8th Parliament · 1st Session
ThePresident (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate -
– The answers supplied are as follow: - 1 and 2. The Government is acting in this connexion in accordance with the provisions of article 297 of the Treaty of Peace with Germany. 3, 4, and 5. Nothing is known of this particular case. It is, however, a fact that a number of Germans have absconded from the Territory of New Guinea, taking with them certain property belonging to the Administration. Efforts are being made through the Government of the Netherlands with a view to the extradition of these persons in order that recovery of the property may bo effected.
Senator DE LARGIE (for Senator
Lynch) asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate -
Will the Minister in charge of Ship Construction . state what was the cost per deadweight ton of the steamers of the “ D “ and “E “ Class built at the Williamstown, Walsh Island, and Cockatoo Yards, and since handed over to the Commonwealth Government Line?
Will the Minister state whether the cost of the steamers referred to in the foregoing question has ‘been written down to enable the Commonwealth Government Line to operate them?
If so, what is the amount written down, and is it proposed to charge such sums to Consolidated Revenue?
– The answers supplied are as follow: -
Built at Williamstown - Dromana - £29 9s. l1d. per ton.
Built at Williamstown - Dumosa - £30 4s. 3d. per ton.
Built at Williamstown- Emita - £29 7s. 2d. per ton.
Built at Cockatoo Island - Dundula - £29 17s. per ton.
Built at Walsh Island - Delungra - £29 17s. 5d. per ton.
Built at Walsh Island - Dinoga- £29 17s. 5d. per ton.
Built at Walsh Island - Dilga - £29 17s. 5d. per ton.
Built at Walsh Island - Enoggera, Eurelia, Eromanga. - The cost of these vessels, which were built at Walsh Island, has not yet been furnished, but as far as can be ascertained at present, it is estimated that the cost to the Commonwealth will bc £29 10s. per ton. 2 and 3. This has not been done.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer-
– The Treasurer supplies the following answers : - 1. (a) Since the income tax was first enacted, 12,332.
The Deputy Commissioners cannot be authorized to give final and binding decision on questions not covered by general rulings from the central administration, as Deputy . Commissioners vary in their opinions as to the interpretation of the law. It is essential that every decision by the Department shall be observed throughout the Commonwealth, and Deputy Commissioners could not have authority for each other in that respect.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 31st August, vide page 11472) :
Schedule. division xiv. - vehicles.
Item 350 (Balls for cycle bearings) ; item 351 (Cycle, motor cycle and sidecar parts, n.e.i.) ; item 352 (Cycle, motor cycle and side parts, plated, &c.) ; agreed to.
Bicycles, tricycles, and similar vehicles n.e.i. . . each, British, 20s.; intermediate, 22s. 6d.; general, 25s.; or, ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Request (‘by Senator Gardiner) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the ad val. duties
– I hope that this request will not be agreed to. This is one of the items in the schedule in respect of which both specific and ad valorem duties are very necessary, since the quality of the materials embraced by it vary very much.
.- I think the system adopted in this case is absolutely wrong. The better the quality of the article, the greater is the amount paid under the ad valorem rates. The fixed duties, in my opinion, are ample.
Item agreed to.
Item 354 (Motor cycles) ; item 355 (Children’s tricycles and quadricycles) ; item 356 (Perambulator or go-cart parts, n.e.i.) ; item 357 (Perambulators and bodies therefor) ; and item 358 (Aeroplanes) ; agreed to.
Vehicles parts, viz.: -
Steel or iron wheels and steel-tyred wheels for use on railways and tramways, and all steel or iron parts for such wheels, including axles; ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 45 per cent.; general, 55 per cent.
…. And on and after 1st July,
) Chassis, but not including rubber tyres -
– I desire an explanation as to the reason for the extraordinarily high duties of 35 per cent., 45 per cent., and 55 per cent, imposed under sub-item b.
.- The InterState Commission recommended duties of 35 and 45 per cent., but since that recommendation was made the position has entirely changed. The Commission stated that the necessary raw material, in the shape of pig iron, must continue to be imported for some time, and that the tyres for the wheels must still be made’ abroad, but the Broken Hill Proprietary Company and Hoskins Limited are now producing all the pig iron required, and the manufacture of wheels and tyres has been undertaken by a number of Australian firms. For instance, Thompson and Company, of Castlemaine, have established a plant in which they specialize in steel tyres, and they have met with conspicuous success; the Commonwealth Steel Products Company, Sydney, has invested nearly £190,000 in works for the production of wheels, tyres and axles; Hadfields Limited, of Sheffield, England, have arranged with the Australian Electric Steel Company to manufacture tyres with steel centres as well as other railway material. The capital involved will run into something between £300,000 and £500,000. In view of the establishment of these industries, and the prospect that Australia will soon be able to produce all local requirements in these lines, the protective duties have been imposed. Prior to the war, we were entirely dependent on oversea supplies.
– If the duties have been imposed for the purpose of protecting an established industry, they are altogether too high, but if it is intended to give local’ manufacturers a complete monopoly, then the object will be attained. These articles, steelor iron wheels and steel tyred wheels for use on railways and tramways, are required almost entirely by the various States of the Commonwealth, and the imposition of these duties will unnecessarily retard the development of the country, which is very regrettable indeed. We all hope to see Australia become a great white nation, and, in order to preserve this country for the white races, it is necessary that we should people it. The duties in this item are virtually prohibitive, and . must necessarily be a serious handicap. Therefore, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (b). general, ad val., 45 per cent.
This will bring the duty in the general Tariff into line with the recommendations of the Inter-State Commission, and, if the Committee accepts it, I shall then request a reduction in the British and intermediate Tariffs by a like amount. Although the conditions have undoubtedly changed in recent years, the change has not been to the detriment of the Australian manufacturers, because we have been told over and over again that in these particular industries wages and the cost of production in Great Britain and Europe generally, with the exception of Germany, are considerably higher than before the war. Consequently, I can see no reason for these extraordinarily high duties.
– There is a good deal in Senator DrakeBrockman’s contention. Referring to the division Metals and’ Machinery, I find that quite a number of industries are burning out commodities essential for the development of Australia under duties that are slightly lower than in the request submitted by the honorable senator. In the majority of cases the maximum duty in the general Tariff is 40 per cent., as in the case of fishbolts, piping, &c. In the last Tariff this subitem was free British and 10 per cent, general. It is a far cry to 35 per cent. British and 55 per cent, general. The requested amendment is a reasonable one, and it ought to give adequate protection to the Australian industry.
– The request submitted by Senator Drake-Brockman is one which the Minister (Senator Pearce) might very well accept, because a duty of 55 per cent, in the general Tariff is prohibitive. I notice from trade journals that in the matter of transport facilities, we are side by side with China, which is the most backward nation in the world in this respect. Of course, I am not at all surprised, because this is what one might expect from a Protectionist policy, but I fail to understand why we should desire to continue in that position. Earlier in the debate on the Tariff schedule, I strongly advocated the advantages to be derived from admitting free all vehicles likely to be of use for war purposes, in order to insure cheap transport. From a defence point of view that would have been the proper thing to do, but the Government declined the suggestion, and, so far as I am Concerned, no defence items will now go through this Senate without my strong protest.
– But is it not far better to be in a position to make these vehicles in Australia?
– But why not suspend the duty until they are being made in Australia?
– They are being made now.
– The policy in this Tariff with regard to the deferred duties is to allow it to remain inoperative until the industry is sufficiently established to supply all reasonable requirements. Why not in this case? This trade journal also states that 72 per cent. of the motor vehicles in Australia are used in country districts, so that the tax upon this class of vehicles falls most heavily on those who are least able to bear it - the primary producers. I notice that whenever there is any conflict between the interests of the primary producers and those of the manufacturers the balance always goes down in favour of the latter. Why should not we have reasonable rates of duty? I would ask for a 50 per cent, reduction, but Senator Drake-Brockman has suggested a rate which is surely sufficient for even the most enthusiastic of Protectionists. It must be borne in mind that with the increase in the cost of material all over the world this is a growing duty. A rate of 45 per cent, to-day represents twice the actual amount of duty paid twenty years ago. I protest against the imposition of exorbitant duties. A rate of 55 per cent, is altogether too high, and is not calculated to be of any benefit to the community.
Question - That the request (Senator Drake-Brockman’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty sub-item (b), intermediate, ad val., 35 per cent.
I am asking for a reduction of 10 per cent, in the intermediate column, because I do not accept the vote just given as the final verdict of the Committee in this matter. I realize that many honorable senators, who are anxious to impose a heavy Tariff to guard against the possibility of importations from Germany, and even America, are also desirous of enabling the Government to: be in a position to negotiate in regard to the importations from other countries for the purpose of obtaining concessions in respect to the entry of Australian goods into those countries. The highest duty imposed in the majority of the iron items manufactured in this country is 35 per cent, in the intermediate column, and I am endeavouring to bring this duty into line with that rate.
– I suggest that the duty should be allowed to stand as it is.
– Will the Government be prepared to accept a reduction of the British preferential rate to 27½ per cent.?
– Not in regard to this sub-item. It does not affect the primary producers. Senator Gardiner was wrong in supposing that it applied to motor vehicle parts generally. It relates only to wheels and parts of wheels used by railways and tramways. The difference of 10 per cent, maintained between the intermediate column and the general column is a very valuable concession to any country with which we may make a reciprocal arrangement.
.- I freely admit that I made a mistake in dealing with motor vehicles on this sub-item, but the arguments I used are equally applicable to material required for facilitating railway communication, because the trouble with all the State railways at the present time is that owing to the high cost of material the lines cannot be run at a profit. Those States with the largest number of primary producers are most likely to be hit by this duty. To give Canada and other Dominions real preference, and to concede to Great Britain a greater measure of preference, would be only a fair thing.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I appeal to honorable senators to have some consideration for the British manufacturer as well as for the Australian user. I can understand why some honorable senators may have voted for the imposition of a high duty against the foreign manufacturer. I can appreciate that they considered a margin of 10 per cent, sufficient discretion to permit the Government to exercise. The Government have not displayed much discretion in dealing with this extraordinary schedule; so honorable senators who have just voted against my request were possibly in the right in refraining from permitting the Government to exercise a 20 per cent, margin for negotiation. I appeal now particularly on behalf of the great western State. Western Australia comprises nearly onethird of the continent. It is the least developed portion of the whole; and unless the empty spaces are opened up and developed, we cannot hope to hold the continent for the white people. This Parliament is piling high duty upon duty, and making it more and more difficult to throw open Western Australia’s closed areas. The argument does not apply only to Western Australia; it is equally applicable to vast portions of Queensland and South Australia, and to practically the whole of the Northern Territory. I am a Protectionist, and I believe that proper Protection should be given to Australian industries; but we should not build a prohibitive wall, and so prevent competition, and breed monopolies.
– There can be no monopoly while there are five firms competing.
– It is very easy for a little group of five to come to” an honorable understanding.” If the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) is so absurdly innocent of trade arrangements of the kind, I, at any rate, am not.Why should even thesefive firms be given a monopoly in respect of the materials essential to Australia’s development? I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-itein (b), British, ad vol., 27½ per cent.
– In this instance we are giving Great Britain a 20 per cent, preference, which is very substantial, and as great as has been given in any other instance. Senator Drake-Brockman entirely shuts his eyes to what happened in Australia during the war period, when he speaks of war purposes and defence. If it had not been for the establishment of certain Australian industries on a firm basis the transAustralian Railway would not be completed to-day.
– Our development would have been in the hands of people abroad.
– It would. As Minister for Defence I had to control the priority of contracts and negotiate with British Ministers concerning the order in which they were to be handled. It was pitiable during the earlier stages of the war, when Britain was so hard pressed in the manufacture of munitions, to realize that, in sending Home orders for articles of this character, which should have been manufactured here, we were impeding her war efforts. But to-day we can supply ourselves with these articles. During 1920 only £138,000 worth were imported. The protection of this industry is essential for war purposes, and on the very grounds the honorable senator mentioned; When he speaks of development he should remember that, in the interests of the Commonwealth, it is better to have local supplies of these articles at our disposal. I cannot accept the request.
– What the Minister (Senator Pearce) has said concerning the position we found ourselves in during the war is quite correct; but his statement does not affect the attitude adopted by Senator DrakeBrockman.
– It is very applicable.
– How can it be when we compare the articles mentioned in this item with those of a similar character which were dealt with somewhat exhaustively some time ago ? The wheels for locomotives and rolling-stock generally are of no use whatever unless we have an adequate supply of other accessories. We have been dealing with the other items in an earlier portion of the Tariff, on which a British preferential duty of 27½ per cent, was fixed. We have fixed that rate on fishplates, switches, crossovers, and intersections which are just as essential as wheels, and that duty was considered ample in order to protect local industries.
– But very little labour is required in their production.
– I am supporting Senator Drake-Brockman because I think all these articles should be dutiable at the same rate, and I have not yet heard one word that justifies such an enormous increase over the duties already agreed to on items used for similar purposes. I trust that the Committee will carry the request, so that wheels shall be dutiable at the same rate asother similar material.
– I would not have spoken again but for the insinuation by the Minister (Senator Pearce) that I was desirous of destroying this very essential Australian industry. I do not desire anything of the kind. I recognise with the Minister that, in the interests of defence, it is necessary to protect this industry; but I am not satisfied that it is advantageous to Australia to provide conditions which will’ assist in the creation of monopolies. I believe that sufficient protection should be given to maintain the industry; but I have not heard one word from the Minister to justify this very high impost against Great Britain. All the objects which the Minister has mentioned - and with which I thoroughly agree - would be satisfactorily achieved by the imposition of a lower duty. In moving that the British preferential rate be reduced to 27½ per cent., I am allowing a very large margin of safety. I resent the insinuation of the Minister, that I have no regard - that is what he meant - for the defence requirements of Australia; because I am prepared to make sacrifices to assist in adequately protecting Australia. The Minister, however, should remember that the first line of defence for Australia is people, and not iron. If we have not sufficient population, how can we defend Australia? That is the position, and we cannot get away from it. I am strongly in favour of railway material being made available at reasonable prices, so that we may develop our vacant spaces. Unless we do that we cannot hope to defend this country. Therefore, in the interests of the defence of Australia, I appeal for a reasonable and not a prohibitive duty.
Question - That the request (Senator Drake-Brockman’s) be agreed to - put.
The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
– In dealing with paragraph 4 of sub-item d an alteration in the measure of British preference originally proposed was made in another place. As originally introduced the Tariff gave a clear preference of 10 per cent, to Great Britain, but, in accordance with an amendment carried in another place, on. and after the 1st July last that preference was reduced to 5 per cent. I desire to have the preference to Great Britain on unassembled chassis restored to 10 per cent., and for that purpose I am prepared to move that unassembled chassis should be admitted free from Great Britain and be dutiable in the intermediate Tariff at 5 per cent. , whilst I would leave the general Tariff as proposed in the schedule. On assembled chassis I am prepared to move that the duty in the British preferential column be reduced from7½ per cent, to 2½ per cent., that in the intermediate column from 10 per cent, to7½ per cent., and I would leave the duty in the general column as it stands. If all these proposals do not meet with the approval of the Minister I shall be satisfied if such alterations are made as will give imports from Great Britain a clear preference of 10 per cent, over imports under the general Tariff.
– I think that the British preference should be 10 per cent., but I would prefer to retain the proposed duty of 5 per cent, on unassembled chassis in the British preferential column, and increase the duty in the general Tariff to 15 per cent. I think that these chassis should bear some taxation. It should be remembered that, as a general rule, the British car is a higherpriced car than the American, and it would, therefore, be wiser to increase the rate of duty on the American car. If the duty on the British and American cars were the same the revenue collected on the American car would be only about one-half of the revenue collected on the British car. In the circumstances, if Senator Pratten will submit a request for an increase in the duty in the general Tariff from 10 per cent, to 15 per cent. I will accept that.
– I am in entire agreement with the Minister (Senator Pearce) that motor car chassis should bear some taxation. I accept the Minister’s suggestion, and move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (d), paragraph 4 (a), general, ad val., 15 per cent.
A consequential alteration will be necessary in dealing with paragraph 4 (b) where the duty in the intermediate column should be raised from 10 per cent, to 12½ per cent., and in the general column from 12½ per cent, to 17½ per cent.
– I had expected a vigorous protest against this proposal from all parts of the Chamber.
-brockman. - What is the use of protesting against any increase in the duties?
– It is universally admitted that every encouragement should be given to the use of the motor vehicle. In other countries of the world it is recognised that, in connexion with commercial undertakings, the use of motor vehicles is essential.
– Is the honorable senator aware that factories for the manufacture of chassis are to be established here ?
– I do not think that it is worth while to discuss the sub-item from that point of view. It was admitted in another place, and, I think, will be admitted here, that at present we are compelled to import chassis for motor vehicles.
– They are being assembled here.
– The Minister is now supporting a proposed increase in the duty on unassembled chassis.
– Yes, for the reasons I have given.
– Any increase in the taxation on this sub-item will, I am sure, be resented throughout the Commonwealth.
– By whom?
– By the people generally. I am not suggesting that it would be resented by the man who has three or four motor cars for his own pleasure. We know that the use of motor vehicles has assisted in the development of the back country to a greater extent than any other means of locomotion we have had. Men settled at a distance from centres of population are satisfied to remain where they are, merely be cause they have been able to secure a motor vehicle at a reasonable price, in which they can come to the nearest centre to transact their business. I had no idea that Senator Pratten would fall in o completely with the Minister’s suggestion. I should have been prepared to support a request for a reduction of the duties in the British preferential and intermediate columns, but I hope that the request new before the Committee will not be agreed to.
– I wish to protest against any increase in the duty in the intermediate column on chassis unassembled. I do so for the reason that we are not making chassis here, and that if we bring in the parts unassembled a lot of employment is provided in putting them together. Another reason why I oppose the request is that, in this vast, almost empty, country of magnificent distances, it should be our object to make means of transport as cheap as possible. How are we to induce people to live in the back-blocks unless we give them reasonable means of transport? In America, practically every farmer has a car ; but here we pile duties on almost everything the farmer uses, and so increase the cost of his requirements. No good purpose will be served by increasing these duties. On the contrary, by doing so, we shall penalize those who are helping to develop our empty spaces. No one is anxious to cheapen the price of motor cars to the rieh, who can afford to keep several for use on our good city roads. My plea is for those who have to use this means of transport in order to earn a living. Doctors, for instance, must have motor cars, and practically every agent in a country town needs one in order that he may make sales and assist in developing the country. To say that people out-back should be thus penalized is utterly wrong.
– Do the farmers out-back purchase motor cars?
– We should put motor cars within their reach. I invite honorable senators to compare the price of a Ford car in America and Canada, where practically every farmer has a car, with the prices prevailing here.
– These duties are not responsible for the difference.
– They help to build up the increased cost. Why should we continually harass the people out-back who must have motor transport, not only for their produce, but to enable the sick and the injured to receive prompt medical assistance? I agree that luxurious motor bodies should be highly taxed. We are building motor bodies in Australia, and it is our duty to protect that industry,. But this sub-item relates to unassembled chassis, which we do not make here. I should be inclined to view more favorably a proposition of this kind if it related to assembled parts; but I am strongly opposed to this request for additional taxation in respect of unassembled parts that are not made here, but the introduction of which provides more employment for our own people.
– I was delighted with the original suggestion made by Senator Pratten; but I do not approve of the way in which he has amended it at the suggestion of the Minister (Senator Pearce). I was also interested to note that, after we had had three divisions on requests relating to sub-item b, Senator Pratten suddenly woke up, and inquired what item we were discussing. That probably is the only explanation for the extraordinary votes he gave on the divisions in question. I listened, also, with interest to the protests made by Senator Guthrie against this attempt to make more difficult the lot of the man in the back country. Here we have once more a proposal to impose still heavier burdens on those who are developing our country. Such a proposal was, naturally, hailed with delight by Ministers. One has only to suggest an increased duty and they rush at it like a puppy at a lot of rats.. They have no consideration for the men most deserving of it. I agree with Senator Guthrie, that motor cars used for pleasure only should be well taxed. I should not object to almost prohibitive duties on such cars, but it is wrong to pile up taxation in this way on men who have to use motor cars for business purposes. The cheaper we can make motor transport for developmental and business purposes the better. I am sorry that Senator Pratten has fallen a victim to the wiles of the Minister, and has agreed to alter the form of his request. I hope that he will not persist with it in its amended form. If he does I shall vote against it.
– The remarks made by Senator Drake-Brockman were not in the direction of conciliation, and his personal observations were quite uncalled for. I was fully alive to what was going on in connexion with the request moved by him, and but for my desire to avoid unnecessary debate I should have reminded him at the time that Thompson and Company, of Castlemaine, and Goininan, of Newcastle, deserve some consideration for the work they did during the war. Apart from, that fact I would point out that we have heard nothing about the Rolls-Royce motor cars or the very expensive cars from America that are used almost entirely for pleasure.
– Tax them as much as you like.
– They are all covered by this sub-item.
– They are. We have heard nothing concerning the man who keeps three or four motor ‘cars for pleasure.
– Hit him as hard as you like.
– If the honorable senator will show me how we can further discriminate between the two classes, I will withdraw my request.
– Ad valorem duties are imposed in this case, so that we are discriminating between the two.’
– Yes, as far as we can. I do not think we ought to place a premium on the luxurious user of motor cars. I do not know how we are to achieve our object, except in the way suggested by the Minister.
– The Ford car will not have to pay too much duty under this proposal.
– Of course not. I stand for the taxing of luxuries and also for the obtaining of a reasonable amount of revenue through the Customs in order to avoid other taxation, and it* seems to me that the suggestion made by the Minister, and accepted by me, offers a reasonable way out for all parties. After these two sub-items have been dealt with I shall submit a proposal relating to chassis haVing a carrying capacity of 25 cwt. and over, to be used solely for the purpose of lorries,- vans, and char-a-bancs which will, if carried, cheapen that class of vehicle which does so much to meet the requirements of country people.
– I should not have spoken but for certain observations made by Senator Elliott and Senator Pratten. Senator Elliott, by interjection, suggested that additional protection was necessary in order to encourage the local manufacture of chassis. In reply to that statement I would draw attention to the following remarks in regard to -this very matter which were made in another place by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) -
I have talked over this matter with a number of people who are in a position to advise me, and they say that if we could adopt one standard type of car that would meet all the requirements ‘of the .people, we could Jay down si plant and manufacture it economically at a very reasonable price. However, as things stand to-day, that cannot be done. It is impossible for Australia at. the present time to talk about a deferred duty on motor cars.
That statement by the Minister is a complete answer to the suggestion that it is necessary to impose a higher duty on unassembled parts. Senator Pratten remarked that his request offered a way out for all parties. There is no difficulty to be overcome except that raised by the honorable senator himself. The duty which he proposes to increase was carried on the motion of the Minister for Trade and Customs. The records show that he moved-
That the item be amended by adding after sub-item (d4) the following : - “ And on and after 1st July, 1921, . . . British, 5 per cent. ; intermediate, 7$ per cent.; general, 10 per cent.”
It will thus be seen that there is no difficulty to be overcome. I ask the Committee to agree to the retention of the duties as .they stand in the schedule. In the interests of the development of Australia, we should reject the request.
– I am rather surprised that Senator Pratten should have accepted the suggestion made on behalf of the Government. He began very well, but finished miserably. I cannot understand this proposal to increase the duty under the general Tariff. I agree with Senator Drake-Brockman that it will mean an additional burden on those who are trying to develop the large empty spaces of the Commonwealth. We are asked to increase the duty under the general Tariff from 10 per cent, to 15 per cent. Such an increase will fall heavily on American parts. These motor parts are not. made here, as is shown by the fact that the - Government provided only “for a revenue duty of 10 per cent. If the Government want to raise revenue they should not seek to do so at the expense of our pioneers. The burden should be placed fairly on the shoulders of every one. We have been told that these duties will be effective against the owners of the Rolls-Royce, and other expensive makes of motor cars. If the Government want to get at them, the income tax mesh can be made fine enough to do that. The ordinary man, the pioneer, the mail contractors, and the farmers, should not be burdened by these duties, because they are the people who use the commoner type of car, and if their spare parts are taxed in this way they will be very severely handicapped. The Minister (Senator Pearce) has suggested that the ad valorem duty will equalize the burden. It will do nothing of the kind. A duty of 10 per cent, falls more heavily upon a man of moderate means than upon a man in easy circumstances, and this duty will hit hardest the class of men who require the most encouragement. If we had some compensation in the way of an established manufacturing industry for spare parts in Australia I could understand the reason for this duty, but we have not, and the Tariff is a revenue duty, pure and simple. It is like beating the air to try and get reasonable duties in this Tariff. Therefore, I must content myself with a formal protest against this iniquitous tax. Even the most purblind Protectionist cannot pretend that this duty, which Senator Pratten has now moved shall be increased to 15 per cent., will be protective in its effect. What have the pioneers done that they should deserve this punishment from the Protectionists of this country? The proposal to give the Mother Country preference is quite right, but I object to the consumers being called upon to pay more than their fair share. Let the burden be borne equally by all classes. What has the pioneer farmer, or the mail contractor, clone that Senator Pratten should desire to saddle him with this iniquitous impost? Senator Pratten comes from a highly-developed State. It has done very well under Protection, and he should have some consideration for other States that are not so highly developed. His State benefited very considerably from my vote in this Chamber. There were representatives of New South Wales, six of them, who practically wore a track across the chamber resisting duties that were being imposed in the first Tariff, which made New South Wales as prosperous as she is to-day. On every occasion my vote was cast for protective duties; and how is he treating Western Australia . in return ? In this case, however, the duty is not protective at all. It is for revenue purposes, pure and simple, and will be a very serious handicap upon men engaged in opening up our back country. Unfortunately, many honorable senators forget their hard lot. Even the President (Senator Givens) feels the Government halter, and every time he gets a chance he comes in to vote for the most iniquitous duties.
– You move to make the item free and I will vote with you.
– I will do so in order to get the President’s vote.
Question- That the request (Senator Pratten’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Senator Lynch) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (d), paragraph (4a), general, ad val., free.
– I point out to the Committee that this request, if agreed to, would allow unassembled parts of limousines, landaulettes, and RollsRoyce cars to be imported free and assembled here. Let there be no mistake about this. In spite of all this nonsense we have heard about the development of the back-blocks with motor cars, I have never seen motor cars developing the backblocks of this country, but I have seen the bullock dray. This request will have the effect of allowing luxuries to escape free of duty. The item can very well stand the rate of duty fixed in the schedule.
.- I just want to say a word or two in the interests of those who are developing the back country. It is quite true, as the Minister (Senator Pearce) has said, that development in the past has been by means of the bullock dray. That is one reason why we find it so difficult to get men to go on to our back country. Is it right that we should say to the young soldiers who are being sent into the back country in thousands, in some cases 15 and 16 miles away from a railway station, that they are to have none of these conveniences? Our most urgent need is population. We have plenty of fine manhood and womanhood available, and it should be our purpose to give our pioneers whatever facility is available, in order to insure their comfort and convenience. We should not suggest that the bullock dray is quite good enough for the back-country man.
– I did not say that.
– No; but that was the import of the Minister’s suggestion. His argument is that, in order to impose a duty on the owners of Rolls-Royce cars, there should be a Tariff on unassembled parts of motor cars, which are so essential for the development of our back country. If there were hundreds of thousands more motor cars in our country districts, our primary industries would give employment to thousands of additional men and women, thus adding wealth to the country, while at the same time affording a greater measure of comfort to our outback settlers. I have spent years and years in the back country. On one occasion I was driving a ten-horse team on a road where there was a gap of 80 miles’ from water to water. I have seen bullock teams drawing lonely settlers into townships to witness football or cricket matches. Many of these men are not on the land to-day. There was too much drudgery for the women, and the children never knew what comfort was. Are we to ask our returned soldiers to adopt the bullock waggon as a means of transit?
The Minister (Senator Pearce) talks of letting Rolls-Royce machines in free; but these men want cheap cars which will enable them to enjoy the ordinary comforts of life, to reach the nearest towns, churches or schools, and particularly the nearest medical men. In Victoria there are 4,000 returned soldiers endeavouring to establish homes for themselves on the land, and most of them are 12 or 14 miles from the nearest doctor. Those who have gone over these rugged roads, as I have done, under adverse circumstances, know that they are very often nothing but sandhills and stumps.
– A motor car would not traverse such roads.
– They will do so. I have travelled thousands of miles over these roads in motor cars. Years ago I visited every closer settlement in Victoria, and what the big cars could not negotiate the Ford car would. There was never an instance of an obstacle which we could not surmount with the cheaper type of car.
.- - What Senator Plain has said is perfectly true, but I do not think that it applies to the duty in the general column. I would support a reduction in the British and intermediate columns, but I do not see why we should throw open our markets to German or American trade. Very soon the German trade will become a serious menace to our manufacturers here, and undo the good work our soldiers went abroad to do.
– If Senator Lynch’s request is agreed to, it will mean that all hope of giving preference to British . manufacturers will disappear, and it will throw open the Australian market to cars from America, Belgium, and Germany, when we resume trade with the last-mentioned country.
– What about a little bit of preference to the poor devil in the back country ?
– I cannot understand the attitude of some honorable senators. Time after time in the debate on this Tariff we have been told that the “ poor fellow in the back country “ can scarcely afford to buy a. suit of clothes, but now we hear that he wants a motor car. The Committee has swallowed without protest the duties on motor bodies.
– Because they are built here.
– Now we are setting about to dissipate all possible hope of giving preference to Great Britain and to give an advantage to a country which itself has a duty of 33½ per cent, on chassis.
Question - That the request (Senator Lynch’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Lynch) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives he requested to make the duty, sub-item (d), paragraph (4a), British and intermediate, free.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (d), paragraph (46), intermediate, ad val., 7½ per cent.
If this request is agreed to I shall move to have the British preferential rate reduced to 2½ per cent., thus observing a margin of 10 per cent, between the British rate and the general rate of 12½ . per cent., which I do not propose to disturb.
– I ask the Committee to reject the request. There is not too much protection afforded by the schedule as it stands. The assembling of parts of motors is a substantial Australian industry.
Request (by Senator Pratten) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (d), 46, British, ad val., 2½ per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I am not quite sure under which sub-item there are included chassis having a carrying capacity of 25 cwt. and over, motor lorries, chars-a-banc, and the like; and I do not perceive how they will be affected by the proposed requests. I desire the inclusion of a new sub-item to specifically cover these heavy vehicles.
-The Committee has already dealt with the duties. If the honorable senator had desired the inclusion of a new sub-item he should have taken the opportunity to present his request when the Committee was dealing with the verbiage of the item, prior to devoting attention to the duties.
– May I ask under what rates of duties heavy vehicles such as lorries and chars-a-banc will be included ?
– Chassis will come under the paragraph just dealt with.
– These heavy vehicles are complete.
