13th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. F. J. Lynch) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been drawn to a London cable, dated Thursday, the 29th June, published in the Canberra Times, in which it is stated that new proposals are being made at the World Economic Conference regarding wheat restrictions, and that the Prime Minister of Canada had stated that the proposals of Mr. Bruce would pave the way to the acceptance by Australia of a policy providing for a restriction of the area to be sown with wheat ? Will the Minister place the proposals of Mr. Bruce before the Senate as promised by the Government?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The honorable senator’s question is merely a repetition of questions which he asked earlier in the week, which were fully answered. I refer him to the answers given to those questions.
Citrus Fruits and Potatoes
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce - (1) Has the Government realized the magnitude of the losses to thousands of citrus fruit-growers resulting from the New Zealand embargo on Australian citrus fruits? (2) Is it aware that the position is daily becoming more acute on account of the long delay on the part of the Government in reaching a decision, and the complete absence of information on the part of the growers regarding the policy of the Government in respect of the restoration of the New Zealand market to Australian growers? (3) Will the Minister endeavour to allay the anxiety of those vitally interested in the matter by making a statement on this subject to the Senate? (4) Has the Australian embargo on New Zealand potatoes any relation to the New Zealand embargo on Australian citrus fruits, and, if so, will the Minister say when a decision will be reached on these conflicting interests?
– The honorable senator’s question is founded on an entire misconception of the position. There has been no delay on the part of the Australian Government in dealing with this matter, which is one entirely within the control of the New Zealand Government. That Government is of the opinion that it is more important to the . citizens of that dominion that they shall find an outlet for their fruit in the American market than that they shall eat Australian oranges. The Government of the United States of America has informed the New Zealand Government that it will not permit the importation of fruit from any country in which Mediterranean fruit fly is known to exist. Unfortunately, this pest, which finds a home in practically every known fruit and vegetable, does exist in certain districts of Australia. Because of its existence in Australia, New Zealand has placed an embargo on the importation of both fruit and vegetables from this country. The Commonwealth Government has been in communication with the New Zealand Government in regard to this matter, and the latest advice I have received from New Zealand is that the Government of the dominion is discussing with the Government’ of the United States of America the extent to which it will be possible for New Zealand to admit citrus fruits from certain districts in Australia, and still retain its right’ to export its own fruit to the United States of America. The embargo on fruit has no relation to Australia’s embargo on the importation of potatoes from New Zealand.
Exclusion of Public from Aeroplane Grounds.
– (1). Was it because of a ministerial instruction or a departmental regulation that the taxpayers of the Federal Capital had to remain outside a barbed wire fence erected around the landing place, and be guarded by the Commonwealth Police when the Imperial Airways aeroplane Astraea arrived at Canberra on Wednesday last; the 28th
June? (2) Is the procedure cm that occa-. si on to be taken as a precedent in connexion -with all future ceremonies in Canberra ? (3) Will the Government issue instructions that respectable and law-abiding citizens of Canberra shall be afforded an opportunity of assisting at any ceremony in future, without being forced, to submit to the indignity referred to in the first portion of this question?
– There was neither a ministerial instruction nor a departmental regulation in this instance. The invariable practice, both here and elsewhere, is to limit the number of persons allowed to congregate in the vicinity of a landing ground when aeroplanes are to arrive. That is done in the interests, not only of the aeroplane, but also of the sightseers. The number of police in Canberra is limited, and consequently they were instructed to allow on the landing ground no more persons than they could control. I do not know what rule they followed; but I assure the honorable senator that there was no intention on the part of the authorities to insult the citizens of Canberra. The action taken was solely in the interests of safety.
Statement by Prime Minister.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Senate been drawn to this report in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 22nd June, from its special correspondent at Cairns, of a meeting of sugar-growers addressed by the Prime Minister -
Mr. Lyons stated at the outset that he was opposed to those “ fanatics “ in the south who had been trying to kill the industry. When a man interjected - “ These fanatics are your friends.” Mr. Lyons retorted “No, they are not my friends. They are some of the people who have been behind the secession movement, and I went to the west to fight them.”
Does the Leader of the Senate think that it is right for the Prime Minister to libel men of the character of Senator Secessionist Johnston, Senator Sir Walter Kingsmill, Senator Dr. Brennan, and others ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE Apparently, the ‘honorable senator asks me to comment on some expression of opinion by the Prime Minister at a meeting in Queensland. It would be against the Standing Orders for me to do so.
– Does not the right honorable gentleman think that it is an insult to call Senator Dr. Brennan a fanatic ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE I am not aware that the Prime Minister called any one* a fanatic.
– Will the Leader of the Senate ask the Prime Minister to repeat, in Tasmania, the statement that the majority of the people of Australia who are opposed to the sugar agreement are fanatics?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I repeat that I am not aware that the Prime Minister made any such statement.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
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 : -
The President laid on the table his warrant nominating Senator J. B. Hayes to act as a temporary chairman of committees when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees, or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
In committe: Consideration resumed fromthe 29th June (vide page 2744).
Group 5. - Amendments made by the present Government which are supported by Tariff Board reports.
Item 73 (a1, 2) (b1, 2) (cl, 2) (d), 74 (b), 79, 91 (b1, 2) and 94 (a) (b) agreed to.
Division 5. - Textiles, Felts and Furs, and Manufacturer thereof, and Attire.
Item 10.5, sub-items (a16) (aa2) (f1, 2, 4) (g) (h1, 2a, b)-
Piece goods -
(1) (6) Cotton piece goods ordinarily used for manufacture into outer clothing for human wear which in pattern,design. or appearance resemble woollen piece goods used for the same purpose, and which weigh more than 3 oz. per square yard (except piece goods enumerated in sub-item (AA ), per square yard - British, 6d. ; general,1s. and ad valorem 20 per cent., 40 percent., or ad valorem 35 per cent., 55 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
(1) Piece goods, woollen, or containing wool, ordinarily used in the manufacture of outer clothing for human wear and weighing more than 3 ounces per square yard, per square yard, British1s., general 2s., and ad valorem, British 30 per cent., general 50 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, sub-item (a1, b), per square yard - British,1s.; general, 2s.
This industry is most important to Australia, and it is not confined to any one State. Eight mills are now operating in the Commonwealth. They are -
The present rates are those which were recommended by the Tariff Board, and they are lower than those in the 1921-28 tariff, although the weight basis is now 3 oz. instead of 6 oz., as was previously the case. When in 1925 the then Minister for Trade and Customs, the late Mr. Pratten, fought to establish the cotton weaving and spinning industry in Australia, an organized effort was directed in many country constituencies against the duty on cotton tweed, for which class of material Australian consumers paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to artisans in Japan, Germany, and the United States of America. The tariff introduced by the late Mr. Pratten was intended te encourage the manufacture of cotton tweed in Australia, in which direction it was successful, for the later development of the industry has beer remarkable, as will be seen from the list of mills that I have read. The capital invested in the industry by those concerned exceeds £250,000 in- buildings and £120,000 in plant and machinery, while the employees, who number over 500, receive approximately £75,000 per annum. Our importations of cotton tweeds in 1925-26 were valued at £241,000, but under the influence of the Pratten tariff they fell to £88,000 in 1928-29. Under the Scullin-Forde tariff, imports of those articles were still further reduced to £23,000 by 1930-31, and came practically solely from Japan. A slight increase occurred in our imports of cotton tweeds in 1931-32, Japan increasing her hold on the market. The present rates, which are a considerable reduction on those which operated prior to October, 1932, are insufficient to protect the market against Japanese competition, which threatens to become a serious menace to our industry. When it is remembered that this year’s cotton crop in Australia will reach a record of 25,000 bales, the main outlet for which is through the secondary sections of the cotton industry, it will be realized that immediate action is necessary on the part of the Government to prevent disastrous results. If the Government were to protect the industry effectively, and deal satisfactorily with other classes of cotton cloth to which reference will be made later, the cotton crop could easily be increased to 35,000 bales, with no anxiety to the growers or to the Government as to its disposal. No more opportune time could be taken than the present to give the industry adequate protection, and if the Government is sincere in its desire to protect all sections engaged in the industry, the growers, spinners and weavers, the course which is open to it to take is evident. The Australian companies which have sunk thousands of pounds in their enterprises in order to produce cotton yarns and cloth can relieve the Government and the growers of all anxiety as to the disposal of the cotton crop.
In December, 1929, the cotton tweed manufacturers made a request to the Tariff Board that denims, drills, jeans, dungarees and so on, should be made dutiable under tariff, item 105 (AlB). instead of under 105 (a1a). Incidentally, I point out that the spinning plant for the yarns, also the weaving plant for the cloth, are available in Australia for the manufacture of these materials. On a conservative estimate, the annual Australian consumption of dungarees and denims is 2,000,000 yards, and that of drills, 1,000,000 yards. The manufacturers who appeared before the board in December, 1929, gave an undertaking to manufacture the whole of our requirements within twelve months, but no action was taken by the Government. It is certainly to the advantage of Australia that the cotton industry should be developed to its fullest extent, and, in order to do this, nothing but effective protection for all its branches will be of any avail. That is why I have made my request.
Honorable senators know that the potentialities of the production of cotton in Australia are infinite. No doubt my colleagues from Queensland will elaborate that matter, as they are more familiar than I am with the progress that has been made in the industry in Queensland. The cotton industry is capable of affording a good deal of additional employment, particularly to young persons of hoth sexes, which is most desirable at this juncture. That makes me particularly interested, because it closely concerns the Australian Workers Union, of which I am president.
