issued a writ against the Commonwealth Government claiming £12,000 for services rendered, &c. The plaintiff solicitor suggested, without prejudice, that the action be settled by the payment of £2;000 in full settlement of all claims due. The Commonwealth legal authorities considered that Captain Strasburg had no legal claim against the Commonwealth, and, stated that it was a matter for Departmental consideration whether or not it would be preferable to settle the matter by paying. Captain Strasburg the sum of £105, being the difference between the amount of his claim made immediately the services were rendered, viz., £285 - that is the claim with which I dealt in the earlier stages of the case - and the total of the payments made to him, viz., £180, because the £125, of which I approved, was subsequently increased by £55. The Navy Department took the view that the matter involved was the assessment of the services of Captain Strasburg to the Administrator at Rabaul, and remarked that Captain Strasburg rendered very useful service to the Administrator, and his local knowledge apparently proved of much value in a number of ways, apart from his actual duties as a pilot in uncharted waters. It was, therefore, recommended that the amount of £105 be paid. The offer of £105 in full final settlement was made to Captain Strasburg’s solicitors, who submitted a counter proposal for settlement as under: -
To accept the amount of £105 offered, if consideration is given to application for war gratuity, and if his right to takeup and develop the island lands over which he held certainrights from the then German Government is not dealt with in the settlement.
To this the reply was given that the suggested payment of £105 was in full and final settlement of all claims for compensation which the plaintiff then had, or thereafter might have, including war gratuityand interests in lands, and that the amount of £105 must be accepted or unconditionally rejected. A further letter was then received accepting the offer of £105 on these terms, conditional on the Crown paying plaintiff’s costs assessed at £21, but on acceptance of this offer being notified to the solicitors, the plaintiff refused, to agree, and again put forward his request that settlement should exclude claims, if any, to war gratuity and prize money. Settlement on these lines was eventually agreed upon, viz., payment of £105 and £21 costs, but not to prejudice claims (if any) to war gratuity and prize money.
Captain Strasburg originally applied for war gratuity, but his application was rejected by the Director of Navy Accounts, on the ground that he was not a “ member of the Forces “ within the meaning of the Act. The case was later referred to the Central War Gratuity Board. . The Central Board’s decision was that the applicant was not eligible, not being a “ member of the Forces “ within the meaning of the Act. The Central Board further states -
The file relative to the case indicated an apparent intention to grant Captain Strasburg a commission, but this is not an appointment, and the Naval Board, therefore, did not appoint him. He was not, therefore, a member of the Forces, and is not entitled under the Act to war gratuity.
Further, he did not receive the full pay of his rank or alleged rank (section 5 (2) of the War Gratuity Act), which would also render him ineligible. The Central War Gratuity Board (prescribed authority) is vested under the War
Gratuity Regulations with power to decide on any appeal lodged by a war gratuity claimant. The Board, before finally rejecting Captain Strasburg’s claim, were in possession of the full facts in connexion with his service, and were familiar with all the circumstances as disclosed by the Navy Department’s file.
I have in addition only to say that it is clear that Captain Strasburg’s original claim was not for anything like the amount for which he afterwards claimed. Inquiries were made at the time when the facts were new and in the minds of the officers who dealt with the matter. The reports were considered by the First Naval Member of the Naval Board, and his recommendation was made and approved. The amount of compensation he recommended was subsequently increased by £50, and later by £7 for some technical reason. Itwas finally accepted by Captain Strasburg’s representatives, any suggestion that he was entitled to war gratuity, or any claim in respect of lands, being waived. Therefore, I do not see that he can have any further claim on that score. Whatever claim he may have must be with regard to the payment of war gratuity.
– And that is the only claim I am putting forward for him.
– Any claim for war gratuity must be based on legal or moral grounds, and clearly it can have no legal basis. « Senator Vardon. - What is his nationality ?
– He is a Swede or a Norwegian.
– He became naturalized many years ago.
– I understand that although a naturalized British subject,’ under the Navy regulations he was ineligible for a commission. In his claim he himself assessed the value of his services, and the matter was fully gone into. He received his pay, but put forward a claim for £3S0 as extra payment, and, after it had been given consideration, he accepted payment at the reduced figure. Therefore, what other moral claim can there te? He himself assessed the value of his services when the whole of the circumstances were fresh in his mind, and lie has been paid. I have submitted to the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Laird Smith) the question whether in the light of all the facts he can approve of any further payment.
– At the time he assessed his services the question of paying war gratuity had not been considered.
– No. His claim referred to services in 1915. At that time the question of paying a war gratuity had not been dealt with. It appears to me that his moral claim must rest upon the fact that if he had been entitled to a commission in the Navy he would undoubtedly have been entitled to the payment of a war gratuity. Through a technicality, due to his nationality, he was not appointed, because he was not eligible.
– Do I understand that this man got. £285 ?
– The Commonwealth legal authorities stated that it was a matter for departmental consideration whether or not it would be preferable to settle the matter by paying Strasburg £105, being the difference between the amount of his claim made immediately the services were rendered, viz., £285, and the total of the payment made to him, viz., £180. He received exactly the amount that he claimed.
– By way of pay?
– No. In addition to his pay. Of course, when he made his claim he did not know that subsequently a war gratuity would be paid, and the question now is, is he morally entitled to the payment of the war gratuity ? This matter I have referred to the Minister for the Navy.
– It must be satisfactory to honorable senators who listened to the remarks made by Senator Gardiner to learn from the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) that this matter has not been finally dealt with, but is receiving consideration at the hands of the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Laird Smith). It would seem that this man just missed appointment in the Navy, and that the real reason why he is not entitled to a war gratuity now, is a technical reason ; he was not really commissioned in the Navy, and could not have become one by reason of his nationality. (But, in spite of his nationality, it would appear, from his record read by Senator Gardiner, that he rendered valuable and signal service to the Empire during the war. In determining whether he is entitled to receive war gratuity it would be well, I think, if the Minister bore in mind the fact that we are dealing with a foreigner. This man, before he was in the service of the Commonwealth, apparently held some land in German New Guinea, under conditions, from the then German Administrator of that Territory. If there is one thing more than another about which we should be zealous, it is a determination to uphold the reputation of British people in their dealings with foreigners. I hope this aspect of the matter will be taken into consideration by the Minister for the Navy when dealing with tha .claim. .There is not the slightest doubt that if it had been possible to appoint this man to the. Australian Navy he would have received an appointment, and there could then have1 been no question as to his claim for the gratuity. When he made his claim’ the question of a war gratuity was not in the mind of any one. That matter was determined afterwards. When wo were dealing with that particular measure we could not be expected to advert to singular instances of service such as this man rendered to the Commonwealth ;.and the Empire. Had we done so, possibly some provision would have been inserted to meet such cases. There is not the slightest doubt, if such instances had come .before honorable senators .at the . time, no opposition would have been raised to Captain Strasburg receiving the war gratuity. I hope that the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), when he receives a reply from his colleague, will’ be able to indicate that the matter has received sympathetic consideration in a practical form.
– I shall be brief in my reply, and from Hansard of 26th November, 1920, complete the documentary evidence in regard to Captain Strasburg’s claim. I do so because the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) quite properly quoted from Colonel Holmes’ statement, and ‘I want to put Captain Strasburg’s position clearly before honorable senators. This is n quotation from the .Sydney Morning Herald of 14th October, 1914-^-
Several attempts were .made to discover the b.s. Meklong a small twin-screw steamer of the N.D.’L. Fleet, which, according to information gleaned bv Captain J.’ Strasburg, who accompanied the Berrima as pilot, and know£ the islands better, probably, than any man living, was hidden somewhere on Duke of York Island. So cunningly was she [concealed, however, in a creek, .amid a profusion of coconut palms, that she was not found till Captain Strasburg, who had now been placed :in’ command of’ her himself, headed- the search.
Here is a letter from Colonel Holmes to Rear-Admiral Sir William Creswell, dated 5th March, 1915- “ This will .servo to introduce to you Mr. J. Strasburg, who acted as pilot on the troopship .Berrima while in New Guinea waters. He -was engaged by the Naval authorities, and is now, I .understand, meeting with . some diffi culty in .obtaining a. settlement. .He wishes to see you and explain .’his .case. Captain Stevenson can speak as ‘to the -service Strasburg rendered to the Navy, ..and as Administrator I- cannot speak too highly of -.the assistance he rendered in connexion with the establishment of an inter-island trade service.”
This is another- letter .from Colonel Holmes to Colonel Pethebridge, .dated ;26th February, 1915-
The services Tendered by Strasburg were very useful, as at . first none of our people knew anything of the islands, and as it is’ now clear that ‘ the Navy’ agreed to ‘ pay him pilotage while on the Berrima in addition to his salary, I suppose it is only fair that he .should get the same treatment from the Administration while in its employ, particularly as the ‘Navy still paid his salary to the date of his -leaving -Rabaul.
Of course, his appointment. by the officer in. charge, at Sydney, as acting lieutenant with remuneration for his /pilotage- services was not official, and I, have no desire to go into the matter of his claim for £2S5 for those pilotage services. I am merely dealing with his claim for a gratuity which appears to have been denied to him, because, not being of British birth, although a Britisher by naturalization, he could not hold the position of lieutenant.
– ‘He did not get the “gratuity purely on technical grounds.
– The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has somewhat understated the case if Senator Keating is correct in assuming- that Captain Strasburg’s claim is still under consideration. I thought that the matter had been, finally decided.
– It has been finally decided, but I have asked the Minister for the Navy to consider whether Captain Strasburg has not a moral claim to a money payment in lieu of the gratuity.
– The claim has been finally decided on technical grounds, but the Minister for Defence has submitted to the Minister for the Navy the point as to whether Captain .Strasburg has not a moral claim.
– I do not wish to he offensive to ‘the Navy Department, but for some . reason or . other : gross stupidity has been displayed, by them in connexion with this case. For instance, they were finally compelled to pay Captain Strasburg’s claim for pilotage services. They realized that if the case had been taken. into Court he must have succeeded.
– No. The payment was made as an act of grace.
– Senator Keating was, on the fringe of the actual position when he said that we were dealing, with a foreigner. Captain Strasburg is. an old man, and he. feels his position very keenly, because he says that people will believe that. he has not. received the. gratuity, because of the. fact that there is something against him. He willingly gave his services - certainly he was paid for them - and there is only the. fact against him that he could not be appointed a lieutenant, seeing that he was not of British birth, although he is not a German. There was nothing in the regulations to prevent, his taking charge of one of the Navy’s vessels, and as he was appointed to command one of them he became entitled to thewar gratuity. So long as I remain in Parliament I shall press his claim.
– Does not the Minister for Defence say distinctly that Captain Strasburg’s claim is now being considered by the Minister for the Navy?
– I understand very well the meaning of promises given in Parliament. Six months hence I believe the matter will still be where it is to-day, and I shall find Senator Cox concurring in the appointment of a Select Committee to go into the whole case. I do not wish to go to that extreme now, but I am determined to press this claim until the injustice done to Captain Strasburg has been removed.
– The honorable senator would have no difficulty in. securing the appointment of a Select Committee in either House if the injustice to which he refers is not removed.
– I have given the Departments concerned ample time to settle Captain Strasburg’s claim, but in view of what the Minister has said to-day I ask leave to withdraw my motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 17th August, vide page 11065) : Schedule.
DIVISION. VI.-METALSAND AND MACHINERY.
Item 137 -
Aluminium and Nickel, viz:: -
– Senator Elliott has intimated that he wishes to submit a request upon this item, but I believe that he will accept the. proposal which I now put forward. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties on aluminium angles, bars, plates, rods, sheets, strips and tees, not polished, plated, decorated or further manufactured, on and after 1st January, 1922, ad . val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
When the Tariff was under consideration by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) he decided that if the articles mentioned in this sub-item could be made in Australia, he would readily protect them, but through some oversight this was not done, and a firm which had already commenced the building of its. factory in accordance with the Minister’s assurance that protection would be afforded to. it, drew his attention to the omission. He then promised that he would have the matter rectified in this Chamber. The rolling of aluminium sheets had not previously been undertaken in Australia to any extent, but at the urgent request of the Government the Australian Bronze Company at Sydney decided to erect a rolling mill for the purpose of rolling these sheets in order to place other manufacturers in the position of being able to obtain their supplies of raw material in Australia instead of being dependent on outside sources. Their mill is now in course of erection, and will be completed shortly. Should they not be in a position to supply the requirements of others by the 1st January next, the date for the coming into operation of this duty will be further extended.
– Is it proposed to manufacture aluminium goods direct from the ore or from the imported block?
– Blocks, cubes, ingots, pigs, scrap and granulated aluminium, mass items which are not manufactured in Australia, that is to say, aluminium in the rough, will be admitted free. There is now being erected in Sydney a factory with the necessary plant to produce aluminium, and, in view of our experience during the war, we must’ recognise the importance of encouraging such an: enterprise. There were occasions during the war period when it was exceedingly difficult to obtain what were relatively small things, although of great importance to various industries and essential to the progress and defence of the. country. We made inquiries through the Board of Trade for aluminium for the use of the Defence Department.
– Aluminium is very much used in the construction of aeroplanes.
– Tes. There is every prospect of the - local industry proving successful. At the present time deposits of bauxite of the necessary quality are being developed near the Leeuwin.
– I accepted the Minister’s proposed request on the understanding that the deferred duties would come definitely into operation on 1st January next, , but I gather from the honorable gentleman now that it is proposed to still further postpone their coming into operation.
– I’ call attention to the want of a quorum. [Quorum formed].
- Senator Elliott asked for an increase of the duties on plates under the general Tariff, which would apply to imports from Germany. I do not know how they were brought in, but quite recently aluminium plates bearing inscriptions in German have been seen in Melbourne. That is an indication that some goods at least are being brought in illicitly from Germany.
– They came in through Switzerland, no doubt.
– This item relates to an industry which, on national grounds, should be encouraged, and there is no reason why it should not prove a success.
.- The Minister (Senator Russell) tells us that there is being established in Sydney a factory which will be able to produce these goods and on that ground he asks us to agree to a request that, although the item has hitherto been free, the goods covered by it shall, from a certain date, be dutiable at the rate of 25 per cent, ad valorem under the British preferential Tariff. I venture to say that this is a wholly unreasonable proposal. If there is any metal which of recent years has come into more general use than others it is aluminium. The growth of its use has been remarkable. I do not know of the extent of the factory that is commencing operations in Sydney, but I think that we should at least impose the condition that these duties shall not come -into operation until that factory is, or others are, in a position to supply the whole of Australia’s requirements in this respect. Why should the people of Western Australia, for instance, have to pay a duty of 25 per cent, on imports of these materials from Great Britain merely because of a desire to protect one factory in New South Wales which is about to commence operations. No one will say that this one factory will be able to supply the whole of Australia’s requirements, nor with quite a number of such factories, shall we be able to meet the local demand for some time to come. Here we have another illustration of the way in which wellorganized sections of industry can reach the ears of the Ministry. I can conceive of no more pernicious principle than that . under which ‘ the Legislature gives power to a Minister to say when a duty shall come into operation. Such a system may place the responsible Minister quite unjustly under suspicion. The Parliament alone should impose or. remove duties. In the good old days of which some people love to talk there were men who would have been delighted to have such a power as we are giving to the Minister in this case.. The principle is utterly wrong.
– Does not the honorable senator think it would be better to encourage the industry in its initial stages hy means1 of a bounty?
– A bounty would be the lesser evil. I prefer bounties rather than Protectionist duties. In a widespread community such as ours it would be better to assist a growing industry by means of a bounty than by the imposition of protective duties since, until the industry so protected is able to supply the whole of our requirements, people are forced to purchase imported goods, and to pay the duties levied upon them. I know that members of the present Government are quite above suspicion - I make that statement in all seriousness - but I do not think any Minister should be exposed to such a temptation as this system offers. There might come a time when a Minister would make use of such a power as this to his own advantage. I have read quite a number of articles on the corruption which the Tariff of the United States of America has produced. I do not believe that there is any more corruption in the United States of America than there is in Great Britain or Australia, but American writers would -lead those unacquainted with American people to believe that almost every American is a lobbyist looking for concessions and ready, if necessary, to pay for them. If we give power to the Minister for Trade and Customs to impose or withhold duties the lobbyists will be in perpetual employment.
– Not the lobbyists, but the departmental trotters.
– Yes,” we shall have departmental trotters wearing out the carpet on the back stairs to the Minister’s room. We know that there are lobbyists watching the passage of the Tariff through the Parliament, and who desire to see it shaped to suit certain industries. They do not approach me, because they know what my fiscal views are. I know of no body other than the Parliament itself which could exercise the power of withholding or imposing duties without being open to suspicion. Under such a system as is to be provided for in this case we might have trade rivals saying that the Government give advantages to some and disadvantages to others. This pernicious system will give rise to a suspicion against our governing authorities whoever they may be. I do not think we shall ever have other than a Protectionist Government in power in the Commonwealth, and it should be left to the Government of the day to submit to Parliament the duties which they consider necessary to protect our manufacturers. I should like to ask the Minister whether these deferred duties will come into force when the Sydney factory starts to produce these goods, or whether it will be withheld until the local industry is capable of supplying the whole of our requirements.
– These duties will not come into operation until there is a commercial supply for Australia. We must be reasonably sure of a full supply of goods for the Commonwealth. There may be a dozen factories.
– I should like the Minister to give some facts and figures showing what factories he anticipates will be established by the date fixed, lie capacity of such factories, the number of hands likely to be employed, and the amount of material likely to be turned out.
– For once I find myself in accord with Senator Gardiner. It is less than two months since this schedule was passed in another place, and at that time it was decided to make this item free.
– In the absence of the honorable senator from the chamber I explained that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) had given a promise to make this provision, but that he overlooked the matter when the Tariff was before another place. He asked me to explain the circumstances _ to the Senate.
Sena-tor VARDON. - As I understand the matter, when, in the Minister’s opinion, this particular factory is in a position to supply a considerable proportion of Australia’s requirements, a duty will be imposed. I hold that the authority for imposing duties is this Parliament.
– I have moved that Parliament do. fix the duties. ‘
– Precisely, but we wish to know when the duties will come into operation.
– Only when there is a guarantee that this factory is able to supply. Australia’s requirements.
– We were for some days, discussing the question of departmental, by-laws, and. the Minister was good enough to say that we should have a further opportunity for. discussion and of coming to a decision regarding them. If the departmental by-laws or rules are to.be laid before, the’ House, and. Parliament is to have, an opportunity to say whether the duties shall, come into, force, I have nothing further to say.
– We have fixed the date as representing the maximum time allowed’; to extend that time will require a vote by Parliament, but we are hopeful that before half the period has expired the industry will be set going.
– However that may be, I think we should be informed as to the requirements of Australia, and also as to the amount of capital’ that is to be invested in the industry. Until we have that information I am not prepared to support the. duties;
-. - I support the proposal of the- Govern^ ment. I should have preferred,, how.ever, to see some, provision made for the interval, between now and. the date- at which the deferred duties will come into operation. Before the war the great German firm of Krupp’s produced, large quantities of these aluminium, plates. My imforman t on this matter is a Scotsman, who before the war was employed at Krupp’s, and also possesses considerable knowledge of conditions in Switzerland’. In regard to the latter country, he tells me that there is no’ aluminium plant there, and he showed me samples of articles produced by Krupp’s and imported into Australia as from Switzerland. In confirmation of this, he showed on the plates themselves certain words’ written in German. At the present time that gentleman is representing in Australia a British firm which, established during the- war, has made great strides’, and- he preferred a request that there should bc a duty of 15 per cent, on the foreign article,, leaving a British preference of 15 per cent. I have no objection to the. Government proposal, because it maintains that preference when the duties become operative. At the same time, it is my. desire that this industry shall- be established in Australia,, because I regard it as one of great importance. Honorable senators may be aware that the whole of the water-bottles for the Defence Forces are now made of aluminium on account of the lightness of the material; which is more and more being used in the manufacture of mess tins and other articles of the sort. I am informed that there are extensive natural deposits of the metal itself in Australia, and’ if we desire to establish the industry here we should* support a duty, even on the British article, in order to develop our natural resources. Then, again, a great deal of the metal work in the construction of aeroplanes, work which is becoming increasingly important, both commercially and from a defence point of view, is* of aluminium; and it is very desirable that we should be self-supporting in this regard. Events in the future may temporarily cut us off from Europe, and if we are then dependent for supplies of this kind on Great Britain, or any other part of the world, we shall find ourselves in a very desperate situation. It is from that point of view I support the” Minister, but I am just a little- anxious as to whether adequate1 provision is made to keep out the German goods, pending the establishment of the industry here.
