13th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P.J.Lynch) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Senator SirGeorge pearce) agreed to -
That Standing Order No.68 be (suspended up to and including Saturday, the 15th instant, to enable new business to be taken after 10.30 p.m.
– Is the Leader of the Senate aware that the Prime Minister of Great Britain (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald) stated in the British House of Commons on the 10th July, that the British dominions were being consulted constantly about the business of the World Economic Conference, and, if so, can he assign any reason for the Commonwealth Government withholding from the Senate information concerning the consultations?
– The honorable senator is, I am sure, aware that, as Australia is represented at that conference, and as the subjects dealt with are matters which may affect this country, it is eminently desirable that there should be the most frequent consultation between the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the Commonwealth Government; but it is not in the public interest , that all communications between the two Governments should be made public. The honorable senator may rest assured that if, at any time, the Government deems it necessary, in the public interest, to make known the nature of the communications, that will be done.
– Can the Assistant Treasurer inform the Senate if a statement will be made before the adjournment at the end of this week, of the results of his recent visit to New Zealand ?
– The position is, as I think was explained to the Senate earlier, that the trade treaty between Australia and New Zealand can only be divulged when it is possible to make known its terms simultaneously in both Parliaments. The New Zealand Parliament not being now in session, an announcement cannot be made yet. When the time comes, if it fall to my lot to make the announcement, I shall be happy to give all the information in my power.
Distribution to States
– I ask the Assistant Treasurer, following the recent announcement of a Commonwealth surplus of over £3,500,000 for the year ended on the 30th June, will the Government give Parliament an opportunity to provide for the payment of this surplus to the State Governments in accordance with section 94 of the Constitution, which provides, inter alia, that the Parliament may provide, on such basis as it deems fair, for the monthly payment to the several States of all surplus revenue? If not, why not?
– The honorable senator knows that the provision of the Constitution to which he refers has been set aside by the Financial Agreement. In any case, his question relates to government policy, about which it is not considered customary to give information in reply to questions in Parliament.
– Can the Leader of the Senate say if the broadcast statement, made yesterday by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), that the Country party had stabbed the Government in; the back, truly represents the attitude of the Government towards the Country party?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I have nothing to add to, and no explanation to give in connexion with, the statement made by the Prime Minister.
– Has the Leader of the Senate noticed the statement, published in certain sections of the press, to the effect that the Taxation. Department delayed issuing assessments in connexion with income taxation payments for the purpose of disguising the real state of the finances ? The Brisbane Daily Mail, on the 5th July, stated that if the normal course had been followed by the department, the revenue for the year would have been £2,000,000 or -£3,000,000 in excess of the amount stated by the Assistant-Treasurer.
– I have already told the Senate that there is no truth whatever in that statement. If honorable senators will take the trouble to look at the last published returns of Commonwealth income and expenditure which I gave to the Senate, they will see that the receipts for the year on account of income tax exceeded the budget estimate by more than £879,000.
– Has the Leader of the Senate read the newspaper report that Sir James Mitchell, ex-Premier of Western Australia, has been sworn in as Lieutenant-Governor of that State? Is he the gentleman concerning whom the right honorable gentleman stated, in the Senate on the 16th June last -
Senator Johnston “ tipped “ Sir James Mitchell as the next Governor of Western Australia, but the Premier of that State has since denied that it is intended to appoint Sir James Mitchell. I do not know whether Senator Johnston’s latest “ tip “ will be more nearly correct.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.He is the same gentleman.
The following paper was presented: -
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1933, No. 84.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an’ act to amend the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910-1931.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the Officers’ Rights Declaration Act 1928.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Properties Taken Over
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: - 1 and 2. No properties have been transferred by pensioners to the Commonwealth in accordance with the provisions of section 52ga of the act?
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice: -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: - 1. (a) Cost of building, £496; (b) cost of extension of water and electrical services, £30.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 12th July (vide page 3064).
Group 7. - Items not included in groups 1 to 6.
Item 174, sub-item (v 31 to 48) agreed to.
Item 174, sub-item (w 1 to 21) -
Woodworking machines and appliances, but not including extra knives, viz.: -
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the paragraph by leaving out the word “ Drawing “, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Drying “.
Item 174 a to x covers machines which were previously admitted under departmental by-laws. Automatic drying machines for veneer-making have been admitted under departmental by-laws for a considerable period, and it was the intention, when framing this item, that those machines should be included. The word “ drawing “ has been inadvertently inserted in place of the word “ drying.”
Request agreed to.
Sub-item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item 174, sub-items (xl to 87) and (y) agreed to.
Item 179, sub-item (d3a) -
Electrical machines and appliances -
(3) (a) Electric fans of the type ordi narily used in offices and the household, ad valorem, British, 15 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the sub-paragraph by making the duty, ad valorem, general, 50 per cent.
I do this in the confident hope that the committee will agree to my request, because it is based on a very recent report of the Tariff Board, dated the 3rd November, 1932, and ordered to be printed on the 22nd March, 1933. I am ata loss to know why the Government did not itself take this opportunity of moving a request in terms similar to my own. In cases in which the Tariff Boardhas reported in favour of reduced duties, the Government has been very quick to act upon its recommendation. Some explanation is due from the Minister why the board’s report has not been adopted. This matter has been, I understand, the subject of negotiation and correspondence between one of the manufacturing firms and the Government. It has been pointed out to the Minister that there is grave danger of the local industry being swamped by importations of cheap fans from abroad. During the last three months, manufacturers have found it, impossible to compete in respect of two popular types against the products of the foreign manufacturers; I refer to the 10-in. and16-in. induction fans. An Italian firm, Marelli Limited, quotes prices for the smaller fans equal to the factory cost of the Australian article, and, in the case of the 16-in. fan, its price is 15s. lower than the factory cost of the Australian article. We have heard much during the debate of the need for honouring the spirit and letter of the Ottawa agreement. We have been told that if it is necessary that goods should be imported, effective preference should be given to those from Great Britain. If Australian manufacturers cannot compete iu electric fans with the manufacturers of Italy and the United States of
America, neither can those of the United Kingdom, because British’ fans are sold in Australia at prices slightly higher than those quoted for Australian-made fans of similar types.
Discussing the manufacture of fans in Australia, the Tariff Board states -
The board is satisfied that the establishment of Australian manufactures has had the effect of reducing the prices of fans to the public. The primage duty and the adverse exchange on London operate to assist the Australian manufacturer, but if these importing charges were appreciably reduced, protective duties would be necessary to enable local makers to compete reasonably.
The board considers thatthe manufacture of electric fans in Australia if conducted on a sound basis is likely to be commercially successful and of benefit to the community. Moreover, the establishment of this industry will materially assist in the Australian production of fractional horse-power electric motors, for which there are many commercial uses.
The recommendation of the Tariff Board reads -
The Tariff Board recommends that the request made by the Electrical Engineering and Construction Company Proprietary Limited, Melbourne, for increased duties at the rates shown hereunder on electric fans of the type ordinarily used in offices and the household be granted, viz.: -
Item 179 (d) (3) (a) Electric fans of the type ordinarily used in offices and the household, ad valorem, British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 50 per cent. 1 am not proposing an increase in the British rate, but ask the committee to agree to the general tariff being increased to 50 per cent.
– The honorable senator is correct in saying that the recommendation of the Tariff Board under the general tariff has been departed from. That rate is now 10 per cent. higher than required by the Ottawa formula. In this instance, the Government has departed fromits policy, because negotiations are now proceeding with Italy which may result in that country purchasing a laTger quantity of our primary produce than at present. In these circumstances, the Go-: vernment felt that if it increased the duty under the general tariff to 50 per cent., its action might be regardedas an affront to that nation. Representations on the subject have already been made by the Italian Chamber of Commerce, and iu the circumstances> the Government thought it unwise to increase the rate to the extent mentioned by the board. Negotiations with Italy are still proceeding.
– How long have they been iu progress?
– For some months, but’ it is hoped that a decision satisfactory to both parties will soon be reached. From practically all viewpoints, the protection afforded is considered adequate. The importation of cheap electric fans from countries other than Italy is being dealt with under the Australian. Industries Preservation Act, and I understand that such importations have practically ceased. I ask the committee not to do anything that may prejudice the negotiations now proceeding between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Italy.
Sub-item agreed to.
Item 180, sub-item (ll, 2) (Dry batteries and dry cells).
.- In the Tariff Board’s report of the 11th April, 1932, the definite recommendation is made that the duties on dry batteries should be considerably reduced. When this subject was discussed in another place, the Government said that it was not accepting the recommendation of the Tariff Board,’ and that it had referred the report back to the board for further consideration. As most of the recommendations of the board have been accepted, I should like to know why this one has been ignored. Dry batteries are necessary to those using wireless seta where electric current is not available. For a number of years, Australian-made Batteries have enjoyed such high protection that they have practically had a monopoly of the market. During recent years, only about 5 per cent, of Australia’s requirements have been imported. In some cases the manufacturers of wireless sets have refused to guarantee them unless equipped with imported batteries. I do not wish to criticize the local product, but I understand that there is not much difference between the imported battery, which is about 25 per cent, higher in price, and the local article. I am concerned with the definite statement of the Tariff Board in which it practically charges the local manufacturers with taking undue advantage of the protection afforded by the late Government, by exacting exorbitant profits from battery users. The Tariff Board states that -
Local prices have been maintained at figures which have enabled the Australian manufacturers to obtain excessive profits.
The present high prices of original and replacement batteries interfere to some extent with the use of wireless equipment in districts where electric current is not available. When this matter was being debated in another place, certain interests supplied the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) with information which he gave in good faith, but which caused the impression that very little profit was being made by local manufacturers, and that any reduction of the duties would practically ruin the local industry. Yet, within a few days of the Tariff Board’s recommendation being made public, the Australian manufacturers reduced the price of their batteries, in some cases, by over 4s. each.
– Does the honorable senator object to that?
– No; but it was not until the Tariff Board showed that excessive profits were being made that prices were reduced. There should be some means of determining when users of commodities produced under high protective duties are being exploited. I should like to know why this recommendation of the Tariff Board has been ignored, when practically all its other recommendations have been adopted. Is not the imposition of a duty lower than that recommended by the Tariff Board a breach of the Ottawa agreement ?
.- The Tariff Board, which has recently reported on dry batteries, speaks very definitely on the duties levied, and recommends certain rates at which it arrived. The board states that -
On the evidence tendered at the inquiry, the board must accept the “Lissen” batteries as being comparable in quality with those of similar capacity manufactured in Australia.
The board gives prices and details of four popular sizes of “Lissen” batteries, and states that the evidence disclosed that Australian manufacturers’ factory selling prices for comparable batteries, and their costs of production, eliminating profits, are much higher. In view of the declaration by the Tariff Board, the Government had no alternative but to ask it to givethe matter further consideration. The Ottawa agreement never contemplated the putting out of action of an industry functioning under Australian conditions.We found in the report facts which substantiate what I have read, and for that reason the matter was referred back to the board for further advice. I understand that the Australian prices have been considerably reduced. Although the Government felt that the criticism of the board was justified from many points of view,, it yet considered itself obliged to have the matter again reviewed, because of the likelihood that the industry would go under if action were not taken to prevent that contingency from occurring.
Sub-item agreed to.
Item192 agreed to.
Item 208, sub-items (a) (b) -
– The report ofthe Tariff Boards dated the 9th February, 1933, makes most important recommendations for the alteration of this, one of the biggest items in the tariff, covering as it does all the hundreds of metal articles that are not dealt with elsewhere. The board says that it embraces articles ranging in size from adrawing pin to a bulk storage oil tank. Its recommendation reads as follows: -
That item . 208 (a) of the Customs Tariff 1921 -1930 be amended to read as under: - 208 (a) Manufactures of metal, n.e.i. -
unlesstheGovernment decidesthatrevenue considerations require that a moderate duty be imposed on such goods, in which case the board recommends -
I understand that severalhundred of the articles which come under this item are imported, some for primary and others for secondary industries. Many goods vital to the gold mining industry come under this item. The present excessive duties of 45 per cent. British and 65 per cent. general are a tremendous tax on all industry in Australia, and are responsible for increasing the cost of living and of production of every section of the community. The accounts of the Commonwealth for the last financial year disclosea surplus of £3,545,000; therefore, theGovernment could readily adopt the recommendation oftheTariffBoard.
– The by-law recommendation ofthe Tariff Board in this case, it was found, would be absolutely impracticable in operation. This is one of the items that are being subjected to a refining process in the Customs Department atthe moment. The board apparentlythought that by-law admission could be designed in general terms; but the departmental officers have reported to the Minister thatthat cannot be done. The itemcovers such a variety of goods, including goods of very small value, that it would be impossible to institute inquiries into every line upon which requests were received for the application of the rates recommendedby the board, with a view to ascertaining if they were manufactured in Australia. The present by-law items of the tariff cover most of the goodswhich directly affect industry, such as minor articles and tools of trade. In the past, this item has been a material source of revenue goods to the value of £2,000,000 per annum having been imported under it. The revenue received for each of the years 1928-29 and 1929-30, before the full effect of the depression was felt, was over £700,000. The item, therefore, has a considerable bearing on the up-keep of Commonwealth services. The board acknowledged the revenue aspect of the matter by suggesting the rates, British, 15 per cent., and general, 30 per cent. I point out to Senator Johnston that, under paragraph 2 of the sub-item, the duty to-day is that which the Tariff Board recommended. By-law admissions are of a most extensive character. They have been accumulating ever since the Kingston tariff became operative, with the result that tariff-making is largely becoming a departmental matter. That is a responsibility of which the department would be glad to be rid, and the Minister is taking steps to have the matter cleared up speedily, so that as many as possible of the articles covered by the item may be made the subject of separate duties. The item is so large numerically that it cannot be rearranged in a month or two, and for the time being the Government has decided that the present position shall continue.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives - be requested to amend sub-item (a1 ) to read - “208 (a). Manufactures of metal, n.e.i. -
1 ) Of a class or kind not commercially produced in Australia, and not admissible under Tariff Items 404, 404 (a), 415 (a), or 434, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, ad valorem, British, free; general, 1 5 per cent.”
This is a case in which there is a definite recommendation by the Tariff Board, which particularly points out that it is so made as to permit of the admission at reasonable rates of articles from Great Britain which cannot be made commercially in Australia. Under the Ottawa agreement, we have undertaken to obtain reports from the Tariff Board; and the Government has pledged itself, upon receipt of those reports, to give Parliament the opportunity tq act in accordance with the recommendations of that tribunal. There has never been a more decided recommendation than this for the free admission of certain British goods, or, if the Government needs revenue, for their admission at the rate of 15 per cent.; yet the Minister says “Let it pass”.
– It is nota question of letting it pass.
– Let it pass now, when we have the opportunity to implement this article of the Ottawa agreement. The board further stated -
The general heading “Manufactures of Metal, n.e.i.” in Tariff Item 208 (a) covers all classes of metal products for which provision is not made in other items of the customs tariff-. The range of commodities which on importation would be classified under this item is exceedingly wide and includes articles ranging in size from a drawing pin to a hulk storage of oil tank. A. similar item has been included in every customs tariff since federation, but the range of articles covered by the duty has varied from time to time. The incorporation in successive tariffs of new items to cover specified metal articles has tended to reduce the number of “ n.e.i. “ items, but a kind of balance has been maintained by increases to the range which have followed the development of the manufacture of new lines of metal products. One grave disability inseparable from the adoption of this and some other “drag net” items in the tariff is that dutyis imposed on many articles which are not being manufactured in Australia, and which are not likely to be manufactured locally at costs reasonably comparable with the costs in the principal producing countries. In such eases, the duty results in excess costs, and when the articles concerned are required by other industries the excess costs impose a burdell without any compensating advantage.
I take it that those comments apply largely to other secondary industries as well as to primary industries. It seems extraordinary that the Government should support these duties, if it is to be guided by reports of the Tariff Board, as claimed by the Prime Minister, and as recognized inthe Ottawa agreement. I urge the committee to give effect to this clear and definite recommendation of the board, which relates ‘to thousands of articles, although my proposal and the Tariff Board’s recommendation for relief deal mainly with articles of metal of a class or kind not commercially produced in Australia.
– Does the honorable senator expect the Government to carry out the Ottawa agreement?
– Certainly, and it is our business to make it do so. I believe that the Government intends to honour it in its entirety, but, if not, the committee should see that it is observed not’ only on this occasion but in future also.
– The controversy raised by this drag-net item is not new to us. There is a growing practice in the framing of tariff schedules to insert, for the purpose of convenience, items, such as now under discussion, which completely mystify, not only members of this committee, but also everybody who has dealings with the Customs Department. The item. “ Manufactures of metal, n.e.i.,” has been discussed threadbare on various occasions, and reference has been made to the injustice of not making the item more specific. Paper and ink are cheap enough, and the time of officers can be so allotted as to bring about the definition that is obviously required. There is no good reason why a whole host of things necessary for the prosecution of several industries should be disguised, as they undoubtedly are, under a generic heading of this nature. I am glad that the Minister recognizes the wisdom of making some change in this respect. He has hinted that he is not satisfied with the present position, and he has gone so far as to say that if on any article that may come under this item British manufacturers are called upon to pay an excessive duty, the matter may be referred to the Tariff Board with the result that a reasonable rate may be charged upon that particular - British commodity. Yet, in the meantime, a duty of 45 per cent., British, is charged on an article which should, perhaps, be admitted free, because Australia, in its present state of development, has not a ghost of a chance of producing some of the goods included in this item for the next 100 years. Our only hope is that there is a rift in the gloomy horizon, and a desire to make a muchneeded change in this respect. This tariff reeks with instances where adjustments have been made over trifling things, which are set out in great detail in the schedule, whereas important articles are not mentioned at all as is the case with this item. I cannot imagine a more striking example of a drag-net provision than is afforded by the item under consideration.
We recall that an. investigation was recently made into the subject of wool production, and the committee, which undertook that task, advised us that that staple product which keeps this country on its feet, cannot be produced profitably at the prices that have ruled for some years. High duties on items such as that under discussion have a great deal to do with the costs of production of the staple exports of this country - costs which act to the detriment of the producers, and of the community as a whole, lt is about time we had a change. The Minister should follow up his discovery with vigour and determination, and see that items of this description are replaced by something more specific. We are asked to swallow duties of 45 per cent., British, and 65 per cent., general. Even the general rate is 5 per cent, more than the extraordinarily high duty ruling under the Scullin tariff, which even some of its warmest advocates were frank enough to admit was excessive. The tariff of the present Government “outHerods” Herod to the extent of 5 per cent., in the case of the general rate.
– That is due to the Ottawa agreement.
– That is the familiar argument advanced in this chamber - putting the duty a bit higher in the case of the foreigner, and by that means, claiming to give a preference to Great Britain. If the tariff wall is raised so high that the British manufacturer cannot surmount i’t, what is the use of pretending that we are giving him an advantage? If we build the wall so high that he cannot possibly scale it, we give him merely an advantage on paper - that and nothing more. I presume that it is not in accord with the spirit of the Ottawa agreement merely to give the Britisher a paper advantage ; it should be of a tangible nature, one which will give effect to the spirit, of Ottawa. If the British manufacturer can get over a 45 per cent, barrier, plus the disadvantage of exchange, commission, freight, insurance and the other attendant charges that must be borne by the importer, all I have to say is that the Australian purchaser will be penalized, because he cannot ‘buy from the Australian manufacturer the goods covered by these duties. This is why the cost of production has gone up by leaps and bounds, and why men are not so ready as they would otherwise be to engage in rural pursuits. Duties of 45 per cent, and 65 per cent, result in the interior of this vast continent being left untenanted. Why do those who venture into the interior suddenly turn back? It is because there is no possible hope of success when they are confronted by high duties, solemnly passed by the highest council in the land, which give a fictitious value to locally-produced goods. If those goods were manufactured on the same basis as that on which the primary producers have to work, they would be obtainable at fair prices.
– Mention one article that is covered by this item.
– The honorable senator should rather ask me where to begin to enumerate the various articles covered by the item, because they range from drawing pins to bulk storage oil tanks. I am reminded of the sayings that a postscript may be of greater importance than the letter,, and that the introductory note to a book often contains more than the volume itself. This apparently innocent item, embracing, as it does, a vast array of articles, is. of the same class. The tariff should tell the public what are the rates of duty on specific items.
I hope that the Minister will not be content with the discovery which he declares he has made, but that he will pursue the matter steadfastly, with that grim determination which characterizes him. I shall support Senator Johnston’s request, not that I expect it to Be agreed’ to, but in the hope that it will Awaken the Government to the necessity for putting- the tariff- on. a scientific basis. If that is done,, some advantage will accrue to the primary pro.ducers. At present the tariff oppresses those who cannot afford to have their production costs kept high, and, at thesame time, confers advantages on others who do- not need. them. Time and again, manufacturers whom: I have- met in, the train, travelling between Adelaide and Melbourne and else where, have assured me that they did not ask for the duties imposed under the Scullin tariff. “These rates” they said, “ were thrown at us ; we did not seek them. But do you blame us for taking advantage of them?” Parliament is supposed to legislate for the advancement of the general welfare of the people; but, when we impose duties ranging from 45 to 65 per cent, on things that are required by the man on the land, we are only increasing the burden that is -already breaking his back.
– If we agree to the request we shall extend the principle of admissions under by-law, which has been condemned by all of us.
– The request, if agreed to, would have the effect of causing those who support extortionate rates of duty to revise their opinions. It is not sufficient for US _to adopt a squinteyed attitude, to raise the duties, and to say thereafter, “ Let- prosperity run “. I have already shown, by quotations from the Commonwealth Year-Book, that during the last seventeen years our exports of manufactured goods have steadily declined, until they now represent a miserable 2? per cent, of our total exports. Verily this country depends on the man on the- land in order to keep going at all. We in this chamber certainly should not make his lot any harder. I should not blame the primary producer if he sat in hia tent and sulked, waiting for a return tofiscal sanity.
