1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the choir at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the
Minister for Trade and, Customs if his attention has been called to the following paragraph referring to an alleged statement by the Premier of Queensland which appeared in the Melbourne Age of Saturday last : -
The Premier said this morning that he considered the removal of the tea duties had a tendency to create a system of smuggling of tobacco and cigars. The Chinese were smart smugglers, and when the restrictions on importations eased off, it was quite feasible to expect that tea chests would probably contain more than tea. It is rumoured that something of the kind is already being practised in other directions, as the customs oversight is said not to be so strict as formerly. At any rate, one gentleman has drawn attention to the fact that some firms are selling goods at a cost actually less than he could buy the article duty paid. It is fair to assume that if this is the case something is transpiring which requires attention.
Has the Premier of Queensland been in communication with the right honorable gentleman on the subject?
– I imagine that if the Premier of Queensland has anything to communicate to this Government, he will make his communication through the Prime Minister. I have no information in regard to the paragraph which the honorable member has read. It is our intention that throughout Australia the administration of the Customs shall be stricter in the future than it has been hitherto, and we are taking steps to that end. I do not think that the abolition of the duty upon tea will greatly affect the smuggling of cigars in tea chests, but the department will be only too glad to receive information which will enable them to protect the revenue and to vindicate the Customs law. The Government will take every precaution that they can against smuggling.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs give the House any information as to the reason for altering the hour of commencing business at the Customhouses of the various States from 8 a.m. to 8.30 a.m.?
– I take it that the alteration is the result of. the regulation which provides for the observance of uniform hours in the various States. It is very desirable to bring about uniformity in this matter. The honorable member has already spoken to me with regard to it, and if, after further consideration which I shall give it shortly, I see any reason for amending the regulation, I shall not hesitate to act accordingly. So far, the inquiries which I have made do not establish the necessity for its amendment.
– I am anxious to lay certain information before the right honorable gentleman.
– I shall be only too glad to receive it.
– When is the Bonus Bill to be brought in?
-If we have the cooperation of the right honorable member in bringing to a close at an early date the reconsideration of various items in the Tariff, we shall be only too happy to introduce it almost immediately.
– The discussion upon the Tariff could be brought to a close almost at once by striking out ninetenths of the notices upon the business paper.
– That would be too great a concession.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– I have been supplied with the following answer to the honorable member’s questions : -
The information has been asked for by telegraph, but is not yet complete. It will be furnished as early as possible.
Mr. BIGGINS asked the Prime Minister,upon notice
– I have no information as to the General Order mentioned, nor do I know the circumstances under which it was issued.
In Committee of Ways and Means (Recommittal) :
Consideration resumed from 4th April (vide page 11407).
Item 64. - Piece goods, namely, cotton and linen piece goods, n.e.i., ad valorem 15 per cent.; and on and after 4th December, 1901, 10 per cent.
Amendment (by Mr. Kingston) again proposed -
That the following words be added:. - “Piece goods, namely, cotton and linen piece goods, n.e.i. (including dungaree and denim), on and after 9th April, 1902, ad valorem 7? per cent.”
Upon which Mr. Sydney Smith had moved -
That the amendment be amended by the insertion of the word ‘ ‘ free “ after the figures “ 1902.”
– Before we reported progress on Friday afternoon the Treasurer stated that the reduction of the duty upon cotton piece goods to 5 per cent. all round, suggested by the leader of the Opposition, would mean a loss to the revenue of ?25,000 per annum. But if the right honorable gentleman has either to insist upon an amendment which will bring in a larger amount of revenue, but will dislocate many of the industries in which capital has been embarked since the Tariff was agreed to in its present form, or must face a loss of ?25,000, it is entirely his own fault, because he was not called upon to propose any amendment at all. He proposed the amendment for purposes of his own, and the committee are now asked to decide whether they will vote to make all cotton piece goods free, or impose upon them all a duty of 7? per cent., or place them all upon the free list. No reason has been advanced by the Treasurer why an all-roundrate of 5 per cent., as suggested by us on Friday, should not be charged, and he failed to show that a loss of ?25,000 per annum would be sustained by such an arrangement. It is very clear that if cotton piece goods are divided into two classes which so nearly resemble each other that their similarity is a source of constant irritation between the Customs officials and the merchants, it must follow that the bulk of the articles purchased are articles belonging to the class which is in the free list, and not to the class which is in the 10 per cent. list. For instance, if a woman goes into a shop to buy window curtains, and is shown two kinds which so closely resemble each other that even the Custom-house officials cannot easily tell the difference between them, and one kind is admitted free of duty while the other is charged at the rate of 15 per cent. ad valorem, she naturally buys the cheaper goods ; and what is true of window curtains is true of most other lines. The Treasurer admits that the confusion, which has resulted from the similarity of the two classes of goods has caused him to propose the amendment which is now before the committee, and I am informed by men in the trade that that confusion has resulted in a very large diminution of the demand for goods upon which a duty of 10 per cent, is charged. The Treasurer, however, appears to assume that purchasers will not buy free goods in preference to dutiable goods. He made a pathetic appeal to the protectionists to vote for his proposal ; but I have here a letter from one of the chief shirt manufacturers in Victoria - a man who is in a position to speak with some authority* upon this matter. I should like those who are very anxious to do something for the workers of Victoria to give some heed even to a line in which all the employes are women. The writer says : -
The reduction or abolition of the duty on cotton goods means the salvation of a very large manufacturing interest in the Commonwealth. Already, in anticipation, a very great deal of capital and energy has been put to work. In Sydney there have been several large factories started, one of them laying down 200 machines, and Melbourne has reaped a benefit, one manufacturer alone receiving orders for 500 dozen white shirts per month.