– Then they will be dutiable as assembled vehicles, the rates on which have been discussed. The Committee has also dealt with chassis, and has requested that they be admitted free.
– Paragraph 4 of sub-item d deals with chassis only; that is to say, with the machinery of the motor vehicle.
– The whole of the remainder is dealt with under paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of sub-item d. Motor lorries and the like are not anywhere provided for as completed and separate vehicles, but they are dutiable in separate form.
– At any rate, the duty is very heavy. I desire to request the inclusion of a new sub-item.
– The honorable senator may not do so. I have already ruled, more than once, that any new sub-item or paragraph must be requested before the actual duties are considered by the Committee.
– May I ask if the following addition will be in order: -
Chassis having a carrying capacity of 25 cwt. or over, for use solely as a lorry, van, bus, or char-a-banc.
– The proposed subitem will not be in order. Its effect might be to qualify other sub-items and rates of duty which have already been dealt with.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Item 360 (Vehicles n.e.i.) agreed to. division xv. musical instruments.
Item 361 (Musical instruments, parts, and accessories), item 362 (Military band and. orchestral instruments), item 363 (Metal pipes for pipe organs), and item 364 (Pipe organs), agreed to.
And on and after 6th July, 1921 -
Pianos and Player Pianos -
.- The rates upon pianos, as originally proposed by the Government, were, respectively, 30 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent. An amendment was inserted elsewhere, however, reducing the rates to 20 per cent., 30 per cent., and 35 per cent. I intend to request the re-insertion of the rates as they first appeared in the schedule. I now move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the ad val. duty, sub-item (a), general, 45 per cent.
The Government consider that the duties decided upon elsewhere are inconsistent in a Protectionist Tariff. They are not now protective; they are simply productive of high revenues.
– Does not a duty of 35 per cent, give protection?
– Its imposition will not effectively protect the’ Australian piano manufacturing industry, but will open it up to competition with cheap Continental instruments. Numbers of honorable senators have visited factories in which Australian pianos are made. They will agree that these places would be a credit to any country. The works employ a very fine type of artisan, and utilize Australian materials almost entirely. I refer especially to the employment of Australian timbers. The Australian makers turn out a piano of which this country has no reason to be ashamed.
– And they charge a jolly good price, too.
– Only such a price as enables the makers to carry on with reasonable profit. What country would be our principal competitor if protection were not afforded? Germany, without doubt. The industry was pre-eminently a German one prior to the war. It was the war, and the effect of the Australian Tariff, which gave the local industry an opportunity to become established. Germany, to-day, is preparing to attack and regain the Australian market. Any reduction of the rates of duty, therefore, would be tantamount to an invitation to the foreign makers to recover the Australian trade.
– Are the Government prepared to re-impose the general duty, but to reduce the preferential rates?
– No ! Great Britain will be given preference to the extent of 15 per cent, over, Germany. British makers are largely to blame, by reason of their own negligence and bad commercial practices, for having lost the piano trade to Germany.
– Have not the British piano factories recently sustained a severe financial blow, so that numbers of well-known firms have had to cease their activities?
– That is so; and it is due to the revival of the Continental trade. Australia is giving substantial preference to Great Britain; but our first duty is to our own interests. Very few industries employ such a large proportion of adult skilled labour. In most of our factories there are to be found a few skilled hands, and a great proportion of unskilled and, often, juvenile labour. In our piano factories, however, practically every employee - young or old - must possess some degree of special skill and knowledge.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– I intend to support the increase of the duties adopted in another place so that the rates originally proposed by the Government after, I understand, the very fullest inquiry by the Customs officials and with the full knowledge of the facts as revealed to them from all sources, may be restored. The lower duties are not sufficient to achieve the purpose for which they are imposed, that is, the giving of effective protection to an important local industry and the shutting out of German pianos, which come into competition with the locally-manufactured instruments, and which prior to the war were largely sold in every State in the Commonwealth. Before proceeding to examine the position from that stand-point, I desire to direct attention to the importance of the piano-making industry to Australia. We have two important factories in Australia, one in Melbourne and one in Sydney, and I shall confine my remarks more particularly to the Sydney factory conducted by Beale and Company, and show the extent of its operations, the number of hands employed, and the amount of wages paid. I also desire to discuss very briefly the profits made by that concern, and to prove that they arel not excessive, whatever are the prices charged for the finished instruments, in view of the high cost of raw material. This factory is to-day employing 560 operatives, practically every one of whom is receiving the highest wage that it is possible to pay in this industry. The operatives are highly skilled, and are working amicably with their employers. It is well known throughout New South Wales that the employees of Beale and Company’s factory have been treated so well that there has never been a strike. The firm employs a large number of returned soldiers; and, when visiting the factory a few weeks ago, 1 was astounded, to see the extent of their operations and the high standard of the work they are performing. I believe it is one of the most np-to-date factories in Australia. Much of the up-to-date machinery employed was made on the premises, and, generally, the work is of the highest quality. In fact, the factory is a good example to other industrial undertakings throughout the Commonwealth. A great deal has been said concerning the profits that other manufacturers are making in Australia, and they have been quoted as a reason for inducing honorable senators to favour lower duties. I have here a certificate from one of the best known Sydney accountants - Messrs. Brierly and Brierly, of Pitt-street, Sydney - showing that the dividends paid by Beale and Company, over a period of years, averages 3.S3 per cent, on the capital invested in the company.
– That is at the factory, not at the shops.
– To say that that is an exorbitant profit, and that the purchasers are paying more than ought to be exacted from them is not dealing justly with the firm. Beale and Company have been successful in establishing a very big industry, and most of the profits made from time to time have gone back into the business for extending the plant and building up a trade that will be sufficient, not. only to supply the Australian market, but also to enable them to export. I have been shown an advertisement which has appeared in American trade journals which has been put forward as affording proof that Beale and Company are exporting pianos to America for sale in that country. If the Customs records are examined it will , be found that this firm has not exported one piano to America. Certain trade arrangements have been made with American houses using Beale and Company’s patents, which enable American manufacturers to use these patents in exchange for which Beale and Company utilize certain American right?. In these circumstances it is necessary for Beale and Company to advertise in America to show the American people that theirs is a reputable concern in an active way of business, and to prove to them that the patents used in the instruments are satisfactory. When we hear of the profits the Australian manufacturers are making we should examine the position of the piano importers.
– If the importer is making money the manufacturer must be making more.
– I have quoted from the certificate of a reputable firm of accountants, the accuracy of which cannot be challenged, which proves that Beale and Company are not making huge profits. I shall, however, show that the importers have been making the profits. The Sydney firm of Paling and Company claim that for the first five months of this year their sales were at the rate of £600,000 per annum, and that their output is increasing every year. For some years past this firm has been able to distribute, in cash, profits averaging 10 per cent, per annum.
– The importers have ?
– Yes. I have quoted the figures concerning the business of Paling and Company, as against those of a local firm which has had to build up a big factory and utilize its energy and ability in organizing the industry. What employment does the importer give to our Australian people? The local manufacturers engage Australian operatives, and those operatives rear families who will be of assistance in developing and defending Australia. On the other hand, the piano importers - I do not wish to say anything against men who are conducting reputable businesses - do not give onefiftieth of the employment that the Australian manufacturer provides. The future position is a serious one, and I desire to show that the duties proposed by the Government are necessary if we are to keep this industry on a proper basis. It is not a question of whether we should assist in reducing the profits of the local manufacturer by imposing lower duties, but whether our factories are to be closed. The condition of affairs on the other side of the world is such that, unless we impose an effective duty, there will be such heavy importations of cheap pianos that it will be impossible for the local factories to continue. I shall give one instance - my information has been received from a reliable source - to show what is happening. I have in my possession a letter signed by the secretary of Paling and Company, who points out in response to certain inquiries, that the firm rents premises in George-street, Sydney, for which they pay £2,500 per annum. They pay regular dividends, and maintain material reserves. Their turnover has improved year by year, and for the first five months of 1921 it exceeded £250,000. The secretary declined to furnish anything in the nature of a balance-sheet; but when we realize that the turnover of one company was £250,000 in five months, it will be admitted that it is time we gave adequate protection to the local manufacturers.
– Can the honorable senator say what the importations have been ?
– I have not the exact figures, but the turnover of one firm was valued at £250,000 for the first five months of this year.
– Perhaps they did not make a profit.
– They have paid dividends of 10 per cent., and, in addition, have been able to build up material reserves - that information has been supplied by the secretary of the company. These are hard facts which cannot be disputed. I desire to turn from the present position to the future. From whom do we fear competition? “What country is likely to compete with the local manufacturers ?
– We do not fear America at all; but we do fear Germany. I have seen only to-day an authoritative statement - I have not seen the original - from a firm in Germany offering 1,000 pianos, slightly used - I wish honorable senators to note that - at exceedingly low rates, for export to Australia. Where did these pianos come from? The exporters offered to place certain names upon them which were not German. Purchasers would have the right of selecting good old British names. What is the object in endeavouring to delude the people of Australia into believing that they would be purchasing British pianos ? They may have been acquired in circumstances which need not be mentioned; but I think we know what those circumstances were.
– What was the price?
– About one-fifth of the present rate.
– But what was the figure?
– Approximately £25. In the later stages of the war and since the signing of the armistice, Germany has experienced troublous times. We know the Germans are musical people.
– Is Mr. Beale a German ?
– He is not a German; and is not associated in any way with Germany. Not only Mr. Beale’s sons, but many of his employees, went to the other side and helped to fight the Germans. Mr. Beale employs a number of disabled Australians who were shattered at the Front, who have suffered from wounds, and from the inhuman treatment meted out to them whilstthey were prisoners of war. These are the men for whom some honorable senators have such tender regard. I have given evidence that the Germans are again bent upon an effort to flood the Australian market with German pianos.
– The honorable senator will gain nothing by these extreme statements.
– I have not made extreme statements.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise to oppose any increase of the duty of 35 per cent, on pianos agreed to by the House of Representatives. Senator Duncan in a very good speech argued that a duty of 35 per cent, is not a protective duty. I have the highest regard for Beale and Company and Wertheim and Company. I know that they employ a great number of persons, and treat their employees well. Senator Duncan told us that Beale and Company employ 560 persons, but I know of two firms importing pianos who employ 600 employees, so that the honorable senator’s argument, based on the amount of employment given in this industry, can be set on one side. Senator Duncan informed us that the profits made by Beale and Company represent only about 4 per cent. That may be the profit on their factories; but it has to be remembered that whilst on, their balancesheets the factories might show no profit at all, the firm might still be making huge profits because the factories send the pianos into their shops, where they are sold to the public of Australia at” an exorbitant price. Everything that Senator Duncan has said about the low profits made by piano manufacturers is entirely disproved by a prospectus issued by Beale and Company, on the 30th July, 1920, when they were floating still another piano company to operate in Queensland. Although the excellent firms to which I have referred built up their huge establishments for the manufacture of pianos in Australia under Free Trade, I am still prepared to support the duty of 35 per cent, adopted in another place, which, taken in conjunction with the cost of freight on pianos, which amounts to £18 each, represents an enormous protection. In the prospectus issued by Beale and Company they say -
In order to meet every commercial demand for their products it has been decided to form a separate company, and a certificate of public accountants is appended to this prospectus, stating that the company is earning sufficient to pay steady and comfortable dividends, and that considerably more than 7£ per cent, can be paid on- the ordinary capital after paying 7£ per cent, on the preferred capital.
Senator Duncan informed us that Beale and Company were making less than 4 per cent, profit : but, according to their own prospectus, they can make 1 per cent, comfortably, and could easily make more. The prospectus continues’ -
The Sydney company’s annual earnings during nine and three-quarter years, to 3rd April last, have averaged considerably more than twice the amount necessary to cover the yearly dividend upon £100,000 preference shares.
– Trying to float a company and trying to secure a duty are two very different things.
– I am showing that there is nothing in Senator Duncan’s contention that the Beale Company are not making good profits. I have no objection to local makers of pianos making a good thing out of the business, but I do not desire that they should be allowed to build up a, monopoly. If we impose an exorbitant rate of duty the effect will be to build up two monopolies in this country to the detriment of every householder who desires to obtain even a cottage piano. I have every desire to encourage the manufacture of pianos, although personally I look upon them as instruments of torture.
I find that in 1914 a piano costing at the factory £20 paid a duty of 40 per cent., amounting to £8 16s. To-day the same piano costs at the factory £50, and a duty of 35 per cent, would amount to £19 5s. In addition to that, we have to remember that the freight amounts to £18 per piano, which is a great natural protection to the local manufacturers. Pianos to-day are sold at extraordinarily high prices. In 1903 the cheapest piano was sold at 45 guineas. I am referring to pianos manufactured by the splendid company to which Senator Duncan would like to give a monopoly. In 1911 the price was 55 guineas, in 1914 65 guineas, and to-day it is 120 guineas.
– Costs of production have increased enormously, and other prices have gone up in the same way.
– Costs of production have not increased in anything like the ratio indicated by the figures I have quoted. I want to give honorable senators some idea of the protection now afforded to local manufacturers of pianos. In the case of a piano of the value of £32 18s. 4d., allowing for exchange, freight and other charges, plus the duty of 35 per cent, proposed by the Government, the actual protection afforded the local manufacturers is 130 per cent.
– Against whom ?
– Against manufacturers of pianos in any other part of the world. In the case of piano players, which come under the same item, the duty, plus freight and charge, amounts to 99 per cent. I am not against theAustralian manufacturers, but I do not desire monopolies, which I regard as dangerous, to be created. The cost of a piano before the war was about one quarter of what it is to-day. The exorbitant price of 100 guineas for a comparatively inferior piano is not a fair thing. I have shown that importing firms actually employ more labour than is employed by the two factories manufacturing pianos in Australia. Allan and Company and Paling and Company employ over 600 hands.
– They do not sell pianos only.
– The local manufacturersdo not sell only their pianos. The factory balance-sheets do not show the profits on their pianos. It may be that they do not want to show a profit. The factories supply the shops carried on by the manufacturers, and in those shops the people are charged more than double what it costs to make the pianos. I have said that the industry was built up under Free Trade, and yet some honorable senators propose that the duty of 35 per cent, should be increased to 45 per cent. I have shown that Beale and Company, in their own prospectus, admit that they are making double the profit necessary to pay a good dividend of per cent. In the circumstances, I cannot see why we should be asked to increase this duty and give them a monopoly. Senator Duncan has said that we are going to be swamped with pianos from Germany. None of the importing firms want those pianos. As a matter of fact, most of the imported pianos are coming from America, and have been for some time.
– Of course, because we were at war with Germany.
– I want honorable senators to remember that the industry here has a natural protection in freight alone of £18 per piano. Surely a duty of 35 per cent, in addition should give sufficient protection. These people are not philanthropists, and I draw attention to the fact that, not only are they making splendid profits here, but they are advertising their pianos for sale in America. I have a copy of a New York publication The Music Trader, dated 21st July, 1920, in which is a big advertisement offering Beale and Company’s pianos for sale in that country.
– Good luck to them !
– That is all right, but Senator Duncan tried to make out that their factories would have to close down if the duty was not increased.
– Beale and Company are not selling their pianos in America.
– Then we are invited to believe that they are throwing away money upon advertisements in American newspapers. They are also advertising in Canada. Either they expect to sell their pianos in America and Canada or they are making such a lot of money here that they are in a position to throw some of it away and charge it to legitimate expenses for advertising. Why is the company advertising in New York and in Canada] Senator Duncan has never been in America, but I have, and I know that standing advertisements in American newspapers cost a small fortune. When Peale and Company advertise their pianos there either they can undersell American pianos in the American market, after paying £18 each in the way of freight, or their profits here are so good that they can afford to spend a lot of money in advertising their pianos in foreign countries. Many people might consider a piano a luxury, and apparently one cannot be bought in Australia under 100 guineas.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– The request moved by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) in so far as it relates to the duty under the general Tariff will have my support. I have received from both sides a great number of communications in regard to this matter, and each side adduces the most convincing arguments : in the one case that increased duties are necessary, and in the other that they are unnecessary. I gained before the war, however, a little personal knowledge with regard to the importation of pianos, and I pay more attention to that experience of my own than to the communications I have received from the importers and manufacturers. In Western Australia, before the war, there was a German importer of pianos who was subsequently interned by direction of the Minister for Defence. This gentleman used to indulge in a considerable amount of litigation, and it was because of that tendency on his part that I discovered something about his business and everything relating to his importations. I learned that he was able to land German pianos in Western Au /tralia at prices varying from £10 to £22, and that he sold them to the Western Australian public at prices varying from £60 to £86. I believe that, at that time, Beale’ s pianos were selling up to about £60 and as low as £48, but I am not quite sure of those figures. With a protective duty of 40 per cent, in operation at that time, German pianos could be landed in Western Australia at £22 and sold to the public at £86. Let us examine the situation to-day. Senator Guthrie says “that the local industry has a natural plus an artificial protection amounting to 130 per cent. It will be remembered, as against that statement, that the value of the German mark to-day per £1 sterling is far below what it was before the war. Before the war, 20 marks went to the £1 sterling, whereas to-day 312 marks go to the £1 sterling.
– We are dealing with a Tariff, and not with a Bill relating to exchange matters.
– I am trying to show the honorable senator that his assertion with regard to a natural and artificial protection of 130 per cent, is not correct. It might be if conditions were normal ; but they are not, and are not likely to be for a number of years. We cannot get away from the fact that there has been this decrease in the value of the German mark, and that, although wages in Germany may have increased, they have increased in marks, and not in pounds sterling. When we compare the cost of pianos produced in Germany with the cost of those manufactured in Australia or elsewhere, we have to remember the relative values of the mark and the £1 sterling, so that the natural protection of which Senator Guthrie has spoken does not really exist. The exchange position is very much in favour of the importer of German pianos ; he is in a much better position than he was before the war.
– Does the honorable senator think the Anti-Dumping Bill will save the situation ?
– BROCKMAN. - Not at all.
– But what about the increased freights?
-I admit that the question of freight is very material - that it costs far more to-day than it did before the war to bring a piano to Australia from abroad. But here, again, we have a big set-off. While wages in Australia have increased most materially, wages in Germany, having regard to our relative currencies, have not, in fact, increased.
– But pianos are imported very largely from America, where wages are higher than they were here.
– I grant that that is perfectly true, but I see no reason for giving American manufacturers of pianos an undue advantage. I am, therefore, prepared to support the Minister’s request that the duty under the general Tariff should be increased to 45 per cent.
– The Germans, within the next few months, will be exporting in German ships, and giving big rebates.
– I do not doubt that. Among the many communications I have received from various sources with regard to this item, there is one that appeals to me. It comes from the president of the Limbless Men’s Association, Sydney. I know this gentleman; I know that he is not one of the extreme Bolsheviks who sometimes find their way into the association, and that his point of view has not been perverted in the way that I regret to say the views of some have been. He points out that quite a large number of men in his association are employed by Beale and Company, of Sydney, and that he is informed by that firm that, provided the duties are maintained, more of these men will be employed by it. I need hardly mention that work of this kind is most suitable for men suffering from such disabilities, and this statement by the president of the association makes a very strong appeal to me.
– Beale and Company have trained quite a number of the men referred to.
– My correspondent points out to me that in this matter Beale and Company have behaved very well, and are promising to do still better for these men. That, to me, is a stronger reason than any given by the manufacturers in support of an increased duty under the general Tariff. It comes from a source which in itself carries a strong appeal, and from a man whom I know to be both capable and hon- orable. Coining to the intermediate and British preferential Tariffs, I am not so sure that it is necessary that the duties in respect of them should be increased. I think our purpose will be served by increasing the general Tariff, which deals with our principal competitors, Germany and America.
.- This item relates to one of the industries of Australia, which, I think, every honorable senator, with perhaps one or two exceptions, is prepared to encourage. I should not have taken part in the debate but for a few remarks made bySenator Guthrie, which convinced me that it was my duty to raise my voice in support of the local industry. The honorable senator informed the Committee that the importers of pianos employ something like 600 hands in selling and repairing them.
– And in selling music, and doing all sorts of things.
– Yes. While the importers are employing 600 hands in selling and repairing imported instruments, the Australian industry, because of the competition of foreigners, is able to employ only 500.
– That is a good argument for more protection.
– Absolutely. Instead of having 600 employees engaged in the work of repairing and selling imported pianos, is it not better that we should have 1,000 or more of our returned soldiers and others engaged in the highlyskilled trade of manufacturing pianos here? If we do not adequately protect this industry, which gives employment to a number of limbless men, the Germans who maimed those men will be able to bring in their pianos and undersell the local manufacturers. I do not think any honorable senator is prepared to support that sort of thing. If we could not manufacture pianos, I should not be in favour of the request; but here we have an industry whose productions are equal to those of any other part of the world. That statement cannot be denied, yet Senator Guthrie is such an ardent Free Trader -
– Surely it can hardly be said that I am a Free Trader when I am supporting a duty of 35 per cent.
– At all events, the honorable senator’s argument in opposition to the request, that the importers are employing 600 men in selling and repair ing imported instruments, should be sufficient to convince the Committee that higher duties ought to be imposed in order to give increased employment in our own industry. It has been said that certain firms are buying up secondhand pianos. Senator Guthrie will not deny that for five or six years after the outbreak of war the industrial classes of not only Great Britain, but various allied as well as enemy countries, were better off than at any other period of their lives. Many of them, not having had at their command so much money as they were able to earn during the war, did not know what to do with it, and in many cases their first action was to buy one of the highest-priced pianos oBtainable. With the close of the war- came industrial crises, with the result that many of these people, being deprived of the wherewithal to purchase food, had to part with their highclass pianos. Thus to-day pianos that cost probably £200 each during the war period are being sold by many of these poor people for £10, or even less. Those people who, six years ago, were foolish enough to spend their money in this way are to-day, many of them, starving. Of what value to them to-day is. a piano which may have cost £200? It is, I think, our duty to see that a similar state of affairs is not again brought about in this country. We should see to it that, instead of 600 men being employed in repairing pianos, large numbers should be engaged in the actual manufacture of these instruments in Australia. I hope the Senate will agree to the Minister’s requested amendment.
– As this is one of the industries that took root in the New South Wales State in the old Free Trade days it is only natural that I should endeavour to assist it. Industries established under Free Trade conditions are not like hothouse plants. On the contrary, they become sturdy and prosperous as did this industry, and naturally I was delighted to learn it was competing on American soil with American pianos. I have a copy of the advertisement to which Senator Guthrie referred.
– It was only a bogus competition to enable the Australian industry to keep in touch with the most up-to-date methods of manufacture on the other side of the world.
– I am disappointed at this information, because, as I have said, I was delighted to think that the industry, established under Free Trade conditions, had flourished to such an extent. Indeed, I was expecting to hear Senator Duncan and Senator Prat-: ten tell the Committee that it had grown to enormous proportions, and by using Australian woods - there was room, surely, to say something about our woods - the manufacturers were able to turn out the most attractive instruments in the world. But evidently this is not the position at all, for Senator Duncan now tells us that the competition with American manufacturers is bogus. Now, what is likely to happen in Australia if these duties are imposed? If prices for Australian pianos are raised to such an extent as to restrict their sale to those whose incomes are above a certain amount, the industry must languish. The more reasonable the price, the better it will be foi the industry. I may regard myself as a shocking example of one whose musical education has been neglected. Whenever a band strikes up “ God Save the King,” because of lack of musical education I am in fear and trembling lest I should not get my hat off before some one gives me an unpleasant reminder. If we could get pianos into every home in this country, we would insure for the rising generation a home life that certainly was not mine, and cultivate in the young the love of music that may be in them. But Senator Duncan and Senator Pratten would reserve pianos for the classes. The masses, according to their reasoning, have no .right to music. Did God reserve musical talent for the classes ? Certainly not, and I have no time for those who would restrict the opportunities of the people in regard to the enjoyment of music of any kind. I want the best of musical instruments to be made available to the people at the cheapest possible price. I should like pianos to be free of duty. I should like to see the Australian firms competing with the rest of the world.
– Do you mean to say that the industry under Free Trade conditions in New South Wales was a profitable investment?
– I know that the first nine or ten years in the life of an industry is always the worst, and that, in its early days, this industry was under Free Trade conditions.
– Do you know that those engaged in it lost capital?
– They were able to sell pianos in London when the duty was 25 per cent. They supplied one large hi tei in the Strand with instruments. I saw a full-page advertisement in the Sydney Bulletin acclaiming this fact.
– One piano!
– I am afraid that the more I hear of the methods of this firm, the less I shall respect them. I should like to buttress the argument used by Senator Guthrie as to the natural protection which the Australian manufac- <turers enjoy by reason of our geographical position. I find, from a trade circular, that the price of an American piano . at the factory is $160, representing a normal value of £32 18s. 4d., and that the present cost, owing to exchange, is £40 10s. 2d. The increased cost, owing to the rate of exchange, is £7 lis. 10d., and freight charges, at $30 per ton of 40 cubic feet, £14 16s. 2d.; import charges, insurance, wharfage, cartage, &c, are £4 18s. 5d. ; so that the natural protection, that is, without any duty,, afforded by import charges alone, is £27 6s. 5d., or 83 per cent. The duty, at 35 per cent., amounts to £15 lis. 10d., and therefore the total landed cost is £75 16s. 7d., making the total protection, including duty under the Tariff of 35 per cent., equal to 130 per cent.
– Whose figures are you quoting?
– I am quoting trade figures supplied to me. Unlike Senator Duncan, I do ,not seek to wrap up trade figures and represent them to be my own. I quote figures which I challenge the - honorable senator to refute. They have been in circulation for weeks, and Senator Duncan has - had possession of them. I am asking for lower duties. I want pianos to be within the reach of everybody, and not to be the exclusive right of the richer people in our community, simply in order that one or two local firms may prosper. I suppose it was the association of O. C. Beale and Wertheims in the business that prompted me to ask were they not Germans.
– Don’t be too severe.
– If they have certain rates for factory costs, and another rate in their warehouses, and do not show them in their balance-sheet, their methods are absolutely dishonest.
– Every other factory does that.
– I know that private enterprise methods are as rotten as they can be, and that is why I have been up against them all my lifetime. I shall leave the matter now. I simply want to make pianos as cheap as possible. I want them to be widely distributed in order that the people I represent may be able to purchase them.
– It may be a coincidence, but it is a fact, that in every Tariff the discussion on pianos has been a discussion around the name of 0. C. Beale, who is only one of the manufacturers engaged in the industry in Australia. Mr. O. C. Beale is a good Australian who came from Ireland. I hope Senator Gardiner will note that fact. Let us, apart from personalities, examine the position with regard to the Government proposal. In answer to a question which I put on .the business-paper a week or two; ago, in anticipation of this debate, I was supplied with the following official information concerning the importation of pianos from abroad. For the five years ending 30th June, 1910, we imported from within the Empire 6,799 pianos, and from, foreign countries 52.908 instruments, in spite of duties of 30 per cent, and 35 per cent., which had been in existence since 1908. For the five years ending 30th June, 1915, our importations from within the Empire totalled 9,554 pianos, and from foreign countries 60,856, in spite of duties of 30 per cent, and 40 per cent., the increase of foreign importations being 20 per cent., notwithstanding an additional 5 per cent, to the duty. For the five years ending 30th June, 1920, our importations from within the Empire were 8,154 pianos, and from foreign countries, 29,614, Germany during that time having been eliminated as a competitor owing to the war. Again there was a duty of 30 per cent, and 40 per cent, operative. For the year ending the 30th June. 1921, when the duties operating were 30 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent., there were 6,918 pianos imported from foreign countries, and only 371 from Great Britain. On the basis of the foreign importations last year, we are having an average importation of 35,000 pianos “for a five years period, in spite of the operation of duties which the Government now wish to see replaced. I am prepared to stand by the investigations made into this industry by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) when he originally imposed the duties which we are now asked to restore, and by the investigations made by the Inter-State Commission, whose recommendation was that the rates be just what Senator Pearce is moving to-day. Surely, if we are to pay attention to reports of this Commission, we should do so in this case, especially when their recommendation coincides with what is proposed by the Minister. They recommended on grand pianos a duty of £12 British and £15 general, or 35 per cent, and 45 per cent, respectively, whichever rate would return the higher duty; and on upright pianos, £7 British and £10 10s. general, or 35 per cent, and 45 per cent, respectively, whichever rate would return the higher duty. That is practically what the Government propose to-day. There are six piano factories in Australia, employing 820 persons, and representing a capital expenditure of £750,000. Reference has been made to an advertisement in an American trade journal ; but what a trivial matter to bring into the proceedings of an assembly like this! Surely my friends understand that many progressive business firms advertise in foreign trade journals for the purpose of getting into touch with others, and getting circulars and pamphlets concerning their industry. T have done it myself in respect to businesses with which I have been connected. I” am in a position to say that not one piano has been exported to the United States of America by the firm in question. Yet Senator Guthrie says that an advertisement in a foreign trade publication, that will probably cost 5 dollars or perhaps 10 dollars an issue, costs a fortune, and that some of the firm’s reserve profits have gone in this direction. Another statement which has been made is that the certified profits of the Sydney firm do not include shop profits. They include absolutely all profits made by the firm. I know that the firm has been in existence for over twenty years, and that it not only did not make any profits underFree Trade, but even lost capital. The figures quoted by Senator Duncan withregard to its average profits for the whole period are absolutely correct. Senator Plain has replied to the statementabout the two firms in Melbourne, which are employing 600 people. “We all know enough to recognise that these employees are not wholly engaged in dealing with imported pianos. They are engaged in selling music, tuning and repairing pianos, and in all the different ramifications of the piano trade. But the Sydney firm does nothing but make pianos. Another statement has been made in regard to the capital of a Queensland company. In this connexion I can point out that, in reference to a
Tecent issue of shares by Beale and Company, Sydney, and the auditors’ certificate, published on the 3rd July, 1920, saying that the firm’s annual earnings during the nine and three-quarter years ending the preceding 3rd April averaged considerably more than the amount necessary to cover a yearly dividend on the 100,000 preference shares that were to be issued. If 100,000 debenture shares were to be issued at 8 per cent., the earnings on the ordinary capital of £200,000 would be under 5 per cent., and the statement would be correct. In such circumstances the statement in the Queensland prospectus referred to would be similarly correct. I hope that the Committee will agree to these duties; they are fair and reasonable. I believe in making Australian goods by Australian workers, and I protest against the veryloose statements which sometimes go about with reference to Australian manufactures.
– I deprecate the introduction of personalities, and I do not propose to descend to that level, nor to claim sympathy for an establishment because it happens to be employing disabled soldiers, for whom, of course, I have every sympathy. Senator Pratten has managed very adroitly to dispose of the fact that an institution which is only earning 4½ per cent, in dividends can guarantee to shareholders in a new company dividends at the rate of 7½ per cent.
– The ordinary capital has to guarantee the debenture interest. If £200,000 of ordinary capital can earn 4½ per cent., that is a guarantee of 9 per cent, on an additional £100,000 worth of debenture shares.
