8th Parliament · 1st Session
ThePresident (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Report of Advisory Committee
– Is the Leader of the Senate in a position to answer a question which I addressed some time ago to the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) as to the date on which the report of the Advisory Committee in regard to the building of Canberra would be available?
– My honorable colleague, Senator Russell, gave a tentative reply to the question put to him by the honorable senator, and had he been here to-day would, in response to this further question, have made this reply -
I am advised that the report is under consideration by a sub-Committee of the Cabinet, and whilst a definite date cannot be fixed until the sub-Committee has reported, and the Cabinet has considered its report, it is not anticipated that there will beany long delay.
The following paper was presented: -
High Court Procedure Act. - Rule of Court, dated 27th July, 1921.
– I have received from Senator Gardiner an intimation that he desires to] move the adjournment of the Senate until 3 p.m. to-morrow, in order to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, , namely. “ The appointment of Mr. M. L. Shepherd as Australia’s representative at the League of Nations.”
Fourhonorable senators having risen in theirplaces,
– In moving -
That the; Senate at its rising adjournuntil 3 p.m. to-morrow,
I desire to address myself to the question of the appointment of Mr. M. L. Shepherd as Australia’s representative at the forthcoming League of Nations Conference. The cabled intimation of that appointment, I venture to assert, has caused more surprise, not to say consternation, throughout Australia than has anything else that has been done by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) during his absence; abroad. I could say personal things concerning Mr. Shepherd, but I do not propose to do so. The question is not as to Mr. Shepherd or his capacity, but whether in making this appointment consideration has beengiven to the standing and position of the people of Australia and the importance of the League of Nations. Measured by those two tests the appointment falls far short of what Australia might reasonably demand. It may be that Mr. Hughes, busy man that he is, had not taken into consideration the fact that the time was approaching when it wouldbe necessary to make a selection, and that’ it was only at the last moment that heapppointed as our representative the secretary to the High Commissioner in London. That appointment, I think, is a slap in the face for all those men in Australia who, by reason of their experience and proved public capacity, their ability and willingness to represent the Commonwealth at such a gathering, ought not tohave been overlooked. It may be said that it was made by the Prime Minister himself, and that the Government cannot be held responsible for. what he does.
– That will not bo said.
– Not openly.
– It will be openly denied.
– Then this is a Governmentappointment ?
– The honorable senator, when questioned on the subject on Tuesday, said that the first that the Government heard of the matter was the cabled intimation from Mr. Hughes that Mr. Shepherd had been appointed.
– I do not think I made that statement;.
– The records of Hansard will show what the honorable senator did say. If he did not make that statement he, at all events, conveyed to my mind the impression that the first intimation received by the Government as to this appointment was by way of a cable message from Mr. Hughes that Mr. Shepherd had been selected. I am of the opinion that the Prime Minister is not favorably disposed towards the League of Nations. Statements contained in public utterances made by him from time to time suggest that he does not appreciate how immensely important it would be, not only to Australia, but to civilization generally, to have a League of Nations which could effectively look afterthe world’s affairs and possibly preserve the peace of the world. The right honorable gentleman, supported as he has been during his term of office, by a weak Cabinet, and a weaker following in Parliament, has placed himself on a pedestal, and imagines that he is the sole governing authority of Australia. I remember reading some time ago a severe criticism of the action of the then President of the
United States of America, Mr. Woodrow Wilson, in electing to attend the Peace Conference, the view being expressed that he should have deputed his secretary to do so, and that as the supreme authority of the United States he should have taken up a position equal to that occupied by His Majesty the King. Mr. Hughes seems to consider that he is the sole constitutional governing authority in Australia. Secure in his position as lawmaker and law-giver of the Commonwealth , he has not even deigned to appointhis own secretary, but has selected the secretary of another Department to represent Australia at the Conference. I am not going to mention the names of any of those who might fitly have been chosen for this position. If the office of High Commissioner had been filled the gentleman holding that office might well have represented us. He would have been selectedby the Government, and approved by the Parliament, to represent Australia as its ambassador in London, and would havebeen a fitting representative at such a gathering as this. When I asked the Leader of the Senate, on Tuesday, whether there was not some messenger or office boy who could have been chosen instead of Mr. Shepherd, I anticipated the reason which the Prime Minister would give for the selection he had made. My anticipations have proved correct. In this morning’s newspapers there appears a cabled report of a statement by the Prime Minister that the financial position of! Australia is such that we could not bear the cost of sending to the Conference a man who would fittingly represent us. What an advertisement for Australia it is to say that the cost of sending some one possessing the capacity and attainments necessary for such an appointment would have been a matter of grave financial concern to us. Thatfairly represents the attitude taken up by the PrimeMinister throughout his visit to the Old Country. While he has risen occasionally to high flights of oratory in dealing’ with the importance and power of theCommonwealth, we find him sinking again to the level of the man who has no confidence in Australia, and no belief in what he says about it. This latest actionon his part is the lowest depth to which he has sunk as a public man.
– The honorable senator will not hurt the Prime Minister by that sort of clap-trap.
– No matter what my powers might be I could not hurt the Prime Minister to such an extent as he has injured Australia by his action in this connexion. It is not a question of hurting the Prime Minister, or of injuring him in any way by a resort to what Senator Earle describes as clap-trap, but whether Australia and Australian interests have been properly considered in the making of this selection.
– The honorable senator can discuss it on those grounds.
– I shall, and the person I hold responsible for the disgrace is the Prime Minister. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) will, I suppose, take the full responsibility for the actions of his leader. I know he is a loyal follower of the Prime Minister, and it is that loyalty which prevents him at any Cabinet or party meeting from expressing that independence of thought, the absence of which enables the Prime Minister to be the flippant dictator in Australian Federal politics. The Prime Minister is not subjected to any check from his Cabinet or his party.
– A very happy position to be in.
– Yes, for a dictator of his type, and for a gentleman who never appears to me to give that serious consideration to matters of importance which is necessary when we are dealing with momentous questions in which other nations are involved. If there is one thing more than another that Australia must be most careful about it is her relations with other nations, which must be such that we shall earn, win, and maintain their respect. Can any one say that this appointment will tend towards attainment of that desirable end ? Will this appointment give Australia added prestige in the eyes of the nations that are to be represented at the forthcoming Conference of the League of Nations? I have moved the adjournment of the Senate to give honorable senators an opportunity of discussing the question. Of course, if the Prime Minister’s appointment of Mr.
Shepherd as Australia’s representative is made, with the approval of the Senate, it will be inferred that the best man has been selected for the position. Can it be said that Australia will be adequately represented by Mr. Shepherd?
– Or represented as well las at the last Conference, when the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) .was our delegate?
– Quite so. I realize that when the Minister for Repatriation visited Geneva on our- behalf
Australia was represented by a gentleman with a long record of honorable public life In this country, and his ability to fill the position was not questioned for one moment by his bitterest opponent. I said when Senator E. D. Millen left Australia - they were not mere words - that his public record and political associations and his knowledge of the affairs of the Commonwealth for many years, made him eminently fitted for the duties involved in connexion with -such an important task. Some honorable senators, have had association with Mr. Shepherd in his public capacity. I am not going to debate or discuss the opinions which have been formed concerning him. They remain altogether apart from the grave importance of Australia’s representation at a Conference of this character by a. gentleman holding the position such, as that at present occupied by Mr. Shepherd. If he was a man of outstanding ability, or one possessing qualifications: that were generally known, I venture I to say that strenuous opposition would not have been shown. Public opinion is highly incensed over the appointment, and, as Walter Bagehot said, “ Public opinion is the opinion of a bald.headed man on the back of an omnibus.” If we measure this appointment by public opinion, it can safely be said that it has already been condemned from one end of Australia to the other. It is the main topic of conversation in clubs, trains, trams, and in the street. I very seriously appeal to the Government, even at this late hour) to undo the wrong that has been done! to Australia by calling a Cabinet meeting, and, after discussing the matter, informing the Prime Minister that the ‘appointment do*s not meet with the approval of the Government or the people of Australia. It would be better for Australia not to have a delegate than to be represented in this manner. The Prime Minister made reference to the cost of the appointment; but he must have been aware of the expenditure to be involved before he left for Australia. What was to prevent the Prime Minister himself representing the Commonwealth at the forthcoming Conference?
– He gave an assurance to Parliament that he would return by a certain date, and if that promise were not kept the honorable senator would be the first to denounce him.
– Is that what prevented him from attending the Conference ?
– Then that brines me to the position that those who sought that assurance have given him an order to return.
– His promise does not constitute an order from some one else.
– They have informed him through the press that their arrangements with him ends on a certain date, and he must return.
– His promise to return preceded that.
– On the last occasion Australia selected a worthy delegate who went with the unanimous support of the Australian people. But here we have a delegate who is totally inexperienced, altogether unqualified for so important a task, and the unanimity of opinion is as much against the appointment of Mr. Shepherd as it was in favour of the selection of the Minister for Repatriation. I have submitted this motion to give honorable senators an opportunity of voicing their opinions, because the occasion calls for the expression of our indignation at Australia being so belittled in the eyes of the world. Other nations are anxious that Australia should have a fitting representative so that our relations with foreign countries can be discussed in such a way that the dignity of the Commonwealth may be maintained. The people of Australia demand the selection of some onecapable of adequately representing Australia at the Conference of the League of Nations.
– I think the Senate will recognise with me that Senator Gardiner has lessened the seriousness of my task by the nature of his remarks. No one could listen to Senator Gardiner without realizing that he was not seeking to defend the reputation or standing of Australia as a member of the League of Nations, but was endeavouring to make a bitter and vitriolic attack upon the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). When a question was asked regarding this appointment I gave a reply which possibly did create the impression that the Prime Minister himself had made this appointment. Nothing could be further from the facts. The Prime Minister and the Cabinet exchanged cablegrams regarding this appointment, . in the fullest sense of the word, and, whether the selection is a wise one or not, the appointment must be accepted as having been made by Cabinet after consultations between the Prime Minister and his Government here.
– The impression created is otherwise.
– It is quite possible from what honorable senators have said to me that it is so, and I desire to say, frankly, that at the time I made the statement I was not aware that a cable received from the Prime Minister, which was read at a Cabinet meeting during my temporary absence, disclosed that cables passed between the Government and the Prime Minister, and that the appointment was made with the concurrence of Cabinet. That clears the Prime Minister from any responsibility of not consulting with his colleagues.
Now I want to deal with the appointment itself. As to Australia’s attitude towards the League of Nations, it is well known that Australia wishes that League well.
– Yes; and there is no sane man in Australia who will not share in that wish. There may’ be different measures of confidence in ite capacity to achieve its high purpose, but there can be no doubt in the mind of any sane and humane man that behind the League there must be the best of good wishes for the success of its purpose.
– I am. glad to hear the Minister say that.
– I say it, yet I entertain very grave doubts of the ca.pa.city of the League to accomplish its purpose. I wish it, from the bottom of my heart, the success which I doubt if ifc can attain. It will be in the minds of honorable1 senators that between the last meeting of the Assembly and the meeting which is now under consideration, there has been a shortening of the period of notice. The present meeting is not being held twelve months after the last, but only about nine months, owing to the fact that, although at the last meeting, it was determined to hold the succeeding one in November, it is being held in September.
– There was ample time to send a representative from Australia.
– Ample time in certain circumstances, but I point out that there was that shortening of notice In view of the distance to be travelled by a representative of Australia, the Government were entitled to pay some regard to the matters to be brought forward as set out in the agenda paper of the proposed Conference. If it were merely a matter of sending a delegate from here to Sydney, the position would be quite different. In view of the considerable lapse of time involved Sn despatching some one from Australia to the Conference, there was an obligation upon the Government to see whether the business to be transacted was of such a character as to justify the adoption of that course. Do honorable senators know what is contained in the agenda paper of this Conference ?
– No; that is the trouble.
– Yet there is a tendency in certain quarters to denounce the Government in connexion, with this matter. The* business includes the election of a. Committee to report upon the credentials of representatives, a purely formal procedure; the election of a President to preside over the meeting of the Assembly; the examination and adoption of agenda; and the nomination of the Committees. The Conference divides its work amongst Committees, in accordance with a system well known in other countries, though not adopted here. Of the remaining twenty-one items of the agenda paper, I think there are only two which refer to matters other than the reception of reports from Committees appointed by the last Assembly to deal with the various questions to which the reports refer.
It became necessary, in order to make this Ian effective instrument for gathering the Expression of the opinion of the several nations, that the various matters to be dealt with should not be considered by. delegates to the Conference for the first time when brought before them there, but should be referred to theft respective Governments, in order that those Governments might instruct their delegates as to the attitude they were to take up. Had twelve months elapsed between one Conference of the Assembly and the next, it would have been possible for this to be done. Senator Lynch will now see why I have stressed the feature of the shortening 1 of the time between the two Conferences. In a circular dated 11th May last), the Government were informed that any! reports received from the Committees would be considered by the Council. That is the procedure followed. Reports go to the Council first, and they are then sen!) on with such comments as the Council i thinks fit to make. The circular stages -
Any reports from these committees received in time will be considered by the Council on Oth 1 June, together with certain, other questions included in the agenda of the Assembly. All I documents will be circulated to the members of the League as soon as possible after this meeting of the Council, but it is probable that some of the reports of the Committee will not be available before the end of Juno.
Such of the reports as were prepared were to ;be received by the Council on 9th June, and not one of those has reached Australia yet. Allowing time for the transport of communications, and for meetings of the Council, and the preparation in report form of any comments which the Council chose to .make, it would have been at least the 20th June before these matters were available for distribution to the various nations of the world that are members of the League. Such reports could not have reached here at i the earliest before the end of July, and, as a matter of fact, they have not yet been received. In the circumstances it ‘will be seen that it would have been impossible for Australia to send back any comment which the Government of this country, in their turn, desired to make.
As reports have not yet reached us, the Government have not been in a position to instruct any delegate regarding them. I mention this because, had this Assembly been meeting twelve months after the last, it is possible that the difficulty would have been avoided.
– Will the Minister inform honorable senators as to the two items on the agenda paper which he says deal with matters other than the reception of the reports?
– Perhaps it is as well that I should read the whole of the agenda paper ; honorable senators will then know just what business the Assembly is called on to do. I have already mentioned the election of a Committee to report on credentials; the election of the President and six Vice-Presidents for the duration of the Assembly; the examination and adoption of the agenda, and the nomination of committees. Then the following matters are included: -
General report on the work of the Council since the first session of the Aasembly.
General report by the Secretary-General upon the work of the Secretariat, and upon the measures taken to execute the decisions of the Assembly.
Report by the Council on the conclusions of the Committee on amendments to the covenant.
Report by the Council on the conclusions of the Committee appointed to examine the scope and intentions of article18 of the covenant from a legal point of view.
Report by the Council upon the conclusions of the temporary commission on the reduction ofarmaments.
Report by the Council on the conclusions of the International Blockade Committee.
Report by the Councilon the Advisory Economic and Financial Committee.
Report of the Advisory and Technical Committee on communications and transit.
Report of the Technical Committee of the International Health Organization of the League.
Presentation by the Council of the reports of the Advisory Committee on the traffic in opium.
– Does the Minister say that all those matters are to be discussed by the Assembly that is now to be held?
– The various reports will be discussed, but not one of them can finally bind Australia until the Government have an opportunity of dealing with them.
– There are very important matters coming before the Conference for discussion.
– That is so, and I might ask whether Senator Thomas would care to be placed in the position of attending the Conference as a representative of Australia, knowing that the Government has had no opportunity to consider these proposals, and instruct him as to the attitude to be taken in connexion with them.
– I consider them of sufficient importance to justify the attendance at the Conference of the best man that Australia could send.
– That is to say, if action might be taken at the Conference which would bind the Government.
– Not necessarily.
– I say that, personally, I should hesitate to accept the responsibility of going to the Conference to speak for Australia unless I had previously conferred with the Government, and were in unison with them as to the attitude I might be instructed to take up.
– Then wo might just as well send a messenger?
– It is an entire exaggeration to say that we might just as well send a messenger because we desire some effect to be given to a certain policy that has been agreed upon. The agenda paper contains also these items of business: -
Report by the Council on the typhus campaign.
Report from the Committee appointed to examine the organization, &c, of the permanent Secretariat and the International Labour Office.
Report by the Council on the International co-ordination of intellectual work.
The allocation of the expenditure of the League, including the report by the Council on the conclusions of the Committee appointed to study this question.
Report on the ratifications of the Protocol.
It may be said that this last is a very important matter. It is, in a sense ; but it is purely formal, because the ratifications were sent out to the several members of the League, and, without exception, have been returned. Therefore, the report will be merely a bald statement that such-and-such members of the League have done this. It will be merely a formal record. And so it is with so many other matters on the agenda. Senator Lynch has asked me to indicate what other business, apart from reports from the various Committees, will come up for consideration. The agenda -paper contains this business: -
The request of Bolivia, dated 1st November, and 15th December, 1920, for the inclusion in the agenda of the 1921 session of the Assembly of the Bolivian demand for the application of article 19 of the covenant to the Treaty of Peace signed between Bolivia and Chile on 20th October, 1904. Chile, in letters dated 17th, 19th, and 28th December, 1920, has requested that notification should be made of her opposition, by moving the “ previous question,” to the proposal of Bolivia to include this item in the agenda of the Assembly.
Another matter is the appointment of the non-permanent members of the Council. At the last meeting of the Assembly, nonpermanent members were appointed for twelve months, and four others will have to be appointed now. The only point which remained unsettled at the last meeting of the Assembly was as to whether there should be a geographical selection or not. This matter was left open, and whilst the Assembly declined to accept a definite proposition to that effect, acting in the spirit of that gathering, it has elected China, a nonEuropean country, as a member of the Council. Another item on the agenda paper is consideration of the Budget for 1922, together with the audited accounts for the second fiscal period, and the adoption of the report.
-I can. That is a matter in which Australia is directly and peculiarly interested.
– Australia is interested in every item that is to be considered by the Assembly.
– Of course she is, in a sense. There is, for instance, the question of the opium traffic, and its probable effect upon the world. But Australia is not, perhaps, so directly affected in that subject as in the question of the distribution of costs.
– Then the Minister puts money above everything else?
– I do not ; but I want honorable senators to take a larger view of the position. At the last Assembly the distribution of costs was considered, and, to the best of my ability, I made a strong protest against Australia being called upon to pay the same proportion as the great Powers of the world, as much, for instance, as Great Britain andFrance, and,’ as much as the United States of America would have paid if she had remained a member of the League. This arrangement was due to the fact that, owingto the short time at the disposal of delegates when drafting the covenant at Paris or Versailles, it was decided that the I expenditure should be distributed among the Nation members on the same basis as the costs of the Postal Union. But the total expenditure of the Postal Union is about £5,000 per year, and, therefore, the distribution of the cost is not so important to the countries that are in the Union. The Australian representatives at the gathering which determined the question of, distributing the costs of the Postal Union, no doubt with some pride, took the view that as this was a country of great distances we were entitled to be regarded as a first class Power. Therefore, we were placed in the first category, and pay first class costs. As I have already shown, that did not matter very much when dealing with an expenditure of £5,000, spread over all the members of the Postal Union, but when we apply that system to the League of Nations, the Budget of which now exceeds £1,000,000, and, in my opinion, it will not be long before it reaches £2,000,000, it becomes a matter of supreme importance to Australia. Speaking from memory, I think Australia’s share of the liability is now in the neighbourhood of £60,000 per year.
– It is not worth it.
