8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m, and read prayers..
Representation of Australia:
Appointment of Mr. M. L. Shepherd
– I recently put to the Minister representing the Prime Minister two questions relating to Australia’s representation at the forthcoming Con-‘ ference of the League of Nations; and I understand that, since our last meeting, an intimation on the subject has been made to the press. Will the Minister state whether it is correct, as reported in the press, that Mr. M. L. Shepherd has been appointed to represent Australia; and whether he has any information regarding the appointment other than that already given by him to the press?
– The information which the honorable senator refers to as being in the press is correct. The Government are advised by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) that Mr. Shepherd has been appointed to represent Australia at the forthcoming meeting of the League of Nations.
– I have some questions relating to the same subject, of which I had intended to give notice. They are as follow : - 1.Has Mr. M. L. Shepherd been appointed to represent Australia as sole Commonwealth delegate at Geneva?
– Regarding the same matter, I wish to ask the Leader of the Senate whether the Government considers it has paid any compliment to the League of Nations, or its members, in appointing Mr. Shepherd - a civil servant, with no parliamentary experience or status - as its representative. Is it fair to this Parliament, the elect of the people, that such an appointment should be made? Conceding that it was necessary to go outside this Parliament in making such an appointment, does not the Government think that it could have made a better selection from, say, the Judiciary of the several States, the leading ranks of the Naval or Military Forces, or the Universities of the several States?
– So many questions are contained in the remarks made by Senator Lynch that it would not be possible, offhand, to reply specifically to any of them. I may, however, inform the Senate that the Government, when the question of the appointment was first brought forward for consideration, communicated with the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) asking him to consider the possibility of obtaining a suitable representative in London. The time was short, and, as honorable senators know, the distance is long. I have no information as to the reasons which induced the Prime Minister to appoint Mr. Shepherd or as to what inquiries he made in other directions. I am aware only of the mere fact conveyed in his cablegram to the Government that he has appointed Mr. Shepherd. If further information can be obtained in the course of the next day or two, I shall gladly make it available to the Senate.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act. - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1921, No. 154.
Public Service Act. - Appointments -
Department of Health. - G. Anderson.
Department of Works and Railways. - A. 1. Oakes, H. B. Sturtevant.
War Service Homes Act.- Land acquired-
New South Wales - Albury, East Maitland, Lid combe, Waverley.
Victoria - Bendigo.
– On the last day of sitting, I promised the Senate that I would make further inquiries in regard to the alleged offer of a Divisional Command to Senator Elliott. I now have certain information, and ask leave to submit it to the Senate.
– Following upon the statement that I made in the Senate on Friday last, I gave instructions that an urgent telegram should be sent to General Brand by the Adjutant-General. In accordance with those instructions, the message I will now read was despatched : -
General Brand, Victoria Barracks,Paddington, Sydney.
A3715. Confidential. Elliott stated in Senate last night he received letter from you containing, as far as he can recollect, the following : - (Begins) “ As one 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, you would be prepared to carry out the duties.” (ends). The Minister desires to know whether any such communication was sent by you either officially or unofficially; and, if so, by what authority you acted, and whether you did so with the knowledge of any member of the Military Board, and if you communicated Elliott’s reply, if any, to Any member of the Military Board. Elliott also states he ac- tually returned the letter above referred to to you in accordance with regulation 827 with his minute thereon. State if this correct. Minister desires you reply to each above questions by urgent telegram.
Sellheim. 19th August, 1921
The following reply was received by urgent telegram: -
Adjutant-General, Victoria Barracks, Melbourne,
Onediv 10. Your A3715. May have said, “ As one of the senior officers of Australian Imperial Force, your claims to appointment as a Divisional Commander cannot be overlooked.” Certainly did not make any reference to Minister. “Communicated with Elliott without knowledge of Board. Did not communicate Elliott’s reply either verbally or in writing to any member of Board or any one else. His reply, as far as 1 can recollect, was not as a minute, but as a separate letter addressed me, “ Dear General Brand.”
Brand. 19th August, 1921
On that reply beinghanded me, I gave instructions that a further telegram, as follows, should be sent to General Brand : -
W3738. The Minister considers that your reply of 19th instant does not answer Elliott’s main statement, which, excluding reference to the Minister, reads as already quoted in my A3715: - (Begins), “Will you please inform me whether, in the event of your being recommended, you would be prepared to carry out the duties.” (Ends). Did you use these or similar words upon which this construction could be placed? Minister requires definite answer by urgent telegram to-day.
Sellheim. 22nd August, 1921
The following reply, sent from Newcastle, New South Wales, and dated 22nd August, 1921, was received by the AdjutantGeneral : -
Your W3738. Did not use those or similar words.
I submit that it is clear from these telegrams that General Brand made no offer such as is alleged by Senator Elliott.
– I can give no more information than appears in the telegrams. I put to General Brand a specific question, quoting the words used by Senator Elliott in this chamber. In reply to that question, General Brand has given an unequivocal denial to the honorable senator’s statement. There, so far as I am concerned, the matter rests.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– Action is being taken to proclaim midnight on the 31st August, 1921, as the time of termination of the present war between the Commonwealth and all countries other than the Ottoman Empire, with which the British Empire continues to be at war until ratification of the Treaty of Peace is exchanged or deposited.
Notice of motion (by Senator Lynch, vide page 10759), read and discharged.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 19th August, vide page 11151) :
Schedule - divisionvi. -metalsandmachinery.
Agricultural, horticultural and viticultural machinery and implements, n.e.i., including cane loaders, cane unloaders, and cane harvesters, channel-making graders, garden and field spraying machines, garden and field rollers, garden hose reels, garden syringes, horse road rollers and machines, lawn mowers, sweepers and sprinklers, road scoops and scrapers, scoops, stump extractors, fibre scutching machines, milking machines, potato raisers or diggers, potato sorters, root cutters, pulpers and graters, straw stackers, and subsurface packers, ad val., British. 22 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent. ; general, 35 per cent.
On which Senator Wilson had moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, intermediate, 25 per cent.
. - I regret to state that the Vice-President of the
Executive Council (Senator Russell) is very unwell, and, acting under his doctor’s orders, is confined to his room. Therefore, the duty of carrying on the Tariff debate on behalf of the Government devolves upon Senator E. D. Millen and myself. In connexion with the item, I suggest to Senator Wilson that, with the object of shortening the debate on this and subsequent items, his motion be amended to a request for 171/2 per cent. British preferential, and 25 per cent. intermediate duty. I cannot say at this stage that the Government will then accept the request, but it will make it consistent with what the Committee has done in regard to iron duties generally. The Tariff on the raw material, pig iron, although a fixed duty on the value, amounts to approximately 21/2 per cent., and this fact, I submit, should be taken into consideration by the Committee in any request that may be sent down to another place in respect of the item now under notice. A duty of 15 per cent. against British importation will really represent only 121/2 per cent. duty, taking into account the duty on the raw material. In the 1914 Tariff the duty on this item was 20 per cent, but the raw material was free. Therefore, the request, if amended as I suggest, would still be a substantial reduction on the 1914 Tariff, bearing in mind the present 21/2 per cent. duty on the raw material.
-Can you say what the importations of pig iron have been, and what have been their effect on the industry ?
– Those figures were given during the debate upon pig iron. I do not wish to enter upon a discussion of that item now.
– But you are using the pig iron duties as an argument in regard to this item.
– Yes, because pig iron is now dutiable, whereas under the 1914 Tariff it was not dutiable.
– But can you say how much imported pig iron is used in our manufacturing industries ?
– I am, informed that last year the quantity was about 3,000 tons.
– I think the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) gave the figures at 178 tons.
– The Customs officials inform me that last year importations totalled about 3,000 tons. The war years could hardly be regarded as normal. A question that has been exercising the minds of some honorable senators is the duty on parts of machines. These will be dutiable at the rate for the completed machine, unless otherwise specified in the schedule, as, for ininstance, in sub-item e of item 171, metal parts of hay rakes, reapers and binders, and mowers, which are free under the British Tariff, 5 per cent. intermediate, and 10 per cent. general.
– Does this declaration also include parts of sprayers and sprinklers imported for the purpose of manufacture in Australia? .
– It applies to the parts of any completed machine.
– Of a similar nature. to those in this sub-item?
– Yes. A request sent down to the House of Representatives should be logical; and take cognisance of what has been done in regard to the raw material. If we send down any request that seems to ignore these essential conditions it will stand less chance of acceptance in another place.
– How will the Minister’s suggestion affect the general Tariff in this item?
– I understand that Senator Wilson has moved for a reduction in the intermediate Tariff, but not in the general Tariff.
– Senator Wilson moved for a reduction of the duty in the general column, but with the leave of the Committee his request was withdrawn. The Committee is now dealing with his request for a reduction in the intermediate column.
– Can we deal with the duty in the general column after having dealt with the intermediate rate?
– No. Honorable senators will see how necessary it is to observe the proper procedure. Unless Senator Wilson gets leave to withdraw the request ho has submitted in relation to the duty in the intermediate column, it will not be possible to deal any further with the duty in the general column.
– At the last sitting, I intimated that I intended to move a request for a reduction of the duty in the general column if Senator Wilson was not prepared to do so. At what stage shall I be in order in moving in that direction?
– If Senator Wilson obtains permission to withdraw the request now before the Committee, Senator Lynch will then be in order in moving a request for a reduction of the duty in the general column.
– I thought that I was meeting the wish of honorable senators when I obtained leave to withdraw my request for a reduction of the duty in the general column. I am now willing to’ withdraw my request for a reduction of the duty in the intermediate column in order that other honorable senators may have freedom of action in respect to the general column, but I would like the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) to make a statement as to what machinery would be affected by a reduction of the intermediate Tariff from 30 per cent. to 25 percent. I was of opinion that a considerable quantity of machinery which would come under that particular column of the Tariff was imported, but now I am led to believe that the quantity imported is very small indeed. I ask leave to withdraw my request.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move-
That the House ofRepresentatives be requested to make the duty, general, ad val., 30 per cent.
The announcement made by Senator Pearce is a clear indication that the Government are satisfied that there should be a reduction. ‘ His suggestion that Senator Wilson should substitute a duty of 171/2 per cent. under the British preferential Tariff for the Government’s proposal of 221/2 per cent. clearly shows that, in respect to preferential duties, the Government are agreeable to a reduction of 5 per cent. on their original proposal.
– I said that the Government could not accept any such proposal. I was merely putting forward the suggestion that the honorable senator should make hie proposal consistent with what has already been done by the Senate in respect to other duties.
– At any rate, I am moving for a reduction of 5 per cent. in the general Tariff upon the host of agricultural implements covered by the item, and I am only asking for a rate that is sufficient for the industry without giving it excessive protection. If honorable senators believe that such excessive protection is still necessary, in face of the fact that Australian manufacturers of agricultural implements have made progress under a lower duty, I have nothing to say; but if, on the other hand, it can be shown that they have not only held their own, and made progress, but also have not asked for any additional duty at any inquiry held into their industry, the Government should explain why this extraordinary increased protection is to be afforded to them. It is quite clear that the proposed rate of 35 per cent., the highest ever asked for in any Parliament of the Commonwealth, is directed against America and Canada, because the duties set out in the intermediate column count for nothing, being merely there because of some effort that may later on be made for a reciprocal arrangement with other countries which may or may not come about. In the meantime the consumers will be called upon to pay the difference between the old duty of 25 per cent. and the rate of 35 per cent. now proposed. In considering this matter, we must be guided by what is happening in other countries in respect to the manufacture and use of the goods covered by this item. In Canada, the manufacturers of agricultural implements, not only originated, but made marvellous progress, under a much milder Tariffs The duty there upon mowing machines, harvesters, reapers, ploughs, horse-rakes, &c, was 20 per cent. twenty-eight years ago.
– What is the Canadian duty to-day ?
– It is 121/2 per cent. to 17 per cent.
– It is 20 per cent, under the general Tariff.
– On these classes of articles, few of which appear in the schedule. However, all the particulars are available. I am merely pointing out the sort of Tariff that Canada was satisfied with at a time when she was attempting to foster this industry. It cannot be questioned that the Canadian industry did prosper under the low Tariff of 20 per cent. twenty-eight years ago. I may be asked - What about the raw material? The answer is that the Canadian manufacturers did not get all, or nearly all, their raw material within the Dominion; they had to get their coal from Pennsylvania and neighbouring States, hauling it 700 or 800 miles by rail, and paying duty at the frontier. We are told, on the authority of Mr. Charlton, the representative of Hunter in another place, that coal is cheaper in Australia to-day than in any other country, and, further, according to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, the ore at Iron Knob is beyond comparison the best to be found in the known world. But in the face of the fundamental fact that both coal and iron ore are obtained under vastly more advantageous conditions here, we are asked to impose a duty 15 per cent, higher than that with which Canada was satisfied twenty-eight years ago. What progress did the industry make in Canada? The industry made such progress under the moderate Tariff I have mentioned as to be able, not only to’ hold it3 own, but to become a direct means of placing Canadian farmers and agriculturists in a much more advantageous position than that of their brethren in Australia. I challenge disproof of the facts I have related. I should be prepared to grant a higher duty if it could be shown that the Australian manufacturers are in need of greater protection, but neither from the Government nor from any sponsors of the high Protectionist doctrine in this Chamber have we had a tittle of evidence to show that this industry is in, to use the old ad jective, a “ languishing “ condition. As a matter of fact, the report of the Inter-State Commission of 1916, when all and sundry were invited to state their grievances, shows that, with the exception of the representatives of a few unimportant industries, no one asked for any further protection. This Government, however, and the party backing it, are asking for an additional 15 per cent., and for what purpose? Simply for the purpose of enhancing the value of these commodities in this country, the only inevitable effect of which must be to decrease primary production, and throw a burden on that section of the community to whose interests we must not shut our eyes. If we do shut our eyes to their interests we shall be wanting in sympathy, and neglecting our duty towards this most essential and worthy element of our population. I am not aiming to wipe out this duty, but merely asking for some scrap of comfort and consolation from the Ministerial table. This is the Government which, through its mouthpiece, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), insists on the necessity of production - professions which are all right in themselves, but which ought to be put into practice. In this chamber, or out of it, whom do we hear advocating these high duties ? Of course, we have the representatives and claquers of certain of these protected interests who never asked for any further protection when they had the chance; but do we have the man with the hoe here? No, he is too busy, with his nose to the grindstone far afield ; he has no chance to come here and ask for that which the manufacturers did not think worth asking for. If the man with the hoe exercised his ancient right, and appeared at the bar here, his hoe would prove too mild an instrument; he ought to bring a pitchfork with sharp points. The very appearance of a representative of the primary industries here demanding fair play would quickly bring some honorable senators to their senses; and we require a modern Cromwell, with a pitchfork on his shoulders. Senator Earle is here to support the Government on each and every occasion, no matter what duties are asked for, and he grew very eloquent on hops. Other persons wax eloquent on hops in their various forms of treatment; but the very thought of them inspired Senator Earle; and he asked for a most unreasonable duty on a commodity for which, on my own farm, I am now paying 9s. a pound, whereas previously I obtained it from Tasmania at 2s.
– The honorable senator must not discuss the question of hops.
– I am merely showing: the incongruity of the attitude of honorable senators who, while they have their ear to the ground to everything that affects some small industry, utterly neglect the interests of men who, on the sun-baked plains of this country, under a scanty and uncertain rainfall, are striving and battling with the elements and with every variety of pest. These men require the sympathy and assistance, not only of_ Senator Earle, but of all honorable senators who have voted blindly for high duties in the past. My desire is to hold the scales fairly between the manufacturers and consumers. When I am asked to justify my stand, I am thrust back again on firm granite ground, and I ask whether or not these industries are in a bad way financially. If it can be shown that they are in a bad way, I shall support 35 per cent., or even a higher duty, but I cannot support the proposed duty in the absence of such information.
– Senator Wilson asked for information concerning the effect of the intermediate and general Tariffs as regards importations of the machinery dealt with in this item. I shall quote statistics for the normal years immediately preceding and following the war. In 1913 importations were: - From the United Kingdom, £8,555; Canada, £2,999 ; Belgium, £1,128 ; France, £1,109 ; Germany, £1,008; United States of America, £26,997; and other countries, £902; total, £42,698. In 1919-20 the importations were: - ‘From the United Kingdom, £7,708; Canada, £3,291; France, £390 ; United States of America, £29,976 ; and other countries, £408 ; total, £41,773. Those figures indicate increased importations from the United States of America and a slight total falling off. With respect to the position of the local industry and in order to show that it has suffered by competition with importations, I shall quote figures provided’ by the Commonwealth Statistician in respect of the manufacture of agricultural implements and machinery generally: - Number of hands employed, 1913-14, 4,444; 1919-20, 3,116; amount of wages paid, 1913-14, £502,244; 1919-20, £465,558; value of output, 1913-14, £1,536,378; 1919-20, £1,282,931; value of material used, 1913- 14, £824,556 ; 1919-20, £586,048.
– The difference is not due to imports.
– The figures reveal the fact which I quoted them to show, namely, that there has been a falling off in local production. I emphasize the fact that the figures I have given as to importations deal solely with the machinery covered by this item, while the Australian statistics have to do with the manufacture of agricultural machinery generally.
– The Minister omits to call attention to the important fact that the area under cultivation in Australia has decreased, while the horsepower of the machines now in use is much greater.
– No one can say that the agricultural implement industry to-day is in a flourishing condition compared with its state in 1913. But, taking other industries into account, there have been large increases, both in the numbers, of employees, the total of wages paid, and the value of output. The intermediate Tariff will operate, of course, in respect of any nation with which Australia may make reciprocal agreements. That is why the general Tariff should remain high, in order that we may have something to bargain upon. The specific item under consideration, for example, is one in regard to which Australia may bargain with Canada.
– Senator Lynch based his argument on the comparative cheapness of coal in this country. I desire to call his attention to cabled particulars given in the Argus of 1st August. I refer to the report of a statement made by the Secretary to the Ministry for Foodstuffs in the House of Commons, to the effect that coal costs in Germany to-day £1 2s. 6d. per ton, and in Great Britain £1 12s. 2d. The bar steel made by the use of that coal is quoted at £6 15s. per ton in Germany, and at £10 per ton in Great Britain. The Argus of the same date gives as the quotation for coal, in Victoria, £2 ls. per ton.
– For household use.
– If there is any discount upon that price to the local manufacturer there may be a proportionate discount with respect to the British and German prices. In any case, are the figures given in the British House of Commons less reliable than those of Mr. Charlton?
– The latter is a Protectionist. The House of Commons is Free Trade.
– That does not cover the point at all. Senator Lynch’s argument was built upon the assertion that coal in Australia was cheaper than in England.
– The honorable senator cannot make his comparisons complete since he does not state the source at which those prices are quoted.
– If the newspaper quotation of the local price of coal is incomplete or misleading, can the honorable senator say anything different of the British and German figures?
– The German and British prices may be the quotation at the pit’s mouth, and the Victorian price the figure at the bottom end of Bourke-street.
– The figures given have relation to the production of steel-. “We know that the price of coal in Australia is not such that it would materially increase the cost of production. We are up against the position that the wages paid in connexion with the manufacture of these implements in other countries have decreased, whereas wages in Australia have not. On a machine costing £100 there has been an increase of, approximately, 30 per cent. in the cost. I am anxious to afford protection to the man employed in manufacturing the machine and also to the employer controlling the industry. The duties imposed on the articles comprised in this item should be based on those levied on pig iron, and if we compare the two it will be found that the suggested alteration is working to the disadvantage of the manufacturers here.
. -I am sorry that Senator Lynch has been so moderate in suggesting a reduction of only 5 per cent. The general Tariff is the only one that is of any consequence in this instance. The intermediate Tariff cannot possibly be utilized in connexion with machinery, because immediately manufacturers commenced to produce a certain type of implement they would strongly oppose any reduction in duties. The figures quoted by the Minister in charge of the Tariff (Senator Pearce) show that the United States of America is our principal competitor, because out of the £41,000 worth of imports £29,000 worth came from America. I am sorry that a request has not been submitted for a greater reduction, because the debate up to the present has disclosed the sorrow ful and indisputable fact that Protection makes the manufactured article dearer to the purchaser. I am not one of those who believe that cheapness is everything. There may be times when we are pre pared to pay more for certain articles because of possible future happenings.
– Will the honorable senator mention one specific article as an illustration ?