– My colleagues from Queensland will be able to enlighten the honorable senator in that regard. So far as I can understand, this industry, like the tobacco industry, affords employment at times when others are slack. It also enables persons with little means to take up small areas of land and cultivate cotton on a co-operative family basis. The Government should do everything possible to counter the risk of our being flooded with Japanese imports, and my request, if accepted, would assist it substantially in that direction. Notwithstanding our political differences, we must all agree ou this point: that it is most desirable to protect our industries against the cheap-labour products of countries whose standard of living is deplorably lower than our own. I commend the request to the generous consideration of the committee.
– I remind honorable senators that this item has again been referred to the Tariff Board, by which body it is at present being considered. The schedule practically gives, effect to the recommendations of the board which are contained in it-s report No. 477, dated the 13th September, 1932. It is interesting to note the volume of foreign importations of cotton tweed over the last three or four years. The following table shows that those from the United Kingdom have decreased, while importations from Japan have increased considerably : -
The proposed duties on cotton tweeds, the principal line covered by this item, are lower than the previous Government’s tariff in the case of material weighing more than 5 oz. a sq. yd., and the 1921-30 tariff in regard to material weighing more than 6 oz. a sq. yd. They represent an increase of duty, however, in the following instances: - (a) over the Scullin Government’s rates on cotton tweeds weighing over 3 ozs. and up to 5 oz. a sq. yd.; (fc) over the 1921-30 rates on such material weighing over 3 oz. and up to 6 oz. a sq.. yd. The proposed rates are based largely on the recommendation of the Tariff Board, but adjustments have been made in accordance with the Ottawa agreement. The rates recommended by the board were intended to apply to cotton tweeds only, but sub-paragraph b, as at present worded, covers certain ladies’ cotton dress materials which the board intended should be dutiable at 5 per cent. British, and 25 per cent, general, under sub-paragraph a. The difficulty of defining a cotton tweed has been found, by past experience, to be impracticable, and the Government was therefore unable to give full effect to the board’s recommendation. Pending a further examination of the question, ladies’ cotton dress materials are being admitted under by-law - tariff item 434 - at rates of 5 per cent. British, and 20 per cent, general.
This item was originally framed with the intention of protecting the woollen industry against undue competition from imported cotton piece goods resembling woollens. At that time, the manufacture of cotton tweeds had not been undertaken in Australia. The duties introduced in 1926, and subsequently increased by the previous administration, Drought about the manufacture of this class of material, and the Tariff Board considers that, as local manufacturers are now able to supply Australian requirements of ‘the cloths most in demand, the question of duties should be determined from facts relating to the cotton tweed industry itself. Cotton yarn used in making the material under discussion is admitted free of duty from the United Kingdom. This raw material represents from 52 per cent, to 62 per cent, of local manufacturers’ selling prices. The board has examined the landed costs of imported material comparable with locallyproduced cloths, and is of opinion that cumulative duties under the British preferential tariff nf 6d. a sq. yd., plus 20 per cent, ad valorem, with an alternative ad valorem rate of 35 per cent., should provide adequate protection to local manufacturers. Latterly, Japan has been exporting cotton tweeds to Australia, and manufacturers in that country have resorted to the practice of exporting lightweight cloths in order to escape the high duties. The board recommends the reduction from 5 oz. to 3 oz. of the weight of cotton tweeds under the item, in order to conserve this trade to the Australian manufacturer. This recommendation has resulted in many of the light-weight tweeds that are used in tropical and subtropical areas becoming subject to a much higher rate of duty than that which ruled hitherto. The lightest cotton tweed produced by Australian manufacturers weighs C oz. a sq. yd., so that the local industry is not catering for this special demand.
The Government is not altogether satisfied that the conclusions arrived at by the Tariff Board with regard to the duties on these light-weight tweeds are correct, and the item has been referred back to the board with a view to clearing up the point. The board will also go into the question of the duties on ladies’ cotton dress materials weighing more than 3 oz. a square yard, with the view, if considered necessary, of excluding them from the higher rates under the item. The increase in duty brought about by the reduction in weight to 3 oz. will be be applied to cotton tweeds imported for the manufacture of sewn hats. The material for this purpose is required in such varieties as to preclude economic manufacture in Australia. Hitherto, a price qualification was necessary in order to determine the rate of duty applicable to cotton tweeds. Recorded statistics show that there was a comparatively small importation of cotton tweeds invoiced at a price exceeding the equivalent of 3s. 4d. a sq. yd. In view of this fact, the price factor has been eliminated from the proposed item. I direct the attention of honorable senators to pages 6 and 7 of the report of the board, in which they will find, set out at length the points that I have endeavoured to make. Substantially, this item is based on,* the report. Certain adjustments may have to be made, but they will be dealt with upon receipt of the further report reviewing the whole question. Cotton yarns also are involved, and their case requires a good deal of consideration and careful thought on the part of the board.
– As this item affect’s the industry of cotton-growing, which is engaged in more extensively in Queensland than in any other State, I support the request that has been made by Senator Barnes. For many years, attempts have been made to place on a sound basis the growing of cotton in that State, and I make bold to say that the power to either kill the industry or to assure it a lusty growth lies in this Parliament, because only this Parliament can protect cotton manufactures in Australia, and without protection cotton-growing cannot’ be successful against the product of cheap, coloured labour. But we cannot ignore the fact that the interests of the importers are diametrically opposed to both cotton-growing and cotton manufacturing, because the volume of their business will be considerably lessened if the industry is permanently established in this country. There has existed, even in Queensland, a certain degree of pessimism concerning the suitability of the soils of that State for the growing of cotton, but it is not well founded. The experience of a number of years has shown that in central Queensland, particularly, cotton can be grown successfully. As picking takes place in March and April, and- ginning a little later, a considerable amount of employment is provided for those who may afterwards engage in cane-cutting, sugar mill operations, and other seasonal occupations. I resent the interjection made by Senator Foll during the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes), in regard to the Australian Workers Union. I have been a member of that organization for almost twenty years, and can say that its work throughout Australia will stand the closest scrutiny.
– I say that it does not give much help to the farmers.
– It does help the farmer, because it stands for the settled control of industry. If has exercised a moderating and a strengthening influence throughout Australia. But for its efforts to prevent, and to minimize strikes, there would have been a great deal more trouble in industry than has been experienced within recent years. Two districts in Queensland that are particularly suitable for cotton-growing are the Callide and Dawson valleys, which adjoin each other. I visited those districts two or three years ago.
– Is it necessary to give all these details, with which we are acquanited?
– All senators are not so fortunate, and I am endeavouring to inform those who are not aware of what has been done. There is a big settlement scheme in the Dawson valley, which cost millions of pounds to establish, and farmers in both the Callide and Dawson valleys go in largely for cotton. That scheme merits the attention of all Australia, because, should it prove successful, it will add to the number of small farmers.
In the absence of adequate protection, cotton piece goods manufactured in countries where coloured labour is available are dumped in this country to the detriment of the cottongrowing industry. I heartily support the request of the Leader of the Opposition, which provides for the imposition of higher duties, because I know that the Australian manufacturers of cotton piece goods are capable of producing a considerable portion of our requirements. It is true that there is a finer class of cotton tweeds with which we cannot com-, pete with overseas production, but those of coarser texture successfully manufactured in Australia should be adequately protected. The imposition of higher duties encourages cotton-growing and also the manufacture of cotton tweeds in Australia.
– As one who has taken a special interest in the welfare of the working classes in Australia, I wish to contribute to the debate from an angle totally different from that of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) and Senator MacDonald. I wish to speak on behalf of the working man of this country, and to show honorable senators opposite that, in supporting higher duties,’ they are placing a further burden upon the shoulders of the working man, who at present finds it difficult to make ends meet. Why this proposal should emanate from that side of the chamber is beyond my comprehension. Cotton tweeds have displaced moleskin, beavercloth, and corduroy for working men’s clothing. At present cotton tweed, because of its tough-wearing qualities, is the only material suitable for that purpose. A duty of1s. per yard, British preferential; was first imposed on cotton tweeds which hitherto had been admitted free, because it was thought that the Australian mills would be able to successfully produce the whole of Australia’s requirements. Had the idea of the promoters at that time matured, and importation entirely ceased, the working men in Australia would have paid in one year over £300,000 more for their garments than previously, while at the same time the additional wages paid would have amounted to only £60,000. The mills did not get the monopoly of the cotton tweed manufacturing business.
– What was the cost of the labour?
– A liberal estimate’ was £60,000, which was based on statistics showing the quantity of the material used in Australia in one year. I took the trouble to obtain from the English manufacturers the number of operatives ‘ required, and, in making my calculations, allowed for double that number in Australia, not because of inefficiency on the part of Australian workers, but because of their inexperience. In calculating the wages I added 25 per cent, to the award rates, which gave a total of £60,000. If the Australian mills, charging 2s. 6d. a yard, the price quoted for material 28 inches wide, had secured a monopoly of the trade, working men would have been compelled to pay over £300,000 more for their garments.
SenatorFoll. - Cotton tweed garments are used extensively in Queensland.
