8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I have received from Mr. James Page, son of the late Hon. James Page, M.P., a letter thanking the Senate for its expression of sympathy with him on the death of his father, and conveying his appreciation of the resolution passed by it.
– (By leave). - During this week ex-Senator James Guy, who from 5th September, 1914, to 30th June, 1920, was one of the representatives of Tasmania in the Senate, passed away after an illness lasting practically from the time of his retirement. I think it only fitting, and in conformity with the wishes of honorable senators, that I should express, on behalf of Ministerial supporters, our regret at his death, and our sympathy with his relatives. During the six years that he was a member of the Senate, the deceased gentleman earned the respect and goodwill of all his fellow senators. Most of us differed from the policy which he followed in the later years of his life; but his was a lovable character, and we all admired and respected him. On behalf of honorable senators supporting the Government, I express our sympathy with his relatives and our appreciation of the services that he rendered to the Commonwealth during his membership of this branch of- the Commonwealth Legislature.
– (By leave). - I join with the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) in expressing our’ deep sorrow at the death of ex-Senator Guy. As a member of the Senate, he gained the esteem and affection of all who were privileged to know him. His earnestness and sincerity were outstanding traits of his character, and I acknowledge how deeply his profound Christian sincerity influenced me in our all too brief association in the Senate. A good man has passed away, but his influence will remain. His was an example of clean living and simple Christian faith. We all mourn his loss. To his widow and the members of his family we offer our deepest sympathy, and in spirit our tears will fall with theirs over the grave of a good man laid to rest.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 25th August, vide page 11342) :
Schedule - divisionviii.-earthernware, cement, china, glass,andstone
Item 234 (Portland cement), and item 235 (Asphalt mastic) agreed to.
Item 236 -
Scientific apparatus, porcelain, viz., crucibles, tubes, pressure filters, and evaporating dishes, for laboratory use, British, free; intermediate, ad val., 5 per cent.; general, ad val., 20 per cent.
.- Will the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) explain why the very big preference of 20 per cent. is given to imports from the United Kingdom under this item ? I do not know whether there is any fixed standard, but we find that sometimes a preference of only 5 per cent. is given, while in others a preference of 10 per cent., 15 per cent., and 20 per cent. is granted. This principle can be run to death. How much arewe going to pay for it? If there is to be no fixed standard, we shall probably be jumping from a preference of 20 per cent. as in this case to one of 40 per cent. or even more. When are we going to give our own people a little preference ? The appearance of the word ‘ ‘ free ‘ ‘ in the preferential column may be taken to indicate that the articles mentioned in the item are not made in Australia or likely to be produced here. Freedom from the imposition of duty is one thing, but the emphasizing of the preference to the extent of imposing a general duty of 20 per cent. is giving Britain greater favour than she seeks or requires, and is at the same time unduly, and, therefore, unreasonably, taxing the Australian public. The general rate is too high!
– Before the war Australia secured most of her supplies of these scientific articles from Germany. Once their production was a monopoly of Great Britain, but in the years just prior to the war German competition was driving British manufacturers out of the world’s markets. The object in making the importation of British products free and of imposing a general tax of 20 per cent. is to assist the Mother Country to regain and retain her markets, particularlythose within the Empire. A -report of the Federal Analyst states: -
Prior to the war, by far the greatest quantity of the supplies of scientific apparatus and instruments, as well as of scientific glass and porcelain articles, was imported from Germany. During the past four years many firms in Great Britain, France, and the United States of America have entered into this special field of manufacture in which Germany was formerly pre-eminent. The leading scientific periodicals in Great Britain, France, and the United States of America have furnished information showing that high class scientific apparatus and instruments, glassware and porcelain articles are now made in the countries named equal in all respects to those previously made in Germany. It is of the utmost importance to the Empire that supplies should be manufactured, for the future, within the Empire.
Efforts have been made in Australia to manufacture these scientific appliances, but, so far, without success. British industries, previously engaged in their production, were turned over to other purposes during the war. Meanwhile, German industries - that country having made all her warlike preparations prior to the actual declaration of hostilities - were ready, so soon as the conflict had terminated, to launch their products, in full blast, so to speak, upon the world’s markets. Australia should be prepared to give Great Britain substantial advantage.
– The Minister’s statement does not help the case for the retention of the general rate of 20 per cent. Senator Pearce admits that these scientific appliances are being made in countries which were recently our allies.
– We can enter into trade arrangements with Prance and bring the products of that country under the intermediate Tariff.
– I am fully aware of the sentiment of Australia, and of the British people generally, towards Germany, and I know the feelings of the people of the Empire towards our late allies ; but there is truth in the aphorism that the allies of to-day are our enemies of to-morrow, and vice versa.
– Great Britain will not he our enemy to-morrow.
-Why should we admit that Great Britain cannot stand up to German competition?
– The people of Britain do not think that they are unable to do so. They do not protect themselves with one penny of duty.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) once said that this country would not trade again with Germany, but that prejudice has already begun to crumble.Force of necessity now compels us to turn attention in the direction of our former enemy. But common sense should guide this Legislature. There should he a limit upon the penalties imposed on our own people in the direction of giving preference to the British people. These articles cannot be produced here. The Government are placing upon those persons of scientific mind and those institutions which require the appliances a tax to the extent of practically one-fifth of the value of the appliances. And all merely to give expression to a prejudice! Even so, however, there is no consistency, for the rates set down in the schedule will have the effect of penalizing friendly nations. I move -
That the House of Representatives he requested to make the duty, general, ad val., 10 per cent.
– I understood the Minister (Senator Pearce) to say, by interjection, that Great Britain had imposed a heavy duty on German importations.
– A duty of 33½ per cent., and she is also applying antidumping provisions on these particular articles.
– If Great Britain is acting in that manner, there is no reason why we should follow her example, because scientific instruments should be made available at the lowest possible price. The time must come - regrettable as it may be - when we must trade with Germany. We are doing it to-day, because we are disposing of our surplus wool, and I suppose Tasmaniau exporter? of apples would also be glad to sell a portion of their crop to that country.
– Why should we not trade with Germany on the same basis as Great Britain ?
– I do not think there is any reason why we should follow Great Britain’s example in this instance, because scientific instruments are absolutely essential, and if they are not manufactured here, we should be able to import them, at reasonable rates. I support the request.
– Do I understand that the antidumping provisions mentioned by the Minister (Senator Pearce) apply also to Prance?
– Only to Germany.
– Then France is still a free competitor, and Germany has been singled out in this instance. What has France done to this country that she should be penalized in this way? Is it the intention of the Government to pass the Anti-Dumping Bill which was introduced in another place?
– Importations from France will be dutiable under the intermediate Tariff.
– The Minister does not answermy inquiry regarding the antidumping measure which would affect German importations. We are imposing a heavy duty on exports from France, which is unreasonable, and I ask the Committee to support my request.
– I understand that importations from Fiance will be dutiable under the intermediate Tariff. If France allows certain of our exports to be admitted free, we will deal with her on a similar basis, but if we cannot come to terms, the intermediate duties will not apply, and we shall still be imposing a duty of 20 per cent. on scientific instruments imported from France.
Question - That the request be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent. ; general, 40 per cent. ; and on and after 17th June, 1921, 50 per. cent.
– The inordinately heavy duties originally proposed on. chinaware under the general Tariff were increased in another place on 17th June last. Asthe imposition of such heavy duties will prevent the importation of chinaware, more particularly from Eastern countries, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), general, 35 per cent.
The chinaware mentioned in this sub-item is used in the homes of the people. The greater proportion of the duty will be paid on crockery used by the worker.