– There are times when it may be desirable to pay a little more. I do not intend to use the figures quoted by Senator Pearce, who, some years ago, had certain Free Trade tendencies, neither shall I quote those used by Senator Gardiner, who, as a Free Trader, may also be prejudiced. But I may be pardoned if I quote the figures submitted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell), because we know that he is an earnest and sincere Protectionist. When Senator Duncan movedfor the imposition of a higher duty on pig iron-, the Vice-President of the Executive Council urged him not to do so. The reason he gave was that if the duty on pig iron was increased, it would make the article dearer to the manufacturer, and consequently machinery made from pig iron would cost more. That statement has been supported upon utterances of Senator Pearce to-day. We have been told that the duties on these items are based upon the duty imposed upon pig iron, and Senator Pearce now asks us not to reduce these duties below a certain figure because we have already imposed a certain duty upon pig iron which makes the article dearer tothe manufacturer of machinery. In connexion with every item in the schedule upon which a protective duty is imposed, the argument has been used that to make the raw material dearer is to increase the cost of the manufactured article. A duty on pig iron makes pig iron dearer. That makes galvanized iron dearer, and that in its turn makes the building of a house more costly. Because the house is dearer the tenant must pay more rent. Because the tenant pays more rent, the wages paid him in the production of pig iron must be raised; and because his wages are raised, the cost of producing pig iron is increased, and so there must be a still higher duty on pig iron. So the thing goes round. I am opposed to these duties because, in my view, protective duties make things dearer in Australia. Senator Russell may be said to have been born a Protectionist, whilst I may be said to have been born a Free Trader. I do not suppose that either of us have argued the matter out very much, but have accepted the system which we saw in operation as young men. I suppose that Senator Pratten was born a Free Trader, but he has become a convinced and converted Protectionist.
– The honorable senator had better speak for himself.
– I suppose that when Senator Pratten and I were in England no one really discussed the fiscal question, and it was taken for granted that Free Trade was the right system to adopt. I give the honorable senator credit for being converted to Protection by the logic of events and his view of the interests of the nation.
– Fair trade was the question raised in Great Britain.
– That came later. The honorable senator, who is now a Protectionist, admitted last Friday that protective duties do increase the price of these articles to the agriculturist.
– Pardon me. I assumed that they did, for the purpose of my argument.
– I will accept that. The honorable senator’s assumption went so far as to justify the payment of a bonus on exports. He said that he would assume, for the sake of argument, that the farmers pay an increase in price of £40 a year, and in some mysterious way receive £20.
– A contra account.
– There was still £20 left, and the honorable senator carried his assumption so far as to say, “ Let us give them a bonus of £20 when they are exporters.” I do not think that people are so much in need of £20 when they are in a position to produce for export as they are when they begin production.
– The honorable senator would say that instead of giving a bonus on exports we should give a bonus on settlement.
– I say that we should let the man going upon the land have the best tools of trade he can get at the cheapest possible price. We should not tax him to the extent of £20 when he is struggling. If all that Protection can do for a man is to penalize him when he is starting production, and give him a bonus when he has overcome his difficulties, I say that it operates the wrong way about. I should prefer to help a man when he is starting to produce, and perhaps to tax him when he is producing successfully. I favour Senator Lynch’s request, because I cannot vote for a further reduction of the proposed duty.
– Why not move for a greater reduction?
– In order to enable me to do that, Senator Lynch would have to withdraw his request, and I might not be able to secure a great deal of support for that which I would be disposed to move. I prefer a reduction of 5 per cent. to no reduction at all. There are some other items in the schedule, in which agriculturists are concerned, on which greater reductions might be requested. I stand for the primary producer, and believe that the best way to help him is to allow him to have the best machinery he can get at the lowest possible price. If people on the land are prosperous we shall increase primary production, and the secondary industries will follow as day follows the night. If we hamper the primary industries we shall have no secondary industries. When I speak of primary industries I do not refer solely to the man who grows wheat I include mining, as well as the growing of wheat, in primary production.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I desire to very briefly express my opposition to Senator Lynch’s request. I am sure that in doing so I shall not satisfy that honorable senator and others who are looking to obtain as much Free Trade as they can possibly secure under this schedule.
– Does the honorable senator call a duty of 30 per cent. Free Trade ?
– They will not consider that industries require protecting until they are wiped out of existence. Nothing but the closing of the doors of factories in Australia will satisfy those honorable senators that it is necessary to protect them against foreign importations. When that stage is reached they will probably say, “Who would have thought it? We are very sorry; perhaps if we give them protection they will start again.” If we err let it be on the- side of giving too much protection, knowing that the industry will flourish, and that the Tariff Board, for which provision has already been made, will be able to obtain information on sworn evidence, such as we cannot obtain here, as to the protection absolutely necessary - as to the border line between success and failure - and recommend to this Parliament what is actually required. The honorable senator who has submitted this request, has expressed the opinion that it is unnecessary to protect the industry as proposed. He has no evidence to support that contention. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has pointed out that since 1913 the production of the industry has considerably decreased. To that the reply is made by interjection, “ But the area under cultivation has decreased.”
– So it has.
– Very probably, but those who are cultivating the land are still importing foreign machines. I have here figures showing that the values of importations of harvesters, &c, during the first ten months of the financial year 1920-21 were as follows :- July, 1920, £15,647; August, £44,966; September, £11,097; October, £29,413; November, £32,561; December, £171,179; January, 1921, £S,S32; February, £13,352; March, £5,472; and April, £3,327. For the ten months importations of machinery for the harvesting of Australia’s crop were valued at £335,846. That money should have been expended among our own manufacturers.
– Then the duty is not high enough?
– It is not.
– So that the Government have failed in their duty?
– The honorable senator is always prepared to advance some reason in support of the Free Trade fallacy. We are not asking for total prohibition, but we say that the duties which have been operating do not prevent foreign machinery from coming into competition with local manufactures. That being so, the requested reduction, if made, would assist foreign manufacturers, to compete with and probably cripple our own in- 1 dustry.
– The honorable senator has been giving the figures as to importations of harvesters; but we are not dealing with harvesters.
– Item ICI includes harvesters.
– Only cane harvesters. The figures quoted by the honorable senator. are not applicable to the item.
– I believe that they are. They relate to harvesters, mowers, &c.
– Lawn mowers.
– Agricultural and horticultural machinery are included in this item. The figures I have quoted show that the protection which the industry has enjoyed has not been sufficient to prevent the importation of considerable quantities of machinery. No evidence has been advanced to show that the duties are too high.
– What sort of argument would cause the honorable senator to alter his views on this question?
– A logical argument such as the honorable senator is not capable of advancing would certainly influence me, but. it is insufficient for him to claim that these duties are too high merely because specific instances have not been given showing that they are necessary to permit of the successful manufacture of this class of machinery in Australia. I am going to take the risk - if there is any risk - of voting for the duties as they stand, knowing that if they should prove, on inquiry by the Tariff Board, to be higher than is necessary, they can be altered later on, whereas, their reduction now might cripple a flourishing industry, and leave us with empty factories.
– What percentage of agricultural implements used in this country is made here?
– A very considerable percentage. The honorable senator probably has the figures at hand.
– About 75 per cent. That is the “red ruin” with which manufacturers have been faced under the old Tariff!
– But the cost of producing &h<i raw materials of this industry i3 increasing.
– Because of higher wages. The cost of the labour involved in producing the raw materials is much greater than it was in 1913 or 1914. In order that Australian workmen engaged in the primary industries producing the raw material of our agricultural machinery makers might retain the high standard of living that we desire always to prevail here, we have protected them against importations from abroad. It is obvious, therefore, that it is necessary to raise a high barrier against importations of machinery in order that the local manufacturers who now have to pay higher prices for their raw material may carry on their industry with success. Under the old Tariff, their raw material was practically free, and to ask the manufacturers, now that duties have been imposed on their raw material, to carry on under the old Tariff would mean, if not a step towards banishing the industry as a whole, at least an obstacle against its extension. I do not want to see that. I am a strong Protectionist. I want Australia to be self-contained. My hope is that later on we shall not only be making all that we require in this respect, but exporting to other countries. I want Australia to discontinue the old system of sending her raw materials to other countries, so that people there might become wealthy in converting those raw materials into finished articles for our use. We should take advantage of our opportunities, and we can do so only under a Protective policy. Senator Thomas end Senator Gardiner are quite consistent. They are Free Traders; but those who profess to be Protectionists are not consistent when they advocate a reduction of duties on different items where they think their constituents will approve of such? action.
– We should deal with every item on its- merits.
– During the Tariff debate, we have had several examples of the provincialism of some honorable senators. They display unlimited hostility to duties designed to protect industries that are not carried on in the States which they represent, but are most powerful advocates of the fullest measure of protection for industries conducted in their own States.
– In this case we are dealing with an industry which is carried on in all the States.
– Possibly the manufacture of agricultural machinery is not carried on extensively in South Australia, nor in the State represented by the honorable senator who has submitted this request, but I hope to see all the States manufacturing the requirements of the Commonwealth. We have only a small agricultural machinery factory in Tasmania, so that the item does not particularly affect -the State which I represent, but 1 hope to see the day when, in common with the other States, it will be a very large manufacturer of all classes of machinery required in the Commonwealth. I do not think I need say more cn the subject; but I hope that on this question honorable senators will give a vote that is consistent with their ordinary public attitude, and that if they are Protectionists, they will support the retention of the duties as set out in the item.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Senators Earle and Senior stressed, almost to breaking point, the relation of the cost of the raw material to the manufacture of articles included in this item. I cannot understand any one who has given attention to this subject advancing that as an argument in favour of high duties. It is well known that Australia has cheaper coal and cheaper iron than any country with which our “manufacturers are likely to compete.
– What is the price of coal now?
– I will quote the figures before I resume my seat. Australia has always been a cheap producer of coal. Unlike the older countries of the world, notably Great Britain, Belgium, France, and, to a certain extent, Germany, where the coal seams are deeper and thinner, and consequently more difficult to work, the coal measures of Australia are comparatively easy to operate, and therefore we produce it at a lower cost.
– This may be all very satisfactory, but what is the price to-day?
– No doubt Senator Senior thinks I intend to evade the point, whereas I merely wish to develop my argument in my own way so that even he may understand the position. I find, on the authority of the Government Statistician (Mr. Knibbs), that the dearest coal countries in Europe are Belgium, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, in the order named; and that for the years 1908-
– Ancient history!1
– I am afraid that Senator Senior is not in a very logical frame of mind this afternoon. His interjection is intended to suggest that my figures are valueless, but before I conclude he will realize that they are well worthy of consideration, because the period from 1908-12, which is covered by the official figures before me, were normal years, prior to the war, so far as the supply of coal is concerned.
– And therefore your argument is strengthened.
– Undoubtedly it is. It is well known that the conditions arising out of the war have been responsible for a considerable fluctuation in prices everywhere, but what the ultimate effect will be on coal prices no one at the moment can say. We know that prices are now on the decline, so that before long we should be near to normal conditions again. These figures, I remind honorable senators, relate to the cost of production in normal years. During that period coal at the pit’s mouth in Belgium ranged from lis. 8d. per ton up to 13s. 5d. per ton; in France from 12s. 3d. to 12s. lid. per ton; in Germany from 9s. 9d. to 10s. 6d. per ton ; and in Great Britain from 8s. Id. to 9s. per ton. I will now give the Australian prices.
– Give them for the same years.
– I am in an accommodating mood to-day, and therefore, to satisfy Senator Senior. I shall quote the Australian prices for those years. The figures ranged from 7s. 4d. to 7s. 6d. per ton. In New Zealand quotations for the same period ranged from 10s. 4d. to 1 ls. Id., and in Canada from 10s. 8d. to lis. 5d. These figures have an important bearing upon the cost of the raw material for iron manufactures in all these countries concerned.
– Those are not present prices in Australia.
– No; but they relate to normal years of production, and any fair comparison must be upon that basis. I defy any honorable senator to state the price of coal in any country of the world at the present time. Quotations are coming down everywhere.
– I quoted recent prices.
– But on what authority ? The honorable senator cannot say whether the prices he quoted were at the pit’s mouth or delivered 100 or 1,000 miles from the point of production. He is quite unconscious of these circumstances, which, nevertheless, must be taken into account.
– I understand that Senator Senior’s authority was a British Minister in the House of Commons, and that the quotation related to German prices f.o.b.
– Is that the honorable senator’s interpretation of the statement ?
– I would like the honorable senator to give some further proof on that point. I repeat that our manufacturers are getting their raw material as cheaply as manufacturers in any other part of the world. We have cheap coal and iron in abundance, and, consequently, so far as the raw material is concerned, we should not fear competition.
– What about wages ?
– What have wages in the manufacturing industry to do with the problem, if the coal-miner of Australia can produce 2 tons of coal as against 1 ton produced by an English or a Scottish miner in a given time? The things that matter are coal and iron prices to the public in this and other countries that are in competition with each other.
– But do not wages bear some relation to the cost of production?
– Undoubtedly, other things being equal. If the British coal-miner were on an equality with the Australian coal-miner in the matter of production, then the wage element in the manufacturing industry would be important; but I have shown that in the older countries of the world the coal seams are deeper and thinner, and consequently it is impossible for the coal-miner there to produce coal so cheaply as in Australia. Therefore, there is nothing whatever in the argument . adduced by Senator Senior and Senator Pratten.
– I quoted from the Melbourne Argus of 1st August a statement made in the British House of Commons by the Secretary to the Ministry for Foodstuffs, who was making a comparison between Great Britain and Germany in the production of steel. The cost of the material was given.
– It was not complete without the price of coal at the pit’s mouth.
– That has nothing to do with the question. But in reference to the price of coal in Great Britain, let me quote the following from the British Trade Review, as cabled and published in the Argus of 22nd August, 1921 -
The reduction in the cost of bunker coal from about 41s. to’ 26s. for Tyne coal, and to 30s. for South Wales coal has caused a weakening in wheat freights.
These figures show a reduction even on the price I previously quoted. Austraiian coal cannot be bought at anything like British prices to-day.
– What is the price of Australian coal at the pit’s mouth?
– I must ask honorable senators to connect this discussion on the price of coal with the item under consideration.
– The price of coal has a direct bearing on the price of steel, and the cost of producing steel has relation to the price of agricultural machinery. In answer to Senator de Largie’s argument that coal is cheaper in Australia as compared with Great Britain, I want to show that it is really higher here than it is in Great Britain to-day.
– What is the cost of production in America?
– The -honorable senator’s interjection brings me to a point that I wished to avoid, because it might be thought that the figures which I shall quote are used by me as against a certain class in the community. The. following cablegram appeared in the Argus on the 22nd August, 1921:-
The United States Steel Corporation has announced that a further reduction of wages for day labour in the steel industry will become effective from 29th August. The reason stated for the reduction is the prevailing low selling price of steel as compared with the cost of production.
The following table shows the increase in wages paid in the agricultural implement making industry in Australia from early last year until the middle of the present year : -
The average increase is thus about 29 per cent. My purpose is to show how the different factors in the making of an agricultural implement have increased in cost.
– You have merely shown an increase in the cost of wages.
– The cost of coal ia another factor.
– Once more, what is the price of coal in Australia ?
– The honorable senator can turn up the figures for himself. He has dug up a lot of ancient history. I invite him to come down to something modern. The value of labour in each £100 worth of implements purchased is at least £36. The increase of 29 per cent, on £36 amounts to £10 10s., so that this 29 per cent, increase in the cost of wages from March of last year means that an article for which £100 would be paid in 1920 could not be purchased now at under £110 10s. The effect of a decrease in the protection given to this industry would be to throw all the trade in agricultural implements to those countries where wages are falling, and this state of affairs would be used as a fulcrum on which the lever for a reduction of wages in Australia would rest. It would mean throwing men out of employment here or depreciating their wages. I give my support to the higher duty in the schedule because the giving of employment to our own people at decent rates of wages would be of general benefit to the Commonwealth, and because the adoption of any other policy would mean employing labour in other lands and compelling our own people to go without work. We would be obliged to pay, not only for the foreign raw material used in making the imported article, but also for all the foreign labour utilized in the making of it, from the mining of the ore to the final painting of the article and making it ready for loading on the railway waggon. I support this duty, not in order to make the article more costly to the person who has to use it, but so that it may be made less costly to him. In any case, I hold that if we do not keep our own market, we shall be advancing the prosperity of manufacturers of other countries, and practically seeking our own doom. I pointed out to Senator Lynch that the basis of his argument had shifted, and Senator de Largie replied by digging into ancient history and talking of what happened before the war, as if the same conditions obtained to-day.
– You are quoting from the British Trade Review. Senator de Largie quoted from the Commonivealth Tear-Booh.
– He quoted from the CommonwealthYear-Book figures as to 1908. Would he quote from the same authority the price of clothing, and say that he could buy the same article to-day at the price quoted in thatYear-Book Would he say that the pair of boots for which he paid 10s. 6d. in 1908 would not cost him at least £1 to-day?
– Is that the outcome of Protection?
– No ; it is the outcome of neither Protection norFree Trade,, but is due entirely to the fact that the world’s conditions have considerably altered. At any rate, it is almost an insult to the intelligence of the Senate for Senator de Largie to quote figures of 1908 against those which relate to present-day conditions.
– Those who are supporting the higher duty ought to give us some reason for the necessity for it. The Minister (Senator Pearce) has demonstrated that America is sending to Australia . a great deal more of this machinery than is Great Britain, France, or Canada. I take it that in America wages are higher than in Belgium, England, France, and, possibly, even in Canada; yet the big imports are from the country which pays the highest wages. It has been demonstrated here that iron and coal are as cheap in Australia as in either America or England.
– Coal is much cheaper here than in the Old Country.
– At any rate, there is no question as to that in the case of America. As I say, wages are higher in America than they are here.
– On whose authority?
– Can the honorable senator give figures to the contrary?
– I am asking you to prove what you say.
– I have no figures; but it is generally understood that in the industries affected wages are higher in America than here. At any rate, it is obvious that wages are higher here than they are in England.
– If the honorable senator says that wages are not higher in America than here I shall, of course, accept his statement, or, on the other hand, I am quite prepared to take it that, after many years of Protection, wages are no higher in America than they are in Australia after a few years of Protection.
– I would not say that coal is cheaper in Australia than in the United States of America.
– America has the cheapest coal in the world.
– According to Mr. Charlton who represents Hunter in another place, Australia holds its own very well in the matter of coal. I may be heterodox, but I have always held that we ought not to be afraid of cheap labour so much as of highly-skilled and highlypaid labour. It is the labour of men who are well paid, and have time to read and think, that causes the keenest competition.
– “Would you not alao include ‘organized labour?
– I should certainly say that organization plays a great part in production; and I suppose that in a highly-skilled nation like America the organization of labour is much better than, say, in Japan, though on that point I do not speak with authority. It has been said that the United States of America is about the most highly organized country in the world.
– The volume of output has something to do with the matter.
– Of course, but we are faced with the fact that the duty in the general column is exactly the same against the highly-paid and highly-skilled labour of America and Canada as against Japan, Belgium, China, or any other country. The United States of America is our greatest competitor, sending more of these particular commodities to Australia than does all the rest of the world. Senator Pratten readily admits that wages are higher in the United States of America than they are. in Great Britain, and yet there is a lower duty as against the Old Country. It may be said that this preference is given as a matter of sentiment, but if the question be regarded strictly from the Protectionist point of view, sentiment cannot be considered. An Australian worker is perfectly justified in saying that if he has to be thrown out of work by foreign competition, it makes very little difference to him whether the competition be that of Englishmen or Americans. Of course, an Australian might naturally say that if he must be thrown out of work he would rather be thrown out by an Englishman; but he does not wish to be thrown out of work by anybody. Duties have been raised, and wages and other costs have gone up in Australia; but that is occurring in other countries also. Senator Senior has told us that wages are dropping in other countries; but he has not shown us how the wages there compare with the wages here. We ought to know what wages are being paid in industries that are not being protected. It is on the agricultural labourer, with the farmer, that, after all, the burden falls; the labourer has to pay his quota towards the cost of the machinery he uses in growing wheat or any other primary product.
– What does the agricultural labourer buy?
– The agricultural labourer helps the farmer to produce wheat, and the cost of the implements affects him in his wages, for a farmer cannot afford to pay some of the higher rates of wages of which we have been told today. I am not at all in favour of lowering wages; but it seems to be most unfair that a man, just because he is employed in an unprotected industry, should receive lower wages than a man employed in a protected industry. Nearly twenty years ago, when the first Tariff was before the Federal Parliament, Mr. Tudor, the honorable member for Yarra, - whom, we all hope, will shortly be restored to health - showed a party over the Denton Hat Mills, and remarked, when in one of the rooms, that every person employed there was receiving at least 10s. a day, which at that time was considered a very fair wage. Now, I was then representing Broken Hill, and while I expressed my pleasure that the employees in the hat industry were receiving 10s. a,day, in surroundings which were comparatively a paradise, I pointed out that the men working in the open cuts on the Barrier, in surroundings which were a hell, received only 8s. 4d. a day - and that in order that men in theprotected industries should receive 10s. -I am glad to say that wages have increased, all round since then. Senator Senior expressed his desire to see men employed in, Australia, and that is my desire also; but I can remember a time when Broken Hillproduced 110,000 tons of lead per annum ; supplied all the requirements of Australia with 10,000 tons, and exported the balance; otherwise, ten out of every eleven men on the Barrier would have been out of employment. I am in favour of men being employed in making agricultural machinery and implements; but if, in order to employ them, men are thrown out of work at Broken Hill, I do not see that the country gains any particular advantage. However that may be, I think we ought to be given some reason why this additional duty is proposed. I should like the Minister (Senator Pearce) to quote figures showing the production of these commodities in Australia.