– Whether it is worth it or not is another matter. It isdistinctly unfair that Australia should be called upon to pay towards the maintenance of the League as much as Great Britain, Prance, or any of the other great Powers.
– We have the same voting power, I suppose?
– Well, that may be all right.
– If, as Senator Thomas suggests, it may be all right, then why, I ask, should Brazil, a country of 30,000,000 of people, contribute only about 9s. for every £1 paid by Aus tralia on this basis?
– It is ridiculous.
-It is unjust to Australia. If all the nations were equal, something might be said in justification of the system.
– Did I understand the Minister to say that the League of Nations is now costing Australia £60,000 a year ?
– Approximately, that is the amount.
– We ought to submit a motion to withdraw from the League,
– At the last meeting of the Assembly I put the Australian position, and pointed out how manifestly unfair it was that a country like Holland, with 8,000,000 of people, and Brazil, with a population of 30,000,000, should be paying infinitely less than Australia. With the active assistance of Mr. Balfour, the British representative at the last meeting of the Assembly, I did my best, and, I venture to say, not unsuccessfully, in getting the Assembly to recognise the unfairness of the present system. But it was not possible to secure a definite decision-, because, with a number of large Powers benefiting by the existing arrangement, it is not difficult to imagine the facility with which objections could be raised to any alternative suggestion. The Assembly, recognising the unfairness of the present system, appointed a Committee with instructions to prepare a new scheme, certain indications being given as to the lines it should follow, for presentation at the forthcoming meeting.
– That, at least, is important.
– It is important. The Assembly, as I have said, not only admitted the injustice of the present scheme, but it went further, and I. think I may say that my action was a factor in bringing about that result. It agreed that if it were found that any member of the League was paying, under the present system, more than it should pay, it would pay so much less in future years under the new scheme in order to re-adjust the position that had been created. It is important, as Senator Lynch has indicated, that the Assembly has adopted this principle. The only matters for consideration now are the de tails of the organization necessary to give effect to it. .
– They are fairly important.
– But seeing that the Assembly has adopted the principle and agreed to the lines which the new scheme should follow, they are not as important as the honorable senator believes. Matters of procedure, and possibly an examination of the figures presented, will certainly not be big subjects for consideration. Therefore, no one can say that those who attend this Assembly will be engaged upon a high mission, or that the details of the new scheme will be a very vital matter. At the most Australia may becalled upon to pay a few thousand pounds more under one scheme than under another. The main factor is that the principle has already been admitted that in future the cost should be distributed, not in an arbitrary way, but with some regard to the trade and importance of the various members of the League. In fact, this matter could have been dealt with outside the League altogether.
The belief that this Assembly is not in itself as vitally important as were previous meetings is proved by the action taken by other members of the League. New Zealand is to be represented by its High Commissioner, and Great Britain, which at the last assembly had two member of the Cabinet, Mr. Balfour and Mr. Fisher, and also an ex-Minister, Mr. Barnes, is now sending a member of the diplomatic service to represent it.
– Who is he?
- Sir James Bennell Rodd.
– I have never heard of him.
– Although previously Great Britain was represented by Mr. Balfour, a man universally recognised as one of the greatest mental forces in the Empire, having looked over the business to be transacted, as the Australian Government have done, the British Government have come to the conclusion that it is not of first class importance, and are content to have Great Britain, with all its varied and complicated interests, represented by a gentleman of whom an honorable senator says he has never heard, and of whom I have never heard.
– I am sorry to hear that admission from the Minister.
– I know nothing of this gentleman’s capacity or standing. I merely state that I have never heard of him before.
– He is one of the leading lights of Britain’s diplomatic service. 1 think his latest position was that of Ambassador at Rome.
– According to a footnote to the cablegram in the Argus announcing his appointment, he has represented Great Britain at Berlin, Athens, Paris, Zanzibar, Cairo, Stockholm., and Rome.
– If he has been Ambassador at all those places, he must be a man of high standing.
-At any rate he is not now a member of the diplomatic service. It may please honorable senators to make out that he is an outstanding figure in the Empire, but with all due respect to him, and with every desire to handle his name lightly, it is not one that would occur to the minds of honorable senators as being that of a man whom Great Britain would choose to represent it at the Assembly of the League of Nations if it desired to be represented by one of its leading men. It is clear that the British Government are sending this ex-official rather than a member of the Cabinet because they take the view which we take, namely, that the matters to be discussed will not be of sufficient importance to justify the action they took on previous occasions in being represented by leading members of the Cabinet. South, Africa is sending its High Commissioner. It is also true that the Union Government has appointed Lord Robert Cecil, but I would hesitate to say that his appointment is due to his knowledge of South African affairs or sentiment. He has been appointed because, like General Smuts’, he has been a great advocate of the League of Nations. General Smuts, because’ of his great interest in this body, and his desire to see that some one should be in attendance who, in a sense, has been a sponsor for the League, has appointed Lord Robert Cecil asone of South Africa’s representatives, although the interests and sentiment of the Union will actually be represented by its High Commissioner. Lord Robert Cecil owes his position entirely to the at- titude he has taken up towards the League. So far as I know, Canada has not yet announced the name of its representative, but it is only a week away from Geneva.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
– I have concluded all I wish to say.
– I would like to move that the Minister’s time be extended.
– The only way in which the honorable senator can do that is by first moving to suspend the Standing Orders.
– I was hoping that some other honorable senator would continue the debate. Although I cannot agree with all that Senator Gardiner has said, I think we are indebted to him for submitting this motion, if only for the reason that it has enabled us to hear the speech just delivered by Senator E. D. Millen. Personally, I am strongly in favour of the maintenance of the League of Nations. There is, however, an impression amongst a number of people in Australia that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) is not too keen on the idea. And even Senator E. D. Millen, whosegood work at Geneva we’ all recognise, appears to me to have come back, perhaps, a little disappointed as to what the League may find it possible to do in the future. In my opinion, we in Australia ought to do everything we can to assist the League in the work for which it has been created; indeed, I regard it as our great hope for the future. It may be that it will not dp all that is expected or desired; but another war is a prospect so awful that, as I have said, we ought to render the League every possible assistance in order to avert such a calamity. We might imagine, from what we hear, that very little will be done at the forthcoming Conference, but after the statement of Senator E. D. Millen to-day, it seems to me that business of great importance will come up for discussion. I quite realize that unless the Australian Government have definite knowledge of the reports to which reference has been made this morning, it will not be possible to give definite instructions to the Australian representative as to how he ought to vote. I feel very strongly that our representative must be an Australian, acting on instructions received from here, and the non-receipt of the reports render the position very difficult. I do not say that Mr. Shepherd may not be able to do what there is to be done. He is probably a very able and distinguished civil servant, who has done good work along certain lines; at least, I suppose that is so, or he would not be in ids present position. At the same time, I think we ought to have some one at the Conference to present the case for Australia in the best way possible. What might be regarded as one of the minor matters -to be considered is the cost of carrying on the League. And Senator E. D. Millen admits that this may mean for Australia some thousands a year. In my opinion, this is a matter of some importance, and it is worth while spending, perhaps, a thousand or two more in order to insure our proper representation. Under the circumstances, I do not urge that a Minister of the Crown should go, though if there bad been any suggestion to that effect I should probably have raised no opposition. All things considered, it may be just as well that a Minister was not selected; but without mentioning names, there are other Australians, whose appointment might have given more general satisfaction. For instance, Mr. Justice Isaacs is, I believe, at the present time in London. I do not know whether that gentleman would have been prepared to undertake such a mission.
– Would you suggest that a Judge is an entirely desirable person to take part in discussions on questions which may become very controversial out here?
– I take it that what our representative has to do is to present the case for Australia. Such a representative could not, of course, decide matters on behalf of Australia, especially in view of the fact that the Government have not received the reports referred to by Senator E. D. Millen.
– The services of Mr. Justice Isaacs would have been most valuable in connexion with the proposals for an international tribunal of justice.
– Those proposals have been submitted to every Government.
– But they will come up for discussion at the Conference.
– Only as regards how many nations have accepted them.
– I venture to say that if Mr. Justice Isaacs had been requested to represent Australia, and had consented to gO, the people of the Commonwealth would have been quite satisfied.
– I look on the League of Nations not only as the hope of Australia, but as the hope of mankind. If we desire to do away with war, the League represents our only possible chance. We all deplore that the United States of America has not come into the fold, though we can understand her reasons for holding aloof. As has been said, we ought to help the League of Nations by all the means in our power; and the question is whether an appointment like that of Mr. Shepherd will assist us to that end. In my opinion, it will not. I do not wish, to say that Mr. Shepherd is not an admirable man in the position he now occupies, but he is very young, and was appointed to the position of secretary to the High ‘Commissioner only very recently. Altogether, he does not appear to me to be a person sufficiently well known to represent Australia on such an occasion; he cannot possibly command the respect and attention which would have been accorded to others who might have been selected. Two or three names occur to me, including that of the ex-Go’Vernor-General, Lord Novar. His would have been a most excellent appointment, and other names have been mentioned, though I do not care to further refer to them. The South African Government apparently had no South African available, and they appointed various British statesmen.
– They appointed the South African High Commissioner.
– With others.
– Including Lord Robert Cecil.
– This shows that the South African Government wish to assist and encourage the League in every possible way. I am afraid that the appointment of Mr. Shepherd will be regarded as a slur on the League. It will be taken that the Australian Government considered it hardly worth while sending anybody, and so selected a civil servant, with no parliamentary experience, a young man who is just winning his spurs. It is a deplorable state of affairs. Australia is, perhaps, more exposed to future war than any other part of the world ; we are an isolated handful of people, far distant from any nation which might protect us, and, as I said at the beginning, the only hope, not only for Australia, but for mankind, is to make the League of Nations a success.
– I congratulate Senator Gardiner on affording us this opportunity to discuss the representation of Australia at the forthcoming Conference. During the last two or three weeks, on more than one occasion I asked Senator E. D. Millen questions regarding our representation; but on two of these occasions I was unable to get any definite information further than that the matter was being considered. When I was in Tasmania a few days ago, however, I saw an intimation in the press, at the end of last week, that Mr. Shepherd had been appointed. To say that nobody was more astonished than myself would be incorrect, because each one who has since discussed the matter with me I have found to be more astonished than thelast. This week Senator E. D. Millen, in reply to a further question by me confirmed what had appeared in the press, and, whether the honorable gentleman intended it or not, I think he distinctly conveyed the impression to the Senate that the responsibility for the appointment rested on the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). That that was the impression conveyed to the public by the press report of the Minister’s reply, I am abundantly certain. I know that is the attitude of a number of people “ outside,” rightly or wrongly, in regard to the whole matter. More than one has said to me,’ “ This appointment will cause trouble. I would not be surprised to see some resignations from Ministers who will dissociate themselves from it.” The impression has been conveyed that the appointment was made by Mr. Hughes, and afterwards notified to his colleagues. Honorable senators have been informed to-day, however, that before the Prime Minister finally appointed Mr. Shepherd he indicated his selection to his colleagues in Australia, and that they fully share responsibility for it.
I shall not enter into the qualifica tions or otherwise of Mr. Shepherd for appointment to this representative position; but I agree with other honorable senators who have already spoken that if we have any hope and confidence in the League of Nations, and in the outcome of its existence, it becomes our bounden duty to do all that may be possible to uphold and maintain its dignity and prestige. In taking the course of appointing Mr. Shepherd to represent Australia on this occasion - meagre though the agenda paper may be - I do not) think that the Government fere insuring the maintenance of such dignity and prestige. There have been opportunities to provide for the representation of Australia at the meeting of the League in a manner which would have secured much more dignity, skill, and prestige. The Minister (Senator E.D. Millen), referring to the scantiness ofthe agenda paper, mentioned one or two specific items. The honorable senator alluded, for example, to the consideration of a report concerning those particular members of the League which had subscribed to the protocol in connexion with the International Court of Justice. I think the Minister referred also to a report in regard to the international Tribunal itself. I take it that such report will have specific reference tothe functions of the Tribunal.
– Its constitution was debated at the previous Assembly ofthe League, and adopted in the protocol. Each member of the League was asked whether it would accept it or not. The only report which will be placed before the gathering of representatives will have to do with the number and identity ofthose nations which have accepted.
– That is as I understand the position. I understood, further, that the constitution and jurisdiction of the proposed. Tribunal having been previously determined, the various members of the League of Nations were being asked to assent to its establishment.
SenatorGardiner. - And also to the election of Judges.
– Yes. Honorable senators may recall that I asked questions earlier this year as to whether Australia had assented to the establishment of the Tribunal. I am now given to understand that the two items to which I have just alluded were separate - the one having to do with a report regarding the different members of the League who had signed the protocol, and the other concerning the Tribunal itself. I may be in error, but it appears to me that many of the matters which will arise, although they may be based merely upon reports, will be subject to discussion. That will almost inevitably be the case, despite the fact that, as the Minister has correctly pointed out, they will not be debated with any sense of finality, seeing that they must afterwards go before the respective Governments. There is bound to be something, therefore, in the nature of preliminary discussion. And the representatives of each member of the League will subsequently report the views put forward or indicated by his co-delegates. Such reports, to a varying extent, will naturally influence the opinions formed by the Governments themselves. For example, a subject may arise upon which Lord Robert Cecil and his fellow delegate representing the South African Union may comment informally and without committing South Africa. Canada’s representative, upon returning and reporting to his Government at Ottawa, might say that, so far as he could ascertain, South Africa’s attitude was likely to be so-and-6o. To that extent, Canada might be influenced. Or the Canadian delegate might report that the South African representatives expressed certain views upon a specific subject, but were very cautious and careful to disavow official responsibility for their sentiments. Whereupon the Canadian Government might be impressed in another direction. It is, I urge, in these informal preliminary discussions that a great deal of groundwork is likely to be done, and indications given which may effectuate common sentiments and common conclusions among the members of the League hereafter. In all the circumstances, someone should have:been appointed to represent Australia who has been trained in responsible utterance and action, is intimately sympathetic with Australia’s ablutions and responsibilities, and has some knowledge at least of the poli tical questions with which the League of Nations is and will be confronted. With all his qualifications in other directions, however great they may be or whatever they may be, I do not think that the gentleman selected possesses the ^requisite equipment, and I think that Australia will not be fitly represented at the gathering of the League. I say that without disparagement of Mr. Shepherd, either personally or in relation to the manner in which, he has discharged his duties here and in London. I agree with Senators Thomas, Fairbairn, and Gardiner that Australia is not holding up her end in the deliberations of the League of Nations, and that, to that extent, she is not doing justice to that international body. I am glad of the opportunity which, perhaps, would not otherwise have been afforded, to gain a more or less intimate sense of the particular work to be done at the forthcoming Conference. The result of the Prime Minister’s selection may be that Australians will take a greater interest in the proceedings and become more deeply concerned regarding future developments. I do not know that anything final or practicable can be done in the matter by the Senate at this stage - certainly not upon this motion. But I hope that members of the Ministry realize that, in such an important situation, it is not desirable, however expedient it may be, that the announcement of an appointment of this kind should be sprung upon Parliament and the public. For some time. I have been asking what steps were being taken in respect of the representation of Australia at the gathering of the League, but I have not been able to get a definite reply. Obviously, Ministers here did not know. All I could learn was that some steps were being taken. It was only during the short interval covered by the last week-end that the public and members of Parliament were informed, through the newspapers, that an appointment had been made. And, almost simultaneously, the Prime Minister was announced to be leaving England. Even had the Commonwealth Parliament been actually sitting upon the day of the announcement of Mr. Shepherd’s selection, it may be taken for granted that Ministers would have replied to inevitable criticism, immediately raised, that nothing .could be done in the matter, seeing that Mr. Hughes had departed. At all events, it cannot be said that the date of the meeting of the League of Nations was sprung upon the Government. lt has been known for a considerable time, and all arrangements should have been made for the adequate and efficient representation of the Commonwealth. The statement that these reports were promised for June last, and that some are not yet available, is no answer to the fact that the date for the meeting of the Assembly has been known for some time. I again thank Senator Gardiner for submitting this motion, and so giving us an opportunity to discuss the whole situation.
– I do not know whether to think ill or well of the action taken by Senator Gardiner, since, on the one hand, it will give additional publicity to the appointment that has been made by the Government; while, on the other, the discussion that has taken place on this motion will show the world that if the matter had rested with the Senate, a co-ordinate branch of the Legislature of the Commonwealth, a vastly different appointment would have been made. While this motion will give wide publicity to the appointment which has been made by the Government, the balancing advantage will lie in the publicity given to our criticism., and the fact made plain during this debate that this Chamber would have made a very different selection. The Government, in defence of the action taken by them, have cited the relative unimportance of the business set down for consideration by the Assembly of the League. I agree that a superficial reading of the agenda paper does not suggest that the business set down for consideration is very important. There is, however, one item of very great interest to us. I refer to the plea of the people of certain South American nations that an attempt shall be made to adjust their contending interests. In the settlement of that international dispute the Assembly may lay down principles of a far-reaching character that may finally affect even Australia. I attach the utmost importance to that question. In its determination principles will be laid down for the future guidance of the League of Nations, and we need to have a man of no ordinary capacity to adequately represent Australia in the con sideration of such matters. As to the ether questions to be considered, it is quite clear that, while the reports to which reference has been made will not be finalized, some action may be contemplated that will call upon Australia’s representative to clearly and thoroughly set out the views of the people, of this country, and the question arises as to whether Mr. Shepherd is the man for the job.
– The various representatives will be sounding one another with the object of ascertaining their views on different questions.
– That is so. Revert ing ito the question of the relative unimportance of the business to be dealt with, I think that the contention put forward on behalf of the Government is answered by &. statement that appeared in the daily pre&s some time ago in regard to the indignation felt by Lord Robert Cecil when the British Government, in selecting a representative to attend the Conference, passed him over. That is an ample reply to the plea of the Government that this second Assembly of the League is unimportant. Lord Robert Cecil desired to be present at the Conference, and, according to the newspaper reports, felt very keenly the way in which he had been ignored. He would not have wished to attend a mere formal gathering. He must have considered that matters of importance would arise, and that his presence, as one of the creators of the League of Nations, was desirable. $ re-echo the view expressed by Senator Fairbairn, that if any nation has) reason to look with hope and confidence towards this newly-created bocy, it is Australia. We have good reason to rely upon our former means of security, but we are entitled to regard the League of Nations as an additional safeguard, and as being Australia’s third if not second, line of defence. The smaller countries of the American Conti nent, from Labrador to Cape Horn, have the1 dead hand of President Monroe to protect them, even if they do nothing for themselves. Australia is the one part of the British Empire which is l more exposed to attack, and has more reason to fear the future than any other nation. In view of that fact, we’ must see to it that this new form of safety and defence, the League of Nations, is not lowered in prestige or importance. A sure means of lowering its prestige and destroying its power for good would be the selection of men of inferior calibre to take part in its deliberations. We do not select feeble or incapable men for appointment to Ministerial office, and the principle that guides us in creating Governments should be followed in the selection of men to take part in the councils of the League of Nations. I regret that the Government have taken this action. We have to consider what may be the views of those gathered round the council table, who naturally sum each otherup and inquire as to the standing of their fellow members. It is necessary that our representative should have the confidence of the Assembly. I hope that good will issue from this discussion, and that as a result of the criticism inwhich the Senate has indulged, the Government will plainly recognise that we do not indorse the action they have taken, and they should try to amend it.