– The eloquent speech of Senator Lynch contained nothing which we had not heard from the honorable senator many times’ before. The tariff should be- dealt with in- a practical way. The articles covered by sub-item a - “Manufactures of metal, n.e.i.” - would’ if set out separately, fill many volumes; there would scarcely be sufficient room for them in this chamber. Already thetariff schedule is a voluminous document,, the consideration of which has occupied a longer period than- was taken by another place. Even in its present form, the schedule contains almost ridiculousdetails. It would be impracticable to include in it every one of thethousands of items that are imported-
If honorable senators will take the trouble to study the schedule carefully, they will realize that Australia is a dumping ground for the goods of other nations. Every year Australia imports from the Mother Country goods to the value of many millions of pounds, on which British manufacturers, of course, make their profits. Instead -of importing such a great proportion of our requirements, we should establish secondary industries in Australia and manufacture many of these things for ourselves. Although not a supporter of, Mr. Lang, I commend that gentleman for always putting Australia first.
Complaint has been made regarding the admission of goods under by-law; but I submit that, if only for the sake of convenience, this system must operate. A scientific tariff must of necessity include a number of items under the general heading “ n.e.i.”. Senator Johnston, who uses the Senate for purposes of propaganda, deserves sympathy. I sympathize with the honorable senator in the loss he has sustained through the resignation of ex-Senator Colebatch, another ardent freetrader. I am not a prohibitionist; on the contrary, I believe that articles which cannot be made economically in Australia should be imported free of duty. Senator Johnston is inconsistent, in that he accepts the recommendations of the Tariff Board when they agree with his own views, but is not prepared to do so when their views differ from his. Senator Lynch said that a high tariff imposes a tremendous burden on our primary producers; but he did not tell the whole story. He overlooked interest on mortgages, brokerage, and other middlemen’s charges which the wool-growers have to pay.
I strongly oppose the request. These matters should be left to the departmental experts, and, as I have said, I should not object if they decided to allow the free entry of goods which cannot economically be made here. If, however, we say that they must not impose any duty on these items, we are making the way clear for foreign traders to capture our market.
– The request deals with articles not commercially produced in Australia.
– It throws on the departmental officers the onus of deciding what articles cannot be commercially produced here. That should be the responsibility of the Tariff Board. I hope that the committee will not agree to the request, but will leave these things for determination by experts.
– One extraordinary feature of these proposed duties is worthy of mention, namely, that under the 1921-30 tariff, .the duty was 35 per cent’., British preferential tariff. The Minis’ter has attempted to justify the retention of duties which were’ imposed by resolution on the ground that the Tariff Board has not yet reported on the items. That ground does not exist in this case, because the Tariff Board has furnished a report in which it recommended a lower duty.
– Had the report been otherwise, I take it that the honorable senator would not have felt so concerned.
– Notwithstanding the Tariff Board’s recommendation, the Government has perpetuated a higher duty than that which operated under the 1921-30 tariff. The Government is inconsistent. I could have understood the Minister’s action had the Tariff Board reported in favour of the retention of the duties imposed by resolution in 1930. The Tariff Board, however, has made a recommendation, in the opposite direction, for a reduction of duty. Yet a high duty that was never approved by Parliament, but brought in by resolution, is ‘ to ‘ be perpetrated. I do not wish to lecture the Government; but I draw attention to the adverse criticism that it3 conduct is receiving, abroad. In to-day’s Canberra Times there is a cablegram from London indicating that a member of the House of Commons had asked a question regarding the exceptionally high duties that are being imposed by the Commonwealth Goovernment-
– On elastic. What has that to do with metals?
– I am drawing the attention of the committee to the fact that criticism is being directed to the extraordinary tariff action that has been taken by the Government, which should be more careful in its treatment of countries with, which it desires to maintain amicable relations. The paragraph in the Canberra Times states that attention was called to the exceptionally high duties that the Commonwealth Government has imposed on elastic and hosiery. In all probability, in the course of a day or two, reference will be made to the sub-item with which we are now dealing. What is the justification for the high duty in this case?
– The British Trade Commissioner prefers that specific provision at lower rates should be made in the schedule for the goods classifiable under this item not made in Australia, rather than that their entry should be subject to admission at the Minister’s discretion under departmental by-law.
– In view of the Tariff Board’s recommendation of a considerable decrease, this high ad valorem rate is not justified. I should have no criticism to offer if the rate proposed by the Government were that which applied under the 1921-30 tariff.
– I hope that the request that has been submitted by Senator Johnston will be rejected. I feel impelled to say something about the inconsistency of certain honorable senators who, in this instance, favour a reduction of duty regardless of the effect that that will have on an Australian industry. It is remarkable that they should support the recommendations of the Tariff Board only when they are in a downward direction; in such circumstances the action of the board is held to be sacrosanct and not to be attacked even by the Government, let alone by what they would term the sacrilegious tongues of honorable senators on this side of the chamber. Some honorable senators, particularly Senator Payne, are continually threatening international complications in consequence of the fight by honorable senators on this side for an effective tariff.
– Order ! That has nothing to do with the sub-item, with which the honorable senator must connect his remarks.
– Senator Payne lias just referred to the subject by reading from the Canberra Times, and claiming that, if honorable senators refuse to sacrifice the Australian hosiery industry, it is quite likely that some power not named will resort to arms against the Commonwealth. I object to these continual threats. Action should be taken to acquaint these friendly powers with the fact that no danger is likely to arise from our attitude, because Senator Payne is still in the chamber to look after imperial and foreign interests.
– Apparently, honorable senators have not given careful consideration to the most specific recommendations of the Tariff Board on the subject, and, for their information, I shall quote extracts from the board’s report of the 9 th February last, as follows : -
In the scope of the proposed new item there would be included manufactured metal goods which go direct to the consumers as well as some which are used by manufacturers and producers. Under the existing tariff these goods are subject to high rates of duty, but under the proposed new item costs to consumers would be reduced without detriment to any Australian industry. As to those goods which are utilized in industries, the reduction of duty and the consequent reduction of costs would be advantageous.
In an item so comprehensive as “ Manufactures of metals, n.e.i. “, the fixing of duties at a level which will give manufacturers in the United Kingdom full opportunity of reasonable competition in all lines is practically impossible, but the dissection of the item on the basis recommended by the board will assist manufacturers in the United Kingdom, by lowering selling prices to consumers, of many articles manufactured hi the United Kingdom, and thus extending the demand for such articles.
On manufactured metal products of classes at present being made in Australia, the board recommends the retention of the existing rates of 45 per cent. (British preferential tariff), and 65 per cent (general tariff) . In cases where local manufacturers will require to make full use of the protection afforded by these rates, the excess costs to users of their products will be high, but the proportion which such goods bear to the total consumption is small. Over a large range of goods local competition may be relied on to regulate prices. The adoption of the board’s recommendations in respect of articles .not being commercially manufactured in Australia will give relief to many industries and to consumers generally, . and will remove some of the principal objection to the continuance of the high duties now in operation.
In the face of that very clear recommendation, which has obviously been overlooked by honorable senators when considering the matter, I feel that we should support the request that has been moved by Senator Johnston.
– I have a good deal of sympathy for the request, but point out that, from the departmental point of view, its acceptance is out of the question. As I intimated by interjection, the matter was discussed with the British Trade Commissioner, who prefers that specific provision should be made in the tariff for those classes of goods not manufactured in Australia rather than that there should be a further extension of the principle of bylaw admission. We have heard a great deal of well-founded criticism of by-law admission this morning, yet it is that principle which honorable senators are asked to perpetuate by supporting the request that has been made by Senator Johnston. Unfortunately, since Senator Massy Greene was Minister for Trade and Customs, the practice of by-law admission has gained considerable ground, with the result that the Customs Department is being overwhelmed by by-laws. While there is something to be saidfor the point of view expressed by Senator Johnston and those who think with him in regard to this sub-item, honorable senators must realize that some ofthe industries to which these duties apply are really uneconomical, and exist only by the grace of the exchange and primage position. From every point of view this is a complex subject, and the Government is trying to make the matter static in the tariff. The task is a colossal one, but I am confident that in a few months’ time the department will have made great progress along lines which will be satisfactory to all.
Question - That the request (Senator E. B. Johnston’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Hebbeet Hays.)
A yes .. . . . . 12
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from12.45to2.15 p.m.
Sub-items agreed to.
Item 213 (Coils for sugar boilers and the like).
– The proposed duties are 30 per cent. British preferential, and 50 per cent. general. The duties under theScullin tariff were 45 per cent. and 60 per cent. respectively. As sugar machinery is made at Maryborough and Bundaberg, in Queensland, surely coils for sugar boilers could be manufactured efficiently at those works. I should like the Minister to explain the reason for this decrease of duty.
– Thealteration made to the 1921-30 tariff by the present proposal is the deletion of the words “ Refrigerating condensers and coils “. The rates are the same as provided in the 1921-30 tariff, with the exception of an increase of the general tariff rate by 10 per cent. to conform to the Ottawa agreement formula. As compared with the previous Government’s proposals, the duties have been reduced from45 per cent. British preferential, and 60 per cent. general, to 30 per cent. and 50 per cent, respectively, and condensers and coils for refrigerators have been dropped from the item. The result of the alteration made by the present proposals is to transfer the refrigerator parts which were included in this item to item 176 f2, and thus make all refrigerator parts dutiable under the one item at the same rates of duty - 55 per cent. and 75 per cent. The amendment to this item is purely consequential to the refrigerator item and the Ottawa agreement. By increasing the duties under this item, the late ministry intended to increase the rates on the refrigerator parts included in the item, but coils for sugar boilers and the like were also subjected to the higher duties. As no representations have been received for increased duties on coils for sugar boilers, and the matter has not been dealt with by the Tariff Board, there is no reason for the retention of the higher duties.From last year’s imports it would appear that , by far the greater part of the value of the goods imported under the item was represented by refrigerator parts, whichnow come under another item. The objective of the previous Administration is known to the department, and it has been given effect in another part of the schedule. Item agreedto.
Division 7. - Oils, Paints and varnishes.
Item 232 , (c) (d) agreed to.
Item 250 (a) agreed to.
Item 278, sub-item (a2 ab) (Soda ash).
.- I have no intention at this stage tomove any request, but I should like to knowwhether it is not possible to make sodaash at any of the chemical works in Victoria and New South Wales.
.- In 1929-30 the value of the importations of soda-ash, mainly from the United Kingdom, was £121,304, and in 1930-31, £106,753, including £79,081 on account of the UnitedKingdom, and £24,029 on account of British East Africa, a countrywhich, up to that time,had been a small exporter of this commodity. The imports were practi- callythe same in 1931-32, as in 1930-31. The proposed item, which was introduced during the period of office of the previous Government, provides for rates of duty considerably below those of the 19.21-,30 tariff. The object of the proposed item is -
The Tariff Board furnished a report on the 29th June, 1931, recommending that soda ash be admitted free of duty from all countries. This recommendation arose out of a request by the Australian Glass ManufacturingCompany Limited for the admission free of duty of soda ash from British East. Africa. Soda ash was being admitted under Tariff Item 404 at free British preferential and 10 per cent. general, but the local manufacturers were desirous of obtaining a certain proportion of their requirements of soda ash at a lower cost from British East Africa. The East Africanproduct is of lower quality and cheaper than English soda ash, but is quitesuitable for the manufacture of glass and glassware. The 10 per cent. duty under Tariff Item 404, since increased to 15 per cent. ad valorem, thus constituted an unnecessary impost on thelocal industry. The Tariff Board, in making a recommendation for the admission of soda ash free of duty from all countries, probably didnot visualize the possibility of uncontrolled free importation diverting the trade to foreign countries for, apart from the United Kingdomand British East Africa, the United States of America was the only countryexporting any material quantities of soda ash to Australia, and the average value of the American product was 150 per cent. higher than that from the United Kingdom, and 270 per cent. higher than that from British East Africa. Although Russian soda ash had not been sold on the Australian market at the time, there wasreason for the belief that efforts werebeing made to effect -sales, and it was considered advisable to amend the item to provide for a preference of £2 per ton, the margin obtaining under the 1921- 30 tariff, on English soda ash over that imported from foreign countries. This was done by prescribing that admission under sub-paragraph a should be subject to departmental by-law, which would enable the Minister to limit f ree admission to English and British East African soda ash, and by imposing a general tariff rate of £2 per . ton under subparagraph b, which wouldmean that a duty of £2 per ton would be payable on soda ash from sources other than the United Kingdom and British East Africa. In order that soda ash from British East Africa should not unduly replace the English product, admission of soda ash free of duty from that colony is permitted only for glass-making and for fellmongering purposes. Some inquiries have been madeconcerning the establishment of this industry in Australia, but it is far too colossal for us to undertake at the moment.
– I thank the Minister for the information that he has supplied to me. I understand thatwe import soda ash mainly from Great Britain and British East Africa, and that the product of British East Africa, which is now duty free, is used in fellmongering and glass manufacture. As this product is evidently produced in British East Africa under cheap-labour conditions, I should like to knowwhether I would be in order in movingthatthe House of Representatives be requested to makethe duty30 per cent, in respectof imports from that colony ?
– The production of soda ash in both the United Kingdom and British East Africa is controlled by the one company, and therefore if the duty were made 30 per cent. against British East Africa, the product of that country would be diverted to Great Britain in order to evade the tariff.
Sub-item agreed to.
Item 280 (d2) agreed to.
Item 281, sub-item (o) -
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to makethe duties, British, 15 per cent. general, 30 per cent.
The rates which the Government now proposes to apply are based on the recommendation of the Tariff Board, and represent a reduction of the existing rates by 10 per cent., British preferential, and 12½ per cent. general. The proposed rates are lower by 10 per cent., ad valorem, than the rates imposed by the Scullin Government. They are, however, higher than the 1921-30 tariff rates by 15 per cent. ad valorem. The Tariff Board reported on this matter on 17th February last. Employment is given to only nine hands in the manufacture of acetyl-salicylic acid, the weekly wage bill being £47. About 98 per cent. of the raw materials used in the industry is imported, and represents 60 per cent. of the factory cost. In view of the nature of the industry, the board considers thatthe maintenance of the existing rates is not justified. The quality of the local product is satisfactory, while prices compare favorably with domestic market prices in the United Kingdom, plus c.i.f. charges. The board points out . also that the local product receives the general support of large users. For these reasons, and because of the fact that a portion of the local manufacturer’s raw material is dutiable at 15 per cent., ad valorem, the board considers that theindustry warrants some measure of protection, and has recommended thedutiesnow proposed. It is also of opinion that a duty of 15 per cent. in respect of importations from the United Kingdom is reasonable and adequate, and is highwhen compared with expenditure by the local manufacturer on labour in Australia. The possibility of dumping is being closely watched, and suitable action will be taken if necessary.
Request agreed to.
Sub-item agreed to subject to a request.
Items . 285, sub-items (a) (c) -
If containing not more than 20 per cent. proof spirit, per gallon, British, 4s.; general, 5s.
And for every additional 20 per cent. or fraction thereof of proof spirit, per gallon, British, 4s.; general, 5s.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), ad valorem., British, 20 per cent.
The Tariff Board has never inquired into medicines, and, therefore, we have no recommendation to guide us in regard to these sub-items. Some months ago, I received letters from F. H. Paulding and Company Limited, and Bickford and Sons Limited, wholesale chemists, and the Federated Pharmaceutical Service Guild of Australia, and the South Australian Friendly Societies Association, requesting the exemption of medicines from sales tax. Not only do I support that request, but I consider that some of the customs duties at present imposed on medicines, particularly those that are used by the poorer classes, are excessive. Sub-item a includes patent and proprietary medicines and drugs, and even medicines for animals. I was told recently that at no time in our history was less care taken of the health of animals than at the present time. One of the letters to which I have referred read as follows: -
It is our desire to ally ourselves with the movement which has as its object the exemption from sales tax on all drugs, biological and pharmaceutical preparations and medicines. While it is recognized that taxation in its varying forms is necessary if our indebtedness is to be reduced, it should be possible to raise sufficient revenue without increasing thecost of drugs and medicines, which already carry heavy primage and other costs.
Owing to the large numbers of unemployed, and the reduced spending power of the remainder, many people to-day are unable to purchase medicines necessary for the restoration of their health. Lack of proper nourishment is causing an increase in sickness and wastage, and yet, we arc forced to demand a tax from these people should they seek a remedy. We feel sure, sir, that we may count upon your co-operation in seeking the removal of sales tax upon drugs, &c. We wouldalso include in our request exemption upon certain approved proprietary medicines, and upon substances for the preparation of infant foods. It is a remarkable anomaly of the present exemptions that canary seed and foods for birds are exempt, whilst some products which are necessary in the preparation of infant and children’s foods must carry the tax. This is unjust! Proprietary medicines are in many cases prescribed by the medical profession, and are equally worthy of exemption.
Another letter contains this passage -
Drugs and medicines are already highly taxed under the tariff, primage, and high excise duties, and it is considered that they already contribute more than their full share towards revenue.
I quote also from a third letter -
It is further considered that proprietary medicines should be included amongst the desired exemptions, because, in the great majority of cases, tried and approved remedies for specific diseases are used by people who do not need, or cannot afford, to seek constant medical attention.
That statement is particularly true. Many people are to-day getting medical advice for which they either cannot, or do not intend to, pay. The benevolence of the medical profession during the last two or three years is worthy of the greatest praise. Many physicians and surgeons have been rendering service to the community with very little prospect of payment, and often at direct pecuniary loss. There are, however, other sufferers who, instead of consulting doctors, prefer to treat themselves with recognized proprietary medicines, and it is unreasonable to ask them to pay on these a duty of 30 per cent., plus exchange, primage, and sales tax. I recognize that the duties on these subitems are consistent with other portions of the schedule, for even surgeons’ rubber gloves are subject to duties of 35 per cent. British and 55 per cent. general and surgical instruments to duties of 40 per cent. and 50 per cent.
– Surgeons who charge up to £100 for an operation can afford to pay these duties. They constitute one of the richest sections of the community.
– Many operations are done without payment.
– To an unprecedented extent, medical men have given their services during the last few years to suffering humanity, and the statement that they belong to one of the richest sections of the community is vicious and untrue. I know of surgeons who, a few years ago, were earning substantial incomes, but to-day are earning barely more than their professional expenses. These duties on medicines affect, also, hospitals, public and private. I offer no criticism of the medicines manufactured by local firms, or indeed, of the manufacturers themselves; they are probably quite adequate, but the makers should not require protection to the extent that the Government proposes. Senator ‘ Crawford would be doing a good service to the people if he would help to make medicines cheaper. Doctors’ fees have never caused me so much surprise as have the’ charges one has to pay to have ordinary prescriptions dispensed. Many of the ingredients are inexpensive, and one wonders why chemists charge so much for dispensed medicines; it is like the charge for a cup of tea. I suggest that the manufacturing chemists make more profits than the surgeons and physician’s. There is a strange inconsistency about our methods. We exempt books, pamphlets, magazines and other aids to learning from certain forms of taxation, but we tax the means by which professional learning is practically . applied. Surely surgical instruments and medicines are as fit subjects . for exemption as are books on chemistry, physiology, and anatomy.
– That the Government is not wholly unsympathetic towards the principle enunciated by Senator DuncanHughes is shown by the fact that insulin, for instance, has been removed from the group in which it formerly appeared, and is now admitted free of duty from the United Kingdom.
– That almost admits the principle for the recognition of which I am contending.
– In June of last year, Sir Henry Gullett, when Minister for Trade and Customs, referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report the duties on spiritvs cetherisnitrosi and spiritus ammonice aromaticus. In May of this year, the duty on liver extract was re ferred to the board for report, and insulin, which is manufactured in the Commonwealth laboratories at Melbourne, has been added to the free list. As a number of the preparations covered by this sub-item are being produced in Australia, we should hesitate before removing the protection that was given to the manufacturers. Those goods which cannot be manufactured economically in Australia will eventually be eliminated from this subitem. Meantime, I must oppose the request. The revenue from the duty on these preparations amounts to about £70,000 annually. I can assure Senator Duncan-Hughes that the matter is having close attention, and it is hoped to receive a report f rom the Tariff Board shortly.
– The Minister’s reply indicates that the Tariff Board, which has had referred to it so many matters, must be exceedingly busy with its many inquiries. Since no report on the duties covered by this sub-item has been received from that body, we may assume that the manufacture of these preparations has been established without being, in any way authorized after expert consideration. Sub-item b, of item 285, appearing in the first group of the tariff memorandum issued to honorable senators for convenience in this discussion, covers a number of medicines and other preparations which may be admitted under departmental by-laws free in the British tariff, and subject to an ad valorem duty of 10 per cent. in the general tariff.From this division of the item I assume we may take it that importations of any medicines or other preparations that are made in Australia, will be dutiable under this sub-item, while those that are not being manufactured here may be admitted under departmental by-law. In view of the general condition of the people, and in the interest of the public health, some relief should be given from these high duties, particularly at a time when our hospitals are crowded with people who are in need of medical attention and skilled treatment. The general health of the community should be considered before the interests of the relatively small section that is engaged in the manufacture of these preparations.
– To carry the request would be to repudiate the promises made to a number of overseas manufacturers who have established branches .in Australia. Many of the products included in this sub-item are selling at lower prices now than was the case when supplies were being imported. Senator Duncan-Hughes has suggested that the general health of the community is suffering through the operation of these duties. I do not agree with him. All honorable senators must know, from newspaper articles published from time to time, that the condition of -the public health in this country has never been better than it is to-day. I am aware, of course, that a considerable demand is being made upon all public hospitals for free treatment, due to the circumstances of many of our citizens owing to the depression, but I fail to see that a reduction of the duties in this sub-item will be of advantage to any one, while it will certainly injure those who are engaged in the production of drugs and chemicals in Australia, whether as employers or employees.
– My sympathies are entirely with those unfortunate persons who stand in need of medical attention and hospital treatment. What section of the community has a stronger claim to consideration? The absence of any direct appeal to mc or to other honorable senators, through the post, by the individuals or firms who are engaged in the manufacture of these( drugs and chemicals forces me to the conclusion that these persons do not consider that their livelihood would be endangered by the lowering of the duties. Therefore, believing, as I do, that those who require medical attention and special treatment should be first in our thoughts, I intend to support the request. The existing duties are too high. The sick and suffering are knocking at our doors. I have opened mine to them; what are other honorable senators going to do ?
