8th Parliament · 1st Session
The Clerk, having announced that, he had received a communication from the President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) that he would be unavoidably absent, owing to his representing the Senate at the funeral of the late Mrs. Fairbairn-.
The Deputy President (Senator Bakhap) took the chair at 11.1 a.m., and read prayers.
Inter pretations of Rules and Regulations.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Seuate, upon notice -
– The answer supplied is as follows: - 1 and 2. The instructions which have been issued in regard to the payment of increments for the present financial year and which follow the practice in previous years, are that where the salary of the officer, plus increment, does not exceedf245j the increments are to be paid immediately they accrue. In regard to officers receiving higher salaries, consideration will bo given to the question of paying increments after the Estimates have been presented to Parliament.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers supplied by the Treasurer are as follow : -
Restrictions on Sugar Concessions.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice’ -
– The answers are- -
Senator DE LARGIE presented the final report of the Select Committee on Senate Officials, together with minutes of proceedings, minutes of evidence and appendices.
Ordered to be printed.
In Committee : Consideration resumed from 30th August (vide page 11416).
Schedule. division x.– wool, wicker and cane.
Item 292 (Timber, viz., laths, pickets, &c.) agreed to.
Doors of wood, including fly doors.
Sizes 1½ in. and under, each, British 4s. 6d., intermediate 4s. 6d., general 4s.6d.
Sizes over1½ in. and under 1¾ in., each, British 6s., intermediate (is., general 6s.
Sizes If in. and over, each, British 8s. 6d., intermediate 8s.6d., general 8s. 6d.
– I draw the attention of the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) to the position in regard to sub-item c, which relates to the manufacture of doors. These duties were brought down last March twelve months. Since then the timber duties have been increased to the extent of practically 100 per cent., so that it seems to me that unless we increase the duties on doors, at all events, we shall be placing some premium upon their importation, the duties having been first proposed in order to cultivate their localmanufacture. I raise this question more particularly in relation to sub-item c, but my argument also bears on sub-items a and b.
– No representations have been made to the Government as to the alteration of these duties, and I understand that they have been giving substantial satisfaction. The door making industry has been going on very well, and since no request in regard to the duties has been submitted- to the Department, we do not propose to ask for any alteration of them.
– Within the last day or two, very strong representations have been made to me in connexion with this item by Melbourne and Sydney firms interested in making doors. I can understand how it is that no such representations have been made to the Department for Trade and Customs. It is owing to the uncertainty that has existed in regard to what this Committee might do in respect to the main timber items. The position is now. settled in that respect. The main timber duties, by the action of this Committee, have been further increased, and now the position is that the duties on doors must also be altered. Otherwise in consequence of the raw material having had twice the duty placedon it as was expected by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) in framing the Tariff, the makers of doors in Australia must go out of business. Doors are being offered at extraordinarily low prices to-day.
– Last year, Australia imported only £100 worth of doors.
– Exactly , because of the Tariff that was then in operation. The duties on doors ought now to be in consonance with the higher duties imposed on the raw material.
– The duties on doors have been practically prohibitive ever since 1913.
– Doors and window sashes are made of imported softwoods, and the present duties- upon them bear some relation to the original duty of 1s. per 100 super, feet on the raw material, as was originally intended by the Minister for Trade and Customs; but when that rate has been raised to 4s., and another rate of 3s. to 5s. 6d., and still another rate of 3s. 6d. to 7s. - all on the raw material from which these doors are madei - then it follows that the existing duties on doors do’ not continue to bear any sort of relation to the rates upon imported softwoods. I hope that the Minister will see his way clear to accept a 50 per cent.’ advance upon the duties on doors in order that they. may have some relativity to the action taken by the Committee last night in increasing the main timber duties.
– The protection afforded to the door-making industry is more than generous. A party of Federal members visited Maryborough, in Queensland, some years ago, and saw doors and window sashes being made, for the Sydney and Melbourne markets, from Queensland cedar, a very excellent material for the purpose. I understand that silky oak is also used now for making these doors, but at that time cedar was the principaltimber used.
– It is kept in ironsafes now.
– - It is all gone now.
– I know it is verysuperior timber, which ought to be put to better purposes, but it was so plentiful” at that time that complete houses were being built of it. The wages paid to theworkmen engaged in the mill were 6s. and’ 7s. a day, and youths were working- mortising machines for 2s. a day. I think that the industry is sufficiently protected considering the amount of wages paid and the material used.-
Request (by Senator Pratten) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, sub-item (c) 1, 2,and 3, general, 6s. 9d., 9s., and 12s.9d.
– I trust that the Government will not yield to this request. I have very good authority for saying that, outof each £800, which is the average cost of building a house for a returned soldier, at least £50 is paid in duties upon the timber used. If we are faced with a problem, it is that of finding houses and homes for our people; and to do anything to make it more difficult to build is a disastrous step.
– My request is only a logical corollary of what has already been done. 1
– Let us go back and undo what we have done.
– I entirely agree with the honorable senator, and if he will move to recommit the timber duties with a view to reducing them he shall have my support.
– In any case, I am against this proposed increase of duty, and I ask Senator Pearce to “ stick to his guns.”
.- The Inter-State Commission went fully into this question, and the duties they recommended were 3s. 6d., 5s. and 7s. 6d., according to size. The schedule proposes 4s. 6d., 6s. and8s. 6d., or1s. more than the Inter-State Commission recommended in each case. That makes up for the increase in the other duties.
– So far as my personal experience goes, over the last ten years at all events, no cedar is used in Sydney and suburbs unless in very expensive houses, and under exceptional conditions, for making doors.
– There is a fair amount of maple used.
– That is so. We all know that our cedar has in the past been burnt, or used for purposes which were economically unsound, and there is an exceedingly grave shortage of that tim-. ber in Australia to-day. However correct the remarks of Senator de Largie may have been inconnexion with the environment he was in at the time of which he /spoke, cedar now does not come into consideration for the making of doors and window frames in Sydney . and suburbs. In reply to the Minister, I wish to say that by no vote of mine were the timber duties last night increased or confirmed. I think it is economically an unsound policy-
– The honorable senator has a very short memory.
– Will the honorable gentleman say in what direction ?
– I have a distinct recollection of the honorable senator, not only voting for, but moving increases in the timber duties.
– The Minister ought to put in the whole of the context. The test division was taken on log timber, and as the Committee decided not to reduce the duty on that timber, I allowed the next item to pass. I think we were in general agreement that whatever duty was fixed on log timber, the duties on the other timber should be relative, as a matter of fair play. That was the position I took up last night.
– You moved to increase duties, whatever your motive may have been.
– Because it was only fair to have an increased duty on dressed timber in relation to the duties fixed on the logs.
– I am not questioning that.
– I hope that the honorable gentleman next time will quote the whole of the context in an interjection, which otherwise may be misunderstood. I repeat that if these1 timber duties are recommitted my vote will ‘ be again recorded for reductions. I believe that what the Committee has done is economically unsound.
– Yes; ever since the day we went, into Committee,
– However, if the Minister will not accept my request, I cannot press it, but I again point out that the duty I propose has a fair relation to what we have already done. If the request is notaccepted, the inevitable outcome will be that the doors ou which the duty is imposed will be imported from . America already made up. They may be cheaper on that account, and thus fall in with the ideas of Senator Thomas. But such a step is not consonant with the principle of the Tariff, which is to keep all the work we possibly can within our own borders for the employment of our own people.
Item agreed to.
Item 294 (Staves), item 295 (Shooks), item 296 (Casks and vats), item , -297. (Buckets and tubs), item 298 (Last blocks, ice.), and item 299 (Broom stocks, &c), agreed to.
Woodware for vehicles, viz. : -
– I cannot understand why the British preferential duty . and the general duty should be both 15 per cent. I move -
That the House ofRepresentatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), British, ad vol., 10 per cent.
– Hickory is an American timber, and these hickory felloes do not come from Great Britain.
– That, I take it, is regarded as a good reason for giving Great Britain a greater preference; the low duty looks well on paper, and does no harmto Australia.
– Under the first Federal Tariff, elm hubs, I believe, were admitted free. A duty of 10 per cent, was imposed in 1908, but that degree of protection was ineffective. The rate is now 15 per cent., but even that does not provide reasonable protection compared with what has been imposed in respect of many favorably treated city industries. Coachbuilding is a country industry.
– The Government have received no complaint that the duty of 15 per cent, is inadequate.”
– Imports do not suggest that it is sufficient. In 1920, about 21,000 American hubs were imported, and, in 1921, about 37,000; the total combined values were about £15,000’. The Australian product is just as good as, if not better than, the American elm hub, although a little on the heavy side.
– I am willing to agree to a request for an increase of the general rate to 25 per cent.
– I move, then -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (b), ad vol., general, 25 per cent.
That rate will provide an effective but not an excessive Tariff.
– I support the request. In 1901, I secured the imposition of a 10 per cent, duty upon hubs. We had, and still have, a very fine timber in Western Australia., a eucalypt locally known as the York gum. It is a splendid curly timber, specially suited to the manufacture of hubs. Under the 1908 Tariff, the 10 per cent, rate was re-imposed. In 1914 the duty was made 15 per cent., and that rate has continued to date.
– I support the request, and would have agreed to a. still higher duty. During the years- of the war, Australian spotted gum and ironbark practically took the place of imported timber for hubs. Statistics show a tremendous increase in importations since the war; Senator Lynch has already mentioned the approximate, totals for the past two years. I understand that no complaint was made during the war period concerning the Australian woods, but, at the present time, unfortunately, sales of hubs from local timbers have fallen off. One factory in Victoria, which in January last was employing forty-six hands on full time, is now working with only twentythree employees four days a week
– Will the proposed increase seriously interfere with coachbuilding ?
– If American hubs continue to be dumped here, and local factories are compelled to restrict activities, the coachbuilder will be able for the time being to get his supplies at lower rates; but the eventual effect of the crushing of the Australian industry will be to give importers an opportunity to enforce high prices under cover “of a monopoly.
– 1 cannot resist replying to the assertion that hands are being put off in Australian factories. Protection has been in force for the past fifty years and more.
– The trouble is that the Tariff is inadequate.
– It is the Tariff itself which is causing factories to curtail activities, and may eventually close them.
– The Australian factories were only established during the war.
– Australian hubs are excellent productions, I admit. Although a few hands may be put off in various factories, it should not be forgotten that it was imported hickory which permitted the country coachbuilder a few years ago to turn out a sulky for about £14. Increased costs, owing to Tariff impositions, have now run the price of a sulky up to about £40, and where one might have noticed twenty, of them on a country road upon a Sunday afternoon ten years ago, there is scarcely one to be seen to-day. That fact indicates the considerably reduced amount of work for country coachbuilders; and the example is typical of what always happens under a Protectionist policy. In this instance, while the interests of a twopennyhalfpenny factory in Victoria are being fought for, the rest of Australia is forgotten.
Request agreed to.
.- Do I understand that the Minister has accepted that increase?
– If that is the policy to be adopted, I am not going to assist the Government in getting the Tariff through.
– There are no importations at all under this sub-item.
– I would like to know whether the Government are going to accept every increase suggested, and resist every decrease. If they intend to do that, I shall be reluctantly compelled to show some opposition.
– What I said in connexion with a previous sub-item on elm hubs also applies with equal force to sub-item g> as the inadequacy of the duties imposed has allowed importations to flow into Aus- tralia so freely that many factories have been struggling to exist.
– There were no importations* of hubs.
– There have been large importations of spokes, and I shall accept the same rate of duty in the general Tariff on this sub-item.
– Then, I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (o), ad val., general, 25 per cent.
– I am sorry the Minister (Senator Pearce) has agreed to increase the duty. The importation of spokes from America has been enormous, because our spotted gum, which is a substitute, is a heavy one, and is responsible for the difference between a light and heavy vehicle; and for the sarven wheel, for which spokes are required, we have nothing to equal the imported timber.
– If the honorable senator refers to the previous sub-item, he will see that hickory in the rough can be imported on a 5 per cent, basis; this is dressed hickory.
– I know that. Hickory spokes imported in the rough have merely to be placed in a turning lathe to be made smooth; and the imposition of these duties assists only the big city firms, which have suitable machinery installed, and which employ very little labour. It is merely a matter of having up-to-date machinery. I do not object to a duty of 15 per cent.; but it is ridiculous for the Minister, in an offhand way, to say, “ I shall accept 25 per Cent.” He is playing into the hands of the coachbuilding trade, and assisting only firms who have the particular machinery installed for the dressing of spokes, instead of making them import, and thus prevent huge profits being made. Practically the whole of this work is done in the city by a few firms, whilst in country- towns of a population of 3,000 or 4,000 there are two or three small men who have to struggle -without such assistance. The proprietors of city factories have the business iu their own hands, and, consequently, are able to make the users pay higher prices, whilst those in the country have to fight if they desire to obtain any consideration at all. During recent years, prices have increased by 300 per cent., and the imposition of these’’ duties is only benefiting those in the cities who have up-to-date plants.
– I do not think it can be claimed that the rate of duty is excessive. I am not in favour of going any higher, because I desire to apply the same principle in this instance as has been applied to other industries to which I have previously referred. I do not wish those who are to benefit by higher duties to bc sheltered behind an unnecessarily high barrier; but I desire to remind Senator Gardiner that it is very necessary to prompt, or even compel, certain people in this country to give preference to the timber grown here. We have been using American- axe . handles in Australia for many years, and axemen really thought that nothing produced locally could equal them.
– Neither they can.
– That is not so; because in Western Australia axe handles made from the timber grown on the limestone fringes is as tough in fibre as any timber from which American axe handles are made. I have used the handles made of Western Australian timber, and know that they are equal in every way to the imported article. It is time our people began to shed the scales from their eyes and admit that the Australian timber is suitable in every way for the manufacture of many articles which we have been in the habit of importing. I am not asking for more than 25 per cent. ; and knowing that country industries have not had that kind of soft-hearted consideration which city industries have received, I am thankful for what I am getting.
It may interest Senator Gardiner to have the importations for the last two years. In 1920, 285,000 hickory spokes, valued at £6,922, were imported ; and in 1921, . 702,542 spokes, valued at £32,175, came into the Commonwealth. As a result of these heavy importations, a factory on the Richmond River in New South Wales, which was partly devoted to the manufacture of spokes from Australian timber, has been compelled to close.
– But the industry has been protected since this Tariff has been in operation.
– Yes ; but the duty of 15 per cent, was not sufficient. I support the request.
– I am always pleased when Protectionists give information concerning the effect of duties. I have no doubt that the factory on the Richmond River to which Senator Elliott has referred as having closed down, is one of those factories that had to get its plant and material from abroad, and twelve months’ experience of this Tariff has caused its close, as it has- caused the close of many other factories. Senator Elliott tells us that the factory was closed down because 15 per cent, duty on these articles is not sufficient, and he thinks that 25 per cent, would revive it. The honorable senator overlooks the fact that the proprietors, of the factory have had to pay higher wages because the prices of boots, hats, clothing, and everything else has gone up owing to the duties imposed by this Tariff. With high prices everywhere, a factory closes down, and the honorable senator looks to the little item in the Tariff, and attributes its failure to the fact that that duty is not sufficiently high. That is quite in accord with Protectionist intelligence. Eighteen months’ operation of the Tariff has brought about more unemployment in Australia than we had for fifteen years previously.
– When was the Tariff introduced ?
– In March, 1920, and that is not very far from eighteen months ago. These duties have caused factories all over Australia to close. I have been very much obliged to Senator Lynch for the information that an excellent wood is to be had in Western Australia from which axe handles can be made. The honorable senator “cannot blame me if I have been ignorant of the fact, because I cannot purchase axe handles made of that wood in Sydney.
– We have had New South Wales axe handles in Western Australia.
– I bought some of them, and I had toput up with the curses of the men who had to use them. They took their axes into the bush, and cut handles for themselves in preference to those with which they had been supplied.
– Were the New South Wales axe handlesso bad as that?
– They were, compared with the kind of axe handle which is necessary for effective work. There are men who think that woodchopping is not expert work, and men who cannot tell the difference between a good and a bad axe handle. I know the difference, and I know that men who are accustomed to use axes prefer to pay 3s. 6d. at Anthony Hordern’s for a hickory handle to- purchasing any other handle, even at1s. This is not the result of prejudice, but of a knowledge of the work they have to do.
– Last night, I was opposing increases of duties, and the honorable senator voted against me. I cannot please him either way.
– I remind the Minister that there are three columns in the schedule, and it affords great scope for discussion. I think the time has come for a compromise. The Minister will not be likely to get the Bill through very quickly if he is prepared to accept any stupid request which his own supporters may make. It makes me angry to see one or two men, for the sake of one or two factories, interfering with the business of thousands of people in Australia.
– With respect to my statement that this duty of 15 per cent, led to the closing of the Richmond River factory in the course of twelve months, I may say that the duty has been in force since 1914, and with the additional protection afforded by the war, the Richmond River factory was enabled to start, and was well established.It was only because, during this year, there was an enormous increase in the imports of American spokes, that the factory was compelled to shut down.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Item 301 (Wicker, bamboo, and cane), agreed to.
– Sub-item b includes axe handles. I indorse every word that has been said by Senator Gardiner as to the necessity of those who make a living as bushmen being able to get their tools of trade at a reasonable price. It is a fact, also, that any man worthy of the name of a bushman knows that it is absolutely essential to use a hickory axe handle. I saw an exhibit of handles in the Queen’s Hall when the Tariff was being considered in another place. So far as symmetry was concerned, they were a credit to Australian manufacturers ; but any one with any knowledge of what is required of an axe handle, on putting them to an ordinary test, would admit that, although they looked all right, they would not prove to be the serviceable article required by a bushman. A great many locally-made axe handles were used during the war period because they were much cheaper than the imported article; but I have not known any of them to be used by those who have to make their living as bushmen.
– The bushman made his axe handles out of blackwood or sheoak in the olden times.
– We have advanced from the conditions of the olden times. The bushman knows that it is absolutely essential that an axe handle shall have some give in it. With regard to ordinary tool handles, I am pleased to admit that the Australian manufacturer is turning out a very good line indeed. If the duties here proposed are retained, the American axe handle will still be used until we can find a timber in Australia from which axe handles equal to the imported article can be manufactured. For this reason, I move -
That the House of Representatives he requested to amend the item by inserting the following new sub-item. - “ (c) Axe handles of wood, ad val.,
British, 10 per cent. ; intermediate, 15 per cent.; general, 20 per cent.”
These duties will be ample, and at the same time will enable the bushman to get the axe handle he requires at a reasonable price. At present, as Senator Gardiner has pointed out, he is compelled to pay 3s. 6d. for a handle which a few years ago he could have purchased for1s. 6d. I am putting up this plea for the bushman because I know how arduous his work is, and how essential it is for his safety that he should have the very best axe handle that is obtainable.
.- We all agree with what Senator Payne has said concerning the nature of the bushman’s work, and how necessary it is that he should have an axe handle of good quality; but I am assured that our bushworkers can get an Australian axe handle of excellent quality. At Bunbury, in Western Australia, a factory, owned and run entirely by returned soldiers, is turning out axe handles that are used almost universally throughout that State, which has the biggest timber industry in the Commonwealth. ‘ If these axe handles are suitable for the hardwood timbers of Western Australia, they should be quite suitable for the soft woods in the other States.
– But those handles are not obtainable in the eastern States.
– It is a new industry, and by means of this Tariff it is hoped to extend business considerably in the near future. Those connected with it had their initial difficulties because of the limited capital available. I appeal to Senator Payne not to press his request.
.- I would bo quite prepared to accept the Minister’s suggestion if the axe handles to which he refers were on the market and obtainable in the eastern States, but I have not yet been able to find on sale Australian axe handles that can be regarded as equal in quality to the American article. Therefore, i am not prepared to place this handicap upon the Australian bushman. If, as has been suggested, there should be deferred duties on axe handles, I would be only too pleased to accept it, because I’ am anxious to see the industry established in Australia if axe handles of good quality can be produced. No one is more pleased than I am to know that suitable timber has been found in Western Australia. We had a similar proposition at Port Davey, in Tasmania, a few years ago, but, owing to the inaccessibility of the timber nothing came of the scheme, and at present, independently of importations, we are not able to provide for the needs of the Australian bushman. I must press my request, unless the Minister is prepared to suggest deferred duties.
Question - That the request be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 7
(d) Clothes pegs, …. per gross,
British,1s.; intermediate,1s.; general,1s. 6d.