– Yes. The proposal is to reduce the weight from 6 oz. to- 3 oz. a sq. yd. The 3 or 4 oz. material is used in the warmer parts of Australia where the ordinary 6 oz. material is too heavy. This alteration places a heavy burden upon the working men in northern New South Wales, Queensland, the Northern Territory, and parts of Western Australia, which hitherto they have not borne. When the duty was increased in 1926, one of the most important developments was that the trade in these goods, which the British manufacturer then held, was transferred to Japan. The figures - some of which were quoted by the Minister - are very illuminating. In 1930 only £3,981 worth “ of cotton tweeds was imported from Great Britain, while £18,000 worth was imported from Japan. In 1931 the importations from Great Britain were valued at £3,425, and from Japan at over £21,000. Prior to 1926, Australia was purchasing more from Great Britain than from Japan. In transferring the business to Japanese manufacturers, we imposed a heavy penalty on the British manufacturer. When the request moved by the Leader of the Opposition has been disposed of, I intend to move a request to reduce the British rate of 6d. per sq. yd. to 4”d. per sq. yd., to enable British manufacturers to regain a portion of the trade, which has been seriously diminished as a result of 1926 tariff rates.
– I support the request of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes), who is anxious to increase the duties on cotton tweeds in order to encourage their manufacture in Australia. I do not know what is in the mind of my dear old friend from Tasmania, Senator Payne, who, I believe, favours the free admission into Australia of cheap manufactured goods. Honorable senators opposite are of course entitled to their opinions, but those who have inspected the displays of cheap, foreign goods in Melbourne and Sydney, must realize the competition with which our manufacturers are faced. In this instance it would appear that Senator Payne is suffering from an overdose of cotton seed, and if that is so he has my sympathy.
– An honorable senator is not entitled to make personal references to another honorable senator.
– I do not wish to be personal; I am merely stating the facts. Senator Payne is in trouble and I am endeavouring to help him. The Leader of the Opposition quoted figures showing that, in New South Wales and Victoria, over 7,000 men and women, receiving approximately £1,000,000 annually in wages, are employed in the knitgoods and textile industry. He also said that the industry uses raw materials valued at £1,200,000, and that the output of finished articles is valued at £2,950,000. I have visited the factories of Bond’s and Lustre Hosiery Limited, in New South Wales, and know that they produce an excellent article. Similar factories in Victoria controlled by Kayser Hosiery Limited, Holeproof Hosiery Company, I. and R. Morley, and Hanro Limited, have been established under the Labour party’s fiscal policy of adequate protection. I defy any one to say that the products of these companies are not equal, if not superior, to those of similar undertakings in any part of the world. Some honorable senators do not feel satisfied unless they can purchase goods manufactured in Great Britain. Senator Payne and those who support his proposal are making another attack upon Australian industries. They have no real interest in the welfare of our workers. Much heat has been introduced into this debate, because some honorable senators have criticized the Tariff Board and also the Government for withholding the reports of the board. Many of our industries are to-day fighting before, the Tariff Board for their very existence, as is shown by the following article which appeared in the Sun of yesterday’s date : -
A plea for the introduction of a new tariff item -which would give the cotton industry the same protection as that existing in the wool industry was made by Mr. D. T. M. Davies, Chairman and Managing Director of Davies, Coop and Company Proprietary Limited, cotton-spinners, at the Tariff Board inquiry on cotton yarns to-day. Mr. Davies said that if cotton-spinners could obtain raw material on the same basis as the Australian spinner of wool they would not require further protection. Mr. Davies said that the cotton-growing industry provided an avenue of direct employment in the growing of cotton, and in the subsequent treatment of cotton and cotton seed. About 5,000 pickers were employed, and their wages for the 1933 crop were estimated at £150,000. It was also expected that £45,000 would be paid in railway freights. If the estimated crop of cotton - 15,000 bales - materialized, it would be worth £300,000 to the Australian growers. There were heavy imports of cotton yarn into Australia, and’ the production of local cotton would mean the retention within Australia of a large sum which would otherwise be sent overseas. The industry is well worth developing, and the only way of ensuring any appreciable development was to guarantee the grower an assured and profitable market in Australia for raw cotton. Mr. Davies said that the Australian cotton industry had been adversely affected by the depreciation of the Japanese yen which had enabled the Japanese exporter to obtain a firm grip on the Australian market. The Japanese, who were unquestionably selling below cost, were manipulating their currency to make a wholesale assault on the world’s market. In Japan the surplus female population in the agrarian districts provided a large supply of cheap, docile and dexterous labour, whose pay for a day’s work would not equal the British operative’s wage for an hour.
Senator Greene when he sat in opposition in thiB chamber put up a wonderful defence for the Australian cotton-growing industry, and I now ask him to give honorable senators the benefit of his wide knowledge of this industry, which has been bitterly attacked by freetrade honorable senators, who are prepared to allow foreign cotton wear, manufactured under low-wage conditions, to enter this country to the detriment of the local industry. As pointed out by Senator Barnes, this industry employs engineers and thousands of other operatives, and is capable of meeting Australia’s requirements. In addition, it has established a firm market in New Zealand. In Japan the surplus girl labour is employed for twelve and a half hours a day at 7£d. Some honorable senators would like similar conditions to apply in Australia. In “Wentworthville, near Sydney, Bond’s Limited have established a factory for the manufacture of cotton yarn for use in various mills throughout Australia.
– The .honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– I wish to refer to one or two points raised by Senator Payne. He is opposed to the request of Senator Barnes. We believe that the general tariff should be increased, so as to shut out Japanese competition. The Minister has stated that there has been a continual increase of importations from Japan, particularly in respect of light-weight tweed. Does Senator Payne stand for that?
– I deplore that fact.
– Then why not support the request for an increase of the general tariff? «
– I want the British preferential tariff reduced.
– A reduction of tho British preferential tariff would adversely affect the Australian manufacturers. If, as has been stated, we can produce our own requirements, why reduce the British preferential tariff?
– It should be reduced in, the interests of the working men of Australia.
– I take it that tho honorable senator is just as eager as I am to encourage Australian industries, but unless he supports the request of Senator Barnes he will encourage the importation of Japanese goods. Japan has imported into this country thousands of pounds worth of light-weight tweeds, which are doubled up, and used for making clothing.
– That’ is so. We are putting the trade in the hands of tho Japanese manufacturer as against the British manufacturer.
– We should keep this trade to ourselves. Senator Payne has stated that the workers in this industry have received £60,000 in additional wages, at a cost to the country of £300,000.
– I did not say that. I said that that would be the result had we a monopoly of production, based on the prices submitted by the Australian mills in 1926.
– The Minister has on several occasions pointed to local industries which are selling their goods at a price lower than that charged upon imported goods prior to their establishment.
– Almost immediately after the passing of the tariff of is)26, the price of a standard line of trousers was increased by 3s. 9d.
– According to the Statistician’s figures, that statement is not correct.
– At times, an increase of duty brings about an increase of the price to the consumer, but, in some instances, the price has” been decreased. Would it not be better for Australia if we, instead of importing certain goods from Japan, manufactured them- ourselves? The object of Senator Barnes is to make it difficult to bring in Japanese light weight tweeds. If all that Senator Payne has said about the effect of high duties were true, the cost of living in Australia would have risen to an unbearable extent.
– The basic wage has been reduced because of the fall in the cost of living.
– Of course. Arbitration tribunals, both Federal and State, are guided by the cost of living figures in making their awards. There are many matters besides the cost of living figures that have to be considered in connexion with the tariff. Honorable senators opposite seem to ignore the fact that it is to the advantage of the people as a whole to manufacture our own raw materials, rather than to send them overseas, and eventually to bring them back in the form of manufactured goods. Those of us who come from Queeusland are strongly in favour of supporting the local manufacturers, because we wish to bring about the prosperity of the cotton industry. Certain governments have not dealt kindly with this industry, but we desire ‘that the primary producers should be assured of a reasonable return for their labour. Once again, Labour senators are found making a stand for the primary producers.
I am reminded of a statement made by a Socialist at a meeting held in Brisbane, on one occasion, for the ‘purpose of supporting local manufactures. He concluded a long speech by saying, “I am an internationalist, but Scotland for ever!” Similarly, I would say, “I am a good Australian, but Queensland for ever!” That State has 85,000 acres of cotton under cultivation for the 1933 crop, and, under normal conditions, this should produce 30,000 bales of lint, or sufficient for Australia’s requirements. We hope that Senator Payne and his friends will not make it necessary for this cotton to be sent overseas; the growers would prefer to sell it locally for the benefit of both the primary and the secondary industries. I have received a letter from a man connected with the cotton industry, who states that before the Scullin Government went out of office, some of the spinners had committed themselves to a considerable expansion of their plants. Honorable senators opposite claim that they are opposed to the repudiation of contracts, and it is only fair that the interests of the local cotton manufacturers should be safeguarded. They were practically promised that work would be available for their factories, and they should receive the same consideration as that claimed for the workers. My correspondent went on to say -
Messrs. Davies Coop and Company Proprietary Limited had purchased sufficient spindles to increase their existing plant from 7,500 to 17,500 spindles; Bond’s Industries Limited had increased their plant by 5,000 spindles, and the Austral Silk and Cotton Mills had also added to their machinery, I think, about 1,500 spindles, with the result that thu spinners’ requirements of Australian cotton have increased from 1,673 bales in 1028, to from 25,000 to 30,000 bales of lint, which seems is what will be required during the coming season.