The imposition of a 7-jj per cent, duty will entirely crush out this industry. It has never been questioned in the case of any other industry, and why should it be questioned in the case of this industry 1 It appears that all the Ministry have to do is to get up and say that a vast amount of revenue is concerned, and that they regard the question as vital. We hear that the Government propose, if the amendment be defeated, to regard the decision as a very serious matter. I wish to know whether honorable members are to be allowed to vote as they please, and as arguments and facts adduced should lead them to do, or whether they are to vote under the crack of the Government stockwhip ? A lower duty on piece goods, or their free admission, will result in a great advantage to distribution and a saving of capital - the advantage of making on the spot instead of having toorder stocks ahead. My protectionist friends, under the guidance of their leading light, the honorable member for MelbournePorts,, seem to have forgotten all about this advantage.
– He expressed that opinion, about five minutes ago. The honorable member does not know what his opinion is. now.
– It is an extraordinary thing how opinions alter in this Chamber without any apparent reason. If my honorable friends on the other side regard this not as a protectionist duty but as a. revenue duty, there is no reason why there’ should be free tea any more than that there should be free calico goods. After all, everybody wears calico who is civilized in, any sense of the word. “We have heard a lob about the advantages of free tea. The advantages of free calico are equally real, unless we are to suppose that people will clothe themselves in sackcloth and ashes, and that ineffable halo of glory which is supposed to sit round this great Commonwealth. The views I express are put forward by gentlemen who are engaged in manufacturing shirts, and appear to be the first glimmer of intelligence which we have yet heard from the manufacturers. I know it is quite idle to appeal to the Ministers with any other reason than tho reason of the big battalion. When we have a majority they are always ready to listen. What they call reason is getting out of us a compromise. What they call a waste of time is our bringing forward facts and arguments when they have a majority behind them, and seek to obtain a compromise. They accused us the other day of wasting time. Unfortunately, sir, you were not here, otherwise I feel sure that you would take my view of this matter. When so great a question as the reversal of the Government policy was contemplated and acted upon, only two hours were spent in discussion, and then they adjourned. What for % Not to suit the convenience of those who were in Opposition. The Treasurer said he was going on until he got a division. Why did he not go on ? If he likes to go on until he gets a division, for my part he can go on for a long time, because unless I clearly understand that every honorable member is free to vote as he likes, and that no sort of improper influence is to be brought to work, I shall think it is my bounden duty to let the people of the Commonwealth know by such action on my part as will be unmistakable that that is the case. The Government do not pretend to advance any reason other than the miserably inadequate one that they do this for simplicity, and that revenue is a mere coincidence. A compromise of the most honorable and acceptable nature was offered to them, but they will not take a 5 per cent. duty. No one has asked them to alter the duty. Why do they put upon our shoulders the odium of filching from the people an additional sum of £35,000 or £37,000? Why should they not leave things as they are ? When we besought them months ago to alter the duty they would not do so, and now when they want revenue, they are willing and anxious to do so, and they beseech their followers to stand by them. I utterly fail to understand the attitude of the Ministry. If they wish to get revenue, or to secure simplicity, let them re-adjust the whole Tariff. Why should they ask for a 7£ per cent, duty on cotton goods, and leave galvanized iron free? Is there any sense in doing that? The production of galvanized iron would em; ploy hundreds of nien in the Lithgow district in New South Wales, but they allow that article to come in free. There is a majority in the House in favour of making it free, and the Ministry do not scruple to waste time with many arguments. But in the case of cotton goods they believe that they have a majority who are in favour of a 7£ per cent, duty, and reason is utterly beside the question. If they are short of revenue let them re-adjust the whole Tariff. Let them do away with glaring anomalies. Let us admit mining machinery and other kinds of machinery on the same terms as they propose in this case. It will encourage its importation, and the Government will get revenue. But they want revenue only when they can get it without hurting the delicate susceptibilities of those gentlemen who are their greatest supporters. Their interests are represented by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. We know very well that that mechanism whose mouth-piece he is is not saying si word on this item. It does not matter in the slightest degree what becomes of the cotton interest. Practically speaking, honorable members may act with impunity, since the majority of those engaged in the trade are women who have no’ votes, anr! therefore, it does not matter whether the proposal is right or whether it is wrong. I am prepared to vote for a 5 per cent, duty if I cannot get better terms. If the Ministry will say that they will accept a 5 per cent, duty I shall vote for it. But to say that in this case they will not accept that reasonable compromise which they have always been so ready, nay, so anxious, to assert that they were ready to accept is so anomalous and extraordinary that I shall not, without some hesitancy and some degree of opposition that may not be altogether pleasant, allow a division on the item.
– I am rather inclined to the proposal of the Government that these goods should be treated in a uniform way instead of our trying to differentiate between the various articles which come under this head. My opinion is that they should be admitted duty free. When this item was previously considered! it was pointed out very clearly to the Ministry that it would be almost impossible to discern a difference between the articles which would i be dutiable and those which would be free. Still they were prepared to allow certain lines to come in free, and toimpose a 10 per cent, duty on the others. Although they argued on that occasion that, that was the correct method of dealing with these goods, still we find them coming down and confessing that, so far as the convenience of collecting duty is concerned,, their proposal was an absolute failure, and that in the interests of the revenue and theCustoms department there must be a uniform basis of taxation adopted. On that, point I agree with them. Taking into consideration the large amount of revenuewhich the Government have provided forin the Tariff it would be wise for them toplace these goods on the free list, and that course would meet the requirements of thecommunity generally, but they seem tothink that it is necessary _to makean attempt to finance the various States. The Treasurer made an abject appeal to thecommittee the other afternoon to give him this extra revenue of £25,000, so that he might assist particular States whose finances appear to be in a deplorable condition. Hereferred to the necessitous condition of the States of Queensland and Tasmania. Thehonorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, told us that it was absolutely necessary in the interests of Tasmania that “they should have this additional revenue. He said that Tasmania was going to ruin because we had taken the duty off kerosene. It has been, reported by various newspapers in the different States that Queensland and Tasmania are losing an enormous amount of revenue by coming into the Commonwealth. The money is still in the pockets of the people, so” how can there be any loss to them 1 I admit that there is less revenue derived from this particular source, but there is really no loss to the State, and its people are able to bear the additional amount of taxation in some other form than customs taxation. In Tasmania there is a rise in the revenue. Only two or three days ago we read in a local newspaper that the revenue had increased for the month of March by over £4,000. At that ratio the increase is equal to nearly £50,000 for the year. In the Argus of Friday last, it was stated that the Tasmanian consolidated revenue for the month of March amounted to £60,450, against £55, 90S received during the corresponding month of the previous year.