– The duty on this item has not been increased, and I believe the same rates have been in force ever since we have had a tariff. Item 285 contains the following statement: -
Medicines and other preparations included in sub-item (a), and not being similar to the medicines and other preparations made in the Commonwealth, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, ad valorem, British preferential, free; general, 10 per cent.
That provision has been most generously administered. I have a book here showing the by-law admissions, and no fewer than six full pages record the admission of medicines of various classes under bylaw provisions. The honorable senator has probably not heard from any interested party in Australia seeking support for these duties, because they have been in operation for so long that it has not been anticipated that they would be attacked. In the circumstances, the best thing to do is to allow the board to examine them. We were informed that insulin was not made outside the Commonwealth laboratories, but liver extract is, apparently, being made by this company. Inquiries will be made to determine whether the firm is able to supply extract of good quality, and in sufficient quantity. Wide differences of opinion exist even among physicians of good repute as to whether the products df one firm are as good as those of another. It would be dangerous to disturb the existing position, especially in view of the generous administration of the bylaw.
:- I desire to remind honorable senators that, even if the request moved by Senator Duncan-Hughes be agreed to, the Australian manufacturers will still enjoy as much protection as when the duties were first imposed, a fact which is accounted for by the effect of the primage and exchange rates which importers now have to pay. The effect of primage and exchange has forced up the price of practically every patent medicine on the market. Household remedies which have been in use for years, particularly by the poorer people, have been increased in price from ls. 6d. to 2s. The other day a chemist told me that on more than half a dozen lines of proprietary medicines the price had been increased by 25 to 30 per cent., due to exchange and primage. These facts compel me to support Senator Duncan-Hughes’ request.
SenatorRAE (New South Wales) [3.7]. - Most of the medicines thatare of any value seem already to be admitted free. Senator Payne said that the price of patent medicines had been increased. I know from the perusal of a work compiled at the request of the New South Wales Government some years ago, that most patent medicines are absolute frauds, and that the majority of people would be better in health if they could not obtain them. I pity the ignorance of those people who waste their money, and sometimes injure their health, by buying and using patent medicines.
– The price of insulin is less in Australia than in America.
SenatorRAE. - Senator Lynch said that no communications had been received by honorable senators asking them to support the present duty, but the honorable senator must admit that none has been received for the abolition of the duty. I have received noletters or telegrams on the subject.
– I quoted from letters asking for the abolition of the sales tax on medicines, and that is of less importance than the duty.
SenatorRAE. - The majority of the public seems to be well satisfied with the position as it is, and I see no reason for supporting the honorable senator’s request.
Question - That the request (Senator Duncan-Hughes’) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sub-items agreed to.
Item 286 (b) (c) agreed to.
Item 290 (cl, 2)- (c2) Toilet preparations (perfumed or not), n.e.i., ad valorem - British, 45 per cent.; general, 70 per cent., with an additional duty if spirituous as follows: -
If containing not more than 20 per cent. of proof spirit, per gallon - British 4s.; general, 5s.
And for every additional 20 per cent. or fraction thereof of proof spirit, per gallon - British, 4s.; general, 5s.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the fixed duties, paragraph 2, twice occurring - British, 5s.; general,6s.
The fixed rates now proposed are1s. a gallon higher than the existing rates. The increase in the fixed rate according to spirit content was recommended by the Tariff Board in its report of the 12th May, 1933. The board recommended ad valorem rates of duty lower than the existing rates to the extent of only 5 per cent. under thegeneral tariff. The Australian delegation at Ottawa undertook to maintain a margin of 25 per cent. ad valorem between the British preferential tariff and the general tariff on perfumery and toilet preparations. The Tariff Board has recommended duties of British preferential 45 per cent. and general 65 per cent., which provide a margin of only 20 per cent. ad valorem. The addition of 5 per cent. ad valorem to the general rate recommended by the board will maintain the promised margin.
Request agreed to.
Sub-item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item 291, sub-items (c2) (h1, 2, 3) (H)-
Timber, undressed, n.e.i., viz.: - Other-
– I move -
That the House of Representatives bc requested to make the duties, sub-item (Hi) - British, 8s.; general, 10*.
Under the 1921-30 tariff, the rates were British 8s. and general 8s. per 100 super, feet. The importation of douglas fir, popularly known as Oregon, which is included in this sub-item, is, I understand, at present being investigated by the Tariff Board. Whatever arguments may be adduced in favour of Australian timbers, it cannot be said that any Australian timber is a suitable substitute for Oregon. Our Queensland friends have told us from time to time that there are valuable timbers in that State suitable for building purposes, but I submit that those timbers are too valuable to be used for the purposes for which Oregon is used, and are more suitable for furnishing and decorative purposes. In 1914, the duty on Oregon was 6d. per 100 super, feet, but to-day it is 12s. 6d., or 25 times greater. Oregon timber is placed free on board Pacific coast ports at 4s. 4d. per 100 super, feet; but the price in Australia, duty paid but exclusive of exchange and primage duty, is 25s. 6d. per 100 super, feet. I am not suggesting that we should import Oregon in the smaller sizes ; but, if the larger sizes were imported, they could be cut up in Australia, and this would give work to our people. Although Queensland and New South Wales may be able to provide much of the timber required for building purposes, those States still have to import extensively. In 1930-31 the importations of Oregon by the various States, in super, feet, were as follow: New South Wales, 3,779,000; Victoria, 203,462; Queensland, 101,719; South Australia, 117,448; and Western Australia, 96,635. Those figures represent the importations of undressed douglas fir required in constructing homes, sheds, and other improvements on farms. Quite recently I built a shed 80 feet by 40 feet, in which I used 1,100 super, feet of jarrah, and 2,300 super, feet of Oregon. I would not have been able to use the jarrah had Oregon not been available to provide roofing supports.
– Why not use karri ?
– Some times Australian hardwoods can be used in conjunction with imported softwoods. South Australia, which is suffering the disability of not being able to produce softwoods of a suitable quality, has to. procure its requirements from the other States, and high freights are charged on such timber. I have been informed by a member of the Master Builders Association in South Australia that, in building a five-roomed house, the extra cost involved owing to the high duty on oregon is. £16 or £17. As this imposition is unnecessarily high, some reduction should be made. The Government has repeatedly stated that it is opposed to the indiscriminate imposition of customs duties in the absence of reports from the Tariff Board. I believe that the duties now in force were recommended by a former Minister for Trade and Customs who happened to represent Queensland. Although a good deal may be said on this subject, I submit that, in this instance, we ought to consider the duties proposed from the view-point that Australian timbers cannot be economically used in place of oregon.
.- The honorable senator will realize that I always listen most sympathetically to anything said on this subject, and that, in another capacity, I dealt with this subject from certain aspects in no uncertain way. The Government is faced with certain difficulties in this matter, and the recommendations of the Tariff Board have been acted upon with the exception of that relating to Oregon. Until a further report has been received from the Tariff Board, the Government does not feel disposed to remove the protection which has been in force for nearly three years, because its withdrawal might have a serious effect upon country sawmillers.
– Has the Tariff Board recommended a reduction?
– The inquiry is now proceeding, and it should not be long before the report is received. I ask honorable senators to allow these duties to remain until the Government has considered a further report from the board. Immediately the board’s report comes to hand, it will be made available, and if any alteration of the duties is recommended, it will be submitted to Parliament.
.- Some years ago, when the building boom was in full swing, there was a tremendous demand for building timber. There may be something in the suggestion of Senator Badman that certain softwoods should be imported, but anyone knowing the position of the timber trade in Australia will realize that there is no justification whatever for the importation of foreign timbers. There is a superabundance of softwoods and hardwoods in Australia to meet all building requirements, and, at present, those engaged in timber-cutting in Queensland and Tasmania have difficulty in making a bare living.
– The use of Oregon will not cause unemployment.
– If oregon or other imported softwoods are substituted for Australian timbers, large numbers of timbergetters all over Australia will be thrown out of work. Senator Badman suggests that Queensland softwoods are only suitable for furniture-making and decorative purposes, but such woods are particularly useful in dwelling-houses, for making ceilings and other such purposes. Action has already been taken in Queensland to prevent the charging of exorbitant prices and royalties. The Queensland Forestry Department is also making additional areas of forest available. If we reduce the duties on softwoods, and allow general importations from America, our own timber industry will be seriously prejudiced.
– The duties on undressed timber are of great importance to those engaged in the timber industry in Queensland, and in some of the other States. There appears to be a good deal of ignorance as to what timbers Australia can provide, the way in which they can be handled here, and the alterations which have occurred in building construction. It was once honestly believed that Australia could not produce its own timber requirements, but it has been proved that we are capable of providing for all our needs. Honorable senators representing Queensland feel very strongly on this matter, because in that State there is a wonderful supply of timber suitable for building purposes, or for the manufacture of furniture. As a matter of fact the timber used in this chamber is Queensland black bean, which is a wonderful advertisement for a Queensland timber. On the 13th of last month, evidence was submitted to the Tariff Board in Queensland by the Timber Merchants Association of Queensland, and- the Timber Exporters Association on the subject of oregon pine. I have a summary of the evidence submitted by those organizations.
– By the Timber Merchants Association?
– Senator Badman appears to be anxious to have confirmation of that statement. I am not so young and innocent that I do not know the reason for his inquiry. We who sit on this side shall be told later, as we have been told in connexion with other matters, that we are again supporting the employing class in this particular matter. We offer no apology for doing that; and we are justified, in that we do not stand for the exploitation of either our products or the workers by any of these interests. The evidence submitted to the Tariff Board by the bodies to which I have referred, contained the following statement : -
The product of the timber industry has the advantage of being one of great permanence, as witness the life of timber used in building construction, furniture, &c, &c. Consequently, in applying labour to our own grown timbers, we create something which, according to sound economic doctrine, is real wealth, such as the essential needs of civilization undoubtedly are. G-rowing forests cannot be regarded as real wealth so long as the timber cannot be economically marketed. In fixing the ‘present existing duties, it must be assumed that this contention has been admitted by the Tariff Board.
The evidence then deals with .several matters that are not of immediate importance, and goes on to say -
There has been so radical a change in the former method of constructing large buildings, now carried out in steel, instead of brick and stone, that the need for long lengths of uprights has disappeared; the requirements for concrete boxing is being met by lower grades of pine, much of which was at one period wasted because of the low selling value of oregon pine. . . .
There is no necessity to reduce the customs duties existing on Oregon pine for the following reasons: -
Oregon pine used for mining purposes foi underground work is already admitted free on the grounds of certain advantages claimed for it in giving earlier notice prior to a break when miners’ lives might be in danger.
In the larger class of buildings throughout Australia where Oregon pine, and in our case, hardwood, was used in large quantities, the. position is totally different to-day, since roofing timber, timber for strutting and scaffolding, and case quality for concreting, and joinery timber embrace the uses to which timber is now put. Steel girders and beams are now used throughout, and most floors are of reinforced concrete or gypsum.
There is so little building going on throughout the Commonwealth to-day, as compared with the years 1925 to 1926, representing a drop of from G5 per cent, to 75 per cent., and even greater in some of the States, that there would be no difficulty for the mills throughout Australia to supply all the hardwood and pine that is required while - this depression lasts, and for some time while a recovery may be taking place. The more money we can keep in Australia, providing we have the goods - and we submit we have the goods, as a visit to some of the mills and forests will prove - the better it will be for Australia.
Large stocks of wide boards, scantlings, linings and floorings, are held by the mills in Queensland, which number from 247 in 1928, to 208 in 1932. Realizing the intermittent operations of many of these mills, it is not difficult to visualize the great amount of work these mills could give if they were all working full time.
I submit that these are all facts, and that they show the unwisdom of agreeing to the reduction sought by Senator Badman. There is also involved the question raised yesterday in connexion with the ship-building industry; that is, the terrible tragedy caused by the existence of an army of ‘ unemployed Australian youths. There is no finer occupation in which our growing youth could engage than scientific forestry, and if the requisite fillip were given to the Australian industry, avenues of employment ‘ would be opened in that direction. Those who are engaged in the work of timber falling and hauling are having a very hard struggle, because of the lessened demand for timber on account of the slump in building activities. Therefore, we should act wisely if we took every step possible to preserve the protection that is now afforded to the industry. I quote the following furth’er paragraph from the evidence given in Brisbane : -
The effect of the importation of a cheap foreign timber upon the development of Queensland saw-milling has been to encourage its use to the detriment of our own timbers of superior quality. A comparison pf the strengths as set out in authoritative works wherein this data will be found indicates that the bending and crushing tests of Queensland pine are comparable with those of Oregon pine. Furthermore, the result of tests published in 1900 in a book by the- late James Mann, a recognized authority, point to the considerable saving that can be made by using Australian hardwoods of lesser dimensions to give the same results as Oregon pine. An example: - A 40-f.t. length of ironbark, 8 inches by 8 inches is capable of carrying the same load as a similar length of Oregon pine 11 inches by 11 inches, a saving of superficial measurement in such a length of timber being 194 superficial feet. It has been definitely shown that ironbark timber has great - fireresisting qualities that have minimized the destruction which would have ensued had it not been used. The low price of Oregon has discouraged its use to such an extent as will be gauged from a study of the enormous quantities of oregon pine which have been imported into Australia.
The salient fact is that Queensland is opening up in the far north of the State, vast tracts of timber country that have not so far been exploited. That action is being taken because of the known qualities of the timbers which grow there, and their suitability for all forms of building construction and every other purpose for which timber is required. I, therefore, urge the rejection of the request, which would strike a blow at a valuable primary industry and all the industries that are dependent on it.
– I feel a little sympathetic with Senator Badman, because he represents a State that is in a unique position, compared with the- other States, in that it has no forests. Those who have passed through the Huon Valley, in Tasmania, especially in the neighbourhood . of Geeveston,- will admit that* it contains some of the finest forests in the world.
The timber resources’ of the; west coast of that State have been; “entirely unexploited. The Mandated Territory has an- abundance of timbers that’ hate not yet been touched* but it is not necessary to draw on, them, because the supplies in Australia are sufficient’ for’ our requirements’. There are- extensive forests on the north coast of New South Wales, on the Dorrigo” Tableland, and in other places, but the mills in those districts are practically id3a New South Wales has exported to China, India’,- and other countries, hundreds’ of thousands of timber sleepers. The Atherton Tableland, in Queensland, is- rich in timber,, and its woods- grace some’ of the finest buildings in London, the hub of the British Empire. Only the other day, the Sydney Labor Daily published a fine photograph depicting a huge quantity of Queensland walnut logs being landed at the ship’s side for export to the United States of America. I am convinced that if the American people could obtain walnut of equal quality without drawing on Australia’s supplies of, that timber, they would do so. Queensland also grows maple, of which most of the furniture in > this country is made. There are ample supplies of pine in New South Wales. As a matter of fact, the pine grown on the Dorrigo Tableland is used for the same purpose as the Kahikatea pine in New Zealand-‘- known in the trade as white pine-namely for butter boxes, because it does not taint butter. I credit honorable senators with the desire to, at all times, give Australian industries a fair go. Let us review the position in connexion with oregon. In the United States of America, because of the monetary policy adopted, the dollar is depreciated, with the result that millions of feet of American Oregon can -be dumped into Canada. Trade union labour is employed in the timber-milling industry in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, and Tasmania. Senator Brown, who has had practical experience in the timber regions of British Columbia, has seen thousands of Chinese coolies brought to the west coast of British Columbia for the timbergetting season. The logging camps there are thronged with armies of the most sweated workers that can be raked up from! the east coast of the United States of America, and from? Pennsylvania.
Australian ironbark is “exported to man parts of the world. Jarrah wood blocks produced in Western Australia pave the streets’ of Sydney, Brisbane, Newcastle; Melbourne, Adelaide) and Perth. The timber “go-getters’” in Canada reap the advantage of the preferential rates granted under the Ottawa agreement, and- export oregon to Australia to the detriment of the local industry. Many builders claim that Australian hardwoods- are not suitable for the framework of houses, but’ all. the objections’ to the local timber can be overcome by the scientific seasoning of the wood before it is used for building- purposes. The speculative builder who prefers oregon to Australian hardwood, does so because he can get more out of -his hired labour with oregon than when Australian: hardwood is used. Hardwood is not so easily sawn and- nailed. Tasmania has millions of acres of fine- forests awaiting development; but, -by the encouragement of - the importation of oregon, the local industry is left in sorry straits. Common justice demands that we should consider the claims of the thousands of boys who cannot find employment on leaving school. The prosperity of Tasmania is founded practically upon its timber industry. Thousands’ of Tasmanians from the back country have migrated to the mainland, and among them are some of the finest timber-getters to be found in the Commonwealth. Victoria and Western Australia also have large forest areas that could be developed, if the value of our local timber were more widely recognized, and encouragement were not given to the timber exported to Australia from the Pacific Coast of North America, and produced by sweated Chinese labour.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– I realize the difficulties of States other than Queensland, which are not so well off in natural forests, and do not grow sufficient softwoods to enable them to manage without “Oregon. I understand that honorable senators from South Australia favour the importation of oregon.
Queensland has no occasion to import this timber, and it would be glad if the other States could also do without it. We should take every ^opportunity to encourage the use of timber grown in our own country,, even if it involves putting up with some slight disadvantages. The quantity of oregon logs imported into Queensland fell from 413,000 super, feet in 1930-31, to 221 super, feet in 1931-32. Including the importations of sawn oregon, the total fell during that period from 1,009,000 super. . feet to 256,000 super, feet. Those figures show, that Queensland does not find it necessary to use much Oregon. One naturally asks why Queensland should use any oregon at all; but, of course, the prejudice against Australian timbers dies hard. The production of hoop pine in Queensland is increasing, and this timber is found to be quite as useful as oregon for building purposes. The Queensland timber industry has suffered considerably, and if the duties on oregon are reduced, employment in Queensland, and in other parts of Australia, will be restricted. Official statistics show that 3,770 persons were engaged in saw-mills in Queensland in 1928-29, but only 2,393 in 1931-32. I received a letter the other day from a friend in the State Forestry Department, and his communication shows that it would be wise to give every possible encouragement to the local industry. For that purpose, the stumpage duties of Queensland have been considerably reduced. I should like to see Queensland softwoods exported to South Australia. The timber merchants have had conferences with a view to improving the distribution of timber and overcoming the difficulties arising from the heavy duties on oregon. It should be possible to place Queensland softwoods in the other States at only a slight additional cost, and thereby confer an advantage on the Australian timber industry. I speak , for this industry, not in the interests of one section of the people alone, although I am concerned chiefly with the employees, but in the interests of Australia as a whole. The development of the Australian timber industry will mean the employment of more Australian workers. The forestry officer to whom I have referred, writes -
The position is that the extra tariff was put on to stimulate the Australian timber trade and it has undoubtedly given the necessary assistance to encourage local sawmillers to take fresh heart and open up their local trade.. The necessity for this emergency still exists and if taken off will practically ruin the saw-milling industry.
– That is always the story.
– Although the statement may be an exaggeration, the fact remains that a reduction of the duty on oregon would lead to increased importations, to the detriment, if not the ruin, of the local industry. Obviously, the purpose” of the request is to make it possible to import more oregon. Senator Badman. - Its object is to make Oregon cheaper.
– The financial statement presented by the Assistant Treasurer (Senator Massy Greene) a few days ago, revealed an additional revenue of £3,000,000 from customs duties since the Scullin Government’s tariff was more or less set aside. Every downward alteration of the tariff gives an impetus to importations. The letter continues -
The Yanks are only waiting for the opportunity to swamp the southern markets with oregon pine and redwood.
That man is in the timber business, not with the object, of exploiting the community, but because he wishes to see il prosper. I know him personally as an enthusiastic officer of one of the State Forestry Departments. I am not quoting from a letter received from a sawmiller or other person financially interested in the timber industry. The writer goes on to say -
At present owing to the emergency tariff, there is no oregon imported into Western Australia or Tasmania. Very little into Queensland and Victoria or South Australia.. New South Wales are the heaviest importers. South Australia are now using their own softwoods. Victoria, with the assistance of the tariff have reorganized their hardwood trade, and by correct handling and seasoning are quietly pushing out the imported timbers. New South Wales is commencing to follow Victoria and utilize her own timbers, but if the emergency tariff is lifted, both Victoria and New South Wales will naturally revert to the cheaper imported article and thereby close a lot of the mills and throw the men out of employment. It is strongly stressed that Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland are using their natural hardwoods whereever they can be used. Queensland has sufficient softwoods (hoop pine, &c. ) to supply thu whole of the Australian requirements foi some years to come. I am at present corresponding with the Department of the Interior at Canberra, whose experts state and specif; that there is no Australian timber suitable for joinery or window sashes, and that they will, therefore, use nothing for these particular purposes only American oregon or redwood.
It would appear that a prejudice against Australian timbers exists at the capital of this continent. Unfortunately, many experts are inclined to express opinions which they know will find favour with the government in power. In several instances they have carried on a vendetta against Queensland industries. The letter proceeds -
I have pointed out to them that hoop pine has been recognized by both Queensland and southern experts as one of the finest joinery timbers in the. world, also the silky oak, cedar and beech are equal, and no doubt better, than redwood for sashes. Buildings erected in Queensland 90 years ago have cedar and beech sashes, and are as good to-day as they were the day they wore erected, also that practically all the main public and government buildings erected in Queensland during the past SO years have hoop pine and silky oak joinery and cedar, beech, and silky oak window sashes, and it has proved so satisfactory that these timbers are all being mainly used in buildings at present being erected. The Queensland Government has forbidden the use of Oregon or any other imported ‘timbers in any government buildings including workers1 dwellings.
The Queensland Government, composed of big-hearted Labour men, has decided in favour of Australian industries, and, to that end, it has placed an embargo on the use of imported timber in government buildings.
– Why should Labour men be more big-hearted than others?
– I do not know the reason; but they are. A further paragraph in this letter reads -
It is generally claimed that you cannot get hoop pine in long lengths, but a recent job required beams 55 ft. long, 8 inches x 6 inches, and these were supplied without any trouble with Queensland hoop pine.
I happened to be in the office of the department when the order for that timber was received. Immediately, the officers got in touch with a firm of timber merchants, and, before I left, an order had been, placed with it for the supply of this timber. Subsequently, the order was filled. There is the answer to the charge that Australian timbers cannot be supplied in any considerable lengths. The writer concludes his letter -
I have tried to give the main facts and points. We claim, and we can prove our claim, that we have a timber for every requirement in Queensland, with the exception of cricket bats.
