8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Appointment of Sir Joseph Cook
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate if his attention has been called to a statement in the press that Sir Joseph Cook has been appointed High Commissioner in London? Will the honorable senator say whether the statement is true, and whether he has any information to give the Senate regarding it?
– I have seen the statement referred to, and I am in a position to say that, unlike most press statements, it is correct. It is possible that some little apology is due to the Senate because an intimation in this regard was not made to honorable senators before the adjournment on Friday. Possibly if any one is to blame in the matter I am. Circumstances necessitated my visiting New SouthWales last week-end, otherwise the duty of making the announcement would have fallen to me. In my ‘absence something went a little wrong in the channel of communication, and so far as my personal share in the matter is concerned I apologize to the Senate for not being present to make the announcement on Friday last.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate if it is a fact that a reconstruction of the Ministry has taken place, and that three portfolios have been offered to, or rather have been asked for by the Country party? Has the honorable senator any information to give the Senate on the subject?
– With respect to the first part of the honorable senator’s question, I have no information to give the Senate. With respect to the rest of the questions, may I refer the honorable senator to Dr. Earle Page?
Bill returned from theHouse of Representatives with a message intimating that the House of Representatives had made the amendment requested bv the Senate.
Bill (on motion by Senator E. D. Millen) read a third time.
Bill returned by the House of Representatives with a message and schedule showing the maimer in which the House of Representatives had dealt with the requests by the Senate for amendments.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) agreed to -
That the message be taken into consideration in Committee forthwith.
Animals, living (except for stud purposes), viz.: - (a) Sheep, per head, 2s.; (b) pigs, per head, 5s.; (c) horned cattle, per head, 10s.; (d) horses, per head, 10s.
Senate’sRequest. - Free.
House ofRepresentatives’ Message. - Made with the following modification: - The words “ (except for stud purposes) “ omitted.
– Following what I believe to be a convenient course, and one for which a precedent has certainly been established in this House, I take advantage of thefirst item of the Bill to make a few observations relative to the message as a whole. The requests made by the Senate for amendments in the schedule as it came from another place numbered ninety-two. Of these a. large proportion, namely, fortynine, have been accepted without modification of any kind.
– Those are the cases, no doubt, in which the Senate increased the duties.
– I am not. carrying my analysis as far as that at this stage. I am giving the simple statement) as the figures reveal it. They were requests from the Senate, and the other House has accepted forty-nine of them without modification. Of the balance, eighteen have been modified in more or less important details, while twenty-two requests have been rejected. In addition, one request has been accepted in part and modified in part, and two requests have been modified in part and rejected in part. It will * therefore be seen that the requests made by the Senate have been dealt with by the other House in a very liberal manner. This is especially the case when it is seen that in a number of instances the modifications made in the Senate’s requests are of a more or less nominal nature, the requests being modified only to a slight degree. Instances of this kind may be seen in requests Nos. 35 to 38 relating to agricultural machinery, where the only alteration is an increase of 2£ per cent, in the British preferential rate. In a few metal items, where the request was for a reduction of 5 per cent, on the British preferential rate, a compromise is suggested by the other House in making the reduction 2^ per cent. Instances of this are items 180 c and 194 c and d. In some other items the modification consists merely of an alteration in the date of operation or a slight addition necessary to) give effect to the intention, of the Senate. Examples of this are item 34, animals, living; item 126, saddlers’ webs, &c. ; item 171 d, metal parts of hay rakes and mowers; item 275, sulphur; item 324 a, chamois leather; item 384 a, photographic dry plates, &c, and item 403, manures. There remain some twenty to twenty-five items in which the request has been rejected or modified in a more or less substantial degree.
– The other House rejected the shadow and hung on to the substance.
– That is largely a matter of opinion. I am not affirming that the requests made by the Senate were good, bad, or indifferent. They were the requests of this Chamber, and I am merely relating the manner in which the other House dealt with them. I would be the last, person to deny that the Senate has full constitutional rights. It may insist upon all its requests if it thinks fit to do so, and the other House has an equal right. It is a necessary feature of the bicameral system that, where two Houses differ, both cannot have their way entirely. It seems to me that there U an obligation on both branches of the Legislature, where differences of opinion reveal themselves, and seeing that finality has to be reached somewhere, to make a reasonable effort to adjust such differ ences as occur from time to time. I submit that the other House has approached the; matter in that spirit. A large percentage of the Senate’s requests has been complied with, and an additional number has been accepted with quite modest modifications, thus indicating that there was in the other House a desire to come to an understanding with the Senate. I appeal to members of this Chamber to approach the discussion in the same spirit. If they .do that, I feel confident that when we have finished with this measure there will be little outstanding difference between ourselves and the House of Representatives. Honorable members know as well as I do that the trading interests of the country not merely desire, but need, as prompt a settlement of the Tariff as is possible. Without, therefore, suggesting that honorable senators should curtail any remarks they may feel called upon to make, I trust that they will join with the Government in expediting the further progress of this measure. It is many months since the Tariff was first introduced, and, although the Senate cannot be held responsible for the time consumed, it can, at any rate, help in making the period as brief as possible in the circumstances. I, therefore, look to the Committee to make a reasonable effort to deal with, this matter as promptly as its importance permits.
– I realize with the Leader of the Senate (Senator E. D. Millen) what our position is in, regard to these duties. I look upon it as purely a matter of taxation. For the first year of its operation, this measure realized £32,000,000, within a few thousand pounds. That money was taken chiefly from the working classes - poorer classes - of the community. This year, judging from the first quarter, the revenue will be between £26,000,000 and £28,000,000. In matters of taxation I think the other House has a pull over the Senate. They have to take the responsibility of meeting the electors on these purely financial matters. If they have decided to put a wall around Australia that will injure trade, penalize people for trading, and set up what, to my mind, is an iniquitous and obnoxious system, that is their business. I am still quite prepared to do my utmost to see that the primary producers get a fair deal, and I think a majority of the Committee are also in favour of acting in that direction. As regards taxation of this kind, it is very evident that the Government have determined to take about £30,000,000-they took £32,000,000 last year - from the working classes, and in this connexion they were well supported in another place. I do not think there were many dissentients there. The only objection offered to this obnoxious system of taxation was when individual interests were concerned; but when it was a question of the other fellow there was no opposition. I view the position as the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) does, and agree that the powers of each House have to be recognised and acknowledged, so that when the differences are distinct and acute we should consider them in a reasonable and sensible manner. We have to ascertain how we can handle this question so that both Houses may come to an honorable and acceptable settlement. It is useless to keep the measure off the statute-book, seeing that it has been in operation since March, 1920. The Tariff is being usedfor raising an enormous amount from the primary producers in the interests of the secondary producers, because if a man in the city engages half-a-dozen men he can secure the highest possible protection for his industry, and can compel the farmers and others from one end of the Commonwealth to the other to help him, when they are very often quite unable to do so. Why should we protect industries that cannot pay their own way? Why should we shut out trade from Great Britain by imposing duties of 45 per cent. ? Some honorable senators pretend that that excessive rate is not sufficient and would favour the imposition of duties of 50 per cent. There is sufficient protection against British manufacturers in consequence of the distance from our markets and the high freights which have to be paid. As an Australian I resent this action. We should trade with. Britain on terms of equality, particularly when there is sufficient natural protection in the direction I have mentioned. This Bill strikes a most crushing blow at the trade of Australia, and those who are supporting it will have to take the responsibility. I have done my utmost to show a reasonable way of conducting trade, but as a majority of members in this and another place do not support my contentions, all that I can say is that the sooner the measure is out of the way the better it will be. If we do not move quickly in this matter Melbourne merchants will soon be going around saying that they are surprised at the moderate requests that they have made. As this Parliament is constituted, it Would be an easy matter to impose duties up to 100 per cent. The sooner we close down on this obnoxious measure the better it will be for the primary producers and the working classes of the Commonwealth.
.- It is with considerable reluctance that I rise to utter a few words on this particular measure.
– I must remind the honorable senator that while it was necessary to allow the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) a little latitude, and the Leader of the Opposition a similar privilege, I cannot permit anything in the nature of a general debate on the whole Bill. Any remarks that are madenow must, therefore, be relevant to the question before the Committee.
– That will give me an opportunity of expressing my views in opposition to those of Senator Gardiner, who, with his usual vehemence, declared that Protection is a means of taxing the working classes of the nation. I desire to emphatically disagree with the suggestion that the principle of Protection is a means of taxing the community. If we do not impose protective duties imported goods will enter into competition with our own manufactures.
– The merits of Protection and Free Trade cannot be discussed at this juncture. This is a simple request which has been slightly modified, and is not of far-reaching importance.
– I am sorry that while Senator Gardiner ihas been able to have his opinions recorded in Hansard, I am denied that privilege, because I desire to assert that, the best interests of Australia, and particularly those of the workers, are conserved by levying high duties, which are not imposed with the idea of bringing revenue to the nation, but to preserve the industries in which our own people are employed. Ultimately, by the imposition of high duties, and the exclusion of importations, industries in Australia are assisted, and goods become cheaper. To carry out my desire I would have to transgress the Standing Orders, and as I do not wish to merit your reproach, Mr. Chairman, I shall conclude by saying that I regret the Leader of the Oppositiou cannot realize that the establishment of industries in Australia is in the best interest of the workers and the community generally.
– I move -
That the modification be agreed to.
When this item reached the Senate Committee certain duties were leviable on live stock, and the Committee decided to make the item free, but I think inadvertently fell into an error, because the original item included the words, “animals, living (except for stud purposes),” and these words were retained. The effect of the request submitted by the Committee was, therefore, to make all the living animals specified free except those which came in for stud purposes. The other House accepted the request, and now suggests that we should strike out the words “ except for stud purposes.”
– I understood you were good enough, Mr. Chairman, to permit a few general remarks upon the item now before the Committee.
– By no means. There cannot be a general debate. The Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) made a few general remarks to clarify the position, and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) reasonably claimed a similar privilege, and spoke very briefly. But I must indicate that it would be singularly unwise and distinctly out of order if the whole question of Free Trade versus Protection were re-opened. I must, therefore, ask honorable senators, so far as they can, to confine their remarks to the question before the Chair. As a matter of fact, in the particular item before us everything is to be free in all columns,and we are discussing only the modification made in another place. There can be no general debate.
– However able the two worthy senators referred to may be to represent the views of their respective parties, they fall short of giving expression to every opinion, of the members of those parties. I desire to speak on the question of whether we should press our requests or accept the modifications desired by the other House. I hope I shall have an opportunity later on of stating my views.
– The honorable senator may make any remarks which have relation to any particular modification as it comes before the Committee, and he will also have the full exercise of the rights which are inherent in his position.
Motion agreed to.
Fruits, fresh, viz.: -
Senate’s Request. - Per lb.,½d.
House of Representatives’ Message - Not made.
– I hardly imagine that this item will pass with the same unanimity or rapidity as the previous one. In the 1908-11 Tariff, bananas were liable to a duty of1s. 6d. per cental. In the 1914 Tariff there was no alteration. The 1920 Tariff, as introduced, embodied , the rates of1s. 6d., 2s. 6d., and 2s. 6d. per cental. The House of Representatives increased those rates to1d. per lb. in each column, and the Senate made a request that the duty be½d. per lb. The request of the Senate was negatived by the House of Representatives by a very substantial majority, and the duty now stands at1d. per lb. in each column. I need not reiterate the statements which were made very freely in this Chamber as to the position of the banana industry and its need for this protection. I move -
That the request be not pressed.
We should adopt a policy of give and take.
– Is your policy not to press the Senate’s requests?
– I desire to arrive at an agreement with the other House.
– That is an astonishing statement which has just been uttered by the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen).
We have had two Governments, representing two different parties, which considered that ls. 6d. per cental was a sufficient duty. Then a Government, with a Minister representing banana growers, considered a duty of 2s. 6d. sufficient. Now it is desired to make the duty Ss. 4d., and the Minister in charge of this Chamber says he is going to accept the proposal. If we agree to this, I do not think we can refuse anything. Why should we multiply the old Tariff on bananas roughly by six, when we know that this fruit has become a common article of food? We must realize that Australia has lost a large volume of trade -with Fiji through imposing duties on bananas grown, in those islands. A steamer which used to trade regularly between Fiji and Australia has ceased running.
– Another ship has taken its place.
– That is not so.
– It is absolutely correct.
-We have actually cut off our trade with a British Colony to the injury, chiefly, of Australian traders. This has been done for the sake of making the Australian banana growers a little more wealthy. Within, the last few months one of the most influential citizens of Suva visited Sydney, and he pointed out that the Fiji trade which had hitherto gone to Australia had now been transferred to New Zealand. I resided for twelve months in Fiji, and became aware of the keenness with which New Zealand business men catered for the trade of those islands. I am shocked at the apathy of the Commonwealth Parliament in neglecting such commercial opportunities. The banana trade has been the most profitable producing industry of Australia. The Minister represents his party, which believes in increasing the duty from ls. 6d. to 8s. 4d. per cental. I do not say the Minister himself believes in this action.
– The honorable senator is a member of a party that believes in it.
– There is a difference between the Minister and myself in this respect: I am not advocating what my party advocated in another place. The members of my party there are all out of step with me. The exigencies of government make it necessary for the Minister to press for high duties because the people imagine that high duties mean prosperity. I have watched the growth of unemployment since the banana duties have been imposed. I have been told by the waterside workers in Sydney that the duty on bananas alone has injured them to the extent of £3,000 a month less in wages than they received before the duty was put on. That is a serious loss.
– And in spite of that most of the waterside workers are Protectionists.
– We cannot blame them -if they have become inoculated with the pernicious doctrine of Protection. I repeat that the Tariff on bananas has taken £3,000 out of the pockets of the waterside workers in New South Wales, with the result that a large number of them have been thrown upon the labour market in my State, without any corresponding advantage to the banana-growers of Queensland. Can any honorable senator say that there has been any perceptible increase in the production of bananas as the direct result of the duties ? The taunt most generally levelled at those of us who represent the Labour party is that we look after class interests only; but if ever there was a measure designed for the protection of class interests it is this Tariff schedule.
– But you do look after class interests, do you not?
– We certainly look after the interests of the class that sent us here. I am not denying that, but our vision is so wide that it includes also the interests of the Commonwealth and the Empire. We are not satisfied merely to wave the flag and sing “ God Save’ the King.” We are not.like those who indulge in this practice, but who, by their adherence to high Customs duties, show that they are not prepared to trade with the Empire.
– How can the honorable senator use the word “we” in view of his statement that he is out of step with the party on this question of Customs duties?
– I said I was out of step with my party in another place. I can say with every confidence that the whole of the people I represent in New South Wales are in step with me on this question. The Tariff on bananas has, cost us the trade of Fiji, which represents anything from £600,000 to £1,000,000 per year, and which has been steadily developing in recent years. It would be better for the Commonwealth Government .to distribute £500,000 in cash among the banana-growers in Queensland rattier than sacrifice the Fiji trade, because it will not be long before this trade amounts to £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 a year.