– The revenue rose in that one month only.
– There is nothing to show that the increase will not be maintained throughout the year.
– There is no guarantee that it will not fall.
– Still we have the fact staring us in the face, that in March they received £4,442 more than in the corresponding month of the previous year. We have been told that Queensland will be placed in a very serious position if the revenue derived from Customs is seriously interfered with. We all realize that the drought which has existed for a number of years has brought serious results in its train, but the unfortunate position of the -Queensland finances is largely owing to the peculiar administration of the present State Government. It was well known two or three years ago that the effects of the drought would not be felt in their full force until last year, and the Government were also well aware that by entering the federation the State would lose a considerable amount of Customs revenue. In spite of these facts, however, and even though it was distinctly stated by the Treasurer, on introducing the Tariff, that Queensland would be a heavy loser, no attempt was made by the State Government to adjust their finances. The people of Queensland are taxed to a larger extent than those of any other State excepting Western Australia, but of the enormous amount of £4 2s. 4d. per head, only 13s. 3d. is derived from direct taxation. Therefore the Queensland Government have a means of raising revenue which has practically remained untouched. The same thing applies to Tasmania. We have been told over and over again that in Tasmania all means of taxation except through the Customs have been exhausted, but we find that the total amount derived from direct taxation in Tasmania is Vs. 8d. per head of the population, whilst indirect taxation yields £2 13s. 3d. per head. If Tasmania imposed a good big land tax it would be one of the best things she could do.
– They already have a big land tax.
– lt amounts to only a halfpenny in the £, and plenty of opportunities are presented to both the Tasmanian and Queensland Governments to raise revenue by direct taxation. The Government have made the mistake of attempting to swell the finances of the States whose Treasurers are prepared to spend money in a lavish and extravagant manner, so long as we find it for them. We should endeavour to curtail some of this expenditure by the State Treasurers, because we know that so long as they can spend money in a lavish and extravagant manner they can always secure a certain amount of support. According to the revenue returns from 9th October to 28th February, the Government have collected more than they estimated to receive for that portion of the year.
– That is only in the aggregate, and does not apply to the revenues of four of the States. The honorable member must take the receipts of the individual States.
– If that is so, why did not the right honorable gentleman base his calculations upon the revenue required by each individual State ? If he had done so, and had attempted to return to each State the amount of revenue previously collected, he would -have required to bring down a Tariff which would have’ yielded £13,000,000 or £14,000,000. The revenue collected from the 9th October to the 28th February was at the rate of roughly a little over £8,500,000 per annum. The Treasurer estimated that the” revenue for the current year would be £7,831,000, and therefore the revenue is coming in in excess of his estimate to the extent of £686,645 per annum. The amount derived in a normal year when the conditions of trade are more settled will be still larger, and I should not be at all surprised if the revenues of even Tasmania and Queensland are very largely increased next year. The Treasurer, however, has thought fit to take another view, and to endeavour to exact from the people the utmost farthing in the way of taxation. The duty now under consideration would fall most heavily upon the working classes, and particularly upon those in Queensland where, owing to the warm climate, cotton goods are used to a larger extent than in any other part of the Commonwealth. It is, therefore, only reasonable for us to ask that these duties should be reduced as far as possible. If we take the period from the 28th February to the end of March, we find that the revenue receipts were even larger in proportion than for the preceding three months, and if they continue upon the same scale the Treasurer will have £779,000 in excess of his estimate. It has been stated in the Queensland press that that State will lose 280,000 under the Tariff. I have endeavoured to find out how this amount is made up, but I have failed to see how any such loss can possibly result from the decreased duties. So far as I can gather, Queensland will lose just about the amount which the Treasurer originally stated, and if there is any further loss it will probably be due to the falling offin consumption rather than to the reduction of duties. According to his own showing, the Treasurer has considerably more revenue than he expected, and this in itself should afford sufficient justification for relieving the people from burdens such as that now sought to be imposed. When it was proposed to increase the spirit duties, the Government refused to accept the additional revenue offered to them.
– They were given 60,000 against their will.
– Yes ; and when they were desired to accept even more revenue they refused it. In view of this fact, I cannot understandwhy they should be so anxious to impose a heavy tax upon cotton goods. If the Government had wanted more revenue they might have derived a much larger amount by reducing the duty uponmining machinery. The Government themselves have not made out a case for getting this extraordinary amount of revenue. If the Treasurer is serious in his statement that it is necessary in this way to assist the finances of Queensland and Tasmania, I reply that there are other means open to those States for raising revenue. The Government should first of all have ascertained the amount of revenue they required for the needs of the, Commonwealth, and then, in accordance with the Constitution, which compels them to raise three-fourths more than they require, they could have handed over the remainder to the States, allowing them to finance themselves. Had that been done there would have been less grumbling, and a more satisfactory basis for our financial operations.
– The honorable member for Kennedy has exhibited an amount of knowledge of Tasmanian affairs which simply surprises me, but when he seeks, in connexion with the party to which he belongs, to force direct taxation upon Tasmania and the other States, through the land, I say that he entirely misunderstands the position and condition of the State I represent. I am quite with the honorable member as to direct taxation, which I should like to see imposed in lieu of customs. Direct taxation reaches the wealth of the States, and is borne by those who are in a position best to bear it. When the honorable member talks about imposing a heavier land tax upon Tasmania than that State already bears, he speaks without knowledge of the condition of the Tasmanian people. There is no case in Tasmania for “ bursting up the big estates “ by means of the imposition of a land tax. The great majority of the land holders of Tasmania are small working farmers,whose interests should appeal strongly - if agriculturists are to have any show at all of appealing to the labour party - for assistance and relief. Nine-tenths of the whole body of the landholders of Tasmania are already burdened by a land tax, which is quite sufficiently heavy for them to carry.
– What is the amount of it ?