– I have not separate figures.
– I shall vote for the proposed reduction of the duty because it will help, to some small extent, the man on the land, I stand for the primary producer being supplied with his machinery, which is his raw material, as cheaply as possible. Even from a Protectionist stand-point, there has not been given any definite reason for the additional duty. I listened with interest to Senator Earle, who is a whole-hearted Protectionist; he does not come down to details, but, when he speaks of the good he anticipates from the Tariff Board, and so forth, he puts a good deal of poetry into his utterances.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– In the course of the discussion it has occurred to me that those who favour a reduction of duties in some direction on agricultural machinery and implements, used almost exclusively by the man on the land, are entitled to be shown, if possible, at all events, some reasons for continuing a, comparatively speaking, high duty. Like Senator Thomas, I wish to deal as fairly as possible with all interests concerned in item 161, and the four or five similar succeeding items; but while doing that, I, as a convinced Protectionist, am not prepared to do anything to smash necessary secondary industries. If we are imposing an undue handicap on the men who are struggling on the land, I would prefer to see some legislation - some national backing for his primary products - in the direction, for example, of a guarantee should the world’s parity be against him. I wish to be a consistent Protectionist, and, at the same time, to endeavour to play fairly by the primary producer. My mind has been searching for some way of solving the difficulty by way of a compromise; something which will not bear unduly harshly on the primary producer, while providing minimum safeguards for our secondary industries. The fact of having industries established in Australia has meant very considerable savings to the producer.It was pointed out in the course of debate last week that, in one direction alone, in New South Wales, some 4,000,000 bushels of rain-beaten wheat had been saved. That total represented the difference between the figures quoted by the State Minister for Agriculture as the possible loss and the loss actually incurred, thanks to the rapid. manufacture and distribution of an invention for the special purpose of saving the raindamaged crops. What reason is there for raising the rates of duty under the present schedule which was not applicable in 1914? I have endeavoured to analyze the importations of implements during 1919-20. In the course of that fiscal period the value of importations was more than £500,000. Those figures have to do with “ churns, cream-separators, chaffcutters, corn-shellers, drills, harvesters, metal parts, mowers, testers, and n.e.i.” - all implements concerned practically with agricultural activities. There has been a very serious diminution, however, in the output of agricultural machinery in Australia, and there has been a serious lack of employment. The Minister (Senator Pearce) said that there were more than 1,000 less workmen employed to-day than a few years ago.
– The number of those growing wheat to-day is also more; than 1,000 less.
– If that is so, the position is actually worse than I had thought; for, according to figures just supplied to me, the value of the importations of agricultural and horticultural machinery for the year ended 30th June last amounted to no less than £918,000.
– An increase of nearly 100 per cent.
– Yes; but Senator Guthrie says there was a smaller area under cultivation.
– Not this year ; therewas a big increase during this past year.
– Then, the honorable senator cannot have it both ways. No wonder that many hundreds of men are out of work, and that the output of local factories has diminished as a result of these huge importations. So far as I have been able to analyze the importations for 1919-20, they amounted to 25 per cent. British, 40 per cent. Canadian, 20 per cent. United States of America, 121/2 per cent. Swedish, and 21/2 per cent. from all other countries.
– Then the imposition.. of the duties has not affected imports.
– Apparently not, seeing that the duties which, this Committee is now discussing have been in operation since March of last year. What is the National Parliament to do? On the one hand there is the insistent and righteous demand of the man on the land to be able to secure his implements at the lowest possible price; and, on the other, there is definite information that importations last year were twice the value of those for the preceding year, and that the output of Australian factories and the number of hands employed have considerably decreased. The value of the output for 3919-20, as compared with that for 1913, was 20 per cent, less, despite the higher prices charged in 1920 compared with those ruling in the earlier year. The volume of output, therefore, has very considerably shrunken. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) showed, also, that the value of the materials used during 1919-20, as compared with 1913, was more than 25 per cent. less. Some reduction of duty might be made, I think, so far as the British and intermediate rates are concerned. But, in view of the operations of the International Harvester Company, which is practically a huge American Combine seeking to get this continent as well as every other part of the world in its octopus grip; and, in view of the probably early renewal of trade with Germany, I shall not record any vote which may make it easier for the Combine to put its stranglehold on Australia, or for Germany to compete in this country with locally-manufactured goods, or with the products of British factories. Seeing, however, that there is a general consensus of opinion - in which I share - that the man on the land shall receive as fair a deal as Australia can afford, it might be well to reduce the ad valorem rates set out in the preferential and intermediate columns, particularly as Canada may some day enter into reciprocal arrangements with the Commonwealth. But the general Tariff, since it will apply again to Germany, and does, at this moment apply to the United States of America, should not be altered. It should not be forgotten that the Government of the latter Republic is not favorably inclined by word or ‘deed to permit the importation of Australian products. If any Australian fruit is sent to America, the ten dency is at once, to proclaim some mysterious pest or disease, so that our products shall be prohibited from entering. ‘ If Australia desires to export wheat or wool to America, every effort ia made to block the intention. Americans want to sell to us as much as they can, and to buy from us as little as they possibly can. I have no desire to facilitate trade in the interests of the International Harvester Company, or to encourage the resumption of trade with Germany.
.- I am as much concerned about the welfare of the farmer as any other member of this Committee j but I .am “dead” against the proposal to alter the general Tariff. There are 15,000 factories in Australia, employing about 380,000 workmen. These latter provide the best possible market for the Australian farmer. In any case, what will a reduction of 5 per cent, on the general Tariff do for the man on the .land ? Senator Lynch complains that our manufacturers are not in an impoverished condition. Does he not want to see them doing well ? Does Australia wish to see them so hard up that they cannot carry on? Every one desires Australian industries to be and remain prosperous. The Minister for Defence stated that there had been a reduction in activities’. Speaking for the various engineering and foundry works, I am in a position to state that the number of factories increased from 919 in 1913 to more than 1,000 in 1918. Although the number of men employed decreased from 26,000 in 1913 to 23,000 in 19 IS, manufacturers have increased the horse-power in their factories by over 100 per cent., because in 1913 it was 20,000, and in 191S it had increased to 44,000. The output increased from £8,000,000 in 1913 to £13,000,000 in 1918. The industry is one which should be encouraged, because the greater the number of men employed in this and other industries the better will be the market for the commodities the farmers produce.
– All this happened under the old Tariff.
– In war years, when there were no importations.
– There is an old saying that “ the parson prays for all, the soldier fights for all, and the farmer pays for all.” I think it is time that we began to consider the imposition of duties in a “ give-and-take “ manner, recognising that one section of the community is to a large extent dependent on the other. The interests of the manufacturer and the primary producer are closely allied. I would have supported Senator Wilson in his request to reduce the British preferential rate, in a desire to stimulate the” workers of this community to greater activity, and get them to realize their responsibilities in the strenuous times confronting lis. Who saved France after the Franco-Prussian War? It was the workers of France. And it is the workers of Germany who are assisting that country to become re-established after the recent great war. We should appeal to the workers of Australia to have regard to the great difficulties that are facing us, and if they do that they will increase their efficiency, with the result that our manufactures will increase and prices will be more reasonable to the consumers. Much of the discussion on the Tariff has a more direct connexion with the industrial rather ‘than the fiscal aspect. I am opposed to the proposal to interfere with the general Tariff, but will support a modified request to reduce the British preferential and intermediate duties, because we should encourage trade with those with whom we have been closely associated in the past. The Australian soldiers fought for the Empire alongside the British soldiers, and I am sure Australian workmen are prepared to work in competition with British operatives. It has been said that there have been practically no importations of implements from Great Britain; but I understand that £S,500 worth was imported last year as compared with , £2,999 worth from Canada, and if we made a slight reduction in the British preferential rate, it might be the means of compelling the Australian workers to speed up a little.
– As a parting word, may I be permitted to say that this part of the schedule concerns the whole of the Commonwealth? It covers every variety of implement required in connexion with agricultural enterprise, from the large wheatgrower in the interior to the smallest agriculturist in the more closely-settled areas. Honorable senators should re member that if they have their minds fixed on altering item after item by making the duties higher and higher, they will produce the same result as they did in the case of wire netting, when, by piling on a little each time - until the good sense of the Committee realized that a halt was necessary - they produced an anomaly which is hard to overcome. I desire to preserve, if possible, some semblance of order in this very ill-ordered and ill-balanced production - the Tariff.
Mention has been made of the necessity of fostering British trade, and I yield to none in that desire. But I want to point out to Senator Bolton that, in maintaining high duties against Canada and the United States of America, and to reducing the impost against British importations by 5 per cent., he would be making the disproportion as between 17£ per cent, and 35 per cent, equal to 100 per cent. Previous Tariffs made no such disparity, as the duties were in the neighbourhood of 15 per cent, and 20 per cent. In this instance, some honorable senators desire to pile up higher and higher duties on British importations, and also on American, without any adequate reason. According to the statement of the Minister (Senator Pearce), it does not matter in this particular item, because one ship will accommodate all the importations from Great Britain. If that is so, we shall be giving a preference that will be of no use whatever. It will be merely a placard. I direct Senator Pratten’s attention particularly to the fact that preference has been given where it is of no consequence.
– Not in the total figures.
– The importations from Great Britain are less by one-half than those from the United States of America and Canada, and the inescapable position will be that we will increase the price to those using American and Canadian implements to an extraordinarily high degree. We are “ outTariffing “ every previous effort, and are reaching the high-water mark by making a difference of 100 per cent, in the duties on imports from the Old Country as compared with those from the United States of America and Canada.
– According to the figures for 1919-20, Great Britain exported 25 per cent. of the total.
– In connexion with this particular item, the importations from Great Britain were valued at £7,700, and from Canada at £3,200.
– We have been including harvesters with other agricultural implements, and the Minister has been as big an offender as any one else.
– Thefigures I gave relating to imports were in connexion with this item only.
SenatorLYNCH. - According to the Commonwealth Tear-Book, the imports as compared with local manufacture have been- 1913, 25 per cent.; 1914, 26 per cent.; 1915, 28 per cent.; 1916, 19 per cent. ; 1917, 25 per cent. ; 1918, 32 per cent. In 1918 there was an increase due, perhaps, to causes which can be explained. The general result is that the proportion of agricultural implements of every class imported is about 25 per cent., as against 75 per cent. produced in Australia under the old Tariff.
– With the war in progress.
– If we are not prepared to allow American and Canadian manufacturers to compete in the Australian market we had better make the rates still higher.
– They can export to Australia under the intermediate Tariff.
– We are thrown back on that again. The question we have to ask ourselves is this: If we are not prepared to give Canada, the United States of America, and Sweden a paltry 25 per cent. of our trade, the Government are not only justified in imposing a duty of 25 per cent., but should make it 100 per cent. I say deliberately that if we want to keep our manufacturers in this country up to scratch - as the wheat-growers, dairymen, orchardists, and other primary producers are by the fierce blast of competition - the overseas manufacturers should receive, at least, 25 per cent. of our trade That is the question. How can a duty of 35 per cent. be justified? Only one section of the community will suffer - the users - because the manufacturers in the Commonwealth will keep their prices just below those charged by the importers.
– Then, will a reduction of 5 per cent. make any difference?
– I do not suppose it will. I have submitted it because I am craving only for a morsel. Do honorable senators realize what is happening? Does the Minister realize what is happening in Western Australia in connexion with one industry using implements imported under a 35 per cent. duty ? There are 600 idle farms in Western Australia, on which the saplings are growing as high as the roof of this chamber. That is no compliment to our country. If there are any people in the Commonwealth who could work those farms they are the people in Western Australia to-day.
– That is due to want of rain, not to want of implements.
– Those farms are lying idle, and the honorable senator can take them up. I shall give the Committee the benefit of some balance-sheets later on. We have not, so far, been given any manufacturer’s balance-sheet. I will give one, later on, which will make the hair stand on honorable senators’ heads. Wait till Senator Yardon gets amongst the farmers in the dry areas beyond the Gwydir line of rainfall and they ask him why he voted for these increased duties.
– I shall tell them why.
– I hope the honorable senator will be satisfied with the reception he will get in the dry areas.
– I shall be satisfied.
– If we consider it a fair thing to shut out all importations of these machines from Australia let us do it and be done with it. We have been told from the Ministerial bench that when an industry is supplying 25 per cent. of our requirements it may be said to be established. This industry is supplying 75 per cent. of our requirements, which is very creditable indeed, and yet wehave honorable senators blindly voting to shut out the other 25 per cent. of these machines which are the product of the only manufacturers who are keeping ours up to the “scratch.” Something has been said about the wages paid here and about the International Harvester , Trust. I am going to put the financial position of the International Harvester Trust before the Committee. This has not yet been done in the case of any of the Australian competitors of the International Harvester Trust.
– We have not been allowed to discuss harvesters yet.
– The honorable senator has spoken twice on this matter.
– We have not yet reached harvesters. When we do I shall have some facts concerning them to put before the Committee.
– This matter was mentioned by Senator Pratten, and I say that if the International Harvester Trust is the very devil himself we should give even the devil his due. The International Harvester Trust is established here. Its productions are in our market. The machines produced by the International Harvester Trust, as well as those made by Canadian firms, are slightly higher in price than the locally-made harvester; and that is because of the superiority of the imported machines in the estimation of those who buy them. There is no doubt at all about that. Are we any worse off if men will buy imported machines because, in their opinion as practical men, they are better than the locally-made article? The Government proposal is to shut those imported machines out, and’ if honorable senators generally believe that we should close our doors against these imports, let us do so definitely and be done with it. Let us say at once that we shall close our. doors against these interlopers in the field of industry, if that is the policy of this country. I say, advisedly, that I am sorry that we have not a practical farmer on the Ministerial bench to get up and speak on these items. If we had one farming on a large scale, and dependent upon it entirely and not running anything else as a side line, such a proposal as this would never be submitted to the Committee.
– Then he would not be a member of the Government.
– No. He would have more sense.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I want just to quote a few figures regarding wages.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired, and the standing order is inexorable.
– I wish briefly to support the request for a reduction of the duty on this item of the general Tariff from 35 to 30 per cent. Honorable senators who have mentioned that not a great deal of agricultural machinery has been imported during recent years have failed to realize that, owing to the legislation of Australia being so adverse to the man on the land, theprimary producer, the area under cultivation in this great and rich Commonwealth has been very seriously decreasing. In 1915-16 there were 18,528,234 acres under cultivation in. Australia ; and last year, in spite of the booming world’s price for wheat, there were only 13,332,393 acres under cultivation.
– What is the reason?
– One reason is that the high price of all the tools of trade of the man on the land is making his industry unprofitable.
– No. They have gone in for wool-growing instead of wheat-growing.
– The honorable senator is quite wrong. The collapse in the price of meat and of wool would tend to increase rather than to decrease the area under cultivation. We fill know that there has been a collapse in the price of wool and of meat.
– The collapse in the price of meat did not occur last year.
– It occurred recently. I find that, in 1915-16, the area under wheat in the Commonwealth was over 12,000,000 acres, whilst in 1919-20 it had actually decreased to a little over 6,000,000 acres. These are not guesses, but facts taken from our Commonwealth Year-book.
– What is the reason?
– Naturally because it is not profitable. Yet we are heaping duties on the whole of the tools of trade of the men on the land, and are making them so very dear that there is nothing more certain than that the result must be to increase the cost of primary production. By these increased duties, we are not only penalizing the primary producer, as we continue to do, but we are penalizing the consumers as well.
– How does the honorable senator explain the fact that, since these duties have been imposed, the area under wheat has greatly increased.
– On the contrary, it has decreased.
– No. The area under wheat has greatly increased since the imposition of these duties.
– Last year, yes. That is easily accounted for. It is due to the tremendous boom in the world’s prices of wheat. Whereas the average price of wheat in Australia during the last twenty years was 4s. 2d. per bushel, the price lately has been up at one point to about 16s. per bushel, and to an average of, say, 12s. per bushel for the past year, i.c., in London.
– Say 7s. 6d. per bushel.
– No; that is probably the average price here. The average world’s price has probably been actually over 10s. per bushel. The honorable senator forgets that with wheat at about 10s. per bushel, and a decrease in the value of wool and of meat of over 60 per cent., it is quite natural that people should grow wheat. As a consequence, there was temporarily, during this year and last year, thank goodness, an increased area under wheat in Australia. It is equally natural to suppose that the area under wheat will decrease when the price comes down to the normal average price of the last twelve years of 4s. 2d. per bushel. The average yield of wheat in Australia is a fraction over 11 bushels per acre, and when the average price drops again to 4s. per bushel these duties will make the cost of producing wheat more than can be earned by its production. Our statistics show that over the last eighteen years the cost of production has been higher than the return from wheat. It has cost an average of £3 per acre to produce wheat, whilst the average return has been £2 17s. 6d. per acre. The only reason why men have grown wheat has probably been because it has added to the value of their land. The clearing and cultivating of the soil and the use of artificial manures greatly increases the carrying capacity of land. I do not know that any one can make a living out of growing wheat alone; he must go in for mixed farming.
– A good many did so last season.
– That is not a fair statement to make, because we must judge by averages. Last year was an abnormal year. If we, could look to 8s. or 9s. per bushel as an average price for wheat, every one would go in for wheatgrowing. As a result of my sixteen years’ practical experience of wheat-growing, I know that I could not make it pay. I sold off the whole of my plant, and I have since sold my wheat farms because I could not make them pay.
– More Mallee farmers have retired independent than any other section of the community.
– The reason for that is that they secured their land practically for nothing, and developed it with the aid of their families. They never paid the members of their families any wages. If a wheat-grower kept proper books, as, unfortunately, few of them do, he would debit his cost of production with wages paid to the members of his family at rates paid in town industries, and if he paid his children the ruling rates of wages and worked them only the ruling hours, he would starve. The primary producers of Australia have worked long hours and lived poorly, and many of them have broken down and died under the strain. In some cases, the value of their land has so increased that they have been able to sell out, but they have not been able to retire on what they have made by growing wheat.
– I do not think that the primary producers want so much whining about their conditions.
– I am not whining about them, but I am trying to secure for the primary producers a fair deal, which it appears to be impossible to obtain from the Committee. A number of people assert from the platform that they believe in a fair deal for the primary producers, but when it comes down to “ tin tacks,” we find them ready to impose duties which must increase the price of all their tools of trade.
– The leader of the primary producers is himself a Protectionist.
– I am a primary producer, and I am also a Protectionist.
I am not, however, a gone-mad, ruleofthumb Protectionist, who would indiscriminately impose heavy duties on everything. I like to look at the facts of the case fairly and squarely.
– What amount of protection would “the honorable senator favour ?_
– Adequate protection. Does the honorable senator think that men like Mr. H. V. McKay, of Victoria, are not adequately protected? He is not starving or asking for increased protection. The implement manufacturers of Victoria, where most of this manufacturing is carried on, are doing well. Is Mr. McKay asking for more protection? Senator Vardon, I know, would not care to have to pay his income tax.
– We are only supporting the proposals of the Government.
– Honorable senators talk of helping the primary producer, and all the time they are firing bricks at him. I am a Protectionist, but a sane and scientific Protectionist, and not a rule-of-thumb Protectionist. When a duty is proposed I want to know the why and the wherefore. I find from an inspection of the Canadian- Tariff that in that Dominion the duties on agricultural machinery, which we are increasing here, have been reduced, and the people in the industry are doing very well. If honorable senators will look at the Canadian Tariff and the amendments made since the 1st October, 1914, they will find that on these particular items on which the Government propose a duty of 35 per cent, in the general Tariff, the Canadian duties run from l%i to 17£ per cent.
– What was the highest duty ever imposed on this machinery in Canada?