– The honorable senator must know that the bulk of the Fiji trade is represented by re-exports. What employment would that give, except to wharf labourers 1
– I do not know that the wharf labourers are not entitled to more consideration than, apparently, they have received from this Parliament. And I think I can say that business men engaged in re-export trade make a good deal more out of it than the wharf labourers.
– No doubt.
– Of course, I do not expect the honorable senator to see the point I am endeavouring to make, because he represents Queensland interests. As I have already said, the Tariff on bananas has lost to us a valuable and growing trade with Fiji. It has gone elsewhere. I do not know that the requested amendment made by the Senate, reducing the duties to 4s. 2d. per cental, would have retained to Australia the Fiji trade; but, at all events, it would have been an indication to the people and the business men of Fiji that the Senate, at all events, was not anxious to flout Fiji interests, and treat them as if they were foreigners and undesirables.
– No. The honorable senator would rather flout Queensland interests.
– Nothing of the kind. The honorable senator cannot accuse me of having ever said an unkind word about Queensland.
– I am complaining of unkind acts, not unkind words.
– I have visited Queensland on many occasions, and every time I have been astonished at its enormous potential wealth in production. From a producing point of view, it is unques tionably the richest State in Australia. Notwithstanding this, the wheat-growers of the other States, producers who cannot look to get more than £4 per acre off their land, are called upon to pay 300 per cent, protection to the banana growers of Queensland, men who can get £200 per acre from banana growing.
– The banana is a luxury which the wheat farmer rarely, if ever, sees.
– I agree with the honorable senator, and, therefore, I protest more strenuously against any proposal that the wheat-growers of the Commonwealth should be called upon to contribute to this enormous duty. If I represented a State as rich as Queensland I would stand upon the floor of this Senate proclaiming its productive fertility, and declare that the people of Queensland . wanted protection from no one in the world.
– But what about the Tweed River growers 1
– I admit that the North Coast country in my State is the richest part of New South Wales, but as a representative of the whole of my State I object to the subsidizing of these rich lands at the expense of the poorer areas. I protest against any policy which may result in the wharf labourer being thrown out of work in order that the banana growers of Queensland may secure a higher return from their operations.
– But the banana growers on the Tweed River also asked for this duty.
– No. The banana growers’ Minister asked for it, but as a matter of fact he asked originally for only 2s. 6d. per cental. He would not have had the audacity to ask for 8s. 4d. Another place increased the duty to 8s. 4d., and this Committee requested a reduction to 4s. 2d., but the Minister representing those northern growers, men occupying the richest land in the Commonwealth, has sent the item back to us.
– It is a wonder the people from other parts of the Commonwealth do not go to Queensland then.
– We have to realize that most of the settlers on the Northern Rivers country in New South Wales came here on the advice of a very distinguished Scottish statesman, John Dunmore Lang.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time. has expired.
– I have no desire to unduly prolong the discussion upon this item, which was very well debated when last it was under consideration by this Committee. Most of the arguments then used are still fresh in our memories, but I want to put this point. The Leader of the Senate (Senator E. D. Millen) has suggested that we should try and meet the other Chamber. I am with him to a certain extent. I agree that there should be compromise, but the compromise should be on both sides. When we requested a reduction of the duty to 4«. 2d. per cental, it was, I think ‘ a very generous compromise on our part. Now that it has been returned to this Committee without any concession from another place, it is time we reconsidered our position. If the opinion of honorable1 senators without any sense of compromise had found expression on the last occasion, the item would have been returned to the House of Representatives with a request to make the duty ls. 6d., as it was before. The banana industry has grown up and flourished under a protection of ls. 6d. per cental, and, to use Senator Gardiner’s expression, those engaged in the industry have now the audacity to ask for a duty of 8s. 4d. per cental on bananas, and another place has had the audacity to ask the Senate to agree to that .duty.
– No doubt the Senate agreed to a duty of 4s. 2d. per cental in a spirit of compromise.
– BROCKMAN. - There is no doubt at all that the Senate’s request for the duty of 4s. 2d. per cental was a compromise, and a most generous one. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) has asked that we should consider the message of the House of Representatives in a spirit of compromise, and I say that if a compromise is to be effected, that spirit must animate both sides. The compromise we offered in this matter was a generous one, and should have been accepted. I ask honorable senators to consider the quality of the bananas that have been delivered in this State from Queensland since this matter was last under consideration.
– And from the Tweed River.
– And from the Tweed River. I refer to Australiangrown bananas that are being supplied without competition from outside. I am sure that every member of the Senate will have been struck by the fact that it is impossible to get a, properly ripened banana in this State to-day.
– If the honorable senator was struck with a banana he would know different.
– I know that I would be knocked insensible, because it would be so hard. There is a very good reason for this. It is a scientific fact that when tha stalk is removed from a bunch of bananas the fruit will not ripen properly. Queensland and the Tweed River bananas-growers, having been relieved of the competition from Java, Fiji, and elsewhere, have begun to lop off the stalks of the bunches very closely.
– They have always done so since they started the export of bananas by rail.
– My honorable friend may think so, but it is Hot so. They have recently begun to knock off the stalks, and, as a consequence, an ingredent in the- stalks, which, turns the skin of the banana into sugar and starch, is removed, and the absence of the stalk prevents the ripening process taking place.
– That. will not do.
– It is all very well for my ignorant friend to say that, but if he will take the trouble to make inquiries he will find that what I am saying in very ordinary language can be expressed in a very technical form, and is scientifically correct.
– What is the difference between the stalks of Fiji bananas and those of Queensland bananas ?
– Bananas were imported from Fiji on the stalk, and were ripened on the stalk. Tho bananas that come from Queensland and the Tweed River at the present time are not on the stalk, and cannot be ripened properly, because the ingredient in the stalk necessary for the proper ripening of the fruit is removed. The lopping off of the stalk is done by the Queensland growers because they naturally wish in this way to save freight. This is one of the results of giving the Queensland growers of bananas a monopoly of the industry.
– Does the honorable senator speak from actual knowledge in regard to this matter?
– I speak from actual knowledge of the quality of the bananas supplied to me recently. Has the honorable senator seen a ripe banana during the last few months in our Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms ?
– Ihave not seen good fruit of any kind in the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms.
– How could the honorable senator see a ripe banana in the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms when none are coming into the State ?
– Of course he could not, and we shall never get properly ripened bananas here so long as we give the banana-growers a monopoly. I should like again to remind honorable senators that the people of the State whichI have the honour to’ represent do not, and never have, obtained their bananas from Queensland. If they want bananas they must get them from Java, and they have to pay this exorbitant duty of 8s. 4d. per cental on them.”
– They are beginning to grow them in Western Australia now.
– The biggest crop of bananas ever produced in Western Australia was 36,000 bushels. They were grown by a few Chinamen, and we are not out to protect a few Chinamen.
– Are the bananas obtained from Java grown by white labour ?
– No, but they are consumed by white people in Western Australia. The Western Australian community is taxed to benefit Queensland and the other States of Australia in a way in which the people of no other State are taxed.
– The honorable senator should not forget that the people of Queensland are taxed for the benefit of Western Australia.
– I say deliberately that Western Australia is taxed for the benefit of the whole of the Commonwealth in a way in which no other portion of Australia is taxed. We are now considering an impost of 8s. 4d. per cental on bananas, which is a food of the people of Western Australia, who cannot obtain their bananas from Queens land, and have always been supplied from Java. On behalf of the people I represent. I make another appeal to honorable senators to give some consideration to the people of the great primary-producing western State.
– Although most honorable senators will recognise in me a fairly strong Protectionist, I am not, as a representative of Western Australia, influenced in the consideration of this item by either Free Trade or Protectionist principles. Western Australia is in the unfortunate position that it cannot possibly obtain bananas from Queensland or New South Wales, since the Western Australian market is too far away to be supplied from those sources. Western Australia has been, and will continue to be, supplied from Java. If we do not get them from there we will be completely cut off from the only place able to supply the western State with this food commodity. It is clear, therefore, that any duty imposed on bananas must be paid by the Western Australian people, and the duty under consideration represents a very serious impost upon a most important article of food.
– Oranges are grown in Western Australia,are they not?
– I am talking of bananas, and not of oranges, just now. Good fruit of various kinds is grown in Western Australia, but bananas are not grown there. In the more northern latitudes of the State the rainfall is insufficient for successful banana ‘culture. No matter what duty is imposed on bananas they will not be grown in Western Australia. I shall therefore vote against any increase in the duty on bananas, which can only have the effect of increasing the cost of food in the western State.
– I propose to move as an amendment that the request of the Senate be pressed.
– I think it right to inform the honorable senator that if he desires any modification of the item he should move his amendment before the motion now before the Chair is put. If he desires merely that the request of the Senate should be pressed, he has only to vote against the motion.
– I see that the amendment I proposed to submit would be a direct negative of the motion before the Chair, and honorable senators who agree with me in this matter may attain their objectby voting against the motion submittedby the Minister. It is unnecessary that I should delay the Committee very long in referring to this item, as the pros and cons were fully considered on a previous occasion. It is very difficult today to obtain bananas. And it is a very great hardship indeed that the people of this country should be called upon to pay, because of the duty on bananas,1d. more per lb. for what has become almost a necessary household food. In many districts of Australia the apple-grower has to sell his apples in case lots wholesale at about 1d. per lb. There are places where apples havebeen sold at less than1d.per lb.
– And11d. per lb. is charged for them in the shops.
– I do not care two straws if the shops charge 10s. per lb. for them. I am talking of what I know. I say that apples are grown and sold in many districts in Australia for about1d. per lb. It is questionable whether, in many cases, the growers will obtain as much as1d. per lb. for them this year. Yet we are asked to give a protection of 1d. per lb. to fruit grown in one corner of Australia. The proposal is ridiculous and absurd. I would never have supported the Senate’s request for a duty of 4s.2d. per cental on bananas had it not been that I was willing to be influenced by the spirit of compromise to which the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) has referred. Our request has been returned to us, and we are again asked to vote for a duty of 8s. 4d. per cental on bananas. Senator Gardiner very fairly and forcibly put the position when he said that Queensland is one of the wealthiest States, from a productive point of view, in Australia, and yet there is no State which requires so much spoonfeeding for its industries.
– What industries?
– The sugar industry, for instance. We used to get sugar for 2¼d. per lb., but to-day we are paying 6d. per lb. for it. Every fruit-growing industry carried on by intense culture in Australia is iburdened to support the sugar industry of Queensland.
– Nonsense !
– What I am saying is a fact. We know that co-operative societies with large capital behind them in different States of the Commonwealth have, in the last two years, gone under because they could not carryon with the present price of sugar. I have heard a statement put before the directorate of a co-operative society in South Australia to the effect that they, could not carry on unless they could obtain sugar at a price within their reach.
– Those engaged in the fruit industry are destroying their own trade by this continual cry about dear sugar.
– That little story is too short. Senator Crawford will admit that, in the manufacture of jam, sugar is used in nine cases out of ten in the proportion of pound per pound of fruit; and with sugar at 6d. per lb., how are we to get cheap jam?
– The honorable senator’s remarks are scarcely relevant to the item.
– I very often enjoy bananas cut into slices with a little sugar sprinkled on them; and as sugar is used in this way in the consumption of bananas, my remarks may be considered in order. Whilst not wishing to take up an antagonistic attitude towards the other House, and whilst endeavouring to meet them in the spirit suggested, I am going to ask the Senate to sit firm, and to give some consideration to those who have to rear large families in the cities. The people in the towns should be allowed to get fresh fruit at a reasonable price.
– By way of preamble to what I have to say on this item I wish. to refer to the soothing words of the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen), who said that the acceptance by the other Chamber of half of our requests was a prompting to us to approach the subject in the same spirit. Although the. House of Representatives has accepted virtually half of our requests, we have to consider, side by side with that fact, the nature of the requests to which they agreed. Turn to such trifles as “ lemon peel” - no doubt that amendment represents a resounding reform in this country. Turn to “Parisian flowers” - I suppose about a barrow load of those would be used in the Commonwealth in a year. That is another one of the Senate’s requests to which the House of Representatives has agreed. The list is full of them. Another one of the same class is “waste for engine cleaning.”
– I must ask the honorable senator not to discuss requests that have been agreed to unless they are very relevant to the items before the Committee.
– If we consider the nature and character of the requests to which the House of Representatives has agreed, as well as the number of them, it means that they have surrendered the shadow while hanging on to the substance. I do not want any apologies to be made in this Chamber. If this Tariff is going to have stamped upon it the imprimatur of this Parliament, it is about time the Senate made its influence and voice felt inthe country. It is also time that the Government listened with a willing ear, not only to what is spoken in the other House, but also to what is uttered in this Senate. In regard to bananas, I indorse thoroughly what Senator Gardiner has said about the prevalent tendency of people in favorable positions to seek still more and more favours. It is about time to raise a protest on behalf of those who, at least, have not lost their sense of decency, and have not been filled to the eyelids with unseemly selfishness. This item is a typical example of the selfish action of these men. We have it on the authority of Senator Crawford that arable lands in the Queensland jungle are commanding £30 an acre, and that the axe is going into them. He also said that labour in North Queensland was commanding a wage of £9 a week. For dairying and wheat-growing, which employ the overwhelming bulk of land workers, these conditions would be impossible. The wheat-growers would have to go out of business. I re-echo what Senator Gardiner has said with full justification, that it is time we called a halt to the extremely mad, preposterous demands of those who come to Parliament and ask for favours to which they are not justly entitled. A duty of1s. 6d. per 100 lbs. on bananas was considered to be sufficient, and has been proved to be sufficient, to establish the industry in this country. The Government came down and asked for an increase. A suggestion was made by a member of another House, and the duty was bumped up, even against the expectation of the member who asked for it, to 8s. 4d. This Chamber, in the exercise of its constitutional power, which, I hope, it will always jealously hang fast to and assert, said that 8s. 4d. was too much, and cut the figure down to 4s. 2d. Now we are told that we must accept what the other place has put before us.
– I never said that. I never said that this Senate “must” take anything. On the contrary, I said that this Committee has a right to insist upon its opinions as far as it likes.
