10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented:
Australian Forestry School: Report of InspectorGeneral of Forests and Acting Principal, for the year 1927.
Ordered to be printed.
Postmaster-General’s Department - Seventeenth Annual Report, 1920-27.
Audit Act - Copy of Order in Council by His Excellency the Governor-General dealing with suggestions of the AuditorGeneral regarding Commonwealth accounts.
Federal Capital - Report of the Federal Capital Commission to the Minister for Home and Territories for the quarter ended 31st December,1927.
Northern Australia Act - North Australia Commission -First Annual Report, period ended 30th June, 1927.
Directors’ Fees, Salaries and Expenses - Furniture
– I ask the Leader of the Senate if he has yet been furnished with replies to questions which I asked some time ago, as to the salaries, fees and expenses paid to the directors of the Commonwealth Bank for the year 1926-27 ?
– On the 9th December, 1927, Senator Needham asked the following question : -
What was the total amount paid to the directors of the Commonwealth Bank by way of salary, fees, travelling expenses, &c, for the year 1920-27?
The honorable senator was then informed that the information was not available in the Treasury, but that his question’ would be brought under the notice of the Bank. In accordance with this promise, the question was brought under the notice of the Bank, which advises as follows: -
The fees paid to the members of the board are prescribed by Act of Parliament, and such fees and no others are paid by the Rank. On the question of travelling expenses, a scale has been fixed on a basis which, in the opinion of the Bank, is reasonable to cover the actual cost to directors, and as this is a matter of internal administration of a purely domestic character, the information cannot be made available.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The honorable the Treasurer has supplied the following answers : -
Motor Cars and Trucks
asked the Min ister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained and the honorable senator will be furnished with a reply as soon as possible.
In committee (Consideration resumed from 8th March, vide page 3690).
Division IV. - Agricultural Products and Groceries.
By omitting the whole item and inserting in its stead the following item: -
The articles specified in paragraph (1)of sub-item (b) being the produce of any part of the British Empire, shall be admitted under the British preferential tariff.
– I intend to submit a request in respect of this sub-item, the effect of which will be to remove the differentiation now proposed. In my second reading speech I referred to the advisability of giving careful consideration to the effects of these proposed duties on our commerce with those countries with which we may expect to develop important trade relations. One of the markets which Australia might legitimately hope to secure is materially affected by this item. For many years we have been doing our best to antagonize the people living in the Dutch East Indies - chiefly in Java - which, by the way, is a very inadequate description of the fertile islands to which I refer. These proposed duties will particularly affect the business of the State which I assist to represent in this chamber. There appears to be a good deal of misunderstanding on the part of honorable senators and the general public, or, at all events, those people who have never visited Java, concerning the immense possibilities of that market. I do not wish to pose in any way as an opponent of the White Australia policy. I strongly approve of it, and there is nothing I know of in the general principles underlying that policy to prevent our taking full advantage of a market which providence has placed at our’ doors, though in doing so we shall be trading with people whom we rightly refuse to admit to Australia. Java is peopled not, as many think, by a governing race of tyrants and a subject race of slaves. It is inhabited by millions of what I might term peasant proprietors holding the land under one title or another and cultivating it intelligently. In them the spirit of independence has been developed to an extraordinary and laudable extent. I can assure honorable senators that an immense amount of money is waiting to be spent in that country. Australia should seek to develop that market. The people there are ready to buy our flour, butter, bacon, cheese, condensed milk, biscuits, preserved meats and fruits, to mention only a few Australian products that should be readily saleable in the Dutch East Indies. The fruits of the temperate zone, I may add, are very much appreciated in tropical countries. There is also a good market in South Eastern Asia for second class leather, the disposal of which’ has always been the despair of Australian tanners. Unfortunately, as I have said, we have always done our best to antagonize the people of the Dutch East Indies. Many years ago we imposed an embargo on sugar. When in those parts in 1917 I made inquiries on behalf of the Govern- ment of Western Australia as to the trade possibilities between that State and the Malay Peninsula. Mill-white sugar was then obtainable in Java at £11 a ton but owing to the embargo we could get none of it.
– We bought a lot of sugar from Java during the war.
– And in 1918 we had to pay £80 a ton for it.
– During my visit to those islands I ascertained that the trade possibilities were practically illimitable; but as the State Government which asked me . to make the investigations went out of office at about that time, nothing was done to develop it. I think it should be possible to build up an important trade between the western portion of the Commonwealth and the Malay Peninsula. The people there are becoming more accustomed to our products, and are learning to consume flour instead of certain native commodities. Unfortunately, we have neglected our opportunity, but I hope that it has not been altogether lost. It may be news to some honorable senators that certain interests have for some years been importing the worst class of American flour, which is shipped in barrels and then put up into packets, which are a successful imitation of those of certain prominent Australian firms. This American flour, disguised in that way, is being sold as Australian flour, so that not only are we losing trade but we are also losing our reputation. There appears to be an impression in some quarters that almost anything is good enough for the Oriental races. As a matter of fact, they have discriminating tastes, and are rather particular as to the class of goods which they buy. Chinese merchants deeply resent and never forget or forgive a trader who imposes upon them in any way. They expect to be able to buy articles of good quality, and also to be sure of regularity in supplies. For these reasons, and in order, if possible, to put an end to what appears to be a systematic policy of antagonizing the people of the Dutch East Indies, I suggest that this differentiation in the duties be removed. We do not grow coffee in Australia, and I do not see the need for this preference, especially in view of the fact that in an earlier item we imposed under the British preferential tariff a duty of 6d. a lb. on butter, which is not imported from Great Britain. Let us compensate these people by allowing them to sell to Australia a. commodity which we cannot readily obtain elsewhere, and which is greatly appreciated and extensively used by the Australian people. I was rather amused at the statement in the report which the Minister read, to the effect that after many years the decrease in trade with Java amounted to only a few thousand pounds. Let me remind the Minister that if circumstances had permitted it, and if antagonism had not been .shown by Australia, instead of there being a decrease, the trade would have quadrupled.
– Last year’s exports of condensed milk fell off by £300,000.
– Yes, and that will continue. “We have to remember that as duties are increased, we shall find that we are not the only pebble on the beach; we have competitors who are eager to get the business. It should be our aim to get an adequate share of the trade with other countries. In order to test the feeling of the committee, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties on pub-item (u), paragraph 1, per lb., British, 3d.; intermediate, 3d.
– I understand that it is Senator Kingsmill’s desire to dispense with any discrimination between Empire and foreign grown coffee. If this proposal is agreed to certain consequential amendments will be necessary. I stated yesterday, that discrimination has been shown because the Government recognizes the growing importance of some of our British Crown Colonies in which coffee is produced, and towards which it is desirable that a gesture of this character should be made. This has been done in the hope that it may lead to closer commercial relations and assist in establishing reciprocal preferences which would be of advantage to the Commonwealth, and to those countries with which such preferential arrangements may be made. In deference to what appears to be a strong feeling in favour of the proposal submitted by Senator Kingsmill, I may say that the Government do not intend to divide the” committee on the request.
