10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers -were presented : -
League of Nations -
Correspondence between the Commonwealth Government and the League of Nations relative to the composition of the Council of the League.
Special -Session of the Assembly of the League, held8th to 17th March, 1926 _ Report of the Australian Delegation.
Public Service Act - Regulations amended -Statutory Rules 1928, Np. 60.
Referring to the replies to my questions of the 4th March, with reference to the importation of German dyes, on whom does the onus rest of furnishing conclusive proof that no similar dyes of British origin are available?
Will the Minister make available the names and respective quantities of German dyes licensed into Australia during the last six months?
Will the Minister state specifically the grounds on winch each of these licences was granted, and what opportunity, if any, was given to British manufacturers in England and/or to their agents in Australia to rebut the German representations that these dyes were licensable?
Will the Minister obtain information as to whether samples were submitted to the licensing authorities here, together with the application to import, and does the licensing department satisfy itself that the goods imported are identical with the dye-stuff for which the licence was granted?
When the licence to import is granted, is there any time limit within which the dyestuff must be landed in Australia; if not, will the Minister arrange for such time limit, following the English procedure?
Will the Minister arrange that . publicity is given, for the benefit of all parties concerned, to applications for licences, and to licences actually granted ?
I am now able to furnish the honorable senator with the following information : -
On the Dye Licensing Committee of the Board of Trade, London.
Following the British practice, it is not considered advisable to publisha list by name of each of the German dyes for which licences to import have been issued.
On the ground that there was no British substitute available, this information being based on the action taken by the British Board of Trade. In cases of doubt, reference is also made to the agents of British companies in Melbourne.
As decisions are based on the practice obtaining in the United Kingdom, samples are not demanded except in instances where there is doubt as to the ‘properties and composition of the dye-stulf, or when the departmental decision is objected to by the applicant. It is not the general practice to examine all imported dyes for which licences to import have been issued, ‘but occasionally samples are drawn for confirmatory examination on importation.
There is at present no fixed time limit within which a licence must be exercised, but thequestion of fixing a limit of, stay, six months, is under consideration.
See reply to No. 2.
Salts of Intoxicating Liquors
– Have representations been made to the Government in favour of the repeal of the Ordinance declaring Canberra to be a dry area? If so, what action has the Government taken, or does it contemplate taking any action in regard to the matter ?
– The Government has been deluged with letters in regard to this matter. The question is still under consideration, but, as the honorable senator well knows, it is not the practice of the Government to reply to questions relating to matters of policy.
Cask of Private E. Genner
asked . the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following reply to the honorable senator’s questions : -
This matter is at present being fully inquired into. The honorable senator’s questions will be replied to as soon as possible.
asked the Minister for Markets and Migration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
SenatorBARNES asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What is the price per ton on the wharf, Melbourne, of copper wire bought in London ?
What is the price paid for copper wire manufactured in Australia?
What quantity of copper wire has the Government bought since 1st January, 1925, to date?
Where was it produced, and what price per ton was paid for it?
INTERNMENT OF Mr. GUS. DEHLE.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whetherhe will lay upon thetable of the Senate the papers relating to the internment of Mr. Gus. Dehle, of Hobart, (luring the war period ?
– I am advised by the Minister for Defence that it would not bo in the public interest to comply with the request of the honorable senator.
When will tenders be called, for the construction of the Oodnadatta to Alice Springs railway?
At present, Iam not in a position to advise, hut a decision will be arrived at after surveys and other ‘preparatory work are further advanced.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Whether he will inform the Senate when the royal commission on national insurance is likely to complete its work and furnish a report?
– It is anticipated that a further report will be available in a. few weeks’ time, and that the commission will complete its labours by the end of this year.
asked the Minister for Markets and Migration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
If the honorable senator requires further details, I shall be only too pleased to give them.