Why should not Queensland meet all the local requirements of cotton ? This writer goes on to attack the policy of the Government, which, I agree, has been somewhat injurious to Queensland industries. We should do our best to keep out cheap Japanese tweed, so that our own workers will not be .thrown out of employment.
– I wish to refer again to the subsidized low-wage competition of Japan with the Australian textile industry. Japan is using every means in her power to undersell ber competitors, and is deliberately taking advantage of the depreciation of the yen to embark on a reckless national sales policy, with disastrous results to British and. other traders. The low wages, the cheaplabour conditions, and the low standard of living obtaining in Japan, render it impossible for the East and the West to compete on equal terms. The British male operative in the silk and razor trade receives more for an hour’s work than a Japanese is paid for a day. Japanese competition in Empire markets must not be permitted to continue. Japanese dumping has become such a menace that Chief Judge Dethridge referred to it last week in the Arbitration Court as an instance of the most tremendous dumping the world has ever seen. He said that, apparently, the Japanese workers had ousted even the girl workers of India, and their wages were low enough. The average daily wage, including meals and clothing, of female silk operatives in Japan is 9d. a day of twelve hours. For years, Japanese “ drummers “ have been coming to Australia, and taking back to Japan samples of woollen goods, handkerchiefs, cotton piece goods, towels, &c. If we looked into some of our shops, we should bo astonished on discovering the country from which the artificial silk and cotton goods, particularly girls’ wear, come. Australian designs, shapes, and patterns are copied almost exactly, in many lines, so that the purchaser does not recognize the country of origin. Surely, Senator Payne will not challenge the remark of Chief Judge Dethridge, that cheap Japanese goods are a menace to this country, for, as a matter of fact, Japanese commercial travellers are having Australian-made goods copied, and the replicas are being offered for sale in shops in the various capital cities. No doubt Senator Payne is entitled to his own political views; but he is hardly fair to his own country, when he sets himself up as a trade commissioner for Japan and other Eastern countries, where goods are manufactured under cheap-labour conditions which make Australian competition impossible.
– I should not have joined in this discussion a second time had it not been for the haste displayed by certain honorable senators opposite to dispose of this matter. I have listened patiently to the arguments of those who are attempting to reduce duties. I do not think that I have displayed the white feather in this fight; yet here is an opportunity for other honorable senators^ to show where they stand in relation to Australian industries. Although honorable senators opposite, apparently, wish to silence Labour senators, we shall not submit to that treat.ment because Queensland is vitally interested in the cotton industry. The attitude of some persons, both in this chamber and outside it, towards the Australian cotton industry has been influenced by their obvious desire to give the greater part of the Australian market to overseas manufacturers. For my part, I should be prepared to make the tariff as high as is necessary to keep out the products of Japanese manufacturers, because I believe in developing Australian industries. I have here a leading article published in the Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton, 15th February, 1933, in which the writer strongly criticizes the efforts which have been made to establish the cotton-growing industry in Australia. It starts off with the following sentence: -
The week that passes in Australia when it is not reported that some bolstered industry is at its last gasp is getting rarer.
The article then goes on to attack the Queensland Cotton Board for its handling of the situation. “We in Queensland are interested in the cotton industry, from the growing of the staple to the final manufacturing processes. I believe I know the man who wrote the article I have quoted, and I know that he is not a good Australian. He was not born here, and his sympathies are with the overseas manufacturers. The opinions he has expressed have even been reflected in this chamber. Some honorable senators became impatient when asked to listen to anything from a Queenslander in support of a Queensland industry. A reply to the article in the Morning Bulletin has been prepared by the Queensland Cotton Board, and from it I quote the following extract: -
As to whether the cotton industry is worthy of assistance by direct bounty or by tariff, or both, is, of course, arguable - a lot depends on the point of view and on the policy in which one believes - but it has to be admitted that the assistance being rendered to the cotton industry is no different in substance - if in form - to the assistance being received by practically all other industries in Australia. Wheat-growers ,are receiving a bounty at the present time. There is a tariff against the importation of butter into the Commonwealth, and in addition the industry receives what is equivalent to a bounty by the increased price for butter sold on the local market as a result of the operations of the Paterson scheme, and in Queensland an additional return through the complete and extensive organization of which the Butter Board is the head. Pastoral industries have been subsidized by the construction of developmental railways, which cannot and probably were never expected to pay their way. Secondary industries are highly protected, and the industrial worker has his wages fixed by arbitration courts or other similar bodies. The opposition to assistance to the cotton-grower cannot, therefore, be sustained.
In another part of the reply it is stated -
Reference is made to the crop failure of last year, and the partial crop failure of the previous season. There is no doubt the rainfall in Queensland away from the coast is irregu lar, and loss and suffering will periodically result from dry weather, but these losses will not bo confined to those engaged in the growing of cotton. As a matter of fact most cottongrowers in the State are also dairymen, and have suffered no less - but in many instances rather more - on the dairying side of their activities than on the cotton-growing side. With the exception of one or two years, our average production of seed cotton per acre is in excess of the ten-year average of the United States of America, and with suitable varieties we will improve on this.
Just as in the case of wheat, we shall, eventually, by experimenting, hit upon the kind of cotton which is wholly suited to Australian conditions. Our production will increase, and though the raw cotton may not be so cheap as. that which can be produced overseas, the price of the manufactured article will not be excessive. The Queensland Government has done a. great deal to assist the industry, and recently lent £35,000 to growers and others in the cotton areas. Many of the growers in the Callide and Dawson Valley districts are engaged in dairying as well as in cotton-growing. Some even produce hay and potatoes. Therefore, assistance given to them is not assistance to cottongrowers only, but to those who are engaged in mixed farming. The statement concludes -
As a matter of fact, cotton has, on very many occasions, been the sole surviving crop through long weeks of high temperatures and dry weather. Even the present season gives a fair example of this. A few weeks ago the only greenery, apart from the wild bush itself, to be seen in many districts was the cotton bush. Maize, wheat and fodder crops had all been completely destroyed. These remarks are applicable equally to the choicest of the farming areas in the south as well as to the Callide, Dawson Valley, and other parts of Central Queensland.
There is no doubt that we can grow good cotton in Queensland, and that it can be manufactured satisfactorily in the factories in our cities. Senator Barnes is quite justified in asking for an increased duty to enable the growers to in- ‘ crease their output, and to enable new growers to begin. I should not object to the manufacturers making, satisfactory profits if they were able to provide employment for Australian workers. I trust that we shall gladden the hearts of the cotton-growers by giving them and their industry this necessary measure of protection.
Question - That the request (Senator Barnes’) be agreed to. - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 1245 to 2.15 p.m.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, sub-item (a1 6), per square yard, British, 4d.
If this reduction is agreed to, the British manufacturers will be given a chance to compete against the Japanese manufac- “ turers. With a duty of 4d., and with the exchange and primage at the present rates, the protection against Japanese imports would be at least 100 per cent.,which would give the British manufacturers an opportunity to recover some of the trade that they lost through the previous action of Parliament in fixing higher duties on this commodity. Statistics show that from the date of the imposition of these duties in 1926 our imports of these textiles from Great
Britain materially diminished, while those from Japan increased. Japanese imports of these goods have now overwhelmed British imports. I therefore ask ‘honorable senators to agree to my request.
– The Government cannot accept this request. This subject is at present under the consideration of the Tariff Board. The full report of the board on the textile industry from which I quoted this morning gave the reasons why the board recommended duties at the rates set out in the schedule. One or two other aspects of the subject required further investigation, and the board is now engaged in this work. It is necessary for us to rely on some authoritative body for advice on this subject, and the Government intends- to rely upon the advice of the Tariff Board. If any variation of duties is recommended by the board in its next report, the matter will be dealt with in a manner provided, by the law.
.- Such a request as this might have been expected from Senator Payne, in spite of his frequently professed sympathy with the workers and the poor farmers. The honorable gentleman told us this morning that he desired to help the farmers to get denim trousers at lower prices; but he forgets altogether that the sons and daughters of the farmers have, in very many cases, to seek work in ourcities when they find it impossible to obtain work on their fathers’ farms. It is essential, therefore, that effective protective measures shall be taken to develop our secondary industries in order that we may erect a barrier against the inflow of goods from cheap-labour countries like Japan, or any other similarcountry. We must remember that even the workers at the heart of the British Empire do not enjoy the same conditions as the workers of Australia. Yet the honorable senator would throw their products into competition with our products. He is concerned only about getting wages and working conditions down to the lowest possible point. If this reduction is agreed to; what chance will our workers, have of . employment under reasonable . conditions?
Such a low duty as that suggested would result in the breaking down of the pro- tection hitherto afforded to the Australian industry. I trust that the people of Tasmania, and particularly those on small holdings, whose sons and daughters have to gravitate to the city to find work, will discover what the honorable senator is seeking to do. There is some hope that this information will ultimately get publicity in Tasmania, and when it, does there will be little hope of the honorable senator retaining his seat in the Senate. I oppose the request.
Question- That the request (Senator Payne’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request negatived. .
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, sub-item (f1),. per square yard - British,1s.6d.; general, 2s.6d.