– In view of what the honorable member (Senator Crawford) has said, I do not propose to take up the time of the committee beyond making a suggestion which may facilitate matters. Instead of acting in the direction suggested by Senator Kingsmill, I think we should for the moment be content to strike out the paragraph in which discrimination is provided for. The net effect of this .would undoubtedly be that all coffee would be dutiable under the general tariff.
– It would not.
– I am sure that it would. The intermediate tariff can be used only in connexion with imports from countries with which we have entered into a treaty, and as we do not import coffee from Britain the effect of striking out the paragraph would be that all coffee would be dutiable under the general tariff, There would then be’ no discrimination against any country. The necessary adjustment of duties could be made in another place and the schedule then returned to this chamber for its approval. I therefore suggest for the Government’s consideration, that the position would be met for the moment by striking out the paragraph at the end of sub-item b.
– Why not do both?
– I do not know if the Government will have sufficient time to study the duties and consider the consequential amendments which will be necessary. The Government may decide that it may be better to admit all coffee free of duty; but I hardly think that likely.
– The Government does not intend to oppose the request.
– Then I have nothing more to say, as I am in favour of the proposal.
– It was stated in another place that if this duty were not imposed it would mean a loss in revenue of about £15,000 a year. The Government has reduced certain duties, and in order to balance the position, has provided for the imposition of others. If the request is agreed to, the committee will be increasing the duties above those which the Government propose.
– That is not so.
– The duty under the general tariff of 3d. per pound would be payable on coffee imported from Java and India.
– We are not amending the general tariff.
– The paragraph to which reference has been made, provides that the coffee specified in paragraph (1) of sub-item (b), being the produce of any part of the British Empire, shall be admitted under the British preferential tariff. The British preferential tariff is free, and under the Government’s proposals coffee from India will be admitted free of duty.
– “ British “ means Great Britain.
– The British preferential tariff covers only the United Kingdom.
– Yes, but the general tariff will include Java and India, and will not apply to the United Kingdom. According to the footnote to sub-item (b), the articles specified in paragraph (1), being the produce of any part of the British Empire, which includes India, shall be admitted under the British preferential tariff. The Government’s proposal is that coffee from India shall be admitted free of duty, and the request which some honorable senators do not seem to fully understand, provides that it shall be dutiable at 3d. per pound.
– I think every one understands that.
– I am opposed to it. I would prefer to allow all coffee to come in free. I am opposed to discrimination against Java, a country with which we are doing business. It would be far better to allow all coffee to come in duty free.
– I hope that the Government will agree to the request and thus avoid discrimination against Java. I wish to show honorable senators the importance of our export trade with the Dutch East Indies. The values of some of our exports to that country last year were : -
The total amounted to £2,000,000.
– It ought to be four times that amount.
– I agree that there is room for a considerable expansion. I have been puzzled by the very serious decline in the value of our exports of preserved milk. In the year before last they were valued at £451,000. There must be some reason for the falling off. If we were to discriminate against the Dutch East Indies as the schedule proposes, there would be a grave danger of our exports to that country declining, particularly in regard to flour, butter and preserved milk, which are very important items.
– When the schedule was passed by another place it was viewed with alarm in Queensland. At a largely attended meeting of the Rockhampton Chamber of Commerce which was held on the 15th December last, a unanimous protest was made, and Queensland senators were asked to do what they could to have the former position restored. The proposed preferential treatment means a differentiation against the Dutch East Indies to the extent of 50 per cent. That is sufficient to cause the complete stoppage of our importations of coffee from that country.
– And a corresponding resentment.
– Indian coffee is dearer than that which is imported from the Dutch East Indies. Therefore the Australian consumer would have imposed upon him an additional tax. The reply of the Dutch East Indies would inevitably be the withdrawal of their open-door policy. I do not think we can afford to take the risk. Senator Guthrie has referred to the value of the trade which we do with them. At one time Holland supplied 55 per cent. and Australia 44 per cent. of their requirements of butter. The figures for 1926 show that Holland in that year exported toits dominions only 61/2 per cent. of its requirements of that commodity, while Australia supplied 93 per cent. I understand that the quality of butter which we send there cannot be exported to London. That is an advantage which cannot be lightly foregone. Our imports of coffee in 1925-26 totalled 3,750,000 lb., of which the Dutch East Indies supplied 2,062,220 lb., and India 809,160. Our exports to the Dutch East Indies in 1926 were as follow : -
Our total trade, according to the latest figures that I have, amounts to £6,209,694, comprising imports £4,607,681 and exports £1,602,0.13.
– The exports last year were valued at over £2,000,000.
– An aspect of the matter that may appeal to honorable senators opposite is that many secondary commodities which might not otherwise find a market are being sold to the Dutch East Indies. I am pleased that the Government is willing to restore the position to what it was formerly.
Request agreed to.
– The duty on raw and kiln dried coffee will be the same as that on roasted or ground coffee in liquid form or mixed with milk or other substance if the House of Representatives agrees to our request to make the duty on the former, both British preferential and intermediate 3d. per lb. I, therefore, move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties in sub-item (b), paragraph 2, per lb. British, 6d.; intermediate 6d.
Request agreed to.
Requests (by Senator Crawford) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties in sub-item (b), paragraph 3, per lb. British,6d.; intermediate, 6d.
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the words “The articles specified in paragraph 1 of sub-item (b), being the produce of any part of the British Empire, shall be admitted under the British Preferential Tariff.”
Item, subject to requests, agreed to. Items 83, 85 and 101 agreed to.
Division V. - Textiles, Felts and Furs, and Manufactures thereof, and ATTIRE
Item 105. (Piece Goods).
.- It is proposed that, in sub-item (a.a.), the duties on piece-goods, knitted, in tubular form or otherwise, of cotton, silk or containing silk, artificial silk or containing artificial silk, or being an admixture of wool with other fibres, shall be as follow : -
Will the Minister explain the effect that the proposed new duties will have in view of the fact that alternative rates are proposed ? We should be informed as to how a flat rate of 2s. 6d. per lb. would operate in comparison with an ad valorem duty of 30 per cent.
– The rates referred to by the honorable senator apply to tubular knitted goods which have been coming into Australia at low prices from cheap-labour countries and underselling the Australian product, with most serious results to manufacturers and employees in that particular industry. The application of a duty per lb. in the case of these very cheap goods will provide effective protection for the Australian industry.
– Can the Minister state the value per lb. of the different qualities of this material?
– I understand that, in the case of cotton goods, it is worth about 2s. per lb. Of course, that is a cheap line, and its introduction is having a most disastrous effect on a number of local factories, which give much employment and produce an article that was formerly finding a ready sale at reasonable prices.
Lately, however, similar goods have been coming in from Asiatic countries, and, even with the ad valorem duty, have been sold at a price much below the cost of production in Australia.
