8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Public Service Act. - Promotions - Prime Minister’s Department. - W. Luke. Department of the Treasury. - W. M. Green ; W.S. Gaskell; J. F. Marren; C. C. Werfel; J. H. Sampson;E. A. McLean; D.B. Crisp; D. E. Allbright; W. A. K. McKee; A. R. Foster.
– I have received from Senator Lynch an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate until 12 noon to-morrow for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The grave peril that threatens the well-being of the Empire, Ireland, and Australia through the failure to find such a solution of the Irish problem as would insure the unity of the Irish people and nation with England and the Empire, and foster that spirit of good-will and harmony so essential to the maintenance of the Empire in its entirety.”
Four honorable senators having risen . in their places,
.- -I move-
That tbe Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 12 o’clock to-morrow.
I have bad from the elected representatives of Ireland under the leadership of Mr. de Valera a communication, & copy of which, I presume, every honorable senator has received.
– I have not received a copy.
– Nor have I.
– Several honorable senators, including members of the Government, have told me that a copy of the communication has been received by them.
– I have had a copy.
– Copies have been sent to all honorable senators.
– The purpose of this memorandum, sent to us by the elected representatives of Ireland, is plainly to seek from this country, which is described in it as a foreign nation,
Borne form of sympathy. I take this action to-day to avoid the awful and unthinkable contingency of this country ever being regarded as a nation foreign to Ireland, and with the desire that Australia shall be looked upon, not as a foreign, but as a sister, nation of Ireland.
This is the fourth occasion on which I have interested myself in this question. It is necessary for me to mention that fact, because I, unfortunately, find myself, at the present time at least, out of harmony with those who think differently from me as to what Ireland’s policy should be I would remind those people that whenever Ireland has looked in this country for a mouthpiece and sponsor she has always found me, as she has a right to do, at my post, whether it has been as a humble wayfarer in the State from which you come, Mr. President, as a public representative of the people, or as a Minister of the Crown. I have never flagged in my fidelity to my native land in. those successive vicissitudes, and in the policy that I havo advocated from the earliest days of my youth.
– Nor has the honorable senator flagged in his loyalty to the Empire.
– I hope not. I allude to this fact, because, us some honorable senators will remember, when occasion arose to find in this Parliament Irishmen who were prepared to speak, as they should have been, there were some who recoiled into obscurity or indifference rather than take the part that I was prepared to take. In my representative capacity I have stood forward as I do now at a time when, as members of this Senate wild bear witness, it was difficult to find men who were ready to do bo in the cause of Ireland, and I feel therefore that I am entitled now to raise my humble voice for what it is worth in the cause of Ireland’s welfare. I should, of course, feel hurt to think that I am not idolized to-day by many of my fellow countrymen ; but when I recall the experience of that faithful champion of Ireland, John Dillon, who, as a result of his association with his leader and chief, Parnell, brought the Ireland of my memory from almost a state of destitution and rags to a comparatively high state of opulence, and who, majestic figure in history, after nearly forty years of fight, was turned down in his declining years, I feel that I have no right to complain.
I am seeking for a settlement of this question on the lines proposed by the Prime Minister of South Africa, General Smuts, and I say, advisedly, as I have said repeatedly, that if it is not settled the probability, nay the certainty, is that it will settle the Empire. As the book of human experience teaches us, smaller causes have produced even greater results. This question can be approached from three stand-points, and I propose, on the present occasion, to stress one feature of it that has not bulked largely, either in Home circles or in this country. I will refer particularly to the interests of Australia in this matter. This is a subject of threefold significance, and it can be approached from the point of view of the Empire, of Ireland, and of Australia. I have stated already what I conceive to be the best, safest, and fairest adjustment of the difficulty, namely, the acceptance of the proposals mentioned by the Prime Minister of South Africa. What he has urged was urged centuries ago, and has been asked for by the responsible mouthpiece of Ireland from Grattan to John Redmond. The name of Grattan is one that more than any other kindles j;he liveliest emotions in the Irish heart. Grattan was a patriot who did something for Ireland, and he asked only for what General Smuts has asked the people to accept. O’Connell asked for the same form of adjustment of the Irish difficulty many years later, and on behalf of a different generation. Parnell came later on, and asked for the same adjustment and the same measure of self-government. So also did John Redmond. So that in four succeeding epochs of Irish history and on behalf of four different generations - from Grattan’s time in 1788, to O’Connell’s time in 1848, to Parnell’s time in 1888, and to John Redmond’s time in 1908 - the invariable Irish unchangeable demand was for the form of selfgovernment on behalf of which I now ask for an expression of sympathy by this Senate.
Something greater we are told is being asked for to-day, and that something greater marks the difference between the stand I take here and the stand now taken by those in charge of the popular party in Ireland. I stand, humble though my station is, where Grattan stood, and he did something for Ireland; where O’Connell stood in 1848, and he also did something for Ireland, though he said that the winning of Ireland’s freedom was not worth the shedding of a single drop of blood. I stand where Parnell and John Redmond stood, and although I do not go so far in my demands as do those who are at the present time in charge of national affairs in Ireland, I nevertheless feel that I am not any less sincere in my attachment to my native land, and my desire to see her happy, prosperous, and free.
The position of the Empire in connexion with this matter has to be studied, and briefly I will say that I do not want to see this Empire go down. This is not the first time I have said so. I have asked people who have expressed the opinion that this Empire might be superseded by a better organization to outline for me a plan to supersede the Empire on superior lines, and I would be glad to listen to them. They have failed to suggest any organization which, in my view, would be an improvement upon the Empire structure to which Ave belong. In this connexion, let me say that I am rather tired of hearing, as we continually do, these constant references to Englishmen as beings who would turn a deaf ear to every appeal for sympathy and justice. I want to say here that, in the course of my career abroad in the world, I have helped men out of difficulties, and have been in difficulties myself. I have met Irishmen who like the Levite of old, passed on the other side and turned their heads from me; whilst Englishmen have come across the* road and have spontaneously and generously offered to help me out of them. In the light of such experience, I do not listen to the things that are said about the mass of Englishmen, suggesting that they have failed to respond to any plea or plaint for justice and fair play, not merely within the bounds of the Empire, but the world over. When I compare the history of the Empire with that of other nations, I remember that the shackles were struck off the slaves in the territories under its sway centuries before they were struck off the slaves in the Great Republic of the West, when it was declared there that “ all men were born free and equal.” That is some testimony to the greatness of soul and the instincts of humanity which have actuated the Government of the Empire on that colossal issue. I have been told that it is lagging behind, but I deny it. When I measure the slow progress of humanity up the steep slopes in the effort to secure universal justice and fair play, and mark the point which has been reached to-day, I say that the pace of humanity in climbing those steep and difficult slopes has been much accelerated by the men who spoke with the tongue of Shakspeare. I am not here to detract from the merit which attaches to what Englishmen and Britishers generally have done on behalf of humanity within the Empire and the world over. I am here to bear witness to what I conceive to be the truth. The position of Ireland, of course, is the one sad exception. Still, I would say of Englishmen that Almighty God must be very fond of them, or else He would not have made so many of them. I have no fault to find with Englishmen as such, and I suggest that England to-day is a vastly different proposition from the England of the time when the ascendancy class ruled. We have a democratic England to-day; and that fact, I am afraid, is lost sight of by those in control of the majority voicing the political destiny of Ireland to-day.’
In regard to the connexion of Aus-* tralia with this matter, I am brought to what I consider to bethe vital feature of the “ whole question, Dr. Mannix, the leader and exponent in the Commonwealth of the faith that I ‘profess, has told the world that the menace to Australia is an Asiatic one. I accept that statement in the fullest extent, and I proceed now in a few words to dwell upon its significance to this country. It has been said over and over again that we are a lonely Possession here; that we have 12,000 miles of coastline, and that to attempt to defend this country without help from the outside would be to attempt the impossible. We have a coastline greater than that of most of the countries of Europe put together, and its defence, it is suggested, is the single job of 5,000,000 people. I have always contended that if it had not been protected by the pervading power and might of the strong arm that has girdled the nation since it has been in swaddling clothes - I refer to the British Navy - this country could not have held its own for five seconds. To suggest that anything short of a front-rank navy and a front-rank mercantile marine would’ be of any use for the protection of this country would be equivalent to saying that we might as well rely upon the skin canoes of the South Sea Islanders to come to our aid. We need a front-rank navy and a front-rank mercantile marine until we have advanced to man’s estate, and are in a position to take a larger share in our own defence.
If Ireland succeeded - which God forbid - in weakening or paralyzing the arm that is the sole defence of” Australia, the interests of this country would not have been considered. When the tide of aggression sets out from Asiatic shores, what direction will it take? When the Asiatic menace begins to be felt, who will receive the first shock of contact? It will roll to those countries where the population is thinly sown. And this country will be the first to receive the dreadful impact. It will not roll towards the congested countries of Europe. The people of England, Scot. land, and Ireland will never feel it; but we shall feel it here. And who are we? We are of the same stock with the people of England, Ireland, and Scotland. Amongst the sympathizers with Ireland in Australia, I am glad to say that there are hundreds of thousands who are not of Irish extraction, and who are sympathetically disposed to Ireland. The fact that resolutions to that effect have been passed in this Chamber over and over again prove that statement. It is admitted that we are in the place of peril, and exposed to danger front and rear, and I say that if action is about to be taken which must inevitably and unmistakably weaken the power on which we depend for our safety and security, such action will bo taken without consideration for the interests of this country. I have said that there are many in this country not of Irish extraction who have shown themselves to be friends of Ireland, and that this has been proved by the resolutions that have been carried in the past. There are also probably 1,000,000 people in Australia who are Irish or of Irish extraction, and it is very questionable whether the little extra amount of freedom for which those in control of Irish affairs are now asking would be of much value in securing the maximum of human happiness for the people of Ireland, whilst it may be, perhaps, that that little extra demand would be the means of throwing to the Asiatic wolves the friends’ of Ireland here “who are not of Irish extraction as well as the 1,000,000 of Irish people. This may be the awful fact. In speaking thus, I am only repeating what I have emphasized over and over again as to the position of the Empire in regard to Ireland. The safety of this country depends upon the amount of assistance which the Mother Country may be able ‘to give us in the testing time. Where should we stand in the f future with an Irish republic as a foreign nation to the Mother Country on the one side, and other foreign nations established on the other side ? It stands to reason that England would have to concentrate her naval power in that place where she could best defend her own interests, with the result that Australia would go short of that extra assistance so essential for our safety. This only emphasizes what I have already said, that the future of Australia as a component part of the Empire depends upon its adequate defence by a front-rank navy and. a front-rank mercantile marine.
Although we in Australia have not that sovereignty, that extra something for which the leaders of Irish opinion are to-day asking, are we the less happy for the want of it? Are we the less prosperous? And do we want it? We are perfectly satisfied with the system of government which we enjoy, and do not ask for anything more.
– Then my honorable friend is advising the acceptance by the leaders of Irish opinion of Mr. Lloyd George’s offer?
– That is Dominion status on the South African pattern, as suggested by General Smuts. I am advising its acceptance by the Irish people to-day. Something has been said about freedom, but freedom, I suggest, is a peculiar and somewhat illusory state of human existence. j.We realize the truth of this in all walks of life. What is the position of the smaller nations of the earth in the enjoyment of their socalled freedom? Have they not been the playground, the very charnel-house, or slaughter-yard of Europe right down the centuries? And what is the position in relation to that strongest bond of union that can be entered into, and which preserves all that is sacred in civilized society, namely, the marriage tie? Does not each individual surrender some portion of individual freedom in order to promote complete mutual happiness and secure a greater unity? And so it is with Ireland. I say that Ireland stands at the cross-roads. If she does not accept this offer, I do not know what the end will be. I fear even to contemplate ‘the alternative. For Ireland, the future may hold unending strife and gory civil war. To promote peace and bring about unity in this matter, we must discard all our predisposition to strife, and forget all about what our forebears have suffered or said or done. I was born to hate the Union J Jack ; but I lived under other flags after coming to this country, and returned with changed views. I felt that I was able to look upon that flag - which in the days of my boyhood had been to me .the emblem of servitude - as the badge, the very guarantee of .security and happiness for me and mine. .1 want other men to change their views in the same way if they .find themselves at ill-ease with their conscience. If they do not, they will land this country in trouble. Stubbornness in the past on - the part of Englishmen in every phase of human activity has been chiefly responsible for the differences between England and Ireland. It is on record that Sir John Moore, the great English warrior, declared that if he had been an Irishman he would have been a rebel, and Gladstone has told us that largely England’s difficulties with Ireland can be traced to the Act of Union. Leckie, the historian, has said much that is similar on this subject. _ It is the opinion of all who have studied the situation in the past that the treatment of Ireland by England has not been such as might have been expected from a predominant towards a weaker partner.
Now a word in regard to the attitude of Ireland during the recent war. Very many people have referred to what they consider Ireland’s inadequate share in the late war. That may be true; but if she did not do her share in that war she did far more than her share in all previous wars. While England’s flag was being planted in many lands down the centuries, she had to resort to force. Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Welshmen shed their blood sparingly, but Irishmen shed their blood by the gallon. History gives the fullest indorsement to that statement. Therefore, it is not right that Ireland should be condemned for what happened in the recent war. She should be judged by what she did in previous wars and the attendant circumstances of the late war. If Ireland did keep out of the late war, the fault was not entirely on one side. The British Prime Minister (Mr. Lloyd George), speaking in the House of Commons, and surveying the whole attitude of British power towards Ireland during the war, said that the only words he could find to describe British behaviour in Ireland, was “ malignant stupidity.” If the mouth-piece of British statesmanship thus characterized the attitude of England towards Ireland, are we justified in saying that the fault was all on one side? We want to hold the scales fairly, and divest ourselves of all old-time prejudices. We want to see what can be done to heal the differences that exist, and to find a solution of this problem. I appreciate the qualities of the people of the neighbouring island - the unemotional, dogged, and inborn love of freedom of the Englishman, the shrewd, metaphysical, and cosmopolitan nature of the Scot, and the Welshman’s racial, burning pride which is proverbial, all of which qualities go to compose a very good national make-up. But there is something additional wanted, and that is the keen-witted, generous-hearted chivalrous nature of the Irishman; and surely it is worth some sacrifice to get that additional element for a more perfected national alchemy. I hope that Great Britain will not shrink from any necessary sacrifice. After spending £200,000,000 and losing 50,000 lives in South Africa, Great Britain, in her generosity, gave some millions of pounds to repair the area devastated by the war. I do not want the British power, the predominant party in the present Union, to buy the loyalty of Ireland by means of gold; but I want the British people to acknowledge, side by side with their insistence, in the interests of their own safety, on the unity of the British Isles, that Ireland has interests of its own. I also want the people of Ireland to remember that if they carry their demands too far, the result may be a long, galling, and awful warfare, with the possibility that they may end up in a worse position, being compelled to accept much less than is now offered to them. Looking back on what they asked for in the past, I do not think that risk is warranted, particularly in view of the fact that if Britain’s power is weakened the means of the defence of this lonely outpost of the Empire must be correspondingly weakened. I want the people of Ireland to remember that the Omnipotent Power who planted those small isles in the North Sea never intended that the peoples of those isles should be ceaselessly and everlastingly at war and ill-will with one another. Ireland is now at the cross-roads. There are two fingerposts - one of which points to Empire disruption and Australia’s danger. I appeal to the people of Ireland to pause before they take any fatal step in that direction, and I appeal to honorable senators to support me in the view I have expressed to-day.
– Honorable senators, recalling the public attitude of Senator Lynch upon the subject he has brought under review this morning, and his attitude toward the Empire and Australia during the last few troubled years, must have listened with great respect and sympathy to the remarks of one who, while he is such a loyal Irishman, is yet big enough to recognise his obligation to the Empire. I am sure, also, they share his hopes, which I wish to do nothing to allay. At the same time, I want to direct attention to one or two matters. First of all, in the question upon which the honorable senator has based his motion, he sets out the gravity of the Irish position. Unfortunately, it is not possible- to deny it. It is manifest. It is not only grave in its present phase, but will be graver still should the present movement fail to achieve its object. But I disagreewith Senator Lynch’s reference to the failure to find a solution. The time has not yet arrived for regarding the present efforts as a failure. Negotiations have not yet moved as rapidly or, perhaps, as smoothly as we desire.
– We do not know that
– With such scant knowledge as comes to us to guide us, I think we are all a little bit disappointed that satisfactory results have not yet been achieved.
– It is mere newspaper guessing.
– While that may be so, I derive great hope from the fact that negotiations are still proceeding, and that there is gathering round them expressions of opinion from various countries, which are shared by Senator Lynch, that counsels of wisdom and moderation will ultimately prevail, and that out of the negotiations success, and not failure, will be plucked. I am greatly pleased to notice in the terms upon which this motion is based a declaration, which Senator Lynch has repeated in his speech, as to the maintenance of the Empire in its entirety. His repetition of that statement enables us even more closely to place ourselves side by side with him in his evident object in bringing forward his motion. But if I understand the position correctly, the British offer to Ireland stipulates the maintenance of the integrity of the Empire while giving to Ireland as large a measure of autonomy as is compatible with it. In other words, the offer is what we know as Dominion Home Rule. That seems to be the stumbling block; with its removal the rest should be plain sailing. But we are not in a position here, with the vague information available to us, to offer anything like advice to either of the negotiating parties. We can express our hopes.
– We have been asked for an expression of opinion.
– This motion would not allow us to record an opinion; but if the Senate were to express its opinion, I believe it would be that honor able senators, like Senator Lynch, regard the maintenance of the integrity of the Empire as vital and as something they dare not surrender. Beyond this they are, I believe, prepared to meet Ireland’s aspirations for self-control and local government to the utmost limit. However, all we can do is to hope and wish, and if needs be appeal, that those upon whose shoulders rests so great a responsibility, will recognise, not merely Ireland’s aspirations and needs, but also the Empire’s necessity. If they do that, balancing one with the other, they will strengthen the hope which I am sure the Senate shares, that out of the present movement we shall ultimately see emerge a contented Ireland as a portion of a contented Empire, peace taking the place of war, friendship that of enmity, and prosperity that of depression. We can do nothing more than express the fervent wish that those at the head of affairs in Ireland and London will recognise each other’s difficulties with forbearance, and a genuine desire to settle once and for all this interminable struggle which has been going on for so long. If that be done, it will be the greatest blessing to the Empire, and the greatest blessing to Ireland, that either could ask for.
– One does not question the sincerity of Senator Lynch in moving this motion, but speaking with my ten years’ experience in this Senate, it sends a cold chill down my spine when I begin to see the prospect of a double dissolution close at hand. Because Senator Lynch has brought forward a similar motion every time such an event has occurred-
– Surely we should put a better construction on the honorable senator’s intention.
– I am looking at it from a personal aspect. It is one of those moves that his party have always got Senator Lynch to take in order that he should make himself good with the electors at election time. I realize that to address oneself to a question of this kind is to take very grave risks, though I do not, of course, mean personal risks. To discuss the Irish question on a motion of this kind, and practically ask the Senate to advise the British Government, is to take a most important stand. I do not know whether it is a wise stand to take, or whether it would not be better to leave such matters - which must be settled between Ireland and the British Govern- ment - to Ireland and the British Government themselves. I realize the farreaching effects of the Irish question upon Australia and its interests. The thought that comes to my mind is - Can we in any way improve the relations between England and Ireland by a discussion here, and, further, are not the differences between England and Ireland so deep-rooted as to be altogether beyond the power of England and Ireland themselves to solve 1 Is the wrong to be continued ? Ireland is struggling to have her position made good. The right of one nation to dominate another, to my mind, does not exist, and Ireland is a nation. It matters not for how many centuries the domination of England continues, constituted as the Irish people are, they will remain a nation independent in action and independent in thought; and they will never assimilate with the English people. I listened to Senator Lynch’s description of himself, and it was a description of a true Irishman - a lad, roared in Ireland and hating the Union Jack, under the tyranny which he lived then, but after years of the enjoyment of the liberties we possess here, learning, shall I say, to love the Union Jack. But we must realize that the young men in Ireland who, to-day, are giving their lives for their country - we must not shirk the issue - are now in the position of the young men of whom Senator Lynch was one when he left Ireland. The Irish as a people are struggling for freedom, nationality, and the right of independent selfgovernment. Can we make things better by any discussion here of Ireland’s aspirations - of what, bred in the bone, is part and parcel of the nation ? There is nothing Irish in my constitution; the generations of my family do not run back to Ireland. I am an Australian of the second generation; but I try to look at the Irish question as the Irish people see it, and I try to understand what is behind it. The Declaration of the Independence of America, drawn up, shall I say, by the God-inspired men who were then leading that great nation, tells us -
We hold these truths to be self-evident : That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Apply the American Declaration of In: dependence to Ireland to-day, and what claim is the Irish people making that it is not the right of all free men to make?
As to the position to-day, when I saw that a truce had been agreed upon, and that the British Government had offered Ireland Dominion self; government, I do not mind saying thai my heart rejoiced. I thought that at last Ireland would be free, as we are here - that Ireland, not as a nation dominated over by England, but as a free nation, would become a branch of that aggregation of nations which make up the British Empire. If earnest thought and meditation constitute prayer, no one prayed more earnestly than I for Ireland’s acceptance of the position. I believe that such acceptance by Ireland would bring about unity within the Empire; it would give us another free, independent nation within the Empire. Britain is never going to dominate Australia ; Britain will never interfere with our Government; her sane methods of conducting the affairs of the Empire will prevent that. If it does not, what will happen? As we have seen, even in our own brief history, whenever action by the British Government has threatened to interfere unduly with what Australia seriously desired, the British Government has been told to take its hands off, and they have been taken off. If the present position is not accepted by the governing classes in Ireland to-day - because the matter is now out of the hands of the British Government - no one will regret the fact more deeply and sincerely than myself. I believe that if the Irish people had our experience of the freedom we exercise, and the increased and increasing freedom we will exercise-
– How can we get any further freedom?’
– I do not wish to answer such conundrums at this stage, but merely to express my thoughts on the present situation. I am asked how we are to get further freedom, and I could make quite a number of complaints about the freedom that has been taken from me individually on more than one occasion..
– That was for the common good!
– As I happened to believe that the freedom I desired to exercise was also for the “ common good,” there was a conflict of opinion. As I say, I desire to look at this Irish question as Irishmen see it, and, I may say, as Englishmen and Scotchmen see it. It is only a few years since England, Ireland, and Scotland, through the British Parliament, decided on a settlement, which was regarded as satisfactory. Although that settlement was satisfactory to the huge majority of Englishmen, Irishmen, and Scotchmen, a little section in the North of Ireland would not accept it. That little section imported arms, and expressed its determination to resist by force the settlement that the whole of Britain and Ireland had said was a real settlement. I am sorry to say that the minority triumphed, and that that opportunity, some seven years ago, or a little more, was allowed to pass. Now there is another opportunity for settlement, and it is my earnest hope that on this occasion the majority in Ireland will not allow it to slip. As a whole-souled Australian - although Senator Pratten has reminded me- that there is no further freedom for Australians to fight for - I can feel the fascination, of an a’bsolutely free Australia, independent altogether of anything but the will and desires of its own people. I believe that aspiration to be the motive power of Ireland, which has many good reasons- for insisting on her’ independence. We all joined in giving Poland her independence, in creating an independent State ‘between Germany and Austria-, and in declaring that- the war was fought foi tha rights of small nations. The war affirmed the right of self-determination, and that is what Ireland is now demanding. I’ suppose that for 700 years Ireland has been engaged in this struggle, and the events of the last year have shown that the Irish people are as vigorous as ever. I hope that the wisest counsels will prevail, particularly in the Irish Parliament, as it is called to-day, and that the Irish people will see that, in entering into the British combination of nations they are not submitting to the yoke of England, but becoming an independent nation within the Empire. If that step is taken, it will receive the hearty approbation of ninety-nine out of every hundred men of Irish descent in Australia.
– -On a memorable occasion when there had come a crisis in the affairs of this country and of the Empire, I thought it my duty to take a certain course of action. The honorable senator whom I approached to second me in my humble endeavour belonged to the political party opposed to that in which I had ranged myself. I refer to Senator Lynch. The honorable senator responded in such a manner to my invitation as to confirm me in the already high opinion which I had held of him, both as an individual and a Commonwealth legislator. Therefore, when Senator Lynch deems it his duty to rise in his place in this Chamber, no matter whether well or ill advised, to express his views upon the momentous situation existing in connexion with the affairs of the United Kingdom, I would be unworthy of the name of man if I did not take the responsibility of adding a few words, at least in general, if not in particular terms, by way of supporting the honorable senator in the wise advice which he has tendered to his fellow countrymen. I am not going to tender any advice. I purpose to follow the course adopted by the Leader of the Government in this Chamber (Senator E. D. Millen). I shall confine myself to an expression of opinion. Senator Lynch feels upon this matter as only an Irishman can feel. I am not an Irishman. I am an Australian ; an Australian of mixed blood, it is true, but one who yields to no one in his hearty admiration- for, and love- of, the British Empire. But I have some racial connexion with Ireland. Indeed, I owe my existence” to the circumstance of my mother having been born in that country, and having come to Australia as an immigrant in the roaring days of the gold-fields. The Irish ques” t i on bristles with difficulties which might well cause despair to take possession of the breast of an archangel. Some of those difficulties arise from racial temperament, and some from circumstances which once were within the control of men, but have now passed out of it. It is necessary to ask the Irish race to be practical at this juncture. The situation i,s especially delicate because of a certain consideration which Senator Gardiner failed to recognise, or, at any rate, to indicate. The honorable senator spoke of Ireland as a nation. Ireland is not a nation; it is two nations. A Frenchman said the other day, as an outcome of his close investigation of the conditions existing in that country, that the Irish are a people with two souls. There is a minority of the Irish people who are not Irish in the same sense as are the inhabitants of Southern Ireland. That is to say, they are Irish, but they are also strongly Imperialistic; and that factor constitutes the major portion of the true difficulty of the whole situation. It is desirable for the Irish people to remember, at this juncture, that’ the Empire is as much an Irishman’s as it is an Englishman’s, or a Scot’s, or a Welshman’s Empire. There is nothing which could prevent an Irishman from becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain. There have been great Irish pro-consuls, great Irish generals and admirals. I speak, not claiming any vicarious merit, but as the son of a woman whose brothers fought and bled for the Empire in the Crimea and in India. Are Irishmen going to be so unwise now as to throw away the heritage won for them by the valour and determination of the Irish of a generation or so ago? Surely not!1 Cannot an Irishman, in considering the welfare of his country at large, come to the same wise decisions as a Scot, for example? Much has passed between the people of different parts of Great Britain that is to be deplored; but bygones should be bygones. We must not dwell too much in the past. That is one of the most serious faults in the Celtic disposition. I can remember, as a boy, reading an advertisement which appeared in the Australasian. It was an invitation from a Scot to Australians of Scottish birth or descent to join in celebrating the battle of Bannockburn. Notwithstanding that eccentric invitation, I am sure that the great majority of the Scotsmen of Victoria were so sensible that the celebration was not held. Scots have the same things to be proud of and to deplore with respect to relationships between England and Scotland as have Irishmen, when remembering what has occurred between England and Ireland. But Scots are not living in the past.
Long ago, .they set their faces towards, and their feet upon, the highroad to London; and they forged their way to place and power, realizing that the Empire was the Empire of the Scots as well as of Englishmen and Welshmen. I occupy a place in this Chamber as one of the most cosmopolitan individuals in the Commonwealth Legislature. I am of mixed ancestry. Senator Lynch has spoken of the Asiatic peoples. I chance to be a combination of Irish and Asiatic. I have entertained Frenchmen, Koreans, Chinamen, and Japanese, and I feel justified in saying that there are very few who, more fully than myself, can understand the souls of the people of other races; there are very few so competent to appreciate the view-point and aspirations of other nations. Senator Lynch has spoken wisely and well. He has so addressed himself to the subject-matter of his motion as to have confirmed honorable senators in the high opinions which they have always held concerning his character. As I have good reason to express my own appreciation of the stand taken by my old friend - my one-time political opponent, and now my party associate - I desire to add, without attempting to criticise Senator Gardiner, that the honorable senator went too far when he charged the high-souled mover of the motion under discussion with having such an objective as a general election as the inspiring motive for the delivery of his patriotic, national, and racial utterance. I know the agony of soul - the “ Garden “ agony, one might say - that this IrishAustralian senator has suffered. Criticised unfairly, almost ostracised by certain unwise members of his race, having had all manner of shadowy but sinister motives imputed to him, he has racked his brains and torn his heart in the interests, not only of the Empire, but of the Old Country which he loves so well. Senator Lynch has been inspired by the loftiest motives which could animate any man, and I willingly pay this testimony to the absolute honesty of his intentions. Half an Asiatic, as I am, I can give to Irishmen an expression of opinion following upon the lines of the advice vouchsafed by the one-time Dutchman - Smuts. General Smuts is a Dutchman, and, at the same time, like myself, is a cosmopolitan. He has had advan- tages in education, which I have .never possessed, and out of his learning and profession of the law, his experience for and against the British Empire, as a Minister of an independent Republic which was once hostile to the Empire, and is now incorporated within it, he has given the Irish people an expression of opinion which has been fully supported by Senator Lynch, and which I trust will be indorsed by the Irish people themselves. If the Irish people do not accept the terms tendered to them by the British Prime Minister, they will do themselves great mischief, put themselves wrong in the eyes of mankind, and in doing grievous injury to themselves, will inflict incalculable injury on the human race.