Bounty on Cotton.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions: -
Motion (by Senator Foll) agreed to-
That a return be laid upon the table of the Senate showing details of duties remitted by the Customs . Department on orders placed abroad by . public bodies in Australia since 30th June, 1923.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure embodies an agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company to provide additional capital to the extent of £100,000 for the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, and also a subsidy of 12s. 3d. a ton on crude oil treated up to the 30th June, 1925, and 7s. 6d. a ton on crude oil treated from the 1st July, 1925, to the 30th June, 1926. Similar subsidies are to be paid by the AngloPersian Company. I shall give a short survey of the events that have led up to the introduction of this bill. In May, 1920, an agreement was entered into between the Commonwealth Government and the Anglo-Persian Company by which a company was formed with a capital of £500,000, of which £250,001 was subscribed by the Commonwealth, whose share interest was represented by that figure. Thus the Commonwealth Government had a controlling interest in the company. The idea was to establish refineries in Australia to deal with indigenous oils when found. The AngloPersian Company agreed to make available to the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited up to 200,000 tons of crude oil per annum in order to enable the refining of this product to proceed in Australia. The object of the Commonwealth Government in entering into that agreement was to prevent the exploitation of the consumers in Australia by producers of oil in other countries. I shall endeavour to show that already this arrangement has had a substantial result in that direction. There are two great privatelyowned oil groups, namely, the Royal Dutch, which is the Shell group, and the Standard Oil group. The parent AngloPersian Oil Company is controlled by the British Government in much the same way as the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited is controlled by the Commonwealth Government, similar arrangements having been made as regards the share capital. I do not propose to review the considerations that prompted the Commonwealth Parliament to make that arrangement. The arguments brought forward in i920 as to the grip that these privately-owned oil interests have throughout the world are well known to honorable senators, and in any case all interested may look up the arguments that have been reported from time to time in Hansard. The conditions that existed at that time still obtain, but in a more intensified form. Whereas there were, to a large extent, monopolies in this particular industry at that time, they have since increased their power. The Com- monwealth Oil Refineries Limited was established, but its capital was exhausted in the construction of the refinery at Laverton, the wharf and tankage at Spotswood, and the depots and connecting pipe lines. In June, 1924, a further agreement was made by which the capital was increased by £250,000, making a total of £750,000, in order to enable the company to dispose of the product which it was then in a position to refine. Since that time an altered position has arisen in that, in the last year or eighteen months, a new system of distribution in bulk has come into vogue. The utilization of motor transport, the establishment of country depots, and the installation of what are known as Bowsers or kerbside petrol pumps, from which oil is sold retail, have entirely revolutionized the method of distribution of this product. It is obvious that if the Commonwealth Oil Refinery is to be able to compete with its rivals and accomplish the purpose for which it was established, namely, to exercise a controlling influence in the fixation of prices of petrol in Australia, it, too, must be up to date in its methods of distribution. Therefore, the present bill proposes to provide additional capital to the extent of £100,000, of which £50,000 will be supplied by the Commonwealth, and £50,000 by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, for the purpose of installing a more up-to-date and complete system than is now in operation for the retail distribution of petrol. It follows that this further sum may not meet all the liabilities of the Commonwealth. It may be that further capital will be required, and that further measures “will be necessary to protect fully the consumers of Australia; but the Governmentis hopeful that the measure now being taken - which I have every reason to believe will receive the unanimous endorsement of honorable senators - will be an indication to the oil companies that this Parliament is determined to protect the consumers in this country against exploitation. If those companies learn that lesson, it may be that we shall not have to take further action. Petrol and oil are so important, however, in these days of motor transport, that the Government and the Parliament could not sit supinely by and see this very important product subject to monopolistic action by any private interests in the Commonwealth. Parliament has shown that it recognizes the importance of this matter by the ready reception it gave to the proposals put before it by the Government for financial aid to enable companies to discover indigenous oils in Australia. That very substantial assistance, which has been much appreciated, is now in course of actual distribution to companies in approved areas, and we are hopeful that it may have a favourable result in giving Australia ‘ indigenous supplies of crude oil. Other legislation has been introduced to encourage the development of shale oil deposits and the production of power alcohol, so as to make Australia selfsupporting in this respect. I should like honorable senators to remember that the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited came into existence in the face of powerful and very efficient opposition. It had to fight its way on a market well supplied with recognized brands of petrol, and like many other new enterprises, had to overcome a certain amount of public prejudice. This is one reason why the company showed a loss in its operations for the first, two years. In its first year, it was not in a position to supply all its customers. It is admitted, also, that, at the outset, the product was not all that could be desired. There was, I am informed, an aroma about it that did not add to its popularity. Some people say that the same objection may be urged against it to-day; but I understand that this is not so, and that the initial difficulties have long since been overcome, lt is admitted now by impartial people that the Commonwealth Oil Refineries’ motor spirit compares more than favorably with any other on the Australian market.