– Prior to the war, the price of this humble but very necessary article was from 3s.10d. to 4s. per five-gross box, and now the duty in the general Tariff is almost 100 per cent. more. To-day’s exchange, roughly 30 per cent., plus freights and other charges, brings up the cost to 11s. 2d. per box. To this has to be added 7s. 6d. by way of duty, making the importers’ cost 16s. 8d. per box.
– This makes it a luxury to dry one’s clothes.
– Exactly. My informant states that his company, has not been able to obtain Australian-made clothes pegs of good quality under 18s. 9d. per box. Before the war . the housewife paid something like1½d. for two dozen pegs, whereas to-day she has to pay 1s., an increase of 800 per cent. It cannot be said that the manufacture of clothes pegs is a great industry and as the local factories, are evidently unable to sell at the price of the imported goods, these heavy duties serve only to increase the cost of a very necessary article. I , move -
That the House of Representatives be requested, to make the duty, sub-item (d), general,1s.
– I desire to raise my voice on behalf of this small industry which was established during the war.
– Where? In Parramatta ?
– No. In the bush, about thirty miles from Melbourne. I have here two clothes pegs made in Victoria from Australian timber, and I am informed that the industry is in a position to make all the pegs required in Australia. It is hardly fair for Senator Vardon to talk about pre-war prices in relation to the present duties. 1 had very much pleasure in voting just now to safeguard an Australian industry engaged in themanufacture of axe handles, spokes and felloes, and I appeal to the Committee to pass this item as it stands.I understand that the Department has gone very carefully into the question and that as a result of its inquiries these duties have been proposed by the Government.
.- It is within the knowledge of the Department that there are two factories - one in Victoria and the other in New SouthWales - engaged in the manufacture of clothes pegs. The New South Wales factory is not in Parramatta, but at Redfern.
– Returned soldiers for the most part are carrying on the industry.
– I do not know what- is the position so far as the Redfern factory is concerned, but that in Victoria is carried- on by returned soldiers. Those engaged in the industry complain that since starting operations they have met with fierce competition from importers of American clothes pegs who have been cutting prices. That alone should justify the retention of the duty.
: - The present duty amounts to 150 per cent, on the wholesale export price of clothes pegs in the United- States of America. We might as well say at once that the importation of clothes pegs is prohibited.
– Does the honorable senator say that a duty of1d. per dozen is equal to 150 per cent. ?
– The present duty of1s. 6d. per gross under the general Tariff is equal to a duty of 150 per cent, on the present American prices, so that it is 50 per cent, in excess of the value of the goods. It is all very well to say that the production of clothes pegs- has been commenced here, but it is unreasonable that the women of Australia should have to pay 4d. or 4½d. per dozen for American clothes pegs as against1½d. for- two dozen before the war. Clothes pegs are easily broken and this is an. unnecessary burden. I am sorry that Senator Vardon did not move for a greater reduction of the duty under the general column. I had intended to submit a request that the duty under the British preferential Tariff be reduced to 3d. per gross and under the general Tariff to 6d. per gross.
Question - That the request be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative..
Item agreed to.
Item 304 (Oars and sculls) agreed to.
– I should like an explanation as to why the words “ including hospitals” appear in sub-item a. I do not see why this special attention should be drawn to the imposition of duties of 35 per cent., 45 per cent., and 50 per cent, on hospital requirements.
.- The words referred to by the honorable senator are necessary, because item 416 provides that “ metal furniture for public hospitals which cannot reasonably be manufactured within the Commonwealth, as prescribed by departmental by-laws” shall be free under the British and intermediate Tariffs, and dutiable at 20 per cent, under the general Tariff.
– But that cannot apply to wooden furniture.
– Quite so; but the words referred to by Senator Senior are included in sub-item a, in order to make the position quite clear.
.- I think that the words “ including’ hospitals “ should be omitted. Many contrivances made of wood are used in hospitals. For instance, there are contrivances for the purpose of lifting the weight of bed-clothes from a maimed limb. I do not want Australia to be stigmatized for having imposed a duty on articles used in hospitals.
.- Any of these articles which cannot be made here will be admitted free of duty, as provided for elsewhere in the schedule. In the military hospitals which, during the war, probably treated a greater number of maimed patients than the general hospitals in Australia had in the previous twenty-five years, all these contrivances are made by men who have learned the business while they were inmates of the institutions. In any case the greater part of these wooden contrivances can be, and are being, made here.
Item agreed to.
Item 306 (Photograph frames) agreed to. division xi.– jewelleryandfancy GOODS.
Item 307 (Shells, weapons, and curios, old coins), and item 308 (Combs and shaving sets) agreed to.
Paney Goods, viz. : -
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (c) by leaving out the words “ or imitations thereof “ twice occurring.
I have with me samples of neck studs and sleeve links which cannot be regarded as jewellery. They are personal requisites. If the words “ or imitations thereof “ are retained in this sub-item, certain of these articles will be admitted at the rates attaching to the sub-item, namely, 25 per cent., 35 per cent., and 50 per cent., whereas others which are made to imitate jewellery will pay 45 per cent., 55 per cent., and 60 per cent. I am anxious to have these cheap personal requisites, which are not manufactured in Australia, all classed at the same rate of duty. The man who can alford to buy gold or silver sleeve links should pay the higher duties attaching to an article of luxury, but the man whose means will only permit him to buy an ordinary sixpenny collar stud should not be called upon to pay a duty ranging up to 60 per cent. The ordinary neck stud commonly used is not a piece of jewellery, nor is the imitation pearl stud which is now classified as imitation jewellery, but which should be admitted under the category of articles for personal wear. There is no justification for the imposition of a 60 per cent, duty upon such articles.
– If people are vain, it is right to chastise them.
– It is not a question of vanity. The honorable senator would not like to see another senator coming into the chamber with his shirt cuffs flying loose or his collar unfastened. Sleeve links and collar studs are requisites of personal tidiness.
– I cannot accept this request. The classification in this part of the schedule is very complex, and once we start disturbing it,, heaven knows what difficulties we will get into. In any case, the value of the articles referred to is, very low, and,, although the duty seems high, it will not amount to much.
Question - That the request be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 310 (Articles used for outdoor and indoor games, fishing appliances n.e.i.), item 311 (Bullion and coin, &c), item 312 (Jewellery, viz., beads, &c), item 313 (Jewellery, unfinished), item 314 (Jewellery commonly known as rolledgold imitation jewellery), and item 315 (Jewellery n.e.i.), agreed to.
Imitation, reconstructed, and synthetic precious stones and pearls, unset; cultured pearls, unset, ad val., British, free; intermediate, free; general, 20 per cent.
– Why the differentiation between imitation precious stones and jewellery, and imitation jewellery and articles for personal wear? These latter are called upon to pay the very stiff duties of 25 per cent., 35 per cent., and 50 per cent., and imitation jewellery, 45 per cent., 55 per cent., and 60 per cent. - the high-water mark, I suppose, of duties on luxuries - while imitation precious stones are admitted free. These duties are a tax on things that people can very well do without, but which some people, in their folly, insist on having. If there is any glint of goodness in the Tariff, it is the effort in these items to put a tax on^ the vanity that is characteristic of human nature. These articles are luxuries, absolutely. I do not see why a man who prefers to have a diamond ring, should have the raw material of it free, while another equally foolish, who desires a “ brummagen “ pin for his scarf, should have to pay 45 per cent. If the Government are really in need of revenue I see no source that could better be exploited than this. I suggest that the rates of duty be fixed at, British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 45 per cent.; and general, 50 per cent.
– I can quite understand that this is an item that captures the eye; and a certain amount of sympathy can be felt with the desire of Senator Lynch to impose heavy duties. I draw the attention of the honorable senator, however, to the fact that these are unset and uncut stones, which are the raw material of the jewellery trade. Moreover, I suppose there is not an item on which it would be more difficult to enforce duties than this ; they are small, and so easy to secrete that it would be impossible for the Customs officials to discover them.
– The same applies to imitation jewellery and articles for personal adornment.
– Those aremadeup goods, and more bulky, and have to be brought in some sort of package.
– There was a duty of 35 per cent, on these imitation precious stones before.
– That is so. Perhaps I had better read what the InterState Commission reported and recommended. The debate in Parliament on the 1908 Tariff indicates that the duty placed on imitation precious stones, was in order to encourage the use of Australian stones. The Inter-State . Commission, in dealing with an application for a duty on precious stones, reported as follows : -
Any effort to give effect to this application is beset with difficulties. In the first place, if precious stones are made dutiable, it will seriously affect the manufacturing jewellery industry, a very important industry, which has made considerable progress in artistic merit as well as in volume of output; and, secondly, it will be impracticable for the Customs authorities to exercise any reasonably efficient control which would insure the due collection of the duty which may be imposed. Gems in quantity and high value may be so easily secreted that duties would merely offer an encouragement for smuggling, and the higher the duty, the greater would bethe incentive.
– Then what is the use of the duty under the general Tariff?
– I agree that the argument applies to the general Tariff as well -
Those persons interested, who observed the requirements of the law and declared the true value of their importations to the Customs, would be hopelessly at a disadvantage in competition with others, who could so easily and successfully deceive the most vigilant officers. To keep a check on the entry of precious stones would be impossible, even if every passenger were thoroughly searched. There are, obviously, unlimited means by which articles of high value and small size may be secreted.
That is a point worth bearing in mind -
The applicants are correct in stating if any Tariff assistance is possible, it should apply to imitation as well as to real precious stones, since in the case of synthetic gems they are now made to such perfection, that physically and chemically they are identical in character and composition with the gems they represent.
For those reasons, the Government consider that, under all the circumstances, the recommendation of the Inter-State Commission should be accepted.
– . 1 am afraid that the reasons advanced by the Minister (Senator Pearce) are not very convincing. They really amount to a statement that owing to the impossibility of detecting persons in smuggling, these articles, ought to> be free and. 20 per cent.
– There: is also the argument about the raw material of the jeweller.
– Even so, I submit that the balance of reasoning is in favour of imposing a duty on. these articles, which. cannot for one moment; be regarded as necessaries, and should be called upon to contribute towards the revenue. Otherwise we shall have a man called upon to pay a duty on the dungaree trousers he wears, while another man is allowed to gethis diamond ring in practically free. Where is the justice or equity in such a position? The argument as to the difficulty in detecting smuggling applies to all articles which can be carried in small compass, and are valuable. What has been the subject of smuggling more than opium? We did not on that account abandon the opium dutj’, though I believe it is modified to some extent when the product is to be used for medicinal purposes. There are other articles also small which are smuggled, I suppose, every day in the week. If these things are the raw material of the jeweller, the man who purchases them to use as personal adornment can well afford to pay an enhanced price. Any duty paid on the raw material is reflected in the price of the finished article, and the purchaser of a diamond ring can very justly be called upon to pay for the privilege.
– These stones are unset and uncut, and if this request be passed the jewellery trade will suffer.
– I do not think so; a man. who is prepared to buy diamonds ought to be prepared to pay the extra price.
– The man who buys these diamonds is the man who is going to work them up.
– If we impose a duty of 45 per cent.,, he will add that to the cost of the finished article. Theire is no equity or fairness in taxing the necessaries of life, and allowing, these luxuries to come in free. As people who desire luxuries will buy them, no’ matter what may be the cost, and seeing that the interests of the Australian working jeweller will not be interfered with, I move -
Tlia.fc the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, general, ad val., 50 per cent.
– I am not in favour of excessively high duties, except upon luxuries. The Committee is now dealing with luxuries; I shall therefore support the request. I cannot follow the arguments of the Minister (Senator Pearce) when he states that the reason why British imports may be admitted free while the general Tariff is only 20 per cent, is because of the difficulty in collecting’ the duty. If there is anything in that remark, it will be, at any rate-, no more difficult to collect a 50 per cent, duty than one of 20 per cent.
– Does not the honorable’ senator believe iu manufacturing jewellers getting their raw material reasonably?
– I would prefer to foster the development of the Australian precious stone industry.
Question put. The Committee divided
Ayes … … 4
Noes … … … 17
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the, negative.
Request, negatived .
Item agreed to:
Item 317 (Watch and clock, main and hair springs,-&c.), agreed to.
And on and..after. 30th. June,, 1921- ( a), ( 1 ) Clocks,. n.e.i. ;, time registers and. de- toctora; opera, field, and marine glasses; pedometers; pocket counters and the like, ad val., British,- 25 ‘ per cent.; - intermediate, 30 per, cent. ; general, 45 per . cent.’
Watches and. chronometers, n.e.i., ad val:. British; 10- per cent. ; intermediate; 20 per cent;; general, 30- per cent. (B). Movements and parts of movements, n.e.i., for, use in the manufacture of clocks, as prescribed by departmental by-laws,- ad val., British, 10 > per -cent.; intermediate, 20 per cent:; general, 25 per cent.
.- Prior to 30th June, -watches, clocks and chronometers were,, grouped, and the general Tariff was 45 per cent, ad val. Owing to amendments made in another place.. “ clocks n.e.i. “ are now dutiable at 45 per cent., while - upon watches and chronometers the general Tariff’ is only 30 per cent. Purchasers of utility articles such as alarm, clocks are to be more heavily- penalized- by way of Customs collections than the fortunate folk who can afford to buy expensive gold chronometers and the like.
– The explanation is that the manufacture of clocks is being” undertaken in the Commonwealth, while- watches are not made here. Movements . and parts of movements for use in the manufacture of clocks, “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws,” may be admitted at a lower rate, namely, 25 per cent., general.
Sitting suspended from.l to. 2. 30 p.m.
– Time’ registers and detectors are included’ with- clocks in sub-item a; paragraph 1. They- are- certainly “ dummy “’ clocks; but I think- that they have been - wrongly classified. As every one knows, . these devices are for- industrial recording purposes, . and are- not timepieces. Perhaps the Minister (Senator Pearce) can say why they have not been included with typewriters, cash registers-, and similar- machines; with which they should be bracketed.-
– Perhaps they are oat of place in paragraph, 1,; and should be io paragraph 2. If the honorable senator,desires . to move -in that direction I shall accept- such a request.
– I move–
That the House of Representatives be. requested. >to leaveiout the words-“ Time registers and detectors- “ in:. sub-item, (a) (.1), and. insert suoh words after “ n.ei” in sub-item: (a) (2).
.- I: regret that clocks : do: not appear in . a separate suh-itein,. because it would then be very much, easier., to. deal with- -the- quetion, especially- in view of the, statements made by Senator Duncan and the Minister (Senator Pearce-)* Senator Duncan asked a very pertinent question- as. to why the duty, on . clocks is to- be increased, and the Minister said that the object was to. encourage their manufacture in Australia, as’ the industry has been established. Clacks always have and always will be regarded as essential in every household, particularly in the homes - of men who have to begin, their labours, at an early hour.- Compared’ with, the duties imposed under the old Tariff,, the - increases are very heavy; and. I have not yet been able to find any justification for the additional impost. I am. assured that up to the present no clocks have been manufactured in Australia, and if- that, is so, why should we penalize purchasers? The clock industry abroad has been established by the expenditure of enormous sums of money, and, as a result, these useful article’s have- been produced at a reasonable price.- We cannot hope to have anything that can in. any way compete with imported clocks- for many years to come.. In., the. following, sub-item, ‘provision is made for the, duties on. parts, of cloaks to be administered under departmental by-laws at comparatively low duties; but I believe that whatever industry is established ‘in Australia, it will be merely an assembling and not a manufacturing one. In the meantime, we arc imposing on every user of clocks an additional 15 per cent, burden, which doesnot seem at all reasonable. I am prepared to give every encouragement to any Australian industry that can supply a fair proportion of our requirements, but I am not willing to support the imposition of heavy duties which have to be passed on *to the public,’ and which are not of any benefit to an Australian industry. The Minister has agreed to time registers and detectors being included in the next paragraph, and, for that reason, I would have liked to have been able to deal with clocks apart from other articles. ‘When Senator Pratten’s request has been disposed of, I shall move in the direction of reducing the duties- to 20, 25, and 30 per cent, respectively. I would not submit such a request, but I know that the cost of the clocks is very . much higher than it was a few years ago, in consequence of the increased cost of labour, freights, and the exchange position. “We do not want to further increase prices by imposing unnecessarily heavy duties. A nickel alarm clock, ‘that could once be purchased for a few shillings, is now double the price.
– The manufacturers of the “ Big Ben “ clock have notified the distributors that they must sell at a fixed rate.
-Ycs; but that rate can be altered from time to time.
– They will not supply them unless they are sold at a certain price.
– That may bo so; but that has nothing to do with the phase of the question with which I am dealing. “ Apart from the “Big Ben” Company, there is the Ansonia Clock Company and other manufacturers.
– And you can guess that they are doing the same.
– A clock that could be purchased for 5s. now costs11s. or 12s.,’ and if these duties become operative the price will go to 14s.
– How long has this Tariff been in operation?
– For . nearly eighteen months.
– Then the prices will not be affected.
– They would be by a reduction in duties.
– But the honorable senator said that if these duties become operative the prices ‘ will be further increased.
– The duties have been in operation, but they have not been approved by both Houses of Parliament If increased duties would be the means of finding employment for a large number of men and women, and we had evidence to that effect, the position would be different.
– But we should give them time to develop.
– Surely a duty of 30 per cent., plus freight packing and incidental charges, is ample for an industry of this character. I have been informed on the best authority that whatever industry is established in the future will be an assembling and not a manufacturing one.
Request agreed to.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a) (1), general, ad val., 30 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority ‘ . . … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I should like to know whether sub-item a includes watch cases.
– Yes; it includes all parts, including cases.
– Except the parts specially included in sub-itemB?
– Those interested in the manufacturing jewellery trade of Sydney are very well satisfied with the proposals of the Government as indicated in this schedule; but there is one little matter about which they ‘ are concerned, and that is to develop, so far as possible, the manufacture of watch cases in Australia. Watch movements are not likely to be made here for a long time, but watch cases are now being made in Sydney. Might I submit, for the consideration of the Minister, that, at all events so far as the British preference and intermediate columns are concerned, there might be a reduction of the duty on watch works and movements, otherwise watch cases will have exactly the same duty imposed on them as watch movements. If we could import watch movements at a little lower duty than the watch cases, there would be a consequent encouragement to make the cases here. I suggest that watch movements might be admitted free from Great Britain, and made dutiable under the intermediate column at 10 per cent., leaving the general Tariff as at present. That would permit of the importation of watch movements at a lower duty, whilst the duty as proposed would remain on watch cases.
– I shall be prepared to accept a request for a new paragraph to sub-itemA, “Watch movements n.e.i., as prescribed by departmental by-laws, British, free; intermediate, 10 per cent.; general, 15 per cent.”
Request (by Senator Pratten) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to insert after paragraph 2, subitem A, the following new paragraph: -
Watch movements n.e.i., as prescribed by departmental by-laws, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 10 per cent.; general, 15 per cent.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Item 319- (a)Record for gramophones, phonographs, and other talking machines, ad val., British,’ free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent. (b) Gramophones, phonographs, and other talking machines, including cases (but not horns) imported with machines, ad val., British, 25 per cent. ; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
– I should like to know from the Minister whether gramophones, phonographs, and other talking machines included in sub-item u are made in the Commonwealth, or whether there is any likelihood that they will be made here?
– Under the departmental by-laws, all parts of gramophones are admitted, under item 404, British, free; intermediate, free, and general. 10 per cent. I am informed that these parts are being imported under the item referred to and assembled in the Gommonwealth. The cases, also, are being made in the Commonwealth. This gives a certain amount of employment; and, from that point of view, the duties proposed under this item are justified.
.- If any honorable senator will go down to the premises of Sutton and Company, in Bourke-street, they will find gramophones that have been assembled in Australia from mechanical parts imported under item 404, to which the Minister has referred. I may say, further, that a very high class of cabinet making has developed as the result of the assembling of gramophone parts here. The outside cases of these machines, made -from Queensland maple, and other Australian hardwoods, are absolutely magnificent. Very skilled artisans have been specially introduced from England and elsewhere who are accustomed to the highest grade work of wood polishing and lacquering. Really magnificent work has been accomplished in the manufacture of cases for these machines from Australian hardwoods by employees of Sutton and Company, who are not the only firm engaged in this particular business. The admission of the mechanical parts of the machines free, and the taxation of the complete machine, has resulted in increased employment and the development of a very useful industry in this country.
Item agreed to.