– I have to direct the attention of the Committee to a few facts in connexion with these items, which I feel sure will induce Sena- tor Duncan to withdraw his request. Before the war, in 1913, the values of the imports from different countries were as follows : - United Kingdom,. £67,000; Germany, £72,000; Japan, £9,000; other countries, £23,000, making a total of £173,000. In 1918-19 the figures were-
United Kingdom, £56,000; Germany, nil; Japan, £207,000. What happened, of course, was that, Germany being out of the business, Japan collared the market, and our imports fromthat country went up from £9,000 in 1913 to £13,000 in 1914, £57,000 in 1915, £90,000 in 1916, £104,000 in 1917, £207,000 in 1918-19, and £132,000 in 1919-20. Some of these goods in small quantities axe manufactured in the Commonwealth. There are seven factories established in Australia - four in Victoria: Australian Porcelain Company, Yarraville ; Sunshine Porcelain Company, Sunshine; Firebrick and Insulator Company, Kingwood; and Miller’s Pottery, Coburg; two in Sydney: Fowler’s Pottery and Miller’s Pottery; and one in Perth: the Calyx Porcelain Company. The raw material used is entirely Australian. There are 200 men employed in the industry, the wages paid amount to £1,400 per fortnight, the capital invested is £116,000, and the value of the plant £89,000. The imports, as I have already indicated, are chiefly from Japan. There are deposits in Australia of the raw materials required. Porcelain and other clays of good quality have been found in Tasmania; and in Kangaroo Island, where the first pottery mill in the Commonwealth was established, there are vast deposits of felspar, china-stone, and silica. There is a large demand for the articles included in these items, and it is expected that, with a reasonable protection, there will be a substantial growth in local manufacture.
– Are our manufacturers making household crockery?
– They are making some. The honorable senator will find, in the Commonwealth Parliamentary refreshment rooms, teapots and cups and saucers that were made in the Brunswick factory. The 1920 Tariff aims at a reasonable protection for the Australian manufacturer, and at the giving of a sound preference to the United Kingdom. This is necessary, in view of the grip that Japan is getting on the Australian trade. Some reference has been made to what we owe to Japan; but it should not be forgotten that Japan had her own interest in the war, and, though we may owe something to that country for war services, we. owe infinitely more to Great Britain.
– Is the Minister prepared to accept the original proposal of a duty in the general Tariff of 40 per cent. ?
– No. In view of the figures I have quoted, I think that what is proposed in the schedule is required to give an effective preference to Great Britain.
– Do we send something to Japan in return for the goods we receive from that country?
– I do not think that we send very much to Japan. In August, 1919, the Australian Porcelain Company, of Melbourne, submitted figures showing that several lines of insulators from Japan were sold in Australia at prices up to 35 per cent, below that of the locallyproduced article. It will be admitted that we should be self-contained in the manufacture of insulators for telegraph and telephone purposes. The company pointed out the difference in wages paid in the two countries at the time. Skilled tradesmen in Australia were paid £3 6s. to £4 per week of forty-eight hours, and in Japan, 7s. 6d. to 9s. per week of sixty hours. Unskilled labour was paid in Australia a “ minimum of £3 per week of forty-eight hours, and in Japan from 4s. to 63. per week of sixty hours. So far as the statement regarding Japanese wages is concerned, the Australian Porcelain Company’s figures are not up-to-date. The Board of Trade has supplied the following information, which was taken from an address delivered by Mr. E. F. Crowe, C.M.G., Commercial Counsellor of the British Embassy in Japan, published in the Board of Trade Journal in July, 1919.:-
Wages in Japan: Skilled men, 5s. to 7s. per day; unskilled men, 2s. per day. In addition to these rates, there is always a bonus given twice a year to workmen equal to at least one month’s wages.
Hours worked in Japan: The average is given as seventy hours per week. There is no regular half-holiday on Saturday or holiday on Sunday. The general rule is to give two holidays per month.
The Japanese Consul in Melbourne, in asking that the intermediate Tariff should apply to Japan, advised that, in comparing Japanese wages with those paid in, Australia, it is necessary to remember that Japanese factories employ two, three, or sometimes four persons to perform the work which one European or Australian might do.
We should, I think, remember that the pottery industry is one of the oldest established in the United Kingdom. English pottery has. been famed throughout the world. The industry has been dealt a deadly blow by the war, and I think we should do something out of the ordinary in the circumstances to give this industry in Great Britain a definite preference. The difference between the British and general Tariffs now is only 25 per cent., and the Committee has agreed to a 20 per cent, general Tariff in the previous item. I appeal to the Senate to maintain the item as it stands.
– I want to make it dear that if I support Senator Duncan’s proposal it is not with any desire to reduce the margin of British preference.
– Senator Duncan’s proposal means less preference to Great Britain .
– No; because if Senator Duncan does not move for a reduction in the British preferential duty, assuming his present request is agreed to, I shall do so myself. This sub-item covers all classes of chinaware for household purposes. Consequently, the Minister’s references to insulators hardly touches the issue. Insulators are included in the next sub-item. They cannot be classed as china and parian ware. I do not wish in any way to penalize the British manufacturer because of the fact that he lost the Australian market during the war, unless it oan be shown that slightly higher duties are necessary for the protection of an Australian industry in the manufacture of all these necessary china utensils for the comfort of a home. Up to the present the Minister has not been able to give us that assurance.
– Are not the figures quoted by the Minister sufficient justification for die duty ?
– 1 agree with everything that has been said with regard to Japan. We should maintain the same margin of British preference against other Competitors in our markets.
– What about encouraging; the Australian manufacturer ?
– The Australian, manufacturer is not engaged in this particular industry.
– The honorable senator is quite wrong.
– Well, I should like to know to what extent the industry is being carried on in this country. Earthenware dishes and some imitation chinaware are being made here, but not real chinaware.
– The Victorian Government have spent £15,000 in connexion with the Technical School at Brunswick for the training of returned soldiers in the art of pottery making.
– I know that; but I am referring to the particular classes of articles mentioned in this sub-item : Chinaware, not ordinary earthenware. Although imitation china cups and saucers may be described as china, they are not placed in that category by the Customs Department. As far as I know the real chinaware is net being produced in Australia. At all events, I have seen none of it.
– When I submitted my request for a reduction in the general duty, I had an idea that the position as regards im: portations might be as has been stated by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce). I am udt at all desirous of giving encouragement to Japan. The greater proportion of the goods received from that country during the war were practically an imposition on the public, being of poor quality, cheap and nasty. If, as has been stated by the Minister, the great bulk of the importations under this heading are coining from Japan, the only thing I would like to do* would be to increase the general duty from 50 to 100 per cent. With the permission of the Committee I should like to withdraw my request.
Bequest, by leave, withdrawn.
– It is considerably more than a year ago since I had an opportunity of seeing what the Victorian Government are doing in the training of returned soldiers in the pottery trade. I was on a -visit to Maryborough at the ti?ne, and saw the work in progress on the china clays in that district. Since then, in company with Senator Senior, I have seem articles of this kind turned out by works at Footscray. As evidence of the quality of the products, I may say that. I saw a cup dropped from the height of a table to the noor. It stood the test.
– Do you saY that was chinaware ?
– No; but it comes into competition with chinaware, and if we can produce cups and saucers of si>ch good quality now, it must only be a matter of time before Australian manufacturers, working on the great varieties of clays in this country, are able to produce the finest chinaware in the world. Nothing was being done in Australia in this line prior to the war, but of late years a good deal of progress has been made, and some important experimental work is now being carried out in Western Australia. The industry is well worthy of ever)’ encouragement.
.. - Recently, I had the privilege of inspecting works established at Footscray by two returned, soldiers for the production of hard porcelain insulators. These men before the war were contractors; but having during the war lost their legs, they invested all their capital, amounting to £30,000, in these works. Prior to the war, the production of these insulators was a monopoly of Austrian, and German firms; but now dozens of factories have been established for making them in various parts of Australia. The workingup .of the clay furnishes very suitable ^ occupation for disabled soldiers, and of the eighty employees in. the works at Footscray, twenty are returned men. But immediately the Japanese makers found that the monopoly they had secured during the war was -being threatened, they began to quote prices which were actually below the cost price of production in Japan, with the result that the Footscray firm lost a tender at Rockhampton, in Queensland. Evidently the Rockhampton people preferred the inferior Japanese article; but their action in this respect is convincing proof of the necessity of imposing a. duty which will prevent this dumping. The Victorian State Government have spent £.1.5,000 in erecting a plant at Brunswick for the purpose of training returned soldiers in this class of work, and similar plants have been installed nt Maryborough, and other centres in the State. However, these works cannot be established without the expenditure of a great deal of capital. The machinery required for grinding refractory clays, and even quartz, which enters into the composition of porcelain, to very fine powder is very expensive; and costly testing plants must also be installed. The only engineering company in Australia which would attempt the manufacture of the testing plant required by the Footscray firm was one established in Perth; and the final cost of installing it ran into £10,000. In a sense, the manufacture of porcelain is a key industry. Various subsidiary industries spring up around it. First of all, there is the work provided for engineering firms in making the testing plants. The Footscray firm find it necessary to employ a staff of chemists in order to control the glaziers and maintain the kilns at a proper temperature; and, in order to keep their chemists occupied when they were -not employed on tasks attaching to the manufacture of porcelain, they have begun to work up the byproducts of the industry into various lines, the production of which would not have been attempted had it not been for the establishment of the key industry. One of these products is face powder. This class of work is a congenial occupation for our returned soldiers, and I strongly appeal to honorable senator 3 to give them the protection which is so essential to them. The Minister (Senator Pearce) has already shown the advantages which Japanese manufacturers possess in respect to the hours worked and the very low rate of wages paid there; and I am afraid that if we are not careful our works will be swamped out of existence by Japanese manufacturers, who, later on, will take their profit out of us.