– The manufacture of cricket bats was commenced in South Australia several years ago.
– Honorable senators from Queensland claim that the softwoods grown in that State are equal to imported oregon, and that, if the distribution of timber were properly organized, and assistance in the matter of freights granted by the State governments, South Australia and other States could obtain all the’ timber they require without importing it from other countries.
– I am in complete accord with Senator Badman on the subject of the duty on Oregon. I listened with interest to those honorable senators representing States which are fortunate enough to produce many excellent timbers, and I agree with what they have said about our Australian hardwoods. Their praise of Queensland hoop pine is also justified; but the experts whom I have consulted - and I have consulted many of them - agree that it is too valuable, as well as too scarce,” to be used merely as a roofing timber. They are unanimously of the opinion that this timber should be reserved for other purposes, and that, if Australia’s requirements of roofing timber were, supplied from its hoop-pine forests, those forests would not last many years. Apart from hoop pine, no other Australian timber can take the place of Oregon, for roofing purposes, particularly in the construction of houses to accommodate workers.
– Queensland can supply all the timber needed for any purpose.
– That may be, but at an excessive cost. Honorable senators will not accuse me of wishing to interfere with the Navigation Act, which provides for the observance of decent conditions on board the ships which trade in Australian waters ; nevertheless, the fact remains that it costs more to bring timber to South Australia from Queensland than from Canada. That is one of the chief complaints of those engaged in the building trade in South Australia, and it explains why all sections of the people of that State - the Labour party, the industrial unions, the building trade, the timber merchants, the architects, and others - favour a reduction of the duties on oregon. The people of South Australia are prepared to use hardwood for other purposes, but they maintain that oregon has no satisfactory substitute for roofing purposes, or for the construction of the framework necessary to sustain reinforced concrete before it has set. The other timbers which could satisfactorily be substituted are obtainable only at prohibitive prices. South Australia has endeavoured to overcome this difficulty by planting large areas of country with Pinus radiata ; but, so far, the experiment has not been- a wonderful success, although this timber has been found suitable for some purposes. Since the State Government owns practically all the forests in South Australia, arid should therefore be particularly keen on using local softwoods, if possible, it is significant that the specifications for all the government buildings erected under the supervision of the department of the Architect-in-Chief last year provided that oregon must be used for roofing purposes. That decision was made after the department had experimented for three or four years with Pinus radiata.
– In what sizes can Pinus radiata be supplied?
– A difficulty associated with the use of that timber in the past, which may possibly be overcome in the future, is the comparatively small sizes into which it” has to be cut. Pinus radiata has a tendency to knots, and, in other countries, is planted thickly to overcome this drawback. However, as there is no pulp manufactory in South Australia to make use of the “thinnings “, the trees are planted so close together that they do not reach the dimensions or height that would be attained if they were thinned scientifically as in other countries. As the’ years go by, that difficulty will be overcome. The duty on oregon adds £10 to the cost of roofing an ordinary worker’s dwelling.
– How many superficial feet would it take to roof such a building?
– About 1,600.
– I think that the honorable senator is in error.
– My authority is Mr. Laybourne-Smith, a prominent architect in South Australia, who appeared before the Tariff Board on the 4th July, and is reported to have said -
As an instance of the effect of the timber tariffs on housing, the roof framing on a worker’s cottage required 1,600 superficial feet, costing £26 8s. Duty at its present level is £9 12s., or more than a third of the total cost of the timber.
– If the honorable senator makes a calculation, he will find that that reckoning is incorrect.
– I have no opportunity to calculate while making my speech.
– I think that the roof to which the honorable senator has referred is required for tiles, not for galvanized iron.
– It may be for tiles, the use of which is common in Adelaide, as they are more suitable to. local conditions than is galvanized iron.
Much has been said about the increase in employment that has been afforded to the saw-milling industry in those States which are fortunate enough to possess softwoods. A considerable part of that increased employment has been provided at the expense of the timber workers of South Australia, for, prior to the imposition of the duty on oregon, the practice was to import that timber in flitches of about 12 inches by 10 inches or larger, which were milled in my State to the size required. I can remember when 360 members of the South Australian Sawmillers Union were engaged in that work, but that number has now fallen to below 200. The employment has been transferred from my own to other States, to the benefit of timber workers, saw-millers, and others in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania, and to the detriment of similar persons in South Australia. The net gain to the nation is hil, except that a little additional labour is provided in obtaining from our forests timber for which a substitute was previously imported from the United States of America. In the old days, approximately 80 per cent. of the actual work of milling the timber required in South Australia was done in that State, and if Senator Badman’s request is accepted, those conditions will again obtain.
Mr. C. J. Burge, who is secretary of the Timber Workers Union of South Australia, gave evidence before the Tariff Board which supports the recommendation that was made by that body, and is in conformity with the request that has been moved by Senator Badman. I have been most consistent in my support of adequate duties, but in this case I feel that the best interests of Australia as a whole will be served by again resorting to the custom of importing Oregon in flitches, which would give more work in South Australia and reduce the cost of building in that State, as well as in other centres where local timber cannot be obtained at a reasonable price.
– It is to be regretted, from an Australian point of view, that we are not making more use of Australian timbers. Perhaps, for exceptional purposes, such as use in mines, where a timber is needed that has strength and pliability, and where lives are dependent upon its stability, oregon ismost suitable; but, generally speaking, Australian softwoods fulfil all requirements. We also have admirable hardwoods, such as jarrah from Western Australia, of which there is a considerable quantity in the floors of this building.
Near my home at New Farm, in Brisbane, I have watched the unloading of hundreds of thousands of superficial feet of Oregon, and I have almost wept tears of blood when I thought of our forests of splendid timbers that are merely awaiting the application of the axe. I have alwaysfelt sorry, too, to see the thousands of acres of our timber ringbarked in past years, and left to die, so that later it might be burnt. Reafforestation has had the attention of State governments in Queens- land, and great areas of land have been planted with suitable timbers, which will be available for use when the original supplies are depleted. Senator O’Halloran expressed a fear that hoop pine would be too expensive to use for roofing purposes; also that supplies would not be equal to the demand. There are millions and millions of superficial feet of hoop pine in my State, sufficient to answer the most exacting calls for the next twenty years, when the young trees that have been planted should be available.
There has been a 75 per cent. drop in the sales of timber in Queensland, and, to emphasize the state of depression in the industry, I mention that the Government of that State has disposed of its saw-mills to private enterprise. That should urge us to stimulate business in local timbers as much as possible, and to restrict imports. I was surprised that Senator O’Halloran should be so parochial as to claim that the purchase by South Australia of Queensland timbers would not benefit his State. In these matters we must think nationally. As a matter of fact, the benefit gained by one would radiate to others, and the stimulation of our timber trade would help not only those directly engaged in it, such as millers, workers, and teamsters, but also farmers, who provide the horses that are needed, shopkeepers and other sections. It would provide a local market for many products, which would be much more beneficial to the nation than any comparatively small aniount of work that couldbe given by the importation of Oregon in logs. South Australia is likely to get a better return from trading with another State than from trading witha foreign country such as the United States of America, Japan or China. The balance of trade between Australia and the United States of America is very much against us, and when we contemplate it we have a justifiable feeling of anger. We have heard a good deal about the production of cheap timber, and Senator Dunn and other honorable senators rightly said that one of the reasons for cheap timber is cheap labour, and, in that respect, the United States of America has shamefully exploited migrants from Europe.
– And Chinese.
– Not much more than a generation ago, Americans, many of whom prided themselves on the fact that their forefathers took passage in the Mayflower, not only used slaves on their plantations, hut also fought for the retention of black slavery. That still is a stigma on that country. It is true that the wages for skilled work are higher there than in Australia, but the conditions under which the great mass of the American workers exist are far inferior to the conditions here. The object of Senator Badman is to enable his State to obtain their requirements more cheaply. But it sometimes happens .that a cheap article is the worse in the long run, and that it is better to pay a high price in order to obtain a good article. If we buy Australian goods, we assist not only the industry concerned, but Australia generally in its time of depression. There should .be no reduction of the duties under this item until, at least, the report of the Tariff Board is available. That is a sound argument, and one which has been used frequently by the supporters of the Government and the freetraders in this chamber to suit their own purposes. If interstate shipping freights were reduced, South Australia would be able to obtain Queensland timber more cheaply. It seems strange that the cost of transport of timber from Western America to South Australia - a distance of over 6,000 miles - is less than -the cost of transport from Queensland to South Australia. That shows the necessity for developing our own ship-building industry. I hope that the committee will not support the request of Senator Badman. His argument can be used against him, because the people of Queensland who buy Tanunda wines would possibly buy French wines if the duties were reduced to enable them to be sold in Australia at a reasonable price.
– South Australia buys Queensland bananas and sugar.
– The people of Queensland have an Australian outlook. They are prepared to buy the products of the other States.
– » (Senator J. B. Hayes).. - The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Having heard the various representatives of Queensland, the first thing that struck me was the incongruity of the request for any duty at all. Having regard to the superiority of the various timbers produced in Queensland, it appears clear that if oregon is imported, it can be used only for the purpose of firewood, and, of course, it would hardly be economical to import it for that purpose. If that is not the purpose, why is it that the representatives of Queensland fear importations of Oregon to such an extent as to require a very heavy duty?
– We are trying to prevent the duty from .being reduced.
– Whether the intention of the honorable senator and his colleagues is, or is not, to prevent the duties from being reduced, the fact remains that the proposed duty is very heavy. By their own admission, the quality and variety of the Queensland timber is satisfactory. They say that the forests of Queensland are inexhaustible. As I - said yesterday, when axe handles were the subject of debate, the local timber millers have the workmen and the advantage of locality. Their competitors have to start, not from scratch, but a long way behind scratch. I have a statement with me, the truth of which I have no occasion to doubt, showing that the price of a shipment of 1,000 superficial feet, free on board at a Canadian port, is £2. The cost of freight and insurance on that shipment would also be £2.
– Did the honorable senator say that the price was £2 per 1,000 superficial feet?
– That is the price according to the statement supplied to me by an Adelaide timber miller. Leaving out of consideration altogether customs, primage and exchange, the Australian millers start with a straightout advantage of 100 per cent. If the timber is as excellent as the Queensland representatives claim it to be, why is it that they require a specially heavy duty? Have we any guarantee that, if the present duty is accepted, this is to be the end of the requests put forward on behalf of the timber millers? In 1914, the duty on this class of timber was 6d. per 100 superficial feet, and since then it has steadily increased, although it is not so high now as it was one or two years ago. It is clear that there will never be satisfaction until there is a complete prohibition of imported timber. That is the conclusion which we must reach in view of Senator MacDonald’s remarks that his heart bleeds at the sight of imported timber. If there is suitable timber in Australia, why is it necessary to importoregon? The men who require timber in the pursuit of their own calling are evidently of the opinion that Australia has no substitute for Oregon.
– Yesterday, it was stated that there was no substitute for hickory.
– Exactly, and the same argument can be used in that case. Surely the representatives of Queensland must Tealize that if building is cheapened by a reduction in the price oforegon, an impetus will be given to the local timber industry. When this world was created, the Creator ordained it so that one country should be supplemental to another. There is plenty of timber in Australia, but it is not suitable for all our requirements, and, therefore, we have to co-operate with the United States of America. That is exactly what has been done in respect of axe handles. The old cry is being raised that if this duty is reduced the timber industry will be ruined, and those employed in it will be thrown out’ of work. I welcome Senator O’Halloran’s answer to that argument. As I pointed out yesterday, honorable senators opposite see nothing except what is under their noses. They cannot look abroad and see that, if labour is displaced from one occupation, it can be placed in another. Senator Collings is trying to keep the timber mills busy in Queensland, while Senator O’Halloran is trying to prevent the South Australian factories from becoming idle. A little interchange of trade between Australia and the United States of America cannot be harmful to either country, but must, on the contrary, be beneficial to them.
– Does the honorable senator know the state of the trade balance between the two countries?
– I have not the slightest fear about our trade balance, although it is constantly being mentioned in this chamber. Senator Brown has expressed my view entirely on that subject. We must not look only at our imports from and exports to a particular country. International trade is a complicated transaction ; and although the fact may not be apparent in the statistics for any one year, it is nevertheless true that for every £1,000 worth of goods we send out of Australia, we get back £1,000 worth of goods at some time. Those who buy our goods pay for them with their own goods in one form or another. The constant increase of the timber duties suggests that the ultimate aim is complete prohibition. We have seen the effect of prohibitions on other parts of the world ; the sorry economic condition of the world to-day is largely the result of a policy of excessive protection and prohibitions, of which the duty on Oregon is an example. The inevitable consequence of this policy is that further hindrance of trade mentioned by Senator O’Halloran. The Navigation Act was placed on the statute-book in order to benefit Australia, but one of its effects is to make timber from Queensland dearer in South Australia than timber from the other side of the world. My vote will always be cast against a duty so high as that on Oregon. I shall support the request.
– I spoke in detail on this item in the House of Representatives a few years ago. On this occasion I shall content myself with briefly supporting my colleague’s request, which I am glad to know has the sympathy of Senator O’Halloran. My support is based on three grounds. First, that there is no local substitute for Oregon. In confirmation of that statement, I quote from theevidence given before the Tariff Board by Mr. L. Laybourne Smith, one of the leading architects in Adelaide, on behalf of the South Australian Chamber of Building Industries less than a fortnight ago -
Oregon is the essential timber for roof construction, concrete boarding, scaffolding, heavy joists, and gantry work. Not only is it the best timber for these .purposes., but no successful substitute is available in, Australia. The effect of the tariff is to place this efficient and economical product in competition with timbers which arc of greater value for other purposes, but which are positively unsuitable for the needs of building construction.
He went on to say that the Western Australian and Tasmanian hardwoods had proved « a complete failure for domestic work in South Australia, because of shrinkage and movement due to the abnormal dryness of the climate, whilst the cost of Queensland pine for roofing and other purposes was prohibitive. Mr. Laybourne Smith cannot have any interested desire to depreciate the local product, but as an architect he wants to encourage building and to ensure that the best timber shall be available for that purpose. My second point is that, even if the high duties continue, we shall still require to import oregon; consequently, building costs will remain high or increase. Thirdly, I emphasize the need for conserving our timber resources. The report of the Tariff Board on timber presented on the 10th June, 1930, quotes from the report of the Third British Empire Forestry Conference held in Australia in 1928. The delegates to the conference included many .of the leading forestry authorities in the British Empire. They travelled throughout the Commonwealth and inspected a large number of the forest areas in the different States. One of the committees, under the chairmanship of Professor R. S. Troup, Director of the Imperial Forestry Institute, Oxford, submitted to the conference a report, which included this passage -
The history of forestry in Australia is short. lt is only just emerging from the chaos of pioneering settlement. As in all lands, it has been preceded and accompanied by a phase of active, and, for the most part, unavoidable spoliation and destruction of the indigenous forests, beginning with the more valuable areas close to centres of population. The truth has at last become apparent that present timber land resources arc inadequate, and must now be organized to maximum productivity to supply the imperative needs of the country
With a normal increase in population, and with the further industrial development of the country, the demand for timber may be expected to increase steadily, and, further, the shortage in the world’s softwood supplies, which is predicted during the next few decades, will render it increasingly difficult and costly for Australia to satisfy her demands from imported timber, lt behoves her, therefore, to take all .possible steps to become selfsupporting by the permanent reservation and proper management of a sufficient area of indigenous forests, chiefly of hardwoods, and by the establishment of plantations of softwoods.
The neglect pf .the principle of the sustained yield which is universally recognized as one of the cardinal maxims of forest management, has resulted in the rapid exploitation of the forest wealth of Australia.
The report of the committee was adopted by the conference. Commenting on that passage, the Tariff Board said -
While not desiring in any way to discount the practical knowledge and experience of those engaged in the saw-milling industry, the board feels that the findings of such a conference as the Third British Empire Conference must be treated with respect. The delegates were not only highly trained in forestry, but they were also a disinterested and unbiased body.
After having heard the statements of the different interests, as presented at the conference held by it, and after having studied the statistics relating to the industry, the board cannot but be impressed with the strength of the representations made by the Government forestry experts and also by the findings of the British Empire Conference. In the opinion of the board any action which ignores the warnings issued would be most unwise.
It is most. desirable that Australia should wisely conserve timber supplies for future use, more especially in view of the evidence from reliable sources that supplies of softwoods from overseas countries must, owing to the gradually diminishing supplies, tend to decrease in volume and increase in price. Any over-cutting of the Australian forests in the immediate future may result in denuding the country of- native timbers at a time when the obtaining of supplies of overseas timbers is difficult and more expensive.
My colleague, Senator Badman, will have something further to say regarding the conservation and increase of supplies of native timber. It appears to ‘ me that at a time when we should be taking our share of the good softwoods that are obtainable from other countries in order to conserve our own supplies, we are deliberately denuding our forests, and laying up trouble for future generations.
– The duties on oregon have been debated in this chamber on previous occasions, and the arguments pro and con have not greatly altered. Senator Duncan-Hughes said that local timbers could not replace oregon for certain purposes, including concrete work, scaffolding, heavy joists, and gantry work. I wrote to Tasmania on this point quite recently, and I quote from the reply I received; -
Interesting evidence was presented at Melbourne showing new uses to which local timbers had been put in Victoria since the schedule was put into operation, with very satisfactory results. Of particular value was a report by the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission of Victoria eulogizing kiln- seasoned hardwood for concrete forming, for which purpose it had previously been claimed by importers and others that oregon was almost indispensable. For floorings, Victoria formerly used large quantities of Baltic timber, but this has now been almost completely displaced by hardwood.
With regard to the statement that was made in some quarters that the timber tariff schedule would result in increased costs of building, prices of Tasmanian timbers have been reduced since 1930 by an average of about 15 per cent. Notwithstanding the higher rates of duty, Oregon is selling to-day at less than the price ruling in 1930.
The high freight cost between Tasmania and the mainland owing to the operation of the coasting trade provisions of the Navigation Act, is one of the reasons why saw-millers in the island State require high protection. When I was in the timber trade I had to pay two and a half times as much per 100 superficial feet to send timber from the north-west coast to Melbourne, as the freights on softwoods from Norway and Canada. Time will not permit me to dwell in detail on the many phases of this subject, and I propose, therefore, to read a statement submitted to the Tariff Board on the 26th May last by the Tasmanian timber organization on behalf of the sawmilling industry of that State. The witnesses urged the retention of the schedule of timber duties at present in operation for these reasons -
The quantity of Oregon imported into Tasmania is comparatively very small, as it is used in that State only for special purposes. We do not ‘ admit that oregon is absolutely essential for any purpose for which local timber could not bc used, but the quantity imported into Tasmania at present is not sufficient to be any material detriment to local saw-milling. Generally, Tasmanians are very loyal to their native timbers, which are used in their State for very many purposes for which oregon is used in some of the other States. We have many times stressed the fact that, for ordinary wooden house construction, local hardwood is used exclusively for the framing (i.e., studs, joists, rafters, &c. ), and, of course, for flooring and weatherboards also. For joinery, local hardwoods and softwoods are also very largely used, lt can; therefore, be said that the wooden portion of buildings is almost entirely Tasmanian, and an inspection of those houses will show that they are more substantial and durable than if built with imported softwoods, and, moreover, in Tasmania they are much cheaper.
Tasmania, however, produces much more timber than the State can consume, consesequently approximately 75 per cent, of the scantling and board . production of the saw-mills has to bc exported, and the principal markets are in the- other States of the Commonwealth. Therefore, the use in those States of imported timber for purposes for which hardwood is more suitable restricts the market available for Tasmanian timber, hence our support of the present schedule. We firmly believe that only prejudice prevents a greater use of native timbers in some of the mainland States, but we also think that since the present tariff schedule was put into operation, there are good indications that the prejudice is being gradually overcome.
The 1930 recommendation of your board (Item 291i.) was designed to ensure to Australian hardwoods the local market for flooring, lining, and weatherboards. Reduction in Oregon duties may lead to its use for boards and so defeat your board’s object under Item 291 l, which would seriously affect Tasmania’s saw-milling.
Included in our organization are some members who, in addition to being hardwood sawmillers in a small way, are also general retail merchants handling all classes of timber, both imported and local. These members support the present schedule, and probably the fact that they support a high tariff on an article that they handle needs explanation. They take the long view. They realize the importance of the saw-milling industry, and its ramifications, and know what an effect the prosperity of the industry has on the general prosperity of the State, and also the amount of money that thereby is kept in circulation in the State instead of being sent overseas. Hence the benefit of this to their general business is more important than the extra customs duty on an article that they only import in very small quantities.
The retail price of oregon in Tasmania is at present the same as it was when the present schedule was put into force, notwithstanding the higher rate of duty. This, as you know, is due to the low price at which Oregon can now be purchased in the country of production.
Generally, Tasmanian saw-millers have, as far as they possibly could, carried out all assurances given to the Tariff Board at the last inquiry. Prices have not been increased - in fact they have been reduced - and every effort has been made to provide for the requirements of the market in an organized manner.
The benefit of the present schedule to Tasmanian millers has only in the last few months begun to be felt. Due to the abnormally large stocks of imported timbers held by merchants and importers at the time of the last inquiry, and the small amount of building that has taken place, the consumption of imported stocks on hand was a slow process, and saw-milling in Tasmania for the year ended June, 1932, showed very low production figures. In the last few months improvement has been substantial, and the Tasmanian Government Forestry Department reports that, judging by ten months’ figures of the present financial year, the returns to June, 1933, will be 50. per cent, above the previous year. This improvement, and the knowledge that it is the result of the present timber tariff schedule, which it. was thought would remain, has encouraged the re-opening of some mills to cut further timber stocks, also the establishment of some seasoning kilns in Tasmania, in addition to which quantities of partly air-seasoned Tasmanian boards are purchased by Victorian kiln seasoning companies for finishing, and a substantial new saw-milling plant is being erected, on a large timber area, in the north-eastern district. We fear that any alteration to the present schedule will have an unsettling effect, and will retard further development in these directions, and it is therefore urged that the board will not recommend any reduction.