– Is the Commonwealth Oil Refineries’ product available again? It was withdrawn for a few weeks in Sydney.
– I cannot say what is the position in Sydney; but I know that the Commonwealth Oil Refineries’ motor spirit is available in this State. Owing to the initial difficulties which I have mentioned, there was not, in the first year, a sufficient demand for the product to enable the refinery to be worked at its full capacity, with the result that production was somewhat costly. The position improved in the second year, as the motor spirit became better known and its reputation established. Consumption increased to such an extent that during the later portion of the second year the refinery was being worked at full capacity, so that, whilst there was a loss on the second year’s operations, the deficit was a diminishing quantity. It is anticipated that this year the refinery will be working at its utmost capacity, so that we shall have a minimum cost of production. The overhead expenses will be no more than when the refinery wad not working at its full capacity.
– Are we to understand that when the refinery is operating at full pressure it is working three shifts ?
– Yes. The difficulties, therefore, have now been overcome. I wish now to emphasize the benefits to Australia from the establishment of this company and the consequent control of prices. It is obvious that, in the case of a commodity in so much demand, some form of control must be beneficial to the community generally. Let me give honorable senators some most significant information, upon this subject. On the 25th September last, the Shell - British Imperial Oil Company - and the Vacuum Oil Company dropped their Australian prices by L£d. a gallon. This move was significant, in view of the fact that, before the end of that month, the price in the United States of America rose 2 cents a gallon. The representatives in Australia of both companies must have known when they dropped the Australian prices that the rise in the United States of America was pending. Having dropped Australian prices, they made an arrangement with small oil-vending companies, that had begun operations in Australia in a modest way, with the result that, on the 23rd January, 1926, they had a regular field-day amongst garages in the capital cities of Australia. They made what appeared to be a most philanthropic arrangement with the owners of garages for the establishment of kerbside pumps under what seemed to be the most advantageous terms. So attractive was the offer that garage proprietors willingly tied themselves up to these companies. Now comes the significant part of the business. On the 30th January, just seven days later, these companies raised the Australian prices by l£d. a gallon, and sought to justify the move by urging that oil prices
Lad been raised in the United States of America by 2 cents a gallon in September. It is well to bear in mind, however, that in September they dropped prices in Australia by 1-kl. a gallon. The public, resenting the increase in January last, began to inquire whether there was any other oil company’s product on the market, and they ascertained that the Commonwealth Oil Refineries’ motor spirit was available at the old price. Consequently, there was a sudden increase in the demand for the Commonwealth Oil Refineries’ product. It is worth noting that in February, only a month later, there was a further rise of 2 cents a gallon in the United States of America; but the Vacuum and British Imperial Oil Companies did not deem it prudent to follow the rise by again increasing prices in Australia. The Neptune Oil Company, which distributed the Waratah motor spirit, has been absorbed by the British Imperial Oil Company, and the Golden Crown Company has been absorbed by the Vacuum Oil Company. I may add that the Common wealth Oil Refineries Limited refused to increase its prices in January last. By its refusal, and by its action in improving its distribution organization, it has undoubtedly saved the consumers of Australia a considerable amount in the purchase of motor spirit. I venture to say, also, that it prevented the other companies referred to from further increasing prices in February. If the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Corporation is to play an effective part in the refining and distribution of liquid fuel in Australia it is necessary that this agreement should be entered into. It has to be admitted that even under this agreement the requirements of the Commonwealth cannot be effectively and fully provided for. At present the company must confine its operations to the State of Victoria, with such extensions as it can make to the other States. If the experience of the last twelve months is repeated, Parliament will have to consider whether the operations of the company should not be extended by providing additional refineries, and extending its distributing factors to other States, or whether some arrangement in regard to the distribution of petrol not under the control of the two companies I have mentioned should not be undertaken through this agency. We hope that will not be necessary; we trust that the intimation given by Parliament in agreeing to this bill will be sufficient to restrain these companies, and cause them to be satisfied with doing a fair share of the business at a reasonable profit.
– Can the Minister say whether the increased consumption is being maintained - that would indicate that the quality of the product is equal to that being sold bv the other companies?
– Proof of that is to be found in the fact that the full output is being absorbed. There is no falling off in the demand.
– Has the Minister any comment to make concerning the proposed subsidy of 12s. 3d. per ton on crude oil ?