– I have listened to this debate with a great deal of interest, and also to the statement of the Minister. (Senator Pearce) in regard to the dimensions of the industry; but I hardly think his figures are up to date. I know that Fowler’s Pottery, in one of the suburbs of Sydney, which is capitalized at £100,000, has recently gone in for very extensive premises for the development of glazed white porcelain, sanitary, and other ware, as described in the sub-item we are discussing. A few years ago, these works confined their operations to drain pipes and such like ware; but in their show-room the other day I saw a very extensive display of white sanitary and other chinaware manufactured by them. I would like to see these duties retained, giving our porcelain and enamel-ware makers a protection of 25 per cent, against the British manufacturers, and giving the latter a protection of 25 per cent, against- the Japanese makers. I have no hesitation in saying that my vote will always be recorded for the development of trade within the Empire.
– I move - t
That the House of ^Representatives be requested to .make .the duty, sub-item (a), British, ad val., 15 per cent. <
Last year, the greater part of our importations of these articles came from Great Britain.
– That is absolutely incorrect. Last year £77,000 worth was imported from Great Britain, and £132,000 worth from Japan.
– I am glad to have that information, because it supports my argument. It is evident from the figures of Senator Pearce that if we desire to give a greater preference to Great Britain, we must either increase the duty against Japan or decrease it in the case of Great Britain. What I propose is, I submit, a fairly high duty against Great Britain on this class of goods, which requires much packing, and has to pay very high freights, the packages being large in proportion to the value of the contents. Altogether a considerable degree of natural protection is afforded, as compared with other classes df goods, and 15 ner cent, affords all the direct protection that can reasonably be desired. In Great Britain there are not the low wages and low production costs that we hear, of in connexion with the industries of Japan and other countries. The duty I propose will, I hope, enable the British manufacturer and exporter to more than hold their own, which at present, as the Minister’s figures show, they are unable to do.
– Are the finer classes of ornaments included in this it-em?
– Yes; but the importation of such ornaments is not very large.
– These ornaments come in under the heading of parian ware.
– And these goods, of course, require the most caref ul packing.
– I wish this item had been made free so far as Great Britain is concerned. I speak with no unkindly feeling towards Japan, who supplied us with large quantities of crockery when Britain was otherwise occupied in the war. That, of course, was all to our advantage, and in return, I suppose, Japan took from us hides, wattle bark, coal, and other materials so necessary in her industries. One of my objections to the high general Tariff which has been passed is that it fakes the superior classes of china and similar wares all toocostly. The use of such ware should not be confined to the wealthy, but should be enjoyed by the people of Australia as a whole. The best in the world is good enough for the people I represent, and I would make that beat cheap by reducing the duties. I cannot do that now, but I shall support Senator Duncan in his proposal. The figures of Senator Pearce are sadly convincing of the fact that Britain has lost much of her trade in these goods, and certainly 15 per cent. is ample protection. I should say that breakages in transport add 2 per cent. or 3 per cent. to the natural protection. Why Britishers should wish to impose duties against Britishers I do not know, for certainly I have no desire of that kind.
Question - That the request be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I desire to ascertain from the Minister (Senator Pearce) what classes of porcelain ware are covered by subitem b. Porcelain insulators, and articles of every-day use which are made in Australia, and should be protected, may come under it as well as porcelain ware of a class that is not made in Australia, and in respect of which high duties would only penalize the users.
– I do not know whether Senator Senior is engaging in the delightful occupation of trying to draw me; but I recollect that only last night he gave us a most illuminating address, in which he showed that a wide variety of articles could be made from certain clays in South Australia. He has evidently forgotten what he told the Committee last night. Insulators and electrical fittings used as porcelain nonconductors, as well as dishes of various kinds, which are made from the clays to which the honorable senator referred, are covered by this item. Various byproducts, such as “ Clever Mary “ and face powders, are produced by the industry, which is well established, not ‘ only in South Australia, but throughout the Commonwealth.
– I was pleased to hear the note sounded by Senator Senior, since it suggests that the germ of rebellion has been sown, and that he may be found later making a mild protest against our accepting everything proposed by the Government. It is the most refreshing and wholesome development of the Tariff debate this week. I object to this item, because it is too general. Porcelain ware includes valuable ornaments, which the wealthy will have at any cost, as well as the bare requirements of the humblest dwelling. And yet both classes of goods are dutiable at the same rate. The aristocrat of Toorak pays the same amount by way of duty on his rare porcelain ware as the man outback has to pay on his cup and saucer.
– That would be so if a fixed duty were imposed ; but here we provide for ad valorem duties.
– But does not the poor fellow in the back-blocks, who has advanced from the jam-tin stage of drinking vessel to the use of a cup and saucer, have to pay the same rate of duty on that cup and saucer as the Toorak gentleman pays for his rare porcelain ware?
– The duty paid on the cup and saucer used by the rich man is, perhaps, ten times more than that paid on the cup and saucer used by the poor man.
– Why should the same ad valorem duties apply to all classes of porcelain?
– There is a factory in Subiaco which is going to turn out all goods of the class covered by the subitem. ,
– That does not touch the point raised by me. If there is anything that makes me feel inclined to depart from the tote I have hitherto adopted of taking a continental view of the Tariff, it is the tactics of some honorable senators who are constantly reaching out for and grabbing anything that is in the interests of their own particular State.
– Should we not give a Western Australian industry a chance?
– I have not had one* request on behalf of a Western Australian industry to vote for increased duties. That cannot be said of’ those engaged in industries in the eastern States.
– The company to which I refer has put £30,000 into this industry.
– It is prepared to stand against all comers. That is characteristic of the people of Western Australia.
– The company has invested its capital in the industry since the introduction of this Tariff.
– It has made no requests for increased duties, and in that respect is unlike the fiscal marauders in the eastern States, who, although they are able to declare 15 per cent, dividends, are reaching out for still higher duties. They are a sort of fiscal cancer. They fatten on what they -feed. I object to the unworkmanlike way in which this item is framed. Valuable goods, such as porcelain ornaments, should be dealt with under a separate sub-item, and subjected to a stiff duty. I do pot like this slipshod way of doing business; but apparently there is no chance of my carrying a request. I voted with the Government on the occasion of the last division almost because I was tired of always being in a minority. But I thought that the re quest to reduce the duty in. that case to 15 per cent, was getting “ too near the bone.” While I am prepared to get a3 near the bone as possible in imposing these duties, so that we may put our manufacturers on their mettle, I felt that the requested reduction was too great.
Item agreed to.
Item 238 (Roasting dishes), item 239 (Eire and glazed bricks), and item 240 (Mosaic flooring) agreed to.
Item 241 (Earthenware).
.- At the risk of being told that I know nothing, I ask the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) for an explanation as to the uses of the spurs, stilts, and thimbles dealt with in sub-item a. Is it desirable that they should be free under the British preferential Tariff ?
– They are the tools of trade of the pottery manufacturer.
– If that is so, I am satisfied.
Item agreed to.
Item 242 (Glass).
.- Will the Minister (Senator Pearce) state whether, this item covers X-ray negatives for medical work?
– It does not. They come under the miscellaneous division.
– I desire some information, also, as to the position of the industries covered by sub-item e, which deals with bent, bevelled, heraldic, sandblasted, and other classes of glass.
