10th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained, and will be suppliedas soon as possible.
In committee (Consideration resumed from 8th June (vide page 2733) :
By omitting the whole item (twice occurring), and inserting in its stead the following item:_ “ 177. (a) (1) Portable steam engines, ad valorem, British,27½ per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.; (2) Locomotives, road rollers, n.e.i., including scarifier attachments, ad valorem, British, 40 per cent.-, intermediate, SO per cent.; general, 55 per cent.
British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent, j general, 10 per cent.
Upon which Senator McLachlan had moved -
That tlie House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item A (1) by inserting the word “Locomotives” after the word “ Engines “.
– The effect of my requested amendment would be to make locomotives dutiable at 27½ per cent. British, 35 per cent, intermediate, and 40 per cent, general, instead of 40 per cent., 50 per cent., and ‘55 per cent., as proposed in the schedule. As I mentioned yesterday, the South Australian Government some time ago calledfor tenders for ten locomotives each, of the Mountain, Pacific, and Mikado types. For the Mountain type, no Australian tender was received, but one was submitted by Messrs. Armstrong, Whitworth, & Co., of England, the price for the ten being £140,000. With a duty of 27½ per cent., the price of those locomotives, landed in Australia, would be increased by £35,600, making the total cost £175,600. The proposed duty of 40 per cent., which. I desire removed, would increase their cost by £51,810, making the total cost £191,810. The difference, be tween a duty of 27½ per cent. and a duty of 40 per cent, is £16,210. Messrs. Armstrong, Whitworth, . and Company also tendered for the ten Pacific locomotives required, their price being £117,500. With a duty of 27½ per cent,, or £28,800, the total cost of the ten locomotives is increased to £146,300. With the duty at 40 per cent., representing £41,910, the total cost would be £159,410. For this type of locomotive, one Australian manufacturer - the Perry Engineering Company - submitted a tender. Their price was £252,000, as against £117,500 submitted by the English tenderer. Allowing for a duty of 27½ per cent., there is still a difference of nearly £106,000 between the two tenders. For the ten locomotives of the Mikado type, Messrs. Armstrong, Whitworth and Company asked £108,000. Adding £26,600 for duty at 27½ per cent., the total cost would be £134,600. With the duty at 40 per cent., representing £38,720, it would be £146,720. The tender of the Perry Engineering Company for these locomotives was £202,500. By accepting the tender of Messrs, Armstrong Whitworth and Company, the saving effected by the South Australian Railways Departmentis, in the case of the Pacific locomotive, £105,700, and, in respect of the Mikado type. £67,900. With the duty at 40 per cent., the saving would be respectively £92,590 and £55,780. Economical and efficient management is as essential for the successful’ running of our railways as it is in our primary industries. For the progress of the Commonwealth greater railway development is necessary. But increased duties on locomotives will retard development. I point out that the South Australian Government invited tenders for these locomotives many months before the introduction of the tariff schedule. Moreover, seeing that their purchase was part of a scheme to improve the South Australian railway system - a scheme involving the expenditure of £3,500,000 on improvements in the State itself, improvements which would remain nonearning until these engines were running - the time required for delivery was an important factor. The whole of that capital would have been idle until the engines, which are designed to reduce the train costs per mile, had been put into commission. The Austra- lian tenderer required four years’ and eight months for the completion of the contract, whereas the British tenderer undertook to give delivery in twelve months. From this point of view, it was good business for the South Australian Railways Commissioner to accept the British tender. Lately, in connexion with the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States, we have heard references made to the moral claims of the States to a certain proportion of the Commonwealth revenue. It appears to me that the same argument, with much more force, may be applied to this request for lower duties in respect of the contract which the South Australian Railways Commissioner accepted for the type of engines referred to. The measure of protection hitherto afforded to Australian engineering firms enabled them to compete against outside tenderers for the construction of the less powerful type of engines, but apparently it was not sufficient to justify the installation of equipment necessary for the production of the heavier types of engines which modern railway practice demands. I understand, however, that the South Australian Railway Department now proposes to install this machinery at the Islington Workshops. It would be a grave injustice to the department, and would . tend to retard the efforts of those who are placed in charge of important branches of the Public Service, or secondary industries, as they have been described, if relief were not given. The increased duties will not help, because if the department had to place another order for the same type of engines, it would still be £92,000 to the good if it accepted the British tender.
– Does that £92,000 include also the loss of time referred to by the honorable senator ?
– No; if the Australian . tender had been accepted the loss would have been very much greater to the department because of the extended time required for delivery. I may explain what I mean by stating that important railway works have been put in hand in that State, including a new bridge over the river Murray to take the heavier train loads, the extension of the broad-gauge system beyond Hamley Bridge, on the western system, and the strengthening of culverts and permanent way. All this expenditure would be nonrevenue producing for over three years’ and eight months, the difference in the time of delivery as between British and Australian tenderers, if the order had been placed with the Australian firm. There is, I submit, a strong case for a reduction of the duties. The increased tariff will not lead to the establishment of new industries. The Pacific and Mikado types of railway engines are not bought every day. They will last for a considerable time. But, as I have stated, it is anticipated that the various Governments will equip their workshops to manufacture future requirements in this direction. It is probable that the Australian tenderer made some provision in his contract price for the purchase of new equipment necessary to turn out this type of engine. It would have been foolish not to have done so. The use of the heavier types of engine for the South Australian railways is now generally favoured by competent railway authorities. Mr. J. M. Ashworth, Chief Engineer for Maintenance and Ways in Victoria, who recently visited America to inquire into, the latest railway practice, recommends that the Victorian Railways Commissioners should build this type of engine for future use. He states that in America engine loads of 5,000 tons are quite common as compared with 1,200 tons in Australia, and that their passenger locomotives are 50 per cent. heavier, and freight engines quite 60 per cent. heavier, than Australian engines. I submit that if the increased duties are imposed, considerable injury will be done to many State-controlled railway services - services which have been described by more than one honorable senator opposite as standing in the relation of secondary industries to our primary producers - that development will be retarded, and our primary industries will suffer.
– I hope that the committee will not agree to the request submitted by Senator McLachlan. The South Australian Railways Commissioner has stated that it is impossible to manufacture the heavier types of locomotives in Australia. I am informed that, although the duty on the engines has been paid, the case is not yet closed.
If it can be demonstrated by the South Australian Railways Commissioner that locomotives of a similar type cannot be commercially manufactured in Australia, a refund of duty will be made. An officer of the Customs Department is, I understand, visiting South Australia with the object of fully investigating the position. It should be remembered that a number of the State Governments are either manufacturing locomotives in their own workshops, or are having them constructed by Australian manufacturing firms, and that no complaints have been made concerning their’ suitability. There appears to have been a strong inclination on the part of the South Australian Railways Commissioner to place large orders for locomotives and rolling-stock abroad, because at the time this large order for locomotives was placed in Great Britain a very much larger order for trucks was placed in America. The order for locomotives amounted to a little over £400,000, but that for trucks to over £1,000,000. Although the South Australian Railways Department obtained these trucks and locomotives somewhat cheaper than they could have been purchased in Australia, the transaction involved sending nearly £1,500,000 out of the Commonwealth, with a consequent decrease in the employment of Australian artisans. What makes the position still more surprising is the fact that the most favorable Australian tender for the supply of trucks was submitted by an Adelaide firm. The State Governments should set an example to firms and individuals by purchasing Australian-made machinery.
– The Minister must admit that there is a limit.
– Yes, but at the same time some of our State Governments, and quite a number of our local governing authorities, seem to think that they ought to obtain special concessions on orders which they place abroad ; whereas instead of asking for such concessions they should set an example to private firms and individuals in matters of this sort. According to the figures quoted by Senator McLachlan, the correctness of which I do not doubt, the saving effected by the South Australian Government was considerable, but that is largely accounted for by the substantial nature of the order. The percentage of saving on the order is not particularly great, and there is no doubt that the placing of this work in other countries has involved a direct loss to Australia. If that money had been expended in the Commonwealth, the indirect gain would have more than compensated for the extra price paid for the locomotives and trucks. It has been said that this railway equipment was ordered abroad because the Australian firms could not give delivery as early as the British or American manufacturers ; but surely a railways commissioner can foresee his requirements more than twelve months in advance? If the re-organization of the system had been taken in hand in time, doubtless the Australian manufacturers would have been able to supply both the locomotives and the trucks by the time the department required them. Manufacturers of railway equipment in Australia are not carrying on their undertakings on such an extensive scale as are manufacturers in Great Britain and America, and therefore more time is needed in which to give delivery. Honorable senators will remember that some time ago the Commonwealth Government accepted an Australian tender for the supply of a number of locomotives at a cost higher than that at which they could have been obtained abroad. The British and foreign tenders were very illuminating; the lowest British tender was at. a price which could not possibly give a profit to the manufacturer. At that time the British engineering trade was in a very depressed condition, and, in order to keep their staffs together, many British firms were accepting orders from within Great Britain and from abroad at a price which would not show any profit. It is against competition of that kind that the Australian manufacturer has to contend. The duty proposed in this instance is not excessive. As the committee has passed a number of items providing for protection to the extent of 40 per cent., and as Senator McLachlan has not given any valid reasons why the proposed duty should be reduced to 27½ per cent., or, in fact, to anything below 40 per cent., the Government cannot accept the requested amendment.
Senator Sir HENRY BAR WELL (South Australia) [3.27]. - I do not intend to allow the Minister’s statement, which shows that he does not know anything about the subject, to pass without comment. The honorable gentleman said that apparently there was a strong inclination on the part of Mr. Webb, the South Australian Railways Commissioner, to place these orders abroad; but Mr. Webb had nothing whatever to do with the matter. It was settled by the South Australian Government, and if one man in that Government had more to do with it than another, it was I.
– Was it a Liberal government ?
– Yes, of which I was the leader, and I personally saw that its policy was given effect to. What was the position? We came into power and saw that the railways in South Australia needed reorganizing and rehabilitating’. We decided that the first thing to do was to obtain the services of a thoroughly competent officer to properly undertake the work, and, after scouring the world, we selected the man whom we considered most suitable for the task. He then submitted to the Government a scheme for re-organizing and rehabilitating the South Australian railway system, involving the expenditure of £5,000,000 spread over a period of five years. Of the £5,000,000, £3,500,000 was to be spent in South Australia, and £1,500,000 was to be expended on rolling-stock. Directly I, as Premier of South Australia, announced the policy of the Government for reorganizing and rehabilitating the railway system, involving the expenditure of large sums of money on rolling-stock, I was waited upon by a deputation representative of the Chamber of Manufactures and the Trades and Labour Council. I was asked whether I would receive a deputation on this subject, and I fixed the time to receive it. The first person who walked into my office was the president of the Chamber of Manufactures, and he was followed by the president of the Trades and Labour Council. I raised my eyes when I saw these two together. I thought it was a peculiar combination. Then came the secretary of the Chamber of Manufactures, followed by the secretary of the Trades and Labour Council. And so they all came in mixed up in that way. I thought to myself that it was the most unusual deputation I had ever received, two bodies as a rule entirely antagonistic coming as a joint deputation. I was naturally interested in hearing what they had to say. They said, “ We see that you have announced that you intend to launch out on a big programme for the re-habilitation of our railways. The request we have to make is that every call for tenders in connexion with rolling-stock shall be limited strictly to Australia.” That was the joint request of the Chamber of Manufactures and the Trades and Labour Council. Of course, my reply was “ The policy of the Government is to get this work done in Australia if it is reasonably possible to do so, but I say definitely that it must be done in a business-like way, and the call for tenders will not be confined to Australia, but will be world-wide. Then we shall see what the position is.” First of all we tried to test the matter by calling for tenders for five engines, 100 gondola trucks, and some boilers. When the tenders were opened we found that Australian tenders were a little over 70 per cent, higher than the prices received from Great Britain and America, although all tenders were on the same basis, namely, free on rails at Islington. So anxious were we to get the work done in Australia that we did not accept any tender at that stage, but called for fresh tenders for the whole of the rolling-stock we required - engines, passenger cars, freight cars, and the various other material which’ was necessary to carry out our programme. Those tenders were called for world-wide again, and when the prices were received we found the same percentage of advance in the Australian over the English and American tenders. We announced that it was quite impossible for us to get the work done in Australia under those conditions, but we gave all the tenderers an opportunity, within a limited time, to reconsider their tenders. As the result, all tenderers, overseas and Australian reduced their prices, but when we came to look at them finally we found that the Australian tenders were from 51 to 93 per cent, higher than the overseas tenders on the same basis, namely, free on rail at Islington, allowing for the payment of the highest duty under the Commonwealth Customs tariff. Were we, as a Government, responsible for carrying out this programme in a proper and businesslike way, and responsible for looking after the interests of the taxpayers of the State, to let these contracts to Australian firms under those conditions? Would any one with a sense of responsibility have done so? One judges from the remarks of the
Minister (Senator Crawford) that he would have been prepared to do so. It was not a matter for the decision of Mr. Webb, the Commissioner. He was told all matters in connexion with this undertaking had to be submitted to Cabinet. He was told that it was the part of the Government to decide the policy in this respect, and that the Government was determined that every pennyworth of work that could be carried out in Australia would be done in Australia, but that everything must be undertaken on a business-like footing. As the Government was prepared to allow the Australian firms a. margin over and above the protection afforded by the tariff, I was asked to name what that additional percentage should be, and I said that I thought 15 per cent, would probably be high enough, but that we would consider a margin of even 20 per cent, over the protection afforded to the local manufacturers by the duty, plus all the other charges imposed on the overseas manufacturers in the shape of freight and insurance. We were prepared to make that allowance, because we recognized that if the work could be done in Australia it would afford employment for Australian workmen. There would be the additional work of procuring the raw material, the wages of the men employed would be paid in Australia, and the Government would benefit by the additional income tax paid.
– Was the honorable senator prepared to allow a margin of 15 per cent ?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Yes ; we were even prepared to go as high as 20 per cent.
– Mr. Lang, the Premier of New South Wales, has made a great song about his offer of a margin of 5 per cent.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.We were prepared to go a long way further than that. Would any one with a sense of responsibility contend that the South Australian Government ought to have let these contracts to Australian firms when their tenders were on an average 70 per cent, higher than those submitted by overseas firms? It simply could not be done. The Minister says that the saving seemed large only because the order was large; but what was the saving? On engines and trucks alone it amounted to £430,000, which, with in terest, in fifteen years would amount to £1,000,000. What would the Minister have thought of the Government of South Australia if it had imposed this additional burden, on the railways of the State for all time? Our programme could not have been carried out. I do not understand the Minister’s reference to the consideration of time. He said that surely the commissioner could have seen more than twelve months ahead. Bub here was a scheme for the rehabilitation of the South Australian railways-
– Senator McLachlan based his appeal for a reduction of the duty on the order the South Australian Government had placed abroad for locomotives.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.If the Australian tenderers could not compete unless they had a 70 per cent, margin over the existing duties, they could not compete with these higher duties. As a matter of fact, the firms who make these locomotives in Australia are not abreast of the times. They are not on the basis of efficiency which exists in America, where higher wages are paid than are enjoyed by workers in Australia. Although the American builder of locomotives has to pay these higher wages and insurance, freight and duty, our people’s prices are 70 per cent, higher than his.