The item which I am seeking to have altered covers the products of the Australian woollen and worsted mills. This is purely an Australian industry, and is, . therefore, entitled to effective tariff protection. This industry gives employment to about 12,000 persons, pays nearly £2,000,000 annually in wages, uses Australian raw materials ‘to the value of about £4,000,000 annually, has an- annual output valued at about £7,000,000, and has plant, land and buildings valued at £6,000,000. The enormous importation of woollen goods prior to 1930, in consequence of the inefficient tariff protection afforded the industry at that time, militated considerably against the progress of the local industry. We all know that for many years prior to 1930 huge quantities of woollen goods manufactured overseas from raw materials produced in Australia were poured into, the warehouses of Australia, to the almost total exclusion of Australian-made articles. The curtailment of importations in recent years through effective tariff protection has enabled our mills to extend and to manufacture numerous new lines formerly imported which it had been considered impossible to manufacture in this country. The effective protection which made those developments possible has now been removed. The scale of duties provided in this schedule is viewed with great apprehension by those engaged in the industry. Fortunately, their fear is slightly mitigated by the existing exchange conditions and primage duties; but if these were removed, or in any way interfered with, the industry would ba disastrously affected. The tariff protection afforded this industry by the Scullin Government put a stop to the huge importations of overseas products, but our manufacturers fear that, if lower duties are agreed to, their plant, as well as their employees, will be thrown idle.
– It is strange that the manufacturers have not approached honorable senators generally on this subject.
– As the Minister has indicated, the ‘ Tariff Board is at present making an inquiry into the industry. I think honorable senators will be astounded at the evidence which will bc furnished by the manufacturers, and also by others interested in the industry, in opposition to these reduced duties. The plant that has been installed in Australia is thoroughly efficient and capable of providing all our requirements. Prices have been considerably reduced in recent years, the average reduction being about 30 per cent., so that the community has benefited from the increased output of mills due to lessened importations. No expenditure has been spared by local manufacturers in producing new lines and meeting public requirements which the effective protection, given under the 1930 schedule, made possible. The removal of that protection by the present schedule, and the reversion to the duties in the 1926 tariff, under which about £2,500,000 worth of woollen piece goods were imported annually, will result in considerable loss of employment. The movement has already set in. During the nine months of the present financial year, July to March, the importations of woollen piece goods has exceeded those for the corresponding period of last year by ,over 275 per cent. This is a clear indication of the effect of lower duties. It is not to be wondered at that the people of this country are becoming apprehensive. Apart from the advantages which other industries derive from the woollen industry, through the expenditure yearly of nearly £500,000 for containers, “replacement of tools, repairs to plant, power, fuel, light, lubricating oil, &c, .the graziers of this country also receive considerable benefit from enhanced prices for wool, due to competitive bidding at Australian wool sales. Local mills have to pay at least id. per lb. in excess of overseas buyers’ limit, if they wish to secure all the wool they need.
What I have said demonstrates that effective tariff protection for this inr dustry is essential, and I claim the support of Senator Guthrie and other honorable senators who, from time to time, proclaim their concern for the welfare of our primary producers. The wool industry is one of the most important in Australia. Its capacity for providing employment is” almost unlimited, and these duties give us the opportunity to strengthen it. I never could see the sense of allowing other people to convert Australian wool into the finished product. If .we are to become a self-reliant nation, we must give more attention to the utilization of our raw materials, and especially our wool. The population of Australia cannot remain stationary. The natural increase alone is considerable, and I should have no objection to an increase by immigration if we could be sure of getting the right class of people who were prepared at all times to hold fast to, and fight for, our higher standard of living. I see no sense at all in the policy, advocated by some honorable senators this morning, of securing our raw materials cheaply, because I fear that, if we do not adopt other safeguards, there will be some risk of our falling to the level of the blackfellow, who, in some circumstances, regards the lizard as a luxury. The gospel of cheapness in everything will not, of itself, make for progress in the development of this country. We must pay some regard to the standard of living to which our people have become accustomed. If we are content to allow the free importation of cheap commodities, the day might -come when we shall require the services of every man, who should be properly clothed and fed, so as to be able to hold this country against aggression, if ever the necessity arises. We must not allow men to go jobless and hungry, as so many of them have been during the last few years. The opportunity to provide employment for our people is to our hand. I hope that the request, which I have submitted, will be accepted.
– Although this sub-item is not under the consideration of the Tariff Board, that body reported on the industry on the 26th November last, and submitted an addendum in December, so that we have its very latest views on the subject. Sub-item pi covers woollen outerwear fabrics weighing more than 3 oz. per square yard, while sub-item f2 covers woollen outerware fabrics weighing 3 oz. or less per square yard, and woollen piece goods of any’ weight for underwear. The most significant alteration is the reduction of the weight’ limit in sub-item f1 from 6 oz. to 3 oz. per square yard. This alteration, which -was introduced by the Scullin Administration, had the effect of excluding much of the light-weight piece goods from admission at the ad valorem, rates under sub-item f2. and making them dutiable at the cumulative rates under sub-item Fl. It has resulted in diverting to the local woollen mills a large volume of trade in lightweight fabrics, which was previously represented by imported materials.
In inquiring recently into the question of the duties on these goods, the Tariff Board ascertained that in 1928-29 local manufacturers, under the rate then ruling^ the 1921-30 tariff, had been success ful in meeting 65 per cent, of Australian requirements. On page 9 of its report, the board refers to the production of 24 woollen mills during the years 1926 to 1931, and states that, with respect to suitings, weighing over 6 oz. per square yard, the production was very considerable. For example, in 1926, the total production was 9,087,737 square yards, of a value of £2,403,975. The highest point of production was in 1929, when the output was 12,996,297 square yards, valued at £3,283,754. The production between 1927 and 1930 has remained constant, but in 1931 there was actually a drop in the quantity and value of the goods produced. Thus, the duties imposed by the Scullin Government failed to increase the production of the heavier weight piece goods. The logical deduction is, therefore, that the rates of duty obtaining up to November, 1929, that is, prior to the increases imposed by the previous Government, were sufficient to enable local manufacturers to obtain practically the whole of the trade in the heavier fabrics.
Women’s light-weight woollen fabrics, which, generally speaking, weigh less than 6 oz. per square yard, are in a somewhat different position. The demand covers a very wide range, and while local manufacturers can supply at a reasonable price in respect of quite a number of lines, there are others which, by reason of the small local demand, are not a commercial proposition to manufacture. In such instances, the high duties imposed by the previous Administration were in the nature of a burden on the consumer, The board has set up a table in its report showing that, in a number’ of instances, manufacturers can produce many light’ weight fabrics at a price approximately the same as, and, in some instances, lower than, the landed price of comparable imported cloth, iucluding duties at the proposed rates, but excluding primage and exchange.
– According to the table prepared by the board, the local prices are lower in every case.
– I think the table has since been implemented. The board also mentions the advantage which the local manufacturer would get from a fall in the exchange rate; he would be able to get cheaper raw material.
An important point made by the board is that unreasonably high duties will result in the demand swinging away from woollen piece goods towards silk, and artificial silk piece goods, dutiable at low rates of duty. Light-weight woollen piece goods are largely the product of the United Kingdom, and as Britain is the greatest purchaser of Australian fine merino wools, the use of silk or artificial silk piece goods in place of woollen piece goods would mean the substitution of foreign fibres for Australian raw materials. The Government recognizes that woollen manufacture is a very important industry, providing employment for a large number of hands. Its products are satisfactory, and in the lines for which there is sufficient demand, prices are competitive. The board’s review of the industry definitely shows that, under the protection granted by the 1921-30 rates, it commanded practically the whole of the trade in the heavier weight fabrics. The importations of woollen piece goods in 1927-28 were valued at £2,483,413, but an alteration of the item in 1928 in order to prevent importers from defeating the object of the duties, resulted in importations during 1928-29 falling to £1,448,105. This is proof that the 1921-30 tariff rates were swinging the trade to the local mills. The reduction of the weight limit under sub-item f1, to 3 oz., has enabled the local industry to make further inroads upon the market for the lighter-weight materials previously supplied by overseas manufacturers. The Government feels confident that the rates of duty proposedon, woollen piece goods will enable local manufacturers to secure that proportion of the market for which economic production is possible, and, at the same time, will not impose an undue burden on the users of those classes of materials for which there is a small- demand.
In regard to the future of the industry the Tariff Board said -
Tho future extension of the industry will depend, not upon securing still higher duties, but rather upon development in efficient production in those cloths which can be produced most competitively, leading ultimately to the establishment of a considerable export trade.
My attention has been drawn to certain statements contained in a memorandum circulated by the Association of “Woollen and “Worsted Textile Manufacturers of
Australia. In this memorandum the manufacturers speak of the withdrawal of effective tariff protection, and profess alarm at an increase of 150 per cent, in the importation of woollen piece goods during the first seven months of the present financial year, as compared with the importations in the corresponding period last year-. While the correctness of the statement is not challenged, it is important that the position should be viewed in proper perspective. In the first place, the increase was accompanied by an all round increase of 50 per cent, in general imports, arising from the improvement in business conditions in Australia. The actual imports of woollen piece goods for the first seven months of the current year were £68,000, as compared with £25,000 in the corresponding period of last year, whilst the comparative figures for ten months were £97,000 in 1932-33, and £49,000 in 1931-32. When these figures are compared with an import value of £1,250,000 in 1929-30, it is difficult to see in them any reasonable cause for alarm.