– The Minister proposed that this Senate should agree to what the other place has proposed. That means that the other place shouldbe supreme. It is time that we set a period to these extra demands upon Parliament. I do not wish to obtrude the circumstances of my own State, although Western Australia offers no apology for the stand it has taken in this Chamber. It has shown, if any State has shown, a characteristic unselfishness whenever it was a question of establishing a truly fair and scientific Tariff. When it comes to the balance of equity being tilted, and of men temporarily forgetting themselves, then I must look to the interests of my own State. It has been said by previous speakers that . Western Australia can never hope to get bananas from within the continental area. It is physically and commercially impossible, except, of course, at a prohibitive price. I saw samples of bananas in the western State the other day priced at1s. 6d. a dozen. No one would have taken them out of a rubbish tip in the eastern States. The voice of Western Australiamay not be listened to, but we are not going to be submerged without a protest. In the past we have had to rely upon supplies from eastern countries. A duty of1d. per lb. means that the Java trade is cut out by the root. The policy of revenge or aggressiveness can be carried to such an extreme point that it will land us in trouble. The eastern countries are talking of Tariffs against Australian products. The markets for temperate-climate fruits of the western state are being narrowed. Does not the same statement apply to the eastern fruit-growers as well? If we are going to have a Tariff, let us have a reasonable one, and not stark, staring prohibition. We ought not to have a Tariff which says to the natives of the South Sea Islands or elsewhere, “ Stand off the grass. You do not exist as far as this item is concerned.” That is not a sound policy. We have Mandated Territories, and howare we going to treat them ? Are they going to be taxed and take our products, and put no impediment in our way ? They would be less than’ human if they did. As one who is, and hopes to be, inseparably associated with country interests, I say this proposition of the banana-growers of this country is absurd, unreasonable, and unjust. I have much pleasure in supporting Senator Wilson’s proposition, believing that it is the minimum that we should get. If I do not succeed, then, like the beggar of old, I shall have to accept the crumbs that fall from the table of Dives, some of whose progeny are well developed in this country. In order to build up ain industry under fair terms and to give the consuming population a fair deal, the Senate should press this request.
– Some of those honorable senators who have spoken against the increase of duty on bananas have assured the Committee that the expression of their views has not been prompted in any way by antagonism to what has been done in the other Chamber. I gathered from the vehemence with which they expressed their opinions that their attitude is very hostile to the State in which most of our bananas are grown. A duty of 8s. 4d. per cental, or1d. per lb., is exactly the same as the protection afforded to the growers of citrus fruits, while all other fruits except citrus fruits and bananas enjoy a protection of 6s. per cental. I cannot understand how honorable members can justify a smaller measure of protection for bananas than for any other kind of fruit grown in the Commonwealth.
– One hundred bananas are gathered at one cut, but it is a different matter to pick 100 lbs. of plums.
– Once a plum orchard has been established it is good for fifty years, and the plum-grower is very much nearer to his market than the banana-grower. Also, he has not to compete with the same class of labour. The basic wage fixed by the Board of Tradein New South Wales is £4 5s. per week. That, I suppose, may be regarded as somewhere near the average wage paid for unskilled labour throughout the Commonwealth.
– In New South Wales the Board of Trade basic wage for country workers is £3 6s., without board, and £2 2s. with board.
– If the figure is £3 6s. in New South Wales, it is sure to be higher in Queensland.
– The proportion of labour cost in banana-growing is not to be compared with that in fruit-growing.
– That may be the honorable senator’s opinion. There the cost of marketing is not the same as it is in connexion with bananas. The wages paid in Fiji average about 15s. per week, so that the prevailing rate in New South Wales and Queensland is at least four times higher than that paid by the Fiji growers. If any discrimination whatever is to be made in considering the claims of the Fiji growers and those in the Commonwealth, it ought to be in favour of those in the Commonwealth. A good deal has been said concerning the alleged loss of trade which has occurred since the imposition of the higher duty, but no figures have been submitted in proof of such a contention. We know that the Levuka has been withdrawn from the Fiji- Australian service, and that the Suva has taken her place. Last year the Colonial Sugar Refining Company placed the Fiona, a very fine steamer, in the service between Sydney and Fiji.
– What is the difference in the carrying capacity of the Levuka and the Suva.
– The Suva is the smaller vessel.
– The Fiona has been running for years.
– The old Fiona was in the service for a number of years, but she has been replaced by a larger vessel. At the outbreak of war the Colonial Sugar Refining Company had a vessel nearing completion which was commandeered by the Imperial authorities. The company then placed an order for a second vessel, which on completion was also secured by the British Government and run under charter for a time. At the termination of hostilities the vessel was handed over to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and was placed in the Fiji trade.
– Was not the Levuka placed on the Australian coast because the trade with Queensland had increased in consequence of the extra quantity of bananas being handled since the imposition of the higher duty?
– I am not prepared to say that. It has been shown that the production of bananas in Queensland and New South Wales can meet the Australian demand, and surely the trade of Queensland is of greater value to the other States than that with Fiji ?
– How does the freight from Fiji to Australia compare with that from Queensland to southern ports?
– I believe the freight from Fiji is slightly higher; but it has recently been reduced by one-third.
– Are bananas being imported from Fiji ?
– I have not heard of any importations since the duty was increased.
– Are we sending goods to Fiji?
– I presume that the ships do not proceed there empty. Practically every ship which proceeds to Queensland to bring back the products of that State is well laden with the products and manufactures of the southern States, and probably Queensland takes a great deal more .from South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales than those States take from Queensland.
– Why not place a Chinese wall around the country and be done with it ?
– The honorable senator was anxious to raise a very high wall to protect the timber industry when the Tariff was previously before the Committee. He is evidently one of those Protectionists who wants Free Trade for everything he buys, and Protection for every commodity which he or the State he represents has to sell. He is another geographical Protectionist of which we unfortunately ha.ve so many. Senator Gardiner referred to the reduced, employment on the Sydney wharfs, but surely he realizes that there has been a considerable falling off in the shipping trade of the world, and that the Sydney wharf labourers are not alone in that respect. Nobody knows better than Senator Gardiner that owing to a number of causes, of which the duty on bananas is not- one, Burns, Philp and Company, who had a whole fleet of steamers trading between Sydney and the islands, have formed a new company, and that Sydney is no longer the head-quarters of that fleet. A great deal of the products of the islands that came to Sydney for transhipment now go direct to San Francisco, particularly copra, which is one of the principal products of the South Sea Islands. Protection had nothing whatever to do with this development. We had a little dissertation from Senator Drake-Brockman in regard to the difference in the quality of the Queensland and Fiji bananas. Those who are in the business, and who speak with authority, say that the chief distinction between the two is that the Fiji banana has a bitter flavour which is not present in the Queensland product. The very best bananas which are made available to consumers are still labelled “Fiji,” and it is. only those which are over-ripe which are sold as Queensland bananas. I have never seen bananas* ripened on the stalk for commercial purposes because the fruit at one end ripens before that at the other, and consequently when they go into the ripening sheds they are severed from the stalk. The Queensland and Fiji bananas are ripened here in the same way, and as a rule the process takes about a fortnight after they reach t>he southern ports. ‘We have heard a good deal of the unsatisfactory position in which Western Australia is placed in consequence of the imposition of a duty of 8s. 4d. per cental.
– We ought to consider Western Australia apart from the other States.
– I intend to deal with Western Australia separately. When this item was previously before the Committee, we were assured that it was impossible for bananas to be profitably grown in Western Australia.
– Who said that? I said that Western Australia had produced 36,000 bushels.
– Since then, I understand, a company in Western Australia, which has had considerable experience in the fruit business, has made arrangements to plant 5,000 acres with bananas and pineapples, and I am much surprised that the representative of that great State - because Western Australia, like Queensland, is one possessing vast possibilities - should offer such opposition. The industries of Western Australia will have to be fostered in their early stages, and the proposition now before the Committee will assist in that direction. This is an industry which should be given every protection, because a large number of people can be settled on a comparatively small area.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I desire to support Senator DrakeBro<ckman and Senator Wilson, because I am opposed to the imposition of any duties which are likely to make the food of the people dearer than it is at present. Tha higher rate is quite unnecessary. We should remember that Queensland has been given special consideration by the people of Australia, because the sugar industry has received handsome protection at the expense of the consumers.
– The honorable senator may make a passing reference to the sugar industry, but he cannot discuss it at length.
– Knowing that Senator Crawford is a recognised authority on the banana industry, I would like him to give the Committee further information; but I have fully made up my mind to vote against increased duties which are likely to make the prices of foodstuffs higher than they are at present.
I have been following the debate on this particular item with a great deal of interest. An ordinary listener who is not seized with the actual position might imagine from the utterances of Senator Crawford that the Committee was endeavouring to take away protection from those engaged in the banana industry in Queensland. I desire to consider the matter from a reasonable point of view, and, in doing so, recall the words of the Minister, who said that the spirit of compromise should enter into the consideration of the items.” One honorable senator said that the spirit of compromise had actuated the Committee in requesting that the item be amended by reducing the duty from 8s. 4d. to 4s. 2d. per cental, when it was before us some weeks ago. I think the honorable senator was perfectly correct in what .he said. The fact is that before the introduction of the new Tariff the duty was ls. 6d. per cental, and under that protection the banana industry had become established. I personally had never heard of any great hardship being suffered by those engaged in the industry on account of that duty. It was proposed under the original schedule that the Tariff should be increased to 2s. 6d. per cental, in order that the growers might have the necessary additional protection on account of the alteration in the cost of labour in the banana fields. For some reason or other, the House of Representatives increased the original duty of 2s. 6d. to 8s. 4d. I think the majority df members in the Senate took a reasonable view, and followed the course of compromise in requesting the House of Representatives to reduce the duty of 8s. 4d. to 4s. 2d. I intend to support the request of the Senate, because I believe 4s. 2d. per cental will give those engaged in the industry all the protection required for years ahead.
– Yon may know something about apples, but what do you know about bananas?
– ^1 may not know as much about them as the honorable senator, but every member has the privilege of giving expression to his opinions. I shall not be a party to unnecessarily imposing a burden on the consumers. Australia should not adopt a policy of isolation, and tell neighbouring countries, with whom we have been trading for years, that we do not wish to have any more dealings with them commercially. Such an attitude must re-act prejudicially upon Australia. Our trade with Java is no small thing, and it is growing year by year. In 1918 goods of Australian production were exported to Java to the extent of £2,500,000 worth, and I believe the trade now reaches considerably over £3,000,000. In 1918 the export trade with that country in butter represented £368,000; in flour, £391,000; and in apparel and textiles, £35,000. Almost every newspaper of note has published paragraphs urging the necessity to cultivate trade with Java, with a view to considerably increasing it, and also to foster, as far as possible, commercial’ relations of a more favorable character with the Pacific Islands. Our export trade withFiji is not very great, but it is worth having. In 1918-19 it was valued at over £500,000.
– Is that a Free Trade argument ?
– No. I am not adopting a Free Trade attitude when I am, supporting a protection of 4s. 2d. per cental on bananas. I believe that that is a greater duty than tha growers in Queensland ever expected. From conversations I have had with Queensland people, I am quite satisfied that they were very delighted to find that the Senate had agreed to a duty of 4s. 2d., and they believed that that would give ample protection.
– Were they bananagrowers 1
– I do not think so, but they are interested in the development of Queensland. I say advisedly that we cannot afford to run the risk of losing the trade we have already built up with the Pacific Islands and Java. Prominent men in Fiji and other Pacific Islands have said that if the present prohibitive Tariff is retained it must eventually lead to strained commercial relations between Australia and those islands. New Zealand is carefully watching Australia’s attitude, and cannot be blamed if it endeavours to score a point at bur expense.
– If this Parliament does a flagrant injustice to Queensland, what will happen ?
– If we grant a duty of 4s. 2d. per cental on bananas, it cannot be called a flagrant injustice, because it will be giving the growers three times as much protection as they have ever before had. An increase from ls. 6d. to 4s. 2d. is a big one. The Queensland growers have always had to compete with Fiji, and have been able to carry on with a Tariff of ls. 6d. I intend to support the Senate’s request.
.- Honorable senators seem to have made up their mind on this question, and I do not expect that any discussion at this stage will alter their opinions; but there are one or two facts concerning Free Trade and Protection to be considered. I do not think tropical fruit has bv fir been so cheap in Melbourne as it is at present. Bananas are cheaper than ever before. If the people are deprived of Fiji bananas, they can. get others equally as good. There is a special train from Queensland to Melbourne once a week, and bananas grown in Queensland, and on the Tweed River, are distributed at various places along the railway. Australian bananas have been put on the market as Fiji fruit.
– Fiji bananas were purchased last week at six for a shilling in preference to Queensland fruit at ten for a shilling.
– Is the honorable senator sure they were Fiji bananas ?
– That may be the information supplied to the honorable senator, but I would like to ask him if he knows the difference between a Fiji and a Queensland banana, or one grown on the Tweed River. How does the honorable senator judge them ?
– By the taste. I find that the Queensland banana at present is rotten before it is ripe.
– It has been stated by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) that no Fiji bananas have come into Australia since the Tariff was put on. Therefore, Senator Henderson could not have seen Fiji bananas, unless they had been brought to Australia ‘privately. A couple of nights before I left Queensland prior to the resumption of the parliamentary session, I entered a fruit shop in Brisbane, and purchased a smoothleaved pineapple for ls. 3d. On my arrival in Melbourne I saw similar pineapples in the shop windows for. ls. each. Previously one could not purchase a pineapple at anything less than double the Queensland price. This shows the benefit of the special fruit train.
– Can the industry stand the rail freight?
– By special arrangement the fruit train supplies all the towns along the railway from Brisbane to Melbourne. A great deal of the trouble connected with the ripening of bananas is due to the fact that the banana merchants have not installed proper plants. If the bananas are placed in a sweating chamber, and the heat properly regulated, the whole of the fruit will mature regularly.
– The bananas I referred to were rotten half way up before they were ripe.
– If the banana merchants of Melbourne obtain green bananas and make proper provision for them they will ripen satisfactorily. The Queensland and New South Wales growers are anxious that the duty should stand. What is all the fuss about ? The duty only represents 1d. per lb., and in the Tariff there are very many other fruits carrying duties of from 3d. to 6d. per lb. It must not be forgotten that the banana is a soft fruit, and will not stand a lot of handling. It should be marketed promptly.I have every sympathy with the position of the people of Western Australia, but it appears that bananas can be grown there, because Senator Crawford mentioned a company that had been formed for this purpose.
– I never heard anything of that company, or of any application for an increase in the duty.
– It is strange that Queensland industries found no place at ali in the pictures illustrating the visit of the Prince of Wales, but bananas, said to have been grown in Western Australia, were included, though the fruit shown was the most miserable bunch I have ever seen. If bananas can be grown in Western Australia, the people of that State have not very much to complain about in regard to the Tariff. I admit that at present their position is rather difficult, but every Tariff hits some people. Senator Guthrie, referring to the sugar industry, said that Queensland was the most spoon-fed State in the whole of the Commonwealth. May we not also say that Victorian industries have been spoonfed? The industries of this State, under the influence of Protection, have become well established, and the banana industry ill Queensland will have the same experience. The cultivation of bananas will go a long way towards solving the labour problem. It is essentially a one-man, or family, industry, and it leads to a great deal of closer settlement. Therefore it should have a chance.
– Do you not think that 4s. 2d. per cental is a chance?