– But look at the turnover of the American manufacturer.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Exactly; but are we not to take advantage of that in a case like this ?
– The honorable senator can please himself about that; but it is not fair to compare the Australian manufacturer with his competitor in America.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.To impose a higher duty will be simply to offer a premium to inefficiency. “Under instructions from the State Government - I personally gave them to him - the Commissioner of Railways in South Australia inspected engineering works in South Australia, and in other parts of the Commonwealth. He found that they were not ten or fifteen, but, in some cases, 30 or 40 years behind the times.
– They are never likely to be efficient if they do not get the work.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.The orders they could get in Australia for locomotives would never be sufficient to enable them to reach the basis of em. ciency of works in other parts of the world where they can get big orders for these engines.
– Nor will they ever become efficient on a higher rate of duty.
– Exactly. Our programme included the reorganization of the Islington workshops, and, in future, South Australia will be able to meet all its railway requirements in the country.
– I understand that Victoria is in a similar position.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Yes. South Australia is installing machinery that will make its workshops as efficient as those in the United States of America, and infinitely more efficient than any in Australia at the present time. We shall be- able to produce at prices that will enable us, even with the lower rate of duty, to compete with American products. To impose these higher duties is to give a premium to inefficiency. Even with the aid of higher duties the local manufacturers cannot get the orders. It simply means penalizing the various States that try to carry on big works in the interests of the people generally, and of the primary producers in particular. Lower railway freights are required, and surely the only way to get them is to re-organize the railway services to enable them to be operated on the most economical lines. Regarding South Australia’s claim for a refund of duty on the engines of the Mountain type, the Minister said that an inquiry was being held. But whom has the Government appointed to conduct the inquiry? I think that three gentlemen were selected, and one of them was Mr. Perry, who had tendered for the engines.
– I am told that that is quite incorrect.
– Mr. Perry was appointed, or was to have been appointed, and I know that a letter of protest was sent to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) pointing out that he was financially interested in the matter, and was prejudiced. It was said that he had publicly expressed strong opinions on the matter. Does the Minister contend that this gentleman was not appointed ?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.I say that he was, although his appoint ment may have been withdrawn. I know that a protest was made. The Minister for Trade and Customs received a strongly-worded protest from South Australia. This set out that the Islington workshops had enlarged their field of operation to such an extent that they must have materially affected Mr. Perry’s financial and manufacturing interests. It was also pointed out that the South Australian railways had had serious disputes with his company over the non-performance of contracts ; that he was financially interested in preventing or discouraging the importation of these or any other locomotives; that he had already expressed the view that the South Australian Railways Commissioner was prejudiced against Australian manufacturers ; and that he had made animadversions against that official personally.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– I am pleased to notice such wellknown protectionists as Senators McLachlan and Barwell jibbing at the efforts being made by the Government to encourage Australian industry. I cannot understand why the Barwell Government did not adopt the proper course. It should have either rejected the report of its expert adviser, or proceeded to bring its workshops up to date, and manufactured the engines locally. Trouble similar to this was experienced in New South Wales years ago.
– New South Wales is having similar trouble to-day.
– It was found that, by properly equipping their workshops the New South Wales Railways Commissioners could manufacture all their requirements, and produce a finished article equal to any to be obtained from abroad. Even Senator Barwell admits, in his reasonable moments, that high duties place a penalty upon the farmers of South Australia, and upon the people of that State generally. I have known this for a long time, but the fact seems to have come as a revelation to the honorable senator. It is high time these honorable senators attended a night school.
– And studied Henry George !
– Of all the economists the world has produced, Henry
George is the one that disposed of the protectionist argument. If I were a protectionist the higher the duties I could get the better I should be pleased; but the moment protectionists like Senators Kingsmill and Lynch find the tariff too high in particular instances, they cry out in dismay. How long is the farce to continue? The Government ought to tell the people candidly that it will never be a party to the exclusion of foreign goods, since its sole object is to obtain revenue.
– It looks somewhat like it.
– Yes. It is so clear that even Senator McLachlan can almost see it. If he looks intently he will be able to realize it. An officer of the Commonwealth has been sent to South Australia to ascertain whether the duty on the imported engines should be refunded or not. To my mind that would be a complete abrogation of the great and glorious policy of protection, which merely protects the land-owners from taxation. If such a policy is to be pursued, The Government should make refunds to the users of all imported goods. Then the £40,000,000 collected through the Customs House would be refunded to the people. I say again that I am delighted to see the so-called protectionists getting a good dose of their own medicine. They naturally jib, and they may even vote against the Government; but the Government has the numbers. Honorable senators can squeak and squirm as they like; but they will be beaten in any case.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) f3.50]. - Having listened to Senator Grant’s attempts to guide our feet into the right paths, and remembering the numerous speches which he has delivered in support of the single-tax principles, I am inclined to suggest that the honorable senator should establish a humbug club. From the success which has followed some speeches in this Parliament, one is justified in concluding that humbug pays. 1 intend to support the proposal of Senator McLachlan. I do so for several reasons, the first being that the manufacture of locomotives was established as an Australian industry when the tariff was much less than 27^ per cent. In nearly every State locomotives have been made for a number of years. In, South Australia, from which State the greatest opposition to these increased duties comes, James Martin and Company were manufacturing locomotives before the inception of federation. I therefore see no reason for higher duties. Prior to last September the duty on locomotives and” portable engines was the same; but now a differentiation is to be made. Why is a duty of 27^ per cent., which is said to be sufficient for portable engines, not sufficient for locomotives ? What is the essentia] difference between the two machines ? Each has a boiler and various mechanical contrivances. The only difference that 1 can see is that in the case of a locomotive the power which is developed is used to move the machine itself from one place to another, whereas in the case of a portable engine the power developed is used to work another machine. I cannot see any reason for the difference of 7£ per cent, asked for, notwithstanding what the Minister has said. The locomotive manufacturing industry is thriving in Australia to-day. The Minister referred to the experience of the Commonwealth in connexion with locomotives. We know that tenders were invited for fourteen locomotives for the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway. The lowest Australian tender was that of Thompson and Company, of Castlemaine, whose price was £136,000. The lowest British tender was £81,200, a difference of approximately £55,000. To that price had to be added a duty of 27£ per cent, before a comparison with the tender submitted by Thompson and Company could be made. But even then the English tenderer’s price was far less than that of the local manufacturer. Nevertheless, Thompson and Company obtained the tender, thereby receiving a protection equal to 70 per cent. I remind honorable senators that in that instance the locomotives were of a much lighter type than those recently purchased by the South Australian Government. If in the case of a light locomotive, the Australian firm required a 70 per cent, protection to enable it to compete with the British manufacturer, what, I ask, would be the protection required in the case of much heavier locomotives? What duty would satisfy the greedy cormorants who desire that in no circumstances shall orders be placed outside Australia? The Minister referred to dumping. He said that the reason for the tender of the British manufacturer being much below that of the Aus- tralian firm was that Great Britain was experiencing a slack time. This is a brand-new definition of the word “ dumping.” I always thought that dumping was the result of overproduction in prosperous times, but here we are given to understand that dumping can result from slack times overseas.
– Dumping can take place at any time.
– Does the honorable senator expect sensible men to accept that statement? Are we to understand that in slack times manufacturers are prepared to carry on at a loss?
– They frequently do.
– Unfortunately, the action of the Commonwealth Government in giving the order to the Australian tenderer cost the Australian taxpayer some thousands of pounds. That was not done with my approval. I should have given the order to the British tenderer and told Thompson a?id Company that they must increase the,r efficiency, live within their means, and compete with the assistance of a duty of 40 per cent, or 27$ per cent. Are we to continue paying high prices for our requirements merely to benefit a few Australian manufacturers who will not exert themselves as other Australians are required to do? In order to teach Australian manufacturers and Australian workmen a sorely needed lesson, I should be prepared to allow the trade in such circumstances to go out of the country. The Castlemaine firm was given, a. preference of 70 per cent., but the dairyman does not get a preference of even 7d. The fruit-growers of Australia’ get nothing, notwithstanding what Senator Findley has said. I am a grower of wheat. I owe the Government nothing; but it owes me a great deal.
– What about the railways which have been provided for the benefit of the primary producers?
– The primary producers are paying for them.
– Do they alone make up the deficit on the railways ?
– I shall prove that the carriage of cereals and other primary products on our railways costs more than it does in Canada or the United States of America.
– Then why does the honorable senator not go to one of those countries ?
– The primary producer is carrying the burden of the railways in order that the city loafers may benefit. Senator Findley is not correct in saying that the primary producers benefit by reason of public policy. I know something of the wheat-growing industry. During the war period we obtained world’s parity for our wheat, but with what result? For seven years I was unable to obtain payment. Would Senator Findley stand that for seven days without murmuring? If he were asked to do so, the roof of the universe would shake because of his clamour. To enable a protection of 40 per cent, to be given to the manufacturers of locomotives, railway rates will he raised. The Port Augusta-Oodnadatta railway has already incurred a loss of fi 000,000. That loss is reflected in the increased rates and fares now payable on that bankrupt line. I am opposed to this additional duty for three reasons: first, locomotives were made here when the duty was much less than 27% per cent.; secondly, the value of the locomotives imported is about £70,000 per annum only; and, thirdly, 1 can see no reason for the differentiation between portable engines and locomotives. We in this chamber should endeavour to do justice to both our primary and secondary industries. It is time that we called a’ halt in the imposition of higher duties. We should say to the captains of industry, and particularly to the workmen, that they should pause and consider the burden that they are placing upon their fellow countrymen. How are the people outback to be served by railways if there are no locomotives? How will many of them ever see the eastern States or enjoy a holiday at the seaside without locomotives? Honorable senators should realize that when they increase the price of locomotives they are penalizing the people who constitute the backbone of the country, because we are making it increasingly difficult for them to market their surplus products. This ill-balanced schedule intensifies the problems that confront our primary producers, and is largely responsible for the trend of population to our. cities.
.- Whenever Senator Lynch addresses the committee in respect of tariff items, he takes up a characteristic attitude concerning the fiscal policy of this country. Everybody, including Senator Lynch, should know that the majority of the people, rightly or wrongly - I say rightly - have declared emphatically in favour of protection. Tariff duties which fail to protect cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be called protective. Senator Lynch belongs to the die-hard brigade. In his later years he has developed into a tory reactionary, and may be described as a member of the old “ stinking-fish brigade.” I have never heard him, in a tariff debate, do other than decry Australian industries and talk bitterly about the Australian workman. In earlier years men of the Senator Lynch type were always declaring that it was impossible to manufacture locomotives in Australia.
– I gave my vote in favour of this policy. Why does not the honorable senator stick to facts?
– I refer to men who, long before Senator Lynch entered public life, insisted that locomotives could not be manufactured in Australia, and I am satisfied that, if Senator Lynch had been active in public life in those clays, he, too, would have been associated with that old brigade which so unanimously declared that railway engines could not be made in this country. My blood fairly boiled with indignation when I heard the honorable senator refer to the Australian artisan as a loafer. It was but yesterday, figuratively speaking, that he was associated with the party to which I have the honour to belong. In those days he would never have dared to describe them as loafers.
– Do not stretch it.
– I am not. The men whom the honorable senator now describes as loafers worked wholeheartedly, in those days, for Senator Lynch, who then belonged to the Labour party. The honorable senator has since seen the light, according to his own point of view, and, having left that party, he never neglects an opportunity to talk about it. He speaks of the inefficiency of the Australian artisan. If he is anxious for the future prosperity and welfare of Australia, why does not he go to the root cause of our industrial unrest and this so-called inefficiency?
-. - What is it?
– The honorable senator knows that the fault does not lie with the workmen or workwomen in Australia. In the opinion of unbiased and unprejudiced observers, they are the equal of workpeople in any part of the world. But let me get back to the item under discussion. The Minister, referring to the tender prices for the Commonwealth engines required for the Oodnadatta line, stated that there was a great disparity between the British tenderersand Thompson and Company, of Castlemaine. It was apparent, so the Minister said, that the British price was tantamount to a dumping tender, which, in thecircumstances, the Government did not feel justified in accepting. Consequently, the order was placed with Thompson and Company. Senator Lynch ridiculed the suggestion that dumping was practised by manufacturers of any country in times of depression. Dumping, according to the honorable senator, only obtains in times of prosperity. What innocence! The honorable senator tells us that he comes from the back-blocks. I verily believe he does if one may judge from hia attitude in regard to some matters. Let us examine the statement of the Minister. Is it not a fact that many Australian manufacturers in times of depression produce and sell goods at, and sometimes below, cost in order to keep their work-people together and machinery in motion ? Likewise British manufacturers recently, when there was much unemployment in that country, submitted a tender for the manufacture of Australian locomotives at a price considerably lower than the price of Thompson and Company, Castlemaine. It was, as the Minister has said, a dumping tender. Thompson and Company, I remind honorable senators, have turned out some of the finest locomotives and mining and other machinery to be seen anywhere. In recent years their activities have been seriously affected by outside competition. Whilst I take an international view of the Labour movement, I realize that I am one of the representatives of Victoria, and that it is my duty to do my best in the interests, not of Victoria only, but of
Australia generally. Therefore, I intend, whenever possible, to “ boost “ Australian industries.
– Did not the honorable senator, in his second-reading speech, refer to State railway services as a form of secondary industry?
SenatorFINDLEY.- No, but in a measure a State railway service is a secondary industry, because State government workshops employ thousands of men on engineering work.
– The honorable senator did not use the term in that connexion.
– Asa matter of fact, I did not use it at all, as the honorable senator will see if he consults the Hansard report of my speech. What I do say now, in reply to Senator Lynch, is that the primary producers of Australia owe much to its secondary industries, and they are well catered for.
– That is a mere assertion.
– Everybody should know that no section of the community is catered for better than are our primary producers. Senator Lynch talks about the burdens that are imposed upon them by this tariff schedule. My reply to that is that they would have to bear heavier burdens but for the existence of our secondary industries. The honorable senator has also told us how he has had to struggle oh the land. Men were on the land here long before he became a wheat-farmer. To use his own words, he is a. “ Johnny come lately “ in that branch ‘ of primary production, and yet he poses as an authority on wheat farming. In this chamber there are men who have been on the land the major portion of their lifetime. I am prepared to concede that they are entitled to speak with some authority on land cultivation and production problems.
– Members of my family have been sons of the soil for ten generations, if the honorable senator wants to know.
– When the honorable senator went on the land, probably, like many others, he took up too big a slice of Australia, and found he could not handle it properly.
– The committee is dealing with the re quest moved by Senator McLachlan. The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the item.