And on and after 30th June, 1921 -
Films for kinematographs -
And on and after 30th June, 1921 -
(1) Sensitized films, and films, n.e.i., British, free; intermediate, free; general, free.
Suitable for use only with Home kinematographs, per lineal foot, British, id.; intermediate,½d. ; general, id.
Other, per lineal foot, British,1d. ; intermediate, 3d.; general, 3d.
Provided that any such films printed from a negative which was not the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom shall not be entitled to entry at the rate of the British preferential Tariff under this sub-item.
– Under sub-item a, home kinematographs are imported free from Great Britain, free in the intermediate column, and at a duty of 10 per cent, in the general Tariff. 1 should like the duty on these machines to be deleted. As honorable senators are aware, these home kinematographs are small machines, of about the size of a typewriter. They are used in homes and in schools, and can be made to serve an educational purpose. I understand that the practice of the Trade and Customs Department is to permit their importation free under departmental by-laws, if they are to be used in schools, and that a number of them are already in use in schools in Victoria. If these machines were made in England I should not ask for the abolition of the 10 per cent, duty in the general Tariff. I understand that at the present time thev are practically all imported from the United States of America, though pre vious to the war a good many of them were imported from France. During the war the manufacture of kinematographs in France was knocked out, and America now sends us more machines than are received from France. I believe that the machines are sold usually at about £30 each, and the duty would represent about £3. I suppose very few of these machines would be found in the homes of the residents of cities and their suburbs, because they have the opportunity to attend the big picture shows. I hope, however, to see the time when a number of these machines will be found in the homes of people in the back-blocks. There are two kinds of home kinematographs imported. In the case of one machine, the handle which turns the film also generates the electricity. With the other machine, which is a little larger, use may be made of the electric current where it is supplied. I have not been asked to take this action by those who are selling these machines. They admit that the duty is not a very high one, and that they are free if imported for the use of schools. I saw them in use before the war on two or three occasions, and have used them myself. Their use might be educational, and the more of them that are used in Australia the better. I understand that in France their manufacture is not permitted unless the film used in them is non-inflammable. As the machines are not made in England, we might very well abolish the duty imposed on them,
– I do not feel very strongly on this matter, but I wish to inform the Committee that before the war a considerable number of these machines were imported from France. In 1913, the valueof the total importations was £212,000, and of that amount £38,000 was represented by machines imported from France. In the next year the imports from France dropped to £12,000. From 1916 onwards France practically ceased to export these machines to Australia, but she has again come into the market. I have not> the figures for 1921, but in 1920 importations from France totalled £747. Therefore, we might very well give France the benefit of the intermediate Tariff. This may be done by some trade arrangement in respect of which negotiations are now in progress.
– That means that France will be expected to give us some trade preference in return ?
– Yes. .
– What about the United States of America?
– The United States, of America was not damaged in the war like France was, but it is possible that trade arrangements may be made with the United States of America also. I am not putting that consideration out of the way altogether, but reciprocal Tariff negotiations with France are more likely to be successful. I ask Senator Thomas to allow the item to stand. The duty is not very high.
– I should like to put the position under paragraph 2 of sub-item c relating to home kinematograph films.
– I ‘understand that, in conformity with the desire of the Committee., which can, of course, consult its own convenience so long las it is not against the. Standing Orders, the items were put during the morning without the sub-items being specifically called upon. If honorable senators desire that procedure to continue, they will have to watch the items very carefully.
– Sub-item a relates to home kinematographs, and I desire that the films for these kinematographs should be on the same basis, that is, free in the British and intermediate Tariffs. The majority of the films are used purely for educational purposes.-
– No, they are not. Films for educational purposes are admitted free.
– I think we can leave the general Tariff in sub-itemC, 2a, at £½., and make the intermediate Tariff operative as the result of an arrangement “between the Government and France, or any other country where these films are produced.
– This matter has been fully considered by the Government. It is proposed to leave paragraph a of sub-item c2 as it stands, with the intimation that where these films are brought in for educational purposes they can be admitted under departmental bylaws free.
– Only for the Education Department ?
– Yes. When they are otherwise introduced the films, I think, might fairly be dutiable. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (c) (2) (b), per lineal foot, intermediate and general, 1½d.
The duty on home kinematograph films has already been reduced to½d., and this request will restore the original line in the Tariff.
– I do not wish to speak at any length upon this subject. I am delighted that the Minister (Senator Pearce) has moved to1 request a reduction in the duty on these films, in the intermediate and general columns, to>1½d. I am glad that the Government are willing to concede this meed of justice to a very considerable section of the Australian public. Last year picture theatre patrons paid in taxation under the Entertainments Tax Act no less than £258,000, and, therefore, it is up to this Committee to show them, some consideration, or at least to refrain from deliberately adding to their burdens. The Government are doing the right thing in this matter in the best interests of the majority of the people. When the Tariff was increased in another place, and when the position was given over to the importers of picture films, because the Australian production of films is not sufficient for Commonwealth needs, the importing firms comprising the Picture Film Combine increased rates to the picture showmen throughout Australia by 12½ per cent, upon each film each time it went out, and as a result they have been reaping enormous profits from the Australian people. It is about time the ramifications of this Combine and its effect upon the people were inquired into. When the Tariff is finally disposed of, I hope the Government will make a thorough investigation into the moving picture industry with a view to insuring that patrons of picture shows shall not be delivered hand and foot into the grip of this powerful Combine, which is operated largely from the United States of America. It is interesting in this connexion to know that none of the picture theatre concerns that are under the segis of the Combine pay anything in the way of income tax in Australia, although their profits are enormous, and they take tens of thousands of pounds in profits out of Australia every year. I am glad the Minister has seen the wisdom of taking this course of action, and I hope the request will be carried unanimously.
– As the result of. what Senator Duncan has said, I hardly know where I stand on this question. I have no intention of doanplimenting the Government on what is proposed to be done in this subitem. I should like to hear some reasons for this proposed reduction in the duties. We have been told by Senator Duncan that by reducing the duties we shall be taking steps to keep this Combine in order. This is the first time that I have heard that a reduction in a. duty may have that effect. I have received correspondence in connexion with this matter, and I must confess that I am all at sea. Those who represent themselves to be the mouth-pieces of the Australian industry deplore the imposition of the increased duties. The Government are now going to reduce them, and we have been told that by this reduction in the Tariff we shall strike the Picture Combine hip and thigh. How is it going to be done? Are we going to do anything to foster our own resources and inventive genius ? We have not had that reason advanced by the Minister. He has simply asked us to vote for the item, but I want to hear some reasons for the proposal to cut the duties in the intermediate and general columns in half, because it will rob the preferential Tariff of its value. Where do we stand ? Are there any local film producers worthy of protection ? If not, we should strike the duties out; but if there are, and if they give promise of success, let us, by means of this Tariff, give them «very encouragement.
– The duties as they stand give them a reason for increasing their charges by 12-J per cent.
– The honorable senator has not shown us that there are struggling producers who want more protection. I desire to have some intelligent reason for the vote that I am going to give. If, by the imposition of a heavy duty, it is possible to encourage a struggling industry with inventive genius, I am going to vote for an increase of 1½d. per lineal foot.
– I agree with the request put forward by the Minister (Senator Pearce), but, like Senator Lynch, I regret very much that he did not advance some reasons in support of it. We all know that the Tariff, as introduced, provided for duties different from those now appearing on this item, and that after considerable discussion the duty under the general Tariff was considerably raised by another place. If the Committee is going to content itself with a mere request to the House of Representatives to revert to the original duties, without expressing here any reasons for that request, we may well excuse another place if it does not comply with it. For that reason, if for no other, the Minister might well have stated the case for his proposal. There is a very good case for the request, and there is no harm in the public knowing what it is. That case, indeed, should be presented to the Committee, and, through it, to the public, by the mover of the request, and I hope that before we proceed to a vote that will be done. I rose, however, to deal with an aspect of the matter which was touched upon’ incidentally by Senator Duncan. The honorable senator pointed out that when this duty was increased a large number of picture theatres immediately raised their prices, and so passed on the increase to the public. They gave as the reason for their increased charges of admission the additional duty which had been imposed. Even if they were not justified at the moment in increasing their charges, they would eventually have been. I now understand that if the original duties are reverted to a compensating reduction will be made in the tariffs of the picture theatres which increased their rates.
– Has such an undertaking been given?
– I have heard it said that they will do so if effect is given to this request, and that is one reason why we should make it. I desire, however, to utter a word or two by way of warning. Almost immediately after the increased duty had been passed by another place, some picture theatres raised their prices ; but even if we unanimously pass this request this afternoon we cannot expect a reduction in those prices to follow immediately. Some time must elapse before our request can be dealt with by another place, and it will not be until it has been acceded to that a reduction will take place. I rose to make this point clear, so that false hopes might not be raised in the minds of the public, and also to join with Senator Lynch in inviting the Minister, the mover of the request, to put before the Committee and, through the Committee, the public and another place the reasons in support of our request, which, I think, are unanswerable.
.- The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) stated that films for educational purposes were admitted free under departmental by-laws, but I learn, on conferring with those mostly concerned, that that is not absolutely the case. It is only films dealing with serious educational subjects that are so admitted. At the exhibition of small films given recently in the Senate club-room it was pointed out that in order to sustain the interest of the children in films dealing with educational subjects it is necessary to intersperse them with films of a lighter character. These are not recognised by the Department as possessing educational advantages, and are, therefore, taxed at the rate of½d. per foot. The sole market for such films is practically provided by the Education Departments of the different States, which make no charge for admission to their entertainments, and, consequently, there are no means of passing on the duty. It is an easy matter, however, for picture show theatres to pass on the duties imposed in respect of ordinary films. Since the Minister, perhaps inadvertently, gave rise to a misapprehension on my part on this point, I ask him to temporarily withdraw his request, so that I may submit a request relating to an earlier sub-item, with the object of making free of duty the films I have mentioned.
– I am prepared, by leave, to withdraw my request, but do not commit myself to support the honorable senator’s proposal.
Request, by leave, temporarily withdrawn.
Request (by Senator Elliott) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (c) (2), paragraph a, free.
– I presume that Senator Elliott was not present when the question now brought forward by him was raised by Senator Duncan and replied to by me.
– I heard the Minis: ter say that these films were admitted free.
– They are admitted free if they are of an educational, scenic, or topical character; but the “ Fatty “ Arbuckle type of films are not free. They may be amusing, but no one can say that they are educational, and that kind of film, for use only with home kinematographs, is taxed at the low rate of½d. per lineal foot.
– That is a fairly high duty.
– Not as compared with the duties under the other subitem.
– Those duties can be passed on, but the duty of½d. per lineal foot under sub-item c 2 a cannot ‘ be passed on.
– The duty was originally1d. per foot. It has been reduced to½d. per foot. We cannot accept the honorable senator’s request.
– Machines and films for educational purposes come in free when intended for use in schools, and I see no reason why they should not come in free for the benefit of the people in the back country. We recognise the value of the films in question for school purposes, and we say to the directors of the State schools, “ You may have them free, because of their highly educational value.” Why should we not deal in the same way with the man in the back country ?
– We do. If a farmer wants to import films of an educational, scenic, or topical character, he may obtain them free of duty.
– That satisfies me.
.- I do not know whether Senator Pearce realizes that the films covered by my request are not shown at entertainments to which a charge for admission is made. They are more in the nature of toys designed for the amusement of children, and it is necessary that those of an educational character should have interspersed with them a few of a lighter type in orderto maintain the interest of the children.
– But a charge is made for admission to entertainments of the kind that are held in the State schools. There are people who cater specially for school entertainments, and make a charge.
– That can be prevented by the Department of Education. The Victorian Director of Education (Mr. Frank Tate) strongly approves of films of this nature being shown, in schools.
– If the honorable senator had any boys attending a State school he would often -be asked for the necessary pence for admission to one of these educational picture shows.
– I am assured that even this seemingly small duty -if id. per lineal foot prevents the Victorian Education Department from obtaining these films. That is why I ask the CommiUee to accept my request to make them free. It will not involve the loss of much revenue.
– This is a matter of general importance. We have had in recent years a new world’s force come into operation in the evolution of kineonatograph and picture shows, and the request by the Minister (Senator Pearce) will have my support. Last year we imported 17,500,000 lineal feet of kinematograph films. Of that quantity over 15,000,000 feet came from America, and the increased duty of lid. per foot imposed by another place would mean the payment of an extra tax amounting to about £100,000 per annum by those engaged in the industry throughout the Commonwealth. Seeing that there are slightly less than a thousand picture shows in the Commonwealth, it is obvious that the average tax on each show would be £100 per annum, and that as most of the thousand picture shows are small the extra duty could not be borne by them, but must be passed on to their patrons. Last year we had some ‘controversy in this Chamber in reference to the entertainments tax. If we had nothing to protect or no industry* to develop, the previous duties could be reverted to, but I believe that the increased rate was imposed in another place for the very proper purpose of developing the film industry within the Commonwealth and compelling our young Australians to look at
Australian instead of American pictures. At present, as far as I can ascertain, the picture-making industry of Australia has not sufficiently developed to justify any increased duty, but I think it would be well for the Senate, in agreeing to Senator Pearce’s request, to also impose a deferred duty.
– As Senator Pearce’s proposal has been temporarily withdrawn, the honorable senator must address his remarks to Senator Elliott’s request that the preceding sub-item be made free.
– The matter of the development of locally-produced films touches Senator Elliott’s request also. The Australian picture film making industry is not sufficiently advanced at present to justify the imposition of a duty to help it, but in discussing the Ministers proposition I should like also to discuss the . advisability of imposing a deferred duty.
Question - That the request (Senator Elliott’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, sub-item (c) (2) (b), intermediate and general, per lineal foot, 1½d.
When I previously submitted this proposal I did not think it necessary to take up the time of the Committee in giving reasons for the imposition of a duty upon kinematograph films, because I knew that honorable senators were aware that I was merely seeking to make the rates of duty what the Government originally proposed they should be. It was another place which increased them. When I submitted my request, I heard so many expressions of approval that I felt I would not be justified in taking up the time of the Committee in asking honorable senators to do what they were apparently willing to do. The reasons the Government have for imposing a duty are those which have already been put forward by Senator Pratten, and it will save time if I simply state that I concur generally in his views, but do not think that this is a case for a deferred duty. The film-making industry in Australia is very small, but if the Tariff Board, which can watch its progress, should consider that the imposition of an increased duty would be justified they will so represent to the Minister for Trade and Customs, who will take the necessary action to bring the matter before Parliament.
Senator PRATTEN (New South Wales) T3.40]. - The best elements in the kinematograph trade resent a good many of the insinuations that trusts or combines exist among them. They would welcome the imposition of a deferred duty to come into operation in twelve months time, and that would develop the local industry. Meanwhile, a Select Committee of this Chamber, or a joint Select Committee of both Houses, could inquire into the many apparently unsatisfactory features of the trade. There are bitter complaints about the censorship, about the Americanization of our community by the display of =o many American pictures, and about the display bills, a matter which, I believe, the- recently-returned Victorian Government will attempt- to alter. The Committee could also inquire into the avoidance of taxation alluded to by Senator Duncan. Nothing but good could come out of such an inquiry. ‘
– Has my memory played me false? I think I have heard the honorable senator holding that matter up to scorn.
– I ridiculed the principle of abolishing an entertainments tax that did not hurt anybody, and was badly required for revenue purposes. I also ridiculed the class of pictures shown. I regret that we have no great develop. ment of the industry here ; but if we agree to Senator Pearce’s request, the proper logical corollary will be for us to give some covering to the development of the industry here by the imposition of a deferred duty.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) [3.451. - I have pointed out previously that by putting the duties in the general column and the British column on the same basis of Hd. per lineal foot, the Government are really not utilizing the advantage claimed for the previous sub-item that it would enable a bargain to be made with either France or America. Why make the two columns the same? If lid. per foot is not an effective barrier and penalty on the Combin e. I am afraid there is not sufficient protection for the budding genius of this country. Here is an expression of opinion from a’ gentleman named Bryson, the representative of the leading Combine or large organization of America, in a farewell speech on leaving these shores: -
Before concluding, I must say that I, in common with other Australian representatives of overseas producers, have received a set-back at the recently imposed duty on film footage. The extra impost amounts to an extra tax of 100 per cent.
It. is quite clear that the inmost of lid. per foot on imported films is not regarded with a friendly eye. There must be an effective duty or none at all. If the duty is too high, it only means that we shall have to pay more for our pastime, and there ought to be a difference made between the two columns. I disagree with Senator Pratten in his reference to American practices and institutions. This Parliament ought not to* be forced into regarding in an unfriendly way things American, and I do not think that the country generally would approve of such an attitude.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) urges that we ought to cultivate a friendly spirit with the Republic of the West, and such remarks as we have heard are net calculated to assist in that direction. America is bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. Who has not relatives there? Probably not one honorable senator. For myself I know my position in that regard. America is in the same position as we are. It put up with our wool duties, which were raised, though not to an unnecessary level. I deprecate remarks in this Chamber such as we have heard about American business methods and character. I am prepared at all times to se comport myself as to conduce to the cultivation of friendly feeling between what Roosevelt described as this great Commonwealth of the South and the great Commonwealth of the West. I call Senator Pearce’s attention to the chance that is now afforded to make a difference between the columns, and so leave room for an arrangement to be made later on if desired with America. I desire to see trade relations established on the most amicable basis, believing that to be good in the case of peoples with affinity of speech and blood. I remind the Committee that when Senator Bakhap proposed, and I seconded a motion in favour of our having a representative at Washington, the idea was not well received.
– I ask the honorable senator not to make more than a passing allusion to that subject.
– I shall only say that that proposal subsequently was accepted by the Government as representing a wide policy, and as a result we have a representative at Washington to-day.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item 321 (Spectacles, &c.) : and item 322 (Spectacle cases) agreed to. division xii.– hides, leather, and rubber.
Item 323 (Hides and skins) -
Senator Sir THOMAS GLASGOW (Queensland) [3.52]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to add the following new sub-item : - “ (c) Hides, green, per lb., British, interme- diate and general,1d.”
I find that during the eleven months up to May, 1920, there were 154,689 green hides imported into the Commonwealth, while for the previous twelve months there were 50,000 imported. These hides have been coming from New Zealand into Australia during a glut in the local market. That is owing to the fact thatthis local market is a little better than the London market, inasmuch as the exporters in New Zealand are not called upon to pay the freight of1d. per lb. to England. Honorable senators are well aware of the conditions in the meat industry at the present time. Export is absolutely stopped, and the industry altogether is in a very bad state. Anything that we can do to preserve for this industry and its by-products the local market I ask honorable senators to assist in doing by means of this request. If this request be accepted, it will not mean an increase in price to the consumer. Last year 1,000,000 hides were exported from Australia. If the whole of the duty were passed on, it would mean only about 2d. in a pair of boots. Green bides in process of tanning lose from 25 per cent, to 30 per cent., and consequently this request will mean no more than1½d. per lb. on the latter, provided the whole of the duty be passed on. I contend, however, that, owing to the fact that we export hides largely, the duty will not be passed on, and I ask honorable senators to support the request so as to retain our own local market.
– I wish, briefly, to support the request moved by Senator Glasgow. We are large exporters of hides, and the trouble is that in New Zealand, on account of the slump, hides have come down in value from £6 to £1 each in twelve months. This is a lower value than I ever remember these hides to be at, and New Zealand does not wish to incur the expense of paying the freight of1d. per lb. to London. The result is that the hides are being dumped in Australia, as the figures of Senator Glasgow show. Our hide market is consequently in a frightfully depressed state. New Zealand is’ the only place these hides can come from,and I ask the Government to accept the request, particularly in view of the fact that the cost will not be increased to the consumer.
– I think there is another view that I may be pardoned for presenting. It is quite clear that Australia produces more hides than we are at present using, and hence our exportation. It has been stated that the exports total 1,500,000 hides, whereas the imports of the same class of hides are a shade over 500,000. It is quite clear that these hides are coming here not to supply the local need ; but, at the same time, they do provide local work.
– We have sufficient hides to provide the work.
– True; but, as we have more than sufficient hides, those coming in cannot take the place of similar hides in local use.
– No, but they are “cutting” the market.
– The honorable senator would not have said that a little while ago, when, though the imports were still coming, the price soared sky-high. The bringing of these hides here does add to employment, because they are not bought to remain in a green state; they are taken through some process of manufacture, though how far I cannot say. It does not appear material to me whether this duty is imposed or not.
– Then accept the request.