– If the prospectus put forward in Queensland is correct, the statement which Senator Pratten has quoted from the auditors’ report concerning the operations of the Sydney company seems to me to contradict it, notwithstanding the attempted camouflaging by the honorable senator. The importer of a piano has not only to pay 35 per cent, on the factory cost if it comes from America; he has also to pay a considerable amount for exchange and freight. The local manufacturer of pianos has not to meet any such charges.We must not lose sight of the fact that there are nearly 20,000 persons in Australia engaged in teaching music. If a young man or woman wishes to teach music, and has not £100 cash with which to buy a piano, it is a question of contracting a debt extending over five or six years. We all know that the teaching of music is a precarious means of living, and there is no guarantee that the purchaser of a piano on terms will be able to maintain the payments for the full period. The consequence is that any failure means the loss, not only of the instrument, but also of the money already paid. The music teachers thus lose their tools of trade. The duties are, in fact, a tax on tools of trade. In addition to giving consideration to teachers of music, for whom not a word has previously been said, we must also bear in mind what a great factor music in the home is in the building up of a nation. These high duties may be the means of depriving many a home of the opportunity of enjoying music. I reside in a suburb of Adelaide. Most of the residents of that city earn their living by toil; but there is not one home in ten which does not possess a piano or an organ.
– I am glad I do not live in Adelaide.
– It may be taken, then, that the honorable senator’s lack of a musical ear is responsible for his utterances upon pianos. He desires to live in a land where the sound of music is not heard. I, on the other hand, believe in fostering a love of music among the people; but shall we be doing that by making the price of pianos practically prohibitive ?
– Why cannot young Australians learn to play on Australian pianos ?
– For that matter, why cannot they extend their acquaintance with music by learning to play the Jew’s harp? During the five-year period ending 30th June, 1920 - concerning which Senator Pratten has quoted certain figures - 32,622 fewer pianos were imported than in the five years preceding.
– For the reason that Germany had turned her piano factories into munition works.
– The same remark may be applied to Great Britain. The point of Senator Pratten’s argument was that the greater totals of importations were due to the fact that the degree of local protection was not sufficiently high. I quote figures which refute Senator Pratten’s statement, and then I am informed that the reduction in importations was due to the war. I am prepared to accept the latter reason, but I must reject the former. Much has been said concerning the total number of employees in Australian piano factories. In the Commonwealth Tear-Book for 1917-18 statistics show that only sixtyone’ more hands were employed in all the varied forms of musical-instrument manufacture than in 1913, during which year - and previously - the. rates of duty were not calculated to encourage the local industry. There are six factories in Australia, but, for all practical purposes, only two need be considered. The proposed increase of duties will create a monopoly, for the reason that those two factories are not only makers, but the sole distributors of their instruments; they determine the price at which their pianos shall be sold. In 1903 the cheapest piano cost about £45. In 1911 the lowest price was 55 guineas; and, in 1914, 65 guineas. A piano of the same class costs to-day from 100 to 125 guineas. The rates sought to be reimposed by the Government are equivalent to a protection of 95 per cent., without regard to other protective costs and charges. I have before me a list, dated 27th August/ 1921, which quotes the cash price for a model VI. piano’ at £165. The price of another line is £140, while the lowest quotation is £120.
– Order ! The honorable senator has reached his time limit.
– While I do not favour the imposition of duties beyond a fair and reasonable degree in order to establish Australian industries flourishingly, I hold that in this instance there is warrant for the Government providing ample protection, particularly against Continental makers. The German mark is worth less than onetwelfth of its former value. Based upon a recent decision of the High Court to the effect that the par value of exchange cannot be levied upon, but that the commercial value must be the medium of business relationship, an enormous advantage is conceded to Continental producers. It is scarcely possible that, even with an anti-dumping measure, anything like reasonable protection can be given to Australian makers of. musical instruments against German competition. On the other hand, owing to the appreciated value of the American dollar, the local protection against importations from the United States of America is exceedingly favorable to the Australian manufacturer. It is hard to say what degree of protection may b& adequate against European competitors. Germany is just as virile as ever. Her factories did not suffer during the war period. She was able to get the wheels of industry moving again from the moment of the cessation of hostilities. If the German mark were to recover its former value, either this year or next, the Commonwealth Parliament might be able to arrive at an approximately correct estimate of a fair degree of protection. But, owing to the chaotic financial condition of Germany, a considerable period is likely to elapse before the old financial footing will have been re-established with the debtor nation. Until Germany reverts to the gold basis of currency she will be such’ a furious competitor in the world’s markets that this Parliament should be particularly cautious.
– Why did not the honorable senator advance those arguments, and act in accordance with them, when the Committee was dealing with agricultural implements?
– The circumstances were not the same; no agricultural implements came from Germany. I shall support the request of the Minister (Senator
Pearce) to increase the general rate, but I propose to take a different line of action in the matter of the preferential Tariff.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the ad. val. duty, sub-item (a), intermediate, 40 per cent.
All the arguments adduced in support of the excessively high duty imposed under the general Tariff do not apply in this instance. I understand that some honorable senators favoured a high general Tariff in order to prevent the importation of German instruments; but, in view of the fact that imports dutiable under the intermediate Tariff will not come from that country, a lower rate should be imposed.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the ad. val. duty, sub-item (a), British, 30 per cent.
.- Unless honorable senators are prepared to considerably reduce this duty it will appear that they are just as keen to shut out instruments of British manufacture as they are to exclude imports from Germany. If the Minister’s request is adopted a duty of 30 per cent, will be imposed on all importations from Great Britain.
– That rate has been in operation since 1908.
– Not against Great Britain.
– It is an exorbitant duty to impose on British importations, and the arguments adduced against the importation of German pianos cannot be used in this instance. There does not appear to be any justification for such a heavy rate, because there is a natural protection of £18 in freight and £4 for handling charges on each instrument. In another place the rate was reduced to 20 per cent., and in order to test the feeling of the Committee, and to see who are really in favour of giving preference to Great Britain, I intend to move that the rate bemade 25 per cent.
– The honorable senator can only submit such a request if that moved by the Minister (Senator Pearce) is defeated.
– If my request is carried, obviously the Committee will be in favour of a higher duty than 25 per cent. If it is defeated, the honorable senator will then have an opportunity of moving. The better way is to take a vote on my motion.
– Is the Minister increasing the impost against Great Britain?
– We are making it the same as it has been since 1908.
– The question is, “ That the request moved by the Minister (Senator Pearce) be agreed to.”
A division having been called for,
– I desire to withdraw the call for a division.
– The call for a division is withdrawn.
– Mr. Chairman, I take exception to your action. A division was called for, and as there was more than one “ No,” I do not see how the call for a division can be withdrawn on the voice of one honorable senator.
– The honorable senator has a right to call for a division if he so desires.
– I wish the Committee to divide.
– And so do I.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 8
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Requests (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the ad. val. duties, sub-items
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Item 366 (Musical instruments n.e.i.) agreed to. divisionxvi. - miscellaneous.
Item 367 (Articles of an advertising character) agreed to.
Item 368 (Articles for the use of the. blind, deaf, and dumb).
– The articles mentioned in this item specially designed and imported for the use of the blind, deaf, and dumb, are to be admitted free, and I would like to know whether provision can be made for disabled returned soldiers who are inmates of public institutions to obtain any of these articles they may require under similar circumstances?
– That would include artificial limbs, which are made here, and, therefore, they should not be admitted free of duty.
Item agreed to.
Item 369 (Articles of celluloid, &c, not included under any other heading) and item. 370 (Articles the property of the Commonwealth) agreed to.
Articles imported or purchased in bond for the official use of the Governor-General, and declared as being for such official use, free.
– I intend to submit a request upon this item to which. I think, the Minister (Senator E. D. Milieu) will agree. I should like, first of all, to know whether wines and spirituous liquors can be used officially by the Governor-General. It struck me that at an official reception the Governor-General might invite his guests to take a glass of wine with him, and I wish to know whether wines or spirituous liquors consumed in that way are admitted free under this item.
– Then I do not see why the Governor-General or his guests should escape the payment of duties which have to be paid by other folk. Our laws should apply alike to every one in Australia, from the Governor-General down to the humblest citizen. I am given to understand that some very fine wines are made in this country, though I am no judge of them myself, and I think that an Australian Governor-General might restrict his guests to the use of Australian wines, or that, if they desire French importations or wines from other countries, duty should be paid upon them. I have no ill-will to Government House. I realize that while we are living under our present Constitution it is necessary that Great Britain should have a representative here. All that I desire is that, so far as the laws of this Parliament are concerned, we shall make no exception in their application. They should apply even to the highest representative of the Crown in this country, as fully as to the humblest citizen. I take it that all the expenses of these official functions are paid for by the Commonwealth, and if duty were imposed upon these articles it would be like taking money out of one pocket and putting it into the other, but, to my mind, that does not affect the principle I desire to assert.
– The Government does not pay such expenses. There is a statutory amount paid to the GovernorGeneral, and if he gives an official banquet the Government do not pay the expenses of that function in addition.
– Then the request I intend to make will supply the Government with a new source of revenue. I am rather glad to learn that the expenses of the functions are paid by the King’s representative out of his own allowance. That does not alter my desire that in laws wepass here we should recognise no distinction between the King’s representative and other persons in the community. As a very loyal subject, I recognise the high position of the GovernorGeneral. All the men who have been sent out to occupy that position have been excellent gentlemen, and have carried out their duties well. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by adding after the word “ use “ the words “ except wines or spirituous liquors.”
– I think that Senator Gardiner has answered himself, because the request he proposes does not square with his declaration. He professes to desire that our laws shall apply equally to the GovernorGeneral and every other member of the community, but the honorable senator does not propose that. He leaves, out of his request articles required by the GovernorGeneral, apart from wines and spirituous liquors. The honorable senator is» permitting the inequality of which he complains to remain. The GovernorGeneral, under his request, could obtain other things, apart from wines and spirituous liquors, under conditions which cannot be taken ‘advantage of by the average citizen. Is it worth while to say that the Governor-General may obtain some things free of duty but must pay duty on other things?
– Under Senator Gardiner’s request the Governor-General could import beer free of duty.
– He could import beer or cigars ; but if he dare bring in any wines or spirituous liquors, which Senator Gardiner does not drink, a great outrage will be perpetuated upon the Democracy. If the honorable senator wishes to be logical, and I am not accusing him of that desire, his proper course will be to vote against the item altogether. I hope the Committee will not delete the item, which has appeared in every Tariff passed since Federation. Articles required for official purposes by the Governor-General have always been admitted free. I dislike referring to what one learns at Government House, but I can appeal to honorable senators generally to bear me out in the statement that the gentlemen who have occupied the position of Governor-General of Australia have always shown appreciation of Australian products, which are invariably to be found on the table at Government House. It does appear to be rather small to dissect things required by the Go vernor-General in the way proposed, and to say that some shall be admitted free of duty whilst duty must be paid on others.
– I am very pleased that the Minister has pointed out how illogical I am.
– It was not necessary; but I did it.
– I realized that I could scarcely look for assistance from supporters of the Government if I tried to delete the item. I have, therefore, directed special attention to things which many people in Australia believe could very well be dispensed with, and I am prepared to take a test vote on the request’ I have moved. I admit that I should have included malt, as well ,as spirituous, liquors.
– If the honorable senator will move to include in the item articles required by honorable senators I shall support him.
– If articles required by the Governor-General in his official capacity are to be admitted free of duty, how much more necessary is it that articles required by honor able senators should be admitted free of duty. Consider what an advantage that would be at election time. I adhere to my request, illogical though it may be, and to make ray position right, if I fail to carry it, I will call for a division on the item. I submit the request purely with a desire to assert the principle that there should be equality in the application of our laws. Why should we set the example of singling out the King’s representative as the only person who shall not pay taxes? There is no question of protecting local manufactures involved in this matter, but the Government must get revenue in these hard times, when income tax and other taxes are complained of so severely, and there is no reason why taxable goods consumed by the Governor-General and his guests should not contribute to the revenue in the same way as similar goods consumed’ by other persons in the Commonwealth. I think that it would be rather a good example to set if we decided that the highest in the land must pay taxation in the same way as the most humble, particularly on things that are not necessities. We all know that wines and spirits have largely gone out of use. At one time they were considered essential, but with the advance of science, knowledge, and intellectual development, they have been shown to be unessential.
Item agreed to.
– Can I not call for a vote on the whole item ? I moved my request in order to test the feeling of the Committee, and announced my intention, if it were not agreed to, to vote against the whole item.
– The honorable senator had his opportunity to do so.
– If you, sir, say that I had the opportunity I will accept your statement, but I was not aware of it.
Item 372 (Articles imported for the use of State Governors); item 373 (Articles imported for British Trade Commissioners or Consuls) ; and item 374 (Asbestos millboards) agreed to.
Item 375 -
British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.
– These articles were under earlier Tariffs admitted free. They were subjected to an impost of 5 per cent, under the Tariff of 1914. I ask the Government to put them on the free list. This is clearly a revenue duty.
– No, it is partly protective. The rubber parts of atomizers are made in the Commonwealth.
– I am glad to have some explanation of the duty, but how does a duty of 10 per cent, protect the manufacturer of the parts made here? I have drawn attention to the item as, in my opinion, the duty is not -protective. If it is merely a revenue duty, it is no credit to us to derive revenue from such a source.
– The rubber portions of these articles are made in Australia by Barnet Glass and Company and the Dunlop Rubber Company. The duty affords partial protection to the rubber industry.
Item agreed to.
Item 376 (Bags and purses n.e.i) ; item 377 (Baskets); item 378 (Billiard balls); item 379 (Blankets, rubber or wool for printing machines) ; item 380 (Brooms, whisks, &c.) ; item 381 (Brushware and material therefor) ; item 382 (Cameras) ; item 383 (Photographic negatives) agreed to.
Item 384 -
Lantern slides; photographic dry plates; photographic sensitized films; photographic sensitized papers n.e.i., linen, or other material; photographic backgrounds (mounted or unmounted) ; photographs of Australian subjects ; postcards (sensitized with or without letterpress) ; stereoscopic Views, ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
– I ask the consideration of the Minister to a little re-adjustment of this item. The articles covered by sub-item a are dutiable at 25 per cent., 30 per cent., and 35 per cent. My proposal is to divide sub-item a into two new sub-items a and b - sub-item b will then become subitem c - for the purpose of providing for specific as well as ad valorem duties in respect of dry plates, and also films, sensitized papers, and cards. The specific duties that I intend to suggest will involve no increase as compared with the present ad valorem duties, but are necessary to prevent the possibility of a very important local industry now engaged in making these things being swept away at “some future time by a resort to dumping. The present ad valorem duties amount really to very little so far as the value of the articles is concerned, and I hope the Minister (Senator Pearce) will accept my proposal. I move-
That the House ofRepresentaiives be requested to so amend the sub-item as to make it read -
(1) Photographic and X-ray dry plates, ad val., British, 25 per cent. ; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent. ; or per square foot, British, 6½d.; intermediate, 8d. ; general, Did. ; which ever rate returns the higher duty.
British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.; or per square foot, British,1d. ; intermediate, l¼d. ; general, l½d.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.
I give the Committee the assurance that the fixed duties which I propose are within a half -penny or two of the existing ad valorem duties. We have in Australia a very important industry employing 300 or 400 people, and turning out annually over £250,000 worth of these materials. These fixed duties are necessary, and I hope they will be agreed to.
.- This proposal has been examined by the Department, but we are not at present in a position to say definitely that the fixed duties set out in the request represent the same rate as the ad valorem duties. We agree, however, that fixed duties are necessary, and I propose to accept the request, subject to the condition that if it becomes necessary to make adjustments, in the event of our discovering on further inquiry that these specific duties are higher or lower than the existing ad valorem duties, we shall take action to that end in another place.
– That is quite fair.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item 385 (Coke), item 386 (Copying apparatus), and item 387 (Cordage, unserviceable), agreed to.
Cordage, metal, including cordage of metal with core of other material, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent. ; and on and after 1st January, 1922, ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.
– This item covers steel ropes used for mining purposes as well as for lifts, and also, in this city, for tramway purposes. I understand that the greatly increased duties which are to come into operation on and after 1st January next are proposed in contemplation of the establishment of a local industry to manufacture wire ropes. I need not point out that wire ropes are used in mines and lifts, and that where they are so employed the lives of men depend upon their strength and durability. I am informed that much skill and experience is required to produce a reliable article. The proposal is that we should depart from our habit of obtaining the most reliable ropes procurable, and which, with one exception, I understand, come from Great Britain, in order to substitute an experiment that is to be carried out in Australia. We all know that where men’s lives are at stake the imported ropes will be used, and consequently the mining industry in Australia - and my chief concern is in regard to that industry - will be called upon to pay these largely increased duties. I have had worked out the difference in the amount that would be collected under the present duties of 5 per cent, and 10 per cent., as compared with the duties to come into operation on 1st January next. I do not propose to go into all the figures as to our imports and the countries from which they are obtained; it is sufficient to say that the amount collected annually under the duties now operating would be only £791 per annum, whereas if the new duties to come into force after 1st January next are agreed to, the revenue collected should amount to £40,564 per annum. That is a very big increase. It is a tremendous burden to impose on the mining industry of Australia, the chief user of these ropes, merely for the possibility of establishing the industry here.
– The honorable senator is not overlooking the powers conferred on the Minister for Trade and Customs under clause 11 of the Bill?
Senator DRAKEBROCKMAN.No. I am hopeful that, in any event, we shall not experiment with this item, dealing, as it does, with material upon which the lives of the men working in our mines depend. We know that the mining companies and owners of lifts will insist upon having the best ropes procurable in the world. The best are manufactured . by three or four firms in Great Britain and one firm in America, which produces a special class of rope.
– What makes the honorable senator think that we cannot make wire rope in Australia?
– I am informed by those who are able to advise me, and particularly by the President of the Kalgoorlie Chamber of Mines, who certainly knows something of the subject, as well as the Chairman of the Melbourne Tramways Board, which is probably the largest buyer of this particular class of rope in Australia, that the manufacture of steel wire ropes is a very difficult operation., requiring a great deal of skill and the employment of people who have spent practically the whole of their lives in acquiring the necessary knowledge. The process of drawing wire rope, to the right size and strength is both technical and difficult. I am told that it is so difficult that, despite the experience of the firms I have mentioned, they are not always successful. The experience of the Melbourne Tramways Board is that a rope produced by, say, firm A,” will last only a few weeks; whereas another rope, apparently identical in every particular, will last five or six times as long. The Melbourne Tramways Board imports all its wire ropes.
– -They are not made here.
– BROCKMAN. - And there is no prospect of making them here.
– There is.
– If there is no prospect of making them here, then the higher duties will pot be levied.
– My concern is not so much for the Melbourne Tramways Board as for the mining industry generally and the safety of the miners whose lives depend upon the ropes used in the mines.’ The miners themselves are prejudiced against the use of any ropes except those manufactured by certain firms. In consequence of this strong prejudice miners do not care to trust their lives to experimental varieties of wire rope. I do not blame them. Mr. Cameron has stated in his communication that he was in close touch with these people, who were proposing to manufacture the wire ropes in Australia, and that they did not contemplate the expenditure of the huge sums of money required to turn out the 30-ton lengths used by the
Melbourne Tramways Board, because the demand would not justify the outlay. It stands to reason that this must be so. One has only to look ahead a little and realize that the’ cable trams of Melbourne will soon go out of existence, and consequently the only consumers in Australia of wire rope of these lengths will be out of the market. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out the words “ and on and after 1st January, 1922,’ ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.”
– I remind the Committee that these are the deferred duties, and will not be operative until ‘the articles mentioned are being manufactured in Australia in sufficient quantities to supply reasonable requirements. The Government have an assurance that arrangements are being made by Rylands, the great English company, to manufacture this metal cordage- at Newcastle, in New South Wales. Unfortunately the work has been- delayed, and consequently the deferred duties will not become operative until 1st January, 1922. Messrs. T. C. Smith and Co., another British manufacturing firm, is also making arrangements to engage in the industry at Newcastle. As these are both British firms of the highest reputation, the only objection which Senator DrakeBrockman can have to the scheme is the fear that the Australian workmen will be unable to learn the business.
– The Minister is deliberately misrepresenting me, and he knows it.
– I have no desire to misrepresent the honorable senator ; but why should he assume that if these firms become established in Australia there will be a prejudice against the use of Australianmade rope?
– Those who depend upon it will think it is inferior. That is what I said.
– But why should they think that? The ropes will be made by the same firms and by the same process, the only difference being that Australian workmen will be employed instead of British. The probability is that these firms will bring a number of skilled workmen from England, as many other manufacturing companies do, and, until they demonstrate their ability to manufacture a satisfactory article, the duties will not be operative. Of course, there is no reason to assume that wire rope manufactured in Australia will be in any way inferior to the article at present being used.
– Although the Minister (Senator Pearce) seems to make his own case very clear, I view the proposal with some apprehension, understanding, as I do, the importance that miners attach to the quality of wire rope upon which they depend for their safety. This is a matter which requires very serious consideration, because the lives of thousands of men all over Australia depend upon the durability and. suitability of the rope that takes them from and brings them back to daylight.
– Or the reliability of the safety grip.
– Sometimes I have seen all these devices tried, and very few have ever been successful. A good rope is the only recognised safeguard. If what the Minister says is correct, and I have no doubt it is true, that it is proposed to manufacture the ropes in this country, there will be time enough for Parliament to impose these duties when the companies concerned demonstrate the quality of the rope which they produce. If the English manufacturing firms that at present supply our requirementsare going to become established in Australia, there appears to be no necessity for the duty at all, because they will not have competition from the outside world. I think, therefore, that Senator DrakeBrockman’s request might be accepted, and the item made free so far as the British Tariff is concerned.
– We want to produce these ropes in Australia.
– But if the British companies that are now supplying our market intend to establish works here, they will have no British competitors.
– They are not the only wire ropemakers in the world.
– They are the most important manufacturers, and only their ropes are used by the mining companies in Australia, and, indeed, almost all over the world.
– These deferred duties are merely a guarantee that if they establish themselves here they will have Tariff protection.
– I understand the misgiving that characterizes Senator Henderson’s attitude, and also that of the mover of the request (Senator Drake-Brockman) . This is a very important commodity so far as Australia is concerned. We get so accustomed to trusting our lives to the wire rope that we do it several times a day without adverting to the fact. Only when accidents occur do people realize how often they take this risk. There is hardly an honorable senator who does not, more than once or’ twice a day, trust his life tothe wire rope, even in the elevators about this building. Our miners go up and down many hundreds of feet at the beginning and end of their shifts, and depend for their safety on the wire rope. Although mining companies as a rule forbid individuals to travel on haulage trams., reserving them entirely for the transport of the material, some one must accompany the material, and, in spite of the prohibition, many people travel that way. In fact, they become so accustomed to it that often they jump on haulage trams to relieve themselves of the necessity of walking or climbing. Rylands, an English company, produce the wire rope or metal cordage in general use by our mining companies. Their output is regarded as quite satisfactory in every respect. It is, from the point of view of the Australian user, the highest standard of value, and we are informed by the Minister (Senator Pearce) that this firm, as well as another English firm, contemplate establishing works in Australia on the assurance, I take it, that they will get Tariff protection against the United States of America or Europe.
– Rylands have established their works at Newcastle, but they are not yet producing wire rope.
– I presume that they have established themselves on an assurance that these duties will insure to them the Australian market as against foreign competitors. What I am principally concerned about is the working of clause 11 of the Bill relating to deferred duties. That clause provides that if the Tariff Board certifies to the Minister for
Trade and Customs, as in this case, that the local industry is not capable of . reasonably supplying Australian requirements, the Minister may still further defer the operation of the duty until the Board satisfies him by its certificate that the industry is capable of supplying such requirements. In following this procedure I sincerely hope that the Minister and the Tariff Board will be fully seized with the importance of the giving or withholding of a certificate. This item is one which, I think, is probably more vital in this connexion than any other in the Tariff, and needs most careful consideration both by the Minister and the Tariff Board. To say merely that the local industry is outputting the requirements of Australia in considerable quantities, or in sufficient quantities to supply largely the Australian market, should not be enough. I presume that in Great Britain some tests are applied, both within the factory and, . possibly, outside, as to the reliability of the product. I sincerely hope, therefore, that before the Tariff Board issues its certificate, and before the Minister allows these deferred duties to become operative, the most complete and exhaustive tests will be ‘applied to the commodities produced.
– The Minister (Senator Pearce) has sounded a very encouraging note concerning the establishment of this industry in the Commonwealth, but it is necessary to take into account the other industry that will be so vitally affected by the imposition of these stiff duties. I am’ sure ‘it is no pleasure for honorable senators to recall to mind the present unsatisfactory position of the mining industry. The records are there. As far as the metalliferous side of the industry is concerned, it is many years since it was at such a low ebb as to-day, and yet here is a proposal to increase the cost ‘ of ari essential requirement. These wire ropes do not last a very great length of time. Immediately a rope shows the least sign of wear it is condemned by a mining inspector, and it is necessary for the company to replace it. I realize how important it is to start an industry of this description in Australia, but it is not- a good, sound policy to call upon another industry struggling to keep itself alive to bear the whole of the cost necessary to bring about its establishment. The mining industry, particularly metalliferous mining, is in quite a different category from other industries; it cannot pass on the increased cost of production. I think that the Government could well adopt a device quite ready to its hands for encouraging the industry of wire-rope making, namely, the giving of a bonus to it until it reaches a stage when it can be relied upon to provide an ample output at a reasonable price. At any rate, the imposition of a duty upon wire ropes will place the mining industry, which already has a gloomy outlook, in a still more unsatisfactory position. If the condition of the mining industry were buoyant, I would be pleased to support the Minister’s proposal for a deferred duty, but I support Senator DrakeBrockman’ s request, because it is at the present time unable to bear the whole weight of establishing the wire-rope making industry in Australia, and because I consider that the responsibility for affording encouragement to this new industry is one that properly belongs to the whole community.
– A great deal depends upon the quality of wire ropes. I agree with Senator Drake-Brockman’s reference to the prejudices of miners. My memory takes me back to the time when these wire ropes began to replace the old flat hempen ropes which were in general use, and there was a, strong prejudice among the miners against the new ropes, because they are so thin in comparison with the more substantiallooking hempen ropes tq which they had been so long accustomed. I regard this question more from the point of view of the careful “ administration which will be necessary when the de-‘ ferred duty begins to operate. When the Tariff Board commences its investigations, no doubt it will peruse the reports of the debates in this Chamber, and see what was said here in -respect to the different items under consideration. In that way it will naturally benefit by the experience of various honorable senators. I can speak with some little experience of wire ropes, and I hope that when Ryland Brothers begin operations at Newcastle they will be in a position to make just as good a rope as they can produce in Great Britain. They will probably get some of their most skilled workmen to come out to Australia to set this class of work going here, and knowing the reputation of the firm, I think we can depend that it will not turn out a, shoddy article. But, in any case, I trust that every care will he exercised by the administration. I do not look upon the duty proposed tobe placed upon wire rope at a. later date as likely to be of any serious moment, because the wirerope makers practically command the market, and can charge any price they choose. In fact, like Senator Henderson, I wonder in the circumstances why any duty is to be imposed. Of course, it is preferable to have the work done within Aus- , tralia. instead of at Sheffield, Birmingham, or anywhere else; but I really have not heard any sound reason advanced for imposing any duty upon this article. To my mind, everything depends upon careful administration as to when the duty should come into operation.
– Senator Pearce has put into my mouth reflections upon the skill of Australian workmen which I certainly did not intend, and I do not think my words conveyed any such meaning to the average intelligence. I suppose the Minister was busy attending to some other matter at the time, because if he had heard me correctly he could not have insinuated, in the nasty way he did, that I was casting reflections upon Australian workmen. I probably know more about the Australian man as a man, when one comes right up against him, than the Minister does, and certainly I know more about his capacity for work and fighting too, in comparison with men from any other part of the world, than any other senator does. I stand second to none in my appreciation of the Australian, and I emphatically refute the Minister’s insinuation in this regard. Wire rope, before it is exported to Australia, is subjected to a very severe test, not only by the manufacturers, but also by the British Board of Trade. I have several certificates issued by that Board in respect to importations into Western Australia. Furthermore, the mines regulations in Western Australia enforce the application of very severe tests before the mining inspectors will permit any to be used in a mine. Even if this rope is made in Australia, it will have to meet the requirements of the mining inspectors of the various States. In a letter to me the general manager of the Associated Gold Mines of Western Australia says -
Although the cost of the ropes is an exceedingly important matter to us, it is still of greater importance that the material should be of the exact grade of steel, and the ropes of the exact construction to meet the conditions underwhich they work. The requirements of the Mines Department are also very exacting, and we refer you to the mines regulations.
Question - That the request (Senator Drake-Brockman’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 389 (Fishing and rabbit nets), and item 390 (Cordage, rope, and twines, n.e.i.), agreed to.
Item 391 -
Reaper and binder twine and yarn, per cwt., British, 6s.; intermediate, 7s.; general, 7s.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item, general, free.
I do not believe in taxing farmers with a heavy duty upon their reaper and binder twine.
– Local producers of twine are supplying almost the whole of the demand. Before the war the importations totalled 9,000 cwt. per annum; but in 1919-20 the importations were only 2,600 cwt., valued at about £17,000, and amounting to only about 5 per cent, of Australia’s total requirements. In 1911 the duty was 5s. In the 1914 Tariff, rates of 6s. and 7s. were imposed, and those duties still hold good. , The present ad valorem equivalent of the general rate is 5 per cent. I cannot support the request.
– While honorable senators may not have been prepared to admit foreign twine free, they may agree that it is only fair to reduce the general Tariff. In the interests of farmers, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, general, 5s.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 392 (Yarns); item, 393 (Sewing and embroidery silks) ; item 394 (Granulated cork); item 395 (Corks); and item 396 (Collections of antiquities), agreed to.
Explosives, viz. -
And on and after 25th March, 1920-
Explosives, n.e.i., ad val., British, free ; intermediate, 5 per cent. ; general, 5 per cent.
Senator Sir THOMAS GLASGOW (Queensland) [5.25]. - In the schedule, as introduced in another place, the ad valorem rates upon cartridges were, respectively, 15 per cent., 25 per cent., and 30 per cent. These were amended so that, on and after the 8th July of this year, the intermediate and general Tariffs became 20 per cent. It was further decided that, from the beginning of 1923, the rates of 15 per cent., 25 per cent., and 30 per cent, should be reverted to. I desire that the original rates shall be immediately re-imposed. I move, therefore -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), general, ad val., 30 per cent.