– I always obey your ruling, Mr. Chairman, but as Senator Lynch talked at large about the burdens that are imposed on primary producers, I thought I should be allowed to say a word or two in reply. However, as you have called my attention to the digression, I shall not proceed any further on those lines. In closing, I should like to say that I shall endeavour to be honest and consistent in my attitude towards Australian industries. I shall not be found, like some honorable senators, voting high protection for industries that particularly affect my State, and voting low protection in respect of items that do not directly affect the people I represent. I take a broad Australian view of this tariff, and, concerning the item under discussion, I say that whilst the engineering industry was well established up to the time when it had to meet acute competition from overseas, there is now need for additional protection. I intend to support all duties that are essentially protective in their incidence. The Government in its wisdom has submitted a schedule which proposes higher duties on certain items, and because I believe that those higher duties will give a better measure of protection for certain manufacturing industries in Australia, I shall support- them.
Senator Sir HENRY BAR WELL (South Australia) [4.19].- When my time expired, I had not completely replied to the statements made by the Honorary Minister (Senator Crawford). The Minister has practically repeated the. opinions expressed by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) in another place, when he said that the action of the Chief Railways Commissioner in South Australia in placing these orders abroad was most unpatriotic. I have already pointed out that it was not the South Australian Railways Commissioner who was responsible, but the South Australian Government, of which I happened to be the leader. The Minister took exception to the manner in which Senator McLachlan used his figures, and said that he referred to the locomotives, and not to the trucks.
– I was not dealing with tracks.
– That is so. The Minister said that if he had stated the position in regard to the trucks it would have shown a very different state of affairs. The tender of an Adelaide firm, which would have to import the parts and assemble them here, was £597,000, so by placing the order abroad a saving of approximately £200,000 was effected. A demand is apparently being made for all contracts to be let in Australia, regardless of the cost. That is a policy which should not be tolerated for a moment.
– It is a most dangerous policy to pursue.
– Yes ; from every viewpoint. What check would we have upon inefficient Australian manufacturers if all our contracts had to be placed with manufacturers within the Commonwealth, regardless of price ? The Australian manufacturer would have an absolute monopoly; there would be no real competition. In the past, manufacturers have put their heads together, tendered at about the same price, and divided the work. I am exceedingly surprised at the way the members of the Labour party in this chamber have castigated South Australia over this matter. Senator Duncan said that the Labour Premier of New South Wales (Mr. Lang) ia prepared to allow Australian manufacturers a margin of only 5 per cent, in addition to the protection already afforded by the tariff. I said at the time that the South Australian Government was prepared to concede a margin of 15 per cent, above what the tariff, provided, because of the advantage which would accrue to Australia. What happened in Western Australia ? The Labour Government in that State did not even call for tenders in Australia. The only tenders which they called were returnable in Great Britain, and consequently the Australian manufacturer was not even given an opportunity to submit a price. The South Australian Government gave manufacturers throughout the. world every opportunity of submitting tenders, and delayed a decision to give Australian manufacturers an opportunity of revising their prices. A final decision was further postponed until it was found that it was impossible to have the work, carried out in Australia in a business-like way. It was only when it was found that over and above the high tariff protection there was a 70 per cent, margin in favour of British prices, and that it was imperative to move in the matter that decisive action was taken. If Senator Findley had been occupying the responsible position which I then held, I do not think he, as a business man, would have placed the orders in Australia. When Senator Lynch was referring to the effect upon primary producers, Senator Foll said that he would like to know in what way primary production was involved in this consideration. It has everything to do with it. In South Australia we are doing what every Government should be doing. We are attempting to reduce the railway freights, which are a burden upon - primary producers.
– Does not the honorable senator think it of equal importance to give consideration to Australians by providing them with employment?
– Undoubtedly. But in this case we have had. to discriminate between two sections, and to decide whether it is of more importance to place our railways on a sound and economic basis, and effect enormous savings in the interests of the people, or to provide Australian manufacturers with work. If we had placed the orders in Australia , at an advance of £430,000 in the cost of rolling-stock alone, what would have been the position? The £430,000, in fifteen years, would have meant an increased burden on our railways of £1,000,000. Increased freights would have been necessary. That amount of £430,000 would have had to be added to the capital cost of the railways for all time.
– And by so doing the purchasing power of the man on the. land would have been reduced.
– Undoubtedly. The interests of the primary producers- have to be conserved.
– And are the interests of the secondary industries to be totally disregarded?
– Certainly not. The secondary industries, without which the country cannot prosper, must also be reasonably protected.
Honorable senators must not overlook ihe fact that American manufacturers, who are paying higher wages and have to contend with heavy protective duties and other disadvantages in the form, of freight, insurance, and handling charges, can not only compete with Australian manufacturers, but, on the average, sell at a price very considerably below the Australian price.
– The American wages are only nominally higher.
– I do not think they are; but I am not permitted to go into that phase of the question at the moment-
– The honorable senator knows that the slogan of the American is “ High wages and low cost of commodities.”
– And it is a very good one.
– -The honorable senator’s slogan is “Low wages and high cost nf commodities.”
– Nothing of the kind. I have already pointed out that a considerable saving in price was effected by placing the orders abroad, but the time in which deliveries were promised was of even greater importance. It will readily be seen that in re-organizing a railway system every portion of the scheme, including the laying of heavier rails, the strengthening of culverts and bridges, the deliveries of freight and passenger cars, and the completion of the repair shop, must operate simultaneously in order to ensure efficiency. The only Australian tender was 70 per cent, higher than the accepted tender, but the time in which the Australian manufacturer Avas to give delivery was fo ;r years and eight months, as against twelve months in the case of the British manufacturer.
– Were the locomotives delivered within twelve months?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.There was a delay owing to strikes.
– And they have only just come to hand?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Yes; but if an Australian tender hae! been accepted, delivery, in all probability, would not have been given in the four years and eight months promised. Strikes would, undoubtedly, have occurred, and the contractor would have been protected by the usual strike clause, exempting him from liability in the event of the cessation of operations. The action of the South Australian Government was not in any sense unpatriotic. In fact, it was the reverse. We endeavoured to conserve the interests of the taxpayers and to protect primary producers in particular, because it is they who are directly affected if railway freights are unduly high.
– But primary producers pass on the freight.
– To whom does the wheat-grower pass on the freight? He has to sell his product in the markets of the world, and is, therefore, in a most unfortunate position.
– Is the wheat-grower the only man on the land ?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.No. Those producing wool have also to sell their products in the open market, and cannot pass on the cost of increased freights. Notwithstanding the high rate of duties at present imposed, Australian manufacturers cannot compete with overseas manufacturers, and, consequently, the duties at present levied are of no protection to Australian manufacturers. These merely place an unnecessarily heavy burden upon the people. As a result of inquiries made concerning the Australian manufacturers of locomotives, it. was discovered that the plants in use were obsolete, and the management inefficient. The cost of production in Australia is unduly high.
– Are the Newport works inefficient?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.In comparison with those overseas, they are.
– Has the honorable senator inspected the workshops of overseas manufacturers?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.No. I rely entirely upon the opinions of experts. I would not know if they were efficiently conducted even if I did inspect them. Senator Findley will realize that if the American manufacturers, after paying a high rate of duty, good wages, and meeting the cost of freight, insurance and handling charges, can sell at a price 70 per cent, below that of Australian manufacturers, it suggests inefficiency on the part of Australian manufacturers.
– Why were not these locomotives manufactured at Islington ?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Part of the scheme is to equip the workshops in such a manner as to enable locomotives of a similar type to be manu accured there in the future. Our locomotive workshops in Adelaide are being fitted up in such a way as to make them comparable with the best works of their kind in the world. It is the intention of the Government to have all its rolling-stock manufactured at Islington in the future.
– That is the proper course to pursue.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.It has been suggested that we should have done that before, but that would have involved waiting an unnecessarily long time to get engines and other rollingstock. Within twelve months after Mr. Webb came to South Australia I called for a report showing the economies being effected at the Islington workshops, which disclosed that the number of employees had been reduced by 387, the wages bill by £70,000, whilst the output had increased by 50 per cent. When Mr. Webb assumed control of the South Australian railways the system was not paying, but last year and the year before they not only paid full interest on the capital expenditure, but also showed a profit. The necessity of obtaining early delivery in order to place the railway system on a sound and economic footing will be apparent. The savings effected will date from the time when the new policy becomes operative, whereas if we had been compelled to wait for approximately five years, it would have been a very long time before the much needed economy could be effected.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– I regret very much that there seems to be a continued disposition on the part of certain honorable senators who oppose the Government’s proposals to go out of their way, if only to a slight extent, to belittle Australian industry. Senator Barwell has complained of the inefficiency of local engineering firms. I interpret his remarks as applying more particularly to the Islington works in South Australia.
– My last remarks certainly applied to those works.
– I cannot apply them to the Clyde works, near Sydney. Those works are not controlled by men whose desire it is to bolster up inefficiency. As a matter of fact, their attitude is quite the opposite. It is their earnest desire to make their establishment as efficient as possible, and quite recently, with that object in view, they sent their general manager, at considerable cost, to inspect and report to them on similar works in other parts of the world. . He was authorized by them to purchase the requisite machinery to make the Clyde works as up to date as other establishments abroad. They are spending a great deal of money in this direction, not because their works cannot be regarded as ordinarily up to date, but because they want to have them in advance of anything else in the world.
– That also has been done from time to time in connexion with the Victorian Government’s works at Newport.
– If that is so, how it is that these Australian firms cannot compete with the margin the South Australian Government was prepared to allow to them?
– The Clyde works have just completed 70 locomotives to the order of the New South Wales railways, and the railway experts have expressed entire satisfaction with the splendid way in which they have been turned out. There ha3 been no quarrel in regard to their cost. It is true that the cost of the engines manufactured at- the Clyde works must be considerably in excess of that of similar engines manufactured in other countries; but the fault is not due to the management or to the fact that the works are not efficient. The harsh conditions that parliaments and governments in Australia impose on our engineering firms make it hard for them to compete satisfactorily with similar establishments in other countries. For instance, because of the action of the Parliament of New South Wales in imposing a 44-hours week on industry in that State, the Clyde works are burdened with an additional labour cost on each engine of £440. ‘ I am not saying anything about whether the action of the State Parliament is right or wrong.
– An additional cost of £440 on each engine is a mere trifle.
– That is only one item ; there are other things to be taken into consideration. When we compare the wages paid and the labour conditions here with those in other countries, it will be agreed that it is impossible for us to expect the Australian concerns to keep going if we. impose additional burdens on them without, at the same time, giving them compensation in another direction.
– The honorable senator’s argument would be helpful if he could tell us the relative wages paid in Great Britain by Armstrong, Whitworth & Company, and compare them with the wages paid in Australia.
– According to the evidence given before the Tariff Board, mechanics’ wages in New South Wales fixed by award are £5 10s. a week. Holidays and sick pay payments represent an additional 5s. 6d. a week, making a total of £5 Ids. 6d. a week. Mechanics’ wages in England are £2 16s. a week. Labourers’ wages in New South Wales, fixed by award, are £4 5s. a week, against £1 17s. a week paid in England. In the total cost of a locomotive, labour and charges represent approximately 60 per cent, and material 40 per cent. In a £12,000 locomotive, £7,200 would represent the amount paid for labour and charges in Australia, whereas the amountpayable in this respect in Great Britain, where wages are less than half those paid in Australia, would be £3,600. These facts make us realize how difficult it is for local enterprise to meet competition from overseas. We have splendid examples of Australian enterprise in the locomotive-building industry. Such wellknown firms as Thompson’s, of Castlemaine; Walker’s Limited, of Maryborough; Perry and Company, of Gawler; the Clyde Engineering Company, of Sydney, immediately come to one’s mind. There are also smaller concerns. They all find it difficult to carry on under existing conditions. The increased duty proposed is an attempt to equalize matters once more, and place them on a proximately the same footing as obtained prior to the recent alteration in labour conditions. I have already shown how wages have increased. I wonder sometimes just where we are to end up. Costs are continually mounting up. We have, for instance, the proposal to reduce the hours of labour. I have nothing to say against it. Wages are steadily increasing, and I have nothing to say against that either. But if the Commonwealth Parliament is to find itself constantly saddled with the responsibility of readjusting, by means of Customs duties, the relationship between costs of production and selling prices, it will find itself faced with a task which is beyond its constitutional powers. We are continually being called upon to increase Customs duties in order to keep pace with increasing costs of production. The increased duties we are now considering are primarily due to the increased costs in industry which prevent our manufacturers from meeting the competition to which they are subjected from overseas. Nevertheless, I submit that when we have made this adjustment in the case of other industries, we are hound to do it also for the locomotive-building industry. We have already given increased protection to other sections of the iron and engineering trades.
– Does the honorable senator contend that the firms to which he has referred could build any of the big types of engines to which I have referred ?
– There are very few types of engines that cannot be built in Australia. An engineer may have some fad for a particular type of engine not being made here, possessing what he might regard as special advantages, but what others might regard as disadvantages, yet other engines quite as good are being made in Australia.
– No engines comparable with those ordered by the South Australian Government have been made in Australia. Some of them are bigger than any engine previously made in Great Britain. No firm here could handle them.
– If South Australia is out to compete with the rest of the world so far as its engines are concerned, and if it must have them bigger than anywhere else, it must be allowed to do so, but I cannot see why locomotives of the type that do such splendid and satisfactory work in New South Wales and Victoria cannot do the haulage required in South Australia.
– It is economy to have these engines. We are getting our railways on a much better footing than the New South Wales or Victorian railways.
– I am pleased to hear that, because there was plenty of room for improvement. I am not quarrelling with the action taken by the South Australian Government. The letting of contracts abroad was quite within its province, and as a matter of fact it was a step which was not peculiar to the Government led by Senator Barwell. Other Governments have gone abroad for various constructional work. The Tasmanian Labour Government when it wanted a ferry went overseas for it, and had it made large enough to evade the provision of the act that would have rendered it liable to the payment of duty. Senator Barwell is abused for doing exactly what has repeatedly been done by various Labour Governments in Australia.
– The honorable senator does not think that we could have done otherwise in the circumstances ?
– I am not saying that the South Australian Government did wrong, but we are now asked to give adequate protection to the locomotive building industry in Australia. I have shown that this industry is being efficiently conducted -by various firms in Australia. Are we to give them a proper measure of protection, or are we to allow them to be subjected to all kinds of intense competition from overseas - Germany, Italy and other countries? I hope that the duty proposed by the Government will not be altered.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– I rise to refute a statement made by Senator Barwell, that the Western Australian Government had not called for tenders for locomotives in Australia, but had gone straight to London for them. That statement is entirely wrong.
– Senator Foll has all the information on the matter.