– I thank those honorable senators who have supported me. Having regard to the opinions expressed by Senator Thomas, Senator Fairbairn, Senator Keating, and Senator Lynch, and the obvious fact that their views are concurred in by those who have not addressed themselves to the question, I hope the Government will recognise that even at this late hour another appointment should be made.
– Orthe Government should add to the appointment already made.
– Yes. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has laid it down that the Seat of Government is in Australia, and that his absence from Australia does not alter that fact. The Government have been given a clear indication of the views of the Senate and the people of Australia as to the appointment which has been made, and they would be well advised in taking prompt action to make another selection. I do not want to drift into personalities, but Senator E. D. Millen took me to task because he assumed that I was disappointed to discover that the appointment of Mr. Shepherd was made, not by
Mr. Hughes, as I had said, but by the Government. In reply, I propose to quote a report of what the honorable senator himself said in answer to a question addressed to him on Tuesday last. The report, which is as follows, shows that his reply conveyed to others the impression that it certainly conveyed to me : -
The Ministry, when the appointment was first taken into consideration, communicated with the Prime Minister, and asked him to consider the possibility of obtaining a suitable representative in London, as time was short and the distance great. He had no information as to the reasons which had actuated Mr. Hughes, or as to the inquiries Mr. Hughes had made. He only knew that Mr. Hughes had appointed Mr. Shepherd.
– I have the Hansard report before me. There are two points to consider, and the first is that, as the reports show, I said that the action was initiated by the Government.
– That statement appears in the report I have just quoted. I desired merely to show that I was not alone in the view I took of the honorable senator’s statement. Here is another newspaper report of the honorable senator’s reply to the question -
He, Senator Millen, had no information as to the reasons that had actuated the Prime Minister in making the appointment, or as to the inquiries the Prime Minister had made. He only knew that the Prime Minister had informed the Government by cable that the appointment had been made.
With that information before me, I naturally concluded that Mr. Hughes had made the appointment before bringing the matter under the consideration of the Government. If I displayed anger in my references to the Prime Minister, the occasion was one on which a man might well be angry and yet sin not. The Government do not seem to realize the importance of the League of Nations. Senator E. D. Millen has endeavoured to minimize the seriousness of the action taken by the Government in appointing Mr. Shepherd, by stating that the agenda paper is not important. The business so far set down forconsideration, according to the agenda, is not of the highest importance, but it may be added to. By the courtesy of Senator E. D. Millen, I have obtained a copy of the agenda paper, and I draw attention to the following note in it by the Secretary-General, which seems to have been included as a warning to every country to be represented -
The Secretary-General has the honour to circulate the agenda for the second session of the Assembly which has been approved by the Acting President of the Council -
He begs to draw the attention of the members of the League to rule 4 of the rules of procedure of the Assembly by which any member of the League may, at least one month before the opening of the session, request the addition of additional items in the agenda.
Can we minimize the importance of an Assembly of the League of Nations that is governed by rules under which any question of which notice has been given one month before the date of meeting may be brought forward and discussed?
– Thequestion of racial equality, for instance, might be brought forward.
– That springs at once to one’s mind. Any such question might be brought forward at this short notice.
– But the rules also provide that when notice of additional business is given, the various members of the League shall be so advised by cablegram. No notice of additional business has reached the Government.
– When does the Assembly meet?
– On 5th September.
– In any event, the fact that business of the highest importance may be brought forward at comparatively short notice renders it necessary that Australia should be represented by the best available men. Take, for instance, what happened in connexion with the report of the Finance Committee at the last gathering of the League. Senator E. D. Millen represented us on that occation, and it is quite possible that but for his action the cost of management might have gone on increasing. His protest against these increasing costs, even if it did not bring about a reduction, will prevent their further growth.
– And I (should like to say that the most efficient aid I had came from Sir William Meyer, an official of the Indian Government.
– No doubt the honorable senator was supported in his protests. The League of Nations may not do its business as expeditiously as the Senate does.
– It deals with it in much the same way.
– At all events, it is of the utmost importance that we should be represented by trained men who can anticipate what is likely to arise from a certain set of facts. It is ability of that kind that makes all the difference between good and poor representation. No matter what the business paper may be, Australia demands that at a gathering of such importance it shall be adequately represented. I shall conclude by earnestly appealing to the Government to consider whether, having regard to the views expressed during this debate and public opinion generally, it is,even now, too late to provide for the more adequate representation of Australia than the present appointment will give us. I beg leave to withdraw my motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn. later -
asked the Leader ofthe Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Visit of this Minister for Home and Territories.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Agricultural and Horticultural Occupations
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers are -
In Committee: Consideration resumed from 24th August (vide page 11289).
Schedule. division vi.- metals and machinery.
Nails, viz.: -
– It would appear that the duties under this item were altered in another place.
– That is so.
– The British preferential rate has been reduced by 7½ per cent. I am not a “7½ per cent. Britisher,” but a “ whole-hogger “ for British preference, and I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (c), British, free.
Let us assume that, instead of imposing these duties on British importations, we passed a law which provided that any individual or firm which purchased brads, nails, spikes, staples, tacks, &c., from any trader in Great Britain would be fined £25 for every£ 100 worth of goods purchased. If that were done, there would be a ring of indignation from one end of the country to the other. Although we are not actually imposing a fine, we are penalizing the exporters by means of the Tariff. I have already very freely expressed my opposition to obstacles of this character being placed in the way of trade with Great Britain, and it is not, therefore, necessary for me to debate the matter at greater length.
– I desire to show that increased duties have not always had the effect of raising prices to the users of any particular commodity. I have been informed that the price of horseshoe nails before duties were imposed was ll1/2d. per lb., and it has since been reduced to 41/2d. per lb., which shows that if we have a perfectly free and open market, and there is no combination of importers, prices are reduced. “We are, therefore, justified in supporting the rates appearing in the schedule. I am sure we are all anxious that nails should be manufactured in Australia, but we do not want the price to be increased as a result of protection, because it means penalizing the users, many of whom are living in the back country doing important pioneering work, to which Senator Lynch has so ably referred.
– Sub-item d relates to horseshoe nails, and the duty proposed by the Government on British importations was increased in another place from 8s. 6d. to 12s. per cwt. I do not know if horseshoe nails are being manufactured in Australia.
– Yes. One big factory was established when the duty was 14s.
– I am glad to have that information, because I have personal knowledge concerning the in crease in prices during the war period, and if Australian firms are manufacturing this commodity they fleeced theusers to their utmost capacity during the period Ihave mentioned. I understand that a factory was established in Victoria under a high Protective Tariff, and, therefore, the money contributed by the people in Victoria and other States has enabled manufacturers to charge unreasonable prices because there has been no competition from outside. It is true that there have been importations from Sweden ; but it was the absence of freights and the interruption of industries owing to the war that was responsible for importations ceasing, and not the Tariff. If I had a pre-war price list from which to quote, I would show how excessive were the charges for horseshoe nails during the war period. There was no great increase in the cost of production. All that happened was that the overseas competitors were cut out of the market, and then the local manufacturer took the last penny out of those whoused his nails. I invite honorable senators to produce pricelists covering the period 1915 to 1920, and to compare them with pre-war prices.
– There was an increase during the war in manufacturers’ costs, but it was not so great as to justify the increased price charged for the nails.
– I am glad to have that statement from Senator Wilson. When we remember that it is the Australian taxpayers who are called upon to establish and maintain these industries, there is reason tocomplain when extortionate prices are charged by local manufacturers.
Senatorde Largie. - Has the honorable senator seen Pender and Company’s published price-list for horseshoe nails?
– I have not seen it. I should be glad to obtain lists to enable me to compare present prices with pre-war prices.
– Pender’s list, the honorable senator will see, gives some idea of prices at the present time.
– I find that, according to the list handed to me, no orders are booked for less than one box, but new customers may be supplied with a sample box of four sizes. I am inclined to send for a sample box of sizes 5, 6, 7 and 8.
I note that the prices set out in this list for 1920 are at least double the pre-war prices. I see that the price set down for size 6 is8s. 6d., and I venture to say that during the war the price was nearer 32s. I again invite honorable senators to compare present prices with pre-war prices as these manuf acturers are now dealing with the people of Australia.
– That is a mistake; they are not.
– I say that this Customs Tariff Bill represents a document in which the people of Australia agree for the future to pay more for horseshoe nails than they need pay in order to enable local manufacturers to produce these articles, and be freed from outside competition.
– The Tariff does not free them.
– If so, it is because they have not yet reached such a stage of production as to be in a position to supply the whole of the Australian requirements, or if they have reached that stage they are not producing an article which can compete with the imported article. I know one intelligent shoesmith who uses Swedish nails, and swears by them.
– Does the honorable senator say that the Australian horseshoe nails are not of a good quality?
– No, and I hope I did not convey such an impression, I said that one shoe-smith informed me that he prefers to use Swedish nails. He considers them the best, but that may be a matter of merely personal preference.
SenatorFairbairn. - Pender makes all the nails used for shoeing racehorses.
– Nails used in fastening plates on powerful horses that are galloped over hard turf at a high rate of speed are subjected to considerable strain, and their use in this way is a high test of their quality. I gladly accept Senator Fairbairn’s statement that this firm turns out what must be an excellent article. The firm, I find, manufactures horse rasps. Trusting to my memory I say that the pre-war price for an ordinary small 14-in. horse rasp was about 71/2d., and the war price was about 3s. 6d. I mention that to enable honorable senators to realize what Australian firms, whose industries have been brought into existence and maintained by Australian taxpayers, did during war time.
– The honorable senator must know that he could not have purchased a rasp for 7½d. prior to the war.
– If Senator Senior is prepared to give me an order for two new rasps of the size and description indicated, I will bring them over and let him have them for 6d. each, and I shall make a profit out of the transaction. There must be fair dealing between the manufacturers and the public. If any honorable senator has any doubt as to what has taken place, I invite him to go into any of the warehouses and obtain their war-time price-lists. During the war the cost of shoeing a horse increased, because of the advance in the cost of material to the blacksmith, from 6s. to about 10s. These industry promoters, who want the public to keep them going by means of Customs duties, must not run away with the impression that their action during war time passed unnoticed.
– You know that shoeing smith’s wages were nearly doubled during the war.
– No. Shoeing smiths, in pre-war days, were getting 10s. or 12s. per day. If wages rose during the war to 15s. per day, that was, perhaps, the maximum. It is of no use considering individual cases. I am as anxious as any one to see local industries well established in this country; but I notice how busy the experts in the business are in supplying information to honorable senators to facilitate the passing of these high duties. I desire to conserve the interests of the Australian workmen; and my objection to this Tariff is that it will not do what it is supposed to do. Why not give the nail manufacturers a bounty on production?
– Do you know how long the industry has been established here ?
– Many years, probably.
– There was a State duty on this item, and the manufacturers must, therefore, have been producing prior to Federation.
– I have no doubt of that, because Victoria has had
Protective duties for the past forty or fifty years.1
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Senator Gardiner has a playful habit of throwing into the ring an allegation and calling upon his opponents to refute his statement. Does he not think that he has some responsibility himself in this matter, and should supply his own proof?
– The Minister knows quite well I have been prevented from doing so by a stupid standing order that will not permit me to say half of what I wish to say within the time limit allowed. I was just about to prove my statement when the Chairman told me my time was up.
– The honorable senator evidently is asking for advice, and I shall give it to him. He has had a great deal to say in general about these items. It would be as well if, in future, he disregarded general statements, and produced proof of his assertions. His allegation that these firms had a free hand during the war because importations had ceased is absolutely absurd. If there has been an increase in price, it certainly has not been due to any substantial falling off in importations. Official figures show that, in 1913-14, our total importations were 10,536 cwt. ; and in 1914-15, 10,117 cwt. There was a slight falling off in 1915-16, the figures being 9,800 cwt. In 1916-17, our importations were 9,600 cwt. ; and in 1917-1S, 8,600 cwt. It is evident, therefore, that the importers must have put up their prices. I doubt if any increase was due to the action of local manufacturers. Does Senator Gardiner shut his eyes entirely to the fact that* wages in all factories have been steadily climbing up as a result of Arbitration Court awards? Then there has also been an increase in the cost of raw material.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.80 p.m.
– In reference to Senator Gardiner’s .allegation that the price of horseshoe nails was unduly inflated during the war, I have been informed by the Customs Department that the list price of these nails has been uniform from 1913 to 1921 at 18s. 9d. per box of 25 lbs., and that the only variation which has taken place has been in regard to the discount rate. In 1913 this was 75 per cent, and 5 per cent off. In’ 1914 it was 72-£ per cent, and 1 per cent. off. In 1921 the discount was plus 5 per cent, on the list price. Therefore, from 1913 to 1921 there was an actual increase of 85 per cent. But, as in the meantime, according to the statistician’s figures, the cost of all commodities increased in greater ratio, it cannot be said that the manufacturer’ of these nails unduly increased his prices. Before lunch I ! mentioned the quantity of nails imported over a number of years. I emitted to refer to the importations in 1918-1919, and 1919-1920. In the former period, the first year after the war had concluded, and when the old Tariff was still in opera,tion, the quantity was 24,280 cwt., as against an average importation of about 10,000 cwt. in the preceding years, showing clearly that the market was being knocked out. Of these nails, 10,900 cwt. came from Sweden, and 12,560 cwt. from the United States of America. In 1919-20, when the new Tariff was partly in operation, the importations of these nails fell to 5,420 cwt. These nails have been made in Australia since 1883, when John Pender a)id Son commenced operations under the Victorian Tariff of 14s. per cwt., a very much higher rate than is now proposed. But, in dealing with this question, we must also bear in mind that the duties upon bar and rod steel, the raw material from which these nails are made, are equal to 2s. 2d., 3s. 3d., and 4s. per dwt. Under the- State Tariff, the manufacturer imported his raw material free. Therefire, we are giving him a much smaller protection than he enjoyed in the earlier years of his industry. Another factor to b’e taken into account is the increase in importations from Sweden and the United States of America, as compared With those from Great Britain. I think that the facts I have mentioned are sufficient to show that a reasonable case has Been made out for the duties which appear in the schedule, although I know that they will not reconcile’ Senator Gardiner to them, because he does not believe in the imposition of duties of any kind.
– Senator Pearce is wrong in saying that I cannot be reconciled to any tiling reasonable. No one. in the Senate is more prepared to approach a question in a reasonable spirit, but the Minister cannot expect me to believe that the prices at which these nails come through the Customs House are in any way proportionate to their cost over the counter, I have actual knowledge of the fact that, during the war, the counter cost of these nails was five or six times their price in pre-war days. Senator Pearce has nob disproved my charge that during the war, when the users of these nails were at their mercy, the local manufacturers levied exorbitant charges. I was particularly pleased to hear the figures in regard to the enormous importations during that period, because many reputable importing firms told old customers of theirs that they were not in a position to obtain supplies of these nails. The Minister’s statement is, perhaps, a severer condemnation of these firms than is my condemnation of the manufacturers.
.- Senator Gardiner, in charging the maker of horseshoe nails with having taken undue advantage of war-time conditions to fleece the public, chose to ignore the additional cost of nail-making brought about by the war conditions. I am informed, on the very best of authority, that the steel rods imported from Sweden - which are absolutely necessary for this particular industry, because only of this class of steel can the nails be effectively made - advanced to six times their pre-war price. In addition to ignoring this basic fact, Senator Gardiner neglected to mention that every cost of carrying on the industry was considerably increased during the same period; so much so, that I am assured the manufacturer made practically no profit at the prices he charged for his nails, or, at any rate, no greater profit than he was making prior to the war. I know that the establishment of this industry has proved a great boon to Australia. Those who handle the nails it produces declare that it is a most valuable industry to this country. If I thought it worth while to go into a complete analysis, it would easily disprove every statement made by Senator Gardiner; but I feel that I would not be justified in taking up the time of other honorable senators in doing so. It is sufficient to say that the increased price of nails dur ing the Avar period was not due to the fact that the manufacturer was taking an enormous profit.
– If Senator Gardiner’s charges were correct, the manufacturer of these nails would have had to turn out the same output as he had before the war, because, naturally, if it was smaller, his profit must also have been smaller. In 1905, the output of his factory was 14,000 cases; whereas in 1917, during the war, it was only a little over 5,000 cases. But the overhead charges were still the same, and, as Senator Payne has pointed out, the cost of the raw material had increased sixfold, and higher wages had to be paid. In view of these facts, with which Senator Gardiner should have made himself acquainted before speaking to this item, the honorable senator ought to withdraw his charges unreservedly.
– Instead of withdrawing my charges, I shall send a copy of them to every shoeing smith in South Australia, and invite him to get the honorable senator to withdraw his statement. I can put in the witness-box in my support every man who has had to pay the exorbitant prices charged for these nails; and thehonorable senator cannot shirk his responsibility for the fact that he is helping a monopolist against the working man who buys his product.
– I have here a communication from the Master Farriers Society of Victoria, protesting against what the members thought to be the policy of the Government in imposing ad valorem duties on horseshoe nails. I find that no such policy is proposed. This schedule raises the specific duties, per cwt., British, from 8s. 6d. to 12s. ; intermediate, from 10s. 6d. to 14s.; and general, from 12s. to 15s. Therefore, the protest of the Master Farriers Society falls to the. ground inasmuch as no ad valorem duties are proposed. But in this protest it is asserted that the quality, of the horseshoe nails made in Australia is inferior to the quality of the nails imported. I do not desire to read the whole of the communication sent to me, but merely say that there is some evidence, which may be true, afforded by the regular and large importations that have taken place, and took place even during the war. These importations are an evidence that horseshoe nails were obtained practically at any price from abroad, or from the usual sources of supply, and that they were necessary, because, according to the Master Farriers Society, of the inferiority of the locally-made article. I think that on the whole the proposals of the Government should be accepted by the Committee for the reason that, according to my information, the average f.o.b. price of horseshoe nails made abroad is £85 per ton, as at the 7th July of this year. Consequently, the duties which* the Government propose, although showing considerable increases, do not amount, so far as I can see, to more than 15 per cent., British, and 18 per cent., general, which I think honorable senators will agree are fairly modest rates.
. -As Senator Pratten has said, the duties as originally proposed by the Government were, British, 8s. 6d. ; intermediate, 10s. 6d. ; and general, 12s.; but, in another place, it was decided that on and after 8th July, 1921; the duties should be 12s., 14s., and 15s. In order to leave this “ scientific “ Tariff as originally introduced, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty,sub-item (d), general, percwt., 12s.
.- When this item was discussed in another place representations were made effective enough to convince the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) that it was necessary to reconsider the duties, and the upshot was the Tariffas proposed today. The Minister for Trade and Cus toms, with his departmental officers, went fully into the matter, and I think it would be reasonable for the Committee to accept the item as presented.
– Senator Payne is opposed to any reduction that I propose, although until 2 o’clock this morning he was proposing reductions himself, despite any consideration that had been given to this “ scientific “ Tariff by the Govern ment and the departmental officers. The honorable senator even went so far as to reduce a British preferential Tariff by 21/2 per cent., and in doing so” to occupy much of our sleeping time. He now practically says that we have no right to interfere with the settled policy of the Government and the Department.
– You have no right tomove a request based on false premises!
– Does the hon orable senator deny that my request merely makes the Tariff what it was when originally introduced in another place? If the honorable senator regards that as afalse premise we can readily realize that he is new to the Senate, and to the discussion of Tariff Bills. With more mature experience, however, he will realize the position. It is not my habit to do anything that can be described as false; and I can only attribute Senator Payne’s attitude to his inability to understand how this Tariff business is conducted. (Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) [2.54]. -I cannot allow Senator Gardiner to attribute my remarks in regard to himself to my inexperience. I have been quite long enough in political life to understand politicians of the calibre of the honorable senator, especially when an attempt is made to asperse the character of? a reputable business man by withholding the most important fact that the additional cost of rawmaterial must have a great effect on the price of the manufactured commodity. Thatis the false premise to which I referred.