– That is a subsidy to make up for the loss incurred during the first two years. That will not apply during the coming year. In the first year the company made a loss equivalent to 25s. per ton on crude oil. That could be carried on as a debit in the books of- the Commonwealth Oil Refineries, and as an overdraft at the bank on which interest would have to be paid. During the second year the company may make a further loss equivalent to 15s. a ton of crude oil. The Commonwealth Government and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company consider it preferable to wipe off tha amount in order to avoid interest. Having done that, and with a demand for its full output, the company should not now show a loss, but hopes to show a profit.
– If the company does not control the prices of the raw product landed in Australia will this agreement prevent consumers from being exploited by other organizations ?
– Under the original act it is provided that the Anglo-Persian Oil Company shall undertake to provide crude oil at a rate determined under certain conditions, and also to carry the oil on the freighters belonging to the AngloPersian Oil Company at a specified rate. Under that agreement the Commonwealth is fully protected as to the prices to be paid for crude oil and also the freight to be charged. On each occasion when this agreement has been renewed satisfactory arrangements have been made in regard to the prices to be paid for crude oil and also the freight to be charged.
– The Government has a voice as well as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in determining the price of the crude oil and also the freight?
– What was the actual amount of money lost?
– In the first year it was about £24,300, but the loss for the second year cannot be determined until the 30th June of this year. It is assumed, however, that the payments of 7s. 6d. per ton of crude oil will cover the loss for the second year.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
Senator CRAWFORD (Queensland-
Honorary Minister) [3.36]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Since the principal discussion on this measure will take place in committee, when the numerous items in the schedule will be dealt with seriatim, I propose at this stage to make only a brief reference to the purport of the bill, and shall not attempt to deal with the many issues that may be raised in the course of the tariff debate. Although protection is the accepted policy of a vast majority of the people of the Commonwealth, there are, naturally, Isuppose, differences of opinion as to the industries which should be protected, and the measure of protection necessary. In order that full and accurate information might be obtained for the guidance of Parliament, in dealing with tariff matters, it was provided in section 15 of the Tariff Board Act of 1921 that- (1). The Minister shall refer to the board for inquiry and report the following matters : -
British preferential tariff or the intermediate tariff to any part of the British Dominions or any foreign country, together with any requests received from Australian producers or exporters in relation to the export of their goods to any such part or country;
The amending act of 1924 provides that -
Section 11 of the principal act is amended by inserting at the end thereof the following sub-sections : - “ (4) Inquiries conducted by the board relating to -
It will be seen that the Tariff Board has power only to investigate, report, and recommend. It has no authority whatever to do more than that. The power to increase or reduce duties rests with Parliament itself. The last general revision of the tariff was made in 1921, when Parliament provided what was then considered sufficient protection for existing industries, and for such others as it was desired to establish in this country. Many circumstances have changed since then, making imperative a further revision of the tariff to enable existing industries to survive and expand and new industries to be established. The great war dislocated industrial and economic conditions generally. Many of these disturbed conditions, which it was hoped would quickly pass, still prevail, in some countries with, even increased acuteness. A further revision of the tariff is, therefore, necessary to protect, effectively Australian industries against foreign competition. The amendments to the tariff proposed under the bill are not strictly in accordance with the reports of the Tariff Board; but they have been recommended by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), and approved by the Government in the light of the very full information obtained in the course of the board’s investigations.
– As the Tariff Board has made hundreds of inquiries, the honorable senator is asking me to do more than is possible this afternoon. Most of the board’s reports are available for his perusal should he so desire. The increases of duty proposed are of a strictly protective character; no attempt has been made to obtain increased revenue through the Customs. On the other hand, many reductions have been made, and additional articles placed on the free list, which in a full year will involve a reduction in Customs collections to the amount of £750,000. For a time the increased duties may provide additional revenue, but that condition will gradually disappear as local production overtakes consumption. Any increase in the cost of commodities due to the new duties will probably be more than set off by the reductions included in the schedule. Reductions of duty are proposed in respect of 45 items. The goods to which these reductions apply cover a wide range of commodities. A few of the more important examples may be quoted. Cream separators, which are practically all of foreign origin and the annual imports of which amount in value to £167,000, are made free, irrespective of the country of origin, thus abolishing the 10 per cent. duty hitherto paid on the foreign article.
– Are not cream separators made here?