– I am not replying to Senator Foll, but to Senator Barwell. If the latter’s arguments to-day are based on the same kind of evidence as he submitted in stating the case against the Western ‘ Australian Government, I ask the committee not to be influenced by his advice. The fact is that that government called for tenders in Western Australia for the construction of a certain number of locomotives, and one of the firms that tendered was Thompson’s of Castlemaine. It is true that Thompson’s tender was not accepted, one reason, amongst others, being that the locomotives could not be delivered in time for the rich harvest about to be handled. If they could have been delivered when required, I venture to say that the Australian tender would have been accepted.
– The difference in time required by the local and overseas tenderers for the South Australian engines was three years and eight months.
– The honorable senator should not confuse the Western Australian with the South Australian tenders. He should state facts alone.
– I shall state the f a’cts in- a few moments.
– Possibly the honorable senator has mixed up the Western Australian Government with the Midland Railway Company, a private concern, which went direct to London for a contract for certain locomotives. He appears to have been instructed by Senator Foll, and I suggest that he should be careful from whom he receives instruction in connexion with his next brief, because it is evident that he has been wrongly .advised.
– I have listened with interest to the debate, and to the case presented by Senators McLachlan and Barwell. If I needed convincing, those honorable senators have certainly convinced me that the duty should, if .necessary, be 50 rather than 40 per cent.
– If a duty of 100 per cent, were demanded, the honorable senator would vote for
– It is a pity Senator Barwell does not exhibit the same patriotic spirit that has been displayed by Mr. Webb, the South Australian Railways Commissioner in relation to the country from which he comes.
– He Lad nothing to do with the matter; it was settled by the State Government, entirely.
– When South Australia required some trucks and louvre cars, the Barwell Government was prepared to send £1,000,000 to the United States of America for them. Incidentally, the Railways Commissioner - and Senator Barwell boasted of it this afternoon - found it convenient to “ sack “ 340 good South Australian workmen, so that employment could be found in America in the construction of those vehicles.
– Then the reason for the men’s dismissal was that the Government had sent work out of the country?
– That is so. We know that there was a shortage of trucks and other rolling-stock in South Australia; but Senator Barwell had been in office for six or seven years, and he took a long time to realize the position. Then suddenly he took a trip to Great Britain, and America, and selected a good American to manage the South Australian railways. I claim that Australia can furnish men as competent as Mr. Webb in the management of railways, and having a better acquaintance with Australian conditions. It is regrettable that men like Senator Barwell, who have no love for their native country, are placed in governmental control. Their sympathies lie with foreigners. We have heard a good deal about engines of the Mountain, Pacific, and Mikado types, and I accept the figures compiled, evidently at considerable trouble to himself, by Senator McLachlan. He has informed us of the difference between the cost of obtaining the engines from Messrs. Armstrong, Whitworth and Company, and the sum they would have cost if built in Australia. Senator McLachlan laid stress upon the time required for delivery, but he did not say that the engines that were now arriving should have reached Australia last October. They have not yet been assembled .
– One of them has.
– Yes, and it has spread the rails in the locality where it has been run.
– That is not so.
– During the next six months I would not ride behind one of them for £100.
– Then the honorable senator will require leave of absence from the Senate.
– I should prefer to motor from Adelaide to Melbourne.
– Where have rails been spread by one of these engines ?
– Near the Adelaide jail.
– I do not believe it.
– I do. A good many more rails will be spread by these engines. They range in weight from 180 to 234 tons, and are among the heaviest in the world. Senator Barwell did not tell us what it has cost to rehabilitate the South Australian railway system. The expenditure runs into many thousands of pounds. Hundreds of men are employed at rates of 16s. and 17s. a day in preparing the lines for the heavy locomotives. But the engine-drivers are refusing to go upon the new engine.
– That has always been the spirit of Labour. It refuses to accept new machinery.
– Labour does nothing of the sort. It simply makes its motto “ Safety first.” It also contends that engines suitable for Australian requirements can be built in this country.
– What did the engineer say?
– Mr. Webb is not an engineer, but he sent a young man named Rhea to have a look at them. This individual boasted that in the United States of America the engines were sometimes slowed down to 60 miles an hour ! The population of South Australia is only 600,000. New South Wales has a population of 2,250,000; yet she makes her own engines. The South Australian Railways Commissioner was obtained from a country where the population is 110,000,000. Forty-ton trucks have been introduced in South Australia, but they will only be running for about three months in the year. Sixteen and 20-ton trucks are ample for the ordinary requirements of that State.
– Why not transfer this domestic quarrel to the South Aus tralian Parliament?
– I have not wasted any time during this debate; I am merely replying to the arguments that have been advanced. This is only the third occasion on which I have spoken on the schedule. Senator Barwell stated that, for efficency, Australian railway workshops were not comparable with those of the United States of America. Naturally so; but so long as we continue to send railway work out of the country we shall never be able to reach the standard of efficiency that has been attained abroad.
– I decline to believe that our standards of workmanship are not equal to those of America.
– The proof is in the price.
– Adopting that line of argument, we should advocate that our sugar should be procured, not from Queensland, but from the East, If we. are to buy in the cheapest markets, we should obtain our sugar from black-labour countries for perhaps 2d. per lb., and get, bananas from Fiji.
– The honorable senator is “off the rails “ now.
– I invite honorable senators to forget parish-pump politics, and protect a big Australian industry. Australia stands for bounties on sugar, beef, and fruit, and is even prepared to help Tasmania with its hops. The following is portion of a speech made in this chamber some years ago: -
– I am submitting this request quite as much in the interests of the primary producers, who seem to be specially catered for here, as in the interests of any other section of the community,I appeal to those who are bent upon securing a protectionist tariff to take heed of the total value of the importations at the old rate of 12? per cent. It ought to be a sufficient ground to a protectionist to increase the rate when ha is reminded that in . 1906 our imports under this item were valued at ?162,172, Those figures include articles which come under item 146, and perhaps other items.
Senator Trenwith. That total covers a large number of items.
– It should be an unchallengeable argument with any person who wants to see a. reasonable protectionist duty imposed on item 145. Let me take the articles which it includes. Cane loaders on wheels are farming implements for Hie use of canegrowers in Queensland and New South Wales, whale we give a protection of ?6 per ton to cane-growers in Australia, I do not see any logic in not asking them to stand a reasonable burden of protection in order that their farming implements may be made locally.
– Does the honorable senator intend to connect his remarks with the item before the committee?
– Yes. On that occasion, Senator Lynch continued -
If we protect the products of the primary producers - for instance, their butter, cheese, bacon, hay, corn, and other articles - is there any injustice in asking them in their turn to bear a share of the burden of protection in order to help a large body of consumers alongside them?
– It is a burden, then?
– It will be a burden until such time as our industries arc firmly established’, and then I believe that the farmers will get their implements very much more cheaply than they do at the present time.
I take that from a speech delivered by Senator Lynch in 1908. Honorable senators can see howhe has somersaulted since then. Later in the debate, Senator W. Russell said -
As a friend, I ask Senator Lynch to withdraw his ‘request. I recognize in him a genuine protectionist, but with’ a tendency sometimes to go a bit too far.
– What was the dutythen?
– The proposal was to increase the duty from 12? per cent, to 20 per cent. The honorable senator’s action since then proves conclusively that environment frequently alters men.
– There was no 40 per cent. then.
– A protection of 40 per cent. was not necessary then; but it is now. I object to these incursions being made by foreigners.
– The British workman is not a foreigner.
– Any one born outside Australia is a foreigner. If I went bo England I should be a foreigner. I hope that the item will’ be agreed to, because, as an Australian, I desire to see this country self-contained. The best way to achieve that end is by a scientific protective tariff which will make for efficiency and provide good conditions for Australian workmen.
– No one disputes the desirability of making this country as self-supporting as possible; but I am not concerned with that at present. Nor am I concerned with “ stinking fish,” or the policy of the South Australian
Government, or whether the trucks used on the South Australian railways are sufficiently roomy. An expert in railway matters has been appointed Chief Commissioner of Railways in South Australia. Whether he is an engineer or not is of little importance, because he has at his disposal engineers as capable as some of those gentlemen in Victoria for whom Senator Findley has so much regard. Apparently the methods adopted by Mr. Webb in South Australia have commended themselves to an enlightened section of people in Victoria, because in 1924 Mr. Ashworth, Mr. Stamp, the Superintendent of Locomotives, and Mr. E. Dillon, the Superintendent of Locomotive Supplies in Victoria, were sent to America to study the latest developments in railway matters. On their return they reported that the United States of America was far ahead of other countries in railway matters, and that it was essential that in Victoria larger train loads should be drawn by the locomotives. The Minister might well say of Senator Duncan, “ Save me from my ally,” because that honorable senator raised again the argument that the reason for the imposition of higher duties was the better wages paid in Australia, fail to take into accouut the fact that, even allowing that 50 per cent, of the cost of these locomotives represents wages, and that Australian rates are double those paid elsewhere, there is still a large discrepancy between the prices asked for by the English manufacturer and those of the local tenderer. Realizing that the Minister, in this instance, has assumed that the difference is due to there being not sufficient work in Great Britain to keep the factories going, I point out that a reduction of duty on this item will interfere with no existing Australian industry, because no engineering establishment in Australia is capable of manufacturing the larger types of locomotives procured by the South Australian Government. Australian workshops will have to provide additional equipment if they are to cater for the growing necessities of railway traffic. Some honorable senators seem to think that, in assisting these State departments, we shall act detrimentally towards our secondary industries. I point out to them that Senator
Hoare, when speaking of the assistance which had been granted to our primary industries, referred to our railway services as a secondary industry. Senator Findley spoke in the same strain. In 1922-23 the South Australian railways handled a total freight tonnage of 3,284,360 tons. Of that, 2,378,411 tons, or approximately 73 per cent., represented primary products - wheat, manure, firewood, coal, ‘coke, ores, wool, live stock, and so on. The balance of 27 per cent, probably represented manufactured goods. It will, therefore, be seen that the bulk of the revenue of the South Australian railways is derived from primary products.
– And what about the requirements of the primary producers?
– They are also largely carried by the railways.
– The Australian consumer pays the freight on all the primary produce consumed in the home market.
– The primary producer cannot pass anything on. That is one difficulty which all protectionists encounter. Increased wages and protective duties can be passed on by those engaged in secondary industries, but the primary producer must take world’s parity for his goods. I challenge the Minister to show that these heavier locomotives can be commercially produced in Australia.
– Locomotives have been commercially produced in Australia for many years.
– Apart from these heavier locomotives, the Australian workshops now make all the locomotives required in Australia. But they cannot make locomotives of the type recently imported by South Australia. That is my whole case. That is why I urge the reduction of duty. I am not concerned with the nationality of the man who manages the South Australian railways, or of the men who were sent to examine the American railway system. But I am concerned that our State railways, which, in the future, will have to face even greater opposition from road carriage than that which at present, confronts them, should be loaded with this additional duty. I urge the committee to vote for the request which I have moved.
– Senator Barwell spoke of the inefficiency of Australians and their inability to construct the locomotives required by South Australia. All great, nations have experienced a period of inefficiency. They were not always as efficient as they are to-day; they had to make a start. If our railway workshops are ever to equal those in other parts of the world,we also must make a start. Unless opportunities are given to them, how can Australian workmen become skilful or efficient? I look forward to the day when they will have that opportunity. Senator Barwell claimed that by sending these contracts abroad South Australia saved £430,000, but I question whether that is so. Is Australia’s policy to be a policy of protection or not; that is the point. If we protect one industry, we must, if we are consistent, protect all our industries.
– That is where the honorable senator is making a mistake.
– If it is right to send abroad for locomotives, simply because they can be obtained more cheaply, it is right to send abroad for every requirement which can be imported for less than it can be manufactured here. If the contract had been placed in Australia there would have been a substantial demand for raw materials in this country, and consequently employment would have been found for a large number of Australian working people. It is questionable if, after all, the placing of the contract overseas has benefited South Australia.
– The honorable senator would make a great administrator, surely !
– I would be as successful as the honorable senator himself. * He wasresponsible for the discharge of a large number of men from the Islington workshops. I worked in that establishment for some time and I know what happened. The men who were “ sacked “ were reinstated in a few months’ time because the Government could not do without them. Senator Barwell claims to have saved the people of South Australia a considerable sum of money over that contract. Evidently the people took the contrary view ; they declared him inefficient as an administrator and got rid of him at the first opportunity.
– Even the Chamber of Manufactures withdrew its opposition to the contract.
– I ask honorable senators to confine their remarks to the item before the committee.
– It remains to be proved whether the heavier type of engines ordered are really the right class for the most efficient working of the South Australian railway system. As for the spreading of the Port Adelaide line over which the heavy engines were run, I wish to be fair and say that it was a light loop line not intended for the heavy type of engines.
– The honorable senator’s remarks are quite irrelevant.
– The British tenderer contracted to deliver the engines within twelve months. That time expired last October, and up to the present only one engine is working on the south line.
– How many were ordered ?
– Ten each, of three different types.
– Senator Barwell, in justification of his action in placing the order with the British firm, declared that it was essential that these heavier locomotives should be delivered with the least possible delay. Time, he said, was the essence of the contract. Apparently he overlooked the fact that South Australians harvests had been handled for many years with the existing rolling-stock. I admit that the position was becoming more difficult, but we could have got along for another year or two. As a protectionist I intend to do what I can to assist in the building up of Australian industries. If we are not agreed on this issue, we should frankly say that we are revenue tariffists, and that Australia is in the same position as Great Britain. But our declared policy is protection, and I intend to vote for the increased duties in this schedule.
– Before the committee accepts the request submitted by the honorable senator, I wish to say a few words in reply to Senator Findley. I am aware of course that the Government is anxious to pass the schedule.
– We want to get the tariff through some time this year.
– There- is plenty of time. Even if we have to sit a few weeks extra, that time wil] be well spent if we succeed in removing even one injustice to any section of the community caused by the imposition of these high duties that so vitally effect primary production. Let me tell honorable senators that some people are looking to this branch of the legislature for justice in connexion with these duties, and I appeal to that other section, which has had so many favours from this Parliament to be satisfied with a fair measure of protection.
– Senator Findley asks not for justice, but for mercy for our secondary industries.
– Yes. I do not forget that Senator Findley did me an honour by making special reference to my remarks, and I wish to refresh his memory with regard to certain matters. He said just now that I described the Australian artisans as a set of loafers. I do not wish to withdraw anything that I said, but I may be permitted to explain that I was comparing the lot of our urban workers with that of the people living in our rural districts, and I stated that as the figures showed that they were not putting forth the same effort as people living in the country were, to that extent they could be regarded as loafers. I leave the matter there.
– We all know the honorable senator’s attitude towards our party.
– I go further, and remind Senator Findley that although he and other members of his party may not specifically charge urban industrialists with an insufficiency of effort as compared with their output in earlier years, they at all events acknowledge the truth of my charge. They admit that the output to-day is not comparable with the output of 15 or 20 years ago.
– I have never made any such statement.