This organization entered into negotiations with the South Australian Timber Merchants Association after the present schedule had been put into operation, with a View to supplying requirements in that State in a properly organized way, in order that any seasoned timber which South Australian merchants required would be readily available. Recently, so I am informed, the Federal Government received a complaint from South Australian merchants that Tasmanian King William pine, which had been specified for some government building in that State, was not available, and they desired permission to use imported timber in its place. My correspondent goes on to say -
You will readily understand how ridiculous such a complaint is when our King Billy mills aTe looking for work and have sent quotations on and have received no order. I mention these matters concerning South Australia particularly, because it is understood that South Austraiian senators will endeavour to have the timber items reduced.
I could, if time permitted, speak at much greater length on this item, but I shall conclude by emphasizing that prices for Australian timber have not been increased. On the contrary, they have been reduced. Protection is necessary, owing to the tremendously high shipping freights for timber between Tasmania and the mainland-. Representations have been made for a reduction, and although concessions have been secured, they are almost negligible. Senator Brennan mentioned that oregon could be purchased at the seaboard f.o.b. at 4s. per 100 super, feet. From my knowledge of the sawmilling industry, I am convinced that if oregon is sold at that price it is being “ dumped because the quotation works out at about £2 per 1,000 super, feet. I shall leave to Queensland senators the task of discussing the merits of hoop pine which, I know, is a very fine timber, and as suitable as Oregon for all purposes. I trust that the committee will not agree to the request.
– I had not. intended to take part in this debate, for the reason principally that I am interested in a business that is affected by these timber duties. But so many loose statements have been made by other honorable senators with regard to the industry that I deem it necessary to correct them. I take, first of all, Senator Badman’s statement that we have no Australian substitute timber for imported Oregon. The honorable senator did not explain precisely what was in his mind. If he meant that we have no suitable substitute in long lengths for constructional purposes, probably - 1 should agree with him ; but if he meant that we have no Australian substitute for oregon for interior work, such as doors, sashes, moulds, cabinet fittings, &c, I most emphatically disagree with him, because some Australian timbers are excellent for joinery purposes. The difficulty, of course, is that the saw-millers cannot work up any timber and scientifically treat it for joinery work without a considerable, byproduct in the shape of scantlings. At one mill which I am operating, I am taking out about 2,000,000 feet of joinery timber, and I am unable to keep the scantling by-product down to less than 30 per cent. That is the crux of the. problem that confronts all Australian timber mill-owners. If the percentage of scantling by-product could be kept down to a lower figure, they could perhaps operate under lower duties in competition with oregon used, solely for constructional purposes. I would, however, point out that scantling, which a mill accumulates as a by-product, does riot exceed 20 feet in length, and therefore it is not suitable for constructional work in wide spans. To be of service, it should be suitable for 30 feet or 50 feet spans. To get over this difficulty, I suggest to Senator Badman that, if he intends to press his request to a division, he should amend it so as to provide for the admission of oregon in sizes of 12 in. by 10 in., over 20 feet long, and also stipulate that declarations be required from importers similar iti terms to those made in respect of case-timber, that it is to be used only for constructional purposes. Much of the case-timber which is admitted duty .free could, but for the declarations required, be used for other purposes. If this were done, we should then be able to import oregon in lengths greater than 20 feet on a. reasonably cheap basis. But if ray suggestion is not adopted, the average miller importing oregon in sizes of 12 in. by 10 in., will, assuming the request be agreed to, recut it for joinery, moulds, sashes, doors, and other purposes, and immediately the timber will be a serious competitor of the Australian hardwood and softwood industry, which, to-day, is catering for our joinery requirements.
The committee should not agree to this request without understanding what may be its effect upon the Australian’ timbs? industry, and also without some knowledge of the developments that have taken place in the Australian industry in recent years. It may interest many honorable senators to know that the process of kilndrying in Victoria has been brought .to a very high state of efficiency. It is now possible effectively to season the ecualyptus. Three or four years ago, complaints about the shrinkage and warping of Australian timbers would not have been without some justification, but the kiln-drying, process, which has been established on a most scientific basis in Victoria, has effectively solved that problem. I could, with a small electrical instrument used in connexion with this process, tell honorable senators the exact moisture content in the timber used in the construction of the Senate table, or any other portion of Senate furniture. It is impossible to determine the moisture content of lumber simply by weighing if in the hand. Because of the progress made in the season ing of timber in recent years, architects engaged on government construction work in New South Wales, and possibly also in other States, now specify that the moisture content of all timber used must not exceed from 12 per cent, to 15 per cent., and they prefer Australian woods. Two years ago, the quantity of kiln-dried timber treated in Victoria did not exceed 6,000,000 superficial feet; today, it is more than 42,000^000 superficial feet. These are concrete facts relating to the Australian timber industry, which may not be known to many honorable senators. Actually, we are now doing some export trade, a considerable quantity of Australian hardwood having been shipped to England, where it is being marketed in competition with American lumber.
I was also interested in the remarks of Senator Duncan-Hughes with regard to the development of the forestry services iu the different States, because, as honorable senators are probably aware, I have taken a keen interest in this subject for many years. I say definitely that if we are going to preserve our Australian forests we must evince greater evidence of a constructive policy. I could take honorable senators to forest after forest that is becoming absolutely valueless through over-maturity and damage from fire. Three months ago I visited the New Maragle forest, of about 25,000 acres, in the Tumbarumba district, “and was astounded to discover that what was, ten years ago, a perfect forest and an asset to the State of New South Wales, is not worth cutting, owing to over-maturity and fire damage.
– What timber is grown there ?
– Mountain ash. Forestry experts now acknowledge that the only way to develop successfully eur forestry services is by applying the revenue derived from the utilization of existing timber to the re-afforestation of the areas cut. Two years ago I worked one lease of 25,000 or 30,000 acres, and, as the result of re-afforestation by tha New South Wales Forestry Commission, it will be possible to put another mill into that area in about ten or fifteen years’ time. Why should we destroy this national asset by reducing the timber duties? I hope that the request will not be agreed to, because of its serious effect on the industry.
– I was much interested in the remarks of Senator Hardy, because, knowing that his grandfather and father were associated with the saw-milling industry, with which he, too, is closely identified, I was certain that he would be able to throw some light on this problem. It has always been my desire to see the forests of this country conserved, and reafforestation work undertaken. According to an official statement made a few years ago by experts who inquired into the forestry resources of the world, Australia, although the most recently settled continent of the world, is the worst provided with timber resources. Even in Europe, which has been settled for thousands of years, the area of forests is proportionately greater than in Australia. Senator Hardy has indicated a way in which we may conserve our timber resources. This, he has pointed out, can best be done by using them, and replanting the forests as the timber is used. If we import all the softwoods we require, the tendency will be to neglect our own forests, with the result that they will either become over matured, or destroyed by fire. By the proper utilization of our forests, revenue will be obtained for carrying on maintenance work. Therefore, in the interests of forestry itself, it is desirable that we should not regard our own timber resources carelessly, or place too much reliance upon imported timber. I have used Oregon myself, and know that it is a useful timber for many purposes, but we have in Australia native timbers which are quite as good.
Senator O’Halloran appears to regard protection as an expedient, rather than a principle, and he believes that it would be inexpedient, so far as South Australia is concerned, te protect the local timber industry against the importation of foreign softwoods ; yet, Senator Sampson, from Tasmania, said that the existence of the industry depends on the maintenance of the present duties. This is interesting, because it shows that we are not, in all cases, to have the small States leagued together to resist the oppression of the tyrannical big States. If it be true, as Senator O’Halloran states, that building costs will be increased in South Australia by making it difficult to import oregon, and, if, on tie other hand, it is true that Tasmania will become bankrupt if the timber duties are reduced, the remedy seems to lie in giving back to South Australia, by way of a rebate, the customs duties collected on timber used in that State. The party to which I belong has devised a means of overcoming the difficulties between the larger and smaller States.
The depletion of the timber resources of practically every country in the world is going on so rapidly that in another ten years the position will become serious. It seems foolish to attempt to grow softwoods in Australia in areas where the soil and climate are not suitable. International trade rests on the fact that, in some countries, conditions are more suitable for the- production of certain things than in others. In Australia, only a comparatively small area is covered with suitable forests; over large areas there is no timber at all, and in other places the trees are so twisted and distorted as to be of no use for anything but firewood. Nevertheless, our forests are being depleted at an extraordinarily rapid rate. Forty-four years ago, I was working in the heavily timbered areas of Gippsland, helping to clear the land in readiness for railway construction. Magnificent trees, comprising mountain ash, messmate, blue gum, blackwood, &c, were cut down, stacked into heaps and burned. No attempt was made to use the timber, the contractor’s only concern being to get rid of it. On my last visit to Gippsland I noticed that great areas of that country were practically treeless. I ‘believe that, the retention of the present duties will be an aid to the conservation of our forests, and will assist in future reafforestation on a larger scale than anything we have yet attempted. The more of our own timber we use, the more will the people become alive to its value, and to the necessity for perpetuating our forests.
– Senator Badman said that no coolie labour was employed in the timber industry in the United States of America.
I desire to inform him that, in one part of Seattle, no fewer than 15,000 Japanese are employed. They come over in quotas iu the Canadian and Pacific railway steamers, the Empress of Ireland, the Empress of England, and the Empress of Scotland, the point of embarkation being Yokohama, in Japan. They are seasonal workers, and, when employment cuts out in the lumber areas, they, find work in the fish canneries of British Columbia. I have here a publication issued by the Department of Commerce of the United States of America, which sets out the classification of workers in each specified industry according to sex, colour, nativity and age. Under the heading of lumbermen, raftsmen, and woodchoppers, the numbers employed in 1930 are shown as follow: -
That effectively answers the statement of Senator Badman that no coolie labour is employed in the getting of Oregon pine on the Pacific slopes of the United States of America.
I can sympathize with Senator O’Halloran, because many of the builders in South Australia probably tell their employees that, if softwoods cannot be obtained from overseas, there will be no work for them. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber sympathize with the mill-workers in South Australia, or in any other State, .who may be unemployed; but it would appear from the remarks of Senator Hardy that as hardwood, which is subject to warping, is nowbeing more scientifically treated, and that consignments are being sent to Great Britain, some of their difficulties may be overcome. In a journal published in Melbourne, I read recently a poem which begins : “ This is the house that Jerry built “.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in introducing irrelevant matter.
– Other honorable senators have been allowed to discuss the use of oregon in home construction, but it appears that in your recent brief conversation with the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce) he informed you that I was taking up too much time, and on that account I have been called to order. If that is so, I am not- going to submit to such cover ups.
– The right honorable gentleman made no reference to the honorable senator.
– I have a somewhat suspicious mind, but I accept your assurance, sir, and withdraw the remark. Senator Badman should realize that oregon imported from the Pacific slopes is felled and handled by Japanese and Chinese coolies, American negroes, and human flotsam and jetsam from all parts of the world. I oppose any reduction of the duty.
– I naturally expected honorable senators representing Queensland to extol the great value of the timbers produced in that State ; but little was said by them concerning the difficulty in finding a suitable substitute for oregon, of which we are largely deprived by the imposition of high duties. Senator Collings- quoted from certain propaganda prepared by the Timber Merchants’ Association in Queensland, which did not contain evidence placed before the Tariff Board. We are indebted to Senator Hardy for his valuable contribution to the debate, particularly the information given concerning the modern methods of treating Australian hardwoods. I should like to adopt the suggestion of the honorable senator by amending my request to make it apply only to oregon of certain lengths to be used only for constructional purposes, but I am afraid that builders or contractors would find it difficult to comply with the conditions that would necessarily then be imposed. The evidence placed before the Tariff Board shows that our forests are being denuded, and that re-afforestation is not being undertaken to the extent that it should, particularly in Queensland. In giving evidence before the Tariff Board in Adelaide, Mr. E. H. Corke, who appeared on behalf of the committee of tariff revision, said -
At the end of the financial year 1931-32, 8,194 acres had been planted with forest trees in Queensland and, in addition, 84,200 acres of natural forest had been treated to obtain natural reproduction and improve the growth of cypress pine and the more valuable hardwoods.
Below Calculated Area. “The Queensland Forestry Board reported that the figures were far below the calculated area required for the provision of the future timber requirements of the State.” “ According to the board, Queensland should be planting annually a minimum area of 5,000 acres with softwood species. In 1931-32, 1,985 acres were planted. Existing State forests of Queensland do not yet total two million acres, although the board reports that it has been laid down by Premiers’ conferences and conferences of foresters of all States and all parts of theEmpire that there should be 6,000,000 acres of prime forest land permanently reserved for forestry in the State.”
Victoria, judging by the annual report of the Forests Commission for the year ended June 30, 1932, was about a million acres short of the a rear required as a minimum necessary for the State’s future requirements.
I had hoped that a majority of the committee would consider this subject from the angle from which it is viewed in South Australia, but as I believe the numbers are against me, I shall not press the request to a division.
Sub-items agreed to.
Item 303 (c) agreed to.
Division II. - Jewellery and Fancy Goods.
Item 318, sub-item (a1) -
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to insert the following new paragraph : -
Pigeon flying time recording clocks - British, free; general, free.
I have conferred with the Minister on this matter. X understand that some pigeon flying-time recording clocks were imported a short time ago on which a heavy duty was imposed because provision had not been made in the schedule for this kind of clock to be admitted free of duty. In New Zealand, these clocks are admitted free. In reading the tariff debate in the New Zealand Parliament, I found that the Government considered it wise for any country to encourage homing pigeon clubs, so that pigeons might be available as a means of communication in time of war. Monetary considerations are, I understand, not involved in this kind of sport, which is engaged in by certain enthusiasts interested in the breeding of homing pigeons.
Request agreed to.
Sub-item agreed to subject to a request. Item 319, sub-item (a1 to 4) -
Records for gramophones, phonographs, and other talking machines-
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (a) -
By leaving out the following from paragraph (1): - “or ad valorem. British, 30 per cent.; general, 55 per cent., whichever rato returns the higher duty”:
By leaving out the whole of paragraph (2) with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following paragraph: - “ (2) Discs over6 inches in diameter, each, British, ls.; general, ls.6d.”;
By leaving out paragraph (3); and
By renumbering paragraphs (4), (5) and (6) to read (3), (4) and (5).
This request affects the duties on records for talking machines. Under paragraph 1 the alternative ad valorem rate will be removed, but the specific rates will not be altered. Under paragraph 2 the alternative ad valorem rates will be removed, and the specific rates reduced by 9d. each in the British and general tariff. The reference to disc records over 16 inches in paragraph 3 has been removed, and paragraph 4 relating to records “ n.e.i. “ will, if the requested amendment be adopted, become paragraph 3. Paragraphs 5 and 6, which were postponed from Group 5, will become paragraphs 4 and 5, respectively. The alterations which the Government proposes in the duties on gramophone records were recommended by the Tariff Board after a public inquiry
. - I trust that the committee will not agree to reduce the duty on gramophone records as proposed. Those engaged in their manufacture have incurred considerable expense, and are producing records of good quality. The Tariff Board considered the duties quite recently, but 1 believe that it lost sight of the important fact that at present there is a large stock of records on hand, and that the demand has fallen off to a remarkable extent.
– By 65 per cent.
– Yes, owing to the popularity of wireless transmission. If the duties are reduced, records made abroad will be dumped into Australia, to the detriment of the Australian industry. The Government’s proposal is to omit “ or ad valorem, British, 35 per cent. ; general, 55 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty” in paragraph 1, and also to omit the whole of paragraph 2, and to insert in lieu thereof “ Discs over 6 inches in diameter, each, British,1s.; general,1s.6d. The existing tariff on discs over 6 inches in diameter is1s. 9d. and 2s. 3d. The present tendency is to “ cram “ the whole of a programme on to one record, and, if such records are allowed to come into this country at a lower rate than previously applied, the Australian industry will be detrimentally affected. That industryhas employed in the past as many as 500 persons. I have received from the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures a statement on the matter, which reads -
Shortly after establishment, the industry was subjected to unfair competition from America in particular, and other countries, with the result that adequate tariff protection was sought. It should be remembered that when the companies mentioned established in Australia they did not ask for a tariff, hoping it would not be necessary to do so. Foreign competition, however, soon dispelled this hope.
For the year ended 30th June, 1927, the total value of the combined output of the Australian companies was approximately £500,000, and there were 500 employees. Over the past three years the production of records has decreased 65 per cent., a serious decline, attributed in the main to the broadcasting of records. In making this statement, due allowance has been made for the adverse effect of the trade depression on commercial activities generally. Another factor is the removal of the surcharge of 50 per cent., which has substantially reduced the landed cost of imported records. Any further reduction in landed costs by interference with the present basis of protection would only intensify the handicaps manufacturers are now contending with. The industry cannot afford any further reduction in output owing to the resultant extra cost. Every economy is being exercised.
Because of the general depression, and the broadcasting of records by B class wireless broadcasting stations, gramophones are becoming out of date, and consequently there is not now a very large general demand for records. The Minister’s proposal will not help the industry, but may open up avenues for the dumping of cheap records, thereby preventing it from ever making good again. The committee would act wisely if it rejected therequest, and left well alone.
Question - That the request (Senator McLachlan’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Sub-item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item 319, postponed sub-item (a5, 6) (Material for use in the manufacture of records) - (Group 5) - agreed to.
Items 328 and 332 (b2, 4) (e1, 2) agreed to.
Item 334 (g1a- b) and 338 (c) agreed to.
Item 352 (a3) agreed to.
Item 359, sub-item (f6, 7) -
Vehicle parts, viz.: -
– I move - .
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-itemf, paragraph 7, to read - “ (7) Window regulators for motor cars, excluding handles, each - British,1s. 3d.; general, 2s.; or ad valorem - British, 40 per cent.; general, 60 per cent. (whichever rate returns the higher duty).”
The Tariff Board has submitted a report on window regulators, and is satisfied that the duties proposed in the request provide sufficient protection; Handles have been excluded from the paragraph, because the item provides for fixed duties, and should the handles be imported separately they would be dutiable at a proportion of the fixed rate imposed on the complete winjdow regulators. Difficulty arises in assessing what proportion of the value of the complete regulator the handle represents, when determining the duty that would be payable, and it is desirable from an administrative point of view to exclude the handles. When item 359f5 was dealt with, the request was made to include handles for regulators with door handles in that paragraph.
– I point out to my colleagues on this side that the Minister proposes to reduce the Scullin rates of 4s. British and 5s. general to1s. 3d. and 2s. 3d. respectively. I do not intend to support that request in any shape or form.
Question - Thatthe request (Senator McLachlan’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Sub-item agreed to, subjectto a request.
Item 371 (a) agreed to. item 392, sub-items (a4 abc) (Yarns).
– This item deals with cotton yarns, and paragraph b of sub-item a4, reads -
Counts exceeding No. 12 count but not exceeding No. 31 count, per lb., British, 4d.; general, 7d. ; and for each additional count exceeding No. 12 count but not exceeding No. 31 count,per lb., British,¼d. ; general,¼d.; and in addition to the cumulative fixed rates specified in this clause, ad valorem, British, 35 per cent.; general, 55 per cent.
Will the Minister explain whether the ¼d. is added to the 4d.?
– For every count of twelve there is a duty of¼d. per lb., and if there are four counts, it means an additional1d. per lb. ;
.- Under the 1921-30 tariff these yarns were admitted duty free from Britain, and the general rate was 5 per cent., with ad valorem rates of 20 per cent. and 35 per cent. Now there is a fixed minimum duty of 4d. per lb. British, with an additional ¼d. for every count above No. 12 count, and, in addition, there are ad valorem rates of 35 per cent. British, and 55 per cent. general. What is the necessity for such a wide margin as that between the 1921-30 ad valorem rates and the duties now proposed ?
– The local spinners are now meeting the greater part of Australia’s requirements of cotton yarns. The cotton bounty imposed too great a strain on the finances, and the Government decided to abolish it from the 1st July, 1932, replacing it with the duties now before the committee. This particular item is now receiving the attention of the Tariff Board.
Sub-item agreed to.
Item 400, sub-item (b) (Goods, secondhand, owned by persons resident in Territories of Papua and New Guinea sent to the Commonwealth for repair and return to such territories).
– There is apparently an idea in the mind of the Government that this tariff will work a remarkable change in the habits of the residents of the Territories of Papua and New Guinea. Subitem 400 b deals with second-hand goods owned by persons resident in those territories and sent to the Commonwealth for repair. These goods are to be admitted free of duty. This, I think, is a wise provision, because it seems certain that first-hand goods will soon cease to be popular.’ I suggest to the Minister the wisdom of recasting this sub-item so that residents on’ the mainland may enjoy the same privilege as residents of the territories mentioned, because, owing to the present high duties, many people in Australia will be compelled to use second-hand goods and clothing. I suggest that the sub-item be amended to read : “ Goods, secondhand, owned by persons resident in the Territories of Papua and New Guinea and the rural districts of the Commonwpalth “. If the residents of Papua and New Guinea are likely to send secondhand goods to the Commonwealth for repair, is it not reasonable to assume that the residents of the mainland will be glad to have similar facilities. One result of the tariff, apparently, will be that secondhand boots and clothing will be in greater demand than heretofore.
– The only reason for the inclusion of this sub-item is that a small deposit was called for under the previous tariff from those who sent these goods to Australia from the two territories mentioned.
Sub-item agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to8 p.m.
Item 393, postponed sub-items (a) to
Item 281, postponed sub-item (wl, 2) (Group 4), agreed to.
Item 178, postponed sub-item (d1, 2, 3) (Group 5)-
Motive-power machinery and appliances (except electric) viz.: -
Crude oil engines -
1 ) Up to and including 100 horsepower, ad valorem, British, 45 per cent.; general, 65 per cent.
Exceeding 100 horse-power, ad valorem, British, free; general, 15 per cent.