.- The total value of imports under sub-item e in 1913 was £15,294, of which £10,875 worth came from the United Kingdom, and £2,914 worth from Belgium. In 1920, the value of imports from the United Kingdom fell to £1,950, Belgium £480,. and “ other “ £837, or a total of only £3,267 for the year. It is not possible to give the exact value of the production of these articles in Australia, but a fairly good’ idea of the extent of the output may be gained by calculating on the basis of the value of the raw material imported, namely, polished and patent plate glass under 25 square feet, plus 150 per cent, to cover cost of manufacture. On this basis, which is suggested by figures given in the report of the Inter-State Commission, volume XII., page 922, the following values result:- 1913, £155,740; 1914-15, £154,050; 1915-16, £172,500; 1916-17, £214,647; 1917-18, £109,222; 1918-19, £413,347. The statistics do not distinguish bevelled-glass factories from other ornamental glass factories in the Commonwealth, but give the following figures for the year 1917 for the whole of the “ ornamental glass factories “ : - Number of employees, 528; salaries and wages paid, £69,627. In pre-war days, the local manufacture was approximately 90 per cent, of the total requirements, but it is now about 99 per cent. of the whole.
– Polished and patent glass, not exceeding 25 square feet, as set out in sub-item c, is admitted from Britain free; while there is a general Tariff of 10s. per 100 square feet. I wish to know why the words “ not exceeding 25 square feet “ are employed in the sub-item.
– The reason is that pieces of smaller dimensions are the special sizes imported for local manufacturing purposes, as raw material.
– What are the rates upon, glass exceeding that measure- m en t?
– Larger squares arc covered by sub-itemd, upon which the British Tariff is 10s. per 100 square feet ; and the general, 15s.
– With what does the larger glass compete, that those higher rates should be imposed?
– Really, not with anything locally produced.
– Then the impositions are purely for the purpose of raising revenue ?
– Apparently, that is so. The British preferential rate upon the large squares amounts to less than 2 per cent.
– I can appreciate the difficulty of the Trade and Customs Department insecuring accurate statistics concerning the number of hands employed. Very often, the firm which is engaged in bevelling and silvering glass is also interested in the manufactuie of paint. The two phases of theindustry are correlated, and it would not he easy to ascertain the exact number of employees engaged solely upon the one work or on the other. An objection might be raised that only a very few men are employed upon the special work of bevelling and silvering plateglass; but, as I have just indicated, that activity is only a branch of a larger and much lore comprehensive work.
Item agreed to.
Item 243 (Glass, n.e.i.) agreed to.
Glass, viz.: -
And on and after 17th June, 1921 - (a)Lenses n.e.i., locket, brooch, and watch glasses, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.
Blanks, fused, for bifocal lenses; and bifocal lenses partly or wholly finished, including such lenses imported in frames, ad val., British, 30per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), general, ad. val., 20 per cent.
The original proposal of the Government was that the general rate should be 20 per cent., and the imposition was designed to give practical help to the new industry which grew up in Britain - indeed, was forced upon that, country - during the war. Prior to the war, Britain was almost entirely dependent upon Germany. After the outbreak of hostilities the allied world had to be metaphorically scraped in order to secure anything like adequate numbers of binoculars and such instruments for our troops. “
– I am agreeable to the request.
Request agreed to.
– Sub-item b, as it has been amended elsewhere, includes “ blanks, fused, for bifocal lenses.” I suggest that the phrase be taken out, and made a new sub-item d, upon which the rates of 30, 35, and 40 per cent. be reduced, respectively, to 10, 15, and 20 per cent. Most of the work associated with the manufacture of spectacles is now done by opticians throughout Australia from’ imported blanks. I have in my hand two pieces of Optical material. One is the rough fused blank for a bifocal lens, and the other is the finished fused lens. I have been informed that the procedure involved in producing the finished article consists of importing rough blanks and flint glass buttons, and fusing them. The operation does not engage considerable Australian labour, but, if there is practically the same duty upon the rough glass - that is, upon the raw material - as upon the finished material, there will be a considerable increase in the cost of spectacles.
– Leaving local manufacture out of consideration.
– No ! These fused bifocals are the raw materials required in optical workshops throughout the Commonwealth. If the cost of the raw material is made prohibitive, both labour and ultimate cost will be affected. The wishes of the trade would be met if the duties on “ Blanks, fused, for bifocallenses “ were made half those imposed upon fused bifocal lenses partly or wholly finished.
.- My first observation on this matter is that the ad valorem rate applies to the raw material, the value of which is very small indeed. That is the reason for the grouping.
– What is the value of the raw material ?
– It is obvious that the value of a piece of glass is very small, and if we take 100 as the unit, the glass does not represent more than 10 per cent. of the value, and the balance would represent the skill and labour applied.
– But the sample I produced is not raw material.
– I take it. that it has been fused, and is a partly manufactured article.
– And I am asking for the duty to be reduced by one-half.
– I do not think there is any necessity for that to be done. E. J. Paxton Limited, of Sydney, in making application for a duty of 331/3rd per cent. on bifocal lenses, pointed out that they are the only manufacturers in Australia of these particular goods, and that they have only succeeded in producing a satisfactory article after many expensive experiments and much financial loss. In September, 1919, Paxton’s stated that they were employing forty hands in this industry, and the weekly wages were £130. Up till that time they had spent £7,000 on plant, machinery, and experiments. They further stated that they were prepared to spend another £4,000 on extra plant in order to make the “ Toric “ or curved spectacle lenses, provided adequate protection was given to the industry. As bifocal and “Toric” lenses, unless edged, would come under item 244a, where the duties , are free, 5 per cent. and 20 per cent. respectively, it appears that adequateprotection has not been afforded, and the firm have complained that they cannot compete with the imported article, and will have to relinquish the manufacture unless an alteration is made. They state, however, that if assistance can be given by means of satisfactory duties, they will be able to extend their business to the general manufacture of optical lenses, giving employment to possibly hundreds of Australians. This firm has spent between £25,000 and £30,000 in establishing the fused bifocal lense industry - that is the stage at which Senator Pratten wishes to reduce the duty - and claims to be able to supply 50’ per cent. of the Australian requirement. Up to date 250,000 pairs have been manufactured. The honorable senator suggests that we should deprive the industry of this protection.
– The honorable senator wishes to reduce the protection by one-half.
– I am informed that that is ample, and it will not handicap other branches of the optical trade.
– We have not granted all that was asked; but I think we are just as much entitled to give . the protection to the man who takes the work up to a certain stage as to the man who takes it up as a partly finished product and completes it. This firm has invested a good deal of money in the business, and should be considered just as much as those who wish to import an article which can be obtained from Paxton and Company. I am informed that a number of opticians have expressed satisfaction with the lenses fused in Paxton and Company’s works.
– Are those opticians representative men?
– The president of the Opticians Association in Melbourne is among them; but other representations have been made by leading opticians throughout Australia. I ask the Committee to support the proposed duties.
– It is evident that the fusing of two pieces of glass involves the use of different grades of material, otherwise we would not obtain the power of vision by means of a bifocal lens. The fusing is not a difficult process, but it would be unfair to import bifocal lenses. The sub-item reads, “bifocal lenses, partly or wholly finished,” and, as labour may be cheaper abroad, users might obtain the lenses wholly finished, because the cost would not be so great. By making what follows “ bifocal lenses “ a separate item the position would be met, because we would then be protecting the work of grinding, which is done here. The fusing of lenses, which is based on opticians’ prescriptions, can be done quite easily, and the work then given to the grinder. The grinding work would then be protected by a higher duty than was imposed on the blank or fused lenses.
– I agree with Senator Senior that protection would be given to the Australian industry if duties were imposed only on the bifocal lenses wholly or partly finished, because it is in this work that the principal labour is involved. I propose to move that the House of Representatives be requested to omit the words “ Blanks, fused, for bifocal lenses,” and insert a new subitem.
– It is only in connexion with articles not mentioned in the item that a special sub-item is necessary. The articles the honorable senator mentions are included.
– I move-
That the House of Representativesbe re quested to amend sub-item (B) by making the duty on Blanks, fused, for bifocal lenses, British, ad val., 15 per cent.; intermediate, 17½ per cent. ; general, 20 per cent.