– We have- full power to keep out German goods, but our difficulty is to prove German origin.
– I recognise the difficulty, and I propose to cut the Gordian knot with a 25 per cent. duty. Articles of German, manufacture may have been taken into Switzerland years ago, and others may have some little work done to them in that country; .with a view to claiming Swiss origin.
– In this case we are asked to impose a duty in order to encourage an industry that does not yet exist. I have heard many reasons stated for. duties, but this item is exceptional. It is a gem! But I recognise some merit in. a proposal of the kind, provided it is properly safeguarded. We have heard of the necessity of protecting; infant industries, youthful’ industries, and able-bodied adult industries: We have imposed duties in the case- of the ableBodied industries which have not only settled competition within our own borders, but have been the means of giving a “ knockout blow “ to competitors in the outside open market. Protection, of course, has also been given to the infant and youthful industries, but now we are asked to protect an industry which . is only in the gestation period, .and in regard to which we do not know what may happen.
– I understand that this industry is in course of creation.
– We have only the word of the Minister (Senator Bussell), and we know how optimistic he is as to what is going to happen in the manufacturing field. We are building our case for protection on too expansive a foundation, and, as. I have said, I cannot give a duty in the present instance unless adequate safeguards are provided. I realize that it is very necessary to afford encouragement to men who have the inclination and will to establish industries of the kind, but I do not approve of giving encouragement to weakling industries, as that would only mean additional taxation without any compensating advantages. I suggest, and I shall move if the suggestion is not accepted, that until this industry supplies one-third of the requirements of the Commonwealth no duty shall be imposed. I do not desire to leave the field open for adventurers to start some tin-pot enterprise which, with the help of the duty, will supply only a fraction of our requirements, while imposing a tax on the general community. Manufacturers under Protection are growing fatter a-nd fatter, while the poor wretches who buy their commodities are growing leaner and leaner. Shortly .the manufacturers’ circumference will be such that they will not be able to see their boots, while the gaunt figures of the consumers will become so thin as to be unable to cast a shadow.
– The stipulation as to one-third is ridiculous, because it would mean a tax-without any corresponding benefit. .
– Then what proportion would the Minister suggest ?
– I .guarantee it would be more than the honorable senator suggests. 1
– Then I should like to see the proportion stated in the Tariff.
– The sole desire of the Government is to be fair to the manufacturer. If protection is given, up to 66 per cent., the honorable senator might well favour such an offer.
– I would be verywell content to accept that. As usual it appears ,that I have been too modest. All I desire is to make certain- that until, say, 60 per cent, of the requirements of the Commonwealth are supplied by local enterprises the duty shall be withheld.
– I am in agreement with the broad principle laid down by Senator Lynch; and I am surprised only at the modesty of his requirements. So far as concerns his claim .that greater assurance and safety would be provided by a specific reference in the schedule itself, I point out that to make such, necessary provisions by way of departmental by-laws is always far more satisfactory. There i.3 more elasticity; and, thus,’ better opportunities are afforded for effectively dealing with difficulties as they may arise. The question has been- raised whether it is good policy to take anticipatory action of this nature at all. ‘ Whether it is or not, the principle has been affirmedmore than once in dealing with the schedule so far as the Committee has gone.
– I desire to move a request that the products set out in the first line of sub-item a, namely, “ blocks, cubes, ingots, pigs, scrap, and granulated “ shall be admitted free.
– I point out that the whole of the matter covered by sub-item a is at present free.
– But the Minister (Senator Russell) has moved in the direction of placing actually higher rates on aluminium angles, bars, plates, rods, sheets, strips, and tees than are provided upon aluminium wire. Aluminium wire can be drawn just as easily as steel or brass wire. If a duty is to be imposed upon ingots and the other classes of product which I first mentioned, where will the raw material come from ? Aluminium ware is rapidlly growing in public use;, more and more domestic articles are being manufactured from that metal. It would he in the best interests of Australia to encourage and foster any and every local phase of the aluminium industry. But, until Australia has reached a point at which the actual raw material is locally produced, the National Parliament should be very careful to insure that importation of supplies of the raw material is not hindered or cut off. I understand that there is a possibility of aluminium being mined and smelted in* Western Australia. If that is the case, I shall be the last to do anything in the direction of discouraging the industry. Aluminium is a mineral which is largely extracted from clay. The delicate process of segregating the metal from its component parts is one which Australia is not likely to be in a position to undertake for some time. That is why the importation of the raw material must be safeguarded.
– Some of the biggest firms in Australia are now making significant inquiries. The Electrolytic Zinc Company, of Tasmania, has been investigating the possibility of extracting aluminium.
– But that process of extraction will be undertaken from the imported raw material. There is a national side to the consideration of the item. Aluminium is very considerably used in the manufacture of aircraft. Australia would be fortunate if the local production of raw material could be taken in hand. Until then, however, the ingots must come in free. Further, this Committee would be unwise to seek -to impose higher duties upon the products mentioned in the Minister’s request than have been placed by another place upon aluminium wire.
– Is that wire produced in Australia?
– I cannot say that it is, but it could be without difficulty. The machinery employed in connexionwith producing blocks, cubes, ingots, &c, from iron and steel could be used in treating this material.
– Sub-item b provides certain duties on aluminium wire, and I would like the Minister to say whether this is produced in this country.
– It is being drawn in Australia at the present time.
– Is the Minister in a position to supply the information for which I asked concerning, the factory mentioned - the number of hands employed, and the capital invested?
– The question of wire-drawing is not at present before the Committee, but for the information of Senator Gardiner I may say that, so far as I know, very little money has been invested for the purpose of establishing a . factory solely for this purpose. There is, however, a factory dealing with other metals, such as zinc, copper, and bronze, to which extensions are being made for the purpose of undertaking aluminium work, and, consequently, it .will not be long before it is in a position to handle this commodity. T understand the capital invested in the industry is ?60,000.
– As far as it goes, the explanation of the Minister (Senator Russell) is satisfactory, and I can quite understand that a factory handling other metals will not have to incur much expenditure in the matter of extensions to enable aluminium to be treated. If the British preferential duty of 10 per cent, on aluminium wire is a scientific one to protect those engaged in the wire industry, does it not seem strange that sheets unpolished and un worked should be dutiable at 25 per cent.? I realize that the Protectionist wishes first to protect the primary producer who raises the metal from the earth, then those who mould the metal into ingots, and finally those who roll the ingots into plates, sheets, or strips. It must happen, with this metal in such general use, that quite a number of small factories will b.e established, which will want to be in a position to manufacture their products from bars ob plates, and the proprietors of these factories will look upon bars and plates as their raw material. In view of the fact that these industries are most likely to develop first, I would like to * know why the manufacturers should be called upon to pay a British preferential rate of 25 per cent., and the other duties mentioned by the Minister, when importations are from foreign countries. Would it not be better to impose lower duties when the industry is in its initial stage, and, when it was sufficiently developed, to supply a portion of our requirements, to increase the rates? Personally, I am against the imposition of any duties at all. Of course, there is the danger of the German goods coming in, and I do not see how pipes, plates, rods, sheets, strips, tees, and tubes of German origin can be excluded. Even if they are not stamped with the country of origin, there is quite a number of business people in Great Britain who would export them to Australia. When this industry has developed, there will be an extensive demand for raw material, and sheets, bars, tees, and tubes will be very largely used, particularly in the construction of aeroplanes. I understand that if sufficient of this material is not coming forward, duties will not be imposed. But if the duties are proclaimed, the users of this material will have to pay 25 per cent. for the raw product obtained from Great Britain.
– But the raw material is free.
– I . am referring to angles, bars, pipes, plates, &c, which are not polished, which may be the raw material required in aeroplane construction.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
.- Whilst I am willing to support the request submitted by the Minister (Senator Russell) for deferred duties on aluminium goods, I am somewhat apprehensive that the local factory may’ not be in a position to begin supplying Australian requirements for these goods on the 1st January next. I foresee that during the next few months there may be a very great deal of activity on the part of American and German manufacturers to load up our market with supplies inanticipation of the heavy duties which it is proposed shall come into operation on the 1st January, 1922. In the circumstances, I intend to submit a request for the immediate imposition of duties of 5 and 15 per cent. in the intermediate and general columns respectively upon importations under sub-item a. In order that I may do so, it is necessary that the Minister should temporarily withdraw his request.
– I ask leave to withdraw my request, temporarily.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator Elliott) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, sub-item a, intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 15 per cent.
– I am prepared to accept this request. I have proposed a request for deferred duties on aluminium, but I find that there is room for suspicion that these goods are coming through from Germany. Before the proposed deferred duties become operative, an attempt might be made to dump these goods into Australia, and I accept Senator Elliott’s request as a means to prevent anything of the kind being done.
.- I do not like this practice of anticipating the establishment of industries. If a factory were already established, there might be some justification for imposing duties before the articles made dutiable were actually produced; but to give importers of goods notice that in 1922 heavy duties will be imposed upon them necessarily offers them an opportunity, and an invitation, to import such goods as fast as they can.
– That would not apply in this case, because these goods would be admitted free from Great Britain, but would be dutiable under the intermediate and general Tariffs.
– I suppose that not a great quantity of these goods is imported from Great Britain?
– Practically all come from Great Britain at the present time.
– And it is proposed that these goods shall continue to be free from Great Britain ?
– That is so.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Russell) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties on aluminium angles, bars, plates, rods, sheets, strips, and tees, not polished, plated, decorated, or further manufactured on and after 1st January, 1922, ad. val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
.- Why should we give importers notice that in 1922 we intend to impose upon importations of these goods from all countries duties ranging from 25 per cent, to 45 per cent.? I under-stood the Minister (Senator Russell) to say that under, his proposal importations from Great Britain would still remain free.
– No. I was ref erring to Senator .Elliott’s request.
– Is it wise for us >to adopt the system of deferred duties and give importers notice that we intend to impose them ? I desire ‘to see the manufacture of aluminium good’s carried on in Australia, as the material is used for the manufacture of the most useful and effective culinary utensils. Any importers who look at this proposal will know that it is intended in twelve months time to impose duties upon these goods, and they need be out of their money only a little while if they expend it in importing them in unlimited quantities. Then when the local factories do begin the manufacture of these goods, they will find the Australian market for them glutted.
– The purpose of the request moved by Senator Elliott was to prevent that being done. “We are trying to prevent the dumping to which the honorable senator refers.
– We shall certainly not stop dumping of these goods by-giving importers notice that they are to remain free until 1922, and that on and after the 1st January in that year they will be dutiable at 25, 35, and 45 per cent.
– The request which is now before honorable senators is that which we have been debating all the morning. Senator Elliott supplied evidence that these goods are coming here from Switzerland, and we have grounds for suspecting that they are really coming from Germany. In the circumstances it has been thought well, before the proposed deferred duties hecome operative, to impose “ duties upon foreign importations of these goods. The firm to which I have made reference intend to manufacture these goods in connexion with the manufacture of copper, brass, ‘bronze, -zinc, and nickel goods. Their ‘factory is already estimated to be worth £60;000, and it is the intention of the firm to spend another £60,000 in con,nexion with the manufacture of these aluminium goods. They expect, soon, to be able to go right ahead with- the develop-, ment of the industry. Therefore, we propose to give them the necessary protection. “We do not want to tax the people of Australia until we are .in a position to provide for the whole of our own requirements from local sources, hence this special provision; but we will not hold the manufacturers up for the periodstated. As soon as they are in a position to supply, we shall bring this provision into force. In the meantime, to prevent dumping, we impose the duty.
– I should like to draw the attention of .the Minister (Senator Russell) and of -honorable senators to the fact that in the general Tariff we are asking for a duty of 15 per cent. After the 1st January next this may be. increased to 40 per cent., and against the British product there will then bea duty of 25 per cent. This is a very heavy impost. In order to keep out what is believed to be the German product, we impose a duty of 15 per cent.; but after 1st January next, to keep out the British product, we are to have a duty of 25 per cent., and increase the general^ Tariff to 40 per cent. To be consistent with my attitude right through the debate on this schedule, I intend, before resuming my seat, to move for a reduction of the British Tariff fo 15 per cent. This is a. compromise on my principles, because I believe in free trade willi Great Britain, and I hope that even Protectionists will see that, as this sub-item deals with the raw .material for the manufacture of aeroplanes, and -an enormous number of articles in domestic use, 15 per cent, against Great Britain is a pretty stiff Tariff. Were I to consider my own principles, I would move that the Tariff against Great Britain be free; but I realize that it would be hopeless to attempt to ‘do that, because, apparently, honorable senators have no desire to deal with Great Britain on this basis. They are prepared to carry on the trade war. Very many other industries already established, and employing large numbers of men, may be affected by these new duties, which will have the effect of making their raw material dearer. I move -
That the request be amended by leaving out “25” (British), and inserting in lieu thereof “ 15.”
Request agreed to.
.- I. should like to know why it is proposed to impose a duty of 10 per cent. against Great. Britain on aluminium wire under this item, when other kinds of aluminium, are free.
– Because wire is the finished product, and the duty is imposed to protect the wire-drawing industry.
– I am . reluctant to give away any points to Protectionists, because, as a rule, they are full of points; hut I think further attention should be given to this sub-item, upon which the British duty is 10 per cent., as compared with the proposed deferredduty of 25 per cent. on sheet aluminium, from which the wire may be made. It appears to. me that if we impose a duty of 25 per cent. on the raw material, and if wire comes in at 10 per cent., business men will be keen enough to realize that by importing the wire and converting it for use in the other processes they will be getting their materials at the cheaper rate.
– When the deferred duties come into operation,in about four months’ time, we shall probably be producing all the raw material we require in Australia.
– Why is aluminium wire dutiable at 10 per cent., whilst rods,. from which the wire is made, are protected by a duty. of. 25 per cent. ?
– There is no duty on the raw material for the wire. This 10 per cent. is on the drawn wire.
– Aluminium in blocks is free under sub-item a, and the raw material for aluminium wire is provided for in the Minister’s proposed deferred duties, under winch the British Tariff will be 25 per cent. ; the intermediate, 35 per cent. ; and the general, 40 per cent. Aluminium wire is made from rods in just the same way as ordinary- fencing wire is made from steel rods. Therefore, the duty will interfere with the manufacture locally of aluminium wire, which in sub-item b is listed at 10 per cent. If the Minister will include aluminium wire in the deferred duties at the samerate as- angles, bars, sheets,&c., I shall be satisfied.
– I agree that that ought to be done, and before, the Bill leaves the Senate I shallhave the subitem recommitted in order to include aluminium wire in the deferred duties.
Item agreed to subject to requests.
Item 138 (Antimony), item 139 (Brass, Britannia metal, &c.), item 140 (Copper), item, 141 (Lead sheet and lead piping), item 142 (Platinum), agreed to.
Scrap iron and steel ; materials for use as scrap iron, as prescribed by departmental bylaws, free.
– I remind honorable senators that, with the object of protecting the local industry against outside competition, we have already agreed to a fairly high duty on pig iron; but in this item it is proposed to allow free importations of scrap iron which is used in most countries of the world instead of pig. iron. Throughout the world, as a result of the war there are large stocks of scrap iron, and it is more than likely that much of it will be imported in large quantities to Australia. Therefore, it should bear the same duty as pigiron, because it is used for the same purpose. I move -
That, the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, general, per ton, 40s.
If the request be agreed to I shall move a request for the British duty to be 20s., and intermediate Tariff, 30s.
– Whilst there may be good reason for lower duties against scrap iron from Great Britain than from outside countries, I do not know that we would be justified in absolutely shutting it out, because that will be the effect of the imposition of heavy duties as proposed, for the simple reason that scrap iron is very much used in the production of the raw material for the iron manufacturing industries. It is necessary to mix scrap and pig iron in order to produce raw material of really good quality-. Therefore, if we impose a duty on scrap-iron we shall, indirectly, be increasing the cost of the raw material tothose engaged in our secondary iron industries, and to that extent reduce the amount of protection afforded to them. under other items in the schedule. Ironmoulding shops were established throughout the Commonwealth long before the Lithgow or Newcastle steel works came into being, , and they have had to import scrap iron for mixing with pig iron even since then. I think some difference should be made in the duty, though on the spur of the moment I am not prepared to say what the difference should be. I do not wish to see any of our established industries placed at a disadvantage; but I think we will be making, a very great mistake indeed if we impose a heavy duty, as suggested by Senator Duncan. I think some consideration should be given to the importers of scrap iron.
– It used to be used largely in every blast.
– Yes, and in a sense there would be just as much justification for .imposing a duty on iron ore as there is for putting a duty on scrap iron. If Senator Russell is not so prepared to fix a low rate of duty upon scrap iron, he ought to defer the further consideration of the item until he has an opportunity of looking into the matter. I have no desire to see the primary or secondary iron industries of Australia handicapped by a mistaken policy such as the imposition of the duty proposed by Senator Duncan.
.- We are indebted to Senator de Largie for uttering a note of warning in regard to Senator Duncan’s proposal. The schedule, as it has come before us, provides that scrap iron and steel, and materials for use as scrap iron, shall be admitted free, “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws,” and I fully anticipated that the Minister (Senator Russell) would give us some explanation as to why the Government placed this limitation upon the free import of these materials, The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) must have had something at the back of his mind when he added these words. Senator de Largie has probably suggested the reason. I thought’ that Senator Duncan would have moved to strike out the words “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws..” Evidently he does not recognise what a great bearing they have upon the free admission of scrap iron. If it is essential for the maintenance of our industries that a certain proportion of scrap iron should be made use of, the free admission of the material would be helpful, and not prejudicial, to (hose industries. However, I would like some information from the Minister in reference to the form in which the item appears in the schedule.
– I am inclined to support the suggestion made by Senator de Largie that the further consideration of this item should be deferred until Senator Russell is in a position to assure us - if he is not able to do so now - that this scrap iron is not required for fluxing with the iron produced from iron ore in Australia. Hoskins Limited have forwarded a communication to honorable senators asking for a duty upon cast scrap iron equal to that imposed upon pig iron. Evidently they find that scrap iron comes into competition with their pig iron, and do not regard it as necessary for fluxing with the iron they produce from their own ore. If this should be the case, to be consistent we ought to place a duty on scrap iron. If the opposite is the case, we ought to be made aware of it. I know that some smelters have to be very careful in the choice of the different class of scrap iron they use, but I do not know whether or not it is necessary to import a certain amount of special iron in order to’ flux it with the iron produced from our own ores.
– It is not necessary to do so.
– If the honorable senator can give us that assurance, imparted scrap iron must compete with pig iron, and therefore we ought to take steps to prevent its importation from nullifying our efforts to establish the production of iron in Australia.
– I will accept the suggestion that the item be postponed. I think that further inquiry is necessary.