SenatorE. B. JOHNSTON (Western Australia) [8.3]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, paragraph 1, ad ‘ valorem, British, 20 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
Although crude oil engines are necessary to all our primary industries, successive administrations have imposed heavy duties on all sizes of crude oil engines. The various bodies in Western Australia which- represent primary producers, both in agriculture and mining, were represented before the Tariff Board. I have here the evidence given by Mr. H. E. Vail, on behalf of the Chamber of Mines of Western Australia, Lake View and Star Limited, Wiluna Gold Mines Limited, and other companies. Mr. Vail said that power is one of the most important items of cost in gold production, and that constant endeavours are being made to reduce this cost to a minimum. He referred to the crude oil engines used on the Western Australian gold-fields. The Tariff Board met the request for lower duties by reducing the rates of duty on engines of over 100 horse-power. Evidence was also given on behalf of those more particularly concerned with engines of less than 100 horse-power. The bodies represented were the Perth Chamber of Commerce, the Kalgoorlie Chamber of Mines, the Chamber of Automotive Industries, the Pastoralists Association of Western Australia, the Primary Producers Association of Western Australia, and the Australian Association of British Manufacturers, Western Australian branch. It was pointed out, on behalf of those bodies, that the rehabilitation of Australia depends largely on the continuance and expansion of its primary industries, and that iri those industries whose products compete in the world’s markets, the cost of production is a most important factor. The board was informed that, for many years, crude oil engines had proved to bc the ideal source of power throughout the greater part of Western Australia. It was also represented to the board that, aided by the protection afforded by primage duty on outside casing, exchange, freight, and insurance, the Australian manufacturers should be in a position to compete with imported engines, and that any further’, protection must be to the disadvantage of primary industries generally. The board was informed that, at the time of the inquiry, which, I take it, was just before August, 1932, when the board’s report was published, the landed cost at the store in Australia, dutypaid, at British preferential rates, represented an increase of over 110 per cent, on the f.o.b. price. With exchange at the normal rate the increase would be 85 per cent. Although relief was given in respect, of the larger engines, on those of under 100 horse-power the excessive burden of over 110 per cent., or S5 per cent, at the normal rate of exchange, still remains. The bodies referred to recommended the following British preferential duty : -
Stationary crude oil engines of 250 horsepower and over - free.
Stationary crude oil engines from 50 horsepower to 249 horse-power - 10 per cent.
Stationary crude oil engines up to 49 horsepower - 20 per cent.
Marine crude oil engines of whatever horsepower - free.
Mr. G. C. Klux. representing the Chamber of Mines of Western Australia, aa well as the Sons of Gwalia Mines, and Miss D. Lord, representing E. S. Taylor, the resident representative of PettersLimited, also gave evidence. Miss Lord pointed out that practically all the oil engines of up to 18 brake horse-power are used in primary production, whereas most of the larger sized engines are used in public utility work, such as the generation of current for light and power, waterworks pumping, and butter factories. For that reason she maintained that the duties on such engines should be as low as possible. A good deal of similar evidence was tendered by other witnesses.
– Why are the smaller engines subject to the heaviest duty?
– A number of Australian firms make crude oil engines of up to 50 horse-power, and, consequently, the heavier duties were imposed on imported engines of similar horse-power. Moreover, the representations made on behalf of these companies were successful - and for that I am glad - whereas the users of small engines have been granted no relief at all. The Tariff Board pointed out that the types and sizes of crude oil engines required in Australia are extensive, the range of those already installed varying from 2 horse-power to 3,000 horse-power. It showed also that the great bulk of the demand is for engines below 50 horse-power, and that, in those engines, as in the larger sizes, many designs and types are offered to suit the individual tastes of the purchasers or the requirements of a particular undertaking. The board stated that -
In the past Australian production of the engines under review lias practically been limited to those of 50 horse-power and under. The evidence indicates that, in engines up to 50 horse-power, the Australian manufacturers are in a position to meet local requirements at prices reasonably comparable with the cost of imported engines.
It should be remembered in this connexion that the cost of imported crude oil engines is 11.0 per cent, above the f.o.b. price London ports. The board’s statement continues -
This being so, the board considers that protection to the* local industry on such engines is justified.
A peculiar paragraph in the board’s report is the following : -
The board realizes, however, that the limiting of protection to engines of 50 horse-power might open the possibility of serious detriment to the local industry by making it more profitable for users, who would otherwise purchase a 50 horsepower engine of local production, to substitute an imported engine of greater capacity.
In spite of the board’s earlier statement, that paragraph is practically an admission that a much bigger engine could be imported for the price of a smaller one of local manufacture. The paragraph concludes -
Furthermore, the board is of opinion that the success which has attended the efforts of Australian manufacturers in the production of engines up to 50 horse-power justifies the assumption that the economic production of engines up to 100 horsepower is capable of development.
Apparently, that stage has not yet been reached. The board then dealt with marine engines, which are not made in Australia, and stated -
As to such engines up to 100 horse-power, where it can be satisfactorily ‘shown that a reversible engine is essential, and that an ordinary engine fitted with reversing gears or with an appliance for reversing the propeller cannot reasonably be substituted, the board would suggest admission -under by-law.
I do not see any provision for admission under by-law; perhaps the Minister can say whether it exists or not. I emphasize that the several bodies which I have mentioned represent the smaller primary producers, yet their request for lower duties was rejected by the Tariff Board. I have moved this request because I consider that the existing duties are not fair to those requiring engines of les3 than 100 horse-power, particularly those who wish to purchase engines of below 50 horsepower.
.- The Tariff Board recommended the duties set out in the schedule only after a full inquiry into the local industry. It was convinced that the smaller sizes of crude oil engines were being successfully manufactured in Australia, and consequently it recommended that protection should be given in the case of engines of up to and including 100 horse-power. On the facts submitted :to the board, the position in respect of larger engines appears to be unsatisfactory, since duties as high as 90 per cent, would be necessary to give effective protection. However, the local manufacturers disputed the grounds upon which the board based its recommendations, and submitted a case for protection in regard to crude oil engines of up to 200 horse-power, although, as a matter of fact, in order to ensure to them the local market for engines of 200 horsepower and under, engines of a much higher horse-power would have to be made dutiable. The local manufacturers’ case was forwarded by the Minister for Trade and Customs to the Tariff Board with a request that the matter ‘be treated as urgent. The board has now replied stating that the representations submitted by the industry do not justify an amendment of the recommendation contained in its report of 19th August, 1932, which has been circulated to honorable senators. The board’s main statements in answer to the Australian manufacturers’ latest representations are -
The board has there indicated that, when making its recommendation, it had regard for both primary and secondary industries. Its report states -
In the past, Australian production of the engines under review has practically been limited to those of 50 horse-power and under. The evidence indicates that m engines up to 50 horse,power, the Australian manufacturers are in a position to meet local requirements ‘ at prices reasonably comparable with the cost of imported engines. This being so, the board considers that protection to the local industry on such engines is justified.- The board realizes, however, that the limiting of protection to engines of 50 horse-power might open the possibility of serious detriment to the local industry by making it more profitable for users, who would otherwise purchase a 50 horse-power engine of local production, to substitute an imported engine of greater capacity. Furthermore, the board is of opinion that tlie success which has attended the efforts of Australian manufacturers in the production of engines up to 50 horse-power justifies the assumption that the economic production of engines up to 100 horse-power is capable of development.
The board appears to have acted on very
Bound lines. I draw the attention of Senator Johnston to the fact that admission by by-law is provided for under sub-item 3.
.- I hope that the committee will reject the request. The rates which appear in the schedule are, in each instance, 10 per cent, lower than those which operated under the Scullin schedule, and are comparable to those which were embodied in the 1921-30 schedule - British, 45 per cent.; general, 60 per cent.
It is well known that we can make, in Australia, diesel engines which are equal to any in the world, and that they are sold at competitive prices. It is probable that, when an improved market makes mass production possible, Australianmade diesel engines will be sold for less than those which are imported’. In the circumstances, I am at a loss t» know why Senator Johnston should endeavour to persuade the committee to reduce the duties.
– Only to assist the primary producers.
– Apparently, the primary producers were satisfied with the rates which operated under the 1921-30 schedule, for they made no complaint about them. Those rates were imposed upon the recommendation of the Tariff Board, and were confirmed by that body when the matter was referred back to it. I should like to move a request that the duties be increased, but shall be forbearing and urge honorable ‘ senators to accept the rates now appearing in the schedule.
– As an additional reason why these duties should not be interfered with, I might inform honorable senators that at Erskineville, in New South Wales, a machine known .as the Chapman diesel engine has been perfected which embodies many improvements over its competitors, local or imported. It has been evolved after four years of experimenting, and has been exhaustively tested, having . been run continuously for two years. It develops 15 horse-power at a speed of 650 revolutions a minute, and its total running cost, including lubrication, is but 4d. an hour ; that is vastly more economical than a petrol engine which costs at least 2s. an hour to operate. It isexpected that the Chapman diesel engine will be marketed at a price about 50 percent, below that asked for diesel engines of similar capacity that are now on themarket: it is extremely simple to- operate, and all parts are manufactured at the works at Erskineville. That illustrates the advantage of the protection that has been granted to the industry, and affords an important reason why the existing -rates should not be reduced.
Question - That the request (Senator E. B. Johnston’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. ( Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority … . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, paragraph 2, ad valorem - British, 45 per cent.; general, 05 per cent.
Engines of over 100 horse-power can be manufactured in Australia just as easily as engines up to 100 horse-power. The manufacturers are under no disability whatever in regard to the production of the larger engines, and, if given adequate protection, could compete successfully against overseas competition. The proposed rates of duty are: free, British preferential, and 50 per cent. general. The rates under the Scullin tariff were 55 per cent. and 75 per cent. Under the tariff of 1921-30 they were 45 per cent. and 55 per cent’., and those are the rates I propose to retain in my request. When this item was being discussed in the House of Representatives, the Minister . for. Trade and Customs (Mr. White) was so impressed with the case put before him by those who advocated duties on the larger crude oil engines that he promised to refer the item back to the Tariff Board. He put his promise in writing, because I have a letter to that effect over his signature.Following upon that, the manufacturers volunteered to place before the Tariff Board evidence which would convince it that they were entitled to a fair measure of protection. The Minister (Senator McLachlan) has already demonstrated that Walkers Limited, of Queensland, and other manufacturers in Australia, are producing an efficient engine of up to 100 horse-power. As a matter of fact, Walkers Limited are prepared to make engines of up to 1,000 horse-power. The Minister has also stated that, compared with engines of under 100 horse-power, few engines of over 100 horse-power are sold. That may be so, because crude oil engines are largely used by the primary producers who do not require an engine of any considerable power. There are, however, other people who require engines of a higher horsepower, but the local manufacturers are not given an opportunity to cater for them, although they could do so if given adequate tariff protection. When the manufacturers volunteered to place additional evidence before the Tariff Board, that body, although it had not made any inquiry into the matter since 1932, replied that it could see no necessity for interfering with the existing duty. The following statement has been supplied to me by the manufacturers of crude oil engines: -
The Tariff Board indicates that their conclusions are largely based on the limited sale in Australia for engines above 50 horse-power, but they have seriously failed to appreciate the ease of manufacturing these larger engines by the Australian manufacturer’s production of his present models in the multi-cylinder types, and there is, therefore, no reason whatever why we should not enjoy either the limited or unlimited market in Australia for these larger engines instead of it being reserved for imported engines. The Tariff Board accepted the average “ selling price “ of three imported engines, the details of which were not disclosed, and compared this price with that of one Australian engine, which represented a type costly to produce, specially built for power house requirements, and complete with spares and a great deal of costly supplementary equipment.
Recent quotations to us for a popular British ‘ solid injection crude oil engine of 100 horse-power, showed a landed cost, exclusive of duty and exchange, of £900, and with all charges, including selling, servicing and merchant’s profits, the retail selling price is £1,425, which compares with the selling price of £1,041 submitted as the average for three imported engines.
The Tariff Board states that Australian engines up to 50 horse-power are Bold at prices reasonably comparable with the cost of imported engines, and that the success which has attended the efforts of Australian manufacturers justifies the assumption that the economic production of engines up to 100 horse-power is capable of development. In spite of this definite statement they have only recommended a protection of engines up to 50 horse-power, with the result that we have been forced to discontinue the manufacture of engines over 50 horse-power.
I understand that the estimates submitted by the local manufacturers are calculated upon a basis different from that of the estimates submitted by the importers. The Australian estimate includes the cost of the base for the machine, the whole of the equipment necessary for its installation, and spare parts, but the estimate of the importers is the bare cost of the machine. In view of the facts that I have placed before the committee, I hope that it will agree to my request.
– A few moments ago I indicated to honorable senators that this item had been referred back to the Tariff Board on the suggestion of the. local manufacturers, and I quoted certain extracts from the report of the Tariff Board. The board, in reply to the latest representations of the local manufacturer, stated -
During the same period only one crude oil engine rated between 60 and 100 horse-power was manufactured locally. The board considered that there is still ample room for the Australian manufacturer to prove his capacity in the manufacture of the range from 50-80 horse-power before” the question of raising the limitations still further to protect the full range of 100 horse-power need bc considered.
Let me also refer honorable senators to the following extract from the board’s report : -
Crude oil engines above 220 horse-power have not so far been built in Australia, and it ie not therefore possible to arrive at costs of production based on actual experience in manufacture. Such information as is available, however, is not encouraging as to the ability of the local manufacturers to produce the larger engines at costs which would enable them to supply at prices reasonably competitive with the cost of obtaining such engines from overseas. This view is supported by figures tendered by Walker’s Limited, and by Australian representatives of overseas supplies. For example, the landed cost at Fremantle, excluding duty, of a 1,100 horse-power crude oil engine imported from the United Kingdom, and installed by the Lake View and Star Limited Gold-mining Company, Western Australia, was £13,000. If duty had been charged at the British preferential rate of 55 per cent., the amount payable would have been approximately £5,000, making a landed dutypaid cost of £18,000. Against this the quotation for an engine of Australian manufacture was approximately £20,000 f.o.r. Fremantle. It will thus be seen that the purchase of the Australian engine would have involved an added cost of £7,000 over the duty-free cost and £2,000 over the duty-paid cost of the imported engine.
That statement relates to the class of engine referred to by Senator Johnston as being admitted under by-law. The following engines were admitted free under by-law in 1932-33 in-order to assist Australian industries, particularly the gold-mining industry and various county councils and municipal undertakings : -
Lake View and Star Limited and Wiluna Gold Mines Limited - Five 1,100 horse-power crude oil engines; two 500 horse.power crude oil engines.
Clarence River County Council - One 940 horse-power crude oil engine.
Noroo Co-operative Limited, Byron Bay, New South Wales - One 240 horse-power crude oil engine. .
The South Australian Farmers Co-operative Union Limited, Adelaide - One 210/225 horsepower crude-oil engine.
Municipality of Bunbury, Western Australia - One 150 horse-power crude oil engine.
South Australian Department of Mines - One 22 S horse-power crude oil engine.
Great Southern Roller Flour Mills, Fremantle - One 187 horse-power crude oil engine.
Having regard to the limited demand for those larger engines to supply a population of 6,000,000 people, it is obvious that their production cannot be economical.
– Amongst the witnesses who appeared before the Tariff Board in support of the request for a reduction of duty, were representatives of Fairbanks Morse Company Australasia Limited, importers of crude oil engines, Sydney; Petters’ Limited, manufacturers of diesel oil engines, Yeovil, England ; the Australasian Association of British Manufacturers; Rustin and Hornsby Limited, of Lincoln, England; Crossley Brothers Limited, of Openshaw, Manchester; Davey Paxman and Company Limited, and Blackstone and Company Limited, manufacturers, England. The public should know that these are the people who are fighting for British industry in opposition to Australian manufacturers. We intend to fight equally hard for Australian industry, and Queensland senators are particularly concerned in the engineering trade in their State. The Minister has stated that there is a vast difference between the production of small engines and the manufacture of engines of over 100 horse-power, and that the time is not opportune for the imposition of duties on the latter. I fail to appreciate that contention. The models in this chamber . ocularly demonstrate the similarity between large and small engines: On n small bed plate Walkers Limited, of Maryborough, place one cylinder column of i50 horse-power. That engine is protected by duties of 45 per cent, and 65 per cent. On a slightly longer bedplate the cylinder is duplicated, and this produces an engine of 100 horse-power; this also is protected. When, however, a third unit is added, the protection ceases, By the mere multiplication of the original 50 horse-power unit an engine of 200 horse-power or 300 horse-power is simply produced. That being so, how can the Tariff Board logically recommend that the duty should cease to operate on engines of upwards of 100 horse-power? If protection up to that size is justified, why should it not be continued on engines containing more than two units? Even the engine of two units is not really protected, because an engine of over 100 horse-power is admitted free, and the purchaser takes one of over that power because he can get it at a lower rate. The argument regarding the disparity in prices, if not applicable to the small engines, is surely not applicable to the larger ones. The Tariff Board stated -
In the past Australian production of tha engines under review has practically been limited to those of 50 horse-power and under. The evidence indicates that in engines up to 50 horse-power the Australian manufacturers arc in a position to meet local requirements at prices reasonably comparable with the cost of imported engines. This being so, the board considers that protection to the local industry on such engines is justified.
Apparently all honorable senators agree with that. The board continues -
Furthermore, the board is of opinion that the success which has ‘ attended the efforts of Australian manufacturers in the production of engines up to 50 horse-power justifies the assumption that the economic production of engines up to 100 horse-power is capable of development.
Undoubtedly that is true, and Walkers Limited can produce engines of one cylinder and up to six cylinders at prices comparable with those of the imported engines. The board stated that it has given “ careful consideration to the question as to where the line of demarcation should be fixed for the purpose of imposing protective duties”. I ask the Minister to justify the fixing of the line of demarcation at 100 horse-power.
– The honorable senator is proving that the purchaser of a small engine is being robbed.
– I am proving the stupidity of the proposal to protect, an engine of one cylinder and to leave unprotected engines in which. that one unit is repeated to two, three, and up to six times. Carrying Senator Johnston’s contention to its logical conclusion, we have by a policy of protection been robbing each other for years, and in order to end the robbery we should abolish the tariff schedule.
– Our complaint is that the primary producer is being robbed.
– That complaint is based on a failure to recognize that under present conditions it is vitally necessary to safeguard the purchasing power of the people in order that the products of the primary producer may find a local market. Protection is the accepted policy of Australia. Even under the Pratten tariff assistance was given to Australian engineers, but the present Government desires to reduce even the 1921 duties, and prevent a firm like Walkers Limited from producing engines of the larger type. Such action is grossly unfair. Mr. Goldsmith, general manager of Walkers Limited, has written -
Optical demonstrations are more powerful than a book full of words, and with this idea in mind, I am having made some models of diesel engines which I purpose forwarding you for demonstration to various members in the House. I am making six models of bedplates and six models of standards, all loose.
The effect of the Tariff Board’s decision is that we ure permitted to make an engine of 50 horse-power; this will consist of the smallest bed-plate, plus one column, but we must not make a bcd-platc to model 2, and put two columns on it, thereby giving 100 horse-power, nor similarly for 3, 4, 5 or6.
The strength of our case lies, we believe, in the scheme of multiplicity of cylinders for increasing horse-power. - You will appreciate that engines of varying powers of 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, and 300 horse-power consist of identically the same standard portions put up in rows and coupled together side by side on an increased length of bed-plate and an increased shaft only.
– How many machines of over 100 horse-power has this firm produced?
– I am unable to say off-hand. But if Walkers Limited is to have an opportunity to produce the larger engines, it should have the same protection in respect of them as is given in respect of engines up to 100 horsepower. How otherwise can it compete against overseas firms that have been making these . engines for years under easier labour conditions and with the advantages of the best of machinery and highly-trained staffs? Walkers Limited have in their employ some of the finest workmen in Australia, and they have the plant necessary for the construction of all sizes of diesel engines.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– As honorable senators will have gathered from the remarks of Senator Brown, this item is of great importance to Queensland because of the establishment, at Maryborough, of Walkers Limited, who manufacture diesel and other types of engines. I have here an illustration from The Queenslander, a weekly newspaper, of the 5th March, 1931, giving splendid interior and exterior views of the well known engineering works, and also of portions of the plant for the manufacture of diesel engines up to 100 horse-power and over. The history of the manufacture of these engines is fully set out in the following memoran- dum which has been supplied to me by Walkers Limited, under date 22nd May, of this year: -
In 1928, the general manager of the company toured Europe, England and America studying various types of diesel engines and methods adopted intheir manufacture.
A licence was then taken out with Mirrlees, Bickerton and Day, of Hazel Grove, near Manchester, England, whereby all Mirrlees drawings of their range of diesels from 50 to 1,600 horse-power were supplied, together with full specifications to enable Walkers Limited to manufacture these engines under this arrangement.
In 1929-30, two officers of the Queensland company proceeded to the works at Hazel Grove, and spent twelve months working at the bench at Mirrlees works, and going thoroughly into the various methods of manufacture, materials required, accuracy of work demanded, &c. &c. On their return in August, 1930, a start was made on a demonstration engine of 200-220 horse-power.
Meanwhile, special machine tools had been installed, a full set of patterns, jigs and gauges made, at an expenditure of some £20,000, all of which is money thrown away unless the manufacture of these machines is continued. After completion of the experimental engine, orders were received as follows : - 1 - 50 horse-power, owner, D. Jackson, Maryborough. 1 -100 horse-power, Inkerman, Irrigation Power Plant, Home Hill. 1 - 100 horse-power, Manchester Unity Building, Melbourne. 1 - 165 horse-power, Temperance and General Insurance Company, Sydney. 1 - 220 horse-power (experimental engine), Kalamia Sugar Mill, Ayr.
As well as the foregoing, stock parts had been manufactured, and are now held at the works in Maryborough, to the value of approximately £4,000.
In December, 1931, it was announced that the Tariff Board would inquire into duty on diesel engines, and immediately all sales ceased, prospective purchasers preferring to await the results of the Tariff Board inquiry prior to ordering. The demonstration engine wascompleted in April, 1931, and the orders for the foregoing five engines were obtained between April and December, 1931, a period of approximately eight and a half months.
Diesel engines are a modern development in power producers, which have superseded steam engines and boilers owing to their cheaper power cost, lighter weight, and smaller space occupied.
Steam engines and boilers have been manufactured inAustralia for a century at least, and in undertaking the manufacture of the newer ‘ type engines, Walkers Limited are endeavouring to keep abreast of the times.