– I do not wish to unduly delay the discussion on this motion, but as the question has been submitted to the Senate, I desire to say that I am in the same position that perhaps ninetenths of honorable senators are in this morning. We are wondering in what way this motion is likely to help the settlement of this great question. Are we in a position to offer an intelligent opinion on. these negotiations ? Do we know what the offer is ? I maintain that we do not. The meagre cabled news published one day is contradicted the following day, and it is quite apparent that we do not know exactly what terms have been offered. It is true that we have been able to read the speeches delivered in the House of Commons by the British Prime Minister (Mr. Lloyd George) and others, but as the reports of speeches have been condensed, it is difficult to ascertain what terms have actually been offered to the Irish people. Even if we had the full text of the offer made by the British Prime Minister to de Valera, the leader of the people in ihe south of Ireland, we would not be justified at this juncture in entering into a discussion of the merits and demerits of the question. All we can hope for is that a settlement between the opposing parties will be speedily brought about, and that the unity of ‘the Empire will be maintained. That expression has become so commonplace during recent years that it is quite unnecessary to repeat it. I resent the insinuation in the early part of Senator Lynch’s speech that there had been difficulty in finding support in this Parliament for a policy of Home Rule The members of this Parliament have spoken in favour of Home Rule on every occasion on which the question has been before them, and little fault can. be found with their attitude on the Irish question.
– Senator Lynch admitted that.
– If I misunderstood the honorable senator I apologize,, but I thought he conveyed the impression that he was the only- one who favoured a certain course of action. The Australian opinion has always been in favour of Irish Home Rule, and every one, including even those who a few years ago opposed it, or refused to express an opinion,, has recognised that the time has longbeen ripe for a settlement of the whole question. Recognising the difficulties surrounding the position, and the futility of criticising a policy with which we are not fully conversant, it would have been better if the question had not been brought, forward at this juncture. If occasion does, arise when the Commonwealth Parliament can offer any help by expressing its advice such a motion should be submitted; but at present I cannot see how we can in any way assist. I was born and bred in a country where there has not been any doubt as to how that portion of the Old Country stood in regard to Home Rule. It is a most remarkable fact that ever since the late Mr. Gladstone introduced the Home Rule Bill in 1886, Scotland has at every general election sent members to the House of Commons in favour of that, great principle. Therefore, Scotland is not the lion in the path, and neither is Wales.
– The lion in the path is Dublin.
– I do not know whether it is Dublin, Belfast, or London : but it certainly is not Scotland. I decline at this stage to offer any advice, but merely express the hope that a settlement satisfactory to both parties will be thi.outcome of the present negotiations. .! can see the danger of entering into the discussion of a question with insufficient knowledge, and the possibility of doing more harm than good. I trust that nothing will be done to interfere with :’- satisfactory settlement of what is a great problem.
– I desire lo take up r. similar attitude to that adopted by Senator de Largie. I- believe that Senator Lynch, whilst imbued with undoubtedly the highest and most honorable motives a man could possibly possess, has somewhat missed the real point at issue. Whilst I have at all times been a firm supporter of the Irish cause, and have in every way I possibly could, endeavoured to assist in any movement which had for its object the righting of the wrongs of the Irish people whatever they may be, I still feel that the motion is not in any way likely to alter the position which now exists in relation to Ireland and the British Empire as a whole. The Irish people have grievances. They have arrived at a stage when it appears to me that a climax has been reached. In the near future something must happen in regard to the relationship between Ireland and the British people. Whatever that may be, I join with Senator de Largie, Senator Bakhap, and others in the hope that the present situation will lead to a complete reconciliation of the desires of the people of Ireland and those of the authorities in London. Whether that reconciliation will be brought about I do not know, because we lack knowledge as to what has been done. In the absence of such information we are unable to express a clear opinion as to the differences actually existing now between the two parties. I think, however, we are all agreed that Ireland, independent and outside the Empire, would be a menace to the British Empire.
– In my opinion, that is the worst thing that could happen to her.
– I was going to say that it would be a menace to Ireland herself. While I do not think that this discussion will have the slightest effect upon the position, I sincerely hope that the day is close at hand when Ireland will be treated and recognised by the British Government as the people of Australia are.
– My reply to the debate will be very brief. Honorable senators who have addressed themselves to this question have referred to certain phases of it with which I did not deal, but in the main have re-echoed the views expressed by me. They all deplore the present differences between Ireland as a nation and Great Britain, and earnestly hope for an amicable settlement whereby both nations will live in peace and amity with each other, and that Ireland in the future will not be called upon to regard Australia as a foreign nation, but rather as a sister nation in the family of the Empire.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 23rd August, vide page 11209) :
Schedule. divisionvi. - metals and machinery. Item 170-
– I move -
That the House of Representatives bc requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), general, ad val., 35 per cent.
I am requesting a reduction of o per cent.
– I think I can make an explanation that may avoid a little discussion.
-BROCKM AN. - “Very well.
– I would point out to the Committee that the machinery and appliances covered by subitems a, n, c, and d are freely manufactured in Australia, and are selling at reasonable prices. Sub-items e and p relate to the particular class of drills that are used for mining purposes. They are not so readily manufactured here, and it will be noted that they are free under the British preferential Tariff, while duties of 5 per cent, and 10 per cent, respectively are imposed under the intermediate and general Tariffs.
– What was the duty under the old Tariff in respect of sub-item a.
– It was 30 per cent, under the general Tariff. Since we are manufacturing these machines and appliances freely in Australia, and are able to supply the local demand at a reasonable price, I fail to see why we should leave our market open to Germany and the United States of America.
– Notwithstanding the explanation given by the Minister (Senator Pearce), I propose to persist in my request. If Australia is supplying these requirements of the mining industry, her capacity to do so has been built up under a Protective duty of 30 per cent. No argument has been advanced for increasing that duty to 40 per cent., as now proposed.
– But a duty has been put on the raw material.
– The State that I have the honour to represent depends, in a great measure, on its mining industry.
– And the drills used in the gold mines of Western Australia are free under the British preferential Tariff.
– Some classes of them are free. The honorable senator apparently imagines that I refer only to gold mining, whereas I have in mind all classes of mining carried on in Western Australia. On account of the increased costs in every direction we find gold, copper, tin, and other mines in Western Australia closing down, because it does not pay to carry on.
– But none of those mines use any of the machines covered by sub-item a.
– The sub-item covers dredging machinery, which is used in connexion with tingetting in the south-west of Western Australia. We ought not to do ‘anything calculated to hamper the recovery of tin, or any other metal.
– We are exporting dredging plants to the Malay Peninsula. We do not import any.
– -That argument strengthens my position. If we are exporting that class of machinery, why should .we increase the duty on it?
– But the sub-item includes more than dredging plants.
– I am aware of that. But if we are exporting dredging plants, why should we increase the duty from 30 per cent., under the oM Tariff, to 40 per cent.? Is it in order that those who use such machinery shall be called upon to pay more for it, despite the fact that we know that mining in Australia, and the recovery of tin by the dredging process, is becoming more and more expensive.
– I -wish. to drive home the point I made a few moments ago, that this duty is designed to protect the local market against German importations.
– Why not bring down a special Tariff against Germany?
– This is a special Tariff. During 1913 the importations from the United Kingdom under these subitems were of the value of £30,761, while imports from the United States of America were valued at £17,665, and imports from Germany at £7,140. In 1930, however, we imported from the United Kingdom only £8,217, a decrease of over £22,000, whereas from the United States of America we imported £43,995 worth. That is to say, that the imports from America were treble those of 1913, whilst the imports from the United Kingdom were reduced in the same proportion. The United Kingdom lost the market to the United States of America. Germany is now coming in as a competitor, and was a formidable competitor in 1913, as the figures I have quoted show. “We are dealing with a proposed reduction in the general Tariff, which is the one that will operate against Germany and the United States of America. These duties do not represent any burden on mining. The drills used in mining and coal cutling are admitted free of duty. This machinery is all made here, and it is not used in gold mining or in coal mining. Dredging plants are manufactured successfully in Australia, and have been supplied to other countries. Why should we, by opening our ports to German and other competition, close an industry that is established here? No one can say that exorbitant prices are charged for dredging plants made in Australia, and they represent one kind of machinery included in the sub-item under consideration.
– I hope the Committee will realize that we are now dealing with a conflict between the manufacturing industry and the mining industry, and that honorable senators will not increase the already heavy loads on the mining industry. The introduction of this Tariff has already put an end to the Great Cobar mining centre.
– The honorable senator can say “ No “ ; but in Monday’s newspapers it was reported that machinery belonging to the Great Cobar plant, to the value of £1,000,000, was sold to a dealer in mining machinery in Newcastle. It was scrapped.
– Cobar was closed up before this Tariff was introduced.
– It was not. I realize that it was greatly shaken during the war; but when it was reeling from the heavy blow due to war conditions, it received its final blow from the Tariff, and passed out. When the manufacture of mining machinery has been so far developed in Australia that, as Senator Pearce has admitted, Ave are exporting it, why should an attempt be made to impose an additional 5 per cent, tax upon a primary industry? A duty of 40 per cent, on this machinery is a long way “ over the odds.” Let honorable senators contemplate what a 40 per cent, duty means as applied to a big mining plant. They know what a mining plant is, and this duty represents £400 in every £1,000 worth of plant. I -venture to say that, in a big mining plant, £100,000 does not go very far ; and this duty means an addition of £40,000 to the cost of developing one mine. We are told that this machinery is manufactured in Australia, aud, if so, why are we increasing the duty if it is not to enable the local manufacturers to increase their prices? If this machinery will be sold as cheaply in Australia, whether the duty is increased or not, why should we increase it?
– Because of the increase in imports.
– The honorable senator has said that, during 1913 and 1920, American importations increased, but we know that the Tariff had nothing to do with that. We know that the whole of Britain’s industrial power was engaged in the manufacture of war material, and Australia naturally went for her mining machinery to the only country that was practically free from the war. In any case,- the increase referred to - from £17,000 to £40,000- was not very great. If the Government realized the importance of the mining industry to Australia, their first concern would be to revive it. The first real impetus that the development of Australia received was from the mining industry. Time and again it has sunk, until we have despaired a little as to its future, but a revival of mining in one place or another has given us fresh hope and new life. The mining industry is dying out to some extent now, because the pampered methods of Protection have made it impossible to conduct it. It will not be long before they make it impossible to conduct any other primary industry. The Government are laying the axe to the root of the tree, and, as a consequence, the secondary, as well as the primary, industries Will wither and fail. There is no member of the Senate who is better acquainted with the importance of mining machinery to the mining industry than Senator Pearce. I could well have understood the honorable senator, in the circumstances, accepting . Senator Drake-Brockman’s request as a reasonable one. When reasonable requests are submitted, they ought to be accepted. If I had my way, all this machinery would be admitted free; but I am not asking the Government to accept my view, because they are not the views of the Senate or of this country; but when I find a great industry loaded up with a burden of 40 per cent. on the machinery it requires, I say that if the Senate adjourned to one of our asylums, and its inmates took our place, they could not do worse than to prevent the development of the mining industry of Australia by making it impossible to obtain the machinery necessary for it.
– Senator Gardiner’s temerity in using the arguments he has just advanced is remarkable. I cannot understand his contention that the Cobar mining industtry has been closed down as the result of the introduction of this Tariff. There might be some force in his argument if he were able to show that some new mining enterprise would have been started if it were not for the added cost of machinery for its equipment, due to the imposition of these duties. The Cobar mine was closed down because of the low price of copper. I do not regard the proposed reduction of 5 per cent. on the duty in the general Tariff on this sub-item as a matter of much consequence. I assume that, as the Committee has already carried requests in favour of similar reductions on previous items in this division, the request now under consideration will be agreed to ; but I should like to remind honorable senators who support it of an argument which they used themselves only last evening when dealing with another class of machine. They confessed that a sewing machine, which is admitted free of duty, is sold to users of it in Australia at 400 per cent. over the actual cost of production. I think that Senator Thomas said that a sewing machine can be manufactured in England for 30s., which in Australia costs anything from £10 to £14 10s. If that statement is not an argument in favour of Protection to stabilize manufacture in Australia, I am unable to advance one. I have said that I expect the request now under consideration to be agreed to.
– This particular machinery has throughout been dutiable at a higher rate than other machinery.
– I think that, proportionately, the duties are about the same on other items in connexion with which the Committee has agreed to request a reduction. Although the difference between the duty proposed by the Government and that proposed by Senator DrakeBrockman is the difference between “ tweedledee “ and “ tweedledum,” I do not like the principle involved in the proposed reduction, because it is my desire to put Australian industries on an absolutely sure footing. I think that if Ave err on the side of their protection we shall be on safe ground. If Senator DrakeBrockman submitted his request with a view to allowing imports of this machinery to come into competition with their manufacture here very grievous harm would be done to Australia if his purpose were served. I do not think that the small reduction of duty proposed will have that effect.
.- I think that Senator Drake-Brockman is under some misapprehension as to the kind of machinery that is covered by sub-item a. The honorable senator referred to Hampton Plains, but very little of the machinery mentioned in this sub-item is likely to be used there.
– I did not suggest that it was.
– I understood the honorable senator to be under that impression. This machinery is not likely to be used in gold mining. I am assured by an officer of the Trade and Customs Department that sub-item a will apply to the larger machines, such as “steam navvies” and dredging machinery used for surface alluvial, and for tin mining, such as is carried on at Donnybrook, which Senator Drake-Brockman knows very well. Senator Gardiner referred to Cobar. The real trouble at Cobar arose from the fact that since the war the bottom has fallen out of the base metal market. That has had the effect of shutting up many mines all over Australia. I have had some little experience of it myself. The trouble at Cobar has arisen because of the low price of copper, and not because of any difficulty in securing necespary machinery.
– Do you not think we have reached the breaking point when men have to pay 14s. for shovels which some years ago could have been bought for 4s.?
– But shovels are not included in this item.
– I did not say that the duties proposed in this item would crush the working man, but I do say that this Tariff will.
– We are talking about the principle of Protection, and what the honorable senator said only shows that a Tariff cannot be imposed by any rule of thumb method. We have to consider each item on its merits. The machinery and implements used by metalliferous miners, including rock drills, are provided for under another sub-item. I have been interested in mining for many years, and if I thought that any burden was likely to be placed on the industry by the duties proposed in this sub-item, I would strongly oppose it, because at present the mining industry is in the doldrums, the position being worse, probably, than at any time during the last twenty-five years. Winding engines come under another sub-item. Steam navvies and concrete bucket dredging machines, which are dutiable under this sub-item, have been imported in the past chiefly from Germany.
– No; from the United States of America.
– Very many came from Germany. They have not been manufactured in Australia hitherto to any great extent because we did not have the special material. A very superior kind of steel is required. The work is now being undertaken here, consequently the sub-item, as it stands, will be advantageous to the mining industry generally.
– The sub-item refers to no machinery required in connexion with the mining industry. Sub-item a deals with earth and rock cutting, dredging and excavation machinery, much of which is essential for developmental work in Australia. Rock -cutting machinery and drills are required in railway construction and dredging machines for the improvement of our ports and harbors, consequently a heavy impost must necessarily increase the cost of such works.
– Not necessarily, if we can manufacture them here.
– I am coming to that point. We have to take into consideration the probable effect of reasonable protection on local industries, and 40 per cent, on the general Tariff means that at the lowest estimate the effective protection, if this sub-item be agreed to, will be about 75 per cent.,* as the parts would be contained in small compass.
– The parts would not come under this sub-item. They would be imported in sections and could be carried as ballast.
– The question to be considered is whether we are likely, by the imposition of this heavy tax, to hold up the progress of important developmental works. I want to see the local manufacturing industry thoroughly established, but I am quite satisfied that the needs of the Commonwealth are not yet being met by local industry in this direction. Therefore, unless public works are to be delayed we shall have to depend upon imported machinery for the carrying out of many such works. The proposed reduction of 40 to 35 per cent, is not a drastic one, and the local industry will still have an effective protection of ‘65 per cent., which is ample.
– Especially against American manufacturers.
– We have imported much of this machinery in the past from America. I have no desire to see American manufacturers get any advantage in this Tariff, but the retention of heavy duties on such items as this will simply mean an addition to the capital cost of works so necessary for the development of Australia, without in any way benefiting local manufacturers. For this reason I support the request.
– It seems to me that this subitem covers a most important class of machinery. In connexion with some drainage works in South Australia, a machine was imported from the United States of America for the special purpose of excavating very large drains, with the result that the shifting of soil - which had previously cost 2s. 6d. per yard - was carried out at a cost of 9d. This, of course, made a marvellous difference in the cost of the work ; and, further, it enabled the land to be settled without being loaded with heavy charges.
– This is almost a Free Trade speech!
– I really wish that Senator Thomas would show some wisdom in dealing with these matters. I am not arguing from a Free Trade point of view, hut merely pointing out work done by a machine that is not made in Australia, and is essential in the development of the country. Is it wise to impose heavy charges in the case of machines which are guarded by patent rights, and thus increase their price”? Another smaller type of excavating machine was imported, and is now largely used in the making of channels for drain pipes in the cities ; and this, too, enables the work to be done at a much cheaper rate. In the face of these facts, is it wise to increase the price of such appliances, unless we are absolutely sure they can be reasonably made in Australia? If they can be made here, then we are justified in protecting Australian industry. So far, we have had no evidence to justify the increase of the protection; but if such evidence is forthcoming, I should ‘be prepared to consider it.
– I should not have risen again but for the fact that, in my haste, I made a statement to the effect that these duties would have the effect of killing Cobar. Senator de Largie has pointed out that the firm then referred to would not require to buy this class of machinery, and I realize that fact ; but we are increasing duties where increases are not needed, and making it impossible to conduct industries already in existence. No man knows better than Senator de Largie that, in mining work, the picks, shovels, drills, hammers, and so f orth wear out in large numbers where thousands of men are employed. Senator Pratten, I think, estimated that the increase in the cost of these tools represents something like 20 per cent., and this the miner has to pay.
– I admit that the cost of these tools is now extortionate; but they do not come under this sub-item.
– My remarks were merely intended to show that the incidence of this Tariff is crushing mining. In the case of a five-head stamper battery, such as is used by struggling miners, and which costs, say, £500, a 40 per cent. duty means an additional £200 - although these men are toiling to develop the resources of the country. If the Minister (Senator Pearce) will consent to this proposed reduction of 5 per cent., I shall have no more to say.
– I am sorry the Government have not agreed to the proposed reduction. Items 163, 164, and 165, in this same division, provide for duties of 40 per cent., and I take it that the Government concluded that item 170 required exactly the same protection. But the Committee, after long discussion, in the case of item 163 reduced the duty to 35 per cent. If the Committee permit the duty now before us to remain at 40 per cent., it will be unfair to those who are making the machines embraced by item 163 ; and, under the circumstances, I think this duty ought to be 35 per cent. The arguments of Senator Senior are most convincing. He has informed us that the machines in item 170 are not made in Australia, and that imported machines have been the means of saving much money. I regard Senator Senior and Senator Earle as the two greatest Protectionists in the Chamber, outside the Government; but now we find Senator Senior most effectively answering Senator Earle; and Senator Senior’s case I regard as unanswerable. I think we have the right to ask the Minister (Senator Pearce) to reply to Senator Senior, who has demonstrated that the importation of these machines makes the settlement of the lands of Australia easier and cheaper.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– I have seen the trenching machine that Senator Senior says will come under this item. It does very useful and valuable work; but no one will say that it cannot be made quite easily in Australia. There is nothing very difficult about it. Our manufacturers have made infinitely more complex machines.
– Can we trespass on the patent rights?
– Of course, it would be necessary to pay royalties. Quite a number of machines are made in Australia by an arrangement for the payment of royalties for patent rights. Many parts of the trenching machine are not covered by patents. For instance, there is a donkey-engine in it, and that is not patented. I ask honorable senators to come to a vote on this item.
– I am not shutting my ears to the appeal of Senator Pearce. I have no wish to talk until midnight and then ask that progress be reported; b.ut I want to call attention to the discrimination shown in this schedule between rockcutting machines used by metalliferous miners and coal-cutting machines. On the former, the rates of duty are, 27i per cent., 35 per cent., and 40 per cent.; while the latter are admitted free from Great Britain, and at rates of 5 per cent, and 10 per cent, in the intermediate and general columns respectively. I do not know that the coal kings exercise any influence upon this Government; but, at any rate, the Minister ought to explain why this discrimination was made.
– The rock-cutting machine is made, and sold at a reasonable price in Australia,; the coal-cutting machine is not made here.
– I should think that it could easily be made here; but it would appear as if there was one class of legislation for the rich coal mine-owners, and another class for the struggling metalliferous miners. Surely we want the best machinery for our mines at the cheapest price, because the margin between success and failure in mining operations is exceedingly small. Although the request submitted ‘by Senator DrakeBrockman does not go as far as I would like, I shall support it.
– I do not know whether the Government prefer to be dragged into a recognition of common sense or not; but, apparently, they propose to contest this request, notwithstanding the fact that the records in regard to the position of the base metal industry of Australia provide a sufficient lesson to turn their hearts. I would support a duty upon these machines if they could be made in Australia, but not to the inordinate extent proposed by the Government. I am sure that Senator Drake-Brockman, if he had given expression to his true feelings in regard to the matter, would have moved for a greater reduction than 5 per cent. ; but -we are not here to speak in the language of hyberbole ; we speak only in that language which will insure our getting a little consideration. The imposition of a 40 per cent, duty on the machines required by the base-metal industry of the Commonwealth can have no other effect than that of reducing the population in the far interior, and filling up the coastline with towns. The copper industry, the silver industry, and all the subsidiary metal industries of Australia are in a positive state of stagnation to-day, and yet we have an effort on the part of the Government to make them even more stagnant by the unwarranted imposition of a tax of 40 per cent, upon the cost of the material they need. I do not know what grounds honorable senators have for doing this. We are still waiting for the balance-sheets of the people who are making these machines. Not a tittle of evidence has been brought forward in support of the Government’s proposal. On the other hand, we have ample evidence that the base metal industry is dwindling, if it is not already stagnant. A dual obligation rests upon me to serve the interests of my own State, and at the same time, intertwine them with those of Australia as a whole. Therefore, when I find that we are asked to impose extra heavy duties, I want to be supplied with information as to the financial position of the manufacturers who are asking for them. They are probably in the same category as the agricultural implement makers, not one of whom has supplied a balance-sheet for us. We must see that the man who goes into the interior and discovers a metalliferous deposit and makes his mine productive is given a fair opportunity of working it. The Mount Cuthbert Copper Mine, in North Queensland, cannot get men. It is obliged to use these rock-cutting machines in order to minimize the cost of production with copper at £70 per ton. Otherwise the property will remain shut down as it is to-day. I support the request put forward by Senator Drake-Brockman, although it may be regarded as but an ineffectual attempt to obtain fair play for these men who are endeavouring to work mines. We cannot populate the interior of this Commonwealth by making the lot of these men less inviting, less encouraging, and less profitable.
Question - That the request (Senator Drake-Brockman’s) he agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Bequest (by Senator DrakeBrockman) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), intermediate, ad val., 30 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Imove -
That the House ofRepresentativesbe requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), British, ad val., 20 per cent.
My purpose, and that of honorable senators supporting me, is to endeavour to make the duties upon these primary industrial requirements conform with the rates already decided upon in respect of similar necessities. I feel convinced that had one or two honorable senators been present, whose absence is due, no doubt, to other public business, my desire to bring about reasonable consistency would have been successfully supported. The effect of the division just taken would have been reversed.
– The honorable senator should not say that, seeing that he secured a reduction of the general Tariff by the help of an honorable senator who should not have participated in the division.
– One or two honorable senators were unavoidably absent who, had they been within the chamber, would have realized the significance of the division, and reversed the vote last taken. The general Tariff has been reduced to 35 per cent.
– By a catch vote.
– By a vote of the majority of the Committee. The intermediate Tariff, however, remains at 35 per cent. The reason lies in the fact that the Government were favoured by a catch vote. I hope, at any rate, that the British Tariff will now be reduced to 20 per cent. Indeed, when Ministers appreciate the mental attitude of members of the Committee, I feel sure that they will cease to obstruct their desires, and willfollow the procedure adopted by them last night.
– Has the honorable senator received any representations from mining companies other than in Western Australia, concerning the rates of duty on the articles mentioned in this and other items?
– No, but I understand that honorable senators from other States have been in receipt of such representations. I do not know whether Senator Pratten understands the position of the mining industry in my own State, but I assure him that mining enterprises of all kinds are tottering on the verge of destruction because they are overburdened with the hugely increased COSt, of production.
– Why not refer to the price of metals rather than to the effect of the Tariff?
– I realize that the price of metals at the present time is a very important factor, but that is a matter which is beyond the control of this Committee, while the in- cadence of the Tariff is not. I appeal to honorable senators to keep Australia’s mining industry going as well as may be possible until such time as the price of metals recovers. Then, possibly, an opportunity may be afforded for the reconsideration of the Tariff so that, if it should be deemed necessary, the present rates may be again imposed. Australia owes a great deal to mining; but, from one end of the land to the other, the industry is in a very precarious condition.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia-
Minister for Defence) [2.56]. - I ask the Committee to have some regard to previous duties. In the 1914 Tariff the preferential rate was’ 25 per cent. Senator Drake-Brockman’s request, if agreed to, will reduce the duty below that existing seven years ago.
– That is exactly what the Committee has requested in regard to other items dealing with, implements and machinery.
– I admit that there is an inconsistency at this moment in respect of the general and preferential rates. That is due to the vote cast in mistake by Senator Guthrie, but for which the general Tariff would still have been 40 per cent. The inconsistency, of course, can be rectified at a later stage. But, since the imposition of the 1914 rates, a duty has been placed upon the raw material. As for Senator DrakeBrockman’s appeal, based on the condition of the mining industry, the great bulk of the plant used in mining operations is not included within the details of the item under discussion. Rockcutting machines are free, also the drills used in gold m 1111ng. Most of the remainder of the plant comprises winding engines and batteries, and they are not specified here. The honorable senator’s argument, therefore, falls short of its intention. The mining industry is suffering because of the low price of metals; the incidence of the Tariff is ‘not a factor. Practically every article included iu item 170 is adequately produced in this country, and. at reasonable prices. In 1913 Germany was a very serious competitor in this industry. The bulk of the imports came from Germany and the United States - more from the latter country than from the former.
.- I desire to say a word or two in support of the request, but arguing from a different point of view from that of Senator Drake-Brockman. This item does not bear to any direct and considerable extent upon mining operations; but the effect of the rates of duty does apply very materially to national developmental operations, which are more than ever essential at this juncture in the history of Australia. Owing to the enormous fall in the prices of metals many mines throughout the country have closed or are on the verge of collapse. It rests with Parliament, recognising that fact, to see that no barrier is placed in the way of the States inaugurating developmental works to absorb the labour hitherto employed upon the mines. Applications are being made to the State Governments, time and again, to establish relief activities ; but the latter authorities are at their wits’ ends to know how to provide work, because of the enormous expense due to the cost of necessary materials. If we impose a heavy duty on machinery required for developmental work, we shall to a great extent, ‘be preventing the various States from absorbing the unemployed.
– But we would be closing up the local factories.
– I do not want to do that. Under the 1911 Tariff the manufacture of these articles became an accomplished fact, and, in 1914, by a resolution of Parliament, new rates were imposed without discussion in either House of Parliament. This is the first opportunity we have had of considering the duties since 1908, and the position isso serious that the question should have the closest attention of honorable senators. . For many years our success depended upon our mining operations, and’ the work on many large mining fields is-, only now being carried on as a result of a tentative arrangement having been reached. When the existing agreements - between the employers and employees- terminate,- it is hoped that the price of metals will have so improved that normal conditions will again prevail. One shudders to think of the probability of ali avalanche of unemployment through many of our important mines being unable to carry on. “Various States have areas of land which they are anxious to develop; but the work is seriously retarded in consequence of the increased cost of necessary machinery. If, by reducing the British preferential rate, we can assist the States in undertaking public works, we shall be doing good; and at the same time we .shall be retaining the margin which exists between the British preferential and the general Tariff duties. I trust, therefore, that the Committee will support the request.