– Scrap’ iron is usually gathers 1, formed into billets, and put into a furnace, the iron being crossed in such a way that the tensile strength in one direction is counterbalanced by that in another direction. The ‘billets arehammered out when they come from the furnace, and they form the material from which our- strongest axles are made. Within the last twelve months I have had the opportunity of inspecting an axle factory in South Australia, where all the scrap iron gathered in that State is used in the way I have described. For the purpose of making axles, it is found to be more valuable than any other form of iron.
– There isplenty of our own local scrap iron available for the purpose.
– Perhaps so; but there might not be sufficient to meet the demand, taking into account the number of axles required in Australia, and the necessity for replacements. Although the Minister (Senator Russell) is willing to postpone further consideration of the item, I do not want him to lose sight of the fact that scrap iron fills a need that is not effectually met by ordinary pig iron.
Zinc and spelter, viz.: -
Bars, blocks, ingots, scrap, ad val., British, 10 per cent.; intermediate, 15 per cent.; general, 20 per cent.
Sheets (plain), circles, or ingots, bored or unbored, for cyanide gold process, zinc blocks for marine boilers, zinc dust, zinc tubing, ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
– Mr. Lysaght, a local manufacturer of galvanized iron, told the InterState Commission that one of the contributing causes to the high cost of the article he ismanufacturing was the price he had to pay for spelter, which was much cheaper in Great Britain than here. We know that an agreement has been made between the Commonwealth Govern ment and the British Government whereby 50,000 tons of the material from which spelter is made is shipped annually from this country to Great Britain. If the British manufacturers are gaining an advantage by that bargain, we are evidently giving them too much preference, to our own disadvantage. In any case, if spelter can be brought out to Australia from the Old Country more cheaply than it can be produced here, surely it is a waste of effort to impose a high rate of duty on this raw material so indispensable in the manufacture of galvanized iron, thereby increasing its cost.
– The contract between the Commonwealth Government and the British Government covers a period of ten years, and, of course, has the effect of fixing the price of spelter in Australia. Also Great Britain, which is buying this material from us, is a competitor with Australia in regard to the production of spelter, but we import a very limited quantity of this material. In fact, the total importations from all sources in 1919-20 did not exceed 4,940 cwt.
– Then it is hardly worth while imposing a duty.
Item agreed to.
Iron and steel, plate, and sheet, viz.: - Corrugated galvanized, galvanized not corrugated, and corrugated not galvanized, per ton, British, 20s.; intermediate, 27s. 6d.; general, 30s.; and on and after 1st January, 1922, per ton, British, 72s.; intermediate, 90s.; general, 110s.
– I desire to draw the attention of the Committee to this item in so far as it affects one of the most important industries in Australia - important not only because of the numberof men engaged in it, important not only because of its connexion with one of our basic industries, but important also because, if successful, it will very substantially affect the balance of trade in connexion with the excess of our exports over imports. I propose to place before the Committee the whole of the facts at my disposal, and to appeal to honorable senators, in the interests of fair play, to considerwhether a slightly higher duty is not both justifiable and equitable. The statistics show that since 1915 the average yearly importation of galvanized sheet and corrugated iron has been about 47,500 tons. Before the war the quantity was somewhat greater. The statistics further show that the average f.o.b. value - that is to say, the Customs value of this 47,500 tons of imports since 1915 - was about £50 per ton.We have not until this year produced much, if any, galvanized iron in commercial quantities. I believe that a few years ago a spasmodic attempt was made at Lithgow to produce galvanized iron, but that attempt died of sheer inanitionand competition.
– Was it not killed by the Tariff?
– If the honorable senator Will make himself conversant with the facts, he will . find that that spasmodic attempt failed because of the want of a Tariff to give it life. If the whole of this galvanized iron, were made in Australia, it would mean, directly and indirectly, the employment of about 4,000 men, and so, averaging five persons to a family, would ?support a population .of 20,000 people. An output of 60,000 tons :a year would mean the .use of about -51,000 tons of blooms made by the Broken Hill. Proprietary Company, and 9,000. tons of zinc made ;by the Electrolytic Company carrying on operations in Tasmania. It will thus be seen that .the .industry is of very great importance to .the iron producing industry .and .the zinc companies here. It would mean, further, the consumption of a considerable quantity of sulphuric .acid. The whole df Australia’s requirements in respect of galvanized iron df produced locally would be made absolutely by Australian workmen from all Australian products, and at an average ;price of £30 per ton would mean nearly £2,000,000 additional “values from primary production in Australia.
– What guarantee have we that the price would not soar beyond £30 per ton if we passed this duty?
– I shall endeavour to answer that question as I develop my argument. I was glad that the Minister (Senator Russell) last night, in the course of the discussion upon black sheets, referred to the visit paid to Australia by very large manufacturers of galvanized iron at a time when that iron was both scarce .and dear, and could hardly be obtained for love or money for the protection of our wheat stacks. I understood the .honorable senator to make that statement, and to say that during ‘that visit the question cropped up as to whether galvanized iron could not be made in considerable quantities in Australia. -If I understood the Minister rightly, conferences were held with the Wheat Board in regard to the manufacture of galvanized iron, and certain proposals were made, >with .the result .that this ^visiting .firm .promised to .establish the industry here in a big way.
– And also to bring out for us certain supplies.
– And also to bring out the necessary machinery and other supplies for the establishment of the industry in a big way. I am aware that when those negotiations took place no bargain was ‘made as between the Wheat Board and this firm; but I think 1 am right in placing upon the negotiations the construction that the .present Government .assured that firm that it would receive fair play. The Minister indorses that .observation.
– The firm ultimately ran out of supplies, and we had then to get galvanized iron from America. They supplied us until their local stocks were exhausted.
– They -had here stocks of iron that had been made ‘in England, and they gave .the whole of those stocks to the Wheat Board, but could supply no more during the war. In order to prevent a repetition, not only of the scarcity of supplies, but of the very high prices that were charged during the war for galvanized iron from America, an arrangement was made with this firm to start the industry here in a large way.
– The iron obtained from America was much lighter than the British iron ; it ‘was not .of equal quality.
– I am glad to hear that, because the industry whose cause I am advocating is a British one. At the time I do not think any bargain was made as to what duty should be imposed. The ‘firm left itself entirely in the hands of the Government, and I believe that’ it has not, until quite recently, approached the Government for any consideration.
– -It approached the Government at the time. The Board of Trade made full inquiries, and recommended the payment of the bounty, under which it is now working.
– But, in March, 1920, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) brought down a proposal to place upon galvanized iron >a duty of £3 12s. per ton. I believe that since then this -firm has submitted to the Government its working costs, and has shown that this item, as compared with other items in the Tariff, covering the raw material which it must use, is not sufficient to enable it to carry on. A request was therefore made some months ago for an ad valorem duty of 20 per cent, under the British preferential Tariff. Since then - and I draw special attention to this fact - there has been a great deflation in prices abroad. The best brands of galvanized iron at the beginning of this month were quoted at about £30 per ton f.o.b., and,, with respect to second-grade brands, I have here a quotation, so recent as 3rd August,, of £17 per ton for 18 gauge and £19 per ton for 24 gauge c.i.f. and e. Australian ports, and shipment probably within four or five weeks from receipt of the order; In. connexion with tie policy agreed upon with the Board of Trade, this firm has recently erected and completed one unit, of its galvanized-iron works, which has cost £400,000, inclusive of £70,000 spent on erecting seventy cottages for the workers. It has so rapidly developed the arrangement made with the Government that I am informed that, as and from 1st October next, it will be’ in a position to turn out 2,000 tons of galvanized iron per month from this first unit alone. If it can carry on its operations at a reasonable profit, it is prepared to spend some hundreds of thousands of pounds more, and to make practically the whole of Australia’s requirements of galvanized iron. I want to say quite frankly that, with the prices of the world’s parity twelve months ago, this protection of £3 12s. per ton would. have been sufficient - in fact,, no protection at all would have been required. But the position is that when this firm was ready to start it found itself faced with the- fact, that it would have to pay £14 10s. per- ton for blooms to make into sheets- for galvanized iron, whereas prices abroad had fallen to £8 per ton., Thus there was, and is today, a difference of £6 10s. per ton. between the price paid for the Broken Hill Proprietary Company’s blooms and the price which this firm’s competitors: are paying- abroad for blooms for’ the manufacture of the article ultimately to1 be imported.
– The’ honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I am much interested in this industry, which is of much importance to-day and promises to be even more extensive and important in the future. We are told that it gives employment to some 400 men, and, according to Senator Pratten, already £400,000 has been invested. The rate of wages paid is high in comparison .with the rate in similar industries in Great Britain, and the percentage of labour necessary is higher than in any other branch of the iron and steel industry. These facts warrant us in giving this item serious consideration, and I hope that the matter will be decided in the interests of Australian development.
– I should like to complete the argument I had started with regard to the cost price of this firm’s basic material. The firm is paying £14 10s. per ton today, as against £8 paid by their competitors, for the blooms for making sheets; £35 a ton for Australian zinc, as against £25 a ton abroad; and £5 10s. for acids, as against £3 10s. paid abroad. It will be seen at once that the duty of £3 12s. entirely disappears when we consider the firm:s position in relation to that of its competitors abroad.
– The honorable senator and others advocated high duties on blooms.
– I am advocating protection for this industry, as .the first line of defence of the Commonwealth. I am sure the honorable senator will agree with General Sir John Monash that we .must establish these key industries if we hope to do any good with even a trained Army. That is why I consistently- advocate that the key metal industries shall be adequately and fairly protected. And what is fair protection? If a duty which is equivalent, say, on a world’s future parity of price, to 6d. per 6-foot sheet, is. imposed in order to preserve the industry, it will not mean 6d. per 6-foot sheet, or a Id. a foot on galvanized iron according to length, to the’ galvanized iron manufacturer, but, so far as I have been able to, work out the figures, it will mean 2d. a sheet to the Broken Hill industry in- view of the duties that have been passed by this Committee. It will mean 2d. a sheet to the zinc industry, k .view of the item we passed a few minutes ago, and there will remain to this very important galvanized iron industry a real protection of only 2d. per sheet. I think that, in accordance with other items in the Tariff, in regard to which 25 per cent, duties have been unhesitatingly ‘ passed by the Committee as fair protection to the manufacturers of metal, a fair thing would be a British preferential duty of 25 per cent. Therefore, I propose to move that in lieu of the duties at present in the schedule there be substituted duties of 25 per cent., 30 per cent., and 35 per cent., on and after the 1st November. That will bring this item into line with other items passed by the Committee, and will also provide more reasonable duties in the peculiar circumstances of this- industry. There is no reason to doubt that if this industry had been established during the war it would have saved the consumers of galvanized iron nearly £20 per ton. I have pointed out how the average imports of galvanized iron into this country from 1915 have averaged over £50 per ton f.o.b. value. Honorable senators know as well as I do that, owing to the shortage of supplies from England, the profiteering by American importers or manufacturers, and to short supplies getting into the hands of speculators, the retail price rocketed sky high. The establishment of this industry will prevent a repetition of this sort of thing - there will have to be paid out of the slight protection I ask, Inter-State freight from Newcastle all round the coast-the position will be stabilized, and the whole of its processes will be carried out by Australian workmen with Australian material. If the industry develops, as I hope and believe it will, it will be able to sustain an extra population here of 20,000 persons. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties on and after 1st November, 1921. ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent. ; general; 35 per cent.
– I hope that the Government will not give way on this matter. This item has run the gauntlet of a strong Protectionist House, where it secured, in my opinion, very substantial support. But now there is a move for still more
Protection. If there is one commodity more than another that the country population of Australia have to pay dearly for it is this, and there is no doubt that they will have to provide the extortionate duties now proposed.
-One-half of the population is in the cities.
– But that onehalf does not use galvanized iron as do the people in the country.
– Nearly every roof is. of galvanized iron.
– In the country nearly every wall, as well as every roof, is very often galvanized iron. I think I have shown by my votes at various times when the Tariff Kas been under revision that I am not against reasonable Protection ; but, under the circumstances, the present proposal to further increase theduties is overdoing Protection altogether.
Senator GARDINER (New South’ Wales) T3.43]. - There are two distinct principles involved in the request submitted. There is first a question of time, which I regard as altogether separate from the question of whether we shall increase the duty. I think that the alteration proposed in regard to time might be settled without affecting; the other issue, and I trust they will be dealt with separately.
– I took it that there was no objection on the part of the Committee to taking the request as a whole, though, personally, I think that the request in regard to the time ought to be settled first.
– I do not know what Senator Pratten’s intention is,, or what advantage he hopes to gain as between the 1st November and the 1st January. It may be that a few more shiploads may come in, but that would not hurt any one, and would certainly not hurt the makers of galvanized iron. Senator Pratten said that there had been a spasmodic attempt in New South Wales to make galvanized iron. ,
– It is a “ spasmodic “ attempt that, to my knowledge, has lasted for over a generation !
– The industry developed in New South Wales under the able management of Mr. Sandford, and when the retail price in the country was £17 a ton - and many a ton I bought at that price - he was still able to compete and keep going. When the ironmasters became favoured with such a degree of protection as not to be compelled to worry about outside competition, they turned) their thoughts to the question of how to make the most money for the least expenditure’ upon material and labour. And, since it appeared to them that there was more in the production of other varieties of iron products than in galvanized iron, they no longer manufactured the latter commodity. I take it, at any rate, that some consideration of the kind moved them. If, however, they, had been able to make a success of the production of galvanized iron at £17 a ton, what kind of a wicket would they have been on when the price was £30 a ton ? During the war the quotation actually reached £80. Six months ago the price in Sydney was about £66 per ton!
– To-day galvanized iron is quoted at between £40 and £50.
– Those figures confirm my own understanding of the present position.
– The quotation is nearly down to pre-war figures.
– If the Minister for Defence were a commercial traveller for a firm of galvanized iron manufacturers, he would be rushed with orders in this very chamber. Senator Pratten remarked that, if the industry had been established and .properly assisted 1 to reach a flourishing output before the war, users of galvanized iron in Australia would have been saved the enormous charges for imported galvanized iron throughout the war years. I. am trying to imagine the situation. A firm sets out, somewhere in Australia, to produce galvanized iron. It is given practical encouragement, either by means of a bounty or high protective duties. - I ask honorable senators next to try to imagine the firm returning good for the good done to it by expressing practical sympathy with users of galvanized iron, and refusing to take the opportunity to sell their product at £80 a ton, but demanding only £50 for it. In the course of my Ministerial experience during the early months of the war, when it was_my task to supervise the purchase of far more goods than ever Senator Pratten has been concerned with in the whole of his successful business career, I found that the Australian manufacturer who was not eager to charge the Government to the absolute limit of possibilities, was an emphatic exception to the rule. I dare say that it would be impossible to find a more generous and philanthropic gentleman than Senator Pratten. I invite honorable senators to follow me in delineating a mental picture. I am now imagining Senator Pratten as the head of a galvanized iron industry which has been nursed and protected and encouraged to a state of unquestioned success. A world conflict intervenes, and the price for imported galvanized iron rises enormously. At this stage my imagination fails me. I cannot visualize Senator Pratten in the act of refusing to avail himself of an opportunity to sell his local product at the highest price he can secure. I fail altogether to imagine him saying that, in view of the severe financial pressure brought to bear upon the. people, it is his large-hearted policy to decline to sell his galvanized iron for £80 a ton. I cannot imagine the manager of a factory informing his directors that, in view of the stress under which the public are suffering, he has decided to sell the firm’s galvanized iron for £50, although he knows that the ruling price for such of the commodity as can be imported is £80. One thing that I can see mentally, however, is an advertisement appearing in the next day’s newspapers inviting applications for a new manager.. The public never look for such unbusinesslike philanthropy. They have had to deal with hard-headed business men, who have based their fortunes upon the practice of buying their raw material as cheaply as possible, and selling their finished products for as much as they can get ; in doing which - by the way - I have never blamed them, and never will. It is absurd, therefore, for successful business men such as Senator Pratten to endeavour to persuade this Committee that, had the galvanized iron industry been inaugurated and fostered and brought to a state of flourishing success in Australia, prior to the war, the users of galvanized iron would have signally benefited. Is it reasonable to suggest that, in those hypothetical circumstances, the business ideals of the men at the back of the industry would have changed ? I recall that, with respect to those industries and minor activities which the. Government partially controlled, permitting only portion of the output tobe devoted to the supply of the public demand, the manufacturers made fortunes. I, as the responsible Minister at the time, was glad to see those people doing so well. However, I cannot possibly accept the. argument advanced by Senator Pratten. One cannot be a business man and a philanthropist at the same time. I recognise, of course, that Senator Pratten has had much more experience of business men than I have had. He must know their good qualities better than I do,, for my experience has been merely that of a unit in the general community. That is. the reason why I. say that, even had the galvanized iron industry been established before the war, and encouraged to prosperity by a bounty or high protective duties, the men who put their money into it would not have proved the type of philanthropist depicted by Senator Pratten, but would have got the last penny possible for the last ton produced.
Senator. DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia). [3.55]. - I agree with Senator Gardiner that neither Senator Pratten nor any other business man in the community is entirely an altruist. Commercial men are out to make as much profit as they can; andas a rule they are not too particular concerning where the profits come from, or respecting the consequences to the individuals who pay. I have been looking, hitherto in vain, for some word to be uttered in this Chamber by, or in behalf of, business altruists to indicate that they have any real feeling for the men and women who are developing this continent. As I predicted, and confidently expected, honorable senators from New South Wales have once more demanded an even higher degree of protection for a New South Wales industry than was imposed elsewhere. Those honorable senators now solemnly state that the galvanized iron industry must be given more protection on account of the higher protection afforded in connexion with the raw material They argue that, because they were responsible for placing an iniquitous duty on pig iron and similar primary products, a little bit more must now be added to the protective rates upon galvanized iron. I feel almost in despair because I am convinced that the Government will, accept this latest request. They will apparently agree to any increase which any Protection-fanatic may care to propose. The great majority of. the members of the Senate have gone Protection-mad.
– The- great majority of honorable senators’ have a lot of common sense, and they do the right thing.
– I have: looked in vain for it. The latest proposition is to add to the more than necessarily high duty of 72s. imposed upon builders of iron homes, and sheds’, and water tanks by making the rates respectively 2.5 per cent., 30 per cent., and 35 per. cent. ad valorem. If: the price of galvanized iron is £50 a ton., those rates will involve the collection of duties-, not of 72s., 90s., and 110s. respectively, but £12, £15, and £17 per ton. If the quotation should be £30 a ton, the rates will equal £8 British, £10 intermediate, and £12 general Tariff per ton. Is the request reasonable? Can reasonable legislators be asked to accede to it? Will even the high protectionist artists in, the Government accept it? The request amounts positively to. a prohibition. The effect will be to permit one firm carrying on in. Australia to secure a virtual monopoly of a commodity used by every class of Australian in every corner’ of the Commonwealth. I raise my voice particularly in the interests of the man in the back-blocks. Tanks manufactured from this material are used extensively by primary producers. Notwithstanding all these facts, I look in vain for any indication from the Committee that these people are to receive the fair deal to which they are entitled:
SenatorBolton. - But you have secured a reduction in the duty on wire.
SenatorDRAKE-BROCKMAN. - Yes; a generous reduction of 8s per.ton, which is to be counteracted by increasing the duty on galvanized iron to the extent of £12 per ton. I again appeal to the Governmentshopeless’ though it may be - to adhere to the duties appearing in the schedule and to take up the same attitude in. connexion- with this request as they have adopted in connexion with those for decreased duties. I. do not expect the members of this Committee to have any regard for the poor unfortunate men in the back-blocks, who, in many instances, are struggling on under adverse circumstances; but I trust thatthe appeal that I am despairingly making will meet with some consideration from the Government.