From the stand-point of the opticians, and having in view the labour employed in the industry, we would then have something like a reasonably graduated scale if my request is adopted. The lowest duty will be on blanks, fused, for bifocal lenses, the next on lenses edged for spectacles, and the highest on bifocal lenses partly or wholly finished, including such lenses imported in frames, although it is upon these last lenses that most labour is employed.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item 245 -
Glass, viz.: - Gas analyses apparatus, arsenical testing apparatus and tubes, evaporating basins, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 20 per cent.
– These duties represent merely a tax on scientific research, and to that I object most strongly. Like Dr. Johnson’s leg of mutton, which was ill-bred, ill-fed, ill-cooked, and ill-served, this item is ill-considered, ill-digested, and illprepared. If the Government can find no better means of taxing France than the imposition of duties which will serve to restrict scientific research, I am opposed to their proposal. I move -
That the House of . Representatives be requested to make the duty, general, 10 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Items 246 (Scientific apparatus - glass), 247 (Screens, process engravers’),. 248 (Tubes and rods of resistant glass), 249 (Mica), 250 (Bottles, flasks, and’ jars over 8 drams fluid capacity), 251 (Bottle stoppers) 252 (Bottles, flasks, jars, vials, and tubes, empty), agreed to.
Item 253 (Bottles, flasks, jars, vials, and tubes, containing goods not subject to an ad valorem duty, and not classifiableunder item 408).
– This item covers the duties imposed on a great variety of bottles containing a good many things. I should like to be quite clear that these duties on bottles, flasks, jars, vials, and tube containers are in some sort of reasonable conformity with the duties imposed on ordinary glass bottles.
– 1 can give the honorable senator the asssurance that they are.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– Before we resume I should like to know the intention of the Minister (Senator Pearce) concerning the business this afternoon. Those of us who have to catch the Inter-State trains must leave at 4 o’clock. In view of the progress made I think the Minister should be able to make a definite statement.
– Subject to the rate of progress being maintained, the Senate should be able to rise as usual at 4 o’clock, but I am unable to say definitely, because one honorable senator might unduly prolong the debate upon an. item.. I should say that, short of actual obstruction, we should be able to adjourn at 4 o’clock, but if there is a disposition to obstruct, it must be overcome. Before the luncheon adjournment Senator Pratten asked me whether the fixed duties in this item bear a proper relation to the ad valorem duties in the previous item. The Customs officials tell me that in each case the fixed duties correlate, as closely as possible, to the ad valorem duties.
– On the question of the adjournment I should like to say-
– I cannot very well prevent the honorable senator from asking a question concerning the probable hour of adjournment this afternoon, but it is not desirable, in the debate on this item, that the question of adjournment should be discussed.
– Then may I say to the Minister in charge of the Committee, that those honorable senators who want to go to their homes at least once a fortnight are entitled to some definite information now.
– I Cannot give the honorable senator anything more definite.
– In other words then, if we are good boys, and do not debate the items, irrespective of whether discussion, is required or not, the Senate will adjourn at 4 o’clock. Unless we get some definite information from the Minister we can make no arrangements about our luggage and berths. The progress today has, I hope, been satisfactory to the Government, and, so far as I am aware, there is no intention to obstruct the business.
– And so far as I am aware there is none, but we are not. going to hand ourselves over handcuffed to any honorable senator who may decide to take up the whole afternoon.
– I hope the Minister is not referring to me.
– .No, I am not.
– Order ! It is desirable now that the Committee should give its attention to item 253.
– The Minister has stated that so far as possible the fixed duties in the several sub-items have a proper relation to the ad valorem duties in sub-item b of item 252, in which the duties are, British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent. ; and general, 45 per cent. In sub-item e of this item, for bottles of over 60 oz. fluid capacity, the ad valorem duties are, British, 25 per dent. ; intermediate, 30 per cent. ; and general, 35 per cent.
– That is for a special class.
– Yes. In subitem b, for bottles of over 5 drams, not exceeding 10 ounces fluid capacity, the fixed duties per dozen are British, 2d. ; intermediate, 3d. ; and general, 4d. If what the Minister states is accurate, and the fixed duty of British, 2d., is equal to’ 30 per cent, in .sub-item b of item 252, bottles n.e.i., the total value of these bottles will be about 6½d. per dozen.
– To be strictly accurate, the 4d. general Tariff ought to be higher.
– I thank the Minister, because I am sure he will see the point of my argument when I mention that consideration of the perfumery duties has been postponed. One of the complaints of the local manufacturers is that the specific duties on bottles containing perfumes are not nearly so high as the ad valorem duties on empty bottles. It is nob a big matter, but it is bound up with an attempt to get consistency in connexion with the Tariff.
– I shall have no objection to increase the duty in sub-items b andC under the general Tariff by1d.
– I thank the Minister for the suggestion, but I do not think it will quite cover the point I have raised. The duties on imported bottles for use in manufacture here are in some oases only about one-third or one-fourth of what they ought to be. As we have postponed consideration of items 8 and 9, and as this question will arise again on item 285 (medicines), I suggest that we postpone this item until we know what re-arrangement is going to be made in the other items I have referred to.
– We may be able to meet the honorable senator’s objection in regard to perfumery bottles, but I do not think there is any occasion to postpone this item.
– The manufacturers of perfumery will have to be guided to some extent by what is done in this item.
– That is so.
– And after consideration of all the evidence it may be thought advisable to increase the specific duties on these bottles, and impose lower duties on perfumery, rather than leave the duties as they stand and impose a higher Tariff on perfumery.
– If so, we can recommit the item, and make the necessary re-adjustment.
– I will say no more now in view of the promise try the Minister that if these duties bear unjustly upon the local manufacturers the item will be recommitted.
Item agreed to.
Item 254 (Shellac, &c.) agreed to.
Item 255 (Glue in dry form, cements, gelatine, &c).
– I am supporting the increased duties in this item.
– Then sit down.
– I shall not sit down, because I have something to say on the item. One of the finest modem factories for the manufacture of the class of articles mentioned in it has recently been established in Sydney. I doubt if there is a better establishment of the kind in the world. It is a credit to Australia, and evidence of ‘the encouragement given to local industries by this Tariff.
Item agreed to.
Item 256 (Printing roller composition)3 and item 257 (Slate slabs) agreed to.
Item 258 -
Wrought slate n.e.i., ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
– What is the need for this big importation duty on wrought slate?
– Not more than £318 worth was imported last year.
Item agreed to.
Item 259 (Roofing slates n.e.i.), item 260 (Bath bricks), and item 261 (Emery, oil, and whet stones, lithographic stones), agreed to.
Stone and marble.
Marble and granite, unwrought, including rough or scabbled from the pick, ad val., British, 10 per cent.; intermediate, 15 per cent.; general, 20 per cent.
– Since these duties were imposed upon marble and granite there has been an almost universal protest from the monumental masons of Australia against the duty on that white marble which comes from Carrara, in Italy, and can be obtained nowhere else. Those of us who, some years ago, subscribed to have a bust of Sir William Lyne made, gave the work to an Australian sculptress with the instruction that preference should be given to material obtainable in our own continent. But as no suitable white marble was to be got in Australia, it had to be infported from the Carrara quarry. The pedestal, being of coloured marble, is of course, of Australian material. The bust when finished was placed in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library. The Australian monumental masons want to know why a duty is placed on a marble for which a substitute cannot be found in Australia.
– Even at two and a-half times the price.
– If my facts are true - and I think they are - this marble ought to be placed on the free list.
.- The Commonwealth production statistics group marble with slate, so that it is impossible to give individual values for the Commonwealth; but the New South Wales Year-Book for 1916 furnishes a little information, so far as that State is concerned, and gives the value of the marble raised in 1915 as £4,1S7. Practically inexhaustible deposits of marble and granite are found in different parts of the Commonwealth. It is doubtful if any other country is so well provided with this material, not only in regard to the quantity, but also in regard to variety. The total annual imports of marble and granite in the rough slabs amount to about £1,000, although last year the value amounted to £1,500. Practically the whole of the marble imported conies from Italy. However, there appears to be no reason why we should not protect our own marble - with which the Italian white marble comes into competition - which has proved its suitability for all kinds of purposes, except statuary. For building or furniture it is unequalled. However, the importation figures indicate that it is not a matter upon which the Committee should delay.