– I think the votes on this and other items have been recorded under, a misapprehension, as we are really inverting the order. The proposal before the Committee is to impose a preferential rate of 27£ per cent, on earth and rock cutting, dredging, and excavating machinery, which is required in the first operations of winning ore from the earth. It has to be borne in mind that if we fix this standard, it will be a guiding and dominating factor in arriving at a decision on subsequent items. Which is the pioneering industry in Australia? Has not mining been responsible for the development of Victoria? Side by side with the mines in Queensland are to be found wheat and sheep farms, and orchards. The same can be said of the Western State, where development has rapidly followed the discovery of mineral wealth. The men who went to Ballarat in the first instance were gold-seekers and pioneers in the truest sense. Notwith standing this, the Government, and those who are supporting them in this instance, are imposing a heavy burden on what is essentially a pioneering industry.
– Factories have also sprung up in the neighbourhood of mining fields.
– We first had mining, then agriculture, and then, in a rough sequence, secondary industries. Here is a proposal to place the highest duty on a pioneer industry. Is Senator Bolton willing to da that ? Is he prepared to impose a heavier duty on the machinery required by the path finder than on the implements used by the man who merely follows on? Is Senator Pratten willing to place a heavier burden on those who search for minerals than on those who, under more favorable circumstances, follow on their heels? Is Sena? tor Earle willing to support the pro* posal? I have served by land and sea, and know more about this and other propositions than do many honorable senators. The Committee have imposed a -duty of 15 per cent, on certain plant required by those comfortably working established farms in country originally opened up as a result of mining operations, and we are now asked to place a duty of 27^ per cent, on the machinery required by the men who go further out. If honorable senators do that, they are imposing a burden on our real pioneers. They can do it if they wish; but it will be done with their eyes open, because I have drawn their attention to the position. If they act in this way, it will not be on my advice, or with my support. We are handicapping the mining prospector, who will not carry on his investigations unless he thinks there is a possibility of discovering ore in payable quantities. We have imposed certain duties on sheep farmers’ and orchardists’ implements, but this proposal deliberately penalizes the real pioneer.
– The honorable senator is quite wrong.
– I am not. Senator Pratten has his mind fixed upon one or two “tinpot” industries in this country, and Senator Earle is in a similar position; but I trust they will come to their senses before very long. I am raising a lonely voice on behalf of the men who have made this country.
– The honorable senator is not alone in that regard.
– Some honorable senators think one- way and vote in another. After copper, gold, and silver have been discovered farms and orchard’s have been established, ‘ and although the conditions of those who follow the prospector are much easier, the rates of duty upon the implements they require are much lower than on those required by the miner. I challenge Senator Earle to deny that.
– I have come in contact with a number of prospectors, . but I have never known one to carry a smelting, leaching, and metal-refining plant in his kit.
– That is a sample of the argument advanced from the table at that end of the chamber from which nothing in the shape of common sense has emanated since this Tariff was introduced. Senator Henderson and Senator de Largie may smile, but they know little of the hardships endured by the prospector.
– I know a good deal more than the honorable senator.
– What has Senator Lynch done? He held the softest job on a mine - that of driving an engine.
– I will place my record side by side with that of any other honorable senator.
– Order ! The honorable senator must address the Chair.
– I travelled 900 miles through Queensland whilst these men were travelling in comfort on ocean boats or railways.
– The honorable senator is not in order in addressing honorable senators. He should direct his remarks to the Chair.
– I have travelled more in Queensland than the honorable senator.
– The honorable senator went by rail to Charters Towers.
– I went with my swag on my back.
– And so did I.
– The honorable senators must refrain from making personal references. I direct Senator Lynch to discuss the sub-item before the Committee.
– The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) said that he had never known of a prospector to carry a smelting, leaching, or metal-refining plant in his kit. Of course, not. But what does he do? He goes in search of minerals in payable quantities, and I challenge the Minister for Defence to prove that, after precious metals have been discovered, the development of the territory in which they are found would hot be retarded by the imposition of these heavy duties.I also ask these coast-line prospectors - Senator Henderson and Senator de Largie, who travelled by train and by boat- to deny that we are imposing an unnecessarily heavy burden on the mining industry. If we are to make this country great it will not be done by conferring exceptional privileges upon those who are living on the fringe of this continent.
– Neither will it be done by wasting time.
– I believe I was here before the honorable senator, and I know the hardships experienced by the pioneers. I have been out in the back country, and have “ padded the hoof “ under very adverse circumstances.
– Question !
– There is no question about it. I did that when I was a youth of nineteen. When I am challenged, I am prepared to give day and date, chapter and verse, for every statement that I make. We must ask ourselves how we are dealing with those engaged in the industry to which the sub-item relates compared with the men who pioneer this country. The proposal is to put a duty of 271/2 per cent. under the British preferential Tariff on the machines used by miners to turn up the ground and lay bare our mineral wealth, as compared with a duty of 15 per cent. on the machinery used by the farmer who follows him. Are we entitled to do that? Is there a semblance of fair play in such a proposal? Yet we find these coastwise prospectors supporting it.
– The honorable senator is losing his head.
– We are not entitled to increase the duties as proposed. The ploughs which turn over the soil and make fertile the cultivatable areas of this country are dutiable at 15 per cent., andwe have no right to impose a duty of 271/2 per cent. on the machines used by the men who turn up the ground to recover our various forms of metalliferous wealth. What has the pioneer done that he should be penalized in this way? The Government are proposing to penalize him to the extent of the difference between 15 per cent. and 271/2 per cent. I feel very strongly on this question.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I should not have followed Senator Lynch but that he will persist in saying that every duty imposed on articles manufactured in Australia penalizes the users of those articles.
– Of course, that is so.
– It is not.
– Then, why is a duty imposed ?
– To encourage the local manufacture of the articles in question. If, as has been explained over and overagain, these machines, which are used, not by the prospectors as has been urged, but by the mining companies, are manufactured in Australia, they will become cheaper than the imported machines.
– Do not dodge the point; Are not these duties imposed to raise prices?
– I am not evading the point. I interjected while the honorable senator was speaking, but he was incapable of appreciating the true situation. It seems tome that he rather stubbornly refuses to recognise it. I know that he can realize that when these machines are made in Australia they canbe obtained for less than what the users would have to pay if they were dependent upon manufacturers overseas. Even if that wore not so, another point in favour of encouraging the local industry is that we have power to control manufacturers within the Commonwealth, and can deal with them if they exploit the people, but have absolutely no control over manufacturers in other countries who export their products to Australia. What happened last night? When we were discussing the duty on sewing machines-
– I ask the honorable senator not to hark back to that item, to which ho has already referred by way of illustration.
– There may be in the Tariff schedule an item relating to a machine that is not made in Australia, but which can be produced in England at a cost of 30s. or £2. That machine is sold in Australia to-day for £12 or more.
– The item to which the honorable senator is referring has been dealt with. If honorable senators are permitted continually to revert to items that have been passed the Tariff discussion will be interminable.
– Let me assume, for the sake of argument, that rock-cutting machines are not manufactured in Australia, but are brought here from London,
New York, or Berlin, where they are produced at a cost of £100 each. In keeping with the products of other enterprises of a similar character those machines, when brought into Australia, would be sold for £400 each. Australians would have to pay that price for them, because we do not produce them here, and have no control over the manufacturers abroad. That would not happen if the machines were made here. I am just as convinced as Senator Lynch appears to be that the miner and the agriculturist are penalized when an increased duty is placed on a machine that they use which is not made here, but I am equally convinced that in the interests of all prim ary producers every effort should be made to insure the manufacture in Australia of the machinery which they employ.
– I do not wish to add much more to this debate, since I realize that the Government have brought to heel some of those honorable senators who showed a little sweet reasonableness last night.
– There you go again.
– I am not blaming the honorable senator, who, from my pointof view, has most consistently disregarded the requirements of the primary producer. My complaint is of those honorable senators who blow hot and cold - who vote one way to-day and another to-morrow. They have no consistency whatever, and when the Government “ crack the whip “ they come to heel like a, lot of puppy dogs. That is the position taken up by some honorable senators.
– I should like to have their names.
– If it were necessary to tell the honorable senator the names of these honorable senators I would do so, but he has only to look at the division lists to discover them; he has only to throw back his memory and he will locate them without effort. I despair of some of these honorable senators who try to impress the electors that they have as much consideration for the primary producer as they have for the man in the city, but who, at every opportunity, load the primary produce) and the pioneer with more and more duties. What consideration are they showing those who plough the lonely furrow? What consideration are they prepared, to give the pioneer who goes into the lonely backblocks and opens up new mining fields ? Who really gets the benefit? Is it the pioneer ox the man who comes after every time? Why should those who are patriotic and enterprising enough to go into the lonely interior and make these discoveries be burdened with more and more duties? Why should. we not take up the same attitude as the State Governments and, instead of penal- iking these men, encourage them?
– The State Governments reward such men for every discovery they make.
– They do. The Government of Western Australia, as well as some of the other State
Governments, I understand, provide such men with the necessary kits. They supply them with batteries to treat the ores discovered by them; they provide the necessary scienlists to advise them and the necessary geologists to examine the country so that they may know in which direction to go. The State Governments do much to encourage mining enterprise. Arc we to make it more difficult for the State Governments to provide such facilities and more and more difficult for the men who go into the interior to exist? Some honorable senators would do so; their attitude is beyond my comprehension. I can understand the consistency of those who, believing that high duties make for low prices, vote for such duties. It is a curious sort of mentality that produces such a belief, but there are honorable senators who entertain it. As to others, who blow hot and cold, I cannot understand them.
– It is a bad thing, with a duty of this kind in force, to be
– My honest opinion is that, in view of the whole of this cursed Tariff schedule, it is a bad thing to be a pioneer. Protection is all very well, but to impose almost prohibitive duties, designed to put more and more burdens on the most essential men to the community - the- pioneers - is detestable.
– It is abhorrent, abominable !’
– The honorable senator was right when he said that if I dared ask in this Chamber for what I would like I should request that all these duties be removed. It- is because I have some regard for the honest convictions of honorable senators that I have asked only for a reduction which I think it is possible may be conceded. I once again appeal to honorable senators to have some regard for the Australian pioneer.
.- I should like honorable senators to give particular attention to this item.. It is proposed that dredging machinery imported from Great Britain shall be dutiable at 27 per cent. I am aware that there is one member of the Committee who has a fair knowledge of dredging. I happened to hear a conversation in which it was stated that a firstclass dredging plant can be obtained for £50,000.
– And every bit of it made in Australia.
– That may, or may not be so.
– I have been interested in dredging companies, and I know that every bit of tha necessary plant can be made in Australia.
– I take it that the proposed duties are intended for the protection of the Australian manufacturer, and their imposition will mean that he may charge a higher price for this machinery. The manufacturer of a dredging plant in Australia will be able to add 27i per cent, to what, but for this duty against British imports, it would probably cost. If I am right in my estimate that a first-class dredging plant can be obtained for .-650,000, the difference between the free importation of the article from Great Britain and the imposition of the duty of 27£ per cent, upon it, will represent a matter of £13,750. This means that, but for the proposed duty, a company might secure one of these machines, and at the same time be able to pay twenty men for three years while it was testing its fiats to see whether its operations would pay.
– Its flats would be tested before the company would buy its machinery.
– That is so; but possibly there would be no testing of flats if it were known that 27i per cent. must be added to the present .cost of a dredging, plant. A difference of £13,000 in the cost of a dredging plant might mean all the difference between working a flat and not working it. It might represent the difference between the discovery of fresh deposits and a decision to make no attempt to discover them. Honorable senators will recognise that the prosperity of the dairying industry is largely due to the cream separator. One splendid invention made dairying possible where, but for its discovery, it would not have been possible. It is the same with the mining industry. I do not know whether I am too sanguine with regard to the future of Australia, but I believe that our great riches lie in the mineral wealth of the Commonwealth, and that Australians yet to come will be convinced that we were absolutely blind not to realize in our time the enormous mineral wealth that awaits development in this country. The Government propose duties of 27^, 35, and 40 per cent, to check development of the mining industry. Happily, the Committee has reduced the protection against the German article.
– By mistake.
– Not by a mistake, unless it was a mistake for one honorable senator to pair with another. The German article will, on the request carried by the Committee, be admitted on a duty 5 per cent, less than that proposed by the Government, but no reduction has so far been made on the duty proposed upon British imports- of this machinery. The Australian industry for the manufacture of these machines was brought into existence, passed through its infant stages, and is now a> fully developed industry which, according to Senator Pearce, turns out as good machinery of this kind as can be obtained elsewhere. In the circumstances, there has surely been no demand for an increased duty on this machinery, and why then should we go out of our way to give this additional protection to the local industry? The only effect of the increased duty must be to make other forms of production more costly. The increased duty proposed, for instance, on rock-cutting and excavating machinery must tend to make the iron industry itself less prosperous by .adding to the cost of operating our iron deposits.’
– Such machinery -will be very necessary if we are to proceed with big irrigation works.
– Can we. not make » scoop in Australia ?
– I venture to say that the manufacturers of this machinery will make a scoop if they are given, the benefit of these heavy duties.
– They are making one already - an annual “ scoop.”
– I direct attention to the fact that a machine which is required by the coal kings, who are getting for their coal to-day from twice to four, times the price they received for it ten. years ago, is to be admitted free under this schedule. If honorable senators will’look at sub-item e of item 170 they will find that it reads - “ Coal-cutting machines, ad val., British, 27$ per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.”
And then there is the little message - “ And on and after 15th June, 1921, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.”
– That was agreed to on the motion of the honorable senator’s acting Leader, Mr. Charlton. “Was ho acting in the interests of the coal kings?
– Looking a little further ahead than Senator Pearce has done, I will agree that it was on th«» motion of my Leader, Mr. Charlton. I am very glad that we are sufficiently strong in another place to control the Government’s majority, and take it from them on occasion. The coal.-cutting machine used by the coal king, John Brown, the multi-millionaire, is to be admitted free if imported from Great Britain. I do not know Mr. Brown’s financial position, but if. as reported, he is a millionaire, he can afford to ‘ pay a duty on a coal-cutting machine. Why should this machinery required for coal mines whose output is assured, and can be measured and estimated, and in connexion -with. which there oan be no failure, be admitted free, whilst the machinery required for other forms of mining, most uncertain as to their results, is made dutiable at 27$ per cent, on British manufactures? Senator Pearce has reminded me that, coal-cutting machines are to be imported free from Great Britain on the motion of my Leader in another place.. It may be that his position there’ is similar to mine here- I can join. with some of my honorable friends in the Committee in securing a reduction of duty in the interests of landowners and primary producers engaged in agriculture; but I can only secure a slight reduction of duty. It may be that my Leader in another place secured the free admission of coal-cutting machines from Great Britain because he is a good Protectionist, and most Protectionists like to be able to obtain free of duty the articles which they use themselves. Mr. Charlton wanted the machinery employed in the business with which he is particularly associated admitted free; but I am not a good Protectionist, and I want the machinery used in every business admitted free of duty, or as near as I can get to that. I am not asking for the free admission of the machinery covered by the sub-item now under consideration, but for a reduction in the duty proposed on British imports of 74 per cent. That is a very reasonable request in view of the fact that the Committee has already reduced the duty proposed on the German and American imports of this machinery by 5 per cent.
– The position seems to me to be very simple. The previous Tariff imposed a duty on these machines of 25 per cent. against British imports. This Tariff proposes a duty of 271/2 per cent., and, as has been explained over and over again, the increase is an attempt to balance an increase in the cost of the raw materials of these machines owing to the basic duty imposed on iron. Senator Drake-Brockman has made a special plea for the pioneer. I would remind the honorable senator that pioneers are not exclusively confined to the State of Western Australia.
– That was never claimed.
– We have a few in New South Wales. Senator Gardiner does not make the claim that any reduction of this duty will benefit the pioneer.
– I do make that claim.
– I accept the honorable senator’s correction.He does claim that a reduction of this duty will benefit the pioneer. Senator Lynch uses the same argument.
– I introduced it.
– I understand that. While the discussion has been going on, I have been trying to visualize the pioneer who goes away back into the bush with his earth and rock cutting machines in order to discover minerals. I have been trying to visualize the bold pioneer who goes along with his ore-dressing machinery and appliances to discover payable metals. I have been trying to visualize also the prospector who goes along with smelting and leaching machines to discover payable metals. It does seem to me that there is serious misapprehension on the part of some honorable senators as to what this item means. .
– The pioneer would require a pretty big “Matilda.”
– He would, especially if he took with him one of the dredges to which Senator Gardiner has referred.
– If that is the best product of the honorable senator’s imagination, he ought to turn it out to grass.
– I do not wish to bandy words with any member of the Committee. I am trying to put before honorable senators a logical argument. So far as I can see, these duties are proposed with the special purpose of encouraging the manufacture in Australia of appliances for the extraction of metals after a mine is in going order. It is within my personal knowledge that the effect of these duties, so far as the tinmining industry is concerned, is that every machine for sluicing and dredging for tin, and I think I may say for gold also, is made in Australia, amongst others, by Thompson’s, of Castlemaine, by Ruwolt’s, a Richmond firm, and by Pool and Steele, in Sydney. Again, it is within my own experience that the assistance the duty on these machines has given during the last ten or twelve years to the local manufacturer has resulted in the fact that Australia not only makes her own tin and gold sluicing and dredging machinery, but exports such machinery very largely to the markets of the East, in competition with the whole world. A trade of considerable dimensions has grown up under the cover of these duties in the past.
– Wo; a lower duty.
– Lower by only 21- per cent.
– No; by 7£ per cent.
– The duty to which the honorable senator refers was lower by only 2-£ per cent.
– No. The duty in 1913 on British imports of this machinery was 20 per cent.
– In the 1914 Tariff the duty on -machinery included in item 170 was 25 per cent.
– What was the duty under the 1911 Tariff, which continued until 1914? Do not dodge the question.
– I am referring to the position during the last ten years, and I reiterate that the difference between the duty proposed by the Government and the duty hitherto operative is only 2i per cent.
– These machines were made here under lower duties. You cannot deny it.
– I repeat that, as the. result of the cover given to our local manufacturers, they have been able to supply, not only the local market at the same price as abroad, but have also been able to build up a. considerable export business with the Malay States, the Eastern Archipelago, and countries as far distant as Nigeria.
– In countries where machinery is duty free, too.
– I intend to support the duty as it stands, because the Tariff has resulted in the establishment of important local industries. I have had no representations from the mining companies in my State against the duties.
– Have you had no representations from the manufacturers?
– In connexion with this item, I have had no representations from either side, and, so far as my vote is concerned, I am not going to allow Western Australia to run the whole of Australia.
– Western Australia also has some important manufacturing industries that are concerned in this item.
– That is so. It appears to me that nearly all the requests for a reduction in this dutv are coming from representatives of Western Australia. I represent New South Wales, in which there are very many mining in terests, all of which are vitally concerned in these duties, and I have had no representations from them. It is fair to assume that if there were any crying evils in connexion with this duty the mining companies would have made overtures to the representatives in this Senate from New South Wales.
– I have had reams of correspondence from all the mining companies in Australia on this ‘subject.
– And the honorable senator has been getting his information from Mr. Petherick, who is employed by the Chamber of Mines in Western Australia in connexion with this matter, and who has been present during the whole of the debate.
– And how many manufacturers have also been present?
– I admit that it is a case of six of one and half-a-dozen of the other; but I am going to vote for the duty which, in its incidence, will not operate harshly upon the pathfinder, pioneer, or prospector.
Senator GARDINER (New South Wales [3.48]. - I merely wish to reply to Senator Pratten’s reference to the pioneers. Apparently, he is quite unable to visualize the pioneers in mining being assisted by cheap machinery. Let us have a look at the pioneer setting out, and carrying on his shoulders, not a huge dredge as has been suggested, but his pick, his dish, and his shovel. He gets to a gully, and he tests it, working there, perhaps, for months before he finds what he thinks is a payable proposition. Then he approaches mining investors, bringing before them his prospects and his report. After considering the position, they will probably say, “Well, the plant will cost £50,000” - if they were honest they would add that £13,000 more must be allowed for the payment of duty on the machinery, making the total capital cost of machinery £63,000^- “ and the ‘ show ‘ is not good enough. You must look elsewhere for something better.” If Senator Pratten’s imagination will not enable him to see the advantage of the pioneers in the mining industry being assisted by cheap machinery, all I can say is that he must have been a marvellously lucky mining speculator. The pioneer opens up new country; he washes dirt in some unknown stream, and, picking up indications here and there, follows the prospect almost by instinct until he comes upon the real thing which in so many cases cannot be developed owing to the high cost of mining machinery caused by high Customs duties which this Committee and Senator Pratten impose.
– I intend to approach consideration of this, sub-item and to support the request for a reduction in the duty from an entirely different angle from that of other honorable senators. I am not a miner, I have had no experience whatever in mining, and, therefore, I shall allow those who have been interested in the industry to state the case from their point of view. As an Australian, with the best interests of this country at heart, I realize the effect which the duties in this sub-item may have upon water conservation and irrigation works for the development of this great continent. We all hope that one day Australia will become a great nation; but we know that certain handicaps, including the aridity of certain portions of the continent, must be overcome before pioneers can expect to occupy profitably huge areas at present unsettled. Either as the result of a Government policy or private enterprise adequate supplies of water must be provided. From this point of view, therefore, the sub-item under consideration is very important, as it affects earth and rock-cutting, dredging and excavating machinery, all of which arc absolutely necessary in the carrying out of any comprehensive scheme for water conservation or irrigation. The success of any such undertaking must depend in some measure upon the cost, and if, by means of duties on machinery, the cost of these public works may be increased to such an extent as to interfere with important national schemes, we should consider in what way relief can be afforded. The very best appliances obtainable are essential. We all hope, of course, that Australian invention and enterprise will always he capable of meeting the situation, but in this matter we should not restrict ourselves to Australia. We want to get the very best that the, world can give us. We should not in any way jeopardize national water conservation schemes by almost prohibitive Tariff duties on the necessary machinery.
At present there is not a sufficient demand for this class of machinery in Australia to encourage our .manufacturers to lay down costly plants, and, therefore, we should be in a position to obtain it from America or some other country at a reasonable price.
– What extra plant would he required to make such machinery?
– This class of machinery is entirely different from any other. I hope the Committee will not penalize Australia’s future development by consenting to such a high duty as is proposed in the schedule. The reduction asked for is not very great, and if it is possible to make this machinery here there will still be adequate protection. I feel disposed almost to move for a greater reduction than is proposed, in view of the necessity to do something in the near future in the direction cif carrying out essential water conservation and irrigation schemes. These considerations compel me to, at any rate, vote for the request to reduce the duty.
Question - That the request (Senator Drake-Brockman’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to -make the duly, sub-item (b), general, ad val., 35 per cent.
This sub-item refers to ore-dressing machinery and appliances. I have said previously that the opinion expressed by the- Committee in reference to the dirties upon a sub-item would govern the attitude of honorable senators towards the rates of duty attached to the other subitems of the same item, because we must have some semblance of system in our methods. However, I hope that the decision just arrived at will be reconsidered in respect to the imposition of this unheard-of rate of duty of 40 per cent, upon ore-dressing machinery. It is said that the mining pioneer will not go out to find a mine unless he is satisfied that it will be payable; and in estimating this he has to take into account its accessibility, the value of the ore, the price of the metal for the time being, and also the chance a company would have of obtaining credit or cash to work the concern. But the Committee has just declared that the pioneering machinery which must be employed for getting ore but of a mine must pay duties ranging from 27^ per cent, to 35 per cent., whereas it has requested another place to reduce the same duty on British-made plows, which, as pioneering implements, are in the same category, to 15 per cent. I do not know how honorable senators can justify their change of attitude. There is certainly no equity in imposing a duty of only 15 per cent, on the farmers’ plows and charging the miners’ machinery with an impost of 27£ per cent. At any rate, when the miner has won his ore by means of this machinery, upon which he has paid a duty of 27£ per cent, if it has been made by manufacturers in Great Britain, or 35 per cent, if it has been made in America or Canada, he is now called upon to pay from 27£ per cent, to 40 per cent, upon the machinery he must use to prepare his ore for the market. There is no mention of Japan in this connexion.
– That is a bogy they are keeping up their sleeves.
– I suppose so. The best argument I have heard in favour of these duties is the fact that this class of machinery has been made in Australia under the old rates of duty. Senator Pratten has told us that, but I did not need him to tell me of it. Before 1913, I saw dredging and excavating machinery made in Australia under a 20 per cent, duty. My present effort is to call a halt, and give the average man a chance of “ biting his nails “ over this matter, as
Charles Dickens says in Dombey and Son. The world will buy our ore, but not in its crude state. It cannot be changed from that crude state until machinery is purchased on which an additional 40 per cent, has to be paid if it is supplied from any country outside Great Britain. The Commonwealth Y ear-Book tells a doleful tale of the position of the metal industry of Australia in recent years; which we can supplement from our own experience, because we know that nearly every copper show is shut down. Can any honorable senator tell me of & copper mine, a lead mine, or a tin mine working in Australia to-day? And when these mines with undoubtedly rich deposits are shut down, and will remain permanently shut down until prices improve, what chances are there for prospectors to go out and look for new finds? The balance-sheets of mining companies in north Queensland disclose the fact that they are shut down because they cannot make ends meet. In the first place, they cannot get miners ; and in the second place, their expenditure is. so great that it does not pay to work with copper at its present price of £70 a ton. Yet, while mines are shut down all over Australia and prospectors are remaining in their tents, we are engaged in the glorious pastime of saying, “ Put on higher duties and these industries will flourish like the green bay tree.” The position of these mines does not appeal to honorable senators., who cross the chamber and record their votes against any proposal to reduce duties. But I am trying to visualize - I have borrowed the word from another honorable senator, and I propose to hang on to it - the position of the mines at Cloncurry, Mount Cuthbert, Mount Lyell, and Wallaroo, where men should be working, or where, if they are working, their position is extremely uncertain. Yet honorable senators say, “Increase the price of the material they require for working their mines and they will flourish.” It is the most extraordinary argument I have ever struck. How can we make mining pay in these circumstances? As the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) once said, quoting an old axiom, we cannot take more out of a pint pot than we put into it. We cannot make mining pay unless we reduce costs to a limit that will provide a margin between expenses and the value the product will command. I challenge any one to say that the base metal mining industry of Australia is flourishing. I challenge any one to deny -that it is waning. I challenge any one to say that a prospector under present conditions, even without this Tariff, will go out to look for a mine and hope to work it successfully. Yet the new policy of this Government for developing the interior of Australia and making two blades of grass grow where one green stalk grew before, is to make mining pay by increasing the duties on mining material. I am not of that view. My view is that we ought to reduce the cost of mining, and my request for a reduction of this duty is but a slight effort in that direction. . Senator Pratten asks what difference a reduction of 5 per cent, will make. It may make all the difference between success or failure, solvency or insolvency, of many mining ventures. The honorable senator has spoken of Mr. Petherick representing the Chamber of Mines in Western Australia, which is incorporated with the New South Wales Chamber of Mines, with which body the honorable senator should have some interest in common. At any rate, I am told by the Western Australian Chamber of Mines that the impost contemplated by this duty will mean 6d. ou every ton of ore produced.
– Does Mr. Petherick represent all the mine3 in Australia ?
– What he represents is of no account. He is here, as he has a right to be, with other gentlemen we see about the building. But I do not need to be told all this by the Chamber of Mines. Neither does the honorable senator. It is only necessary to pick up any morning paper issued within the last three months to ascertain the fact that metal mine3 are shutting down. Senator Pratten says, “ Put on a duty and re-open them.”
– Why are you camouflaging the real reason for shutting down these mines, which is the fact that the price of metal is so low?
– And I suppose the way out is to increase the cost of production. We ought to reduce this duty in the interests of those engaged in this worthy industry, from the most pros perous concerns at Mount Cuthbert, Mount Elliott, Mount Lyell, and Wallaroo down to the younger propositions in Western Australia. Mining is riot a one-State industry, but a continental industry. As usual, I am thrust back on tha necessity of asking for the balance.sheets of these mining machine companies, but they are as absent as are the balance-sheets of other manufacturers who benefit by this Tariff. On the other hand, the balance-sheets of the base metal industry show that it is stagnant, if not dead; and at the same time the Government seek to- place high duties on every appliance used, contending that this will make the industry nourish. If the Government had any sympathy with the mining industry, it would remove duties instead of increase them; and in their present attitude the Government are supported by a slavish majority. I” should like those senators who favour* these high duties to visit the mining centres and explain themselves.