– One halfpenny in the £1.
– Is that on the capital value of the land?
– On the improved capital value.
– Heavy, enough.
– It is monstrous, and I have fought in Tasmania to get the unimproved value system introduced. The fact is, that the great majority of our land-holders are small working farmers whose life is spent from early dawn till dark in ploughing and working upon their holdings, and who have to bear a land tax which means - supposing each farmer to have only a family of five - an impost equal to five or six times the amount that would fall upon them by means of the tea duty. I think I have said enough to move the hearts of the labour party, who seek to do good for the poorer classes in the Commonwealth”.
– Does the right- honorable member mean to infer- that the” landed proprietary of Tasmania are the poorer class of the community 1 ‘
– ‘Yes ; the great bulk of them are most distinctly so.
– I only wish I were in the position of some of them !
– Let the honorable member go and clear 100 acres of land, putting . his back into it, and do some real work. The honorable member has referred to the very promising aspect of the Tasmanian Customs revenue, because in the month of March it showed a slight increase, as compared with March of last year. He deduces from that the extraordinary idea that the revenue for the twelve months must necessarily show a corresponding increase. The facts are that, without allowing for the loss of revenue through the tea and kerosene duties being abolished, Tasmania, according *to the statement of a careful and prudent Treasurer, will be subject to a loss in a normal year of £122,000 as compared with the actual receipts for the year 1 900. I could not sit here quietly and hear, without some word of remonstrance, the most, worthy class of the Tasmanian people exposed to an indirect attack upon them which would be in the last degree prejudicial to their interests, and is entirely undeserved.
– If the Government would accept the compromise offered last week by the leader of the Opposition, to make the duty on this item 5 per ‘cent., thev would save a great amount of time, and”, as has already been shown, the revenue would be lessened by not more than £20,000. If they do not accept that compromise it is only natural, after the strong fight made in the earlier stages of the Tariff discussion, for . the Opposition to do their utmost to reduce the. duty. I should likethe Minister for Trade and Customs to saythat he will accept the offer. .
– We.. cannot do that.
– Then the appeal is itv vain. The country wall recognise how adamant the Minister has been to an appeal which has been made in the most courteous. - even, indeed, in an abject - manner. I find that, in the past, iri New South Wales, some of these goods were admitted free: of duty; in Victoria they were free ; in. Queensland ,there was a duty of . 5’ percent. ; in South Australia they . werefree ; in Tasmania the duty was 20 percent., and in Western Australia the duty was 10 per cent. So that in four Statesout of the six, representing _over SO per cent, of the population,” prior to the inauguration of this! Ministry’ and their diabolical system of taxation, there was no* duty whatever oh cottons. The people of those States will regard the Government asdoing nothing better than grinding -taxation out of them. I can well understand the* equanimity with which the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, regards the position,. inasmuch as the proposal of the Government reduces the duty hitherto imposed in Tasmania from 20 to 7£, per cent. But there is no necessity for any revenue duty in this case. The statement of the Treasurer shows that he is wallowing in wealth. Yet these grinders in taxation, for some esoteric reason, -are now prepared to fight for a duty of 7£ per cent. The public thank the committee most heartily whenever they show their wisdom by defeating the Government proposals. With the ‘assistance of representatives of all the States, the Opposition . succeeded ‘ in reducing the original* Government proposals under this heading,;.’although it was said at the” time that the Treasurer could not do without the two duties 6f”15 per cent, and 10 per cent, respectively. The duty on those goods, which may well “be classed as luxuries, was reduced from 15 per cent, to 10 per cent., while articles used for the most part by those who can ill-afford to bear any further taxation were .made free, instead of being subject to a., duty of ‘ 10 per cent. In order to secure. simplicity, and to prevent the Customs from being defrauded, the Government now propose that those item’s that are now on the free list shall be subject to a duty Of 7£ per cent., whilst.* those on which a duty of 10 percent. is payable, and which are used by the wealthy patricians who are the main supporters of the Prime Minister, are to be placed on the same level.
– Will the honorable member give me a list of the partricians ?
– I do not bear the Prime Minister any ill-will personally, but I am sure that if I were to produce the list, he would be ashamed of it. The Opposition have shown their common sense byexpressing their willingness to accept an all round duty of 5 per cent. It has been shown that the difference between a duty of 7½ per cent. and 5 per cent. on these goods would not be more than about £25,000, and I hope that the proposed compromise, which would be a happy one, will be accepted by the Government.
– I feel it my duty to support the Government proposal. My reason for doing so is very simple. When I was speaking on the Tariff in October last, I said that in my opinion the Government could afford to strike off some of the revenue duties, which were then suggested, to the extent of £500,000 or £600,000. Up to the present time, by the abolition of the duty on tea, the duty en kerosene, and some smaller remissions of revenue producing duties, together with the remission of £150,000 on cotton and linen piece goods - comparing the original duties with that now proposed - we have struck off nearly £800,000. That seems to me the utmost to which we can go with safety, and I think the Treasurer is fully justified in asking the committee to pass the duty as now proposed. I should like to do away with all purely revenue duties, for they are not justifiable from the point of view of free-trader or protectionist ; they are not in accordance with sound principles of taxation. But there are circumstances under which principles and theories have to yield to the stern logic of facts. We know that the Commonwealth must raise through the Customs a sum estimated by various authorities at from £8,000,’000 to £9,000,000, and that consequently there must be certain large revenue producing items. It seems to me that this is one of those cases in which, having regard to the remissions that have already been made, we can fairly ask the public of Australia to submit to the tax. Of course the duty will inevitably increase to a greater or less extent the prices of the goods affected, but certainly not to such an extent as to be seriously appreciable by any household in the community, however humble it may be. I feel it my duty, much as I should like to take what would be the more grateful side of remitting the duty altogether-
– Do not be too scrupulous.