– I submit that Senator Payne has already made these same remarks. Is this not tedious repetition?
-Senator Payne certainly made these same remarks in the first place, but I understand that he repeats them in explanation of his references to Senator Gardiner.
– I resumed my seat in order to give Senator Payne an opportunity to explain and withdraw his remarks in reference to myself, but he has now added another charge: That I have imputed dishonesty to a reputable business man. I have stated nothing but facts relating to the exorbitant prices charged for horseshoe nails. These duties were increased in another place, possibly on a suggestion madeby a member and accepted by the Government. The whole question is -whether the taxpayers generally, many of whom never use horseshoe nails, are to be taxed in order to establish this industry. It is an old Protectionist argument that the taxpayers generally may be taxed for such a purpose; but we are told that this industry has been in existence for forty years, and surely it cannot be regarded as an “ infant “ ! Senator Payne talks of the enormous cost of the raw material; but, according to the Minister’s statement, 25-lb. boxes of nails were coming in at 18s. What did a 25-lb. box fetch during war time? I ask Senator Payne to produce the figures. There has been, no exorbitant increase in the cost of the raw material, which came in at the price the Minister quoted, somewhere under 9d. a lb., while, if my memory is right, nails during the war period were sold at 2s. 9d. per lb. It is now proposed to give these manufacturers even more profit by making the users of horseshoe nails pay higher prices for the rest of their lives.
– The honorable’ senator is wrong again in the matter of prices.
– Then I invite the honorable senator to give what he says are- the true figures.
– For the first two years of the war the price was exactly the same as it had been for six’ years prior to the war.
– What was the subsequent price?
– The honorable senator said that the price was exorbitant during the whole of the war period. The price was ls. 2d. per lb. in 1919.
– If the honorable senator is challenging the truth of my statements, why will he not give me the whole of the particulars placed in his possession by his friends, the manufacturers? He has indicated the price for the first two years of the war, and then he leaves a significant gap by quoting the figure for 1919. The increase of rates of wages during the war period was a mere nothing. Wages are not high even to-day, taking into consideration the high cost of living.
– Are they not higher than ten years ago?
– In proportion to the purchasing power of money, rates of pay are not as high. Who will be . expected to pay the duties on horseshoe nails in order to keep the factories going? Manufacturers proclaim their business inability by asking for higher Protective duties in order that they may carry on profitably. Who pays for the added protection placed upon horseshoe nails? Eventually, and by devious means, every individual in the community.
– I now propose to move for a reduction in the intermediate Tariff, which stands at 14s. per cwt. Those honorable senators who feared to assist me to reduce the general Tariff because they were afraid of the importation of nails from Germany, should not hesitate to support me in regard to the intermediate rate. As a matter of fact, there is no such thing as an intermediate Tariff. It does not come into operation until negotiations have been entered upon and arrangements made with another part of the Empire.
– Or with a friendly nation, a former Ally.
– I am glad to learn that the concession covers also our late Allies. Practically, however, there are only two rates of duty. What is everybody’s business is nobody’s business. The benefit of the intermediate Tariff is open to sister Dominions and to certain friendly nations. It affords scope for- reciprocity, but there is no driving force in the direction of its adoption. The invitation to take advantage of the concession stands; the opportunity to make mutual arrangements holds good; and that is the end of it.
– The Dominions can also secure the advantage of the British preferential Tariff by instituting negotiations.
– I am glad of that interjection also. Not only is it’ of sentimental advantage to bring the Dominions closer together, but there is, of course, a considerable practical gain from reciprocity. Another place having amended the schedule as introduced by the Government, there is now a difference of only ls. per cwt. between the general and intermediate Tariffs. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (d), intermediate, free.
Senator GARDINER (New South
Wales) [3.13]. - I now propose to test the Committee in regard to the British preferential rate which has been raised, by an amendment made elsewhere, from 8s. 6d. to 12s. per cwt. I shall first move that British horseshoe nails be free, and if that effort fails I shall move that the former rate of Ss. 6d. be reimposed. It is absurd to describe a Tariff of 12s. per cwt. upon nails, compared with 15s. under the general column, as a measure of preference to the Mother Country. It is actually a very heavy impost. I recognise the superiority of Australian workmen. In a fair run they could beat the English competitors without any handicap. The Australian industry already enjoys a natural protection of 25 per cent., and that should be sufficient. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (D), British, free.
If that request be negatived I shall move a further request that the duty under the British preferential Tariff be reduced from 12s. to 8s. per cwt.
– Does the honorable senator propose to move, as indicated by him, a further request in regard to the sub-item?
– No. I recognise that in this anti-British Senate it is useless to move such a request.
Item agreed to.
Ammunition, viz. - Shot, bullets, and slugs, per cwt., British, 5s. ; intermediate, 5s. 6d. ; general, 6s.
Senator GARDINER (New South
Wales) [3.19]. - Last night I spoke of the value of tractors and general motor power in time of war. We have in this item an attempt to make it more difficult to bring ammunition into Australia. The loyalty of the Government to Great Britain is shown bv their proposal in thiscase to give a preference of only ls. per cwt. to British as against the German imports. If we are anxious to secure the defence of Australia, why should we beopposed to the free admission of ammunition from great Britain. It may be said that ammunition is being manufactured here, and, therefore, I shall not submit a request in regard to the duty on the general Tariff. I move -
That the House of Representatives be re quested to make the item, British, free.
Isaid, by way of interjection a few moments ago, that this was an antiBritish Senate. It is distinctly antiBritish, in so far as trade is concerned. It refuses absolutely to allow Australia to trade with Great Britain on terms of equality. It has no desire that we should trade with Great Britain, and it approves of Ithese Tariff obstacles being placed in the way of British imports. No words of mine, however, are likely to rouse honorable senators to a sense of their duty, nor to lead them to realize the blow they are striking at the Mother Land by imposing duties of this description . The natural protection of 25 per cent. is all that the Australian manufacturers and workmen require.
Item agreed to.
Arms, viz.: -
Revolvers; Pistols, each, British, 2s. 3d.; intermediate, 2s. 9d.; general, 3s. 6d.; or ad val., British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.
– The duties for which this item provides should notbe imposed. I do not know that we have in Australia any manufacturers of rifle barrels, so that it cannot be said that -these duties are designed to build up a local industry. The Commonwealth Small Arms Factory does not compete in the open market. The Defence Department is getting ready for the next war by dismissing operatives from that factory and allowing much of its valuable machinery to remain idle. No reduction is being madein the Headquarters Staff, but men engaged in the manufacture of rifles in the Commonwealth Factory are turned off at practically a moment’s notice. If the Ministea for Defence (Senator Pearce) were to ask us to-morrow to agree to a vote of £100,000 to be expended on importations of swords, bayonets, and other things covered by this item, we should do so without comment, but here we have a proposal that private firms shall not be permitted to bring in such goods without paying heavy duties upon them. Surely in time of emergency stocks of guns, rifles, swords, and bayonets in private warehouses would be as useful as if they were in the store-rooms of the Defence Department. The Minister, perhaps, does not view with equanimity the prospect of the people being able to supply themselves with these arms. He fear’s, perhaps, that they might turn them against their real enemies within and not outside Australia. I refer to those who make it hard for them to live - to the enemy that controls Governments and makes the many pay for the comfort and luxury of the few. I move -
That the Houseof Representatives be requested to make sub-item (c), British, free.
Request (by Senator Gardiner) negatived -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (d), British, free.
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (e) by making bayonets, swords, scabbards, and attachments, free.
There is no reason why we should be at pains to prevent the importation of these goods when the Government go to enormous trouble to produce them here. The removal of these articles from the dutiable list will not interfere with any local industry, and I hope, therefore, that my request will be agreed to.
Request (by Senator Gardiner) negatived -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (e), British, free.
– The guns or rifles mentioned in sub-item h are dutiable at £5 each.
– Because they are not considered safe if they do not bear the British or other approved test mark.
– Is not the American Remington rifle considered safe?
– They bear the test mark.
– Not of the British Government?
– The honorable senator will see that they have to bear ‘ ‘ The British or other approved test mark,” and the American test would be accepted.
– I am glad to have that information. It seems unreasonable to impose such an unnecessarily high duty on firearms of this kind, which are used extensively by the primary producers in waging war against the fox and other vermin. The small-bore Remington rifle is quite a necessity in many districts, as large numbers of them are used for the purpose I have mentioned. Cheap guns should be available at a reasonable price, because they enable youths to master the art of handling firearms, and can also be utilized in many other ways. By using the term ‘“cheap,” I do not mean an inferior gun, but one which can be purchased for a reasonable price. Firearms of this type are not manuf actured by the Small Arms Factory, and by imposing this unnecessarily high duty we are preventing their importation or making them very expensive. But as it is the policy of this Protectionist Government to impose heavy duties on practically everything the primary producer requires, I suppose the sub-item will be passed.
Item agreed to.
Item 190 (Irons, smoothing and soldering), item 191 (Metal bedsteads), item 192 (Brasswork, bronze work, and gunmetal work), and item 193 (Capsules), agreed to.
Chain and chains, viz. : -
Wrought iron and steel, composed of welded links, manufactured from metal1/2 inch in diameter and over, ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate 35 per cent. ; general, 40 per cent.
Machine driving, sprocket and link belting, wholly or partly of malleable cast iron, including attachment repair or other links for such chain or chains, per lb., British, l¾d.; intermediate, 2¼d.; general, 2¼d.
Machine driving, sprocket and link belting, n.e.i., including attachment repair or other links for such chain or chains, ad val., British, 30 per cent. ; intermediate, 35 per cent. ; general, 40 per cent.
Chain, n.e.i., not made up into serviceable articles, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.
And on and after 1st January, 1922, ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent. ; general, 40 per cent.
.- Will the Minister (Senator Pearce) give the Committee some information as to the extent to which the chainmaking industry in Australia has developed ?
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia -
Minister for Defence) [3.37].- The importations have been-
During the war the manufacture of chains from½inch to 3 inches was taken up by H. Williams and Company, engineers, Brunswick, who employed thirty men in the business. The plant was capable of turning out 5 or 6 tons per week. The chains concerned are ships’ steering, mooring, crane, and hauling chains. The business has been purchased by Inglis, Smith and Company, ships’ providers, Melbourne, who have taken over Williams and Company’splant, and are carrying on the manufacture. One of the orders fulfilled by Williams and Com pany consisted of 135 tons of 2 -in. anchor cables and shackles complete for the Commonwealth Ship Construction Branch. Cable chains of½-inch to 1½ inches were also made by the Federal Spring Works, North Melbourne, but, owing to the lack oforders, this firm has not made any chains since January last. Their raw material was Broken Hill steel; but this is not quite satisfactory, inasmuch as when the chain is submitted to Lloyd’s test, the links show excessive elongation. The other manufacturer has been using material obtained from the Lion Rolling Mills and the Victorian Rolling Mills, Melbourne, but they make the same complaint - that chains made from this material are apt to fail to stand the Lloyd’s test] and the disadvantage is that a ship supplied with chains not certificated as standing such test suffers in Lloyd’s classification. Inglis, Smith, and Company propose to import Netherton Crown iron for use in making their chains. This class of iron is not made in Australia. The malleable iron sprocket and link belting chains mentioned in sub-item b are being made by Malleable Castings Limited, Marrickville. This type of chain consists of malleable cast detachable links, and is used largely as driving chains in agricultural machines. The Meadowbank Manufacturing Company, Sydney, also make this type of chain. Those classified under sub-item c are driving chains of the roller type used in motor vehicles. No instance of the manufacture of this type of chain has been brought under the notice of the Department.
– The duties proposed by the Government on sub-item a are exorbitant, and I intend to test the feeling of the’ Committee by moving for a reduction in the British preferential rate, because the British chain is necessary in many instances. If the other chains, will not stand Lloyd’s test, it is fair to assume that the chains of British manufacture are superior for many purposes. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), British, 20 per cent.
– I trust the honorable senator will not press a request ofsuch a sweeping character. I may remind the Committee that machinery is not largely used in the manufacture of chains, and that most of the work is done by hand labour. It is very necessary that our requirements should be met by manufactures in the Commonwealth. I do not know what the conditions are at present in the Old Country, but the chain-making industry at Cradley Heath is one of the black pages in the history of the economic life of Great Britain. Although the work is of a heavy character, it is done largely in Britain by women and children, and any one who has read the terrible record of the chainmaking industry in that country will not favour the chains manufactured under such conditions entering into competition with those made by highly trained ‘adult labour in the Commonwealth.
– Senator Wilson is anxious to provide that chains of the lighter type shall be dutiable at a. lower rate, but those mentioned in sub-item a are of the heavier description. I think the honorable senator desires to give some relief to those using chains of the1/-inch type, which are extensively employed on mines, farms, and in the bush generally. Where are they included ?
– Sub-item b relates to malleable iron chains, and sub-item a deals mostly with ships’ cables.
– I must compliment the Minister on being quite frank in this matter,and giving us some information concerning the chains manufactured in the Commonwealth, although the facts are not altogether favorable.
– Why not ?
– I understood the Minister to say that they would not stand Lloyd’s test.
– That was in connexion with those made by a firm using local material. I pointed out that malleable chains are made by two firms, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne - the Meadowbank Company and the Malleable Castings Company.
– The malleable chain is not what is described as the wrought-iron chain.
– No, those are the heavy ships’ chains.
– Then malleable chains are not under consideration at the moment. My feeling in the matter is that if the locally-made chains are not up to standard, the Government would be well advised to hold their hand and defer the imposition of a duty on this sub-item until the local industry has advanced to such a stage as to be in a position to offer a, fair supply of a good article. We are being asked to impose a duty of 30 per cent. on British imports of these goods almost with our eyes shut. It is certain that local manufacturers cannot cope with Australian requirements, as we know that almost all of these chains are imported. To levy a duty of 30 per cent. on these goods without the compensating advantage of having an industry established here is simply penalizing unnecessarily those who have to use these articles. The price of chains has gone up enormously. I can say, tram personal experience, that the price of the ordinary type of chain used has gone up about 400 per cent. Why should we penalize the users of these chains when there is no local industry for their manufacture?
– There is a local industry.
– For the manufacture of the smaller type of chains?
– It is the smaller type of chains that is turned out successfully. It is with the manufacture of the bigger chains that we are having difficulties, and the local manufacturers of those chains propose to import their raw material to overcome those difficulties. Malleable chains are being made in quantities in Australia by the two firms to which I have referred.
– I consider a duty of 30 per cent. on British imports under sub-item a altogether too high.
Question - That the request be agreed to - put. The Committee’ divided.
Ayes.. . . . . 10
Noes . . . . . . 12
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Lynch) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (b), British, per lb., lid.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 4
Question so resolvedin the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Lynch) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (c), British, ad val., 25 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolvedin the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (d), ad val., British, 25 per cent.
This sub-item refers to chains in bulk, so that it willbe advisable to allow all this material in at the reduced rate.
– I think Senator Lynch misunderstands the item. It is a deferred duty, and will not be imposed until it can be demonstrated that theindustry can be established in this country.
– That does not touch objections to the rate of duty.
– The higher duty will be an inducement to manufacturers to start the industry, with a prospect of carrying it on successfully on a commercial, basis. I hope the honorable senator will withdraw his request.
Request agreed to. litem agreed to, subject to requests.
Item 195 (Cylinders for ammonia and gas) ; item 196 (Crucibles) agreed to.
And on and after 16th June, 1921- (a Platedware, n.e.i., spoons, forks, butter, fish, and fruit knives, plated or of mixed-metal; cutlery, spoons and forks, partly or wholly of gold or silver, except when gold ferruled or silver ferruled only, ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 50 per cent.
And on and after 16th June, 1921 -
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested toamend sub-item (a) toy making Platedware n.e.i., spoons, forks, butter, fish, andfruit knives, wholly of gold or silver, free.
Icannot understand why a duty should be imposed upon the importation of gold and silver articles. It cannot be a protective duty.
– Senator Gardiner is mistaken when he says that this is not a protective duty. The manufacture of articles referred to in this subitem is carried on by quite a large number of firms in the Commonwealth. During the war, the Colonial Ammunition Company started rolling nickel silver sheets, which are being used notably by the Phoenix Manufacturing Company in the production of plated ware, which for quality will bear comparison with any imported plated ware. Each article is stamped with the inscription, “ made in Australia.” We produce the raw material, and it is only right that we should protect the industry. To some extent, the articles may be regarded as a luxury, and, from the revenue point of view, should bear a duty.
– My request refers only to articles made wholly of gold or silver. These metals are so valuable to me that I want to encourage people to import them freely. It is extraordinary that a man should be taxed to the extent of £35 for every £100 worth of gold or silver he introduces into this country. Gold and silver always have a fixed value. In fact, these metals are the basis of value. The Minister (Senator Pearce) says the articles referred to are luxuries. Well, I want all the luxuries I can get, and it occurs to me that we should admit free any articles made wholly of gold or silver, because some day we might want to melt them down to pay our debts with, or to redeem part of the note issue.
– In sub-item b, there is a British duty of 10 per cent. on cutlery, spoons, and forks. As the duty is lower than in sub-item a, I presume that if there is a local industry, it must be situated in New South Wales.
– This item includes deferred duties of 20 per cent. British, 25 per cent. intermediate, and 35 per cent. general, on and after 1st January, 1922. At present, the effective duty is 10 per cent. There is a proposal before the Customs Department to commence the manufacture of these articles at Collingwood, Victoria, but the deferred duties will not become operative until it can be demonstrated that the industry is on a sound commercial basis, and capable of supplying articles in sufficient quantity to meet reasonable requirements.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (b), British, free.
Item agreed to.
Items 198 (Diving apparatus), 199 (Electrotypes and stereotypes), 200 (Eyelets and eyelet hooks), 201 (Fasteners, machine belt), 202 (Thinibles and block fasteners for lasts), and 203 (Fire extinguishers, hand; sprinklers), agreed to.
Kettles and cooking utensils (but not including stoves), viz.: -
Cast-iron (tinned or plain), ad val., British, 15 per cent. ; intermediate 20 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.
Aluminium or nickel, ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
.- I would like to know why it is proposed to impose these duties on cast-iron kettles and other cooking utensils. In view of the fact that they were previously admitted free, this impost will place a heavy burden on every household.
– Enamelled hollowware which formerly was not made in Australia is now being made by A. Simpson & Son Limited, Adelaide, and since the new Tariff has been framed four companies have commenced operations for the manufacture of aluminium ware. Johnston & Rudd, of Sydney, are making kettles in two sizes, saucepans in four sizes, fryingpans in three sizes, and teapots in one size, also cooking dishes and casseroles. The Hydro Press Company Pty. Ltd. are making pie dishes and frying pans in three sizes, and will shortly be making saucepans and kettles. The Modern Art Metal Company and the Aluminium Pty. Ltd. are putting up their premises, and getting ready for making these utensils. When all these firms are in operation, they ought to be able to supply the local market. At any rate, we ought to encourage them to do so. The duty is not very high.
.- A duty of 15 per cent. on cast-iron kettles and cooking utensils upon which there was no previous duty may not seem very high; but on account of the enormous bulls of these articles when packed, they are exceedingly costly to transport. During the last few years any one who has been brought into contact with the necessities of home life must have recognised the enormous price they have attained.