As an outcome of the amendments made in another place, the margin between the British and general rates now operating is only 5 per cent. During the war, Great Britain lost her trade in the production of sporting cartridges because her factories were employed in turning out munitions. The percentage of sporting ammunition supplied to Australia by the United Kingdom over a. period ofyears is set out in the following table: -
Honorable senators will perceive the remarkable increase in 1920. I am confident that the percentage of British sporting ammunition imported to Australia will return to something like prewar proportions if the margin of preference against American manufacturers is increased without delay to 10 per cent. If the difference of only 5 per cent, is to remain until the deferred rates come into operation, considerably more than a year hence, huge stocks of American cartridges will be dumped into this country. As it is, very large supplies from America are being imported. Sporting cartridges are being manufactured in Australia. In Victoria, one factory is employing between thirty and forty hands.
– I am in favour of the duties proposed by Senator Glasgow. According to the schedule, on and after the 8th July, 1921, the intermediate and general rates were reduced, but not the British, and on and after the 1st January, 1923, the duties originally submitted will be imposed. This industry is established in Australia, and although the manufacturers are not making the whole of the component parts of cartridges, they are using Australian shot and employing Australian labour, and if the industry is given the necessary encouragement, the manufacturers intend to produce complete cartridges. The general tenor of the debates in this Chamber has been in favour of Australian manufacturers meeting the whole of our requirements, and if that is to be done adequate protection should be afforded.
.- The duties are set out in this form because the industry at present is largely an assembling one. The manufacture of complete cartridges is intended, and that is why there is a duty of only 20 per cent, in the general Tariff. A deferred duty has been imposed so that when complete cartridges are being manufactured greater protection will be afforded.We do not need to give high protection to an assembling industry.
– But January, 1923, is a long time ahead.
– The honorable senator thought just now that a low protection was ample for an industry that was meeting practically the whole of our requirements ; but he is now advocating a duty of 30 per cent, to protect what is merely an assembling industry. I quite agree that when an industry has reached the stage when it can manufacture complete cartridges it should be protected with a 30 per cent, duty, but we should not impose such a high Tate until that stage is reached. I therefore ask the Committee to adhere to these rates, and the companies concerned will then have to prove that a higher duty is justified.
– Why not show greater preference to Britain?
– That will come when we increase the general Tariff.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … .. 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out subitem (e) first occurring.
This simply means deleting unnecessary verbiage.
– This is merely a formal request, but there is more in it than may, at first appear. For the first time since we have been discussing the schedule, the Minister in charge of the Tariff in this Chamber has gone back on the original proposals of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), as he is moving for the deletion of the rates originally proposed by the Minister for Trade and Customs in connexion with the explosives industry.
Request agreed to.
– Honorable senators will notice that under sub-item a the duty on cartridges is to be raised, as and from the 1st January, 1923. The duty on fuse under sub-item c has been doubled since this Tariff was originally introduced. The duty on sub-item d, covering powder and sporting powder, is to be materially increased on and after 1st January, 1923. On articles covered by sub-item e, the duty has been reduced, and if the subitem is allowed to remain as it stands the explosive industry in Australia must cease to exist. From the stand-point of national defence this sub-item is the most important in the schedule. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (e), second occurring, to read -
The duties I propose in paragraph (1) are the same as those which were originally submitted by the Government, whilst those I have proposed in paragraph (2) represent a reduction upon the original proposal of the. Government and the irreducible minimum duties required in the interests of the local explosive factory. We have now at Deer Park, near Sunshine, works established on an area exceeding 200 acres. The factory employs, approximately, 250 persons, the amount paid in salary and wages exceeds £45,000 a year. The factory is equipped with the most modern plant for the production of nitro-glycerine explosives of the highest quality. I am informed that there is no factory in the world to-day possessing a more up-to-date plant. So far as I can ascertain, Australia uses about 700 tons of coal-getting explosives and about 1,800 tons of gelatine explosives in the year. The factory to which I have referred is capable of turning out the whole of Australia’s requirements for coal explosives and at least 80 per cent, of the gelatine explosives required in the Commonwealth. What will our position be in the matter of national defence unless we have explosives manufactured in Australia? So far as coal mining is concerned, I want to say that if the whole of the duty I propose is paid by that industry it will not represent more than1d. and a very small decimal per ton of coal produced. At the expense, in an extreme case, of adding1d. per ton to the cost of coal, is it not worth while to continue the manufacture of explosives in Australia, or should we, by leaving the duties as they appear in the schedule, close the local factory and have no explosives of this kind locally manufactured for the purpose of making Australia self-contained? Without explosives we cannot get any coal, any metals, or any of thebasic things which are required for the manufacture of munitions of war. I am aware that honorable senators have been inundated with arguments, pro and con, in connexion with the duties on explosives. I do not want to repeat any of those arguments, but I appeal to the Committee to give this industry a chance to keep going. What is the use of spending millions of money on defence unless we manufacture the basic materials required for munitions of war ? I do not intend to flog the question, because honorable senators have probably made up their minds, and I merely remind them again that so far as coal explosives are concerned, the duties I have proposed are the same as those which, appeared in the Tariff as originally introduced, whilst those I have proposed on the other class of explosives represent a reduction upon the duties proposed by the Minister.
– I wish briefly to indorse the remarks which have been made by Senator Pratten. I do not understand the action of the Government in proposing a reduction of these duties which must kill a good local industry, and a key industry at that. When we are at war, of what use will it be to us to have men, guns, rifles, and a Navy, if we cannot obtain here the explosives which we must use ? The industry in Australia is being carried on with white labour, those in charge of it are treating their employees well, and have spent their money in securing an up-to-date plant, and they are competing against explosives made by black labour in South Africa. The company manufacturing explosives here is a very large employer of labour. It must treat its employees well, or we should not have had so many letters from them asking us to do what we can to prevent the destruction of this industry. I shall not speak at length upon the matter, because I believe that honorable senators must recognise the fairness of Senator Pratten’s request. Compared with other duties agreed to, those proposed by Senator Pratten are very moderate. If the industry is not given the protection of the duties originally proposed by the Government, the local factory must be closed, people will be thrown out of employment, and if we should be at war our guns, rifles, Navy, and soldiers will be of no use to us.
– Does the honorable senator propose to say anything about the family relationship of the local factory with companies manufacturing explosives elsewhere ?
– We know t that every concern manufacturing explosives is more or less in a Combine, but in the case of the local factory, we have, at any rate, the advantage of its establishment in our own country, and its employment of our own people.
– We have control of it.
– We cannot control its prices.
– We can control the local factory. It is employing our own people. If we do not give local manufacturers the very moderate protection which Senator Pratten has proposed, the local establishment must close, and we must then be dependent on other countries for the explosives to load the rifles which are being made at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. What is the use of an army and compulsory training, if we have not within our own borders the means to manufacture explosives?
– The Army does not use these kinds of explosives. They use quite a different kind.
– They use cordite.
– I am told by Senator Glasgow that our Army does use these explosives.
– We use cordite.
– That is so; but it is not made at the factory which has been referred to. It is made at our own factory.
– There is no reason why cordite should not be made at the factory which has been referred to. At any rate, we are speaking of an Australian industry, and I thought it was the policy of the Government to encourage the employment of our people in manufactures to meet Australian requirements. I strongly urge the Minister to accept the moderate duty proposed by Senator Pratten.
– It is not my intention to enter upon a lengthy discussion of this matter. In my view, it is removed from the sphere of discussion. It is a question of life or death to miners, and not a question of whether we should establish a local industry in competition with foreign manufacturers of this article. I went home last Friday with the intention not to continue to attend the present sittings of the Senate, but the importance of this one item induced me to come back. I have been told on the most reliable authority that in coal mines, occasionally, the fall of one piece of coal develops gas, and if, by the use of inferior explosive, the gas becomes ignited, it means death to the miners.
– That is a positive fact.
– If that be so, the Committee should get away from the question of the desirability of establishing an industry here, and should direct its attention solely to the question of the life or death of our miners. So convinced are the- miners themselves that that is the real question at issue that I am content to put their simple statement before honorable senators. Are we going to experiment with their lives?
– Is the locallymanufactured article faulty?
– The imported article is the only one that is looked upon a3 safe.’
– That is the opinion of a practical coal miner. I am putting the miners’ view. I am not arguing the question,’ because I decline to balance the establishment of an industry against the lives of thousands of miners. I have no more to say. I am satisfied that if a calamity should one day occur, and it is brought home to honorable senators that they are responsible for the death of a number of miners, they will regret their action only once, and that will be for the term of their natural lives.
– I desire to give this industry adequate protection, and no more. I should like Senator Pratten to explain why he proposes duties of 15 per cent., 20 per cent., and 25 per cent, on explosives used in mines, and at the same time proposes that ordinary .explosives shall be free from Great Britain, and otherwise dutiable at only 10 per cent, and 15 per cent. I should have thought that the lower duties would have been proposed on explosives used in mines, and I hope Senator Pratten will be able to explain the discrepancy disclosed in his request.
– The higher duties proposed upon explosives used in coal mining, compared with those used for gold mining, and other metalliferous mining are explained by the fact that at present ammonia nitrate, which is used in the manufacture of explosives, is imported, and is dutiable at 15 per cent. If, under a departmental by-law, this commodity were admitted free for the manufacture of explosives, I should be prepared to propose that the duties on both classes of explosives should be the same. I make this explanation in reply to Senator Duncan. I hope the Committee will realize that my request represents the irreducible minimum. I have not attempted to ask for an increased duty in respect of the whole of the 1,800 tons of mining explosives annually used in the Commonwealth, but have confined my request to those used in coal mining. I might readily have asked that the same duties be imposed in respect of all classes of explosives, but I am trying to meet the position and at the same time to preserve the local industry. As to the point raised by Senator Gardiner with respect to the safety of human life, I am informed that tests made quite recently by the British Government have proved the locally-made explosives to be equal to any of those which are imported.
– We can best test the statement made by Senator Pratten by allowing the item to remain as it stands, and leaving it to the local manufacturers of whom he speaks to prove that they are really producing an explosive as good as that put on the market by any other manufacturer.
– The local product has passed the British Government test.
– That is all very well, but we could have no better test than that applied by the miners themselves. As Senator Gardiner has said, the safety of the miners depends upon the quality of the blasting material used by them. The composition of an explosive must be such that, in the first place, only the element used to. explode it will explode it, and, in the next place, that it will not ignite the inflammable ‘element known as gas. The blasting powder used in. Australia to-day, particularly in our coal mines, has been shown again and again to be absolutely free from any dangerous defect of that kind.
– Where is it manufactured?
– I do not care where it is manufactured; my only consideration is that our miners shall be supplied with the best and safest explosives.
– Safety is the first consideration.
– Quite so. I ‘ speak from personal experience. I have used tons of blasting powder of every description, and know that there are a thousand and one ways in which the lives of miners might be endangered by the use of inferior explosives. In years gone by strikes took place in practically every mine throughout the country owing to inferior explosives being served out to the men. No one discovers sooner than, a miner the inferiority of an explosive.
– And, quick as they are, the discovery sometimes is made too late.
– If the discovery is made in any of the ways mentioned by Senator Gardiner, it is too late. Certain imported explosives have been used in- our mines for years, and have been shown to be beyond all doubt absolutely safe. I therefore urge that we allow the item to remain as it stands. When .the company engaged in the manufacture of explosives in Australia has proved that its product is as safe and as well suited to do the service daily required of explosives in our mine’s as is the imported article, I venture to say that the miner will have no prejudice whatever against the Australian explosive.
– I would draw attention to the verbiage of Senator Pratten’s request, which certainly opens a way for State legislation to determine a question that should really be determined by the Commonwealth Legislature. I refer to the words “ Coal -getting explosives, being those explosives named and specified in the New South Wales. Government permitted list, and any other explosives that may hereafter from time to time be added to that list.” My desire is that the duties should not be altered, and I am perhaps giving away something in making the suggestion that the Committee would not agree to leave to any other Legislature the determination of the class of explosives that shall be admitted under a certain duty. I do not know whether the honorable senator has the numbers to carry his request ; but if he has, I suggest to him. that he should so alter his request as to make it read, “ Coal-getting explosives, being those explosives named and specified in any permitted list approved by the Department.” It may be that some other State has a permitted list, and we ought not to differentiate between the States.
– I thank Senator Pearce for his suggestion. I see clearly the point made by him, and, with the permission of the Committee, will amend my request accordingly.
Request, by leave, amended accordingly. 5
Senator Sir THOMAS GLASGOW (Queensland) [6.10]. - In reference to the remarks made by Senator Gardiner1 and Senator Henderson, I should like to emphasize the point that neither I nor any other honorable senator would favour the protection - of an industry if by doing so we would endanger human life. The greater portion of the explosives used in our mines to-day are manufactured by Nobel Limited, of Glasgow. The company which has established the industry here is a branch of that corporation, and must have the advantage of the experience and knowledge gained in the Glasgow factory, so it is unreasonable to suggest that its explosive is inferior to that produced in Scotland. We have heard this same complaint of inferiority with respect to every new brand of explosive placed on the market since the introduction of nitro-glycerine compounds. When nitro-glycerine was first introduced, the miners complained that its use in the mines gave them a headache. As a matter of fact, every nitro-glycerine explosive compound, and particularly dynamite, has that effect. We have had this same bogy trotted out in connexion with every new explosive.
– Many of the new explosives put on the local market have soon dropped out.
Senator Sir THOMAS GLASGOW.They have been forced out of the market by competition! Every new brand of explosive is met with the same objection on the part of the miners, who are encouraged by the old-established firms to make it. The Australian branch of Nobel Limited, of Glasgow, has the advantage of the knowledge and experience gained by the parent company, and it is reasonable to assume that it can produce as good an article as is made in the Glasgow factory. This complaint of inferiority on the part of locally-made explosives is only a red herring drawn across the track . I have had a fairly wide experience in the handling of explosives, such as blasting gelatine and gelatine dynamite used in metalliferous mining. Explosives brought here from a distance and stored for any length of time in a hot climate deteriorate. The gelatine exudes through the wrapper, and the explosive then becomes dangerous. That risk would be avoided by the use of locally-made explosives. Surely it is an advantage to have in the Commonwealth a factory that can supply explosives as required, and so render it unnecessary to store them for any length of time.
– Several honorable senators have said that they have had much experience in the use of explosives. Although I have to confess a lack of personal experience in the handling of explosives, I pay every year for a, considerable quantity, and have heard no complaints whatever with regard to the explosives made in Australia. So far as my inquiries go, every one seems to. be satisfied with them. I suppose that I am using a good deal more explosives of Australian manufacture than all other honorable senators put together.
– Where ?
– In South Australia. The honorable senator is not going to catch me that way. I intend to deal with the coal question before I finish, not dodge it. Let me remind my honorable friend that, if my memory is not faulty, I heard him, two or three days ago, speak in the most severe terms of these millionaire coal-owners at Newcastle and elsewhere, and that this is an Australian industry which gives us a chance to extract some revenue from them.
– I think you forget that the miner has to find his own explosives.
– But the other fellow pays, either directly or indirectly. In very ‘ few instances is the coal-miner required to find the whole of his own explosives. “ The position is much like that of the candles, about which we heard so much a week or two ago.
– No, it is not.
– The honorable senator will have an opportunity of speaking a little later on. In practice, the owner pays, either directly or indirectly, for the explosives.
– Not in coalmining.
– Yes, or in any other similar industry. It is absurd to try and side-track the issue in this way. What section has had its two hands on the throat of the community as- the coal miners have during the last five or six years ? They have been prepared ta hang up every other industry whenever it suited them, and yet, when it is a question of imposing a duty upon explosives for the purpose of encouraging an Australian industry, it is a case of “hands off. We nave to think of the coal miner.” .
– You will certainly punish them by your attitude.
– But this is merely a question of tests. Senator Gardiner, who is a fair debater, must know surely that tests of a most stringent nature, made, in the Old Country, have demonstrated that explosives made in Australia can be used with’ perfect safety in any mine in the world. This information is supplied to honorable senators from a most authoritative source. Nobels, in the Mother Country, produce an article that is in demand the world over; and is it too much to expect that the same firm, under the improved industrial conditions obtaining in Australia, cannot accomplish the same results in the Commonwealth? Why should there be this wild howl from the coal miners that this duty must not be imposed ? Senator Pearce says that they did not use this class of powder during the war. Perhaps not. But if we were at war to-morrow he would be very’ glad to have the machinery which this firm employ in the Australian industry, available for defence purposes.
– The factory, yes.
– Unless we encourage the development of the industry by Protective duties, how can we expect; to have a well-equipped factory available during war time ? We have most definite information that thoroughly exhaustive tests have proved to the satisfaction of the authorities at Home that the explosives made in Australia are quite reliable. I know the occupation of a miner is not a happy one, and if I thought that the Australian-made explosives would expose him to any risk, I certainly would not vote for the item under discussion.
– The miners think it will.
– I have spoken to several miners during the last fortnight, and they are of a different opinion. There is not another industry in Australia that can so well afford to meet an impost of this nature as mining.
– I should have thought that Senator Wilson and Senator Guthrie, who admit that they have had no experience in mining, would have paid more attention to the remarks made by Senator Henderson, who has been- connected with the industry for the whole of his life- time.
– The explosives nowused were not known when Senator Henderson was a miner.
– But Senator Henderson lives in a mining town, and he knows all about what is going on. I can corroborate every word that Senator Henderson has said.
– Had I not a right to make my own inquiries? I am not following any of you in this matter.
– Apparently, the honorable senator will not be guided by the experience of men who know.
– I have been quoting the evidence of the very best authority’ I could get, and this shows that tests made in England have proved that Australian explosives are perfectly safe.
– And I tell the honorable senator that an ounce of practical experience is worth a ton of this theoretical knowledge upon which, apparently, he relies.
– But the honorable senator is quite out of date. It is thirty years since he or Senator Henderson were actively engaged in mining.
– At all events, this is a subject about which I know something, and I am surprised that Senator Wilson should be so presumptuous and dogmatic about the matter. Senator Henderson . and I have had a life-time experience in the occupation of a miner.
– But it was a long time ago. You were lucky to get out of it.
– Order! There are certain rules of debate that must be observed. When an honorable senator is on his feet it is not right that there should be a continuous fire of interjection.
– All that Senator Henderson has said in connexion with this matter is absolutely true, and cannot be controverted by any of the wild statements made by Senator Wilson or Senator Guthrie.
– On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I object to Senator de Largie suggesting that I have been guilty of making wild statements.
– I also object to the statement.
– I withdraw the word if it offends the honorable senators; but I can assure Senator Wilson that he does not know the practice in the coal trade. The explosives are paid for by the miner, out of his wages. The transaction often does not go through the office at all, the coal miner paying his grocer or his storekeeper for this commodity. This practice is not confined to the coal trade either. What about the working gold miner, and the parties of tributors, in Western Australia? All these men pay for their explosives. Every statement made by Senator Henderson in regard to the danger of using inflammable explosives is absolutely correct.
– I have not disputed Senator Henderson’s opinion. I merely quoted an authority against him.
– But the honorable senator appeared to get angry because of statements made by a man who has had lifelong experience in mining. I would pay a great deal of respect to Senator Wilson’s view of the business with which he is familiar, and I would likewise pay particular attention to Senator Guthrie’s opinion on the woollen industry. For the same reason, Senator Henderson is entitled to speak with authority on the coal-mining business. His opinion is not the result of any “ cock and bull “ story told by some one else, but the outcome of long experience.
– In addition to what has been said about the preservation of the lives of miners, there is another reason why we should be careful before we agree to any extra impost upon this item, namely, the need to preserve the life of the industry itself. Remarks which I made during the debate upon wire ropes apply with equal force to explosives. I do not see why the mining industry should be called upon to contribute so largely to the development of the manufacture of explosives, especially in view of the fact that works of this nature are essential for defence purposes. In the debate upon the iron duties it was urged that the protection should be agreed to from a defence point of view, and it was perfectly understandable that the burden in that case should be spread over the whole community. But the same process cannot be followed with regard to the item now under discussion, because comparatively few people besides those engaged in mining are in the habit of using explosives. It is quite true that one section’ of the industry - I refer to coal mining - is in a fairly satisfactory position, but the same cannot be said of the metalliferous miner. We have only to read the reports of almost any of these metalliferous mining companies to realize that the industry is in an unfortunate, if not almost hopeless, position. Mines are closing down all over the country, and yet we are asked in this item to agree to duties for the purpose of supporting another industry, which, let it be remembered, must be intimately related to any defence schemeIn view of this fact, it is false reasoning’ and quite unfair to expect that the mining industry, which, as I have shown, is almost on its last legs, should bear the entire burden of this impost. The duties should rest on broader shoulders, instead of upon an industry which it will take us all our time to keep afloat. No mentionhas been made, so far, of the relationship that exists between the. socalled local company and the big Combineoperating in the Old World. It was; set out clearly in the evidence before the Inter-State Commission that the Australian concern would not have been in operation were it not for financial aid re- ceived from this Combine at the other end of the world. It is an industrial offspring of the parent Combine, and, like most offsprings, it shows an unmistakable likeness to the parent that begot it. We have the evidence of a Broken Hill mine manager that they were fleeced and almost driven into a corner as the result of the action of this Combine, whose pup has been established in the Commonwealth. The mining industry of Broken Hill had to pay exorbitant rates for its explosives. That being so, is it reasonable to assume that the offspring of the Combine will act differently towards it?
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to8 p.m.
– It is entirely wrong to shoulder upon the mining industry the entire burden of promoting this industry at Deer Park, which it is said should be fostered asa necessary adjunct to the defence system of Australia, more particularly when we recall the fact that the metalliferous mines of Australia are to-day in a struggling, position. When men go out to prospect and develop a mine, they work on a very narrow margin for months and perhaps for years. There is no profit in mining to-day; yet here is an undisguised effort to make the lot of the mining companies still harder, and to prevent a prospecting show from having any chance of proving itself to be a success. It is a proposition which I do not think this Committee ought to countenance. I have drawn attention to the close relationship of this Melbourne concern to the world Combine known as the Nobel Explosives Company. In giving evidence before the Inter-State Commission, a mine manager from Broken Hill South pointed out that the industry at Broken Hill was in such a bad way in” 1908, because of the high prices then being charged for explosives, that a meeting of the management was called to decide what steps should be taken to improve the position. As a result of that meeting, tenders were called, and the two big Combines - the British and the Hamburg - submitted tenders, but there was no difference in their prices. In fact, there was no attempt to, disguise the existence of a combination between them. The Broken Hill mining companies were then driven into the position of defending themselves; they invited a South African explosives manufacturing company to come into this market, and gave them a five years’ contract, which brought about a reduction of from 40 per cent, to 50 per cent, in the cost of explosives in Australia. It is now proposed to shut out this South African Company’s products - at least, that will be the result of increasing the duty; and, seeing that the European Combines showed no mercy to the Australian metalliferous mining industry, if is hardly reasonable to expect that their progeny in Australia will have more sympathy for it. Its nature must be precisely that of its parents overseas. ButI ask Senator Pratten to have a little more sympathy with those States in which metal is mined - Western Australia, for instance.
– The effect of the duty on the explosives used in Western Australia will mean an increase of 10 per cent., which is not much to ask for the preservation of the explosives industry here.
– But it will mean adding £23,000 to the annual cost of working the mines in Western Australia, where there are companies just tottering on the verge of liquidation, hanging on in the prospect of something turning up. There are four times as many men employed in those mines as are engaged in making explosives at Deer Park. Does Senator Pratten know that some mines, whose balance-sheets show no profit, employ as many as 600 men?
– Quite so; but I take it that Senator Lynch is desirous of preserving the explosives industry of Australia.
– Yes ; but I would adopt means of doing so which would not involve the extinction of mines in Western Australia. If the Government would bring down a proposal to give a substantial bounty to the enterprise at Deer Park, I would be prepared to support it.
– Hear, hear!
– In the meantime, there is no exaggerating the position which confronts the copper, silver, and gold mining industry of Australia.’ They are at the lowest ebb in their career, and these duties, if imposed, will saddle those in my State with an extra annual expenditure of £23,000.
– Almost all the explosives used by the Western Australian mines are manufactured at Deer Park.
– If the mining companies of Western Australia are so infatuated with the superiority of the Deer Park product, it is a singular fact that Mr. Hamilton, the President of the Chamber of Mines, Western Australia, has sent a telegram to all the Western Australian representatives here asking them to insist on explosives being made free. If they wanted the Deer Park proposition kept afloat, the Chamber of Mines’ would have advised the Western Australian representatives here to at least maintain the duties; but, as Mr. Hamilton’s telegram to me indicates, they are unanimously of opinion that the duties upon explosives should be wiped out. I am against wiping out the Deer Park industry. I think that the Government and this Parliament ought to take into serious consideration the necessity for preserving it; but, even on the statement of the manager of the factory itself, it is making a small profit, whereas I can name half-a-dozen mining companies which are not making a profit, although they employ five or six times the number of people employed in the explosives industry in Melbourne. Have we no consideration’ for the men engaged in mining ? If it is intended to put them out of existence, by all means let us impose this duty and put them out of financial pain at once. I am surprised that the representatives’ of States in which gold and silver are not produced have not more sympathy with neighbouring States. If we want to encourage the manufacture of explosives in Australia, we should do it by means of a. bounty, which would make the job one for the whole community, and not for an industry which is on its last legs.
– The explosives industry should be nationalized if it is an adjunct of defence.
– Yes. Let us go about this in a business-like way, but do not let us put the whole burden on an industry that cannot pass on the cost of production, and must jostle in the world’s markets for the disposal of its output.
’. - No item, in the Tariff has given me more anxiety than this has. A few years ago, during the war, I had a long conversation with Mr. Wilkinson, the Commonwealth Analyst. We were dis cussing by-products, and he pointed out that Australia was not producing some by-products which other nations were. He then made a remark which had a great influence upon me. He said that if the British Navy had not kept open the route between Australia and Great Britain, we would not have got supplies of certain ingredients for the making of lithofacteur - dynamite - and, as a consequence, every metalliferous and coal mine in Australia would have been obliged to close down. When I repeated that conversation subsequently to Senator Watson, now ex-Senator Watson, he said that Mr. Wilkinson was not quite right in saying that’ all the coal mines would be obliged to close down, because under certain circumstances some of them could still be worked, but the coal won would be extremely expensive, and the quantity produced would be very small in comparison with the normal output. These remarks indicated to me that, should we ever be engaged in war in the future, we must take no risks, and I came to the conclusion that we ought to be in a position to manufacture in Australia, even regardless of expense, explosives and iron and steel. There are many commodities which it is not of much importance from a national stand-point to make in Australia. For instance, we have heard a great deal of pianos to-day. I hope that the piano-making industry will continue in Australia and be successful, but from a national stand-point it would not make much difference in war time if pianos were made here or not. On the other hand, it is a matter of national importance to have explosives made here, not only for the purpose of enabling us to carry on warlike operations, but also so that our coal mines and metalliferous mines may be worked. Had it not been for the conversations I have narrated I would not have hesitated a moment- upon this item ; my vote would have been given to make explosives free. Having come to the conclusion that it is of vital importance to make explosives ourselves, I began to look round to see how this desired result could be brought about. There are quite a number of ways in which explosives can be made in Australia. First of all, I suppose Senator Gardiner will contend that they can be made under Free Trade conditions, but the Committee has already decided over and over again that certain industries - piano making, for instance - cannot be carried on without protection. Then there is the bounty system referred to by Senator Lynch, and there is a good deal to be said in favour of it, just as I might claim that if a bonus were given to the timber getters of Western Australia the Broken Hill mines might be saved from being penalized by the increased timber duties. However, I will not stress that point. The question of nationalizing the industry is one that should also be considered; but the most vital thing of all is to be able to manufacture explosives of a satisfactory quality, so that we would not be dependent on outside sources of supply during a period of war. I was very much interested ki the remarks of Senator Henderson, who can speak with authority on mining, concerning the danger of using an inferior article. If the honorable senator’s statement is correct, those who are .advocating increased duties to protect the Australian industry cannot expect very much support. Before this item is disposed of, I think we should be supplied with the names of the companies using the Australian product, and the quantities supplied, and told whether there have been any fatal accidents in consequence. I can speak with some authority on mining as I have worked in the tin mines of Cornwall, the silver mines of Mexico, and the lead mines of Broken Hill, and, as a result of my association with miners, I am able to say that they are very conservative, and hesitate about changing from an article which they understand to one which they do not. ‘ Before dynamite was introduced into the Cornish mines, powder was used, and it was a long time before the miners were convinced that the former was in every way preferable. If satisfactory answers can be given to the point I have raised, I shall be prepared to support higher duties; but if there is a danger, as Senator Henderson suggests, in using locally-made explosives, we should not only oppose the imposition of higher duties; but, if we have the power, prohibit the use of the local product, because lives of men should not be endangered in order to build up an industry. If it is necessary to manufacture explosives in Australia, I do not think the cost should be taken into consideration. I understand that the coal miners really do not pay for the dynamite they use, although prospectors have to do so. Under a New South Wales award the coal miners in that State have to receive 13s. 4d. per day. If they take a contract to extract coal from, a “ face,” at the end of a week or a fortnight, whenever payment is due, the value of the dynamite, fuse, and candles used is deducted. If their earnings do not amount to 13s. 4d. per day over that period the difference is made up.
– If they made 14s. per day they would have to,, pay.
– But they would receive payment at the rate I have stated.
– Only when under the standard wage.
– When the men go to work it is on .the understanding that these costs will be taken into consideration, so that they shall receive a certain amount. I do not think it can be said that the coal miners in New South Wales are labouring under any disadvantages in this respect. The metalliferous mines in Western Australia and elsewhere, to which. Senator Lynch has referred, would have to close down if they were not paying ; but prospectors who are searching for minerals on their own account would be compelled to meet the extra cost if the price of explosives were increased. I believe that if the Australian industry is to be properly developed, and becomes firmly established, certain ingredients used in the manufacture of explosives will still have to be imported. If the Committee decides to impose higher duties our requests will have to go to another place for acceptance, and during that time those who are . supporting higher rates should prove that the Australian explosives do not endanger the lives of the men as has been suggested. If they do, their use should be prohibited.