– I do not wish to express an expert opinion on that matter. All I know is that banana growers, both on the Tweed River and in Queensland, have made representations to the Minister that the duty is necessary if the industry is to sucoeed.
– How were they able to grow bananas when the duty was1s. 6d.
– The growers did not then cater for the whole of Australia’s requirements. They say now that, pro vided they are given this amount of protection, they will be able to supply the people of the Commonwealth with good bananas as. cheaply, if not more cheaply, than ever before. Already we have had proof of the truth of this statement. Bananas are being sold in Melbourne more cheaply than hitherto, and in addition the people of this State are being supplied with other tropical fruits.
– But if this increased duty is necessary, why did areas under bananas increase under the old duty ?
– The area increased because the growers were expecting to get this additional protection. I may also remind the Committee that large numbers cf returned soldiers have gone into the industry recently. They have been settled on the land by the expenditure of Commonwealth money, and unless they are given adequate protection many of them will be obliged to abandon their holdings.
– Is it not a fact that some of the returned soldier bananagrowers were placed on unsuitable land ?
– No. That remark is not true of banana-growers, but I understand that some ofthe pine-apple growers were placed on land that was unsuitable for the cultivation of the pine apple.
– I do not care to give a silent vote upon this item, because in the north of my own State there are some thousands of banana-growers. I do not claim that the area, under cultivation for bananas is large. Nevertheless, it is an important industry, and I do not want to lose sight of the fact that many of the men engaged in it are returned soldiers who had to pay a high price for their land, and who, of course, had to be assisted as far as possible by the Government in order to make their venture a success. Twelve months ago I took the first opportunity that presented itself after the last general election to visit the North Coast districts, and saw a great many banana plantations. I also spoke to a large number of growers, not one ofwhom made any representation to me for an increase in the duty, which then was1s. 6d. per cental. Nor have I had any representations since then.
– But their views are expressed through the North Queensland Association, of which they are members.
– I have not had one single protest from any New South
Wales banana-growers against the action of this Committee in requesting a reduction of duty from1d. to½d. per lb. Seeking as I do to represent the interests of New South Wales, I feel that I would be doing something entirely foreign to my conception of duty if I voted for the increased Tariff upon this particular item without having had representations from my own State as to the necessity for such increase. The banana-growers of New South Wales, I imagine, are not less keen as business men than the banana-growers of Queensland, and yet they have not asked for an increase in the duty.
– Senator Reid has said that the New South. Wales growers had arranged with the Queensland growers to ask for the duty.
– I cannot overlook the fact that the New South Wales banajia-growers have their representatives in this Senate, six of them, and not one has any representation made to him upon this matter.
– But their market is Sydney, is it not!
– I believe it is, but that does not alter the fact that when the duty was1s. 6d. per cental they had to compete with the Fiji bananas, and I understand they were able to compete successfully.Large profits were made in the industry. If any honorable senator will take the trouble to peruse the advertisements in the Sydney newspapers at any time during the last twelve months or so, he will find that it was stated that huge fortunes were being made, and that values of banana land increased enormously. The duty then was1s. 6d. per cental. Now this Committee is being asked to agree to a duty of 8s. 4d. I am not saying one word against the Australian-grown banana, and I do not believe it is necessary to do so in order to produce evidence against this proposed duty. I have found the Australian-grown banana to be just as good as anything grown in any other part of the world.
– How is it that New South Wales bananas are never quoted here?
– Probably because they are all eaten in New South Wales. Australia can consume more bananas than are grown here and imported from Fiji. The supply of bananas is not equal to the demand at a reasonable price.
– What would the honorable senator call a reasonable price?
– About half the price of apples.
– Bananas can be obtained, and the best in the market, for less than1s. per dozen.
– That raises this issue: If the Queensland banana-growers can place bananas on the market at such a low rate as Senator Reid suggests, they need not fear competition from Fiji. The object of the duty is to enable the Queensland and New South Wales growers of bananas to obtain a higher price than they could obtain if they had to compete with bananas grown in Fiji. The banana has become almost a staple article of diet, and is especially used by children. We are proposing, by an excessive duty, to make it more difficult for children to obtain this fruit. If I had received any representations from banana-growers in New South Wales, and theywere able to show me that it was absolutely essential for the success of their industry that this duty should be imposed, I might have been prepared to support it. I have received no such representations, and I can only assume that New South Wales banana-growers are satisfied with the previous action taken by the Committee in dealing with this item. I trust that action will be indorsed on this occasion.
.- As one who has no special interest in the banana industry, I intend to support the motion. In my view, the price of bananas will not be influenced in the slightest degree by the imposition of a heavy duty. I realize that a duty of 8s. 4d. per cental on bananas is prohibition; but I find that the banana industry, under the system of Protection, and the promise of Protection, has increased by 300 or 400 per cent. during the last three or four years. There is no doubt in my mind that the banana-growing States of Australia, if not immediately, then in the very near future, will produce all the bananas that the people of Australia require if we encourage the industry by protecting our growers against the product of black labour in other places. If that be so, the demand for bananas will rule the price. It must not be forgotten that bananas cannot, like a pair of boots, be stored for an indefinite time. They mustbe consumed within a reasonable time after they havebeen cut. Once the industry is established we need have no fear of a monopoly, because the law of supply and demand will operate to regulate the price.
– Who will control the supply?
– In this case nature will control the supply.
– The honorable senator should not believe it. Those who control the market will do that.
– Does the honorable senator mean to tell me that men who have gone into this industry because of the protection given to them against importations from outside will cut down some of their trees in order to obtain higher prices for their bananas?
– It is the middleman who will control the market.
– Honorable senators do not realize that bananas are perishable goods, and that the middleman cannot, therefore, control the market, since they cannotbe kept for an indefinite period.
– What kind of fruit is not perishable?
– All fresh fruits are perishable, but some kinds of fruit can be preserved. I have yet to learn that bananas can be preserved, or even kept in cold storage, in the way that other fruits can be kept.
– Bananas cannot be put into cold storage.
– I am glad to have my opinion confirmed. During the season, fresh bananas will be coming into the market all the time, and the middleman must get rid of them. He must place them on the market at a price acceptable to the public or they will perish on his hands.
– Does the honorable senator not admit that the banana industry is well established in Australia?
– I believe it Is being well established. But, if we were to allow the product of black labour from countries equal, if not superior, to Australia in natural conditions for the production of bananas to compete with the Australian industry, there is a possibility that we would destroy all that we have already done to establish the banana- growing industry here. I frankly admit that in this case I am going the whole hog for absolute prohibition of the importation of bananas. But, from the figures supplied to me, I have every reason to believe that Australia will produce more than sufficient bananas to meet the Australian consumption. If that be so, there can be no monopoly in the banana industry, and the people of Australia will get bananas as cheaply as they could get them from countries where they are grown by black labour. I prefer the cheap banana grown by the white man in Queensland, New South Wales, and Western Australia to that grown by Indian labour controlled by the planters of Fiji.
– I have listened for some little time to arguments as to whether the duty proposed by another place on bananas is too high or too low. One cannot be oblivious to the fact that honorable senators representing States in which bananas are grown have regarded the duty as reasonable, whilst honorable senators from States whose people are only consumers of bananas regard the duty as excessive. This question, however, cannot be regarded from the standpoint of States in that way. If so, we should revise the whole Tariff. Where duties of 30, 40, and 50 per cent. have been imposed on certain items, the result must be to injure some people, and who get the benefit in those cases? Are we imposing duties to help particular States or to help Australia? It is as much to the advantage of Australia that an industry should be established in Queensland as that an industry should be established in Victoria.
– Is it a fair argument to say the duties should be put on Australia to help a State?
– I am not certain that I can aecept at its face value what may be offered by Senator Wilson as a fair argument. If the duty on bananas is too high, because incidentally it may help a particular State, we should revise the whole Tariff. I can point to dozens of items in connexion with which duties have been imposed for the establishment of an industry in a particular
State, and it may be said that in those instances the other States have to pay tribute to that State.
– We have already agreed to a duty of½d. per lb. on bananas as sufficient to protect the industry.
– We did so some weeks ago, but the honorable senator will scarcely affirm that he is in a position to provethat such a duty is sufficient for the protection of the industry.
– What I mean is that, as the result of discussion here, we came to the conclusion that a duty of½d. per lb. would be adequate.
– Honorable members in another place came to the conclusion that the duty should be1d. per lb. I am trying to discuss the merits of the case. If the duty on bananas is considered too high, merely because it may appear to prejudicially affect the people of States in which bananas are not grown, I say that we must revise the whole of the Tariff.
– I agree with the honorable senator.
– Senator Wilson will not go to the people with that as his policy.
– Why not?
– If the honorable senator did go out with that policy, he would not come back.
– One never knows his luck!
– And probably the country would not know its luck! I want to appeal to honorable senators to consider this item,not in the light of its effect on Queensland and Western Australia, estimable as those States may be, but in the light of the fact that we impose duties to create industries. No honorable senator will get up and say that he supported a protective duty merely in order to establish an industry in a particular locality.
– Do not the Government admit that the banana industry was well established before this duty was proposed ?
– I will accept that argument. If we are not to impose duties because an industry is well established, we should tear up the Tariff, because three-fourths of our industries are established.
– Not to the extent to which the banana industry is established.
– The agricultural implement industry is established, and the same remark applies to the iron industry, the boot industry, and in certain aspects the woollen industry. We are, however, continuing the duties on the products of those industries in order that having been established they may be preserved.
– The Minister’s statement was that the duty was imposed to establish the banana industry, and I say that it had already been well established.
– I did not say that the duty on bananas was proposed for that purpose, but that honorable members have passed protective duties to assist in the establishment of industries.
– It is just as well to be candid.
– I am glad to hear of the sudden conversion of the honorable senator.
– I want cheap bananas for the people.
– The honorable senator does not want cheap prunes for (he people.
– Is Senator Wilson as keenly anxious to secure cheap dried fruits for the people as he is to secure cheap bananas for them? One way of testing this duty is to see how it compares with other duties to which honorable senators have agreed. I say that it is not as high as the average of the duties imposed by the Tariff. It is not easy to determine exactly what is the ad valorem equivalent of the duty of 8s. 4d. per cental on bananas. But, so far as I can make out, taking the price of bananas at from 22s. to 25s. per case, this duty represents about 25 per cent. ad valorem.
– Twenty-five per cent. on the value of the banana to the grower ?
– No; 25 per cent. on the sale price of the article.
– That is not a fair way to put it.
– How does the honorable senator interpret a duty of 25 per cent. on boots?
– On the invoice price.
– I am referring to the price of bananas in the market where they are sold in case lots. To meet my honorable friends, I will say that 8s. 4d. per cental on bananas is equivalent to an ad valorem duty of 30 per cent., and I ask them to say whether that is above the average range of duties imposed by this Tariff.
– It is above the reach of the people.
– If a duty of 30 per cent. places an article above the reach of the people, . I ask Senator Wilson to apply his argument to many items in the Tariff, protecting town industries, where the duties range from 30 to 55 per cent.
– More shame to us !
– Senator Guthrie may plead shame, but I am under the impression that, at the last election, he stood as a Protectionist.
– A sane Protectionist.
– I find it difficult, in the honorable senator’s case, to decide where sanity begins and insanity ends. I reiterate that the duty given in favour of the banana industry is not so high as the average of this Tariff. Now I come to another argument that has been used. Senator Guthrie said that ha was against taxing food.
– That is a good, sound argument.
– That is so, but it is rather late to apply it to this Tariff. While Senator Guthrie has been here the Committee has passed duties on dozens of itemsof food - fruit, fish, vegetable preserved milks, butter, cheese, bacon, maize, cereals generally, and, if I may include it as a food, beer. It may be an excellent thing to raise the cry of “the free breakfast table” - it worked great charm in the Old Country - but I submit that if we are to go back to that as a guiding principle we shall have to revise the whole Tariff from that standpoint.
– We want reasonable Protection.
– That is what I am pleading for. I do not occupy the time of this Committee in asking for anything unreasonable. These arguments, if they apply logically to this item, also apply to 95 per cent. of the items in the Tariff. Yet this Committee would not deliberately destroy the Tariff. If the Committee is prepared to maintain the spirit and principle of the Tariff, duties ought to be applied to bananas as to all other articles. Something has been said about the effect of the duty on trade with Fiji. I have no desire to injure the trade with that or any other country, but there is very rarely anything in this world that has not a reverse side. Anything we get we have to pay for in some way or other. Therefore, when talking of the Fiji trade it is well to remember the kind of competition that wo are faced with. I have in my hands a statement by Mr. John Wear Burton, who is conference secretary of the MethodistMissionary Society. I take it that from his position he may be accepted as a reliable and truthful witness. In giving evidence before the Inter-State Commission, he said that the Indian coolies received1s. per day, but that he thought the planters would soon have to pay up to 2s. per day. I need hardly do more than read that statement.
– How long is it since that evidence was given ?
– It was given in 1918. I will read the exact words: “ In Fiji among the Indian coolies the indenture system has been broken, and the planters will be obliged to give a higher price. Instead of paying1s. per day, as the standard is now, they will probably have to pay 2s. per day for ordinary labour.” If we go a little further than the witness suggested, and suppose that 4s. per day is paid, I venture to submit that that would represent very serious competition for the banana-growers in Australia, who are obliged to pay the white wages ruling in this country. The margin in favour of Fiji is a tremendous one in the matter of wages alone. It has been said that this duty will jeopardize our trade with Fiji. What does that trade amount to ? I do not wish to decry it by saying that it is not worth anything. It is a valuable trade, but, on the other hand, in estimating the extent of the danger to it we cannot afford to shut out of our minds the valuei of the banana industry. It is a fair comparison to set the Fiji trade against the value of the banana crop. The value of Australian imports from Fiji in 1919-20 was £298,000. I am going to suppose- which is, of course, in a sense, ridiculous - that all that trade was wealth produced to Australia. We may have derived some profit from handling the goods or shipping them to other countries. It is quite clear that the value of that trade to us could not have been more than the capital value represented by the trade itself. The value of the Australian banana crop in 1919-20 was £496,000. I think we are entitled to consider whether, in preserving the Fiji trade, we may not be threatening a more important industry in Australia. If the monetary value of the Fiji trade were equal to the value of the banana crop, there would still be more profit to Australia in the banana crop than in the Fiji trade. There is more profit to Australia in fi worth of goods produced in Australia than there is in anything we may collect in handling £1 worth of Fiji trade.
– The duty on banana3 was formerly ls. 6d., and the Senate increased it by 200 per cent. Surely that should suffice?
– I ask the honorable senator, if he is sincere in presenting that argument, to apply it to every other item in the Tariff. If he argues that because this duty was ls. 6d. per cental it should now be only 4s. 2d., he ought to oppose the placing of a duty upon any article that previously had no duty.
– Put it on proportionately.
– I have endeavoured to show that the duty on bananas is not out of proportion with other duties in the Tariff.