– You are asking for only 5 off 40 per cent.?
– Tha*, is all; it is the difference between what we can get and what we think we ought to have We see a servile majority blindly following the Government in piling on these duties, although the Government include in their ranks Free Traders, who, if they acted according to their convictions, would be voting with me. Oh, that they would write a book, or make a speech !
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Senators Lynch and DrakeBrockman have referred to the fact that quite a number of honorable senators are “blowing hot and cold “ in their voting on this schedule; voting for reductions in one case and for increases in another. With regard to certain items we dealt with last evening, I confess that I voted for reductions in the British preferential column. I have made up my mind to deal with all the items in the Tariff on their merits. Where I think that we are likely to have serious competition from Great Britain, I shall support the increase of the preferential duties, and the items dealt with last night, on which I voted for reductions, do not threaten such competition. On those items the preferential duties are simply a farce, for the goods are not coming here from Great Britain, and might as well be made free. As to the particular item now before us, it has been shown that the articles are successfully made here at reasonable prices, and that there is some export trade. That being so, I shall vote for the retention of the duty of 40 per cent.
Question - That the request (Senator Lynch’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative. Request negatived.
.- I move-
That the House ofRepresentatives be requested to make sub-item (d), British, free.
Any attempt to meet Protectionists by consenting to stiff Protectionist duties seems to have no effect, and, therefore, [ move this request with a view to expressing my desire for trade with Great Britain. In this morning’s newspaper we are told that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), in a speech, told the British people that Australia traded with them, and that we wished Britain to trade with us; but, as a matter of fact, the whole of this Tariff is a negation of any such desire. The industries concerned here are so well established as to be able to compete with the manufacturers of the world, and I think we might well allow the goods to come in free from Great Britain.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Lynch) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (d), British, ad val., 20 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I desire an explanation concerning why rich coal-miners have been favoured by the practical remission of duties upon their coal-cutting machines, while machinery for carrying on metalliferous mining is subject to exorbitant Customs duties.
– The strong representations made by the Acting Deputy Leader of the Official Labour party in another place convinced the Government that the rates which have been operating since the 15th June lastwere justified.
– That explanation may or may not satisfy Senator Gardiner;but will the Minister please recapitulate some of the reasons advanced in another place which induced the Government to place coal-cutting machines on the free list, so far as British importations are concerned, and to impose a general Tariff rate of only 10 per cent. ?
– The reasons are set out extensively in Hansard. I am not in a position to repeat them at present.
– I am not familiar with those reasons; but I can only surmise that the machines are not locally made. Cannot Australian manufacturers turn them out? Is this type of machine the one tiling that the inventive and manufacturing genius of our workmen cannot compass?
– It is astonishing that they should be able to make rock drills, and that the manufacture of coalcutting machineryshould apparently baffle them.
– It is. Presumably, however, nothing further is to be learned from the Minister, and the Committee mustbe satisfied. The rates, as they stand, must be accepted.
– Coal-cutting machines, I am informed, are not at present made in Australia. Will the Minister say whether their manufacture is even contemplated? Time after time, when such prospect has been mentioned, the Government have made provision to impose certain rates of duty - often ranging from 271/2 to 40 per cent. ad valorem - so soon as the manufacture of the implements in question has been begun in this country.
– Coal-cutting machines are not made in Australia.
– I am to understand also that, even should their manufacture be proposed, the Government do not intend to be consistent by providing for the imposition of duties immediately upon the first machine being locally turned out. It may be taken for granted, therefore, that the coal-mining industry is to be accorded a privilege which will not apply to any other phase of mining: If Australian workmen can produce rockcutting machines, why cannot they make coal-cutting machines? Why this extension of an exclusive privilege to the poor old, hard-up coal kings of New South Wales?
– If the honorable senator will move to request the reimposition of the previous rates of duty, I shall support him.
– I do not know that I would do that for Senator Keating. The poor colliery proprietor must get his machinery free, while the prosperous metal mine-owner can very well continue to bear imposts ranging from 271/2 to 40 per cent. The fact that mines are actually closing down everywhere does not count. If a man discovers a copper show, of what benefit is that to Australia ? If there should be another great gold discovery, of what use will that be to this country? Despite the prices of metals to-day, metalliferous mines must continue to bear the handicap of Customs duties. But if a man discovers a coal mine, he is immediately guaranteed the practical encouragement of getting his machinery free of duty. What influence is at work, or is there any ? I move -
That the House ofRepresentatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (e), on and after 1st January, 1922, general, ad val., 25 per cent.
– I trust the Committee will nob be influenced by the opinions expressed by Senator Lynch. Coal-cutting machines are not in any way similar to rock-drilling machines, and, practically speaking, no comparison can be made between the two. Although the former are very expensive, no attempt has ever been made to manufacture them here, although Australian manufacturers have had every incentive, because coal has been won in abundance from the earth in this continent for many years, and, I trust, will be for many centuries to come. Notwithstanding this, the Australian manufacturers have never made any effort to meet the requirements of the coal-mining industry in this regard, and to enable the Australian coal-mining industry to compete with the collieries in other parts of the world, those associated with the business in the Commonwealth have had to utilize the most modern appliances. In addition to procuring the most uptodate machines they have also had to bring operatives from the country in which those machines are used to teach the Australian coal-miners how to handle them.
– How long did they take to learn?
– Not0 very long. The Australian manufacturers have had every inducement to produce a similar coal-cutter, but they have never turned their attention to perfecting such a machine. For that reason I sincerely trust the Committee will not support Senator Lynch’s request.
– Why not have a division t
– I do hot think the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) is justified in hurrying for a division at this juncture, because, if Senator Gardiner had not asked why coal-cutting machines are admitted free, it was my intention to do so. The schedule shows that the duties which prevailed until 15th June of this year were, British, 27£ per cent. ; intermediate, 35 per cent. ; and general, 40 per cent., when they were made, British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent. ; and general, 10 per cent. That requires some explanation. My view in regard to the whole of these items connected with iron and steel is that we have not to primarily consider the immediate cheapness of any machine, but its manufacture in connexion with the security of this continent. As Senator Henderson has said, we have an abundance of coal in the Commonwealth, and the whole of his argument was addressed to the position in which our colliery proprietors are placed in competing with the colliery proprietors in other parts of the world.
– The same as in connexion with every other industry.
– Exactly. In the event of war it would be our duty to develop our coal deposits to the utmost extent, and if during a period of war we had to depend on outside sources for the supply of modern machinery, we should be in a pitiable position. Duties should be imposed on’ these machines in such a way that we would promote their production in the Commonwealth in the interests of our national life and national security. A Tariff such as this should have for its object the stimulation of production of this character. What is the use of saying that we have to depend upon outside countries because we have not manufactured any of these machines. Possibly we have not. Let us start to make them. What is the object of a. Protective Tariff? ‘ This is a vitally national immediate necessity. If we are to get the best out of our enormous coal deposits we should be in a position to manufacture our own coal-cutting machines, and the fact that we have extensive and valuable seams should be an incentive. I am prepared to support Senator Lynch in’ his request, and would even go as far to reimpose “the duties which the Government originally brought down.
– There are two articles in this item which were made free in another place - coal-cutting machines and rotary and percussive rock drills. If we impose a duty on one, to be logical, we shall have to impose a duty on the other, which is a machine largely used in gold-mining, concerning which we have heard so much from Senator Lynch. It would be interesting to hear what that honorable senator has to say on this point. There are items on which the duties were considerably reduced in another place, and this is one.
– On what grounds?
– As a result of departmental inquiries, and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) informing himself as well as he could as to the position. Coal-cutters are tools of trade, and as such articles, which are not manufactured here, are admitted free, no exception has been made in this instance. For these reasons, the Government allowed them to be placed on the free list.
.- The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has not accurately stated what occurred in another place; Because no attempt was made to remove the duties by any honorable member in the House of’ Representatives. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mi-: Greene) explained that the duty was imposed in 1914 with the idea of’ encouraging the manufacture of coal-cutting machines in Australia; but after inquiries had been made it was ascertained that this was not being done, and consequently he thought it reasonable to allow them to be admitted free.
– It was not a good test period.
-From 1914 to 1920 was not.
– Why not? They could not be imported during those years.
– We have been arguing that where no manufacturing industry exists to provide appliances necessary in the development of the coal, or any other, industry, that such articles should be admitted free, because by imposing a duty we would be hampering the industry. These are not manufactured here, and therefore are to be admitted free.
– Imported machines have been used in Australia for about twenty years.
– That is so. But I do not know why coal-cutting machines are not made in Australia.
– We would be in a parlous position in the event of war.
– Yes. Inquiries have shown that there is no likelihood of these machines being made in Australia, and if conditions alter, the Tariff Board will have an opportunity of reporting to Parliament when the duties can be reviewed. I do not see why any change should be made.
– I understand that rotary and percussive rock drills, mentioned in subitem f, are also admitted free because they are not manufactured here. I thought that they were made in Australia.
– Yes, at Bendigo, in small numbers.
– I draw attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– When the first Federal Tariff was under consideration it was said that rock drills were being manufactured here, and for that reason a duty was imposed.
– A few were being made at Bendigo, but their manufacture has been discontinued.
– Cornwall, with a population of only 200,000, makes rock drills, which are sent all over the world. Is there any reason why they cannot be made here?
– The reason why they are not made here is that the demand is insufficient.
– So there are still some things which.it suits Australia to import.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Machinery, machines, and appliances -
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the word “ January,” sub-item (a), and insert in lieu thereof the word “ July.”
This is a purely technical amendment. As a matter of fact, the Minister for
Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), under the powers conferred upon him under the Customs Act, has deferred the duty in respect of the item from 1st January to 1st July of this year, and this amendment is necessary only to put the alteration into proper legal form. I desire at this stage to make an explanation of the whole item which, I think, will be of interest to honorable senators. The machines and appliances covered by it were not dutiable under the 1914 Tariff, and I may be asked why duties are now proposed. Towards the close of the war, when our soldiers were coming home, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen), being anxious to encourage the establishment of industries that would assist in the employment of our men, caused inquiries to be made as to new fields of manufacture that could be exploited. The particular lines covered by the item, among others not previously made in the Commonwealth, were brought under his notice.
– The Minister is making a very important statement, and we should have a quorum to hear it.
– There is a quorum present.
– I regret that there is not a full attendance of honorable senators, because some of them will be entering the chamber presently and asking the reason for these duties. On 12th May, 1919, Senator E. D. Millen addressed the following letter to the Minister for Trade and Customs: -
My dear Greene,
I am enclosing an offer . (see page 2) submitted some time agoby Mr. H. V. McKay, of the Sunshine Harvester Company, relative to the manufacture of reapers, binders, and mowers. Youwill notice that it is primarily a repatriation proposal. From that point of view, it commends itself to me; butI should be glad if you will consider how far it commends itself to you as a bonus proposal. After you have considered the matter, I shall be glad to chat it over with you.
The proposal made was, in effect, that if the various firms manufacturing like implements in Australia, which up to that time had not undertaken the manufacture of the particular machines and implements covered by this item, were given a bonus and a duty, they would be prepared at once to commence their production in the Commonwealth, and would undertake to employ a number of returned soldiers in the industry.
– They wanted a bonus and a duty ? They were not philanthropists.
– I invite the honorable senator not to come to a premature decision. After he has heard my explanation I think he will be satisfied. I have not said that the proposition was accepted. As a matter of fact, it was not. As honorable senators are aware, we have a Board of Trade, and the Minister for Trade and Customs very properly referred the proposal to it for investigation. The Board called before it manufacturers of like implements and machines, and thoroughly investigated the possibility of their being able to successfully manufacture those dealt with in the item. They inquired into the prices that were being paid for the imported machines as well as into the cost of production here and the price at which they could be sold by the local manufacturers. As the result of a thorough investigation, the Board on 2nd June, 1919, unanimously agreed to recommend to the Minister of Trade and Customs -
That action be taken in accordance with paragraphs 1 - 3 of the within proposals, dated 7th May, 1910….. (b) to inform the Minister for Repatriation that, in the opinion of the Board of Trade, Customs duties are preferable to a bounty as a means of affording assistance to establish the local manufacture of these goods, and that the employment of returned soldiers in the industry should be a matter for arrangement between the Repatriation Department and the manufacturers, and be subject to the usual conditions relating to inefficient workmen.
The manufacturers in giving evidence before the Board had offered to take into their employment in this industry a certain number of crippled or maimed soldiers who, of course, would not be efficient, and the Board suggested that that part of the scheme should be the subject of arrangement between the Department and the employers. Leading manufacturers in Victoria and other States were among those who appeared before the Board, and all were favorable ‘to the project, and prepared to give the necessary undertakings. The recommendation made by the Board of Trade was adopted by the Minister for Trade and Customs, who informed Senator E. D. Millen of his decision. The proposals now embodied in the item before us are not those originally made by the manufacturers who first came forward, but are the result of consideration by the Minister. I would impress upon the Committee the fact that these manufacturers came forward, not of their own volition, but at the invitation of the Minister, who, through the press, had invited employers to suggest means by which new avenues of employment could be . opened up. o It was -in response to that invitation that their proposal was made. It received the scrutiny of the Board of Trade, and, the views of the other manufacturers having been taken with respect to it, we have, as a result of the investigation, the duties that ap’pear in this item. The industry, which has been established as the result of the* duties, is now in operation, and is turning out these machines. Before the duty relating to binders came into operation, the importing firms had raised their prices in Australia to £98, while in great Britain, where they were free, the price was £92 10s., and in New Zealand, where they were also duty free, £97. The Australian manufacturer is now supplying at £95 each binder made in Australia, from Australian material, largely by returned soldiers.
– Does the Minister say that a reaper and binder can be purchased in Australia for £95 ?
– I make that statement on the authority of the Minister for Trade and Customs. I take it that he had investigated the question of prices before he made it.
– With all due respect, I differ from him.
– The statement was made by him in another place, and I am assured by the Customs officials that it is correct. I have here some of the information collected by the Board of Trade, and am in a position, therefore, to quote the prices of all the machines covered by the item. I desire, first of all, to stress the point that the duties under this item stand in a position somewhat different from that of other duties in the schedule. They are here practically as the result of an agreement. The industry has been started on the understanding that these duties shall be imposed, and honorable senators, whatever they may feel in regard to them, will, I think, consider that unless very strong evidence can be brought to show that the Australian farmer is suffering by reason of an increase in the prices, the duties should stand as they are. I have detailed prices here, and am given to understand that since these duties have been imposed binders are being sold by the local manufacturers for less than the price previously charged for the imported machines.
– The honorable senator is correct. Reapers and binders can be purchased f.o.b. Melbourne for £95.
– The information given by the Minister in another place has not yet been successfully challenged.
– These machines are very much cheaper in New Zealand.
– The information obtained by the Customs Department is to the effect that the farmers in N e* Zealand and Great Britain, where binders are free, have to pay £97 and £92 10s. respectively for them.
– That is not correct.
– That is the statement made by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) on the 15th June last.
– Does it refer to the 8-ft. or the 6-ft. machine? The price of the 6-ft. machine in New Zealand is £83, and of the 8-ft., £97.
– With respect to importations, into Australia, I have the information that for 6-ft. binders manufactured by the International Harvester Company, port of shipment New York, date of invoice 1913, the price of each was, f.o.b., £17 15s. 8d., and c.i.f., £20 lis. 3d. The total importations at Melbourne were 817. In 1917, the f.o.b. price was £27 19s. 10d.; the ci.f. price, £44 Ils-. 7d. ; and in that year the importations at Melbourne numbered 692. Mowers, 4-ft. 6-in., in 1913, price, f.o.b.. £6 5s.; c.i.f., £7 6s. lOd. In 1917, price, f.o.b., £9 13s..; c.i.f. price, £16 4s. Id. There is further information supplied which gives the Massey-Harris price in 1918 for a 6-ft. binder, f.o.b:, at £40 17s. 4d., and c.i.f., £60 7s. ; and there were 480 to arrive. It should be remembered that these are prices for declaration to the Custom? Department. The 1918 prices for mowers from the same firm were f.o.b, , £13f6s. Id., and c.i.f., £19 15s. The total importations at Melbourne were 734. It seems significant that every one of these firms, apparently knowing that the in- vestigations to which I have referred were being made, doubled their importations, so that, during the first year of operations, the local market is already fully supplied with imported machines.
– I suppose the local people reduced their prices, teo.
– Further information supplied shows that, in 1913, the price of the Walter Wood 6-ft. binder was f.o.b. £19 19s. 9d., and c.i.f. £23 12s. 9d.; in 1917, the price was f.o.b. £2S 4s,, and c.i.f. £41 8s. For mowers. 4-ft. 6-in., the 1917 price was £8 14s. ‘4d. f.o.b., and £12 15s. lOd. c.i.f. ‘ I should say that the Committee has the further guarantee iu regard to the arrangement to which I have referred that it is not confined to any one firm. There are several firms at present turning out these machines successfully.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I do not like .doing so, but I must take exception to misleading prices being supplied to the Minister. In dealing with these items, we should be careful to deal only with facts. Prices ought not to be collected with a view to making the duties proposed by the Government appear more favorable than they should appear. I propose to quote prices from Massey-Harris Limited, Australian branch, revised price list, dated 19th July, 1920, for Western Australia.
– The prices I have quoted are according to the different firms’ declarations at the Customs House.
– I intend to quote prices which it will be admitted were not prepared with a view to the consideration of this Tariff. The list is prefaced by the statement -
Prices in this list become effective on and after 19th Jury, 1920, and all previous prices for such machines are now withdrawn. No orders at variance with the prices and terms herein will be considered after that date. Before the war, reapers, binders, mowers and hay-rakes were admitted into the Commonwealth free of Customs duty. Tn 1914, they were made dutiable under a war Tariff. In 1920, Tariff duties on these machines and on reapers and threshers imported during the present year have been doubled. After 1st January, 1921, Customs duties collectible on reapers, binders, mowers, and rakes increased 50 per cent., and reapers and threshers 44 per cent., to cover which the “ red prices “ have been provided.
I shall refer to the red prices as well as to the others.
– Some honorable senators argue that the imposition of a duty lowei’3 the price; but, of course, that is madness.
– Honorable senators must bear in mind that I am proposing to quote from a price-list issued by a business firm in the hope of securing customers. These are not prices issued to affect a Tariff. For machines delivered and settled for not later than 31st December, I find the following prices quoted : -
Massey-Harris reaper and binder, 5-ft. cut, sheaf carrier, and transport trucks: - A terms £101, B_ terms £106 10s., C terms £112, with £4 discount for cash.
Now, the “red figures,” which refer to prices for machines delivered after the 1st of January, 1921, are for the same machine : - A terms, £128 ; B terms, £135 ; and C terms, £142, with £5 discount for cash.
– What about the price of the 6-ft. machine?
– These are the prices according to this list -
Massey-Harris reaper and binder, 6-ft. cut, sheaf carrier and transport truck: - A terms, £103, B terms £108 10s., and C terms £114.
For this machine delivered after the 1st January. 1920, the prices quoted are: - A terms’. £131; B terms, £138; and C terms, £146. I want honorable senators to note the difference in the prices due to the introduction of this Tariff. They go up in the case of this machine £28 for sales under A terms, £30 for sales under B terms, and £32 for sales under C terms. The discount is £4 and £5 respectively.
– They did not know that they were being made here then.
– Is the honorable senator aware that, as soon as Mr. McKay announced his price of £95, the firm to which the honorable senator refers forthwith brought its price down from £130 to £98?
– That is so.
– I quote further from this list -
Massey-Harris reaper and binder, S-ft. cut, sheaf currier, transport truck, clear carriage, with four-horse hitch: - A terms £121, B terms £127 10s., and C. terms £134.
For these machines, delivered after 1st January, 1921, the firm quotes: - A terms £.151, B terms £159, and C terms £167. I again ask honorable senators to note the difference in price due to the introduction of the Tariff. A machine which could be purchased for £121 under A terms before the introduction of the Tariff, cost £151 after its introduction. The machine costing under B terms £127 10s. was raised in price to £159, and the machine costing £134 under 0 terms before the introduction of the Tariff was raised to £167 after its introduction. This list of prices is not something prepared for the Senate, but a list issued for the customers of the firm.
– Why did they cut their prices for one machine down to £98 when they had previously charged £130 for it?
– Is the price of that machine down to £9S now?
– Yes. They cut the price down as soon as Mr. McKay said he was prepared to sell at £95.
– All the figures I have quoted during the discussion of the schedule have been taken from the authentic price-lists of the various firms, and if any one can supply me with a later price-list giving other figures I shall be prepared to admit that the figures I have quoted are not reliable. I have endeavoured to secure the very latest figures, and I have quoted these prices to lot honorable senators know what the duties imposed by this Tariff mean to the primary producer.
– I desire to congratulate the Australian firms who are able to manufacture these implements successfully. I am, however, greatly concerned about the difficulties with which producers are likely to be confronted during >the ensuing harvest. We have the prospect of a very bountiful harvest, and during the last two or three years the number of our producers has been added to by many hundreds of new farmers. These will all require ‘binders, at least, and if it is proposed at this juncture to cut off the importation of binders I should like the Minister in charge of the Bill to assure us that sufficient binders to meet Australian requirements will be manufactured here.
– The Australian requirements are approximately 5,000 per annum. I understand that Mr. McKay is making preparations to turn out 3,000, and this number will be in addition to those turned out by other manufacturers.
– If McKay can turn out 3,000 of these machines this year, that will be a magnificent effort to meet Australian requirements.
– I am given to understand that McKay Bros, have undertaken to supply the total requirements of Australia for these machines.
– I hope that the Minister will make sure that Australian requirements can be met by the local manufacturers. It is of no use for Mr. McKay to inform the Minister that he thinks he will be able to meet Australian requirements if new farmers, many of whom are returned soldiers, find, when they come to cut their first crop, which means everything to them, that they cannot obtain a binder unless by paying for it considerably more than is asked for the McKay machine at the present time.
– These machines will be wanted in a month’s time.
– In some portions of Victoria they will have to be preparing for the harvest in a month’s time; and I question whether Mr. McKay or any other Australian manufacturer can turn out 2,000 or 3,000 of these machines in time to meet the requirements of our soldier settlers. It appears to me that, in respect of some number of machines between 2,000 and 6,000, the buyers may be penalized because of the conditions which the Tariff will impose upon them.
– The honorable senator has jumped up the total number required by 1,000.
– In addition to the number that Mr. McKay can supply, the honorable senator should not forget what I said to the effect that the importers have filled up their warehouses with imported machines.
– I have not forgotten that statement. Senator Earle is right in saying that I have jumped up the total number required by 1,000, and that is because I regard the Minister’s estimate of 5,000 as being far from accurate. There must be a great development in the manufacture of these implements throughout Australia before our requirements can be met locally, as I believe that the Victorian Government alone has settled about 4,000 soldiers on the land.
– Each man will not require a reaper and binder.
– Every man who takes up wheat-growing land must have a reaper and binder, otherwise he must wait until his neighbour has taken his crop off, and frequently, by that time, his own crop will be too ripe.
– Or else it may be destroyed by a thunder-storm.
– Anything might happen.
– Last year the importations of these machines were six times greater than in the previous year.
– That is not a very covincing statement, because the previous season was a drought year, and we had no shipping. The statement merely covers up facts which I demand shall be made known to this Committee beforewe deal with this sub-item.
– I am prepared to quote any year you like to mention. I have the information here, and I can give the figures.
– The three previous years were anything but satisfactory from the producers’ point of view. If the Minister can convince the Committee that there are enough reapers and binders in the Commonwealth to meet all demands I shall certainly shorten my argument.
– I accept the challenge. I am prepared to give the figures regarding importation from the year 1910 up to date. Mowers and binders, I suppose, are the most important. Importations in value of these machines were- 1910-11, £171,234; 1911-12, £140,406; 1912-13, £109,000; 1913-14, £162,000; 1914-15, £97,000; 1915-16, £163,000; 1916-17, £131,000; 1917-18, £84,000; 1918-19, £63,000; 1919-20, £69,000; and for the ten months, July, 1920, to April, 1921, £335,846, or more than double the value of importations in any year since 1910.
– The prices have been increased. That is the explanation.
– No, it is not. Senator Gardiner also had something to say about the price list. I have the price list for Australia of the MasseyHarris British BuiltFarm Machinery Company, not for the year 1920, but for the year 1921, and it bears this indorsement -
All previous price lists are hereby immediately cancelled, and the following prices and terms become effective from 21st February, 1921. No orders at variance with the prices and terms hereunder will be considered after that date.
On page 4, the 5-ft. reaper and binder, with sheaf carrier and transport truck, is quoted at £103, less discount for cash if paid in. full on day of starting, £4: total, £99; and the 6-ft. reaper and binder is priced at £105, with discount £4 for cash; total, £101. Will Senator Gardiner explain why there has been a drop from £135 to £103 while the Tariff has been in operation?
– Evidently prices are coming down all over the world.
– No; they are not coming down everywhere. Here are the facts: The rates were not in operation in 1920, for which year Senator Gardiner quoted his price-list figures, they merely stood in the Tariff as deferred duties; but as soon as the agreement with the local manufacturer was arrived at, and the Minister intimated that the duty would be operative, down came the price £35 for the Massey-Harris harvester. Senator Plain has asked for some guarantee that if this item is passed by the Committee the Australian market will be fully supplied. We can give him that guarantee. The Customs authorities are in a position to judge accurately the whole of the Australian requirements. Not only have they a record of the value and the number of machines imported, but they also know approximately the yearly demand in the Commonwealth for these machines. It was on the strength of this information that I was able to say that Australian requirements are, approximately, 5,000 machines per annum. H. V. McKay has given an absolute guarantee to turn out 3,000; and other manufacturers arc giving attention to this business. Then we have a further guarantee in the fact that the warehouses of the importers contain machines to the total value of £335,000. In view of these facts, can there be any doubt about our ability to supply the local demand ?
– In my attitude towards this sub-item, I am going to be guided by the considerations that prompted the Government to enter into what was, to all intents and purposes, a compact with the local manufacturer. Until about two years ago, the Australian manufacturer had not entered this industrial field. Last year a few machines were manufactured, and more will be made, probably 700 or 800 more this year, but nothing like sufficient to supply the whole of the Australian requirements.
– The Minister has just stated that H. V, McKay has promised to manufacture 3,000 this year.
– A reasonable time must be allowed for any manufacturer to build up an industry like this. It is not going to be done in a few months. I am sorry many honorable senators have not availed themselves of the opportunity that has been offered them to visit some of these manufacturing establishments, as I have done for some considerable time past. Understanding as I do that a compact was entered into by the Government for the manufacture of these machines in Australia, I say, unhesitatingly, that it is the duty of honorable senators to indorse the attitude of the Government. As to the present price of imported machines, I remind them that importers are quite capable of advertising a price that will give the impression that they are going to treat the producers of Australia fairly. But no honorable senator will believe for a moment that any American firm exists for the special benefit of Australia. If he does, then he has something to learn.
– Why, then, did you reduce the general Tariff?
– Because I believe that, under fair conditions, the Australian manufacturer can compete with manufacturers in any other part of the world.
– He is getting more protection now than the manufacturers in
Canada or the United States of America ever dreamed of.
– And the Australian manufacturer is meeting competition in outside countries, where he gets no protection. In pre-war days, H. V. McKay built up a big export trade in some branches of his manufacturing industry without the protection of this Tariff, as it stands to-day, but I am quite satisfied that no one would expect me to be a party to reducing a Tariff which, in effect, gives expression to the compact entered into by the Government for the establishment of the industry in Australia.
– For the benefit of the farmers.
– Yes; all for the benefit of the farmers. Only two or three years ago we were told that we would never be able to make reapers and binders in Australia, because this work was done on the principles applied to the Ford car. But our manufacturers have risen to the occasion, and this Parliament certainly ought to honour the compact. We have heard a good deal in recent years about the tearing up of a scrap of paper. Surely this Committee will not do that.
– Did the Government give a guarantee?
– They entered into a compact which, to all intents and purposes, was a guarantee to induce H. V. McKay to manufacture these machines in Australia.
– And on the strength of that guarantee the manufacturer has spent £70,000 on plant.
– That is the compact, and it should be honoured. The question of price does not enter into the argument at this stage. Shrewd importers and manufacturers in other parts of the world were given eighteen months’ notice of this deferred duty, and thus they were able to dump machines to the value quoted by the Minister a few moments ago. Our course is quite clear. No one is more anxious than I to give consideration-
– To the manufacturer.
– I may be charged with many shortcomings, but not with being unfair to any one, and when I am charged with “ playing up “ to the manufacturers, all I can say is that my vote and my speeches in this chamber during the last day or two are a sufficient answer. If my honorable friend expects me to be a party to the repudiation of a contract entered into by the Government-
– They had no right to enter into an agreement without parliamentary authority.