– When this matter was first brought under my notice I approached it with a good deal of doubt. I realize the vital importance of providing our own requirements, more especially for defence purposes, so that in the event of war we would not be dependent on oversea supplies. Even if we were fully equipped with artillery and rifles, our position would be hopeless without an adequate supply of explosives of the highest standard. I. feel, however, that a good deal could be said on the other side, and my doubts were quickened by the earnest speeches delivered by SenatorHenderson and Senator Gardiner. The former is a practical miner, and when he was graphically depicting the dangers arising from the use qf inferior explosives, which might cause aflash, and set on fire the gases in a mine, resulting in the death of hundreds of miners and the destruction of the property, I felt it to be the duty of those advocating increased rates to prove that the Australian explosives had had a sufficient trial to prove their quality. If it could not be shown that their quality is satisfactory, I would oppose increased duties; but I find on investigation that the Australianmade explosives - the product of the Deer Park factory - have been very extensively used in Australia. I have been furnished with a” list of the mines, and the quantities they are using, and I propose, in order to relieve the doubts and fears in the minds of some honorable senators, to give the names of the companies and the quantities they utilize, It is the coal miners to whom we have to give consideration because the risk of explosions in collieries is much greater than in other mines. This is the information that has been given to me : -
Users of Australian-manufactured coal explosives: -
New South Wales. - Tons per month - Caledonian Collieries, l½; Aberdare Collieries, 3; South Greta Colliery, 1; Newcastle Coal Company, 2; Preston Colliery, 1; South Teralba Colliery, 1; Hebburn Colliery, 1; Seaham Colliery, 1 ; Pacific Colliery, 1 ; Gunnedah Colliery, J; Ashtonfield Colliery,½; New Greta Colliery, 2; Abermain Colliery, 2; Dudley Colliery,1½ Excelsior Colliery, North Bulli Colliery,½; Metropolitan Colliery, 1; Neath Colliery, 3; Rothbury Colliery, 2; Bell Bird Colliery, 3; Stockton Borehole Colliery,½; Newcastle Wallsend Colliery, 2; sundry small collieries, 8.
Queensland. - Tons per month - Ipswich Collieries, 7½ Mount Mulligan Colliery,
Victoria. - Tons per month - State Coal Mines, Wonthaggi, 4; Powlett North Woolamai Colliery, 1; sundry small collieries,1½.
New Zealand. - Tons per month - Taupiri Collieries, 3; Westport Collieries, Stockton Colliery,1½; State Coal Mines, 2½; sundry small collieries, l½.
The point has been Taised that it is not in the best interests of metalliferous mining in “Western Australia that the miners should be forced to use Australian explosives at, possibly, an increased cost. It has been claimed that the mining interests of Western Australia are well satisfied. with the imported explosives which they are using. But practically the whole of what is used in those mines is the product of this same Australian company.
– What is the honorable senator’s authority for saying that?
– I have the authority of the company itself - a statement made deliberately and publicly, and which can be easily refuted if inaccurate.
– The statements of that company and of the South African firm are diametrically opposed.
– Naturally, one may say! I might not have been prepared to take the word of the local people if it had not been backed by such substantial and obviously irrefutable proof as has been furnished to me.
– Can the honorable senator tell me one coal mine in Queensland which uses any kind of explosive at all?
– I have just quoted the fact that the Ipswich Collieries use 7½ tons a month of the local product, and the Mount Mulligan Colliery half a ton a month. Not only are the particulars which have been given me open to public criticism, but the fact is that the employees actually using Australian explosives in the collieries of the three States mentioned are satisfied to use them, and evidently have no objection on the score of danger. But for the statements which I have been able to place before the Committee I must admit that I would have been ready to take the word of Senator Henderson and of Senator Gardiner. I would have hesitated to give a vote which might have forced upon the coal miners of Australia a material in which, so far as I knew, they had no confidence, and the general use of which might have resulted in grave accidents.
– Why is not Senator Duncan prepared to take the word of the coal miners’ direct representatives in another place - good Protectioniststhat they are, too?
– In opposition to what those representatives have stated in Parliament, there is the fact that thousands of our coal miners are using Australian explosives to-day, without prejudice. I am not aware that the percentage of accidents is any higher in those collieries where the local product is used than in any other mines. Indeed, I am quite sure that if anything detrimental could be proved by its competitors, the public would very quickly hear of it. . The miners themselves would be the first to complain ; they would have taken action long ago.
– They have taken action in connexion with this very Tariff.
– I have not heard of one hostile resolution by any of the coal miners’ lodges in New South Wales.
– The statements placed in the hands of Senator Duncan are, after all, ex parte, and have emanated from interested sources.
– I repeat that the particulars were supplied for public information, and that if they are incorrect they can be challenged to-morrow. My objection to the imposition of higher duties has been almost entirely removed by them . For sonic time, of course, the effect may be to cause a small increase in cost to the mining interests, but that will not amount to more than1d. per ton on the coal produced. Meanwhile, assistance will have been given, not merely to the building up of a great industry in Australia, but also to rendering more secure the defence of our great country.
– The honorable senator is advocating the expansion of an interest which the Defence Department will have to buy out at a later date.
– Possibly; but if Australia is to wait until the Defence Department is prepared to establish its own munition works-
– We have our own Explosives Factory already. Perhaps the honorable senator does not know that we are supplying India to-day.
– I am, fully alive to the fact that there is a cordite factory at Maribyrnong, but Senator Keating’s interjection suggested that the whole of the explosives for use all over Australia in all the mines should be manufactured in a Government factory. I do not favour that at present. I know that the local explosives works are a branch of a great Combine. It was that fact which accounted for my hesitation. I have been tardy in giving the local interest my support for the reason that the Combine once attempted to throttle the mining industry of Australia. It was that effort which caused the De Beers Company to enter Australia upon the advice, and with the co-operation of, certain leading mining companies - among them the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. To-day, however, there is a, factory established in Australia, and it is very largely within our own control.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I cannot understand why the Government do not take every, step to keep the local explosives industry energetically alive. The home production of explosives is vital to Australia, in case of anything happening which might cut us off from British supplies. At present there is a formidable rebellion, in India, and who knows but that in a few years the Indian Empire may have been reft from the British Empire. It is not certain but that South Africa herself may be hostile to us at some future date. If such possibilities became facts Australia would be cut off. We would be left without means for defending ourselves unless we had made our own preparations to that end. It has been stated that Australian explosives are dangerous, and that a safe product cannot be made here. An explosive is being imported from South Africa which has been manufactured by black labour; its friends assert that it is quite safe. If cheap South African black labour can produce a safe explosive, cannot white Australian workers do thesame ?
– It is not asserted that they cannot, but that they do not.
– The particulars given by Senator Duncan reveal the extent to which the local material is used. If it were not deemed safe by the miners actually using it, there would soon be such an outcry as would be heard all over Australia. The local manufacturers are prepared to bind themselves for the next five years to supply at the same prices as rule to-day. No objection can be taken, therefore, on the score of increased costs following increased protection. The chief ingredient, which comes from Norway, is dutiable in Australia, whilst it is admitted free of duty to South Africa. The manufacturers of explosives in South Africa employ black labour at low wages. Why should we not give this industry a similar amount of protection to that which we have given to other industries of a like nature? It has been said that the local factory is the “ pup “ of a monopoly; but that is a very extraordinary argument to be used in support of the case of the de Beers Company, -which is a competitor of the local industry, and, as honorable senators are aware, is one of the greatest monopolies in the world. I would personally have been prepared to move for higher duties on this article than have been proposed.
– It has been stated in the course of the debate, and most recently .by Senator Duncan, that some honorable senators are unaware that any representative opinion has been expressed on behalf of the coal -miners of this country against the imposition of a duty on explosives.
– No. Against the use of the locally-manufactured explosives.
– It is appropriate to a discussion of this subject that I should quote the following expression of opinion by the New South Wales Coal and Shale Miners Association, which was read in the House of Representatives by Mr. Charlton : -
You will, therefore, see that ii the Tariff becomes operative as set out, the price of explosives imported will immediately increase, and as the miner has to purchase the explosive it will affect him and not the coal owners. Consequently, the miner is not disposed to bear the increase.
Another point we desire to impress is the fact that if the Tariff is accepted it will bc regarded as a prohibitive clause, and obviate competition, in which case the miner will beleft to the Explosive Combine.
– Do -they say anything about the local article being dangerous 1
– I am showing the effect of a duty on’ explosives on the economic position of coal-miners. They say that it will put their interests into the hands of a Combine. They say, further -
We want cheap explosives lor the purpose of developing our mineral resources, and wo alao desire to extend a preference to every bond fide industry conducted in the United Kingdom.
That communication was signed by J. M. Baddeley, E. Aubin, and A. 0. Willis, president, vice-president, and secretary of the Australasian Coal and Shale Employees Federation respectively.
– That statement is on the question of costs.
– The honorable senator dealt with that phase of the question himself, and expressed some doubt as to whether the coal-miner would have to bear any share of the burden. I put the view expressed by practical miners on that point against that of Senator Thomas. Another statement which has been made is that the local article is used in mines in Western Australia.
– They use Nobel’s explosive almost entirely.
– rI understood the honorable senator to say that they used the locally-manufactured article.
– That is Nobel’s explosive.
– Here is a contradiction of that statement by the Chamber of Mines in Western Australia, which was read in the House of Representatives by Mr. Gregory - .
Mr. Brown, in hia letter to the Argus on 10th May, states that his company expended capital during the war “in order to keep Australia supplied with explosives at a time when sufficient supply could not be procured from abroad.” Again, so far as Western Australia is concerned, there is no truth in this statement or implication that sufficient supplies could not be obtained from abroad during the war. The Imperial authorities did everything possible in the direction of keeping our industry supplied with explosives during the war ‘ period, and only on one occasion did the English supply fail, and then we had no difficulty in obtaining supplies from South Africa. No Victorian explosives have been used by the Western Australian mines, and those connected with the industry are to be taxed to support a secondary industry that is of no benefit to them.
Yet the statement was made by Senators Wilson and Duncan that ‘ the locallymanufactured article is exclusively used in Western Australian mines.
– I repeat the statement.
– The communication I have just quoted is signed by J. W. Anderton, secretary of the Western Australian Chamber of Mines. I have here a wire received from Mr. Hamilton, the chairman of the Chamber of Mines in Kalgoorlie; and in view of the fact that Western Australia produces six times as much gold as Victoria, which is the next highest on the list in Australia, its interests are entitled to some consideration. The wire reads -
Chamber, in interests of mining companies, strongly urges all explosives should be admitted duty free.
That wire was sent to me this afternoon, and it discloses the opinion of the organization entitled to express an opinion on behalf of the mining industry in Western Australia.
– Several statements have been made upon which I should like to comment briefly. Senator Duncan, with great natural eloquence, has put forward an excellent plea, based, I regret to say, onfalse premises. I have not time to analyze his statement completely, but I can give one instance to show how wrong he was. He told us that the Wonthaggi colliery uses exclusively explosives manufactured at Deer Park. I am informed from an equally reliable and equally ex parte source - the other side, in fact - that the South African company supplies more than half the explosives used at this particular colliery.
– Even if the Wonthaggi colliery obtains half its supplies from the local factory, that answers the argument against the use of the local article.
– I have said that I have not the time to analyze the whole of the honorable senator’s statement. I picked out one portion of it about which I made inquiries, and that is the information given to me. Senator Elliott is most anxious to establish the industry here. The industry is established, and is flourishing. The figures supplied by Senator Duncan show how thoroughly it is established, and how it is flourishing. What is the necessity for an increased duty on explosives when the industry is in such aflourishing condition that it is able to supply the many tons of explosives used by the mines in New South Wales, Queensland, and elsewhere, to which reference has been made by Senator Duncan?
– Why does it not supply them all?
– I will tell the honorable senator why we do not wish that it should supply them all.
If it did, we should have in Australia a condition of affairs such as obtained here before, when we were at the mercy of this company. The company had not then a branch factory in Australia, but the Australian mines were at its mercy; and how did it treat them?
– It tried to strangle them.
– It tried its best to strangle the mining industry of Australia, and it was only because, at our request, another company came to our assistance that we were able to defeat its attempt. The de Beers Company assisted us to defeat the Combine.
– It was the only friend we had.
– It was the only friend we had to come to pur assistance in our hour of need. Some honorable senators and some people outside say to me, “ You are a soldierman, and obviously must support the establishment of this industry in Australia.” I am prepared to agree to that to the extent of saying that it is very desirable that we should be in a position in Australia to manufacture our own munitions of war. I go further and say that the time will arrive when it will be essential that we should have this industry established in Australia.
– It might be tomorrow.
– That is so; but I have so far heard no reasons advanced why one industry in Australia should have to pay forthe establishment of an industry essential to the defence of this country. That is what Senator Duncan proposes. He wants the mining industry of Australia to pay for the establishment of the explosive industry. We know that the metalliferous mining industry in Australia is tottering on the verge of destruction, and yet it is asked to supply the funds necessary to keep this factory at Deer Park going. Is that a fair proposition ? Would it not be a fairer proposition to ask the whole of the people of Australia to pay for this factory, or some similar institution, in the interests of the defence of Australia? Is it a fair thing to ask the unfortunate mining industry, which never experienced in its history a worse time than it is going through now, to carry on its back yet another load? Honorable senators have only to consider the incidence of the Tariff, which I have characterized in very strong terms, to learn how it hits the miner and mine-owner at every turn. Here is the last straw. Miners, mine-owners, and all associated with mining in Australia join in an appeal that this last straw should not be added to the burden of their industry. I am afraid that their appeal does not reach some members of the Committee. We are told that the factory at Deer Park employs a few hundred people, and on that account we should keep it going. The mines of my own State alone employ thousands of people. Are honorable senators going to set the interests of a few people at Deer Park against the existence of the whole of Kalgoorlie, because that is what the request under consideration amounts to? Which is of the greater importance to Australia, the carrying on of its mines or the carrying on of the Deer Park factory? Our first consideration in this matter should be for the mines of Australia, and the small factory at Deer Park should be but a secondary consideration.
– I do not wish to delay the Committee, but I wish to correct an impression which a statement of mine conveyed to Senator Lynch, to the effect that the article manufactured in the Victorian factory is used solely in Western Australia. I find that my statement was not correct. I like a fight as well as anybody; but when I find that because of a misunderstanding I have made a mistake, I take the first opportunity to correct it. Before the adjournment for dinner some honorable senators asked what tests are made to insure the standardization of locallymanufactured explosives in the interest of the safety of those who use them. I am informed that all the explosives made in Victoria are under the direct supervision of the inspector of explosives, and their manufacture is most carefully guarded in every shape and form.
– It is the same in Queensland.
– As to the statement that imported explosives are preferred by metalliferous miners, I am informed that this preference is due only to the fact that the explosvies of South African manufacture are sold at prices below those at which the
Australian company can produce, and that more than 50 per cent, of the explosives used in coal mining here are of Australian manufacture, and are purchased at prices ranging from 10 per cent, to 20 per cent, above those ruling for South African explosives. That speaks for itself.
– It is a very poor argument.
– The honorable senator and I have been standing together very well on Tariff questions, but on this occasion we find ourselves ranged in opposing camps., I think he will admit that if the men who use explosives in our coal mines, and whose lives are at stake, buy the locally-manufactured article, that is a conclusive argument as to its safety. I have referred already to the tests to which the Australian product has been submitted. Samples were sent to England, and the reply of the testing authorities of the British Government was that its use would be permitted in any of the coal mines there, and that it was second to none. It is said that Nobel Limited have an active part in the local industry. I would point out that the explosives that are imported are to a very large extent manufactured by that company. I do not wish to discredit the remarks made by Senator Henderson, but the explosives used when he was mining are not in use to-day.
– That is not so.
– I may be wrong, but I am informed that the explosives that are used in mining to-day were not manufactured when the. honorable senator worked in the mines.
– Nonsense !
– I am dealing with this question from a commercial point of view, but with due regard to the interests of the men who use explosives. In view of the fact that the Australian-made explosives have been declared by the British authorities to be fit for use in the coal mines of Great Britain, I fail to understand why any objection should be offered to their use here. The local company is a reputable one, and the information supplied by it in support of its product is public property. No company of any repute would lend itself to misleading statements. Taking into account the work that the local industry is doing, and the employment it is providing, I think that, apart altogether from the question of the black labour employed in making explosives abroad, a good case has been made out for the protection of the Australian product.
.- Senator Drake-Brockman has pictured the company engaged in the manufacture of explosives here as a sort of commercial octopus, that is going to throw its arms round the mining industry of Australia and squeeze it to death. The Australian company is directed by intelligent business men, yet Senator Drake-Brockman wishes us to believe that it is prepared to squeeze to death the mining industry of the Commonwealth, on which it depends for its market, and thus to destroy itself. Is it reasonable to assume that it will do anything of the kind? It has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds in establishing the industry here; and surely its object will be to develop its trade to the fullest possible extent? It is said that it is identical with the company that squeezed the miners on a former occasion.
– That is so.
– That may be; but it has now delivered itself into our hands. It has come here and built up huge assets, so that if it again resorted to such tactics we could, if necessary, deal with it by legislation. We could nationalize the industry if those engaged, in it adopted monopolistic tactics. I repeat that its very existence requires that it should nurse the mining industry of Australia and so enlarge the market for its output.
– In the earlier part of the evening I dealt very briefly with this question and its bearing on the safety of men working underground. I refuse to discuss it from any other stand-point. If it were not such a serious question I should have been highly amused by Senator Duncan’s speech. But for the fact that the representatives of the miners in another place will have an opportunity to confute his statements, I should deal with them fully at this stage. When this item was before another place, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), acting leader of our party, and the honorable memiber for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins), two most earnest and sincere
Protectionists, put the case for the free admission of this commodity on the ground that the lives of the men working underground depended upon the use of safe explosives.
– Was not that mere camouflage ?
– Senator Elliott, as a lawyer, may indulge in camouflage in the Courts, but men like Mr. Charlton and Mr. Watkins would scorn to do anything of the kind. They are sincere and deadly earnest men, who say and do only that which they know to be right. Will any one question the sincerity, honesty, and earnestness of Senator Henderson, who has also opposed this request? I think not. The only basis upon which this question can be argued is as to whether or not we should be taking an undue risk by shutting out explosives from abroad. Senator Duncan rather amusingly states that he prefers to accept the information obtained by him from the local company than the statements of the miners and their representatives in this Parliament. The miners would naturally expect him to do so.
– The miners are using Australian explosives.
– That point was dealt with fully in another place. The question whether the Australianmade article isdangerous should be left to the miners themselves to determine. Honorable senators may make experiments with Protectionist principles in the open, but I object to this experiment, affecting, as it does, the safety of. the men in our mines.
– The miners will decide the question.
– They should be allowed to do so, but, apparently, some honorable senators have resolved that the miners shall be called upon to pay a higher price for the safe article. We may have a thousand mining men ready always to do the fair thing, and to use only a safe explosive. But it needs only one to employ a dangerous explosive for a great disaster to occur. I am guided in this matter by the opinions of the representatives of the miners in another place. Mr. Charlton and Mr. Watkins, like Senator Earle, are sincere Protectionists. Senator Earle is the only real Protectionist we have here; he has stuck to his guns throughout the consideration of the Tariff schedule. I ask honorable senators ‘ to consider for a moment what may happen if we render it impossible for our miners to obtain a «safe explosive except at an enormously increased price. Consider for a moment the awful results that would attend an explosion in a mine. If honorable senators will keep that in mind they will not be likely to sleep better than they have been doing.
– Imagine another Bulli or Mr Kembla disaster !
– Are honorable senators trying to bring about another Kembla disaster? It was the knowledge that this question was to be determined that brought me back this week. I could not stop away with the haunting thought in my mind that a wrong decision might be arrived at.
– The Bulli and Kembla mines use imported explosives.
– The honorable senator may believe that if he pleases. Mr. Willis, the secretary of the Miners Federation, assures me that this is a matter of supreme importance to the men, and I take my cue from the miners’ representatives in another place - Mr. Charlton and Mr. Watkins - in opposing an increased duty.
– I need not repeat any of the arguments already advanced in favour of the general, principle of protection; but those who have urged as a reason for opposing the request that the locally made explosive is dangerous have given me cause for much thought. I am a practical miner, and have used both the Australian and the German Nobel product. . As far as I am able to judge, there is very little difference between their breaking force and general effectiveness in mining operations. I am not able to speak with authority as to the class of explosives that should be used in coal mines, where there is a danger pf firedamp, and when an honorable senator states, apparently on the authority of the representatives of the coal miners, that the Australian-made explosive is dangerous for such a purpose, it sets one thinking. Since that state ment was made I have been hurriedly looking through the reports of the- debate on this item in another place, but I have not found in them any definite statement by either Mr. Charlton or Mr. Watkins that the Australian-made explosive is dangerous for use in coal mines. I hold so high an opinion of Mr. Charlton that if he said that the locally-made article was dangerous, my vote would be given against its protection.
– So would mine.
– While Mr. Charlton was speaking on this question in the House of Representatives he was interrupted by Sir Robert Best, who asked, “ Does the honorable member challenge the quality of the article?” He replied, “lam told that it is very inferior.” It will be noticed that Mr. Charlton was relying, not upon his own experience, but on statements made to him.
– He has not been actually engaged in coal mining for many years.
– Nor has Senator Henderson.
– He is quoted as a representative of the men who are most concerned, and if the use of this explosive were dangerous, Mr. Charlton would have said so, but he did not. I have the assurance of those interested in the industry - of course, it might be said that their opinion is prejudiced - that the local explosive is not dangerous, that, on the contrary, it possesses all the qualities of the most carefully-tested explosives produced in England, and is being used successfully, and with perfect safety, in the combustible mines of Australia, “where a lingering fire would be extremely dangerous. In view of these facts, I cannot attach very great importance to what might be regarded the irresponsible statement that it is dangerous to human life. If we had any reasonable evidence pointing to that possibility, I would not only refuse to assist the industry but would agitate for its abolition. We have had some scare speeches on this subject tonight. The industry, I think, ought to be discussed on its merits. I am as strong in the matter of encouraging this industry as any other. I want to see all such industries established in Australia, and believing as I do that the local explosive is quite as good as the imported article, 1 am going to vote for the increased duties.
Senator GARDINER (New South Wales [9.18]. - I am sorry again to take part in the ‘debate, but Senator Earle has just handed me the Hansard report of Mr. Charlton’s speech on this subject in the other House, and I want to make this short quotation from it -
This monopoly charged considerably more for their explosives in Great Britain than they charged for them in Australia, in consequence of there being competition here at that time. The next reason I submit why explosives should be admitted free is that in the interests of life and property, which ought to be paramount, those manufactured in Australia ought not to be permitted to be used in the mines.
Question - That the request (Senator Pratten’s) as amended be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majoritv … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Item. 398 (Filters), item 399 (Fire brigade and life-saving appliances n.e.i.), item 400 (Goods passed by the Customs and subsequently sent out of the Commonwealth for repairs), and item 401 (Reimported goods) agreed to.
Hair and fibre, curled, suitable for upholstering purposes, ad vol., British, 25 per cent. ; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
– I move - .
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by adding as a new sub-item - “ (B) Kapok, per lb., British, 4d. ; inter- mediate, 6d.; general, 6d.”
These proposed duties are about the same on to-day’s values as the duties on hair and fibre. I want the fixed duties, because since I mentioned the matter in connexion with another item the kapok values have been reduced by importers from Java to 107/8d. per lb. in order to compete with the new and growing industry that has been established in Australia for making mattresses from thoroughly scoured wool, samples of which I produced in the Senate some little time ago. An analysis by Mr. Wilkinson, the Government Analyst, shows that the grease left in the wool is only . 06 per cent. This should entirely remove any objection that might have been urged against the use of scoured wool for mattresses. Australia is the principal market for Java kapok. In the United States of America, most mattresses are stuffed with cotton, and in Great Britain and Europe wool, hair, and fibre are largely used, and yet when we propose to use thoroughly scoured wool in Australia it is suggested that we are asking too much of the Australian people. As a matter of fact, we should directly encourage the use of this product, because our wool-growers have had a very rough time lately, and, owing to the huge stocks of low-grade wools on hand, the future is clouded in uncertainty. Therefore, the use of thoroughly scoured low-grade wool for mattress filling should be encouraged in every possible way. Honorable senators have had an opportunity of inspecting these mattresses, and I venture to say that they have never seen a better article, or one more comfortable to sleep upon. Medical opinion is to the effect that wool is the healthiest substance that can be used. In view of these facts, the Committee should agree to the request.
– What is the object of the British preferential Tariff?
– To preserve the uniformity in the Tariff. Hair which is produced in England does not vary very much in value, but kapok is the product of black labour in Java. It is not proposed by these requested duties on kapok to force our people who prefer kapok to sleep upon scoured wool, because I am informed by a Commonwealth official that in Papua and in certain of the Mandated Territories kapok grows wild in great quantities. If Australians wantkapok mattresses, let them develop the resources of their own
Territories, and obtain all their supplies of the material without payment of any duty.
– And in the meantime sleep in the parks.
– They can use the mattresses they have already. I would be sorry to see Senator Payne sleeping between newspapers in a park. If this duty is imposed, there will be no need for Australians to worry about increased costs, because woollen mattresses are coming on the market very rapidly. They are being bought by some of the biggest hotels and flats in Sydney. According to The Bedding Manufacturer, an American trading journal, the American Congress is now considering the advisability of placing a heavy duty on kapok in order to meet the cheap-labour competition of Java. If the people of America realize the necessity for building up a local industry to utilize local products for the purpose of making mattresses, surely it is wise for us to do the same here, especially when we can grow kapok in our own territories as cheaply as it can be grown in Java, but more especially when we can give equality of opportunity to our own local woolgrowers. But the duty I support is necessary for another reason. Wool, like kapok, is bought at so much per lb., but as the quantity of wool that goes into a mattress is much greater than the quantity of kapok required, weight for weight, it costs much more to turn out a finished woollen mattress than it does to make a finished kapok mattress. I hope that the Committee will see the wisdom of adopting my suggestion to give some degree of protection to this new industry which has been established in Australia. The people engaged in making these mattresses have asked for more protection, but I do not think that we need increase the ad valorem rate of 40 per cent, for hair or fibre. I think it is quite sufficient to impose a fixed duty, of 6d. per lb. upon kapok.
.- This little proposition would mean taxing, the bedding of the people of Australia to the extent of £150,000 a year. Do not let us humbug ourselves with the idea that woollen mattresses would come into use. To-day coarse wool is cheaper than kapok, and why are people not using woollen mattresses?
– Coarse wool in the scoured and teased state is not cheaper than kapok.
– Will Senator Guthrie say that this coarse wool cannot be bought for less, than 10½d. per lb. today?
– In its prepared state wool suitable for mattresses cannot be bought at that price.
– The honorable senator has frequently told us that coarse wool is unsaleable, and that the most it will realize is 2d. per lb.; but, when it suits his argument, wool suddenly increases in value. The fact remains that the price of coarse wool, which would be used for these mattresses, is not above a fifth of the price of kapok, and yet it is not used for the purpose of making mattresses. Why not? Because the people prefer kapok mattresses, especially in the warmer parts of the Commonwealth, where woollen mattresses would be insufferable. Kapok is not used out of a pure spirit of contrariness. It possesses certain qualities, which wool has not, that makes it eminently suitable for mattresses. I will quote the opinion of Mr. Wilkinson, the Commonwealth Analyst, who was asked for a report upon this proposal, which had been made to the Department by Senator Duncan. In his report, he says -
The fact is generally accepted by the bedding trade that the public prefer a kapok mattress to a wool mattress, even if the kapok costs more. It is common knowledge’ that kapok is odourless, and, unlike wool, it does not retain odours. Kapok does not felt under the combined effect of heat, moisture, and pressure. Wool, unless exceedingly, coarse in the fibre, will always felt, more or less, under the above conditions, and the cleaner the wool is scoured the more liable it becomes to felt under the conditions above mentioned. From a hygienic aspect, no objection whatever can be taken to kapok.
Before the war the price of kapok was 6½d. per lb. c.i.f. Its present price is 10d. per lb. c.i.f. The duty proposed would represent a tax of £150,000 per annum on the mattresses used by the people of Australia. Senator Duncan says, “ Why not use our own kapok?” Is he not aware that this Tariff operates against New Guinea, and that any kapok coming from that Territory would have to pay this duty, which represents something in the neighbourhood of 65 per cent, on the present price of kapok. It would be absolutely the highest duty in the Tariff.
– Except that on . clothes pegs.
– I do not think Senator Duncan has fully realized the effect of his. proposal. From a Protection stand-point, one could not justify ‘ such an impost. At any rate, it would not cause the use of a single lb. of wool more than is being used to-day. If all the mattresses of Australia were stuffed with wool, it would mean utilizing only an infinitesimal portion of the wool produced by us, but at the same time would make kapok mattresses dearer to the people of Australia. For these reasons the Government cannot accept the request.
– I. am very sorry that I cannot accept the Commonwealth Analyst as an expert on wool. I have never heard of an analyst who was an expert on wool. The Minister (Senator Pearce) is evidently labouring under a misapprehension in saying that coarse wool is cheaper than kapok. There are wools and wools. As I have frequently pointed out in this Chamber, coarse crossbred and Lincoln wool is practically unsaleable to-day; its price is as low as 2 1/2 d. or per lb., but that is not the class of wool required for stuffing mattresses. The most suitable wool for that purpose is what we call crossbred noils. After the wool is combed, there are certain short pieces of wool called, in the trade, noils, which the combing mills in this country find it very difficult to dispose of. Similarly our crossbred, lambs, and pieces are very difficult to dispose of, and they are suitable, after the necessary preparation, for this industry. The average price of the quality of wool most suitable for stuffing mattresses is 6d. per lb. in the greasy state, and the yield of that class of wool after clean scouring is about 60 per cent., so that the bone-dry scoured article can be valued at lOd. per lb. in the raw state. The scouring costs 2d. per lb., and the teasing another Id. or 2d. per lb., so that, when these items are added, the actual cost of the commodity which is to compete against kapok is, on the -present low price of wool, from ls. Id. to ls. 2d. per lb.
– On your own showing you’ do not need a duty of 6d. per lb.
– But Senator Duncan has pointed out that a greater quantity of wool than of kapok is required to stuff a mattress, that is if people demand the same bulk. It is estimated that it is 40 per cent, more, but I think that it is not so much as that. As the present price of kapok c.i.f. is lOd. per lb., a duty of at least 4d. per lb. would be required to put the Australian article, grown by white people, and handled from the time it is grown until the mattress is made and stuffed, by Australian white people, working under Australian conditions and wages, on an equal footing with the imported kapok grown by black labour in Java, and landed here at the price I have mentioned. The pre-war price of kapok was 4-Jd. per lb.
– The Customs figures show that the pre-war price was 6d. per lb.
– I know that kapok was landed in Australia at 4 1/2 d per lb. and bought at that price by people who stuff mattresses. If the price of kapok fell to 8d. per lb., we would still require a duty of 6d. to give the local woollen mattress maker a slight advantage. We produce 2,000,000 bales of wool per annum, and it is very difficult to get a market for the very classes of wools which would be used in stuffing mattresses.
– The people will not use wool in mattresses.
– Woollen mattresses have been in use in Great Britain and Europe for the last 100 years.
– In cold countries.
– Wool, being an animal substance, is a non-conductor of heat or cold, and therefore is warmer in winter and cooler in summer than kapok, which is a vegetable substance. Wool is also non-inflammable, whereas kapok is very inflammable. Medical men will tell us that the woollen mattress is much healthier than the kapok mattress.
– The Commonwealth Analyst says exactly the opposite.