Furthermore, in the same circular, the manufacturers of woollen piece goods claim an output worth £7,000,000. This figure is supported by official statistics and indicates that the Australian manufacturers are supplying over 98 per cent, of the Australian demand. Surely such a position in an industry which is probably the most diversified in the whole field of production, and would, without protection, be open to the competition of practically every manufacturing country in the world, makes it abundantly clear that there is little ground for complaint of inadequate’ protection.
A Tasmanian manufacturer writing with regard to the circular, says -
It is difficult for me to make out a strong case in favour of the higher duties now, as we are working to capacity.
I have already said that a reduction of the existing exchange rate will not interfere to any appreciable degree with the output of local mills. The Tariff Board reported -
The rates recommended are fully adequate to secure that proportion of the market for which economic production is possible.
That is a suecinet statement of what the aim of these duties should be. I oppose the request.
.- The answer given by the Minister is conclusive, but some statements made by the Leader of the Opposition, if not contradicted, might be accepted as true. . No one appreciates more than I do the wonderful success of the Australian woollen industry. Our manufacturers have captured the market. The tariff protection provided a few years ago enabled them to produce goods equal in quality to those that could be imported and to sell them at prices below those at which the overseas goods could be landed in Australia. An addendum to the Tariff Board’s report supports the Minister’s statement that the duties in operation prior to th, introduction of the Scullin tariff were more than adequate to encourage the extension of this industry. The addendum includes a list of twelve varieties of tweeds, worsteds and serges used for men’s attire, the prices at which they can be landed from abroad, and the prices at which comparable Australian materials are being sold. It is shown that for worsted, 54 inches wide, the landed dutypaid price, excluding primage and exchange, is Ils. 4d. a yard, whilst the price of Australian comparable material is 9s. 3d. On other items the prices are - British 12s. 3d., Australian, 10s. 6d.; British lis. 9d., Australian, 10s. 6d. ; British 10s. 4d., Australian, 8s. 3d. A yard of each of the twelve materials would cost, in the aggregate - British, £6 12s. Id.; Australian, £5 14s. 4d. In the light of those figures, who will say that the protection given in the 1921-30 tariff was not more than adequate to enable the Australian mills to capture the local market? The production of materials for women’s garments is a new industry in Australia, and the samples displayed in the Senate clubroom to-day indicate the wide range of production which the local mills have already achieved. A few years ago, when long dresses were the vogue, 6 or 7 yards of 40-in material was required to make a woman’s costume. These materials were then procurable at from ls. lid. a yard. To-day the prices range from 3s. lid. to 5s. lid. a yard, but thanks to the advent of the short skirt, a costume is now made of from. 3 to 3£ yards of 40-in. material, and from 2 to 24 yards of 50-in. material.
But for the extraordinary change in the fashion, many women would not be able to clothe themselves presentably or attractively with woollen materials at their present prices.
– Does the honorable senator say that the cost of women’s dress materials is high?
– Not high, having regard to the variety pf the materials, but the cheaper fabrics containing wool have been excluded by the high duty. If long dresses again become the fashion, women will have to use cheaper’ materials, because the cost of woollen piece goods will be prohibitive, and such a change will be detrimental to the Australian woollen industry. I am not opposing the duties now proposed, but I hope that the committee will not agree to the request that the rates be increased.
– I do not know whether Senator Payne imagines that he is a lord of Kobe or Yokohama, or whether he has an interest in Japanese mills, a geisha “ joint,” or any place of that description.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask that Senator Dunn be called upon to withdraw his insulting suggestion. He ought to be ashamed of himself.
– As Senator Payne has objected to the words used, I ask the honorable senator to withdraw them.
– The word “ geisha “ means a tea-room in Japan. It is not a “bad house”.
– The honorable senator must _ withdraw the expression.
– Senator Payne should read Madame Butterfly, and he would know what is meant by the word “ geisha “. However, at your behest, Mr. Chairman, I withdraw the words complained of. I suggest that Senator Payne, who seems piqued, should go into the Parliamentary Library, or visit any modern picture theatre, or even . read Madame Butterfly, in order to find out the meaning of the word complained of. I cannot help it if the honorable senator has an immoral mind. It is all very well for Senator Payne to attack the . Australian textile industry; but how would he like it if honorable senators on this side of the chamber set out to injure a Tasmanian industry by a reduction of the protection now afforded to it? I suppose if I were to ask whether the honorable senator has visited a Japanese “ wazir,” he would regard the term as objectionable, although it merely means a bazaar.
– The honorable senator himself is objectionable.
– I- should like to visit Tasmania to tell the people there what I think of the honorable senator and his coolie outlook.
– They would probably put the honorable senator in gaol.
– The honorable senator should be ashamed of himself for advocating the introduction of cheap goods from foreign countries.
– I take it that the case in support of the request is that which has been put by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) who moved it. Honorable senators opposite generally adopt one of two main lines of argument when dealing with the tariff. Either they speak of the ruin which stares the industry in the face if any proposal to increase duties is not _ adopted, or else they speak of the advantages which have accrued from the high duties already in operation. The Leader of the Opposition spoke of the wonderful progress of the Australian textile industry as a result of the Scullin Government’s tariff.” No one has disputed that growth - Senator Payne least of all. Indeed, Senator Payne’s remarks in relation to that industry were in the highest degree laudatory, and I associate myself with the sentiments which he expressed. -But the Leader of the Opposition did not submit any statistics in support of his argument. He certainly referred to the money expended on machinery by manufacturers who relied on the Scullin “duties. Let us see whether his statement can be correct. The Scullin duties were imposed by resolution during 1930, and were eventually validated at the end of 1931, when a dissolution was imminent. We may take it that those who conduct the textile and other industries . in Australia are capable men. Can we imagine that they would embark’ on projects necessitating the expenditure pf large sums of money merely on the strength of a tariff imposed, not by Parliament, but by a resolution tabled in another place? Unless they were most unwise, they would not have embarked on any such undertaking during the period that the Scullin tariff rates were being collected.
– Particularly as their output was dropping all the time.
– During that period Australia was in the trough of the depression, and it is unreasonable to suggest that that was a time when capable business men would expend large sums of money in expanding their plants, especially when their industry was protected, not by a law of the Commonwealth, but merely by a proposal of the political party for the time being in power. If Senator Elliott were here, he would probably remind us of the famous resolution of October, 1931, in which a section of the Senate, constituting more than a majority of its members, agreed that they would work for a downward trend of duties. The statement of the Leader of the Opposition regarding the wonderful progress made by this industry is not supported by official figures, although we are surrounded by a mass of figures, if we care to employ them. In the circumstances, we can only say that the honorable senator’s remarks are typical of that “ good stuff “ which is spoken from public platforms from time to time; they are not worthy of the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber.
We are now asked to believe that an effort is being made to deprive the textile industry of a reasonable measure of protection. Those who speak in that way appear to overlook the fact that there is a fixed duty of ls. a square yard od woollen piece goods, and, in addition, an ad valorem duty of 30 per cent., either of which would of itself provide a fair measure of protection. The two together constitute a very high measure of protection.
– The duties are the same as in the 1921-30 tariff.
– Under that tariff, the Australian textile industry made steady and wonderful progress.
Now we are asked to believe that, because each new proposal is not swallowed by honorable senators without question, a grave injury is being done to the industry, and that those who oppose any further increases of duty are actuated, not by a desire to help Australia, but by the basest of motives. I repudiate that suggestion. Indeed, 1 do not think that the honorable senator who made it believed it himself. The textile industry is well protected, and we in this committee are entitled to review the proposals now before us in the light of that fact. Certainly, I shall do what I can to prevent effect from being given to the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition.
– Senator Brennan charged the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) with not having availed himself of official figures to support his argument, and therefore I may be pardoned if I quote a few figures in support of the proposal to make the duties British ls. 6d. a square yard and general 2s. 6d., instead of ls. and 2s. respectively. I remind the committee that the Scullin duties of 2s. and 3s. a square yard British and general respectively, were imposed in order to save Australia from bankruptcy, and I submit that in these times of depression they are still necessary. The British ad valorem tariff is 5 per cent, higher than it was previously, while the general ad valorem tariff is the same. So, considering that we are still in the throes of depression, when it is advisable to buy as little as possible from the other countries and to provide as much work as we can in the Commonwealth, the figures are very much in favour of the moderate proposal submitted by Senator Barnes. The report of the Tariff Board dated the 26th September, 1932, set out in its summary of evidence the various handicaps under which Australian manufacturers of woollen yarns and piece goods were labouring. They are as follow: -
Wages paid 90 per cent, higher than in the United Kingdom.
Industrial restrictions together with shorter hours.
Cost of raw -material - wool - owing to operation of high exchange rate.
Interest paid on debentures, overdraft, bills, &c., was higher in Australia than in the United Kingdom.
Length of existence of business had written down overhead of United Kingdom manufacturers.
High cost of machinery and replacement parts.
High cost of dyes and chemicals.
Small volume of output compared with that of the United Kingdom.
Incidence of sales tax, workmen’s compensation, &c.
As honorable senators know, “&c” has a’ comprehensive meaning in this instance, because of the endeavours that have been made -in Australia to give our workers a fair share in our industries. I have no sympathy with the importation of goods from Japan.
– We have increased the duty against foreign products by 5 per cent.