– No. True vegetable parchment, largely used in wrapping butter, and practically all of foreign origin, will come in free, irrespective of the country of origin, the 10 per cent. rate hitherto appearing under the general tariff being removed. Australian importations of this article are valued at £58,000 per annum.
– That can and ought to be made here.
– As soon at it is demonstrated that it can be commercially manufactured here I am sure the Government will be prepared to grant the necessary protection. Derris spraying preparations, largely used by orchardists, are to enter free from any country. Bromide salts, cyanide of potassium, cyanide of sodium, and calcium cyanide, the importations, of which are valued at £35,000 per annum, are also to enter free from any country. Calcium cyanide is an effective means of dealing with rabbits ; it is also largely used in the mining industry. The other chemicals mentioned are used for mining . purposes. Flint stones, used in grinding machines for mining and other purposes, are also exempted from duty. The duty on a number of household articles is abolished or reduced. Unground spices, which formerly carried a duty of 2d. per lb., and the importation of which represents £180,000 per annum, are to be free. Carpets valued at £1,550,000 are imported annually. The duty is reduced from 10 per cent. British and 25 per cent. general to free British and 15 per cent. general. Cotton and linen serviettes, formerly 25 per cent. British and 40 per cent. general, will now be 20 per cent. and 35 per cent. respectively. The value of these goods imported is £416,000 per annum. The duty on electric filament lamps, the imports of which amount to £508,000 per annum, will be reduced from1s. per lb. British and 3s. per lb. general, to free British and 2s. per lb. general. Writing and typewriting paper over 16 x 30 inches, now 5 per cent. British and 15 per cent. general, will be free British and 10 per cent. general. Our importations are valued at £562,000 per annum. Medicines of a class or kind not manufactured in Australia to the value of £41,000 are imported each year. These are to be free British and 10 per cent. general, instead of 15 per cent. and 25 per cent. respectively. Clocks will now be admitted free British and 20 per cent. general, instead of 25 per cent. and 45 per cent. respectively; and watches, instead of being 10 per cent. British and 30 per cent. general, will be free British and 20 per cent. general. Clocks to the value of £204,000, and watches valued at £398,000 are imported each year. Paper hangings and wallpapers representing an import value of £111,000 per annum, previously 15 per cent. British and 25 per cent. general, will now be free and 10 per cent. respectively. Vacuum cleaners for household use, valued at £31,000, are imported each year. Instead of bearing a duty of 30 per cent. British and 40 per cent. general they will be admitted free irrespective of the country of origin. Rolled-gold and similar gold-cased spectacles are to be admitted free or 10 per cent. in lieu of 10 per cent. and 20 per cent. Imported spectacles to the value of £51,000 enter Australia each year. Silk piece-goods to the value of £5,118,000 are imported annually. The duty on these goods will be 10 per cent. British and 17½ per cent. general, instead of 15 per cent. and 20 per cent. respectively.
– The average working girl wears silk in one form or another.
– We are glad to know that she is able to do so.
– Quite so; but why penalize her?
– The working girls whom I see wearing silk stockings, for instance, look very happy. They do not appear to object to the duty, and, as a matter of fact, as the honorable senator knows, silk stockings are largely made here. On ten items of the schedule deferred duties are proposed. The Tariff Act provides that such duties may be further postponed beyond the date set down in the schedule where the Minister is satisfied, upon a certificate of the Tariff Board, that the goods will not be produced in reasonable quantities and of satisfactory quality on or immediately after the date set down in the schedule. Otherwise the deferred duties will come into effect on the date specified in the schedule. The items of chief importance on which deferred duties are imposed are sheet glass and cotton yarns. Sheet glass, owing to the large consumption, approaching £200,000 yearly, provides scope for an extensive industry. The company interested in the enterprise is the largest manufacturer of glassware in Australia. The plant which it proposes to lay down will be sufficient to manufacture practically the whole of Australia’s requirements of sheet glass by a special process of which it has acquired the patent rights. The capital to be invested will exceed £300,000, and employment will be given to a very large number of hands. Cotton yarn is another article of which there is a very large consumption in Australia. In 1924-5 about £450,000 worth was imported. The great expansion of the cotton-growing industry offers an excellent prospect for the establishment of a cotton-spinning industry for the utilization of locally-grown cotton. Two companies in New South Wales are spinning cotton yarns from raw cotton. One company has established extensive mills and installed the latest machinery for spinning raw cotton into yarn and weaving the yarn into piece-goods. The demand for cotton yarns will be greatly stimulated by the duties on cotton tweeds, the manufacture of which has been firmly established by the present tariff proposals. The deferred duty offers an incentive to manufacturers to increase their output to such a reasonable proportion of Australian requirements as is necessary to justify bringing the deferred duty into effect. There is also included in the schedule a new concession item, No. 415a, which is supplementary to item 174. At times all honorable senators have been asked by constituents to interview the Minister for Trade and Customs with relation to the effect of item 174. The items read -
Honorable senators will note the difference between the two items. The new item will permit of quite a number of articles not manufactured in Australia being imported free, if of British manufacture, or at a low rate” of duty if not made in Great Britain.