– What are the figures in relation to the importation of red granite from Scotland?
– There is very little granite imported. The value in 1918-19 was £70, and in 1919-20 it was £195.
– The price of local white marble is 20s. per cubic foot, and that of Italian white marble from 40s. to 50s. per cubic foot. Therefore the Australian industry can hardly be affected by the impost of any duty upon this article. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by inserting the following sub-item : - “ (B2) White Carrara marble for statuary purposes, free.”
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item 263 (Pestles and mortars) agreed to. division ix. - drugs and chemicals.
Item 264 (Pyroligneous acid, acetic acid, and vinegar and solutions, &c.) agreed to.
Item 265 -
Acids, viz. : - Hydrochloric, nitric, sulphuric, and phosphoric, ad val., British, 15 per cent. ;. intermediate, 20 per cent. ; general, 25 percent.
– I do not think that hydrochloric or sulphuric acids are sufficiently protected. Both are made in the Commonwealth, the former from common salt and the latter largely from pyrites. If the manufacture of sulphuric acid could be encouraged it would be a big factor in the production of superphosphates.
– The manufacturers have not asked for increased duties.
– The price of sulphuric acid affects the price of phosphates. I “understand that some time ago Japan was pouring sulphuric acid into Australia to the detriment of the trade of our local manufacturers.
– Last year only 100 cwt. of all the acids covered by this item were imported from, all sources.
– This is another case of inter-related duties. While there is a duty on sulphur, which is one of the component parts of superphosphates, there is no duty on the manufactured article.
Item agreed to.
Item 266 (Coal tar products); item 267 (Tar; pitch); item 268 (Naphthalene); item 269 (Sheep and cattle washes, &c) ; item 270 (Ply papers) ; item 271 (Ammonia); and item 272 (Voltoids of sal-ammonia) agreed to.
Carbide of calcium, per ton. British, £4; intermediate, £7 10s. ; general, £7 10s.
– This industry has recently been established in Tasmania, and from a paragraph in the local press recently I see that the Tasmanian Government has been called upon to render financial assistance to it. What relation have these duties to the average world’s price of carbide? Evidently the industry, up to now, has not been making any financial progress.
– In 1920, carbide of calcium was selling, c.i.f., duty paid, at £30 to £35 a ton. My information is that the Tasmanian product is selling now at £30 a ton. The company, however, passed through a bad time because a Swedish company dumped the product in Australia. This, however, was met by the action of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), who prohibited its importation. I take it that the company got into financial difficulties because of this dumping, but I think that those concerned in the industry are satisfied with these duties.
.- For the information of the Committee, I may say that I know something of the history of this company. Every provision is now made in the southern part of Tasmania to supply practically the whole requirements of Australia in carbide of calcium. The company referred to had considerable financial difficulties in the initial stage, not only in connexion with the erection of their plant, but also in connexion with the provision of electrodes to carry on smelting. It was found that during the war period the imported electrodes were absolutely unreliable, and, owing to this, considerable loss was suffered. The company then proceeded with the erection of furnaces and presses necessary to manufacture their own electrodes, and the electrodes they are now turning out are equal to any that have ever been imported. In fact, this company is exporting electrodes successfully - quite a “ featherin the cap” of Australia. The company, by means of their own electrodes, successfully produced carbide, and filled up their stores, but found that the Japanese and Norwegian manufacturers had got” into the Australian market before them. The market became overstocked, and the Australian company could not sell their product at anything like a reasonable price. Carbide was selling as high as £40 to £50 a. ton, but generally at £37 or £38, and the company made a compact with the Commonwealth Government that if an embargo were placed on importations, they would sell at £30. That compact holds good to-day.
– The company are selling at that price now.
– So far as I know, the duties provided in the schedule, if the market is not glutted by the dumping of surplus carbide from other places, will enable this company to provide a reliable supply for the whole of Australia.
Item agreed to.
Item 274 (Bromide salts,&c.), . agreed to.
Item 275 -
On and after 31st October, 1921-
Sulphur, per ton, British, 15s.; intermediate, 20s. ; general,50s.
Pyrites, per ton, British, 15s. ; intermediate, 20s. ; general 25s.
Pyrites the produce of Papua or of any Island or Territory belonging to or administered under mandate by the Commonwealth, 5s. per ton.
– If I am correctly informed, sulphur is of great importance to the farming industries of the Commonwealth. The new duties proposed will mean an increase of 5s. a ton in the price of superphosphates. I understand that the Australian manufacturers of superphosphates are entering into an arrangement with the Federal authorities for a supply of rock from Nauru Island, and have undertaken that there shall be no increase in the (price of the product. But now there is presented to us a Tariff which will have the effect of increasing the price of superphosphate by reason of the duty on sulphur, by 5s. a ton.
– Senator Pratten approached me on this question, and I told him that I would agree to sulphur being admitted free under certain conditions. The honorable senator has a request that he desires to move.
.- Under no circumstances, in view of the interests of mining companies, particularly those which produce low-grade ores with which sulphur is associated, can I imagine any arrangement which would justify the admission of sulphur free.
– Let us hear what Senator Pratten’s request is.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by adding the following sub-item: - “ (a) (1) Sulphur, volcanic, for manufacturing purposes, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, free.”
It will be seen that these are all new duties, and that those on sub-items a, b, and c are for the express purpose of, as far as possible, compelling the production of the whole of the sulphur required and used in Australia from our own ores. With that policy I have no quarrel; but volcanic sulphur is a totally different thing, so far as its application to the various industries is concerned. Sulphur from pyritous ores cannot possibly be obtained absolutely pure; it contains a small quantity of arsenic.
– But the proportion of sulphur required for chemical purposes is very small, compared with that used for manufacturing purposes.
– Quito so. The sulphur required for general manufacturing purposes, for making into sulphuric acid, is of very much greater quantity than the volcanic sulphur which must, under any circumstances and at any price, he imported. Australia has not any volcanic sulphur of any sort anywhere. Volcanic sulphur must be used to obtain the sulphuric acid required for making glucose and sodawater and other products for human consumption. It is only from volcanic sulphur that sulphuric acid can be made which is chemically absolutely pure. It may be remembered that some twenty or thirty years ago there were many mysterious deaths in England through arsenical poisoning, and that these deaths were traced to the drinking of beer containing glucose .that had been made from sulphuric acid .produced from arsenical pyrites. We must have volcanic sulphur also for making sheep and cattle dips, and insecticide and germicide preparations.
– Not necessarily.
– I am so informed on the authority of Dr. Elliott, of Elliott Bros., Sydney.
– It is .the only form of sulphur used for making insecticides.
– Another authority I have is Mr. W. Hamlet, who for many years was Government Analyst at Sydney. It is common knowledge that chemists, in connexion with their multifarious sulphurous- preparations, must have (pure volcanic sulphur. If the request is accepted, it will protect, as far as it is possible to do so, the manufacture of sulphur from our own sulphur pyrites,, and, at the same time, we shall have a raw material, which many minor trades are hound to use, admitted free under departmental regulations. The request will have the effect of making free the raw material required ‘for sheep dips and germicides, and will not interfere with the development of our own sulphur production from the only source we have, namely, our pyrites ore.
– “Will the honorable senator include a provision that such sulphur shall not be used for the production of sulphuric acid?
– I cannot do that. I am informed that if my request ha. agreed to probably four-fifths or ninetenths of the sulphuric acid used in Australia will still have to be made from sulphur obtained from our own ores.
– I suggest to the honorable senator that in order to put his request in proper form he should amend it by requesting the House of Representatives to insert the letters “ n.e.i. “ after the word “ Sulphur “ in sub-item a, and to insert the remainder of his request in the form of a new paragraph.
– Very well.
Request amended accordingly.
– I propose in this case to vote for the imposition of a Protective duty. The Committee has agreed to duties on machinery, implements, explosives, and everything else used by the miner, and I think it is time that we gave him a little protection by voting for the retention of the duties on sulphur. If the requirements of the miner were free, I should be prepared to support a request to make sulphur free, but this is the only bit of protection that has been given him.
– What about the iron and steel duties ?
– And those on copper.