– A good deal may be said on that point; but it must be remembered that, on the strength of the agreement) the manufacturers have spent £70,000 on plant.
– Is that the way business is done?
– Yes, and that is the way things are achieved in the commercial world.
– It should not have been done in that way.
– The compact we are asked to honour was entered into in order to find employment for our returned soldiers, and we should indorse it until it is proved that it is acting adversely to the interests of the producers.
– Meantime, the farmers are paying for it.
– No. The figures quoted to-day show that the price of the local harvester is £95. I have made myself conversant with this subject, and I am satisfied that we must indorse this compact. At the same time I reserve my freedom of action if it can be shown to me that the Government have acted unfairly or dishonorably to the disadvantage of the producers. ‘
– When the compact was entered into was the fact made public ?
– I cannot answer that question.
– The honorable senator ought to be able to answer it, because his possession of the information evidently influenced a recent vote of his.
– I take it that the Government are quite willim? to answer the question. In fact, I understand that Senator Pearce had already explained the matter fully.
– Parliament has been ignored in regard to it. Was there a guaranteed rate of duty which. Parliament must indorse ?
– The honorable senator has enjoyed all the opportunities I have had to make himself conversant with the circumstances of this compact. I have no secret information in regard to it. I have received certain information, and have carefully perused it. The question is not whether the duty on reapers and binders should be reduced, but whether we should give our indorsement to this compact. I have already said that I am not a Free Trader gone mad, nor am I here to use my position to the disadvantage of any section of the community. I shall vote with the Government to honour the compact into which they have entered.
– Then one might just as well beat the air as ask for a reduction of this duty.
– As Senator Lynch has been beating the air very well for the last day or two, he should not mind me having a turn at the drum. This business has been, established in Australia, and certain obligations have been entered into for the purpose of assisting in the matter of repatriation. Is there anything wrong about it ? ,
– What is the name of the firm concerned in iti
– The Minister has already mentioned its name.
– I have not heard it. It is not my part to go behind any one’s back to get information.
– The firm in question came forward in reply to a request submitted to it by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen), and made this offer. It was referred by the Minister for Repatriation to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), and by him, in turn, to the Board of Trade, which, after investigation, recommended the imposition of a duty. The Minister undertook to carry out that recommendation.
– Did the Board of Trade specify what the duty should be?
– Yes; they recommended a duty of 45 per cent.
– I ask the Senate to honour the compact referred to. I believe that it will be the means of establishing a great industry in Australia. I know that the trade has been able to regulate prices to ari extent that materially affects the views of honorable senators; but I appeal to them, as one who is directly interested - few honorable senators own more machines than I do - and ask them to make themselves thoroughly conversant with the facts, and honour the compact that has .been entered into.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I am pleased to hear the Minister’s explanation for this hugely increased duty; but instead of jumping all over the place, as we have been doing, and discussing reapers and binders, we ought to deal with the items in the order in which they appear in the schedule. If we can manufacture our requirements in Australia, I .am out to support the Government, provided that the users and consumers of the articles are treated fairly; but every high duty in this Tariff penalizes the primary producers. I do not suppose that any one would contend that prices of articles are reduced when duties are placed upon them. Let us take the case of hay rakes used by every farmer * who grows a ton or half-a-ton of hay. The hay-growers of Australia are the hardest-up of any section cf the farming industry, because, of late, the price of hay has been much below the cost of production, and only those who have a sufficient banking account to enable them to hold it for a drought can make a success of growing hay. Under the old Tariff hay rakes were free, but now an extraordinarily high rate of duty is imposed upon them. The price of a hay rake in Australia to-day, which was £9 in 1913, is £20 10s. The same article is sold in New Zealand for £19. Some honorable senators have endeavoured tq make us believe that in New Zeal.-nd, which has Free Trade in farming implements, the prices of these articles are higher than they are here. Of course, that is utterly absurd. The prices are lower there than they are hero, as I have just shown in regard to hay rakes, and as I will proceed to show i ft respect to reapers and binders. Many figures have been quoted in this chamber which are a year or six months old. I shall quote the price-lists for the 23rd August, 1921, of the International Harvester Company, selling machinery in New Zealand and Australia. The price of a 6-ft. reaper and binder is given as £83 in New Zealand and £101 in Australia. The price of an 8-ft. reaper and binder is given as £97 in New Zealand and £120 in Australia. Although I do not say that the Government should break a compact, I think they should be very wary about entering into1 an arrangement that will give people a monopoly under a 45 per cent. Tariff, which penalizes the unfortunate hay farmer, who cannot sell his hay for more than £2 per ton, notwithstanding the fact that it costs him more than £2 a ton to cultivate the land, reap his crop, and stack it.
– Dc you say that all the men on the land are “broke”?
– I have not suggested any such thing. I say that the hay-growers are having a bad time. The honorable senator cannot point to many wealthy men among them such as he can find among the manufacturers. It is the manufacturers who are millionaires, and the honorable senator comes here well primed up to fight for them. In 1916, the area under hay crop in Australia was 3,597,771 awes, and the quantity of hay reaped was 5,633,988 tons; whereas iu 1919-20, so ill attractive was the industry, that the area had decreased to 2,692,904 acres, and the yield to 2,893,602 tons. Twenty per cent, of, the total area under cultivation ‘in the Commonwealth is devoted to the production of hay. Yet it is proposed to penalize the grower of hay by a, duty of 45 per cent, upon his hay-rakes, and reapers and binders. In 1913, when there was no duty on them, the price of reapers and binders was £38; the price to-day is £124, an increase of 326 per cent., and £23 more than is the costin New Zealand. The present duty on reapers and binders penalizes the hay-grower to the extent of 9d. per acre, because the average life of the machine, as shown by the Inter - State Commission, is 1,000’ acres. The Tariff we are imposing penalizes the producer.
– How can that be when the Tariff has brought down the price already by £35 on Senator Gardiner’s figures?
– Does the Minister say that duties bring down prices?
– In this case it has.
– I repeat to the Minister that in 1913, when these reapers and binders were free, the actual selling price in Australia was £3S, while to-day it is £124.
– Quote the 6-ft. reaper and binder that Senator Gardiner quoted ?
– The 6-ft. reaper and binder is £101, whereas prior to the war, in 1913, when there was a free Tariff, it was £35. All this proves that these high duties do not reduce the cost of commodities; indeed, the duties could not possibly do so. As a result, people are being driven from the country into the city. I again quote from The Australian Handbook to show that the area under crop in Australia in 1915-16 was 18,528,000 -acres, whereas in 1918-19 it was 13,000,000 acres. The area under wheat in 1915-16 was 12,000,4S4 acres, whereas in 1920 it was 6,000,809 acres, a reduction by about one-half. Wheatgrowers have to pay high freights, high duties, and high costs, and by unsympathetic legislation they are being driven into the cities. As the statistics show, the population of the rural districts is decreasing. In 1915-16, for every 1,000 people in Australia there were 3,757 acres under cultivation, while in 1918-19 there were only 2,650 acres. Why is this so, in this great, rich, empty continent of ours? But it will always be so under a Tariff like this. Our production is only 2.3 per cent, of that of the whole world, but if the cost of machinery, fencing, galvanized iron, and everything the farmer uses were not so enormous we would make much greater progress. I have entered my protest against unsympathetic legislation, and against the bounties given by the Government to manufacturers at the expense of the primary producers. The Government, we are told, entered into some arrangement without first taking Parliament into its confidence. I am with the Government in their desire to give employment to returned soldiers, particularly those who are lame or maimed, and who, naturally, have my sympathy, and it would be a good thing if industries could be built up to give these men comfortable employment; but the hay-growers of Australia should not bc selected to bear the whole burden of the excessive taxation.
– I listened to the statement by Senator Pearce, and to his claim that the Hugh V. McKay Company have reduced the price of their machines. Nothing could be more absurd than that claim. I quoted a list of prices, which had been increased by 25 per cent., and also a price list four months after these duties were imposed. Then, Senator Pearce triumphantly produced a more up-to-date price list, and said that there had been a reduction by 20 per cent. But what has happened? In the last twelve months there has been a reduction in prices by 20 per cent, throughout the world. There is not a business or industry carried on in Australia which, during the last twelve months, has not shown a general reduction in prices. But does Senator Pearce say that the duty on woollen goods has reduced the price by 30 per cent, or 50 per cent, in the same twelve months? Will he say that the duty on cabinet work has reduced the price of that work in that period? Like a drowning man catching at a straw, Senator Pearce has attempted to show that the machines are not so cheap as they were even before the Tariff, but cheaper than they were in the first four months after the introduction of the Tariff. But this four months of the Tariff has added to the cost of the machine. The world-wide reduction in the cost of steel, timber, and all other materials during the last twelve months has affected agricultural machinery, as it has other machinery; and yet these particular machines, on the Minister’s own figures, are £45 dearer in Australia than they are in Canada.
– Is it not significant that the price of no other machines has been reduced?
– The prices of other machines have been reduced, as the Minister’s figures show. These particular machines are selling at £61 in Canada, and, on the Minister’s own statement, at £99 here. The International Harvester Company can import their . machines from the country of manufacture to New Zealand and sell them there for £20 less than the price quoted by the Minister’. The reason for that is provided by this Tariff. Senator Wilson said that the Government have entered into an arrangement with a powerful manufacturing firm, and that he is going to honour that arrangement. I have heard some extraordinary reasons for supporting this Tariff, but that is certainly the most extraordinary. I venture to say that if there is one thing that a Government can do which is on the wrong track, it is to enter into an agreement with a firm to introduce a Tariff. The Minister may say there is nothing wrong in such an arrangement, but I submit that there is everything wrong. If the Government enter into an arrangement with a firm, they give that firm an immense “ pull “ over all other firms. This agreement was entered into before the Tariff was introduced. Did the firm know that the Tariff was to be introduced, when other firms were without that knowledge? I have heard nothing in Parliament more dangerous to the future of Australia than the statement that the Government has entered into an arrangement to have a commodity manufactured on a promise that a duty would be imposed.
– A promise to invite Parliament to impose a duty.
– Of course; but there are honorable senators who say that they are going to vote for the duty because the Government have entered into the agreement; they say that the word of the Government must be maintained, and the “scrap of paper” honoured. It
Seems to me extraordinary that a Minister should make such a statement as we have heard this afternoon.
– The Minister says the agreement was subject to the will of Parliament.
– How could the Government go behind Parliament ?
– I am now referring to Senator Wilson, who says he will vote for the duty because the “ scrap of paper “ must be honoured.
– If that appeals to an honorable senator as a good reason he is entitled to act on it.
– What does not appeal to me is that the Government entered into such an agreement. No more dangerous proceeding could be adopted than for a Government to enter into an arrangement with a firm for the production of machines under certain conditions. Such an agreement gives one man in the community a “ pull “ over all others - an enormous advantage over others.
– Any other firm may manufacture these machines.
– Yes ; if they can get an agreement with the Government. Of course, I do not expect Senator Earle to see anything reprehensible in the agreement.
– The duty protects all firms.
– Quite so; but this duty is imposed by the Government, which have privately entered into an arrangement with a firm to impose it. The idea, apparently, was that if the firm would do something .in the way of production the Government would compensate it by making the farmers pay more for their implements.
– I understand that the arrangement was made subject to the will of Parliament.
– It could not be made in any other way.
– I realize that in another place the Government could not enter into such an arrangement except with the consent of Parliament, because there the grip of the Government over Parliament is very weak, indeed.
– It is not very strong here, you know !
– I have seen occasions when the Government seemed to be losing control.
– This firm entered into the enterprise subject to the will of Parliament ; so’ that we have a free hand .
– That opens up a new vision of Parliament as we understand Parliament . to-day. The Government representative meets the representative of an agricultural machine firm in private, with no press reporters present, and no publicity given to the proceedings, and the representative of the firm leaves the Ministerial room secure in the knowledge that he may venture £70,000 in a business on a promise by the Government that the farmers of the country will reimburse the firm. I have no complaint against the manager of a firm who enters into such an agreement.
– Which firm is it?
– The firm of Hugh V. McKay; and I should like to remind honorable senators that when, some time ago, this Parliament in its wisdom imposed the New Protection, it was that same gentleman who took very good care to appeal to the Law Courts in order that it should not affect his work-people.
– And I believe he won !
– I believe there was a “ scrap of paper “ in that case also, but when it came to be a question not only of having duties imposed, but of paying the employees in accordance with the New
Protection, this gentleman did what, of course, he had a perfect right to do; he appealed to the Courts to ascertain whether he could be compelled to observe the scrap of paper,” and the Courts upheld his view. Had I. been in his position it is more than likely that I should have done as he did. However, it is this gentleman who was assured by the Government that he could invest his money to the extent of £70,000. I submit that the Government ought to hold the balance evenly, and give no citizen an advantage over another. Another firm may offer to invest £100,000, and what happens? A secret agreement is negotiated, and it gets a start. Is that a fair deal ? Is it right to conduct the Commonwealth affairs by entering into secret negotiations which enable one man or one firm to derive benefits over some one else? I am opposing these duties because they will have to be paid by the farmers. If the Government wish to enter into an arrangement to encourage the Sunshine Harvester Company to produce more, they should provide for the payment of a bounty, and come down to Parliament and say what the amount is to be, so that we may have an opportunity of discussing it. It is unfair to say that they have entered into an agreement to recommend the imposition of certain duties which the farmers will have to pay. We have been told that the Sunshine Harvester Company will supply 3,000 machines a year ; but the price at which they will be available will be £45 more per machine than the Canadian fanner has to pay. Is that the manner in which to treat the primary producers ? We have been informed by Senator Guthrie, who is a reliable authority, that a new machine can be used for only 1,000 acres, which means that it lasts about two years.
– That is a mighty short life for a machine if it is well looked after.
– My statement is based on the evidence given before a Royal Commission. I have had some experience with these machines, because I ave repaired them, and I was surprised at the renewals that were necessary. In estimating the life of a machine we cannot take the “ repaired “ life into account, but the period it will last without incurring heavy additional expenditure.
– You might as well say that the life of a fence is one year. Even new fences have to be repaired. i,j
– That may bc so; but the repairs to agricultural machinery are very heavy, and involve considerable outlay. Under the agreement the Sunshine Harvester Company has agreed to expend £70,000 in a business which has been most profitable, and under the Tariff proposals of the Government the farmers will be compelled to pay more than £45 more per machine than the Canadian farmers, although their products are sold in competition in the open market. The Canadian producers have also an advantage over the Australian farmers in the matter of freights. Frequent appeals have been made for lower duties in order to assist the primary producers. I object to duties altogether. On- every occasion when it has been a question of the secondary and primary industries, the latter have been sacrificed in an endeavour to bolster up the former. That is absolutely unfair, and even Protectionists, such as the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen), should be opposed to it.
– I am generally opposed to the honorable senator.
– I hope the Minister’s opposition to me has not driven him into his present position. The Government had no right to enter into this agreement without the fullest publicity being given to it, and other manufacturers should have had the same opportunity as the Sunshine Harvester Company. Even if I were not inclined to oppose these duties, I would do so simply because this arrangement has been entered into. We know the history of Protection, and it is no different to-day from what it has always been. Those engaged in business use their expert knowledge to benefit their interests, and whenever they have an opportunity of securing the ear of the Minister, or of obtaining the assistance of the Government, they do so in their own interests and to the detriment of those who have to pay.
– I do not propose to traverse the arguments adduced by Senator Gardiner so far as they affect the merits and demerits of the Tariff proposals; but I feel disposed to say a word or two regarding the attem.pt he has made to create the impression that by giving an assurance to the Sunshine Harvester Company the Government conferred a special benefit Upon one firm. It should be clearly understood that the Government did not give any guarantee, because any duties that may have been mentioned would be subject to the approval of Parliament. If the suggested duties are considered to be too high, honorable senators can reduce them. If they believe that these implements should be admitted free, they can move accordingly. Senator Gardiner referred to this proposal as if it were a nefarious act, and suggested that one firm had been given a special privilege. That is contrary to fact. The Sunshine Harvester Company knew that it was competent for Parliament to modify or remove the proposed duties, and it took the risk. But other firms could enter the business after Parliament had adopted these duties without any risk at all. They could then invest their capital in the enterprise with absolute certainty.
– The Sunshine Harvester Company could import their material beforehand, because they knew that certain duties would be imposed.
– Most of the material used in the manufacture of these machines is made in Australia, although some of the webbing may be imported. The Sunshine Harvester Company, after going into the matter, was prepared to invest £85,000, and to incur a risk which their competitors have not incurred. These simply had to sit down and wait to see if Parliament would vote this protection. If Parliament did not, they would not invest their money. The Sunshine Harvester’ Company have not been given any private advantage, but have incurred a liability due in all probability to their business enterprise, and their belief that public sentiment having approved of a Protectionist policy,” Parliament would give a reasonable measure of protection to this industry. They have incurred the risk. That is not any reason why Parliament should approve these duties; but it relieves the Government of any suggestion that they have given an advantage to one manufacturer that was not afforded to every other manufacturer in the Commonwealth.
– I am glad the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) has fully explained why these apparently heavy duties have been proposed.
– Relatively they are on the same scale as the others in this part of the Tariff.
-Slightly higher. I have listened to what u has been said against the action of the Government in entering into an agreement with the Sunshine Harvester Company in regard to its output, on which certain protection wa9 suggested by the Government. The Minister has clearly shown that the Government made no such promise, and that the firm which has undertaken the work of manufacturing these implements, which are so necessary for the primary producers, took a certain amount of risk when it accepted the responsibility of formulating its plans, and erecting the necessary additional buildings in order to provide the extra output. I desire to deal with every item in the schedule on its merits, and although I have been found supporting Senator Lynch and others in their efforts to secure a slight reduction, on the appliances used by primary producers, we have to look on this particular item and consider what our liabilities are in the arrangements made, not only for the benefit of those engaged in manufacturing, but also for the benefit of the primary producers. Until recently, the machines manufactured so successfully by the Sunshine Harvester Company were not produced in Australia; and when the company was approached by the Minister for Repatriation he was actuated by a desire to see if an industry successfully established could be greatly extended, if employment could be found for large numbers of returned soldiers, and if the primary producers might have the assistance of a firm which could immediately supply the duplicate parts required. “What has been the result of the operations up to date? Has the undertaking given by the Government to recommend to Parliament a special duty been abused by the firm as regards prices? A lot of figures have been quoted, but I wish to deal with those submitted by Senator Gardiner, who has clearly shown that before these duties became operative the price of the imported article was £103, but, immediately the duties were imposed, it was increased to £131.
– For the 6-ft. machine?
– Yes. Duty had not been paid on the great bulk of these machines, and they were imported in large quantities under the old Tariff, as has been shown by the figures stated ‘by the Minister. Notwithstanding this, immediately the duties came into operation the price was increased by £28.
– They gave notice in their list that they would increase the price six months later.
– In connexion with the manufacture of the local article, I am pleased to say that the machines turned out by the Sunshine Harvester Company have given excellent results.
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 p.m.
– The figures which I gave before the suspension of the sitting show that Messrs. H. V. McKay and Company have not taken advantage of the duties, but have acted fairly in regard to the engagement with the Government, as notwithstanding the fact that it had been notified by the importers that the price of a 6-ft. machine was to be raised to £131, the Australian product was sold at £95, the consequence being that the imported machine was brought down to £98. I now suggest that the Committee should be loyal to the Minister who negotiated the arrangement, subject, as it was, to the acceptance of Parliament. When this same item was being discussed in another place the whole of the controversy concerning the heavy rates of duty occurred before the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) had had an opportunity to speak. After he had made his statement there was no further criticism, and the item was agreed to without division. That i3 significant. Obviously, another place accepted the Minister’s utterance as a fair one. The Committee should do the same. As for my personal line of conduct, I may say that when I feel that a Tariff is about to be imposed which will inflict hardship upon users of the commodity affected, and in regard to the production of which lower rates of duties will still adequately protect and encourage the manufacturer, I am prepared every time to champion the interests of the consumer. In the present instance, however, the duties are to become operative under an arrangement which was made subject to the acceptance of the Federal Legislature. In the circumstances, I intend to support the “request moved by the Minister.
– I wish to know whether, the implements specified under sub-item a, namely, horse hay-rakes, are subject to the arrangement entered into with Messrs. H.V. McKay and Company. .The good sense of the Committee has already decided that a considerably lower general rate of duty than applies in this instance shall prevail in respect of stripper harvesters and other intricate machines. It cannot be argued that a horse hay-rake is a more complicated piece of machinery than a harvester; but, upon the latter there is a general duty of 35 per cent, ad valorem, while the Tariff upon the much less intricate machine is 45 per cent. I realize, of course, that the whole matter is unimportant, in that a farmer can carry on without using a hay rake. The Committee should preserve consistency, however.
– The intention here is to encourage a new industry.
– I can appreciate the objective; but is the manufacture of horse hay-rakes a new industry ? As a practical wheat-grower, I have a hay-rake on my own farm. It was manufactured in Western Australia by the Western Australian Government about four years ago. It was made and put on the market when the general rate of duty was lower than that now appearing in the schedule. So far as Western Australia is concerned, then, the industry cannot be said to be a new one. And if these implements can be placed upon the Western Australian market, surely the factories in the eastern States, where the industrial disabilities are by no means as great, can also produce and distribute horse hay-rakes without recourse to an enhanced duty. I do not propose to lash myself into fury in an .endeavour to convince honorable senators against their will. Since the Government have laid down a certain line of conduct it will be of no use for me to endeavour to vary it. At the same time, I am anxious that the Tariff shall pass from this Chamber in a form which will reflect some credit upon the- Senate;, and will indicate that care was taken to hold the balance evenly between conflicting interests.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Lynch) proposed - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the ad val. duty, sub-item (a), general, 40 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (a), British, free.
I submit this request on the ground that it is desirable that we should trade with Britain. I am constantly being congratulated by people who desire that Australia shall trade with the dear old Motherland, and who approve of the stand I have taken. Is it not absurd that we should impose a duty of 30 per cent. on imports of this class of agricultural implements from Britain? What has Britain done to deserve such treatment? In this morning’s issue of the Age there appears a report of a speech made in England by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), whom one would expect to voice the opinions of his Government. There is indeed quite a number of people who believe that he is the Government of the Commonwealth. In this speech he said to the people of England-
We trade with you; we sell to you; we buy from you. We are the best customers Great Britain has, and it concerns us vitally how things go in England.
Of late years there has not been much in common, politically, between the Prime Minister and myself, but I can sincerely indorse the sentiment expressed by him in this speech. We are interested deeply in Great Britain as well as in Australia, and surely we can say to the Old Country, “ If you like to compete with the United States of America in supplying us with agricultural implements and machinery such as are dealt with under this item we shall put no obstacle in your way.” If such a proposition were voiced by any other honorable senator I believe it would be carried, but because I am a Free Trader I am suspect. I am not the onlyFree Trader in the Senate Senator Cox is a pronounced Free Trader when he is on the public platforms of the country.
– Do not forget Senator Guthrie.
– I am informed that Senator Buzacott’s recent votes have been getting him into trouble, and that he is henceforth going to vote for the policy of Protection. To make my attitude perfectly clear, I am afraid it will be necessary for me to move in respect of every item that imports from Great Britain shall be free. Surely the primary industry of agriculture is of as much importance to the Protectionists as is the secondary industry of manufacturing agricultural implements. We are told that McKay Brothers are turning out these implements for sale not only in Australia, but in the markets of the world, and that because of their superior workmanship they are able to compete successfully in the world’s markets. Surely, in these circumstances, we can say to the manufacturers in Great Britain, against whom there is a natural protection of 25 per cent., “ If you wish to turn your industry in the direction of manufacturing agricultural implements for use in Australia, so as to make good the shortage in the local output, we will allow your imports to come in free.” We have been told that Mr. McKay is unable to supply more than one-half of Australia’s requirements in respect of the machinery dealt with in this item. That being so, we should be prepared to give Great Britain the preference for which I ask against all other countries. The Protectionist, to my mind, thinks only of the manufacturer. If our primary producers were given the best implements and machinery at the lowest rates, there would be such an enormous development in primary production here that the local market for our secondary industries would be greatly extended. If our idle hands could he put on our idle lands the unemployment created by the Tariff would no longer exist. The Tariff has created unemployment. For ten years we have had nothing to equal the unemployment in Australia to-day. I point with sorrow to the fact that in all our .State capitals there are people who cannot find work.
– Even England is not without unemployment.
– That is so. The war which crushed her trading possibilities with other nations is largely responsible for that. As a result of the war, a great part of Europe is out of business. The effect of the war in that respect is very much like that of a prohibitive Tariff. We have come out of the war better than the rest of the world, because of our natural advantages, and could quickly recover from its disastrous effects if we were only given a reasonable opportunity. That opportunity, however, is withheld. I am not going to say that it is wilfully withheld by the Government; but it seems to me that Ministers are guided by mere words and phrases rather than by reason. The word “ Protection “ has paralyzed their intellects. This Government ought not to be so affected; but a slavish regard for mere phrases has wrought more harm in the government of all countries than has anything else. When I was a little boy the cry was “ Protection for infant industries.” Today it is “ More Protection for full-grown industries.” Infant industries which have developed into maturity are being nurtured with increased protection. I stand for trade with Great Britain free of Customs interference, so far as our primary producers are concerned. The best intellects of the Empire are bent to the task of devising means to knit it still more closely together. The links of trade are the best that could be used to bind it. These heavy duties against British imports must give rise to irritation. If we levy this enormous taxation against imports from Great Britain, the whole of its trade with us will slowly »but surely pass away, and with the passing away of that trade its ships, that should carry our produce to other parts of the world, will cease to come out here. The whole question of trade within the Empire is linked up with that of the Tariff; and a Tariff such as this is not calculated to improve “ the relations between Australia and the Motherland. Quite a number of members of the present Ministry come from Great Britain. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook), and the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen), all fairly representative members of the Ministry, are of British birth. What has the Motherland done to these, sons of her’s that they should want to place high duties on her exports to Australia?
– What has Australia done to the honorable senator that he should want to injure its industries ?
– On the motion for the second reading of the Bill, I made my position clear. I said then that I believed that trade with other countries increased employment here and improved our position. If I believed that Protection was beneficial to Australia, I should advocate it. But” Protection cuts off our customers. A country needs to cultivate as many customers for its produce as possible. A business man who will trade only with a select few will soon lose his custom. And so with a nation. I believe that Free Trade with the world would distinctly improve our position, and it is only because I am driven to the last ditch that I confine my request in this case to the removal of the duty in so far as British imports alone are concerned. New Zealand to-day is shutting out our fruit by what I might describe as direct action, because of the way in which we have shut out her products. And this is taking place in an Empire the people of which talk about the crimson thread of kinship which binds us all. I have heard Englishmen in this country say that, ‘broadly speaking, the Australians are more English than ‘ are the English themselves. There is noticeable in Australia an intense loyalty to England which is not displayed to the same extent by similar classes at Home. With such a feeling in existence here, why should we impose a duty of 30 per cent, on British imports under this sub- item. Such imports were originally free. The political lives of honorable senators opposite depend largely upon their boasted loyalty to Great Britain, but their loyalty will not stand the test of voting for Free Trade with Great Britain. Senator Russell, in introducing the Customs Tariff Bill, told us that the Australian workman is distinctly superior to workmen in any other part of the world. If that be so, there is no reason why we should handicap the workmen of Great Britain. We do not need any advantage against them in addition to the advantage which distance gives us. We all want the things which can be made in Great Britain, and when we find that a country like America imposes a duty of 22d. per lb. on our best wool, it is clear that a distinct preference to Great Britain in our Tariff would be a: very great advantage at the present time, as it would make the people of other countries realize that the Empire might be self-contained.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Senator Gardiner has chided honorable senators on the Ministerial side for their want of loyalty to the Old Country. He wants those who were born in that part of the world to show greater loyalty than, in his opinion, they have hitherto displayed. So far, so* good ; but the honorable senator, in his extraordinary zeal to help the Mother Country, is proposing that we should do. something for her which, she is not prepared to do for herself. The honorable senator desires that the articles covered by many of the items of this Tariff should be admitted free from Great Britain, but the British Parliament has no intention to secure for them that protection. Senator Gardiner is going further out of his way to accommodate the people of the Old Country than those people desire, otherwise they would have used the Tariff to protect their industries and to do the work for themselves which Senator Gardiner is trying to do here. When the Tariff was under consideration in another place, we had the spectacle, repeated over and over again, of the members of the party which Senator Gardiner so much adorns, trooping across the chamber to support higher and still higher duties.
– Am I my brother’s keeper ?