– Can the Minister inform the Committee what was the value of the goods sent from Australia to Fiji in 1919-20?
– The value was £664,000. Many of those exports were goods on the way from Europe to Fiji, and Australia received only the transhipment profit. If £1 worth of bananas are grown in Australia, Australia receives the whole of the profit.
– Is it not a fact that the banana crop in Queensland in the year referred to was all consumed in Australia?
– Granting that it was, that is what the bananas are grown for. We want to encourage local consumption.
– There are not enough bananas grown in Australia to supply local requirements at a fair price.
– That statement applies to every other article in’ the Tariff. Not enough woollen goods are manufactured in Australia to supply local requirements. Does my honorable friend say that on that account a duty should not be placed upon tweeds ?
– It is not necessary, anyhow.
– Did the honorable gentleman vote to put it on?
– I did not.
– I direct the Minister’s attention to th’i fact that his time has expired.
.- The figures quoted by the Minister (Senator E. D.. Millen) show that Australia was receiving from Fiji in 1919-20 a little over £200,000 worth of goods a year, and was sending to Fiji in return over £600,000 worth. By this banana duty we are, in my opinion, sacrificing the whole of that trade. The business men of Fiji are angry against Australia, and are looking for places where they can carry on their trade elsewhere than in Australia. Has any injury been done by this Senate to the banana industry of Queensland? The banana-growers can sell in Australia every banana that they can produce. It has to be borne in mind that the consuming capacity will be increased if the fruit is marketed at a price that is within the purchasing power of the people.
– What do you think the retail price of bananas should be in order to bring them within the purchasing power of the people?
– I do not think that the people should be saddled with a duty of 3d. or 4d. a dozen.
– That would not pay for the cost of cases and freight.
– I have an objection to paying the cost of freight and of oases. « The man who goes into the business and makes the profit should pay those charges. The Minister has compared this duty with other duties. I am an opponent of all duties. A comparison cannot be made between the duty on a pair of boots and the duty on bananas. For the manufacture of boots a large and expensive plant, which is continually wearing: out, is required; but for growing bananas all that is needed is a mattock and a knife. The Protectionist argument is th,at Protective duties are imposed in order to enable a man to invest capital in an industry. Boot factories and woollen factories require tens of . thousands of pounds to be invested in them before they are sufficiently well equipped to compete in the world’s markets. I realize that the Minister has put his arguments very cleverly and very honestly, because all the arguments that have been used against this item apply equally to every other item in the Tariff. The arguments are perfectly sound, and they should convince the Senate and the country that . these duties ought not to be imposed. I, who am always a reasonable man, say that whatever the country decides must stand; but surely we can ask not only the country j but the people interested in the industry, to accept a fair thing. If the banana industry could grow to the extent of producing in the year 1920 over £420,000 worth of bananas with a duty of ls. 6d. per cental, what need is there to ask for a duty of 8s. 4d. per cental? It should also be remembered that in the year referred to many petrie who would otherwise have been engaged in production were absent at the war. The industry grew to an enormous extent under the Tariff of ls. 6d., and now the Committee is asked to go out of its way and give a duty which the industry did not ask for, and ona which is three times larger than the Ministry asked for.
– The industry did ask for the duty.
– The question is not what the Ministry or the industry asked for, but what the other House has asked for.
– The other House may have acted impulsively. This is one of the instances in which the revising Chamber should meet the other House and say that neither the Ministry, the Government, the Minister in charge, nor the industry asked for this duty, and that a duty of 30 per cent, should be protection enough. I have discovered that the grower of bananas is getting no benefit from this Tariff, but that the man who imports them is. I can illustrate the position by a reference to another fruit industry. A fruit-grower close to Sydney, who was new to the business, determined to establish a name for himself. He gathered his fruit carefully, sent only the best to market, folded them in paper, and packed them properly. An old hand shovelled the others into a case and sent them to Parramatta market. The latter returned 6s. a case, while the others, properly graded and packed, returned only 2s. a case. If honorable senators will talk to a grower of bananas in this country they will find that this enormous duty has crippled Australia’s Fiji trade. That is my chief objection to all duties - they cripple trade. The banana-growers are anxious to market their own fruit. It is not a question of whether we are to develop or manage the industry or encourage people to invest their money in it, but whether a duty of 4s. 2d. per cental, which is six times more than the industry developed under, is sufficient.
– That will not cover the difference between the present freight and what it was eighteen months ago.
– Although the Levuka is now on the Australian coast.
– But bananas go by rail.
– If the growers send their’ product by the most expensive method, they must bear the consequences.
– It is cheaper than by sea when the risks on the wharfs are taken into account.
– Risks were incurred when importations came from Fiji. I have said quite a good deal concerning the protection which I consider this industry requires. I am only speaking, for the people I represent, although I know my remarks may be somewhat irritating to Senator Crawford. The honorable senator referred to the wharf labourers, but he must remember that the wharf labourers are a hard-working and deserving class, and our present. Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was drawn from their ranks.
– They frequently hold up our stuff by unnecessary strikes.
– Wharf labourers here and in other parts of the world cease work when they are being unfairly treated. I read in a trade journal the other day that 3,500,000 people were unemployed in Protectionist America.
– What is the number unemployed in Free Trade Great Britain ?
– About 1,500,000; but the proportion would be very much the same. Those figures are, I think, sufficient to show that Protection is not a cure for unemployment.
Senator Sir THOMAS GLASGOW (Queensland) [5.39]. - The discussion this afternoon has covered quite a number of the points brought forward when this item was previously before the Committee. I donot wish to repeat the arguments that have already been adduced; but I desire, for the information of honorable senators who have been wondering how the industry was established with a duty of1s. 6d. per cental, to point out that during the war period there was a natural protection because the plantations in Fiji were destroyed by a disastrous cycloneand freight was exceptionally scarce.’ In consequence of this, the Queensland banana-growers were able to proceed without much competition, and the industry received an impetus. Why do the Queensland growers require protection? Simply because the bananas grown in Fiji are raised with cheap coloured labour. The. wages in Queensland vary from 10s. to 14s. per day, and, as the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) pointed out, the labourer in Fiji receives only 2s. per day. When the schedule was previously before the Committee, very high protection was given to some commodities at the request of honorable senators. Those honorable senators must now endeavour to be consistent, and not be fiscal chameleons. There is no industry that I know of that assists closer settlement to a greater extent than banana-growing, because a banana-grower can make a living on from 7 to 10 acres of land, whereas a wheatgrower requires anything from 300 to 600 acres. Comparisons have been made with the returns derived by banana-growers and those of wheat-growers; but if a settler can make a living on from 7 to 10 acres when others require from 300 to 600 acres, surely he is entitled to consideration ! The industry has developed on the north coast of Queensland and in the northern portion of New South Wales to a great extent, and I desire to direct the attention of honorable senators representing Western Australia to the fact that as we are now encouraging immigration on an extensive scale, there is no form of settlement that would be of greater assistance than banana-growing. Rich scrub lands in suitable localities along the coast will produce bananas, and if Western Australia wishes to look for new avenues of settlement this is an industry in which people can be profitably employed. ‘
– It is really a question of what is a fair duty.
Senator Sir THOMAS GLASGOW.When the schedule was previously before the Committee, some honorable senators were opposed to any duty at all. Senator Wilson said that the apple-grower was pleased to receive a duty of1d. per lb. on his products; but the banana-growers are getting very little more.
– But the apple-grower exports his product.
Senator Sir THOMAS GLASGOW.That is all the more reason why he should have less protection, because his opportunities of disposing of his product are greater. The Government once placed an embargo on apples to protect the Australian producers. There is a duty of 6s. on apples, and of 8s. 4d. per cental on citrus fruits.
– That is of no use, because we produce more than we use.
Senator Sir THOMAS GLASGOW.The honorable senator should endeavour to be consistent. Some honorable senators have attacked the Sta’te which I represent; but they should remember that we are in a peculiar position, as Queensland is really the only State producing tropical fruits which come into competition with the products raised by cheap labour in the Pacific Islands. If we favour the White Australia policy, we must afford adequate protection to tropical products raised in the Commonwealth. We have settled our north-eastern coast to some extent, but development cannot continue unless we have an opportunity of competing withtropical products raised elsewhere.
– Will not a duty of ½d. a lb. adequately protect the industry?
Senator Sir THOMAS GLASGOW.No. The duty fixed by another place is not above the average fixed in connexion with other fruits. The banana-growers should have a uniform market. In the past, when the monthly boat arrived from Fiji, large quantities of bananas were dumped on to the market, and the Queensland growers could not obtain sufficient to cover the freight. They now know the requirements of the southern markets, and are able to regulate consignments in such a way that the demand can be met without the consumers having to pay an unreasonable price.
– Would the honorable senator beprepared to split the difference and accept a duty of 6s. per cental ?
Senator Sir THOMAS GLASGOWNo. I think the higher rate is reasonable, and in keeping with duties imposed on other fruits. In these circumstances, I trust the Committee will afford the higher protection to a deserving industry.
– During the discussion on this item, reference has been made to the cost of growing other protected fruits. We should consider, for instance, the labour involved in producing 1 lb. of prunes. First of all, the trees have to be attended to for, approximately, six years before there is any return. Senator Wilson said it required 4 or 5 lbs. of green fruit to produce 1 lb. of dried fruit. The trees have not only to be cultivated for a lengthy period, but when they commence to bear there is all the trouble and expense associated with desiccating the fruit and placing it onthe market before there is any return. The duty on bananas asked for by the House of Representatives is out of all proportion to that granted in the dried-fruit industry. Three times as much labour is involved in the production of 1 lb. of dried prunes as in the production of 1 lb. of bananas. Will any honorable senator deny it ?
– What price is obtained for a pound of prunes?
– What duty is there on prunes?
– The price for the green fruit is in the vicinity of1d. per lb.
– We have the same duty on dried prunes to-day as in 1911, when it was 3d.
– Now it is 4½d.
– Not more than one-third of the1s. 6d. per cental duty on bananascould be debited to labour. That would mean 6d. ; but what the growers are asking for now, over and above that1s. 6d., is 6s. 10d., or an increase of nearly 1,400 per cent. on account of labour costs. Can that be called reasonable? I am quite agreeable to a duty of 4s. 2d. per cental being granted, and I do not think that rate would be unjust to Queensland. The cases for dried fruit cost two or three times as much as those for green fruit. As the representatives of a majority of the States are prepared to concede 4s. 2d., it must be admitted that the Senate has adopted a Federal spirit.
– I am very much surprised that so much opposition has been shown towards the proposed duty of 8s. 4d. per cental on bananas. I was astonished that Senator Duncan, in whose State a considerable quantity of bananas is grown, should have been amongst those who hold the view that 4s. 2d. is a sufficient duty.
– No dissatisfaction has been expressed in my State.
– New South Wales growers are situated a short distance from Sydney, compared with the distance the Queensland growers have to send their fruit, because their principal market is Melbourne. Therefore, the New South Wales growers are in a very advantageous position. The official Year-Book, No. 13, shows, at page 394, that, in New South Wales, 259,427 cases of bananas were produced in 1918-19, of a total value of £220,510. In the same year, Queensland produced 1,267,641 bunches of bananas, the value of the output being £211,273. According to the authority I have quoted, bananas produced in New South Wales were worth just twice as much to the grower as those grown in Queensland.
– It shows the superiority of the New South Wales article.
– Not so; but probably, it would have cost to send the New South Wales fruit to Sydney only one-fourth of what it would cost to consign bananas from Queensland to Sydney ot Melbourne.
– Then, do we not need as much protection in New South Wales?
– The grower in New South Wales is certainly in a more advantageous position. Comparisons have been made of the duties which have been imposed on various items, and it has been shown very clearly that quite a number of industries would have more than double the protection which the Queensland banana industry would receive even if the full duty of 8s. 4d. per cental were conceded; and those other industries are in competition with countries where white labour obtains. I can find only one item in the Tariff dealing with an industry which has to contend with the kind of competition, to which the banana grower is subject, and that is eggs. There has been considerable discussion in the newspapers and elsewhere about the competition which egg producers have to meet through eggs being imported from China. The Australian industry is protected practically to the extent of 9d. per lb.” which is nine times the protection desired for the banana industry. Of course, the duty on eggs was very readily conceded, because poultry farming is common to all the States, while banana growing is carried on only in New South Wales and Queensland to any great extent. Certainly it is proposed to grow bananas on a large scale in Western Australia, and I am quite prepared to help in the establishment of the industry on a sound footing in that State. Bananas are undoubtedly the cheapest fruit obtainable in Melbourne at present. I have seen them on sale at 2d. or 3d. per lb., while in the same shop window apples were priced at 8d. per lb. It costs a great deal less to keep apples in cold storage for six months than it does to bring bananas ‘from Queensland to Melbourne, the latter cost being 4s. 6d. per case. The railways of three States benefit by the Queensland banana trade. Inquiry has been made as to why the fruit is not forwarded by steamers, which one would expect to provide cheaper transport. The actual difference between the steamer and rail freight is less than ls. per case, or about id. per dozen.
– How many bananas are in a case?
– The number varies from 20 dozen to 24 dozen. There is only one steamer on the coast, the Levuka, insulated and suitable for the carriage of bananas. The practice is to bring the bananas down in the summer in louvre trucks, and in cold weather in closed trucks, because bananas are very susceptible to extremes of heat and cold. I understand that if they were being conveyed in a louvre truck on a frosty night they would practically be destroyed, because they could not be kept long enough to ripen properly. The banana-growers have a very good organization both for the transport and marketing of the fruit. They understand their business thoroughly, and we may take it that if they thought it would be more profitable to send bananas to Sydney or Melbourne by steamer they would do so. In the first instance, the fruit would have to be railed from the district in which it is grown to the port of shipment, and, as vessels are frequently held up perhaps a week or a month en route, the bananas would perish. There is need to specially protect Australian products that have to be grown in competition with cheaplabour countries. ‘ In the smaller States, the principal industries have the market at their door, so to speak. I direct attention to’ the position of the wine industry, which enjoys protection equal to about 200 per cent, the value of the product.
– Was the duty put on to protect the industry or limit the use* of wine?
– The duty was imposed for the purpose of encouraging the production of wine. There is no Excise duty. It cannot be said that the primary producers in the southern States are in competition with cheap-labour countries. The duty on bananas imposed by another place is fair and reasonable, and I hope it will commend itself to honorable senators.
– I do not wish, further to debate the merits of this case, but I would like some information. If the Minister’s mo- tion be adopted, shall I be prevented from moving any further modification in the duty, say, from1d. to¾d. a lb. ?
– In the event of the Minister’s motion being agreed to, the honorable senator could not then submit his proposed modification.
– It appears, then, that if the Committee insists upon pressing the request upon another place, it will be the subject of a conference, and that the same will apply to other items that may be dealt with in the same way.
– Is it not usual in such cases to allow the matter at issue to be the subject of a compromise in conference?