– I thank the Minister for the information he has supplied ; but it is vital that honorable senators should thoroughly understand the. position if they are to cast an intelligent vote for or against the proposed duties. The information given by the Minister is somewhat scanty. He said that the value of low-priced grades of this material was 2s. per lb. The proposed . general tariff is 50 per cent, and the alternative duty a flat rate of 4s. per lb. Honorable senators will thus see that the 50 per cent, ad valorem tariff will be supplanted by a 200 per cent, tariff on that particular grade of material.
– Does the honorable senator think that the duty is insufficient? If so, I shall support him in any effort he may make to have it increased.
– I have no doubt that, if the tariff amounted to 1,000 per cent., it would meet with the honorable senator’s approval; but I am trying to conserve the interests of his own constituents. It appears that, with regard to several items, persons who are compelled to buy lower-priced articles will be penalised much more heavily than wealthy individuals who can afford to purchase higher grades of goods. I do not intend to oppose the item, because I realize that that would be futile. However, I think that the committee is entitled to further information to justify the proposal for a general tariff equivalent to 200 per cent.
– Ii> 1924- 1925 the imports from the United Kingdom of knitted cotton piece-goods in tubular form amounted in value to £88,665, and from Japan £23,555, making a total of £112,220. In 1925-1926 the imports from the United Kingdom were £90,531, and from other countries, £80,091, a total of £170,622. In 1926- 1927 the imports from the United Kingdom totalled £93,345, and from other countries £157,554. The imports under the heading “Other countries,” were chiefly from Japan, and they increased in two years from £23,555 to £157,554. That is to say in 1926-1927 they were more than six times greater than in 1924-1925. The total importations of these goods increased from £112,220 in 1924-1925 to £250,899 in 1926-1927.
– I am not interested in foreign goods. What is the approximate value of the British material?
– I admit that I cannot at the moment give definite information regarding the value of the goods that come from Great Britain; but they are certainly of a better class than the Japanese goods, which are chiefly cotton. From Great Britain we receive woollen goods, materials that are -a mixture of cotton and wool, and, iri some cases, silk and artificial silk. The ad valorem duty on these goods is considerable, and the only way to give adequate protection to the Australian manufacturer is to accept the proposals now submitted.
– The duty on British goods has been 20 per cent. It is proposed to increase it to 30 per cent., or 2s. 6d. per lb., whichever is the higher rate. Say the invoiced price of a pound of cotton material from Japan is 2s, If I double that and say that the lowest-priced goods manufactured in Great Britain should be worth 4s. per lb., it seems to me that the present British duty of 20 per cent, would be increased to somewhere between 60 and 70 per cent, ad valorem. Whether or not that large increase is warranted, I cannot say.
Senator CRAWFORD (Queensland- Honorary Minister [12.0]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to insert after sub-item (e) the following. - By omitting paragraph 1 of subitem (f) and inserting in its stead the following paragraph : -
Piece-goods, woollen, or containing’ wool (but not including flannel), ordinarily used in the manufacture of outer clothing for human wear and weighing more than 6 oz. per square yard, per square yard, British, ls.; intermediate, ls. Cd.; general, 2s.; and ad val.. British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.
In 1925 the Tariff Board held a comprehensive inquiry into an application for increased duties on woollen piecegoods with the result that in the 1926 tariff, piece goods, woollen, or containing wool (but not including flannel), ordinarily used in the manufacture of outer clothing for human wear and weighing more than 6-J oz. per square yard, the invoice selling price of which did not exceed the equivalent of 3s. 4d. per square yard, were made dutiable at composite rates of ls., ls. 6d., 2s. per square yard and ad val. 30 per cent., 40 per cent., 45 per cent. The weight limit was inserted in order that light-weight, women’s woollen dress goods, which are not manufactured to any great extent in the Commonwealth, should not be liable to the composite rates. This weight limit was agreed to by prominent Australian weavers, it being considered at the time that 6i oz. was a fair line of demarcation between the goods, manufactured in Australia, and those not commercially manufactured here to any considerable extent. It was also considered that woollen piece-goods over 6£ oz. per square yard in weight, sold at 3s. 4d. per square yard or under, were detrimentally affecting the Australian industry, but that Australian weavers were able to compete with the imported goods invoiced at prices exceeding 3s. 4d. per square yard with only a slight increase in tariff, the rates being made 35 per cent., 45 per cent., 50 per cent: Experience of the working of these duties shows that they have not been fully effective; Australian weavers are not receiving sufficient orders to keep their mills working full time and have been forced to put off a number of operatives. In some cases it has been found that the weight of cloth has been reduced just under 6£ oz. thereby taking the goods out of Item 105 (e) (1) and escaping the composite duties.
– That will be found to be the case, no matter what weight is fixed.
– Of course in their own interests overseas manufacturers are always endeavouring to get around the provisions of our Customs Tariff Act, and at times they are very successful- in doing so. One cannot blame them. It has also been found that worsted and other men’s woollen goods are being sold in Australia to-day at prices with which the Australian manufacturer cannot compete. Moreover, leading Australian manufacturers are .of the opinion that certain goods which are imported into this country are being sold at prices less than the cost of manufacture in Great Britain, and the evidence suggests that United Kingdom manufacturers are either selling below cost of production to meet continental competition or using continental yarns. Inquiries are being conducted by the representative of the Customs Department in Great Britain to ascertain whether goods are being correctly described and valued on invoices; also whether such goods are eligible for admission under the British preferential tariff. The extent to which importations of men’s woollens are increasing is shown by the following figures , of imports for the six months ended 31st December, 1926, and the six months ended 31st December, 1927 : -
It is considered, by the Government that it would be lacking in its duty if it did not afford the great woollen industry of Australia adequate protection .against overseas manufacturers no ‘ matter whether they be in the United Kingdom or on the continent.
– What was the result of the inquiries made in Great Britain ?
– Inquiries are still being made to ascertain whether all goods which are exported to Australia are entitled to the benefit of the preferential rates of duty.
– They have been dumped in Australia.
– Owing to the huge imports df textiles from the continent, the textile industry of Great Britain is in a very serious position. I read a few days ago that more than half the cotton-spinning and weaving companies operating in Great Britain worked ‘ at a loss last # year. British manufacturers who are displaced in their own markets by importations from the continent, must naturally seek an outlet for their products elsewhere, and consequently quantities of their goods are sent to Australia at very low invoice prices, which are certainly less than the cost of production. I am not saying that the same goods may not be sold by them in Great Britain at something below the cost of production.
– Where does the wool come from out of which these goods are made?