– I merely wish to state the reasons that are actuating the Government. It is contended by the trade that there are certain hides produced in New Zealand which, perhaps owing to the character of the cattle, are not to be found here. I cannot vouch for that, however.
– I deny it.
– I have never heard in a Tariff debate any statement which somebody would not deny.
– What hide is there that we cannot produce?
– I am not an. expert on “ hide “ outside this House; I only state the reasons that induced the Government to include these hides in this category, in the Tariff. As I have said, it appears to me that, whether this duty be imposed or not, it -will not materially affect the industry one way or the other. I point out, however, that these hides are not brought here simply for the pleasure of importing them; they are purchased for treatment in some way which it is possible New Zealand does not provide.
– They are consigned here to be sold by brokers.
– Who buys them?
– They come into competition with our own hides.
– They are purchased by people who set men to work making them into leather.
– The fact is that hides are so low in value that New Zealand exporters cannot afford to pay the freight to England.
– It is quite clear that we have an exportable surplus of our own. If we purchase New Zealand hides we export them also, but it is for the profit of the men who have converted them into leather.
SenatorSir Thomas Glasgow. - Why not convert our own hides into leather ?
– We are doing so largely.
– New Zealand would not allow our jam to be exported there the other day !
– The honorable senator is not submitting this request as a measure of retaliation ?
– No; I am merely answering your argument.
– This is a duty intended by Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow, I take it, to protect the interests of Australia, and so far I am with him. I ask the honorable senator to consider, “ seeing that we have an exportable surplus, and we are bound to go on exporting, whether there is any detriment in allowing these hides to come here to be worked up into leather, and exported in that f orm . It is a belief that this is what occurs thatleads the Government to take their present attitude. I am. not prepared to accept the amendment.
– I do not know why the Government cannot accept the request. The only reason apparent is that the growing of hides is a primary industry. I advise Senator Guthrie and Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow to buy a wee bit of land and erect a small pen somewhere in the neighbourhood. of Melbourne and rear two or three calves for their hides. They will then be able to inform the Government that a promising industry has been established in Victoria - somewhere pretty close to Melbourne; and their plea for any amount of protection will be heard.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Leather, viz.: -
And on and after 30th June, 1921: -
.:- As the schedule was originally introduced in another place, chamois leather was admitted free of duty. An amendment was inserted that, on and after 1st January, 1922,. the rates should be, respectively, 10 per cent., 15 per cent., and 20 per cent. ad valorem. It was stated elsewhere that the local manufacture of chamois leather was just about to become established, and it was considered that, by deferring the imposition of duties until the beginning of next year, the Australian, manufacturers would then be ready to place their commodity on. the market. I have, an Australian, specimen piece in my hand, however, which demonstrates that chamois leather is being produced here at this moment. As a fact, the- industry is already well under way in this State, and, I understand, in New South Wales also. I desire the. rates to be made immediately operative^ and that they shallbe the same as in respect of other manufactured leathers, such as glace kid, upon which, since the 30th June last, the ad valorem rates have been 25 per cent., 30 per cent., and 35 per cent. Australian chamois leather- is made from the same material as the imported article. Of course, it is merely a name. The Swiss chamois is not nearly numerous enough to provide skins with which to meet the world’s demaud. The leather produced in Australia has been supplied . to the local market on the basis of1s.8d. per square foot. During the war the wholesale price of the imported article was 2s. 6d. per square foot. Americans are now exporting it to this country for less than1s.8d., which is the minimum at which our manufacturers can continue to carry on. In view of the impost proposed from the first day of next year, the Americans are. now sending their product over to Australia in great quantities. The local firm from which I have ascertained some particulars states that it is placing on the . market at present £150 worth of chamois leather per month. It is employing a considerable number of hands ; and it can easily double and treble its output if it is not hampered or crushed. I propose that rates, respect tively, of 25, 30, and 35 per cent, shall become operative immediately” upon Parliament finally passing the Customs Tariff Bill. The effect will be, upon the general Tariff, to- add 15 per cent, to that which is proposed to be imposed from the- 1st January next. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to- amend sub-item (a) by leaving out the words “And on and after 1st January-, 1922.”
– The honorable senator will fail to secure his objective if. the words are deleted and the duties are not subsequently amended as he requires. Would it not be wise, first, to request the amendment of the rates of duty?
– I do not take exception to the requested alteration of the date, of imposition. The situation at this moment is- that chamois leather is admitted’ free of duty. That practice will continue - no matter what rates may be agreed upon, or what may be the date from which, they are to operate - until Parliament shall have finalized the whole matter. It is probable that the Tariff will not have been done with much before the end of October, so that the matter of the imposition of a Tariff on chamois as from 1st January next will be almost immaterial. While I am agreeable to the deletion of the reference to a specific date, it does not follow that I can accept the decision of this Committee thereon as a test concerning the actual rates ofduty requested to be imposed. Chamoisleather is being made here, but in such small quantities at present that the Minister for Trade and Customs deemed it advisable to postpone the date on and after which the duties should become operative. He rightly took the view, according to the information then in his possession, that if that procedure were not adopted users of chamois leather in Australia would be for some time to some ex- kent penalized. I suggest that the .request for the amendment of the rates be in the form of making them respectively 20 per «ent., 25 per cent:, and 30 per cent.
– I am agreeable, and ask leave temporarily to withdraw my request for the deletion of the reference to the date.
Request, by leave, temporarily, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator Elliott) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, sub-item (a), ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.
– I rise merely to draw attention to the marvellous progress of this industry, and the kaleidoscopic suddenness with which it has sprung into being. Only a little while ago- it was not worth protecting, as in April last importations of this commodity were admitted free from all countries; but when the subject was discussed in another place, and it was discovered that it was an industry of feeble dimensions, certain rates were imposed. In the light of the further information submitted, it would now appear that this is rather a robust industry.
– That was not the Government view in April last, but the opinion which was held in March of last year. Since then development has taken place.
– It is wonderful what happens in this country in twelve months, and it is astonishing to hear such an argument advanced from the Ministerial table. We are naturally holding our breath and wondering what is likely to happen next. I wish we had had a similar Ministerial declaration long ago; but, alas, it is now too late. I am not going to do anything to injure this industry, but am merely pointing out that the Government have adopted this attitude when it is too late.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Elliott) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend sub-item (a) by leaving out the words “ And on and after 1st January, 1022.”
– Patent and enamelled leathers are included in paragraph 1 of sub-item c, and fixed duties of 3d., 4d., and 6d. per square foot, or aci valorem rates of 25 per cent., 30 per cent., and 35 per cent, respectively are imposed. I intend submitting a request for the deletion of the ad valorem rates. In this and the succeeding sub-items the highest grades of leather used in the manufacture of first-class footwear are included. During the last few days I had an opportunity of visiting several Melbourne factories manufacturing high-class footwear from imported leather, which does not enter into competition with the boots and shoes manufactured from the locallyproduced patent and enamelled leather. The imported leather is entirely distinct in quality from that manufactured locally, and has reached its present state of excellence after many years of careful investigation. I am informed that there are only three or four firms in Europe which can supply the higher grade material, and that most of our importations come from France.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that we cannot manufacture leather suitable for making boots and shoes?
– I think dfc will be admitted that Australian leather is eminently suitable for the manufacture -of certain grades of footwear, and that was proved during the recent war, -when the Australian soldiers’ boots were found to be superior to any manufactured in any other part of the world; but in this connexion we are dealing with a higher, grade of leather and material of a quality that, up to the present, is not made here. I am informed that a useful type of enamelled and patent leather is being manufactured in Australia, and I have had an opportunity of inspecting some) of the hides supplied to the local manufacturers of patent leather. The local product is, however, not equal to the imported leather. The imposition of ad valorem duties places a very high impost upon the higher grades of leather imported into Australia.
– What kind of boots cannot be made in Australia?
– We cannot produce leather of the quality required for the manufacture of the highest grade.
– Do I understand the honorable senator to say that the same kinds are made here, but tha quality is nob the same?
– That is so. Moreover, the local manufacturers are not producing sufficient to meet the local demand, as makers of high-grade footwear find it almost impossible to obtain supplies. During recent years the price of imported leather has been almost prohibitive owing to the Customs imposts and the manufacture, principally in France, being interfered with in consequence of the war.
– I understand that our factories are not working up to their full capacity.
– I do not think that is so, because many of them are behind with their orders, and cannot supply any tiling like the quantity required. A fixed duty of 3d., 4d., or 6d. per square foot is imposed, which affords adequate protection to the local manufacturer; but the imposition of ad valorem rates makes the price of imported material exceptionally high. This leather cannot be imported at anything like the price at which the local product is sold. There is also a large degree of. natural protection afforded to local tanners. I do not know why heavy ad valorem, duties are imposed, particularly, as the bulk of the imports come from. France, which, places one of our Allies at a disadvantage. If we leave the fixed duties as they appear in the schedule, the local manufacturers will have adequate protection, and those who desire to purchase the highest grades of footwear will not then be unnecessarily penalized.
– Is the honorable senator advocating lower duties on luxuries?
– I am asking for the imposition of fixed rates only, so that every one will be placed on the same basis.
– The honorable senator is advocating lower duties, otherwise he would not move for the deletion of the ad valorem rates.
– Why should duties be imposed per square foot or at ad valorem rates, whichever returns the higher duty, when the duties per square foot are ample? Those who are working up the imported leather employ skilled labour of the highest class, and, I believe,’ pay higher wages to their operatives than those using the Australian product. Notwithstanding this, it is proposed that those using imported leather shall pay a higher price, which is grossly unfair. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (c) (2) by leaving out the words “ or ad val., British, 25 per cent. ; intermediate, 30 per cent. ; general, 35 per cent. ; whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
– Although Senator Duncan denied that he was seeking for a lower duty, it was quite obvious from his general remarks that his intention in moving for the elimination of the ad valorem duties is to leave only the fixed duties, which are lower than the ad valorem duties.
– The honorable senator said that I had taken the opposite course on another occasion.
– I say that on other items the honorable senator has moved for ad valorem duties. If the honorable senator’s request is agreed to, the duty imposed on enamelled leather will be less than it is to-day. The Government proposal is that the duty shall be a fixed duty or an ad valorem duty, whichever is the higher. It is because the ad valorem duty would be the higher in the majority of cases that Senator Duncan, in the interests of importers of this class of leather, submitted his request. I have been greatly surprised that the honorable senator should decry the Australian manufacture of this article.
– I do not decry it. It is an excellent article.
– The honorable senator said that it was not equal in quality to the imported article, and I was very much disappointed to hear him make that statement. I thought the time had gone by to decry the use of Australianmade articles, whatever our, fiscal faith might be.
– I said that the local article is quite good enough for me.
– I will take the honorable memberup on that statement. If the local article is good enough for him, it should be good enough for the people who require the imported article to pay a little more for it. Senator Duncan wishes to permit them to escape having to pay more for the imported article. I hope that the Committee will not, for a moment, entertain his request. If it is agreed to, I fail . to see how honorable senators can logically support any other Pro- tective duty included in the schedule. The honorable senator, with myself, has voted for many other duties which are without any more merit than those now proposed.
– Because he knows something about this item.
– I suppose that we all do. When I get a circular about an item in the schedule I know that a day or two later that circular will be used in this Chamber in the form of a speech. The present duty, British, of 3d. per square foot would have been as low as 8 per cent, on the price which this commodity has brought of late years.’ The Committee should not single out this industry for a higher measure of protection than has been afforded to others in the interests of people who prefer to wear imported leather.
– I ask that they should be put on the same basis. The same thing has been done throughout the Tariff.
– I say that they are on the same basis when we charge according to the value of the article. Senator Duncan says that in this case we should ignore value and take size. Honorable senators will understand that I personally object to a man being judged according to his size. The true standard in this matter is surely quality, and as in this case, as well as in many others, quality varies, the Government proposal is that there should be a specific duty or an arl valorem duty, whichever returns the higher amount.
– And we should encourage the use of the inferior quality here.
– The honorable senator desires to encourage the use of the imported article. Local manufacturers of boots made from imported enamelled leather demand a high duty on boots, but they wish to be allowed to purchase their enamelled leather in the cheapest market. That is not logical. If they look for a duty on the goods which they have to sell they should not demur to a reasonable duty on the materials they have to buy.
– I have been surprised that Senator Duncan should make such a speech as he has made in the interests of those who prefer to wear elite boots. The honorable senator’s remarks on Australian leather were quite unwarranted. I believe that our manufacturers are turning out leather which can hold its own with that manufactured in any other part of the world.
– In other grades, that is so.
– It is not a question, of grades, but of prejudice. A few weeks ago a friend of my wife’s was looking for a pair of shoes to wear with a certain dress. She -went into the city and had a pair set aside which was to cost £4. When she got home she said that these were the only shoes she could get that would match her dress. I met her husband in the street, and he gave me a pattern, which I brought over to Melbourne. This occurred only the week before last, and on my return to Adelaide I took back a pair of shoes with which the lady was exceedingly pleased. She thought them splendid. The husband said to me, “ For Heaven’s sake, don’t tell her the price, and don’t tell her that they were made in Australia.” The lady is wearing the shoes, and is thoroughly pleased with them, although they are Australian-made, and did not cost very much more than one-third of the price which she was going to pay for shoes made from leather imported from, the American concern, whose interests Senator Duncan is advocating.
– I spoke of leather which. I said was imported from France.
– I have been informed by a representative of the interest for which Senator Duncan has pleaded that it is impossible to produce here a boot with a good top fit for a gentleman to wear.
– I did not say that. It would be untrue.
– I say that representatives of the same interest as that supported by Senator Duncan made that statement to me. When 1 came over to Melbourne I made inquiries, and in the last three or four days I have seen boots made here entirely of Australian leather which no one need be ashamed to wear in any part of the world. We have been told that the local manufacturers could not supply the demand for this class of leather during war time.
– They could not supply it last week.
– My honorable friend has been misinformed. During the war the Australian factories gave pre- ference to the requirements- of the Military Forces. They increased their working time in order to meet those requirements. They set aside the manufacturing of this high-class leather so that they might attend to the needs of the military, and, therefore, the argument which Senator Duncan has used in this connexion should have no influence with honorable senators. I And that during nine months ending March, 1921, 2,400,000 square feet of this class of leather were imported. I may inform honorable senators that this quantity of leather would, if manufactured here, have represented many thousands of hides manufactured in Australia. This is certainly an industry which should receive every consideration. Senator Duncan has said that local manufacturers cannot supply requirements for this leather, and on this point I may quote a statement which I received from one of our largest manufacturers within the last twenty-four hours. He writes -
Australian makers are not to-day working at half their capacity, owing to the heavy importations that have taken place in the last few months.
That statement is certainly in conflict with the information which Senator Duncan has given the Committee. I am assured that the quality of Australian leather is undoubted, and the quantity unlimited. There is, in my opinion, no argument for a reduction of these duties. I do not believe that there are a great many workers interested in the manufacture of high-class boots from American leather. The best thing that people in this country can do is to use Australian materials of Australian manufacture on every possible occasion. “We should encourage this industry in every shape and form, and by doing so we shall give assistance to primary producers in Australia.
. - I have great pleasure in supporting the proposals of the Government in connexion with this item. The boot manufacturers of Australia conferred enormous benefits on the Commonwealth during the war. They devoted their plants and the pick of their skins and hides to the service of the Australian Military Forces. We were accustomed during the course of the campaign to endeavour to induce the Australian Forces to adopt British-made boots on the ground that they were superior to -the Australian, and that we could not pro duce here leather of the quality necessary for military boots. These proposals were defeated only by the consistency with which the Australian soldiers adhered to their preference for boots manufactured in Australia. Towards the end of the campaign the excellent quality of Australian leather and Australian-made military boots was recognised throughout the Service. As a result of devoting their best leather to meet military requirements the local factories had no great opportunity to develop the production of the special class of leather with which we are now dealing. Now that military requirements have been met they have an opportunity to turn their attention to this branch of their industry, and they have made enormous strides in it. Just as the leather which they supplied for military requirements was spoken of as being inferior, it is now suggested that the glace kid and patent leathers which they produce are not equal to the imported article. It is up to us to support this Australian industry as our soldiers did, and to insist on people in this country being satisfied with Australian leather. If certain people are wedded to the use of the imported article, they should be called upon to pay for it. The leather and boot manufacturing industries and the woollen industry should he made peculiarly our own, and we should feel ashamed to have boots or clothing imported from any other country.
– I am not much surprised at Senator Elliott or Senator Wilson, but I am surprised at the attitude of the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) in defending this proposal to allow the importation of inferior leather at a lower rate of duty than leather of better quality, because that is the effect of the ad valorem duties. It is the father of tie “ go slow “ principle as applied to our manufacturers. They are invited to continue making the inferior articles, because, by means of this Tariff, the Government will prevent good quality imported leather from competing with them. This high quality leather is, I think, produced chiefly in France. The duty per foot should be the same on high-class leather as on the inferior article. Why should we allow a foot of inferior leather to. be imported at a lower rate of duty than that on good quality material, and thus enable the inferior article to compete with the leather produced in Australia ? We want the very beat of everything. We do not want to go out of our way to discourage the importation of firstclass commodities in which the manufacturers of other countries have specialized, because it is only a question of time before our own manufacturers will be specializing, and I have every confidence in their ability to produce an article that will hold its own anywhere. Surely fixed duties of 3d., 4d., and 6d. per square foot are ample protection for the good quality material produced in this country. If not, let the Government raise the duties all round. These duties are a direct encouragement of the “ go slow “ principle with which supporters of the Government are continually charging trade unionists. The effect of this Tariff will be to place the Australian manufacturer in such a position that he need not exert himself, or employ the most up-to-date methods of production, because the ad valorem duties will discourage competition in the better class article.
Question - That the request (Senator Duncan’s) be agreed to- put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Item 325 (Leather manufactures n.e.i.), item 326 (Leather, rubber, canvas, and composition belting, &c.), and item 327 (Slipper forms and piece goods, &c.), agreed to.
Item 328 -
Goloshes, rubber sand boots, and shoes and plimsolls, . . . per pair, British,1s. 6d. ; intermediate,1s. 9d. ; general, 2s.; or ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.; whichever rate returns- the higher duty.
.- When this item was under discussion in another place it contained a provision for ad valorem duties of 25 per cent. British, 30 per cent, intermediate, and 35 per cent, general, but, as the result of the - debate, the duties were altered as in the schedule now before the Committee. I want honorable senators to understand what percentages these fixed duties represent. The ordinary sand shoe is in most general use, especially during the summer months, in localities within easy reach of the sea shore. Prior to the war women’s sand shoes could be purchased at from 3s. 6d. to 3s. 9d. per pair. Until recently the bulk of these sand shoes was made in Britain by the North British Rubber Company, a very old-established concern, but there were also imports from Japan and a fairly large trade with Canada. My remarks will be confined entirely to the British Tariff. At the present export price for the dark-grey upper sand shoe the fixed British duty of1s. 6d. per pair represents a Tariff protection of 104½ per cent, on children’s shoes, 82 per cent, on maids’ shoes, and 66 per cent, on women’s shoes, as compared with 25 per cent. in. the previous Tariff. This is out of all reason. I admit that a very good article is manufactured in Australia. I have nothing whatever to say by way of depreciation of the Australian shoe. It is a credit to the factory.
– Is it better than the imported article?
– That remains to be seen, but it is stated that it gives slightly better wear in the sole. The duties on these shoes must unnecessarily penalize a. large number of people. When the amendments were proposed in another place, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) had to show justification for the increase in duty. I find that the honorable gentleman, in dealing with this question in another place, said -
I havegone carefully into this matter. A large number of very poor quality rubber shoes come into Australia at such, values that ad. valorem duties do not afford sufficient protection against them, especially when they are’ imported from cheap-labour countries.
As I do not propose to request an amendment of the duty under the general Tariff the Minister’s remarks in regard to importations from cheap labour countries will not apply. I am merely going to move a request for a reduction under the British preferential Tariff.
– Great Britain is our chief competitor in this line.
– But a certain proportion of our imports of shoes of this class have come from Japan where labour is much cheaper than it is in Great Britain. The Minister for Trade and Customs went on to say that -
The fixed rate will put a stop to the importation of a lot of rubbishy rubber shoes such as are coming into the market at the present time.