– That is so, and that is what may happen if I do not proceed with my suggested amendment. Some honorable senators may not be in favour of the duty of1d. per. lb., but would be prepared to split the difference.
-The honorable senator has the right to move any modification of the request.
– But I am waiving that right now, Mr. Chairman, on the assumption that it will be the subject of a conference subsequently between the two Houses of the Legislature.
Question - That the request be not pressed -put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion negatived; request pressed.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap). Once the doors are locked, an honorable senator may not leave the chamber. He must take part in the division.
Item 53 -
Fruits, dried, viz., . . . . (c) PrunesOn and after the 9th July, 1921, per lb., 4½d.
Senate’s Request. - Per lb., 4d.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Not made.
– I move -
That the request be not pressed.
The duty when the Tariff was introduced was 3d. per lb. It was then raised to 4½d.in conformity with the duties on other fruits, and this Committee requested a reduction to 4d. The other House has dissented from the request, and has asked the Senate not to press it. The position of the industry has been carefully investigated by the Department, and the conclusion arrived at is that a duty at the rate of 4½d. per lb. is necessary for the protection of local growers against the importation of American prunes, which are placed on the market at extremely low prices, when the American markets are no longer open to them. The cultivation of prunes in Australia is a comparatively recent development, and a large number of returned soldiers have become engaged in the industry. The trees are just coming into bearing, and the product has to compete with the end of season fruit from America, which is dumped at comparatively low prices to clear out stocks. The effect is to jeopardize the local production.
– Is the reference to the industry in Victoria ?
– No, in Australia generally. I arn inclined to think that the people of New South Wales are turning their attention particularly to this form of rural production. The fact that it is New South Wales production that is protected will not, I hope, prejudice Senator Gardiner against the duty proposed.
.- I think that we should press our request upon this item, just as we did in connexion with the duty on bananas. In my view the position is exactly the same. The Committee, when this matter was previously under consideration, expressed the view that 4d. per lb. would be a sufficient duty. Honorable members in another place hold a different view. We are informed that there is fear of American importations in this case, just as we were told, in the case of the duty on bananas, that Queensland growers were afraid of Fijian importations. The only distinction that can be made between the two items is that whilst bananas are grown chiefly in Queensland, prunes are grown in more than one of the other States. I do not wish to appear as the opponent of any particular State, but as the Committee decided that 4d. a lb. is a sufficient duty on this item, and the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) has adduced no good argument why we should alter our view of the matter, I enter my protest against the motion and trust that the Committee will adhere to its previous decision.
Question - That the request be not pressed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
– I must inform Senator Newland that he is not permitted under the Standing Orders to cross from one side of the chamber to the other after the tellers have been appointed for a division.
– I beg your pardon, sir, I did not know that I was too late in crossing the chamber.
– The honorable senator was too late, and his vote must be recorded with the “ Ayes.” I did not notice Senator Glasgow crossing the chamber, but if he did so after the tellers were appointed his vote must be counted with the “Noes.”
– I waited only to hear the question put from the Chair, and then crossed the chamber before the tellers were appointed.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Piece Goods, viz.: - (a) (2) Calico for bagmaking, as prescribed !by departmental bylaws, ad. val., free.
Senate’sRequest. - British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 15 per cent.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Not made.
– Here again I move -
That the request be not pressed.
As the Tariff came first to the Senate it proposed that calico for bag-making, should be free from Great Britain with the desire - laudable, but mistaken in this case - to assist trade with the Mother Country. The Senate requested that duties of 5 per cent. in the intermediate and 15 per cent. in the general Tariff should be imposed, leaving importations from Great Britain free. The information supplied by the Department of Trade and Customs is that this particular calico is not imported from Great Britain.
– Yes, it is.
– I am giving the information supplied by reliable and responsible officers of the Department. I have no doubt that it is given, as I accept it, in good faith. I am informed that this particular kind of calico is imported from America. Honorable senators will see that if my information is correct, the reason which actuated them in imposing duties of 5 and 15 per cent. in the intermediate and general columns does not operate, and the effect of their request, if agreed to, would be merely to increase the charges upon those who use these calico bags for the marketing of their produce.
.- I have listened to what the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) has said in justification of his motion. It is my opinion that all the calico required for bag-making in Australia can be obtained from Great Britain.
– What are these calico hags used for?
– Chiefly for the export of flour. At the outbreak of the war Great Britain had the reputation of being able to produce calicoes and cotton goods of this description of better value than similar goods produced in any other part of the world. Manchester has been the home of the manufacture of this particular article in Great Britain.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
-The request of the Senate, in the matter of calico for bagmaking, was that preference should be accorded to British manufacturers by the imposition of a 5 per cent. intermediate, and 15 per cent. general, Tariff. Originally, the House of Representatives proposed that there should Ibe no duty upon this material, and it has not seen fit to accept the Senate’s request. Australians should be anxious to do all that may be possible to assist Great Britain in the struggle to recover her lost trade. 1 have heard no arguments which might cause me to alter my views. The calico used for bag-making is a low-grade material, which could be turned out from British factories at as good value as from factories in any other part of the world.
– Has the honorable senator any idea of the difference in price between the Japanese and British product?
– No. I do not know that British manufacturers turn out this class of calico. The bulk of the material imported for bag-making comes from Japan and America. It has been suggested that the proposal of the House of Representatives to admit the calico free amounts to a form of reciprocity. A fairly large quantity of flour is shipped annually from the Commonwealth to Japan, and the Japanese prefer to re ceive our flour bagged in calico made in that country. That, I understand, is the explanation of the attitude adopted by the House of Representatives; but I repeat that Britain is entitled to preference at our hands. One reads in the press almost daily of the serious extent of unemployment in the Mother Country. This is due very largely to the severity of the competition of foreign countries since the cessation of hostilities. If we can assist Britain, while at the same time receiving good value, we should certainly do so.
– It is not a case of preference in this instance,because Great Britain does not send us this class of calico.
– Probably because we have not given orders with British firms.
– Surely it may be accepted that Great Britain would push her trade here if she had the goods to sell us.
– I take it that the orders for calico for bag-making have been transmitted to Japan and the United States of America. I cannot support the motion.
– I do not suggest that this Committee should go beyond a fair mark in endeavouring to meet the wishes of another place; but in the present instance honorable senators might well agree to the House of Representatives’ message. I shall support the motion, therefore.
Motion agreed to, request not pressed.
Apparel, articles of, viz.: - (b)Apparel, n.e.i., for the human body, partly or wholly made up, including materials cut into shape therefor; also material defined by pattern or design for manufacture into apparel; second-hand apparel not imported for sale or trade and not exceeding a total value of £5, ad val., British, 40 per cent.; intermediate, 50 per cent.; general, 55 per cent.
Senate’sRequest. - ‘Insert new sub-item (c) Corsets, ad val., British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Made with the following modification: - Duties made, ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.
– I move -
That the modification be agreed to.
The request of the Senate involved a considerable reduction upon the rates originally proposed by the House of Representatives. That Chamber has made a compromise to the extent of proposing the acceptance of 30 per cent. British, 40 per cent, intermediate, and 45 per cent, general Tariff. It has been pointed out that the rates proposed by this Committee are utterly inadequate if they are to be regarded as protective duties. Honorable senators have already agreed to duties upon cotton blouses, skirts, and costumes, respectively of 40 per cent., 50 per cent., and 55 per cent.
– There -is a marked difference between those articles of apparel and corsets.
– The manufacture of corsets is much more difficult than that of blouses. The chief material used in the former, namely, coutil is liable to a duty of 15 per cent., so that the Senate has requested the same duty upon the raw material as upon the manufactured article, which is opposed to the theories both of the Free Trader and oi the Protectionist.
– Is not the raw material admitted free from Great Britain ?
– That is so; but the general Tariff is 15 per cent., and’ most of the supplies used in Australia are imported from foreign sources. It has been urged against the imposition ot higher protective duties that local manufacturers cannot make sufficient corsets for the requirements of Australia, or that the quality is not equal to that of the imported article, or that the price of the local product is excessive. As corsets, until the introduction of the present Tariff, were liable to duties of only 10 per cent, and 15 per cent., it would be scarcely a matter for wonder if local manufacturers were not yet in a position to supply all requirements. But, despite the short period during which the protective duty has been in operation, one Sydney firm alone has placed itself in a position to turn out more than 600,000 pairs per annum. The capital invested in the three principal factories amounts to £185,572, and 430 hands are employed at a weekly wage of £1,240. Although the industry is of recent origin, it will be agreed that it has already .assumed fairly considerable proportions. The Inter-State Commission, which went thoroughly into the matter, was convinced that the duty on1 corsets should not be less than that on apparel.
– What is the duty on apparel ?
– The InterState Commission recommended that the British rate should be 35 per cent., and the general Tariff 40 per cent. The original rates imposed on corsets by the House of .Representatives was 40 per cent., 50 per cent., and 55 per cent. As a concession to the desire of the Senate for a reduction, the House of Representatives has in its message set down the duties respectively at 30 per cent. , 40 per cent., and 45 per cent. Thus, the rates have been practically brought into line with those recommended by the InterState Commission.
. - This is one of the most important items in the Tariff from the point of view of the general community. Honorable senators will remember that in the previous Tariff corsets were specifically subjected to a duty of 10 per cent. British and 15 per cent, foreign. When the Senate received its present Tariff schedule for consideration, some time ago it was found that corsets were no longer specifically mentioned, but that the item was included under “ apparel and attire.” This provided for exceptionally heavy duties, ranging up to 55 per cent, general Tariff.
– Corsets are a luxury, are they not ?
– The honorable senator should ask the women of Australia whether they are a luxury. Some corsets may be a luxury, but as an article of attire they are a. necessity. We must bear in mind, in discussing this amendment, what the position was before the introduction of the new Tariff, when the duty was 10 per cent. British and 15 per cent, foreign. In that Tariff it was recognised that corsets required special treatment, apart from ordinary apparel and attire. Any one who knows anything of the manufacture of corsets and of the varying needs of the people of Australia with regard to design, must recognise that this should be treated as a special item. I have not a word to say against the corset factories of Australia. I am very glad that we have them, but there is no justification for imposing an unnecessary burden upon the women of Australia so as to insure that Australian manufacturers can get a still higher price for their manufactures. No matter how many corsets are made in Australia during the next few years, the bulk of those used must be* imported. In the first place, Australia is not manufacturing anything like the number required here, and, in the second place, the corset manufacturing industry cannot be brought to anything like perfection in a period of even ten years.
– What is the difference between the price of the Australian corset’ and the imported corset?
– All I can tell the honorable senator is that, whereas ir. prewar times a woman could get a really good, serviceable corset for from 7s. 6d. to 10s., to-day she has to pay anything from 25s. to 35s., and even £2 a pair for them. A shipment of corsets were cleared recently under the 55 per cent. Tariff. They were imported from Canada, and the total expense, including duty, was 95 per cent. A shipment of American corsets may cost as much as 115 per cent, to land, including the 55 per cent. duty. Every pair of corsets is packed in a separate carton, and it does not take many of them to fill a large size case.’ The cost of freight and packing has been very high recently, and, on the most conservative estimate that I have been able to secure from those engaged in the distributing trade, 35 to 40 per cent, is a low estimate of the natural protection which this industry enjoys, apart from the duty of 45 per cent. Most of the material used in the manufacture of Australian corsets is admitted free of duty, so that the Australian manufacturer has an absolute protection of anything from 80 to 90 per cent., after allowing for the 10 per cent, reduced duty recommended by the House of Representatives. I do not think the Senate will be justified in accepting the motion submitted by the Minister. The corset manufacturers of Australia got “on their feet” before the Tariff was. introduced.
– Can they keep “ on their feet” without the Tariff?
– They can with a reasonable protection.
– Can they do it without this present Tariff?
– Certainly they can, and everybody knows they can.
– They say they cannot.
– They know that they can, because the natural protection which they enjoy is much greater than that on any other article of attire that could be mentioned. The honorable senator may be thinking of the prehistoric days when corsets were imported and distributed at ls. lid. a pair, and were tied up a dozen in a packet. I am referring to the average modern corset, worn by the average woman. I want to appeal to honorable senators to give a fair deal to the women of Australia in connexion with this item. They are entitled to consideration. I remind honorable senators of the fact, which I mentioned some time ago, that they are as great admirers of variety of form as they are of variety of feature in women. From a medical point of view, it is absolutely suicidal for some women to wear a certain kind of corset, although it may suit another type of figure. A large amount- of care and attention has to be applied by manufacturers in order to supply articles moulded to a great variety of forms. In view of the fact that the corsets manufacturers of Australia were able to get on their feet and to progress wonderfully with a very much lower Tariff, I think the request made by the Senate that the duties should be 15 per cent. British, 20 per cent, intermediate, and 25 per cent, general is a reasonable one, particularly when one takes into consideration the additional natural protection which is afforded to the local manufacturer by the heavy cost of importing.
– Does the honorable senator not admit that all the corsets worn in Australia could be made here 1
– They are not being made.
– Can the factories in Australia supply the wants of Australia?
– No; and they will not be able to do so for some years to come. The people of Australia ought to be able to get an article that they need without paying an inordinately high price for it, far and away in excess of its true value. During this year an enormous number of corsets have been imported from Canada, America, and England - a fact which proves conclusively that the manufacturer in Australia at the present time cannot meet the needs of Australia. I am hoping that the day will arrive when everything needed in this country will be produced in it; but I do not want to see the people penalized unnecessarily in order to bring that about.
– The same argument applies to the duty on apparel generally, but the honorable senator does not vote to reduce that duty to 10 per cent. Australia is still importing large quantities of apparel.
– A large proportion cf the apparel included under the general heading of “Apparel “ is manufactured in Australia, and much of it is made from materials manufactured in Australia. All the materials used in the manufacture of corsets have to be imported. Although the Minister has said that coutil bears a duty of 15 per cent., I have a. statement to the effect that the coutils used in the manufacture of corsets are a speciality of English and American mills. That article is admitted from England free, and there is a duty 15 per cent, general and 10 per cent, intermediate.
– Is that the only material used in the manufacture of corsets?
– There are others, which are admitted free.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I do not claim to have the expert knowledge of this article which Senator Payne possesses; but .1 do “not think it fair to impose excessively high duties and thus penalize the womenfolk of Australia, to whom, I understand, corsets are a necessity. When this item was previously before the Committee we had a long discussion, and decided” to favour the imposition of 15 per cent., 20 per cent., and 25 per cent, duties; and I cannot see, merely because honorable members in another place have expressed a different opinion, why we should pile on higher duties and thus increase the cost of living to the people. Realizing that Senator Payne has had considerable experience in the trade, I would like him to continue and give the Committee the benefit of his knowledge.