– I understand that all the wool used in Australian factories is the product of Australia. There is some doubt about the origin of the wool used in imported textiles. The Australian woollen industry is of such importance to Australia that no hesitation should be shown in dealing with the position. Undoubtedly it warrants drastic action. The Australian weaving industry consumes large quantities of the product of the wool-growing industry and adverse competition not only affects the Australian manufacturer, but also deprives local workers of the employment which the tariff was designed to provide. It is proposed to reduce theweight limit at present appearing in the item to 6 oz. and eliminate any reference to price. This will mean that all woollen piece-goods, except flannel, ordinarily used in the manufacture of outer clothing for human wear, and weighing more than 6 oz. per square yard will pay the composite rates of ls., ls. 6d., 2s. per square yard and ad valorem 30 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent. These increases may appear to be very drastic, but it must be remembered that at the present time under the composite rates piece-goods invoiced at 3s. 4d. per square yard, pay more duty than similar goods invoiced at 5s. per square yard at 35 per cent. The great bulk of woollen piece-goods imported into Australia comes from Great Britain and on a line invoiced at a price equalling 10s. per square yard the increased duties will only amount to 6d. per square yard. In the circumstances, I am asking that the ‘ House of Representatives be requested to amend . Item 105 to provide for increased duties on certain woollen piecegoods.
Request agreed to.
– It is proposed to increase the duty from 1st July next on leather cloth from 5 per cent. British, 10 per cent, intermediate, and 15 per cent, general, to 20 per cent. British, 25 per cent, intermediate, and 35 per cent, general. I want to know if the manufacture of leather cloth is an accomplished fact in Australia; if not, whether there is sufficient evidence to show that machinery is being installed to manufacture with success this substitute for leather, and why the preference hitherto accorded to Great Britain has, to a great extent, disappeared.
– The margin of preference to Great Britain, which was 10 per cent., has been increased to 15 per cent.
– What steps have been taken to establish the industry in Australia? I have no knowledge of any company having been formed to manufacture leather cloth locally. I am prepared to support any reasonable proposal for the encouragement of the industry, but the duties should not be imposed before they are actually required.
– I am informed that machinery has been imported for the manufacture of leather cloth in Australia. If the company is not prepared to start by 1st July, the duty will be deferred.
– I should like to be furnished with the fullest information as to the possibility of the industry, to which this item refers, being successfully established in the Commonwealth. In previous tariffs the duties have been levied for revenue purposes. As honorable senators know, I am not in favour of duties that fail to encourage the establishment of industries in this country, but governments are prone to take the line of least resistance and therefore impose duties on certain commodities chiefly for revenue purposes. It is obvious that the industry for the manufacture of leather cloth has not yet been established in Australia, otherwise, we should have heard from those interested in it concerning the low rates of duties imposed in previous tariffs. We are now informed by the Minister that there is every likelihood of a company being formed for the manufacture in Australia of this class of goods. Can the Minister say where it will be established?
– In Melbourne.
– It is immaterial to me whether it is to be started in Melbourne or in any other city of the Commonwealth. My chief concern is to know whether a concrete proposal has been submitted to the Government, and if the proposed duties will be sufficient to enable the industry to be conducted successfully. To me they appear to be low, being only 20 per cent, in respect of British goods, 25 per cent, in the intermediate tariff and 35 per cent, in the general tariff. Is the Minister satisfied that the industry can be established with a 20 per cent, margin of protection? -
– I understand that a company has* already acquired the necessary machinery and is prepared to make a “start.
– Did that company take action before the new duties were levied?
– The people concerned knew for some time what measure of protection the Government proposed to give.
– Then can the Minister say if the company is satisfied with the proposed duties ?
– Yes; the effective duty will be 35 per cent, since leather cloth is not imported from Great Britain. All of it comes from America.
– It is news to me that no leather cloth is imported from countries other than America, and I have some doubt on the point.
– I am assured that the class of leather cloth which the Australian company proposes to manufacture comes only from America.
– That is a different statement. If what the Minister now says is correct, I shall offer no objection to the proposed duties.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Items 106, 107, and 108 agreed to.
Item 112 (Apparel or attire, including furs) -
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to add at the end of the item: - “By omitting the whole of the subitem b, and inserting in its stead the following sub-item : -
Within the last year or two a considerable amount of money has been invested by a company in Tasmania, and a smaller amount by a company in New South Wales in providing the necessary machinery and plant for the treatment of Australian furs, chiefly rabbit skins, which are made into what are known as coney seal skins. This is a highly skilled manufacturing process. At present it is almost entirely in the hands of German, Belgian, and French manufacturers who have been doing a large business with Australia for many years. Several British firms are also engaged in the same business but on a smaller scale. The Tasmanian company at the outset was faced with unlooked-for difficulties in securing the essential dyes for the production of a first-class article. These troubles were overcome last year through the action of the Government in granting permits for the importation of certain continental dyes so that the company might be in a position to demonstrate . its ability to produce a high grade article. There has been an excellent demand for its product during the last six months, but the company finds that continental manufacturers can land their products in the Australian market at a price slightly below the cost of production locally. I have been supplied with a full range of coney seal skins manufactured by the Tasmanian company. As honorable senators will notice they compare very favorably with the imported article of the same grade. The import figures show that there is an enormous trade in this class of goods. On the continnent the dyes cost 6s. 3d. per kilo as against 15s. in Australia. Peroxide of hydrogen is obtainable at 81/4d. per pound in Europe, against1s. 6d. per pound in Australia, and acetic acid, 99 per cent. glacial, costs 3s. 3d. on the continent compared with 2ls. in this country. These extra charges, as well as the higher wages paid and improved labour conditions obtaining in Australia, make necessary a reasonable amount of protection for the Australian industry. There is no industry of any importance in Australia that is not receiving the benefit of higher protective duties than I am asking for in this instance. Although the duties which I suggest will enable the company to carry on operations, they will not give it an opportunity to make excessive profits. This is not an instance in which a company “proposes” to start operations; the industry has been established for two years, and has during the last six months produced goods valued at £22,000. If we were to send to Adolf Petzold, of Leipzig, the largest and best coney manufacturer in Germany, who has a staff of nearly 3,000, a consignment of 1,000 raw skins, he would make them into coney for £37 10s., which is at the rate of 9d. a skin, whereas it would cost this company £93 13s. 4d., or1a.10d. a skin, owing to the additional costs in Australia. The difference between the existing duties and those I propose are only sufficient’ to enable the company to meet overseas competition.
– What protection does the industry at present receive?
– It has been established only about two years, and the duties which are 15 per cent. British preferential, 15 per cent. intermediate, and 20 per cent. general, were imposed, I think, only for revenue purposes. This is a bona fide concern, and has already spent £47,000 in erecting building and plant and conducting its operations. If Parliament will agree to my reasonable proposal, I am confident that the industry, which at present has a fairly substantial turnover, will become a very important one.
– I feel sympathetically disposed towards the request submitted by Senator Payne; but, as I am not at the moment in possession of certain essential details, I shall have to give the matter further consideration.
The increased duties proposed by Senator Payne are considerable. The present duties on furs are 15 per cent. British, 15 per cent, intermediate and 20 per cent, general.
– They were imposed only for revenue purposes.