– We have duties on copper as well as wheat and other primary products which we export. What protection do they afford ? The only duty that is likely to be of any service to the mining section of the community is that now under consideration, and some honorable senators who have been voting to add to the taxation borne by the .miners desire to remove it. Last evening when I moved a request that tung oil should be free of duty, on the ground that it was essential to the preparation of certain varnishes, I was met with the reply that we could not allow it to come in free in as much as it would compete with linseed oil. My request was therefore rejected. The sulphur which Senator Pratten desires to come in free may come into competition with that obtained from arsenical pyrites, and, therefore, I am going to vote for these duties. If Protection is a good thing for the man who lives in Sydney or Melbourne, it ought to be a good thing for the miners of Mount Lyell and Broken Hill.
– Are they not getting it under sub-items a, b, and c ? My request, if carried, will not affect the protection they secure under those subitems.
– I am not going to take any risks, and for the sake of the miners I am going to vote for the retention of the duties.
.- I am delighted that Senator Thomas has seen the wisdom of supporting this industry. Every effort should be made to sustain and encourage the production of sulphur in Australia. Here is practically the sole opportunity given by the Tariff to benefit the miner. A reliable and adequate supply of sulphur or sulphuric acid is necessary not only in connexion with the manufacture of superphosphates, but in the production of nearly all kinds of munitions. Sulphur is produced in the southern States of America at an especially low cost; nearly all the work is done by cheap negro labour. Another source of supply is Japan, where the production, again, is in the hands of cheap labour. I am sorry that Senator Pratten has seen fit to request an amendment of the rates of duty in the interests of those who use only a very small proportion of the production. I ask the honorable senator if he will agree to amend his request in the direction of providing that sulphur, which is admitted free, shall not be used for any of the purposes for which sulphur which can be obtained from any. pyritic or other sulphide ores can be used. Certain Australian companies have expended considerable sums, and are operating in various States. I do nor want to place them in a position of uncertainty with respect to the Customs laws. I do not desire that they shall be subject to departmental by-laws. Their interests will be safeguarded, however, if provision is made in the direction I have just indicated. At the same time, I regret that any amendment has been requested. It is not desirable that qualifying conditions shall attach to the importation of sulphur merely in the interests of the users of that very small proportion which is employed in this country apart from the actual manufacture of superphosphates. At least 95 per cent. of the sulphuric acid used here goes into the production of fertilizers. Some honorable senators look upon the schedule rates as increasing the cost of superphosphates to the farmers. If an abundant and reliable source of supply can be provided, the farmer will benefit. I assure Senator Wilson that he would not be acting in the best interests of the primary producers if he should take any step to hamper the continuous production of first class superphosphates. I understand that 1 ton of sulphur is absorbed in the production of sufficient sulphuric acid for the manufacture of 10 tons of superphosphates. The average application of superphosphate to the soil is from¾ cwt. to 1 cwt. per acre.
– About 80 lbs.
– That being’ so, the increased cost imposed on the farmer by the existing duties will amount to l½d. or 2d. per acre. I do not think that honorable senators should be perturbed, when tens of thousands of pounds have been invested in connexion with the production of sulphur, and thousands of men are earning a living in mining the ores from which sulphur is obtained.
– Is there any produced by the electrolytic process in Tasmania ?
– I do not think so. Sulphuric acid is being produced in South Australia and New South Wales, and I have no doubt that if the duties proposed in the Tariffare adopted other industries will be established. Ores containing a percentage of copper, a few grains of gold, and a few ounces of silver may merely pay mining expenses and the cost of extracting their metallic contents, but if there is a sufficiently large percentage of sulphur in pyritic or sulphide ores - say, 10s. worth per ton - it would make the difference between failure and success. Roughly, from 10,000 to 20,000 men are engaged in mines producing lowgrade ores from which sulphur is obtained, and we are justified in assuming that if we protect the sulphur industry it will not be long before other mines will bo developed and a larger number of men engaged.
– What does the honorable senator suggest?
– I favour leaving the duties as they are, so that all imported sulphur shall he dutiable: but if it is the wish of a majority of the Committee that volcanic sulphur shall be admitted free for the manufacture of certain articles. I shall have to abide by the decision of the Committee. Most of the pyritic sulphur contains arsenic, and, therefore, cannot be used in the manufacture of foodstuffs or aerated waters. If the Committee intend to support Senator Flatten’s request, I shall move to amend it, in order that volcanic sulphur shall be admitted free for use only where sulphur obtained from pyritic and sulphide ores cannot be used.
– I am prepared to accept that.
– I remind Senator Earle that if he desires to submit an amendment he will have to do so before Senator Pratten’s request is put.
.- I do not think there is any occasion for honorable senators to be at cross purposes, because there are certain points upon which we all agree. The amendment which Senator Earle suggests would, I think, meet the position, but I am not sure whether he intends to submit it. If he does not,I shall.
– What is it?
– Senator Earle suggests that if volcanic sulphur is admitted free it shall be used only where sulphur manufactured in Australia cannot be used. It is, therefore, a clear-cut issue, and one upon which there should be very little difference of opinion. A majority of honorable senators desire to make dutiable sulphur which is the product of the mining industry, and there should, therefore, not be any misunderstanding. Senator Pratten points out that there are certain manufacturers in Australia who use volcanic sulphur - which, of course, is not the product of metalliferous mines - in connexion with the manufacture of fungicides, germicides, insecticides, certain medicines, and aerated waters. Those who advocate protecting the sulphur derived from sulphide and pyritic ores are not anxious to penalize those who use volcanic sulphur, which does not enter into competition with sulphur manufactured in the Commonwealth. If the request is amended as suggested, volcanic sulphur will be admitted free, and the matter of determining the purposes for which it is used will then be decided by Parliament, and not left to Customs offi cials. The only other point is whether sulphur shall be dutiable or not. The Government will accept the request with the addendum mentioned, because we do not wish to penalize those industries using volcanic sulphur. Farmers’ organizations recognise the importance of the manufacture of sulphuric acid in the Commonwealth from Australian sulphur, and I understand that co-operative factories for the production of superphosphates are to be established in South Australia andin Victoria. It will, therefore, be an advantage to farmers to have a local supply of sulphur from which to manufacture superphosphate. Those who are considering the farmers’ interests would not be justified in voting against the imposition of duties on sulphur produced from pyritic or sulphide ores.
– I curtailed my last remarks because I desired to know the nature of the request that Senator Pratten intended to move. It certainly never occurred to me that he would submit a request for the free admission of only that class of sulphur which is used with a little treacle on Sunday mornings in the rearing of large families. I have not been at all convinced by the arguments that have so far been adduced in support of the honorable senator’s request. The purpose of the Tariff is to assist local manufacturers; but in this case the proposal is made to permit the free admission of superphosphates made in foreign countries, while the manufacturer of superphosphates within the bounds of the Commonwealth is to be saddled with a duty on a raw material essential to that manufacture. It is difficult to believe that Senator Earle was serious in his reference to the tens of thousands of men who are employed in Australia in the sulphur-producing industry. The honorable senator is well aware that the productiou of sutyhur is only a little side line in connexion with most of our mines. I am given to understand that the bulk of our importations of sulphur are used in the manufacture of superphosphates. The proposal which has now been made really means that, in addition to the duties which have already been imposed under this schedule on our primary producers, they must pay 5s. per ton on all the superphosphates they use. I understand that some arrangement is likely to be made to adjust the Tariff in respect of sulphur and superphosphates, but it is distinctly the duty of this Committee to protect the interests of those who use sulphur in the manufacture of superphosphates in Australia until that arrangement is made. I intend to ask the Committee to make superphosphates free. If that course is followed, there will be no occasion for Senator Pratten’s request with regard to the Sunday morning sulphur. The position in this matter is so- clear that even one of ourFree Trade friends had to be rushed in to support a heavy duty on an article which is so useful to Australia.
– It is not a heavy duty.
– Does the honorable senator’ mean to say that a duty of 50s. per ton on sulphur is not a heavy duty ? The honorable senator to whom I have referred was brought in here at the eleventh hour to scream on behalf of the miners, when he knows that the proposal will not make “ tuppenceha’penny “ worth of difference to ‘ the miners of Australia, since the production of sulphur is merely a side-issue in mining. Honorable senators are not to be caught napping in that way. We have since had a request submitted with respect to a kind of sulphur of which very little is imported. That is merely another red herring drawn across the trail.