Those who have been in the trade will resent the statement that the product of the old established British company to which I have referred is of a rubbishy character. It is not in accordance with the facts. For many years the sand shoes produced by this company were alone worn in Australia, and its manufactures have always been looked upon as giving good value. I have no desire to penalize the Australian industry. It is growing, and there is no reason why it should not expand. A fixed duty that is equivalent to 104 per cent, is unnecessary to insure its development.
– What is the average duty upon all classes under the item?
– I am dealing now with sand shoes, and the fixed duties on them are equal to 104^ per cent, on children’s sizes, 83 per cent, on maids’, and 63 per cent, on women’s shoes, so that the average is about SO per cent.
– The honorable senator is basing his calculations on the cheapest class of sand shoes.
– I am taking the duty on the class of shoe in general use. I have here a sample of the Australianmade sand shoes.
– Does the honorable senator admit that the Australian article is better than the imported ?
– If the Australian article is better than the imported it will stand on its own merits. A good article always comes out on top.
– Then why this plea for the overseas firm which, according to the honorable senator, makes the better article?
– I am not advancing a special plea on behalf of that firm. I am simply pointing out that in order to protect what is undoubtedly a splendid Australian industry the Government ask us to agree to fixed duties amounting to 104£ per cent, on the cost of children’s sand shoes.
– What is the price on which the honorable senator bases his statement that the fixed duty is equal to 104^ per cent. ?
– The latest quotations from England are ls. 5jd. per pair for children’s sand shoes, ls. lOd. per pair’ for maids’, and 2s. 3d. for women’s shoes. I quote from the new export list.
– What is the price here 1
– I think the wholesale distributing price in Melbourne at the present time is something like 4s. 3d. per pair for women’s sand shoes.
– In the early part . of this year certain tenders were dealt with which included a tender by the company which has circularized honorable senators. Its price was 4s. 0J»d. per pair for a wholesale order. On what does the honorable senator base his statement as to the duty being equal to 104£ per cent. ]
– I am taking the price of children’s sand shoes. The wholesale prices of the imported and ‘ locally-made sand shoes for women are practically the . same, namely, 4s. 3d. per pair in the case of the Australian-made article, and 4s. 4d. per pair for the imported article. Had this matter received full consideration when the imposition of fixed duties was first suggested in another place, I think that a much lower rate would have been decided upon. If the fixed duty under the British preferential Tariff were reduced by one half it would still be equal to ad valorem duties of 52 per cent, in the case of children’s sand shoes, 41 per cent, on sand shoes for maids, and 33 per cent, on women’s sand shoes. We have very properly placed heavy duties on imported boots and shoes, because we have a magnificent boot and shoe industry in the Commonwealth. I find that the protection given to our boot and shoe manufacturers as against imports from Great Britain is 40 per cent. We ought to bring this item into line with those relating to boots and shoes. The adoption of my suggestion would do no injury to Australian manufacturers of goloshes, sand shoes, and similar footwear. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, British, per pair, 9d.
Senator E. D. MILLEN (New South Wales - Minister for Repatriation [5.9]. - I hope that the Committee will not accept this request. In the first place, I remind honorable senators - although it is somewhat unnecessary to do so at this late stage - that we are engaged in shaping what is admittedly a Protectionist Tariff for the preservation of our own industries, and that in doing so it is impossible always to preserve mathematical uniformity in respect of the various items. I submit, further, that it is impossible to suggest that in the whole Tariff schedule there is not a duty which may not in some way or other pinch some one. We believe, however, that the imposition of these duties as a whole will ultimately benefit, not merely one industry, but the industries of the Commonwealth generally. The Australian consumption of the product of the industry now under consideration is, approximately, 6,000 pairs per day. There is in existence here a factory which is producing with its present staff 2,000 pairs per day, and which is capable of turning out 6,000 pairs per day, and so meeting the whole of Australia’s requirements if it is afforded some increased protection on these lowerpriced shoes. Although it is turning out what is claimed to be a moderately good article, so far as these cheaper lines are concerned, it finds it impossible to compete with the many cheap lines which are brought from abroad. With this increased protection on the cheaper lines it will be in a position, on the employment of additional hands, to supply the whole of Australia’s requirements.
– My request, if agreed to, would give them a protection amounting to 17 per cent, over and above what they had before.
– I am merely pointing out the reasons that induced the Government to impose these specific duties concurrently with ad valorem duties. We have here an industry which is to-day supplying onethird the requirements of Australia, and since it is capable, as far as its mechanical equipment is concerned, of meeting all Australia’s requirements, we may legitimately give it that measure of protection which is necessary to produce so desirable a result.
.- I support the retention of the duties as they stand. We have in Papua and elsewhere large tropical areas where rubber is being produced, and we should use the produce of the rubber plantations of those Possessions in the development of our local industries. If the request made by Senator Payne were agreed to local manufacturers of sand shoes would either have to produce an inferior article or go out of business. Senator Payne has frankly admitted that the imported shoes which he- exhibited are inferior to those of Australian manufacture. If this suggested reduction were made our manufacturers would be compelled to put on the market an inferior article.
– They would not be able to carry on. .
– They would have either to close down or produce an inferior article. I have had a very bitter experience of the inferiority of some classes of imported sand shoes. When at the seaside some time ago I purchased sand shoes for myself and family, and in a very few days the soles were completely worn out. Some of the imported sand shoes are made for sale and not for use. The Government are doing a service to the community by imposing these heavy duties. In the interests of the public it would be advisable to absolutely prohibit the importation of inferior classes of sand shoes. I strongly support the retention of the duties.
– A duty of 100 per cent, is an enormous protection to give a rubber company which is doing particularly well. It gets its raw material from our Possessions as cheaply as manufacturers in any other part of the world can obtain theirs, and it has the local market for itself. This duty is apparently imposed so that the whole cost of working* this rubber factory may be borne by people who wear sand shoes. Speaking on behalf of the wearers of these shoes, I object to the imposition of an extortionate duty which purposes to make a wealthy rubber company even more wealthy.
Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) f5.16].-
My request, if agreed to, would still leave the duty at 40 per cent, ad valorem as against 25 per cent, hitherto imposed upon rubber shoes of British manufacture. A fixed duty of ls. .per pair would be equivalent to 60 per cent., but an impost of 80 per cent., as set out in the schedule, is a bit over the fence. I really believe that the local industry does not need it. The boot industry of Australia has gone ahead by leaps and bounds on a Protective Tariff of 40 per cent. The canvas which forms the uppers of rubber shoes is imported free of duty, so that the manufacturer here is practically on the same level as the British manufacturer with the exception of the freight and shipping charges paid by the latter.
– How do the Australian rubber shoes compare in the matter of quality with the British?
– There is not a great deal to choose between the Australian shoe and the British shoe. I have been told that the sale of the slightly dearer Australian article will give a little better wear than the imported article, but that has no effect on the issue.
– The issue is whether we are prepared to protect an Australian industry.
– I am prepared to protect any Australian industry, but not by the imposition of ‘an enormously high Tariff which would penalize the people who have to use the article so protected.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) T5.201. - Blucher boots could be bought in Melbourne at 5s. per pair although at the time the State Tariff was 5s. per pair, showing; quite clearly that the duty was not paid by the consumer. As a result of the operation of the Tariff, the Victorian boot manufacturers had completely captured the whole of the trade in that class of boots, and there were no imports. The same thing may happen in regard to rubber shoes. At any rate, the il lustration I have given shows that it does not necessarily follow that the imposition of a heavy percentage duty upon an article means that the purchaser of the commodity pays it. We ought to consider the possibility of developing an in dustry by the imposition of a high duty which will give our manufacturers the whole of the local market, and we should be more concerned in doing it in this case when we find that our shoe factories are strenuously endeavouring to keep their employees in constant work.
– If I had any doubt as to how I should vote upon this matter, Senator Payne’s last utterance would have caused me to vote in favour of retaining the rate of duty which the honorable senator seeks to reduce. He tells us that he is of opinion that the Australian article, though it may be a little dearer, is of better quality than the imparted. It is economical for the Australian people to pay a litle more for better quality, and when we know that the Australian rubber shoe, from the point of appearance, wear, and finish, compares more than favorably with the imported shoe, there is no necessity for a young country to import what can be made better by its own workmen.
Although I said that some people regarded the slightly dearer Australian article as being of better quality than the imported shoe, it does not affect the position, because the British maker could make a better article at a slightly higher cost.
– Let us agree to a duty which will keep out the- inferior article.
– It is not a matter of keeping out an inferior article. It is a question of providing people with what they require without unduly penalizing them. The duty proposed in the Tariff is out of all proportion to the needs of the local industry. The only other item which corresponds with it is the iniquitous impost of 150 per cent, on clothes pegs.
– How does the honorable senator explain the nondevelopment of the rubber shoe industry in Australia ?
– The industry is already developed. During the last few years it has advanced considerably.
– It is only a child.
– It will grow. The honorable senator, who would not willingly undergo the experience of seeing his own children grow up without any efforts on their own part-
SenatorWilson. - I give- them all the -assistance I can, and that is what I want this child to get.
-I am prepared to give it assistance up to 60 per cent., which is- a very fine protection, for any industry.
Question - That the request (Senator Payne’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Boots, shoes, slippers, clogs, pattens, and other footwear (of any material), n.e.i.; boot and shoe uppers and tops; cork, leather, or other socks or soles, n.e.i., ad val., British, -40 per cent. ; intermediate, 45 per cent. ; general, 50 per cent.
– Although these duties are very high, the Committee was rightly reminded by Senator de Largie, on the previous item, that the consumers do not pay them. They certainly do nob pay the duties in this case, because, I am pleased to say, during the last year or two the export of Australian-made boots and shoes has increased to a very considerable extent. I believe that that increase will continue as a result of the high development of the industry here.
.- If ever duties required reduction, they are the duties before us. This “ infant “ industry has been protected, subsidized, and spoon-fed by the people of the Commonwealth until it can now meet competition outside Australia. Surely it is time to reduce the duties, and pro vide cheap boots for our people. I pay more for boots for my boy than was ever paid in my case at the same age, and they last as many months as mine, used to last years. Compared with the old boot made on the knee, we are not getting half the value for our money. What does this duty of 50 per cent, mean ? I undertake to say that if I were to look I should find honorable senators wearing boots that have cost as much as £3 per pair.
– I get two pairs of boots for that sum.
– However that may be, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, ad val., British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.
This is a reduction of 25 per cent, under each heading. Boots are in general use, our factories are well-developed with the most up-to-date machinery, and our manufacturers can compete with the rest of the world: yet we are asked to vote for these high duties after fifty years of Protection.
– I do not think it is necessary to detain the Committee longer than to make the announcement that the request is one the Government cannot accept.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, general, ad val., 40 per cent.
I think there is a great deal in what Senator Gardiner has said. We wish to encourage the use of Australian skins and hides, and build up our boot industry; but we must admit that the duties proposed by the Government are excessive. Skins and hides have fallen enormously in value since this time last year, and are cheaper in Australia to-day than I ever remember them to have been in the history of the country. Practically, hides and skins cannot be sold, and pickled sheep pelts are not worth 6d. each; indeed, some people have burnt the coarser wool skins rather than send them to market. Yet everybody has to have boots, and to people with large families the present price of boots is a great burden. I cannot support Senator Gardiner’s rather drastic request, but I do ask Senator E. D. Millen to accept the proposal I now make. I emphasize the point that the provision of boots, and their upkeep, in the family of a working man, are a great burden.
.- I am anxious to give the boot manufacturers of Australia every protection, but I should like to express an opinion based on personal experience. I speak with some authority, seeing that I am the father of ten children who are just at that age when they require much looking after in the boot line. I can honestly say that during the last three or four years, and in the war period, there was greater robbery in the boot business than in any other. Prom my own experience, I can quite realize how difficult it must have been, and must be now, for a working man to supply his family with boots. As I have indicated, I am anxious to give the manufacturers every encouragement, so that the industry may be put in a position to supply the whole of Australia with boots ; but I appeal to the manufacturers, at a time when they are supplied with cheap hides, and when they have the most efficient machinery, to supply an article equal in value to the price paid. This the manufacturers have not been doing - there has been absolute, damned robbery ! I speak feelingly, for I never go home without having half-a-dozen pairs of boots thrown at me, and being informed that they require soling and heeling. As a matter of fact, one feels inclined to tell the family to go and buy boot-laces and hitch up their boots with them. I can quite understand that in some families children have to go without necessary food in order that they may be supplied with boots. I sincerely hope the manufacturers will endeavour to turn out a better article than .that which, at any rate, they have been supplying me during the last few years.- I may, of course, be an unfortunate exception; my children, healthy and vigorous as they are, may wear out their boots more quickly than others; but one is entitled to expect, at the least, that a pair of boots will last a child a fortnight or three weeks. I have known boots, bought for members of my family, to require soling and heeling within three weeks, and, so inferior has been the leather put into the repairs, that they have almost immediately required further attention. While I trust that the manufacturers will always have a fair deal, I hope that they will not forget the public, but will give them an equally reasonable “ run for their money.”
– Victoria for years has been practically the home of the boot manufacturing industry in Australia. It is interesting, therefore, to hear a Victorian senator request a fairly substantial reduction of duty, and to listen to the support given him by another Victorian, who is equally well aware of the whole of the facts. There is a strong feeling that the people are paying too dearly for the degree of protection which has been afforded manufacturers. The National Parliament should give consideration, not only to makers who have been taken very good care of for many years, but to the parents of growing families throughout the Commonwealth. Heads of households are being forced to pay excessively heavy prices for articles which, in many cases, are of inferior quality, owing to foreign competition having been virtually shut out. I am agreeable to afford such protection as will permit the Australian manufacturer to meet competition from, abroad on a fair and reasonably favorable footing, but I do not think he should be so protected as to be made practically free from all regard for overseas competitors. The local manufacturer has been, and still is, taking advantage of the situation, and, unfortunately, the retailer has done the same in many instances. If a duty, of 40 per cent, is not sufficient, it is not Tariff protection, but “police” protection, that the manufacturers must be in need of. The existing rates may have the effect of forcing many children to go barefooted. In the long run that may not be an evil. If the people are led to boycott retailers who have been demanding altogether unreasonable prices, drastic reductions may be brought about.
– I am. pleased that a note of revolt has been sounded. No honorable senator desires to do injury to the Australian manufacturers, but the best service which can be rendered them is to issue a warning that unless they play fair they need not look for a continuance of the degree of protection which they have been enjoying. Australian methods of turning out leather are far behind what they should be. We send abroad the. best hides in the world, and they come back in the form of very much better leather than that which is being produced locally.
– It is lack of capital which is really responsible for that state of affairs.
– Then the tanners need to improve their methods.
– Good leather can be manufactured in Australia, as was proved by the material used in our soldiers’ boots.
– That is true. Senator Plain has correctly stated that the quality of the footwear produced to-day is so inferior that many boots will not stand a second soling. That is not due to lack of adequate protection. A halt should be called upon the insane policy of piling up protection when it is not required or merited. Manufacturers should be made to remember that there is competition awaiting them unless they are prepared to give a fair deal, to the public. Boot manufacturers neither need nor deserve a 50 per cent. Tariff.
– There should be some Balance between the duties upon the raw material and those upon the manufactured article. If the request is agreed to, the difference between tie rates upon leather and on the manufactured article will ‘be reduced to only 5 per cent. Do honorable senators consider such a margin sufficient? The raw material, when it is imported, emanates from countries whose products come under the general Tariff. American leather imported to Australia is subject to 35 per cent, duty, and that from Great Britain to 30 per cent. Will this Committee be going a little too far if it agrees to the request?
.- I indorse the remarks of the Minister (Senator E. D. Milieu). While I have considerable sympathy with Senator Plain in regard to his complaints concerning inferior leather, there may be reason for the poor quality of much of the footwear sold to the public to-day. During the war the Government insisted upon getting the very best quality of leather for the boots worn by Australian soldiers. The result was that a certain quantity of inferior material remained on the hands of local tanners. This was bought, in many instances, at exceedingly high prices, for civilian footwear. The manufacturers must get rid of those boots in some way or another. Factories are absolutely stocked up.
– With rubbish.
– Now that matters are becoming normal, manufacturers should be able to place a much better article on the market. During the war, and since, the civilian population of Australia has been getting boots more cheaply than the people of many other countries.
– Local manufacturers can draw upon the cheapest raw material in the world.
– Twelve months or so ago the price of hides in Australia was extraordinarily high. Local manufacturers complained that buyers from abroad bought the best lines over their heads.
– Because the hides, although expensive, were cheaper in Australia than anywhere else.
– Quite so; but American and Continental representatives outbid the local men for the best leathers. And even the remainder, which the Australian manufacturers were able to secure, were unreasonably costly; they were far above normal market values. The makers are now saddled with that expensive but inferior stuff.
– They should be prepared to cut their losses.
– I heard of one manufacturer who had about £20,000” locked up in manufactured footwear. He could not sell his stocks, at anything; approaching the cost of making. Upon present values he is faced with a loss of j>os- sibly £15,000, and ruin stares him in the face.
– Quite recently I had ito pay 17s. 6d. for a pair of boots for aboy six. years of age.
– That may be so. Manufacturers were forced to purchase inferior leather at high prices in order to carry on business, and it is unfortunate that a certain quantity of this leather had to be made into boots. The remedy does not lie in allowing importers to bring hoots into Australia. Our manufacturers -should be encouraged to make boots from Australian hides at reasonable prices.
– I trust the Committee will adhere to the proposed duty of 50 per cent., because I want to have the opportunity, when on the platform, of telling the people that the Nationalist Government are assisting in compelling purchasers of boots to pay more than double a. reasonable price when hides are cheaper than they have ever been. I shall tell them that the boot manufacturers, who were making good boots for 12s. lid. before the war, and were selling them at 14s. lid. after the war, are now asking at least 20s. a pair. Senator Elliott says that these have been manufactured from inferior leather that could nob be utilized for military purposes. The Australian manufacturers were not compelled to utilize second-grade material, although they secured the best to carry out military contracts. I am glad Senator Plain gave ihe Committee the benefit of his experience, because his interjection may become famous, because he has shown what has happened after fifty years of Protection.
– The Governmentasked for the best quality of leather for articles manufactured for the troops.
– They insisted upon it, and to such, an extent that they controlled the manufacture of leather.
– And civilians had to be content with what was left.
– During the war the boot manufacturers secured prices which paid them handsomely, .because they contracted on flat rates, and as one who had considerable experience in the letting of contracts in the early stages of the war, I know that all manufacturers were in cluded. Every firm, capable of manufacturing in. sufficient quantities was able to tender, and boots were produced at a price that showed a good profit. I admit that the boots compared favorably with any manufactured in any part of the world ; but surely that is not a reason why outsiders should not compete with Australian manufacturers. Competition will compel them to sell at reasonable prices, and surely a duty of 40 per cent., as suggested, is sufficient for a firmly-established industry. On principle, I shall vote for a duty of 40 per cent., and on the platform. I shall make it known that the Nationalist Government are keeping up prices by asking us to adopt such unreasonable duties.
.- This is a very important item, as it affects the mass of the people. A State Minister said a. little while ago that it cost as much to buy one pair of boots as it did to purchase three hides, which indicates that, there is a great difference between the cost of the raw material and the- price which people have to pay for- footwear. There is a plentiful supply of raw material of good- quality in Australia, and as we have the best workmen in the world, a duty of 40 per cent, is reasonable. I support the request.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Guthrie) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, ad val., intermediate, 35 per cent.; British, 30 per cent.
– In view of the vote just taken, I shall not do more than record my protest against the request.
Request agreed to,
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Item 330 (Boots, rubber) and item 331 (Rubber and rubber manufactures) agreed to.
Item 332 (Rubber syringes, enemas, &c.). ‘
.- Many of the articles mentioned in this item, particularly those in sub-item a, are used in hospitals, and when it has previously been pointed out hat articleswere necessary, for invalids they have been admitted free. If. these are required in our public hospitals they should not be dutiable.
. -Whilst these articles are neoessariry usek in’ hospitals, I think the honorable Senator will admit that they are also to be found in every reasonably appointed household. Moreover, they are manufactorned in the Common wealth, and are, therefore, in the same position as hundreds of other articles made here. There Is ‘no reason why we should differentiate in this connexion.
Item agreed to.
Item 333 (Pneumatio rubber tyres) agreed to. division xiii.– PAPERANDSTATIONERY.
Paper, viz.: -
(1) News printing, not glazed, mill- glazed or coated, in rolla not less tha”n 10 inches in width or in sheets not less than 20 inches by 25 inches, or its . equivalent, ad val.-, British, 5 per cent; intermediate, 10 per cent. ; general, 10 per cent.; and on and niter 6th July, 1921, per ton, British, free; intermediate, £3; general, £3.