– That may be so. If the duties on furs are increased to the extent proposed, and those on furred garments, which are 40 per cent. British preference, 50 per cent, intermediate, and 55 per cent, general, are allowed to remain, the request, if adopted, may not accomplish what the honorable senator desires ; furred garments may then be imported in place of furs. As I wish.to look further into this matter, I ask that the consideration of the item be postponed. .
.- If the committee agrees to the postponement of this item, I trust the honorary Minister (Senator Crawford), who has expressed some sympathy towards the request, will not allow his interest to wane during the period of postponement. The case submitted by Senator Payne is worthy of favorable consideration, as I understand that if the industry, which has been in existence for about two years, is forced out of business, about 400 workers who are directly and indirectly employed by it, will be added to the already large army of unemployed, and a large amount of -capital will also be rendered idle.
Item 113 agreed to.
Item 115 (Socks and stockings).
– There has been some discussion in committee concerning the effect of a flat rate of duty, and the conditions under which these duties are imposed. The Minister to-day carried a request that under item 105, piece-goods, certain material weighing more than 6 oz. per square yard be dutiable at an ad valorem rate or at per square yard ls. British, ls. 6d. intermediate, and 2s. general tariff, whichever rate returns the higher duty. I am sure honorable senators do not realize the exact effect of duties fixed on that basis. The same principle is applied to cotton socks and . stockings for which the ad valorem .duties imposed are 30 per cent. British, 40 per cent. inter mediate, and 45 per cent, general tariff, or per dozen 6s. British, 8s. intermediate, arid 10s. general tariff, whichever rate returns the higher duty. For woollen socks and stockings, or socks and stockings containing wool the rates are 45 per cent. British, 55 per cent, intermediate, and 60 per cent, general tariff; or, per dozen, 8s. British, 10s. intermediate, and 12s. general tariff, whichever rate returns the higher duty. For such articles of silk or containing silk but not containing wool and n.e.i., the rates are 35 per cent. British, 45 per cent, intermediate, and 50 per cent, general; or, per dozen, 7s. British, 9s. intermediate, and lis. general tariff, whichever rate returns the higher duty. These flat rate duties are fairly high, and I contend that very few honorable senators realize their, actual effect. I submit for the information of the committee an exhibit marked “ D “ of “Mazol” children’s unshrinkable cotton and woollen socks made in England, the invoice price of which is 8s. a dozen, and the flat rate of duty 8s. per dozen. The landed cost was 12s. 10d. a dozen, but under the new duty it is 17s. 7d. a dozen. The flat rate of duty under these proposals is 8s. a dozen, which is equivalent to 100 per cent, on children’s socks of British manufacture. I also submit a sample of children’s socks of all wool made in England, the invoice price of which is 5s. 9d. per dozen and the flat rate of duty 8s. per dozen, which is considerably over 100 per cent. Sitting suspended from 12.1^ to 2.15 p.m.
– By way of interjection, an honorable- senator asks why Australian socks are not bought. I point out that whereas the local manufacturer can obtain his supplies of wool on the spot, the English manufacturer is obliged to pay freight both ways, wharfage dues at each end, shipping and other charges, and the duty. Thus the Australian manufacturer is placed at a distinct advantage, and he should be able to manufacture hosiery in competition with the English manufacturer without the assistance of a 100 per cent, tariff. I have already given particulars of certain lines of socks; but I still have other lines. One is a man’s sock of English manufacture, which is worn by working men and farmers in the country. The invoice price is 5s. 9d., and upon it there is a flat rate duty of 8s. a dozen. This line is peculiarly suitable for use by men, whose work is such that they require a cheap sock. The landed price previously was 9s. 7d. a dozen, but under the new duty it is 14s. 9d. a dozen. I am not advocating the cause of the foreigner, but it is well that honorable senators should be made acquainted with the position. The invoice price of a foreign manufacture sock that I have in my hand is 2s. 8-Jd. a dozen. Under the old duty it was lauded in Australia for 4s. a dozen. The landed price under the new duty is no less than 12s. lid. a dozen, the duty amounting to over 300 per cent.
– At what price are they sold to the public?
– Importers who have to pay the extra duty must naturally add it to the price which they charge the consumer. I have not troubled to obtain particulars of the retail prices.
– The retail price of that line is 6d. a pair.
– Where were they made ?
– I understand that it is a Japanese sock. I have particulars also of a child’s sock that is made in Germany. In times gone by, my. children wore socks, the quality of which was no better than this. The invoice price is 5s. Id. a dozen.. The landed price until recently was 8s. 8d. a dozen, but under, the new duty it is 16s. 2d. The flat rate of duty is 10s. a dozen. Thus we are asked to pay a duty of 200 per cent, greater than the price at which the article is invoiced.
– We are not compelled to pay it.
– Australia cannot be absolutely self-contained. Although I admit the necessity to build up industries,’ can we afford to do so by placing a 100 per cent, duty on British goods,, and a 300 per cent, duty on foreign goods? Only a prohibitionist would vote for such duties.
– We built up the wine industry with a 600 per cent. duty.
-In addition to all the other costs and charges that have to be borne by. primary industries, our wine producers are saddled with a tremendous excise which other industries have not to pay.
I wish to place before honorable senators evidence that was given before the Tariff Board in Melbourne, by Mr. Hedley Goode, representative of the Wholesale Softgoods’ Association of South Australia. ‘ He said -
The Wholesale Softgoods’ Distributors of South Australia are opposed to a flat rate of duty because they believe it will unduly increase the price of certain lines of hosiery and, incidentally, the cost of living, will prevent the public getting certain lines of hosiery that they require, and severely penalize them. It is our opinion that the Australian manufacturers of hosiery are not at present in a position to supply the needs of the buying public of Australia, both as regards quantity and fashion, and the imposition of a flat rate will have the effect of absolutely prohibiting the importation of a quantity of hosiery goods that will be required. Our experience in the past is that when samples of hose or half-hose that are in demand are produced, the output of the Australian factories is, in many instances, taken up before we in Adelaide have samples submitted to us, and it is not until the wants of the eastern States are filled that we have the opportunity of buying Australian-made goods that happen to be greatly in demand.
The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– The proposed duties, on hosiery are worthy of the most sympathetic consideration of the well-wishers of Australian industries, and I am confident that a substantial majority of honorable senators will support them. A few months ago I had the opportunity of inspecting some of our hosiery factories, in one of which I was shown a room full of socks that had been made from Australian wool.
– They were beautifullymade socks.
– They were. 1 was told that there was no market for them, except at a price greatly below thu cost of production, because of the large importations of. inferior goods at what were believed to be dumping prices.
– A dumping duty could have been imposed.
– That is a matter of extreme difficulty. In many instances such action cannot be taken until a long and very careful investigation has been made in the country of production. By the time the necessary information is obtained very serious damage has been done to the Australian industry. When the previous tariff was before this chamber, complaints similar to those which are now being made were voiced, particularly in regard to women’s singlets, upon which the proposed duties were quite as high as those it is now proposed te place on socks and stockings. We were told that the inevitable effect would be to increase substantially the price of the. garments to which they were to be applied. But what has been the result? Instead of an increase there has been a reduction in the price of many lines. That is noticeable in regard to the output of a Swiss company which, since the imposition of the higher duties, has established itself at Bendigo, and is selling its products at a lower price than that which was charged before the increased duties were imposed.