The requirements of the people in this direction are not being met by local manufacturers, and the great bulk of the ordinary cast-iron, tinned, or plain hollowware comes from Great Britain. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), British, ad val., 10 per cent.
A reduction of the duty by5 per cent., which I suggest, will still afford ample protection to the local industry,particularly when we know that the Tariff itself does not represent the actual protection which the local manufacturer has, and that his greatest protection is the enormous bulkiness of these utensils when packed for transport.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (b), British, ad val., 20 per cent.
Aluminium ware covered by this sub-item is becoming more and more popular.
– It is a luxury.
– It is not. I hope that it will not be looked upon as a luxury.
– Three or four firms who were able to make a start during the war are now producing aluminium ware in Australia.
– I know that that is the case, but the proposed rates of 25 per cent. British, and 35 per cent. general, are out of all proportion to the needs of the industry. I am assured that a rate of 25 per cent. really means protection to the extent of 75 per cent., on account of the bulkiness of these utensils, particularly kettles.
Item agreed to.
Item 205 (Steel knives for hand tobaccocutters and hand tin-openers) agreed to.
Item 206 -
– In sub-item a the difference between the British rate and the general rate is only 10 per cent. With a view to compromising with those honorable senators who differ from me, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), British, ad val., 20 per cent.
– Are incandescent mantles being made in Australia?
– The evidence given before the Inter-State Commission, shows that the Welsbach Light Company of Sydney were making these mantles prior to 1914, but abandoned the manufacture, giving as a reason for doing so the higher cost of labour and raw] materials, the absence of effective protection, and the restrictions imposed by factory legislation. Somewhat later, a firm called the Incandescent Lighting Plaissety System Company Limited started the manufacture of these articles, but were unable to make a success of lit, and their business was taken over by the PhoenixGas Mantles Limited, which company is now making about 100 gross a, week, or 700,000 mantles per year . The average number of mantles imported yearly during the last six years was about 3,700,000. The local manufacturers, becoming uneasy in regard to competition from Japan and theUnited States of America, petitioned fora higher Tariff. TheFlexiboe Mantle Company applied for a duty of 50 per cent without any preference. The Phoenix Mantle Company asked for a 45 percent. duty, with a preference of 10 per cent. to the United Kingdom. A third firm, the Lighting Supplies Company, imports the fabric cut to size, and assembles the mantles. Their output in 1920 was 1,736 gross. The Phoenix Mantle Company, since the introduction of this Tariff, have placed an order locally for ten additional weaving machiries; and when these are installed they estimate that their output will be 400 gross per week, equal to 20,700 gross per year. The number of employees in the. industry is 165. It will be seen that there is every hope that Australia will beable to supply its own requirements in this respect. ltem agreed to.
Item 207 (Lamps, miners’ safety) agreed to.
Manufactures of metals n.e.i., ad val., British, 35 per cent. ; intermediate, 40 per cent. ; general, 45 per cent.
– I have given notice of a request for an alteration in the verbiage of this item, and I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to add the following: - “ (a) Materials for agricultural and horticultural spraying, sprinkling and irrigation systems, ad val., British, 15 per cent. ; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.”
If this request be adopted, I intend to move the addition of a further paragraph, “ (b) n.e.i,”, and leave the Committee to fix what duties they desire. In my own State, to which my knowledge of this matter is confined, there are several industries which supply to orchardists, small farmers, florists, and so forth, spraying, sprinkling, and irrigation systems. Under the Tariff as passed by this Committee, unless the alteration I propose is made, those industries must be placed in a most unfair position. They will be called upon to pay on the parts imported from abroad for the purposes I have stated considerably higher duties under this item than are paid on the completed machines; in other words, parts are at present charged under item 208, 35 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent., whereas the complete machine under item 161, which the Committee has passed, will come in at 15 per cent., 25 per cent., and 30 per cent. This is a handicap in the case of those parts which enable the farmer or the fruit-grower to erect his own irrigation system. Unless this amendment is made, such a man will have to pay 35 per cent., British preference, on parts, whereas the completed machine from abroad will pay only 15 per cent., and as a general duty he will have to pay 45 per cent., as against 30 per cent. under item 161. For the information of the Committee I desire to read the following letter which I have received from Herbert James Rumsey of Dundas, New South Wales, who is one of the persons who supplies these home-made irrigation systems. He says: -
My system is one under which any settler can fix his own irrigation plant. It includes drilling machine, nozzles, and a patent device for turning the pipe back and forth. . . . My type, which are used in thousands, they have never attempted to make here. . . . We have supplied the material for over 1,200 installations of my system; but recently, with the awful handicap of high-priced pipes, and 45 per cent. duty on the fittings (even the drilling machine, which cannot be made locally, is taxed), the cost is getting prohibitive, and though we get plenty of applications for estimates, very few of them are now being carried out. . . . My irrigation parts, which are really the raw material from which the settler is manufacturing his own irrigation plant, are charged at 45 per cent. duty. There are good reasons why they cannot be manufactured locally at present, and I have to pay a higher duty on them than is charged on completed sprinklers, though we make up sprinklers from them, and have to sell in competition with the imported article, paying a lower duty.
I have taken some trouble to verify the position I am settingout, and I submit that unless the item is altered in the direction I have indicated, local industry will not get fair play. A most unfair tax will be placed on the people who manufacture these things, in view of the lower duties on the completed article imported from abroad. I am quite aware that included in the materials that I am asking shall be admitted under the same duty that the Committee has passed in the case of item 161, are wrought-iron pipes; that 2-in. and 3-in. pipes are now free., 5 per cent., and 10 per cent., and that on 1st January next, provided the industry is established- which I do not think is at all likely - they will be dutiable at 271/2 per cent., 35 per cent., and 40 per cent. The 4-in. pipes are now dutiable at those rates, and are not made in Australia. I submit this request for the purpose of making it reasonably easy for the fruit-grower, the florist, or the small farmer to have his own irrigation plant at a reasonable price. I do not think there is either justice or equity, or any regard shown for the interests of men such as these, in charging a higher duty on parts than is paid on the completed article.
– Senator Pratten will admit that he has not given the Government much notice of his intention to submit this request, which I saw only about an hour ago.
– I raised the question on another item last week, when, perhaps, Senator Pearce was not here.
– I was not aware of that. We have not had much time; but as far as I have been able, I have had the matter looked into by the officials of the Department. Their first criticism, which is a departmental one, is that where items are split up as now proposed, great care has to be taken in the wording, because it is under just such items that disputes arise as to interpretation. They say that the verbiage is vague, and this, I am informed, is likely to cause difficulty in administration. Further, the request cannot be accepted, because it is inconsistent with the Tariff. It will mean that the Australian manufacturer who can manufacture, as he does, certain of these parts will have his material imported at the low rate of duties proposed by Senator Pratten.
– They are the same rates as in item 161.
– The course proposed is not taken in the case of any other industry. We impose a duty on the completed article in order to encourage manufacture, and we impose the same duty on parts, unless it is otherwise specified. If Senator Pratten, for instance, refers to item 192, he will see that “brass work, bronze work, and gun-metal work for general engineering and plumbing and other trades “ pays, exactly the same duties as are provided in item 208. Under Senator Pratten’s proposal it would be possible for certain material, which the Committee has agreed shall be dutiable at certain rates, to come in, if used for another purpose, dutiable at lower rates. How could the Department follow the material up to see that it was used for the purpose specified ?
– It is equally difficult for the trader or manufacturer to follow tha Customs regulations.
– That is quite likely; but I think that the position has only to be stated to show the confusion that would arise under the proposal of Senator Pratten. I submit that sprinklers and the materials for sprinklers are already largely mnaufactured in the Commonwealth. A’ boot manufacturer advocates protection for his boots, but would like leather to be admitted free. THat is a view which the Committee cannot adopt; one manufacturer is as much entitled to protection as another. We must be careful that, in looking after the interests of the man who simply assembles parts we do not kill the industry of manufacturing parts. ‘ Senator Pratten has told us that certain of these parts cannot be made locally, but, if that is so, there is clearly redress under item 404, which admits free under the British preferential and intermediate Tariffs, and at 10 1 per cent, under the general Tariff, “ materials and minor articles, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, for use in ‘the manufacture of goods within the Commonwealth.” All that the manufacturers to whom Senator Pratten has referred have to demonstrate is that the parts they require cannot be made in the Commonwealth.
– I said that some of the n arts are not made in the Commonwealth.
– Then those parts will dome under item 404. I suggest the possibility that those who have communicated with Senator Pratten are not aware of that fact; indeed, a case of the kind came under our notice only this morning. Halving in view the difficulty of interpretation, and the confusion which would arise if this request were adopted, and also bearing in mind the desirability of protecting, not only those who manufacture the completed machines, but those who manufacture parts, I think that Senator Pratten ought to withdraw the request.
-Senator Pratten has courteously furnished me with a copy of his proposed request. I have no desire other than to facilitate debate, and the introduction and acceptance of requests, provided that the latter do not confuse or stultify decisions already reached by the Committee. Senatori Pratten made specific reference fo wrought-iron pipes as coming under item 208, namely, “ manufactures of metal n.e.i.” Pipes, however, have been already dea’lt with. Nozzles, brass work and similar manufactures have also been con- sidered and dealt with by the Committee. These parts, and wrought-iron pipes also, are complementary to such contrivances as sprinkling and irrigation systems. Senator Pratten’s proposed request is so comprehensive that it could scarcely fail to involve articles covered by items previously considered. That being the case, I cannot accept the honorable senator’s request.
– I do not question your ruling, Mr. Chairman, but I suggest that, with a slight alteration of its language, my request will receive your approval. The Committee has dealt with wrought-iron pipes, which comprise portion of an irrigation system. But the remainder of the parts of such system will he charged duty under item 208.
– That is not so. Many of the parts fall under item 192.
– I desire to foe permitted to amend my request by adding the words, “ except pipes.”
– The honorable senator can comply with the Chairman’s ruling by inserting “ n.e.i.” If Senator Pratten begins to exclude certain things there is quite a number which he must exclude besides pipes.
– I can accept Senator Pratten’s request if he sees fit to add “ n.e.i.” That would prevent conflict with any decision previously reached by the Committee.
– I would not hesitate to accept the Minister’s suggestion, backed by the approval of the Chairman, but that I know that it is the rightful procedure of the Customs officials, wherever possible, to charge the highest permissible rate of duty. I wish to provide that sprayer and sprinkler parts shall not be charged higher duties than those on the complete machines, as covered by item 161. If I add “ n.e.i.”, the rates set out under item 192 must govern the manufactures coming under item 208. The duties upon everything included in item 192 are, respectively, 35 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent. But the Committee has decided that the completed appliances shall be subject to duties of 15 per cent., 25 per cent., and 30 per cent.; that is, under item 161.
– Irrigationsprinklers will be included under item 208.
– The parts have hitherto been embraced by that item, in connexion with which the duties are 35 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent.
– And so have the complete sprinklers.
– Then, what is the value of the decision of the Committee in respect of item 161, which refers to garden and field spraying machines, upon which the rates, I repeat, are 15 per cent., 25 per cent., and 30 per cent. ?
SenatorWilson. - The Department holds that there is a difference between a garden sprinkler and an irrigation sprinkler. I say that there is no difference; and I have one of each.
– An appliance which is put to identically the same use as some other manufacture should be subject to the game rates of duty.
– Countless numbers of sprinklers are made out of kerosene tins.
– And the parts used in making sprinklers are dutiable under this item. I do not think it is fair, and in order to test the feeling of the Committee I propose to move to insert in my amendment the words “ excepting pipes.”
– Why does not the honorable senator accept my assurance, made on the authority of the Customs officers, that parts that are not made here will come in free.
– I am not satisfied with the item as it stands, because it seems to me it covers elbows, tees, nozzles,, and other parts of sprinklers and sprayers.
– Will the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) tell the Committee under what iten the parts which go to make up the sprinklers, sprays, &c, enumerated in item 161 come?
– If they were brass nozzles or nipples, they would come under item 192, but if they were not of brass they would come under item 161.
– Then this Tariff defeats its own ends. Its object is, we understand, to encourage Australian industries, but here we have an inducement deliberately held out to the public to obtain the finished article from overseas. Senator Senior, who is a handy man in a garden, says that parts for sprinklers are often attached to a kerosene tin with very good results. Many irrigationists have to make their own sprinklers, but we find that, under a previous item, we have already provided for duties of 15 per cent., 20 per cent., and 30 per cent. on the completed article, whereas under this item the duties on the parts that go to make up that article are nearly twice as much. That is ridiculous.
– I recognise that this question is worthy of consideration, and I therefore move -
That the item be postponed until after the consideration of item 404.
The principal officers of the Department have been in constant attendance here, and have not had time enough to look into this question; but I shall have the points raised during this debate fully investigated . If the motion be agreed to, Senator Pratten will also be able to look into the matter before we come to item. 404, which provides for the free admission, under the British preferential and intermediate Tariff, of materials and minor articles, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, for use in the manufacture of goods within the Commonwealth.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Item 209 (Malleable iron castings) and item 210 (Metal pins) agreed to.
And on and after 17th June, 1921, printers’ type, including spaces and quads; lino and other slugs ; metal furniture and quotations, ad val., British,221/2 per cent. ; intermediate, 30 per cent. ; general, 35 per cent.
– I propose to ask the Committee to agree to the request of the House of Representatives to reduce the duties on printers’ type. Honorable senators may naturally think that I have a strong personal interest in this question, but I assure them that if I thought there was a chance of developing to any extent the type-founding industry in Australia, I should have no hesitation in voting for the retention of the present duties. There are, however, peculiar conditions associated with the industry here, which precludes the possibility of its extensive development. In the printing offices of Australia, no less than 1,000 faces, or different kinds, of type are used ; but the Australian Type Foundry, Sydney - the only type foundry that we have in Australia. - makes only 100 faces. In order that our printers may be thoroughly up to date, it is essential that they should have the choice of a wide range of type. There are no less than sixteen different kinds of script or imitation- writing type, but the Australian Type Foundry makes only two faces. Then, again, there are twenty-two different faces of typewriter type, but of these, again, the Australian Type Foundry makes only two. Printers use what are known as shaded letters, but the Australian Type Foundry makes none of these. I could, if necessary, enumerate many different kinds of type used by printers but not made here, sothat if our printing-houses were restricted to the use of type made by the local foundry they would suffer in competition with printers abroad. Catalogues and other advertising matter are circulated abroadby Australian firms, who desire that their work shall be done inthe best possible style, and the trade here should not be hampered. In New Zealand imports of printing type from. Britain are free, while type from other countries is dutiable at 10 per cent. The Australian Type Foundry is able to compete in open market with American and other type foundries. The value of the exports of Australian-made metal type, principally to New Zealand, in 1909 was £2,800, 1910 £2,300, 1911 £2,700, 1912 £2,800, and 1913 £2,100. The Australian foundry can sell for less “than the American type foundries are able to sell, for the reason that it has not to incur the great initial expense of designing faces and producing the steel dies from which the matrices are made. Important evidence in regard to this matter was given before the Inter-State Commission in 1916. Mr. Walter Haddon, of the John Haddon Company, London, type founders, mentioned, in the course of his evidence before the Commission, that it cost his firm £7,000 to design one series oftype and to make the necessary steel -dies. The Australian Type Foundry does not design any type, and, therefore, avoids that initial expense. It secures a. series of American or British types that have become popular, and from them makes the copper matrices from which it casts its type. Mr. Wimble, proprietor of the Australian Type Foundry, admitted before the Inter-State Commission that he had not to meet these great initial expenses. He said -
We copy with metal castings, and do not design. We do not keep a designer, but our expert has frequently to make specific patterns toorder. We do not design, and have never done any designing.
As an illustration of the enormous expense involved in the preparation of designs, I would mention that on the occasion of a visit to London I inspected the Caslon and Smith type foundry, and while there was shown into a small room containing their stock of dies. “ This room,” said the manager, “ represents a capital of £250,000.” All the heavy initial expenses associated with the production of type are saved by the local foundry, since it does not originate designs. Let me close with a quotation from the report of the Inter-State Commission -
Whilst it appears to be a matter of good taste and discretion on the part of a manufacturer whether or not he should express some acknowledgment for his indebtedness to those whose original work he is copying to his personal advantage, the designs, which are not registered here, are public property, and under the circumstances it is probable the local typefounder is following a practice ‘ usual elsewhere under similar conditions. The fact that by doing so he is avoiding a very important proportion of the manufacturing cost which is necessary to his competitors is, however, an important feature in the consideration of the relative costs of manufacture in Australia and the countries from whence the printers’ metal type is imported.
It has been said that the Australian Type Foundry uses Australian metal ; but there is not very much in that contention, as practically all the material used by that foundry consists of type which has been recast. Quite recently the Australian Type Foundry was selling one particular class of type at11s. per lb., although the value of the metal was about 6d. to 8d. per lb., and when one remembers that a typecasting machine can cast 7,000 or 8,000 types per hour, about 10 lbs. of metal, the actual casting costs 6d. to 8d., so that the total cost is1s. to1s. 6d., for which a charge of11s. per lb. is made. That was in connexion with one of the dearer types; but it will be seen that there is a very wide margin between the cost of production and the price charged. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, British, 10 per cent. ; intermediate, 15 per cent. ; and general, 20 per cent.
– It is very interesting, and, in a sense, a sad memory to recall that one of the most distinct recollections I have of the honorable senator’s father is in connexion with Tariff matters when he made a very strong and eloquent appeal in this chamber on behalf of the printing industry. I well remember ex-Senator Vardon displaying printed catalogues that were being imported into Australia to the detriment of the printing industry, and I have no hesitation in saying that his efforts on that occasion assisted considerably in the fairly heavy rates imposed on printed matter being retained. Whilst we are willing to protect the printing industry in this way, I do not think printers have the right to claim that they should have protection, and that those who supply the type should be exposed to the full blast of the open market. Type is being manufactured by Wimble and Company, in Sydney, where about 100 men are employed.
– What they make is very satisfactory; but there is not sufficient variety.
– They have to become established, and probably will later be able to meet the demand.
– Could not this matter be adjusted by departmental by-laws ?
– That is impracticable. The industry is established in the Commonwealth, and I have no doubt that it will grow, as at present 50 per cent. of the Australian requirements are being manufactured locally. I am informed that the industry has been in operation for about twenty years. It cannot be said that these duties are a great drain on the industry, because the official figures disclose that the total importations last year were valued at £4,499, and the total amount of duty paid was only £1,080. When one realizes the quantity of job printing done throughout Australia, it will be seen that the proposed duties are not a very severe handicap to the industry, whilst at the same time they give some little protection to local manufacturers.
– What is the reason for the increased protection?
– Under item 138 a duty is imposed on type metal. In the 1914 Tariff type metal was dutiable at 15 per cent. and 20 per cent., and in this schedule the rates have been increased to 221/2 per cent., 30 per cent., and 35 per cent. respectively.
– Of what is type metal made ?
– It consists principally of lead with, I believe, a. small percentage of antimony. Senator Vardon’s request, if adopted, would make the duty on the finished article lower than that on the raw material.
– We produce the material here.
– The lead, but not the antimony. This matter has been considered by the Inter-State Commission, which recommended duties of 20 and 30 per cent., and as only £1,080 was paid in duty on importations and an industry is established in Sydney, I ask the Committee to adhere to the rates in the schedule.
– The Minister (Senator Pearce) has said that the industry is established in Sydney. I admit that; but it is very difficult for me to place the matter before honorable senators very clearly.