The methods adopted are to have a standard size of cylinder, and parts to give a definite horse-power output. Duplication of the cylinders and parts on to bedplates of varying sizes allows for an increase in power. “It is usual to multiply these cylinders by any number up to six, or even eight, thus a 50 horse-power per cylinder allows of a range of powers, of 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300. Similarly, if 25 horse-power per cylinder is adopted, the range of powers then is from 25 horse-power to 150 horse-power.
The Tariff Board, in its decision, admits that engines up to 50 horse-power can be economically built in Australia. This being so, then it is difficult to understand why they have decided against an increase above this power by a mere duplication of the same article. Actually, manufacturing costs are very much reduced under this system of duplication.
At the Tariff Board inquiry, the local manufacturers were specially requested to hand in their prices in confidence, and acceded to this request. No prices of imported articles were, however, made public, and in the Tariff Board’s report, averages of importers’ prices only are given. The prices given for the locally-manufactured engines included all spares and auxiliaries for a complete job. No information was given in the prices to which these were compared, as to whether the engines were comparable in their completeness. The pricesgiven for the imported article are the c.i.f. prices, and do not, therefore, include agent’s profit, or any parts or auxiliaries which it may be necessary to obtain locally.
The imports of these engines from 1926 to 1931 are as follow: -
On the basis of £100,000 worth of engines constructed per annum in Australia, this would give employment constantly to 250 men in the construction of the engines alone, apart from the supply of raw material such as pig iron, steel, copper, &c., which is also of Australian manufacture, and would employ an equal number of men to the above.
During the period we were constructing engines, 40 men were employed constantly on our comparatively small orders, and the services of these had to be dispensed with when construction ceased.
The importation of various manufactures of diesel engines from all parts of the world means that it is impossible for the purchaser to obtain spare parts readily, and as these items, over a period of time, due to wear, breakage and accident amount to considerable figures, it would mean that the purchaser will have to pay probably higher prices for this service, and get poorer results than he would if the engine in the first place were constructed in Australia, and the manufacturer would be within easy telegraphic, railing, or sea carriage distance from the user. This is evidenced from the fact that already we do quite a trade in the supply of spare parts to engines manufactured by oversea makers.
Power producers have been manufactured in Australia for so many years, and it is decidedly illogical that, through the advancement of science and the incidence of the tariff, we should be debarred from doing now what has been done for so many years . past. Diesel engine manufacture is highly scientific, and it appears to us that encouragement should be given to those manufacturers in Australia who are willing to spend money and undertake work of this nature, even if only from the point of view that in times of national stress, from whatever cause, we, as Australians, would then be in a position to produce units of a similar type and character to those being produced elsewhere.
Walkers Limited are not the only Australian manufacturers that are doing this class of work. I understand that some firms in other States are also producing diesel engines; so, doubtless, senators representing those States’ are just as keen as we. are, to see that the industry has adequate protection. During the war, Walkers Limited built vessels to the order of the Commonwealth Government, and during the long rule of the Queensland Labour Government, from 1914 to 1929, it constructed all the machinery, valued at £250,000, required for the well-known sugar mill at Tully.No engineering problem, however complicated it may be, is beyond the capacity of this firm. I hope that the request will be allowed to go to another place, because, as the result of what was said there during the debate a few months ago - not only by Queensland Labour representatives, but also by members of the ministerial and Country parties - the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) agreed that the duties should have further consideration. I appeal to honorable senators at least to consider the position of this great industry which means so much to Queensland. The construction of the diesel engines of more than 100 horsepower presents no technical difficulties. Walkers Limited have the necessary plant, and are in a position to build engines up to any horse-power that is likely to be required in Australia, equal in every respect to imported engines, and at a price that will not be detrimental to the interests of the purchasers.
SenatorFOLL (Queensland) [9.13].- I support the request submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes). While listening one night last week to the impassioned appeal made by Senator Lawson on behalf of the Castlemaine firm of Thompson Brothers, my thoughts turned to the well-known Maryborough firm, to which reference has been made to-night by Senators Brown and Collings, because the circumstances of the two firms are similar in every respect. Both engineering establishments represent, in their respective States, a definite step in the direction of decentralization of industry, and ‘both are as efficient as any engineering workshops in any part of the world. As previous speakers have pointed out, there is in this foundry the most expensive machinery, capable of turning out any form of engineering work. During the war, in addition to ship-building, the firm was engaged in the manufacture of munitions. The other day we heard a great deal from Tasmanian senators about the value of the carbide industry to Hobart. Walker’s engineering works stand in much the same relation to Maryborough. We were told that the carbide manufacturers had not yet paid a dividend, and it is also true that, for many years past, Walkers Limited have paid either no dividend at all, or only small ones. It seems grossly unfair that this firm should be virtually denied the right of existence, because engines similar to those it manufactures can be bought a little cheaper overseas. Walkers Limited were encouraged to embark on the manufacture of diesel engines, and spent considerable sums of money sending engineers overseas to study their construction. They obtained a licence for the manufacture of the .engines in Australia, and brought back drawings and equipment necessary for undertaking the work. It is absurd to encourage this firm in the manufacture of engines up to 100 horse-power, and to refuse protection for the manufacture of engines of greater size. The fact that not many such engines may be needed is no argument against their production in Australia. I appeal to honorable senators to protect the interests of this firm, which is second to none in Australia. Hundreds- of families in Maryborough are dependent upon it for’ their livelihood. I trust that the request of the Leader of the Opposition will be agreed to.
– In my opinion, these engines are wrongly named. They should be called “ sabotaged engines,” because there is no doubt that this industry was sabotaged by the agreement entered into at Ottawa. The doom of the engineering firms in Maryborough, Castlemaine, and Sydney was sealed w.hen the Ottawa agreement was signed.
The inventor of these engines was a German named Diesel. In pre-war days, naval rivalry between Germany and Britain was very keen. In an effort to overtake Britain’s naval supremacy, German engineers fitted’ the German warships with diesel engines, which burned oil extracted from coal-mines in the Ruhr Valley, at that time within the boundaries of Germany. The British naval authorities replied by fitting their ships with steam-turbine engines, the invention of a Scottish engineer. In the course of time the patents on diesel engines expired, and the right to manufacture them was acquired by engineers outside Germany. One of the greatest defects of the old diesel engine was that heat had to be applied in order to start it. This difficulty was overcome by the genius of British engineers, who developed the principle of cold compression ‘starting.
Walkers Limited, of Maryborough, have now acquired the right to manufacture diesel engines in Australia, and are equipped to supply all local requirements. The history of engineering development over the last 60 years may be traced in the products of this progressive firm since it first began operations. Beginning with a simple steam engine, which it manufactured for the sugar mills of North Queensland, it has gone on to produce every type of land and marine engine of the compound, low, intermediate and high pressure types, to the most modern triple expansion engines now in use. Australian engineering had developed to this stage when, at the instance of Mr. J. H. Thomas, it was agreed at the Ottawa Conference that our industries were no longer to be given effective protection against British competition. Australians were to become wood and water- “ joeys “ for the United Kingdom. Tha whole trouble about these engines is that they .are made in Australia. If they were made in Scotland, England, Canada,
Germany, France, or the United States of America, everything would be all right; but, because they are made in Australia, under Australian trade union conditions, by Australian draughtsmen and engineers, out of Australian metals, honorable senators opposite have no use for them. Some time ago Mort’s Dock and Engineering Company announced its intention to undertake the manufacture of diesel engines provided it could secure the necessary protection. The decision of the Tariff Board appears to have been reached without any attempt being made to encourage the firm to extend its plant, and thereby provide additional employment. By protecting diesel engines up to 100 horse-power only, the company is prevented from expanding this important section of the engineering industry. In these circumstances, it appears impracticable to provide for the commercial manufacture of diesel engines in Australia. The selling price of Australian engines up to 50 horse-power has always been satisfactory. Engines of this type can be manufactured in Australia and driven with oil fuel produced from the shale in the deposits at Latrobe, and in the Newnes Valley. Apparently, honorable senators opposite are not taking a very keen interest in this discussion, and when “the division is taken some will not know if they are voting on diesel engines donkey boilers or sky rockets. The fate of the manufacturers of these engines waa sealed not in Canberra, but at the Ottawa Conference, owing to the strong influence of Downing-street. At that gathering the representatives of the British Government told our delegates that the Australian people must continue to till the soil, produce wheat and wool for export to Great Britain, and receive in return engines manufactured in Birmingham or Glasgow. The Australian manufacturers are being forced into a tight corner by this Government, but it will not be long before they will demand not only from the Commonwealth Parliament, but also from the people of Australia, the right to carry on an essential Australian industry. I do not know how long the people of this country will tolerate the fiscal policy of this Government, particularly when there, are over 500,000 men and women receiv ing the dole, and, in many cases, some form of assistance from those who are fortunate enough to have a job.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time. [Quorum formed.]
– The interest manifested in this discussion for the first hour after the dinner adjournment was obviously fervent, and rightly so, because it should appeal to the representatives of all the States. I am particularly interested in the subject, which I discussed at length on the second reading of th, United Kingdom and Australia Trade Agreement Bill, under which the Ottawa agreement was ratified. I then directed attention to the activities of Walkers Limited, in Maryborough, and also made some kindly reference to Ronaldson Brothers and Tippett Proprietary Limited, of Ballarat, and A. H. McDonald and Company Proprietary Limited, of Richmond, Melbourne, the Victorian manufacturers of engines similar to those under discussion. Some time ago a Bowen farmer told me that he had been using an engine of Victorian manufacture which had given him entire satisfaction, and I believe that his experience is similar to that of other users throughout Australia. The Victorian firm of McDonald and Company have built 10,000 engines for Australian users, but of a smaller type, showing that our manufacturers are quite capable of producing what is required. Honorable senators representing Victoria should be deeply concerned in the request moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes). The Scullin tariff should be regarded as a form of contract in view of what has resulted from it3 adoption, and this debate should compel future governments to consider the effect of customs duties upon the commercial community. After the Scullin tariff was ratified, Walkers Limited incurred considerable expense in preparing for the manufacture of engines of a kind which they had not previously made. When I saw Mr. Goldsmith, of Walkers Limited, who in company with some of his officers had been abroad to determine the method of manufacture overseas, he informed me that his company had incurred heavy expenditure in the hope that, during the. financial depression which then appeared imminent, it would be able to increase the number of men in its employ. Although the company had had 800 onits pay7sheet, the number had been reduced to 200. From statements he then made, it appeared that the firm had strong hopes of increasing the number, and by that means restoring prosperity in Maryborough, which has a population of 12,000 persons. The defeat of the request moved by the Leader of the Opposition will be disastrous to “Walkers Limited and to other important engineering firms in Australia. Walkers Limited are using drawings supplied by a British firm, which suggests that overseas manufacturers are anxious to co-operate with an Australian engineering firm. As only engines up to 100 horse-power are protected, British manufacturers will be able to supply similar engines of 102 horsepower, which are admitted free of duty, and which will enter into competition with engines of 100 horse-power manufactured in Australia. That is of vital importance. If this request is not agreed tq, engines of over 50 horse-power will not be manufactured in Australia, Quoting from the debates in another place-
– The honorable senator will not be in order in quoting from the debates in another place during the current session.
– McDonald and Company, of Victoria, state that an engine which cost ?695 landed in Melbourne can now be manufactured by them for ?535. In view of the heavy expenditure incurred in establishing an industry or in extending its operations, effective protection must be afforded; and when that security is given it is not long before an efficient manufacturing firm is able to reduce its costs. The evidence given before the Tariff Board by Mr. Goldsmith, representative of Walkers Limited, was that, when the Scullin duties were imposed overseas manufacturers reduced their f.o.b. prices and made it difficult to compete against diesel engines built overseas. Australian manufacturers have, therefore, to contend with a deliberate attempt at dumping. That is a serious statement, .and it should influence the committee in arriving at a decision. There is another factor which has operated against the Australian manufacturers in their efforts to commence the manufacture of these engines in this country. When the Scullin duties were imposed in 1930, importers of British engines, who are really the agents of the British manufacturers, flooded Australia with those engines. That was denied in another place; but it is the common practice of overseas manufacturers, or their agents here, to defeat the object of protective duties in that way, and in the process to kill budding Australian industries. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) promised members of another place to address certain questions to the Tariff Board, and to ask that body to make further inquiries in relation thereto. Ho invited them to ratify the duties meanwhile, and undertook to have made in this chamber any alteration that was decided upon. So far, we have not been told whether those questions were referred to the board, and we have not received a copy of any report upon them.
– We have received no information of any kind.
– It appears to me that we have been treated somewhat cavalierly. Under date the 7th June, 1933, the Minister for Trade and Customs addressed the following letter to the secretary of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, Melbourne : -
I acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 30th Hay with reference to diesel engines. In fulfilment of my promise the question has been referred back to the board who will, 1% doubt, make whatever arrangements are necessary for the conference with the interests concerned.
I contend that we should now have a report from the board, and that we -mould be advised as to whether any alteration has been decided upon by the Government. A great deal of money has been invested in this industry in Maryborough, Queensland, and it would be a wicked act if the Government, or those who profess to represent the people, crushed the industry because of a desire to assist overseas manufacturers. Firms in Victoria also are affected, though probably not to such an extent” as Walkers Limited. The evidence given to the Tariff Board by the principal of the firm of A. H. McDonald and Company Proprietary Limited showed that the value of the plant used by that firm in the manufacture of crude oil engines was from £60,000 to £60,000. It is said that in Australia engines of up to 1,500 horsepower can be made, and that duties on stationary engines up to that horse-power are necessary in order to protect the manufacture of engines up to 1,000 horsepower.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman -
– Can we not have a vote?
– Not until one of the responsible Ministers furnishes the information to which this committee is entitled. Other honorable senators may be prepared to accept the cavalier treatment which so far has characterized the attitude of the Government towards this request, but I am not.
– On Senator Johnston’s request, I gave the whole of the details of what had happened in relation to the proposal to refer the matter back to the board, and the board’s report.
– What was the board’s report?
– If the honorable senator was not present, I do not feel it incumbent on me to repeat my statement.
– I have not . heard the statement that the Minister says he made, and honorable senators whom I have questioned on the matter have assured me that he has not dealt with the particular aspect of the case upon which information is sought. In another place, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) admitted that new light had been thrown on the question of the duties on engines of the higher horse-power, and gave the assurance that certain aspects of the matter would be referred to the Tariff Board for its opinion. So far as I know, that information has not been placed before this committee. I heard the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) raise the question, and Senator MacDonald read a letter from the Minister for Trade and Customs in which that gentleman assured an’ interested party that arrangements would be made for these aspects of the case to be placed before the Tariff Board. Those arrangements have not been carried out by the board ; therefore, it would appear that the Government has made up its mind to destroy this industry irrespective of what evidence in favour of it may be tendered. If honorable senators, while fully conscious of that fact, are prepared to support the Government, I have nothing further to say; the responsibility is theirs.
– The last observations of Senator O’Halloran are sufficient to dispel any lingering doubts- that I may have had. The allegation is made by him that the Government has set out to destroy this industry, and that honorable senators who vote with it should bear that fact in mind. I have never seen Maryborough, in Queensland, and am not acquainted with Walkers Limited, but representations have been made to me on its behalf. I have to set those representations against the report of the Tariff Board and the statement of the Minister. I realize that all that is asked is that the matter should go before the other chamber for reconsideration. The Tariff Board, however, appears to have gone very fully into the matter, and to have drawn a distinction between the different types of engines made and the necessity for differentiation in the duties. Having that to guide me, and having, laid it down as a general principle - possibly not without exceptions - that I shall be guided by Tariff Board reports, especially in complicated matters, I feel that I must follow the lead of the Government in this matter. But I deprecate in the very strongest terms, allegations of what, appears to me to amount to little short of dishonest conduct. I assure the authors of those allegations that they make matters very difficult for those who might be inclined to follow their lead if they were a little more temperate in their language.
Question - That the request (Senator Barnes’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Temporary Chairman - Senator Sampson.)
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sub-items agreed to.
Postponed clause 9 (Application of British preferential tariff to the nonselfgoverning colonies).
– When we were previously discussing this clause, grave doubt was expressed as to the extent to which we should be committing ourselves if the clause were passed in its present form, and for that reason the Minister agreed to the postponement of the clause. I presume that he has now had an opportunity to consult his legal advisers on the matter. He stated previously that the Government intended to grant the benefits of the Ottawa agreement to certain selfgoverning dominions and protectorates of the British Empire, and that only on half a dozen minor items was the preference to be granted. But certain members of this committee thought that it would not be possible to limit the preference to the commodities indicated by the Minister.
Senator McLACHLAN (South Australia - Vice-President of the Executive
Council) [10.6]. - I shall re-state the position as I see it. Clauses 9 and 10. relating to the application of the British preferential tariff to the nonselfgoverning colonies, and extending power to the Governor-General to fix a date for a proclaimed duty, were postponed, as certain honorable senators were not sure that Australian industries would be safeguarded. The opinion was expressed that the effect of proclaiming the British preferential tariff to apply to British non-self governing colonies might cause undue competition with Australian products. The schedule has now been completed, and honorable senators have had an opportunity to study the different duties and the preferences granted under the British preferential tariff. On any of the items there was an opportunity to move a request if it was considered that the application of the British preferential tariff to any colony was detrimental to Australia. With the knowledge gained throughout the debate, honorable senators should now be aware of the extent to which preferences are granted, and they should have no objection to clauses 9 and 10, which are necessary in view of the Ottawa agreement.
In regard to the power to issue a proclamation, and apply the British preferential tariff to the produce of British nonselfgoverning colonies, I said when this clause was previously under consideration that the matter had to be looked at from the aspect of its practical application to the tariff. Honorable senators have had an opportunity to study every item in the schedule, and I trust that they will have come to the conclusion, which I predicted, that there is really not much weight in the point that has been taken. In order further to inform the minds of honorable senators, and to remove whatever apprehension may remain, I have had a review made of the principal exports of the colonial Empire. The list of exports is an authentic one, as it is contained in a document prepared for and supplied to the Imperial Economic Conference at Ottawa, and it comprises the following 31 items : -
Asphalt, beeswax, bitters, butter, canned fruits, carbonate of soda, chicle, cigars, cocoa beans, coffee, dry gums and resins, essential oils, fruit juices, hard fibres, manganese ore, oil seeds and nuts and vegetable oils, plumbago, rum, sago and tapioca, sugar, tea, timber logs, tobacco for cigars, unground spices, vanilla beans, arrowroot,hides and skins, kola nuts, limes, rubber, sponges.
A review of the question discloses that we have already granted the British preferential tariff to the colonies in respect of the following sixteen commodities : -
Asphalt, bitters, canned fruits, cigars, cocoa beans, dry gums, essential oils, fruit juices, plumbago, rum, sago and tapioca, log timber, tobacco leaf for cigars, unground spices, vanillabeans, sponges.
In respect of the ten commodities set out hereunder, the tariff does not provide any preference, and, therefore, no advantage would accrue to the colonial Empire if such goods were gazetted under the British preferential tariff. Those commodities are -
Coffee,hard fibres, sugar, tea, arrowroot, oil seeds and nuts, hides and skins, kola nuts, rubber, chicle.
That leaves the following goods on which a lower rate of duty is imposed under the British preferential tariff than under the general tariff: -
Honorable senators will readily realize that there could be no real competition from the colonies in respect of any of these products. Some of these commodities Australia does not produce; in regard to others, the duties under the’ British preferential tariff are so high as to prevent competition, and in the case of the remainder, the production in the colonial Empire is quite- small, and no request for the grant of preference is ever likely to be made. Summarized, the position is that the Imperial Economic Conference at Ottawa was supplied with a list of the goods which are the produce of the colonial Empire, and that only those goods will be gazetted under this tariff. In the event of any of the nonselfgoverning colonies commencing to manufacture any of these goods, the position will have to be met when the occasion arises. There is no risk in accepting the clause as drafted.
– I was pleased to hear the Minister’s explanation, although it was practically a repetition of the arguments which he put forward when the bill was before us some weeks ago. The marginal note to clause 9 reads -
Application of British preferential tariff to the non-self-governing colonics. while the clause itself provides -
The Governor-General may from time to time by proclamation declare that the rates of duty set out in the column headed “ British Preferential Tariff “ in the schedule shall apply to such goods as are specified in the proclamation and are the produce or manufacture of a British non-self-governing colony specified in that proclamation in relation to those goods, and thereupon the British preferential tariff shall apply to the goods so specified as are the produce or manufacture of the colony so specified.
Senators Foil, Grant, and Brennan were uncertain of the meaning of this clause, and, therefore, in order to make the position clear, I now move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to add the following new sub-clause: -
Nothing in this section shall be deemed to authorize the applicationof the rate of duty set out in the column headed “ British Preferential Tariff “ in respect of item 52 (a) in the schedule, to any bananas the produce of any British non-self-governing colony other than Fiji.
Schedule G to the Ottawa agreement provides, in respect of bananas, that -
Forty thousand centals per annum from Fiji will be admitted in reasonable equal monthly quantities at 2s. 6d. per cental, provided the goods are entered at the ports of Sydney and Melbourne.
That concession was agreed to at Ottawa, and we cannot alter it now. The new sub-clause will make the position definite, and remove any doubt regarding the importation of bananas from other non-self-governing colonies. By accepting the requested amendment, the Government would not suffer any loss of dignity.
– Although I see no necessity for the new sub-clause,I have no objection to it.
– It seems a somewhat extraordinary procedure to. insert a new clause merely to cover one article of commerce. The Minister’s explanation has not entirely removed my uncertainty regarding the effect of article 15 of the Ottawa agreement, which states that the Commonwealth undertakes to accord to the nonselfgoverning colonies and protectorates any preferences for the time being accorded to the United Kingdom should the British Government so request. This may be due to my lack of legal training, for, no doubt, the Minister is well fortified by opinions by the Attorney-General and the legal advisers of the Crown. I think, however, that, in any case, the proposed new sub-clause should be given a wider application.
– It refers specifically to bananas, because that was the only commodity about which there was any doubt.
– I do not think that the new sub-clause will have much effect.
– The request, if agreed to, will have to go to another place, and in the meantime the law officers of the Crown will look into the matter. I think that the proposed new sub-clause will meet the wishes of the committee generally.
– That satisfies me.