Senator Chapman referred to the freight on wool from Australia to other countries and the return freight on manufactured articles. Any one who has given the matter consideration must admit that the freight on the quantity of wool used in a pair of socks or stockings, and on the manufactured article, is infinitesimal. . I doubt whether it could be expressed in terms of any Australian coin. I know that there are such charges, but they are made on quantities in bulk. It is doubtful if they would amount to a farthing per pair of stockings. In one factory I saw the whole process of the manufacture of these goods from pure silk, and they were retailed in Sydney and Melbourne at 7s. 6d. per pair, equal in quality to those that, before the imposition of the 1926 tariff, were retailed at 15s. In another factory, I saw pure silk hose, retailed at 10s. 6d., the price of which was 17s. 6d. twelve months before.
– The Minister may be an authority on sugar,” but not on stockings.
– I have paid for a few pairs of Australian stockings, and I have never heard any complaints about them. I am glad that Senator Chapman has produced some samples of imported socks, but I should say that the pair I now hold in my hands contains very little pure wool. I should imagine that it is chiefly, if not wholly composed of what is known as junk. I admit, however, that the children’s socks he has exhibited are of a better quality. For a considerable time I have worn Australianmade socks. They were sold to me retail in Melbourne at 2s. 6d. per pair. They are of good appearance and quite comfortable. I have never known socks to wear so well. So far as my experience goes, the whole of the woollen goods made in Australia have excellent wearing qualities. I have worn several suits of Australian tweed, and for years I have used underwear made in Australia. These goods have given me the greatest satisfaction. Our statistics show a reduction in the importation of woollen hosiery, but that is because- of a great change in fashion. The fact that ladies have favored silk in preference to woollen hosiery is a striking indication of the prosperity of the country. There is still a considerable demand for both woollen and cotton hosiery, and I am sure that nobody would complain if the price were slightly increased.
– We have every reason to believe that these increased duties will have a similar effect to those imposed on underwear. Senator Chapman, I do not say designedly, but unfortunately, has not been supplied with the retail prices. Does anybody imagine that because an article can be imported at a low rate of duty, the consumer gets the benefit in every instance? We know that he does not. The effect of large importations has not necessarily been to reduce the price to the consumer, but to greatly reduce the price to the distributor, and hundreds, if not thousands, of good Australians have been thrown out of employment. A number of our knitting mills have been working either half-time, or have put off a great percentage of their employees. The proposed duties on cotton goods will be of great assistance to the cotton industry, because they will encourage local manufacture. We ‘ are now producing more cotton than the Australian market requires, and it is very doubtful if any of the cotton crop gathered this year will find a market in this country, because manufacturers have a large quantity of last year’s cotton on hand.
– The Minister has represented that our industries are suffering from the large importations of foreign cotton stocks; but I point out that that is not so. During the last few years, the importations have considerably decreased, although the population of Australia has increased appreciably. Turning to the Tariff Board’s report we find, on page 4, that the total value of the importations of cotton hosiery during the five years ended 30th June, 1927, was as follow: -
– Will the honorable senator, . in fairness, read the paragraph following those figures?
– Yes; it states-
The United Kingdom was by far the largest individual country exporting cotton hosiery to the Commonweal th. It will be seen that the importations of cotton socks and stockings have declined. This position, however, has not been brought about by an increased output on the part of local manufacturers, but is duc to a change in fashion under which cotton hosiery has to a large extent been displaced by silk and artificial silk. A decline in prices may also account to some extent for the lower total value for the later years.’
The position is exactly as I have stated it to be. The importations have decreased from £366,000 to £258,000. The Minister also questioned certain, evidence given before the board, and stated that he had been shown a room full of socks. That does not take us anywhere. Further evidence was given by the Wholesale Softgoods’ Distributors of South Australia and Western Australia, as follows : -
We emphatically state that there is very much to be desired in this direction, and it seems to us that we, who are not very close to the place of manufacture, find a great deal of difficulty in getting our supplies, and the goods we want at the time we want them, and prompt delivery is a- very essential point to the successful conduct of our business. It is also our belief that if the duties as asked for are imposed, deliveries would be far worse than they have been in the past, and we should not be able to supply goods that the public want at the time they want them. Mr. Louis Jarrott, representing the Softgoods Warehousemen’s Association of Brisbane, said -
A cotton hosiery from London, dyed with Hawley’s “famous dye,” is quoted at 6s. lid., f.o.b. London. Witness had never seen a cotton stocking made in Australia, and he had never been offered cotton socks or cotton stockings of Australian manufacture. The landed duty-paid price of the hose quoted at 6s. lid. per doz. f.o.b. would, with the existing duty, be 10s. per dozen pairs.
We find that although these goods can be landed in Australia at a very low cost, the landed cost of some very good- socks under the old duty was 8s., 9s. and 10s. per dozen. Mr. R. N. McLean, representing Bond and Company, said that the lowest priced cotton socks, plain and fancy, manufactured and sold by his company was 21s. per dozen pairs. The public of Australia is asked to pay these tremendous extra prices when what they require is not good material, particularly, but a cheap article.
– Do they want cheap and nasty stuff?
– No; but lowpriced socks are suitable for the rough wear of the working man. Turning to the comments of the Tariff Board we find these words -
It would appear that no children’s hose entirely of cotton are being made in Australia. The prices tendered in evidence show that children’s imported cotton socks are being sold retail in Australia as low as 6$d. per pair, the prices ranging up to 2s. 3d. per pair. A local manufacturer, who is making children’s socks in silk and cotton mixture, gave 13s. Cd. per dozen as the lowest figure at which he could produce cotton socks to compete with the imported goods. So far as men’s cotton hose is concerned retail prices on imported lines quoted in evidence ranged from 6d. per pair (Japan) to 2s. 3d. per pair (United States of America). The lowest price quoted in evidence of men’s cotton socks of Australian manufacture was for those made by Eastaugh Limited, namely, 16s. per dozen pairs wholesale, the retail price being 2s. 6d. per pair, and in some cases as a “ cut “ line, ls. lid. per pair. The cheapest cotton hose made by Geo. A. Bond and Company Limited was sold by that company at 21s. per dozen pairs with a retail price of 2s. 6cl. per pair. Another line was sold at 24s. per dozen pairs with a retail price of 2s. lid. per pair.