– If I had time to look the matter up I should tell the honorable sentaor. I see that at one time there was a duty of 35 per cent, in Canada, but they have seen the error of their ways. They have been anxious not to penalize producers, but rather to increase the area under wheat. It should be remembered, also, that the average yield per acre of wheat in Canada is nearly double what it is in Australia. It is 19 bushels per acre in Canada, and only 11 bushels per acre in Australia, yet the Canadians bring down their Tariff on agricultural machinery to one-half the duties previously proposed, whilst we, with all the disadvantages of a drier country and a lower yield, propose to increase the duties on this machinery. Honorable senators were talking about the price of coal and, naturally, that enters largely into the cost of all manufacturing. One of the best authorities obtainable, the United Empire, in its issue of May, 1921, shows that coal is dearer in England than in any other country. Senator Senior sought to show that manufacturers here had to pay more for their coal than their competitors in England. I do not know how he became so confused, because the position is quite the reverse. Our seams being nearer the surface and wider than those in the Old Country can be worked more cheaply. An expert, writing in the United Em/Dire, gives the price of coal in various countries, and shows that in England the quantity of coal produced per man per hour, owing to the depth of the seams and their relative narrowness, is only .80 ton, whereas in other countries where the coal is closer to the surface the production is 3.78 tons per man per hour. We are all anxious to see those factories established here, because we believe in the principle of Australian goods for Australian people. It cannot be denied that they have cheapcoal, comparatively cheap iron, and expert labour, which is probably quite asgood as that obtainable in any other part of the world, and yet we see the price of agricultural machinery here soaringhigher and higher, so that the producersand consumers of the Commonwealth arepenalized. I emphasize the fact that during the last election campaign I announced myself as a Protectionist. I am a Protectionist. I believe in adequate Protection, but not in the torn-foolery Protection under which industries aregiven a protection that they do not want. I do not believe in fattening the already over-fat and over-rich. Under this Tariff the city manufacturers are getting more consideration than any other section of the community. The Government are going to make the millionaires multi-millionaires. They are going to put up the cost of production. We were selling fat sheep yesterday at 2£d. per lb., and even at that price could not sell half the yarding. With meat practically unsaleable, with some fleece wool selling at from 2d. to 3d. per lb., and other prices falling, we hope that there will be an enormous decrease in the cost of living. There ought to be a decrease, because, with the exception of wheat - the price of which is fixed at present - the price of all our primary products has come down, and wheat will come down with decontrol. The prices have fallen in twelve months on an average to the extent of 60 per cent., but has the cost of living come down in anything like the same ratio ? It has not, because the people are being exploited.
– By whom?
– By manufacturers, middlemen, and some of the shopkeepers. I by no means say that all the manufacturers, warehousemen, and shopkeepers are exploiting the people, but we know that exploitation is going on. For instance, tweed which is being turned out by woollen mills at 4s. 6d. per yard is sold at 27s. 6d. per yard.
– Order! That has no relation to the item under consideration.
– But I like to get that fact in as often as I can.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I am going to vote for the request for a reduction of the duty.
– I propose .to put before the Committee figures relating to the wages and labour conditions obtaining in the countries from which o.ur imports of machinery of this class come. I would point out in the first place that we are not dealing with an infant industry. The “infant industry” .cock will not fight this time. Nor are we up against the black-labour product of other countries, so that that argument also goes by the board. The industry, so far as I am aware, has not to compete with cheap European labour. It is up against the competition of two sturdy Commonwealths of the Northern Hemisphere - Canada and the United States. Imports from the Mother Country for the moment do not come into consideration. We have heard something as to the world-wide organization known as the International Harvester Company. I have here some’ information regarding that mammoth concern, which, like the
Colonial Sugar Refining Company, may be an admirably-managed organization. It is bringing agricultural machinery within the reach of the American farmerat anything within the neighbourhood of from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent, less than the Australian manufacturing industry is prepared to sell its products to the Australian farmer. This is being done by a concern that we are asked to regard as being almost akin to one of the Beasts of Revelations.
– To what is the honorable senator referring ? The Tariff ?
– I do not believe that Senator Vardon has come here to be convinced. There are none so blind as those who will not see. I have here some information regarding the operations of the International Harvester Company, which I have taken from the Farm Implement News, a well known Chicago publication of which, perhaps, Senator Vardon has not heard. It is an interesting story. I only wish we had a story of the same kind regarding the agricultural implement makers of Australia. I should be glad if they would give us information concerning their doings, even if they did not ask for any duty. In its issue of 21st April last, the Farm Implement News, of Chicago, writes -
The annual report of the International Harvester Company, made public 14th April, shows that while the company’s volume of business in 1920 was the largest in its history, the net profit was smaller than in 1919.
The total of sales of all classes was, approximately, §225,000,000. The total in 1919 was 5212,000,000, and in 1918, 3204,000,000. The net profit in 1920 was 316,655,000, which compares with a profit of $20,011,000. in 1919, before deducting the balance of war losses charged off that year.
The percentage of net profit to the capital invested was 7.9 per cent, in 1920, and 9.6 per cent, in 1919 before charging off war losses.
This is not a statement by the company itself ; it is a statement published in the Farm Implement News, which sums up the financial position of every company of the kind operating in the United States of America. I have already quoted figures showing that the Newcastle company for the year 1920 averaged 15 per cent, upon its subscribed capital, yet we have given it increased protection.
– Is the honorable senator sure that the International Harvester Company is not interlocked with some other financial institutions in the good old American way?
– I do not propose to give a hypothetical answer to a hypothetical question. We have heard a lot as to the reduced wages paid in the competing countries. I invite honorable senators to draw their own deductions, as I have done, from the following statement in the article from which I have just been quoting regarding the International Harvester Company: -
The average number of employees on the pay rolls in 1920 was 48,280, and the total compensation $89,930,000 compared with 40,480 employees and $63,040,000 compensation in
Honorable senators may work out their own calculations. I may be wrong, but I gather from these figures that the average wage of all employees of the International Harvester Company in 1919 was £306 per annum, while the average wage in 1920 was £361, a clear increase of £55 per employee in 1920 as compared with the average for 1919. And yet we are told that wagesare tumbling in every country except Australia. I come now to the position in Canada, information as to which can be obtained in the Parliamentary Library. According to the Commonwealth Year-book, No. XII., for the year 1918, the salaried employees in the industry in Australia numbered 346, and the average salary paid to them was £170 2s. In Canada, in the same year, according to the Census of Manufacturers, there were in the Dominion of Canada 1,129 salaried employees in the industry, and the average salary was £292 10s. The average salary in the Canadian industry was thus very much greater than that paid in the industry here. Then, again, in Australia the wages for 2,846 operatives averaged £12918s., whereas in Canada the factory operatives numbered 8,966, and their average wage was £192 12s. It will thus be seen that in respect of both salaries and wages the Canadian average per employee is much higher than the Australian.
– Did not the article quoted by the honorable senator in regard to the employees in the International Harvester Company use the word “ compensation “ not “ wages “ ?
– That, I presume, is an Americanism for wages.
– According to the honorable senator’s figures, the agricul tural machinery makers of the United States of America and Canada should be shrieking for protection against imports from this country.
– So it would seem. I leave these figures in the possession of the Committee. Are we to increase these duties against competitors whose rates of wages and labour conditions are at least as good as, if not better than, those prevailing here ? It is not a fair thing to impose a duty of 35 per cent. plus the natural protection. For the men engaged in the industry here, from Mr. McKay downwards, I have nothing but the highest praise. I want to see them prosper, and hold their own; but I hope that the Minister (Senator Pearce), in reply, will give us Mr. H. V. McKay’s balancesheet. Let the local manufacturers lay all their cards on the table, just as I have laid on the table the cards of these, overseas concerns, so that honorable senators may be guided to a safe and creditable conclusion. Let us hold the scale with equal poise. I ask the Minister to give us further information to warrant the proposed duty of 35 per cent., which, with the natural protection, means anything in the region of from 60 to 70 per cent. protection for the local manufacturers.
Question - That the request (Senator Lynch’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Ma jority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, intermediate, ad val., 25 per cent.
I have no desire to delay the Committee, as I am satisfied that after the discussion that has taken place on this item no fresh argument can be advanced. Being . a new member of the Senate, I was persuaded on Friday last to amend my original request with regard to the genera] Tariff, leaving it at 35 per cent., in the belief that a good deal of time might be saved and something achieved in connexion with the reduction of the intermediate and British duties.
– The honorable senator would be wise not to discuss a matter that has already been dealt with.
– I consider it my duty, Mr. Chairman, to make that statement of the position. I now submit the request for a reduction of the intermediate Tariff, realizing that at an early date the Government, in the interests of our primary producers, may have an opportunity of entering into trade relationships with such countries as Canada by means of this intermediate Tariff.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia -
Minister for Defence) [6.19]. - Seeing that a full debate has already taken place on the principle involved in it, I have no intention of saying anything upon the honorable senator’s request other’ than that the Government cannot accept the proposal, and will vote against it. In determining the British preferential duty I hope Senator Wilson will take into consideration the aspect of the matter I put forward early this afternoon. I appeal to honorable senators not to go over the whole ground again in connexion with this request.
– In order to make my position clear, and the vote which I have just given explainable, I wish to state that I shall support a reduction of the duties in the British preferential and intermediate columns, as I intimated in my speech an hour ago, hut shall vote against any reduction of the duty in the general column, which will apply almost exclusively to competition from America and, in future, Germany.
– I have been waiting the whole afternoon for an opportunity to fay something in regard to the preferential Tariff.
– The request applies to the intermediate Tariff.
– It applies to a portion of the Tariff which, ultimately, may give a slight preference to Canada and the other Dominions. Ever since I have been in the Senate we have been looking forward to the time when we could mutually agree with Canada and New Zealand to exchange those commodities in which we thought it would be of mutual advantage to trade within the Empire, but we do not appear to be getting any closer to that desirable object. I am pleased that the Protectionists in this Senate have taken 5 per cent, off the duties imposed on machines coming from America, and, I suppose, also Germany, when we start trading with that country. It is an indication of a return to reason on their part, a finger-post pointing to the fact that honorable senators are putting the interests of the primary producers above those of the manufacturers. 1 welcome this change in their outlook, because I represent a State which is a great wheat-producing country, and because I know that during the, past five years the primary producers, who not only grow wheat, but also raise stock, have had their efforts almost paralyzed, first by a drought for three years, during which time they were obliged to pay extraordinarily high prices for fodder, in order to keep their, stock alive, and then by finding that the market for their stock had slumped. Many of them are now only too glad to get out of the business. Senator Guthrie says that wheat-growing has become so unsatisfactory that he would sell, not only his plant, but also his farm, but he does not distinguish between the farmer who farms his own land and the man who employs labour to do so. There is a vast difference between the two forma of farming.
– There is not so« much.
– If we could induce a Parliament to allow the free admission of the most up-to-date machinery, thus permitting the farmer to become possessed, at a reasonable price, of the very best implements turned out, as the result of the application of the very best brains the world possesses, farming would be much more profitable than it is at present.
– But how would that make a difference between the two kinds of wheat-growers?
– The man who employs labour to do his farming is generally in a position to purchase the best machinery, but personal interest in one’s business is the most important factor in the matter of making a farm pay. A close study of the figures quoted by farmers through their organizations and associations as to the cost of growing a bushel of wheat indicates that it is still a very profitable business to the man who has sufficient capital to provide up-to-date machinery in a district where average seasons can be reckoned upon, and where a reasonable rainfall justifies a man engaging in wheat-production. I take it that the Government will accept the request of Senator Wilson.
– There is an easy way of finding out if that is so.
– If the matter is allowed to go to a division, we might find out, too late, that the Government is not willing to accept the request.
– There will be other opportunities for the honorable senator to pursue his line of argument.
– As the Government Whip speaks so fairly. I think I had better let the matter go.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Pratten) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, British, ad val., 171/2 per cent.
Request (by Senator Guthrie) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, British, ad val., 15 per cent.
– Senator Guthrie’s request will be taken first.
– I accept it, and ask leave to withdraw my request.
– As Senator Pratten’s request was not put to the Committee, there is no need for the honorable senator to ask leave to withdraw it.
Request (Senator Guthrie’s) agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Sitting suspended from 6.80 to 8 p.m.
Chaffcutters and horse gears, corn shelters, corn huskers, cultivators n.e.i.,harrows, ploughs other, plough shares, plough mouldboards, scarifiers, ad val., British, 221/2 per cent.; intermediate. 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
– On the question of parts for the machinery in the preceding item-
– The preceding item has already been dealt with. I wish to make myself clear to honorable senators, once and for all. On at least half-a-dozen other occasions I have alluded to this matter, and I shall make no further deliverances on it. If honorable senators desire to make any alteration in the verbiage of an item, or to move any sub-paragraph which they think is necessary, arising out of such item, they must do so before the duties are put to the Committee. Once the duties are put, they govern the verbiage, and then to make any alteration in the verbiage would be tantamount to a reversal of the decision of the Committee. As I understand procedure, that cannot be permitted.
– Will you, Senator Bakhap, guide me, if possible, as to whether at any time before a division is completed an honorable senator may move to add any new item, bringing under it any parts not elsewhere included?
– Not if those parts are included in an item that has been dealt with. The honorable senator will see that to move a new sub-item which would condition any decision already arrived at would be tantamount toa reversal of that decision, and that cannot be permitted. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has made it clear that parts in connexion with any particular item passed are included and dutiable at the rates for that item; that being so, the duties arrived at govern such parts. I admit that the handling of a Tariff is not easy for honorable senators, nor altogether easy for the Chair. The only desire I have is to prevent confusion arising. If honorable senators desire to move a new sub-paragraph, or to alter the language of an item, they must do so before the decision in regard to the duties is arrived at. The decision in regard to the duties fixes the Committee’s decision in regard to the item itself. That is the parliamentary procedure, from which there can be no deviation. A decision arrived at in. Committee cannot be reversed by the same Committee.
– Item 208 deals with manufactures of metal n.e.i. It has been customary to include parts of machines in that item that should be in item 161. Will it be within my province, on item 208, to make the matter clear?
– It is dangerous to anticipate. I can only say that we had quite a long discussion on what might be done on item 161. That item has been agreed to with several requests, and we must now pass to the consideration of item 162.
– There would be nothing to prevent me-
– I cannot say at the present juncture.What is included in an item is the subject of Ministerial and departmental communications to the Chair. The Chair has to accept the Ministerial assurance that parts are included in a certain item for certain purposes.
– I think I can deal with the matter in the way I wish in item 208;
– I shall afford all facilities to honorable senators, so far as the Standing Orders and procedure will permit me. More I cannot do.
.- This item 162 provides for “ploughs other,” and, according to item 17.7, it is proposed to admit free of duty from Great Britain traction engines “ of a class or kind not made in Australia.” That covers, I understand, cable ploughing engines - that is, engines for ploughs which are worked by means of a a cable. Item 162 covers the special ploughs which are used in connexion with these cable engines.
– There is no difference between ploughs worked by engines and ploughs worked by other means.
– I understand there is a distinct difference. I am informed that this is a special form of plough for use in connexion with these cable engines, and known as the cable plough. I wish to know whether these ploughs will come under item 162 or under the item which deals with cable engines, which are part of the equipment of the plough?
– If the honorable senator is referring to the plough only, I am informed that it comes within the item; that such ploughs are made in Australia, and hencetheir inclusion with other ploughs in item 162.
– I am informed that the ploughs to which I refer are not made in Australia, and the representatives of the Department may -be able to tell us whether that is so or not. A reputable firm of engineers informs me that these ploughs are not made here. Two engines are used to operate this form of plough, with a cable in between. The Minister and the Department have recognised the wisdom of admitting the engines free, but they apparently have overlooked the special ploughs for which these engines are used. This is regarded as an anomaly. It is pointed out that these special ploughs are entirely different from any that are made or are likely to be made in Australia. In form and design they are unlike the ordinary horse-drawn and other ploughs, and in bulk and strength they are entirely dissimilar, they having to withstand an enormous strain. They are not workable except in conjunction with these cable engines which are to be admitted free.
– Not many come here.
– A fair number come. No doubt the ploughs could be made here, but certainly not the engines.
– If the ploughs &Te being made here will the honorable senator still stress his point?
– No, I shall not if they are being made here.
– The. honorable senator states that he is under the impression that these ploughs are not made here, whereas the only information available from the Customs officers is that they are. Seeing that there is a difference of opinion as to a matter of fact which can easily be demonstrated, I suggest to the honorable senator that he allow the verbiage to pass, on an undertaking by myself to bring the matter up again later if it is found that the ploughs are not made in Australia.
– I should like to know whether the spare parts in connexion with this item are to be governed by the declaration we have already heard, namely, that if the parts are not provided for elsewhere they automatically come under the -same duties as the main item.
– Such undoubtedly is the Ministerial declaration.
– That is so. If they are not elsewhere provided for, parts come under the same duty as the main article themselves.
– I suggest that it would be much better to observe the same procedure as I sea is observed in the case of other items. I cannot emphasize my point without anticipating in some degree discussion on future- items. This I do not wish to do, but I must draw attention to the fact that in the case of, at least, four or five succeeding items spare parts are dealt with immediately after the main item. For instance, right on the beels of stripper-harvesters, item 166, we have an item providing for the metal parts. Then, in the case of steam-engine indicators, sewing machines, and so forth, item 168, the same procedure is followed, provision being made for the free admission of accessories, except wrenches and oilcans. In item 169, which deals with lino type and other type-composing machines, provision is made for the admission of all attachments, and the same in regard to item 424, which deals with ships. Similar provision, however, is not made in the item that we have just disposed of;.or in the item now before us, and I do not wish to see that error continued throughout. I suggest for the acceptance of the Minister an amendment providing for the admission, in the case of item 162, of all attachments and equipment regularly supplied with the machines, also finished parts to repair the machines specified. The meaning of the amendment is that all spare parts shall come in at the same rate of duty as the machines themselves. This the Minister i3 prepared to do unless the parts are elsewhere provided for; but that provision is an anomaly - a disturbance and general incongruity. First of all, we have the machines provided for, and then we have to look in another part of the Tariff for the duties affecting the spare parts.
– That must be done in the case of strippers, because the duties on the parts are on a different basis.
– But in the case of the strippers, the item dealing with the parts follows immediately, and that is quite in sequence and order. What I suggest agrees with what the Minister himself has proposed, and, at the same time, it obviates the necessity of looking to a different part of the Tariff for the duties on parts. A man away in the back country who wishes to find out what the duties on parts are will naturally look at the item dealing with the machines themselves. A machine is no good unless it has spare parts. Some of these will , outlast the natural life of the machine itself, while others will wear out in a season, and less. All attachments should be specified, following in sequence upon the setting out of the rates of duty on the machine itself.
– I gather that Senator Lynch does not wish to vary the duties on parts, but desires to have it set forth in the schedule that the duties to which they are liable shall be the same as those upon the parent machine. The honorable senator seeks to establish an inconsistency, seeing that, in certain of the later items, the parts are individually set out. For instance, upon strippers there is a preferential duty of £6 each. Then the rates upon metal parts for stripper harvesters and the like are indicated at so much per lb. It would be ridiculous to say, in that instance, that the parts should also pay £6 each. Similarly, with respect to sewing machines, there has been a departure from the ad valorem principle. In the original schedule, the rates were, respectively, free, 5 per cent. and 10 per cent. From the 1st January next, however, the duties are to be £2 10s., £3, and £3 10s. No one would expect the parts of an ordinary sewing machine for each machine to carry such Customs imposts. Senator Lynch has had an assurance, which I am pleased to repeat, that parts, unless provided for elsewhere, shall bear duties similar to those imposed upon the machines to which they belong. The principle is laid down in the Customs Act. Section 140 reads -
That long-established practice has not aroused any considerable grievance, and I suggest that this Committee should give it its approval.
– Item 162, dealing as it does with chaff-cutters and horse gears, cultivators, harrows, ploughs, and scarifiers, is, to all intents and purposes, identical with that which has just been dealt with. I move, therefore -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, ad val., British, 15 per cent. ; intermediate, 25 per cent. ; general, 30 per cent.