– I do not care a rap about what he says ; he knows nothing aboutwool. Here is a case where we want to do something not only to improve the health of the people, but also to encourage the use of our own product against kapok grown by blacks on land owned by the Dutch in Java. Why should we not use Australian wool? We have a glut of wool, and we are looking all over the world for fresh avenues in which to sell it, more particularly those qualities of crossbred pieces, second pieces, and lamb’s wool, which are eminently suitable for the stuffing of mattresses. The Minister also made the statement that wool will felt. Short crossbred wools, when properly scoured and teased, will not felt. By encouraging the manufacture of woollen mattresses we shall be building up an Australian activity, and finding another outlet for the product of a staple industry, even if we should at first sight appear to be making the people’s bedding a trifle dearer. It should not be forgotten that the life of a woollen mattress is at least three times that of a kapok mattress ; it is much cheaper, therefore, in the long run. A woollen mattress is safer ; it is also warmer in winter and cooler in summer. I cannot understand the attitude of the Minister (Senator Pearce). He bases his views upon the opinions of some departmental chemist who knows no more about wool than my boot. The firms locally manufacturing woollen mattresses are just establishing themselves. They have scarcely had an opportunity to place their production before the public; otherwise, it would be widely favoured. The reason why the woollen mattress has not previously been placed upon the local market is that the proper class of wool has never before been so cheap. But, just now, when the industry is being built up, the Government prefer to discourage it, and to favour a product from Java. The proposed duty of 6d. is very moderate. The local manufacturers originally asked for 9d. ; but I went into the whole matter most carefully in order to arrive at what would be a fair thing; and I now urge the Minister to agree to 6d. Why should a duty of 40 per cent. be imposed upon hair for stuffing mattresses and kapok be permitted to come in free? In any case I am asking for only the same rate, practically.
– No; the honorable senator desires” an imposition equivalent to 60 per cent.
– Upon present values the rates are pretty nearly the same. The Dutch will be pouring in their kapok at about 8d. per lb. for a while in order to crush their new Australian competitor; but until they feared this competition they were charging as high as ls. 2d.
.- A more preposterous proposal than that of Senator Duncan has not previously come before this Committee. From the outset of the discussion upon the Tariff, honorable senators have decried the enormously high cost of living. By their words and their votes they have shown a desire to reduce that cost. Several honorable senators have opposed every proposition calculated to place any additional penalty upon the people. Now, however, they are suggesting . that Parliament should deliberately say to the people, “ Henceforth we shall prescribe the class of bed upon which you shall lie.” Kapok has provided not only a cheap but a comfortable bed upon which the weary worker can recline after a hard day’s’ toil, but some honorable senators would compel him, for the future, to pay 50 per cent, more for his bed.
– He would not need to be persuaded to pay more when he once had had experience of a woollen mattress.
– I have recently heard several references, outside of Parliament, to this matter. If Senator Duncan were to come into conflict with the Housewives’ Association of Victoria hp would be sorry that he had ever moved as he has done this evening.
– I have had dozens of letters in support of the proposition.
– The Minister (Senator Pearce) has pointed out that the request, if put into effect, will impose an enormous burden upon the public. Senator Duncan refrained from giving an idea of the cost of a woollen mattress. He contented himself by saying that the Hotel Australia, in Sydney, had given a large order to the local firm. The management of that hotel will not be at the expense of this purchase; it will pass on the cost. I would not be surprised to find that the tariff for every room in the Hotel Aus- tralia had been increased by1s. a day from the moment of the introduction of the woollen mattresses.
– The tariff there is about £2 per day already.
– The management can always demand a. little more. I would like to know how long a kapok mattress will last compared with a woollen mattress.
– Not a third of the time.
– A housewife can sweep up a shovelful of dirt and fluff each morning from under a kapok mattress after a certain period of its lifetime.
– That is an exaggeration.
SenatorFoster. - To poor people the initial cost of a woollen mattress is a very big consideration.
– Of course! Is it reasonable to propose that the poor should be compelled to pay so much more for a woollen mattress when they are quite content with, and perfectly comfortable upon, a kapok mattress?
– If they are given a chance to learn the qualities of the other, they will prefer to buy it for a little more.
– The Australian woollen mattress factory is placing its product on the market to-day. It should be ready and willing to test the market before Parliament protects it in the manner which its friends desire.
– The more I think over the proposition the more I am. inclined to support Senator Duncan. Of the total production of Australian wool only about 5 per cent, is turned to account locally. The Government Analyst contends that kapok has one considerable advantage in that it is odourless. Are not woollen blankets odourless ? Woollen mattresses are almost imperishable; they are handed down from father to son. The trouble with the manufacturers of the local article will be that they will never get return orders. Comparing the cost of the one with the other, and taking into account the life of each, a woollen mattress is considerably the cheaper. As for the argument that it makes an uncomfortably hot bed in the Australian summer, is not wool a nonconductor of heat ? Does not the housewife wrap up her ice in a piece of woollen cloth?
– Everybody should wear blankets in summer in order to keep cool ?
– Ice wrapped in a woollen blanket lasts longer than in cotton material. I support the request.
.- I strongly support the request. Wool producers are experiencing great difficulty in procuring a market for this primary Australian product. If an opportunity is presented for establishing an additional outlet Parliament should not decline it. No hardship will be inflicted on the public, because, although the initial cost of a woollen mattress is greater, the article itself lasts for years longer than a kapok mattress. In a few seasons the latter is practically reduced to dust. I have not had actual experience of a woollen mattress, but it should be almost everlasting.
– It will outlast a man’s lifetime.
– The woollen mattress has not yet been tried out.
– It has been used in England for a hundred years.
– The manufacture of woollen mattresses has been begun in Sydney, and is being established in Melbourne. The Australian makers should be given a fair chance. Should we allow a cheap and nasty foreign product to be imported from the East Indies to compete with a superior local article?
Question - That the request (Senator Duncan’s)be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
And on and after 8th July, 1921- 403. Manures, British, intermediate, and general, free.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives he requested to amend the item, to read as follows : -
Honorable senators will see that the effect of this request, if carried, will be to allow all superphosphates manufactured anywhere within the British Empire or in the Mandated Territories to come into the Commonwealth free of duty.
– Where it does not come from.
Senator PEARCE. Yes, it does. Honorable senators know that on the Island of Nauru, which is under the joint control of Great Britain, New Zealand, and the Commonwealth, there is one of the greatest deposits of phosphatic rock in the world. Australia is rich in sulphide and pyritic ores, and the sulphuric acid manufactured from these ores with the phosphatic rock form the raw materials from which superphosphate is made. Superphosphate is produced very extensively in the Commonwealth. It is also manufactured, I understand, in New Zealand and South Africa, so that there are ample sources of supply within the British Empire. It is true that in the past we have imported a large quantity of phosphatic rock from Japan, and in this connexion” I desire to direct honorable senators’ attention to the remarks of Sir Edgeworth David, one of our greatest scientific chemists, concerning the lessons to be learned from the war. One of these, which he particularly emphasized, is the absolute dependence of a country upon acid production as the foundation of its munition supplies. A country that has not developed its production of acids is impotent and helpless. Here is a country not very far from us which has developed its acid plants to a tremendous extent, not only for the production of acid for commercial purposes, but also that they may be used for the production of munitions. If a country is cut off from its supply of fertilizers in time of war the supply of food, which is essential, at once is lessened. What was it that strangled Germany ? The want of fertilizers for the treatment of the soil decreased the production of food and fats in that country, and had an appreciable effect in bringing about the end of the war. During the war our superphosphate manufacturers had the opportunity, if they had desired, to exploit this market, but they did not do so. They kept their prices below the world’s parity. During the war period New Zealand was paying £12 per ton for superphosphates, whilst we were paying £6 per ton. The definite guarantee has been given by the manufacturers of superphosphates that if the duties now proposed are adopted they will not take advantage of the impost and increase their prices. The Department has that assurance in writing.
– Is it a proper agreement ?
– Yes, it is a definite agreement in writing, which is at present in the possession of the Department. The present prices are quoted, and are therefore available to every one. This is an important industry, and, as I have given the Committee the essential facts, I trust the request will be agreed to.
Much could be said of the necessity or otherwise of imposing duties on superphosphate, but it must be admitted that the soils of Australia must be treated with this product. Every year settlers are compelled by sheer force of circumstances to go further and further back on to the “ thin “ land in our agricultural areas because the good land has gradually been taken over for sheep farming and dairying. Wheat-growing is essential to the prosperity of our country, and those who are taking up poorer land are shouldering a great responsibility, but are assisting by the development of the country and the production of cereals to increase our exports, and thus reduce our public indebtedness. Being a farmer it is my intention to assist the farmers in getting their manure as cheaply as possible. We do not desire manufacturers to be philanthropists, and dispose of their products at a price which does not pay; but, after the statement of the Minister (Senator Pearce), it is difficult for us to conceive what the real object of the Government is, and whether they desire to protect only the manufacturer of superphosphates and the makers of sulphuric acid.
– We desire to assist both.
– Sulphuric acid is essential in the manufacture of explosives. We endeavoured to impose duties on explosives to give the iocal companies greater protection, but on top of that a request is now submitted which gives them further assistance, but means that the farmers must pay 25 per cent, more for fertilizers to meet the demands of the acid manufacturers. It is not fair to honorable senators or to the farmers to submit this request.
– How does the honorable senator arive at the 25 per cent.?
– That is the rate the Minister mentioned. Twenty years ago Japanese superphosphates were coming into Australia, and the price at that time was about £4 5s. or £4 10s. per ton. Japanese manure, according to analyses, was slightly superior to the Australian product; but at that time the Australian manufacturer was able to drive the Japanese product off the Australian market, and, consequently, they have lost our trade. The price at that time was as I have mentioned, but to-day we are paying about £6 per ton, and I understand the strength of the local product has been reduced by 2 units, which is equal to 5s. or 6s. per ton. I admit that it is necessary to protect these industries from dumping, and I understand that the Government intend introducing an anti-dumping Bill. I am sure that no one is in favour of foreign products being dumped here to the detriment of Australian manufacturers.
– Will not this be equivalent to anti-dumping legislation?
– It may be; but to the farmer it is a very different proposition. We should take info consideration the position of settlers in Western Australia, where there are vast tracts of arid land awaiting development, and of those in New South Wales and in Queensland. Even the banana-growers in the last-mentioned State have informed me that they use 3 cwt. to 7 cwt. of superphosphates per acre to manure their little plots. The same thing applies throughout the State. When I find representatives of the farmers in another place informing the people that the farmers are themselves about to start a manufactory for the production of the manure they require, and to make it a success without protection, how can I, who claim to some extent to represent the interests of the farmers, ask the Government to impose a duty of 25 per cent. ? I will concede the right to the protection of an anti-dumping measure. It is my intention to submit a request that the duties shall be, per ton, British, free; intermediate,1s.; general, ls. If such a request is carried it will lead to reconsideration of the matter in another place, where the Government can give reasons for the imposition of a duty of 25 per cent, and take responsibility for carrying their proposal. It is not reasonable that another place should turn down a proposal for the imposition of a duty and then ask the Senate to impose a duty because they were afraid to do so themselves.. In another place honorable members did not ask for protection, and asked that sulphur should be admitted free. In this Chamber the Government proposed a duty on sulphur, in my opinion, for the purpose of forcing the Committee to impose a duty on superphosphates.
– The desire the honorable senator has indicated can be accomplished in two ways. He can move to amend the request submitted by the Minister, or if he succeeds in negativing that request, he can then submit a request himself in the terms he has suggested.
. -I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The reason for interrupting the discussion of the schedule of the Customs Tariff Bill is that it is essential that thisBill should be passed at once. The operation of the existing Act is about to lapse, and unless this Bill is passed there will be an interval during which no bounty will be payable. The purpose of this Bill is to enable the bounty sanctioned by the Shale Oil Bounty Act to be paid for another twelve months. So that this is really only a carry-on measure. By sections 2 and 3 of the existing Act an appropriation of revenue amounting to £270,000 was made, to continue for a period of four years from the 1st September, 1917, for the payment of bounty in respect of the production in Australia of crude shale oil from mined kerosene shale. Of this sum only £84,685 l1s. has been paid, and as the period of four years is now up it is necessary to secure Parliamentary sanction for the continuance of the bounty for a further period of twelve months, during which the Government propose to review the whole question. There is £186,000 of the amount appropriated still unexpended. It is anticipated that claims amounting to about £400,000 will shortly be received in connexion with production since the 17th June. If Parliament agrees to extend the operation of the bounty under this Bill for another twelve months it is the intention of the Government to have the whole situation in connexion with this bounty and the allied questions affecting the shale oil industry thoroughlyreviewed. I therefore ask the Senate to agree to pass this Bill through all its stages to-night, in order that we may be able to pay the bounty, and, as I have said, Parliament will later be given an opportunity to review the whole question.
– I rise to a point of order. I am very sorry that it may seriously interfere with the passing of the measure under consideration, but, to my mind, correct procedure is of the greatest importance. If you, sir, rule that my point of order cannot be sus tained, I shall be perfectly satisfied to allow the Bill to pass quickly. My point of order, briefly stated, is this : “We have by deliberate resolution suspended so much of the Standing Orders as would prevent the passing of the Customs Tariff Bill through all its stages without delay. There is now interposed another Bill, and this, to my mind, is directly in opposition to the resolution of the Senate. The consideration of this Bill will delay the passage of the Tariff Bill. The Senate has suspended the Standing Orders for a certain purpose. They are suspended for that purpose, and until that purpose is effected I claim that the Government have no right to intervene with other business.
– The point raised is a very simple one, and does not require any argument to dispose of it. It is true that the Standing Orders were suspended to enable the Customs Tariff Bill to be passed through all its stages without delay. The Customs Tariff Bill is not now before the Senate. It is only while that Bill is before the Senate that the Standing Orders are suspended. They are not now suspended, and the motion submitted by Senator Pearce is, therefore, quite in order.
– I have no desire to delay the passing of this measure. Its purpose is merely to extend the operation of a measure to which the Senate agreed. But this Bill lacks one principle which, I think, should be embodied in all Bounty Bills. When we propose to assist the development of the oil resources of the Commonwealth by putting the people’s money into the business, we should see that the people are given an interest in the business proportionate to the money, they are asked to invest in it. For every £1 of the people’s money put into a private concern, the public should be given a proportionate interest. If in the course of a year we pay bounty to the extent of £50,000 on the production of oil, at the end of the year the books of the company to whom the bounty is paid should show that the people of Australia are entitled to a £50,000 share in the business. When the people’s money is invested in a private business, the people should get a return for their investment when that business reaches the profit-making stage. I realize that the Government are anxious to get this measure through, quickly, and there is not time to submit the arguments which I could use in support of my view. I had no desire, however, that the Bill should be allowed to pass without mentioning this matter lest it might subsequently be suggested that I had neglected an opportunity to assert this principle. We would not invest our own money in any private concern without securing an interest in it, and we should be even more careful in this regard when we are dealing with the people’s money. In every Bounty Act passed there should be a provision that when the business assisted by the bounty reached the profit-paying stage the public investment in the business, as well as the private investment, should share in the profits. As I know that the Government are anxious to have this Bill passed without delay, I shall not debate the matter further.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment.
Standing Orders suspended : report adopted .
Bill read a third time.
In Committee 5 (Consideration resumed, vide page 11529):
– I strongly support the request which has been moved by the Minister (Senator Pearce). We recently agreed to a duty of 50 per cent, on sulphur with the object of protecting a by-product of the electrolytic zinc industry which has been established in this country. If a market were not created for that by-product it would be wasted, and it would be practically impossible to carry on the electrolytic zinc process here. Having gone so far, we must take a further step and develop a means whereby sulphur can be used with phosphatic rock in the production of superphosphates here. The Commonwealth has spent something like £1,500,000 on acquiring interests in Nauru and Ocean Islands for the purpose of developing the superphosphate industry here; but if the request is negatived, or even if the amendment which has been suggested by Senator Plain is carried, Japanese superphosphates will be brought in and render that impossible. At the time that we acquired Nauru the Japan ese secured a mandate over the Caroline , Islands, where there are also vast phosphate deposits, so that the Japanese are in a much better position than they were in before the war to compete with the superphosphate industry of Australia. They have immense deposits of sulphur, and by means of their cheap labour could but for our Protective duties place superphosphate on the market at a price that would render it impossible for the local industry to carry on. In that event we should get no return for the money that we have expended on Nauru and Ocean Islands. In addition to these considerations, we must have regard to the development of the production of sulphuric acid, which is the basis of the chemical processes of importance in almost every stage of manufacture. A supply of superphosphate is essential. We ought not to be compelled to depend for it on outside sources of which we might be deprived at any moment, either by a direct war with the people who produce it, or by a war with some other nation which would cut us off from our supplies. The last war enabled our superphosphate manufacturers to get a good start, and it would be suicidal now to allow the Japanese product to come in and destroy the industry.
– Does the honorable senator really think that the Japanese could knock out the local industry?
– I do.
– Does the honorable senator know that that is not the opinion of those engaged in the industry?
– I presume that this request has been submitted by the Minister at the instance of those engaged in the industry, and because also of a desire on the part of the Government to obtain some return for the money which has been expended by the Commonwealth on Nauru.
– Does the honorable senator think that since the passing of the duties on sulphur the farmers have had an opportunity to put their case before the Government as fully as the local manufacturers of superphosphates have done?
—I presume it is open to the representatives of the farmers to state their case to-night.
– We shall have to state it.
– I would point out that every .thousand tons of superphosphate that is imported - directly deprives fifty men of employment, and indirectly throws twenty men out of work. If the imported article captured the market, the £600,000 invested in the industry have to lie idle. I do not know what is the annual consumption of superphosphates in Australia, but the figures I have given will convey to the Committee some idea of the number of people who are dependent upon the industry for a livelihood. The Australian manufacturers of superphosphates stood manfully behind the farmer during the war. They had a monopoly of the trade, and could have obtained high prices had they desired to do so.
– Does the honorable senator know the extent to which they put up their price during the war ?
– They increased it to about £6 per ton, but in New Zealand the price went up to £12 per ton.
– It was £4 10s. per ton before the war, whereas to-day it is £6 per ton.
– Our interests in Nauru have not yet been properly “developed; but I have no doubt that when the arrangements for bringing phosphates from that island are in full-going order, the price of locally-manufactured superphosphates will be reduced.
– Before the local manufacturers were able to draw on Nauru, under the present arrangement, they charged only £4 per ton for their superphosphates; they now ask £6 a ton for them.
– There was nothing to prevent them putting up the price to £12 per ton during the war.
– Not if the Government chose to let them do so.
– The request submitted by the Minister, if agreed to, would still leave the Australian market open to competition from all parts of the British Empire so that there need be no fear of a local monopoly.
– This is a question of such vast importance to wheat-growers that the representative! of the wheat-growing States cannot allow it to pass without discussion. The wheat experts, of the various
State Governments are unanimously of opinion that the wheat lands of Australia would- be practically useless but for the employment of superphosphates in their fertilization. That fact has been .proved beyond doubt,
– We are not proposing to shut out importations, except from Japan. The farmers will be able to get ample supplies.
– It is a question, not merely of obtaining supplies, but of securing them at a price that will enable the wheat-growers to carry on. That is what this means.
– Do not forget that those engaged in the wheat industry have done very well in recent years, notwithstanding that they have had to pay £6 for superphosphate.
– How can it be said that they were doing well when they got less for their wheat than the farmers of any other country in the world? If we interfere any further with the wheatgrowing industry by imposing these duties and making production more expensive than it is, we shall be instrumental in reducing the area of cultivated land throughout Australia, because it will be impossible for farmers to make wheatgrowing pay.
– Nevertheless, land values are higher than ever before.
– They are falling rapidly.
– If we increase the cost of superphosphates we shall make it utterly impossible for a large number of farmers working on the light soils throughout the Commonwealth to make wheat-growing pay. I speak with accurate knowledge of the lighter soils in my own State; I know how important it is to use superphosphates in order to make them productive. Experts everywhere are demanding more liberal application of superphosphates to our poorer soils, in order to insure larger yields. Dearer superphosphate will mean ruin to a very large number of farmers in Western Australia, South Australia, and New South Wales. They are all practically in the same position. I have paired with another honorable senator in the division upon this item, and as my name will not appear in the division list. I take this opportunity to speak against the proposed increased duties.
– Before the item is disposed of, I think it would be as well if the Minister (Senator Pearce) placed some information before honorable senators as to the profits from Nauru Island for the last twelve months. This Government have invested £1,480,000 in that venture. I do not know how much they are paying to salaried officials there, but I believe their overhead charges average something like 42 or 45 per cent. Any one who has a knowledge of the business knows -that, no matter what happens, there is never going to be cheap phosphate from that island. Apparently, this proposal to impose a duty of -25 per cent., while it may have the effect of making superphosphate dearer, will, perhaps, enable the Government to show some profit on the island proposition. The Government bought their ships out of the farmers’ produce, and now they are going to do the same with regard to Nauru, the acquisition of which I regard as the biggest blunder ever committed by a blundering Government. The overhead charges are enormous, and the proposed increased duties are merely an effort to make the farmer pay more for his superphosphate.
– They are unloading their mistakes on to the farmers.
– Yes ; to make up for this’ Government blunder.
– There was no blunder, about Nauru. It is one of the best things we have done.
– It is absurd for the Minister to say that, in the face of the overhead charges on a capital expenditure of about £3,000,000, of which amount this Government is responsible for £1,480,000. Every one knows that the cost of phosphatic rock is the cost of the labour employed in getting it out, just as with quarried metal. In the case of Nauru Island, the labour costs will be as great as in any other country, and, in addition, there are the overhead charges on the capital cost, as well as the salaries of highly paid officials. Now we are asked to agree to a duty in the general Tariff of 25 per cent., which will probably give the Government enough revenue to cover up their tracks. . I want to voice my protest against this additional burden upon our primary industries, which again have to take second place to our secondary industries. All through this Tariff the primary producers have ‘had no consideration, and this is the last attempt to handicap them.
– Very briefly I wish to indorse the remarks of honorable senators who have already spoken in opposition to the Government proposal, which is one more blow at the primary producer. We were’ told by interjection a few minutes ago that our wheat farmers have done very well in recent years, notwithstanding the increased cost of superphosphate. They did well last year, because they had a record crop and record prices, but the average price for wheat in Australia for the last eighteen years is 4s. 2d., and in the ordinary course of events it is likely to come down, if not tq that level, at least to under 5s., whilst the cost of production is continually increasing. The position has not been improved by this Tariff, which imposes increased duties on machinery, fencing wire, and ever blessed thing the farmers require, and now there are proposed increases in the duties on super.phosohate, which is essential for successful production. The average quantity of phosphate used is, I think, about 1 cwt. per acre.
– Not so much as that.
– It is. On some of the northern rich lands we use 60 lbs. of super, per acre, and down south, in my own immediate district, as much as 2 cwt.
– I think the average is estimated at 80 lbs. per acre.
– Well, that is pretty close to my estimate of 1 cwt. It is important that we should encourage our people to go on the land, not off it; and at the risk of wearying honorable senators I must repeat some official figure? which have an important bearing upon this subject. In .1915-16 the area under cultivation was 18,528.234 acres, and in 1920 13,332,393 acres. These figures evidence a serious retrograde step, which it is important to check if possible.
– Do not forget that 60,000 of our workers were away at the war.
– They were not away from Australia in 1920, and I shall give the figures for that year. They are entirely against Senator Senior. He has made a boomerang which will rebound and hit him. in the neck ; because, whereas in 1915-16, when the men were away at the war. the area under wheat was 12,000,000 acres - and it would have been greater, according to the honorable senator, if the men had been here - in 1919-20, when the men were back it was only 6,000,000 acres. Yet we hear the cry, ” Open up the lands and settle people on them. Put returned soldiers out-back in the Mallee, and down “in the south-east of South Australia, or up in the north of the continent.” At the same time, we increase the price of his fencing wire and his plough, and now on top of that rack him with, a higher price for the superphosphates which are so essential for his farming operations to-day. Graziers have also learned that the scientific use of superphosphates improves the carrying capacity of grass lands. For years in Denmark and other countries, superphosphates have been applied to grazing lands, and it has been demonstrated *in Victoria, according to a pamphlet issued by the State Agricultural Department, that a top dressing of superphosphates has considerably increased the production of milk, butter, and cheese per acre. Provided the price of superphosphates is not too high, they oan be used with considerable advantage, particularly on our poorer lands near the coast, and even in the Wimmera, Mallee, and Riverina districts. Although I have given a pair to a. Minister (Senator Russell) whom we all regret is unwell, I could not allow this proposal to increase the burden of the primary producers of Australia to pass without my strong protest.
– I desire to support the request moved by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce).
– You are the most consistent man in the chamber.
– I think that results will show that my advice on this question is sounder than that of some honorable senators who have expressed opinions on both sides. The other evening we foresaw the necessity of establishing the superphosphates industry, and in order to promote the local production of one of its necessary ingredients, placed a duty on sulphur.
– I thought that this was coming.
– Of course, it was inevitable, because if we did not now place a restriction upon the importation of the manufactured article, the protected sulphur would come in in the prepared state as superphosphates. What would be the good of encouraging the production of sulphur in Australia if we allowed it to come in in a manufactured article free of duty 1 Surely every honorable senator foresaw that the inevitable corollary of placing a duty on raw sulphur would be a duty against the importation of manufactured sulphur. If we want to establish an industry, in Australia to provide farmers with the superphosphates which are so necessary nowadays, we must protect it against the cheaper product of the outside world. Some honorable senators cannot understand that an impost upon the importation of some foreign substance does not necessarily mean an impost on the people in Australia who use the article. We have had two demonstrations of this. When we were discussing the duty on arsenate of lead, it was shown that by building up the industry in Australia the locally-produced article was being sold at a price which was cheaper than that of the imported article, and that its quality was equal to that of the imported commodity. Again, in the -case of sewing machines, it was shown that through our neglecting the ‘ opportunity to establish this industry in Australia, the users of these machines are paying 300 and 400 per cent, more than they are worth. As a matter of fact, although for the time being we may impose a penalty on the user of an article by restricting its importation and creating the local manufacture of it, we are ultimately doing him a good turn. I would be prepared to face farmers anywhere and tell them that honorable senators who vote to restrict the importation of superphosphates, thereby creating an industry in Australia which will give a reliable and continuous supply within this country, are their very best friends.
– And the farmers would all burst out laughing.
– If they were of the honorable senator’s intellectual temperament, probably they would; but I think they are too amenable to reason to laugh at such a palpable truth. Notwithstanding all that Senator Guthrie Has said, and all that Senator Wilson will say, I claim that I am just as much a friend of the farmer as either honorable senator is. If we do not protect this industry we shall ruin it, and the farmer, who will then be dependent upon importations, will be in a very much worse position than he can possibly be in if the request put forward by the Minister is agreed to.
– All the arguments which I advanced at an earlier stage with respect to superphosphates still hold good. When this Committee expressed itself in favour of a duty upon sulphur, approximating 50 per cent., it was obvious to all who take an interest in the matter that the manufacturer of superphosphates would pass on his added costs to the man on the land. The Government went before the electors nearly two years ago with the cry, “ Produce, produce, produce “ ; but they have turned round since and put all the burdens upon the producer. A fey? days ago Senator Earle stated that almost’ the whole of the sulphur used in Australia was locally produced. Between 40,000 and 50,000 tons of sulphur is imported annually by the superphosphate manufacturers. In 1914 farmers were paying £4 2s. 6d. per ton for their fertilizers. To-day, the price is £6. I have been informed that the quantity of superphosphate used per acre is about 1 cwt. To-day his fertilizers cost the farmer about 6s. an acre. What will be the effect of the proposed duty?
– Not a penny more.
– When the duties imposed by the Government begin to take their full effect the cost will be somewhere about 8s. per acre.
– That is merely an assertion. More competent authorities than the honorable senator have stated that the cost will not be increased.
– Only a day or two ago I read, in this chamber, a statement from the chairman of a South Australian superphosphate company which indicated that the duties imposed upon imported sulphur would represent an addition of 5s. per ton to the price of superphosphate. That / is how the manufacturers will be passing on the impost, of £2 10s. on sulphur. The Government have entered into business-like arrangements for the sale of the product of Nauru Island. Everything, including finance and provision of shipping, has been thought out in the interests of the manufacturer. Why did not the Government include in their arrangements a provision fixing the cost of superphosphate to the producer? The whole difficult question might have been settled once and for all. Now, however, it is Up to “ the Senate - seeing that another place has refused to take the responsibility - to fix the price of the farmers’ fertilizers. Why should this Committee be saddled with the delicate responsibility? The farmer is not looking for sympathy, but he has a claim for fair play. I plead with the Committee to fulfil that claim.
.- There has been a marked inclination on the part of the Committee to sympathetically regard the welfare of the primary producer. Compared with the treatment accorded in another place to farming interests, the man on the land has been most generously considered by honorable senators. I agree with Senator de Largie concerning the great benefits of employing fertilizers. The honorable senator referred to certain soils which would not have been producing anything to-day but for the judicious application of superphosphates. It was the vital importance of superphosphates to the primary producers which induced the Government to secure some control over the island of Nauru, so that we would be independent of any foreign Power, and assured of a supply of this commodity. The Government are to be congratulated on what they did, and honorable senators who are friends of the farmers should remember that if superphosphates were admitted free from Japan and such countries where they are manufactured by cheap labour it would be impossible to carry on their production in this country on a commercial basis. What would be the position of the farmers if they could not depend on a local supply? The whole object of the Government has been to protect the primary producers, and that is the ‘intention of the request which has been submitted by the Minister.
– If the proposals of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in his -policy speech at Bendigo were compared with the present action of the Government, it would be a puzzle to find out what sympathy or consideration is being shown to the primary producers. I have failed to discover a vestige of it. We were told, in the first place, that an interest had been acquired in Nauru as the result of bargaining, and that the island was to be under the triple control of Great Britain, New Zealand, and the Commonwealth. We were told that the island was a valuable possession, and that, as a result of the interests which the Commonwealth had acquired, the farmers of this country would be able to obtain a cheapand plentiful supply of superphosphates. What is happening now? In what way is the product of this island being handled and turned to account? Was not Australia’s interest in Nauru given as a prize to the Prime Minister? As a result of our interest in Nauru, superphosphates will now be dearer.
– What proof has the honorable senator of that?
– On what grounds do you make that statement?
– Was not Nauru set down as a prize for the Prime Minister at the Peace Conference? Now that we have an interest in the island, the farmers, instead of being supplied with cheap manure, will be asked to shoulder an additional burden.
– That is a wild assertion.
– I challenge and defy the Minister to deny that it was not said that Nauru was acquired as a means whereby the wheat farmers would be able to obtain supplies cheaper than they had been doing in the past.
– That is a fact.
– I do not deny that. I reaffirm it. The honorable senator’s statement was that, as a result of our interest in Nauru, superphosphate will be dearer.