– I shall give honorable senators an idea of the conditions which obtain in Japan by quoting from the Sydney Sun, which cannot be termed a Labour paper. The article reads -
The following figures give a sharp idea of Japanese labour conditions, which, combined with depreciated money are, rather than dumping, the cause of the amazing increase in exports :. -
A ten or twelve hour day is worked in most factories. The highest average daily wage in any industry is 5s., and the lowest 7d. ( in match factories ) . A hundred sen equals about ls. Gd. in Australian money, and a Government investigation in December revealed that the daily average wage of females is 77 sen (ls. 2d.) for cotton spinning, 0!) (ls. 0£d.) on cotton power loom, 66 (ls.) in silk filature, and 71 (ls. 0¾d.) in hosiery.
Regarding males, moulders draw 216 (3s. 3d.) sen, glassmakers 173 (2s. 7d. ), carpenters 195 (2s. lid.), turners 219 (3s. 3id.), masons 232 (3s. 6d.), labourers 126 (ls. 10$d.).
Wages have not increased this year. Tsuneko Akamatsu, president of the Women’s Labor Federation, states that women are working twelve hours daily for from 15 to 20 yen (from £1 2s. 6d. to £1 10s.), a month, at weaving, rayon, celluloid, rubber, and electrical works, which largely employ female labour.
New hands get only 25 sen (about 4Jd. ) daily, less 15 sen (2Jd.) for dormitory charges.
Senator Brennan said that honorable senators had not quoted available figures, thereby implying that statistics are not in favour of Senator Barnes’ request. That article, together with the report of the Tariff Board to which I have referred, strongly supports the request. When establishing an industry in a young country, it is necessary to give it adequate protection against the products of long established industries in countries which hare small overhead costs and cheaper labour. If we desire to escape some of the effects of the depression and provide additional employment for our people, we should accept the request that has been submitted by Senator Barnes; it will have my support.
– I regret that the Government proposes to reduce the tariff on woollen goods, for the wool manufacturing industry is one of which all Australians should be proud ; it is most efficient in all its branches, and makes it unnecessary for Australia to import woollen materials manufactured overseas. In addition, it gives the public a very fair deal. I know that there is a danger of monopolies created under high tariffs exploiting the people, but that charge cannot truly be made against this industry, for I cannot remember any time when woollen materials were cheaper in Australia, the average fall in the price charged by manufacturers to the wholesalers being about 40 per cent, in two years. Our woollen mills are selling tweeds, worsteds, blankets, flannels,’ and knitted goods at particularly reasonable prices.
– How are they able to do it?
– As a result of the very low price that is paid for raw wool, and because, as a result of a protective tariff, Australian woollen mills are now equipped with the latest and best machinery, and staffed with most efficient executives and operatives.
– All of them?
– I have been through a great many woollen mills, and it has been my experience that the majority of them are exceptionally efficient. I should favour a reduction of duties if the manufacturers had abused the protection granted to them by our tariff and exploited the people, but that has not been done. I see no reason why we should import woollen goods even from Great Britain. I admit that the Mother Country is our best customer for wool, but it must necessarily still deal with us for the raw material. L see no danger of our market being flooded with importations of woollen goods from Great
Britain, but there is a great danger of it being flooded with all classes of woollen goods manufactured in Japan. I realize that we are on delicate ground in the case of Japan, which is the second best customer of the Australian wool industry. I should like some goods to be taken from her in payment for the wool that she buys from us; but they should not be woollen goods. “We could take silk, which is not manufactured in this country. “Woollen goods are being sent into Australia from Japan at the present time. “Within the last month or two I have seen her woollen goods offered for about 3s. 6d. a yard. That low price_ is made possible by the manufacturing system which she employs. The Japanese are excellent copyists. By the adoption of English methods, they have reached a high state of efficiency in this industry. Dormitories are attached to the big woollen mills and these house the child labour, whose service is given for practically no wage, but in return for a number of hours’ education, free boa-rd and lodging, and one hour’s physical culture daily. “We cannot compete against such conditions.. The operatives in our woollen mills are not paid excessive wages, “nor do they work too few hours. This is the greatest of our secondary industries, and on account of its efficiency and economic soundness it is worthy of a high protective tariff. I very much regret the move to lower the duties.
– The Tariff Board found that if the duties were increased unduly the public would turn to silk, and that would injure the woollen industry.
– That would be possible if the woollen mills obtained a monopoly of the trade and raised their prices unfairly; but there has been no indication of such a policy. The local mills hold the biggest part ‘of the market, even for ladies’ dress goods of less than 3 oz. to the square yard; yet, instead of having taken advantage of the position they have occupied to increase their prices, they have reduced them very materially. Therefore, I shall support the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) in his endeavour to obtain for the industry whatever protection the manufacturers consider is necessary.
.- It is most strange that a party which represents the primary producers should be so unmindful of their interests when it is a question of manufacturing a primary product in Australia. It has been admitted that, under the Scullin tariff, this particular industry grew and flourished.
– It was not admitted, but dissented from - by me; at all events.
– It may have been dissented from by the honorable senator. But I draw his attention to a fact that I brought to the notice of Senator Payne, namely, that the Statistician’s figures unquestionably establish that a drop occurred in the cost of woollen goods in Australia during the operation of the Scullin tariff.’
– Because the cost of everything else, including raw material, fell.
– If everything else fell, and the drop in prices was necessary to bring about a decrease in the cost of production, what the Scullin Government did was worthy of commendation, not of reproof.
– This industry reached its highest state of production before the Scullin Government came into office.
– It certainly reached a very high state of production at a time when we did not care what we paid for any goods, nor what quantity of goods we purchased, because we had so much money that we did not know how to spend it.
– The point is, that that occurred under the 1921-30 tariff.
– I know that. But what I am attempting to impress upon the honorable senator is that, despite the depression and the falling off in the purchasing power of the community, the Scullin tariff enabled this industry to carry on. As Senator Guthrie has rightly pointed out, the secondary branch of the woollen industry in Australia has been raised to such a high standard of efficiency that we should hesitate before tinkering with it. Senator Brennan in terjected to Senator Guthrie that one of that honorable senator’s arguments was “ an argument one would expect from the other side.” I put it to you, Mr. Chairman, that one would expect a fundamental principle qf every argument from the other side to be j;he protection of private enterprise. As I understand the position, a fundamental principle of the success of private enterprise is confidence ; and confidence is not possible if private enterprise is encouraged to organize towards a state of efficiency, and is then left in a state of glorious uncertainty, according to which political party is in power. I put it to honorable senators opposite: What harm did the Scullin tariff do to the consumer - I use that term in its widest sense - of woollen goods in Australia ? By reason of the efficiency of the organization of the woollen industry, prices have been substantially reduced. Can we, by adopting the proposals of the Government and ignoring the warnings uttered by Senator Barnes, do good to the consumer ? On the face of it, the argument that the importation of British goods should be allowed for fear that artificial silk goods may displace those made of wool, is fallacious; because whatever harm artificial silk goods might do would be confined to that quantity of woollen goods which the people might desire to bring from Great Britain. I agree with Senator Guthrie that there is no necessity to introduce into this country one woollen garment of the description embraced by this item. We can produce, and have produced these, goods. We have invited private enterprise to employ its capital in their production. Probably this departure from the Scullin tariff is made in order to appease the wrath of one or two members of the United Australia party who may wish to show to their constituents that some alteration of the tariff has hean made.. I appeal to the committee, in the interests of the woollen industry, and in view of the fact that no argument has been adduced which would justify our assuming that the proposal would do other than allow the industry to progress, to vote for Senator Barnes’ request, and thus proclaim to this and other industries that we are not prepared capriciously to alter duties according to whatever political party may be in power.
.. - I cannot allow -to pass without some word of protest the statements that have been made by Senators Guthrie and Daly. An extraordinary attitude was adopted by the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat, when he asked the committee to test this matter by applying the principle “What harm have the Scullin duties done “ ? Those who seek to impose a tax upon the people have thrown upon them the onus of justifying it, and cannot throw upon others the onus of showing what harm the Scullin duties have done.
– A quibble !
– At any rate, that appears to me to be the fundamental principle of debate when dealing with the imposition of’ duties which are really a tax upon the people.
We are asked to say that there is some special virtue about the Scullin duties which were tabled, but never adopted, except under the stress of political exigencies; and it is said that some wrong is now being done to somebody by us, with a complete tariff schedule before us for the first time for many years, in considering these duties as if they were before us for consideration for the first time.
– And they are supported by Tariff Board reports after a very exhaustive inquiry.
– -Exactly, and with a report before us which one might describe as documented, because it cites an authority for every statement it makes. I protest against the idea that honorable senators who are supporting these duties should be thrown on the defensive. On the contrary, it is for those who propose increases of duties on the rates which the Government has brought down to show why they are entitled to get those increases. Not one figure has been adduced by honorable senators opposite to justify the claims now made by them.
– The only exhibit we need is the record of the industry> during the Scullin regime.
– I am content to take it that way, for the honorable senator will realize that there are more forces at work in this country than one - that the Scullin tariff was not something which existed in vacuo or in the air, and that there was nothing else.
Does not the honorable senator know that since 1929 we have come through a depression, the like of which the world has never seen.
– I am just as well aware of that as I am of the fact that the honorable senator is quibbling.
– I remind the honorable senator that he addressed his remarks to the committee as if he did not realize it. He referred to the reduced prices of woollen goods, although he knew that the cost of the raw material from which these goods are manufactured has fallen to a rate which has set those engaged in primary industries protesting again and again that they are being asked to produce upon such - a basis that the more bales of wool they produce the greater is their loss.