It is all very well to talk about building up Australian industries, but are we to build them up by imposing a duty of over 100 per cent, on British socks and over 300 per cent, on foreign socks, raising their prices to a tremendous extent? It will penalize the farmers and the workers of Australia. I appeal to honorable senators of the Labour party, not on behalf of the farmers, but on behalf of working men generally, not to support a duty of 100 per cent. on the socks worn by the children of the working men and by the working men themselves. These are’ articles that the workers ought to be able to get at a reasonable price. My complaint is against the flat rate which alters the incidence of the duties to such an extent that, instead of the rate being 45 per cent., in some instances it is increased to 300 per cent. I propose to move that the House of Representatives be requested to bring the flat rates more into conformity with the ad valorem rate on this item.
– Senator Chapman seems to have developed an eleventh hour anxiety for the interests of the working classes. : of Australia. He has made a pathetic appeal to honorable senators of the Opposition to help him to reduce the rates of duty on this item so that the farmers and the working classes generally may be able to wear imported cotton socks.
– Shoddy socks!
– We have heard the phrase “ rotten cotton socks,” although I do not say that it can fairly be applied to the hosiery exhibited in the chamber to-day. Figures have been quoted to prove that there has been a decline in the importation of this particular kind of hosiery, but they merely prove that fashions have changed, and that the tastes of the working classes of Australia have changed. When silk stockings were first introduced it was thought that their price would be so prohibitive that they would be beyond the reach of those engaged in the ordinary work-a-day world. We know “now that, for some days of the week at any rate, all our women folk wear silk stockings. In days gone by many working men wore cotton socks because they could not afford tobuy anything better; but to-day working men are better circumstanced, and thousands of them are wearing a better class of socks. If a certain quality of socks is good for one section of the community it ought to be good for all sections, particularly the working classes, who produce all the good things of this life. Socks of the kind exhibited in the chamber to-day can be manufactured in other parts of the world, particularly in Japan, and even in England, much more cheaply than they can be turned out in Australia. It is impossible for the Australian manufacturers to compete with overseas manufacturers unless they are given adequate protection. Why should they not get it in this industry? We can turn out excellent stockings in Australia. One firm in Sydney, to its credit be it said, has well advertised its ability to manufacture stockings.
– There are two firms in Sydney manufacturing these stockings.
– There is one in particular, which without mentioning names, I have in mind. If it had been . suggested a few years ago that encouragement should be given to the hosiery industry, the reply would have been that we could not turn out that kind of goods in Australia, or that the time was not ripe for it. We shall never have big industries in Australia unless we are prepared to give them that big measure of protection they merit at our hands. I shall not vote for any reduction of duty. Is Senator Chapman, who made such a pathetic appeal for the working classes, as anxious to have cheap wine as he is to have cheap socks?
– Wine is a luxury.
– Some people would say that socks are more or less a luxury; not long ago the newspapers informed us that womenfolk in Paris were endeavouring to set the fashion of not wearing stockings. I shall support the Government in imposing these higher duties. I want to see the hosiery industry in Australia grow until it is in a position to supply all of Australia’s needs in stockings; and the only way to bring that about is to shut out as completely as possible the output of its competitors. Many people, while sympathetically inclined towards the Australian manufacturer, have also a keen regard for the importer, and many excellent citizens who are importers honestly believe in free trade or in a revenue tariff, I am equally honest in the opinion, that it is my first duty to give every consideration to Australian manufacturers, and to do everything I can to assist in building up Australian industries.
.- I have just as much admiration as the Minister has for the Australian manufacturer who is “ doing his bit,” and I agree with the honorable senator when he says that the Australian hosiery manufacturer is turning out an excellent article - so far as I know no one has suggested that he is not doing so - but when I am told that hosiery manufacturers have been so blocked by importations that they have stores full of hosiery on their hands, all I can say is that I do not think the Minister has got his information from the most reliable source.
– On one occasion I saw a whole roomful of hosiery on hand.
– From the observations made by the Minister one could draw no other conclusion than that the Australian hosiery manufacturer was not getting a fair deal. Last year I heard the Minister say that the importers were
So keen to deal in imported goods that they would not give the Australian manufacturer a chance. To prove that that statement is also incorrect, I can quote the experience of one of the largest softgoods distributors in Australia. Of last year’s transactions in the hosiery department of that firm, 73 per cent. represented dealings in goods manufactured in Australia. That is ample rebuttal of the charge that has been levied against the wholesale distributors of goods - that they are influenced against Australian manufacturers. Honorable senators opposite, and others, have frequently said that Flinders-lane - that is the term by which the softgoods distributors are generally designated - objects to high duties because their imposition prevents it from making large profits out of imported goods.
I have no desire to say or do anything that may hamperthe development of Australian industries. My objection in this instance is to the manner in which the schedule has been presented. I object to a flat rate in conjunction with the ad valorem duties. These will have the effect of placing the heaviest burden on the working classes and giving relief to those better able to meet any additional costs that may be entailed.
– My advice to the honorable senator is to look after the interests of the people he represents. We, on this side, are well able to take care of the interests of the working classes.
– I claim to repre sent all sections, and since the workers constitute the majority of the people of Australia, I, with other honorable senators who think with me in this matter, represent the workers. Honorable senators opposite have been misled, and it is my duty to put them right. It has been suggested by more than one honorable senator to-day that the working men of Australia should be compelled to wear socks manufactured from Australian wool.
– Why not socks manufactured from Australian cotton ?
– Because up to the present there has been no attempt to manufacture from Australian cotton socks suitable for the working men of this country.
– How does the honorable senator know that?
– I make that statement because I have an intimate knowledge of the industry.
– The statement is incorrect.
– I can assure my friend, Senator Greene, that I am right. The largest wholesale distributor of hosiery in Australia has advised me that nothing of the kind has ever been offered to him. For some years the working men of Queensland have been wearing a light mixture of wool and cotton, suitable for tropical countries; for the working men of New South Wales there has been a slightly heavier line ; and for the working men of Victoria and Tasmania a somewhat stronger mixture. Up to the present, cotton socks have not been manufactured in Australia. I know what the Australian manufacturers are making, because I am a” shareholder in one company. I am sorry to say I am financially interested in one that is in a most unsatisfactory position, notwithstanding the higher protection given in the last tariff. On more than one occasion I have expressed my gratification at the splendid progress made during the last few years by Australian manufacturers of hosiery. I am bound to say, however, that if we pass the item as it stands the working men of Australia will be compelled to wear cashmere hosiery, which is unsuitable. Cashmere gives satisfactory service when worn with light boots, but it will not stand hard wear in heavy boots. Socks made of that material will cost from 2s. to 2s. 6d. a pair ; and if the Australian manufacturer produces the kind of hosiery to which this item refers, instead of being able to obtain socks at from 6d. to ls. 3d. a pair, the workers will have to pay from ls. 9d. to 2s. 9d. a pair.
– Has it been proved that the socks made from good crossbred wool are not suitable for the workers,
– It would be just as reasonable to compare the wearing qualities of a hard twist cotton tweed suit with a suit of woollen tweed. I have been supplied with a number of samples of socks of British manufacture. One, a heather mixture, containing a small quantity of wool, is being retailed in Australia at ls. a pair. It is in general use in our temperate climates by the working men.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I am interested in this item, because there is in the State which I assist to represent in this chamber a number of well-equipped mills engaged in the manufacture of socks and stockings. Unfortunately, the position is not as Senator Payne has put it. Fully one-half of the machines used for the manufacture of hosiery are lying idle, because of the difficulty in securing orders.