(2) Tissue, and tissue cap paper and paper for paper patterns, in sheets or rolls, per cwt., British, 6s.; intermediate, 7s. ; general, 8s. ; or ad val., British, 30 per cent. ; intermediate, 35 per cent., general, 40 per cent, whichever rate returns the higher duty; and on and after 6th July, 1921, per cwt., British, 6s.; intermediate, 7s.; general, 8s.; or ad val., British, 15 per cent. ; intermediate, 20 per cent. ; general, 25 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
And on unci after 6th July, 1921 -
– I intend submitting a request for the omission of the words “ Not glazed, mill-glazed, or coated,” in subitem o. There does not appear to be any valid reason why those who use glazed, millrglazed, or coated newsprint in their publications should be compelled to pay a; ‘higher rate of duty than those who use inferior paper. This matter has been brought raider my notice by the proprietors of the Sydney Bulletin, which is °a great Protectionist paper. In fact, they have said that I have created a good deal of fun in the Senate in advocating Free Trade principles, and that my attitude has been amusing. I venture to say that when I read a communication I have received from the proprietors of that paperit will cause a good deal of amusement, and will show that the Bulletin proprietors are not at all consistent. The letter reads -
Sydney, 19th August, 1921.
Senator A. Gardiner,
The Senate, Melbourne.
I wish to draw your attention to what, appears to be an anomaly in the recent- Tariff amendments made in the House of Representatives. Under those amendments newsprint would come in free and £3, wheroasno mention being made of higher grade of printing paper such ttB is used by the Bulletin, the Sydney . Wait, the Melbourne Punch, and many other papers, the rate for this would remain at 5 per cent., 10 per cent., and 15 per cent. This is really penalizing a newspaper for using high-grade. paper. The present price of glased paper is from £65 . to £70 per ton, while that of news is £30* to £35. The Bulletin alone uses from 10 . to 12 tons per week. No attempt is being made in Australia to rrannfacture high-grade printing paper, nor does it seem that any will be made, some time ago when an extra duty was . put on glazed printing paper, I pointed out . to the Customs authorities in Sydney that since our paper was being used exclusively for newspaper purposes, and 1 was prepared to make a declaration to this effect, it should be admitted as’ newsprint. They did this, but later put it back into the glazed paper section, and: made it liable for the higher duty. I would, therefore, ask you to consider an amendment to 334 c (2), so that printing (glazed, unglazed, mill-glazed, and coated) would be admitted the same- as newsprint. In other words, that all paper used solely for newspaper purposes be admitted under the one heading.
Managing. Director Bulletin Newspaper
When I read that communication I was filled with astonishment. Here is a paper that stands solidly for Protection, and, naturally, one would have thought that its proprietors, who so strongly advocate Protection, would have favoured a duty of at least 200 per cent, on newsprint, because their arguments for years’ past have been that if we establish our own industries we will secure cheaper articles.
– That will be the position when the industry is established.
– That has been their argument. They favour high duties to encourage the establishment of industries. But here from the temple of Protection, from the holy of holies, comes the cry that the imposition.’ of duties makes materials dearer; and I am going to turn the other cheek to the Bulletin proprietors by moving that tho paper which they use be placed in the -same category as other newsprint, because those who use good paper should be able to obtain it at the lowest possible price.
– It is good Sunday morning reading for 9d.
– It was when it was wholly Australian in sentiment; but now I suppose it is in the hands of the Northcliffe Combine. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend paragraph (1) of sub-item (c) by leaving out the words “not glazed, mill-glazed, or coated.”
If my request is adopted, all newsprint will be dutiable at the same rate. Some time ago when visiting New Zealand, I was struck with the high standard of the illustrated papers in that Dominion. When I came back to Australia I commented on the fact, and I was told that it was because of the difference in the class of paper used in New Zealand. The reclassification I propose should be made to give the people who use the best class of paper an opportunity to secure it at a reasonable price. I must again express my pleasure to find the Bulletin proprietors amongst the people who are Free Traders when their own interests are at stake, and do not mind how heavy Protective duties are made if the other fellow has to pay them.
– I. am ve-ry pleased that Senator Gai”-, diner has moved his request. .1 received,’ as he has done, the’ letter which he read from, the Bulletin manager. He describes it as a case of a Protectionist crying out for Free Trade for himself; but I take a different view. In my opinion, the. writer merely points out that the Tariff, as it stands, unfairly discriminates between the users of what, for’ Tariff purposes, should- be regarded as the same necessarily imported commodity. The proprietor of the ordinary daily journal is allowed to import his newsprint free under the British preferential Tariff, and at a duty of £Z per ton under the intermediate and general Tariffs. The proprietor of a newspaper which uses the class of paper that is used by the Bulletin, the Sydney Mail, the Australasian, and other weekly newspapers for the illustrated portions of their issues is called upon to pay for this better class of paper about £Z 10s. per ton if it is imported from Great Britain, £7 10s. per ton if imported under the intermediate Tariff, and £10 10s. per ton if imported . under the general Tariff. It is because ‘ of this - unfair differentiation that tho attention of Senator Gardiner and other honorable senators has been directed to the item by the writer on behalf of the Bulletin and. others. The matter is one which does not concern only the Bulletin. It affects the proprietors of Australian newspapers who use this better class of glazed paper for the illustrated portions of their issues. It concerns the proprietors of the Sydney Mail, the Melbourne Punch, which I believe is printed wholly upon. this glazed paper, and it concerns also the proprietors of weekly newspapers in Tasmania. I, too, have frequently had my attention drawn to the superiority of the illustrated newspapers of Now Zealand over those of the Commonwealth. I venture to say that the only newspapers in the Commonwealth that, so far as illustrations are concerned, can hold their’ own with the New Zealand newspapers are the Tasmanian weekly illustrated newspapers. But because of this differentiation of duty they have to pay heavily for the paper which they use for purposes of illustration.
– Is the difference between the duties on the two classes of paper responsible for the superiority of the. New Zealand newspapers ?
– I have pointed out that the difference in duty between ordinary newsprint and. glazed paper used for illustrations is, under the British preferential Tariff, the difference between free and £3 10s. per ton, under the intermediate Tariff the difference between £3 and £7 per ton, and under the general Tariff the difference between £3 and £10 10s. per ton.
– Is there any duty in New Zealand on the glazed paper?
– I could not say. I expected Senator Gardiner, when raising the matter of New Zealand, to give some information on that point. I think we may assume that there is no differential duty imposed in New Zealand, or the , better class of paper would not be so freely used there as it is. Honorable senators must be aware that for purposes of illustration the better class of paper must be used. They have seen that attempts made to illustrate ordinary daily newspapers printed on the ordinary newsprint ‘ give results that are not at all comparable with those obtained by the use of glazed paper. The case for Senator Gardiner’s request is a very strong one indeed. If ordinary newsprint is admitted’ free under the British preferential Tariff, there is no reason why this glazed paper, when used for newspaper purposes, should have to pay a duty of £3 10s. per ton. If ordinary newsprint is imported at £3 per ton under the intermediate Tariff, there is no reason why , ihe glazed paper, used solely for newspaper purposes, should have to pay £7 per ton if imported under the same Tariff. In the same way, if ordinary newsprint can be imported at £3 per ton Under the general Tariff, there is no reason why glazed paper used for exactly the same purpose should have to pay a duty of £10 10s. under that Tariff. Senator Gardiner’s request’ is a very fair one, and should commend ..itself to the Minister in charge of the Bill as well as to honorable senators generally. I had just now an opportunity of discussing this matter with the departmental officers in attendance, and they suggested that there might be some difficulty in tracing the paper brought in under this heading - that is for newspaper purposes ; but 1 have uo doubt that the skill of the officers of the Trade and Customs Department would overcome any difficulty that might present itself. Certainly all engaged in the newspaper industry in Australia should ‘ be placed on the same footing, and those who use the better class of paper should certainly not be penalized for doing so.
– I propose in this case to give further evidence of the general willingness on the part of the Government to meet the Committee.
– Whenever the numbers ore against the Minister.
– That is one of those ungenerous remarks for which I om sure Senator Thomas will be sorry. On discussing this matter with the officers of the Trade and Customs Department, it has been suggested to me that a better way of accomplishing what Senator Gardiner desires would be to refrain from altering the verbiage of paragraphs 1 and 2 of sub-item c and, instead, to moke paragraph 2 of that sub-item dutiable in the same way as paragraph 1. It will bc necessary for Senator Gardiner to withdraw his request temporarily to enable me to submit a request of which I have given notice in connexion with paragraph 1 of sub-item c.
– I ask leave to withdraw my request.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator E. D. Millen) proposed -
That the House of Representatives’ be requested to make the duty, sub-item (o), paragraph 1, per ton, general, £2.
.– I should like to have some explanation of the proposal to reduce the duty in the general Tariff. Surely there should he some differentiation between the duty in the general and in the intermediate columns in order that provision may be made for some reciprocal arrangement with Canada, which is a large producer of newsprint. I think that we should retain the duty of £3 per ton against the Americans and Japanese who are sending large quantities of paper to Australia.
– As honorable senators are aware, newsprint is not made here, and the duty proposed cannot be regarded as intended to foster a local industry, whatever may be our hopes for the future with regard to the manufacture of this paper in Australia. The question then arises, what is a reasonable measure of preference to grant to the products of the Old Country?
We have to consider at the same time how far we are justified in going in imposing, purely for revenue purposes, a duty on those in Australia who must use this class of paper. The Government have considered that a . duty of £2 per ton represents a fair . adjustment of the conflicting claims. The duty on newsprint represents a considerable addition to the cost of production of the country newspaper, and in the circumstances - it is deemed to be quite a reasonable proposition to make the duty on this class of paper as low as possible, having regard to the desire to give preference to imports from Great Britain. It is in that spirit that I have submitted my request.
– I was about to remark upon the fact that under this sub-item no difference is made between the duties appearing in the intermediate and general columns. With all that has been said by Senator Gardiner in support of putting ordinary newsprint and glazed paper used for newspaper purposes in the same category, I am in perfect accord. The man who reads a daily paper reads also its weekly edition. I wish to say that I appreciate most highly the action of the proprietors of the Sydney’ Mail, Melbourne Punch, and other newspapers in refraining from approaching members of the Committee in connexion with this matter as the Bulletin has done.- I am not looking for advertisement from any newspaper. I want to hold the scales fairly. I do not know what may be the financial position of the proprietors of the Melbourne Punch, the Sydney Mail, and other newspapers who use glazed paper for the illustrated portions of their issues, but they are to be highly commended for not having approached members of the Committee in connexion with this item. I wish to direct attention especially to the fact that if no difference is made between the duties imposed in the intermediate and general columns no opportunity will be afforded to deal with Canada in the way which has been previously suggested from the Ministerial table, although we obtain a great portion of our supplies of paper from that Dominion.
– Like Senator Gardiner, I have received a communication from the Sydney Bulletin, which desires to have the special class of paper required for that journal and othersplaced in the- same category as newsprint, but I am doubtful if that coursewould . be quite satisfactory. Thepresent cost of glazed newsprint, we are told, runs from £60 to £.65 per ton, but when prices become normal again the Bulletin and other weekly newspapers, using the some kind of print may not beon the winning side if we do as has been suggested. Newsprint, as we know, was quoted at £9 per ton at port of shipment prior to the war, and the Ministerial proposal for a duty of £2 per ton represents on that figure about 20 per cent. It’ would appear, therefore, that the Bulletin, in endeavouring to get its newsprint into the same category as ordinary newsprint, is really seeking a disadvantage rather than an advantage, assuming, of course, that values will become normal in- a few years. - I am, of course, prepared to be guided by the statements made by the Bulletin, which, I presume, understands its own business, and especially when it speaks on behalf of other weekly newspapers using the same high-class newsprint; but I direct attention to the fact that the British preferential duty may be very much of a delusion for this reason : Britain does not supply her own requirements.
– Yes, she does.
– If any other honorable senator had made that interjection, I would have been inclined to doubt the accuracy of the statement. Coming, as it does, from. Senator Vardon, it commands attention; but I speak on the advice of an- authority which takes the opposite view.
– The- general opinion is that Groat Britain does not supply her own requirements.
– Britain imports the raw material, and exports the manufactured article.
– Then Great Britain does not produce enough for her own requirements.
– Only in the same sense as cotton. Britain imports cotton as a raw material, and exports finished cotton products.
– I do not know that the position of cotton is analogous to that of newsprint. Senator Vardon has told us that Great Britain does produce sufficient for her own requirements, and my authority says otherwise.
– This may be regarded as one of the key industries for which it is necessary to import the raw material.
– Even that is not admitted by my authority, The Newspaper World of 26th February, which states -
Prior to the war the mills of this country did not make nearly enough to meet even our home demands, much less to provide a substantial surplus for the export trade. We were dependent for about one-third of our supplies upon the mills of foreign countries.
This is an opinion from a reliable source. Therefore, if we give preference to the Mother Country in regard to these duties, it may be used to the disadvantage particularly of our sister Dominion, Canada. The Minister proposes to reduce the intermediate and general Tariffs to £2. He does not propose to make any difference in the duty upon imports from Norwegian countries on the one hand, or Canada on the other. We do not owe anything to Norwegian countries for what they did during the war, but we are indebted to Canada for a great deal, and, in my opinion, we are not adhering to the settled policy of this country by placing Norwegian countries and Canada on the same level so- far as these duties are concerned - The intermediate Tariff should be a basis for negotiations with the object of giving some advantage to our sister Dominion, or, indeed, to any other country, which, in our opinion, deserved consideration. In view of the fact that Great Britain does not manufacture enough for her own requirements-
– She is doing so today.
– I am reciting the opinion of an authority worth listening to. Accepting as accurate the statement that Great Britain does not supply her own requirements, is is conceivable that she must import the raw material and export the finished product. Therefore, preferential treatment in regard to these duties will really represent preference to Norwegian countries.
– But this policy will give a considerable amount of employment to. British people, and in that way it will help her.
– Assuming that Great Britain does not supply her own market, the inevitable result of preferential treatment will be to admit material against which there should be a stiff duty. To meet the position I suggest that the intermediate should be lower than the general Tariff. In regard to the general question of imposing a duty at all, unfortunately it is true that at present we are not manufacturing this commodity in Australia, but there is no reason why we should not be doing so in the near future. Every year we are making bonfires of hundreds of thousands of tons of excellent material on our wheat farms throughout tho Commonwealth. This straw, which is being sent up in smoke, is at least as good as the softwoods of the Atlantic coast’ for paper pulp, if only we can hit upon the right process to convert the material to its proper uses. There is also some prospect of being able to treat the banana leaves of Queensland plantations, as well as other tropical fibrous products, in the same way. It is discouraging to think that while there is an abundance of the raw material in this country we have not yet devised a means of converting it into paper pulp. I would be opposed to these revenue duties but for the fact that those who are engaged in the industry say that they are prepared to put their hands into their pockets and contribute a substantial sum towards the public revenue. In the meantime I suggest that the intermediate Tariff be reduced to £1.
– Why not make the British Tariff, £1 ; the intermediate, £2 : and the general, £3 ?
– I thank the honorable senator for the suggestion, which I shall accept, as it may prevent the Mother Country from being taken unfair advantage of, and incidentally assist the revenue. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (o), British, fi; intermediate, £2; general, £3.
– I must point out that the Minister’s motion is already before the Committee. The honorable senator must confine his attention to the general Tariff, which the Minister has moved shall be reduced to £2.
– All the honorable senator need do is to negative my proposal, which will leave the general Tariff at £3. Consideration may then be givento the intermediate Tariff.
– As the Minister suggests, if we negative his proposal the general Tariff will remain as it is, and we may then adjust the intermediate and British Tariffs on what we consider to be fair lines, retaining the intermediate Tariff at £2. This will provide for some arrangement, if deemed advisable, with Canada and other countries.Unless we do something of the kind manufacturers in these northern countries will be placed in the same position as the manufacturers in one of the Dominions of the Empire. That cannot be justified.
– I am exceedingly sorry that the Minister (Senator Millen) has not seen fit to adhere to the duty as passed by another place. My experience, extending over a good many years, teaches me that British newsprint is the best in the world, and that the British manufacturers are the most satisfactory to deal with.
– Are we not treating them as such ?
– In a sense we are.I urge the Committee to adhere to the present duty only because I desire that England shall regain her paper trade. During the war her paper mills were diverted to war purposes. The troops were supplied with food packed in paper containers; the first gas masks were made from paper, and practically every shell fired in France had a paper core. The waders and waterproof clothing for that awful first winter on the Somme were also made of paper. After 1916 our supplies of paper from England practically ceased. We were then at the mercy of foreign manufacturers, and any one who has purchased paper knows how we were treated by them. It may be interesting to honorable senators to learn that the manufacture of paper from wood is a comparatively recent discovery. As a matter of fact, the first patent was taken out in 1873. Prior to that time paper was made from rags, and its price was1s. per lb. The first paper made from wood to be placed on the market was sold at exactly half that price, namely, 6d. per lb., and its advent practically revolutionized the paper trade.
The paper manufacturers at that time, despite the fact that they were using crude machinery, were able to supply newsprint at 6d. per lb., and yet during 1919 and 1920 - practically ‘ forty years later - Australian users of newsprint had to pay something like1s. per lb. for it. ft is shown conclusively by those who have investigated the matter that the cost of manufacturing newsprint in Canada at that time was about 3½ cents, or1¾d. per lb. Mr. Lovekin, proprietor of the Perth Daily News, recently stated publicly that while in Canada as a delegate to the Empire Press Conference, he visited the paper-making districts, and was informed that the price of newsprint f.o.b. mills was 3½ cents per lb. -
He asked for paper, and the reply was that the mills did not supply any now, but that the selling was given to another company and that the price would be a little more. He was informed that when he went to the Canadian Export Company, which was the selling company, the price would be 5½ cents. He asked who the Canadian Export Company was, and he was assured that it was the millowners under another name. In the course of conversation he discovered that 3½ cents was a big price at the mills, and they could not ask more, because the mill employees would come out for higher rates, and the taxation would be heavy. Therefore, they floated the Canadian Export Company. On inquiry he found that the selling price was 6½ cents; but he was told that they could not sell for Australia, and that he would have to go to the Packing Company for that. He found that the Packing Company was the same people under still another name. . . He was also told that the price for export to Australia was 13½ cents.
The price for export to Australia was 13½ cents per lb., and to that the duty and various charges had to be added, whereas the actual cost of manufacture at the mills was only 3½ dents per lb. Why are we asked to give any special preferenoe to companies which have treated us in this way?
– Which have fleeced us.
– Yes. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) said in another place that these people had bled “ Australia white.
– Who were they?
SenatorVARDON. - The Canadian companies, who were really controlled from the United States of America.
– The price of practically everything went uppro rata during the war.
– I do not think that the prices of other commodities went up in anything like the same proportion. Before the war we were paying l£d. or ld. per lb. for newsprint, whereas in 1919 and i920, as I have said, we were paying practically ls. per lb. for it. There was no reason whatever for that great advance except that some one was making inordinate profits at our expense. I desire, if possible, to retain this preference for Great Britain so that it may get back this trade. I am. assured that we shall obtain large supplies of newsprint from England. It has been said that she is not in a position to supply her own requirements and those of Australia. My information is that she is able to do so. Earlier in my speech I referred to the crude machines employed in the manufacture of paper forty years ago. ‘Practically all the paper-making machines in Canada and the United States of America come from Great Britain. Just recently there has been set up in Canada a British machine which makes newsprint 216 inches wide at the rate of 1,000 feet per minute, or 11-J miles of paper, 6 yards wide, an hour. That is done with British machinery. It .has also been, said that Great Britain is at a disadvantage in that she has to obtain from foreign countries the pulp required for the manufacture of newsprint. It is true that she imports her pulp, but she has interests in Scandinavia and also in Canada. For every ton of pulp made 2 tons of coal have to be used, and Scandinavia has to import her coal from Great Britain. “What is more, both Canada and Scandinavia have to import from Great Britain the china clay used in the manufacture of newsprint. The finest deposit is in Cornwall, and nearly 15 per cent, of newsprint consists of china clay.
– So that Great Britain, after all, is not in too bad a position.