– We know the slim and wily way in which argument can be conducted, and that is how the matter is being handled at the Ministerial table. We were told that the raw material which comes from Nauru and Ocean Islands would be available at a lower rate, and the farmers are now justified in asking what has become of the promise of the Government. It is up to the Government to “ deliver the goods.” If there is to be any increase in the price of artificial manures, many of the farmers will have to leave their holdings.
– But there has been no increase.
– Here is a proposal for a duty of 25 per cent.
– But there has been no increase in price.
– Since the Government have been interested in the island of Nauru, the price has gone up 20s. a ton.
– Why was there not an increase in price during the war period ? Will the Minister tell us that?
– There has been an increase owing to the higher freights and increases in wages.
– The price has gone from £4 to £6 per ton.
– My statement was that the local manufacturers had not increased their prices to the extent of those Vuling outside Australia.
– There was a slight increase.
– Why was there not a greater increase such as there was in New Zealand ? What is the reason ? If the Minister does not know, I shall tell him. It was because some manufacturers came to the Government, and made arrangements whereby the raw material was to be taken at the Government expense - which means the expense of the taxpayers of the Commonwealth - to the factories where it was to be treated. Notwithstanding this, the Minister is endeavouring to give credit to the manufacturers; but thanks should be tendered to the general taxpayers, who have had to shoulder the burden.
– Does the honorable senator say that?
– Yes; the stuff was brought down in Government ships at rates far below those ruling at the time.
– The honorable senator has been misinformed. The Government charged the usual freight on those contracts.
– Does the Minister seriously say so?
– I do.
– The honorable senator is relying on his imagination for his facts.
– I am saying that the Government agreed to carry the raw material at a stipulated price.
– It was in the neighbourhood of 30s. per ton, which, compared with the ruling freights, was far below what others had to pay. These vessels were flung in the way to assist the manufacturers, who now have the audacity to say that they did not increase their prices. If they did not, it was because the raw material was brought to them below cost price. My statement rests on the fact that raw material was brought down at a lower figure than other ship-owners would carry it.
– That does not prove that it was carried below cost price.
– I challenge the Minister to contradict my statement that the material was not carried at a lower price than other shipping companies would carry it.
– If the Government did that, they were helping the primary producers.
– I am dealing with the statement that the manufacturers did not increase the price.
– I thought the honorable senator was blaming the Government for increasing the price after acquiring a measure of control over Nauru.
– The manufacturers are claiming credit for a virtue they never possessed, and there is no need for the Minister to endeavour to bolster them up at the expense of my intelligence. The proposal now is to impose a duty of 25 per cent., and that figures out to the farmers at something in the neighbourhood of ls. per acre.
– Then the honorable senator is against Senator Wilson ?
– Yes; he mentioned a different figure. The price of superphosphate is going up to the extent of the protection that is now being afforded. Twenty-five per cent, to-day is equal to 30s. a ton, which means 2s. 6d. a bag. A bag contains 180 lbs., and as it takes, even on rich soil, 60 lbs. per acre, onethird of a bag at 2s. 6d. would be 10d., and that is what the price will increase per acre. I am givingaway too much. Here is a proposal to add virtually ls. per acre to the cost of cultivating wheat lands. Would the Government dare to bring down a land tax of ls. per acre?
We know that they would not, but that is the effect of what they are proposing now.
– The honorable senator will persist in saying that the duty will increase the price of the article.
– Senator Earle threw out his chest like Ajax defying the lightning, and said he was prepared to face any primary producer in the country. We know that he does not come from a wheat-growing State, and, like the manufacturers of superphosphates, he is claiming credit for a virtue which he also does not possess. Normally, the honorable senator makes valuable contributions to our debates; but he comes from a State that is not a wheat-growing State, and it is the wheat-growing States that will feel the pinch of this duty.
– The fruit-growers of Tasmania require a good deal of this article.
– They do, but not to the same extent as wheat-growers. Superphosphate is essentially a wheat land fertilizer. It is the four wheatproducing States that are most concerned in this matter. I return to my figures, and I say that this impost is in the neighbourhood of from10d. to ls. per acre; and I again ask whether the Government would have the hardihood to come down with a proposal for a land tax of ls. per acre on top of the taxation already existing. If they did, they would be kicked from the Treasury bench quick and lively by the primary producers of this country, and rightly so. How many forms of duty is the wheatgrower called upon already to bear under this Tariff? This is the last straw to press him into the earth, and I say it is not a fair thing. What is the other side of the picture? Is there any warrant for the proposed duty? Here are two companies established in this country without a duty.
– There are eleven companies manufacturing this article.
– That only makes my argument stronger. I am concerned chiefly with two companies that bulk more largely than any others, whose industries were established without a penny piece of protection. I know that in 1908 those interested in these companies came with the same story, looking for a duty. I do not blame them when they know the Government’s chaotic policy for preventing progress by the imposition of outrageous and unasked-for duties; but I say- that their industries were established without protection. I commend the enterprise and skilful management that enabled that to be done. But it was done without a penny piece of protection against even Japanese imports. These industries are thriving to-day, and apparently are paying a handsome return on the capital invested in them. is it a fair thing that we should give these companies an increased duty? I know that they would not ask for it if it were not that a duty was passed the other day in the interests of those producing sulphur in Tasmania. But was the Tasmanian company established for the purpose of extracting or manufacturing sulphur? Of course, we know it was not, and we know, also, that the farmers must pay this taxation. As Bacon said, “ You cannot contend coldly for what you believe earnestly,” and I am quite at a loss to account for the action of the Government in this matter. They agreed, in the first place, to a duty ; then they decided that there should be no duty; and now they ask the Committee to start the ball rolling and to impose this tax on the primary producer. Will he regard the Senate in a friendly light if this proposal is agreed to? He will be possessed of a higher nature than the average of human beings if he does so.. On the contrary, he will regard the Senate, as an institution designed specially to impose a load of constant taxation on him. All the rhetoric of honorable senators to the contrary, this means a tax on primary production. I want to. know why it should be proposed. I have heard all the talk indulged in about motor cars, and so on. But though you may see one farmer using a motor ear, you will see 100 using a rickety old spring cart or sulky. Bacon said that a man always marks a hit, and never a miss, and in the same way, in connexion with Tattersalls sweeps, we hear of the man who wins, but we hear nothing of the scores of thousands who lose. In common with Senator Plain, I make an appeal on behalf of the men who have been driven on to the drier and lighter soils of Australia. By virtue of their native industry and physical powers, they are making those lighter and dryer soils productive, and to pile on extra taxation upon those men is selfish, unreasonable, and unpatriotic in the extreme. Honorable senators have not the slightest consideration for the men who are so situated.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Amendment (by Senator Plain) proposed -
That the request be amended by making the duty, sub-item (is), per ton, general, ls.
– I wish, briefly, to complete the remarks I desired to make. Although it may not be considered right to contribute personal experience, there can be no doubt that that is the most valuable that could be submitted, and in this matter I can give my own experience for the last twelve years in wheat farming. Personal experience is the best schoolmaster, and hearsay counts for nothing against it. It has been stated, on the best authority in the Western Australian Legislative Council, that there are 600 idle farms in Western Australia. They were taken up some years ago, and for various reasons those who took them up walked off them and went back, into the labour market. Sir Edward Wittenoom called for a return on the subject, and the figures I have given .were supplied. There are hundreds of farms that have fallen into the hands of the Agricultural Bank where the saplings to-day are growing as high as the roof of this chamber. Perhaps it is not altogether seemly to draw on one’s own personal experiences, but I propose to put my experience of farming before the Committee. In twelve years I have had four failures. I have experienced two droughts, during which I did not get as much wheat off my land as could be picked up with a pen. We had a drought in 1911 and again in 1914, and for two seasons we had too much rain, and did not obtain a return sufficient to cover expenses. We obtained £84 worth of wheat from 600 acres. As a result of the drought of 1914, which swept over the whole continent, we had to pay £1 a bag for wheat which we had sold for 9s. 6d. a bag the year before, and £14 a ton for chaff which we had sold for £3 10s. a ton. That was the experience of hundreds of men on the land. And yet we have here a proposal to tax them to the extent of 1s. an acre - a taxwhich in reality will amount to nearly 2s. per acre in the case of farmers in the western State. Honorable senators representing the eastern States are prepared to vote for this impost. Senator Bolton, for instance, is ready to do so. He is a representative of Victoria, a developed State, I am glad to say, and one having large areas of good land. I invite him, however, to look at this question from a continental point of view and to have regard to the unfortunate position of thousands of farmers in other parts of the Commonwealth whose experiences have been positively appalling. They are his fellow Australians, although they do not live in Victoria, and he should have regard to their interests. My experience satisfies me that there is not a morsel of warrant for what the Government are now proposing. If they place this impost on the farmers of Australia, the farmers - and particularly those who are trying to scratch a living out of the light dry soils - will not look with a friendly eye upon them. I know what I am speaking about, and I do not hesitate to say that even farmers in the most superior positions, men who have acquired cheap and good land along the Midland Company’s lines in Western Australia - capable men, drawn from the mines and the artisans’ stops, including many from the eastern States - are in a bad way today. I do not like to tell this doleful tale, but it is absolutely true. I grant that there are some farmers settled on good land in favorable situations who are doing well. They are of the second generation, and there are some who managed to get cheap land in good situations who will, so to speak, “keep ahead of it.” But they could not do so unless they were prepared to disregard clocks and. watches, and as soon as’ they recover from their bodily tiredness make a fresh attack every morning of their lives. It is on behalf of such men that I make this plea. If the Committee carries this request it will do so with the most callous indifference to the interests of thousands of poor struggling wretches. The Senate is supposed to guard the interests of all sections of the community, but it will deal treacherously with the interests of thousands of poor farmers if it carries this request. Every honorable senator who votes for this increased burden of Is. an acre upon the poor fellows of whom I have spoken will fail in the discharge of his public duty. I am against this request. I . have voted over and over again for Protective duties, but I am taking up this stand to-night on behalf of a most deserving class. If there were any warrant for the increased duty I should not object, but it is proposed in the interests of companies that are doing well. Notwithstanding the foolish step taken by us the other day in imposing a duty on sulphur, I believe they can still do well. If they cannot, then let us retrace our steps and give them free sulphur. Let the big mining company in Tasmania do what it told the world it would do - extract copper on a more scientific basis than before. Let the “cobbler stick to his last.” Let this company stick to what it set out to do, and not call upon late and early workers to pay for their by-product. Do not let it call upon the poor wretches out-back to pull it through. I invite honorable senators to show me a statement in the prospectus of that company that its object was to produce sulphur. It was distinctly set out in its prospectus that it proposed to carry on the electrolytic process of producing copper, but it now asks the farmers in the back country to come forward and help it to make ends meet. I appeal to honorable senators’ sense of fair play and equity; I appeal to them to exercise their common sense and to reject the request.
Question - That the amendment (Senator Plain’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the request (Senator Pearce’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item 404 (Materials and minor articles).
– As this is the most important item in which the duties are “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws,” I desire to remind the Minister (Senator Pearce) that early in the discussion of the schedule, one honorable senator took exception to the inclusion in another item of the words, “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws,” and moved for their omission. A lengthy debate ensued, and as it promised to become more lengthy, the Minister in charge (Senator Russell), on my suggestion, gave an undertaking that honorable senators would be afforded an opportunity, before the schedule left the Senate, of dealing with the whole question of these departmental by-laws, as to the manner in which they were framed and promulgated. A considerable amount of discussion was, therefore, abridged. I hope that promise stands good, and that the Minister will be able to inform the Committee when that discussion may be expected to take place. I understand there is a very general feeling that the remainder of the schedule shall be dealt with by the Committee now. I believe that even motions for recommittal are to be considered during the present sitting. I am not quite sure whether we shall have an opportunity to discuss these departmental by-laws on the third reading, when the Bill comesback from another place after consideration has been given to the requests from this Committee. I rose to draw attention to the Ministerial promise which resulted in the termination of the debate on that occasion. I hope the Minister will take this opportunity of affirming it and indicating to the Committee when the debate may most conveniently take place.
– When the Bill conies back from another place.
– I was under the impression that the debate had taken place, for I have a distinct recollection of listening to at least halfadozen speeches on the subject.
– But the amendment was withdrawn on the promise of the Minister that we would have an opportunity of considering the question of these departmental by-laws before the schedule left the Committee.
– I know the request was withdrawn, but I do not see how it would be possible to have another debate on the subject at this stage. The Minister has noted the various objections that were raised to the present procedure, and I know he proposes to invite the Tariff Board to consider whether some better procedure cannot be devised by which honorable senators and the public generally may be more fully advised as to the working of the system. I think one suggestion was that something might be done through the Commonwealth Gazette.
– The by-laws have always been published in the Commonwealth Gazette.
– Not all of them.
– Yes. Look in any Customs Act and you will see that what I say is correct.
– I do not think the Customs by-laws are published in the Commonwealth Gazette, but I know the regulations are.
– By-laws, too, but not the departmental decisions. The sixth explanatory note of the schedule states - “‘Departmental by-law’ means by-law made by the Minister, and published in the Commonwealth Gazette.”
– It is impossible, at this stage, to open up a discussion on that subject. Various suggestions, as I have said, were made, and objections taken to the present procedure. These are all recorded in Ilansard’, and the Minister proposes to invite the Tariff Board to look at them, and make suggestions as to the adoption of a more satisfactory method.
– He gave us an assurance that before the Bill left this Committee we would have an opportunity of discussing the matter at large.
– Then I cannot make a practical possibility out of a practical impossibility. There is an opportunity now, but I do not think any honorable senator would care to inflict a long debate on this suffering Committee. I do not know of any other opportunity than is afforded by the ordinary procedure. Honorable senators may give notice of motion, discuss the matter on a Supply Bill, on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, or move a special adjournment. These are the only opportunities, other than raising the question on this Bill, and I ask honorable senators not to do that. I can give the Committee an assurance that the Minister intends to take the matter into consideration. Whatever representations have been made during the course of the debate will be considered, and due weight giver to them.
– Could we raise the point when the Bill comes back to us from another place ?
– That is a question which more properly would be submitted to the Chairman; but I think that it could be done provided an item is under consideration in which these words occur. I suggest that honorable senators should leave the matter at this stage, with the assurance that the Government are impressed with the necessity for instituting some better procedure.
– Some honorable senators did not speak upon the question - I was one of them - because of the assurance that a later opportunity would be afforded to them to do so.
– That is probably so. All I can say is that the opportunity presents itself now - although I am sure honorable senators will not avail themselves of it - and that other opportunities will be afforded such as I have just indicated.
– I have been puzzling my brains to see how the matter could come up again when the Bill comes back to us from another place unless an item for our reconsideration contains these words. We might solve the difficulty by requesting their omission from an item now, and thus make sure that they will come before us again. I do not complain about the Minister (Senator Pearce) not carrying out Senator Russell’s assurance, which was given in order to prevent the discussion of this matter at an earlier stage. We are now told that the question is to be referred to- the Tariff Board. I expected something of the sort, and that when the assurance was given by Senator Russell it was really the last opportunity honorable senators would have of dealing with the matter. Had we dealt with it then we had . it in our own hands, but now the chance has gone, and tha decision will rest, not with this Chamber, but with the Tariff Board.
– No; it is still in our own hands.
– I do not agree with Senator Gardiner. The Minister (Senator Pearce) says that we can discuss the matter now if we care to do so ; but neither the time nor the opportunity is favorable for a full, discussion upon such a very important subject. The requirement of the commercial community is that the decisions made under departmental . by-laws should be circulated so that every one will have an opportunity of coming to know of each decision arrived at. I feel sure that further opportunities will arise for the discussion of this very important matter, and in view of the peculiar circumstances in which we are placed tonight, although I am keenly interested, I am willing to postpone the discussion until some more opportune occasion.
Item agreed to.
Postponed item 208 -
Manufactures of metal n.e.i., ad val., British, 35 per cent. ; intermediate, 40 per cent. ; general, 45 per cent.
– I think I raised the point which caused the postponement of this item. I was dealing with some small minor articles imported for the purpose of making homemade sprinklers, sprayers, and similar appliances. If the Minister (Senator Pearce) will assure me that the matter will be investigated by the Department of Trade and Customs on its merits, and that fair play will be given, I shall be satisfied to let the item go without further comment.
.- The item was postponed in order that it might be considered in relation to the duty to which the Committee has just agreed upon materials and minor articles, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, for use in the manufacture of goods within the Commonwealth. The Department of Trade and Customs will make inquiries in regard to the matter raised by Senator Pratten. If it is found that similar parts cannot be made commercially in Australia, they will be admitted free from Great Britain and at 10 per cent from other countries under item 404.
Item agreed to.
Item 405 (Models of inventions), item 406 (Natural history specimens), item 407 (Ophthalmic instruments. Sca.), item 408 (Outside packages), item 409 (Passengers’ personal effects), item 410 (Pictures n.e.i.), item 411 (Pictures, being coloured supplements for newspapers), item 412 (Pictorial illustrations for teaching purposes),’ item 413 (Pipes, smoking, &c), item 414 (Pipes, smoking, wholly of clay), and item. 415 (Plates for engravers and lithographers), agreed to.
– I suggest the omission of the words “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws.” Since the Committee was informed on a previous occasion of the inconvenience caused to the commercial community by these by-laws, considerable publicity has been given to the subject by the report of a case in which a Sydney firm claimed a refund of duty. The remarks of Chief Justice Sir William Cullen as to the “ official mind “ and the methods adopted by Customs officials were very caustic. He said -
I think it proper in. the public interest to draw attention to the peculiar attitude into which the official mind is very apt to fall, and in which that kind of disposition finds expression in what are very often spoken of as “ Departmental Bills “ presented to Parliament.
And when one counsel intimated that his clients had been called to account for their failure to dot an “ i “ in the word “ paid, “ the Judge said that he certainly recognised that that would be the official attitude. After sitting for thirteen hours. I do not want to worry the Committee with a detailed account of the case, but I hope the Minister (Senator Pearce) will call the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) to these judicial comments.
Item agreed to.
Item 417 -
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (a) by adding, after the word “ only,” the words “ or in any publichospital, provided such machinery cannot reasonably be manufactured within the Commonwealth, as prescribed by departmental by-laws.”
The desire of the Government is to bring in machinery for instructional use inhospitals free of duty, just as in the. case of that used by Universities.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item 418 (Scientific instruments and apparatus) agreed to.
Item 419 (Surgical and dental and veterinary instruments, appliances, and materials) .
– Grouped under this item are numerous instruments and appliances which are essential to the surgical, dental, and veterinary professions. Why should exorbitant rates, ranging from 30 to 50 per cent., be imposed, for example, upondental alloys, amalgams, and gold fillings, and upon amputating, cupping, dissecting, examining, operating, and veterinary instruments? Even under the preferential Tariff the rates are as high, in some instances, as 40 per cent. A new surgical instrument may be invented, and it may be deemed to be of great value to the Australian medical profession. But it cannot be availed of in this country because of probibitive duties,. and it may not be manufactured locally because of patent rights. Why should such appliances be shut out?
– Instruments which cannot be, or are not, made in Australia may be imported from Great Britain, free. Many of the appliances embraced within the item are manufactured in this country. Ample protection should be afforded, because their manufacture involves the employment of much skilled labour. Before the war, Britain supplied in one year, for example, £91,000 worth of these instruments, while Germany furnished £20,000 worth. The Government wish to throw open the Australian market solely to British makers.
Item agreed to.
Item 420 (Surgical appliances, n.e.i.), and item 421 (Theatrical costumes), agreed to.
Thermit and other welding compounds; casehardening cements, ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.
– The term, “ Case-hardening cements “ has no definite commercial significance. The intention behind the imposition of duties ranging from 20 to. 30 per cent, is to encourage the preparation and manufacture of case-hardening mixtures and compounds in this country. The Government Analyst has advised the recasting of the item. I move, therefore -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by inserting, after the word “ case-hardening “, the words, “ mixtures, compounds, and “.
Request agreed to.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend the item by inserting the following sub-item: -
Manganese ore, ad val., British, 5 per cent.; intermediate, 15 per cent.; general, 20 per cent.
Manganese ore is extensively used in the manuf acture of steel and manganese iron, and is used extensively throughout the world. It is estimated that about 2,000,000 tons are required to meet the world’s requirements, . and as iron and steel works have been established in Australia we shall have to use it.
– I rise to order. In sub-item g of item 136 we dealt with high-grade carbon steels and alloy steels containing manganese, silicon, nickel, &c. According to your ruling, Mr. Chairman, we have not been allowed to discuss a sub-item when it has been passed unless by moving for the recommittal of the item. When item 136 was under discussion Senator Senior should have submitted his request, and I maintain that it it is now too late for him to move in the direction he desires.
– On the point of order, sub-item g of item 136 relates only to manganese alloys, and the request I have submitted deals with manganese ore. I am following the direction of the Customs officers, and if Senator Gardiner thinks he knows better than the officials he had better offer his services to the Department. There is a great difference between manganese ore and the alloy in which it may be used.
– I have referred to sub-item g of item 136, and find that it relates to high-grade carbon steel and alloy steels containing manganese. Item 422 relates to thermit and other welding compounds, and tha point of order raised by Senator Gardiner cannot therefore be sustained. Whilst I am going to admit the motion for a request submitted by Senator Senior, I must say that I am in doubt as to its relevancy, but as I am loath to restrict the privileges of honorable senators, I shall give the honorable senator the benefit of the doubt. I have not sufficient scientific knowledge to determine whether manganese ore can be regarded as a welding compound; but if the officers of the Department consider that this is the proper place to submit such a request, I shall not reject it on the ground of irrelevancy.
– Steel in its finished state contains from 12 per cent. to 14 per cent, of manganese.
Sitting suspended from 12.15 to1 a.m. (Friday) .
– I have said that manganese ore is an alloy of both iron and steel. When used in the manufacture of steel it must not contain more than 8 per cent, of silica, and only a trace of phosphorus. I mention this because the ore of which I speak is remarkably free from both these elements. When used for chemical purposes, manganese ore must be of the highest grade, and it is used for the manufacture of chlorine, dry cells, flint glass, for generating oxygen, for ‘disinfectants, as a dryer for paints and varnishes, and in dyes. It is used as a colouring agent in paints, as umber when mixed with iron oxide, and as a colouring agent in glass and pottery. The world’s demand for manganese ore for dry cells is about 20,000 tons. So that it will be seen that while there is great use for this article in Australia, there is a probability of its being exported. The principal countries from which we import it - for we are importing it - are Java and New Caledonia. In 1918-19, 1,402 tons, valued at £7,050, were imported from Java; and 1,713 tons, valued at £7,056, were imported from New Caledonia. Honorable senators will note that in Java coloured labour is employed in the mining of manganese ore, and in New Caledonia convict labour is employed. There is manganese ore fouud in some of the other States, but, speaking for South Australia, our source for its supply is Woocalla, which is about 70 miles by rail from Port Augusta, and the mine is about S miles from a station. The South Australian Inspector of Mines estimates that at Woocalla there are 200,000 tons of the ore in sight. In the course of seven weeks’ inspection, he took about 70 samples, of which 500distinct assays were made. The average of these assays showed 85 per cent, manganese dioxide, which would be the manganese available for chemical purposes, and 52 per cent, of metallic manganese. The present output is about 120 tons per month, but it could easily be quadrupled. The wages paid represent fully 40 per cent, of the price realized for the article. Railage, sea-freight, cost ofunloading and loading represent an additional 10 per cent. I want to give honorable senators some idea of the cost of this ore from the field in India, which has the greatest output of the article, to England. I find that the cost of mining runs from 2s. 9d. to os. 6d. per ton, with an average of 4s. 1½d. Including rail and sea freights, the charges would be about £2 3s. 6d. per ton from the place where the article is mined to where it can be used. Honorable senators will see from this that we are up against a difficult position unless we do something to protect ourselves. I have said that about 200,000 tons* of the ore is in sight at Woocalla, and that it is of very high quality. The duties I propose are by no means excessive. In the Argus of Wednesday last houorable senators may have noticed a paragraph referring to the new American Tariff, from which I find that the duty imposed in America on manganese ore is. 1 cent, per 1 lb., which amounts to £4 13s. 4d. per ton. If America recognises the necessity of a Protective duty on this article, the necessity is still greater in Australia. Honorable senators are aware that the mining industry in Australia is not at present in a satisfactory condition. Many miners are out of employment, and the development of deposits of manganese would give increased employment to miners, and extra traffic on railways and for our own shipping. It would lead to the employment of men in handling and smelting, and would involve considerable expenditure in Australia for the benefit of this country.
– I think the honorable senator has made out a very strong case for the imposition of the duties he proposes. The information in the possession of the Department supports the statements he has made, and I, therefore, am prepared to accept his request.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Item 423 (Trophies won abroad).
– This item covers trophies won abroad, which I find are admitted free. I presume that when the Australian Eleven return with the “Ashes” that trophy will be admitted free under this item.
– Hear, hear! - under the British preferential column.
Item agreed to.
Item 424 -
Vessels, including all fittings imported therewith, viz. : -
And on and after 1st January, 1923 -
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (b) by leaving out “1923,” and inserting “ 1924” in lieu thereof.
A difficulty lias arisen in regard to some orders which have been placed, and which could not be delivered within the period provided for by the sub-item as it stands, Honorable senators will bear in mind that the duty in this case may be further deferred if good cause is shown, for its postponement.
– The honorable senator might compromise, and make the year 1925.
– This is a reasonable extension, and I ask the Committee not to press for any further extension of the date on which these deferred duties shall come into operation.
– I am glad that the Minister has submitted this request. I presume that these, like all other deferred duties, will be subject to clause 11, and if satisfactory provision has not been made for the construction of ships in Australia on the date named, the duties will be further deferred. I understand that some of the shipping companies are rather concerned as to their operation. They do not .consider that the shipbuilding industry in Australia has sufficiently advanced to warrant the placing of orders with shipbuilders here, and they think that this provision may considerably restrict their operations. I am sure there is no likelihood of any trouble in that direction, and that if on the date named it is found impossible to have ships built in Australia at a reasonable price, the Government under the powers vested in- them by clause 11 of the Bill will further defer these duties.
– The importance of the request moved by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) is apparent to any one who looks at the map of Australia and so has vividly brought before him the extent to which we depend upon our coastal traffic. We have no big river systems to open up the interior, and it is necessary for us to see that there is not at any time a shortage of transport facilities. The Minister proposes to extend to 1st January, 1924, the coming into operation of these deferred duties. I do not know that very much can be accomplished by the industry within that time, and I should like the date to be extended to 1st January, 1925. The position would be improved if the Minister would give us -an undertaking as to what will be regarded as the “production in reasonable quantities “ of the ships required here. It has been said that if the shipbuilding industry were not in a position on the date named to supply 60 per cent, of the normal requirements of the Commonwealth these duties would be further deferred. If the Minister would give us an undertaking to that effect we should have an ample guarantee that no shortage of shipping would occur. It does not appear that we are likely to be able within the time mentioned to satisfy our own requirements in this very important regard. The plates used in ship construction have to be obtained from the Old Country. I believe it is possible that they may be rolled at the Broken Hill- Proprietary Company’s Newcastle Works, but in the meantime we shall be very much at the mercy of circumstances for. transport facilities generally if we impose these duties upon the shipping trade of Australia. A tax of 25 per cent., or one-fourth of the value of a ship, is very heavy, and will be reflected in the freights and fares which will have to be paid. If there is any country where transport facilities should be cheap and readily available, it is Australia, whose interior is not opened up by vast river systems such as have done so much for the opening up of the American continent.
– Let us extend the date to 1st J January 1925.
– That would be a very reasonable extension, and with the added safeguard of the authority of the Tariff Board to make recommendations, we should have no cause for anxiety.
– -Conversely, the Tariff Board might report that the industry was sufficiently advanced to allow of the duties coming into operation at an earlier date.
– That could not be done except by an amendment of the Act.
– Quite so. The Tariff Board will be able to review the situation, and if the shipbuilding industry is sufficiently advanced, will recommend that these deferred duties be brought into operation on the date named. Everything depends, however, upon the construction that is placed on the words “ reasonable quantities “ used in clause 11. We must have adequate shipping facilities to assist us in opening up this country, which for all time must depend very largely upon sea-borne traffic.
– I want only to point out that this provision is not unalterable. We shall know what the Tariff Board is doing, and the responsible Minister must have regard to the will of Parliament. . A Minister who, on the advice of the Tariff - Board, took such action as would lead to a shortage of shipping, would endanger, not only his own position, but that of his Government. The restraining influence of the Parliament will always be a check on the Ministry. This period may be extended, but cannot be shortened without the approval of Parliament, so that I think the Committee might very well agree to the request.
– There appears to be a misconception of the functions of the Tariff Board in relation to deferred duties. If it does nothing at all with respect to these deferred duties, they will automatically come into operation on the date specified. Under clause 11, the Tariff Board may certify to the Minister, in a case such as this, that the goods mentioned in th, schedule - that is to say, the ships upon which these deferred duties are imposed - will not be constructed in Australia in reasonable quantities and of satisfactory quality, on or immediately after 1st January, 1924. But if the board does nothing at all the deferred duties will operate from the date expressed.’ Neither can the Tariff Board bring the duties into operation before the date mentioned in the schedule.
Apparently,, the original proposal of the? Government was as set out in sub-items b, where first mentioned in the schedule, viz. -
Vessels, n.e.i., not exceeding 500 tons register, trading intra-State or Inter-State or otherwise employed in Australian waters for any continuous period “of three months, ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
That proposal was limited to the construction of ships not exceeding 500 tons; gross register.- Obviously, the Government recognised at the time that it was> within the bounds of Practicability tobuild ships up to that tonnage here. They proposed an immediately operativeduty upon all such vessels, but, later, in another place, the wording of the sub-item was altered by striking out “ not exceeding 500 tons gross register,” so that the Committee is now asked to consider a proposal to levy, on and after 1st January, 1923, ad valorem duties on vessels n.e.i., irrespective of tonnage - they may be 500, 5,000, 11,000, or 12,000 tonsregister - trading Intra-State or Interstate, or otherwise employed in Australian waters for any continuous period of three months. It is, of course, within theknowledge of all honorable senators that we have yet no yards capable of maintaining the shipping of the various companies trading round our coast. A recent decision of the High Court has established’ the validity of the Navigation Act, so far as it relates to vessels employed in the Australian Inter-State trade, so that vessels coming from, overseas cannot, unless they comply with Australian conditions, engage in this trade. This will impose an increased demand upon Australian vessels. These shipping companieshave to keep themselves well up to date, and in their ship-building programme- have to contemplate their activities for several years ahead. Some of them have already ordered vesels which. are in course of construction, and apart from vessels on order, they have to keep in mind the programme for vessels to follow. Some probably will be sister ships of existing vessels or of vessels now on order. The completion of this programme, and the arrangements to meet the altered conditions that will result from the operation of this Tariff,1 is not the matter or a year or two. Most of the shipping companies have their regular builders on the Clyde,. the Tyne, or in- Belfast, or elsewhere. These people know the class of trade in which the various companies here are engaged, and, no doubt, honorable senators who have been through those yards, and have seen the drawings and plans of vessels, remembered seeing those very ships in the Australian trade twenty, thirty, or forty years ago. These plans are carefully preserved by the regular builders for certain companies here which consult with them as to their future requirements. A connexion like this cannot be broken in a year or two. For that reason I urged, by way of interjection, that the Minister might have extended the period for the operation of these ad valorem duties to 1925, instead of 1924, and I think he would meet the wishes of the Committee if he compromised, and said 1925.