Request agreed to.
Clause agreed to, subject to arequest.
Postponed clause 10 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with requests.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
.- I move-
That the bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of the following items in the schedule:- 6 (b), 98 (a), 120 (e), 136 (f2), 161 (o), 179 (d 3c), 186, 279 (a), and 408.
In order that honorable senators may obtain a full appreciation of the requests which will be proposed, I ask them to deal with the items in the order that they appear in the schedule to the bill. I move for the recommittal of these items in order that the necessary action may be taken to implement the decisions of the
Senate. Apart from a reduction of duty which will be proposed on a revenue item, the recommittals do not seek to . reverse the decisions of the Senate that have already been made. I emphasize this point, as I do not think it fit or proper that honorable senators should, at this stage further review decisions so recently made.
– I move -
That the following items be added to the amendment: - 58 (c) and 281 (c).
Last night, on the representations of the Minister that it was in accordance with a recommendation of the Tariff Board, honorable senators agreed to a request that the duties on cornflour should be reduced. At the time I was under the impression that the report of the board had been circulated; but I find that it was not circulated until this morning. I submit that, in fairness to honorable senators, who might have to cast a vote on the item, they should first have been given an opportunity to consider the report. The report of the Tariff Board dealing with item 281c, which concerns alum, &c, was circulated, but it would appear that there has been a misunderstanding between the Minister in this chamber and the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– I have no objection to those items being included in the list that I have enumerated.
Amendment upon the amendment agreed to.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
In committee (Recommittal) .
Item 6, sub-item (b) -
Acetone - and a deferredduty as follows: -
On and after 1st July, 1933 -
Acetone, ad valorem, British, 30 per cent.; general, 40 per cent.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (b). by leaving out ‘* 1st July, 1933 “, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the date “ 1st July, 1934 “.
The reason for this request is that the sub-item contains a deferred duty to operate as from the 1st July, 1933, but on the advice of the Tariff Board it is now proposed to postpone its operation until the 1st January, 1934. This request, if agreed to, will bring the schedule into line with what has already been done.
Request agreed to.
Sub-item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item 58, sub-item (c) -
Grain and pulse, prepared or manufactured, viz.: -
c ) Cornflour, per . lb. - British, 3d. ; general, 3d.
Upon which the Senate had requested,
That the House of Representatives he requested to amend the sub-item to read -
Cornflour; starch flour derived from maize -
– I move -
That the Senate’s request be withdrawn.
The rates of duty on cornflour, as they appear in the schedule are, per lb., 3d., British preferential, and 3d., general. Last night, the committee agreed to make a request to the House of Representatives to reduce these rates, and if my request is agreed to the duties will remain as they appear in the schedule. The request moved by the Minister last night was based upon a report of the Tariff Board, which was not circulated among honorable senators until this morning. I have carefully perused that report, and I find in it many aspects with which I am not satisfied. The board has not given the fullest consideration to all the factors which govern the operation of the cornflour industry in Australia. Since I amplified my arguments last night, I have no desire to delay matters by reiterating them. The action taken by this committee yesterday, as published in the metropolitan press, has caused considerable consternation among those engaged in the local manufacture of cornflour. This morning I received the following urgent telegram from a gentleman who has interests in this industry : -
Want you to realize that the reduced duty on cornflour will practically put the Australian manufacturer, including Maize Products, out of business. Tariff Board’s recommendation is ridiculous in view of evidence submitted recent inquiry.
Maize Products is a company operating in Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne, its head office being at Footscray. It is. among the largest, if not the largest, user of maize for commercial purposes in Australia.
– It is the largest user.
– I thank the honorable senator for the interjection. Serious consequences arc likely to accrue to this industry if the Senate insists upon its request to the House of Representatives. I have also received the following telegram, which was sent by General Bennett, president of the New South Wales Chamber of Manufactures to the secretary of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, who is now in Canberra : -
Please forward to-day’s mail copy Tariff Board report cornflour printed or typed. Inform Mr. Abbott chamber strongly protests against alteration present duties which were supported by Primary Producers Union, New South Wales, Agricultural Council, Queensland, and Maize Board, Atherton. Have wired Sir Walter Massy Greene urging resubmission cornflour items. Suggest you interview Senator Greene and report fully by wire result of your effort.
These two telegrams indicate the consternation caused by the committee’s vote last evening. The request was made before honorable senators had had an opportunity to consider the Tariff Board’s report, and even before the persons in the industry had had a chance to read that document and decide whether it was in accordance with the weight of evidence, and did justice to the local industry. For those reason’s I ask the committee to agree to withdraw the request.
– Last night the committee, by a considerable majority, supported the request I proposed. This item was referred to the Tariff Board on the 12th May, 1932; it has been thoroughly investigated, and opportunities have been given to representatives of both sides, including the gentlemen who are now bombarding us with telegrams, to state their views. This is part of the finding of the board -
The outstanding fact of importance is that local prices are unreasonably high compared with prices in. other countries, even after allowing for the difference in the costs of maize.
Support for the higher duties was embodied in representations made by witnesses appearing on behalf of maize-growers in New South Wales and Queensland, who stressed the importance of the cornflour industry as an outlet for locally-grown maize, particularly in years of surplus production . . .
But even after making due allowance for all local disabilities and higher costs, it is impossible to justify the imposition of a duty of move than 1¾d. per lb. - £16 6s. 8d. per ton - on cornflour of United Kingdom origin. This rate would permit importations of the cheapest Scottish cornflour to be landed in Australia under present conditions at a cost of £34 14s. 3d. per ton, and enforce a reduction of £4 12s. a ton in local prices.
The duty of lid. per lb. in terms of Australian costs of production represents the whole of the cost of maize and more than half of the cost of direct labour. As an ad valorem duty on imported cornflour, it represents 00 per cent, on the highest price of Scottish cornflour quoted at the inquiry, and 145 per cent, on the lowest price.
The manufacturers are like dissatisfied litigants. Their case has been heard by the tribunal appointed by Parliament, and judgment has been, given against them. Now they demand a fresh trial oi a reversal of the decision of the board. If any honorable senator, after reading the report, will say that the board has not done justice to the industry, I shall be surprised.
– The board’s report is very weak in respect of oversea prices.
– According to the report, the local manufacturers are not weak in respect of their prices. Representations similar to those that have been made to us to-day in regard to cornflour have, been made in relation to other, items, but if the committee does not accept the board’s report on cornflour it will accept no report from that body. This industry has had the ear of Parliament for a considerable time, and I ask the committee to abide by its vote of last evening.
– I regret that the Minister is not prepared to agree to the withdrawal of the request for a reduction of the duty on cornflour. The honorable gentleman referred to the large majority by which the request was agreed to last- evening. I hope he will not be offended if I remind him that those honorable senators who desire a restoration of the duty of 3d. per lb. constituted the Government’s majority in almost every division on this schedule. The interests of the primary producers have been on the lips of many senators during the last few weeks. Their sincerity will be tested by their vote on Senator O’Halloran’s motion.
– Not in view of the testimony in the Tariff Board’s report.
– The Minister referred to the board as the tribunal appointed by Parliament. Parliament is the tribunal appointed by the people, and should not subordinate its opinion to that of the Tariff Board.
– Are we to be influenced by the ex parte statements of the persons who have bombarded us with telegrams ?
– Many of the statements made in this committee are ex parte. The growers of maize are not prospering more than other primary producers. They have to compete against maize sold in other countries at prices, which would not be profitable in Australia under the most favorable conditions, having regard to the costs of land and labour. According to a recent issue of Current Opinion, the price of maize in America was only Sd. a bushel. It is against cornflour made from maize produced at the cost of a few pence a bushel that the Australian commodity has to compete. The motion gives honorable senators an opportunity to restore a duty that is necessary for the protection of our primary producers. I trust that it will be carried, for in that way a large number of people who are endeavouring to wrest a living from the land will be assisted.
– I am amazed that the same rates of duty are proposed in the British and general tariffs. Surely a distinction should be made between the duty on maize grown in countries where cheap coloured labour is employed, and the duty on maize imported from countries where it is grown under white labour conditions.
– The lack of such distinction applies only to Senator O’Halloran’s proposal.
– I was wondering why the distinction was not made. The production of maize in this . country is an important branch of our primary industries, and the conversion of portion of the crop into cornflour would do a great deal to ease the local market.
– If we manufactured the whole of the cornflour required in Australia it would only represent 4 per cent, of the maize crop.
– As we produce a considerable quantity of maize, even 4 per cent, should mean several hundred tons at least. .A product that is so eminently adapted to Australian soil should be encouraged. It is absurd that there should be any importations of maize under normal conditions, because no country is better adapted to the production of almost unlimited quantities of this grain. This being so, we should do everything possible in the interests of our growers to secure to them the whole of the Australian market for maize products. Adequate protection of this industry will lead to the utilization of other by-products. It is true, as the Minister (Senator McLachlan), has said, that the telegrams and letters received by honorable senators are in the nature of ex-parte statements ; but I remind him that, some time ago, when he was negotiating the passage of an insurance bill through the Senate, he also read a number of ex-parte statements. While 1 do not believe in encouraging manufacturers to exact extortionate profits from the people, we can, I think, quite safely carry the motion, because other means are available to us to deal with profiteering if it is attempted. I hope that Senator O’Halloran’s motion will be carried.
– I am exceedingly glad that the committee has an opportunity to reconsider its decision with regard to this item. As Senator O’Halloran has pointed out, we did not receive the Tariff Board’s report on this item until to-day. Had it been in our hands yesterday, many arguments could have been advanced in favour of the course now being urged by Sena,tor O’Halloran. This item affects one of our principal primary industries in Queensland. Queensland produces a large quantity of maize. In their evidence before the Tariff Board, Queensland growers stated that their position was so serious that any action tending to reduce the market for, or lower the price of, their product, would be a calamity. I, therefore, hope that we shall have the support of those honorable senators who are always expressing their concern for the welfare of our primary producers, because this appeal is being made entirely in the interests of the Australian maizegrowers. We are constantly being told that an industry is not efficient if it does not manufacture, from its principal raw material, all those by-products which are so produced in other countries. On that ground, we claim support for the motion, because adequate protection for this industry will ensure the utilization of other maize by-products besides cornflour. Mr. L. R. Crouch, the representative of the Queensland growers, giving evidence before the Tariff Board said -
The average price received by tho Queensland growers during the last seven years was 2s. lOd. per bushel delivered at the. silosAbout (1,000 tons of Queeusland maize is used annually in the manufacturing industries. Freight, sea carriage and handling amount to 2s. Id. per bushel on maize shipped to Sydney, and to 2s. 4d. per bushel on shipments to Melbourne. The present duties are supported, as the Queensland maize-growers do not wish for any further imports of cornflour, which will reduce the demand of locally-grown maize.
The Minister suggested that there was something sinister in the receipt of telegrams by honorable senators from persons interested in the protection of this industry. I cannot see how there can be anything sinister in receiving representations of this kind from those engaged in an industry that is threatened with extinction by the Government’s tariff proposals. The Senate is constituted differently from the House of Representatives. There are six of us here from each State, and communications such as those referred to by the Minister are helpful as a means of keeping us in touch with the people we represent. At any rate, in Canberra we are not subjected to lobbying, as was the case in Melbourne, where senators were sometimes approached by persons prepared even to buy their votes. Another witness, Mr. J. Powell, director of Foster Clark, Australia, Limited, said -
The price of Dutch cornflour is £8 7s. Cd. per ton of 2,240 lb. f.o.b. Amsterdam, and Scottish cornflour, which it is considered is the best in the world, can be purchased at £10 os. per ton of 2,240 lb. f.o.b. Glasgow.
All we ask is that the duty of 3d. per lb. on cornflour should be allowed to remain. The Tariff Board heard evidence in Melbourne and Sydney on the 20th February, 1933, and the 6th March, 1933, respectively, in support of the existing duties on cornflour. We must not expose the maize industry to damaging competition from foreign countries, and that being so, we must also protect from such competition industries engaged in the manufacture of by-products from maize. In May, 1928, the date of the previous Tariff Board inquiry, maize was quoted in Chicago at 4s. 5½d. a bushel, but in January of this year, according to the Sydney Morning Herald of 10th January, 1933, the price being paid to the American farmers was 1 cents a bushel, equal to 3-Jd. In Australia, the average price paid by cornflour manufacturers last season for maize was 5s. a bushel in New South Wales, and 5s. 2d. in Victoria, whereas the average price in England for milling maize was 2s. 2d. a bushel. If the industry is to be exposed to savage competition of that kind, how can it be expected to carry on?
As a matter of fact, the consumers are not being penalized by the duty of 3d. per lb. on cornflour, because the price of Australian cornflour is 2d. lower than the price of imported cornflour. Brown and Poison’s cornflour is retailed at 9d. a packet, as against 7d. a packet for the Australian cornflour, though the quality is identical. These facts, together with the Tariff Board’s report, which we received only this morning, justify honorable senators in supporting Senator O’Halloran’s motion.
– Where are the so-called champions of the primary producers now that an effort is being made to give adequate protection to a primary industry? They have paid lip service to the cause of the primary producers, but it has been left to members of the Labour Opposition to take a definite step in the direction of helping them.
– What about the unfortunate consumers whom the honorable senator is supposed to represent ?
– The consumers whom I represent are engaged in both primary and secondary production. I am convinced that the Australian workers, who are large consumers of this commodity, would rather eat blancmangemade from Australian cornflour than that made from black-grown cornflour which comes to us via England or Scotland. In the coastal areas of Natal, behind Durban, Zulus are employed by the farmers in growing cane and maize. These industries are carried on right from Durban down the east coast to East London and Port Elizabeth. There is a shipping lini’ called the Boothby line - a subsidiary of the Union Castle Company - whose ships are loaded with tens of thousands of tons of black-grown maize from South Africa. The Clan line also carries thousands of tons from India, where it is grown by coolie labour, and the maize is auctioned on the Liverpool Corn Exchange. Maize is extensively produced in the Kempsey, Macleay River, and Walworth districts, and also in the Grafton district, which is in the electorate represented by the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page). Its production is also undertaken in the Tumut district, on the Darling Downs, and right up to the Atherton Tablelands. I should like to ask the representatives of the primary producers in this chamber if they have ever attended a “ husking “ party such as were once held in barns when work was carried on to the tune of the fiddle or an accordion. *
– The honorable senator must discuss the item.
– In the absence of the so-called’ representatives of the primary producers, I am endeavouring to protect the maize-growers, on whose behalf Senator O’Halloran made such an eloquent appeal. The members of the Labour party appear to be the only ones anxious to assist the primary producers to compete against maize ‘ produced in Natal, and handled by coloured labour from the fields until shipped at Durban. Maize is also produced in India, Canada, and in the United States of America. What is wrong with Australian maize or any of its by-products? I appeal to honorable senators opposite to assist an important Australian primary industry by preventing cornflour made in England f rom,black-grown maize from entering into competition with an Australian product.
– As those who are supposed to represent primary producers in this chamber are absent, their interests on this, as on many other occasions, have to be protected by the representatives of Labour. In my youth, I was closely associated with the growing of maize, and also in handling it, until it reached the seaboard. Maize, which is a sub-tropical plant, and which is grown in larger quantities in Queensland than in any other State, has enjoyed practical prohibition ; but maize products such as cornflour, could not, without the added protection of a high exchange rate, compete with similar products manufactured overseas. When I was first associated with maize-growing, from ls. to 2s. 6d. a bushel was considered a good price, but Senator Crawford has said that maize produced by coloured labour is sold at as low as 8d. a bushel. If 5s. a bushel is obtained for Australian maize, there is no hope for> the manufacturers of Australian cornflour.
– The Tariff Board has taken Australian maize into consideration at 5s. a bushel.
– Exactly; that is why foreign conflour made from maize grown by coloured labour is able to compete so successfully. That the old rate of 2d. per lb. was ineffective, is proved by the fact that, whereas in 1924-25 the importations amounted to 299,188 lb., in 1928-29 they totalled 1,032,463 lb. Despite the Minister’s assurance that the consumption of cornflour represents only 4 per cent, of the Australian maize production, the effect of these importations is serious. Maize-growing is a terrifically hard occupation, and the growers deserve all the protection they can get. I have the utmost sympathy with them, because I have worked for years in small farming. Senator O’Halloran has acted as a true Australian by directing attention to this matter, and enabling the representatives of the great maize-growing States, particularly New South Wales and Queensland, to furnish the committee with whatever information they possess.
Sub-item, agreed to without further request.
Bequests (by Senator McLachlan) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 98, sub-item (a), by adding the words “n.e.i.”
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 120, sub-item (e), to read - “(b) Sponge cloths, sweat rags and Dorset cloths, and material in the piece for the manufacture thereof, ad valorem - British, 40 peT cent.; general, 60 per cent.”
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 136, .sub-item (f2), by, omitting the date “ 1 October, 1933 “, and inserting in its stead the date “ 1 January, 1934.”
That the general tariff rate in the request for an amendment of item 161, sub-item (c), agreed to by the Senate, be amended to read “37i per cent.”
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 179, sub-item (d3c), by leaving out the date “ 1 October, 1933 “ (second time occurring), with a view to insert in lieu thereof the date “ 1 January, 1934.”
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 186, by leaving out the date “ 1 July, 1933 “, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the date “ 1 January, 1934.”
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 279, sub-item (a) by leaving out the date “ 1 July, 1933 “, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the date “ 1 January, 1934.”
Items 98 (a), 120 (b), 136 (f2), 161 (c), 179 (b3 c), 186, and 279 *(a) agreed to subject to requests.
Item 281, sub-item (o) -
Upon which the Senate had requested -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, ad valorem - British, 50 per cent. ; general, 70 per cent.
.- I move-
That the request for amendment be withdrawn.
I have received additional information, which seems to indicate that there has been a misunderstanding on this item between the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) and the Minister in charge of the Tariff in this chamber;’ or, alternatively, that when the matter was discussed yesterday, the Minister had not received the fullest particulars from the Minister for Trade and Customs. As honorable senators will remember, the request for the reduction of the duties was made yesterday at the instance of the Government, despite the strongest protest, which was made on the ground that the report of the Tariff Board was materially in error in regard to several particulars. It was pointed out to the Minister, and subsequently admitted by him, that the firm principally concerned -Sulphates Proprietary Limited, of Melbourne - had been negotiating with the Minister for Trade and Customs, and had directed attention to certain fundamental errors in the report of the Tariff Board. But the Minister did not inform the committee last night that a letter, dated the 11th July, 1933, was sent by the Minister for Trade and Customs to this firm in the following terms : -
With reference to your personal representation and your letter of 4th July, I am referring the matter back to the Tariff Board for further consideration in the light of the figures you have supplied in connexion with the duty on sulphate of alumina, alum, &c.
The firm mentioned should be allowed to enjoy, until the further inquiry has been made, the benefits of the higher protection which may have been withdrawn by mistake on the recommendation of the Tariff Board.
.-The officers of the department were not ‘aware of the letter that has been sent ; but when this matter is considered in the other branch of the legislature in all probability an adjustment will be made.
SenatorO’Halloran. - In view of the Minister’s assurance, I am prepared to withdraw my motion.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
Sub-item agreed to without further request.
Item 408, sub-items (a) (b) (Outside packages, n.e.i.).
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 408 read as follows: - “ Outside packages, n.e.i. and outer coverings, including the sole containing package, in which goods are ordinarily imported, when containing such goods -
W.hen containing goods subject to the ad valorem duty under item 267 (b), ad valorem, British, free; general, 10 per cent.;
When containing any goods which are subject under any item in the tariff (other than goods subject to ad valorem duty under item 267 (b) ) to an ad valorem duty or to alternative or composite duties, ad valorem, British, 20 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.;
Otherwise, British, free; general, free.”
The effect of the amendment would be to reduce the duty on containers of bitumen, asphalt, &c, from 30 per cent. to 10 per cent. The amendment is proposed in order to relieve the users of bitumen from the heavy revenue duty of 30 per cent., which is applied on the drums or other containers. Bitumen and allied products are distinct from most other commodities, in that the value of the container is very high in relation to the value of the contents, being in some cases equal in value to the bitumen. The drums, when emptied, are useless for any further purpose, and instead of being an asset to the user of the bitumen, they are actually a liability, in that costs are incurred in having them removed.
Request agreed to.
Sub-items agreed to, subject to a request.
Bill reported with further requests; reports adopted.
[11.39]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure, which has already passed the House of Representatives, relates tothe Supplementary Estimates for the year 1931-32. The whole of the particulars, with regard to the expenditure have already appeared, and it is not necessary for me to deal with them at length. As honorable senators are aware, it is the custom each year to provide on the Estimates a vote known as “ Advance to the Treasurer “. This vote enables the Treasurer to make advances to the various Commonwealth departments to meet expenditure not provided for under the ordinary divisions of the Estimates. Particulars of such expenditure must always be included in a parliamentary appropriation.
Copies of the Supplementary Estimates are being circulated among honorable senators, and I, therefore, do not propose to refer at length to the items of expenditure which are being submitted for the concurrence of Parliament.
The vote for Treasurer’s Advance for 1931-32 was ?2,000,000. The expenditure amounted to ?1,068,800, made up as follows : -
The principal cause of the substantial increase of expenditure is that no provision was included in the Estimates to provide for exchange on remittances from London to cover our commitments in New York. As honorable senators know, this exchange was due to the fall of sterling in relation to the dollar, ‘ following the abandonment of the gold standard by the United Kingdom in September, 1931. The additional provision for exchange is ?495,435. Parliament has already been fully informed in regard to the expenditure now submitted for covering appropriation. Full details of the expenditure were furnished with the Estimates and budget-papers of the current year. Details are also set out in the AuditorGeneral’s report and the Treasurer’s finance statement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without request or debate; report adopted.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill reada third time.
[11.45]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
When the Government prepared its Estimates for 1931-32, the amount which it expected to receive from the White Star Line for the vessels purchased by that company was included in the Works and Buildings estimates for that year. The money was, however, not received, and, consequently, it was necessary, in order to complete the works programme, to make special provision from the Treasurer’s advance. The amount was ?165,000, which, together with the advance of ?44,000, made a total of ?209,000.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till to-morrow at 10 a.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 June 1933, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1933/19330613_senate_13_141/>.