Agricultural machinery manufactured in Australia is equal to anything produced in other parts of the world. I cannot agree that there is any plough imported which cannot be made here. There are very many factories turning out ploughs, cultivators, chaff-cutters, and the like ; and, to the credit of the Australian manufacturer it can be said that his products take second place to none. The average farmer is willing to concede fair play and reasonable encouragement to the factory proprietor. The reductions specified in my request will continue to give the latter ample encouragement. It should not be forgotten that, in addition to the Tariff itself, the local maker has considerable protection byway of packing charges, carriage, wharfage, and general expenses. Some honorable senators have argued at length in comparing rates of wages in Australia with those of wageearners in other parts of the world. Without doubt, the wages of artisans in some other countries are as high as those in the Commonwealth. I would be sorry to be the first to take steps to reduce the pay of the Australian worker. He cannot be expected to take less money for his weekly services until the cost of living has fallen. Senator Gardiner remarked to-day that the conditions of rural life were not generally so laborious as those in a factory. I hold the contrary view, but I agree with Senator Gardiner that the open-air life is a great deal more healthy than a life spent in a factory. We cannot expect our primary interests to expand under duties which actually amount to prohibition. The average manufacturer is willing to battle with reasonable competition. He expects to be called upon to take the same risks and to make the most of the same opportunities as any other individual in the community. He should neither fear nor shirk competition, for competition means increased efficiency. If there be any truth in the statement that some Australian types of machinery are not equal to imported lines, I repeat that that does not apply generally to agricultural implements. Throughout the greater portion of our agricultural areas there will be found very few who prefer an imported machine; and, in the case of those who do so, it is generally a matter of prejudice. I am willing to accept the estimate of Senator Lynch, that about 75 per cent. of the machinery used in Australia to-day is made in Australia.
– In 1918-19, £161,000 worth of agricultural implements were imported.
– That statement requires analyzing. I prefer to accept’ the figures of Senator Lynch. Possibly each statement may have a basis of fact; but I feel confidence in the statement that 75 per cent. of the agricultural workers implements are now manufactured in this country.
– In a broad sense the arguments addressed to this item will naturally follow those raised in connexion with item 161. I shall be correct in assuming further, I think, that the verdict of the Committee will be the same. An opportunity is thus provided to save time, and so, perhaps, make more progress with the schedule this evening than might otherwise be expected. I propose to devote attention at this moment to one point only. The British and general duties upon the machinery covered by this item have been 20 per cent. since 1908. Now, however, duties have been imposed upon iron; and, although the manufacturer of agricultural implements has had to carry that impost, Senator Wilson proposes that he shall endeavour to make headway with a reduction of the Protective duties. The request is rather unreasonable.
– The higher rates previously ruling may have been more than were justifiable.
– Possibly, but probably not. The question whether 20 per cent. is too high is answered by the figures relating to’ local production, which indicate that the manufacture of the articles mentioned in this item has been stationary or even receding. I ask the Committee to consider whether to drop from 20 per cent. to 15 per cent., plus the impost now levied by the duties on iron, is giving this industry the same measure of protection as is generally given by this Tariff.
– Then you must restore the ratio.
– I imagined the Government were doing that when they imposed these duties. It seems to me that the proposed 221/2 per cent., in view of the duty on iron, is a fair proposal, and for that reason I ask the Committee to say whether the duty which the industry has enjoyed for thirteen years, and which has to carry a further impost, should not be allowed to stand.
– The Minister’s reasoning would be right if the duty we had imposed on iron was commensurate with a duty of 15 per cent. on these machines. If I remember aright, the duty on’ pig iron is 20s. per ton, but there would not be anything like 1 ton of iron in these machines, and consequently the duty under discussion would not be heavy. The proposed reduction is only from 20 per cent. to 15 per cent, in the British rate.
– A reduction from 221/2 per cent. to 15 per cent. is the proposition.
– The original duty was 20 per cent., and it is now suggested that it shall be 15 per cent. on importations from Britain. There would be higher rates on American importations, which in this connexion would be the strongest competitors with our local manufactures. Although it means a lowering by 5 per cent. of the duty against Britain, there would be an increase of 10 per cent. against American and other foreign competitors.
.- I have not hitherto addressed myself to this division of the Tariff ; but, in view of the vote taken before dinner, I regard the situation as very serious from the Australian manufacturers’ point of view. I understood that the policy of the party was to preserve our own industries.
– The primary industries?
– Many of our primary industries do not need protection, and therefore the pledge of the party could not apply to those industries. But we are bound to preserve our local industries. It is alleged by the opponents of Protection that the inevitable effect of imposing a duty is to make the protected article dearer, and that the higher the duty the greater will be the increase in the price to the customer. This is so incessantly dinned into people’s ears that many sincerely believe it to be true. It is, however, a misleading statement. It may be freely admitted that a low, or what is called a moderate, duty will have that effect, because it simply operates in dragging revenue out of the pockets of the buyer or the seller. It does not reduce the number of machines imported, and consequently does not increase the output of Australian manufacturers. Therefore, a reduction in prices is impossible. Indeed, it has the opposite tendency, for it cuts up the business between importers and Australian manufacturers, who, naturally, have to charge higher prices to make a profit. That is a business proposition, which is easy to understand. For example, a duty of 15 per cent, or 20 per cent, on the reaper and binder would be of no value to either the farmer or the manufacturer.
– Is the honorable senator reading a circular?
– No. In company with the honorable senator I visited a factory at Footscray, where it was proved to our satisfaction that the more extensive the development the greater the reduction in price because of the reduction in overhead charges. A duty of 15 per cent, on reapers and binders would not stop their importation, so nobody would be induced to start on the binder-making industry. But a duty of 50 per cent, would firmly establish Australian manufacture, because it would restrict importations, and thus provide a larger home market for locally-made machines. The larger turnover would enable Australian manufacturers to sell their machines at lower prices. It is an established business fact that small profits and quick returns on a big output is more satisfactory than large profits on a small turnovers From the farmer’s point of view it certainly is, for he gains direct benefit in buying cheaper machinery. Experience clearly demonstates that where there is no competition from local manufacturers importers charge exorbitant prices for farmers’ tools of trade. This has been proved by figures published concerning Free Trade in Argentina, where there are no manufactories, and also in regard to New Zealand.
– But are those prices correct?
– I believe they have been taken from a schedule of prices.
– They show a comparison between New Zealand and Victoria, but not between New Zealand and the northern portion of Western Australia.
– In connexion with the extent to which American machines are subsidized, I am assured that during the war manufactured implements were imported from. America at a freight of £1 per ton, whereas Australian manufacturers were compelled to purchase iron on which they had to pay from £6 to £11 per ton in freight.
– But they can purchase their iron bars here.
– While the price of iron here at present is about £21 per ton, British manufacturers can obtain supplies at £7 10s. per ton from Belgium, and I understand that the price of steel in America is about the latter figure. It is hoped that as our manufacturers obtain control of the market the price may come down to about that figure. We have to legislate for the present, and if our agricultural implement makers are to succeed we must consider the present price of iron.
– The honorable senator is confusing the price of pig iron with that of bar iron.
– I do not think so. It is not pig iron that manufacturers have to purchase. Raw iron and steel bars cost about £21 per ton, whereas similar material can be obtained from Belgium at £7 10s. per ton.
– That is not so.
– That is the information with which I have been supplied, and the steel manufacturers in America are selling it at about the same price. During the war Australian purchasers of American iron had to pay £6 to £11 per ton freight, and the manufactured article was being carried for about £1 per ton.
– Who said so?
– The Australian manufacturers.
– That was during the war.
– I understand that similar conditions still prevail. The American manufacturers were able to arrange for the ships to be subsidized, and thus secured a reduction in freight.
There is another important fact that has to be considered. The International Harvester Company and the MasseyHarris Company have houses in Australia, and they invoice from house to house - not through agents - and it is difficult for the Customs authorities here to arrive at a proper valuation.
– If they were invoicing a customer, it would be easy for the authorities to collect the duty; but it is impossible for the Customs officials to ascertain whether the invoiced price to a branch house is correct.
– I believe the honorable senator is quite Tight; but I do not see how we can deal with that phase of the question under this item.
– The only way we can deal with it is by imposing a heavy duty.
– They would still reduce their price to the Australian house.
– But the Government would get the benefit by collecting a higher duty, whatever the price might be, particularly if we imposed a fixed duty, as we have done before to meet such tactics.
There is another point that I desire to stress. At present, there is the possibility of a large number of men being thrown out of employment, and if our Australian markets are flooded with foreign importations the problem created will be a very difficult one. The only way I can see of meeting the situation is by allowing our manufacturers to be fully occupied on an established basis. The most important point of all to be remembered is that our steel industry is the key industry of our defence scheme. We may be shut off from European supplies in the event of war, and unless we keep these industries in operation our position will be hopeless. Honorable senators should not overlook this phase of the question, and should be prepared to impose adequate protection, because limited protection is useless.
– The honorable senator wants extreme, and not moderate, protection.
– I want extreme protection in this instance. The honorable senator believes in having his clothes made from Australian tweed, and I am in favour of Australian implements being manufactured in the Commonwealth from our own products. I support these duties from the point of view of employing our own people, and of making ourselves independent in the matter of defence.
– I agree with Senator Elliott in asking the Committee to carefully consider what it is doing in connexion with these duties. I should not have risen again on this matter were it not to stress three points which ought to be considered before a vote is taken on the request before the Committee. The first point was made by Senator Senior, when he compared the prices of coal and iron here with prices in Great Britain and Germany. Some doubt was thrown on the figures that the honorable senator quoted, but I have been able to turn up a cable which appeared within the last two or three weeks in each of the three Sunday newspapers published in Sydney, the Sunday Sun, the Sunday Times, and the Sunday News. The cable services of these newspapers are similar to those of the three daily newspapers of Melbourne. ‘ Referring to Sir William Mitchell Thompson, who is apparently a junior Minister of the British Cabinet, since he answers questions, the cable says -
Sir William Mitchell Thompson, in answer to questions in the House of Commons gave the ollowing comparisons in current prices : - Coal, Germany, 22s. 6d- per ton; Britain, 32s. 2d. per ton. Bar steel, Germany, £6 15s. per ton; Britain, £10 per ton.
I think, therefore, that the figures quoted by Senator Senior were absolutely correct. The second point is that which was stressed by Senator Lynch, when he said that we are making 75 per cent, of the total agricultural implements and machinery used in Australia. If the honorable senator knew what has actually taken place during the last twelve months in regard to this machinery, he would realize that- we manufactured last year, apparently, only one-half of the total agricultural machinery used in the Commonwealth.
– Last year ?
– Yes. I refer to the financial year ending 30th June, 1921.
– Has the honorable senator the figures to Substantiate his statement or is he merely making an estimate?
– The honorable senator will remember that Senator Pearce gave the Committee some official figures bearing on this matter.
– Not on item 162.
– In considering item 161, we discussed the figures relating to the whole of the four or five items grouped around that item, including the item now under discussion. It was pointed out that no one was in a position to give figures showing importations of the separate machines included in these four or five items; but the aggregate figures were available, and Senator Pearce gave the Committee figures which showed that the value of the total manufacture of agricultural implements and machinery in Australia for the year ended 30th June, 1921, was, approximately, £1,500,000. Presumably, that figure was based on the selling price to the farmer. I quoted figures showing the value of the total importations of agricultural implements and machinery for the same financial year, and they showed that the value of the total importations jumped from, approximately, £500,000 in 1919- 20, to nearly £1,000,000 in 1920-21. When duties are paid on these importations, and distributing charges are added, it will be seen that the cost to the farmer of these imported implements and machinery must have amounted to about one-half the total cost of the whole of the implements and machinery bought in Australia. On these figures it is clear that Senator Lynch’s estimate that 75 per cent, of the whole of the agricultural implements and machinery used in Australia are manufactured here is incorrect.
– It would be more useful _ if the honorable senator could back up his statement with statistics.
– I am giving the statistics which have been quoted in this Chamber, and which, so far, have not been disproved. The figures I gave with respect to importation are absolutely official, and I think that Senator Pearce quoted Mr. ^Knibbs for the figures he gave with respect to the value of the local aggregate production. If we import agricultural implements and machinery of the f.o.b. value of £1,000,000, plus 10 per cent., and the duty and cost of distribution be added, the selling value of these importations is nearly £1,500,000, and the aggregate value of all the machinery used by the farmers of Australia could not be far short of £3,000,000, one-half of which is represented by imports. I ‘should like to say a word or two on the point raised by Senator E. D. Millen. I agree that the Committee should hesitate before drastically dealing with the duty in the British preferential column, which has been in force for a good many years. A request has been submitted for a reduction of the duty to 15 per cent, in the British preferential column, which, as Senator E. D. Millen has pointed out, is 5 per cent, lower than the duty imposed under the 1914 Tariff. The request is not fair, in view of the increase in the duties on some of the basic materials used iu these manufactures. I intend consistently to oppose any reductions in the general Tariff on these agricultural implements and machinery, because no vote of mine shall make it easier for American Trusts or German traders to compete unf airly with our local manufacturers.
– We have had statements made comparing New Zealand prices with Australian prices for agricultural implements and machinery, to the disadvantage of New Zealand. I have here an up-to-date price list, which I propose to put on record to show- that, while in some cases the New Zealand prices approximate the prices for the same articles in Australia, generally speaking, there is in connexion with these implements and machinery a margin of from 5 to 22 per cent, in favour of the New Zealand prices.
I quote the following list, dated Melbourne, 23rd August, 1921 : -
That list was hauded to me to-day with the assurance that every statement contained in it is correct.
– Was it intended specially for Senate consumption ?
– It was given ta me because of certain statements I had made in regard to agricultural machinery. We have found it very dimcult to ascertain what the prices actually are. I had been comparing two lists, and this statement was handed to me today by a gentleman with the assurance _ that it set out the prices at which the company is prepared to sell to-day in Australia and New Zealand. I ‘have given it in full by way of making a fair comparison between prices in New Zealand, where agricultural machinery is free, and prices in Australia, where it is dutiable.
– I presume that Senator Gardiner does not dispute the list which the Minister (Senator Russell) quoted the other day, and which clearly showed that the prices of agricultural machinery in New Zealand were higher than those ruling in Australia. The list which the honorable senator has now produced was either prepared merely for consumption by the Committee, or if the prices are actually as set out, it shows that the discussions here have re-acted to the benefit of the farmers of New Zealand, for which they should be duly thankful.
– Since we are dealing with prices, I propose to put on record a statement showing that a fall in the price of Australian agricultural machinery has taken place here since 1st January last. I have here a statement by a reputable manufacturer carrying on operations in Victoria in which he compares prices on 1st January last with those operating on 1st July last.
– What is the name of the manufacturer?
– Mr. Hugh V. McKay. This list, which will go side by side with that read by Senator Gardiner, so that readers of Hansard will be able to compare tha two, is as follows -
– What is the honorable senator trying ‘to prove ?
– That prices have fallen during the discussion of the Tariff in this Parliament, and even prior to its introduction in the Senate”. This list shows that the prices are in favour of Australian manufacturers as compared with their competitors. It is an answer to the argument so often raised that Pro,tection tends to increase prices, and I regret that I was not allowed to complete it without interruption. In every case, there has been a, distinct fall.
– It may merely represent a movement in prices. The prices of clothing, boots, and many other things have fallen.
– It is impossible to satisfy the honorable senator. He complains when it is shown that prices have risen, and he is equally dissatisfied when a fall in prices is demonstrated. It has been contended again and again that the imposition of protective duties leads ultimately to increased prices. This disproves that assertion.
– But the Tariff has had nothing to do with the fall in prices to which the honorable senator refers.
– The honorable senator cannot claim that the imposition of these duties has raised the cost of agricultural machinery to the farmers. That is the point I am making.
– Prices have fallen because of the competition from outside.
– There seems to have been an intentional suppression of evidence of this kind.
– The honorable senator says that prices have fallen. To prove his contention, he should compare the present-day prices with those prevailing in 1914.
– I think that prices at the beginning of January last were as high as we have ever known them to be.
– The honorable senator means that they were unduly inflated.
– The figures I am quoting have not been prepared for Senate consumption only. The following are the respective prices for grain and fertilizer drills combined with spring tyne cultivator : -
Senator Gardiner also quoted prices for disc ploughs, and, therefore, it is only right that I should place on record H. V. McKay’s price at 1st January and 1st July of this year -
In every instance the price during the six months has been reduced. Therefore, it cannot be argued that prospective duty was responsible for an increase in price. On the contrary, there has been a reduction, because the larger output has enabled the manufacturers to spread the overhead charges over a larger volume of trade. It may be stated, of course, that Western Australian and Queensland farmers do not enjoy these factory prices. This is due to their geographical position. The Tariff itself is an honest attempt to build up Australian industries to the advantage of the entire community.
– Senator Senior’s remarks do not touch the position raised by Senator Gardiner, who, in all good faith, quoted figures supplied to him by the International Harvester Company as to prices of implements in Australia and New Zealand. In every case the advantage in price was shown to be with the New Zealand farmer, who, therefore, is in a better position so far as competition in the world’s market is concerned. Senator Senior, quoting from the price list furnished by H. V. McKay, did not attempt to prove that these implements are being sold at a lower price to Australian farmers. His figures, it is true, showed that the farming implements mentioned have fallen in price £2, £3, £4, and £5 each during the first six months of the present year; but had he been able to show that H. V. McKay’s implements were cheaper to-day in New Zealand and Australia than other imported machines are in New Zealand, his argument would have been a good one, and to a large extent it would have exposed the fallacy of Senator Gardiner’s statement. Senator Senior has not attempted to show that our farmers were receiving any benefit as compared with the New Zealand farmers. On the contrary, he has practically admitted that the New Zealand farmers were in a better position than our farmers.
– A lawyer once advised me never to admit anything. That cost me 6s. 8d., but it was good advice.
– And, apparently, the honorable senator is still observing that advice ; but in this particular matter I should advise him to get more uptodate information, especially from the farmers’ point of view. He would then, I think, be on the other side in this argument. I regard the position as a very serious one. I desire, with the utmost sincerity, to get the fullest possible protection for Australian manufacturers, because I realize that from the Commonwealth point of view one factory in Australia is worth half-a-dozen elsewhere. I realize that we are producing better agricultural implements that can be manufactured in other countries. For instance, we have introduced Australian appliances, such as the stump-jump plough and the Sunshine harvester, which are far in advance of machines of the same type produced elsewhere. Sunshine harvesters are sent all over the world, and sold in many countries in competition with machines produced by manufacturers of other countries. Honorable senators who are fanners have told us, and having been born and bred on the land I know, that a farmer cannot make a success of his operations unless he is possessed of the most’ up-to-date machinery. During the last year or two we, as a people, have spent a great deal of money in the attempt to settle returned soldiers on the land, and we have advanced them moneyso that they might equip themselves with the very best appliances. Yet on the figures quoted by Senator Gardiner, and not controverted by Senior Senior, we propose to take away from them £5, £10, £15, or even £20 on each piece of machinery they find it necessary to buy. This will be a severe handicap upon them. It is not at all necessary to impose very high duties, in view of the circumstances in which our agricultural implement makers find themselves. By the ingenuity of the Australian mechanics, and the application of up-to-date business methods, the Sunshine Harvester Company have been able to produce agricultural machinery equal to and in many respects better than that which is made in other parts of the world, and they have been able to export it to New Zealand and overcome the competition of British and American manufacturers there by reason of the superiority of the Australian machine. Surely if they can compete successfully in the markets of New Zealand, they can also compete successfully against outside competition in Australia, where they are not called upon to pay high freights and have also the advantage of that growing Australian sentiment which impels our people, in contradistinction to the feeling which obtained a few years ago, to buy locally-produced articles in preference to those which are imported. It is not necessary to give this high protection to the Australian implement makers of today. Many of them have been established for years. Their factories are not struggling, and are not in need of protection to enable them to grow to manhood. They have attained that stage and are able to stand Upon their own resources, ability, and industry. Where, therefore, is the necessity for imposing high duties, which can only have the immediate effect of increasing the cost of the machines required by our primary producers? If Senator Senior’s argument that the imposition of a duty reduces the cost to the user is worth anything, an increase of the duty by 300 per cent, would bring clown the cost of the article affected to practically nothing. As men of discernment, we know that a duty is imposed in order to enable our own manufacturers to compete with the cheaper products of other countries, but our agricultural implement manufacturers have not to compete with the products of cheap-labour countries. They have to face the competition of countries like America and Great Britain, where the conditions of labour and the cost of production approximate those prevailing in Australia to-day. Furthermore, they enjoy a very high natural protection in the shape of the very heavy freight the manufacturers of other countries are obliged to pay to Australia. I hope that the Committee will agree to the request submitted by Senator Wilson. If later on it is proved that the rates of duty he suggests are not adequate, it will be a matter for further investigation, but in view of the facts I bave set out and the ability of the local agricultural implement makers to compete elsewhere with the manufacturers of all countries, I cannot see the necessity for the imposition of high duties upon the implements they are making.
.- It is undoubtedly true that Australian implement makers were able to sell their harvesters in outside markets before the war, but since then they have been driven out of those markets, with the result that, the American harvester, whose price in Australia is £240, is selling in the Argentine at £360 now that the competition of the Australian machine i9 not felt there.
– Why do not our manufacturers send their implements to the Argentine?