– The honorable senator did so.
– There are 1,000 to 1,200 different kinds of type manufactured, but the Australian plant is producing- only 100 varieties. The Minister said that I objected to paying duty on the material we use, although we desired protection on what we produce.
– The honorable senator appears to be denying protection to a kindred industry.
– I said at the outset that I might be accused of that, because I am engaged in the printing aud publishing business. I am willing to sup.POrt a high duty on strawboards because we manufacture all we require, and if we could make all the type we desire to use I would support the imposition of high duties. Printers are taxed very heavily in the matter of duties, as on a machine I shall be landing shortly I shall have to pay duty amounting to £150. I am. not complaining of that. If the industry could be. established in Australia in such a. way that we would not have to import, I would support the proposed duties; but, having regard- to the peculiar conditions attaching to the industry, that will never be so, because of the great initial expense in designing letters. It is not fair to copy designs from the other side df the world, because by doing so we would be avoiding expense to which others have been put. I trust the Committee will agree to my request.
.- - This is an instance in which the Department should be given some discretion. If we were to remove the duty on type simply because certain kinds are not manufactured in Australia owing to the existence of patent rights and other reasons, we would be doing a serious injury to an established industry. Pro vision has been made for the exercise of departmental discretion in other instances, particularly in connexion with electrical appliances, and the Department should be allowed to discriminate between the type which is manufactured in Australia and that which is not. We must give protection to those who have established the industry and are manufacturing 100 different kinds of type. If we ,did not, the business would be ruined, and there would not be any possibility of ‘expansion, which may result if the duty is continued. It is difficult to specifically mention the different kinds of type in the schedule, but if the Department had discretion the difficulty might be met.
.- Senator Earle’s suggestion is quite impracticable, because if a duty were imposed on type made in Australia, and there was no duty, or a low one, on that not made here, it is quite evident that the printers would purchase that on which a low duty had been imposed, because they would be able to get it cheaper than the Australian article. If that were done, it would mean wiping out the’ Australian industry, and I do not wish to assist in doing that. On the other hand, I do not see why printers should be penalized ‘because the Australian Type Foundry makes only 100 different kinds of letters.
– But every one else is penalized where similar circumstances prey ail.
– That is hardly so, because many of the articles on which heavy duties are imposed are wholly made in Australia, and the supply is sufficient to meet the demand; but in this instance only a fraction of the kind of type required is made.
– This is a very important matter. Ex-Senator Chataway has supplied me with the opinions held by men engaged in .this business. I shall quote some of them.
– We have all read them.
– But I shall not be doing any harm if I refresh honorable senators’ memories. Messrs. G. Hassell & Son, 104 Currie-street, Adelaide, writing on the 11th June, 1921, state -
It is the printer who seeks to educate the public taste who is penalized. We have foi several years adopted the .principle that we must buy the type that we use, regardless of its cost. It is grossly unfair that we should have to pay so dearly for it to support a house whose only enterprise takes the form of piracy, and whose limited range of faces is tending to make Australian printing look povertystricken.
Here is a letter from John Sands and Company, a reputable firm, of printers in Sydney -
Personally I think that, taking into consideration the small amount of foundry type that is made in Australia, and the lack of originality in same, it is a pity to hamper in any way the introduction of new and original faces, as we owe the present high standard of typography to the imported types, the educational value of which is very great.
There is another letter from Messrs. Lonnen and Cope, of Adelaide. They write -
Wc realize what a hindrance it is to the advancement of the printing trade in general, as we ourselves have found that the introduction of new typos into Australia for the benefit of printers has been a very expensive item, owing to the high duty which is placed on it. The high cost of printing plant is the printers’ most serious difficulty with which he has to contend, and until such time as printing machinery and type is manufactured in the Commonwealth, or a moderate duty only is imposed on imported plant, the trade in general will make- little headway. When the excessive cost of up-to-date machinery has been reduced to come within the reach of the average printer the trade will be enabled to compete on an equal footing with overseas houses for the manufacture of stationery and other goods, which at present can be imported at a cheaper rate than that at which they can be produced here.
These are the views of business firms, and ifc is quite evident that they cannot secure all the varieties of type they require. At first, I was disposed to agree to Senator Earle’s suggestion that we might arrange to admit free of duty varieties of type which are not made in Australia, and I am sorry that it seems impossible to do that. I think the duty might be- reduced until the Australian type founders are in a position to produce the varieties of type that are necessary to turn out good work. When they can do so, the duty might be imposed, but in the meantime, I strongly support Senator Vardon’s request.
.- The case made out by Senator Vardon is worthy of consideration, though I am not inclined to go so far as he proposed. I was anxious to learn from the Minister, when he was replying to Senator Vardon, what was the justification for increasing the duty on type. The honorable senator mentioned no justification.
– Except that there is an increased duty on tha raw material.
– It has been pointed out that the type-founding industry has been carried on for some twenty years in Australia., but is still in a position to supply only certain varieties of type, whilst many other varieties that are not manufactured here are required by printers in their industry. In my opinion the only justification for an increased duty is that an industry that is worth maintaining has been shown to be unable to make headway or to hold its own because of insufficient protection. This industry has been carried on for a long time to the stage at which it has progressed under the previously existing duty. In the Tariff of 1908 the only duty imposed was 20 per cent. In the 1914 Tariff there were duties of 25 per cent, in the general Tariff and 20 per cent, in the British preferential column.
– Is it not possible to include the varieties of type not manufactured here in a separate item?
– The Minister has said that that is not possible.
– I am willing to accept duties of 20 per cent., 25 per cent., and 30 per cent. I cannot consent to a reduction of 15 per cent, on this item. That is the biggest reduction that has, so far, been, proposed.
Senator VARDON (South Australia) T5.35]. - The Minister (Senator Pearce) has said that the duty has been increased, from 25 per cent, to 35 per cent, because of the increased cost of the metal used in the manufacture of type. THe cost of the metal in 1 lb. of type would be between 6d. and 8d. I would remind the Minister that we produce the metal in Australia.
– I think I have made the honorable senator a fair offer.
– The type founding industry here really needs no protection, because those carrying it on are able to sell their type in New Zealand on equal terms with the American Typefounders Company. They have been doing that for many years.
– My name has been associated with the printing industry for many years in Sydney. Though I cannot claim to be as well versed in the technicalities of the trade as Senator Vardon, I know that his statement with respect to the varieties of type used in the printing trade is absolutely correct. The printers of Australia as a body are carrying on a very considerable industry indeed, and are entitled to some consideration in this schedule.
– They paid between them only £1,000 last year in the shape ofduty on imported type.
– The honorable senator forgets that the higher the price of the type, the less of it is used, and there is the less incentive to import it. It has been suggested to me that this item might be subdivided, and, perhaps, the subdivision recommended would meet the views of both the Minister and Senator Vardon. It has been suggested that there should be a sub-item reading -
Printers’ type, business borders, and ornaments not cast in Australia, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent. ; general, 10 per cent.
– I am informed by the departmental officers that it would be quite impracticable to interpret that.
– That is so. It would be quite impracticable.
– The suggestion to me. was that the articles included in the second subdivision should be dutiable at 20, 25, and 30 per cent.
– The great bulk of the type is imported from the United Kingdom.
– I am inclined to think that, on the evidence, printers generally would be satisfied with the reduction which the Minister has offered.
– The longer we live the more we learn. When I listened to Senator Vardon seriously asking the Committee to agree to the severest cut yet proposed in the duties set out in this schedule, representing a reduction which would not have occurred, even in their wildest dreams, to honorable senators who have been seeking concessions for the primary producers, I thought the world must be turning upside down. The time of the Committee has been wasted for more than a quarter of an hour in an effort to save £1,,000 a year to the printers of the Commonwealth. Senator Drake-Brockman and myself have vainly begged, almost in sackcloth and ashes, for a miserable concession of 5 per cent., and yet we have Senator Vardon on this item asking for the biggest reduction so far requested. Hitherto, when high duties have been proposed, as soon as the Ministerial voice has been raised the honorable senator has been attracted asby a magnet to the support of the Government.
– Oh !
– We know that Senator Earle has assisted to put duties as High as 45 per cent. on to the producers ofthis country, but he would scarcely touch Senator Vardon’s request with a feather duster. He is doubtful as to how it would act, and it evidently gives him qualms of conscience that the printers of the’ country should have to pay £1,000 a year in duty. If Senator Vardon would try to put himself in the other fellow’s place, he would probably vote on different lines from those which he has previously followed.
– I can see that it is of no use for me to ask the Committee to make a big reduction in the duties on this item. I am, therefore, prepared to accept the Minister’s suggestion, and will ask leave to amend my request accordingly.
Request amended as follows, and agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, British, 20 per cent. ; intermediate, 25 per cent. ; general, 30 per cent.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item 212 (Printers’ materials) agreed to.
Refrigerating condensers and coils, and coils for sugar boilers and the like, ad val.. British, 30per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
– I should like some explanation with regard to this item. Are we to understand that the industry is established in this country?
– Yes. Quite a number of manufacturers are engaged in it.
– And is the industry fairly well-distributed?
Request (bySenator Gardiner) negatived -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item, British, free.
Item agreed to.
Item 214 (Retorts, pans, &c.) agreed to.
Saws n.e.i., ad val., British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.
– I should like to know what class of saws is included in this item, and if saws are being manufactured in the Commonwealth.
– The item refers to circular and band saws. It does not include hand saws, which come in as tools of trade in item 219.
– Are circular and band saws being made in Australia?
– Yes. I understand a Melbourne firm is engaged in the business.
– Chapman, of Sydney, is also a manufacturer.
– If the industry is established in this country, 15 per cent: is just about the low-water mark of protection. If saws are not being made here, the duty ought to be wiped out.
.- The effective duty is really 25 per cent., because practically all saws of this class come from the United States of America. I am informed that W. H. Blakeley, of Melbourne, is a manufacturer of the saws included in this item, and Senator Pratten has also stated that a Sydney firm is engaged in the business. As the local manufacturers have to import the material, steel circularplate, which is dutiable, there is not a great margin of protection.
Item agreed to.
Item 216 (Steel grit and steel wool, &c.) and item 217 (Sprinklers for perfume bottles) agreed to.
Item 218 (Tanks not exceeding 400 gallons in capacity).
– Before we pass this item I should like to congratulate the Government upon (permitting tanks, which are so much used in country districts, to come in free. This, I believe, is the only item in the whole of the Tariff in which the man on the land is getting a fair deal.
Item agreed to.
Tools of trade for the use of artisans and mechanics and tools in general use, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item, general, free.
Artisans’ tools of trade are not manufactured here; they are imported from countries other than Great Britain. A duty on tools of trade is a principle that has never been conceded. We are glad to have American manufacturers of tools of trade competing even with British manufacturers.
– This is one of the items in which a real and valuable preference is given to the manufacturers of the United Kingdom. It is a mistake to believe that the United States of America is the chief supplier of tools of trade in the Australian market. Prior to the war we imported annually from Great Britain £306,000 worth, and from the United States of America £293,000 worth. In 1919-20, importations from the United Kingdom totalled £431,000, and from the United States of America, £403,000.From Germany, . prior to the war, we imported tools to the value of £38,000 yearly. As the duty is a substantial preference to the United Kingdom, I ask Senator Lynch to withdraw his request.
– I hope Senator Lynch’s proposal will be accepted. Tools of trade will then be free in the general Tariff. It is acknowledged that something good comes from all countries. Take the trade of a carpenter. The American Stanley plane is now in general use.
– The American chisels have driven Matheson’s chisels off the market.
– If so, that is because it is a better article.
– No, it is not.
– On this subject, I suppose the Minister and I must agree to differ. I claim to know something about carpenters’ tools. Prior to the war, planes, like the Stanley plane, could be bought at from 9s. to 15s. 6d., according to size. Now they cost from 25s. to 37s. 6d. For rough work, the German jack plane, a plane without a back iron, has reduced labour by about 50 per cent. The American Disstonsaw has also displaced those splendid English saws made by Sorby, Howell, and other British manufacturers, simply because it is more suitable for existing conditions. Artisans instinctively choose the very best tools for their work, and it is only right that they should have a wide range of choice. The American axe has practically displaced the well-known English broad-axe in our market, because it is specially suited for our requirements. No matter what the duty may be, the skilled mechanic will buy the implement that is most satisfactory for his particular class of work. This is because in these days expedition is expected on all jobs. Workmen of today are expected to do more than formerly because they have better tools. This time last year I supervised the erection of a house, and I found that the men in my own trade, as well as the bricklayers, plumbers, tilers, and all other artisans were working just as fast as ever. There was no suggestion of the “ go-slow “ policy about them. This duty isa tax on the tradesman, because it will prevent him from having the best tools unless he pays exceedingly high prices for them. The increase in the cost of carpenters’ tools is easily 300 per cent.
– This duty gives a preference to Great Britain at the expense of the artisans of Australia.
– Mechanics have developed to such an extent that our tradesmen cannot hold their own unless they have the very best tools. Yet we impose a 10 per cent. revenue Tariff on them.
Question - That the request (Senator Lynch’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Several times we have raised the question of the use of the words “ as described by departmental by-laws,” and I would ask Senator Pearce to familiarize himself with the position some time next week, because I propose to raise the issue again then.
Item agreed to.
Traps, viz. : -
.I think the ma jority of honorable senators will agree to the request which I intend to put forward in regard to the duty upon rabbit traps. We have just passed subitem a, which admits dog traps free from Great Britain, and at a 10 per cent. duty from foreign countries, whereas under sub-item b the rates of duty upon rabbit trap’s are 20 per cent., 25 per cent., and 30 per cent. In the southern parts of Australia the greatest curse to the man on the land is the rabbit pest. Nothing is more vital to the prosperity of Australia than is the development of our lands to the highest extent of productivity ; but any one with experience of outlying settlements, when land which has been taken up in a virgin state is being cleared and cultivated, must recognise the awful struggle of the occupiers to keep out the rabbits from the virgin bush around them. I have seen extensive areas of devastated land which, before the rabbit pest became so evident, furnished sustenance for cattle and sheep, or produced crops. The farmer cannot protect himself against rabbits by wiring his holding unless he has a fair amount of capital at his disposal, and it has been found in Tasmania that the best means of dealing with the pest is to keep the rabbits in check by systematic trapping. The price of rabbit traps in Selbourne to-day is from 33s. to 36s. per dozen. It is so high that many people who formerly earned a livelihood by trapping are now precluded from following that occupation. Are we imposing a duty of 20 per cent. British, and 30 per cent, general, to prohibit the importation of these traps, or to keep the price at the 2>resent high figure ? It may be contended that this protection is necessary in order to support an industry in Australia ; “but it cannot be more than a small industry. What benefit is derived by the maintenance of a small industry engaged in the manufacture of rabbit traps in comparison with the good that would result from enabling trapping operations to be carried on more extensively than they are to-day by permitting these essential articles to come in free, or, at any rate, at a very low rate of duty ? We admit, free of duty, the traps that are necessary for the capture of wild dogs, which are a curse to the big squatting areas, but we penalize the holder of a small agricultural block by obliging him to pay a heavy duty upon the rabbit traps he needs. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (b), general, ad val., 10 per cent.”
– The honorable senator’s speech was most refreshing, coming from a Protectionist. We all agree that everything possible should be done to keep down the rabbit nest. Therefore, rhapsodies upon the subject are quite beside the question. I could understand Senator Gardiner taking up the attitude that the duty will render it difficult to deal with the pest. I always thought that Protectionists believed it better to have articles, if possible, made in their own country, because that affords a better chance of having them supplied cheaper. Such arguments as Senator Payne has used would be all right from Senator Gardiner’s point of view, but I cannot understand them as coming from a Protectionist. If what he says is true of rabbit traps, which do not call for any involved manufacturing processes, what about reapers and binders and stripper harvesters]
– What about a “scientific” Tariff, in which every duty is dealt with on its merits?
– Senator Payne voted for duties on those intricate machines I have mentioned, and yet he advocates Free Trade in the case of such a simple thing as a rabbit trap. I cannot see the consistency of the honorable senator’s attitude; and I really thought it must be, not he, but Senator Gardiner or Senator Thomas, who was talking. Senator Payne must, I think, have ‘ slipped ‘ ‘ on rabbit traps - he must have forgotten his Protectionist faith, so far as they are concerned. Rabbit traps can be made adequately in the Commonwealth.
– At what price?
– Mr. P. S. Garling, of Castlereagh-street, Sydney, stated, on the 5th March, 1920, that he had completed his arrangements for .the manufacture of a plant for turning out a patent rabbit trap, and that his factory, which would have a capacity of 2,500 traps per week, would be in full working order in five weeks from that date. The Meadowbank Manufacturing Company, New South. Wales, is also in a position to manufacture those traps. In addition, the English firm of Henry Lane, Eagle Works, Wednesfield, England, are contemplating the establishment of a factory in Australia for a similar purpose. This depends on the amount of Protection that is given on this item.
– Then, rabbit traps must be kept at their present awful price ?
– No dog traps are being made in Australia, but rabbit traps are in abundance. Mr. Garling, of the Australian Patents Manufacturing Company, reports that his company is only in its infancy, but he expects it to go ahead. Messrs. Lowe Brothers report a. great falling-off in the demand for rabbit traps, consequent upon the drop in the price of skins. In 1920 that firm made only 236 dozen traps, valued at £329. Eight men were partially employed at wages amounting to £135. The output for 1921, Mr. Garling informed us, depended on the demand, and all demands will be met. This company makes chains as well as traps. Henry Lane (Australia) Limited has established a rabbittrap factory at Newcastle, with a capital of £12,000 and an output capacity of 300 dozen traps per week, which can be easily increased up to 500 dozen. Mr. Hanington commenced to manufacture in June, 1920, with ten hands and two partners employed. In three months last year he turned out £3,600 worth of traps, and can supply a much greater quantity if demanded. These facts show that all the needs of the Commonwealth can be met without difficulty by local manufacture, and I cannot understand how any Protectionist can advocate the removal of the duty.
.- I must reply to Senator Pearce, who has criticised what he regards as my conversion from, a Protectionist to a Free Trader. The honorable senator has made the very statement that I required in order to support me in my attitude on this item. He has truly said that rabbit traps are being manufactured in Australia, and very good traps they are; but their price is out o”f all proportion to their value. He has also said that the demand has been supplied, but his latest information is that the demand is falling off on account of the decreased market price for skins. That is perfectly correct, but no matter how much skins may fall in price, it remains essential that rabbits shall, as far as possible, be trapped and exterminated. How can we expect trappers to pay the present high prices for traps if skins have depreciated in value by half in the last year or two? The very fact that skins have fallen in price necessitates something being done to provide the trappers with traps at a reasonable price. In the north-western portion of Tasmania valuable areas of land are being taken possession of by rabbits simply because skins have fallen in value, and the trappers cannot afford to pay the present price for traps. I urge the Minister to look at this matter from a practical point of view, so that we may prevent the ruin, which has already begun, in many districts of southern Australia.
– How does Senator Payne answer the charge that Protection makes things dearer?
– I am not arguing this matter from a Protectionist’s point of V.iew. except as a scientific Protectionist, who, by this requested amendmen!t, is endeavouring to give- the Protectionj that is absolutely essential in building ‘up industries in Australia - to the development of our lands. I am out to protect the southern portion of Australia, especially against the rabbit pest, and the only way I can help at the present is to see that traps are obtainable as cheaply as possible.
– I should like to address myself to the question, but I think there ought to “be a quorum present. (Quorum formed.]