– There are times when one’s duty conflicts with his inclinations; and, so far as I am concerned, this is one of those occasions. Rightly or wrongly I conceive it to be my duty to vote for the Government proposal, and not to yield to my inclination to make such items as these free. Such a duty cannot be justified from my point of view, as a protectionist, at any rate ; but it is fully justified from the point of view of the necessity of obtaining revenue. I only rose for the purpose of explaining why I proposed to vote for the Government proposal, although I did not favour revenue duties. Six months ago I said that I should have to vote for some of the revenue duties proposed by the Government, but that I would support a reduction or remission of the duty on cotton and linen piece goods. According to the Treasurer’s estimates, the. revenue of about £340,000 that it was originally anticipated would be received from this item will be reduced to about £190,000; and therefore, it seems to me that the proposed duty of 7½ per cent. is one which, in view of the reductions which have been made, may very well be passed.
– I agree with other honorable members that for the sake of simplicity it is very desirable that these items should be placed on the one basis. If that object had been studied by the Government when dealing with other items we might have had a Tariff which would have been less costly to collect, and which would not have interfered so seriously as this does with the public of Australia. After the speeches that have been made, I should not have risen on this occasion but for the remarks made on Friday last by the Treasurer in the course of his powerful appeal for this duty. The Treasurer then attempted to place upon the Opposition the responsibility for any difficulty in connexion with the finances of the smaller States. I would point out, however, that neither side of the committee can be accused of having given rise to the initial difficulty. The conditions laid down in the Constitution Act constitute the first cause. Apart from that, however, I contend that the Opposition have done more to give the smaller States revenue than have the Ministry. “What has been the policy of the Ministry in regard to certain articles coming under this heading, and in other items ? It has been to impose duties which, it is true, were not in some cases higher than those which were in force in Tasmania, for example, but which would have a very different incidence ; to place duties on the statute-book that would practically prohibit imports or reduce “them to very meagre limits, and thus rob the smaller States of the revenue they obtained under an equally high Tariff on some lines, because with the limited population of some of the smaller States there was not sufficient inducement for the starting of manufactories, under their respective .Tariffs. The result of the Ministerial act is that whilst, for example, the people of Tasmania have to pay the whole, or, at any rate, a portion of the duties on goods passing into their ports from Victorian and New South Wales manufactories, nothing whatever comes into the State Treasury as the result. In that way the revenue of the smaller States is reduced. The Opposition have attempted time after time to give the Government, not less, but more- revenue. We succeeded, after great difficulty, in inducing the Government to accept a proposal that wil. mean about £50,000 per annum additional revenue from tobacco. We also succeeded in inducing them to accept, after great pressure, a proposal which will mean some £60,000 additional revenue per annum from spirit excise. We were prepared to give them more than that, believing that the industry was not worth sustaining in face of the loss of revenue which it involves - we would have given them another £60,000 - but the Government declined our offer. Will not Tasmania and Queensland benefit far more under additions such as those than they will under such items as these ? It is due first of all to the provisions of the Constitution Act that the smaller States cannot obtain the full revenue from the customs which they previously collected ; but they cannot receive what they otherwise might if the Government policy is carried out. I should like to call the attention of the Treasurer to the fact that under the financial provisions of the Constitution he has to tax the Commonwealth to the extent of £500 000 if he desires to give Tasmania, say, £17,000 more revenue on any particular line. He must admit that he can only do that to a very limited extent, and I, in company with many other honorable members, believe that he has attempted to do it to too large an extent. The Treasurer would have fulfilled his duty to the States if he had made such provision that the total revenue received by them under their respective Tariffs would have been raised by his customs proposals. Then any necessary adjustment would have had to be made in some other way. It has been pointed out that, the tea duty has been abandoned ; and I allude to this because of what the Treasurer has said in his appeal, and in view of the course which I intend to take in regard to the item under discussion. I was not associated with the abandonment of the tea duty, though I did not think the Treasurer required the revenue. I voted for the tea duty with the intention of giving relief in other directions, one of which was in connexion with the duty . on cottons and linens. Some of us voted for giving relief on tea for several reasons. It was thought that the removal of the duties on cottons and linens would to a considerable extent relieve the same class as would be relieved by the removal of the tea duty, and that enormous expense in collection would be saved. The cost of collection in connexion with the item under discussion is infinitely greater than the cost of the collection of a tea duty. There is no doubt that in other items, added to the item of cottons and linens, the full relief desired for the necessitous classes could have been given. However, the tea duty has not been passed ; and I ask - what is the position of those who from this side supported the Government 1 They were deserted by the Government, and I never saw a Government in a more humiliating position. The Government had received generous support from the Opposition ; I am not arguing whether, that support was right or wrong, or whether a tea duty was desirable or undesirable.
– It can hardly be said that the Government had the support of the Opposition, when the leader of the Opposition voted against the duty.
– The leader of the Opposition was simply paired on the general question, and that pair was made use of.
– I believe that - the pair was made use of.
– The acting-leader of the Opposition was in his place and voted with the Government.
– And so did some of the Opposition.
– Some of the followers of the acting leader of the Opposition voted with the Government. I am not saying that this was a party question. Evidently it was not a party question on this side. I am saying that the Government received the generous support of the Opposition. This item had become one of policy, having been under consideration three or four months. The Government did not say, as they had said in regard to other items, that they would accept the decision of the committee, but declared that they must have this duty. Yet, when honorable members of the Opposition crossed the floor, the Government deserted those honorable members and the duty was defeated.
– The honorable member must not reflect on any vote given by the committee.
– I think the Chairman must misunderstand me. I am not reflecting on any vote given by the committee, but on the way in which the Government accepted a particular vote.
– That is equally out of order. The question before the chair is the insertion of the word “free.” The honorable member is discussing the whole position, and action of the committee in dealing with a specific duty which has already been decided.