– If we inquire the native land of most of those honorable members, we shall probably find that, with very few exceptions, they were born in Australia. I do not think that there is any question of politics about this matter at all. Senator Gardiner should look nearer home. He should chide the members of his own Darby for not having taken a firmer stand in another place, in an effort to reduce the duties imposed by this Tariff in the way he is trying to do in this Chamber. If they had done so, we should have a better-balanced Tariff to deal with. The Government in this matter have been in a very happy position. They had the members of the Country party on the one hand making efforts to reduce duties, and the members of the Labour party on the other hand trying to maintain the duties as introduced, where they found it impossible to increase them. The Government are in the joyous position that no matter what happens they win all the time. Before Senator Gardiner finds fault with us for our foreign origin he should clean up in front of hie own door. He should ask his colleagues in the Labour party who are natives of Australia why they allowed such high duties to be passed and why they imposed upon him the task of trying to lower them. I, as one of the foreigners referred to, have tried to secure - the passage of a Tariff conceived on fair lines. My advice has not been followed up to date, and I am not very particular whether it is followed or not. I intend to record my opinion on every item as it comes before us. I desire to give the manufacturers of Australia an opportunity to establish themselves here by affording them the degree of protection which measures the difference between the cost of production here and its cost in competing countries. I do not propose by any vote of mine to give them, anything in excess of that, because, in my view, it would be used to burden the people of this country. I am not a Free Trader, and we know that Free Trade is as dead as the dodo in this country. I look at the Ministerial bench, and wish that Senator E. D. Millen might get up and give us one of those flashing orations with which he used to favour the Senate in times’ gone by. “ Oh, that mine enemy would write a book.” Oh, if these men would only deliver such speeches as we heard them deliver on the Tariffs of 1902 and of 1908.
– The honorable senator used to find fault with my speeches then.
– I stood then, as I doi to-day, in support of fair, and not excessive, duties on every item of the Tariff. But times have changed, and this- Tariff, as it will emerge from the Senate, will do us very little credit. For that I refuse to hold myself responsible. The Tariff is like an ill-cut saw, with teeth of different sizes. We have’ a. Tariff of 45 per cent, cm harvesters, 35 per cent, on something else, ‘ and 40 per cent, on another item. Is that good workmanship? I do not think it is. . I am not responsible for it. I offer advice as to what should be done, and when we come to deal with binders, I shall have a word or two to say on the duties proposed on that item. I shall not occupy time further now beyond repeating my protest against Senator Gardiner’s undue and uncalled for references to the country of origin of any member of the Senate, and to advise him to look to the members of his own party.
.- When Senator Lynch describes my references as uncalled for, he only tries to evade the issue. He says that I should have used my influence with the members of my own party, but I remind him that when the debate on this Bill began, I said that if the Labour party had been ‘ in power it was more than likely that, owing to the exigencies of party government, I should be found doing what Senator E. D. Millen is doing to-night in trying to pilot the Tariff through the Senate. Senator Millen and Senator Pearce are older as Free Traders than I am. I am quite aware of the Free Trade speeches they have delivered. I had intended, in dealing with the schedule, to feed them up with them. I read them, and found that they were such excellent speeches that I really could not throw them at those honorable senators merely because they happened to be in the position in which I might have been placed myself had the party to which I belong been in possession of the Treasury, bench. Australians would appear . to have been so hypnotised, shall I say, by the word “ Protection,” that they seem bent on trying to make themselves rich by, taxing each other. ‘’
– The- honorable senator is the only one ‘who is right. ‘.
– I am not the only, one who is right, but I appear to be the. .only one who is trying to draw the world i back to the old policy of allowing trade to , seek its natural channels. , Indolence, or perhaps, climatic influences, / appear to . have made some . people . shut , their, eyes to what i.3 . wrong, ‘ and ‘ remain silent while they listen to error. I quite admit that in standing for Free Trade to-day, I am up against the whole of the members of my own party. The reason I can use no influence with them in this matter is because they all think that I am wrong, and that, perhaps, on the fiscal question, I am a bit of a crank. But I am addressing thirty-five members of the Senate, whose chief declaration on the plati 0111 outside has been loyalty to Great Britain, and I point out that their loyalty does not extend to trading with that country. What disadvantage would it be to the Australian manufacturer if British goods were imported free? Our manufacturers cannot make all the articles we require, and why should not some of the cash which we have to spend on those articles go. to the people of. Great Britain.. I can understand that Senator Lynch should feel hurt, when I expose his position, and that ‘of his colleagues in this Chamber. It does hurt for a public man to be shown, when brought face to face with his platform professions, tha.t he does not ring true. That ie what has been happening in the debate on this schedule. I should like to show Senator Lynch some of the letters I have received from men who have been Protectionists all their lives, pointing out that this Tariff goes to extremes and includes duties that no one has asked -for. I suppose that the farming industry employs more men than are employed by all the manufacturers of agricultural implements taken together. But when it comes to a question of Protection, the farmer cannot pass the duties on to any one. He must pay them out of his scant earnings for long hours of labour. I have said that the farmer does not work so hard as does the mechanic, nor does he. He could not work for ten or twelve hours a day under the same strain as the mechanic is subjected to, who works for eight hours and never loses a minute, like the nail-maker of’ old, who, if he made one mis-hit with his hammer, never picked ‘it up all day. The farmer works in God’s glorious sunshine, inhaling oxygen and enjoying conditions which -I should like to see every* worker in Australia in a position to enjoy. The factory worker gets up from his breakfast to catch a tram, and remains within the walls of a workshop for eight hours, with perhaps a break of half-an-hour or three-quarters of an hour for his lunch. The farmer must have something to eat before he starts his work in the morning, and then he comes along and has a meal at breakfast-time. Scones and coffee are carried to him at 11 o’clock, and at 12 o’clock he returns to his lunch.
– The honorable senator must have been on a good farm.
– I was, and do I not show good results from it? At 3 o’clock the farmer sits down in the shade of a tree and enjoys his afternoon refreshment. I am speaking now of the ordinary farmer, and giving honorable senators a description of the real thing. One might stand at the side of a fence and watch him with his reaper and binder, and as he comes past the second time might congratulate him upon doing the work so beautifully, and he will stop at the fence and yarn about it for an hour.
– If conditions of labour are so much in favour of the farmer, does the honorable senator not think that he might be called upon to give a little help to the workmen in the factories ?
– The honorable senator does not grasp the purpose of my argument, which is to show that the farming life is the ideal life for every Australian man or woman. Sir Joseph Carruthers has been talking recently of 1,000,000 farms for 1,000,000 farmers in New South Wales alone, and I have been trying to explain the conditions under which the farmer lives. I mentioned that the farmer had afternoon tea at about 3 o’clock. At 6 o’clock he gets enough to keep him going until supper at 8 or 9 o’clock. He may then have to feed his horses before he goes to bed, to rise again at 3 or 4 o’clock in. the morning. That is the ideal farming life.
– Have you ever tried
– I have. During the pneumonic-influenza scare I worked for four months on a New South Wales farm, never setting foot in any municipality in the whole of that time, and I came back here much improved in health. If we could only get this schedule through I would like to go back and have a few more weeks of the same life. Unfortunately, by means of this Tariff our farmers are to be handicapped for the best part of their lives. The burden of taxation is altogether too heavy. I want to make conditions more congenial. I have heard it said that if a man desires to start farming on a reasonable scale, equipping a moderately-sized farm with up-to-date machinery, the handicap imposed upon him by this Tariff will amount to £625. I believe that I have been told, and I know it is true, that the cost of one farming machine alone is £325, and the duty upon it £93. This should make us realize the awful nature of the burden that has been placed upon the farmer. In four or five years’ time many honorable senators will be seeking the suffrages of the electors again, and, no doubt, will tell the people what they are prepared to do in the interests of the primary producers. They will pledge themselves to make almost any sacrifice so long as they can win the farming vote. This Tariff shows what is being done for the agriculturists of the Commonwealth. If we took a statesmanlike view of the position, we would realize that in proportion as our primary industries are encouraged, so will our secondary industries be developed.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (b), general, 40 per cent.
The original proposal in this sub-item was to allow reapers andbinders infree from Great Britain, and to place an impost of 5 per cent. in the intermediate Tariff, and 10 per cent. in the general Tariff. We have been told that these duties have been imposed as a result of some arrangement entered into between this Government and a Victorian firm, and the Minister has been good enough to say that the arrangement does not in any way tie the hands of Parliament. It is quite clear, therefore, that we have some small modicum of freedom left, and that we may alter the Tariff up or down. I suppose that if I moved to make the duty 55 per cent., the firm concerned would not be disappointed; but it is our duty, at this eleventh hour, to so alter the Tariff in this sub-item as to make it correspond with the duty imposed on other agricultural machinery. There is no essential difference between a reaper and binder and a harvester, and as the Committee has already agreed to a duty of 35 per cent, on harvesters I am asking for a reduction of 5 per cent, in this item, not because I am satisfied with the concession, but because I think it is the only reduction possible in this present constitution, of the Committee. These machines may be obtained at a very moderate cost in other parts of the world, notably Canada, where they are manufactured. Figures supplied by the MasseyHarris Company show that the price of a 5-ft. reaper and binder in Canada is £60 ; in New Zealand, £95; and in Australia, £103. The 6-ft.’ machine is £61 in Canada, £97 in New Zealand, and £105 in Australia; while the 8-ft. machine prices are £65, £115, and £125 respectively. The increase on the Canadian prices is 60 per cent, for the 5-ft. machine, well over 60 per cent, for the 6-ft. machine, and nearly 100 per cent, for the 8-ft. machine. ‘ The Canadian farmer gets his reaper and binder at practically half the cost to the Australian farmer, although the products of both countries compete on equal terms in the world’s markets. If we determine to shut out completely this trade with the United States of America and Canada it is possible that we shall be making a rod for our own backs later on. Do honorable senators imagine that Canada and the United States of America will stand still while we are putting on Tariff duties to shut out their manufactures ? We have heard some talk in this chamber quite recently about the action of the Government of the United States of America in imposing a duty on wool. As a matter of fact, the Government of that country is merely following our example for the purpose of protecting its wool industry ; but incidentally it is lessening the area for the sale of our product. It would be much more to our advantage to have an American competitor in the market in these things, and honorable senators would be well advised if they refused to shut out trade with Canada and the United States of America. Canada is a sister Dominion, and surely, a Tariff of 40 per cent., in addition to the natural protection of about 45 per cent., is sufficient for Australian operatives in this industrial field. The Canadian manufacturer does not by any means obtain all his raw material within Canadian boundaries. The metal required for the manufacture of reapers and binders that may be seen on farms all over Australia, is dug from the hills at Pittsburg, hauled 800 miles over the railway to the Massey-Harris implement works in Canada, and pays duty on the frontier. We now propose to shut down on this, trade with our sister Dominion. Surely this is a frank confession to the world of semi-decadence in the physical and moral fibre of the Australian workman. Even the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) will admit this. I am sure that if he voiced his. convictions now, as he did during the debates on the 1908 Tariff, he would set the very carpets of this chamber floor on fire with his burning eloquence.
– Is that the time when you were a Protectionist ?
– I voted for the duties then imposed - not the extraordinary Tariff before this Committee. The plea that this impost is for the protection of an infant industry does not apply, because the works are already established. I want to see them prosper, but I do not want H. V. McKay to entertain the thought that he may grow inordinately rich at the expense of the primary producers by . means of these unnecessarily high duties. I want him to get a fair reward for his enterprise. He started in a humble way, and by virtue of his industry and sound business qualities, and aided by the men who are working with him, he has done very well indeed. He is now a director of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. I wish him good luck; but, as I have already said, I do not wish to see him grow over rich at the expense of those who come from far afield to buy his implements. There is no call for this high protection, because” he built up the industry on duties which are lower than are now proposed. Therefore I ask the Committee to agree to the reduction.
– I should like to have some explanation from the Minister in reply to Senator Lynch.
– The reply to the last proposed request applies to this.
– I suppose the principle is that the Minister, having a majority, .will stick to the high Tariff under which machines which cost our farmers £95 may be bought in Canada for £61, although our farmers have to compete with Canadian producers in the same market. Moreover, the Canadian farmer is only six days away from his market as compared with at least six weeks in the case of the Australian producer. Originally in this schedule reapers and binders were free under the British preferential Tariff, with an impost of 5 per cent, intermediate and 10 per cent, general. I do not know what actuated the Government in agreeing to the duties now proposed. Possibly they represent the compact with the Victorian manufacturer already mentioned. I appeal to the Minister on this question of the ad valorem duties. We have had the experience ‘ of -the 1914 Tariff, which came into force ‘just at the beginning of the era of high prices.
– I think we had better have a quorum to hear what Senator Gardiner has to say.
– There is a quorum present.
– The effect of fixing ad valorem rates of duty is that if some world disaster suddenly doubles the value of an imported article, the duty payable upon it is doubled, and that, 1’ro.bably, just at the time when it is to our advantage to get it as cheaply as possible. As an illustration, let me point to .the fact that during the war the value of newsprint increased by 500 per cent, and, as a consequence, just when everybody wanted paper as cheaply as possible, the newspaper proprietors were compelled to pay an enormously increased Customs duty, because the Tariff imposed ad valorem duties upon this requirement. The same thing may happen to’ the farmers. Should the Australian manufacturers go out of the business of making agricultural implements, the importers, of these necessary articles would be compelled to pay a duty of 45 per cent, on whatever high value might be fixed upon them by the makers overseas. Surely the Government could ascertain what would be a fair fixed rate to place on each implement. I would not mind accepting the manufacturers’ estimate of cost. Similarly an estimate of the cost of manufacturing abroad could be arrived at, and then a duty could be imposed sufficiently high to place the local manufacturer on even terms with the foreign manufacturer, or to give him even better conditions. Then if anything unforeseen should happen to cause a scarcity of any particular article, the duty payable upon it would not become higher just when necessity might arise for getting it as cheaply as possible. With the imposition of aci valorem rates the man who sends an order to America for £100 worth of machinery may discover that, owing to some industrial upheaval in that country, its value has suddenly increased to £150, and that, as a consequence, the amount of duty he will be called upon to pay here is £67 10s. instead of £45. It is the practice of the Customs Department to add 10 per cent, to the invoice price of an article in assessing its value for duty, and the price the Australian farmer may be called upon to pay might easily be 150 per cent, above what was the actual selling price of the article abroad at the time he sent his order away. The adoption of ad valorem rates thus makes the farmer pay more duty, and makes it more difficult to get the machinery he requires from abroad. I am afraid that the increased burdens this Tariff places upon farmers will lead to a sad reduction in the demand for agricultural implements, because farms will become sheep walks. Of course, there is a small duty on shearing machinery, but one well-equipped shearing shed will shear a good, many sheep, and, in any case, if the worst comes to the worst a farmer can shear by hand and will pay very little Customs duty upon a few shears. This retrospective Tariff will not advance Australian industry or enable it to keep abreast with what is being done elsewhere. This item calls upon a section of our producers, the farmers, to pay a duty which they will have, no means of passing on. I know that by an attempt at a combination with the Labour party the Victorian producers are making a big effort to get & little “advantage in the direction of price-fixing, but, speaking generally, the farmers have no say in fixing the price of their productions. The farmer who struggles on under the old system, and does not bring to his assistance the most up-to-date machinery, will not pay these extra duties, but will prefer to let his farm go from bad to worse. These increases will be paid only by the most up-to-date, efficient, progressive men, who realize that with our magnificent climate they have a wonderful opportunity of making a success of farming. It is the men who are prepared to develop Australia’s magnificent resources who will be called upon to pay taxation in order that manufactures may grow up in Melbourne. I know that I cannot protect them against this legalized robbery by the very men they send here to represent them.
Question - That the request (Senator Lynch’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Gardiner) proposed -
Th atthe House ofRepresentatives be requested to make sub-item (b), British, free.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator E. D. Millen) agreed to -
That the House ofRepresentativesbe requested to leave out the word “ January “, sub-item (C), and insert in lieu thereof “ July “.
Request (by Senator E. D. Millen) proposed -
That the House of Representatives he requested to add the following to sub-item (d) : - “And on and after 1st July, 1921, Metal parts n.e.i. of hay rakes (horse), and mowers, per lb., British,13/4d. ; intermediate, 2d.; general, 2d.; or ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent; general, 45 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
– In the case of parts for stripper harvesters, the Government were content with fixed duties of13/4d. and 2d., and I should like to know why it is proposed to have the alternative duties of 30, 40, and 45 per cent., for parts of horse hayrakes. I understand that these duties on parts will add excessively to the cost of keeping these machines in repair, and at the proper time I shall move that these alternative duties be struck out.
– The effect of the request I have proposed is merely to re-state what already appears in the Tariff, the only alteration being that of the date. This re-statement is obviously a better course than to propose two amendments in each of the columns.
– I suggest that Senator Lynch should put his proposal in the form of an amendment to the request moved by Senator E. D. Millen.
Amendment (by Senator Lynch) proposed -
That the request be amended by omitting the ad val. rates.
Request agreed to.
– That is so.
– Practically the whole of these parts come from Canada and the United States of America. Obviously, the 10 per cent, has been imposed for no reason other than to raise revenue. item agreed to, subject to requests. item 172-
Mangles, clothes-wringers, and clotheswashing machines, for household use, ad val., British, 12£ per cent ; intermediate, 20 per cent. ; general, 25 per cent.
– It is my intention to request reductions in all three rates of duty. In addition to the very good reasons which I have held Tor some time in support of my proposed line of action, I have had the benefit of authoritative information from a friend - a well-known Sydney business man,, who is interested in local government, town planning, and the like. I refer to Mr. Courtney, of Sydney, who recently returned from America and Europe. where he made investigations in execution of a commission from ihe New South Wales Government to inquire into town planning, municipal government, and such matters. I desire to stress three words contained in the item, namely, “for household use.” In subsequent items, the Committee will be called upon to deal with the Tariffs imposed upon the larger machines, such as steam-driven appliances installed in laundries. The machines mentioned in item 172 are designed almost solely to relieve womenfolk of some of the burdens of domestic duties. Mr. Courtney informed me that these appliances are imported into England from Canada and the United States, just as they are into Australia, there being practically no manufacturers in Great Britain who specialize in their production. It is the desire of this Committee, I feel sure, to* do something to lighten the heavy home tasks of the women of Australia. It need scarcely be mentioned that the difficulties of obtaining domestic assis
– The rates of duty cannot be a consideration, then, seeing that the Tariff is higher on pianos than on washing machines.
– Quite so; but American working men are prepared to go to fairly heavy expense in order that their wives shall be relieved of drudgery. Mr. Courtney told me that the average price of an electrically-controlled clothes washing machine is 170 dollars. That is no small sum. Taking it as a basis, the cost of importation becomes almost prohibitive by the time freights have been paid, exchange rates taken into account, and the high duties imposed. These machines, I understand, are not made in Australia.
– Is not the honorable senator aware that Messrs. Joyce and Company are manufacturing them in Sydney?
– I was not aware that these specific appliances were being turned out. I know, of course, that washing machines and mangles are manufactured in Australia.
– Has the Minister any particulars concerning importations?
– The total value of the importations of all the machines embraced in item 172 was less than £30,000 last year.
– Owing to the high duties, the cost of an American clothes-washing machine is prohibitive. The installation of labour-saving appliances should be encouraged in Australian homes. This Committee has shown a tender regard for primary producers.
– I would not like the Committee to become harsh, t hen.
– Here is an opportunity to demonstrate similar regard for our womenfolk. The latter are entitled to more consideration than any section of the primary producers. I move, therefore -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, ad val., general, 20 per cent.
– The sole difference between the rates of duty set out in the schedule and those which have operated since 1908 is shown in the general column.
– Why should there have been an increase?
– The increase is really one based upon policy. The Committee has accepted, all along the line, as a feature of the Tariff, slight increases in respect of the general rates of duty; and there is no reason why consistency should not be observed in respect of item 172.
– If that is the sole reason for the increased rate, the argument is a poor one.
– The honorable senator himself has voted for general increases.
– I have seized every opportunity to support proposed decreases.
– The honorable senator cannot escape the charge of inconsistency. There is no reason why this item should be singled out for special treatment. In spite of what Senator Duncan has said, these articles are being made in Australia, as the Sydney Machine Company is manufacturing mangles and power-washing machine.Handwashing machines for use in laundries are being made by A. Joyce and Company. According to the figures supplied by the Department, the total importations in 1920 were valued at less than £10,000.
– Is that the value of the clothes-washing machines imported?
– I am indebted to the honorable senator for the interjection, because I find that the amount is £9,167, and includes all types of washing machines and mangles, so it is obvious that the importations are not great.
– - And that was under the old Tariff.
– Yes. By increasing the general rate we are giving greater preference to Great Britain. . The importations were considerably affected during the war period, and prior to that Great Britain exported to Australia less than one-half of our imports. Since them British exportations have decreased somewhat, as was to be expected; but it is not unreasonable to assume that she will again acquire a larger percentage of the trade.
– Will the Minister be prepared to agree to importations from Britain being admitted free if the other duties are allowed to remain?
– No. I am not prepared to withdraw that measure of protection which has been enjoyed by the industry for some years. I suggest to the honorable senator that in view of the general range of duties this proposition is an extremely moderate one, and I trust the Committee will accept it.
.- I am not prepared to support any increases unless they are justified. If the Government consider that all the duties should be increased I shall not be satisfied unless. I am assured that they are necessary to protect new industries or assist industries already established. The statement by the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) proves that under the Tariff which has been in operation for some time, Australian manufacturers have been able to supply practically all of our requirements. A Protective Tariff is one that is sufficiently high to enable Australian manufacturers to supply the requirements of the people at a reasonable price. Under the old Tariff the British preferential rate was 121/2 per cent., and the general 20 per cent., and the present proposal is to retain the British rate at the original figure, and to increase the general Tariff to 25 per cent. This does not appear necessary, and I trust the Minister will agree to 20 per cent.
– I was surprised at Senator Duncan stating that less consideration was shown to the Australian women than to the women in the United States of America. The difference between his proposal and that of the Government is only ls. iu the fi, and as these machines do not cost more than £2 or £3, and last four or five years, Senator Duncan’s consideration for Australian womenfolk really amounts to 2d. per year.
Item agreed to.
Item 173 (Weighing machines) agreed to.
Item 174 (Machines, machine tools and appliances) -
– A week or two ago the Committee debated the advisableness of allowing the words “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws “ to remain in the schedule. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) said that an opportunity would be given to further discuss the matter before the Tariff was disposed of, and I am merely reminding the Minister (Senator Millen) of that promise, because some honorable members believe that the wording should be slightly altered.
– I understand that the honorable senator received an assurance from the Minister that that opportunity would be provided. In view of that promise I do not think that any more is to be said.
– It is all very well for the matter to be passed over in that way. I remind the Minister (Senator Millen) that there were two or three “ stiff “ debates on the question whether the departmental officers should have the power to impose duties, or whether they should be fixed by Parliament. I am sorry the VicePresident of the Executive Council is not here- we regret his indisposition - because he practically assured us that he was waiting for information, on receipt of which he would make a statement. The departmental officials naturally desire to have the power to impose duties, although that is the function of Parliament. At present everything proposed by Customs officials is accepted by the Minister controlling the Department, and it is then agreed to by Parliament. I think it is time Senator Prat ten realized that this verbiage means that Customs officials shall have the right to impose new duties when it suits them, suspend duties when they desire, or omit or include items when they feel so disposed. I do not see the necessity of waiting for any further information, as the Government have already decided that these words shall remain.
.- Will the Minister (Senator Millen) indorse the promise made by the VicePresident of the Executive Council in connexion with this matter 1
– It is needless for the honorable senator to remind me of a promise that has been made, unless he doubts that it will be given effect. Whatever promise has been made will be kept, and if not by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, by the Minister acting on his behalf.
– Thank you !
Item agreed to.
Item 175 (Apparatus for liquefaction of gases) agreed to.
British, 274 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
– We have in sub-item o one of the usual drag-net provisions of the Tariff schedule. It is tucked away most unobtrusively, but covers a vast quantity of machinery that is imported here, and a very small part of that which is locally manufactured. It relates particularly to mining machinery, and here again is seen the tendency to increase the rates prevailing under the Tariff of 1914. Under the general Tariff a duty of 40 per cent, is imposed as against a duty of 25 per cent, under the old Tariff. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (c), general, 30 per cent.
I submit this request for the reason that [ wish to continue in employment those now engaged in the mining industry. The records of mining in this country show it to be in a very bad way. Gold-mining is dependent mainly on the premium payable on gold in the markets of the world because of its great scarcity and the demand for it on the part of those who use it in their manufactures. I shall refer particularly to the position of the industry in Western Australia, because it seem3 to me that the proceedings here have resolved themselves into a scramble on the part of many honorable senators to secure whatever they conceive to be in the interests of the States which they represent. I have hitherto endeavoured to take a broad continental view of my duty as a member of the Senate in dealing with the Tariff schedule, but in these circumstances I intend’ to depart from that rule. The sub-item affects specially the goldmining industry of the Commonwealth, and particularly that part of it which is carried on in Western Australia. _ Goldmining there at one time gave employment to nearly 75,000 people. The number employed to-day is very much reduced, but we still have there untold wealth in the shape of gold yet to be discovered. The annual report of the Chamber of Mines of Western Australia tells the doleful story that mining there during the last four or five years has shrunk to the extent of one-half in the value of its output and the number of men employed. Western Australia has proved a valuable outlet for the eastern States during periods of depression, and it has an enormous auriferous area that is still unexplored. The arguments that have been employed in connexion with the duties relating to the base metal industries can be applied with fourfold force to the gold-mining industry. The new finds made lately at Hampton Plains a”a Mount Monger, in the neighbourhood of Kalgoorlie, show that the State has not yet been half prospected. Those finds were made in a district which had been walked over for years by miners and others. Although large areas there still remain to he explored, the dwindling margin of profit, has reduced the industry to a very low ebb. It is proposed, however, to increase the duty on all classes of machinery, including mining machinery, covered by sub-item c. What are honorable senators- going to do? Are they going to close down, metalliferous mining in this country, or are they going to revive it? I>o they want people who are far afield and have not a chance to put their claims specially before the Committee to continue their operations? .1 cannot approach this
Chamber without tripping over the hangers on and the claqueurs of the manufacturers who haunt the entrances. Where are the representatives of the men out*back? They have no voice in this Chamber except that which I and a few others raise for them. I am raising my voice now for a clear-cut reduction of 10 per cent, on the machinery used by them. I want their machinery to be put on the same level as that used by others. Most of it is very much in advance of what is required for coal-mining. A coal-cutting machine is a simple device compared with the many complex machines employed today in winning gold.
– Has the honorable senator ever seen a coal-cutting machine at work
– Yes, in the honorable senator’s own beloved centre, Collie.
– And yet he says that a coal-cutter is not a complicated piece of mechanism.
– It is simple in comparison with some of the machinery used in winning gold in this country. I ask the Committee to agree to this request, and so to give a morsel of comfort and consideration to those engaged in gold mining. The manufacturers who make this machinery here should be prepared to carry on behind a Tariff shield of 30 per cent. The duty for. which I ask is 5 per cent, above that which operated under the high Tariff of 1914. I submit this request in the earnest hope that honorable senators will at least recognise how necessary it is to keep our miners employed. They are the mainstay of the interior. One cannot read the history of metalliferous mining in this country without being positively pained by the story of its waning condition. The time is slowly, but surely, coming when only exceptionally rich mines will be worked. Senator Henderson has referred to the intricacies of coal-cutting machinery. This Parliament in its wisdom recognised that high speed reciprocating engines socially used in the mining industry should be admitted free. I know something of those machines, having worked them, and they are a fair sample of the intricate pieces of mechanism that are used in the gold-mining industry today. I do not want to waste time. I ask honorable senators to agree to a reduction of 10 per cent, in the general Tariff on this sub-item. If my request is carried, as I hope it will be, I shall submit requests for reductions in the duties in the other two columns. I make the request in the interests of the mining industry, which is in a bad way in the Commonwealth to-day. Men are to-day being drawn to the cities from the metalliferous areas of the Commonwealth, which extend east and west, and from the north of Queensland to southern Tasmania.
Question - That the request (Senator Lynch’ s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Lynch) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (c), British, 25 per cent.
– I point out to Senator Lynch, although I assume that he knows it well enough, that previously the British preferential duty on this sub-item was 25 per cent. Since then, we have imposed a range of duties on iron and steel which enter largely into the manufacture of these articles, and in view of that, the slight increase of 21/2 per cent. in the duty which is now proposed, is only an equalizing increase. I ask the Committee to stand by the schedule as it is.
Item agreed to.
Locomotives, traction and portable engines; road rollers, n.e.i., including scarifier attachments, ad val., British, 271/2 per cent. ; intermediate, 35 per cent. ; general, 40 per cent.