– They cannot hope to enter the Argentine market now that the wages they are paying and other costs of manufacturing have increased. I should like, by the means of the following figures, to give the Committee some idea of the increase in wages between 1914 and 1921 :-
-Will Senator Elliott now quote some of the 1914 prices for machinery as compared with the prices of to-day?
– I am endeavouring to show that Australia cannot’ possibly hope to compete against Argentine and American prices. How are our manufacturers attempting to cope with the situation as disclosed by these figures ? If we cut off their protection, or make it less than it was in 1914, they will be “ between the devil and the deep sea.” I should now like to compare the cost of material in 1914 with its cost in 1921. Senator de Largie questioned my statement that steel can be produced in Belgium at £7 10s. per ton ; and in that connexion I submit the following: -
– The honorable senator voted for high duties on the galvanized iron and other metal products mentioned at the beginning of that list.
– I know, but we must be consistent, and we have to deal with the position as it is to-day. We desire to establish the key industries, and we have to make the schedule consistent. Senator Guthrie asked for some comparative figures in regard to the prices of the machines themselves, and on that point I submit the following typical increases since 1914. In each case net cash prices are given : -
– What is the labour cost in proportion?
– I have not worked that out. I do not ‘ wish to weary the Committee with further examples, and merely say that this rise in prices, serious as it is, has been brought about by the rise in the cost of labour and materials. In no case has the manufacturer made a profit out of the rise in prices, because his prices of to-day are below the percentage increases in wages and cost of material.
– And in the meantime people are induced to leave . the country and rush into the protected industries in the cities!
– That is not the fault of the manufacturer, but of the industrial system, which must first be remedied. If by lowering the duties we allow our manufactures to be extinguished, we shall find it pretty hard to revive them under any system we can devise.
– I thank Senator Elliott for so clearlyproving the necessity for slightly decreased duties. He has ably shown us the huge rise in the prices of all agricultural machinery compared with those which prevailed in 1914 ; and that is exactly the information we require. We all admit that the Australian agricultural machinery is excellent, and that the men employed in its production are well paid. Our manufacturers and wbrkers in this . industry are very inventive, and, from my experience as a farmer, I can say that they have given us probably the best machinery of the kind in the world. For this they deserve all credit, and we wish to see them able to compete against the imported article, but we also desire to protect the primary producer from being forced to pay too highly for the machinery he requires. The honorable senator has indicated the enormous rise in the cost to the farmer of all his implements of production as compared with the prices ruling in 1914. He has also mentioned the huge increases in wage bills, and I accept his figures; but Knibbs estimates that only 17 per cent., in respect of an increase of 100 per cent, in the price of an article, is due to wages. Most of the proportion of the added cost has to do with the material itself. Senator Elliott further provided particulars concerning the high degree of the protection given to iron and steel, and, in doing so, he merely confirmed my own view that the imposts upon those basic products have been made so heavy that Parliament is now floundering in its efforts to impose proportionate duties. While I am pledged to support decreased duties upon agricultural machinery, I perceive that, owing to the high cost of the raw product, due to excessive duties, manufacturers are being penalized. But there should not be forgotten the further protection afforded by huge freight charges. On principle, . 1 shall support every proposed reduction of duty on tools of trade and agricultural machinery. Every possible encouragement should be given topeople to goout on the land rather than that they should be driven into the cities. Senator Duncan referred to the position of thousands of returned soldiers who have been urged to take up land, but they are now being penalized by the imposition of higher rates of duty upon the implements which they must possess.
.- I have already indicated that I am prepared to support some slight reduction of the British and intermediate Tariffs, but I am opposed on principle to any decrease of the general Tariff. Indeed, I would support its increase. In my view, the arguments of certain honorable senators amount to a deliberate attack upon the manufacturing interests of Australia. Senator Duncan remarked that our factories ought to be well established by now. Is it reasonable to contend that manufacturers, with a homo market of 5,000,000 people, can hope to attain to anything like the same position as manufacturers in other countries where the home market consists of 100,000,000 persons? I know something about returned soldiers and the tasks and responsibilities they are facing in the Mallee and elsewhere. I realize their hardships, but I also remember that they were prepared to risk their lives for the Empire and Australia. It would not be too much to ask them now, therefore, to pay a few shillings more for their implements in order to safeguard the best interests of this country. While we may pander to the farmer by telling him that we are reducing the general Tariff on his implements by 5 per cent., we are at the same time going a long way towards destroying the industries which provide the strength and indicate the progress of the Commonwealth. To-day the manufacturers of the United States of America, and the people of Central Europe, are marshalling their industrial and commercial forces to take possession of the world’s markets; and this inopportune moment is being chosen to throw the Australian market more widely open to them. That policy is absolutely -wrong.
Question - That the request regarding the general rate (SenatorWilson’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bequest agreed to.
– I shall take the vote just recorded as indicating the general views of the Committee, and, therefore, shall not call for a division on the British preferential and intermediate duties; but I desire to announce that the Government do not support the requests.
Bequests for a reduction in the British and intermediate duties agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Item 163 -
– This is a similar item to the one just disposed of, with a few minor exceptions. Houorable senators will notice that there is rather an extensive increase in the duties; but, considering the character of the implements under discussion, and those in the item which the Committee has just dealt with, there is nothing to warrant the increased rates, particularly as implements to which they apply are used in an industry which is not protected at all. The item includes disc cultivators, fertilizer, seed and grain drills, and stump-jump ploughs, which are always used in new country, but which are dutiable at a higher rate than implements used in protected industries. I do not think it can be shown that higher labour costs are involved in the manufacture of these implements, and if such is the case we should be given some information about it. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), general, ad val., 32£ per cent.
Previously, when discussing the manufacture of implements, I pointed out that up to 1918 75 per cent, of the total number used in Australia were made in this country. Senator Pratten disputed that statement; but here is some information from another source which confirms what I have already said. An advertisement appearing in the Australasian of 27th April, 1920, over the name of Mr. H. V.
McKay, reads, “ Nearly two-thirds of the wheat, oats, and barley of Australia is harvested with the Sunshine machines.” Two-thirds is 66 per cent. Senator Pratten doubted the accuracy of the figures, but I have now confirmed them from another source. Senator Rowell tells me that there are other manufacturers in the Commonwealth, and I have ascertained that among these are May Brothers, Nicholson and Morrow, The Western Australian Government, Mitchell and Company, and T. Robinson and Company. There may be some operating in New South Wales, . but I do not know. I have given the names of five firms, in addition to Mr. BE. V. McKay, and the difference between the 66 per cent, manufactured by Mr. McKay and the 75 per cent, previously mentioned is, approximately, 8 per cent., which has to be divided among the other five firms.
– Mr. Shearer, of Mannum, is also a manufacturer.
– That may be so; but I am dealing with five only. If the difference between the 66 per cent, and 75 per cent, mentioned is divided between the five firms, the percentage for each is 1.6. That is surely sufficient to prove . that my estimate was most conservative. The Minister said that the bulk of the importations came from America and Canada, and that the proportion of British importations was very small.
– What about binders ?
– I admit that they are included in the American and Canadian imports. But the bulk of the importations from America and Canada are harvesting machines. I did not want my statement on the subject to be challenged, and apart from the figures I previously gave the Committee, I have proved its correctness from the source to which I have just now referred.
– A very reliable source, too.
– What did the honorable senator say was the proportion of Australian manufacture ?
– I said 75 per cent. Senator Senior has quoted extensively from Mr. H. V. McKay, but he will not accept that gentleman’s figures now. The honorable senator cannot have it both ways. Pair play is bonny play, and if Mr. H. V. McKay’s figures, as quoted by the honorable senator, were correct, then it is fair to assume that the figures published by the same gentlemen in the Australasian are also correct. I do not go to favorable sources for my figures in this case; I take the figures of the enemy opposed to my contention, and they show that what I have said is correct, and that 75 per cent, of the agricultural implements and machinery used here are made here. Yet we have all this wrangling about the balance of 25 per cent, which are imported. Why do we not close our porta at once against these imports? In this particular case, we are increasing the duty on the articles required by men whose products have to be disposed of, not in Australian markets, but outside. That is what hurts. Do honorable senators desire to load the primary producers more heavily? The effect of the Government’s proposal would be to do so. Why should we accept it? Even the Government have brought down proposals to make the imposts upon local manufacturers lighter, but they propose to make them heavier on the man who cultivates the land, and must go outside to find a market for his product. That is not fair. I have made a modest request, because wheat-growing has not been upon a profitable basis, as I shall be able to show from the reports of Royal Commissions in two of the States.
– Why not make the duty 30 per cent ?
– I know that 30 per cent, would be the right duty, but there is a vast difference between the right proposal and that which can be carried in this Chamber. We have heard something about balance-sheets, and I am in a position to give honorable senators the balance-sheet of the wheatgrowing industry in New South Wales, according to the report of a Royal Commission that inquired into the wheatgrowing industry in that State in 1916. The question the Commission was called upon to answer was, “ What does it cost to produce wheat in New South Wales?” The Commission took evidence on the matter, and honorable senators will be able to read its report for themselves. It began with the evidence of one gentleman who said he could grow wheat at lis. Sd. per acre. According to different witnesses, the expense varied up to £2 18s. 4d. per, acre-, according to varying local conditions. The average cost was £1 15s. per acre. I think that is a fair thing under Australian conditions. In normal times, wheat could be grown at that cost, I should say, from my own practical experience.
– Could the honorable senator grow wheat at £1 15s. per acre ?
– Not to-day, of course. Hiring labour to-day, a man could not look at it at such a cost. I have quoted the cost estimated for a period before the war. We have to go back to inquire what might be done during a normal period. It is not a question of what could be done during the war, when conditions were so altered as to upset every normal calculation. Let us ask what was happening in the wheatgrowing industry before the war, and according to the report of the Commission to which I have referred the average cost of cultivating an acre of land for wheat at that time was £1 15s. Now, what was the yield? The average yield over ten years, according to the report of the same Commission, was 11.4 bushels per acre in New South Wales. The average price over the same period was 3s. 4d. per bushel, which represents 36s. 5d. per acre, and as the cost of cultivation was £1 15s., the wheat-grower in New South Wales secured a clear profit of ls. 5d. per acre. The Commission, commenting on the matter, say -
Though wheat has been extended in its operations under such returns and prices as indicated, it does not necessarily mean that the operation of wheat-growing has been carried on profitably. It probably means that farmers on their own holdings have pulled through, because of other operations carried on in conjunction with wheat-growing and by the increase which has taken place in the value - of their lands ; and in the case of share-farmers, that they have been able to engage their plants and their labour, or their labour only, in other forms of occupation in the off season.
This means that the wheat-growing industry in New South Wales had to lean on something else.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Senator Lynch’s chief argument has been that under the previously existing Tariff we have been producing practically all the agricultural implements and machinery that we require. Since I last spoke I found in my box a copy of the Importers and Exporters Journal for Australia,, of 20th August, 1921. This is not a Protectionist journal. It is merely concerned with trade, and is consequently not biased. It is in favour of the exporter and importer rather than of the manufacturer. I find from this journal that during the month of June of this year Australia imported machines and machinery to the value of £437,572.
– -Is that agricultural machinery?
– No. That is the value of the importations of all machinery for the month of June of this year. New South Wales imported machinery to the value of £123,396; Victoria, £198,781; Queensland, £24,070; South Australia, £43,552; Western Australia, £45,561; Tasmania, £2,212; or a total for the one month of £437,572. In addition, manufactures of metals were imported into the Commonwealth to the value of £755,911 in the same month. This was money going out of the Commonwealth which should have been earned within Australia, and would have assisted to build up our prosperity.
– And in giving work to our own people.
– It should have been spent in giving work to our own people.
– Did not our own people find work to earn the money to pay for those imports?
– They did so only in the exercise of their labour in the production of raw materials, which, at half their manufactured value, were sent to other countries to be manufactured. I thought it my duty to give these figures, which should appeal to honorable senators.
– How does the honorable senator know that all these machines could have been made here?
– Possibly we could not have manufactured some of them, but I venture to say that the great majority of them could have been made here. It would be a surprise to me to hear that an appreciable portion of this enormous sum could not have been earned in Australia. During the period that we imported this nearly £500,000 worth of machinery, we exported only £3,000 worth. Is Senator Gardiner satisfied, in such circumstances, with the advance made by Australian manufacturers ? Honorable senators are going the right way to prevent the advancement of our manufacturing industries. I ask them to keep these facts iri mind and to avoid doing something which I am sure, as true Australians, they will subsequently regret. As to the figures quoted to-night by Senator Gardiner, showing that in Free Trade New Zealand agricultural machinery is cheaper than in Australia, I am still of the opinion that they were supplied to him to meet the exigencies of a certain set of circumstances. As a matter of fact, New Zealand at the present time is contemplating the imposition of duties on agricultural machinery, and those who export such machinery to that country would naturally be prepared to supply it for the present ‘at a considerably cheaper rate than they have been doing. Their price-lists as quoted here on Friday last were higher than the up-to-date lists quoted here tonight. In every speech made in opposition to the duties proposed by the Government, an attempt has been made to show that every £1 paid by way df duty to protect an industry is added to the cost of the product of that industry to the user. I disagree with that view. If a duty is imposed for the purpose of building up an industry, the ultimate result is that the product of that industry becomes cheaper to the users.
– -Hut how long have they to wait?
– Li dealing with questions of this kind, one has to use some common sense.
-Brookman. - Or imagination.
– No; I am afraid that the honorable senator relies on his imagination for most of his facts. My desire is that Australia shall manufacture all its requirements, and not depend on the foreigner, over whom we have no control, and who in certain circumstances may charge the users of his manufactures any prices he please. If honorable senators desire that imagination shall be given some scope, I ask them to imagine their own country manufacturing all these implements. If the prices become too high, we can adopt reasonable methods to curtail the exploitation of the people.
We can control those who are carrying on industries within our own borders, but we cannot control the foreign manufacturers.
– This item calls for some explanation on the part of the Minister. I find it difficult to understand why the implements and machinery covered by items 161 and 162 should be dutiable at a lower rate than those covered by item 163a, and I should like to hear the official explanation of this apparent inconsistency. Those things covered by the item now before us are essential to the early pioneer on the land. Throughout this debate I have put up a plea for the Australian pioneer - the man for whom the Committee should have especial consideration. I am glad to bay, by the way, that there are great signs of improvement in that regard on the part of the Committee. Honorable senators, I gratefully acknowledge, are now displaying for the man on the land a consideration of which I rather despaired in the earlier part of the Tariff debate. One of the arch-priests of High Protection is Senator Earle, who has suggested that I rely perhaps a little too much on my imagination.
– That was only by way of a mild retort.
– I suggest to that honorable senator that imagination is one of the greatest essentials of statesmanship. A man who doc3 not possess some quality of imagination can never vision what is going to happen in this great Commonwealth.
– But it is not wise to rely on one’s imagination for one’s facts.
– If the honorable senator desires a few facts, I invite him, in the first place, to remember the immense load of debt that we have contracted in connexion with the war. How are we going to pay off that immense debt unless we have an increased population and increased production ?
– We can pay it off only by means of our exports.
– The honorable senator has anticipated me. It can be paid off only by means of our exports. We cannot get away from the fact that our primary industries are our principal source of production. The wealth produced by them amounts, I think, to £223,000,000 per annum., as compared with £75,000,000 of wealth produced by our secondary industries, and I remind the Committee that the greater part of that £75,000,000 is paid for by the primary producers. That point must not be overlooked. Therefore we come back to the wealth created by the primary producers of Australia, who, I contend, should have first consideration in this Tariff, for if we do not get more population into this immense continent, how are we going to face the future? f ask Senator Earle to allow his imagination a little play, instead of presenting us with mundane statements based on false premises. Population is the first essential for the future development of Australia. If we make life easier for our pioneers one-half of our difficulties will be removed. I was led into this debate by Senator Earle’s extraordinary assertion, and I want some explanation from the Minister concerning the remarkable distinction in the duties between the requirements for those producers who may be regarded as comparatively settled on the land and the needs of the real pioneers. I refer particularly to the very heavy duty, 27½ per cent. British, 25 per cent, intermediate, and 40 per cent, general, on the stump-jump plough, which is the first implement to be used by pioneer farmers.
– Under the old Tariff the duty was much lower.
-BRO CKMAN. - As Senator Guthrie reminds me, the duty on this implement under the old Tariff was 25 per cent. British and 30 per cent, general. What is the explanation for the jump to 40 per cent, in the general Tariff? It is probably based on false reasoning, as is the case Avith regard to so many other items in the schedule. Therefore, I hope my honorable colleague from Western Australia, who has proposed to request a duty of 32-£ per cent, general, will be prepared to move for a reduction, to 30 per cent, to bring the duty into line with other similar items. If not, I feel disposed myself to request further reduction in the intermediate Tariff from 35 per cent, to 25 per cent., and in the British Tariff from 27-i per cent, to 15 per cent., bringing it into line with tlie duties we have imposed under item3 161 ‘ and 162.
– I am rather surprised that Senator Drake-Brockman, who is usually so logical, should appeal almost pathetically for information, which he seemed to think I might be in a position to supply, when it would appear that his mind was definitely made up, and that he was determined to vote for a reduction of the duty, regardless of the nature of the information given to him.
– On the contrary, I said that I felt disposed to take a certain course.
-The honorable senator upbraided Senator Lynch, his colleague, for not moving for a further reduction, and so convinced was he of the justice of his cause that he himself, although the silent member of this Chamber, as he put it, would be compelled to move a request for lower duties than were outlined in Senator Lynch’s proposal. I think that Senator Drake-Brockman, and, I believe, every other honorable senator, has made up his mind as to his vote on this item. That is one reason why I have not taken a more active part iu the debate, but I shall endeavour to supply the information asked, though I recognise the futility of doing so.
– I am quite open to b’i convinced on this item.
– I am satisfied that nothing that may be said is going to alter a single vote on the item. The reason why higher duties are proposed is that the implements in this item are a little more complicated. The process of manufacture calls for a little more skill and labour than is the case with implements included in the previous items. This principle has been observed in all previous Tariffs.
– The stump-jump plough is one of the easiest to manufacture.
– I cannot say that I have ever made a stump-jump plough ; but I have sat behind one, and I know that it is more complicated than the ordinary mouldboard plough.
– But not compared with other implements in item 161.
– I am giving the Committee the reason which has moved the Department in the framing of previous Tariffs to place a higher range of duties on implements of this description. In the last Tariff the duties, I think, were 5 per cent, higher than on other implements, and as occasionally some respectful attention is paid to the recommendations of the Inter-State Commission, I remind the Committee that that body suggested that the duty should be 25 per dent. British and 35 per cent, general Tariff, with an additional recommendation that if its proposal regarding the iron duties were adopted there should be a further 2i per cent, duty on each of these items. That is exactly what is being done in this Tariff, with the difference that a column for the intermediate Tariff has been included.
– The maximum in that case would be 37£ per cent.
– Why make the general Tariff 40 per cent.?
– The honorable senator, it appears, is taking exception to the policy of the Government of giving preference to British against foreign manufacturers. I am rather surprised, because I remember being very much impressed, prior to the elections, by a fine speech he made in favour of the policy which this Tariff is attempting to give effect to.
– We want to make the preference 100 per cent.
– The honorable senator- wants this to be on a mathematical basis, and becomes captious about the addition of 2i per cent, in favour of the Mother Country aeainst the foreigner.
– Not at all.
– I have endeavoured to show the reason why it has been thought desirable by the past - not by this - Government to impose a slightly higher range of duties upon the implements, mentioned in this item, and I point to the report of the Inter-State Commission’s recommendation of the continuance of this -policy. If this Committee thinks the duties are too high, as, apparently, it does, I suggest that it should still follow the example which has been in practice for so lone, and move for duties a little hieher than those imposed in the previous items.
– These same rates of duty appear against a number of items in this division of the Tariff.
– That is another factor to be taken into consideration. Honorable senators in seeking the reduction of a particular duty in a somewhat arbitrary fashion overlook the desirability of maintaining some relation, over the range of duties, between one item and another, and thus that harmony which should mark a Tariff is destroyed. I beg honorable senators to maintain the necessity for preserving that relationship of one item to another which the framers of the Tariff have endeavoured to set up.
– I am sorry that the honorable senator, in submitting his request, has not kept to the proportion observed in respect to other items where the Committee has requested reductions of duty. I agree with Senator E. D. Millen that it is necessary to have an extra duty on the articles included in this item. There may be certain secrets in the process of manufacture, but it is well known that American makers have copied the patterns of Australian ploughs made here as the result of the application of Australian brains, and have even gone so far as to declare that, in time, they will hold the plough trade of Australia. Although we make the best plough, and although very. few of these implements are likely to be imported, we must not allow big powers overseas any opportunity to crush out an industry which has been brought into existence in Australia much to the advantage of our primary producers. Throughout the consideration of this Tariff, I have takenup the attitude of protecting an industry on its own merits, and I hope that Senator Lynch will alter his request, and seek for a reduction of only 5 per cent, in keeping with the decision of the Committee in regard to the previous item. We are assured that the framers of the Tariff have arranged the duties on these items on a scientific basis, and, in doing so, have given an extra duty upon this item, which covers a class of work entailing the employment of more brain power. A reduction of 5 per cent, will give ample protection, not only to the industry, but also to the consumers.