– That is so. I have it that England is in a position to supply her own requirements and those of Australia. Here is a cablegram from the Lloyds Imperial Empire and Marsden Group, which undertakes to supply for five years at least 50,000 tons, and states that it is in a position to supply us with 100,000 tons a year if required.
– Does the honorable senator know anything about a 7,000-t.on order which that group was unable quite recently to execute?
– I have heard the statement, but have not had any evidence in support of it. It was suggested that such evidence would be forthcoming, but it has not been produced. The British. Paper Maher of 21st April, 1921, stated that of 50,000 employees in the paper trade at the end of February 26,000 were without employment, and 16,000 were working only half time. It is beyond doubt that” England is in a position to supply our requirements, and we know that we can expect a fair deal from the Old Country.
– What is the honorable senator’s objection to the request, seeing that it is not proposed to alter the provision that imports under the British preferential Tariff shall be free?
– My desire is that they shall be free, but I want to give the Old Country a substantial preference.
– A preference of £2 per ton is a substantial- one.-
– I favour the more substantial one of £3 per ton. Not unnaturally, fierce competition is expected from the United States of America and Scandinavia. Japan, also, is in the market with newsprint to-day, and I do not know what sort of competition we can expect from her.
– The employees in the mills there work long hours.
– And receive very low wages. I have here a copy of the London Times Trade Supplement, special Japanese Industrial Section, of 16th April, 1921, in which the following statement appears : -
The prices accepted by Japanese mills for orders coming from overseas are below those charged for orders placed to meet domestic requirements, which means that Japanese consumers of paper are made to contribute part of the cost of the article supplied to the foreign buyer.
– That means dumping.
– Quite so. I ask the Committee to consider this matter very carefully.- If I were to consider my own interests, I should say reduce the duty to £2 per ton, because I am a user of newsprint; but I am prepared to grant this preference of £3 per ton to Great Britain, and I hope it will remain.
– I do not know that I can add much to what I have already said, but I should like to refer again to one aspect of the question. It will be clearly seen that this is not in any sense a Protective duty. Two interests appear to be involved. There is, first of all, the desire that Great Britain shall be given a preference. Since we do not make this paper ourselves, . we are anxious that, as far as possible, Great Britain shall have an opportunity to supply our requirements; but we have to ask ourselves what is a “fair preference to give in the circumstances, remembering that the preference we are giving in the shape of this duty under the general Tariff will be collected from those who use newsprint. That point must not be overlooked. If the duty remains at £3. per ton, it will give a greater preference to British companies, and therefore enhance their prospects of supplying the Australian market; but it means an additional impost on those who use the paper.
– Not necessarily.
– I do not know how we can levy a duty of £3 per ton on an article not made in the country without that £3 per ton having to be paid by some one.
– But imports from Great Britain are free, and if the British manufacturers are able to supply the whole of our requirements, no one will have to pay the duty.
– I decline to believe it possible to buy paper imported from a country free of duty, at a price much below that at which paper from other countries, on which duty has to be paid, can. be purchased.
– Here is the old cry of the Free Trader!
– I have heard the same principle enunciated by men who, like Senator Duncan, pose as strong Protectionists. The statement I have made does not rest on fiscal faith - it comes from some knowledge of human nature. Every man is going to get the best possible price for what he has to sell, and those who pretend to be influenced by any other motive are merely humbugging themselves; they are not likely to deceive anybody. This proposal to fix the duty at £2 against other countries but Great Britain is a balancing of the strong and genuine desire on the part of the Government to give the Mother Country a preference with its regard for those who have to pay the duty. In other words, the Government consider that we can give Great Britain substantial preference without unduly taxing those who require to use the paper. Senator Vardon says that he hopes that Great Britain will regain its trade in newsprint, and I have no doubt that it will do so so far as Australia is concerned under a preference of £2. He says that the paper it produces is the best in the world. That very fact should open the door of many markets to British manufacturers, irrespective of any preferential rate of duty or Tariff encouragement, and when to the skill of the British workmen is added a preference of £2 a ton, Great Britain should be enabled once more to exercise in the Australian market that dominant influence it possessed before the war. The Government consider that a preference of £2 a. ton is sufficient.
– Then why was the proposal to make the duty £3 adopted ?
– The Government originally came down with a proposal for ad valorem duties, and then the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) announced that he intended to alter the rate to a fixed, duty of £2, but Mr. Hector Lamond moved that the rate be £3. The Government opposed his proposal, but even in the House of Representatives Governments are sometimes defeated, and they were on that occasion.
– Have not two experienced newspaper men, Senator Vardon and Mr. Hector Lamond, asserted that the duty should be £3 ?
– Yes, but I doi not wish to sound a personal note in the matter. I would rather deal with the facts underlying the case than, with the persons appearing in the matter. At any rate, the Government regard a preference of £2 as sufficient, and contend that there is no justification for levying an additional toll on those who require to use paper.
. -From advice given to me- I am led to believe that after the reestablishment of the British newsprint trade it will not be very long before newsprint is manufactured in Australia. We have the coal here, and it takes 2 tons of coal to manufacture a ton of pulp.
– We also have the clay.
– That is so. Senator Millen has spoken of human nature, and has said that practically any one who has the advantage of a Protective duty will live right up to it. His remark does not apply to the board manufacturers of Australia. During the war the Australian mills did not charge more than £20 a ton for their strawboard.
– They charged up to £75.
– They did not charge more than £20.
– The Japanese article cost £38 10s.
– Unfortunately the Australian mills could not supply the whole of Australia’s requirements, but what they did produce was sold at £20 a ton, whereas the price of Japanese board went up to £75 a ton.
– I am obliged to the honorable senator for giving me the exception which proves the rule.
– I can give other examples. A little while ago I had occasion to cable to London for a price, which was given as 5½d. per lb. f.o.b. London, I wired to Melbourne makers, and ascertained that their price was 5¼d. per lb. f.o.b. Melbourne. In addition to the price of 5½d. per lb. f.o.b. London, the importers would have had to pay packing charges, duty, landing charges, and the cost of cartage from the wharf to the warehouse, which charges would easily amount to 3½d. per lb. Clearly the Melbourne people were not taking advantage of the duty.
– An hour ago, when we were dealing with boots, it was shown that full advantage was being taken of the Protective duty.
– The people connected with the printing and paper trade are honest. At no time during the war did the mills in Sydney charge more than £40 a ton for Manila board, whereas the price of the imported article was about £90 a ton. These instances I have mentioned clearly prove that the Australian manufacturer does not in every case seek to take advantage of the Tariff.
– What are the prospects of getting supplies of newsprint from Japan ?
– I have already shown that Japan is manufacturinga tremendous quantity of newsprint, and that we are threatened with competition from that direction.
– Then -what use “will there be in having a. duty of £2 per ton’?
– None whatever. I maintain that we should retain the £3 duty. .
– I first became interested in the duty on newsprint about July of last year, when two or three proprietors of country newspapers in New South Wales, friends of mine for many years, asked me to use whatever small influence I might have in the direction of securing a duty of £3 per ton against other countries than Great Britain, and I know that newspaper proprietors subsequently waited on the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), and asked him to impose that rate of duty. They had had a very rough spin from the newsprint manufacturers of Canada and other parts of the world, and they believed that the best thing they could do in all the circumstances would be to give Great Britain the opportunity of entering into competition with those other countries for the supplying . of newsprint to Australia. They thought that that would be the means of keeping down the cost of the article to themselves. The Government accepted the suggestion submitted, which was also supported by some of the proprietors of metropolitannewspapers. Senator Millen has told us that the rate of £3 per ton was forced upon the Government in another place; but I know that a great many followers of the Government, who knew the wholeof the facts, supported Mr. Lamond’s amendment to increase the duty proposed by the Minister (Mr. Greene). As a. matter of fact, the amendment was tacitlyaccepted by that gentleman. The duty which was thus increased to £3 per ton. is now before us for our consideration, and the Government asks us to request the House of Representatives to reduce it to £2. In the meantime, the very people who originally asked for a duty of £3 per ton-
– Who are they?
– The country press.
– No, they wanted a lower duty.
– The very peoplewho, at that time, were asking for a duty of £3, believing that it would give Great
Britain an opportunity of entering into competition with other countries, leading eventually to a reduction in the price of newsprint to users in Australia, in some strange way, perhaps, as the result of certain suggestions submitted to them, have decided to depart from their previous decision and ask for a lower duty.
– Although they, as experts, have benefited by further inquiry, the honorable senator has not.
– That is not so.
– Did not they accept a duty of £3 per ton as a compromise on the proposed ad valorem rates?
– Yes, they were anxious to have the duty fixed at £3 per ton. Even now many of them are still in favour of that, rate, which they regard as an honorable agreement to be observed by them. They gave an honorable undertaking to the newsprint manufacturers in Great Britain. .
– Surely, if £3 was considered a reasonable duty when the price of newsprint was £60 per ton, £2 is not an excessive rate to impose when the price of the article is down to a third of its former value?
– Was not £3 per ton regarded as equivalent to an ad valorem rate of 5 per cent. ?
– Many of the newspaper proprietors are still prepared to adhere to the rate of £3 per ton. They are eager to get away from the domination of the newsprint manufacturers of other countries. They know that Great Britain will treat them fairly. They remember that during the war the British newsprint proprietors, at the request of the British Government, turned their factories over to the manufacture of munitions while manufacturers in other countries, by taking over the trade their British competitors formerly had, were able, not only to build up their own industry, but also to fleece the very men who were forced to use the paper they, were manufacturing. They fleeced our Australian newspaper proprietors. In the words of our Minister for Trade and Customs, these men, whose interests some honorable senators are so anxious to protect, ‘ ‘ bled Australia white when they had the opportunity of doing so.”
– Bunkum !
– These are not my words, they are the words of a gentle man who had the advantage of advice from his officers from one end of Australia to the other, and was aware of the whole of the circumstances. The British manufacturers have not bled Australia white. The aim of the duty as fixed in another place was to give an effective preference that would enable British manufacturers to regain their place in the newsprint trade and meet the competition that has grown up in other countries under conditions that I have already described. Unless we give an effective protection to British manufacturers, they will be unable to face that competition. Great Britain is just beginning once more to develop this line of manufacturing industry; and unless she receives from us, and the other Dominions, some degree of assistance, she will not be able’ to compete with those men who made enormous fortunes during the war by “bleeding” our newspaper proprietors, and through them the public. Those foreign manufacturers can use the reserve they have been able to build up against the British manufacturer; and, apparently, it is we who are going to provide fighting funds to help them against our own people. I hope the Committee, will not consent to depart from the duty now before us. We can afford to adhere to that duty, which will not impose any additional hardship on our newspaper proprietors. If it would do so, we should not find so many of them in favour of a duty of £3. Some of these proprietors believe that Britain will give them a fair deal, and have entered into contracts with her at what are regarded as satisfactory rates, though these may not be as low as might, for the time being, be offered by the manufacturers of other countries. But once let the British factories be closed down, how long will it be before the foreign manufacturers will raise their price? I cannot understand the attitude of the Government in proposing such a substantial reduction. They may have on their side what they consider to be good reasons, but even from a sentimental point of view we ought to stick to the country that has stuck to us.
– What we have to do is to try to reconcile the interests, concerned. There are on one side the newspaper proprietors, and with them the general public, and on the other, the policy of the Government to give the favoured nation treatment to countries trading with us. There are three columns in this Tariff - a general column intended for the least favoured nations, an intermediate column for those countries with whom we can make reciprocal arrangements, and then the British preference column, which gives the most favoured nation treatment to the 0(ld Country. The newspaper proprietors say that they are satisfied with £3 per ton as the general Tariff, and £2 per ton as the intermediate Tariff. If the Ministerial proposal is given effect to, and the £3 in the general column is reduced to £2, it simply means that there will be no chance of giving any preference to our sister Dominion of Canada. It is news to me that the Government is so overburdened with revenue that they do not require the extra duty. Wo can easily, I submit, reconcile the structural gradation of the Tariff in the three divisions with the desire of those who wish to pay something towards the revenue of the country, but that cannot be done unless the general column is maintained at £3. I am afraid that what was said by Senator Vardon fell too lightly on the ears of honorable senators. There are prospects of competition from Japan. I am not one to decry that country, as my utterances in this Chamber have proved. I rather welcome her competition; but I say that we here are entitled, just as the Japanese are entitled, to protect our own interests, and to take our own means of doing so. Japan has suddenly come to the front and developed so rapidly that, even during the short course of the war, she supplied us with commodities that we never dreamt of as possible; and it is within the range of possibility that she will become one of the largest suppliers of newsprint. In the Times Trade Supplement of 16th April, 1921, there is some reference to the progress of industries in Japan, and I hope honorable senators will take what I am. about to read to heart, as showing the immediate prospects of that country -
There are some sixty large .paper and pulp mills in Japan proper, including seven establishments recently opened in Saghalien and Chosen. Paper is made of all qualities, and to meet practically all requirements, from heavy art paper to cigarette paper and common wrapping paper. Strawboard and pasteboard of excellent quality are manufactured in large quantities, and even wallpaper is now made in Japan, though chiefly for export. Like most other markets and industries, the paper trade is just now in a curious position. The prices accepted by Japanese mills for orders coming from overseas arc below those charged for orders placed to meet domestic requirements.
We see in this the inescapable tendency of that country to indulge in dumping its surplus stocks on our market here.
– What about the dumping here of agricultural machinery from America?
– The Ministry will find me here without calling when an Anti-Dumping Bill is introduced; I am now merely snowing what maw happen. I quite realize from what Senator Vardon has said that the tradespeople in this country are not a pack of raving, rapacious money grubbers. Even the newspaper proprietors, whom we often like to criticise, have not passed all the extra cost on. Newsprint rose from £9 a ton to £80, and has been to £90, but the newspaper proprietors did not send up their charges tenfold. The Bulletin has raised its prices only 50 per cent.
– The pride of the newspapers was raised from Id. tq 2d.
– That, it is quite true, is 100 per cent., but the price of the raw material went up 500 per cent.
– It went up 700 per cent.
– And part of the impost has been accepted by the newspaper proprietors, to their no small credit. We have, as I say, to reconcile the interests concerned, while maintaining the structural gradation of the Tariff, by making the duty in the least favoured column £3, in the intermediate column £2, and, then, by giving Great Britain whatever preference we wish.
– I am sure we all appreciate very highly the stand taken by Senator Gardiner in his attitude towards the great Protectionist newspaper which seeks to influence him ; and it is rather encouraging that that newpaper should have any influence on the honorable gentleman. At? any rate, it is evident that he is not beyond redemption. We all agree, I suppose, with Senator Keating that all newsprint should be brought under one set of rates.
Senator E. D. Millen has put it very clearly and candidly to honorable senators that if we impose a duty which is higher than this “ scientific” Tariff deems necessary we shall put an impost on those in the Commonwealth who use newsprint. We all admit the active part that the press plays in the education of our people.
– And in the vilification pf ourselves!
– My friend speaks for himself j and it is not every one who so worthily earns the vilification. We know the valuable work that the press does; and I think that in regard, to this item the Committee will live up to the principle that has been, laid down of preference to Britain. As to the statements we have listened to from Senators Duncan and Vardon as to the great desire there is to trade with Britain, I can * only describe them, if I am allowed to use an Australian term, as so much “flapdoodle.” The Tariff is free to Great Britain, and we cannot have it lower; It is claimed that the British paper is superior to all other. I remind honorable senators of Senator Keating’s speech tonight, in which he told us that in New Zealand, where British paper is used, there is an illustrated publication which . stands out because of the high quality of its production. We are told of what Japan may do; but surely the Senate of the Commonwealth is not to l;e guided in its making of the laws by mere statements in the public press of the Old Country? We admit the quality of i he British paper; and Senator Vardon informs us that Britain can supply the whole of our demands; but, on the other hand, there are many senators who tell us that that is not so.
– I have here a certificate which shows that it is so.
– I have heard all about that certificate, and it has a bad record - it “cuts no ice” with me. I have been in commercial life for many years, and I am not to be influenced by that sort of stuff at this stage of the consideration of the Tariff. What we have to do is to stand to the principle: of preference, and we intend to do so : but we desire to go further than the Government, *:nd make tlie Tariff free, 30s.. and £2. lt is astonishing that the Committee should be asked to agree to such a measure of preference as is now sought, when reliable information has been provided to the effect that the Mother Country is actually importing large supplies for her own use.
– N/ot of paper, but of 1 pulp.
– And of paper, too, although I fail to see the final difference between pulp and paper, so long as either is actually imported into the country from which we receive our supplies.
– Great Britain has no Tariff, and, therefore, she can import as and from where she pleases.
– Australia, I presume, is going to allow Great Britain to export to this country irrespective of the source of her own supplies.
– Supplies received here from Great Britain must be of British manufacture.
– Of course!’ The Committtee is in accord upon the principle of British preference. Senator Vardon provided no arguments against that principle. Ho put up a better case> indeed, in support of my proposal for an intermediate rate of 30s. per ton than, in advocacy of a Tariff of £3. The only real argument advanced by Senator Vardon was that Australia should give back to- Britain the trade she lost as a result of the war. The Committee is asked to put on one side all question of relative quality, and blindly give preference, so that Great Britain may re-establish her trade relations. I intend to press strongly for a reduction of the intermediate Tariff in tlie manner just indicated, and I trust that honorable senators will remember that the Government have described the incidence of the paper duties as being revenue-productive rather than a matter of Protection. I shall support the re* quest of the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) for a reduction of the general duty to £2 per ton.
– Reference has been made to the country press. Some time ago that body suggested that the general duty on newsprint should be £3 per ton, and that British paper should be admitted free. In a letter written ‘by the secretary of the Provincial Press Association, dated 14th June last, there appeared the following : -
Conference also wished to formulate a clear motion, so as to prevent the necessity of registering its clear and unanimous objection- to any preference or concession whatever being given to newsprint manufactured in Canada, where the mill-owners have, during the past few years, combined to rob Australian consumers of several millions sterling. By omitting any mention of its willingness to concede preference to Great Britain, it obviated the necessity of defining its equally emphatic opposition. Every country newspaper proprietor throughout the Commonwealth warmly welcomes the news that the Mother Country is about to re-enter the Australian market, and warmly supports preference being granted to her products. In view of the disturbed state of exchange in both America and Canada, and the cruel exactions of the Paper Rings in both those countries, as well as Norway and Sweden, the entry of Great Britain into our market at the present time is providential, and should result in millions being expended within the Empire to revitalize trade that has, as a result of the war, been diverted into the hands of foreigners, to the injury and undoing o£ Great Britain in particular and the Empire in general.
Despite the contents of that letter - in the face of its professions of loyalty and the expression of the wish that Great Britain should regain her paper trade - I have learned from a very reliable source that, in the same month in which the letter was indited, namely, June last, the Provincial Press Association received a consignment of paper by the Tango Maru, from Japan. The country press are the parties who are moving the most eagerly to secure a reduction of the present duties. Evidently, Japan is to be feared among other foreign competitors of Great Britain.
– Some reference has been made to the attitude of the Provincial Press Association. Senator Duncan stated that tha.t organization had approached the Minister for Trade and Customs, and that it was hysterically anxious to secure a general duty of £3 per ton. The honorable senator ought to have indicated what the country press submitted as an alternative. Their representations suggest the position of a delinquent who has the option of paying a fine of 40s. or going to prison for two days. The guilty party may reply that he prefers to pay the 40s., but he would rather not be called upon to pay anything. The provincial press representatives submitted a suggestion for a duty of £3 per ton, not because they wanted to pay any duty what ever, but as an alternative to the imposition of a 10 per cent, ad valorem Tariff, when such a rate would have been equivalent to a fixed duty of £6 or £7 per ton. I do not suggest that Senator Duncan desired to mislead the Committee; but it is misleading to state that the country press agreed to a £3 duty unless it is further pointed out that the preference so expressed was in lieu of something less palatable. The Provincial Press Association preferred to pay a fixed duty when the price of paper was high rather than run the risk of paying 10 per cent, on an uncertain market. Now that the price of newsprint is coming down, however, they have made representations in favour of a rate of £2 per ton.
– The £3 duty was supposed to be equivalent to about 5 per cent.
– At that time. They obviously preferred an im”post of 5 per cent, to one of 10 per cent. That is why these people were willing to accept the £3 rate. No country press proprietor could convince any member of the Senate of his willingness to pay anything at all if that could be avoided.
– If he were willing, he would be different from honorable senators.