And on and after 16th June, 1921-
– I ask the Committee to seriously consider the wisdom of removing the duties on the whole of the machines included in this item. We have now reached an item which covers traction engines, motor tractors, and machines of motor power which are used, or may be used, on farms and elsewhere. My chief reason for asking that the duties should be removed from these traction engines is that I think that is necessary as a defence measure. This year we propose to spend £5,000,000 on naval and military preparations for defence. If we remove the proposed duties on motor tractors, traction engines, and all machines which might be used for the transport of men and ammunition, and military material generally, we shall, in my opinion, do as much to secure our defence as we shall do by the training of men by the Naval and Military Departments. There would be the distinct advantage, in addition, that if these duties were removed, instead of the taxpayer being called upon to make this provision for the defence of Australia, private firms would make the necessary provision. If these machines were admitted duty free, our warehouses would very quickly be filled with machinery which isvery necessary in time of war. I am not pessimistic, and do not believe that war is likely shortly to come, but if the Government think that it is, they are not right in refusing to take advantage of every opportunity to improve the position of Australia from a defence point of view. I discussed this matter with one very able general who, for many years, has done distinguished service for Australia. I put to him the proposition that a sufficient supply of tractors, motor lorries, and such machinery would be equivalent to the multiplication of our Forces by about seven. He would not accept my mathematical deduction, because it was purely speculative, but he said, “ You cannot overestimate the value of motor transport of that character.” If we cannot, why not make a start by removing the duty, as I suggest, so that if war should come to this country our people will be well provided with all these vehicles.
– If the Government dame down with a proposal to spend £50,000 for the defence of Australia in the way you suggest, you would be one of the first to condemn them, and your party in another place would move a vote of censure.
– That is an ungenerous statement. But what if I did ? If sometimes I come across a great truth - and I really believe that I have discovered a great truth in this matter - I am quite justified, in the interests of Australian defence, in endeavouring to persuade the Committee to my way of thinking. Senator Duncan has just said that if the Government should spend £50,000 in the way I have suggested I would be found in opposition. In regard to this item, I now say, without in any way threatening the Government, because in this Chamber I am playing a lone hand, that if by means of this Tariff item the Government fail to make it possible for the Australian people to have all the facilities to carry on a conflict, if unfortunately war should come this way, then any other proposal for naval or military defence will meet with my strongest opposition. The Government cannot be in earnest in their defence policy if in this item they insist upon such high duties, because they will make it impossible for our business men to stock their warehouses and supply the people with tractors, which would prove so valuable in time of war. This is a sound proposition. “What nonsense it is for the Government to talk of spending £5,000,000 for the defence of Australia and at the same time to oppose my suggestion. If war should come this way, I venture to say our railway transport system would break down within twelve months for lack of rolling-stock to carry all our defence requirements.
– Who would import these tractors - the Government or private individuals ?
– The taxpayer is already overburdened by means of this Tariff, but if the duty on this item were removed our great business firms would bo induced to import tractors, which would be in demand throughout the country, and then if ever war should come, the vehicles would be in the hands of the people who would know how to use them. We must bear in mind the terrible wastage experienced in war time, due to enemy action against locomotive and roll ing-stock, as well as deliberate attempts to destroy our railway system. Therefore, it is essential that we should have some alternative means of overcoming our probable transportation difficulties. It is all very well to talk about the power of the British Navy and the other safeguards provided for Australia.
– What earthly use would tractors be in the defence of Australia?
– Here is an intelligent interjection ! Senator de Largie wants to know to what earthly use motor tractors would be put in war time. They could be employed in the delivery of thousands of shells, and in the transport of men and the immense equipment required by the troops.
– And also to pull guns.
– You are thinking of motor lorries, not tractors.
– I venture to say that in war time all the tractors we could lay our hands on would be urgently needed.
– We might as well have a bullock team as a tractor.
– I realize that the Government have such a team of good working bullocks behind them that it is quite impossible for me to put any serious proposition before the Committee. I have been watching this matter for weeks. I mentioned it before I went to Queensland for fear that the Tariff would be dealt with hastily. I ask honorable senators to visualize all that may be involved in the adequate defence of this great continent in war time, and to give my proposition serious thought. If we could agree that for a period of three or five years every commodity likely to be of use to Australia in time of war should be admitted free,we should be doing something real to safeguard the interests of the Commonwealth, and without any extra cost to the taxpayers, because the importers would recoup themselves for their outlay by supplying all such commodities to the people who wanted them, and the people themselves would have their wants supplied at a reasonable cost. This proposal is quite as important as the compulsory military training of our cadets. If we fail to avail ourselves of this opportunity toprovide all the necessary requirements for defence purposes, what will be our position ? I knowthe attitude of Protectionists towards the policy of Protection, but I hope honorable senators of that fiscal faith will be prepared to place Australia’s interests before the interests of private manufacturing firms. If they cannot see my proposal in this light, I can only remind them that in insisting on the protective duties in this item they will be grasping at the shadow and losing the substance. The substance is the machinery that would help us in war; the shadow is the establishment of factories by the imposition of high duties.
– Almost all the factories could be turned to war purposes.
– I know it; but even if all the factories we have at the present time could be devoted to war purposes, what advantage would it be when we would have to purchase so much new material for the purpose of defending ourselves?
– I have heard you boast that we equipped the Australian Imperial Force almost entirely from our own factories.
– I boasted that we equipped and clothed, and possibly fed, them better than the forces of other countries were equipped, clothed or fed; but we could not make shells.
– Is it not time we started to make them?
– The time is long overdue for making a start in that direction. In 1914 we could not make a shell, and now, seven years later, we have not made any, nor are we likely to make any. ,
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I support Senator Gardiner’s desire to increase the means of defending Australia; but my method of doing so differs from his, because I look forward to the establishment of anumber of factories in Australia, employing thousands of hands in the manufacture of traction engines, locomotives, and similar engines, as a result of the imposition of these duties. The honorable senator seems to think that we can get private firms to keep on hand a sufficient stock of ready-made machines to carry Australia through a war; but he has exploded his own theories by his allusion to the fact that one shell might blow the lot out of existence. In such circumstances Australia would be helpless, because the adoption of his policy would not provide us with the trained artisans to replace them. Surely the honorable senator sees the fallacy of his argument, and that it would be easier to have even a moderate number of men trained in the art of making these machines than to keep on hand in the warehouses of Australia an abundance of ready-made imported machines. I want to see men employed here making them, and, at the same time, making Australia self-reliant and able to stand a siege, instead of being dependent upon importations for the supply of these means of transport not only for our Forces, but also for the commissariat, without which an army would be absolutely helpless.
– Senator Gardiner must have been thinking of motor lorries when he talked about using tractors in connexion with warfare. I have worked a tractor on my farm for the last four and a half years. Five years ago, when I was in Great Britain, and when I passed through America on my way back to Australia, I looked at the best makes of tractor in both countries, and I came hack here and bought an Australian-made engine, which, after four and a half years’ work, has proved to be a most substantial and economical piece of machinery. But a tractor cannot be used in warfareexcept for very heavy guns and similar tractor loads.
– It could not get out of its own road.
– A bullock team would go as fast.
– If that is your kind of tractor, you have a very poor one.
– I have seen the Australian-made tractor in competition with tractors made in Great Britain and America. At Werribee a few years ago three American, two British, and three Australian tractors were put to a severe competitive test. The three successful tractors were made in Ballarat; the next best was made at Burnley, and “ Sunshine “ came third.
– How does the price of the Australian tractor compare with that of the imported engine?
– Everything considered, it is as cheap as the imported. The Ballarat make of tractor, which has been doing almost every kind of work for the last four years and a half on my farm, can not only plough a greater area of land in a shorter time, but does so at a smaller cost in oil consumption than almost any other machine. There is one consideration that keeps tractors out of general use on the big wheat farms to-day, and that is the cost of liquid fuel, which is a very important item. If this fuel were cheaper I honestly believe that every wheat farm would have one at work.
– How many gallons a day does your tractor consume?
– It all” depends on the work done. These machines are most useful in the rough and hard work of a farm, especially in breaking up the land at the beginning of a season, after it has been baked by the summer sun, when the strain injures the shoulders of the best of horses, no matter how careful one may be. Again, in the work of harvesting, in the heat of summer, the tractor is of great use with the large 10-ft. harvesters.
– What is the selling price of your tractor ?
– I bought mine for just about £500; but I think that since then the price has gone up slightly. I have seen many makes of tractors from America, including the Cleveland and the Fordson.
– What is the Fordson like?
– It is a very good little machine; but it has its limits. It is very light, and it is impossible to change the speed so as to regulate the machine that is working behind it. That tractor may cost a little less than my machine did, but not much less than £500. If there is any industry worthy of encouragement it is that of making traction engines, and none better can be obtained than those made in Australia. I feel confident that we would regret any action of ours, by a reduction of the duties or otherwise, that lessened the chances of these machines coming into common use. In the Werribee test competition the Jelbart ploughed 3.57 ‘‘acres in’ 2.82 hours, and consumed 6.26 gallons of fuel; the best American tractor ploughed 3.50 acres in 3.67 hours, and consumed 9.30 gallons of fuel; the be3t British tractor ploughed 1.40 acres in 4.69 hours, and consumed 7.53 gallons of fuel.
– I should like some information as to the varieties of tractors covered by this item. I find that in another place there was ‘some doubt on this score, and when the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) was asked whether the item included petrol-driven tractors, he replied, “No; I think all petrol -driven engines come under another designation.” I have looked through the schedule, and I find no item in which the engines to which I refer are included.
– The engines referred to by the honorable senator are included in this item, sub-item b, which, deals with tractors not made in Australia. Traction engines of ‘ any kind not made in Australia come under this item.
– Are petrol-driven tractors made in Australia? I do not mean tractors which use ordinary oil fuel. I understand that if these light petroldriven tractors come under this item, the high cost will inevitably deprive many small farmers of their use. It has been pointed out to me that many df these farmers are considerably handicapped by the prohibitive price of these machines, which are wonderful in their labour-saving qualities. In my opinion, every small land-holder should be encouraged to make use of them. I am not in a position to move any request, except, perhaps, in the direction I have indicated. I am assured these light tractors are not made in Australia.
, - Two or three points have been raised in connexion with this item, concerning
Which I may be permitted to make a few observations. Senator Gardiner ‘has put forward a theory so wonderful in itself that, if the honorable senator had not declared that he was serious, I would not have credited his sincerity. He has asked the Committee to believe that the best preparation that Australia can make for war is to permit free importations. The outcome, he predicts, would be that importers would stock their warehouses, not with the things which they could promptly sell, -but with goods to be stored away, year by year, interminably, until war occurred. No argument is necessary in face of the experience which confronted this country in 1914. When the war broke out, and during the early subsequent months, it was found that Australia was short of a hundred things of greater or less importance. Many of these could have been imported free of duty. It became generally recognised that, irrespective of the economic advantages or disadvantages possessed by the rival policies of Free Trade and Protection, Australia, as a matter of national safety, should take steps to see that certain main industries were established. I had a personal experience which may be related as indicative of the general situation. I failed to find, in probably the largest emporium in Australia, one or two simple tools such as an amateur cabinetmaker might occasionally require. I was informed by employees of Anthony Hordern’s that that huge establishment had not such an article as a bradawl or a gimlet in stock, and that nobody knew when stocks would be renewed. The articles embraced in this item are necessary to a nation in time of war. Whether the tractors are those described by Senator de Largie or some other form of tractor, the fact remains that during war all such machines are useful and, in numerous ways, essential. Obviously, Australia being surrounded by water, and at an enormous distance from the great centres of production, she must become dependent upon her own resources. Senator Gardiner maintains, however, that her needs will be supplied by the great and varied stores which will have accumulated under Free Trade. His anticipations are groundless. On the other hand, if we help to encourage and build , up our own industries in times of peace, we shall have, not only the factories for the production of our necessities, but the skilled employees also. As alternatives in policy - leaving the economic question on one side - there can be no sensible opposition to the assertion that, by the imposition of a Tariff as a means of encouraging the development of local industries, we shall be making a sounder and more effective contribution to the defence of Australia than if we were to adopt the policy advocated by Senator Gardiner. Senator Payne asked whether, under this item, small petroldriven tractors will be dutiable. The item does not discriminate in the matter of engines driven by any particular class of fuel but it does discriminate between engines made in Australia and those ‘ which are not manufactured here. The engines to which Senator Payne is referring are known as internal combustion engines, no matter whether they be driven by kerosene, petrol, or cruder oil. The fact underlying the imposition of the duties is that, if a tractor is made in Australia, the type becomes dutiable.
– The information furnished by the Minister does not meet the case. My observations were made purely in the interests of the farmer - the man who cannot secure the larger tractor owing to its prohibitive price, although that machine can be used effectively and economically upon a large farm..
– The light tractor . is the only economical machine.
– In another place the Minister for Trade and Customs. (Mr. Greene) said -
Certain classes of traction engines are not made in this country, particularly the very heavy kind, which is used for heavy ploughing work, where the ploughs’ are operated by a cable which is drawn between the engines, one of which stands on either side of the piece of land which is being ploughed. The only place where these engines are being made is England.
The class of tractor referred to, which is not made in Australia, is admitted under this special provision.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs did not refer exclusively to cable-drawing tractors. The Minister spoke of any machine not made in Australia.
– No one would think of buying that type of tractor nowadays.
– I have given the sole explanation of the Minister for Trade and Customs in support of the special provision under which certain tractors may be admitted at a very low rate of duty. I emphasize that he said, “ The only place where these engines are being made is England.” The Minister continued -
They also do draining work, and are very good for breaking up swamp land. We do not want to include those machines in this item.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs pointed out that certain classes of traction engines are not made in Australia. Then he referred particularly to the very heavy type; but he did not devote his remarks exclusively to that kind.
– Exactly! The only class indicated by the Minister, however, was the tractor used by farmers in a very big way.
– But there are other classes.
– I think this interesting interchange of opinions should be heard by a quorum. [Quorum formed.’]
– I do not know whether the Fordson tractor is popular or not, but it has been said that it has to carry a duty of £92, and, consequently, it would cost a farmer approximately £400. I have no personal knowledge of the type of light tractors produced by the Australian manufacturers; but I trust that in framing this item full consideration hag been given to the interests of the smaller men, so that they may have the opportunity of benefiting by the advantages to be derived by the introduction of labour-saving appliances.
– I listened with considerable interest to the remarks of Senator de Largie in regard to farm tractors, and I would be glad if the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) would give the Committee some information concerning the extent to which the industry in Australia has developed. In conversation with a South Australian gentleman the other day, I was informed that the Fordson tractor was being sold in America at ab<5ut £140: that the duty and exchange amounted to approximately £95, and that the machine was sold in Australia at £425. I can quite understand that tractors are very necessary in connexion with the agricul-* tural industry, and I am anxious to have the fullest possible information concerning their manufacture here. I believe that in Prance to-day the users of tractors are being paid a bonus.
.. - -For the information of the Committee, I may state that there are two factories producing tractors in Victoria, one controlled by Jelbart Brothers, at Ballarat, which is a fairly up-to-date establishment, and the other by Mr. McDonald, at Burnley, who also has a modern plant. These are the manufacturers of the two best Australian machines at present on the market. I do not know what is being done in the other States. Incidentally, I may mention that it is rather strange that not one letter has been received by any honorable senator in connexion with the manufacture of these tractors, -which proves that their representatives are not “ lobbying “ for support.
– I think that can be said concerning both sides.
– Perhaps so. The importations of light tractors is not great, as the business is well established iii Victoria at present. I am surprised that two firms operating in Victoria have not approached us in this matter, seeing that we have been generally inundated with correspondence concerning various other kinds of machinery.
– Have not they done the same as other manufacturers who have secured increases!
– They have not approached us.
– Neither have other manufacturers.
– Yes ; any number of them. The products of the two firms I have mentioned are the best on the market at present, and they are as well within the reach of the small’ man as are any other tractors. The largest and heaviest tractors, with the exception of the Fordson, are all of American or British manufacture, but the Australian engineers, recognising the desirableness of having a lighter machine to suit Australian requirements, have produced a satisfactory machine.
– A Fordson is made in America for £140, and the one the honorable senator purchased cost nearly £500.
– The cost of mine was about £470. I am not prepared to accept the American price of manufacture as accurate until that figure has been verified. “We know that the Ford works are able to manufacture light cars at a low rate, because of the number produced, and I dare say it would bc found if investigation were made that the Australian costs are heavier owing to the lack of capital. If Jelbart Brothers, of Ballarat, could command some of the capital that is available in America they would be able to increase their output and reduce their prices.
– Is not there a duty of £90 onFordson tractors?
– That does not explain the tremendous difference in the cost. I am able to speak of the Australian machine because I know what it is capable of doing; it has the additional advantage of being able to “ work on petrol, kerosene, or crude oil.
– Did the honorable senator give the cost of aFordson tractor ?
– It is about £450 free on rails Melbourne, and mine cost approximately £500 delivered on the farm. Since we can manufacture such a machine in Australia, it is unnecessary for us to trouble about imports from America. I visited Canada some time ago, and with a relative of mine, who had been living at Winnipeg for some time, spent a couple of days in that big wheat-growing centre. I saw nearly all the tractors that were in use there, and I must say that I prefer the Australian machine to anything that I examined, either in England or America. We do not need to import tractors for use on our wheat farms. This item deals with quite a number of engines, but I am speaking only of tractors to be used on wheat farms.
– In carrying on a discussion with intelligent men, I usually have no difficulty in making myself understood, but it seems that I have to speak quite a number of times here in order to convey to some honorable senators what I have in mind. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) and Senator Earle both assume that my argument in regard to tractors was that if they were allowed to come in free our merchants would fill their storehouses with them, and hold them in readiness for use in time of war. If such an interpretation could reasonably be placed upon my remarks, I can only say that this strenuous twenty-two-hours-a-day work must be telling on me. I did not suggest that if we allowed tractors to come in free storekeepers and others would be induced to hold them in readiness for use in Avar. The point that I wished to make was that there would be such a demand for them - so many farmers would use them - that large stocks would be held, and that in the event of war they would prove of great value in the defence of Australia. I am glad that Senator de Largie has enlightened the Committee regarding the merits of the Australian-made tractor. Senator Duncan has told me of the thousands of tractors that were used to haul guns and heavy goods in France, of the thousands that were disabled, and. of the enormous wastage that took place. This item gives us an opportunity to open up a debate on entirely new lines. Under an intelligent trading system, we should have at ‘ our disposal modern appliances for transport which would be useful for defence purposes. After fiftyyears of Protection,we cannot produce these tractors here and sell them for less than £450. If they could be sold at £250 each, they would be largely used. TheFordson farm tractor can be purchased in America for from £190 to £200, whereas the cost for one of reasonable size here is £412. TheFordson tractor takes the place of a team of horses. It can be used for carrying as well as for ploughing, and is fairly fast. ,
– Its top speed on a good road is only 4 miles an hour.
– On an ordinary,wellmacadamized road, itwould travel at the rate of 15 miles an hour. At the Sydney Show held last Easter, I inspected a Fordson tractor on behalf of a friend of mine, and made full inquiries as towhat it would do. It is practically a motor lorry combination, and its ploughing speed is estimated at 21/2 miles an hour.
– One can plough with a team of horses at that rate.
– The honorable senator is mistaken. With a team of horses, one ploughs for a distance of about 150 yards and then pulls up for a spell. If tractors were admitted free of duty, and could be purchased at about one-half their present price, we should have ten in usewhere only one is now employed. Another point for consideration is that, with their more general use,we should have on our farms a large body of trained men skilled in their use. We pay skilled men for teaching our boys to put their heels together properly and turn to the left or the right; but what kind of trained men would Ave not have for war purposes if we had a body of men who knew their tractor machines from A to Z, and could put right anything that went wrong with them?
– I think we should have a quorum to listen to this interesting address. [Quorum formed].
– I shall conclude, as I commenced, by saying that I had no idea that, as Senator E. D. Millen suggested, if the duties on these machines were removed the result would be that our warehouses would be stocked up with them, waiting for war. My idea was that if they were admitted free of duty they could be purchased at a reasonable price, and would be acquired by most farmers in this country instead of as at present by about one in every 100. I say that this would be a big item of war preparation, secured without a demand upon the general taxpayer. Senator E. D. Millen merely attempted to throw ridicule upon what I have said. I am rather pleased to find that, notwithstanding his great intellect and reasoning power, the honorable senator has come down to the level of the Protectionists with whom he is associated, and has argued as stupidly as any Protectionist. The honorable senator twisted my remarks, and tried to heap ridicule upon arguments to which he was unable to reply. He has fallen a long way from the position which he occupied when, as Senator Lynch has reminded us, he made use of his powers of oratory in opposing Protective duties. He was a Free Trade brother then, but he is now a father of Protection. I have little doubt that when another Government is in power the honorable senator will be found reasoning in favour of a sane ‘policy for Australia. That is what I am trying to do> now. I have previously said that if the Government are not sufficiently in earnest to admit free of duty machinery which might be used for transport of war material, I shall not again vote for a single item of military expenditure. It is unreasonable and unfair that, in the interests of a few manufacturers, we should be asked to leave Australia helpless in time of war and should then call upon the general taxpayers to make a pretence of getting ready for “war by paying for a highly-organized ‘Defence Department. The time has come for us to seriously consider the future defence of Australia; and we cannot do that better than by enabling our people to obtain this class of machinery as quickly and as cheaply as possible.
– I formally move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), ad val., general, 35 per cent.
– i-I think the time has arrived when I should ask honorable senators not to make second-reading speeches time and again 011 successive items of the schedule. ‘ The discussion should not be of such a general character in dealing with separate items.
– This sub-item covers a type of machine about to be used in farming in this country. They must be used extensively if we are to hold our own. Horse power is being displaced everywhere. Although it still lingers on the farm in Australia, it must ultimately be displaced by mechanical power. I have no intention of proceeding to the extremes to which Senator Gardiner is prepared to go, but I do think it wise, in order to set the pace for manufacturers in Australia, that they should be given adequate, but not excessive, protection. That is why I have been asking for small concessions in connexion with these duties, though I am sorry to say with little or no success. The only means we have of keeping local manufacturers of tractors up to the mark is competition with their manufactures from outside. I will give honorable senators a personal experience of my own in connexion with this matter. It may be considered rather bad taste to obtrude one’s personal experience, but in the circumstances that is, perhaps, excusable. There is used in this country, though not very extensively, a tractor that is well known as the “ Steel Mule.” The agents for the machine in Adelaide are also well known. It is an American machine. I went to the office of the agents to make some inquiries about it. The agent told me that he had travelled around the world to discover what might be considered a suitable tractor for a small farm. He gave me quotations of his own tractor, and he said, “ Before you make up your mind have a good look round.” He then took out some papers, and amongst them there was one giving the quotation for this particular tractor in America at $400. or £80. I asked him the Australian price, and he replied £400. The Australian firms were operating, but not holding their own under the previous protection of 30 per cent., and the proposal now is to raise the duty in the general Tariff to 40 per cent. The only effect will be to raise the price to the farmer.
– How can you say that local mauufacturers were unable to hold their own.
– Because tractors were being imported to this country.
– The Australian tractors are the best on the market.
– What is the use of the honorable senator saying that when American tractors were coming in over the 30 per cent. barrier, which is now to be raised to 40 per cent.? The Adelaide agent to whom I have referred showed me that the Australian price was five times as great as the American quotation.
– That agent was “ pulling your leg.” He knew this Tariff discussion was pending.
– I am giving the Committee facts which Senator de Largie cannot refute. I challenge contradiction of what I am saying.
– You are talking of something you know nothing about.
– The offensiveness of the honorable senator, Mr. Chairman, is likely to cause dissension in this Chamber instead of helping to expedite business. I do not want to bandy words with him in this matter. I do not want to thrust my opinion down any one’s throat with the pragmatical air assumed by the honorable senator. The honorable senator should learn to keep his station as Government Whip in this Chamber. If he did he would facilitate the transaction of business. Make no mistake about that. He courts this criticism by his persistent interjections, and when I am giving the Committee concrete facts he hurls innuendoes at me, suggesting that I do not know what I am talking about. It is not the place of the Government Whip to intrude his personal views in this way, on this and as he has done on other occasions also. But let me come back to the sub-item under discussion. If the duty is increased as proposed, the only effect will be an added cost to the pur chaser of tractors. The Ballarat concern, so far as I know, is working very well. I have had no representations from those associated with it for an increase in the duty. The Richmond manufacturer is, I believe, turning out a good type of tractor, and I understand a first-class tractor is also being produced by a New South Wales firm. But all this has been achieved under the old Tariff, and, therefore, any proposal to increase the duty should have substantial warrant. We should see to it that the cost of tractors does not rest too heavily upon those who wish to displace horse-labour on their farms. We may do this by insuring effective competition among local manufacturers, who should be encouraged to perfect their organization and system. The position of America must be considered. If we shut out American manufacturers they will surely retaliate against us later on.
– The United States of America has done that already. Fortyfive cents a lb. on wool is a pretty heavy impost.
– There will be more, too, under this policy. I repeat that the proposal now before the Committee can have only one effect, namely, to increase the price of tractors to Australian farmers, and I am raising my voice against it. We are justified in giving reasonable protection to our manufacturers, but we must keep in mind the interests of those who have to buy their output.
Question - That the request (Senator Lynch’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Request (by Senator Lynch) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), British, ad val., 221/2 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
– I should like to know the custom of the Department in regard to the importation of traction engines of a class or kind not made in Australia, as. provided in sub-item b, and whether the Fordson tractor, the importation of which, at a reasonable price, would be very helpful to the farmers of Australia, would come under this heading.
– Yes; if it is of a class or kind notmade in Australia.
– Probably some have already come in since the imposition of the duty.
– As the duty came into operation only on 16th June last, no experience has been gained by the Department that I could put before the Committee.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Motive power machinery and appliances (except electric), viz.: - . . . . (c) N.E.I., ad val., British, 271/2 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
– I am given to understand that subitem c covers steam engines, all types of gas engines, oil engines, electric cranes. cableways, ropeways, and innumerable engines of various types, many of which are not made in Australia. Cheap power is the backbone of all industry, but it is not reasonable to expect Australia to become a big manufacturing country if its manufacturers are called upon to pay 80 per cent. more than their foreign competitors for it. At any rate, it is imposing a very heavy penalty on them to oblige them to pay from 271/2 per cent. up to 40 per cent. duty on engines which are absolutely necessary for the working of their factories. Mining expenses, without loading the industry with excessive capital charges, are very high at the present time. I am not sure whether this matter has been placed before the Minister in this light before; but for such items as gas engines, electric cranes, and other machines, quite a large number of which are included in the item, the duty seems to be exceptionally heavy, and quite able to stand a reduction. These facts have been brought under my notice, and I think it my duty to ask for some information. We do not wish to penalize any industry, primary or secondary, by imposing duties on the raw material they have to use, thus handicapping them against foreign competitors.
– All the engines enumerated by the honorable senator come under this item with the exception of electric cranes.
– If that is so, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (c), general, 35 per cent.
– I understand that this sub-item covers marine engines and boilers, highspeed reciprocating and other steam engines, oil and petrol engines, and pumps of all descriptions, which form the base of high-grade engineering. If that is so, many of these are made in Australia, firms specially laying themselves out for their manufacture. We do not desire, of course, to reduce the Tariff on what is made in Australia, but rather the reverse.
– I cannot say that all the items mentioned are made in Australia, but all the main lines are; and some of these form an important part of the engineering business of the country. Marine engines and boilers, steam engines, gas engines, oil and petrol engines, and pumps of all descriptions are made here, and honorable senators must know of many factories where they are turned out. Since the original duties were imposed we have put duties on iron products which form the raw material of the industry covered by the item ; and I submit that some reasonable allowance must be made on that account. The placing of duties on iron and steel increases, for the immediate present, at any rate, the cost of this raw material, and it is only reasonable to compensate for that by some slightly-increased duty on this item.
– I have heard nothing to justify such an increase as is proposed for the protection of the manufacturers of these commodities.
– They are asking for more.
– Probably they are; but we have to consider whether it is reasonable to grant the proposed substantial addition. “Under the former duties the industry got on very well.
– Because the raw material was admitted free.
– That point has been referred to by Senator E. D. Millen. We have been reminded time after time of the duty of 21/2 per cent. on pig iron, which is the base of the metal industry, and now we have a proposal for a 10 per cent. increase on this item. To bo consistent, I shall have to persist with my request for a reduction of 5 per cent., because I regard the proposed additional duty as heavier than is required for the protection of this local industry.
– I understand that this item covers what was set out in item 178 of the 1914 Tariff, with special reference to high-speed engines, and so forth, subject to departmental by-laws. In view of the fact that these machines are not made in the Commonwealth, are they still to be subject to duty?
– The information supplied to me is that they are being made in Australia.