. -The pitiful appeal of Senator Drake-Brockman has interestedme, and one would imagine thathe alone was able to form an opinion as to whether a duty was right or wrong. Does the honorable senator contend that he is the only one in this Chamber who has the interests of theprimary producer at heart? He declares that he despairsof getting anything and, so far,appears to think that he is the only one who can see the light, and that the rest of us walk in darkness. The attitude of the honorable senator reminds me of the old lady who, on seeing her son drilling, said; that the whole regiment were out of step with the exception of her Jock. Thosewho advocate increased duties may, in the opinion of the honorable senator, be “ out of step “ ; but we believe we are doing what is right. I also wish to remind the honorable senator that the majority rule; and an overwhelming proportion of Commonwealth electors are in favour of effective protection being given to Australian industries. It has been said by Senator DrakeBrockman that he has listened in vain for a. word or two to be said on behalf of those who have to use the iron. I intend to supportthe request submitted by Senator Pratten, in the interests of those people. Let us recall the happenings of the last few years, and consider the position in which the unfortunate primary producers were placed, when, owing to a shortage of iron, tens of thousands of tons of wheat were ruined by inclement weather, owing to the necessary covering not being available. In many instances it was impossible to obtain adequate supplies, because we were depending upon the manufacturers in other countries, when we should ‘have been able to call on our ownproducers. It is fair to assume that, had this industry been firmly established ten years ago, the Australian primary producers would have escaped a good deal of suffering,expense, and hardship, and tens of thousands of tons of wheat would have been saved. The changing world conditions necessitate provision being made for the local manufacture of an article so widely used, and which is an absolute necessity to the primary producers. I do not believe that the manufacturers are philanthropists. They are out for profit; but they will not beable to charge unreasonable prices, because the proposed Tariff Board willbe able to watch and closely scrutinize their profits. Iam prepared to give the manufacturers an opportunityof making fair interest on the capital they have invested, but nothing more. This is an established and growingindustry, and within afew years will insurethat we shallnot be faced with the calamitous happenings of the past, when we experienced a serious shortage.Even without any local productionwe might be able to obtain all the galvanized iron we require for the next-five or ten years. We could do without our factories. We could dismiss the men working for good wages and maintaining their wives and families, and force them into other avenues; but the. day would come again, as it did in the, past, when we would be depending on overseas markets for our supplies, and these would again fail us. That would happen if Senator DrakeBrockman’s advice were followed. I trust the proposal submitted by Senator Pratten will be adopted. I know that people have been asked to contribute something in order that this industry may be firmly established; but the benefit to be derived will be worth the outlay, and by assisting to develop the galvanized-iron industry on a sound basis we shall be in a position to supply our own requirements at a reasonable price, and be entirely independent of outside manufacturers.
– The present discussion supplies one of those examples of possible happeningswhich I had the distinction of prophesying during the early stages of this discussion. Here is a proposal for increased duties, submitted in the most modest way, that is positively outrageous in its essence. I do not know what honorable senators are thinking of. We are in an atmosphere in which the tendency appears to be that the higher the duty the more normal the proposition. I do not wonder at the request. I do not blame those who are submitting these requests; but this is the high-water mark of bare-faced’ effrontery. That may be considered strong language, but, in my opinion, it is very moderate. What is the price of galvanized iron to-day? Quite recently I purchased iron in the Western State and paid £27 for half a ton. What impression does that carry? Here is a quotation from a Melbourne wholesale house. What does it convey? I have before me the Hardware and Machinery J Journal, a publication devoted principally to the interests of the hardware trade. It contains quotations for sundry brands of this particular commodity. “ Orb “ brand is quoted in Sydney at £50 per ton.
– What date is that?
– 4th July, 1921. The. prices in Melbourne, Adelaide, and Brisbane respectively are £47 10s., £48. and £48. This is the publication that did not hesitate to severely criticise the manner in which the members of this Parliament dealt with the ‘ Tariff. I do not blame this publication, because it is conceived in an atmosphere where there is always a demand to reach out further and still further. Persons interested in business have- an insatiable desire to get hold of what they consider are their just dues, which sometimes are most extraordinary. But I want a square deal for the users of this material. Those who are responsible for ‘the publication of this journal had the hardihood to attack the members of Parliament because considerable time has been devoted to dissecting every proposal in the -Tariff. What does the proposal of Senator Pratten amount to? It is £17 10s. per ton. Is not the honorable senator ashamed to ask for that? Even allowing for a reduction in prices to the neighbourhood of £40, which we may not reach for some time - Senator DrakeBrockman underestimated the position completely - it means an increase of from £10 to £17 per ton. It is a wonder the honorable senator does not blush.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to stand by those figures ?
– I am quoting the prices appearing in the Hardware and Machinery Journal published in Melbourne. Those who have to purchase the material know what they have to pay. Fancy £17 per ton duty on galvanized iron ! That is what it cost landed here in pre-war days. I do. not wonder at it, because the prompting has been that honorable senators should continue to ask for still more outrageous duties as we progress with the consideration of the schedule. There is not a word about the poor wretch in the back country.
– We want to insure his supplies.
– The honorable senator wants to run him back to the stage of the bark humpy. He wants to compel him to live in a habitation of bags and bark. How can he afford to pay £40 per ton for galvanized iron? Let honorable senators bear in mind that by the time the article reaches the interior of the country, its cost will be in the neighbourhood of £70 per ton’. Where is the prospect of any reduction in price? Yet we have this request made with the idea of fostering the manufacture of the article in Australia. The proposal is so preposterous that it is difficult for ohe to restrain himself when trying to discuss it. Here is a. request for a duty of no less than £17 per ton’ on galvanized iron, with a prospect of its reduction to £10 per ton. The Government proposal is that the duties should range from 72s. to 110s. per ton. Those duties are sky-high compared with the recommendations of the Inter-State Commission. It is true that the Commission made its recommendation just as we were entering upon the war. Its proposals were moderate compared even with those of the Government, but Senator Pratten betters all previous efforts by proposing a duty of £17 pelton. In common with other honorable senators, I have received an appeal from Mr. Lysaght for an increased duty. I do not imagine that he could have expected that such a request would be made as that which Senator Pratten has put before us. I am inclined to believe that if he knew of this request he would be disposed to say of Senator Pratten, “ Save me from my friend ! “ This request for increased duties is put forward, as similar requests have been in the past, on the plea that we require protection against the cheap labour of other countries. Let us see what Mr. Lysaght himself had to say about the wages paid in the manufacture of. this particular commodity in the Old Country. At page 93 of the report of the Inter-State Commission’ on Iron and Steel, it will be found that Mr. Lysaght said, in connexion with wages : -
So far as the wages for sheet-rollers is concerned, which is the chief item of the wages sheet, these men in England earn not less than £1 per day.
Is Senator Pratten listening to that? This evidence was given in 1914. Mr. Lysaght said, further: -
They work at piece-work, and employ their own labourers. They clear £1 per day apart from the wages to their labourers. This is higher than the American wage, and is as high as that which is paid in Australia.
– That was in 1914.
– Yes, it was; and the suggestion is that Australian wages and conditions have gone sky-high, whilst wages and conditions in the Old Country have remained at a stand-still. Does Senator Pratten mean to say that? He will not attempt to do so, because he has some respect for his reputation for veracity. I have stated the wages and conditions obtaining in the industry in the Old Country in 1914 on the authority of the man who is directly interested in this industry, and who is making a plea for increased protection. He showed that his competitors in the industry at that time had no advantage over him in the matter of wages. Does Senator Earle want anything more convincing? I ask that question, although the honorable senator has tripped across the chamber, and blindly voted for increased duties time after time. Are we to tell Mr. Lysaght, as we have told Mr. Delprat and other ironmasters, that he does not know his own business ? That is what we shall do, even if we support the proposal of the Government. So far as Senator Pratten’s request is concerned, all I can say is that if we have any pretence to sanity, any sense of fair dealing, any desire to hold the balance with equal poise between different sections of the community, or any regard for the interests of the people to whom Senator Drake-Brockman referred, who do the pioneering work of this country, and are without a voice here, we shall scout such a proposal as a duty of £17 per ton on galvanized iron. We should resist even the proposal of the Government, because on Mr. Lysaght’s own showing, so far as the difference in wages and conditions in the Old Country is concerned, he does’ not require the protection offered. Honorable senators may blindly follow Senator Pratten’s lead or that of the Government, but I want to know where I am going before I follow the lead of any Government or any individual. I have to bear in mind the effect which a vote cast in this chamber will have upon those men who are pioneering far afield. I am afraid that my, plea may be regarded merely as a voice in the wilderness, but I hope that honorable senators will reject Senator Pratten’s request, will deal with this matter on common-sense lines, and will be prepared to pare down even the proposal of the Government.
– I am sorry that Senator Lynch was not present when I moved my request. Had he been here at the time he would not have made the extraordinary, misleading, and untrue statements that he has made.
– Is that in order?
– Order! An honorable senator has taken exception to the statement which has been made, and it is certainly not in order.
– I will say the extraordinary, misleading, and incorrect statement that I proposed a duty of £17 per ton, or even of £10 per ton. In submitting my request I mentioned the fact that I have in my hand a quotation, dated 14th July, for galvanized iron at £32 15s. per ton, 8-feet lengths, 26- gauge, and £28 15s. per ton for ordinary lengths of 24-gauge.
– The honorable senator does not mean to say that those are correct quotations of values ?
– I am referring to a copy of an absolute quotation made by C. W. McLeod and Son, manufacturers’ brokers and agents,Home Journal House, Kent-street, Sydney.
– Does the honorable senator say that galvanized iron can be obtained at that price in Sydney ?
– I am saying that this is a quotation for galvanized iron for indent, dated 14th July of this year.
– F.o.b. London.
– I think so. I also mentioned that later, when there was a slump in the market ‘and prices had fallen, on .the ‘3rd August another firm of brokers in Sydney quoted galvanized iron, cold rolled, close annealed, soft working up quality, as before the war - this was plain galvanized iron - :18-gauge, at £17 , per ton, -with variations in price according to .gauge, up to 24-igauge .at £19 per ton, c-i.f. and e., main Australian ports, sight draft basis. Now that he has heard these figures, Senator Lynch will absolve me from taking up what I admit would have been an extreme attitude, and asking for a duty of £17, or even of £10, per ton on galvanized iron. He will see -by the last figures I have quoted that on those prices .a duty of “25 per cent, would represent practically ‘£5 per ton. -Senator Lynch. - What would the iron quoted at £33 per ton cost, landed, including charges?
– It would depend entirely on the freight, and of course the freight would put some pounds per ton on to the price. I remind the honorable senator that recently prices fell so rapidly in England that within three or four weeks after the first quotation there was another quotation for a different brand of iron, which was equal to 40 per cent, less than the first.
– r-The last quotation given by the honorable senator was “ c.i.f .”, and therefore included freight.
– But for- a different quality of iron.
– Tes, plain galvanized iron, not corrugated.
– The duties the honorable senator proposes would apply to corrugated galvanized iron, the selling price Of which is to-day practically £50 per ton.
– It is not a question of the selling price to-day, but of what this firm, owing to future developments, will have to put up with in the way of overseas competition. After my explanation, Senator Lynch .will see that the duty I propose would represent round about £5 per ton, and not the figures he indicated. I want to say that, so far .as wages are -concerned, I am -informed on irrefutable ‘authority that -wages in this industry to-day are ‘25 (per -cent, higher than in England. I ‘.may add :that :the wages in England are on a sliding scale, and increase or -decrease with the price of the sheets. It is obvious that wages in England have been rapidly decreasing, in view of the rapid decrease in the price of the article, whilst wages here -have ‘remained at an average level and have not been reduced.
– How does the honorable senator explain away the evidence ;of Mr. Lysaght?
– I am talking of the year 1921, and of a period after .a world cataclysm, after a war which has upended not only economic theories, but a good many industrial .conditions .all’ over the world. I should like to read to the Committee a letter which might have some influence upon honorable senators, or upon the Government. I quote it as showing the. actual position from the stand-point of the managing director of this company. He writes .to me under date 15th August, to this effect -
As . you have been good enough to interest yourself in the duty on galvanized iron, I am writing to let you know that after carefully going into our costs at Newcastle we find that the proposed duty of £3 12s. per ton will not be ^sufficient to enable us to profitably carry on the industry, and unless a higher duty .is imposed we shall, most reluctantly, be compelled to shut down our works. It should be sufficient, I think, to mention .that to-day’s price for English sheet bars is £8 per ton, and spelter, £25 10s per ton, ‘ while we pay £14 15s. 6d. per ton, and £35 per ton respectively for these -materials. In addition, wages, acid, muriate, water, and rolls are also considerably higher here’ than in England. At the time we decided to put down our works here, the slump in metal prices in England, on the Continent, and in America, was never anticipated, nor the fact that wages in these places would be . so drastically reduced. Had we considered this likely to come about, we should have deferred taking any steps until we had received assurance that an adequate duty would be imposed.
I .submit these facts to the Committee. My reference to .my honorable friend Senator Lynch is made more in sorrow than in anger. The position of the industry is a. most acute one, and I hope the Government will see their way clear to do something, .because the industry must .be preserved .and developed. There is a moral obligation on the Government to see it does not go under ;as a result of dumping competition.
– I have listened, with a good deal of interest to the remarks made by Senators Lynch and Pratten. During the war the Government, through the medium of the Wheat Board, were the heaviest importers of galvanized iron in the Commonwealth. At one stage it was impossible to secure this commodity from Great Britain; although it was urgently needed to deal with the mice plague in, connexion with our wheat stacks. Our lowest price for very poor quality iron was £55’ 10s. per” ton. The iron which we were getting from America,, allegedly first quality, was not within 10 per’ cent, or 12’ per cent, equal in value to the ordinary British product. Subsequently, the Board of Trade made an investigation into the question, of encouraging the manufacture of galvanized iron in Australia. Ocean freights were then so high that practically nobody could reasonably ask for protection; but it. was decided to- recommend a bounty of £2 per ton to local manufacturers. Since then there has been- a- considerable increase in the cost, of production, and the Government met the- position by increasing the protection to £3 12s. Shortly after the armistice travellers representing firms all over the world were in. Australia offering galvanized iron- for delivery in three months* at £32 12s. Though there has been. an. increase in- the cost of local production, L do not think we would be justified in accepting the requested amendment proposed; by Senator Pratten. In the development of. these great indus.tries it is advisable, that, we should come together industrially and. exchange confidences as to all aspects of the position. I have met quite a number of those interested in. the industry during and since the war period. They have- always– been candid in the expression of their views, and prepared to give the- fullest information” in connexion with their businesses. Nearly all of them have honestly endeavoured to redeem the promises made to the Board of Trade. There have, of course, been, complaints about the rising costs, and probably no harm would result from a fuller inquiry into the position. We want the industry, to be well established in the Commonwealth,, because its successful development will . mean a great, deal, especially to people living in country districts, where it is so largely used for roofing purposes. Judging by the tone of the debate to-day, I think that the Government proposal represents the happy medium of the- two extremes ; but if those engaged in the business make application a fuller inquiry may be made into the whole of the circumstances of the industry.
– Has the firm approached the Government since the Tariff was discussed in another place with a view to getting an increase in the duty ?
– Yes, they have asked for an increase; but I cannot see that they are entitled to any increase over and above £3 12s. per ton.
– Does ,the Minister mean that this item will, be re-considered before the Tariff leaves the Senate?
– Not necessarily. There is a provision in another measure under which the question of reasonable profits may be remitted to the Tariff Board for inquiry. Obviously, no one will establish a business of this nature without the prospect of getting a fair return upon his- capital. We do not begrudge that, but we do begrudge giving away millions of public money by means of tie Tariff duties if they are not required for. the protection, of. local industry. I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister for Customs (Mr. Greene) on his return, and recommend sympathetic consideration. At present I do not feel justified in agreeing to any increase> or reduction of the duty on. this item.
– I merely want to say a few words by way of reply to Senator Pratten’s own statement volunteered to. the Committee. He suggested, in his own way; that what I had said was far from being, in the region of truth, and I take his own statement, which is the best he can furnish, to buttress my case. In support of his plea for this duty he said that the British price for galvanized iron was £33 f.o.b. at some recent date. All that Senator Pratten, has to do in order to ascertain tie duty - and he knows this as well as I. do - is to. add to that quotation the statutory 10. per cent.- which the Customs Department; insist upon, and he will find that with c.i.f. charges the price- would be £39 per bon. At that rate, a Tariff, of. 35 per cent, would represent a duty of £13. Then he quoted another class of galvanized iron, not of the same specification, and”, therefore, it had nothing to do with the case at all. I am taking his own figures, and, on his own showing, his proposal would mean a protective duty, of over £13 per ton. My statement was that at the utmost it would represent a duty of £17, with the possibility of dwindling down to £10 per ton. The average will be in the region of £13, as I. told the Committee, though the honorable senator1 has suggested that in making this statement I was playing loosely with the truth. His own figures prove that the duty payable, under his requested amendment, would be £13 per ton. I need only remind him that if he will take the figures in the publication to which I have already referred, he will find that the present selling price for, the most popular brand of galvanized iron used throughout the country is £50 per ton, and that with the f .o.b. charges, the landed cost will be in the neighbourhood of ‘the figure T stated, if not a bit more. Instead of telling the Senate in his pedantic way that I was wrong, he needs to revise his own figures, and show, if he can, that with f.o.b. charges added, it would be less than £30 per ton. If he can do that, I shall feel inclined to vote for his request. But I am sure he cannot do that. I stick to my original statement that his proposal means anything from a duty of £17 to £10 per ton in the immediate future. On his own showing it means £13 per ton. He cannot deny it.
– I point out that Senator Lynch has been quoting a rate in the schedule that is not effective in connexion with this duty. The effective duty will be the 25 per cent. British. I think I showed” conclusively that the average duty under my proposed amendment would probably be about £5 per ton on the British product.’ I listened with interest to the statement made by the Minister (Senator Russell). I have no desire to press my requestto a division, but I have a very earnest desire that the industry shall not be compelled to close down. That was my reason for_ bringing this matter before the Committee. It is quite obvious, I think, tha£ if this industry is giving away 2d. per sheet to the makers of iron’ that’ is used to roll the sheets, it is giving an equivalent of 2d. per sheet to the zinc producers of Australia, in both cases, as an extra price. The two together amount to more than the duty proposed by the Government on galvanized iron; Instead of camouflaging talk about establishing industries, we ought to speak the truth, and admit that the galvanized-iron industry cannot live under present circumstances.
– The duty proposed by the honorable senator would work out at 90 per cent, on his own figures.
– My honorable friend is correct in regard to the figures I first mentioned, but since that quotation the price has again tumbled down. Last week I gave a quotation showing that the price of galvanized iron, c.i.f. Australia, was about £20 per ton. I think it will be accepted that this industry will be put in an unfair position by the duties already imposed upon other items.
– The honorable senator has helped to create that position.
– Yes, most deliberately, with the idea of later on putting the duty on galvanized iron upon a proper basis. If I understood Senator Russell properly the Government are sympathetic towards the continuance of the galvanized-iron industry at Newcastle, and are anxious that those persons who have invested their capital in it - the amount already spent is £400,000 - shall get a fair return from their expenditure, and that if it can be proved that they are not getting this, an endeavour will be made, by means of a bounty or otherwise, to devise some form of help whereby a fair return upon capital invested can be earned by the industry in question. Perhaps Senator Pearce, who, for the moment, is in charge of the Senate, will confirm this.
– What the honorable senator has sa,-d is, in effect, what Senator Russell said.
– It is a fair statement, and, seeing that the works will be producing 2.000 tons of galvanized iron per month from October next, I ask the Government not to delay the coming, into operation of the deferred duty too long. However, as the Government are opposed to any alteration in the duties at the present time, and as Senator Pearce has indorsed the statement made by Senator Russell, I ask leave to withdraw my request.