.- Senator Reid was anxious to ascertain the difference in value of the Australian and imported corsets. I have been assured on good authority that the imported article - I do not wish to criticise the Australian industry - notwithstanding the heavy duty imposed, is regarded as of better value than the locallymanufactured corset. The reason assigned is that corset manufacturers are specialists, and it is essential to have an enormous output to compete with those engaged in the business in a larger way, because the overhead charges are greater where the output is small.
– Would not that apply to all manufactures?
– This is a specialized industry, and in no country, so far as I know, has the successful manufacture of corsets been undertaken until experience has extended over a great number of years.
– I suppose that applies to every factory in Australia, and if we do not give the industry fair protection it will never prosper.
– We have to decide what is reasonable protection.
– :Is there any special difficulty associated with the manufacture of corsets?
– I have been endeavouring to explain the difficulty. There are some in Australia who do not manu- facture corsets, but who alter the article to suit the figures of their clients.
– There are a number of corset manufacturers in Australia.
– Yes, there are several’ fairly large establishments, and we have to consider what protection should be afforded to insure the continuance of the industry, and at the same time prevent an unnecessarily high price being charged.
– That argument applies also to other items of wearing apparel.
– It does not, because the manufacture of ordinary wearing apparel is not a specialized industry. Why did the French, to a great extent, capture some of the best corset markets in the world ?
– They captured some of the best markets with their millinery, and we have imposed duties of 40, 50, and 55 per cent.
– Millinery cannot be included in the same category.
– Do the French still hold that pride of place in regard to corsets, or have they been defeated by the Americans?
– No; the French manufacturers have had to contend with a greater ordeal than the British manufacturers. They lost their trade to America.
– According to the honorable senator’s argument, there is a certain amount of natural protection.
– I am not suggesting that corsets should be admitted free, but that the duty should be reasonable, and in support of that contention I pointed out that the local manufacturer has a greater natural protection than the manufacturer of any other article of attire because of the manner in which the goods are packed. If I were starting a factory, I would not want a duty on the article I was to produce irrespective of other considerations. I would want to know what it cost to land that article from an outside country. If the duty were 10 per cent., and the freight represented an additional 40 per cent., I would have protection equal to 50 per cent. Natural protection should be carefully considered in connexion with such an item as this. Before the new Tariff was introduced, this industry was firmly established on duties of 10 and 15 per cent. respectively, and we are justified in opposing the motion moved by the Minister in the hope that if we defeat it we shall have the opportunity of arriving at duties which will be acceptable to both branches of the Legislature.
– Senator Payne said that this industry had done remarkably well on the low duties which prevailed prior to the introduction of this Tariff.
– The industry was firmly established.
– The honorable senator might have mentioned the period during which this progress has been made, and explained that it covered the years of the war and the period the duties embodied in the schedule have been in operation. It is admitted now that this industry has obtained a certain measure of stability, but that cannot be attributed solely to the moderate duties which previously existed. Conditions are now altering, and, as the protection hitherto afforded is disappearing, it will be impossible for the industry to progress with an impost of 10 per cent.
– The rates I favour are 15, 20, and 25 per cent., respectively.
– The British rate as proposed by the Senate is only 15 per cent.
– The Minister uses the British preferential column when it suits him.
– I understand that the bulk of importations are from the United Kingdom, and, if we adopted duties of 15, 20, and 25 per cent., would come in under the first-mentioned rate.
– Then preference is a sham unless it brings about that result. I think I am entitled to say that Senator Payne is prepared to protect the imported manufactures by 15 per cent. duty.
– That is unfair.
– I do not wish to be unfair.
– Four-fifths of the importations come from countries other than the United Kingdom, and the Minister knows it.
– I do not know it. I shall stress the point that, in advocacy of the policy of preference, whateverthe importations may be, if the duties suggested by Senator Payne are approved, it is assumed that the bulk of the importations will come in under the 15 per cent. duty, otherwise the preference is of no avail. Senator Paynesaid that corsets could not be compared with other articles of apparel. I admit that they cannot, and if suchis the case it is remarkable that the honorable senator is in favour of higher duties on other apparel.
– That is not so.
– Blouses and such articles of attire are dutiable at 40, 50, and 55 per cent., respectively, but when it is a question of more complicated articles, such as corsets, he favours, because they are more difficult to manufacture and require superior knowledge, increasing the difficulty by advocating lower rates. It seems to me that the more skill required the greater the justification for giving encouragement to the industry.
– Senator Payne decries the ability of his own country to produce articles of the desired quality.
– I remind Senator Payne that he distinctly affirmed that the imported article was regarded as giving better value for the money than the locally-produced one. If that is an argument against a reasonable duty on corsets it is also an argument against dozens of other duties which Senator Payne has supported. He has favoured a duty of 40 or 50 per cent, on articles which school girls can make. 1
– That was a Government proposal. Did I not oppose it?
– I cannot follow the votes of individual senators, bc- . cause they vary so much. The Senate agreed to duties of 40, 50, and 55 per cent, on many articles of attire which are made within the domestic circle, and the manufacture of which does not entail special skill; but I do contend that on articles such as corsets there should be a higher duty. The Government’s idea originally was that corsets should come under the general heading of “Apparel,” and had the old Tariff been all that was required there would have been no need for a special duty. . The original Tariff withrespect to corsets was 40, 50, and 55 per cent. This Chamber proposed 15,’ 20, and 25 per cent., and the House of Representatives now offers 30, 40, and 45 per cent. That would be going a considerable way to bridge the gap between the decisions of the two Chambers, and I hope the modification will be accepted.
– It is very necessary that country tows should have industries which do not require large factories or any great outlay of capital for plant and machinery. The corset industry, particularly, lends itself to development in inland towns. It could be started in a small room containing a few sewing machines. The. m ufacture of a famous French corset wa» commenced by a widow woman, who lived in a small village in which I was once bil.lected, and that village is now a_ prosperous one .as a result of the industry established there. There has been no great expenditure of capital in the factory. The machines are operated by girls drawn from the peasantry. Skilled cutters are employed, and the girls do the sewing. Once the manufacture of corsets is established in Australia, there is no reason why the industry should not be extended to a dozen country centres. That would soon bring down the price of the article to the Australian buyer. I support the Minister’s proposal.
– There has been an attempt made by one or two honorable senators to detract from the value of the corset industry in Australia, and to show that it is not worthy of support.
– Name the honorable senator.
– Senator Payne, for one.
– I ask that that remark be withdrawn, because I said nothing that could be construed as an attack on the industry.
– I certainly withdraw the remark, if it is offensive, but I am surely in order in saying that the honorable senator stated clearly and distinctly that Australian manufacturers could not make corsets fit for our womenfolk to wear.
– I must ask that that statement be withdrawn. It is not what I said.
– I withdraw it; . but that is what I understood the honorable senator to say. The industry is now well established, and it is giving employment to a large number of Australian working men and women. There is a great deal of capital invested in the industry, which is worthy of all the support Parliament can give it. There are about twenty-four manufactories in the various capitals, and the four wholesale houses are Berlei Limited, the Australia Corsets Limited, and Messrs. Robert Paxton and Company (all of Sydney), and the Elasco Corsets and Tie Company (Melbourne).
– It is not fair to advertise four firms in Hansard and leave the others out.
– It is not my desire to advertise them. Berlei Limited have recently constructed a six-storied modern daylight factory, the value of the building and plant being £60,000. The paid-up capital of the four companies at March last was £176,500. The number of hands employed in the industry is about 450, and the amount of wages paid annually is approximately £50,000. Three of the companies are in- creasing their plant, so the output of corsets will be considerably augmented. The four wholesale firms, according to figures supplied in March last, were manufacturing 341,156 pairs per annum, of the value of £184,680. I presume that the output and the value to-day would show a considerable increase. This industry should receive whatever protection those who have inquired into it consider necessary. I take it that the Customs authorities have made the fullest inquiries. Certainly, the industry isnot at all hesitant in declaring that it cannot carry on under the duty suggested by the Senate by way of amendment to the original duties fixed by the House of Representatives. The other Chamber has met the Senate in a very fair spirit, because it has not insisted, as it might have done, on its original proposals. It has been stated in this Chamber that the Senate should stand on its dignity, and not give way to any extent. The fact is that the other branch of the Legislature has given way very considerably. It has met our requests for a substantial reduction, and I feel sure the proposed reduction will appeal to honorable senators as reasonable.
– What proportion of the total quantity of corsets required in Australia is manufactured here?
– I cannot answer that; but the output of the four wholesale factories should represent a considerable proportion. The duties suggested by the other Chamber are 30, 40, and 45 per cent., as against the original proposition of 40, 50, and 55 per cent. I hope the proposal of the Leader of the Senate (Senator E. D. Millen) will be accepted.
I desire to remove any misconception that there may be with regard to the quantity of corsets being made in Australia in comparison with the number needed. From the figures submitted by Senator Duncan I have formed a rough estimate of the quantity that has to be imported to meet requirements.
– They are four out of twenty-four, remember.
– They are the four wholesale manufacturing establishments, which, for the purposes of this discussion, may be regarded as the corset manufacturers of the Commonwealth, though there are a number of small establishments calling themselves corset manufacturers.
– Are they not manufacturers ?
– In a small way. They have small plants and employ a few people.
– Would you discourage them?
– By no means. Forty years ago there were two corset manufacturers in Hobart, but at present there are practically only four establishments in the Commonwealth, and their annual output is equivalent to about 30 per cent. of the requirements of Australia.
– I challenge that statement.
– The honorable senator can challenge it as much as he likes. That is the position.
– Give us your authority for that statement.
– A statement appeared in the daily press recently that there were hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of corsets in bond, at the present time, awaiting clearance. The Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) unwittingly misled the Committee a few moments ago by quoting the lowest of the ad valorem duties agreed to by the House of Representatives, namely, 30 per cent. British, and suggested that that could not be regarded as a very high Tariff. The Minister quoted that rate to suit his particular case. He knows, I presume, that the great bulk of the corsets imported into Australia are not of British manufacture at all. They are made in Canada and the United States.
– What do you mean by the majority - 51 per cent.?
– Yes. The bulk of the corsets imported into Australia come from America, and will come under the general Tariff which is now 45 per cent. When this item was last before the Committee, honorable senators showed their good sense by refusing to allow an exceptionally heavy burden to be placed upon the women of Australia. I believe in compromise, and for that reason I suggest that the Committee reject the motion in the hope that asthe result of a conference a rate somewhere between the two duties will be agreed upon.
– Surely the message from the House of Representatives is a compromise.
– Does the honorable senator suggest ihat it is a fair compromise in view of the fact that under the old Tariff the duties were 10 per cent. and 15 per cent.?
– Yes, I do.
– But we are not dealing with the old Tariff now. We are considering the difference between 40 per cent., 50 per cent., and 55 per cent., as the item came to us from the House of, Representatives, and the Senate’s requested amendment of 15 per cent., 20 per cent., and 25 per cent. Surely 30 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent. is a fair compromise.
– But we must bear in mind the fact that prior to the introduction of this Tariff the duties were very much lower. I cannot conscientiously support the motion. I am quite prepared to compromise. I hope the motion will be rejected in order that the item may be the subject of a conference. We may then arrive at a real compromise which will give the industry all the protection necessary to insure its development, and at the same time prevent a very grave injustice being done to the women of Australia.
Question - That the modification be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Apparel, articles of, viz.: -
Senate’s Request - Insert new sub-item -
House of Representatives’ Message. - Not made.
– I move -
That the request be not pressed.
When the Tariff came to the Senate the duties proposed were 40 per cent. British, 50 per cent. intermediate, and 55 per cent. general. This Committee requested the insertion of the new sub-item, with varying duties in respect of articles of wool or containing wool as distinct from cotton. From the administrative point of view, there is great objection to this attempted classification which will lead to great inconvenience, both to the Department and the importers, because, in order to ascertain whether an article contains wool, it will be necessary to open up the goods on the wharf, and inspect practically all goods entered as cotton, as the presence of wool would necessitate the imposition of higher rates of duties. It must be remembered that it is proposed to impose a duty of 10 per cent., 15 per cent., and 20 per cent. on woollen yarns, to operate on. and after 1st January, 1923. It is, therefore, difficult to see why duties should be imposed on knitted underwear lower than those on apparel made up from cotton piece goods, which is liable to 40 per cent., 50 per cent., and 55 per cent. under item 110 b. As the woollen knitted goods, including the materials used in their manufacture, are entirely produced in Australia, there are strong reasons for giving special consideration to this branch of the woollen and clothing industry, which should be a valuable asset to country districts. In certain Victorian towns, Clunes for one, knitting mills have been established with satisfactory results, both to the people who are provided with employment and the manufacturers. Seeing that the industry is an offshoot of our main woollen industry, I am asking the Committee to recede from its former position in the interests of the woollen industry. To the extent that we foster this industry the Tariff will do good. As the cotton industry is not yet established in Australia, the duties requested by the Senate can do nothing to assist our primary producers.
.- The Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) has said that the officers of the Trade and Customs Department would have very great difficulty in distinguishing between the cotton and woollen underclothing covered by the sub-items suggested by the Senate. I shall deal with that objection to the Senate’s proposal later on. I wish to say a word or two, first of all, in defence of the Senate’s request for duties of 30, 40, and 45 per cent. on these undershirts, undervests, underpants, and combinations. If honorable senators have kept their eyes open in walking through the streets of most towns in Australia they must often have asked themselves how, with the current rate of wages, a working man with a wife and family can manage to clothe himself at all comfortably in view of the ticketed prices appearing in the shop windows for these essential articles of attire. The question is one which ought to be answered. We should endeavour to make it possible for working men to obtain these articles at a reasonable price.
– What would the honorable senator call a reasonable price for, say, undershirts and pants?
– The average working man cannot afford to purchase natural wool undervests and underpants, and is compelled to wear these garments made partly of wool andpartly of cotton. I handled some of these goods only a day or two ago, and the price was 50 per cent. higher than the prices asked for the allwool article in pre-war days.
– What was the price?
– Anything from 9s. 6d. to 15s. a pair for underpants. Today these articles are liable to a duty of 55 per cent. if imported from America or other foreign countries, and to a duty of 40 per cent. if they are of British manufacture.
– That on top of freight and everything else.
– That is so.
– These are arguments against any Tariff at all. What the honorable senator is saying is that these duties increase the cost of the dutiable article.
– Of course, they do.
– So does every duty.