I did not intend to reply to anything said from that side of the chamber when I first rose, because the statements made have been most extravagant, and have not been supported by figures or by any suggestions that are in the least helpful to us. They have all been in the one direction - suggesting that honorable senators on their side are the patriots and that we on this side are persons who desire to injure Australian industries.
When I come to deal with the remarks of Senator Guthrie, I can merely say that, after having heard his speech, I think his proper place is on the other side of the chamber with those who have expressed similar opinions.
– Yes, when I think that they are right.
– I remind the honorable senator that right is not a thing which varies with localities. Just because a thing may be pleasing in Geelong, it does not follow that it is right. The honorable senator speaks of requiring high duties, and of supporting the Tariff Board. He was one of those senators who joined in passing the resolution brought before the chamber on more than one occasion by Senator Elliott, yet he now supports an extravagant proposal for new duties, utterly regardless of his previously expressed sentiments in this chamber. Again and again he has declared ‘himself as being a protectionist - a moderate protectionist, not in favour of prohibition. Why did he not analyse these figures? There is a fixed duty and a high ad valorem duty; yet he tells us that he is sorry that the Government has reduced these duties.
– This means cutting them in half.
– From what?
– A high tariff.
– Imposed by the Scullin Government. Again and again I have protested against the Scullin tariff being regarded as the normal tariff, a departure from which one has to justify. I do not want to repeat, although I do for the benefit of the honorable senator, that the Scullin tariff would never have been in operation except that its operation was forced upon us by the exigencies of a political crisis. It would never have passed through this chamber if the Parliament had run its ordinary course, and the honorable senator knows that. He now seeks to justify the attitude he has taken up. I do not know how, by any sentiments he has expressed or by any principle that he has ever enunciated in this chamber, when a proposal is made to further increase already high duties, my colleague from Victoria should think it a fitting occasion for him to rank himself on the side of those who are professedly not only high% protectionists, but also prohibitionists, and to desert- the Government, which is treating this industry in a very liberal fashion. I can only say that I am disappointed with his attitude, and that he has not exhibited loyalty to those associated with him in the representation of Victoria.
– I, too, regret the necessity for making a second speech on this item; but I cannot allow Senator Brennan to attempt to browbeat honorable senators on this side of the chamber with his sarcasm.
– I said that I did not intend to take any notice of those who had fixed opinions on fiscal matters.
– The honorable senator is so blinded by his political prejudice that he does not want to see this side. There is no more one-eyed man in this chamber than the honorable senator.
– Order !
– If the honorable senator does not wish to recognize us, he must realize that we have as much right here as he has. “We are trying to protect decent political thought in most things, and I regret that Senator Brennan should adopt such an attitude because we should be able to debate these matters in the way that they should be debated in this chamber. We should be able to view this question, if not in a non-party way, at least as free from party politics as is possible. I made an appeal on behalf of an Australian industry, for which I- tender no apology. I say to Senator Brennan that the duties imposed under this item; and under certain other items, had nothing to do with the exigencies to which he referred. These duties were not introduced by the Scullin Government for revenue purposes. They were introduced advisedly at a time when it was felt that the Government should do something for the woollen industry and for the primary producers of this country, to encourage secondary industries, and enable them to link hands with the producers. Having done so, we are now asked to justify our action. I say to Senator Brennan that the record of the operations of this industry during the Scullin regime is a sufficient exhibit for any one who wishes to analyse the position. But, of course, he has candidly and openly confessed that he is so blinded by prejudice that he is not even prepared to look at an exhibit from this side of the chamber. Therefore, I leave him to the tender mercies of his colleague on that side of the chamber. I am certain that Senator Guthrie will give him a most effective reply.
– I regret the attitude and some of the remarks of Senator Brennan for whom we all have a high regard. He said that I was inconsistent in my attitude, but I do not think that I am. I said at the beginning of the debate that I was in favour of a lower tariff on all tools of production, whether wire netting, fencing wire, galvanized iron, machinery, or any other article required by the primary producers of this country, who are carrying most of the burden of to-day and experiencing the most difficult time. But that does not say that I am a freetrader. I have never been a freetrader. I resent Senator Brennan’s reference to the effect that I am parochial. Geelong is acknowledged to he the Bradford of Australia. There are six very prosperous woollen mills there and they provide a considerable amount of employment. They are the backbone of the town. But the fact that I happen to live close to Geelong does not colour my political views.
– Do not those woollen mills keep a large number of men off the dole? ‘
– They employ between 2,500 and 3,000 people. I wish to get away from parochialism. Geelong is not Australia. It is an important, efficient and charming city, but that fact does not colour my political views. There are many woollen mills scattered throughout Australia. This industry has assisted in decentralization, because mills have been established in many inland centres, such as Maryborough, Stawell, Bendigo, Castlemaine, Ballarat, Warrnambool, and so far away as Albany in Western Australia. This year the Australian woollen mills were of great benefit to the wool market because they purchased over 300,000 bales of wool. I am sorry that Senator Brennan thinks that I am parochial in my views, because I am of the honest opinion that this is our best secondary industry, is economically sound and efficient and not exploiting the people. If I thought that, under the high tariff, any branch of the woollen manufacturing industry of Australia was making excessive profits, or charging the public extortionate prices, I should be in favour of reducing the tariff so as to bring the manufacturer concerned to his senses and make him play the game. I defy Senator Brennan to point to any woollen mill in Australia that is paying an excessively high dividend, or charging the public high prices for any of its manufactures, from knitted socks to heavy woollens used for overcoatings, or for ladies’ dress goods of under 3 oz. to the square yard, flannels or blankets. The other day I bought for a few returned soldiers in the
Riverina some single grey blankets from Geelong at 14s. 6d. a pair, and if that is not cheap, I do not know what is. I resent the charge against me of parochialism. I am a small shareholder in the mill owned by the returned soldiers, also in another mill, and in others that have not progressed as these two have, but that fact does not colour my political views. I was intersted in a small way in the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, but that fact did not at any time sway my political votes or actions. I am honestly of the opinion that unless a high tariff on woollen textile goods is maintained there is a danger of the Australian market being flooded with cheap goods of foreign countries in which the hours of labour are long, and the wages of the operatives are miserably poor. If the Australian manufacturers were exploiting the public and forcing their employees to work long hours at low wages, I should be in favour of reducing the duty, but knowing the industry as I do, I think that to reduce the tariff at this stage would be a tragic mistake.
– The Minister has stated that the woollen mills are going full steam ahead, and working full time. I am npt disputing that, and I am glad that they are. I should like to see an extension of the mills throughout Australia, with all the mills working full handed under proper conditions. At present, the. woollen mills are filling contracts which probably were entered into prior to the alteration of the tariff ; but when those contracts are completed, there will, very likely, be a different story to tell. Importers would not be likely to bring into this country an enormous quantity of goods unless they were sure of a market here, and to obtain such a market they will have to undersell Australian products. When they do so, Australian woollen mills will not be working full time or full handed. They will revert to their former position when the warehouses were full of imported textiles. In all probability, the woollen mills would have extended their operations after the Scullin tariff was passed, had- they been certain that it would operate for ten years or any given period. A man will not invest money inindustry unless he has a reasonable chance of obtaining a profitable return. Because of the peculiar political atmosphere surrounding the Scullin tariff, at a time when the political parties were definitely divided on the tariff issue, the woollen mills were not prepared to extend their operations to any considerable degree. Senator Brennan has admitted that no man would invest money if he did not anticipate a fair return, and. because of the uncertainty which,, existed when the Scullin tariff was operating, no one was prepared to invest any additional money in this industry. It should not be feared that an extension of secondary industries in Australia would prove injurious to the people. I could give instances of goods being brought in from overseas, prior to the operation of the Scullin tariff, and being sold at higher prices than those charged for goods made in this country. Stockings from the United States of America were sold at 12s. a pair, while similar stockings made in Australia under the protection afforded by the Scullin tariff were placed on the local market at 4s. a pair.
Question - That the request (Senator Barnes) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. . (Chairman - . Sena tor the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sub-items agreed to.
Items 110 (c) (d) (e), and 113 (a) agreed to .
Subsidy to Citrus-growers - Withdrawal of Words.
Motion (by Senator Sir George - Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now. adjourn.
– This morning, the Assistant Treasurer (Senator Greene) replied to a question asked by me concerning negotiations that the Government had carried - out with the New Zealand Government on behalf of Australian growers of citrus fruits. . If the information given by the Minister had been made available sooner, it might have made it unnecessary for me to submit questions to the Government on this matter. At a conference of wheatgrowers which was held recently in Sydney, the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) said that the Government contemplated offering the fruit-growers a subsidy of 2s. 6d. a case. The Government should either announce that that was a fact, or contradict the statement, because it is only fair that the growers should be apprised of the Government’s- intentions in the matter. Such an important body of primary producers as the orange-growers are entitled to know whether there is any foundation for the statement to which I have referred.
. - This afternoon Senator Payne took exception to my use of the words “Geisha joint”, which I was called upon to withdraw, and, of course, I withdrew them. Since. then, I have obtained from the Library a copy of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, in which the word “ Geisha “ is defined as follows : -
The name of a professional dancing or singing girl of Japan.
The hour being 4 p.m..
Question put -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 June 1933, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1933/19330630_senate_13_140/>.