– I have no objection to the withdrawal of the request; but I object to Senator Pratten making statements which are not in accord with the facts. The retail price of galvanized iron in Melbourne to-day is £50 per .ton.
– Would the honorable senator care to read my authority for the figures I have given?
– More reliance oan be placed upon the quotations one finds in the daily press. Let the honorab;e senator ring up any business firm, and ask the price of galvanized iron.
– I suppose that the high-priced stocks of galvanized iron in the hands of the merchants are not yet exhausted.
– I am sorry that Senator Pratten made the very grave mistake of marring a good case by understating the value of galvanized iron. The duty upon the wholesale price is fixed.
– I thought that the duty was based upon the f.o.b. value, plus 10 per cent.
– I suppose that that would be very close to the wholesale selling price. For five years past galvanized iron has not been sold in Australia within £20 of the price mentioned by .Senator Pratten; and, although the war has been over for three years, no one is able to buy galvanized iron at under £50 per ton. In fact, within the last three months I paid £66 per ton for some. I bought at Anthony Hordern’s, in ‘Sydney. Senator Pratten wants ad valorem duties, so that the higher the price of the article the more duty the importer will bo expected to pay. I wonder how the Protectionist Age would like to see ad valorem duties imposed upon newsprint. My idea of fixing a duty is to make the impost lighter the dearer the commodity becomes, so that people may get it at the cheapest possible price. I hope that the Government will oppose ad valorem rates, which have the effect of making the amount of duty payable go up or down, according to how the market is arranged. In any case, an aci valorem rate is a dangerous form of protection to the manufacturer. A fixed rate assures him that, although he will get no increased protection, the rate will not be decreased.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Item agreed to.
Item 146 (Plates, sheets, pipes, &c), agreed ‘to.
Iron and steel, viz.: - ‘Plates and sheets, plain tinned … on and after 1st January, 1922, per ton, British, 76s.; intermediate, 95s.; general, 115s. “Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) [4.57]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item, British, free.
It is almost twenty-four hours since I asked the Committee to say whether they desired to encourage trade with Great Britain. A duty of 76s. per ton against British manufacturers of tinned plate is a pretty stiff impost.
– Perhaps the Minister would explain why such a rate is to be imposed.
– I have already pointed out that one of our great difficulties has been our lack of tinned plate, particularly during the war, when we managed to draw some supplies from Wales and America, but only at a price which was ten times the pre-war cost. We had at the time all sorts of foodstuffs badly required by the Allies, but could not send them away because we had not supplies of tinned plate. No matter how much we may desire to help Great Britain as our Motherland, we are not in a position to render her all the help we could give her in- time of war unless we have the tinned plate industry established in Australia. An army travels ‘ on its stomach; and, though I sincerely hope that .we will never have to face another war, we must look at this matter from our own defence point of view. Naturally, it will need a greater effort to establish this industry in- a country with a population of only 5,000,000 people than is required in a country with a market of 50,000,000. persons ; but a start has already been made in Australia with an experimental plant at Newcastle. The existence of establishments in Australia capable of supplying merchants and packers with tinned plate at a reasonable- price would be of considerable benefit to those engaged in. the export trade.
– To enable us to compete with other parts of the world, the tinned plate would need to be supplied. at a reasonable price.
– Certainly. Many advantages would be derived from the tinned plate industry.. For one thing, it would provide a local market for our tin miners. Likewise there would be a good market for the manufacturer of tinned plates, because we. produce sheep and mutton which could be tinned for export, and we could also increase our export of tinned fruits, and, possibly, engage in the trade of tinning preserved vegetables. We have only a limited market for tinned plate, and. I do not think we can hope to develop a big export trade ; but if by means of this duty we can establish an industry that will supply our own requirements and provide us with reserves to meet emergencies, we shall do well. I ask honorable senators not. to treaty the item as affecting only one trade. It is of the utmost importance to the packing and canning industry. With ample supplies of tinned plate during the war we could have sent away much larger quantities of tinned foods than we were able to do. -I find’ that during the war period tinned plates went up to £8 per box of 100 sheets, 28 inches x 14 inches. That was an extraordinarily high price, and it was sufficient practically to keep us out of the world’s markets when we had to compete with supplies of tinned preserves from California and elsewhere. It is estimated’ that tinned plate is now bringing about £45 per ton. I shall, confirm that information later on, But, if it is correct, honorable senators will recognise that a duty of 76s. per ton is not a very heavy impost.
.- This is one of the items in the Tariff concerning which much care must be exercised by the Government. It provides that, on and. after 1st January next, duties of 76s., 95s., and 115s. per ton shall come into operation in respect of tinned plate, which is absolutely essential to the industries of Australia that pack our. surplus products’ for export. Those surplus products have to compete with the exports of other coun tries, and consequently care must be taken not. to impose duties that will place any handicap on the Australian canners. I gather from the observations made by the Minister (Senator Russell) that we are not producing tinned plate or sheet in Australia, but that he is hopeful that we shall be able to do so. There is a clause in the Bill which gives the Minister for Trade and Customs power to extend the date on which a deferred duty shall come into. operation, if he is satisfied that the article to which it relates is not being produced here. I think we should go further, and give him such a power where he is convinced that the commodities covered- by deferred duties are not being “ satisfactorily produced here.”
– Clause 11 will prevent any handicap being imposed on our packers.
– That is the clause to which I have been referring. I urge the Minister to exercise special care in connexion with this particular item, because I know that much depends upon the continuance of our packing operations throughout Australia. I have sufficient confidence in the Minister for Trade and Customs and his Department to believe that every care will be taken.
Item agreed to.
Item 148 (Leaf and foil of any metal) agreed to.
Steel, rough shaped, forchaffcutter and other knives, ad’ val., British, free; intermediate, free; general,. 10 per. cent.
– I desire to ask the Minister whether we have in this item an admission for practically the first time that the material to which it relates is. not being made in” Australia, and that we are not likely to make it. Here is a rare chance to put a tax: on a section of the community which is already well taxed. I refer to those in the interior who are cutting chaff. If steel of the character covered by this item is. being made in Australia, I want to see the industry protected. It is not my desire that imports of this description shall be free if there is any reasonable prospect of the material being made here.
– The importations under this item are practically nil. It will be noted that it is proposed under item 160a to admit chaff-cutter knives under the British preferential Tariff free, and to make them dutiable at 5 per cent. and 10 per cent. under the intermediate and general Tariffs. The only purposewhich this item serves is that if the roughshaped steel is at any time imported it will not ‘be dutiable at a higherrate than thefinished article. We do not make many chaff-cutterkniveshere, but we carry out to a large extent the finishing process.
Item agreed to.
Item 150 (Steel, band or ribbon) and item 151(Flexible metal tubes) agreed to.
Request (by Senator Gardiner) proposed -
That the House ofRepresentatives be requested to make sub-item (a), British, free.
– Most of the tubes and pipes covered by sub-item a come from Great Britain, and are used principally in the manufacture of bicycles. We import the tubes and parts, and assemble them here, and the industry gives employment to a considerable number of men. The item gives protection to quite a number of workmen in Australia.
– The duties which are to come into operation on and after 1st January next in respect of sub-item a are very high. Sub-item b does not cover larger classes ofpiping, and as the duties are identical, it seems to me that the sub division of the item is unnecessary. I rose chiedy to point out that if any differentiation is to be made it should be in respect of the pipes of small diameter, particularly those used for irrigation purposes.I should like to know what is the position of the industry engaged in the manufacture of these pipes in Australia. Iknow that the class of pipes used in Western Australia are largely if not. entirely imported, and if there is no immediate prospect of their manufacturehere it is a short-sighted policy to impose a duty.
– The smaller -classes of ironand steel tubes and pipes are at present free under the British preferential Tariff, but on and after 1st January next they will be dutiable at 27½ per cent. British, 35 per cent, intermediate, and 40 per cent. general. I understand that some big English firms have promised in the meantime to establish the industry here. That will be advantageous to Australia. These duties will not come into operation until the works are established here.
-Then clause 11 of the Bill willapply to these as well as to the ordinary deferred duties?
– The class of pipe dealt with in sub-item a is in general use for mining purposes. The mining industry is in a low state to-day. Why, then, should the Government seek to injure it still more by increasing the cost of pipes imported from Great Britain after the 1st January next ? I understand that the manufacture of these tubes or pipes has not been undertaken in Australia.
– That is not so. The smaller pipes are not yet being made here, although they will shortly be produced in Australianfactories; but the larger pipes arebeing manufactured in almost all the States.
– That being so, why are the Government delaying the imposition of the duties until the beginning of next year ?
– The production of the smaller pipes will then be in hand.
– What will be the position if they are not being manufacturedby the1st January, 1922?
– The duty will not be imposed ; the small pipes will still be duty free.
– Even after the manufacture has been begun, does it not appeal to honorable senators that a duty of 27½ per cent. is enormously heavy? What has the Mother Country done to deserve its imposition ? It amounts to a declaration of trade war upon Great Britain.
– British manufacturers get their raw material a great deal more cheaply than Australian manufacturers do.
– The reverse of that argument was advanced when the Committee was dealing with the, duties upon pig iron. I guarantee that if a vote were taken of the people of Australia, fully 80 per cent. would favour freedom of trade with Great Britain. Still, the Government will persist in imposing a rate of 27½ per cent.. It is virtually the imposition of a fine of £27 10s. upon every person who dares to trade with his Motherland to the extent of £100 worth of goods. What kind of loyalty is that? Will the Government accept a compromise if I amend my request to the effect that the British Tariff be 15 per cent. ?
– Sub-item b has to do with closejointed and wrought iron or steel pipes. Such products are used in innumerable ways, and in association with numerous industries throughout the country, but the Government intend that they shall bear duties ranging from 27½ per cent. to 40 per cent. ad valorem. I doubt if wrought iron pipes are being manufactured in Australia.
– Oh, yes!
– I question whether that is the case in respect of 3½-in. pipes. I have not seen any local products. If the 3½-in. seamless pipe is not produced here, it will be heavily dutiable under this sub-item.However, if the Minister (Senator Russell) gives an assurance that the industry has been established in the Commonwealth, and that such pipes are being actually turned out, I shall withdraw my opposition to the proposed rates, heavy though they are.
– All classes of pipes over 3 inches are being made locally.
Request (by Senator Gardiner) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (B), British, ad. val., 15 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Iron pipes, cast, and cast-iron fittings for pipes of more than 2 inches internal diameter, per ton, British,48s.; intermediate, 65s.; general, 80s.
.- There is not much labour in the making of pipes, and 48s. seems a fairly heavy duty, which might well be reduced. I am in favour of an absolutely free Tariff for Great Britain; but if there are any honorable senators who desire to fix a duty, I may be prepared to meet them if they will make a suggestion. I move, in tike absence of any suggestion -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item, British, free.
– To what extent are these fittings for pipes made in Australia?
– They are all made in Australia, and it is principally in the 3-in. and 4-in. diameter pipes that we feel the competition of Germany.
– There is no reference to British fittings.
– Practically the whole of our requirements are made in Australia.
Item agreed to.
Railway and tramway material, viz. : - (a)Rails weighing 50 lb. per yard and over, per ton, British, 35s.; intermediate, 60s.; general, 75s.
– I notice it is proposed to impose a heavier duty on the lighter rails than on the heavier. I should like to know the reason, because the lighter rails are those used by small syndicates in this country.
– It is because of the fact that the lighter rails go more to the ton. Rails and the materials mentioned in sub-itemsc and d - fish plates, ties, &c. - are all made in Australia.
– With all due respect to the Minister I cannot quite agree with him when he says that these articles are all made in Australia. All we use are not made here, as is proved by the fact that the Fremantle municipality recently required some rails, and as these could not be obtained from Newcastle;, they had to be imported from Great Britain. The class of rails required by the municipality is not the class regarded by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company as that which Fremantle ought to use. The particular class of rail that is required is not manufactured in Australia, but the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, with all the arrogance of monopolists, have, as I say, laid down what they consider the standard that should be adopted. The class of rail required is the grooved, which is the British rail. It is perfectly true that when it was discovered by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) that this particular class of rail is not made in Australia, he allowed, as a matter of grace, a consignment to come in free of duty. There is, however, no guarantee that he will do likewise on every occasion, nor is there any guarantee that as sane a Minister will always be in charge of the Department. I am not sug gesting that the Minister for Trade and Customs is altogether sane in submitting these extremely high duties, but on that particular occasion he did take a reasonable attitude. What we require in Australia is the opening up of the country, and an absolute essential for this is railways. The more cheaply we can construct railways the better, as I am sure honorable senators, including even Senators Pratten and Duncan, the high priests of high Protection, will agree. There has been an increase in this duty from 17s. 6d. per ton, in the case of Great Britain, to 35s., or 100 per cent., and in the general Tariff there has been an increase from 25s. to 75s., or 300 per cent. This means another tax on the development of Australia. If these high duties were serving any useful purpose there might be something in the arguments of the high Protectionist. But in the case of a recent tender, the price submitted by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company was £20 10s. per ton, and the freight from Newcastle to Fremantle added another £3, making the total price £23 10s. per ton, while the price of the successful tenderer in Great Britain was £16 7s. 6d. per- ton, plus £1 15s. duty, making the total price £18 2s. 6d. per ton. We have not, therefore, afforded that protection to our Australian industry which some honorable senators desire. All we have succeeded in doing is to make it more expensive for Governments and private companies to construct railways for developmental purposes. That being so, what is the object of this duty? I am sure the Government do not desire to obtain revenue from the States in this way. These duties are imposed, I presume, to protect an Australian industry; but, according to the most recentcontracts let, they have completely failed to do so. In order to afford that protection to the Australian company which some honorable senators consider necessary, the British preferential duty would have to be increased to83s. per ton, and I do not think that any one contemplates doing that. As the proposed duty of 35s. per ton is useless for the purpose for which it is imposed, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, per ton, British, 17s. 6d.
I’ shall subsequently1 move1- to reduce the other- rates proportionately.
Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) [5.481,.- The Committee should’ very carefully consider this item, because rail’s and railway material have a very great bearing on the future development of Australia. As Senator Drake-Brockman has said, development in many parts of the Commonwealth has been retarded owing to the excessive cost of rails used for railways and’, tramways,, which are necessary for developing certain areas. A few weeks ago, when evidence was being taken by the Tasmanian, Public Works Committee while inquiring- into the advisableness of connecting a very rich agricultural area with the main- line by a light line of railway,, the Engineer-in-Chief of the State put the whole position in a nutshell when he said -
The cost of 40-lb. rails before the war was f6. 10s. per ton,, f.o.b. English port; and today rails from the Broken Hill Proprietary Company cost f 17 per ton at port of shipment.
The difference between the two prices proves conclusively that the development of Australia is being retarded. The activities of State Governments are controlled by the funds at their disposal, and in Tasmania, where the contour of the country is such that railway construction is expensive, development has been hampered owing to the excessive cost of steel rails. The 40-lb. rail has been used extensively in Tasmania; but on some of the more important lines the lighter rails have now been replaced by those of a heavier weight. The development of our timber areas has also been retarded; because light rails are also required there for tramways. By the duties proposed in the Tariff, those portions of the Commonwealth in which light rails can be. successfully used will be penalized because the higher duty is imposed on the lighter rails. I do not think I can go as far as. Senator Drake-Brockman, who advocates a reduction of the British duty to 17s. 6d. per ton,’ because we have to consider the industry which has already-been established on a firm basis. We must afford protection to a certain point.
– I quoted figures to show that recent contracts disclosed that the British rate now imposed does not give any protection at all.
Senator- PAYNE. - If tine Australian manufacturers are unable to compete with manufacturers abroad because the protection is inadequate, the position is altered.
– T.o enable them to compete, the duty would have to be. increased’ from 35s. to 83s. Why should’ the development, of the country be interfered, with?
– I desire the industry to be sufficiently- protected” to enable it to carry on and1 secure all the. trade that it can legitimately command.
– On. the figures I quoted the duty is of no use.
– I do not know whether that would apply generally.. I believe it would be possible for the inr dustry to be profitably conducted with lower British preferential duties than those proposed. We must, however, pay due regard to the urgent necessity of. developing unoccupied portions of the Commonwealth, which in turn will mean a greater number of secondary industries, a larger population, and a more extensive demand’ for our commodities. I would’ like the Minister (Senator Russell) to explain why there has been such an enormous increase in these duties, which, in the 1908 Tariff were 10 per cent’., and 15 per. cent.; in the 1914” Tariff, 17s. 6d. and 25s. per ton ; and are now 35s., 60s., and 75s. per ton.
?. - I cannot support Senator Drake-Brock-mE.n, who has submitted a request for a very drastic reduction in the- British preferential duty.
– The increase is drastic.
Senator- EARLE. - It is. It is useless to> quote1 prewar duties and the prices which, prevailed prior to the establishment of .the industry in Australia, because the- costs of manufacture have increased’ by from 75 per cent, to- 100: per cent:
-brockman.- But what about this year’s contract’s?’
-.- It is possible to arrange contracts overseas, including dutyand freight, at prices lower than those ruling here; but that has nothing to do with our efforts to establish the industry in Australia-. I cannot understand1 the speeches delivered- by some Protectionists in this chamber. Many of them would be . all right if delivered by Senator Gardiner. I have heard Senators Guthrie, Lynch, and one or two others whipping themselves into a fury about increased duties, and protesting that the full amount of the ,duty is passed on as -an -extra charge to the consumer.
– -“So it is, always.
– It may be for a time; but the object of Protective duties is to secure the establishment of industries in Australia, and when they are established here we can control them. Honorable senators should recognise that if they destroy an Australian industry, those who use its products will have to depend on foreign manufactures for their supplies, and we have no control over foreign manufacturers. If ‘honorablesenators destroy the Australian industry for the manufacture of steel rails, our State Governments, private contractors, and mine-owners will have to depend upon some foreign manufacturer, over whom we have no control, for the steel rails theyrequire. Our people can control the local manufacturer, and if they do not do so the fault is their own. If local manufacturers charge exorbitant prices, it is within the power of Parliament to control their prices. I want to see all these industries established in Australia. I am optimistic ‘ enough to believe that before very long the people of the Commonwealth will insist upon having the power - and so long as they had it they would never need to exercise it - to prevent the exploitation of the consumer by local manufacturers because of the advantage given to them by protection against importers.
– Has not every State Parliament that power? :Senator EARLE. - Yes; ‘but the honorable senator overlooks the fact that, in some matters, it would be difficult for the State Governments to exercise the power. The manufacture of steel rails, for instance, is confined to New South Wales, and ‘Governments of other States would probably find it very difficult to control prices charged by a New South Wales company. I am assured by a Customs officer that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company is prepared to .manufacture the lighter steel rails.
– They turned out 55,000 tons of them last year.
– - The honorable senator is referring to the total output. I -am speaking of rails under 50 lbs. in weight. I am1 most concerned about rails of 25 lbs. weight. ‘ They are generally used, though some mining propositions use 1’2-lb. rails. The 25-ib. rail is very much used for mining and timber-getting. If the company has the machinery installed, and is in ‘a position to undertake the manufacture df these light rails, I am prepared to ask the users of the rails, for the present, to make some sacrifices in order to build up the industry. I have no hope that these steel rails will be manufactured m Tasmania’, but I contend that if the New, South Wales works are closed up, Tasmania will have to depend -upon some one in Great Britain, America, or somewhere else, to manufacture the rails she requires. I do not desire to see Tasmania or Australia placed in such a position. I am prepared to ask the people of my own ‘State to pay a little more if necessary at the present time for the steel rails they require in order that this Australian industry may be maintained, in the full hope that the time will come when these rails will be manufactured in plenty in Australia, and at a reasonable price.