– If the honorable senator will move to amend my request, as suggested, I will let it go on the voices, but I cannot commit the Government.
– Then I move-
That the request be amended by leaving out “1924” and inserting “1925 “ in lieu thereof.
Amendment agreed to.
.– I direct attention to the ad valorem duties in the second sub-item b, which deals with .vessels n.e.i. trading Intra-State or Inter-State for any continuous period of three months.
– The duties will not be operative until 1925 except in respect of vessels not exceeding 500 tons gross register. Vessels up to 500 tons are being built in all the States.
– It has occurred to me that the larger type of vessel might be required in the Inter-State trade, and, if engaged on a time charter for three months, this sub-item would become operative and prove a hardship.
– I do not think any time charters are entered into for vessels of less than 500 tons gross register.
– But I am thinking of the possibilities if the time charter exceeds three months.
– If their employment extends beyond three months they will be regarded as having been imported, and be dutiable.
– I understand that the shortest time charter is six months.
Therefore, I would suggest that the subitem be altered to provide for these duties to become operative in respect of any continuous employment for, say, six months.
– The existing provision has been operative since 1908, and we have not heard a single complaint about it.
– That applies, of course, to the smaller type of vessels. I am raising the point with the object of emphasizing the custom in regard to time charters. If a company employs a steamer on a time charter for about four months, it will be penalized by these duties.
Bequest, as amended, agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item 425 (Wall and ceiling parts) agreed to.
.- I do not think it is necessary to tax public institutions or people who wish to beautify churches. Therefore, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (u) free.
– No one is anxious to tax public institutions or those who wish to beautify churches, but Messrs. Brooks Robinson and Company, of Melbourne, and other firms, are now making stained glass windows, which formerly were imported from Italy or Great Britain. I have seen many of these windows of great beauty recently unveiled in churches in memory of fallen soldiers. They are a credit to the artistic taste and workmanship of Australians, and I would be sorry to see the industry interfered with in any way.
Item agreed to.
Item 427 (Works of art, statuary), item 428 (Wattle bark), and item 429 (Wattle bark tanning extract), agreed to.
Straw envelopes, on and after 1st October, 1921, per 1,000, British, 5s.; intermediate, 10s.; general, 10s.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out the word “ October,” and inserting “ November “ in lieu thereof.
I am moving in this direction because the makers of straw envelopes will not be ready to operate fully by the 1st October, and because we do not expect to get this Bill through Parliament by that date.
– I quite see the force of the Minister’s proposal, but I am informed that the industry is now getting to work, and I have with me the first straw envelope made in Australia. I am glad that this duty has been proposed, because it will assist an industry which will be of considerable benefit to Australia.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Postponed item 8 -
Perfumed spirits,….. per gallon,
British, 40s.; intermediate, 45s.; general, 50s.; or ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out the word “or” before “ ad val.”, and inserting “ and “ in lieu thereof, and by leaving out the words “ whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
The local manufacturer of perfumery contaming alcohol will be in a distinctly anomalous position if this amendment is not made, because, partly owing to the way in which during recent years the Excise duty upon the spirit used by him has been increased, imported perfumery will come in at a rate of duty which is actually lower than the Excise and other duty he is paying. I have the whole case set out in detail, but as it would take me a considerable time to state it, I ask the Minister if it is not a fact that the Department of Trade and Customs recognises this anomaly, and is willing- to have the amendment made. The effect would be that the local manufacturer of perfumery would pay Excise duty, say, 40s. a gallon, upon the spirit he uses, and the importer would also pay an import duty of 40s. per gallon upon the spirit in his perfumery. Both would thus start level in regard to the fixed rates of Excise and Customs duty paid by each, and then the ad valorem rate would apply to the imported article, and afford the local manufacturer a margin of protection to the extent of that rate.
.- The request submitted by Senator Pratten is a perfectly fair one, and without it the duty set out in the schedule would be a mockery and a sham. We should on the one hand be giving the local manufacturer of perfumery a protection upon his output, and on the other hand taking it away by making him pay Excise duty on his spirit. In order, therefore, to afford him sufficient protection, it will be necessary to do as the honorable senator suggests, and give the local maker of perfumery the benefit of the ad valorem rates on top of the fixed rate, which practically coincides with the Excise duty he pays.
– It appears that the Government are now, with the assistance of Senator Pratten, practically’ doubling the duties upon perfumed spirits.
– The purpose of the request is to correct an oversight which should have been rectified in another place.
– The effect of the amendment made elsewhere was to reduce the rates. ‘Why should the Government now seek to reimpose the higher Tariff ? What is now sought is to add the fixed duty to the ad valorem rates. The two combined will be altogether unreasonable.
– But that combination will not be the extent of the actual protection, because local users of spirit will have had to pay Excise duty equivalent to the fixed rate on imported spirit.
– Evidently, in the course of consideration elsewhere it was considered that the old duties were too, heavy; therefore they were reduced by 15 per cent, all round. The request now before the Committee is, in effect, to add to the rates respectively 20 per cent., 25 per cent., and 30 per cent.
.- From 1908 to 1911 the Excise duty on industrial spirit, 60 per cent, overproof, was 20s. 6d. per gallon; in 1914 it was 26s. 5d. per gallon. On 25th March, 1920, the duty was raised to 41s. 3d. per gallon, and, on 17th September, 1920, to 46s. 4d. per gallon,which has since been reduced to 42s. At that figure the Excise now remains. If manufacturers are called upon to pay Excise duty it is only fair that importers should also pay proportionately in respect of the spirit contained in their importations.
– Under this item is included eau de cologne. I have been informed that upon imported 2¼-oz. bottles the charges, c.i.f. and e., amount to 35 per cent., while the duty at the rate of 50s. per gallon is equivalent to 72½ per cent., making a. total of 107½ per cent. Upon a 36-oz. bottle of eau de cologne the charges, c.i.f. and e., are 45 per cent., while the duty, at the rate of 50s. per gallon, is equivalent to 312½ per cent., making a total of 357½ per cent. The actual duty paid ranges from 72½ per cent, to 312½ per cent., in accordance with the liquid contents of the bottle. Imported eau de cologne pays duty on the liquid contents of each bottle, whereas the local manufacturer has tha advantage of coming under the following provision of the Excise Tariff schedule: -
Spirits for manufacture from Australian products exclusively of scents, toilet preparations, &c, subject to regulations, per gallon, 20s. ; and on and after 17th September, 1920, from 17s. to 23s. per liquid gallon.
For manufacturing purposes this spirit is beaten down to 50 per cent. Thus the local manufacturer pays from. 8s. 6d. to 11s. 6d. per gallon - that is to aay, half the rates imposed.
– That is so. The intention of the item under discussion is to impose a duty on imported spirits. Why should foreign-made eau de cologne escape while eau de cologne made in Australia must pay the Excise? In connexionwith the particulars supplied to and given by Senator Vardon, the duty is calculated as if imported eau de cologne had paid the Excise duty ; but such is not the case.
– This subject-matter was investigated very thoroughly by the Customs Department. I am asking the Committee to seek to impose a duty not of more than 100 per cent., but of only 25 per cent., in circumstances where imported’ spirits and Excise spirits are placed upon the same level. If the Committee held that all spirit used for industrial purposes should bo free, and should pay no Excise, I would not ask that the im ported spirit should be penalized. But if our manufacturers are to pay a very heavy industrial impost, it is only fair that importers should pay. the same.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Postponed item 9 -
Spirituous preparations, viz. : - Essences . . medicines, infusions, toilet preparations .
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by omitting the words “medicines” and “ toilet preparations.”
Honorable senators will notice that the preliminary paragraph of this item deals with essences, fruit ethers, medicines, and toilet preparations. Medicines and toilet preparations do not appear to be correctly classified, and should be included in their proper place.
– This matter has been considered by the Department, and the officers agree that these articles should be placed elsewhere. No principle is involved.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Postponed item 143 -
Scrap iron and steel . . . British, intermediate, and general Tariffs, free.
– This item was postponed to consider whether scrap-iron should be dutiable; and after making a thorough inquiry we found that instead of imposing an import duty representations have been made for the imposition of an export duty. It would be very inconsistent to have an export and an import duty, too, and as all the evidence seems to point in the direction of keeping this item free in the interests of our manufacturing industries, I ask the Committee to pass the item. In connexion with some industries, something may be said in favour of import duties, but the great bulk of the evidence from a large number of manufacturers is in favour of keeping this item free.
– It appears from the records that Senator Duncan has moved the following request: -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, general, 40s. per ton.
It will therefore he necessary for the honorable senator to withdraw his request if he does not desire to press it.
– I do not feel disposed to withdraw it, but it can be formally negatived if the Committee so desire.
Item agreed to.
Postponed clause 3 (Definitions).
– This clause was postponed because we were then discussing the appointment of a Tariff Board, but as that matter has been decided, I ask the Committee to agree to the clause.
Clause agreed to.
Postponed clauses 9 and 11 agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Bill be reported with requests.
Motion (by Senator de Largie) agreed to-
That items 107, 123, 126, 252, 340, and 357 be reconsidered.
Reconsidered item 107 -
Woven materials in the piece or otherwise: - Badges, hat and cap crowns, medal ribbons, looping and labels for boots, labels and hangers for textile articles, including hanger material, plain or otherwise; ribbons, galoons, bands or bandings, tapes and the like, with printed, woven, or embroidered lettering, badge, trade name, mark, or similar design for use with boots or other articles of attire; ribbons and galoons having not more than 48 ribs to the lineal inch, ad val., British, 35 per cent. ; intermediate, 40 per cent. ; general, 50 per cent.
– I have asked for the reconsideration of this item to give me an opportunity of submitting a request. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out the figures “48,” and iuserting in lieu thereof the figures “40,” and by adding after the word “inch” the words “and not more than 3½ inches in width.”
Honorable senators will remember that when the item was previously before the Committee I raised an objection to the duties placed on ordinary commercial ribbons, which I claimed were not manufactured in Australia, and that it was consequently unjust to impose a heavy duty on these ribbons. I was assured by the Minister in charge of the Bill at the time (Senator Russell) that if on further inquiry it was found that a mistake had been made in connexion with the matter, and that the articles to which I referred were not manufactured in Australia, he would undertake to recommit the item. I have here a letter from the firms concerned, of which the Minister has been supplied with a copy.
– The Government are prepared to accept the honorable senator’s request.
– Then I need say no more. It is only fair to the firm in question that I should express my regret publicly for a statement which I made on information supplied to me, and which reflected upon the importance of its establishment. I have had an opportunity of visiting the factory, and, as a result, I have congratulated the management on their very fine establishment, which is a credit to Australia, and to those who are responsible for it. I wish them every success, and I take this opportunity of retracting everything I said, not upon my own knowledge, but from information I had received.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Reconsidered item 123 -
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, sub-item (b), ad val., British, 10 per cent. ; intermediate, 15 per cent.; general, 20 per cent.
The intention is to place waste for engine cleaning on the same footing as axle waste. There is an establishment in Melbourne, and another in Sydney, engaged in the manufacture of engine-cleaning waste, and if the sub-item is allowed to remain as it stands, that industry will be given no protection whatever, whilst protection is given to the manufacture of axle waste.
– We have had Senator Payne’s request investigated, and find that the facts are as he has stated. It seems reasonable and equitable that the article covered by this subitem should be given the same protection as axle waste, and the Government, therefore, are prepared to accept the request.
– It is going a long way too far to search out a lot of petty items covering articles in, general use in other industries, and propose the imposition of duties upon them under these conditions. The Minister is most unreasonable, and the honorable senator moving the request is also unreasonable. This is going through the Tariff with a microscope to find out something to occupy the time of the Committee. Every user of an engine requires engine-cleaning waste. Its production cannot be described as a valuable manufacture in any sense of the word. The duty will only tend to build up an unimportant industry by adding to the expense of all who have engines to clean.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Reconsidered item 126 -
Saddlers’ webs, upholsterers’ webs, collar check, and collar cloth, 36 inches and over in width; saddlers’ kersey; saddlers’ serge and felt; felt for lining horse and cattle rugs, ad val., British, free; intermediate, free; general, 10 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by adding the following words: - “And on and after 1st November, 1921 -
I ask for these duties on collar check for the reason that factories for its manufacture have been established in Australia, and are manufacturing a material equal to any that is imported. I am assured that they are able to supply the requirements of Australia, and since the industry is using low-grade crossbred wools, which we do not know what to with at present, it ought to be encouraged. It has been in operation for some months, and already has a big output., I do not wish to weary honorable senators by reading letters I have received from firms engaged in the retail trade, but I may say that they are to the effect that the locally- made article is equal to the imported, that there is a big demand for it, and that if our requirements are made here instead of being imported, something like 1,500 or 1,600 bales of low-grade crossbred wool will be used every year by the industry.
– Senator Guthrie gave notice of his intention to move this request, and investigations made by the Department support all that he has said with regard to it. The industry has been established here, and the duties proposed compare favorably with those imposed on similar articles in other parts of the schedule. In view of these facts, and since the industry will use up some of our low-grade crossbred wools the Government are prepared to agree to the request.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Reconsidered item 252 -
Bottles, flasks, jars, vials, and tubes, empty, of glass, earthenware, stoneware, or china. . .
And on and after 17th June, 1921 -
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (a) by inserting the words “excepting bottles suitable for and ordinarily used for ink and gum.”
I understand that these bottles are being made in considerable quantities here, and the industry is deserving of protection.
– The necessity for this alteration has been represented to the Government. The bottles covered by the request are made here in large quantities, but the protection afforded the industry was inadvertently removed by an amendment made in another place altering the capacity of the bottles dealt with from 5 fluid drams to 8 fluid drams. It was not intended to include bottles of the class to which the request applies, and the request, if agreed to, will give the industry the protection to which it is entitled.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Reconsidered item 340 -
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (c) by inserting after the word “parasols” the words “Paper in rolls or reels of less than 6 inches in width.”
During the war certain establishments here installed machinery for the purpose of cutting these reels, and the most important use to which they were put was in connexion with the Telegraph Department. The industry ought to be encouraged.
– Senator Vardon brought this matter under the notice of the Government, and it has been investigated. This, too, is an article which is being made in the Commonwealth, and, therefore, imight well be dutiable on the same lines as the other paper items which are included inthe paragraph.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request. Reconsidered item 357 -
Perambulators and go-carts and bodies therefor, ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by inserting after the words “ bodies “ the words “ and wheels.”
This was an omission from the item. Wheels are made in the Commonwealth, and, therefore, should be included.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with requests.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– I move -
That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of items 137, 285, 290, and 334.
– I move -
That item 105 be added to the list of items for reconsideration.
– I want it to be understood that in agreeing to Senator Payne’s amendment I. am not necessarily accepting any proposal that may be made with regard to item 105.
Amendment agreed to.
Motion (Senator de Largie’s), as amended, agreed to.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
Piece goods, viz.-
Woollen or containing wool n.e.i., ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (f) by adding the following new paragraph : - “ (2) Woollen or containing wool, being dress goods for women’s and children’s wear, not exceeding the weight of 6 ozs. tothe square yard, ad val., British, 20 per cent. ; intermediate, 25 per cent. ; general, 30 per cent.
My object is to insure that textile fabrics not manufactured in Australia shall be admitted at a reasonable rate of duty, because they are essential as an article of apparel for women and children. I refer particularly to such material as black cashmere, black lustre, nuns veiling, voiles, hopsacks, self-coloured dress fabrics, and light materials of that character for women’s and children’s wear, which are not manufactured here. If the adoption of this request would be detrimental to the Australian woollen industry I would not expect honorable senators to support it; but this class of goods is manufactured chiefly in Great Britain and France, and it is much in demand in Australia as an article of attire.
– Is it likely that we shall ever make it here?
– I do not think it is.
– Then you ought to ask for the removal of the duty altogether.
– We cannot afford to do that.
– You are making it merely a revenue duty.
– I am not losing sight of the financial needs of the Trea- surer ; but I do not think that we are justified in imposing on these goods the heavy rates of duty applying to woollen goods which can be manufactured in Australia.
– Why not make the rates 20 per cent., 25 per cent., and 35 per cent.?
– I do not think that the general rate should exceed 30 per cent., because three-fourths of the classes of materials covered by my proposed new sub-item are manufactured in France, which country has, for years, gone in for the manufacture of highly-finished light textile materials. I have taken the trouble to interview men who are able to give me advice on this matter. After consultation with many of them, I have come to the conclusion that the Australian industry need not fear any competition from the goods specified in the proposed sub-item, because of the words which limit the weight to material not exceeding 6 ozs. per square yard.
– What is the weight of the average tweed ?
– Anything from 8 oss. to 12 ozs. per square yard. These goods cannot be confused with ordinary worsteds manufactured for men’s suitings, because my ju’oposal is distinctly confined to dress goods for women’s and children’s wear. The object I have in view is plain. It is not to take away anything from the Australian manufacturers. I Would not like to do anything to injure the Australian industry, and I do not think that any one could suggest that myproposal would have any prejudicial effect upon it.
– Senator Payne having been good enough to intimate some time ago’ that he proposed to submit this request, the Department of Trade and Customs has had time to look into it; and, having given the matter consideration, offers two objections to it. The first is that it is not consistent with the Protectionist incidence of this Tariff in regard to woollen goods, because the articles which the honorable senator proposes to admit at a lower rate of duty might be used as substitutes for the lighter woollen goods manufactured in Australia, which it is the policy of this Parliament to protect. The other is that it would be extremely inconvenient and difficult f or the Customs officials to follow the differentiations set out in the request as between one class of goods and another of similar weight, or, perhaps, of a slightly heavier make, and conflicting decisions would probably be given in different ports. The differentiation suggested by the honorable senator was attempted in a previous Tariff and abandoned. I do not think that honorable senators can accuse the Department of not giving full consideration to the suggestions put forward by them. In this case it is felt that it would not be wise to accept the honorable senator’s proposal, on the grounds that I have stated.
– No Australian manufacturer has ever attempted or, I venture to say, will attempt for the next, ten years to make, black cashmere, black voile, or challis, that beautiful light material used for women’s blouses.
– Foy and Gibson are making woollen goods weighing as little as 6 ozs. per square yard.
– If that is the trouble, I am prepared to limit my proposal to material not weighing more than 4 oz. . psr square yard; but, as a matter of fact, the material I would admit at the lower rates of duty would not come into competition with Australian-made woollen goods. I do not think I need say more on the matter. I hope that honorable senators will support my request.
Question - That the request (Senator Payne’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I am not sure whether any provision has been made in respect of Japanese cotton tweeds. Care should be taken lest the Australian market be flooded with these foreign goods, to the prejudice of our very valuable woollen industry.
– I am informed by Customs officials that that matter has been noted as one of the questions to be referred to the Tariff Board.
Item agreed to.
And on and after 10th June, 1921- Aluminium and Nickel, viz.: -
– Upon aluminium, the Senate Committee imposed unnecessarily heavy duties. I move-
That the request to the House of Representatives to amend sub-item (a) by making the duties on aluminium angles, bars, plates, rods, shapts, strips and tees, not polished, plated, decorated, or further manufactured, on and after 1st January, 1922, ad val., British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent., be amended by omitting the rates of duty and inserting, in lieu thereof, 15 per cent., 20 per cent., and 25 per cent.
These forms of aluminium represent the primary stage in the manufacture of articles of that ware. To a certain extent, they are a raw material. If the very high rates requested by this Committee were decided upon, the manufacture of aluminium ware in Australia would be crippled. Further, there should be consistency. In dealing with other metals, care has been taken to make the duties upon the raw material less than upon the completed article.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (b) to make the duties “ on and after 1st January, 1922, ad val., British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.”
The effect of the amendment will be to bring aluminium wire into line with the other forms of aluminium indicated in sub-item a. There is no reason for difference in the rates. Aluminium wire isa partly manufactured form in itself. It is not generally used as a wire, however, but as the partly manufactured material for making completed forms of aluminium ware.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, with previous request amended, and subject to a further request.
And on and after 22nd June, 1921 -
– Sub-item a relates to pharmaceutical preparations, patent and proprietary medicines, drugs and other medicinal preparations. The industry is a fairly considerable one of its kind, and has been labouring under many disadvantages. It cannot continue in its present anomalous position. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item a by making the duties British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent. ; general, 40 per. cent. ; and by adding at the end of the sub-item the words: - “with an additional duty if spirituous, as follows: - If containing not more than 20 per cent, proof spirit, per gallon, British, 4s.; intermediate, 4s. ; general, 5s. ; and for every additional 20 per cent, or fraction thereof of proof spirit, per gallon, British, 4s.; intermediate, 4s.; general, 5s.
Now, if a local chemist or a manufacturer desired to make a cough mixture he would have to pay Excise and import duties on some of the ingredients he has to import, totalling 34s.1d. on the quantity contained in two gross of bottles, but if a similar quantity of cough mixture were imported ready for use, the ad valorem duty would be 19s. 10d., as duty would not be paid on the alcoholic contents. The local manufacturer is, therefore, handicapped to the extent of 14s. 3d. on the quantity mentioned. I could quote many illustrations, but I believe honorable senators realize the fairness of making an adjustment in the direction I have indicated.
– This request is perfectly justified, as some medicines contain a high percentage of spirit, and if the duties are left as they are, and no Excise is paid on the spirituous contents, local manufacturers will be penalized. I know of a man who acquired the alcoholic habit by using a certain kind of patent medicine which contained a large percentage of alcohol, and under the duties as they stand such preparations are imported without any equivalent duty on the spirit being paid. I support the request.
Request agreed to.
Bequests (by Senator Pratten) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives he requested to amend sub-item b by adding after the words in parenthesis the words “up to and including …. (here insert the date from which the requested alteration in subitem a is made to operate)”.
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the sub-item by leaving out “ (Or when spirituous according to the rates provided in item 9, whichever rate returns the higher duty.)”
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (c) to read -
(1) Perfumery n.e.i.; petroleum jelly n.e.i., ad val., British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.
Toilet preparations (perfumed or not) n.e.i., ad val., British, 35 per cent. ; intermediate, 40 per cent. ; general, 45 per cent.; with an additional duty if spirituous as follows: - If containing not more than 20 per cent, of proof spirit, per gallon, British, 4s.; intermediate, 4s. ; general, 5s. ; and for every additional 20 per cent, or fraction thereof of proof spirit, per gallon, British, 4s. ; intermediate, 4s. ; general, 5s.
The purpose of the proposed alteration is to bring articles which contain spirits and medicines or perfumery into line in a way which will indicate more clearly their competition with local manufactures.
– The principle involved in the request is the same as that of the request concerning patent medicines in which spirit subject to Excise duty is used. The honorable senator proposes no alteration of the duties, and the Government are prepared to agree to the request.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Writing and typewriting paper (plain), not including duplicating - ‘
– There was one matter which the Government had under consideration when this item was previously before the Committee, but upon which our inquiries had not been completed. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend paragraph (1) of sub-item (f), by adding the following words: - “And on and after 1st July, 1023, ad val., British, 20 per cent. ; intermediate, 25 per cent. ; general, 30 per cent.”
There is one firm at least that has already placed orders for a large extension of its factory and machinery for the purposes of manufacturing the articles covered by this paragraph. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) had the case investigated, and while the duties proposed are, as honorable senators will see, lower than some of the duties agreed to upon similar articles, it is considered that they will be sufficient to establish . the manufacture of this line of goods in the Commonwealth in sufficient quantity to supply the needs of Australia. The item will be subject to clause 11 of the Bill, andif it cannot be demonstrated that the needs of Australia for this article can be supplied at the date fixed, the imposition of the duty can be further deferred.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a further request.
– Can I now raise another matter for the consideration of the Minister ?
– No, that would be entirely out of order. The Bill was recommitted for a specific purpose.
Bill reported with further requests.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the reports be adopted.
– This is the last opportunity we shall have of discussing the Bill, and in view of the hour I should like to ask the Minister in charge of the measure to agree to an adjournment of the debate until to-morrow. I promise him that I shall not take more than twenty minutes in dealing with the Bill to-morrow. There are some things which I desire to say, but I would like to be able to say them under favorable conditions. If the Minister will not accept my suggestion I must say what I have to say now. I think that honorable senators, having given the attention they have given to the schedule - and I congratulate all hands on that - must realize the disastrous effect, in its interference with trade, produced by a measure of this character. We realize as we pass from item to item and page to page of the Tariff schedule that some persons are being seriously interfered with - that firms which have made investments in various directions are likely to find themselves in a most precarious position as the result of the duties we have imposed. The interests of secondary industries clash with those of primary industries. The in terests of the one have been overlooked in our desire to consider the interests of the other, and we have made things worse than they were before. That at least is my honest opinion. As this is the last occasion on which I shall be able to address myself to this phase of the question,
I desire to buttress the opinions I have expressed by quoting those of leading business men in England with regard to governmental interference with trade. I take the following from a well-known journal : -
The leading bankers of London have all joined in a public statement, in which they have laid down very cogently the arguments in favour of public economy, and a minimum of governmental interference with trade. It is worth reading, for it lays clown general principles which apply to one country as well as another. The full statement, with signatures, is appended herewith : - “A hundred years ago, in a time of depression following a great war, ‘ the merchants of London presented to Parliament a memorable petition against the ‘ anti-commercial principles’ of the restrictive system then in force. To-day, moved by the same anxieties, weighed down by far heavier taxation, and face to face with proposals intended to renew the restrictive methods of the past, we submit that it is essential fo the revival of confidence that no legislative or administrative measures be taken which would diminish the total output of British industry, or check the free exchange of British goods. “The burden of taxation can only be lightened if the necessity for public economy is resolutely faced. The present rate of national expenditure thcatens to cripple the country’s resources and to impair its credit abroad. In our judgment, it is more than the commercial community can bear, more than the capacity of the nation can afford, more than, were proper economics effected, the nation need be asked to sustain. “ The system of Government regulating trade by licences, controls, and departmental orders has, admittedly, however well-intended, had in many cases unfortunate results. Political interference with the natural course of commerce without regard to economic laws invariably does mischief. British trade needs nothing so much for its recovery as freedom to deal with its own difficulties, to study and provide for its own interests and to work out its own salvation. “ It is as true as i,t was a hundred years ago, that foreign commerce conduces to the wealth and prosperity of a country by enabling it to import the commodities which other countries are best able to supply, and to export in payment those articles which, from its own situation. It is best adapted to produce; that freedom from restraint be calculated to give the utmost extension to foreign trade, and the best direction to capital and industry, and that the maxim of buying in the cheapest market and selling in the dearest, which regulates every merchant in hia individual dealings, is the best rule fur the trade of the whole nation. “ The poliq’y of trying to oxclude the production of other countries, with thewell-meant design of encouraging our own, cannot increase the volume of employment here. But it may well compel the consumers, who form the bulk of our population, to submit to privations in the quality or quantity of the goods they buy. The importation of foreign goods . does not diminish the activities of our people, because . such goods can only be paid for by the produce of British capital and labour. The advocates of a restrictive system are too apt to lose sight of the elementary fact that nations, or, rather, individual members of nations, buy foreign goods because they need them, not to benefit, others, but to benefit themselves, and pay for them by producing goods which the foreigner, in his turn, requires. We cannot limit imports into this country without limiting our export trade, and striking a grave blow at the world-wide commerce on which this island kingdom, principally depends. “ Trade is exohnnge. No nation which lives by trading with others can prosper unless other nations prosper, too. We hold to-day great stocks of goods. We are ready to manufacture more. There is a large and insistent demand for them abroad. But, owing to the paralysis of Continental commerce- due in part to the restrictive barriers which the new States have set up between themselves - the would-be buyers of our goods have not the means to pay for what they want. We have to build up tha market that we need by encouraging Continental nations to export to us. For it is only by exports that they can re-establish their credit and provide funds for the payment of their debts. In such a situation we believe that all expedients to control and hamper imports into this country, whether by licences, Tariffs, or any other means, can only retard improvement in the Continental exchanges, and prevent the natural recovery of trade. Legislation of this nature, while it may increase the profits of a few selected industries, cannot fail to check our output as a whole, and to increase the costs of production to a level which may make it increasingly difficult for British traders to compete successfully with others in the markets of the world. “ With party or political considerations we, as bankers, are not concerned. But in the interests of British industry and commerce, now menaced by anxieties which it would be a profound mistake to underrate, we desire to enter a respectful protest against every restrictive regulation of trade which tends to diminish the resources of the State.
S. Addis, Avebury, Henry Bell, E. H. Brand, E. C. Brown, Chalmers, L. E. chalmers, L. currie, F. C. good enough, H. C. Hambro, R. M. Holland-Martin, Inchcape, F. Huth Jackson. R. M. Kindersley, H. S. King, Walter Leap, James Leigh-Wood, F. C. Le Marchant, E. McKenna, Algernon H. Mills, Edward Paul, J. Beaumont Pease, Felix Schuster, J. Hope Simpson, J. H. Tritton, B. V. Vassar-Smitii.”
I put these statements on record as the deliberate and well-weighed utterances of leading banking and business men in Great Britain. Let us apply them to what has been done in Australia. They certainly are a weighty pronouncement against the interference with trade in which we have been engaged for the last few weeks. In conclusion, I congratulate the Government for the opportunities they have afforded honorable senators to deal with the Tariff throughout the tiring Committee stage. Their conduct of the Customs Tariff Bill throughout its various stages meets with my entire approval.
– I thank honorable senators generally for the consideration they have extended tothe Government in connexion with the, heavy ordeal through which we have passed in dealing with the Tariff schedule. I specially appreciate the consideration that has been shown to me in the knowledge that I have been placed in a rather awkward position owing to the absence of my honorable colleagues, Senator Millen and Senator Russell, both of whom are sick at the present time. I gratefully acknowledge this consideration, not only by those who usually support the Government, but also by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner).
Question resolved. in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
High Court Procedure Act. - Rule of Court, dated 27th July, 1921.
League of Nations : Mandate for Nauru. (Paper presented to British Parliament.)
Roval Australian Naval College - Report for 1920.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act. - Statement re Pensions for the twelve months ended 30th June, . 1921.
Motion (bv Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That the Senate at its rising, adjourn till this dayat half-past 2 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 3.21 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 September 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210901_senate_8_97/>.