– It might apply to mining machine tools.
– It will apply to every kind of machine and appliance provided it is not commercially manufactured in Australia. Under this item the Minister is empowered to exempt or reduce the duties on the goods coming within the terms of the item. Each application is referred by the Minister to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report, and no application is dealt with except in this manner. On receiving the Board’s report and recommendation the Minister lias then to decide whether he will grant or refuse the application. Item 174 is not in any way altered by the present proposals. It has been included in all tariffs since the 1908 tariff. Item 415a extends the principle contained in item 174 so as to cover a somewhat wider range of goods. The fundamental idea of these items is that the concessions for which they provide cannot be granted in respect of any machine or article which can be commercially manufactured in the Commonwealth, with this further provision that item 415a (1) is applicable to manufactures of a class or kind which cannot be commercially manufactured either in Australia or in the United Kingdom.
– Will the Minister give the Senate a definition of “ commercially manufactured “ ?
– I take it that an article which can be commercially manufactured in Australia is one that can be manufactured at a reasonable price. Presumably it would not cover anything whose manufacture in Australia would be prevented by patent rights. I believe that our engineers and mechanical experts are as good as can be found in any other country, and that there is nothing beyond their capacity to manufacture ; but it would not pay to produce one or two machines in competition with factories abroad, which turn out scores or hundreds or even thousands of those machines.
– It is a legal phrase which is constantly used in this connexion, and I think it only right that there should be some departmental definition of it.
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s suggestion under the notice of the Minister.
– I shall ask the question again in committee.
– In any genuinely protective tariff provisions of this kind are essentially necessary. It is obviously necessary that Australian industries should be equipped with the most effective plant possible. For many reasons, such as smallness of demand, lack of information as to details, there are bound to be many machines and other appliances necessary for our industries which cannot be manufactured at a given point of time in Australia. It follows, therefore, that if Australian plants are to be kept up to date these machines and appliances must be imported. It is clearly impossible so to construct a tariff as to make specific provision for the infinite variety of particular machines. It will be noted that item 415a applies to manufactures imported for use in the development of an Australian industry, &c. In the past anomalies have arisen owing to the fact that Item 174 could only be applied to machines, machine tools and appliances, the term appliances being interpreted as covering only appliances for use in connexion with a machine. For example, an electric transformer or a furnace for steel manufacture could not be admitted under the item, although there might be no possibility of their being manufactured ‘m Australia. The present item will give power to admit any article which is necessary to develop an Australian industry or the natural resources of Australia, subject to the condition that it cannot be manufactured in Australia. The same principle applies to manufactures for use in public hospitals or public educational institutions, or in connexion wih public utilities not conducted for private gain. The principle of British preference has been extended under this bill. The value of British goods imported into Australia last year is estimated to be £65,000,000, of which £27,400,000 worth was admitted free. On the dutiable goods there was a rebate of £4,600,000, and on goods on the free list £3,400,000. Preference to British goods therefore amounted to £8,000,000. It is estimated that the additional preference to be afforded under this bill will amount to £500,000 a year. The following figures, being the latest detailed British official statistics available, relate to the export trade of the United Kingdom in goods the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom: -
– What is the reason for the smallness of the decrease so fains the trade with Australia is concerned?
– It may be fairly claimed that one of the reasons is that the substantial preference under the Australian tariff to goods of British manufacture, gives to British manufacturers an advantage over their competitors in other countries so far as the Australian market is concerned. It is believed that as a result of the increased duties, employment will be provided here for from 25,000 to 30.000 persons.
– The” honorable senator knows that this additional employment will not be given immediately. He is also probably aware that although the increased duties have : not received the approval of both branches of this Legislature, they have already improved the position of a groat many of our local industries.