– I am not in agreement with Senator Drake-Brockman’s request to reduce the duty in the British preferential column from 35s. to 17s. 6d. per ton. If I may say so, I think there are many items in the schedule which lend themselves to the “greasing of the fat pig.” In ninety-nine cases out of one hundred, the heavier steel rails included in subitem a are purchased .by Governments on behalf of the taxpayers of the different States, and .the burden is thrown on the whole community. The lighter rails, which are used for developmental purposes in mining, in vineyards, in wine cellars, and by .the .smaller industries, .are purchased by .private persons, who, under this schedule, will be called upon to pay the higher rates of duty.
– The small rail can be made so much more cheaply.
– Not on tonnage. They .are cheaper .only by measurement.
– The cost of iron and steel is determined by weight.
– Then why not submit duties on the same basis? The Government are asking for the higher duties on the lighter rails.. I think that is wrong. We should strive to secure, as nearly as possible, a scientific Tariff that will.be fair to all. That cannot be said of a Tariff which imposes heavier charges upon the individual than upon the community at large. We have just been told by Senator Payne that in Tasmania rails under 50 lbs. in weight are very exten.sively used. Why should Tasmania be called upon to pay more for steel rails required for its development than is charged to other States using rails weighing an extra 10 lbs. In Western Australia, in light sandy country lighter rails can be used, and why should Western Australia be charged 10s. per ton more in the shape of duty on steel rails than South Australia, where, to cope with the heavy hills traffc, 100-lb. rails are used? I should be very sorry to be understood as desiring to do anything which would prevent the progress of the iron industry in Australia. Rather than do so, I should prefer to err on the side of supporting a high duty to assist its progress. The discrimination in the duties imposed on steel rails’, according to their weight, will not influence the development of this industry in New South Wales, and it is my intention to move a request to make the duties the same on sub-items a and b.
– Senator Wilson has just intimated his intention to move in the direction I originally suggested when I directed attention to the different duties proposed on steel . rails of different weights. An arbitrary line is drawn at rails weighing 50 lbs. per yard and over, and an extra tax is imposed upon the users of 45-lb. rails. I know of branch lines in this country, run by private enterprise over a distance or 145 miles, which are laid with 45-lb. rails. Such lines will be subjected to a very serious tax under this ill-balanced proposal of the Government. Why ‘ should users of rails weighing 50 lbs. per yard and over be able to secure their requirements for 10s. per ton less than those who use rails of 45 lbs. per yard will be called upon to pay? I support the contention of pre vious speakers, that this discrimination is really a ta* upon production. It is a tax upon development, and .a heavier tax upon those engaged in private enterprises than upon the community as a whole.
– The honorable senator is under a misapprehension.
– It should not be forgotten that the development of a State does not depend entirely on public effort. The, development, particularly of the younger States, possessing huge territories, depends as much upon private enterprise as upon State enterprise. As timber and mining resources are becoming exhausted, those exploiting them must go further afield. Why should they be called upon under this schedule to pay an extra duty if they use the lighter rails ? Some branch lines in the State I know most about, .Western Australia, extend for over 130 miles, and the extra duty on the lighter rails in such cases will involve considerable extra expenditure. The proposal to impose an extra duty of 10s. per ton on the lighter rails represents a direct tax on private and State enterprise requiring the lighter rails for development purposes. I shall be prepared to support the request of which Senator Wilson has given notice, to make the duties the same on sub-items a and b, without respect to the weight of the rails.
– Some honorable senators appear to be labouring under an extraordinary misapprehension in connexion with this particular item. They seem to be under the impression that because a higher duty is imposed on the lighter rails it will cost much, more to use the lighter rails than to use the heavier rails. If a private individual, or a State Government, is purchasing 5,000 tons of 40-lb. steel rails, it must be obvious that they will get a far greater mileage of rails than they would get if they were purchasing 50-lb. rails. It will therefore be seen that the object of the discrimination in duties is really to equalize the cost of the different rails. It seems to be assumed that 1,000 tons of the heavier rails will cover the same distance as 1,000 tons of the lighter rails. That, of course, is not the case; and although the extra number of lighter rails in a ton would not be many, it is obvious that there would be a great many more light rails supplied in a large order than there would be of heavy rails in an order for the same weight of rails. The lighter rails being of the same length would cover a greater distance than a similar weight of heavier rails.
– And they would wear out more quickly.
– Not necessarily, because they would not be expected to carry the same amountof heavy traffic. I cannot see how the users of light rails will be penalized by the Government proposal. I intend to support the Government on this issue, because I realize that their object is to equalize the positions of the users of the different classes of rails.
– I listened with pleasure, until I was unfortunately called out of the chamber, to Senator Wilson, who was pointing out, for Senator Earle’s benefit, that the Government proposal would mean an increased cost upon the particular kind of rail so largely used in Tasmania. Honorable senators are naturally solicitous about the interests of their own State. I am watching New South Wales’ interests. In my State we use, and are the sole manufacturers of, the big heavy rail. Therefore I intend to support Senator Drake-Brockman’s amendment, which is the nearest approach to my Free Trade ideal. If that is defeated or withdrawn, I shall support Senator Wilson’s proposal to impose the same amount of duty on all classes of rails. What surprises me as much as anything else is that the Queensland senators, who have been so earnest in advocating high duties upon cane sugar and the other commodities produced in that State, are not equally alert to see that this item might possibly affect Queensland’s producing interests, because the class of rail mentioned in it is, I should imagine, used extensively in the cane fields of the State for the purpose of conveying the cane to the sugar mills. But, of course, I have no right to complain if they are prepared to pay a higher rate of duty on rails. Is it necessary, in this item, to impose a higher duty than is levied on the raw material?
Is any more labour required for the manufacture of a light than a heavy rail? Up to the time that the metal reaches the furnaces, at any rate, the labour per ton is the same.
– There might be a little extra cost in the production of a light rail, but I do not think it justifies the higher duty.
– I doubt if any extra labour is involved; but if there is, then it is balanced by the greater length of light rails produced from a given amount of metal. It would be as well if the Minister accepted Senator Wilson’s proposal. The lighter rails are used chiefly in country districts; as, for instance, forconveying, in the case of Queensland, the cane crop to the sugar mills. They are also extensively used in mining operations throughout the Commonwealth.
– Hundreds of miles of light rails are used for firewood lines in my State.
– Yes ; and I remember the case of one copper mine, where whetherit could continue operations depended entirely upon the price at which wood fuel could be brought to the mine. Therefore, if we put on a shilling here, and another shilling there, in the Tariff, we must add greatly to the difficulties of all engaged in primary production and industrial ventures. I can quite understand, of course, that this Tariff schedule, having been framed on scientific lines, the whole question of the weight of rails and the duty necessary for a light rail as against a heavy rail were fully considered, and that may be one reason why the Minister feels justified now in resisting any attempt to alter the schedule, even if the object be to make certain commodities cheaper to the consumer. I have been struck with the fact that in every case these duties fall very heavily upon the primary producers of this country.
– I thought you said the other day that it was the wage-earner who had to bear the burden.
– The success of mining operations depends upon the working miner. Similarly the success of the pastoral and agricultural industries depends upon the agricultural labourer, the shearer, and other necessary employees. Therefore, the burden of unnecessary duties placed upon commodities required in these industries falls finallyon the men who are actually engaged in the work of production. Senator Earle seemed to complain that Protectionists were losing their grip of Protectionist ideals. Sooner or later they will have to realize that the whole of the wealth comes from the land, and if in this Tariff we put on a little duty here, and a little more weight somewhere else, the burden will soon become so heavy that those engaged in our great primary industries will be unable to continue.
– And the man on the land does not always get the wealth that is produced.
– I thank the honorable senator for the interjection. I realize that he does not, and that is one reason why we should watch this Tariff very carefully. In it there are 480 items, and I venture to say that atleast 200 of themare taking a little more from the man on the land either directly or indirectly.. If we admit it as a sound proposition that the man on the land and the mirier produce the wealth of this country - and I claim that they do - and if we put on 10 per cent. here, 15 per cent. there, and 20 per cent. somewhere else, the primary producing industries of this country will eventually be crushed. I am afraid that the whole of ‘ the Protectionist building will collapse by Sheer weight of the duties imposed. Perhaps the Protectionists will not see it coming. I do not know where we will be then, but we shall have to begin again, and perhaps the business of reconstruction will not be in. the hands of people elected to a deliberative assembly, like this. I venture to say that when the crumbling comes the disaster will be like that of the temple which Samson destroyed, and perhaps in the destruction there will be more destroyed than we can now conceive. I am very much concerned about thisduty. I am concerned because it presses upon the mining industry, and I have to thank the miners for any introduction to parliamentary life,though not to this Parliament. Naturally, I have some regard for the people who first took me in hand in this way. I do not want to see that industry injured by this Tariff.
Sitting suspended from 6.29 to 8.80 p.m.
Request (by Senator Wilson) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (b), general, per ton, 75s.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (b), British, per ton, 35s.
If this is done, the duty on the lighter type of rails of British manufacture will be the same as that on heavier rails imported from the same source. My purpose in submitting this request is to assist those States which find it very difficult to carry out developmental railway construction because of the engineering difficulties caused by the rough country through which their lines have to pass. In Tasmania, the latest estimate for putting down a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge branch line to serve a district which is now beyond carting radius from the main line, is £8,333 per mile. In addition to the heavy cost of earthworks and so forth, the State Government is asked to pay a heavy duty upon the 40-lb. rails which, owing to engineeringdifficulties, must be used in these branch lines. The duties upon rails actually favour those States where the railway lines tra verse fairly level country and thus can be built cheaply, as against those which encounter considerable engineering difficulties in constructing: developmental lines; which are. essential for the general welfare of the Commonwealth, and which, the States should be encouraged to build.I realize that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company must have a reasonable amount of protection to insure the stability of their: industry; but I am not prepared to give them what is more than reasonable, and thus possibly run the risk of imperilling the carrying out of projects which; are more than ever necessary at. the present time for the well-being of the community.. Several branch railway lines have been held up in Tasmania during the last three or four years in the hope that before long the cost of construction will fall, instead of which it has increased, in regard to supplies of rails, fishbolts, and fastenings. My request is not put forward for the purpose of opposing the policy of affording protection to thesteel-rail industry. My object: is to avoid placing a burden on. States which find it necessary to carry on developmental work, and to reduce the financial responsibilities which must be undertaken in the endeavour to open up the country satisfactorily. ThereforeI hope that the Committee will put the States which find it essential to use the lighter rails on the same footing as those in’ a position to use the heavier rails.
Question put. The Committee divided’.
Ayes . . . . …8
Noes . . …. . . 12
Majority . . . . 4 .
Barbed wire; per ton, British, 68s; intermediate, 85s.; general, 105s..
. -This item furnishes the usual anomaly in regard to wire and wire netting products. I notice that the duties on wire netting are the same as those on barbed wire. I have no technical knowledge of the subject, but the market, quotations for these two commodities are such as to lead one to inquire why the duties are the same in both cases. The quotations for wire netting in Melbourne this month range from £62 to £80 per ton, according to the gauge, or, roughly speaking, an average of £70 per ton, and, assuming that it costs about £10 per ton to land it here, from the country of production, we have a net average cost of £60 per ton. On the other hand, the quotations for Australian barbed wire are £38 per ton for 12 gauge, and £45 per ton for 14 gauge, or an average of about £40 per ton. We have the same duties in respect of both manufactures, although there is not much difference between the grade of wire used in each case.
– The wire used in the manufacture of wire netting is of much lighter gauge:
– There is a difference of: about £30 per ton between the average wholesale prices of the two commodities in Melbourne. The price of American barbed wire in Melbourne is £33 per ton for 12 gauge, and £45 per ton for14 gauge, as against £40 and £45 per ton for the same gauges of Australian barbed wire. I make this comparison in order to show that the consumer gets the benefit of the competition of the American with the Australian product. There is a difference of about £30 per ton between the average price of barbed wire and the average price of wire netting. If there is more labour involved in the manufacture of wire netting than is required in the production of barbed wire the. Minister should explain why a heavier duty is not imposed on wire netting.
– There is far more labour involved in the manufacture of wire netting:
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed, to.
Item 155 (Rolled iron) and item 156 (Shafting) agreed to.
– I do not pretend to have much knowledge of the processes, but these quotations have aroused some curiosity on my part. “We find that black and galvanized wire made in Australia, which has to compete with’ imports from America, is much lower in price than the raw material from which that wire is made. I shall not be allowed to refer in detail to that matter at this stage, but I may be permitted to emphasize die outstanding fact that rod iron is dearer than the wire that is manufactured from it. Wire is cheaper than bar and rod iron simply because American competition is hard against the locallymanufactured wire. If American competition reduces the price of this article to the consumer’ there is no reason why we should seek to put an additional barrier in the way of imports from that country so as to insure greater security to our manufacturers. I am not in favour of doing so. The Minister says that the manufacture of wire netting involves more labour than is required in the production of barbed wire; that being so, the duty on wire netting should be higher. It seems to me that the whole Tariff will have to be recast. Barbed wire is sold here at a reasonable price, because it is up against the competition of the American article, which is the product of white labour. Wages are high in the United States of America, and, so far as this item is concerned, the black-labour cock -will not fight. Because of the importation of the American product the consumer outback is getting a cheaper article. We hear much of the ingenuity and inventiveness of the Australian, and we should have sufficient courage to say that we are prepared to stand up against American competition without any artificial protection.
– I think that in respect of this item the Government have gone a long way out of their road to impose an additional burden on the already burdened land-owners of the Commonwealth. Wire netting and barbed wire are used only by the people on the land. In the Age of Saturday last there appeared an advertisement, in which quotations for barbed wire were given, and a glance at it reveals the remarkable fact that prices are f dur times as high as they were before the war. Here are the figures : - Gliddon barbed wire, galvanized, in 100-lb. coils, 430 yards to the coil, 36s. per coil; Iowa barbed wire, galvanized, 12 gauge, 440 yards to the cwt., 39s. per cwt.; 13 gauge, 560 yards to the cwt., 44s. per cwt.; 14 gauge, 700 yards to the cwt., 45s. per cwt.; Waukegan barbed wire, galvanized, 14 gauge, 820 yards to the cwt., 50s. per cwt. I venture to say the price of the last-named wire before the war was not more than 12s. 6*d. per cwt. Why should we impose this extra burden on our primary producers who, in addition to combating various pests, have to face increased costs, and to compete in the markets of the world? We cannot protect their wheat, wool, meat, or fruit, because these are sold in the world’s markets, yet in respect of barbed wire, which they alone use, we are asked to impose a duty of 68s. per ton under the British preferential Tariff, while under the general Tariff the duty is 105s. per ton. I do not know whether Senator Lynch intends to move a request for a reduction-
– I do.
– Then I shall leave it to the honorable senator who, as a land-owner with actual experience of the necessity for allowing barbed wire to come in at the lowest rate, is- entitled to submit such a request. This is a direct tax upon the primary producers. I know that we are manufacturing barbed wire in Australia, but it cannot be claimed that the general public is assisting in the maintenance of the industry. If the Government want to maintain industries at the cost of the people, it would be the lesser evil to provide, in this case, for a bounty rather than a duty. If that were done the whole of the community, instead of the primary producers alone, would have to pay for the maintenance of the industry. If we are to continue the practice of calling upon people to put their hands into their pockets in order to develop industries here, then the’ sooner we adopt a system under which the whole community, instead of a section of it, will be called upon to bear the cost, the better for all concerned. Every one admits that the lot of the primary producer is harder than that of the manufacturer. The manufacturer has a relatively easy time.
He has to work only five days a week, whereas the dairy farmer has to work six and seven days a week, his only good fortune being that the week does not consist of eight or nine days. Yet he is to be taxed on all the fencing material he requires. I do not complain of the Minister’s regard for secondary industries, because it was on the policy of their encouragement that he was elected to Parliament.
– The Minister is living up to that policy.
– I am glad the Minister is doing so; but, at the same time, it is my duty to point out that in this instance, none but the land-owners and those employed on the land are called upon to bear the taxation. There is not a farm or grazing property in Australia that has not heretofore been compelled to use barbed wire, and will.be compelled to use it again ; and now the price is practically four times what it was seven years ago. That being so, there is. no need for the additional duty.
– More barbed wire comes from America than from all the other countries put together.
– America is the place where barbed wire was invented, and, naturally, in that country the machinery for making it has been perfected, and from it more material can be exported than from elsewhere. That, however, is no reason why those on the land should be compelled to bear the burden of all this taxation. I would not mind so much if there were a sort of rebate system, under which the purchaser of every ton or cwt. had an interest in the industry in proportion to his purchases.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, per ton, British, 50s. ; intermediate, 70s. ; general, 90s.
The following is taken from the publication Hardware and Machinery: -
Formed with a nominal capital of £500,000, Rylands Brothers (Australia) Limited will take over the businesses of the Austral Nail Company Proprietary Limited and Rylands Brothers (Australia) Limited, and develop the wire and wire products enterprise carried on by both. Established in Melbourne in 1891, the Austral Nail Company have been knowm as manufacturers of wire nails and barbed wire, and, latterly, of fencing and nail wire. Two years ago the company moved their works to Newcastle, and have since manufactured fencing wires and other wires on a much larger scale. Rylands Brothers (Australia) Limited’ (the company now absorbed) only came into being last year, with the objects of taking over the Australian interests of Rylands Brothers Limited, the well . known English manufacturers, and of entering upon the manufacture in Australia of wire netting and fine wires, and, ultimately, of wire rope. They established works adjoining those of the Austral Nail Company at Newcastle, with whom a fusion has now been effected. The directors of the amalgamated or new company will consist of Mr.’ G. O. Delprat as chairman, Sir W. Peter Rylands (chairman of Rylands Brothers Limited), Mr. H. H. Field (general manager of Rylands Brothers Limited), Messrs. C. L. M. Potts, M. M. Howarth, J.K. MacDougall, R. A. MacDougall, and James MacDougall, the last-mentioned being the managing director of the new company.
That extract sustains, at least in part, what I insisted on previously, namely, that some of the profits- the exact share I do not know - which are collected from the consumers go into the common stocking, or common fund, of the Broken Hill Proprietary. Mr. Delprat is Chairman of Directors of this new fusion.
– Yes, the fusion is making barbed wire, wire netting,the finer qualities of wire work, and speak of making wire rope as well as nails. What I have said about Mr. Delprat has to be remembered. I value his abilities very highly, but still we must not forget that this new company is merely, at least to an extent, an off-shoot of the Broken Hill Proprietary. I do not know the exact amount in shares held by the Broken Hill Company, but I do know that Mr. Delprat is in both companies. Under the circumstances, we have to ask ourselves whether it is possible for an independent company to start in opposition; it may be or it may not be, but, so far as I can see, the chances are very slender. In this fusion of two companies, operative in kindred activities, there are all the beginnings of what may finally become a Combine. I do not wish to stress that point; far from it. , I believe there are Combines which, up to a certain point are useful. In the old Labour days, I said that in the industrial field it is sometimes absolutely necessary to combine in order to wipe out suicidal competition’; and, as a victim of such competition, I >say the same now. When that phase has been passed, however, another phase presents itself, and it is a phase which will take all our resourcefulness and courage to combat. I have read quotations regarding the two necessary articles of barbed wire and wire-netting, and have shown that the Americans can compete successfully, so far as barbed wire is concerned. We have to ask ourselves whether or not we are giving too much consideration and protection to what is certainly the germ of a Combine. When the wire is taken and bent into all shapes and forms, by this new company, formed on a very respectable foundation, we ought to ask ourselves whether we are not giving too much protection. In my opinion we are, and too much protection has been given all through to these industries. I am putting in a plea for those people who have to use barbed wire, and Senator Gardiner has shown the difficulties of the users in the interior of the country. This duty particularly affects people engaged in opening up new territory, and if we handicap settlers with burdens which they cannot bear, there will be a natural disinclination on the part of others to follow them.