– I am aware, Mr. Chairman, that you were not here during the earlier portion of the discussion, and consequently cannot know on what basis the question, is being dealt with. The Treasurer discussed the whole question of the tea duty, and earnestly asked for the duty under discussion, because the tea duty had been defeated. As one who supported a tea duty, I am now giving reasons why I do not consider I am called on to again give my support to the Government, in view of the fact that they allowed themselves to be defeated on the tea duty. It was a very humiliating position for the Government that they should, after making that duty part of their policy, accept defeat by their own supporters. I do not mean as to the recommittal, because I am quite satisfied to accept the vote taken on that point. I am speaking of the Government accepting their defeat as an every - day occurrence, and I do not feel called on to again put myself in the position of supporting the Government’s alleged requirements. With others I believe that the Government will get sufficient revenue even if this item be omitted. In December this item is notseparated, and appears under the heading of apparel and attire; the Government received from the duty on the latter £56,000, and in January they received £130,000, a total of £186,000. From the 9th October to the 31st October the Government received £65,000, and in November £70,000, or a total of £135,000 when the higher duties were on, as against ±’186,000 for the two months during which the lower duties prevailed. Of course, there were reductions in other items under this heading as well as in the items of cottons and linens. These figures show that the action taken by the Opposition has not deprived the Ministry or the States of revenue. We certainly have placed some items on the free list, and to that extent must have destroyed revenue, but in other cases we have given extra revenue such as on tobacco and spirits, and have, by reducing import duties, made those duties less prohibitive, and thus productive of more revenue than the Government expected. I shall be satisfied if the Government say they will accept an all round duty of 5 per cent., and there would then not be much difference in the result as between 10 per cent, on, half the goods, and no duty on the other half, and the duty of 5 per cent, which is suggested. The Government are actually trying to raise the average of the duty by 2^ per cent. At the same time, T am prepared to vote for this item being free for the reasons I have given - to “afford relief in certain directions and to get rid of the COSt of collection. The cost of eoi– lection is enormous in proportion to the duty. There are officers all over Australia examining the goods, which are packed in assorted cases, and ascertaining the quantities and whether the goods do not come under some other heading. To get rid of all this, and to give relief in certain quarters, T was prepared to vote for this and a number of other items being made free, and to give the Government the tea duty.
– I. listened with a good deal of interest to the speech of the Treasurer when he asked for a duty of 7^ per cent, on this particular item, but I cannot accept the premises on which the right honorable gentlemen based his appeal. I have heard several times in this committee of some obligation that rests on the Federal Parliament to give the States Governments practically the maximum of the revenue which they enjoyed under the old conditions. I am unable, however, to understand how the Treasurer has discovered that there is any such obligation. I have always recognised that the Treasurer is highly conscientious in respect of public business ; but in connexion with this item he has gone a little bit too far. During the referendum fight I failed to see that the States were asking for or expecting anything more than the revenue which would accrue to them incidentally on the collection of sufficient revenue for federal purposes. That was, I understand, the primary object of the Government in constructing the Tariff. It was frequently argued, even by gentlemen who now sit on the Government side, that direct taxation was left to the States in order to supplement any shortage that might happen under federal conditions. Direct taxation’ has been adopted by many of the States to only a very slight extent. I do not think I should have spoken on the question but for the reference made by the Treasurer to Western Australia. The right honorable gentleman expressed the fear that that State might possibly’ need all the revenue she could obtain through the Customs. I think, however, that even the Treasurer is surprised at the amount of revenue that is coming in through the Western Australian Customs. That is a matter for gratification in one respect, because it indicates that the people of that State are “fairly prosperous. On the other hand, when one recollects that it means about £7 per head of Customs and Excise taxation, it is about time we had a little more direct taxation in that State. Undoubtedly there are large sources of taxation which may be resorted to by the States authorities whenever it may be thought fit to do so. At the same time, I believe in the policy of to some extent starving the States in connexion with Customs taxation ; and we have in Western Australia a very striking illustration, of the necessity for such a policy. The Minister for Defence not very long ago told us, in a very airy fashion, of the good old times when he was Premier, and when he used, without consulting Parliament, -to distribute, say, £200,000 in the course of a country trip. That incidentally throws some light upon the methods by which the right honorable gentleman held place and power in Western Australia so long, but it is a great object lesson to us so far as concerns giving the States Treasurers more than they really require. We do not want that condition of affairs to continue in Western Australia, and I believe that the other States of the Commonwealth will regard expenditure of the sort with objections quite as strong as those held by ourselves.
– Is that not a matter for the States Parliaments ?
– It might suit a State Government to follow such a policy for the time being. I believe, however, that there are sufficient conscientious men in the State Parliament to look with a great deal of disapprobation on such a course. I can assure the Treasurer that he need not worry about the finances of .Western Australia. That State is in a thoroughly flourishing condition, and I only regret that the system of taxation imposed by the Commonwealth presses so heavily on the people there. Even with that burden, however, Western Australia is making headway, and I hope there are sufficient members in the House who realize that the revenues of various States, takingthem as a whole, are quite sufficient for ordinary purposes ‘without this item, of 7£ per cent, on cotton and linen goods. I shall certainly support the proposal that this item be placed on the free list, and, failing that, I believe an all round duty of 5 per cent, would be more equitable than the present duty, by which a great deal of trouble, friction, and worry is occasioned, for which the consuming public have to pay. While I should like to see these goods admitted duty free, I am not sanguine that the amendment of the honorable member for Macquarie will be carried ; but I trust at least that a majority of honorable members will vote for an all round duty of 5 per cent.
– The honorable member for Perth says that he knows of no obligation upon this Parliament to provide any particular sum for any of the States ; but I think thata different view is entertained by those who are familiar with the history of the federal movement. If one thing was more clearly impressed upon the people of Australia than another, it was that, although itis not stated in so many words in the Convention Bill, it would undoubtedly be the duty of the Federal Parliament about to be treated to make every fair provision to meet the financial necessities of the States.
-“Every fair provision,” but not an extraordinary provision.
– It was a sacred trust. Are those words too strong for the honorable member ?
– I do not know of any sacred trust in the matter.
– It would be a good thing if all of us knew the sacredness of what was an honorable understanding.
– An understanding between whom ? The States were not parties to any such arrangement.
– An understanding between the. people of Australia and those who advocated federation.
– A totally unauthorized understanding.
– It seems to me that the understanding was entered into by every one who took a leading part in advocating federation. If it had not been clearly understood, Australia would not have entered upon federation.