– The position is that working men have to wear the class of clothing I have described, and must, if it is of other than British manufacture, pay a duty of 55 per cent. They must wear these goods because they are much lower in price than the ordinary natural wool undergarments locally manufactured. These duties will not affect the man who has plenty of money. Honorable senators can go into a shop and pay any price for these garments that may be asked, but I certainly have often wondered how the average working man earning from £4 to £4 5s. per week, and with a wife and family to support, can clothe himself comfortably, especially during the winter months. The duties I proposed on these garments were, for woollen or containing wool, British, 30 per cent. ; intermediate, 40 per cent. ; and general, 45 per cent. ; and for the cotton goods, British, 20 per cent. ; intermediate, 25 per cent. ; and general, 35 per cent. These duties represent a fairly high Tariff. I can see one way out of the objection put forward by the Customs Department, and it is to include those garments of wool, or containing wool, and those made of cotton in the one item, and impose duties on that item equivalent to those in the request made by the Senate. To revert to the duties as originally proposed of 40, 50, and 55 per cent. is more than I can swallow, and I am not prepared to agree to the motion. If honorable senators will support me in opposing it, I say now that I shall be quite prepared to favorably consider a compromise in the direction of including the two sub-items suggested by the Senate’s request in one, and making the same duties applicable to garments of wool, or containing wool, and to underwear wholly made of cotton.
.- Senator Payne in his opposition to the motion has suggested that working men are in the habit of wearing natural wool underclothing.
– No; I said they cannot afford to do so, and the Minister is proposing high, duties on garments which they must wear, and which are not manufactured here.
– I cannot claim the same experience as some other honorable senators of working” men in large cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, but I can say that working men in small towns and in the bush always wear flannels. It is only when they get into what they call their Sunday clothes that some of them put on natural-wool singlets. So that there is no victimization of the working class involved in the motion. The arguments which Senator Payne used might be used against every item in the Tariff. I am out to encourage every form of industry in Australia. Senator Payne is aware that we have an unlimited supply of wool, and he knows also that these garments made of wool and cotton combined are the best for working men, because, so far as “wear and tear” is concerned, they give the best value. There are combined cotton and wool garments made in Australia at the present time.
– At what price?
– I admit that at present the prices charged are too high. Senator Payne has referred to importations before the war. Everything has altered since that time. I am satisfied that Australia will be a great cottonproducing’ country. I feel sure that if not in all the States, then certainly in Queensland and in Western Australia, cotton can be grown to any extent. We have wool in unlimited quantities here, and if we encourage the manufacture of these garments in Australia from a mixture of cotton and wool we shall be giving the cultivation of cotton an impetus that is very necessary. I feel sure that honorable members in another place are as anxious as we can be that the working classes should be able to obtain cheap clothing. In the interests of land settlement and the production of cotton in Australia, we should encourage here the manufacture of these garments from wool and cotton mixed. Though the prices charged at present are rather high for this class of goods, their increased manufacture should lower the price. It should be remembered that in all probability these goods will never in future be as cheap as they were before the war. The cotton crop has been . a failure this year, and British manufacturers of cotton goods are looking for sources from which to obtain their raw materia).
– I saw a statement to the effect that in one or two States of
America they have had the biggest cotton crop ever known there.
– I have watched reports on the subject, and have seen the statement made that some insect got into the crops in some of the States of America and absolutely ruined them. We cannot expect that these goods will come down in price. We should encourage this manufacturing industry, especially when at the same time we shall be encouraging the- production of cotton in Australia^ and, if necessary, our people should be asked to make some sacrifice to bring that about.
.- I hope the motion will be agreed to. I understand that capital amounting to £3,000,000 has been invested in ‘the industry in this State and New South Wales. I do not support the view that Americans, or other foreign manufacturers, should receive encouragement to send their goods into the Australian market, in view of the way in which high duties are imposed on our exported manufactures. Upon Australian wool entering the United States of America, there is a duty of 25 cents per lb. Yet some people favour the imposition, and actively encourage the importation of American goods manufactured from Australian raw material. I agree with the general principle that solid preference should be given to Great Britain. In the present instance the amount of preference is ample. We have a young and nourishing Australian industry, and its claims come before those of either Great ‘Britain or foreign manufacturers.
– What is the duty payable on Australian manufactures of a similar kind entering America?
– I have received expert advice that the American rates are higher than those proposed locally. Generally speaking, Americans and British manufacturers possess more uptodate plant for the output of these lines of goods. But, as I have already mentioned, £3,000,000 has been invested in the Australian industry ; and it should not be forgotten that, with only the necessary changes of needles, the same machines are used locally for the manufacture of either wool or wool and cotton goods. Australia ought to be able to manufacture all her requirements of goods of this class from her own raw material; and, in view of the high wages paid, I hold that the existing duties are not excessive.
– The Senate has already agreed to high duties on all classes of woollen goods except those to which Senator Payne has already called attention. Protectionists say that the more heavily the protective duties are made to bear, the smaller grows the stream of importation and the larger the volume of Australian manufacture. So far as one class of woollen goods is concerned, the facts do not bear out that contention. I read in the press of Saturday last that the Bradford woollen spinners have reported a very prosperous period. It was recorded that during October the output was 7,058,000 square yards, compared with 7,343,000 square yards for the same month of 1913, when trade was normal. Those figures reveal that industry in the Old Country is approaching its old basis. The press report continues that, during the last month the export of woollen goods to Australia was about 700,000 square yards compared with only 289,000 square yards in July. Those figures show that there has been a clear increase amounting to considerably more than double the quantity shipped from Bradford alone. In face of those facts, will rabid Protectionists indicate what really should suffice in order that the whole of the woollen goods required for Australia shall be made in this country ?
– Light woollen fabrics such as are required in this country for summer wear are not made here, and are not likely to be.
– Just so; and that means that whatever may be the amount of duty, it is merely a burden upon the community at large, and is in no sense protective of local industry. The folly of piling up excessive duties is exposed. I advise the Government to re-model the Tariff and increase the 40 per cent, duty in this instance to 180 per cent, or 3,000 per cent. They will then be able to see whether local importers, in response to the demand for a material urgently required but not manufactured in Australia, will continue to order from the United Kingdom” practically treble the quantity of goods ordered three months previously. I propose to vote in such a manner as may perhaps assist to open the eyes of rabid Protectionists to the foolishness of their claims.
.- The industry in question is one of those which is peculiarly suited to establishment in country centres. At Clunes, one of Victoria’s decayed mining villages, a successful lead has been given; and the example has been followed at Stawell, another old mining town, which has fallen back upon the establishment of an entirely new activity, and has considerably benefited, while, at the same time, assisting to decentralize the population of the State. Operations are flourishing also, I understand, on the border, namely, at Albury. A reduction of the duties has been urged on the ground that, despite the rates imposed, the imports from Great Britain are increasing. That should indicate that the duties are not sufficiently high.
– The Australian manufacturers are making fortunes without the assistance of any duties whatever.
– The contrary has been reported. The Senate’s request, if acceded to, would, I am informed, ruin the industry. There are already thirteen factories in New South Wales and Victoria, and the capital invested amounts to about £3,000,000. I shall support the motion.
.- Senator Lynch has quoted figures which record a striking increase in the importation of light woollen textiles from Bradford. When the Senate was dealing, with the Tariff, some weeks ago, I endeavoured to secure the acceptance of a special item covering woollen textiles not exceeding a certain weight per square yard. These were materials which would not compete with Australian manufacture. However, my proposal was turned down. Those light woollen goods are being heavily imported into Australia to-day, notwithstanding the high duty, because people must wear light-weight garments during the Australian summer. Thus the duties, instead of being protective of Australian industry, merely penalize the Australian public. My references as regards underwear are to the merino- finish and merino underclothing.
– What is there to prevent Australian factories from turning out these garments?
– They are not being manufactured locally, and are not likely to be. It is only natural that the importations for October should greatly exceed those for July, in view of the demand for these essential summer-weight articles. I am opposed to the motion.
– Senator Payne is reversing the argument which he applied to the previous part of the item relating to apparel, &c., which is largely manufactured from material made outside Australia. On those articles the honorable senator was agreeable to imposing duties of 40, 50, and 55 per cent.
– I never agreed to that.
– I say “ agreeable “ to it because the honorable senator succeeded in inducing the Senate to take out of the list woven undershirts, undervests, underpants, and combinations. The garment known as a sweater - a heavy knitted article - is worn by very many men. Knitted underwear is made in Australia from Australian wool, spun and knitted inAustralian factories. To encourage the Australian factory, the honorable senator proposed to reduce the duty from 40 to 30 per cent.’ About £3,000,000 is invested in the factories connected with this industry in Melbourne and Sydney. As they have been established in many cases since the war, is it to be expected that they have made fortunes? They could not possibly do it. I have seen articles made in Australian factories from best Australian merino wool. They are of high quality, and are much superior to similar articles imported from oversea. It is curious to “ encourage “ this industry by lowering the duty. If the argument of Senator Payne is worth anything, the duty on the previous item - apparel, &c. - should be lowered. Blouses and skirts, coats, girls’ coats, women’s coats, costumes of cotton, linen, and other materials, and costumes of wool, &c. are all made up from material woven overseas ; but underwear is made up from material grown in Australia, spun in Australia, knitted in Australia, and sold direct from the Australian mill to the retailer.
– Dozens of the duties in this Tariff are ridiculously high.
– If the honorable senator argues in that way he must, nevertheless, recognise that it is necessary to give encouragement to those who have invested money in the industry.
– I am in favour of a 50 per cent. profit, but not a 70 per cent. profit.
– Underwear only gets a protection of 30 per cent., which is the British preferential Tariff. Most of this class of article comes from Great Britain. Senator Payne’s argument means that he will protect an article which is made oversea, but not one which is made wholly in Australia. I shall certainly support the request of the House of Eepresentatives.
.- I submit that Senator Senior has overlooked a very potent fact that ought to be considered in discussing the motion. I have pointed out that Australia is not supplying anything like the requirements of the people in these commodities. In view of the fact that we have created a Tariff Board, which will report regularly with regard to the progress of various industries and the necessity for a lower or a higher Tariff, why should we in the meantime impose this unnecessarily heavy burden upon the consumer? The local factories may not be able to supply the requirements of Australia even in ten years’ time, so why penalize people who must perforce wear the imported goods ?
– That argument would kill all Tariffs.
– Certain items in the Tariff have been deferred in their operation so that the Tariff Board can inquire into the industries concerned. When the Tariff Board has certified to Parliament that the industry is capable of catering for the requirements of the people, the imposition of the duty will be recommended.
– I cannot let the argument put forward by Senator Payne go without drawing special attention to it. It advances an entirely new theory to nae. It is a theory that a duty is not justified until there has been a sufficient number of thearticles made in Australia to meet the needs of Australia. I always understood that the object of a protective duty was to nurse and encourage an industry in its early stages. According to my honorable friend, an industry must throw on one side all the swaddling clothes of infancy, and must arrive at full manhood, with all its faculties, before it is entitled to the protection which, at that stage, it can do without. The theory, if it is sound, can be applied to every case. If the honorable gentleman’s words mean anything, this duty ought not to be given in this case because the present stage of development of the industry cannot meet all the local demands. If that principle is applied to all the items in the Tariff, it will be totally destructive of the Protectionist theory. The object of the Tariff is to give to infant industries in their early stages some measure of protection until they have sufficiently developed to be able to stand alone. My honorable friend argues that there should be no protection for an industry until it is so well established that it does not need it.
– I proposed duties of 30, 40, and 45 per cent. for this industry.
– I am dealing with the honorable senator’s argument, if it can be so called.
.- The statement made by the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) would be perfectly correct if the proposal made by me, which was accepted by the Senate and rejected by the House of Eepresentatives, was to remove the duty from this particular article. I have not sought to remove the duty. My amendment was that a duty of 45 per cent., general Tariff, should be imposed. Consequently the Minister’s criticism can carry no weight at all. The Senate has been told, time after time, that when a certain date arrives the duty on a certain item will be imposed if the Tariff Board reports to the Minister and to Parliament that the industry can supply the requirements of the people. I proposed a duty of 45 per cent. general Tariff, as against the original proposal of 55 per cent. Yet the Minister replies in his criticism as though I was not in favour of any protection.
– You said that I was unfair when I mentioned the lower duty. I say that you are equally unfair when you speak of 45 per cent. general Tariff without making reference to the British preferential Tariff.
– I said that because, in a previous item, the Minister had particularly left out of a statement the fact that under the general Tariff a higher duty was proposed than that adopted.
– And the honorable senator is leaving out of his statement the fact that a lower duty than the 45 per cent. general Tariff is proposed.
Question - That the request be not pressed - put.The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Socks and stockings for human attire, viz. : - (a) Cotton, ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.
Senate’sRequest. - Ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
House of Representatives’ Message. -Not made.
.- I move-
That the request be not pressed.
I do not intend to detain the Committee, because there is, in some particulars, a marked similarity between this and the item we have just passed. It is quite true that we are not making cotton socks in Australia, hut are manufacturing other socks and stockings, and it is quite a natural assumption that, if we admit cotton socks at the lower duties, they will come in in such quantities as to be detrimental to the Australian industry.
.- The only reason advanced by the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) in support of the motion is that we have in Australia manufacturers of hosiery other than cotton hosiery, and if the duties are reduced it will mean that a large quantity of cotton hosiery will flood the market, to the detriment of other socks and hosiery. But the cotton hosiery in bond to-day will eventually come into the market, whatever the duties may be. There is a fairly large quantity of cotton hosiery in bond, because a great many people find it necessary to wear it. The Minister and those supporting him say, in effect, that they will compel every one in Australia to wear woollen or artificial or real silk hosiery manufactured here. Cotton hosiery is being manufactured in Australia to a very limited extent. When in a city establishment a while ago I asked the proprietor if he had any Australianmade cotton hosiery in stock, and at his request an assistant produced some which had just come to hand; but the manufacturers have not laid themselves out to manufacture it to any extent. The duty on cotton hose prior to the introduction of the new Tariff was, British preferential, free, and general, 10 per cent. The request which I submitted, and which was carried, reduced the rates from 30, 40, and 45 per cent., to 20, 25, and 35 per cent. respectively; and if those duties are not agreed to, higher prices will have to be paid by the users without benefiting the local manufacturers of hosiery in any way. To increase the rates from what they were prior to the introduction of the Tariff to 30 and 45 per cent. seems to be unreasonable, because duties of 20 and 35 per cent. should be adequate.
– Is cotton hosiery being manufactured in Australia?
– Not to any extent.
– I have been informed that an offer of 1,000 dozen pairs was made.
– Samples of cotton hosiery manufactured in Australia at 12s. per dozen pairs were submitted to honorable senators, and I visited the warehouse in Flinders-lane which had sent out the samples, and asked to see the stock of cotton hose ; but I was informed that they had not any, because there was no demand for them. The Minister and the Customs officers know that there is a demand for cotton hose, and thousands of dozen pairs are awaiting clearance.
– What is to prevent the users getting them?
– They are waiting to see how Parliament deals with the duties.
– Are we not manufacturing light woollen socks to take the place of cotton hose?
– Many people must wear cotton.
– And many insist on having wool.
– That is so. I trust the Committee will agree to what was previously decided upon, because the increase on the original rates should meet the case. Additional impositions only mean placing further burdens on the community. I am anxious to see the Australian manufacturers prosper, and under the proposals I have submitted they should be able to do so.
Question - That the request be not pressed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 10.18 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 November 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19211116_senate_8_97/>.