– I am glad to be able to say that the great bulk of the barbed wire and wire netting we use is made in Australia, and we ought to give decent protection to maintain the industry against fierce competition.
– From a highstandard country - America?
– Yos ; because, owing to the war from 1916 to 1918, the United Kingdom sent none to this country. The importations from America for 1916-17 were 8,531 cwt. ; in 1917-18, they were 11,945 cwt.; in 1918-19, they were 13,420 cwt.; and in 1919-20 they were 56^280 cwt. These figures tell a doleful tale ; they show how Great Britain, owing to the war, lost her power to produce for commercial purposes, though she is making a splendid effort to regain her old position under the more nearly normal conditions.
– Are we helping Great Britain by the Tariff?
– Great Britain is given a preference. I am not in favour of giving an absolute preference to Great Britain. After we have made adequate provision “for the industry in Australia, then the next preference should be given to the Mother Country.
– When are you going to give preference to the consumers?
– I always try to do so, if possible, but I cannot regulate the whole world; every man who has tried to do so has, I believe, failed. At any rate, when I had charge of the Department which dealt with prices, I think I did my duty by the consumers, though that does not say the scheme was a great success. It is clear that we have not the constitutional power to deal with these matters from the consumers’ point of view, but we are going to try what can be done with a Tariff Board to prevent the exploitation of the people. The machinery for this purpose is not perfect, but it is the best we can provide under the Constitution to-day. Barbed wire is being made in practically all the States of the Commonwealth, but no exact figures regarding output are obtainable. The information at hand indicates that Lysaght Brothers and Company Limited can turn out 400 tons a month, equalling 4.800 tons a year, while the United Wire Nail and Manufacturing Company Limited has a capacity of 3,000 tons a year. The protective effect of the proposed duty depends chiefly on the margin between the duty on wire rods and barbing wires and that on the barbed wire. The rods pay, per ton, 44s., 65s., arid 80s. ; and barbing wire, per ton, 52s., 72s. 6d., and 90s.; while the duty on the barbed wire is 68s., 85s., and 105s. In 1913, the duty collected on barbed wire averaged 34s. per ton. The rate was then 10 per cent, and 15 per cent. In 1918-19, the duty collected averaged 115s. per ton at the rate of duty - 15 per cent, and 20 per cent. - then in force. Those comparisons demonstrate that the increased prices brought in considerably more revenue. Nevertheless, the countereffect was by no means beneficial to Australia. At the same time the duty on wire rods and barbing wire of foreign origin was 5 per cent.,- while, from the
United Kingdom, the product was free. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company can produce wire rods– that is, rods for the manufacture of wire - to the extent of 90,000 tons per annum, and the natural development of the industry will make local manufacturers of wire and other wire products, such as barbed wire and wire netting, independent of overseas supplies. Lysaght Brothers and Company have a considerable plant for the drawing of wires from wire rods. On the 26th March, last year, that firm wrote to the Department of Trade and Customs -
We have been recently obtaining supplies from Newcastle up to about our requirements, but owing to the marine engineers’ strike they had to temporarily shut down, and we are at present getting nothing from them, and are unable to obtain any information as to when they will resume deliveries under our present contract, which covers only about 3,000 tons.
It is evident from that statement that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company have been, and are, able to supply the requirements of Lysaght Brothers in wire rods, except under exceptional conditions which might occur abroad as well as here. The British firm of Bylands Brothers Limited has established works at Newcastle for the manufacture of all descriptions of wire. The enterprise had got into thorough-going operation some time ago. The Austral Nail Company and Rylands Brothers began by working together for the production of plain and galvanized fencing wire, barbed wire, wire netting, and all other classes of wire used in the Commonwealth. I understood that the two interests have since merged. In December of last year, when the information which I am now supplying was compiled, Bylands’ factory had not been completed, so that the Austral Nail Company was then the only producer of barbed wire, and its output was limited to 25 tons per day. Rylands’ plant having been established, however, the output of barbed wire was increased, and I understand that all local requirements are now being met. The Austral Nail Company spent £86,000, and it was the ‘firm’s expectation to be employing 1,500 men by the end of this year. Thus, it will be seen, Australia is now becoming self-supporting in” one more important phase of. industry; and, among other good reasons why that fact should give satisfaction, there is this consideration : with the establishment of industries in our midst we are able to control industrial conditions in a manner which would be beyond the power of the Government so far as foreign enterprises whose products are imported to Australia are concerned. Prices have by no means returned to normal, although we have left behind us the days of highest quotations, and matters are generally settling down. Particulars of importations over a number of years, prior to the war reveal that Germany audi the United States of America were largely supplying Australia’s wire requirements No one desires that those countries shall again monopolize the Australian market. It is because industry is not yet- stabilized^ that local manufacturers should be givens practical encouragement in the manner designed by the Government.
– I am in agreement with Senator Lynch in his desire that primary producers shall obtain their- materials as cheaply as possible. All honorable senators certainly favour the establishment of the iron industry in this country. During the war, I was not able to buy barbed wire. Australia was then put to great straits to secure any supplies at all. That fact demonstrates the need for the establishment of the industry within our own borders. I am glad that a renowned English firm has practically interested itself in the Commonwealth to the extent of establishing an enterprise, and I trust that Australia will shortly become self -sustained - if it is not so already - in the matter of the wire products under consideration. If the Australian iron industry were to languish and fail, importers would combine to “ skin “ the man on the land far more thoroughly than local manufacturers would ever be likely tq do. To keep prices down to reasonably low limits, the best means is to encourage local competition. I understand that the average price qf barbed wire to-day is about £40 per ton.
– The selling price in Melbourne at present is £35 per ton.
– There are various qualities of barbed’ wire, but I think £40 may be taken as a fair average figure. Before the war, barbed wire could be bought for £12 10s. Prices may return to normal some day, but there will be fluctuations round about comparatively high quotations for a long time to come. The British preferential rate of 68s. per ton is equivalent at present prices to an ad valorem duty of 10 per cent. That is not a very high impost, but it certainly would be if the price of barbed wire were to fall, with a return to normal times, to somewhere about £12 10s. I suggest, therefore, that, instead of imposing fixed duties, the Government would be acting more equitably in devising ad valorem rates, so that, if a duty equal to 10 per cent. is considered fair to-day, that relative degree of protection should remain, no matter what the price might be. My suggestion applies both to barbed wire and to wire netting.
– I sympathize with the view of Senator Fairbairn, and agree that the preferential duty of 68s. per ton is not a high ad valorem percentage, and that buyers of barbed wire are not heavily handicapped by the Protective Tariff. But if ad valorem rates were now imposed, they would be placed upon importations when prices are probably higher than they are likely to be for years to come, and the revenue would be materially swollen. But the Government have no desire to further tax the hard-pressed farmer and grazier. I can foresee that when trade and commerce become approximately normal, and there is ever-growing competition in the industrial world, the Tariff Board will be a very busy institution. While prices are still far from normal, the imposition of a fixed duty will cost buyers of wire less, at the same time providing deserved assistance to local industry.
. - I desire to call the attention of the Minister (Senator Russell) to some statements contained in a pamphlet which is headed, “Nailing a Lie”; “ Startling Facts”; “Farmers’ Tools of Trade.” The pamphlet is issued by the Australian Industries Protection League, whose office is situated on the fifth floor, Stock Exchange Building, Melbourne. The first paragraph reads: -
Free Trade agitators have been stumping the country of late attempting to convince the Australian farmers (the Free Trader always looks upon the farmer as a fool) that Protection raises the prices of the farmers’ tools of trade. The contention is malignantly false, and it flies in the face of the universal experience of mankind. The fact is that Protection, instead of raising prices, lowers them.
If the Minister is in earnest, as I believe he is, he will not seek to encourage industries by reducing the prices of their pro- ducts. In no country in the world has Protection nurtured industries to the extent of reducing the prices of their output. If the Minister desires to help the industry, and the information contained in the document is right, he can do so by following the advice I have quoted. I shall support the request submitted by Senator Lynch.
Question put: The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Wire netting, per ton, British, 68s.; intermediate, 85s.; general, 105s.
– This article is kindred to the one we have just dealt with, and honorable senators will admit that they should have similar treatment. We are well aware that it is more expensive to manufacture wire netting than barbed wire. I do not think it fair to ask for such a heavy reduction in this instance, as I. believe a general duty of 95s. is ample. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, general, per ton, 95s.
.- We have now reached the absurd . position that the duty imposed on wire is higher than that suggested on wire netting. That is the position which has been created, and is one which may have to be adjusted later. Before the war, Germany supplied netting valued at £112,747, and exportations from United Kingdom were worth £221,645. The Austral Nail Company is producing wire netting on behalf of Bylands Brothers, but the arrangement is only a temporary one pending the completion of Bylands Brothers’ factory.
– Before recording my vote on this item, I desire further information concerning the wire-netting industry. I do not know if the works are under the same proprietary, but an industry on the .Parramatta River conducted by Lysaght Brothers and Company has been producing wire netting .for at least thirtyfive years, and I desire to know the incidence of the duty on the wire they will have to use. Perhaps the Minister (Senator’ Russell) will enlighten the Committtee in regard to the effect of the proposed duty on this industry. I do not think that the whole of the wire netting required in Australia will be manufactured by the Newcastle firm, because, as I have mentioned, Lysaght Brothers and Company, which is not the same firm as that producing galvanized iron, have been manufacturing wire netting for a long time under the old Tariff. The Minister said that we were now in the position when the duty imposed on the wire is higher than that suggested on wire netting. This is not a new industry in Australia, and I am anxious to ascertain how Lysaght Brothers and Company, of Sydney, who use a lot of wire, will be affected.
. -. - Wire netting is extensively manufactured by Lysaght Brothers and Company, of Sydney. Their plant is capable of turning out 1,600 miles of netting per month. Other manufacturers are Malloch Brothers, Perth; and the Samson Wire Netting Company, of Sydney. The manufacture of barbed wire and. wire netting has been hampered by the difficulty in obtaining supplies of wire from overseas; but it is expected that this obstacle will be overcome very soon by the establishment of works at Newcastle. Such works will be able to supply galvanized wire more cheaply than it can be imported. The position in regard to wire netting and the arrangement of the duties in comparison with those on wire depend on the same conditions that apply to barbed wire. Rylands Brothers Limited are erecting a plant at Newcastle which they expect to be in operation towards the end of this year, and which will manufacture wires for all purposes. I have a letter from Rylands Brothers, which I will quote that honorable senators may know what they think of the duties proposed. It is dated 18th August, 1921, and is as follows : -
The duties of British preference 68s. per ton, intermediate 85s. per ton, and general 105s. per ton under item 158 on wire netting were passed by the House of Representatives, and we ask your support to those figures on the following “grounds: -
Our firm was approached by the Government With a view to establishing works for the manufacture of netting in Australia. The general manager of the company visited Australia to investigate the position, and as a result of his inquiries it was decided to erect works for the manufacture of wire netting and of fine wires at Newcastle.
The works neve now been set up, and we started the manufacture of wire netting two months ago. The capital actually invested in Australia in this industry by us amounts to £400,000. This venture was gone into on the assurance of the protection shown in the Tariff, the present rates of which are now low, and are the absolute minimum on which it would be possible to carry the industry on successfully.
We manufacture the netting with wire made by ourselves at Newcastle from Australian raw material’, and of the quality that has made our name the standard throughout the world. When we started our plant at Newcastle we began by offering our netting at about £13 per mile below the prices then ruling, feeling that with the duty we would be able to supply all Australian requirements and produce cheaply, because we would be producing on a large scale. If the duty is reduced, wire netting will be imported, our output reduced, and our cost of production increased in consequence, and we would therefore have to raise our selling price to meet the increased cost of production. ,-
In the production of wire netting the labour cost is very high, and we employ a large number of highly skilled operators. The number employed by us throughout our works is very large, and we have every reason to assure you that this will be one of the largest industries in Australia, assuming we can retain the measure of protection now offered. Trusting you will give this your sympathetic consideration.
The duty proposed on wire, iron, and steel as prescribed by departmental bylaws for the manufacture of wire netting is 90s. in the general Tariff, and the duty on the completed article is 105s. in the general Tariff. The difference of 15s. per ton represents the additional protection afforded to the manufacture of wire netting. Surely honorable senators will not consider the duty extreme in the circumstances.
– The Minister was under . a misapprehension when he said that we had already dealt with wire.
– The Minister did not say so. He said he hoped that honorable senators would stand by the proposals of the Government
– If Senator Pearce had listened to the whole of the debate he would know that the Minister in charge of the Bill pointed out that Senator Lynch’s request would bring the duty on wire below the duty on wire netting. It would do nothing of the sort, because we have not yet dealt with wire. I know what the honorable senator had in mind perfectly well. The impression he conveyed to the majority of honorable senators, including myself, was that we had dealt with the wire from which wire netting is made, whereas, as a matter of fact, that wire is covered by item 159, with which we have not yet dealt.
– And .the duties on that, wire are 52s., 72s. 6d., and 90s.
– BROCKMAN. - Those are the duties proposed by the Government; but, if they are dealt with in the way in which we have dealt with previous items, there will be some alteration made in them. If by reducing the duties on wire netting, in accordance with Senator Lynch’s request, we create what might appear to be an anomaly, we can easily correct the anomaly by reducing the duties on item 159 in proportion.
– We have already passed duties on wire similar to those proposed in item 159.
– BROCKMAN. - There was a reduction of 8s.* per ton agreed to on a request moved by **Senator Guthrie. I shall have ‘pleasure in supporting Senator Lynch’s request.
.- I am very pleased that Senator DrakeBrockman has put the true position before honorable senators. The impression was conveyed by the Minister that we had already passed an item covering wire which enters into the manufacture of wire netting, at higher rates of duty than those proposed by Senator Lynch for wire netting.
– It was only a slight mistake.
– That is so; but it might have influenced the votes of honorable senators on the item with which we are now dealing. There is a difference between the consideration which should be given to the manufacture of barbed wire and that given to the manufacture of wire netting. In the first place, there was a fairly heavy duty previously on barbed wire, but in the previous Tariff wire netting was admitted free from Great Britain, and was dutiable at only 1Q per cent, in the general Tariff. In the circumstances, the duties now proposed by the Government on. wire netting - 68s., 85s., and 105s. per ton - are very heavy duties indeed. There is greater justification for the reduction of these duties than- there was for the reduction of the duties on barbed wire. Wire netting is becoming every -year more necessary in Australia to those carrying on agricultural pursuits. We should hesitate before we do anything which would be likely to impose an additional burden oni agriculturists, who have heavy enough burdens to bear at the present time. Whilst I am prepared to give every consideration to the workers engaged in ordinary industrial pursuits, I desire . that the workers following agricultural pursuits shall also be given consideration, because there are no harder workers in Australia, and no men who risk more, since they must accept the market price for their products, whether it recoups them for their expenditure or not. They cannot control the market, whereas manufacturers to a great extent can do so. If Senator Lynch had proposed a further reduction of the duties on wire netting, I believe it would be agreed to. When we come to deal with the item covering wire used in the manufacture of wire netting, we can reduce the duties proposed, and give a corresponding relief to the manufacturers of wire netting.
– Then what will the honorable senator do for the wire-drawing industry-! “ Senator PAYNE.- K. is a Wry. reason; able attitude for honorable senators to take up to .consider how they oan.. give relief to the agriculturist, while at the- same time retaining the necessary, protection for the manufacture of -wire. That is what I am anxious to do.
– Wo have been’ assured that the protection proposed is necessary for the industry.
– I consider that a duty of 55s. per ton on British imports, and .of 95s.. per ton on foreign imports, will, give sufficient protection, in view of the fact that under previous Tariffs wire netting was free from. Great Britain, and foreign imports were dutiable at only’ 10 per cent.
– The honorable ‘ senator should know that there has been practidal prohibition- of these imports for five yean.
– We all know that. The statement which nas so often been mode concerning the millions, of pounds that have been saved to the people of Australia through being able to use commodities manufactured here does not really bear on the question at all. During the war we were compelled to manufacture here, and .very great inducements were offered to manufacturers because of the profits to be made! This argument, which I have, heard used twenty or thirty times during the consideration’ of the schedule, is not a- fair argument to use. I do “not begrudge local’ manufacturers the profits which they made during the war ;’ but it -is not fair to continually refer to the* fact that but for local manufacture* ‘ our people would have had to pay muck more for the commodities they use. - it is as well to remember that- they have had to pay, for the local manufactures, though it is true they may not have had’. ‘to- pay ‘so much as: people in other countries were called’ upon’ to pay for similar- goods. People- in other countries had to undergo privations of which’ we . knew nothing Our industries were flourishing. We were the most favoured country in- the world at that time. :’ Consequently I attach’ no weight at all to the statement that has been- repeatedly made. If I can give any relief to those primary producers who have’ to- work so hard, “and have’ to relyon ‘the world’s ‘market for their; returns, X shall be glad to do’ so.
– [9.3iLLike .Senator Payne, I recognise, the ixa- ‘portance of this material to’ the- farmer and grazier, and. I am anxious -that it should be supplied to them at a reasonable price. Wire netting is an absolute necessity for the protection of.. Australian pastures and crops against . the - inroads of the rabbit post’ Honorable senators who have visited the Federal Capital have no doubt been struck by the remarkable evidence there-‘ of the’ value- of wire net ting. On’ ohe side, of a wire netting’ fencethere is’ ample pasture, and- on the “other side desolation ‘brought -about by rabbits.. It may he’ well to be -able, during certain; periods- in ‘our history,’ to: obtain’ .a -few1 thousand tons of this material at ‘a. low: price, but the only effective’ way to Saf e guard the interests :of our primary ‘pro-‘ doers’’ is to encourage the manufacture of the material in this country.. Aus-, tralia should, he self-contained in regard to the manufacture of essential commo,dities. As far as I ban learn, the . duty asked by the Government is necessary, to enable the manufacturers pf wire netting, to carry on. In this matter we haVe,. of course,- to. accept, -the representations -made by the manufacturers themselves. .The; users of. wire .netting may have to .pay a .little .more thun is reasonable, for the’ product if we ‘are misled, ‘bat. that, willi be better than to have the industry destroyed. When the schedule -is passed, and the Tariff is actually in operation, the Tariff Board will be authorized, in certain circumstances,. to. make inquiries and ascertain whether, in consequence of the7 high duties imposed ‘in certain- items,- -manufacturers are charging tpo much for their products The -Board -will - then recommend to’ the Minister, and ‘the Minister to Parliament, that the duty be immediately reduced commensurate ‘ with’ ‘ the’ value of the article concerned.
– I hope the Tariff Board will do it§ duty.
-I hope. so, too. I have told honorable ‘senators ‘over and over again that unless -we do. something to control manufacturers, the people of thiscountrywilloccasionallbeex- rj^’ed$ bu’t’ ^a^i^’^^’^anger^iaTj.pr&i sent itself,Ido not intend,for that reason, to run the risk of ruining any of pur great industries.I want to see such industries established, because by means of the Tariff Board we can control them, whereas if we have todepend on the importer we shall be powerless to do anything in that direction: ‘
– Do you know that in New South Wales Judge Beeby is trying tocontrol prices?
– I know that a spasmodic effort has been made- to control the price of certain commodities, , but I should be sorry to have to admit that the people of1 Australia are not sufficiently intelligent to devise means by which they may prevent the exploitation . of any sec- tionof the community.
Senatorde Largie. - Have you forgotten the Harvester case.?
SenatorEARLE .-The difficulty in that’ case was due to our constitutional position’.