– I am prepared to prove everything I say, and I remind the honorable senator that the party to which he belongs has smashed to smithereens a traditional plank of its platform, viz., day labour on government contracts. Is not that an admission that the individual effort of the Australian workman is not as great to-day as it was a few years ago? Day labour on government contracts used to be a prominent plank in
Labour’s platform, but that was when the “goods” were delivered, and when men did an honest day’s work. That plank, as I can show, if it has not been withdrawn, is violated every time latterday Labour members have anything to do with public policy.
– The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the item before the committee. A good deal of latitude has been permitted in the debate up .till now, and I find honora*ble senators are making secondreading speeches. I intend, for the future, to confine them strictly to the item before the committee.
– If Senator Lynch continues in this strain I shall have something more to say.
– Senator Reid, as a member of the Public Works Committee, is a living witness to my statement that the Labour party, for very good reasons, has abandoned that plank of its policy. If further evidence is wanted it is to be found in this demand for increased duties which, in my view, are rendered necessary by inefficiency. For this reason the case for increased duties rests on a false basis. It is evident to all observers that in our industrial enterprises we are getting short measure. If you will allow me, Mr. Chairman, I will point also to the fact that the Trades Hall in Perth, was built by contract labour.
– The honorable senator knows perfectly well that that has nothing whatever to do with the item before the committee.
– I turn then to page 136 of the Commonwealth Year-Book.
– Why not say something about locomotives?
– They are included in the reference I am about to make, as Senator Needham will learn if he studies the volume as he should. The figures in this fatal page, which should be read and studied much more than it is, are of supreme importance. They tell a story, not of progress, but of retrogression. Senator Barwell .has mentioned the matter in the course of this debate. These figures show that there has been a marked reduction in the rate of production per man in our secondary industries. Taking 1911 as the basic year, and allowing for the change in the commodity prices in the meantime, we find that there has been a decline of 10 per cent, from a loaded average of 1,000 in 1911 down to 893 for the year 1923-24. This suggests, of course, a lessened efficiency in one field of industrial activity.
– Chop that out !
– We all had to listen to Senator Findley a little while ago, talking with his tongue in his cheek about these tariff items. I am now putting the other side.
– I get sick of the honorable senator’s constant slandering of the Australian workman. According to him the working people of every other country, except Australia, are efficient.
– These figures prove conclusively that there has been a decline in production, so this plea for increased duties rests on a false basis. It is “up” to this chamber to do something to remove the cause. The only way I know of, and it cannot be regarded as completely effective, is to call attention to the position and challenge it. We are entitled to expect a protagonist like Senator Findley to state his case. I am stating mine, and I rest it on the authority of the Commonwealth Statistician. The figures which I have just quoted indicate that those engaged in our secondary industries are not putting the same energy into their work as are those connected with our primary industries. Therefore, they should not get additional protection from this Parliament. In this item, the Government is asking for a 40 per cent, duty on locomotives, notwithstanding that their manufacture in Australia has been going on for many years under a very much lower rate of duty. Senator McHugh’s references to my attitude in the debate on earlier tariffs “ cuts no ice.” If he will read my speeches further, he will see that I succeeded in getting the rates on mining machinery cut down. For what I did in that matter, 1 received the thanks of those engaged in mining in Western Australia and elsewhere. The honorable senator is merely directing attention to the fact that my attitude on fiscal matters has always been consistent. Do some honorable senators contend that the primary producers of Australia do not use the railways as a means of transporting their produce to market ? It is of vital importance that the wheatgrowers, wool-producers and dairymen should be able to dispose of their produce with the greatest possible expedition, and at the lowest possible cost. I have cited many cases in which those engaged in primary forms of endeavour are not assisted by protective duties, but, on the other hand, are involved in considerable expense in consequence of duties such as are proposed in this instance. How can the dairymen of Australia successfully compete against those in other parts of the world, particularly in Denmark, who are more”, favorably situated. The land in Australia, which can be regarded as the raw material of the dairymen, is much higher in price ‘ than it is in other countries. There is excellent dairying land in the Western District of Victoria and in the Northern Rivers District of New South Wales, both of which are served by railways. There, I venture to assert, land is sold at anything in the neighbourhood of £80 to £100 per acre; but dairying land in Denmark, a country with which our dairymen have to compete, is available at a much lower price. In response to a request concerning land values in Denmark, the Danish Consul has courteously supplied me with the following information : -
In regard to your question to-day about land in Denmark, I beg to state that” 15 acres is equivalent to the Danish measure 11 tender. I cannot state the price of good dairy land quite definitely, but I understand that it is sold at about £50 to £60 per tonder, which would be about £36 to £45 per acre.
That indicates the way in which the Australian dairymen are already handicapped. I am speaking on behalf of the dairymen in Western Australia, and particularly those in South Australia, Victoria and Queensland. In New South Wales and Victoria land suitable for dairying purposes is sold from £80 to £100 per acre.
– Some in the Northern Rivers District brings up to £130 per acre.
– That is so. Senator Findley should realize that an Australian dairy farmer’s produce has, in most cases, to be hauled to the seaboard by locomotives, for which service he has to pay, to enable it to be placed on the market. If he has to purchase land at £60 per acre, how can he stand up against the sturdy Danish farmers, who can acquire their land at about £40 per acre ? Surely it is unjust to penalize those engaged in primary production by imposing a duty of 40 per cent, on loco- motives. I can recall my boyhood experiences in Ireland, where my father rented land at £3 10s. to £5 an acre, which price, when multiplied by twenty, according to Lord Ashbourne’s theory, made its value £70 or £100 an acre.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
Question - That the request (Senator McLachlan’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- Last night I temporarily withdrew a request in relation to the proposed duties on road rollers. As the suggested amendment I propose would necessitate the insertion of a new item, I shall test the feeling of the committee by moving -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend paragraph 3 of sub-item
A by leaving outthe words “ Road rollers, n.e.i., including scarifier attachments.”
If the request is agreed to, I shall then move for the insertion of a new sub-item. I appeal to the committee to give the closest possible consideration to this subject in the interest of development by means of road construction throughout the whole Commonwealth. It is imperative that we should refrain from interfering with the efforts being made by the State Governments, assisted by the Com monwealth, to develop the country by constructing efficient and effective roads. I desire the proposed duty of 40 per cent. British preferential to be reduced to 27½ per cent, in the case of these, rollers.
– Is it common sense to impose the same duty on road rollers as on locomotives? Even a schoolgirl could tell that far more technical skill is required in constructing a locomotive than a road roller.
– These road rollers have locomotives attached.
– Why is that not stated? Later on we shall have to deal with electric fans, and machines and machinery and portable steam engines, on which a duty of 27½ per cent, is levied, but on road rollers the rate is 40 per cent. The Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) has explained, by interjection, that these are road rollers to which a locomotive is attached. Are we imposing a duty of 40 per cent, on an article in the construction of which as much technical skill is required as in making a wheel-barrow ?
– The road rollers to which the honorable senator is referring are under another item.
– Why is not that stated ?
– This sub-item applies to steam-driven or oil-driven rollers. The rollers which the honorable senator has in mind are included in item 161 of the tariff, which is not being altered, and which carries duties of 20 per cent. British, 25 per cent, intermediate, and 30 per cent, general.
– I see. If there is an engine attached to the roller the duty is 40 per cent. But what is a scarifier attachment ?
– It is a scarifier which is used for tearing up macadamized roads.
– Is there an engine attached to it?
– It is part of the roller, and can be seen in use daily in this city.
– If I ordered a scarifier, would I be told that there was an engiue attached to it ? If this sub-item really means a self-propelled scarifier attachment, the Government has adopted a clumsy method of expressing a simple matter. It should have been described as a self-propeiled scarifier attachment, and if it does not mean that I shall support Senator Payne’s request. The use of the word “ attachment “ means that it is attached to something else.
– Yes, the scarifier may be attached or detached.
– The very fact of its being an attachment signifies that it is not self-propelling.
– The power that propels the roller propels the scarifier.
– I know that a scarifier attached to a road-roller is used to tear up metal roads, but in no sense can a scarifier attachment mean something that contains an engine, or is self-propelling. It is merely inserted in this sub-item so that it may carry the same rate of duty as a road-roller which has its own propelling power. In these circumstances Senator Payne is quite justified in asking that the words should be removed to another item where it may enjoy a more moderate rate of duty.
.- Yesterday we had a long debate on the duty on road -making machinery. Now we are dealing with road rollers. There is no more important machine connected with road-making than the road roller. Good roads cannot be made without road rollers, and they ought to be obtainable at the cheapest possible price. A road roller, with a scarifier attachment, is one of the most useful things we have. It must be a composite affair. A Diesel engine or a steam engine is needed to drag the scarifier, and the weight of a roller is necessary so that the scarifier may dig into the metal on the road. In Australia, roads for the most part are built and maintained by comparatively small local bodies, each of which ought to have a road roller with a scarifier attached. The ordinary macadamised road wears into pot holes. Without a road roller, with a scarifier attachment, the municipality which undertakes the repairing of a road, can do nothing but tip metal or gravel into these pot holes, out of which, it is swished by the first motor car that comes along.
– Most of the small municipalities repair their roads in that way.
– That is so, and it accounts for many of the bad roads we have. Scores of roads do not require remetalling. All they need is to be torn up by a scarifier, levelled out again, and reconsolidated by watering and rolling. Every municipality should have a road roller and a scarifier to do this work. I have been connected with the building of hundreds of miles of roads in Tasmania which have never had a roller on them. One or two rollers are of very little use for the whole of the State of Tasmania. The trouble is that the small municipalities have not been able to afford to buy the proper rollers. I have been through the establishments of the local manufacturers. They turn out a splendid article, but I am confronted by the fact that the duty is to be raised by another 12½ per cent., and this will make rollers dearer, whereas I want them to be cheaper. I must support Senator Payne’s request,.which really amounts to a reduction of the duty.
– Are not rollers made in Australia ? There is nothing very difficult about making them.
– There is nothing difficult about making them, and I think probably three-fourths of those in use in Australia have been made here. That being so, I cannot see why the manufacturers cannot continue making them without an increased duty. We know perfectly well that any increase in duty is followed up in time by an increase in wages, or something else, which will compel the manufacturers to put up their price. I want the price of rollers to come down. The Government could do nothing better for the improvement of the roads in Australia than make road rollers as cheap as possible, and thus make their use more general.
– Does not the honor- able senator want to see rollers made in Australia ?
– I do. I want everything possible made in Australia. These rollers are already being made in the Commonwealth. Why cannot they be made without an increase in the duty, which will increase the price? As this is a class of machine I want to be available at as low a cost as possible, in order to get it into more general use, I shall vote against any increase in the duty.
.- I am assured that there will be no increase in the price of road rollers. The local manufacturers gave an assurance to the Tariff Board that if an increased duty was given, there would be no increase in their price. As a matter of fact, they said that, with an increased output, they would, as soon as practicable, bring about a reduction in price. That i3 exactly what has happened. The price of the McDonald engine, manufactured at Richmond, was £1,490 prior to the recent increase in duty.
– Was that a steam roller ?
– It is a superDiesel road roller, much more economical in its working than a steam roller. The present price is £1,375. At the time of the imposition of the duty, the price of the imported roller was £1,450. It is now selling at £1,350. The importers are not only paying an increased duty of £100, but have also cut down their price by £100. It is quite evident that previously they were profiteering to the extent of £200 a machine. The reduction in price has come about because of the greatly increased output of the local manufacturers, and in order to meet that competition and prevent themselves from going out of the market, the importers have reduced their commission and the makers abroad have taken smaller profit, in that way helping to undercut the local makers. Since the increased duty has been in operation, McDonald and Company have sold no less than 32 rollers. They have sold them to the following: -
– Are they all Diesel engines ?
– They are all super-Diesel engines, which give very much lower running costs than do the ordinary steam rollers.
– Has the honorable senator any information in regard to steam rollers ?
– The only representations made are by this one firm.
– They specialize in super-Diesel road-rollers.
– Yes. I understand that they have a splendid factory, employ a great number of men, and have a working week of 48 hours. I have pleasure in supporting the Government’s proposal .
.- I am glad that I submitted my amendment, since it has led to the discussion of a number of important points. Senator Lynch expressed surprise that the item did not refer to ordinary rollers; but I point out that “ rollers n.e.i.” include internal combustion engines. I am told that the price of an effective British steam-roller is £700. The duty on the last one imported amounted to £212, and the duty under the new tariff will be £308, an increase of almost £100.
– Judging by what has happened in the case of other rollers, they will probably come down in price as the result of this duty.
– The price quoted by Senator Elliott was £1,375.
– He quoted also a statement that, since the imposition of the higher duties, the price of the imported roller had been reduced by £100.
– I have pointed out that an effective steam roller, at the invoiced price of £700, has been landed in Australia under the 27^ per cent tariff at £912. Therefore the roller quoted by Senator Elliott will cost 50 per cent, more than an effective steam roller imported under the 1921 tariff.
– Is that a roller operated by steam.
– No; but surely it will not be suggested that every muni- cipality should be compelled to use a type of roller laid down by this Parliament.
– Yes, undoubtedly.
– Then are we to adopt the role of the autocrat 1
– That is exactly what is being done.
– Whether a steamroller or a roller having an internal combustion engine is the more effective and economical machine for the purpose is an open question. I have conferred with persons who use these machines, and I find that there is a wide difference of opinion among them.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that steam-rollers cannot be made in this country?
– No. I point out, however, that up to the end of the last financial year, only one Australian firm was engaged in the manufacture of steam road-rollers. At that date it had produced one, and had two or more in course of construction. That was the total output of the industry, I am told, and I have no reason to doubt the veracity of my informant.
– That is because all the States except Tasmania have uptodate machines. Tasmania adheres to the old-fashioned plant.
– That statement is incorrect. The machines referred to by Senator Elliott have only recently been placed on the market. In Western Australia the local governing authorities use imported steam-rollers.
– They are buying super-Diesels. They will not have steam rollers; only Tasmania buys them.
– Tasmania, as tourists admit, leads in regard to road construction in Australia, and yet the Minister suggests that it adopts obsolete methods.
– Its roads were made by convicts 100 years ago.
– I am referring to the roads constructed by the local governing authorities. The figures I have given should induce the committee to refrain from placing an additional burden upon those who desire to make the roads what they ought to be.
– I was hoping that Senator Payne would introduce some argument in support of his request; but he has concentrated his remarks upon the steam roller. My only object in rising is to say that Western Australia is using the very machine that Senator Payne has condemned. I refer to the super-Diesel oil engine. The Fremantle Tramways Board, too, has employed a similar machine for some time. The Burnie Council, in Tasmania, uses an Australiau road roller, although Senator Payne condemns it.
– I ask that Senator Needham be called upon to withdraw that statement. I did not condemn the Diesel or any other internal-combustion engine attached to road rollers.