.- In 1911, the Bureau of Agriculture of the United States of America sent circulars to wheat farmers all over the Union, and received 5,000 replies showing the cost of planting an acre of wheat, and the value of produce therefrom. From this information, the Bureau struck an average, demonstrating that, in 1911, the cost of working an acre of wheat land in the United States of America was £2 6s. 6d., while the average return was £3 8s. 6d., giving a net return of £1 2s., as against Is. 5d. in Australia, according to the finding of the New South Wales Commission of 1916. I have already shown what the state of the industry was in that normal period. I propose now to show what the farmer received for his wheat during the war period. We hear a great deal about how the wheat-grower was advantaged by a Pool taking over the control of wheat, and I am not prepared to dispute the fact. On scores of occasions I have said that, h!ad it not been for the Pool, the fanners of Asustralia would not have got what they did get. According to the figures quoted by the Minister for Agriculture in Western Australia last week, the average net return to the farmer in the first year after the war started was 4s. 4¼d. per bushel. There is a chance of us getting another¼d. For the succeeding years, the average net return secured was 4s. l½d. in 1916-17; 4s. 9d. in 1917-18; 5b. 2d. in 1918-19; 8s. 6d. in 1919-20; and 6s. 3d. for the harvest just garnered.
– How many million, pounds were obtained for wool in the same period?
– The people engaged in the wool industry have their own problems. I am speaking of that element in the population’ which outnumbers those engaged in any other industry.
– There are far more people engaged in secondary industries than in wheat-growing.
– Possibly, in the aggregate; but I am . speaking of a single industry. In that respect, wheatgrowing stands at the top of the list so far a3 Australia is concerned. The New South Wales Commission has shown that for ten years the net return to the wheatgrower has not exceeded 3s. 4d. per bushel. A 50 per cent, increase on 3s. 4d. is 5s., but that 5s. was not received by the farmer until the war was over. Senator
Elliott has told us that the increase in the price of machinery represents from 60 per cent, to 70 per cent., but I know from personal experience that it has been nearer SO per cent., and, in some cases, 100 per cent. That is the balance-sheet of the wheat-growing industry of this country. I could refer to other industries and show the vast increases that the producers of commodities have received, and though the wheat-grower enjoyed no like advantages he is now asked to bear this extra impost. If we pile up these duties we pile them on that section of the community which is least able to bear them. As was well said by Senator Drake-Brockman, if we desire to diversify our industries and broaden the basis of our industrial fabric, we cannot do so by giving unnecessaryand unasked for protection to the manufacturers mentioned, and” thus further burdening the primary producers.
– I had not made up my mind qs to the extent to which I would support any reductions in these items, and I regret that Senator Lynch moved his request before the explanation by the Minister. I felt there must be some good and sufficient reason for the differentiation between this and the preceding item ; and the Minister’s explanation is confirmed by a reference to preceding Tariffs, which show that for many years there has been such a differentiation. I have to justify any vote I give, and I wish to be as consistent as possible. The majority of honorable senators have to-night voted in the direction of certain reductions in the items that have been before us, and I wish to see those rediictions continued with regard to all commodities that are used in primary production. But I am not in a position to promise my support to any proposition- which would destroy the proportion with which we commenced; that does not appeal to me as a reasonable attitude to adopt. As I have said, I felt sure there must be some good reason for the differentiation, and the Minister’s explanation is a very fair one. If Senator Lynch is not prepared to ask leave to amend his request, I shall have to vote against it, but I give notice that, if that request be defeated, I shall move to re duce the duties on this item in proportion with the reduction made in the duties on the preceding item.
Question - That the request (Senator Lynch’s) be agreed to- put. The Committee divided.
Majority . … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Payne) proposed -
That the House of Representatives he requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), general, ad val., 35 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . … 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Payne) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), intermediate, ad val., 30 per cent.
Request (by Senator Guthrie) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), British, ad val., 20 per cent.
.- The general Tariff upon the implements designated in sub-item b is only 10 per cent., while British manufactures may be imported free. Obviously, the impost of 10 per cent, is intended purely to- be productive of revenue.
– The impdsition is for the purpose of giving preference to British manufactures.
– Obviously ; but I suggest that discs for agricultural implements and mouldboard plates should be imported free. Are any such attachments manufactured in this country?
– It may be taken for granted, in view of the rates set down, that they are not.
– I understand that these articles are not manufactured here. As it is not a Protective duty it should be removed.
– Does the honorable senator think that importations from Germany should be free of duty ?
– Yes. I am not very strongly in favour of this preference to Great Britain, because it has never been sought. In effect we are telling Great Britain thatbecause we cannot manufacture discs in Australia we are prepared to admit her manufactures free of duty; and in giving preference to Great Britain we are merely considering our own interests. I would rather give an extra 5 per cent, where it may be needed than impose a duty of 5 per cent, where it is for revenue purposes only. These discs are imported from America and Canada, and as we are, therefore, imposing a tax of 10 per cent, on the users of them, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (b), general, free.
. -It is not often that it is my pleasure to be in agreement with Senator Thomas, and in this instance, although I accept his facts, I have to draw entirely different conclusions. If there is an occasion on which we can give effective preference to Great Britain it is in an instance such as this, where British manufactures are imported free of duty.
– Provided we get the articles from Great Britain.
– We do in this case. It has always been contended by Senator Gardiner and Senator Thomas, that it is hypocritical to impose duties against Great Britain when we can manufacture articles in this country, and to call it preference when the goods Britain can manufacture, and we cannot produce, are admitted free. Whatever truth . there may be in that grotesque presentation of the case, I contend that it does not apply in this instance. As we are not making the goods, Britain can have a free run of the market, because we are imposing duties on imports from other countries. For that reason I asK the Committee not to support the request.
– Can the Minister give the value of the importations from Great Britain, and also from Canada and America J
– I cannot give the information off-hand; but I am assured that discs are imported from Great Britain.
– I think that is a very important question and one that should ‘be answered,because a large quantity of these articles come from America. If only a mere fraction of our total requirements is imported from the Old Country, we are im-; posing a 10 per cent, duty on the primary producers without any reason. That may suit Senator Earle, who, without rhyme or reason, will vote for any duties if they are high enough. These discs are im-. ported from America, and it is only fair, that we should be supplied with information as to the quantity exported by Great Britain and the United States of America. I do not know if the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) can supply it to-night, but I am prepared to stay here until I obtain some satisfaction, because I do not believe in imposing an unnecessary tax.
– Then vote for, the request, because I have not the figures.
– The Minister should have them.
– The honorable senator must not expect everything on the spur of the moment ; I am not a walking encycloptedia.
– Surely the Minis; ter can obtain the “information.
– The honorable senator should obtain his own facts and then decide how to vote.
– I am supplying information to the effect that disc3 are imported in large quantities from America.
– Then vote on that assumption.
– I use them on my ploughs, and if the Minister could inform me that, say, 70 per cent, of our requirements came from Great Britain, I would be in favour of giving preference.
– I only asked the honorable senator to vote.
– I am not going to vote just yet. We have had information on items as trivial as! meat skewers when it was a question of imposing a duty of 2 or 3 per cent. ; but when it is a matter that affects people who have to dispose of their products in overseas markets, necessary particulars are not supplied. I cannot understand why honorable senators are prepared to support such a duty in the absence of information. These discs are not made in Australia, and the industry is not even going through the gestation process here. These matters might be easily settled if we were supplied with the information which the Committee is entitled to receive. I have said before that no Tariff has been introduced in this Chamber about which so little information has been vouchsafed by the Government as has been forthcoining in connexion with that now under discussion.
– Oh !
– If Senator Earle were blindfolded in this chamber, and could smell the side on which the Government were, he would go there by instinct. I have here a copy of the information which was presented by the Government of the day in submitting a previous Tariff. It gives every detail of imports under every line of the Tariff, the revenue received, and the countries from which the different articles came. What have we here in the way of information? We have a make-up from Ambrose Pratt, with the imprimatur of the Government.
-All the information to which the honorable senator has referred would not alter a vote.
– I know it would not alter Senator Earle’s votes; but I regard him as a shocking example. I am not going to vote for a revenue duty on these implements and machinery. I do not desire my name to be associated with the passing of a Tariff of this description merely for the purpose of raising revenue and without any compensating advantage whatever in the way of preference to imports from the Old Country or the establishment of any industry here. This proposal is not in accord with the policy put before the country by_the Government of adequate protection for secondary industries. There was no talk when that policy was framed of raising revenue from duties on such items as these. The idea then was to raise revenue from luxuries, but not on the absolute necessities of the farm for every day in the week. We can get no information from the Minister in charge of the Bill, and arc asked simply to vote for the Government proposal. I do not propose to vote for it until I get more information. This is a proposal to obtain revenue by taking it out of the pockets of the farmers, who have to work, fourteen hours a day. I propose now to quote what men are doing in Western Australia in the agricultural industry. These are the men from whom the Government propose to take an extra 10 per cent, in the way of duty on the spare parts they require for the machinery they use. I have a McKay plough on my farm, and it is a fairly good article. I have a Nicholson and Morrow plough also, but I had to waif three months for discs, and where did they come from?” They came from America.
– Was that during the war?
– It was during last season. These disc ploughs are used for breaking down rough country. They are the equivalent, as Senator DrakeBrockman has said, of the stump-jump plough used in new country. They are required to cut through saplings and’ roots up to 2” inches in diameter. Here is the storyshowing the hard struggle which men have to go through in Western Australia ; and let me say their experience is not singular, as the man on the land has to go through a similar struggle in the other States. I can support from my own experience the statements I propose to quote. Experience is the best schoolmaster in these matters. Ministers have not this experience, but I have it. and I know where the shoe pinches.
– The poor old man on the land !
– I do not wish it to appear that the man on the land is whining in this Chamber through me or through any one else. I can let him speak for himself.
– He has had a pretty good time.
– He has made more than any one else during the last four or five years.
– A Royal Coramission appointed in Western Australia obtained J;he following evidence: - Mr. Wilcox, the holder of 1,200 acres of land, was asked what were the average hours the farmer had to work according to his experience, and his answer was -
From sunrise to sunset all the year round.
Mr. Brown, who had been farming for thirteen years on 500 acres of land, and was previously in South Australia, was asked the question, “What hours do you, work?” and his answer was -
Sixteen or seventeen hours a day; some farmers do a bit better than that.
Mr. Pott, who had been farming for nine years, was also questioned. These were all practical men, and I am trying to let honorable senators know what is being done by the men who are holding the fort in the West. If they did not hold it, some of the representatives of eastern States in this Chamber might go over and try their hand at it. If the men who are there now cannot hold the fort they would not have a dog’s show of holding it.
– They could get bettler land in the east.
– I am speaking of those upon whom an extra impost will be levied as the result of this ill-considered Tariff. I shall look after their interests as long as I have a seat in this Parliament.
– Men on the land have to struggle in the eastern States’ also.
– I have admitted that. I said I was referring to condi-‘ ti ons that were not singular to Western Australia, and I shall later on be able to quote from a New South Wales Royal Commission a little information about share-fanning in that State. Mr. Pott was asked by the Western Australian Commission : “ Are you satisfied to be on ‘ the land?” His reply was -
If I had known as much as I know now about farming I do not think I should ever have tackled it. I do not think you get a fair return for the capital put into it. The hours are very long - twelve or thirteen hours a day. There is not much in it when all is said and done.’
Mr. Smith, a farmer of eight years’ experience, said -
I reckon that the ordinary man on a farm works on the average tcn hours a day all the year round.
– What has this to do with the item?
– I do not want men who are working for ten hours a day and more to have to pay 10 per cent, extra in the shape of duty on plough discs. These are not forty-four or forty-eight hours a week men. Their hours are fifty-four and longer per week, and they are farming on dry areas. I want information about imports under this item, and I expect to get it. Mr. Smith gave this evidence -
I reckon that the ordinary man on a farm works on the average ten hours a day all the year round. I could not do it in ten hours when I was working myself some time ago. I was working for twelve hours, reckoning the time taken in feeding the horses.
A Mr. Nichols was asked the question: “Do you think that 9s. per day of fourteen hours is a fair allowance for wages?” His answer was -
No. It should be more like 15s. or 13s. If you compare the energy the farmer puts in with that of the navvy, it should be more like fi per day.
I can give honorable senators a chapter on share-farming, but in the meantime I enter my protest against this iniquitous proposal to impose an extra 10 per cent, duty on these articles which are so necessary in the frontier settlement of this country, without any ‘ compensating advantage to which the Minister in charge of the Bill can point.
Senator E. D. MILLEN (New South Wales - Minister for Repatriation) merit’s proposal is iniquitous according to Senator Lynch. It has been in operation for seven years, but I have not known Senator Lynch to be so eloquent on the subject before.
– I had not a chance to deal with it before.
– The honorable senator had it in the Tariff of 1914.
– How does the honorable senator ‘know that I did not object to it at that time?
– This duty has been in operation for seven years-
– The honorable senator is assuming that we had an opportunity to discuss the 1914 Tariff.
– But it is only now that we learn that it is a great iniquity.
– The 1914 Tariff was validated by Act of Parliament. It was not discussed.
– I listened in silence and with admiration to the hpnorable senator’s remarks; I trust he will give me an opportunity to ‘make a few observations. Although this duty has been in operation since 1914, I was not aware that there was in existence such an iniquity as the honorable senator, judging by his remarks, would have us believe this to be. The Inter-State Commission inquired into this matter, and there is a note in its report to which I would specially draw the attention of Senator Lynch, because he seems to think that the Government should have at its command, in regard to the item, all sorts of information of a monetary and detailed character.
– The Government should not ask for a duty unless they have such information in support of it.
– It is well known that there are many items the imports under which are not separated, but bulked, -for the purposes of the Customs Department. The Department cannot tell us what the imports are under this item, because it is a comparatively small one, and the imports are not shown under the heading of “ Countries of origin.” The Inter-State Commission report that fact. They state that there are no statistics, giving the imports or countries of origin of disc or agricultural implements.
All the discs locally used are imported. The figures as to the imports are small, and are bulked with, those relating to other items, but the Customs officials assure me that these implements are imported from England as well as from America, and possibly Canada. So much forthat point. I ask honorable senators to bear in mind that this question of Avhether we shall give Great Britain a preference of 10 per cent, against America, Canada, and possibly Germany - Germany may not make these implements just now, but she soon will be making them if I am any judge of her tendency to revive-
– Do we not want to sell our wool? Are we not asking Ger-, many to buy it?
– I am not now discussing the economic and rival advantages of Free Trade and Protection ; I am trying merely to deal with this item. We are entitled to pay some little regard to the question of whether or not we shall continue this duty of 10 per cent, under the general Tariff with the open and avowed object of giving a preference to the Mother Country. Those who respect the authority of the Inter state Commission will be glad to know that it recommends that such a preference should be given.
– The Inter-State Commission’s reports are quoted only when they suit.
– Human nature exists in this Chamber as elsewhere.
– I understood the honorable senator to say that the InterState Commission reported that it could not get any information as to the imports under this item.
– It could not obtain details as to the number of implements coming from each country of export. It is silent, as I am, on that point. The information is not to be obtained. Many of the smaller imports are bulked together in this way, and it is impossible to make available information that does not exist. It was not’ due to want of courtesy to Senator Lynch or any one else that the desired information was not given. A reference lo page 20 of the Inter-State Commission’s report will show that it recommended exactly what this
Tariff attempts to do - the imposition of a duty of 10 per cent, under the general Tariff, and that imports from Great Britain should be free. Whether honorable senators are disposed to agree to that duty or not, I submit that it is a matter upon which they can easily make up their minds. There has been a long discussion, and those who are disposed to think that the range of duties on implements used by the primary producer is too high can easily determine their position, so that I think I am not unreasonable in asking the Committee to come to a decision immediately on this question.
– I recognise that it would be impossible for the Minister (Senator Millen) to give information concerning every detail of our importations ; but I take it that the Customs Department at least knows what amount has been collected by way of duty on these implements. I am rather glad that I have-raised this question, because the schedule contains quite a number of items in respect of which there is a duty of 10 per cent, under the general Tariff, while imports from Great Britain are free. If we cannot obtain information now as to the amount collected by the Customs Department in respect of this item, I hope that we shall be able to obtain such particulars in regard to other items of a similar kind with which we shall have to deal later on. I am not a very strong Protectionist; but there may be something in the argument that where the products of a local industry have to compete with foreign imports, it is quite possible that the consumer or user does not pay the full duty - that a portion of the duty is paid by the importer. On the other hand, if there is no local industry, the consumer pays the full amount of the Customs duty. This is a Protectionist not a revenue Tariffist Committee, and I would be glad to know what amount of revenue has been collected in respect of this item. Can the Customs officials give us that information?
-No; I am told the imports under this item are bulked with agricultural implements. There is no separate record.
– I accept the honorable senator’s statement; but does he think that such a system is a businesslike one for the Department to adopt? The statement is a rather staggering one.
– The amount collected, I presume, is insignificant.
– Even if it is only £10, there should be a separate record of it.
– Ten pounds would be shown as revenue from agricultural implements.
– But we cannot get information as to how much money is being received from the importation of articles under revenue-producing duties. Honorable senators will see, from the schedule, that there is a large number in this category, and if I am present when they are reached I shall raise the question again and see if we can get the necessary information. I am against the item as a more revenue-producing Tariff.
– I suppose, if we are to continue to-night, that we might as well discuss this item as any other. I am inclined to take Senator Thomas’s view that this duty is not so much to give preference to Great Britain as to benefit ourselves. While desirous of free trade with. Britain, I see no value in this preference at all. The question whether farmers should pay 10 per cent, duty on implements which are used only by them is also raised. I realize that when I start to talk Protection I am a suspect at once, but farming is an all- Australian industry, and as there is no indication that the Australian implement makers are manufacturing these particular implements the Tariff will not help. I take it that Protectionists do not argue that Protection shall be afforded to secondary industries only, and, therefore, as these implements are not being manufactured in. Australia, and as they are required -by the farming community, they should be allowed in free. Unlike Senator Thomas, I do not expect the Minister to have at hand all the information that may be asked for in connexion with these items. As a matter of fact, I do not think details as to importations have any bearing on the question at all. As the implements are not being manufactured in Australia, and as Protection is not intended for secondary industries only, then Protectionists, equally with Pree Traders, could vote for the free admission of these implements. Senator Lynch has shown that the primary industries of the Commonwealth are getting pretty rough treatment at the hands of the Protectionists in this Tariff, and I am suggesting that, in the interests of our primary industries, they should -wholeheartedly adopt the view I have stated. This is the reason why I think Senator Thomas’s proposal could very well have been accepted by the Government. It is not fair that the Government should say that this Tariff schedule must go through, without alteration, or that any alterations, if made, must not be in favour of the primary producers. This Committee has rights,_if not privileges. One of these is to be permitted to deal with its business within reasonable hours. It is not. reasonable to expect honorable senators, many of whom were travelling all last night, to debate the schedule at this hour of the night, particularly in view of the fact that we are expected to be here again at 11 o’clock to-morrow.
– Does the honorable senator think that passing two items in two days is satisfactory progress ? There lias been a good deal of talk about them, though.
– There has been a lot of talk, because of a conflict of forces in the ranks of the Government supporters, and particularly because Senators Lynch, Thomas, and Duncan are keenly watching the interests of the country.
– The talking has been on the side of the majority. Usually, as the honorable senator knows, the minority does the talking, but in this debate the majority has been winning, division after division, and still doing the talking.
– That shows that the debate was not organized.
– I am speaking only of the results - two items in two days.
– I realize that there has been a good deal’ of debate, and though only two items have been passed in two days, the Minister must remember that one item contains at least fifty implements required by the farmers.. As honorable senators are aware, I have not spoken for a quarter of an hour at today’s sitting, and I would not be speakin<r now but for the fact that I think it is a reasonable hour for honorable senators to be allowed to go home. I realize, of course, that the Minister must be considerably disappointed at the progress made, but it will not help matters if we sit later to-night. I am prepared to help to get a vote on this item now, so that wo may adjourn.
– I ask the honorable senator, in all sincerity* if he thinks that passing two items in two days is reasonable progress?
– I do not.