– Does the honorable senator say that Senator Thomas was “ rushed “?
– I say that he was rushed in here. The honorable senator was nearly winded when he arrived. I intend to do my best to see that sulphur is admitted free until we know where we are with respect to the conditions upon which superphosphates are to be admitted.
– The proposal before us, as I understand it, is to impose a duty on sulphur. We have been informed by the Minister that the article is imported for household use, for fumigating and hygienic purposes generally. He elaborated that aspect of the matter, but he touched very lightly on the fact that it is used chiefly as an ingredient in the manufacture of superphosphates. We know what occurred in another place in dealing with these duties ; and in my view the action now taken by the Government is intended to pave the way for a duty on superphosphates. When a duty is imposed on one item, it is referred to as an excuse for an increase in the duty on someother item, the next step in manufacture, and so on ad infinitum; and if we take the first false step in this case, I have no doubt that the next step we shall be asked to take will be to impose a duty on superphosphates. We should hesitate before taking any action which would add one penny to the cost of fertilizing the lighter soils of this country. We cannot have superphosphates made in Australia without sulphur, or its product, sulphuric acid. Senator Earle, who put up a plea for the Mount Lyell Company, does not realize that the company has prospered without any duty On superphosphates.
– It is not the Mount Lyell Company only; there are several companies concerned.
-The Mount Lyell Company stands out from others in the production of superphosphates, not only here, but in other States of the Commonwealth; and it does not want a duty, or, at all events, it has been successful in its enterprises up to date without a duty, on superphosphates. Why, in the circumstances, is a duty asked for on the raw material of which superphosphates are made? I am satisfied that the object is only to lay the foundation for an effort to be made later on to tax superphosphate. The good sense of this Parliament has so far led it to permit the free importation of fertilizing agents from any country. This matter was discussed in 1908, and at that time the Japanese product was referred to as a reason for the imposition of a duty. The good sense of Parliament enabled it to turn a deaf ear to the appeal, and superphosphates were made free of duty from that day to this. What has been the result? Have any of our manure-manufacturing companies shown any signs of languishing in consequence ? They have, without any duty on superphosphates, been very prosperous concerns, and are spreading from State to State. Here we have a proposal to tax the main ingredient required for the manufacture of superphosphates in Australia, and I will not and cannot agree to it, in the interests of those for whom I have, so far, unsuccessfully, I am very sorry to say, put up a plea: I refer to the people who go out on to the light and dry soils of this country; the nien on the sandy plains of Western Australia; the men who have been pushed out in New South Wales on to the dry and rabbit-infested Bathurst Plains; the men in the Pinnaroo country in South Australia, and the light Mallee country of Victoria. If the settlers in these areas are not able to secure a. cheap and plentiful supply of fertilizer, as well as cheap machinery, they might just as well not go there at all. Some time ago,”in my own State, I met a man - and I am glad to know that such men are to be found in other States as well - who is making a living on light, sandy plains, land that was passed over by others as utterly useless. He is known aa “ Sand Plain Martin.” He came in some distance to one of my meetings, in consequence, I believe, of something that I had said, or tried to do, regarding the farming industry; and when I met him I realized immediately that he was the very embodiment of that spirit that should be encouraged in every possible way in this country - a stalwart sample of an alert, capable pioneer. He is making a success of farming operations on that barren patch of country toy his native industry and the application of fertilizing agents in the manufacture of which sulphur, which it is now proposed to tax, plays so important a part. If we increase the price of manure in this way, what will become of all the Martins of the Commonwealth ? Inevitably they will drift back to the cities. The good men,’ the cream of our manhood, will be turned back amongst those who will not venture out to risk and strive. We should pause before we do anything that will add to the burdens of these men, who are either thrust out from the city areas, or go out of their own free will, in order to make this land of ours productive. Their voice is not heard in these legislative halls, or, if it is heard, it has such little effect that they cannot comfort themselves with the thought that they are getting anything from this Parliament, so far as this Tariff is concerned. They do not owe their success to anything we are doing for them.
– They are succeeding in spite of us.
Senator LYNCH. Undoubtedly, they are, as Senator Drake-Brockman has interjected. Their voice is inarticulate.
Do those who are interested in the Mr Lyell Company want any assistance for this aspect of their enterprise? Nothing of the kind. They have established themselves in Western Australia without the promise of one penny piece of duty. Make no mistake about it. They would not have gone there if they had not a good prospect of profitable business. If we agree to the duty on this sub-item, the next step will be to put a duty upon superphosphates. Where are we going to end? We must call a halt now, in the interests of these men, who are maintaining their homes and winning success from the light and arid soils of the Commonwealth, and who can only do it with cheap superphosphates. I am quite prepared to put a tax on sulphur required for the other processes of manufacture mentioned by the Minister and ‘Senator Earle; but I stand for free sulphur for the manufacture of superphosphates to fertilize our infertile or impoverished soils. If the Minister will give us an assurance that sulphur for the manufacture of superphosphates will be admitted free, I will be with him in fixing the duty on sulphur required for other uses.
– I shall not delay the Committee very long. I indorse the vigorous statements made by my friend, Senator Lynch. All through the Tariff debate the argument of High Protectionists and Ministers, as regards duties on agricultural machinery, has been to constantly urge the necessity for more and more protection, because the raw materials were dutiable. It was stated that, because we had a duty of 20s. and 30s. on pig iron- and angle iron, the raw materials for the manufacture of farming implements, there should be a duty of 10 per cent. British, 20 per cent. intermediate, and 30 per cent, general on agricultural implements. This argument was constantly used by those who are supporting increased duties. Whenever High Protectionists were in a difficulty, they used the simple plea : “ We have increased the duty on the raw material, therefore we should increase the duty on the manufactured article.” Honorable senators should pause before they agree, in this item, to duties on another raw material required for an important manufacturing industry, because if we tax sulphur now. it is inevitable that, in course of time, there willbe a demand for a tax on superphosphates. I join with Senator Lynch and Senator Wilson in protesting against these duties. I hope that sulphur will be allowed in free, and that the amendment suggested by Senator Wilson will be accepted.
.- 1 believe every honorable senator wishes to deal fairly with the local manufacturer of superphosphates. The other House decided to allow superphosphates iu free, and the local manufacturers of superphosphates urged that sulphur should also be free.I understand they were satisfied with that position. The professed representatives of the Farmers Union in another place declared that they were prepared, as a co-operative society, to compete with any manufacturer’ outside Australia. They discussed the superphosphates position with their friends, who, no doubt, intended to take up’ shares in this co-operative society, and have requested the Minister to impose a duty on sulphur, with the idea of asking for a duty upon superphosphates. If the canting humbugs who claim to represent the farmers have their way they will pull down the pioneer and destroy the primary producing industry. They want this Committee to agree to the duty on sulphur, in order that they may be able to say, “ Very good; but if we are to have a duty upon sulphur, we must have a duty upon superphosphates.”
– The rank and file of. the farmers do not want this duty on sulphur.
– The rank and file are prepared to stand behind the manufacturers of this country, who have said quite frankly that they have no objection to a Free Trade policy in superphosphates so long as they have Free Trade in sulphur.
– But it appears that this duty was put on in another place.
– Quite so. That was very unfair to the manufacturers. In. the circumstances, it should not have been imposed. If there is any raw material in Australia in which there should be no manipulation, it is sulphur, a component part of superphosphates, upon the use of which the whole of our primary production depends. Yet these candid humbugs who declare that the fanners are the back-bone of the country are intriguing behind the farmers’ backs to get a duty on sulphur, and thus compel those who are not members of co-operative companies to pay an enhanced price for the article they buy from outside sources. Ever since their entrance into the Parliaments of this country certain individuals have been practising deception upon our primary producers. Apparently their only object is to satisfy their own political ambitions and vanity. It is time they were told that it is their duty to display honesty of purpose wherever they are.
Request (Senator Pratten’s), by leave, amended to read -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (a) by making it read -
(1) Sulphur, n.e.i., per ton, British, 15s.; intermediate, 20s.; general, 50s.
Amendment (by Senator Wilson) proposed -
That the request be amended by making subitem (a) (1), free.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 4.18 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 August 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210826_senate_8_97/>.