– I willingly withdraw the remark ; but I consider that the honorable senator has made an indirect attack upon Australian-made machinery. He reminds me of the story of a man in his own State who objected to a certain railway being constructed there because it would mean that horses would be superseded. Any honorable senator who visits the Imperial Engine Works at Richmond, Victoria, will see super-Diesel road rollers being made by good Australian workmen. TheFerntree Gully Shire Council referring to these machines, states: -
The roller is doing excellent work, being used on a 9 and 10 per cent, grade. This is the first occasion on which a power-driven roller has succeeded in negotiating the narrow mountain road, although previous attempts have been made with, a steam roller. This Australian roller ‘is costing £1 0s. 6d. per day, as compared with £2 10s. per day, which is the cost of the other imported roller. 1 hope that the committee will reject Senator Payne’s request.
– Senator Needham hardly put the position, as stated by Senator Payne, fairly. There is no question as . to whether a super-Diesel roller is superior to a steam roller. The main point is that steam rollers are not being manufactured in Australia, or. if they are, then only on a limited scale. But the super-Diesel engine is manufactured here, and I believe it is a fine machine. It is not for this committee to compel anybody to use the super-Diesel engine exclusively. If the super-Diesel engine is all that it is claimed to be, we should give to this established Australian industry the protection necessary; but we should not penalize the users of steam engines, which are not manufactured commercially in Australia.
– Since the additional duty was imposed, the price of the imported article has been reduced by £100.
– But why should we penalize those who prefer to use steam engines ?
– Apparently, no one wishes to use them.
– That is not so. There are places in Australia where the question of fuel determines the kind of machine used. In some of our outback districts, timber for fuel is plentiful, and, consequently steam road rollers are more economical than are others. The ordinary steam engine employed in road construction is frequently used to drive a stone crusher.
– Cannot steam road rollers be made in Australia ?
– They are not being commercially manufactured here. I understand that the policy of the Government is to protect industries already established in Australia, but not to impose duties in respect of industries still to be established.
– Steam road rollers compete with oil-driven rollers.
– Why should they not compete? Is it the province of this committee to say that the people of Australia shall use only super-Diesel engines in road construction ?
– We are not. attempting to say that : but, we must place the same import duty on both machines.
– That is absolutely unfair. I shall assist the Government to give ample protection to the manufacturers of rollers driven by super-Diesel engines, which are made in Australia ; but I cannot understand why they should be coupled with steam road rollers, which, besides being preferable in some districts, arc not made in Australia. ‘ The road rollers used in Australia are, with very few exceptions, British made.
– That is not to say that they cannot be made here.
– The fact remains that they are not being made here. Moreover, no representations have been made by the Australian manufacturers of steam road rollers for this additional protection, although the makers of superDiesel engines have asked for it. The Minister is adopting an unfair attitude and unduly penalizing those who prefer the steam road roller.
– Not necessarily.
– Yes, because the . imported steam road roller has to bear the same duty as the super-Diesel engine.
– Would not the honorable senator obtain the best article 1
– In the cities, the super-Diesel roller is undoubtedly better; but in the outback districts, where timber for fuel is plentiful, the position is different. If the Government will separate the two items, I shall support the increased duty on super-Diesel engines, but not on steam road rollers.
Question - That the request (Senator Payne’s ) be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
.- I should like to know if the Minister has had any representations made to him concerning the heavy duties that will be imposed on large-sized internal combustion engines, which, I understand, are not made in Australia, if the item is passed as it stands. I have been advised that under this schedule all sizes of these engines are dutiable under tariff item 178 d, at 45 per cent. British. There have been numerous cases within the last year or two where purchasers of medium and large size internal combustion engines have been successful in obtaining a refund from the Customs when it has been pointed out that the engines are bought for primary or secondary industries, and are not obtainable locally. It therefore appears to be unreasonable to further increase the rate of duty on an engine which has in so many cases been admitted duty free. The necessary application under item 174 b, after the engines have been imported involves considerable delays, during which time the Customs Department withholds the increased amount of duty payable. In view of this, it is recommended that internal combustion engines of 50 horse power and over be included under tariff item 178 a. Has the Minister any objection to that being done?
– It is quite unnecessary to amend the item in the way suggested by the honorable senator in order to secure free admission of in ternal combustion engines which are not or cannot be made in Australia. That is being done already. Quite a number of engines of the description mentioned have been admitted free. As to the delay in passing through the Customs, that is entirely the fault of the importers, who do not make application until the engines are landed in Australia, or just before they are landed. Their proper course is to make the application when the order for the engine is placed, so that there will be ample time for the necessary inquiries to be made and the arrangements completed by the time the engines arrive in Australia.
.- Iu view of the assurance which has been given by the Minister, I shall not press my suggestion. I was under the impression that no application could be made until the engines had arrived in Australia. I am now informed by the Minister that an importer may, at the time of ordering any of these engines not made in Australia, make application for exemption from duty under item 174. If this is so, it appears that I have no case, and I am quite prepared to admit it.
– I direct the attention of honorable senators to sub-item c, which provides that steam condensers, cylindrical boilers under 6 feet external diameter, but not less than 4 ft. 6 in. external diameter, shall be dutiable at 35 per cent. British, 45 per cent, intermediate, and 55 per cent, general ; whereas cylindrical boilers 6 feet and over external diameter will pay duties of only 27J per cent.,
British, 35 per cent, intermediate, and 40 per cent, general This appears to be a complete inversion of protectionist principles as applied to other items. The other evening when Senator Findley was discussing men’s and boys’ caps, he told the committee that there should be a higher duty on men’s caps, presumably because they were men’s caps ; and in another sub-item, as the result of the Minister’s persuasion, the committee agreed to the imposition of higher duties on men’s coats, vests, and trousers, as compared with boys’ coats, vests and trousers. Under this item, however, the manufacturer of the smaller type, or the “ boy “ boiler, so to speak, is to enjoy higher protection than the manufacturer of the larger boiler.
– In the case of wearing apparel there is a fixed duty, whereas this is an ad valorem duty.
– But the principle and the reasoning are the same. Why should the manufacturer of the smaller type of boiler enjoy a higher protective duty ? These small boilers are used by small struggling concerns, especially mining companies with limited capital. Senator Graham will bear me out in this. He knows that on the Western Australian gold-fields, if a small mining company wishes to put in a plant it purchases what is known as the Cornish type of boiler, because that is the most economical way of commencing business. These small companies have to cut their coat according to their cloth. If they wish to install a power plant they must purchase the most economical one. Therefore, they install boilers of much less than 4ft. 6 in. in external diameter, because, as I have said, they are struggling concerns.
– Has not the honorable senator come to realize, during this debate, that small mining companies and other concerns apparently have no right to struggle?
– I have. As the debate on this tariff schedule progresses, I hardly know what to think sometimes, because it appears that all ideas as to the right application of principles have been abandoned. We are in astate of topsy-turvydom. This higher duty on the smaller type of boiler will throw the burden on people least able to bear it. Is that fair play? Even at this eleventh hour I appeal to the Minister to reduce the British duty to 27? per cent., and bring the tariff on the smaller type of boiler into line with the duties on the larger boilers. Let me appeal for support to Senator Grant, Senator McHugh, and Senator Barnes who, by the way, voted for a 40 per cent, duty on road rollers for the only apparent reason, that a red flag is carried in front of them.
– I shall be glad if the honorable senator will confine his remarks to the item before the committee.
– Yes, Mr. Chairman, but I feel that I am making converts. Honorable senators opposite have begun to think. There is always hope when they do that. They are in a brown study. Possibly they may be induced to change their views with regard to some of these tariff items. When next they appear before the electors they may be asked how they voted on Senator Lynch’s proposal. Unless they are with me now they will have to hang their heads, or else endeavour to explain their attitude. Therefore, as I have said, they are thinking. In the interests of the small operators - those men who have risen from the ranks, and I hope we shall always find them in increasing numbers in Australia - I ask for a reduction of the duty in the sub-item dealing with the smaller type of cylindrical boilers. The manufacturers of the larger boilers which, of course, are required by the wealthier concerns, appear to be well able to look after themselves. Their agents are to be found within the precincts of this building pleading for higher duties. I ask honorable senators opposite to deal gently with the smaller struggling concerns. I realize, of course, that being members of the chain gang, so to speak, they hardly dare express their own opinion on this item.
– I must ask the honorable senator not to make personal observations.
– I am looking for support from, honorable senators opsite.
– That is not the way to get it.
– The duties in subitem c are considerably higher than in sub-item b. With all humility I ask the committee to reduce them in the interests of the smaller operators. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item c, ad val., British, 27½ per cent.
– The rate of duty on small boilers is higher than on large ones because, in the case of small boilers, the cost of labour, in proportion to the total cost, is greater. Generally speaking, that is the principle upon which similar duties in the schedule have been based.
Question - That the request be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Questionso resolved in the negative.
SenatorOGDEN (Tasmania) [8.20].- Petrol engines, which are included in this item, are largely used in country districts for driving electric light plants, shearingmachines, and dairying equipment. I am informed that these engines are manufactured in Great Britain, the United States of America, and also Australia. Those of English manufacture are far superior, but, owing to their costbeing higher, the margin of preference between the duty on British engines and those imported under the general tariff rates is so reduced as to give undue preference to manufacturers of American machines.I am also informed that Aus- tralian-made petrol engines were produced aud sold to country users in large quantities under the 1921 tariff at a lower price than British engines. Under this proposal, British importations will be affected, American importations increased, the standard of countryequipment reduced, and the cost increased. I do not think that it is much use pressing these requests. Those who favour lower duties have been severely dealt with, but at the same time there is no reason why we should not continue to try to secure reductions which we believe are necessary. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item D, ad val., British, 27½ per cent.
Those who favour giving preference to Great Britain could support a request for. a reduction in duty to 27½ per cent., and at the same time provide ample protection to the local industry.
– The duties proposed under this item correspond with those under paragraph f of item 176, machines and machinery n.e.i., ad valorem, 45 per cent. British, 55 per cent, intermediate, and 60 per cent. general. Under the proposed duty the British preferential rate is increased by 2½ per cent, as compared with the previous tariff.
Question - That the request be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Question, so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
By omitting the whole of sub-item (b) and inserting in its stead the following subitem : - “ (b) Electric fittings consisting wholly or partly of metal, viz. : - Switches, fuses, and lightning arresters, u.e.i., ad val. - British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 45 per cent.; general, 50 per cent.
By omitting the whole of sub-item Id) (twice occurring) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item : - “ (d) (1) . . . Rectifiers, viz. : - (a)Up to and including 75 k.w., ad val. - British, 45 per cent.; intermediate, 55 per cent. ; general, 60 per cent.
N.E.I., ad val.- British, 40 per cent.; intermediate, 50 per cent.; general, 55 per cent.
Static transformers and induction coils for all purposes, unless otherwise expressly provided for ad val. - British, 35 per cent. ; intermediate, 45 per cent. ; general, 50 per cent.
– Up to the present those who favour a reduction in duties on certain items have not received much encouragement. The Government must he particularly happy, and the manufacturers will doubtless give a banquet. Nevertheless we shall persist in pressing our legitimate claims in the hope that this propaganda will some day bear fruit. We have had remarkable demonstrations of inconsistency in this chamber.
– I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the item before the committee.
– We are now dealing with electrical appliances, and as I pointed out in my second-reading speech, we should encourage the use of power in order to assist the development of electric power. By imposing high duties on electrical equipment we are increasing its cost, and consequently discouraging the use of electric power. I attempted to point out that, by the use of electrical power in America, the output of each workman was nearly double that of his fellow in Australia. Every thousand pounds spent in industries in America returns practically double the amount obtained in Australia, not because of the extra skill of the American workman, but because the Australian manufacturer has not yet gone in for the scientific application of machinery or for that organization which will enable his employee to compete successfully with his American competitor. I should like to see electrical appliances admitted into Australia under the rates of duty charged in progressive and prosperous New Zealand. That dominion permits appliances used for the generation or distribution of electricity to be admitted free; but in Australia we discourage the use of electrical power by charging high rates of duty on these appliances. If I am told that the manufacture of these appliances is a , great Australian industry my reply is that it employs about 3,600 persons, whose wages approximate . £620,000 per annum. In view of the fact that those who develop the power and use electrical appliances are compelled to pay just on £1,000,000 in Customs duties, I think it would pay us to pension off the electrical workers. Under this sub-item, switches, fuses, and lightning arresters are to be charged rates of duty as follows : British 35 . per cent., intermediate 45 per cent., and general 50 per cent. Some of the small switches are made in Australia, but most, of those required for high voltages are not manufactured commercially or successfully here. The same applies to fuses, and I am assured by the general manager of the hydro-electric department in Tasmania that he cannot rely on the local product, and purchases the whole of his equipment from overseas. There are very few lightning arresters made in Australia. As most of them are covered by patents, it is very little use attempting to manufacture them here. The old rates of duty were : British 27½ per cent., intermediate 35 per cent., and genera] 40 per cent.
– Does the honorable senator propose to remove those duties altogether ?
– I should have no chance of doing so. No matter what we should like to do, we have to bow to expediency. My proposal is to revert to the old rates of duty, and my purpose is to encourage the development and use of electrical power. Industries are not made by high tariffs. They are made by organization, skill, and the application of scientific and mechanical devices. We cannot expect the Australian workmen, poorly equipped with electrical power, to compete with his brother in America.
– If we do not give him a chance to do anything he will always be poorly equipped.
– An industry which has to be subsidized to the extent of a million pounds a year is unsound.
– Then why not propose to wipe out the protection altogether?
– I wish I could do so; but, realizing that I cannot, I content myself with moving -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, sub-item b, ad. nal. 27* per cent. British; 35 per cent, intermediate, and 40 per cent, general.
– The arguments used by Senator Ogden in support of his request are exactly the same as those which have been used in opposition to several items, already agreed to, bearing the same rates of duty as are proposed for these electrical appliances. I am sure that the majority of honorable senators will agree that the electrical industry should receive the same amount of protection as is afforded to other industries that come under the heading of metals and machinery. The manufacture of electrical appliances is an important branch of our engineering industries, and a great deal of money has been invested in it. Some of the best British electrical firms have recently commenced operations in Australia. In New South Wales, Payne and Ferguson have commenced in a large way, and are now in a position to turn out just as good an article as they did in Great Britain.
– Under what rates of duty did they commence operations here?
– It is true that many of our factories and industries were established under the lower rates of duty, but, as I have repeatedly reminded honororable senators, conditions have changed very much during the last few years. The overseas competition is now very much keener than it was. There is a bigger difference between costs of overseas manufacturers and those of Australian manufacturers than existed a few years ago. If we are to maintain our established industries and encourage the investment of more money in our factories, we must give them sufficient protection.
– The speech just delivered by Senator Ogden, in support of the proposal to reduce the duties on electrical appliances, is typical of dozens of others that ha.ve been delivered in this chamber during the last few days. If the honorable senator came out boldly and asked for the removal of the duty, one could understand him, but, when he suggests a rate of 27^ per cent., one can only regard it as being what the honorable senator thinks is a sufficiently low duty to impose.