– I can take the honorable senator to a factory which cannot supply the demand.
– The Tariff Board’s report does not bear out the honorable senator’s contention. On page 9 there appears the following: -
Witnesses supporting the request for increased duties strongly stressed the detriment resulting to the local industry from the importation of a class of hosiery manufactured from material described as “shoddy,” that is, yarn made from mill waste liberally treated with oil to permit of it being spun. This class of hosiery was represented by samples of men’s worsted half hose tendered at the inquiry. It was claimed that, large quantities of the hosiery described are imported into Australia, being invoiced at prices as low as 5s. per dozen f.o.b., and retailed at ls. 4Jd. per pair. The lowest retail price of the competitive Australian line was given at 2s. per pair.
Evidence was tendered as to the effect of importations on local’ industries. It was stated that in Victoria there were 100 worsted and 100 cashmere knitting machines idle. In one factory making cashmere socks, worsted half hose and scout hose, 05 machines out of a total of 70 were idle. Another factory specializing in cashmere stockings had twelve machines idle out of 20.
That is a complete answer to the charge made by Senator Payne that the local manufacturers are unable to fill orders.
– Cannot the honorable senator make a distinction between the machinery used for the manufacture of cashmere hose and. machinery for the making of cotton hose?
– Of course, I can. The Tariff Board gave special consideration to the point that has been raised by Senator Payne. It was particularly interested in proposals to manufacture cheap cotton shoddy socks from a lowgrade material, which has to be liberally treated with oil before it can be spun. That is what Senator Payne wishes to force upon the people of Australia. He suggests that we should permit such goods to come freely into Australia. We do not want that sort of thing, particularly when there are factories in Australia producing all that we require in this direction. We are not only able to manufacture these articles, but are producing the raw material, and if, in addition to encouraging production of the rawmaterial we can provide a local market for the manufacturers, we will be assisting to solve the cotton problem in Australia. At present large quantities of locally produced cotton are sold overseas instead of being used in Australia, and until we have .an efficient protective policy it will be impossible for us to give any guarantee to the producers of locally grown cotton that their product will be consumed to any extent in Australia. This is a bigger problem than that of merely providing cotton socks at low prices for those who desire to wear them. The importations of certain of these articles are very heavy. According to the figures for the first seven months of the financial year 1927-28, the value of the importation of cotton sox and stockings was £134,S74, silk £343,140, artificial silk £13S,656, and woollen £304,892, or a total of £921,562.
When almost £1,000,000 worth of these goods are imported we have to consider what security we have to offer to local manufacturers in the future. I am surprised to find Senator Payne at this stage endeavouring to strike a blow at the local industry, and to prevent it from getting upon its feet, particularly when it is in competition with what the Tariff Board describes as “low type shoddy foreign articles “. I trust that the committee will endorse the proposal which the Government has submitted, and give the local manufacturers that protection which is so essential if they are to continue in business.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
I regret that I have to submit this motion. When the Senate met a fortnight ago the Government was prepared to introduce this bill, and at that time the term for which the Public Service Arbitrator, Mr. Atlee Hunt, was appointed had not expired. Our friends in opposition in another place, however, submitted a motion of censure, which prevented the Government from introducing the bill for a fortnight. In the interim the Public Service Arbitrator’s term of office expired. Under the present Arbitration (Public Service) Act a new appointment has to be made for seven years, but as Mr. Hunt will reach the retiring age of 65 in two years’ time, we are submitting an amendment of the Act under which Mr. Hunt will be re-appointed for two years. The bill does not provide for any other amendment of the law. The procedure I am now asking the Senate to adopt has been followed in another place, and in view of the unusual circumstances, I ask honorable senators to agree to the motion so that the bill may be passed through all its stages without delay.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill (on motion by Senator McLachlan) read a first time.
. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is really a formal measure, the object of which has already been explained by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce). It is to amend the Arbitration (Public Service) Act, so that the present Public Service Arbitrator may be re-appointed for a period of two years when he will reach the retiringage. Under the existing law, the Public Service Arbitrator must be appointed for a period of seven years. Mr. Atlee Hunt was born on the 7th November, 1864, and is therefore now 63 years of age. Clause 2 provides that section 6 of the principal act shall be amended by inserting at the end of sub-section 2 the following proviso : -
Provided that if the person who is appointed Public Service Arbitrator is, at the time of his appointment, more than 58 years of age, the term of his appointment shall be the period which will expire upon his attaining the age of 65 years.
In the circumstances I have outlined I trust that the Senate will agree to the passage of the bill.
– I did not offer any objection to the suspension of the Standing and Sessional Orders, because I realized that, in this instance there was some urgency; but I cannot allow the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce) to shelter behind the motion of censure which was submitted in another place. The Government should have anticipated the possibility of such a position arising. It knew that the Public Service Arbitrator was approaching the end of his term, and in these circumstances should have introduced the bill in sufficient time to enable it to be passed without the suspension of the Standing and Sessional Orders. I objected to the Government’s proposal to place public servants under a special tribunal, as I thought that they shouldcomeunder our general arbitration system. Parliament, however, decided otherwise, and from what I have seen and heard of the working of the court, I believe that it is operating to the satisfaction of those concerned. As I understand the only object of the hill is to make the term for which Mr. Hunt is to he reappointed synchronize with the date of his retirement from the Service, I have no objection to offer to it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
[3.32]. - Honorable senators are aware that on Wednesday afternoon next, if our hopies are fulfilled, Mr. Hinkler, the famous aviator, will arrive in Canberra. It is desired to accord him a fitting reception, and arrangements are being made for certain official functions is both the afternoon and evening of that day. Under those circumstances it will not be possible for the Senate to meet for the transaction of business next Wednesday. I, therefore, move -
Thursday next, at 3 p.m.
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Use of Imported Timbers in the Canberra Assembly Hall.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do- now adjourn.
.- 1 draw the attention of the Government to information that has come into my possession in Canberra this week to the effect that a large quantity of imported timbers has been used’ for the embellishment of the new Assembly Hall in this city. The matter is so serious to me, as one who believes in fostering
Australian industries, that I consider I am justified in bringing it before the Senate. It ought to be investigated so as to Ascertain who is responsible for it. Magnificent timbers are grown in Australia. I trust that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) will institute inquiries during the week end so that he will be in a position to make a statement when we reassemble next Thursday. I have no first-hand knowledge, because I have not been able to inspect the building; but the information came from what I believe to be a reliable source.
[3.34]. - I shall have the remarks of the honorable senator brought under the notice of the Minister for Home and Territories (Sir Neville Howse), who, no doubt, will have the suggested inquiries made.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 March 1928, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1928/19280309_senate_10_118/>.