– Have not these duties been operating for some time?
– Yes, since September last. They have had a most stimulating effect on some of our industries, particularly those engaged in the manufacture of textiles. Not only has there been a substantial increase in the manufacture of woollen goods here, but as a consequence ofthese proposals the manufacture of cotton tweeds has been established in quite a big way. One factory is turn ing out 10,000 yards of cotton tweeds weekly, while ii is expected that two companies will be in a position very shortly to manufacture cotton goods to the extent of 1,000,000 yards a year, and that in the course of a year or two the whole of Australia’s requirements incotton tweeds will be supplied by its own factories at a price, taking into consideration the quality, not higher than we have been paying for cheap imported goods, mostly from Japan. It is a fallacy that industries established under protection benefit only those directly engaged in them. In industry, as in every other department of life, no man lives to himself alone, and every producer of wealth helps to enrich the community as a whole. In this respect, little distinction can be made between classes of producers. They are interdependent. All are necessary to our national growth and to the achievement of our high Australian ideals. In Australia the effect of protection is not a matter of conjecture. It has been tested by the Commonwealth for over twenty years, and by the States for a considerable period prior to federation. Under protection most important industries have been established, and an immense amount of wealth created. During the war, the national importance of our manufacturing industries was specially tested, and their inestimable value clearly demonstrated. Without them, the equipping of our soldiers would have been practically impossible, and industrial and commercial chaos would have prevailed throughout the Commonwealth. One of the outstanding lessons learnt during the war period was the imperative necessity for making Australia still more selfcontained for the purpose of defence. Our protected industries not only assisted Australia to play her part in the war, but are now helping us to meet our heavy obligations. It has been contended that there must be an interchange of commodities between countries, and that we may be creating a difficulty in regard to our export trade by seeking to produce a larger measure of our own requirements. Such considerations have not deterred the United States of America from imposing high Customs duties, and it is to-day, and has been for many years, one of the richest and most productive countries in the world. Australia, like the United States, is a country of great areas. It is as large as Europe, omitting Russia, and it has a variety of soil and climate and an abundance of natural wealth which should enable its citizens under wise fiscal conditions to produce sufficient to provide scores of millions of people with practically everything needed to maintain a high standard of living. The protection afforded by the United States to her secondary industries has promoted- the progress of her primary industries, which to-day, besides meeting the requirements of 120,000,000 people within the States, are able to export sufficient foodstuffs to supply the needs of millions of people in other countries. There is nothing in either primary or secondary industry inherently hostile to the other. Both may be carried on side by side to their mutual advantage, as the experience of many countries, including our own, abundantly proves. In placing this bill before the Senate, I have not attempted to five details of all its numerous provisions, he fullest information will, however, be made available when the various items are under consideration in committee. I commend the proposed tariff alterations included in the bill to the sympathetic consideration of the Senate. The additional protection they will afford is urgently needed by some of our most important industries. I trust, therefore, that the measure will he passed without undue delay.
– What are the proposals of the Government with respect to the establishment of the newsprint industry in Australia from the point of view of protection 1
– That matter is not dealt with in this bill.
– But I thought that this was a protectionist Government.
– The tariff proposals contained in the bill are a sufficient reply to that observation.
Debate (on motion by Senator Need- ham) adjourned.
Senator CRAWFORD (Queensland-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a very short measure. It deals with only one item, and the proposed alteration is set out in the schedule as follows : -
By omitting the whole of sub-item (p) and inserting in its stead the following sub itum . - -
Under the 1912-4 Excise Tariff, absolute alcohol for use in universities for scientific purposes was admitted free of duty, subject to regulations. Universities use white spirit as well as absolute alcohol for scientific purposes, but they were compelled to pay duty at 38s. per proof gallon under excise item 2 (o) - Spirits, n.e.i. To produce white spirit from absolute alcohol it is necessary only to leave the container unstoppered for a time or to add water. This method of obtaining white spirit free of duty is, however, wasteful, and is not in accordance with the intention of the 1921 Excise Tariff. Since it is necessary for universities to be supplied with while spirit for research purposes, at as low a cost as possible, it
Las been decided to submit to Parliament a proposed alteration in excise item 2 (c), whereby white spirit will be permitted to be cleared free of duty for universities, subject to regulations. This will remove the disability under which universities have been labouring for some considerable time.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 4.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 May 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1926/19260520_senate_10_113/>.