– Move to make the item free, and I will support you.
– I am inclined to do so just to see what attitude the honorable senator will take up. I do not know to what extent electrical appliances are manufactured in Australia, but it appears to me that they can be commercially manufactured here.
– A lot of the appliances cannot be made here.
– I think the Minister will tell us that they can be made here.
– They are being made here, and those that cannot will be admitted free of duty under item 174.
– Several honorable senators have made disparaging remarks about the qualifications and skill of Australian workers. For instance, Senator Ogden has told us that the output of the Australian worker does not compare favorably with that of the American worker.
– I gave the reason for that.
– The reason is that the Australian workman has only H horse-power behind him, whereas the American workman has probably .about 5 horse-power behind him.
– The American has 4 horse-power behind him. I have given that reason two or three times over,
– It does not require a genius to realize that the output of a person who is working with efficient machinery will immeasurably exceed that of one who is working with obsolete machinery. I have no sympathy with those who shelter themselves behind the tariff and fail to bring their machinery up to date. That, if it exists, is a de- plorable state of affairs. But I emphatically protest against hour after hour being wasted by honorable senators who tell us that they are anxious to see duties reduced, but never get below a rate of 27$ per cent. If ever we have had a lot of bogus protectionists trying to make themselves understood, we have had such an exhibition to-night. No one is more delighted than I am when I see that honorable senators are realizing that our great and glorious policy of protection is not likely to bring about the millennium.
– I must ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the item.
– There is another phase of this question which, I think, ought to engage our attention. Something ought to be done to ensure that electrical appliances are standardized. It is exceedingly annoying when one gets a British part for a machine, another part American, and perhaps another part made in Australia, to find that they do not dove-tail. Again I say to Senator Ogden that it is useless to attempt to defeat the Ministry.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL (South Australia) [8.45]. - To a certain extent, I agree with Senator Grant. In order to be consistent, Senator Ogden should have moved to make the item free. This is not a question of whether a certain amount of protection is necessary, but whether the industry is one that ought to be protected. We should ask whether it would be a wasteful policy to protect it, or whether, seeing that the policy of the Government v is to protect secondary industries generally, it would be better to remove the duty. Efficiency and cheapness of production in other parts of the world have been brought about by the application of cheap power to industry more than by any other means, and if Australia is to compete with the rest of .the world, it must adopt up-to-date methods of manufacture. It would be better to allow these goods in free, even if the small industry engaged in their manufacture in Australia were to go to the wall. If Senator Ogden is prepared to ask leave to withdraw his amendment, I shall move to make the item free.
– I am prepared to do that.
– Has it been demonstrated to the honorable senator’s satisfaction that this is a wasteful industry that ought not to be protected?
– Common-sense will demonstrate it to the satisfaction of most people. I know that the United States of America leads the world in manufactures because of its application of cheap power to industry. I believe in reasonable protection; and while there are some industries that can wisely be assisted, there are others that it is undoubtedly wasteful to protect.
– The honorable senator has not shown that Australia cannot produce electrical appliances satisfactorily.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Of course it can; but the point is that it would be far better, in the interests of all other industries, that this particular industry should be sacrificed in order to make cheap power available. The Government, apparently, is ready to protect any industry that can be carried on in Australia under any circumstances or at any price.
– Not at any price.
– That is practically what the Government says, regardless of the consequences.
– That is a most extreme view to take.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.The Government’s policy is tending strongly in that direction. I certainly see no evidence of wise discrimination on the part of the Ministry. I heartily agree that, where it is wise to do so, industries should be protected; but in regard to the industry under consideration, protection would be wasteful.
– I have pleasure in asking for leave to withdraw my request.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator Sir Henry Barwell) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item b free.
– I feel confident that the committee will not accept Senator Barwell’s amendment. It would have a most disastrous effect upon Australian industry, because no manufacturer would feel safe. If an industry that had been carried on for some years under protection suddenly found that protection had been withdrawn, there would be a want of confidence on the part of people inclined to invest money in secondary industries, such as would be disastrous to the prosperity of the Commonwealth.
– The request by Senator Barwell is one of the most surprising that has been placed before the committee.
– One of the most sensible.
– I do not think so. It will be agreed that the future prosperity of this country depends very largely on the way in which we develop the resources that will give us a sufficient supply of electrical energy, and the way in which we use that energy when it lias been produced. If we are to depend entirely upon overseas manufactures for our machinery we shall be in an unenviable position. Senator Ogden seems to be under the impression that America is the country that will supply Australia with its requirements in the way of electrical appliances; but I wish to point out that the competition to be feared by Australian manufacturers does not come from the United States of America. One of the leading electrical manufacturers has stated that if it were not for the American tariff European manufacturers would be able to land their goods in San Francisco and undersell the American product. Manufacturers in the United States of America pay such a high wage that the competition to be feared does not come from that country, but from low-wage European countries. I can assure Senator Ogden that it is over two years since any order for electrical generating appliances has been sent to America from Australia.
– I can mention the case of an order sent from Tasmania for transformers.
– The honorable senator said that an order had been placed in America by Mr. Davis, the well-known consulting engineer of Hobart, for supplies of transformers, but inquiry shows that during the last three months Mr. Davis has ordered Australian transformers for three municipalities in Tasmania. Senator Ogden also referred to lightning arresters.
– They are not made in Australia.
– Yes; Messrs. Payne and Ferguson, of Sydney, manufacture them, and are capable of turning out all that are required in this country.
– But they are not purchased by electrical people.
– They certainly are. There are a number of things that are not known even in Tasmania.
– Tasmania has led the way in the development of electrical power.
– I realize that Tasmania has been most progressive in developing her hydro-electric works, but I can assure Senator Ogden that he has been misinformed regarding the manufacture of transformers in Australia. The price is lower than that for transformers imported from America. The countries from which we must expect competition are the older European countries where the wages are low. The electrical goods which come from Great Britain are true to label, as is always the case with British goods; but the appliances imported from some European countries are very unsatisfactory, and cannot be depended on. They do not give the power which they are supposed to give. They may be lower in price, but they are dearer in the long run. Electrical goods made in Australia are of the highest standard; they conform to all the requirements of experts; nothing better could be desired. Wherever they have been used they have given splendid results. This is an industry which ought to be protected. We cannot afford to be dependent on outside sources for our electrical supplies, but we should be prepared for contingencies. I hope that the Government’s proposals will be agreed to and an effective protection provided, not so much against goods from the United States of America, but against those from European countries where low wages are the rule.
.- I hesitate to support the request moved by Senator Barwell, although I am in sympathy with the sentiments which he and Senator Ogden have expressed. I believe that we should make electrical appliances as cheap as possible in order to encourage the- general use of power. But by granting a measure of protection, we Lave encouraged the establishment of these industries in Australia; and it hardly seems fair, that we should now remove that protection from those who have invested their money in this industry.
– Why perpetuate a wrong ?
– Those who have invested their capital in this industry have done so in good faith, believing that Australia’s general policy of protection will be continued, and it seems unfair to single out this one industry for special treatment at this stage. I am, however, opposed to increasing the duties under the old tariff. This industry was established, and it attained to the high standard of perfection referred to by Senator Duncan under the duties imposed by the 1921 tariff. There appears, therefore, to be no justification for increasing the duties. The arguments of Senator Duncan are really against increased duties. He told us, in effect, that the industry was so well established, and its products so satisfactory, that, were it not for the American duty, Australian-made electrical appliances could compete in the United States of America with those made there. To remove the duties entirely, and admit the goods free, would be unfair, unless compensation were offered to those who, in good faith, established the industry here. I should support an amendment which, in addition to repealing these duties, provided for payment of compensation to those concerned. Failing that, I shall reluctantly be compelled to oppose Senator Barwell’s request, although I desire that electrical appliances shall be made available at the lowest possible price.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL (South Australia) [9.7]. - I recognize the strength of the argument put forward by Senator H. Hays, and realize that if the request which I have moved were agreed to, a case for compensation would be made out. I moved my request, however, in order to show where I stand in regard to this matter. I have no hope that it will be agreed to by the committee. This is an industry which I feel should not be protected. That an error has been made in the past is no reason for our perpetuating it. I admit that those who have invested their money in this industry have done so believing that it will continue to be protected.
– When they started they were given no guarantee that the policy of protection would be continued.
– But it was implied.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.The fault was in protecting this industry in the first instance. By increasing the duty we shall merely perpetuate the blunder.
– I am not supporting the increased duty.
– Even to agree to a continuation of the duty imposed under the old tariff would be to perpetuate the original mistake. I was disinclined to vote for Senator Ogden’s request because I felt that this industry could well be sacrificed in the interests of all other industries; but I realize that should the duties be entirely removed, those who have invested their money in this industry would have a just claim for compensation.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, sub-item u, ad valorem 274 per cent. British, 35 per cent, intermediate, 40 per cent, general.
I point out to Senator Barwell that, while it is not always wise to attempt to achieve one’s end in one effort, the same result may sometimes be achieved gradually. If we can keep this duty within reasonable limits, it may be possible gradually to reduce it, and eventually to remove it entirely. In the meantime, those concerned in this industry might develop greater self-reliance.
– The honorable senator should preach that doctrine in Tasmania.
– Tasmania, with a population of 200,000 persons, has spent £3,500,000 in the development of electrical energy. No other State can show a similar record.
– We want to make it possible for that energy to be distributed cheaply.
– Yes. If it is not considered wise suddenly to abolish the duty, we should inform those engaged in this industry that they can expect no more from us, and that possibly they would do well to expect a good deal less. I hope that the committee will agree to my request.
– If Senate Ogden had searched for arguments in support of his request hecould not have obtained stronger support than he- received from the Minister, who said that this industry was already well established in New South Wales, where the factories were working at high pressure.
SenatorOgden. - They were established under the old tariff!.
– Yes. A dirty of 27½ per cent, was sufficient to induce people to invest their capital in this enterprise. What, therefore, is the justification for increasing that duty to 45 per cent. ? The Minister’s explanation was a. very lame one.. I can understand that. He has no need to make out a good case, because he knows that he has a good, following. He reminds me of a splendid stamp of racehorse that is not properly handicapped and, therefore, is not properly extended in a race. If further evidence be wanted in support of the request for reduced duties, it is to be found in the whole cluster of items agreed to, carrying British duties of 27½ per cent. Millions of pounds worth of appliances have been imported at that rate of duty, in the 1921 tariff, which, by the way, was described as a scientific tariff. Since this schedule, also, is described as scientific, we are justified in asking for a definition of the term. Under the 1921 tariff, a considerable amount of capital became available for investment in these manufacturing concerns. A large number of works were established in New’ South Wales. Senator Duncan cannot claim credit for that. I did my part by voting for duties that were likely to lead to the establishment of Australian industries, of which New South Wales, as I have stated, has had the lion’s share, notwithstanding that that State, in the earlier years of federation, sent six freetraders into this chamber.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in pursuing that line of argument.
– I am aware of that, Mr. Chairman, but I thought I would remind Senator Duncan of what I have done in that direction. Senator Duncan referred to the position in the United States of America. As far as I have been able to gather, no duty is levied in the United States of America on electrical appliances, but there is a duty of 20; per cent on lamp bulbs.
– There’ is no duty in New Zealand’ on electrical appliances-.
– Of course not. The United States of America, as we are all aware, is one of the principal manufacturers of electrical appliances. I support Senator Ogden’s request for reasons’ that have been furnished by the Minister.
Question! - That the request be agreed to - put. Thecommittee divided.
Ayes … … … 7
Noes … … … 16
Majority … … 9
Question so- resolved in the negative.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives he requested to make the duties’, sub-Hem (d) (2), ad val., British, 27½ per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general,, 40 per cent.
I submit this request because the electrical appliances covered by this sub-item are not commercially manufactured in Australia.
– Then they come in duty free.
– The Hydro-Electric Department in my State recently, put a transmission line through to the northwest coast towards Burnie. For this purpose, it purchased a considerable number of insulators and lightning arresters, and made application to the Customs Department for a remission of the duties^ on the ground’ that the articles were not commercially manufactured in Australia. The officials in the Customs Department admitted that they were not; but when the. matter waa submitted Do the Grown- . Law Department,, it ruled that they could not come in, under item H74, which) gives the Minister discretionary power to> admit free certain articles that, are not commercially manufactured in- Australia. As a result, the Hydro-Electric Department had’ to pay over £2’,000 in- Customs duties. That matter is still in dispute;, so; I shall not say more about it at this stage. I think that the department was< toM tha*, when the schedule was being amended, it would’ be- further considered’; but once the Customs Department gets1 its hands on money, that is generally the last of it. This is what the manager of the Hydro-Electric Department, who, T presume, knows his business,, says about the matter -
Item 179, Static Transformers. - The duty on transformers has been increased from 274 per cent. British, 35 per- cent, intermediate, and 40 per cent, general, to 35 per cent. British, 45 per cent, intermediate, and 50 per cent, general. It is high duties such as a/re being imposed on these transformers which keep up. the cost of power for secondary Industries in Australia. Many transformers are not commercially made in Australia.
– Many of them are being made in Australia.
– Possibly small transformers are being made here. On this subject, I quote the case of Mr. C. B. Davies, which was mentioned by Senator Duncan. Mr. Davies, as consulting engineer to the municipalities of the southern part of Tasmania, called tenders for transformers. Of the eight tenders received, only one- wats, from an Australian firm - the English Electrical Company of Australia, What will happen if we agree to this prohibitive duty?
– That company willhave the field to itself.
– Of course it will. Let us see what the position would be. Mr. Davies, referring to the eight tenders received, states -
The lowest tender was from the MetropolitanVickers Electrical Company of England, for transformers, which at that time were carrying a duty of 274 per cent. From the date of accepting the order, the duty went up to 35 per cent., and the net result of the whole transaction was that, after paying 35 per cent., the English tender was £697 14s. 2d., as against the Australian tender of £1,019, a difference of £321 5s. lOd. in favour of the English tell.der, which had paid duty of 35 per cent, and all charges from the Home Country to the Hobart wharf, approximately 46 per cent, cheaper.
After1 paying 35 per cent, duty its-, price was £321 5s. l’Od. cheaper than that of the local company. The Customs Department, in its desire to obtain revenue, was not satisfied, and in addition to the 35 per- cent, imposed’ a dumping duty, although only on© small firm in Australia was attempting to manufacture similar transformers. The dumping duty amounted to £105 19s, which had to be met by this unfortunate municipality, which brought the total1 cost of the transformers to £803 12 s. 2d… Even after this imposition the English tenderer was approximately 26J per cent. cheaper than that of the Australian, manufacturer, and’,, moreover, the users had the benefit of the greater experience of the British manufacturer This is the firm which Senator Duncan wishes the producers of power, and those who are developing this important industry, to support. The proposal is ridiculous. A further point in connexion with this little transaction is that the. invoice cost of the transformer landed in Hobart was £497 3s., which, if substracted from £803 12s. 2d., gives the amount collected in duty as £306 9s. 2dl. The council, in endeavouring to. develop the municipality, by distributing electrical power,, had to contribute £306 9s 2d. in order to protect an Australian manufacturer, but- was still unable to. give him) the order for the apparatus. Why a dumping duty of £105> 18s. should’ be imposed upon apparatus not made in Australia, is mare than I can. understand. Notwithstanding this, we have been informed by Senator Duncan that the local manufacturers are prepared to supply all orders. Tasmania has been the pioneer State in the matter of power development, and I think I am correct in saying that in respect of generation and distributing plant the company has been forced to purchase machinery outside Australia on which duty to the extent of £250,000 has been paid, in order to render a public service to the community. Notwithstanding this, the Customs officials are trying to hamper the industry in every way.