– I am very much obliged to Senator Pearce for pointing out this “slip’ ( of Senator Payne. I value the fact j that Senator Payne, as a Protectionist, is trying to make rabbit traps cheaper by removing the duties; indeed, I think it is quite unnecessary for me to say anything further in the same direction .i So impressed is Senator Payne with the dangers of the rabbit pest that, for the moment, he has1 forgotten the false* reasoning of Protection, and urges that I traps should be made free in order that they may be cheaper to those who use them. That is the sort of reasoning I have applied to every item in the Tariff, and I am glad Senator Payne joins me on the item of rabbit traps. It is very i strange; that dog traps should be free,l while rabbit traps1 bear a heavy duty. Since that duty was imposed, the price of rabbit traps has increased by about 400 per cent.
– Are there no other factors besides the duty ?
– 1 dare say there are any number of other factors. I do not think it could be said that a 30 per cent, duty would cause a 400 per cent, increase in price. Senator Pearce has told ,us that there has been a great falling off ih. the number of rabbit traps turned out, and I am. not surprised to hear that. School boys who have been accustomed to pay i6d. for trap3 refuse to pay 2s. 6d.. and ‘the trapper who previously would not trouble to hunt for a lost trap will now ‘scour the bush for one. These traps are the peculiar tool of the trapper, and I cannot see why there should be an exorbitant duty imposed. With all the factories at work, and with the high duties, the fact remains that these traps are four tunes the price they were before duties were imposed. These trappers are continually losing their traps from one cause or another, and are now faced with an outlay they cannot well afford. Despite the fact that the. rabbits are now regarded as a pest, I am inclined to think that their intelligent cultivation will yet be taken up by the Australian community.
Question - That the request (Senator Payne’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (b), intermediate, ad val., 5 per cent.
In proposing a reduction of 20 per cent., I appeal to the good sense of honorable senators to see that no obstruction shall be placed in the way of making rabbit traps available as cheaply as possible to as large a number as possible of those who will use them, in order to keep down the pest.
– I desire to inform the honorable senator that I shall call for a division, seeing that his request in respect of the general Tariff was agreed to upon so small a margin, and with so few honorable senators voting.
– The Minister does not suggest that my proposal was carried upon a catch vote?
– No. There is considerable local competition in this business, and that will insure reasonable prices. In addition to a number of old firms, there are several factories which have begun operations this year.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . .4
Question so resolvedin the negative.
Request (by Senator Payne) proposed -
That the House of Representatives bo requested to make the duty, sub-item (b), British, free.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item 221 (Traps, vermin), and item 222 (Tubes, collapsible), agreed to.
.- The consideration of item 143, which deals with scrap iron and steel, was postponed, at the request of Senator Duncan, until the division covering metals and machinery had been dealt with. Will the honorable senator consent to its further postponement until the whole of the schedule has been considered ? The item involves a certain amount of investigation by Customs officials. This work is in hand, but has not been completed.
– I am quite agreeable to its further postponement.
– Items 8 and 9 and others were also postponed. Would it not be well if the Minister were to agree that all postponed items shall be dealt with at the end of the schedule?
– I approve of that suggestion.
Item 143 further postponed, accordingly division vii.- oils, paints, and varnishes.
Item 223 (Bronzing and metal powders); item 224 (Graphite); and item 225 (French chalk), agreed to.
Blacking; dressings and polishes for boots, shoes, and other articles of attire; dressings, inks, stains, pastes, and polishes for leather; furniture oils, pastes, and polishes; floor polishes; bronzing and metal liquids; knife, metal, and stove polishes, ad val., British, 35 per cent.: intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.
– These duties are exceedingly heavy. The duty of 35 per cent. under the British preferential Tariff is calculated to crush out all trade in these articles with the Old Country. No one will say that much labour or capital is involved in the industries to which the item relates. They are little industries, but are given a highly exorbitant Protectionist Tariff. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item, British, free.
.- These duties are in accordance with recommendations made by the Inter-State Commission, after full inquiry. Many of the raw materials used in the manufacture of the articles coming under the item are dutiable. Benzine, for instance, is dutiable at id. and1d. per gallon; tamarinds, in liquid form, at1s. 9d., 2s. 6d., and 3s. per gallon, and dextrine at 15 per cent., 20 per cent., and 35 per cent. These facts were taken into consideration by the Inter-State Commission when it recommended these duties.
Item agreed to.
Tallow and greases: -
Greases, including axle grease, and tallow unrefined -
In packages exceeding 4 lb. net weight, per cwt., British, 2s.; intermediate, 3s.; general, 4s.; or ad val.,British, 10 per cent.; intermediate. 15 per cent.; general, 20 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.
In packages not exceeding 4 lb. net weight, per cwt., British, 4s.; intermediate, 5s.6d.; general,6s. ; or ad val., British, 15 per cent. ; intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.
– This item covers axle greases, and since they are largely used by the farmer, I am almost surprised at the moderate duties which the Government propose to apply to them. . I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item, British, free.
Item agreed to.
Item 228 -
Oilsin bulk or otherwise, viz.: -
Cloth oil for use in the manufacture of textile goods, as prescribed by departmental by-laws; Unrefined fish oils; Seal; Penguin; Mir bane; and Turpentine, per gal., British and interanediate, free; general,1d.
Petroleum (crude), British, intermediate, and general; free.
Whale oil as prescribed by departmental by-laws, per gal., British and intermediate, free; general,1d.
Whale oil n.e.i., per gal., British, 6d.: intermediate, 7d. ; genera],8d.
.- Seeing that under the last item, which relates to articles used by the farmer, a duty is imposed under the British preferential Tariff, I fail to see why in this case imports from the United Kingdom should be free. If we make the farmer pay duties on the materials he uses, we should apply the same duties to ‘ ‘ the other fellow. ‘ ‘ For that reason, I move -
Thatthe House of Representatives be requested, to make the duty, sub-item (a), British, per gallon, 2s., or ad val., 10 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Senator PRATTEN (New South Wales) the crudeoil to be imported at no distant date by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, for refining purposes here, will come under sub-item (b), which relates to crude petroleum ?
– It will.
– I wish to know why whale oil, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, is free under the British and intermediate Tariffs, and dutiable at1d. per gallon under the general Tariff, whereas whale oil, n.e.i., is dutiable at 6d., 7d., and 8d. per gallon.
– In regard to the duty on whale oil, I may say that for some years a company operated on the Western Australian coast. It erected works at Point Cloates at a cost of £60,000 or £70,000, and at Albany at a cost of £19,000 or £20,000. It is proposed to renew the industry, which has been in abeyance during the last season or two. The chief competitor is Japan, and the value of imports from that country of recent years has been as follows: - 1913, £19,882; 1914-15, £22,814; 1915- 16, £45,618; 1916-17, £27,159; 1917-18, £51,092. The value of our exports of whale and fish oil are set out in the official statistics as follows: - 1913, £75,035; 1914-15, £197,380; 1915-16, £111,165; 1916-17, £32,668; while in 1917-18 the value of these exports dropped to £2,473. The industry is well worth encouraging, and I hope therefore that the Committee will agree to this item.
Item agreed to.
Oils in vessels exceeding 1 gallon -
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (f) by making tung oil free.
Tung oil, which enters into the making of varnishes, is extracted from a nut, and is produced only in China. The best varnishes are made with linseed oil, but there are certain varnishes in the manufacture of which tung oil is necessary.
The disadvantage of imposing a duty on that oil is that that increases the cost of the varnish in which it is used, and tends to destroy the export trade in such varnishes. It has been suggested that a rebate of the duty paid on tung oil used in the manufacture of varnishes for export should be made. That, however, would mean that the users of such varnishes abroad would obtain them for less than local users have to pay. We ought to endeavour to avoid such an anomaly. In some cases the practice has to be followed. For instance, a rebate is allowed in respect of the duty on sugar used in jam and condensed milk for export, but I fail to see why the people outside should be supplied by Australian manufacturers at prices below those charged to the local consumers. Tung oil is necessary in the manufacture of insulating and electrical varnish, which cannot be made with linseed oil. It is also used in damp-resisting compositions, lacquers for meat and jam tins, and as a dressing for hardwood. The only argument that can be used against its free importation is that it may enter into competition with linseed oil manufactured in Australia, but as the varnishes to which I have referred can be madeonly with tung oil, such would not be the case. I recently visited a Sydney varnish manufacturer who uses this oil, and he informed me that since the duty has been in force the export trade with China and Singapore has been lost, possibly because supplies are being obtained from America, where tung oil is admitted free.
– I ask the Committee not to accept this request, for several reasons. The Australian varnish trade depends very largely upon linseed oil which is made here, and the manufacture of varnish in Australia is increasing. Although we are not able to supply all our requirements of linseed oil, we have to remember that the residue remaining after the linseed has been pressed, forms a valuable cattle fodder, which is greatly in demand in time of drought. The varnishes made from tung oil enter into competition with the varnishes made from linseed oil, and if the former are admitted free it is obvious that those made from tung oil would be sold at a cheaper rate. The output of oil-cake would also be considerably reduced. I can assure Senator Thomas that whoever supplied him with his information has exaggerated the position in several instances. The honorable senator said that tung oil was preferable for dressing hardwood, and, as a Western Australian, I cannot refrain from smiling at such a suggestion, because there is no better substance for dressing hardwood than linseed oil or a mixture of the boiled and raw oil. It is universally used in Western Australia, where many of the houses are constructed of hardwood. I have not heard of tung oil being used for that purpose. Senator Thomas has also been advised that the imposition of this duty has destroyed the export trade to the East, but that is ridiculous. It has been assumed that this duty was imposed only when this Tariff was introduced; but it has been in force for twelve years, and during that time Australian manufacturers using tung oil in varnishes have been exporting. Linseed oil has dropped, in price in the United Kingdom very substantially. As there was no export from Great Britain during the war, cur varnishes were then in demand, because the market was bare. Consequently, we were able to build up an export trade ; but now Australian varnishes have to enter into competition with those manufactured elsewhere.
– The manufacturers of varnish have said that tung oil is necessary in the preparation of some varnishes.
– And so is linseed oil.
– The ‘Minister (Senator Pearce) said that linseed and not tung oil was used for the dressing of hardwood ; but if only linseed oil were used it would not last any time.
– A mixture of raw and boiled linseed oil is generally used.
– It needs something to give it a face, so that it may resist the weather, and it is the same with varnishes. Those engaged in the business say that tung oil is necessary in the preparation of some kinds of varnishes, particularly the cheaper variety. Varnishes manufactured in countries where tung oil is admitted free enter into competition with those made from linseed oil.* If we are to compete with them it must be on a common ground. It is unreasonable to suggest that the manufacture of linseed oil should be encouraged because linseed cake is a by-product, and is useful in time of drought. The quantity of linseed cake used is comparatively small when compared with copra cake. The quantity of linseed cake made in Australia is infinitesimal.
– Nearly 500,000 centals] of linseed were imported in 1918-19:
– Then, we are importing linseed to the discouragement of linseed-growers, who could produce meal, which would enter into competition with copra oil cake. The manufacturers should be the best judges of what is required, and if they say that tung oil is necessary we should not put our opinions against theirs. In order to meet competition, tung oil should be admited free.
– I am sorry that the Minister is opposing my request, because I am informed that there are certain varnishes for the manufacture of which tung oil must be imported, whatever the cost. I have no desire to injure the linseed oil industry, but I am told that tung oil must be imported, and that it will not come into competition with linseed oil in the manufacture of varnish. Perhaps the 1 Minister can inform me whether tung oil is necessary for the manufacture of certain varnishes?
– I do not know of anything for which varnish made fromlinseed oil cannot be used.
– If it is just as well’ to use linseed oil in the manufacture of varnish, I wonder why. it is not- used by the people who say they must use tung oil. ‘ I understand that the manufacturers who say they must have tung oil for their varnish are building up an export, trade, and, if so, it will be impossible for them to compete outside with makers of varnish who can obtain tung oil free. I believe that the Government are prepared to make arrangements for a rebate on *ports, but that means only that our own people will have to pay more for these oils than will people outside. It may; be assumed that I have viewed the question as a Free Trader, but Senator Senior, who admits the fairness of my request, is nob a Free Trader, and has given many votes on Protective lines. I hope1 that the Committee will support my request.
Question - That the request (Senator Thomas’) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 230 (Oils, including medicinal oils except essential oils not compounded).
.- I shallbe glad if the Minister can give the Committee some information concerning the oils that are included in this item.
– I cannot give the names of the different oils, but they have to be cleared at the Customs as medicines. The item includes cod liver oil, and such oils.
– It appears to me that, under the previous item, medicinal oils in bulk are admitted at a lower rate than such oils imported in the bottle.
– That is so, the object being to encourage the bottling here.
Item agreed to.
Paints and colours, viz.: -
British,6d.; intermediate,8d.; general,9d.; or ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 30 per cent, whichever rate returns the higher duty.
– I find that manganese is covered by this item, and I should like to know whether the raw material is referred to, or some preparation of it.
– It is manganese prepared as a colour.
– I asked the question because manganese enters into the composition of steel, and as it can be obtained here, its importation should be prevented.
– The manganese to which the honorable senator refers is covered by an unspecified list in a previous item.
– A considerable change has been made in the duties imposed on this item. The item includes a number of substances which were formerly dutiable in the general Tariff at 5 per cent., and in this schedule the duty in the general Tariff is 10 per cent., or an increase of 100 per cent. When we find the word “free” in the British preferential column it is an indication that the articles covered by the item are not made here. Apparently these things are not made in Australia, and yet there has been a jump-up in the general Tariff duty from 5 per cent. to 10 per cent., the purpose apparently being to give the Old Country a still greater preference than was given under previous Tariffs. I should like to know whether the Old Country is in need of this extra preference. If she is not, I see no reason for increasing the duty in the general Tariff, as it will merely have the effect of an extra impost upon those who use these substances. There should be some explanation of the increased preference to Great Britain.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia - case of a commodity which both the United Kingdom and America can supply, and upon which we do not desire to impose a duty, the only way in which we can give a preference to the United Kingdom is by imposing a duty on imports from America. The articles covered by sub-item a are free from the United Kingdom, and dutiable at 10 per. cent. if imported from America. Provision has been made for a duty of 5 per cent. in the intermediate column, but that will not be operative unless it is made the subject of an agreement, so that it may give us something with which to bargain with a country to which we desire to send the products of Australia.
– That is a bargaining Tariff?
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, sub-item (d), per cwt., British, 6s. ; intermediate, 7s. ; general 8s.
The existing duties are 5s. 6d. British, 6s. intermediate, and 7s. general. Kalsomine is a product from kaolin or china clay; and caseine, which is necessary for the manufacture of kalsomine, is dutiable at 25 per cent. under another item in the Tariff. The effect of this duty is to reduce the protection to this industry to 121/2 per cent. It must be patent that if outside competitors can get caseine at a cheaper rate, the Australian manufacturer of kalsomine should have more adequate protection. I had an opportunity of inspecting a South Australian kalsomine industry recently, and saw a very large deposit of the china clay, as pure as could be found, I understand, anywhere in the world. This company is starting operations for the preparation of a number of kalsomine paint colours. From alumina, another product of kaolin, is manufactured a toilet powder, which is sold usually in small 1-oz. boxesfor about 4s. 6d. a box. Alumina is also used for the “facing” of newsprint required for illustrations, and also enters largely into paint-making processes. Then from the silica is obtained that useful article of household use known as “ Clever Mary,” besides a number of other valuable products. .
– I do not think that the increase asked for is necessary. The Inter-State Commission inquired fully into this industry when it was investigating Tariff matters.
– This industry was not in existence then.
– Perhaps not the industry mentioned by the honorable senator; but others were, including the Australian Kalsomine Company, in Melbourne. The Inter-State Commission recommended that the duties be as setout in this schedule, and as 5s. 6d. in the’ British Tariff represents about 271/2 per cent., the general Tariff would be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 30 per cent. or 40 per cent. Since the Tariff was dealt with in another place the Department has not received a single complaint or request for consideration in regard to this particular item. Therefore, wemay presume that the duty is adequate. I ask Senator Senior not to press his request.
– After seeing what is being done by the company to which I refer, working under comparatively crude methods, I realize that this is an opportunity to encourage the development of an important industry. Therefore, I feel inclined to press my request. I omitted to mention that the clay produces an exceedingly fine white tile. Other deposits produce a tile which, when burnt, is creamy incolour; but the tile produced from this particular deposit is pure white, and the kalsomine paint will stand every test. I saw a sheet of galvanized iron which had been painted with it and exposed to the sun’s rays and other weather conditions for nine months, and then the colour was as! bright as when first put on. This Tariff is framed for the purpose of encouraging Australian industries, and I ask honorable senators to support my request.
– As no doubt most honorable sen ators are aware, for many years there has been an agitation to regulate, and in many cases prohibit, the use of lead paint, because of the danger of lead poisoning. It is a serious danger in Australia, where the heat quickly extracts the oil, and the residual chalks or powders have been carried to the mouth from the hands of persons handling articles that had been painted, with very serious consequences, in many instances. The use of lead paints is absolutely prohibited in France and Holland and in some of the South American countries. In many other countries the regulations governing their use are very severe. A Royal Commission which sat in England before the war also recommended the practical prohibition of the -‘use of lead paints, but the war intervening upset everything in this respect for the time being. In Queensland, the British Medical Association has been assisting the Operative Painters’ Union in an endeavour to get the State Government to prohibit the use of lead paints in certain circumstances. The present Tariff is so framed that it unduly taxes the non-poisonous and high-grade material, and practically encourages the use of the cheaper, low-grade article which ia most dangerous, inasmuch as it has less body and is more soluble. Under the old Tariff, lead or zinc in oil was dutiable at 5s. per cwt. against Great Britain and 6s. per cwt. general. The new specific rates are 8s. and 10s. per cwt., an increase of 3s. per cwt., or 60 per cent., and 4s. per cwt., or 66§ per cent., surely a sufficient increase for even the most ardent Protectionist. However, a further ad valorem rate has been added, viz., 25 per cent, against Great Britain and 35 per cent, general. As the present f.o.b. price of pure white lead in Great Britain and the United States of America is about £70 per ton, this ad valorem duty works out at 19s. 3d. per cwt. against Great Britain and 27s. per cwt. general, or an increase of 285 per cent. and 350 per cent, respectively. Again, as the present f.o.b. price of zinc, the nonpoisonous material, ground in oil, is about £90 per ton, the new ad valorem rates work out at 24s. 9d. per cwt. against Great Britain and 34s. 8d. per cwt. general, or an increase on the 1914 Tariff rates of 395 per cent, and 587^ per cent, respectively. This prohibitive Tariff on the zinc or non-poisonous paints encourages the use of the cheaper lead paint, which is a dangerous article, and is a serious handicap to the painting trade, and harmful to the operatives engaged in that trade. In order to bring the nonpoisonous lines into more general use, I suggest that the ad valorem duty upon them should be at least half the duty fixed for the poisonous article. The local white lead manufacturers have taken every advantage of the present prohibitive duty. I paid a visit recently to the largest white lead manufacturing establishment in Australia, controlled by Messrs. Lewis Berger and Sons, of Sydney, where a great number of men are employed, and in which a considerable capital has been invested. Their selling rates are just keeping under the fluctuating prices prevailing in the .Old World. In 1914 pig lead was selling at about £18 per ton, and white lead in oil, after the payment of £5 per ton in duty, at £25 per ton. To-day white lead cannot be bought at under £80 per ton, or pure zinc in oil at under £100 per ton. While I realize the necessity of encouraging local industries, in order to utilize to the full the labour available, I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that for every man employed in making white lead, at least ten are required for its application, and if it can be shown that the health and even the lives of these operatives, are endangered by the maintenance of this industry against the zinc white industry, that is a matter we ought to take into consideration.