– But everything de- pends upon the nature of the items.
– I do not want to get into conflict with the Minister, but I point out that it might have been possible for the Government to have a division on the first item on Friday last.
– No; the adjournment was granted at the request of honorable senators. »
– Anyhow, let us have a vote on this item now.
– I understand from the Minister that he is going on; and, as far as I am concerned, if I have to stay here I may as well debate this item as any other, but if there is any prospect of adjourning I shall sit down at once.
– The Minister has raised the point that I did not speak about this matter when a Tariff was introduced in 1914, and my reply is that, although a Tariff was imposed in 1914, it was passed by a validating Bill, and honorable senators had no opportunity then to discuss it analytically. These goods were admitted free from all parts prior to 1913, and then in 1914 a duty of 10 per cent, was imposed under the general Tariff. Prior to that Britain was given no preference because all these articles were coming from America. Now we have the vague statement that some come from Great Britain. What that some is no one knows.
– Have we the assurance that none are made in Australia-?
– None whatever. The last shipment I had, for which I had to wait six weeks, came from America. The Chamber has nothing to be ashamed of in regard to this Tariff debate. We have been going through the schedule in a workmanlike way. Our work is not to be compared with what is done in any other Chamber or Parliament. It is our duty to dissect a Tariff closely and minutely, especially one drawn up as this is. The quality of the debate upon it is certainly nothing to apologize for.
Question - That the request (Senator Thomas’) be agreed to- put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I ask Senator Millen to agree to report progress. Many of us spent last night in the train, and several of us are not in the best of health. I admit/ that a good deal of time has been occupied in discussing two items, but they were important items. However, I think that progress will be more rapid in future, especially if the Minister will have some regard for those who were compelled to travel through last night. If necessary we could sit later to-morrow night or on Thursday night.
– I ask the Senate to consider the position in which I am placed. I have no desire for all-night sittings; they are no more acceptable to me than they are to other honorable senators; but I have the responsibility of seeing that some reasonable progress is . made. If any honorable senator can give a different answer from that which Senator Gardiner gave when I asked him if he thought that it was reasonable progress to dispose of two items in two days, I would like to know it.
– They were two very important items.
– It is useless for the honorable member to say that, in view of the fact that they were not discussed in detail; the debate ranged generally upon the effect of duties imposed upon articles used by primary producers. Honorable senators can help me and the Government by making a little further progress before the Senate adjourns; at any rate, a little more than has been accomplished during the last two days.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Churns of all kinds; cheese presses; dairy coolers; refrigerators other than for household use, ad val., British, 27½ per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
.- I move-
That progress be reported.
– You are taking the business out of the hands of the Government.
– I am not doing so seriously; if any one thinks that I am doing so it is a misunderstanding on his part.
– There is no doubt about what you are doing, and you know it perfectly well.’ However, hoe your own row.
– I know what I am doing.
– Then do not pretend anv nonsense about it.
– I am not pretending any nonsense. Honorable senators who were in their beds in Melbourne last night ought to have some consideration for those who were travelling all night. I have come here prepared to do my duty; but when I sit until midnight-
– Order ! This motion cannot be debated.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties ad val., British, 20 per cent. ; intermediate, 30 per cent. ; general, 35 per cent.
I do not propose to make any speech, all that is necessary having already been said.
posal, in view of the intimation by the Committee of its attitude towards these items, I shall not call for a division.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item, 165 -
Request (by Senator Guthrie) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
– I desire to refer to something that I said on Friday last, notwithstanding that I follow the good old parliamentary axiom, “ Never explain, and never complain,” and when I think I have made a mistake, I let myself down as lightly as possible. On Friday, when Senator Pratten spoke of the extraordinary saving that had been made of 80 per cent, of beaten-down wheat in New South Wales by the use of a harvester invented by a Henty farmer, what he said seemed so much like . a fairy tale, that, without giving the matter much attention, I expressed the opinion that the honorable senator was all wrong. Since then, however, I have received the following letter, written on behalf of Mr. Hugh V. McKay, of the. Sunshine Harvester Works-
Last Friday you mentioned in the Senate that you could hardly believe the statement of saving effected to the farmers of New South Wales last year by the use of Australian harvesting machinery and attachments, in handling the crop that was knocked down by hail and rain storms. I have pleasure in sending you a small booklet, showing some photographs of the machine at work; also, I am enclosing some photographs for your information. The machine, used was the Taylor Header Harvester, manufactured in the Sunshine Harvester Works. This machine is totally different from any other . machine for harvesting wheat, and is particularly adapted for the handling of fallen crops. Instead of the reel and canvas used on headers or reaper threshers, this machine has a double spiral, which takes in the crop from the comb and knife, and forces it on to an elevator. From there it is threshed and cleaned for market. Early in October our friends throughout the State had reported the danger of the abundant crop being severely injured by the prevailing rain, and steps were taken to manufacture a very large quantity of crop lifters, which were attached to the front of the machine, and which lift the crop sufficiently to enable it to pass through the comb and enter the spirals. We decided to sacrifice the output of all implements and other machines, and practically the whole of this large factory was occupied in the manufacture of crop lifters and false combs for six weeks. In New South Wales alone over 1,500 machines were equipped with false combs and crop lifters, and instead of the farmers getting very small yields they were able to save practically the whole of the wheat. In many cases over 30 bushels of wheat per acre, in some cases, 40 bushels, were taken off a crop that looked absolutely ruined. Presuming that each of the 1,500 machines referred to were used for taking off 300 acres of the fallen crop, it would amount to 450,000 acres. Assuming the saving of 20 bushels an acre, it would mean 0,000,000 bushels of wheat saved to the farmers. I do not think these figures exaggerate the saving effected last year in New South Wales, and will, I feci sure, appeal to a man like yourself, who is interested in the subject. If you are further interested in the matter, I would be very pleased to show you a number of letters, and also the machine itself which accomplished this work.
That letter bears out Senator Pratten’s statement, and what I said on Friday, to some extent, does not hold good. It is quite delightful to realize that, at any rate, this industry does not need any protection. It is clearly not an infant industry, but in the full growth of robust manhood; and from the information we now have, it ie able to turn out these machines in a time which, I candidly admit, I did not think possible. In the light of the particulars contained in the letter, added to Knibbs’ statistics concerning the last year’s bumper crop, which averaged 17 bushels, I must admit the general correctness of Senator Pratten’s statements, and accept as facts the reported performances of this wonderful implement attachment. I am glad to know that Australian manufacturers sosignally rose to the occasion.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Guthrie) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be ‘requested to make the duties, sub-item (n), British, each, £10, or 20 per cent, ad val.; intermediate, £12, or 30 per cent, ad val.; general, £ 13, or 35 per cent, ad val.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Item 166 (Strippers) and item. 167 (Metal parts of reaper-threshers) agreed to,
Machinery, viz. : -
British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent. ; general, 10 per cent.
Sewing machines, treadle or hand, of the type ordinarily used in the household -
And on and after 1st January, 1922, each, British, £2 10s.; intermediate, £3; general, £3 10s.
– I require information concerning the reason for British manufactures being admitted free, and the imposition of a general Tariff of 10 per cent. I take it ithat none of these machines and attachments is produced in Australia; otherwise they would not be imported free.
– But a lot of them are made in Germany.
– I can sympathize with any ono refusing to have anything to do with Germany - I have no desire to trade with that country - but I cannot appreciate the poiut of view of AustraKans who want Germany to buy our wool but refuse to purchase German machinery. There is no more wrong or harm in buying a machine made in Germany than in selling Australian produce to Germany.
– The difference is that we buy German machines on our own terms. The Tariff sets out our terms.
– The same thing, may be said of Germany’s purchase of our wool. Australia has been in great straits respecting the disposal of its surplus wool. Many Australians would have been only too glad if Germany had’ seen fit to purchase, at reasonable prices, some of our’ over-production of that staple. It is at least inconsistent to raise the cry of hatred when it comes to a matter of purchasing goods made in Germany if, at the same time, we look to Germany to buy our wool.
– We are not agreeable to taking German goods, but we will accept tainted German money.
– It amounts to that. I repeat that I desire some information concerning the amount of revenue raised by this general Tariff of 10 per cent. The impost is really nothing but a means of raising revenue. The principle, however, is bad as well as costly.
– Senator Thomas has correctly directed attention to the fact that there is a family resemblance between this and a previous item, inasmuch as importations from Britain are free, and 5 and 10 per cent, duties are imposed in the intermediate and general columns respectively. Looking over the importations, I can preface what I am about to remark, by saying that this is an instance in which we can give preference to Great Britain. Sewing machines, button-hole punching and sewing machines, darning, stitching, and knitting machines have been imported from the United Kingdom, Germany, United States of America, and other countries, and in order to include German importations, I shall give the values of the machines landed in Australia prior to the war. In 1913, the importations from the United Kingdom were valued at £74,646; from Germany, £60,737; and from the United States of America, £123,775. In this instance, it is obvious that substantial protection will be given to Great Britain if the rates remain as they appear in the schedule. The importations of other machines included in this item during 1913 were valued as follows: - United Kingdom, £38,557; Germany, £4,172; United States of America, £10,960: France, £1,037; and other countries, £1,549 ; or a total of £56,275. The preference to Great Britain, in this instance, would be considerable, as more than one-half of the imports came from
Great Britain. In taking a cursory glance at the figures, it appears that the only apparent movement in the trade has been that the machines which previously came from Germany now come from America, as exports from America have increased considerably.
– This sub-item is of considerable interest, because, for the first time in the history of Australian Tariffs, it is proposed to levy a heavy duty on an article which is absolutely essential to the wellbeing and comfort of every house in Australia. The sub-item provides that a duty shall be imposed on 6ewing machines, treadle or hand, of the type ordinarily used in the household. This duty is only to be imposed on sewing machines used in the household, and the proposed rates are - British, £2 10s. ; intermediate, £3 ; and general, £3 10s. I do not know if the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) is in a position to fully explain why such a burden is to be imposed upon the women of Australia.
– Even if it is a tax, it is one that every one would have to pay.
– It has been recognised by previous Parliaments that it is .unjust to impose heavy duties on sewing machines, and no one would suggest that it is reasonable to deprive women in the most humble circumstances of the privilege of having a sewing machine to make garments for their children.
– They are being made in Melbourne.
– Are they? To what extent?
– There is a sewing machine factory at Richmond.
– If honorable senators have made inquiries, they must admit that practically the whole of the sewing machines used in Australia have been imported. If that is so, and Australian factories are not producing the number necessary to supply our requirements, there is no ‘ justification for a deferred duty to come into operation after the 1st January, 1922. Some time ago I was furnished with the number of sewing machines sold annually in Australia, and the trade was marvellous. I am prepared to admit that the price at which sewing machines are sold is beyond their true value, and the profits derived by those handling them are enormous.
– That is because they are not made in Australia in sufficient quantities.
– Imported machines are sold for £14, and those locally made for £4 10s. each.
– If that is so, why has not the local industry flourished?
– Because the women demand Singer sewing machines.
– Some time ago. I was asked to invest capital for establishing a sewing machine factory in Australia. I paid the application fee, and six months afterwards, to my surprise, the money was returned with the information that the promoters had failed to float the company. I am anxious to see the price of sewing machines considerably reduced,, and before I submit a request in connexion with the proposed duties I would like the Minister to say to what extent this industry is established, and what are the prospects of the Australian sewing machine manufacturers being able to supply even 50 per cent, of our requirements.
– I assume that Senator Payne’s remarks are in reference to machine heads, as the tables and transmission gear have been manufactured in Australia for some time. A deferred duty is proposed, because steps are being taken to establish the industry in Australia. I have been assured that a company is to be formed to take over and enlarge a small factory started in this city by a Mr. Wilson. I had that fact brought under my notice in connexion with the work of the Repatriation Department when Mr. Wilson made an offer concerning his rights and skill with a view to starting an industry in which returned soldiers incapacitated for heavier work could be employed. This gentleman has now been able to satisfy the Minister that he is within reasonable distance of floating a company, provided the Tariff is passed in its present form, which will be able to turn out 2,000 machines per week. I feel sure that if that output can be realized the Committee will be prepared to give the industry the protection desired. Again I remind the Committee that under clause 11 of this Bill the Minister for Trade and Customs has, on the advice of the Tariff Board, the right to suspend the operation of any postponed duty embodied in this schedule. ‘If the proposed duties are agreed to and it is found that the prospects of the venture are not sound, or that it will not materialize, the Minister for Trade and Customs will further defer the operation of the duties. The passing of the duties in the way proposed gives an assurance to those disposed to invest their capital in the industry that if they do so they will receive the measure of protection set out in this schedule.
– At what point in the development of the industry would the duties be imposed ?
– Tha t is a matter on which the Tariff Board will advise the Minister for Trade and Customs. The Minister would not put the duties into operation if only a few machines were being produced. The gentleman of whom I spoke gave a demonstration in offering his concern to the Repatriation Department, and showed that a number of machines were being manufactured at the present time. The Minister for Trade and Customs would not regard the manufacture of only a few machines as a commercial proposition. He would expect the manufacturer to be able to turn them, out in reasonable numbers, and if he fails to do so the Minister will have power under the Customs Tariff Bill to defer still further the operation of the duties now (proposed.
– The Government proposal in this case is a very serious one. It is submitted, apparently, because a factory is to be established hero to make sewing machines. There is one section of the community which uses the sewing machine as the means by which to earn a living. The Government say to persons intending to start this industry, “If your factory is successful in turning out these machines wc will give you the benefit of a duty of £2 1.0s. against each machine imported from Great Britain and of £3 1.0s. against machines imported from other countries.” I ask honorable senators to say whether they think that is a fair proposition. We have just as much right to call upon the people who are establishing this factory to earn their own living without assistance from any one else as we have to call upon the people who use sewing machines to do so. In my view, it is a rotten proposition to undertake, because a man has developed an industry in a small degree, and, if assisted by the community generally, will develop it to a greater degree, to give him the advantage of a duty which, according to the cost at which, on Senator Bolton’s statement, these machines can be manufactured in America, represents 75 per cent, of the cost of manufacture.
– The manufacturers here propose to sell their machines for £7 each.
– I remind the honorable senator that we are dealing with the duty proposed merely on machine heads, and we have been told that for a considerable time past the complete machine could not be purchased for less than about £14.
– I was referring to the price which would be charged for the complete machine.
– The sub-item under discussion covers only machine heads, and the duty proposed is from 75 to 100 per cent, to be charged against a section of the community that should most appeal to our sympathy. A sewing machine is required in every home, and many homes are not too well supplied with the wherewithal to provide properly for the children reared in them. The Government are proposing a duty of £3 10s. on machine heads imported from America, where the whole machine can be made for £3 10s. It is all very well to tell us that eventually the cost of sewing machines will be reduced if we impose these duties, but I was reading to the Committee only last week that in America in 1820 people were saying the same thing, and that the anticipated result had not been realized up to 1910. One would think that ninety years was a fairly long time to wait in America for a reduction in the price of an article as the result of its manufacture locally. I hope the Committee will not agree to impose this tax on a section of the community that is least able to bear taxation of this kind. A lot of sympathy is exhibited for the primary producer, who has a union, is making an attack upon this Parliament, and intends to be represented here. But we should have as much sympathy for a very large section of the community that is not making any organized attempt to be represented here. The duty proposed is, in my opinion, altogether exorbitant, unfair, and unwise.
– The Government propose a duty of £2 10s. each on machine heads imported from Great Britain, and I assume that there is a duty of 30 per cent, on other parts of a sewing machine.
– That is so.
– Two pounds ten shillings is a very high duty on a part of a sewing machine. Some years prior to the war I imported a sewing machine from Canada, which, I was informed, was quite as good as a Singer sewing machine. It was a drop-head machine; it lasted many years, and did excellent work, and it cost only £2 10s. in Canada. It cost me £5 by the time it was delivered at my house in Burwood, near Sydney, after freight and charges had been added; but as I have said, the cost in Canada was £2 10s.
– How does the honorable senator account for the fact that sowing machines, though admitted free, are sold in Australia for from £12 to £14 each?
– I think that Senator Drake-Brockman accounted for it when he said that a number of people will have a Singer sewing machine. When I bought the sewing machine to which I have referred, a friend of ours bought a Singer machine, and gave £12 12s. for it. In the opinion of the women-folk, that Singer machine was no better than the one I bought. I believe that there is more profit made upon sewing machines than upon almost any other article, and one reason probably is because a large number of them are sold on the time-pay ment system. I am sorry that I cannot now remember the name of the machine I bought, and which cost £2 10s. in Canada. I was informed at the time that the Singer machine cost 30s. to make in England. I am speaking of several years ago.
– Fifteen pounds is charged now for an ordinary Singer sewing machine.
– Some time after I got the machine to which I have referred, I could not have obtained it at the same figure, because some one, I think in Newcastle, secured the agency for the machine in Australia, and it then had to be purchased through the agent.
– And the agent had to live.
– If sewing machines are as dear as they are said to be, it is a scandal, and something should be done to bring the prices down. If the manufacture of sewing machines were commenced here, the prices might be reduced.
– In what other way could a reduction be secured?
– If a Customs duty such as this had been in operation at the time, I should have had to pay more for the machine I imported from Canada. I should like to have from the Minister a statement as to what the combined duties on the heads and tables and stands would amount to per machine.
. - I am very glad to have heard the explanation given by the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) as to the reason for the imposition of this heavy impost on sewing machines. It is quite correct that the prices of sewing machines in Australia to-day are unreasonable. The companies operating here have been able to make enormous profits, because they put on the market a really good article. The general experience of the housewife is that the Singer is one of the most useful and reliable machines that can be obtained. I am given to understand that a company is being formed with ample capital to produce in Australia a machine that will give as much satisfaction as the popular Singer does, and which it will be able to sell at from £4 to £6 less than is charged for that imported article. If that could be done it would be a magnificent thing for Australia. The Singer Sewing Machine Company has virtually acquired a monopoly of the whole of the sewingmachine business here, because Australian manufacturers who some years ago were turning out a very good machine have gone out of the business.
– Were they manufacturing or merely assembling them here?
– Sewing machines for a time were made here.
– Let us have a quorum.[ Quorum formed.]
– I am anxious that the women of Australia shall be able to get at a reasonable price this necessary adjunct to every household. They will be enabled to do so, in my opinion, only by the establishment of an up-to-date sewingmachine factory in Australia. In consequence of the absence of local competition, the price demanded for tho imported article, no matter how high it may be, has to be paid, because . a sewing machine is essential to every home. In view, however, of the fact that the local company to which I have referred is not yet in operation-
– It is in operation, but not in full swing.
– So far as I can ascertain it is nob likely to commence at the earliest before the end of the year, and for the first twelve months it will have to devote its attention to the building up of a fairly large stock. Under clause 11 of the Customs Tariff Bill the Minister has power to postpone the operation of a deferred duty if he is not satisfied that the requirements of the people are being met. I intend to move in that direction. My desire is to see the industry established in Australia. It will be one of the finest we could have, and my request will be in the direction of bringing the deferred duty into operation on 1st January, 1923.
– The Tariff Board will have power to make the same recom- mendation if necessary.
– I have no wish to move for an unnecessary request, but I want to be quite clear that we shall not be imposing any burden upon the already heavily-burdened people. I notice . that, according to clause 11, the Minister may, by notice published in the Gazette, defer the duty from time to . time, until the date specified by the Tariff Board as being the date by which, in his opinion, the goods can be made or produced in Australia in reasonable quantities and of satisfactory quality. In view of this authority, I shall not proceed with my request, but will rely upon the item being enforced in the spirit of the measure.
– I propose to exercise my full rights as a member of the Senate in the discussion upon this item.
– Of course, you will. You always do.
– It is my intention to support the item as it appears in the schedule.
– I am confident the Committee will agree to the item unless the honorable senator talks his fellow senators into a different opinion.
– That is very nice from the Minister, in view of the support I have given the Government on the main items of the schedule to date, and especially, in view of the support accorded the Government from other honorable senator?, on the Ministerial benches when badly needed.
– I thought you came here as a Ministerial supporter.
– Sewing machines were onee manufactured : on a fairly large scale in New South Wales and Victoria, but owing to the absence of Tariff protection the manufacturers had to give up. I believe the imposition of a duty, as proposed in this schedule, will result in the industry being reestablished, and save the housewives of Australia from the infliction that is imposed on them to-day by the Singer monopoly. I am confident that in spite of the argument of my Free Trade friends, the effect of this duty will be to reduce the price of sewing machines to Australian housewives by probably 50 per cent.
Item agreed to.
Item 169 (Machinery, viz., linotypeand other type composing machines, cash, registers, &e.) agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 12.50a.m. (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 August 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210823_senate_8_97/>.