– The honorable senator is a protectionist, and therefore should not complain.
– I believe in reasonable protection, but this seems to be aoa attempt to give one firm a monopoly.
– If these transformers are not commercially manufactured in Australia they will be admitted duty free under a new item.
– The department has found difficulty in doing that.
– A new item has been inserted in this schedule.
– If the honorable senator will resume his seat, the Minister in charge of the bill will explain the position.
– The Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) should not become impatient, as I have not delayed the committee in the consideration of this schedule. The reply we often receive is that manufacturers will undertake the work if they receive sufficient orders, and it is upon such statements that the Customs officials act. It is not a fair proposition. The definition of “ commercially made in Australia “ gives the department discretionary power which is altogether too wide.
– I gave a comprehensive definition yesterday.
– I intend to press the request, as I believe there is every justification for action being taken in the direction I have indicated.
– Senator Ogden is mistaken when he says that one small company in Australia has a mono- , poly in the manufacture of static transformers, as there are four companies engaged in this business - two in Sydney and two in Melbourne.
– Only one company submitted a tender.
– As a result of the higher duties imposed under the present tariff, the business of these firms has, I am glad to say, extended in such a way that they have been able to reduce their prices.
– They have also forced others to reduce their prices.
– Yes , that is what invariably happens when local manufacturers are competing with overseas manufacturers. The action of the department in connexion with the request for the remission of duty on static transformers was due to the advice received from the Crown Solicitor, who said, after examination, that as static transformers are not machines they cannot be dealt with under item 174. To overcome the diffi culty, a new item, 415 a has been inserted under which static transformers will be admitted free if they, are not commercially manufactured in Australia.
– Can the hydroelectric authorities receive a refund of duty under the new item?
– That item, of course, was not in operation at the time the transaction took place, and it is, I think, rather doubtful whether it can be made retrospective. It will, however, apply in the future.
– Senator Ogden is entirely mistaken in his reference to the supply of static transformers by Australian manufacturers. I have before me four sets of actual quotations for Australian and imported transformers. One set of quotations is for transformers required by the Sydney City Council, and the other for the New South Wales Railway Department, which are not small undertakings. In the first instance, one Australian tender was received, and twelve were received from foreign firms.
– There was only one local tender.
– Yes, but the quotations to which I have referred were for big work. The Australian tender was £12,855, which was the lowest tender by over £1,000; and the tenders from foreign manufacturers ranged up to over £25,000. Those offers were submitted in May, 1926. The second instance was m connexion with tenders which closed in December, 1925, for transformers required by the New South Wales railways. The Australian tender was £13,027, again the lowest, or £2,500 lower than the next lowest tender, which was from a foreign manufacturer.
– How many transformers were required ?
– Not many, but they were very large. The Sydney City Council has several large transformers, larger perhaps than those in any part of Australia, with the exception, perhaps, of the transformers used by the hydroelectric works in Tasmania. In the next instance, tenders were called in January, 1926, when eight offers were received. The lowest tender submitted was £1,043, again by an Australian firm; whereas the highest, which was from a foreign manufacturer, amounted to £1,535. The fourth case I wish to quote is one in which tenders were called in September, 1925, when the lowest tender, of £440, was submitted by an Australian firm, and the highest, £771, by a foreign competitor. From these figures, it will be seen that the arguments put forward by Senator Ogden cannot be substantiated. In 1920, when a large Australian customer invited prices for a certain size of electrical transformers, the lowest overseas price was over £1,000; but an Australian manufacturer, tendering for the first time, secured the order at £949. The overseas manufacturers kept on cutting their prices until the same customer was quoted £300 for the same transformer under ‘the same conditions. In other words, foreign prices fell by 70 per cent, when the Australian manufacturer came into the market. It is good business from Australia’s view-point, to impose these duties, and the Government is doing the right, thing in adequately protecting Australian industries so that they may successfully compete against foreign manufacturers.
– In pointing out that the electrical industry has been established in Australia and has so prospered that it can compete successfully with overseas competitors in the manufacture of transformers, Senator Duncan has really’ used an argument against the Government’s proposal to increase the rates of duty. The industry has prospered to the extent pointed out by the honorable senator under the 1921 tariff.
– The European manufacturers are just coming into the market, and they are prepared to do anything.
– But the honorable senator has just shown us that the Australian manufacturers have been able to compete successfully against all foreign competition.
– Yes; under the new tariff.
– The honorable senator’ did not Say that the tenders to which he referred had been called since the new tariff had come into operation.
– The quotations I mentioned were under the new tariff.
– The whole of the honorable senator’s argument was in favour of retaining the old rates of duty, and certainly did not justify any increase. In fact, no argument has been advanced to justify any increase, particularly when it is realized that the industry has been successfully established under the lower rates of duty. In those circumstances, an increase of duties is only putting a heavier burden on the consumers.
– The honorable senator has said that in regard to every proposal to afford protection to an Australian industry.
– I do not think the Minister is right in saying that. As a matter of fact, a few moments ago I supported the Government in opposition to Senator Barwell.
– Senator Barwell’s proposal was to reduce a duty.
– Quite so; but I am to be the judge of my own conduct in this chamber.
– The honorable senator was complaining about my conduct.
– I do not know that I was. It is not usual for a Minister to quibble over these little things. In any case, Senator Crawford has had a very successful run with his bill, and victors can always afford to be a little generous to others. A Minister who has had fairly generous support from the chamber should allow another honorable senator who speaks occasionally in opposition to the Government’s proposals to proceed, and should not cavil at a little criticism. Perhaps when he has had a little more experience as a Minister” in charge of a bill, Senator Crawford will do as other. Ministers do; he will have a little more patience with those who offer a few observations that they think are necessary.
Item agreed to.
By adding a now sub-item (f), as follows: - “” (f) N.E.I. not included under item 192, ad val., British, 274 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.”
– In pursuance of an intention which I notified earlier, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to insert after sub-item (f) the following new sub-item: - “ (g) Head phones, ad val.,British, free; intermediate, 55 per cent.;, general, 55 per cent.”
Under the 1921 tariff, loud speakers, which form the reproducing unit of the more expensive wireless receiving sets are admitted from Great Britain free, and pay a duty of 10 per cent, if imported from elsewhere, whereas head phones, which form the reproducing unit of inexpensive wireless sets, pay duty as follows: - British, 40 per cent.; foreign, 55 per cent. There is nothing in which the people are more keenly interested to-day than wireless, but it is impossible to have a receiving set without head phones or a loud speaker. I do not propose to refer to loud speakers, but there is an everincreasing demand for head phones, which, I am informed, are not made in the Commonwealth. I do not think it is the intention of the Government to impose duties of a revenue character - as a matter of fact, it is declared to be a protectionist Government - and it is with a desire to assist it in carrying out its policy that I submit this request.
– I cannot accept the amendment. As a matter of fact, these head-phones are being manufactured in Australia at the present time, and would now be on the market in considerable quantities, but for the fact that vendors of head-phones are overstocked. This is a decidedly retrograde proposal. The manufacturers have already gone to considerable expense in procuring dies and moulds, and honorable senators generally will agree that this is a class of manufacture that should be encouraged. I am informed that the Australian-made head-phone is a superior article and one that is certain to give satisfaction.
Item agreed to.
By omitting the whole of sub-item (aa) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item : - (aa) Alternating current recording watthour meters, each British 10s., in,termediate 12s. 6d., general 15s.; or ad valorem, British 35 per cent., intermediate 40 per cent., general 45 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
– I should like the Minister to explain the reason for the departure from the existing tariff in the duties proposed to be levied on alternating current recording watt-hour meters. Are these meters made in sufficient quantities to meet the commercial demand in Australia ?
– The meters covered by this item are used to record the quantity of current used by the consumer. Prior to September, 1922, they were admitted free from the “United Kingdom, and at a duty of 15 per cent. In September, 1922, the duty was raised to 35 per cent. British, 40 per cent, intermediate, and 45 per cent, general, for the protection of the local industry for their manufacture, then recently established in Australia. This item supplies a striking example of the effect of the establishment of an industry on the price to the consumer of the article it manufactures. In 1922, although they were admitted from Britain free and from elsewhere at a duty of 15 per cent., the price, of certain of these meters was £2 5s. In 1924 and 1925, in spite of the imposition of duties of 35 per cent, 40 per cent., and ,45 per cent., the price of the same meters fell to £1 7s. 6d. The reduction in cost of production in England and in overseas countries was much greater than in Australia. The cost of production in England was only half the cost in Australia. The lower cost in England is. accounted for by mass production and the lower rate of wages paid in that country. This forced the price of the locally-made meter down to a figure which represented little more than the cost of production. The local manufacturers, of whom there are now two, are dependent upon the manufacture of these meters for the continuance of their industry. The larger concern, which employed from 300 to 400 hands, had to discharge a number of employees, and the number of employees in the other concern was reduced, to fifteen or sixteen. The annual requirements are estimated at from 110,000 to 120,000 of these meters, valued at £150,000. There is, therefore, scope for a very important industry to meet local requirements, lt is estimated that one of the manufacturing firms can turn out 3,000 and the other 800 of these meters per week, and so the requirements of the Commonwealth can be locally supplied. The Sydney Municipal Council has absorbed 100,000 of the locallymanufactured meters, and I am informed that their quality is -equal to that of the imported article.
.– The Minister’s explanation is satisfactory up to a certain point. I understood, some time ago, that the ordinary house meters were being commercially manufactured in Australia and, on the whole, were giving satisfaction. Every householder who has to pay rent for a meter is aware that soon after the inauguration of the industry for their manufacture in Australia local authorities put up the rent of these meters by 50 per cent., on the ground that the meters were costing them more money. Perhaps no one should cavil at that; but the- point I want to make is that, according to information I have received from the manager of an electrical organization in Tasmania-, the increased price of meters tends to increase the cost of power supplied to secondary industries. 1 claimno technical knowledge of this matter, but according to my information there would appear to be two kinds of meters covered by the item, one of which is commercially supplied by an Australian company whilst the other is not.
– If that is so, those that are not manufactured in Australia earn be admitted duty free under item 415 a.
Item agreed to.
Item 182 -
By omitting the whole item, twice occurring and inserting in its stead the following item : - 182. Bolts, Nuts, Rivets, and Metal Washers n.e.i.; Screws with nuts or for use with nuts; engineers’ Set Screws, ad val, British 35 per cent, intermediate 45 per cent., general 50 per cent.
– The increase proposed in the duties on this item amounts to about 7½ per cent, in each column of the tariff. I ask the Minister to review the item. These simple requirements are bearing a wholly unnecessary tax. They are turned out like sausages. No skill is required in their manufacture. Immediately the machine is set for the production of one of these every-day necessities in every walk of life the process of its manufacture goes on continuously. In view of the special circumstances of the case, I trust that the Government will agree to revert to the old rates of duty. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty 27½ per cent. British.
SenatorCRAWFORD (Queensland- Honorary Minister) [10.5]-. - I .cannot accept the request-. The bolts- covered by this item are not forged, but are cut from solid steel. A number- of Australian films have installed’ the latest equipment to- enable’ them to carry on (his particular industry, but ‘ with the duty under the previous tariff they are unable- to compete- against manufacturers abroad1. This fs’ shown by the fact that in 1923-24 these- articles were- imported to the value of £323,0Q0v which was an increase on the importations of previous1 years. Wages and costs of material in other countries have decreased, whereas in Australia they have increased’.
– That is a neverending excuse.
SenatorCRAWFORD.- Not necessarily. Australian manufacturers have to meet increased costs, and it is necessary to afford them increased protection.
Question - That the request be agreed to - put… The committee divided.
Majority … . . 12 ‘
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 185 (Screws for wood not elsewhere specified).
– This item has been free, so far as British manufactures are concerned, but it is now proposed- to make the British preferential duty 27½ per cent.
– Nettlefold’s, the largest screw manufacturers in the world, have commenced operations here, and have asked for this duty. They have put up a big factory at Sunshine.
– Will the Minister be able, to show that the factory is supplying the whole of the requirements of Australia ?
– It is not yet doing that. One cannot set a factory in full swing by touching a button.
– I have understood from the Minister that where a commodity is not being manufactured commercially the deferred tariff is imposed, and is not put into operation until the Minister is satisfied that the factory is supplying a reasonable proportion of the requirements of the country.
– The first unit of the factory is in operation. The company intends to double its output in the course of a short time, and then increase it until it is able fully to meet Australian requirements.
– If the output of the factory is only 10 per cent, of those requirements the duty cannot fairly be imposed. If the output is 50 per cent, of the requirements of Australia, I am prepared to support the duty, but if it is only an infinitesimal part of our requirements, I regard the duty as an additional burden on those who build homes of their own. Every article used in building upon which a duty is collected increases the cost of building.
– I am informed that the output of the factory is about 40 per cent, of the requirements of Australia, and that it is steadily increasing.
– That being so, I am prepared to give way on the other 10 per cent.
Item agreed to.
Items 186, 189, 200, 202, 206, 208, 223, and. 228 agreed to.
Item 229 (Residual oil and petroleum) -
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to insert after sub-item (B) the words: -
By omitting the whole of sub-item (h) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: -
(1) Vegetable Oils, Edible, n.e.i., including Salad, Cooking, and Fish-frying Oils, per gallon, British2s., preferential 2s.6d., general 3s.
This request is to make provision for admission under departmental by-laws of olive oil for use in the production of dried fruits in Australia, or for other purposes as prescribed by departmental by-laws. The matter has been fully inquired into by the Tariff Board at a public inquiry, and the board reports that no detriment will accrue to the Australian olive oil producing industry by this action. I would remind honorable senators that it is within the province of the Minister for Trade and Customs to cancel the by-law should the olive oil industry in Australia at any future time be able to furnish adequate supplies for the dried fruits industry. As honorable senators know, the dried fruits industry of Australia has had a hard fight, and if the Government can, in any legitimate way, without detriment to other primary or secondary industries, help that industry, it is perfectly justified in doing so, especially when it is remembered that a large proportion of the crop must be disposed of in overseas countries in competition with the products of Greece and the United States of America.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item 231 agreed to.
Senate adjourned at’ 10.24 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 June 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1926/19260609_senate_10_113/>.