– Some of whom have been country press proprietorsthemselves, and have found it sufficiently hard to struggle along without being called upon to pay duty on their paper. The Government having satisfied themselves that an impost of £2 would give a sufficient preference to Great Britain without unduly penalizing press proprietors, particularly the owners of the smaller newspapers, the imposition of the reduced duty was decided upon.
.. - I have refrained from speaking upon the subject-matter of this item until I had heard arguments both for and against the proposal of the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen). I have been greatly surprised by what some honorable senators have said concerning the attitude of the country press. It is not long since I received a letter from that body. I shall read an extract to show clearly the latest stand taken by the Provincial Newspaper
Association concerning the duty on newsprint. This letter, which was written in May last, states -
I have to advise you that the following motion was carried unanimously at the Tenth Inter-State Conference of this Association, held in Melbourne on the 10th, 11th, and 12th inst. : - “That the maximum duty on newsprint about to be collected under the Tariff proposals of the Ministry should not exceed 30s. a ton.”
– That is not their latest attitude.- I advise the honorable senator to wait until he hears what the country press have decided upon since.
– The resolution was framed in the light of their knowledge of the price of paper this year. I maintain that the attitude of the association is in keeping with the proposal of the Minister. I also received a communication from Tasmania, where there are representatives of the great printing industry, in regard to this item, to the effect that, in order to provide the greatest revenue, and adjust the competition on a fair basis, I should support the following: - Newsprint, foreign, £2 per ton; United Kingdom, free.
– That is the Government proposal.
– Yes, and whilst I am very anxious to give ample preference to Great Britain wherever possible, I do not think an -instance can be found in the Tariff where greater preference is being shown to the Mother Country than in the Minister’s proposal. I have sufficient confidence in the recuperative powers of Great Britain as a manufacturing nation, and in the ability of the British workman, to believe that the day is not far distant when we will be able to draw all our supplies from that country.
– Even in the face of Japanese competition?
– Yes. The Japanese goods have not a very good reputation in Australia, particularly as regards quality.
– But they, are here.
– We have heard time after time of the wretched quality of Japanese goods, and- 1 do not think that an industry in which Great Britain has been actively engaged for many years, and in which she has such a good record, will suffer in consequence of Japanese competition. Britain will be able to maintain her prestige, and defy that competition, with a duty of £2 per ton.
– I wish to deal with only one point, and that is the question of Japanese importations. Senator Payne finds it difficult to understand why a certain section of the Country Press Association has changed its views. I am wondering, but not so much as Senator Payne, why certain proprietors have changed their attitude upon this matter. I have gathered from official statistics that in the year 1919-20 nearly £11,000 worth of newsprint was imported from Japan. That represents a considerable quantity.
– Do we not desire to market our surplus products in Japan ?
– If the honorable senator wishes to purchase Japanese goods, I do: not intend to assist him..
– The honorable senator would be in favour of our exportable surplus of jam being marketed there.
– That is not the question. We have to consider if we are to assist Japan in building up a huge newsprint trade with Australia, or if we are to give assistance to Great Britain.
– We may be assisting her to establish factories which may be converted into munition-making plants to be used against us.
– Exactly. Senator Thomas seems to forget that newsprint factories can readily be turned into establishments for the production of munitions in time of war, and in this way we may be assisting Japan in a way that we do not desire. I have been elected to Parliament to render assistance in building up Australian industries, and I am supporting the Nationalist platform in an endeavour to assist in consolidating the Empire so far as we are able. This is one direction in which we can help by maintaining an important industry at the fountain head of the Empire, and if I have to decide whether I shall assist Japan or Great Britain, my vote will be for Britain every time.
– I intended to refrain from participating in the debate on this item ; but as there has been such a conflict of opinion it appears to be necessary to express one’s opinion. I desire to deal with the ques- tion from the point of view which must occur to honorable senators to be the correct one. I am distinctly in favour of giving preference to Great Britain over Canada, America, or any other country. If we accept the proposition of the Government, which is a good one, we shall have to bear in mind that we may jeopardize even the trade we wish to do with Great Britain. If we establish trade with Great Britain we are more likely to get paper made in Australia than in any other way. If, for instance, we were to place Canada on the same basis as Great Britain - I have nothing whatever to say against that Dominion or the desirableness of entering into reciprocal trade arrangements - Canadian manufacturers would not establish the paper-making industry in Australia; if ever newsprint is made in the Commonwealth the work will be undertaken by British manufacturers. It seems, therefore, that we ought to be sure that the preference given to Great Britain is a real preference, and if we impose a duty of £2 per ton the rate might be a popular one, but would it be sufficient to enable Great Britain to retain the trade until we become manufacturers of paper ? I am convinced that before many years manufacturers of “paper will see what our Australian forests are capable of producing in the matter of paper pulp, and I am confident from what I have seen that before long Australian timbers will be utilized for this purpose. I feel that we are compelled to make a striking differentiation between the nations we are willing to trade with and those with whom there is no immediate necessity to encourage trade. Why were the three schedules embodied in the Tariff if it were not intended to differentiate between exporting countries? The proposition that would serve the interests of Great Britain. Australia, and Canada would be free imports from Great Britain, an intermediate duty of £2, and a general rate of £3. I was particularly interested in the letter read by Senator Vardon, who is fully conversant with the paper trade, because he has had practical experience of it. I was surprised to learn that a consignment of Japanese newsprint is on the way to Australia.
– It is here.
– In the face of that we should adhere to a general duty of £3.
I would not be doing justice to Australia, or to the men who are seeking a lower duty, if I did not endeavour to protect them from themselves. We certainly will not be doing our duty to Great Britain if we do not show a decided preference to that country.
Question - That the request (Senator E. D. Millen’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Wilson) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (c), paragraph (1), per ton, intermediate, 30s.
– I suggest that the fact that the Committee has reduced the duty in the general Tariff from £3 to £2 lessens the necessity for Senator Wilson’s request, even from his own point of view. I do not wish to stress the fact unduly, but I do point out that the users of newsprint in Australia are under no overpowering debt of gratitude to the Canadian paper manufacturers for the treatment received at their hands when they were practically helpless.
– I could wish that the honorable senator had said that just now.
– It seems to me that this is the psychological moment at which to say it. I repeat that Canadian manufacturers of paper have no claims upon our gratitude. Another objection to the request is that while there is no direct evidence of the fact, there are very . strong reasons for assuming that there is a very close intimacy between American and Canadian manufacturers of paper, and that if it does not exist today it would not be long before it came into being if the duty in the intermediate Tariff were reduced as proposed by Senator Wilson. My last request affected the general Tariff, and I intend to follow it up by a request for the imposition of a similar duty of £2 per ton in the intermediate Tariff.
– I admit there is a great deal in what the Minister has said. I agree that Canadian manufacturers of paper are not’ entitled to expect very much from us at the present juncture. I have no wish to delay the work of the Committee, and as there seems to be a general opinion, after the statement made by the Minister, -that the duty in the intermediate column should be £2 per ton, I ask permission to withdraw my request in favour of that to be submitted by Senator E. D. Millen.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator E. D. Millen) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (c), paragraph (1), per ton, intermediate, £2.
Request (by Senator Gardiner) proposed.
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (c), paragraph (2), per ton, British, free; intermediate, £2; general, £2.
– I direct attention to the fact that a proposal is now made to impose relatively a lower rate of duty on the paper included in paragraph 2 of subitem c than that imposed on newsprint under paragraph 1. This is really a proposal to impose a lower duty on the better paper used for the same purpose as that covered by paragraph 1. 1 shall not object if the Government persist in pushing their hands against people who might add to the revenue through these Customs duties, but I shall not fail, when they reach out for further revenue by the imposition of duties on the absolute necessities of life to ordinary people, to say that I cannot reconcile their action with this consideration for newspaper proprietors.
– I should like to know what country Senator Gardiner’s request is likely to /benefit. I am under the impression that most of this glazed paper comes from Great Britain. I agree with Senator Lynch that the ratio between the relative values of the . papers covered by paragraphs 1 and 2 will not be maintained by the adoption of Senator Gardiner’s request. Roughly speaking, newsprint is about half the price of this glazed paper. My vote will be governed very largely by the knowledge that the request will help Great Britain.
– The purpose of the request moved by Senator Gardiner, which I am willing to accept, has already been explained. The honorable senator pointed out that newspaper proprietors who publish magazines or journals printed on the cheaper paper paid duty at a certain rate, whilst those who published magazines or such a newspaper as the Bulletin, which Senator Gardiner mentioned, and which is a very warm supporter of his, used paper of a better class, and paid a higher rate. The honorable senator asked why those who used the better class of paper for newspaper purposes should be called upon to pay a higher tax than those who use ordinary newsprint. He desired that they should both be put on the same footing, that whether a newspaper proprietor published a journal with the inferior or with the better class paper, he should be called upon to make the same contribution to the revenue, and that we should certainly not, by means of the Tariff, penalize those who sought tq publish the higher class journals. Senator Pratten has asked where this glazed paper comes from. A considerable quantity of it was imported from England, but those importations were disturbed during . the war period, and most of it is now imported from the United States of America. If Senator Gardiner’s request is agreed to, ohe effect will be to give an additional preference to the United Kingdom.
– Paragraph 1 of this sub-item covers the ordinary paper used in the printing of newspapers. Paragraph 2 covets paper which is largely used as newsprint by the Sydney Bulletin, Melbourne Punch, and publications of that land. I wish to remind the Committee that this glazed paper is used also for other purposes, and, among them, for the printing of jam labels. As a consequence, by the adoption of Senator Gar.diner’s request we shall be permitting the free admission of this glazed paper, or its admission at a reduced duty, for purposes to which I think it is not intended that a reduced duty should apply. Whilst I agree that the daily press can. obtain newsprint free from Great Britain, the weekly and monthly press” will, under this request, be placed in the same position in respect to the glazed paper which they use. As a consequence, the proprietors of daily newspapers will be called upon to pay practically twice the rate of duty to be paid by the proprietors of the weekly and monthly papers, because whilst the price of newsprint is £25 per ton, the glazed paper used by the Sydney Bulletin, Melbourne Punch, and such publications costs between £60 and £70 a ton. The request therefore, in my opinion, creates an anomaly and represents somewhat of an injustice to the proprietors of the daily press.
Request agreed to.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (d) (2) by inserting after the words “ tissue cap paper “ the words “ wax tissue paper.”
During the war many of our factories were hard put to it to secure’ wax paper. One or two establishments in Melbourne obtained special machinery for this purpose, and have been extremely successful. Now that the industry has been started, we might very well assist it. The firms to whom they have been supplying this paper are quite agreeable that the manufacturers should have some protection.
– I point out that wax paper is included in sub-item g 1, in which the duties are, per cent., British, 83. ; intermediate, 9s. ; and general, 10s. Senator Vardon’s purpose in proposing to lift it from that subitem to sub-item d 2 is, I take it, to get the. advantage of the i”-<‘er duty.
– Then does it matter under which item it. is included ? I am advised by the Customs officers.- that, in view of all the circumstances, it ought to remain in sub-item g 1, unless Senator Vardon can show some good reason why it should come in at lower duties. The fact that it may not be properly classified is not a very strong argument. Classification does not matter so much as the amount of the duty to be levied.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives’ be requested to add to sub-item, (o) (3) the words or ad val., British, 30 per cent. ; intermediate, 35 per cent. ; general, 40 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
This paragraph of sub-item g deals with bags n.e.i. Under g 1 the raw material for the bag-maker is dutiable at 8s., British ; 9s., intermediate; and 10s.,gene*ral. The protection afforded in the case of small and expensive bags is less- than §d. per 1,000 bags. It is obvious, of course,, that under such a Tariff bagmaking could not be successfully carried on in the Commonwealth.
Senator E. D. MILLEN (New South Wales - Minister for Repatriation) T9.53]. - The sub-item to which the honorable senator has directed attention does contain an anomaly. The other House lifted the duties on the raw material at the same time that they lifted the duties on bags, but to a. greater extent. The honorable senator’s request will correct this anomaly. Therefore, I have pleasure in accepting it.
Request agreed to.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (<J), per cwt., British, 2s.; intermediate, 2s. 6d.; general, 3s. Cd.
The purpose of the amendment is to bring the duty on boards n.e.i into line with that on strawboard in sub-item s 1.
– I ask Senator Gardiner not to persist with his request, which, on the face of it, is designed to bring the duties on these various Tariff items into line. The reason why boards n.e.i. in sub-item Q carry ad valorem duties whilst specific duties are levied in respect of other boards is this: Strawboard is generally of equal value, but the item boards, n.e.i. includes different kinds of boards of varying values. Therefore, ad valorem duties are preferable, as the boards are dutiable according to their value.-
.- I admit there is a great deal of force in the Minister’s contention, but I am up against the belief that these duties are exceptionally heavy. I accept his statement as to the varying, values of the boards included in sub-item q, and with the permission of the Committee I will withdraw my request, with the idea of submitting another, which I trust the Minister will accept.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator Gardiner) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (Q), ad val., general, 30 per cent.
– I have only a word or two to say with respect to sub-item q. It affects a very important industry in New South Wales, one, no doubt, with which Senator Gardiner is more familiar than I am, namely, the Cumberland Mills at or near Lane Cove. I understand that they have been carrying on for some years, and that during the’ war they evidenced their loyalty to the people of the Commonwealth in their output and their prices.
– The industryis also established in this State.
– Yes, I know that. Since the war, the Cumberland Mills have regularly employed, amongst others, about 100 men who had been at the Front. They have in every way assisted returned soldiers to get back into fully active civil life again as speedily as possible. One factor which should ma,ke us hesitate before reducing the ad valorem duties in the way suggested is the very real menace of competition in the near future in this commodity from Japan. Senator “Vardon quoted from the London Times special edition of 16th April last, which I have just been perusing. This supplement is largely devoted to Japan, and makes reference to the way in which this particular industry is going ahead in that country. I have been informed that Japanese steamers, which are heavily sub sidized by the Japanese Government, amongst other activities whilst in our waters, pick up as much as they can of the raw material here and take it back to Japan to be converted into these boards by pulping and even into paper. Senator Lynch and other honorable senators, in addressing themselves to previous subitems, have referred to the fact that w© have in the Commonwealth at the present time a great deal of what are ordinarily designated as waste products which could, be profitably utilized by industries associated with the item, now under discussion. The Japanese in that regard have been both frugal and economical. They have taken from Australia a great deal of what we have regarded as rubbish and waste, and by means of their newly-created industries have converted it into marketable products which will rapidly be placed on the Australian market.
– The strawboard mills here are using the same waste products.
– No doubt, but the Japanese will be returning to us these waste products in the form, of the very commodity on which we are now asked to impose a duty of 40 per cent. I hope we shall treat this, not as a bogy, but as a real menace, and that the Committee will not agree to the request which Senator Gardiner has submitted.
. - I protest against any decrease of the duties on strawboard. The strawboardmaking industry has been built up here, and those engaged in it during the war were very reasonable in their charges, The official statistics show that Japan is our principal competitor, and that out of a total importation of 3,000 tons of strawboard for the last nine . months the imports from that country amounted to 2,000 tons. Those engaged in the industry in Japan work seventytwo hours per week for a wage of 12s. ‘6d., whereas the men employed in the industry in Australia work forty-four hours per week for wages ranging from 85s. to 117s. per week. Prior to the war the brice of Japanese strawboard was £7 7s. per ton, but during the war it was raised to £38 10s. per ton. On the other hand, the Australian manufacturers, who before the war were charging £8 10s. per ton, only increased the price of their product to £20 per ton. Many other reasons could be given in support of the retention of the present duties. Our two principal competitors are cheap-labour countries. I have already referred to the competition from Japan, and I would remind the Committee that we have to fear also imports of strawboard from Germany, where men are working at the present time long hours for a wage which is equal to ls. 3Jd. per day in English money. Another reason why we should encourage this industry is that it uses an. enormous quantity of straw which would otherwise be of no commercial value. I find that one mill alone can use 20,000 tons of straw, 20,000 tons of Australian coal, and 1,000 tons of lime per annum. We accepted the Government proposal to reduce the du tj on newsprint because we recognised the difficulties with which country newspaper proprietors have to contend, and were desirous also of enabling the people of Australia to obtain the news of the world at as reasonable a price as possible; but 1 do not think we would be justified on any ground in reducing the duty on strawboard.
– I have been using a very considerable quantity of strawboard, and I look upon this industry as of great importance to Australia. A large amount of capital is invested in it, and it gives remunerative employment to a great number of men. . Ab Senator Keating has painted out, another important aspect of this question is that the industry is using a considerable quantity of what would otherwise be treated as waste material. Waste material from printing offices and drapery stores, in the shape of old boxes and scraps of paper, which only a few years ago waa carted away to rubbish tips and burnt - an operation for which payment hod to be made - is now being purchased and converted into strawboard. If the. duty is reduced, the effect on the industry will be serious. I hope the request will be rejected.
– I realize that in view of the remarks that have been made by the Minister (Senator E: D. Millen) and other honorable senators, it is necessary that I should make out a strong case in support of my request. In the first place, 1. would remind the Committee that it is our duty to try to hold the balance even between this and kindred industries.
We are told that the Australian manufacturers of strawboard, during the war period, were extremely moderate in their prices. Before they were charging £8 10s. for their product, but during the war they raised the price to £22 and £23 per ton.
– Twenty pounds per ton.
– My information is that they raised it to £22 and £23 per ton. That does not suggest that there was much moderation on their port. They raised their prices to this extent, although we had a bumper wheat harvest and ample supplies of straw were available at low prices.
– We hod a big draught in 1915, and tho price of straw greatly increased during that and the following year.
– We had bumper seasons in 1915 and 1916 when we organized the Wheat Pool, and straw, which is really a waste product of our farms, was obtainable by those engaged in this industry at a price very much below that at which it could be secured in other countries. Although I om a Free Trader, I am anxious that every industry should have a fair deal. . Senator Keating has mentioned the Cumberland mills in my own State. We are told that the Cumberland mills treated the public generously during the war. I find that they declared a dividend of 14J per cent, on their reconstructed capital. The original ‘ capital of the company was £150,000, but that capital was doubled by a further issue of 150,000 shares, so that the dividend of 14$ per cent, paid on the reconstructed capital of £300,000 was equal to a dividend of 29 per cent, on the original capital of the company. In dealing with these duties, we must have regard to the interests of those engaged in the manufacture of cardboard cartons and boxes, in which many of our commodities are packed. There are hundreds of towns in which these cartons and boxes are made. If I were asking honorable senators to conform to my own views as a Free Trader, I should not expect to receive their support, but surely a duty of 30 per cent, is ample, mo-re especially having regard to the position of the industries the raw material of which is strawboard. I think I have made out a reasonable case for a reduction of the duty from 40 per cent, to 30 per cent.
I appeal to honorable senators not to go boo fax in the direction of protecting one industry, but to have regard to others which will be prejudicially affected by the imposition of these high duties on what is their raw material.
.- I have no fault to find with the arguments of honorable senators who wish to retain the duty on this item, but I fail to understand their logic when I know that in regard to a previous sub-item they spoke *very strongly in favour- of reducing the protection against Japan on newsprint from £3 to £2 a ton.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Item 335 (Fashion plates and books) agreed to.
– I should like to know whether any parchment is made in Australia. It has gone up enormously in price, and solicitors find it a considerable item of expense.
– Parchment is hot made here, and hence the duty is nominal.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty., slb-item (a), Bri tish, free.
– Here we have a lawyer who is a Protectionist in regard to everything except- that which he uses himself. I cannot allow- this request to pass without comment. It is an astonishing attitude for the honorable senator to take up, to be a Protectionist when if is the other fellow who has to pay, and a Free Trader . when he himself has to pay. No wonder Senator E. D. Millen told us to-day that he was an expert on hides inside this chamber.
– Surely when the Minister admits that the parchment-making industry does not exist in Australia the duty set out in the schedule will serve no good purpose. I see no object in having Protective duties unless there is a prospect of establishing industries here.
Item agreed to.
Item 337 (Transfers, ceramic, for pottery), item 338 (Paper), item 339 (Books, n.e.i.,and printed’ matter, n.e.i.), item 340 (Stationery), item 341 (Writing ink and ink powders), item 342 (Black printing ink), item 343 (Printing and stencilling inks, n.e.i., item 344 (Maps and charts), item 345 (Globes, geographical, &c), item 346 (Pencils and penholders), item 347 (Paint boxes), item 348 (School and drawing slates, slate pencils), and item 349 (Kindergarten materials), agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 10.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 31 August 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210831_senate_8_97/>.