– Was not the federal spirit stronger than that ?
– No State would have been wise in entering into federation, believing that its finances would thereby be exposed to great difficulty and danger.
– What were we in New South Wales told? That we should have to pay not more than £8,500,000.
– New South Wales is not called uponto pay £8,500,000. She pays only £3,000,000, and every penny of that amount is returned to her, less her proportion of the federal expenditure.
– Is not the same thing true of the contributions of the other States ?
– Of course it is. We are not taking the money of the people of New South Wales, and diverting it to the uses of any. of the other States.
Mr.Thomas.-The New South Wales Attorney-General, whowas one of the leading advocates offederation, said that the federal taxation would not amount to more than £6,000,000.
– I am not responsible for what he said. I claim the chief place amongst the advocates of federation for the Prime Minister, and I do not think I should hesitate to accord an equal place - except for, some temporary lapses of warmth on his part - to the. leader of the Opposition. What did he say, in connexion with this matter, when it was being discussed in the Convention? He said -
Do not put it as a hard and fast line ; but I tell you this, that I believe, as a man of honour, that we in the Federal Parliament will be bound to do whatever we can for the purpose of meeting those necessities.
– Hewas hedging a little bit then.
– Australia relied upon that promise, and it was echoed and chorussed in every State. The fulfilment of that promise should not be denied. The leader of the Opposition, speaking in the Convention in November, 1897, said -
The Federal Parliament takes from each of the five colonies its almost sole source of revenue. . . . No stronger obligation under such circumstances could rest on any body of honorable gentlemen …. than that of not exposing the constituent parts of the federation to insolvency, for it will be nothing less than that.
I take exception to the criticism in which the honorable member for Perth indulged in regard to the speech made by the Treasurer last Friday. Although the right honorablegentleman pointed out the difficulties which would result if the proposalof the Opposition werecarried, he said nothing about the insolvency of the States ; but the leader of the Opposition, when speaking in the convention, ‘did not mince words on the subject. I cannot contemplate for Australia or’ any of the States at any time a condition of insolvency, in the strongest meaning of the term, but difficulties which will compel resort to unpalatable methods of taxation must arise if the promise upon which the States have acted is not fulfilled. The leader of the Opposition upon the occasion to which I refer, went on to say -
We must believe that the Federal Government may be safely trusted to maintain the financial position of each of the States as one of the most sacred things committed to their charge.
Those are the words used by the leader of the Opposition. He pictured all the horrors of insolvency as the result of a failure on our part to keep what he called a sacred obligation, and I venture to think that we risk the non-fulfilment of that obligation if we cut down these revenue items in the way that some honorable members seem inclined to do. Honorable members know perfectly well what are my views in regard to taxation and revenue. I have not held them merely for one day or for a short time : I have advocated them at all times. But in the Tariff the Government placed the consideration of revenue first and of protection afterwards. What we meant by revenue was revenue sufficient to supply the actual necessities of the States, because it was promised generally to the States, prior to federation, that the Federal Tariff would return to them an amount equal to that which they were in the habit of receiving from their customs duties, less their share of the federal expenditure. We cannot look at this matter merely from the point of view of any one State. How easy it is for a member representing the great State of Western Australia, who bargained and stipulated in the Constitution for the right to tax the goods of her sister States-
Mr.Fowler. - That was the anti-federal stipulation.
– How easy it is for such a member to say - “ We do not want this revenue.” It seems to me that Tasmania has acted more in accord with the federal spirit in relying upon the understanding upon which all the States entered the union. Was it ever thought that a State like South Australia would,’ instead of finding the federal hope and promise realized, discover that she had to face a considerable deficiency?
– The deficiency in South Australia is due, not to a lack in Customs revenue, but to the deficiency in the railway returns. The right honorable gentleman should not mix up these matters.
– I hope I shall never attempt to mix up matters when dealing with honorable members. I do not hold that the Federal Parliament should return to the States more revenue than they were previously receiving from their customs duties, even though there may be a temporary or, perhaps, a permanent reduction of railway revenue ; but I say that South Australia expected, and fairly hoped to receive, as much from the Federal Government as she had previously been receiving from her customs duties. The peopleof that State are already heavily taxed in various directions - they have a land tax, a progressive tax, an absentee tax, an income tax, succession duties, and practically every kind of taxation that can be thought of; and why should they be compelled to increase their taxation ? They are a hardworking people, who labour under many difficulties; but they live cheaply, their administration is economical, and they save where they can. We should not, then, treat them too hardly, so that they will feel that not only are they not getting what they got before, but that they have also to bear a considerable loss as their part of the federal expenditure. I venture to think that honorable members are wishful to deal with the States in the most liberal way. But are we doing what we should in this matter ? Did any of us intend to force extra taxation upon South Australia? There is a fair average amount which we should return, and, if we return it, I believe we shall be doing what will be fair. We are not asked to do more, but to do less would be a mistake. It is said, however, that if the revenue for which the Government ask is raised it will tend to extravagant administration on the part of the States. I am not going to draw an invidious comparison between the States ; but I ask which of them most wants a lesson in economical management. Is it Tasmania, which, I venture to say, lives as cheaply as. any State ?
– How do we know that ?
– Let the honorable member look at her Estimates. I have looked through them, and I know that in her Customs administration the percentage of her expenditure to her receipts is less than that of any other State.
– Tasmania is more compact than any other State.
– Will not South Australia obtain more from the Federal Government this year than she has ever obtained from her own customs duties ?
– Then what is all the trouble about ?
– We reckon to return about £680,000 to South Australia, whose Customs receipts have been as a rule about £640,000 per annum, but from that amount £60,000 must be deducted to allow for the remission of the duties upon tea and kerosene, and £35,000 which is her share of the federal expenditure. That makes her net. receipts only £5S5,000, as against u 640,000 - a difference of £55,000. Do onorable members wish to teach the lesson of economy to New South Wales ?
– I wish -we could.