– Andhe same conditions exist to-day,so where is the remedy?
-Our remedy is to appealto thepeople for an alteration of the Constitution..
Senatorde Largie. - Have we not done that?
– Yes, and the people answered in the negative; bub we know very well the influences that were at work then. But do we intend to do nothing ? Must we confess ourselves impotent, to secure an amendment of the Constitution to allow this Parliament to wjact logislation to prevent the. exploitation: of the people? If we are to take that view, then I am a Free Trader, and would, say, “Let them allcome.” But. we should not’ take up that position. Our clear duty, is to insure- the establishment of essential industries, and ‘ to point out to the . people how necessary it is, incertain . circumstances, to -have the power to protect the interests id the entire community. I am going to vote for the Tariff as it stands. I am as anxious as any other honorable senator to asEiB’t the land, workers,, andmywish is to protect them . by the establishment at these, industries for. the production of all their requirements rather than mailing, it qecjessary . for them to. import from overseas .
SenatorSENIOR (South Australia) [9.39]. - . This wire . is not./madeas . we have heard, from imported wire. it is. manufactured from : rods ‘upon, whioh’^ under another- item, there is a Tarifl’ of; 44s.” ‘per ton- ‘ ‘ Therefore, ‘. the ‘proposed’ Tariff of 55s”, oil wire netting imported! from Great Britain provides a margin of only lis. per ton as’ a protection on the local industry for drawing the wire’ from the rodB and making it up’ into wire net-, ting. Do honorable senators think that’ is sufficient?
– I do.
– The price of spelter also enters into theconsideration of this problem. We . find that there is a difference of. £8 per ton in favour of Great Britain against Australia.
– That is Lysaght’s yarn.
-But there is undoubtedly a good deal of truth . in the statement. Then conies . the question of the cost of the acid. Here, again, . there is. a difference of. £211s. . per ton in favour . of the British product; so the protection- . in the item now undor cpn-
Bid ©ration, is virtuallywiped out.
-But we are exporters of spelter.
– Yes. But because our. contract with the British Government for the supply . if spelter, at a. certain price -has not yet expired spelter . is at a’ higher price in Australia than in. England. Honorable senators must . face the facts. . My- contention is that if we reduce the British duty to 55s. we shall not have sufficient protection for the labour engaged in the wirenetting industry.
-Themanufaoture of this commodity in this country has been going on for years.
– Yes, and we have been getting the steel rods for many years at prices lower than present quotations,^ We must not lose sight of tjhe . fact that in recent yeans caste of production have materially increased; - If the1 duty on this item is altered, we will be able to, manufacture the . rods. . i-n Australia,, but will have to import our wire, netting.-; We must encourage the. local manufacturers.. . It . has been, said that, without; this , duty, they have. been. . able to make; large sums of money.;1. bub we must not forget that conditions brought about by the war gave them- a protection far- more effective than, could have been provided by ‘the Tariff. X want, the Committee to realize that on steel rods,- from which the wire is drawn, there is a duty of 44s.- per ton, and that the proposed duty of 65s. per ton- on wire netting’ will not be sufficient to protect the labour employed in the industry -in view of - the higher local prices lor “spelter - and acid.
.- A little while ago I quoted from a’ document issued with the compliments of the Australian’ ‘Industries ‘ Protection League, whose motto .is, “My country first.””. I had hardly resumed my seat when I, was handed a further document from the same .source’ containing a circular’ referring to . the shocking ‘lack of . education of members of Parliament. Judging by what .they say, I must be held up’ as a very had example. The circular says - .-.
Tho ‘education of bur public. men, politicians, and others as to -the- necessity from an economic and national ‘stand-point of protecting out home industries is, a difficult matter, out is not impossible, of achievement. The Australian Industries Protection League during the past two yean has . done much useful work in this direction.
I am sorry that the league did not take me in hand years ago, instead of starting at a time when I am too old to be educated by correspondence! They might more advantageously apply their energy and teaching abilities to the instruction of tho young. I ask ‘them tq. spare me, any further .attempt . to educate., such a backward pupil as myself. Reverting to the question of wire netting, the, fruit-grower needs this material. . One gap. in his netting may mean the. loss, df -years of work’ through the inroads of rabbits. It will take a great deal of education to. bring people on the land, who are faced with the necessity, for shutting put’ rabbits, to realize that they, should pay for the establishment of industries , in Sydney or’ Melbourne. The duty upon wire netting will be paid by the users, of the .article, and they are mostly a comparatively few primary producers. It would.be far better i or- the Government to. .-adopt -the less evil, method of paying a bounty to the “manufacturers, even to such an .extent that the. article might he supplied free to those who require it; because it is one of the saddest of sights Ito see the devastation caused by rabbits on a holding whose owner has not .sufficient capital to purchase wire netting. The Government are adopting a roundabout way of .saving the primary producer .in proposing to wait until a certain industry develops, and the article produced by it becomes cheaper by competition among, the manufacturers. There will.be no competition among .the -manufacturers of . wire netting. . We have been shown several -, times tonight that the companies are -combining: One manufacturer is using -the workroom of another. .Yet these companies’ are to be. helped at the expense, of the fruit-growers, the farmers, and the pastoralists. I regret that Senator Lynch’s request is not more drastic.
– I desire to pursue this- subject a little further in order to see whether, with the assistance of Senator Russell, t. cannot fairly accurately state the position, of wire and the surrounding manufactures by reason of the -Tariff as agreed to so far. ‘ There are four . items in the schedule revolving around the question we are now discussing. Last night we .agreed, after considerable debate, to a reduced duty of 44s. per ton on fencing wire upto’ No. 16 gauge, and., a reduced ad valorem Tate of 20 per cent, on wires of finer gauge.. I am alluding to the British preferential Tariff. It . was ‘ rightly pointed out by Senator Lynch, in giving reasons- for a reduction .of the duty proposed, that, in effect, a 20 per cent, adf valorem rate would vary from .£5 .to perhaps £12 a ton on (-he, finer gauges of. wire. . However, the Committee agreed to the reduced rates I have mentioned, The . next item in connexion with wire we have agreed to is barbed wire, which, I take it, is manufactured from wire up ‘ to No. Iff gauge, upon which we -have fixed a. duty of- 44s. per ton.. We have agreed to a rate of 5.0s., on barbed wire coming from Great Britain,, and. there. , is, a difference of only 6s… between the duty on the completed article and .that .’on the drawn wire from- which, it is made. Now we have the item wire .netting before us, and the duty attaching to it .. is- 68s. per ton. Following is another item: providinga duty of 52s.per ton for “Wire, iron and steel, for useinthe manufacture of . barbed wire and’ wire netting, , as prescribed by departmental bylaws.” It seems to me that the wire scheduled at 52 s. per ton for the manufacture of wire netting will, in most cases, be finer than the No. 16 gauge wire, the duty upon which we have fixed at 44s. per ton, and will be of a gauge for which we have fixed an ad valorem rate of 20 per cent. I believe that rabbit-proof netting is made largely from No. 17 and No. 18 gauge wire, and a good deal of wire net- ‘ ting is madefrom even finer gauges. Therefore, we have the anomaly that, in spite of large expenditure of capital at Newcastle by Ryland Brothers to establish an industry for drawing the whole of Australia’s requirements of coarse and fine wires, other Australian wire netting manufacturers will be able to import No. 17, No. 18, No. l9 or even- finer gauges of Wife to make thoir netting under a rate of duty which was’ only intended for fen- cing wire. In other words, the effective protection already given by the Committee’ upon the finer wires will not operate on Wire for the- niahuf acture of wire netting,’ and ‘Ihe manufacturers of . this netting iwifl . be able to import their . raw material - at a cheaper rate than was intended. I know that wire netting has been made- in Sydney for a good many years . Without any assistance from a Tariff; butI would suggest^ in connexion with what has now become a very involved question,’ that the Minister (Senator Bussell) should, in ‘the interests of the wire netting, industry, postpone these items until further . consideration ban be given th’em. On the one hand, we have an appeal for a 20 per cunt, duty to establish’ a new industry -of drawing wire at Newcastle; on the other hand, there is an item- in this Tariff specially, designed to enable . manufacturers of wire . netting to import’ wire suitable for their require; merits’ at a very low rate of duty. -The two things are. not compatible.
– I do, not think that tho honorable senator’s ‘ suggestion is a cure for the trouble’:We must reach -finality at some stage.
– Then will the Minister clearly indicate- what the Government want ?
– I have.
– Boee it want the industry at. -Newcastle?
-Doea it desire by means of a reasonable duty to stop all’ importations of ‘wire of any sort, including, wire for making netting I
– Thesucceeding item provides that’ wire for the manufacture of wire netting shall come in at alow duty. . The two propositions are. absolutely inconsistent and incompatible. If, however, the Minister can explain- more fully what is the real intention, of . the Government, and show that these..- two items do not clash in the matter of policy i the Committee will he satisfied.
– I recognise, the force of all the honorable senator has said; but wo can find out where we stand only when a vote has been taken on this, question. We’ have had an indication that a request for a reduction is desired,- but we have had no vote on this particular question. The Government cannot anticipate’ a defeat, and I am. not anticipating. a defeat on this item of wire netting.
– It seems to me that even if the whole of the Government proposals are carried the imposition of a duty of 20 per cent, on the finer wires for the purpose of estabksbing the Newcastle industry , and the proposal to admit, at a lower rate of duty, these finer, wires when intended for use’ in the manufacture) of barbed wire and wire netting must- clash.
– Then propose a higher duty in respect of the latter item.
– I am inviting the Committee to consider the anomaly surrounding the whole of these duties on wire, and am asking’ the Minister either to explain the position or postpone this item for further consideration.
– Serious notice should be taken of the statements just’ made by Senator Pratten. Owing to the way in which ‘we are hurrying the consideration - of the Tariff we shall eventually have the whole schedule in Buch a tangle that it will take another place some months to unravel it. Senator Pratten has now discovered what many of usdiscoveredlong. ago, namely, that it is impossible to pre- tect oil industries. If wo impose’ Protective duties on the raw material so «s to assist the man engaged In, the primary stages of wire production, and then impose Protective duties to assist those employed in the secondary stages, followed by additional duties to protect those engaged in the final stages of wire production, we shall have prices so high that no one will be able to purchase the finished article. In that way Protection destroys itself. The completed article will require such an enormously high Protective duty that no one will have sufficient money to purchase it. That is why Protection is a fallacy, and ineffective. Notwithstanding the statement of the Minister (Senator Russell), we have never had a scientific Tariff, and I believe that before we have concluded our consideration of this schedule the honorable senator will say that this scientific Tariff has been destroyed owing to the interference of amateurs.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Lynch) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, per ton, British, 55s. ; intermediate, 75s.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
– The Committee, it seems to me, is in a difficulty. It has agreed to a request to reduce the duty on wire netting from 68s. to 55s. per ton under the British preferential Tariff. The maker of barbed wire or wire netting, unless he draws his own wire, has to pay a duty of 52s. per ton if he imports his wire from Great Britain, so that there is now only a difference of 3s. per ton between the duty on the wire that he wants to use and the duty on the completely manufactured article. That is not quite a fair position in which to place the man who does not draw his own wire. On the other hand, we have to consider the position of the wire-drawers here. In order to compete against the importers who supply wire for the manufacture of barbed wire, they will have to sell their product in the neighbourhood of the import cost. The protection granted in respect of these finer wires for the manufacture of wire netting is only £2 12s. per ton, or just about that which was given last night to the coarser grades of fencing wire. Anomalies in connexion with this item have cropped up all round in view of the requests that have been made by the Committee. The Minister has read a letter received from Messrs. Rylands Brothers, but I would point out that the wiredrawing industry which they are establishing at Newcastle is not the only one of its kind in Australia. An enterprise of considerable proportions has been carried on for some time on the Parramatta River. Has the Government received representations from it in connexion with the duty?
– How long has that firm been carrying on the industry?
– To my own knowledge, it has been carrying on the manufacture of wire netting on the Parramatta River for thirty-five years.
– The honorable senator refers to the firm of Lysaght Brothers and Company, of Australia.
– Yes, and as distinguished from the firm of John Lysaght and Company, of England.
– Wire-drawing has been going on side by side with the manufacture of wire netting.
– Not for thirtyfive years, but with imported wire the making of wire netting has been going on for that time.
– They turn out 1,600 miles of netting per month.
– Can the Minister say whether any representations have been received from the firm to which I have referred?
– I think so; because we have their record here; evidently we have been in touch with them.
– My information is that this factory, assuming it to be in full going order, will employ about 1,400 people. The enterprise of Rylands, at Newcastle, is as yet, to a large extent, in the elementary stage, and it is not the representations of that’ firm to which I should pay so much attention as the representations of a firm which has been engaged in. the business for thirty-five years, and is capable of employing 1,400 people. Before the Committee finally deals with this item I should like to know a little more about the real position, in order that we may give fair play all round.
– With a view to giving fair play all round I am of opinion that, having reduced the duty on the manufactured article, we ought to reduce the duty on the raw material, and therefore I move -
That the House of Representatives bo requested to make the duties. British, 40s.; intermediate, 60s.; general, 80s.
I submit this request because I see we have created a difficulty. We have reduced the duty on the manufactured article, and this wire is the raw material of people who do not draw their own wire.
– I hope that the Senate will not listen to the suggestion of Senator Gardiner, because the position has been made bad enough already. I can understand the attitude of Senator Gardiner, who, quite consistently, would do away with all protection, but I urge the Committee not to bring about the chaos which this proposal means. Bad as the position is, we may be able to fix up matters ; and to that end we ought to adopt the proposal of the Government.
– Other rates have been disturbed.
– Not on wire.
– We may be able yet to adjust the proportions.
– The rates on similar classes of wire have been reduced.
– That is so, but we are now dealing with this particular wire.
– In order to show that I do not wish to run wild over the idea of Free Trade, and that I can be as reasonable as any man when up against facts, I shall make another suggestion. We have reduced the duties on wire netting and barbed wire, and I now wish, by leave, to alter the request I have just submitted, and move -
That the House of Representatives berequested to make the duties: - British, 40s.; intermediate, 60s.
This leaves the duty in the general column as it appears in the schedule.
Request, by leave, amended accordingly.
– If this request is adopted it will paralyze what I believe to be a very important industry in Australia. It will certainly induce the manufacturers of both barbed wire and wire netting to import their raw material; and that is what we do not want to see.
– Undoubtedly ; but what can we do ?
– Stand firm, and let the manufacturers who are prepared and able to manufacture their material from the raw material of Australia, do so.
– Then you kill the “ other fellow “!
– I do not think so. One firm which is launching out in a large way is manufacturing its own stuff, and drawing its own wire. The reasonable thing to suppose is that if we reduce the duty on wire, these people will give up the business of drawing wire as unprofitable, and depend on imported wire from cheaper countries. The only result of our endeavours to do the right thing will be to knock out the industry of . drawing wire, and retain the industry of manufacturing netting. We may be able to patch up the vessel and sail through if we do not do any more damage. Honestly, I think we have done wrong ; but do not let us ruin, or run the risk of ruining, another industry. If the Committee have made a mistake, it is not a very big one, and no doubt the company will make an effort to carry on. If they can produce evidence to the Tariff Board that they cannot carry on and compete with foreign manufacturers, it will be within the scope of Parliament to remedy the position. If, however, we pursue matters to the ridiculous conclusion, and because we have done wrong in one respect do wrong in another, we will “ knock out “ both industries. If we leave the Tariff on wire as it is, it will, I believe, make it necessary for the manufacturers of netting and barbed wire to manufacture from Australian raw material, and that is very much better than going to the other extreme. It would; in my opinion, be a great mistake to adopt the request of Senator Gardiner.
Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) [10.201. - Senator Earle’s statement is extraordinary. He holds that the Committee has been mistaken in its consideration of quite a number of items. I maintain just as firmly . that the Committee knew what it was doing.
– I desire information concerning the position of the wire-netting and barbedwire industry in Australia prior to the establishment of the works at Newcastle. If there are numbers of smaller concerns turning out barbed wire and wire netting, care should be taken that if the duties upon the finished articles are reduced, there shall be corresponding reductions of duty upon the raw materials.
– I have already furnished the Committee with, the names and other particulars of several firms actively engaged in different States.
– Have they been depending upon raw material from Great Britain!
– No; they have been using locally drawn wire.
– I am glad to learn that other establishments beside our penal settlements have been engaged in the production of barbed wire and wire netting.
.- To a certain extent the Committee has already dealt with the subject-matter of item 159, in the course, of its- consideration of paragraph 2 of sub-item a, of item 186. The- rates of duty upon- “ Wire, other,” are set out’ in’ the schedule respectively at 52s., -728. -6d., and 90s. per ton, but the Committee has requested a reduction of the British preferential rate to 44s. The item at present under consideration is allied with that which I have just indicated, and honorable senators should not request more considerable reductions in the present instance than that which was secured in respect of sub-item b of item 186.
, - In the circumstances, I am willing to amend my request in the direction of making the British Tariff 44s. per ton, and of deleting reference to the intermediate duty. .-.
Bequest, by leave, further amended’ accordingly.
– I am not in agreement with the Minister (Senator Pearce) that the subject-matter of paragraph 2 of Bubitem b of item 136 is exactly the same wire as is described in the sub-item atpresent before the Committee. The “Wire, other,” set out in item 136 is distinctly specified and governed by paragraph 1 of sub-item b of that item, which reads, “ Wire of No. 16 or finer gauge.” The gauge of the wire covered by .the phrase, “Wire, other,” tin paragraph 2, upon which the British duty was reduced to 44s., must be of 15 gauge or less to be admitted at that rate of duty. The wire provided for in sub-item b of item 159, namely, that for use in the manufacture of barbed wire and wire netting, is any wire than oan be employed in the production of those commodities, irrespective of gauge.
– The wire could be of a much finer gauge.
– Precisely I The bulk of the wire to be imported for .the manufacture of wire netting would probably be nearer 20 gauge; while, for very fine wire, it might be up to 28 gauge, upon which a duty of 20 per cent, has been imposed.
– My point was that ‘ the Committee ought not “ to request a lower duty in the one instance than in the other.
– But the Committee has jettisoned all idea of protecting the fine wire-drawing industry by the line of action’ which is adopted in respect of the item dealing with barbed wife and wire netting. Honorable senators must now consider what subsequent- action they should take in respect of the wire, indicated in the sub-item under immediate’ revieW, which is to be admitted for the manufacture of wire netting. I support the request of Senator Gardiner, hut shall content myself by showing what an anomalous position has been created, and the situation with which the wire-drawing industry at Newcastle is faced in relation to finer wires.
– “-Have you not brought- that about by the vote on wire netting!
– It has been brought about . by a combination of circumstances, which commenced last night.
– The honorable senator cannot blame the Government.
– I am not; I am merely stating the position.
– The Minister tried to keep, the request in conformity with the. Government’s figures.
– I was the first to point out the anomalous position arising in regard to the wiredrawing industry.
– Why not recommit the item of wire netting?
– I asked the Government to postpone consideration of the item, but a reply was not vouchsafed, and I shall not take any responsibility for the unsatisfactory position in which the industry has been placed.
– I cannot agree that there is any anomaly between the duties on fine-gauge wire and” Wire, other.” They are not the same, and this item has been included in the schedule for the specific purpose of assisting those engaged in the manufacture of a finished article required by primary producers so. that they would have the opportunity of securing their material at a special rate. The compromise offered by theGovernment, is fair, and should have the support of the Committee.
Question put The Committee divided.
Majority … 8
The following papers were presented : -
Aeroplane Services between Sydney and Bris- bane, and Sydney and. Adelaide. - Condi tions of Tender, &c.
Excise Act. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1921, No. 149.
Senate adjourned at 10.41 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 August 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210818_senate_8_96/>.