– We can make all the paint we want in Australia.
– We can do so.; but what I am proposing to do is to encourage, as far as it. can be done under this Tariff, the use of zinc paint in place of white lead paint. The executive committee of the Operative Painters and Decorators Union of Australia, New South Wales Branch, last, year issued the following circular: - Fellow Workers -
We desire to bring before your notice the grave danger in which our trade stands by reason of an iniquitous Tariff on the importation of white lead and non-poisonous paints. Owing to this ad valorem duty imposed by the Federal Government, the cost’ of non-poisonous paints will be increased to such an extent that it will become impossible to use ‘them. The result of this will bc to increase the use of white lead paints, which are detrimental to the health of the operatives, and the use of which it is our earnest desire should be discontinued. By the imposition of, the above Tariff it makes it practically impossible to either use or advocate the non-poisonous product. The dangers attendant upon the use of white lead paints are fully realized in the older countries, and France, Holland, Belgium, and South America have prohibited their use and manufacture. The dangers accruing are so real that it is our desire that every member of the Federal Government should be approached and asked to pledge himself to have this ad valorem Tariff removed, allowing said products to come in under the old rates, namely, the duty to be left at £8 per ton Great Britain, and £10 per ton general. This would give the local makers an extra protection of £3 and £4 per ton, in addition to the extra freight protection on pre-war rates of £3 10s. per ton. We ask you, fellow-workers, to get to work at once and assist us in this matter, as it is most desirable to protect your health and your livelihood.
My proposal to-night is to request the House of Representatives to omit the words “ zinc white, ground in oil,” from sub-item g, under which the duty on this material is now collected, and insert a new sub-item specifying lower rates of duty for it. The protection afforded to our white-lead industry will not thus be diminished. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (g) by making the duties on zinc white, ground in liquid, per cwt., British, 4s.; intermediate, 4s. 6d.; general, 5s.; or ad val., British, 10 per cent. ; intermediate, 15 per cent.; general, 20 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.
.- The honorable senator will not accomplish his purpose by this means, because the effect of agreeing to his request would be that the manufacturers of white lead would still continue under the duty of 8s. per cwt., while the manufacturer of zinc white in Australia would be knocked out by the imposition of a lower rate of duty. Not a single extra ounce of zinc white, or a single ounce less of white lead would be used.
– What zinc white is being manufactured in Australia?
– Zinc white is being made by the Electrolytic Zinc Works at Hobart. The local manufacture of zinc white would be injured by accepting the honorable senator’s suggestion. We can best promote the use of zinc white instead of white lead, by encouraging its manufacture in Australia. If we destroyed the local manufacture of the article, there would be no one in the Commonwealth interested in its use, except importers. I have some evidenceas to the effects of white lead. I have that of Dr. Nash and Dr. Graham, who do not agree with a great deal that has been said about it, and that of the Association of Architects, in New South Wales, who combat the argument that zinc white should be used in preference to white lead.
– Is there not. an inquiry pending in New South Wales?
– Yes. The question of prohibiting the use of white lead is to come up before the League of Nations, and the Commonwealth Government are at the present time engaged in selecting their representative. The trade unions, the employers, and the Commonwealth Government will be separately represented, and the League will consider what action the nations as a whole shall take. It is by , no means admitted that white lead paint is harmful under proper conditions. The Architects Association has pointed out that many commodities of this kind, that used to be harmful in the old days, are’ under modern conditions quite harmless. Senator Duncan will certainly not gain his ends by the means he proposes, and, therefore, I suggest that he do not press this request.
– I have considerable sympathy with the ethical object that Senator Duncan wishes to accomplish. There is, I think, evidence that lead paint has caused some sickness and death. For what it is worth, I give a statement made in a circular issued by the New South Wales branch of the Operative Painters and Decorators Union of Australia, to the effect that the dangers attendant on the use of white lead paint are fully realized in the older countries; and that France, Holland, Belgium, and South America have prohibited its use and manufacture. I, however, agree with Senator Pearce that the method proposed by Senator Duncan will not much help that honorable senator in the direction he desires. I take it that he wishes to have duties differentiating between white lead paint and zinc paint, the duties to be the lower on the latter commodity. The controversy over this question has been going on in New South Wales for over twelve months, and during that time very strong letters have been received by some of us from manufacturers of zinc white in Sydney. Amongst others, there is a firm which carries on what are known as the Mascot Smelting Works, and which on the 27th September, a year ago, wrote stating that it had invested a capital of £20,000 or £30,000 in a factory for the manufacture of zinc white, and that any attempted alteration of the duties in the direction of differentiating in favour of imported zinc white would very substantially and seriously interferewith the industry that had just been established in order to provide this nonpoisonous paint. Inasmuch as Senator Duncan will not accomplish his object by, the request he has submitted, and inasmuch as there are several firms here which have entered upon the manufacture of zinc white for the purpose of competing with the white lead paint, this problem may, to some extent, solve itself with the further development of zinc paint production. I understand that the prices of the two compounds are much the same. I hope that, as a result of that development, the operative painters in New South Wales will be able to obtain an efficient substitute if they want it, seeing that the result of scientific investigation suggests that it may be better from every stand-point to use zinc white than white lead paint.
.- I really think the Senate ought to give some consideration to the humane proposal of Senator Duncan. At this time of day no one will question that the continuous use of white lead paint is unhealthy, and that zinc white is an efficient substitute. Senator Duncan is endeavouring to give preference to zinc white by making it really the cheaper paint; and if he succeeds that will bring zinc white into more general use. The trade unions interested have been giving considerable attention to the question of the use of this poisonous substance, which for many years has made sad inroads on their membership. With increasing intelligence, they are determined to prevent, as far as possible, the use of such substances ; and on that ground alone I shall be found supporting Senator Duncan. I think this Chamber should give its first attention to the health of the people it represents.
.-. Senator Duncan’s request would, I think, have met with more favour if it had not been shown that a very determined effort is being made in Australia to meet a difficulty that has’ prevailed in the painting trade for many years. I desire to refer to one effort in this direction, and not only in connexion with zinc oxide. For the first time in the history of Australia, a company which carries on operations at Risdon, on the banks of the Derwent, near Hobart, have solved the problem of producing a snow-white paint which retains its whiteness longer than does white lead paint, and is absolutely harmless. The plant for the production of this paint has been considerably extended, and I am given to understand that in a short time the company will be able to supply it in such quantities as may lead to the practical disappearance of white lead paint.
Question - That the request (Senator Duncan’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Ship’s anti-fouling composition is really a paint. The preferential duty is 4s. per cwt.; it has remained the same since 1908. Is that rate reasonable or fair? I do not think it is high enough. The composition, I understand, is worth £9 per cwt., so that the British Tariff isequivalent to only a little more than 2 per cent. The composition is made in Australia. Seeing that reasonable protection has been afforded in respect of other varieties of paint, I fail to see the fairness of these rates. I understand that the Australian manufacturers have made strong representations to the Minister for Trade and Customs, but that their case has not succeeded with the Government.
– The question of protecting the industry with higher rates of duty has been fully considered. The painting of ships with anti-fouling composition is a rather considerable local industry; and the Government do not wish to drive it away from Australia. An application was made to the Inter-State Commission by a Sydney manufacturer for an increase in duty of 2s. 6d.per gallon, which is equal to 25s. per cwt. But the Commission recommended that the rates should remain at 4s. and 4s. 6d., on the ground that the amount of employment in the manufacture of the composition, if all requirements were locally met, would be inappreciable compared with that involved in the docking and painting of vessels. Messrs. Chas. Atkins and Company, of Melbourne, applied in February last for a higher duty on ship’s anti-fouling composition on the ground that the firm was able to cater for the requirements of the Commonwealth. A similar application was made some time ago by Mr. McLeod, of Sydney. Inquiries from the Melbourne Harbor Board and the Commonwealth Line of Steamers revealed that one of the local products was of poor quality, and that another had not been long enough in use to prove its value. In another instance, however, a small trial had been made by the Union Steam-ship Company. . The composition had stood the test under water for several months, and had shown every sign of being satisfactory. Upon the whole of the evidence, however - which, though incomplete, was not encouraging - the Department felt that it was not justified at the time in increasing the rates of duty. The Minister for Trade and Customs personally went into the whole subject.
– It is apparently more important to insure that ships shall be painted with imported anti-fouling composition, while they are in Australian waters, than to encourage the production of the composition in this country. This instance is the first wherein the Government appear to have dealt rather unfairly with a local industry.
– The Australian firms mentioned are continuing to manufacture under the present rates, although they have asked for higher duties.
– But the Government have neither imposed a duty, nor left the subject alone.
– I feel reluctantly compelled to leave the subject, in view of the fact that the Minister for Trade and Customs has presumably fully probed the question, and has decided that the rates which have been in existence for the past fourteen years shall not be interfered with. However, as the Minister for Defence has called to his aid the recommendations of the Inter-State Commission, I suggest that he should doso consistently.
Item agreed to.
– I am given to understand that, for some reason not apparent, there has been an extraordinary increase in the price of good varnish. The following particulars have been furnished to me by the trade: -
The duty passed on 16th June was not the original proposal of the Government, but was the result of an amendment asked for by the Minister for Trade and Customs without any previous notice to the Committee, and without any facts or information for an ad valorem alternative being disclosed. There was only the bare statement that it was to protect the higher qualities of varnish manufactured in the Commonwealth, and the amendment was agreed to on the voices. The effect of the ad valorem alternative is to alter the incidence of the Tariff by 75 per cent. to 350 per cent. above the fixed duty on the different grades of varnishes imported. It imposes a crushing burden on the coachbuilding, motor, and painting trades, which require to use highclass varnish, the quality of which is not obtainable in the Commonwealth; and it is a heavy blow to British trade. The present Tariff is not Protection, but prohibition, and as the highest prices quoted by Australian manufacturers were, under the old Tariff, 25 per cent. to 50 per cent. lower than the imported goods, there could be no question of unfair competition. The following will disclose the position clearly, being a shipment just landed, 29th July, 1921, ex s.s. Omar: - 938 galls. varnish (net value £1,023 13s. 6d.), old duty, 2s. 6d. per gall.; equal to £1175s.
Under present Tariff the position would be as follows:, - 938 galls, varnish (net value £1,023 13s. 0d.), 10 per cent, added by Customs, £1,126 0s. 10d., at 25 per cent, ad valorem, equal to £281 10s. 2d.; difference in duty, £184 5s. 2d.; equal to 140 per cent., ranging from 5s. 2d. to 8s. Id. per gall., according to the grades in this shipment.
The following particulars show the effect of a 25 per cent, ad valorem duty in comparison with the old duty on different grades of varnish: -
Those figures speak for themselves. I realize, unhappily, that any request which I may make will be treated merely as the frantic effort of a Free Trader, and will be incontinently turned down, irrespective of the reasons which I may proffer by way of justification.
– The honorable senator should not say that.
– But I do say it; and I am fairly confident that no honorable senator will support me.
– I think the honorable senator has made out a good case: and, at this juncture, I may say that I intend to support him.
– The honorable senator’s views may be materially altered by the counter-facts in the possession of the Department.
– I ask whether the increases which have been made are not disproportionately heavy. There is no reason why the duty should be raised 350 per cent, simply because the varnish to which it applies happens to be a good one. There are many honest tradesmen in this country. If they are working on a good job, and are getting a reasonable price, they will use the good and expensive varnish as a matter of pride and principle. It would be interesting to go through the various debates conducted in the Commonwealth Legislature upon Tariff matters, and .to study the views there expressed with respect to the duties on varnish. The trade itself originally asked for duties of ls. and ls. 6d. per gallon only. Yet enormous increases, reaching a? high as lis. per gallon, have been imposed at the behest of the Minister for Trade and Customs. There is only one test of varnish, and that is. the test of wear. Until that has been applied, a cheap varnish will look practically as good as a costly one. I would not object to the imposition of a .fixed rate, so long, of course, as it was reasonable. The trade would know then where it stood. I would not object to a moderate concession by way of a reduction of the British preferential Tariff. The rate of 25 per cent, is altogether out of reason. I would consider 15 per cent, a fair thing. There is no extraordinarily valuable machinery required, for the manufacture of varnish; nor are there great numbers of employees engaged in its production. Little skill is required in its manufacture, which is merely concerned with ingredients quickly and easily mixed. Here is an attempt to shut out of Australia a varnish that we cannot replace. I am not one of those who say that an English article is better than an Australian one. I should be very glad if we produced varnishes that could compete with those made in Great Britain; but men in the trade who know what they are talking about tell me that those who want, to give a good return for the money they receive will use a high-class varnish, even if it is loaded to the extent of this huge ad valorem duty, which works out at lis. per gallon. Such an impost is unreasonable, and I hope that the Minister will agree to move a request either that the ad valorem rate under the British preferential Tariff be reduced to 15 per cent., or that we have only a reasonably heavy fixed duty. I fail to understand why we should impose on the superior article a higher duty than is levied on one of inferior quality. What would happen if a duty of, say, 14s. a gallon on first-grade whisky and a duty of only 13s. per gallon on inferior whisky were proposed? Messrs. Harland and Son, whose highclass varnishes are very largely imported, are very badly treated under this item.We should have the same duty on the high-class varnishes that we impose on those of inferior quality. If the Minister is not /prepared to agree to that, I shall move a request that the ad valorem duty under the British preferential Tariff he reduced to 15 per cent.
.- The varnish-making industry is well established in Australia. There are six factories in New South Wales, sixteen in Victoria, one in Queensland, two in South Australia, one in Western Australia, and one in Tasmania. Under the 1914 Tariff the duty on imports from the United Kingdom was 2s. 6d. per gallon. That rate has not been altered. At one time the compositions from which varnishes were made were imported only in liquid form, so that a fixed rate of duty at so much per gallon was practicable, but the introduction of compositions in powder form made it desirable to change to an ad valorem basis. New South Wales has a larger output of varnish than any other State, and one company carrying on business there has a contract with the Government railways for the supply of 18,000 gallons per annum. That fact alone should convince the Committee that the industry is worth protecting. As to the reason for the imposition of these ad valorem duties which has led to a protest on behalf of the importers, I may say that complaints have been made to the Department regarding the practice of certain varnish manufacturers in the United States of America who send varnish to Australia in a “heavy” or “paste” form, which is broken down here by the addition of “thinners” to the extent of 3 to 1. The “ thinners “ are said to come in free, so that the duty paid on one gallon of heavy varnish would actually represent the payment on 4 gallons. That was an ingenious means of overcoming the specific duty. In consequence of that practice it was decided to impose alternative ad valorem duties of 25 per cent., 30 per cent., and 35 per cent., in order to give the local industry, not more protection, but the same that it had hitherto enjoyed. In the circumstances, I think the passing of the duties as they stand is justifiable.
– In another place the whole of this division of the schedule was passed in fourteen minutes, and the amendment moved by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) providing for alternative ad valorem duties was agreed to after a discussion which occupied only three minutes. The reasons given by the honorable gentleman for their imposition were that he thought that the existing duty was sufficient for the lower grades, but that a specific duty did not adequately protect the higher grades of varnish. Coming to the point raised by Senator Gardiner, a communication has been sent to me by the Master Painters and Decorators Association of Victoria stating that the local manufacturers of varnish sell their productions at prices ranging from 25 per cent. to nearly 100 per cent. lower than the British-made article, but that-
Notwithstanding this fact, we find it is absolutely necessary to have English-made varnishes for our high-class work.
The association protests strongly against the imposition of these ad valorem duties on the ground that they unnecessarily increase the cost of varnishes that they must in any circumstances import. There is no objection on the part of this organization to a reasonable duty, specificor even ad valorem, but they point out, as Senator Gardiner has done, thatthe duty of 25 per cent. under the British preference Tariff amounts to 8s., 9s., and 10s. per gallon on varnishes which in any circumstances they will import for their best work, and that it unnecessarily increases the price of an article which they must use. I suggest to Senator Gardiner that his purpose would, perhaps, be served by a reduction of the ad valorem duty under the British preferential Tariff from 25 per cent. to 15 per cent.
– That would satisfy me. I invite the honorable senator to move such a request.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the ad val. duty, sub-item (a), British, 15 per cent.
The 25 per cent. will not keep out the high-grade British varnishes, and it means only an extra cost in the matter of raw material, whilst the 15 per cent. will achieve everything that is desired by the imposition of a 25 per cent. duty.
– I intend to support Senator Pratten’s request, because, after having given this matter some consideration, I have for the first time been brought face to face with what an alternative duty means. The increases quoted by Senator Gardiner are astounding, and when one recognises that under a duty of 2s. 6d. per gallon local manufacturers of varnishes have been able to sell to the Australian users their products at 25 per cent. less than the imported article, it is extraordinary that the Government have attempted to impose a duty that would, on the higher-grade varnishes, reach11s. per gallon. This is not Protection, but prohibition, and Senator Pratten is correct in saying that the master painters of Australia find it essential to use the best varnishes available for their higher -grade work. I am anxious to. assist the local manufacturers to retain the ground they have gained, and to extend their operations under reasonable protection; but surely it is not necessary to impose duties ranging from 5s. 101/2d. to l1s. per gallon instead of 2s. 6d. per gallon, as was proposed when the schedule was introduced. There is no justification for penalizing reputable British firms by imposing such heavy duties merely because the Customs authorities have ascertained that certain American manufacturers have endeavoured to evade the duties by exporting varnishes in a thick state and thinning them down here. I hold no brief for William Harland and Sons, but I know their varnishes can alwaysbe relied upon, and are exclusively used in all high-grade work. The request is a moderate one, and means that instead of imposing 25 per cent., a duty of 15 per cent. will be charged, and that on the better classes of varnish will return about double whatwas proposed when the schedule was introduced. On the best varnishes it will be about 6s. instead of 2s. 6d. per gallon, and that is going a long way towards meeting the financial necessities of the Commonwealth, and at the same time doubling the protection to the local manufacturers.
– Let us have a division.
– I resent the Minister showing signs of weariness; because this is only the second occasion on which I have spoken since the dinner adjournment. I have a right to express my views on such an important matter, and whether the Minister likes it or not I intend to do so whenever I think the occasion justifies it.
Senator GARDINER (New South
Wales) [10.19]. - In asking for this reductionweare ingood company. Many years ago this question was debated in anotherplace in exactly similar circumstances. The following is a report of the debate : -
Mr. JOSEPH COOK. . If the Minister for Trade and Customs will agree to leave out the ad valorem duty I shall have no more to say.
Mr. BOWDEN. The Protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended only1s. 9d. per gallon.
Sir John Quick. That is a mistake. We recommended a duty of 2s. per gallon.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE. … I move “ That after the figure ‘ 2s.’ the words ‘ and on and after 3rd December, 1907, per gallon (general Tariff), 2s. 6d.; (United Kingdom), 2s.’ be inserted.” I shall afterwards move for the omission of the words “ ad val., 30 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
They returned to the fiscal duty of 2s. 6d. per gallon. I think it would be expediting business if the Minister (Senator Pearce) agreed to what is a reasonable request.
– I cannot do it. We must have a division.
– I trust the Minister will not call for one against the voices.
Question - That the request (Senator Pratten’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item. 233 (Liquid removers of paint and varnish) agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 10.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 August 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210825_senate_8_97/>.