– If that is so, I am satisfied. In 1914, the idea of Parliament was that they were not made here, and they were therefore admitted under reasonable conditions. However, in any case, I think the duty is too high.
Request (by Senator DrakeBrockman) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (c), British, 221/2 per cent.
– I remind Senator DrakeBrockman that the old duty was 25 per cent., and that present conditions involve very much higher costs than formerly.
– Particularly in England.
– Particularly in Australia. An engineer in England for a forty-eight hour week is paid £4 9s. , 3d., while the same class of man in Australia is paid £6 5s. per week of 44 hours, and is also paid for holidays, and for a full week if. he only works a portion of the week. In England, a man is paid per hour at the rate of £4 9s. 3d. per week. I mention this to show that there is a good reason why the duty should be raised proportionately in order to meet competition from England; otherwise there will be an influx of goods that will prevent any possibility of our continuing to make these commodities in Australia.
– If the request is agreed to, it will create an inconsistency, in view of what the Committee has previously decided upon.
– But the whole Tariff is full of such inconsistencies.
– That is not a strong argument. In this instance it is proposed that the British Tariff upon “ Machines n.e.i.” shall be reduced from 271/2 to 221/2 per cent. In item 176, however, the Committee decided that the ad valorem rates upon “ Machines and machinery n.e.i.” should remain at 271/2 per cent. I appeal to honorable senators to bring common sense to bear.
Question put. The Committee divided.
– The voting being equal, I declare the question resolved in thenegative.
Item agreed to.
Electrical machines and appliances -
– I wish to be informed whether I may include a sub-item having reference to an electric welding apparatus which has been the subject of correspondence between a representative Western Australian firm and the Minister for. Trade and Customs. The apparatus is one of those new inventions which have come into use only within the past twelve or eighteen months. It is being used extensively throughout Australia, but it is not made in this country. Customs officials inFremantle have decided that the machine is heavily dutiable. This welding apparatus, owing to the necessity for the employment of a very low voltage in its operation, has to carry its own motor; butit would be impossible to take the motor out and employ it for some purpose other than that of generating current enough to weld fractured parts of machinery. All the Railway Departments throughout the Commonwealth are extensively using the welder, and are finding it of considerable service, as both a time and money saver. I desire that the machine should be placed on the free list.
– If it is an electrical welding machine, it is already on the free list.
– An engineering firm in Perth, namely, Messrs. Leslie and Company, has imported the apparatus, and has applied to theFremantle Customs authorities for consideration in respect of duty. The firm has been informed, however, that it is subject to a rate of 40 per cent. Particulars have been furnished to me as follows: - The cost of themachine, f.o.b., is £450; the item of freight and insurance adds £40; duty, £198; and wharfage and exchange, £25. The total landed cost is £713 ; 5 per cent. added for gross profit, £35 13s.; selling price of machine, £748 13s. If the welding apparatus were duty free, the costs would be: - F.o.b., £450; freight and insurance, £40; wharfage and exchange, £25; total landed cost, £515; 5 per cent. added for gross profit, £25 15s.; selling price of machine, £540 15s. I understand that the firm has paid the duty, but in the comparative figures just given the cost is so materially lower that I strongly appeal for the placing of the apparatus upon the free list.
– It is most inconvenient and ineffective to attempt to discuss here specific cases of this character. I do not chance to be in possession of the necessary data in order to furnish a reasonable answer to Senator Lynch. I do not say that the honorable senator has not fully explained the case; but, in describing the machine as an electrical welder he may notbe fully covering every consideration given to it by the local Customs officials. Departmental officers assure me that if the welder is of a type coming under their interpretation of an electrical welder it is free of duty. In any case, if it is an apparatus of a kind not made in Australia, it will be free. If Senator Lynch will give me the papers so that I may instruct the Department to make inquiries, the whole matter can be gone into fully and, I hope, satisfactorily. If necessary, this item can be recommitted.
– I desire to consider this item from the point of view of the large increase proposed on the importation of British goods compared with the Tariff under which we were previously operating. The Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) has not explained why such a heavy duty has been imposed on British productions, and for the information of the Committee I shall quote a statement made by some one who is particularly interested in the British goods imported under this heading. The British duty imposed under sub-item a was originally 10 per cent., but now it is 30 per cent., and it is considered that that rate is unreasonable. The statement with which I have been supplied reads -
Another point put strongly forward is that owing to the importance of the electrical industry to Great Britain as a key industry, the preference to British manufacturers should be on a more liberal scale. At present they are faced with very severe American and other foreign competition. During the war period American manufacturers practically had the field to themselves, and British firms are now having the greatest difficulty in getting their trade back.Most of us agree that local manufacturers should be given reasonable protection, but 30 per cent, to 40 per cent. is considered quite unnecessary, as all these charges have to be passed on to the mining, dairying, freezing, woollen, and other industries. I will try to explain what a 30 per cent. Tariff means, taking machinery or plant on a basis of £100 sellingprice at the factory -
It will be seen from the above that about” 90 per cent. has to be added to the factory cost in England to get the goods on the Australian market.
– You cannot have Protection without paying for it.
– It is questionable whether this protection is necessary. I do not think it is. The Department has gone too far, and is seeking to impose an unusually heavy duty on British importations. In view of the fact that Great Britain had to abandon manufacturing to a large extent during the war, and that America captured much of the trade, we should show our sympathy towards Great Britain in her endeavour to regain her former commercial position by decreasing the duty to a rate which would still adequately protect Australian manufacturers. I move -
That the House of Representatives bo requested to make the duty, sub-item (A), British, 20 per cent.
– I can quite understand the honorable senator’s consistency in moving for some reduction; but I suggest that in this case he is submitting a proposition which is out of proportion with the amendments he has previously submitted.
– I have done so because the duty is considerably in excess of what was previously imposed on similar articles.
– The InterState Commission made full investigations into this matter, and recommended duties of 30 per cent. and 35 per cent. - there were then only two rates - plus 21/2 per cent. ifthe majority report on the iron and steel industry was adopted.We have now three columns, and the proposed rates are 30 per cent., 35 per cent., and 40 per cent. The Inter-State Commission also reported that a fair quantity of the goods required under this heading were being made in Australia, and if substantial Tariff encouragement were extended at the initiation of the industry there was every probabilityof local manufacturers securing the bulk of the trade in these appliances. As that body recommended a duty of 321/2 per cent., after full inquiry, Senator Payne should not seek a reduction of one-third in the British preferential rate. I ask the Committee to support the proposition submitted, and suggest that Senator Payne should consider whether his request is a reasonable one.
– I submitted the request merely because the duty is double what it was in the previous Tariff. The Minister (Senator
Request, by leave, amended accordingly.
– I hope that the request will be agreed to. Under the item as it stands the margin between the British preferential Tariff and the general Tariff, which applies more particularly to German and American goods, is insufficient. In pre-war days, Germany was building up an enormous trade in electrical machines and appliances. She was producing very cheaply the lower grades of electrical goods, and was exporting them, I think, in fairly large quantities to Australia.
– The imports from Germany during the year before the outbreak of the war were valued at only £645.
– What were the imports from the United States of America?
– One-half the volume of the imports from the United Kingdom.
– I was under a misapprehension as to the extent of the imports from Germany; but we have much to fear from German competition in regard to this class of goods in the future.
– Thereis a good deal of fear, but it remains to be seen whether there is much danger.
– Having regard to the strides that Germany is making in the manufacture of electrical appliances, I think there is considerable danger. The position even so far as competition from America is concerned deserves consideration, more particularly from the standpoint of British preference. If we desire to give Great Britain an effective preference we should allow for a greater margin than the Government propose. The argument that I used when discussing an earlier item will apply to that now before us, which deals with electrical heating and cooking appliances. Cooking by means of electricity is coming very much into vogue in our capital cities, and is likely to extend all over the Commonwealth. Electric current is supplied very largelyby the municipalities, and at a fairly reasonable rate. If it is to be a cheap and efficient means of cooking, and to provide a largelyincreased degree of comfort for the womenfolk who have to do the cooking of the household, then I submit that we should not place these high barriers between the womenfolk and the high degree of comfort that they might otherwise secure. I should like, therefore, to see a fairly substantial reduction in the duties relating to the whole of this item. I hope the Committee will agree to the request.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bequest agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 12.30 to 1 a.m. (Thursday).
Request (by Senator Payne) agreed to-
That the House ofRepresentatives be requested to make the duty, sub-Item (b), British, ad val., 25 per cent.
Request (by Senator Payne) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (c), British, ad val., 25 per cent.
Senator E. D. MILLEN (New South
Wales - Minister for Repatriation) [1.2 a.m.]. - I should like to ask Senator Payne if it is his intention to submit similar requests on each of these subitems ?
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Payne) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (d), British, ad val., 25 per cent.
– It has been the practice of the Department to include X-ray apparatus, including generating apparatus and accessory apparatus, under this sub-item, and to charge the duty of 40 per cent. on these articles, as most of them come from America. I have been informed that this practice of the Department has recently been altered, and that these articles are now classified under adifferent heading, and admitted at a lower rate of duty. I should like to hear from the Minister in charge of the Bill what their exact position is.
– I am told that the position has been as stated by Senator Pratten, but that now the articles to which he has referred arc classified under item 419, where they are. free from Great Britain, and dutiable otherwise at 10 and 20 per cent.
Request agreed to.
Itemagreed to, subject to requests.
Electricaland gas applinnces, viz. : -
Telephones telephone switchboards, telephone distributing boards, and appliances, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.
(1) Gas meters, ad val., British, 30 per cent. ; intermediate, 35 per cent. ; general, 40 per cent.
Parts of gas meters as prescribed by departmental by-laws, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, . 10 per cent.
Electroliers, gasaliers, chandeliers, pendants, brackets, gas cooking and heating appliances, including gas ranges, ad val., British, 35 per cent. ; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.
N.E.I. not included under item 192, ad val., British. 271/2 per cent. ; intermediate, 35 per cent. ; general, 40 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by inserting after sub-item (a) : - And on and after 1st July, 1922 - Telephones, telephone switchboards, telephone distributing boards and appliances, also wireless receivers and appliances, ad vol., British, 25 per cent. ; intermediate, 35 per cent. ; general, 40 per cent.
I had intended to propose duties of 30, 35, and 40 per cent., but have submitted a duty of 25 per cent. in the British preferential column to meet the views that have been expressed by the Committee. I submit this request for the reason that if the proposed deferred duties are agreed to, the Amalgamated Wireless Company of Australia is prepared to sink a very large sum in the manufacture of telephonic, electrical and wireless appliances. I quote the following from a paragraph in the Bulletin: -
It is a matter of common knowledge that of 137,70.1 telephone instruments ordered since August of last year, 134,282 were lately still undelivered. Postmaster-General Wise querulously remarks that manufacturing companies appear to be attendingto their own wants first. ,
I think it will be universally admitted that Australia has suffered from a lack of telephone material and telephones. The development of this industry is extremely important in the interests of the country districts, as is also the development of the wireless industry. I feel sure that, in the not-distant future, the isolation of country life in Australia will be very largely alleviated by the extension of telephonic and wireless communication if we put that development on right lines. I am submitting my request because I feel that, in the first place, we should if possible be independent of other countries for such articles as these ; and, in the second place, because the deferred duties proposed will not come into operation until there is evidence of a practical commercial development of the new industry.
– Some of the articles mentioned in the honorable senator’s request are included in other items.
– Yes, Mr. Chairman; but there is another request to cover the whole of the materials required for wireless.
– I am unable to accept the requested amendment, and hope that before I have concluded Senator Pratten will agree to withdraw it. He is asking, with, regard to this item, the acceptance of the principle known as the postponement of duties. I may point out, in connexion with this matter, that before the Minister submits to Parliament any recommendation for a postponed duty he must have, as the result of inquiries, reasonable grounds for believing - in fact, something approaching definite knowledge - that certain people are prepared to invest capital in an enterprise and to carry on manufacturing on a sound commercial basis. Senator Pratten may, and I have no doubt does, believe that the company he has in mind is prepared to do all this, but’ no proof has yet been furnished to the Minister of its willingness or ability to do so. I submit, therefore, that the Committee should’ not be asked te adopt the principle of postponing duties in respect of this item, on the off-chance of some manufacturing enterprise being established to justify the imposition of duties.
– That is not quite in accordance with fact.
– The honorable gentleman may think my statement not in accordance with facts as known to him, but I can assure him that it is in accordance with facts as known to me. Our range of knowledge may differ, but I think he will agree with me that the principle of postponing duties ought not to be put into operation in this schedule on the off-chance of a manufacturer embarking on an enterprise under the protection afforded.
– Nobody asks the Minister to do that. I have here a definite letter from the company to the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– I submit that is not sufficient, and that the Minister, after full inquiry, must take the responsibility of saying whether he is satisfied with any assurance that may be given. No one will pretend that we ought to accept without question a statement of this kind from an applicant forassistance by means of Tariff protection. If the company mentioned by Senator Pratten is prepared to manufacture these articles, the proposal should be submitted for the consideration of the Minister with any further information that may be available. ‘ I understand that Mr. Massy Greene had an application of this kind before him. It is clear that he is favorable to the principle where the facts justify its adoption, as evidenced by the fact that the principle of postponing duties is to be found elsewhere in the Tariff. Why in this. case he turned the request down I am unable to say, but evidently he was not satisfied with the assurances given.
– Is the Minister quite sure that Mr. Massy Greene did turn down the proposal ?.
– I have the assurance of a responsible officer of his Department that the Minister considered the proposal made by this company, and although favorable to the principle of postponing duties, he could not adopt it in this case. In view of his decision, I cannot accept Senator Pratten’s request. I am sure Senator Pratten himself does not want to see the principle introduced unless there is a reasonable chance of a new industry being established. I suggest that it will be competent for him, or those for whom he is speaking, to ascertain what the Minister has to say, and for the company to supply additional assurances, which may have the effect of satisfying the Minister. It will be some time before we shall see the last of this Tariff, and therefore there will be ample opportunity to do as I suggest. If the Minister, after the consideration of the request, supported by additional information, thinks there is sufficient evidence to justify the adoption of the principle of postponing duties in respect of this item, steps may be taken either to recommit the item, or to agree to an addition to the schedule. In the circumstances, I ask the Committee not to adopt the principle of postponing duties without in some way or other being satisfied that they would have the desired effect. Otherwise we are accepting the off-chance of something happening, and subjecting the people of Australia to the payment of heavy revenue duties in the hope that some one may come along to supply these articles.
– Then the Government will be prepared to recommit the item?
– Certainly, if the Minister for Trade and Customs, after submission of additional evidence to him, considers that it is necessary to impose the duty asked for.
– Senator Millen quite misconceives the position. The managing director of the Amalgamated Wireless Company of Australia is now in London actively engaged, I hope, in negotiating, possibly with the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), for the establishment of direct wireless communication between Great Britain and Australia. Sir Thomas Hughes, the chairman of the company, has petitioned the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) to the effect that if deferred duties are given his company, by 1st July, 1922, will be in a position to supply these goods. I am inclined to agree with Senator Lynch that many items in this schedule have been somewhat hastily, and even ill considered owing to lack of time and to the rush of work that has overwhelmed the Minister for Trade and Customs and his responsible officers during the last two years, and I sincerely believe that this is one of the matters that on this account has not been carefully or lengthily considered. I do not think that Senator Millen is right in saying that if the Committee agrees to my request for a deferred duty the public will be called upon to pay that duty before the company is in a position to make commercially the bulk of this material in Australia.
– Will the rejection of your proposal have any effect on the activities of the company?
– It will mean that the opportunity for encouraging it to commence operations will have gone.
– How can you say that?
– Because this Tariff will have passed out of the hands of Parliament.
– The honorable senator has surely not forgotten that the Board of Trade will be continually watching such matters as this?
– But is there not enough intelligence in this Committee to enable us to come to a conclusion, on the evidence I have put forward, and which hasbeen sent to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), as to whether it is worth while making telephone and wireless apparatus in Australia?
– You do not propose to tie the hands of the Ministry ?
– Not in any shape or form. I am merely asking for a deferred duty, which shall come into operation at the discretion of the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– That Minister has always taken upon himself the responsibility of recommending to Parliament any deferred duty when he has thought the adoption of it was sound.
– But we are not at the beck and call of the Minister for Trade and Customs. Surely we have intelligence enough to know what to do in relation to matters of which we are cognisant. I am inclined to resent any suggestion that we are simply to take what is handed out to us, and be good boys; that we are to pass the Tariff, and go home, saying, “ We have done good work.”
– To say that is to declare that we have no power of imagination.
– Exactly. I have given my evidence. I think that it is a good national work to help this matter on, and I hope that the Committee will take it into serious consideration.
– I am rather surprised at Senator Pratten saying that any one had. made the suggestion that he was at the beck and call of a Minister. If any one should be resentful it is not he. The honorable senator simply says, “ My friends in Sydney have told me that they are prepared to do this, therefore you must accept my proposal.”
– They have also told the Minister.
– And after an inquiry, such as the Committee is not in a position to undertake, the Minister has said, “ I cannot meet your request.” The honorable senator says, “ Push the Minister and his inquiry on one side and acceptwhat I suggest without any inquiry,” and is quite resentful because I am not prepared to swallow what he suggests without some inquiry.
– I am not sure that it is correct that the Minister has turned the proposal down.
– I might also say that I am not satisfied that the statement made by the company to the honorable senator is correct. I have given him the assurance that I am informed by the officials of the Customs Department who are in close consultation with the Minister that he did consider this proposal, and honorable senators can balance that assurance against SenatorPratten’s statement that I am not correct in making it.
– I did not say that you were not correct in making it. I said that I did not think it was correct that the Minister had turned the proposal down.
– I could just as easily say that the company was not frank in its statement to the honorable senator. I ask honorable senators whether they are prepared, on the mere assurance of the applicant for this assistance, unsupported by any other evidence, to adopt the honorable senator’s request. However, I have shown a way out of the difficulty. If Senator Pratten says that he has evidence which the Minister has not had time to fairly consider, although I am sure he has already considered it, there will be ample time before the Tariff leaves this Chamber to secure the Minister’s reconsideration of the proposal. He has already shown that he is not hostile to the principle of these deferred duties, and if, on a reconsideration of this proposal, he re-affirms his decision that he is not satisfied that the company’s project is likely to be carried out, would this Chamber ask for the imposition of this deferred duty ?
– It ought to be free to examine the reasons which have actuated the Minister.
-What proof have we that the company is prepared to put a £5 -note into this enterprise? Even if the negotiations which are now in progress with regard to wireless lead where the company think they will, are there not alternative proposals, any one of which might wipe this company out of existence ?
– The unsupported statement of the Minister places this Chamber in a very unenviable position.
– The unsupported statement is that of Senator
Pratten. I ask honorable senators not to accept my word, or that of Senator Pratten, as to what this company is going to do. All I ask is that the Minister shall have an opportunity of seeing whether the company can make a substantial proposal. Is that unbusiness-like ? The Minister has gone into every other matter concerning which a deferred duty has been submitted to Parliament. He has inquired into the financial capacity of the people concerned, in order to assure himself that there was some definite intention on their part to carry out what they undertook to do, and all I am asking now is that this company shall satisfy him, exactly as others affected by this proposal have been obliged to do. They will not be prejudiced by doing so, but if they cannot make out a case no honorable senator would ask for the imposition of a proposed duty. Surely what I am submitting to Senator Pratten is sufficient justification for the withdrawal of his request.
– I thinkthat, perhaps, both Senator Pratten and Senator E. D. Millen are to some extent the subjects of a misunderstanding, and are “ barking up the wrong tree.” Senator E. D. Millen fears thatwe may be granting to this company a privilege based on false premises - that the company may not be genuine - and he asks what proof is there that they will carry out the undertaking they appear to have given to Senator Pratten and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene). The position is that by passing this deferred duty we give nothing away; we do not charge anybody any duties, but we say that if this company, which has made certain representations, do, in fact, carry out their undertaking, the duties will become operative. I think that the Minister fixed the production by the company at something like 60 per cent. of Australia’s requirements before they could receive any benefit from the duties; at any rate, the company will have to produce at least a substantial proportion of the requirements of Australia, and show the Minister and the Tariff Board that they can carry out their undertaking. If, on the contrary, the company fail to start the industry in a substantial way, we, as I say, give nothing away by passing the request as presented.
– The responsibility will be on the company.
– Exactly, and on the Minister; it is for the Minister and the Tariff Board to be satisfied that the company will carry out their undertaking. There is nothing to compel the Minister to say that he is satisfied.
– We could pass any deferred duty on that argument.
– We could. and we would give away nothing; we leave it to the Minister to say “ yea “ or ‘ ‘ nay, ‘ ‘ and I am not afraid of doing so, especially in the case of the present Minister (Mr. Greene). I think that under the circumstances Senator Millen might give way, and accept the request as proposed. I also suggest to him that the converse of his argument applies. If, before we have finished dealing with the Tariff, it be found, on thorough inquiry by the Department, that the company is humbugging the Committee, the item can be recommitted.
– Not necessarily “ humbugging “ us.
– Well, if it be found that the company are not able to satisfy the Minister that they are genuine, there is nothing to prevent him having the Tariff recommitted, with a view to informing the Senate of the fact. Personally, however, I think that position will not arise. All we are asked to’ do now is to say that no duty shall be imposed until such time as the Minister decrees, after inquiry by th6 Tariff Board. I cannot see that any harm can be done by /accepting the proposition of Senator Pratten, which I hope will be quickly agreed to.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia)
Tl-34 a.m.]. - Do I understand Senator Pratten to say that this company have given a reasonable assurance that they are going to make all the articles enumerated in the item?
– (Patent rights not interfering?
– That is right. I have here a long petition which was recently sent to the Minister for Trade and Customs covering the point raised by Senator Lynch. If that honorable senator knew the company as I do, he would have absolute confidence, as I have, that if this deferred duty is granted the work will be proceeded with. As a matter of fact, the company have a fairly large factory now in connexion with the control of the whole of the shipping wireless around the Australian coast. However, if Senator
Millen will give an assurance that before the Tariff leaves this Chamber he will get into communication with the Minister (Mr. Greene), and inform himself as to what attitude that gentleman is taking, I shall be satisfied to withdraw the request I have moved. I wish Senator Millen to satisfy himself whether Mr. Greene has considered the matter, and if he has, and is not prepared to accept the offer of the company, I shall be quite willing to take his decision. But if the Minister has not considered the matter, I wish him to ha,ve a chance to do so before the Tariff leaves us.
– I see the reasonableness of the suggestion of Senator Pratten’, who, like myself, evidently desires to get at the facts of the case. I readily give the assurance desired, and will lose no time in trying to give effect to it.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (b), British, 25 per cent.
I submit this request in order that the same preference against foreign countries may be given to Great Britain as in the preceding item.
– Is it proposed to impose the duties provided in sub-item b on gas meters coming into this country? The obvious’ conclusion is that gas meters are being made, or are about to be made, here.
– They are being made here.
– Then, we have parts of gas meters, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, free. It seems strange to impose a duty on gas meters, which include parts, and at the same time admit parts free’. This is not very intelligible to me, in the absence of some explanation.
– There are certain smaller parts of gas meters which are not being made here, at any rate not in commercial quantities. It is those parts which are admitted free. The meters themselves have been manufactured in large quantities, I understand, in practically all our principal cities.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Payne) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be re-, quested to make the duty, sub-item (c), British, ad val., 30 per cent.
.- I desire to know what reason there is for the heavy impositions placed upon such things as electroliers, gasaliers, chandeliers, brackets, gas cooking and heating appliances, and gas ranges. The old preferential duty was 25 per cent.
– There is no doubt that in shaping this Tariff, the Minister for Trade and Customs, in addition to making himself acquainted with the information supplied by his officers, was influenced by recommendations following upon the inquiries of the Inter-State Commission. That body recommended a duty of 35 per cent., with the usual accompanying addition of 2-j per cent, if duties were imposed upon iron and steel. The various items set out under sub-item c are made in Australia. I can only add that the Inter-State Commission, after full inquiry, came to the conclusion that there were factors involved which justified the imposition of somewhat higher rates of duty than had been recommended in respect of other associated manufactures.
Request agreed to.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (b), British, ad val., 25 per cent.
I admit that the proposed reduction of 2^ per cent, is very small, but my purpose is to provide the same degree of preference, namely, 15 per cent., as in respect of associated items. I desire further to ask the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) if he will give special consideration, before the Tariff has been disposed of, to those things which will fall under the phrase “ N.E.I.”. I have been in formed that electrical storage batteries will be included. Hitherto there has been no duty imposed upon those batteries. They are not being made in any quantity in Australia, and they are essential in connexion with supply stations and telephone installations. Therefore, a heavy duty should not be imposed at the present time. I ask the Minister if he will ascertain if these particulars are correct, and if he will then make some provision for the insertion of a special item to deal with electrical storage batteries in order that any industry which may have been begun for their production in this country shall be given sufficient protection, while the community is not penalized generally.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs is already engaged in an inquiry of the nature desired by Senator Payne, as representations have been made to him direct. Towards the end of the war Accumulators Limited, Sydney, established a factory and started the manufacture of these articles. They are making accumulators, or storage batteries, for municipal councils and for train, tram, and house lighting, also for motor car starting and lighting batteries. A second firm, the Doherty Storage Battery Company, Sydney, are making similar batteries, and a third firm, the Champion Electrics Limited, is also engaging in manufacture. The output of the Australian manufacturers is from £60,000 to £70,000 yearly, and about 60 hands are employed. Wages paid are from £10,000 to £12,000 yearly. It has been upon that information that the Minister for Trade and Customs has shaped the Tariff, but I repeat that counter representations have been made which the Minister is now examining.
– I disapprove of the proposed reduction in the preferential Tariff by only 2-i per cent. If preference is to be given to Britain, the proper method would be to permit free entry ; at any rate, there should be a substantial reduction in the Tariff. If this Committee makes meticulous requests to another place, the Senate will have to back down.
The dignity of this Chamber should be remembered. It is certain that the Senate would have to give way if a request were returned with an indication that the decision of another place had been flouted to the trivial extent of 21/2 per cent. Honorable senators would have no legitimate ground for pressing the request of the Committee in such circumstances. Senator Payne will agree that if it became a question of arguing the position, we would be causing unnecessary discussion on a reduction which is altogether inadequate.
– I may explain that I have been endeavouring to be consistent in the requests I have submitted, and from the beginning I have expressed the desire to give Great Britain greater preference against certain products of other countries, and have moved for a margin of 15 per cent, on these particular commodities. When we reached this item, I found it necessary to suggest that a duty should be reduced to 25 per cent., in accordance with what had been previously done. When the schedule has returned to another place, it will be seen that this Committee has endeavoured to be consistent in regard to the preference given to British manufacturers in the matter of electrical appliances.
. -Iam not questioning Senator Payne’s consistency or sincerity; but as all legislation is a matter of compromise, no one legislator has the right to say, “I intend to have this schedule amended to suit the consistent attitude I have adopted.” Legislation is not framed in that way. I have always favoured free importation of British products, and if the honorable senator calls for a division, I shall for the first time be found voting for a higher duty.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Item 181 (Electrical articles and materials).
– I propose to move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to add to sub-item (a), “ and on and after 1st July, 1922, electric vacuum tubes, ammeters, and voltmeters, British, 25 per cent., intermediate 35 per cent., and general 40 per cent.”
These articles, together with those set out in the previous item, are required to complete the manufacture of all wireless telegraphy equipment within Australia, and I take it that the Minister (Senator Millen) will give a similar assurance, in this instance to that he has given in connexion with previous items.
– Undoubtedly; I shall bracket the two together.
– TheAmalgamated Wireless of Australia Limited has been manufacturing wireless apparatus, not altogether from Australian material. During the first few days of the war, they installed several plants for the Navy Department, and the British Government plaoed orders for installations on large numbers of British ships built in Japanese dockyards in connexion with which workmen were sent to install the plants. The firm also supplied requirements for the mercantile marine during the war, also apparatus for the French Government in the Pacific, and for New Zealand, Fiji, and even places so far afield as Portuguese East Africa. During the war, the Navy Department manufactured certain apparatus at their Randwick works, but I understand that that has now been discontinued. On the question of the possibility of manufacturing these goods in Australia, I am hopeful that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), when he has returned from a well-deserved rest, will be able to devote serious attention to this matter, and I trust that, ultimately, another link will be formed in the chain which is Australia’s first line of military and naval defence. iSenator E. D. Millen. - As I have stated, these two requests will be bracketed.
Item agreed to.
Item 182 (Bolts, nuts, rivets), item 183 (Rivets, bifurcated), item 184 (washers and rivets) agreed to.
Item 185 -
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requestedto make the duty, sub-item (a), British, 25 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item 186 (Screw-hooks, eyes, ; and rings) agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 2.6 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 August 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210824_senate_8_97/>.