– Yes, but is it not idle to attempt a lesson of economy when we have as a matter of course to give her £1,200,000 more than she used to get ? Is a sum of £60,000 or £70,000 likely to inculcate a lesson on economy under such circumstances 1 No lesson would be inculcated. Similar])’ with the State of Western Australia. The honorable member . for Perth talks in a light way of refusing further revenue than she is now receiving. At the present moment she is getting about £300,000 or £400,000 more than she had been accustomed to receive. The honorable member knows perfectly well that it is idle to talk in the terms he employed. But in South Australia where we are economical, in Tasmania where they are still more economical if that is possible, in Queensland, against whom I have not heard much in the shape of extravagance charged, are we not making a mistake altogether in cutting down further 1 Would it not be better to keep faith with the promise we made ? To Western Australia, who bargained for a right which Tasmania might have stipulated for, honorable members would deny this revenue. For them to take this objection seems to me to take an objection which ought not to -lie in their mouth. As regards Tasmania, what doss her chief loss result from 1 A great portion of her trade was intercolonial, and because she did not stipulate for the right to tax her sister States, her revenue from Inter-State goods has gone. What is the position as regards Western Australia ? I do not profess at this moment to be able to give the precise estimate of the amount’ which she gets from this source, but the local Collector of Customs estimates that about £600,000 was collected from duties on Inter-State goods.
– Nothing of the kind ; it is only £20,000 per month.
– I am quoting an estimate to which I do not subscribe myself. She has collected a very considerable sum, and one which would make a great deal of difference to such States as Tasmania and South Australia. Under these circumstances do not let us hear these criticisms by representatives of Western Australia of the rights of other States in this direction.
Let us deal with all fairly and redeem the promise upon which the Federation was entered, and to this end, at least, I hope that we shall continue this duty. What is the amount involved ? At 7 J per cent, it runs to about £187,000, and at 5 per cent, to not more than £125,000. The difference of £60,000 is not a very great sum. It is not one which will tend to encourage extravagance in any State, but it does seem to me that a provision of this sort is necessary in the interests of States which may be classedas necessitous ; but which are, at least, entitled to fair consideration.
– If this appeal by the Minister for Trade and Customs had been made to the committee in the early part of the session, and he had shown that the Tariff had been framed in that spirit, it would have been dealt with in a’ very different way. Time after time, however, he showed us that revenue was’ not his consideration, that he merely wished to carry out a policy of pro’tection quite irrespective of the needs, of the States. In other words, he subordinated the needs of the States to certain pro’tectionist ideas on his part, and that he did in defiance of the manifesto given to the people of Australia by the Prime Minister, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and the Minister for Home Affairs. I think every fair minded man in the Chamber will admit that the Government have absolutely departed from that manifesto. When we return to the item of cotton piece goods, the Minister for Trade and Customs makes a very strong appeal over the difference between a 7-J. per cent, duty and a 5 per cent. duty. But, supposing that the amount involved is £180,000, not £60,000, what do we find ? When time after time it was pointed out that there was a loss of £90,000 involved in the difference between the excise duty and the import duty on spirits, will any one deny that the Minister for Trade and Customs treated that statement with the greatest contempt t Although it was clearly proved that that was the case, he said he was a protectionist, and that he intended to adhere to his policy. That was the sole reason which he gave for throwing up revenue to the amount of £90,000. I am, glad to say that afterwards several honorable members came to our rescue, and therewas an alteration made in the rate of duty, but that was carried, not with the aid of the Minister for Trade and Custom* or the Treasurer, but absolutely in spite of them, although the-consumption of. spirits affected all the States, the small just as much as the large. Again, when we caine to deal with the excise duty on cigars, it was clearly shown that we could afford to give every man engaged in every factory in Australia a cou pie of pounds per week to sit down and do nothing, and the Treasurer would save by the difference between £60,000 and £70,000. Although all that loss was to accrue to the various States, did either the Minister for Trade and Customs or the Treasurer say one word ? Not one, because that money, instead of going to the Treasury, was to be diverted into the pockets of a few firms. When the money is not to be diverted into the pockets of, firms, but is to remain in the pockets of the people, we find these Ministers trying to adopt a tone which, I admit, they should have adopted at first, and saying that we should consider the needs of certain States, and try to make the basis of taxation as broad as possible. They never brought forward any proposal of the sort when we were dealing with, other items. (Committee counted.”) When we came to deal with the item of hats and caps, and pointed out that a sum of £40,000 would be lost to the revenue by the imposition of a high duty, both Ministers refused’-to listen to our warning because they were in favour of a protectionist policy. Again, when we came to tile item of boots and shoes, and it was, pointed out that on his own statement the Treasurer expected the importation to diminish by so much that there would be a loss of over £50,000 to the revenue, he would not recede from the position which he had taken up. It is ‘ extraordinary, therefore, for him to come down now and make an appeal to us. If he will promise to recast all that has been done, he can well call upon many honorable members on each side to assist him, and we ‘may be quite willing to alter the Tariff in. many ways. But I <lo not understand that either he or his colleague proposes that we should have an opportunity of reconsidering any items with the view of obtaining from them the revenue which we ought to obtain, although at the present moment, while the people are being taxed, the money does not go into the Treasury as it should do. The argument of the Minister for Trade and Customs in regard to South Australia’s revenue is not a fair one. The Prime Minister pointed out that a revenue of £7,000,000 would give back to South ‘Australia more than she had collected in 1899 ; that a revenue of £7,25j0,000 would give back to Victoria all that she had collected in that year - of course he considered that such articles of general consumption as tea and kerosene would be subject to a duty - and that a revenue of £5,500,000 would be ample for New South Wales. Does not that show that as regards the great bulk of the people the Commonwealth we have raised more than sufficient revenue? If the Minister for Trade and Customs had gone on the argument that every penny of the revenue should go to the States, and that the taxation should be made as light as possible consistent with the needs of the . States, then he would have received support in many cases where he was opposed by many honorable members on this side. I object to the doctrine that because one of the smaller States happens to be short in its revenue we are to submit to a very large increase in the volume of taxation for Australia. Just consider the Ministerial proposal for a moment. The proportion of federal revenue collected in South Australia is roughly 10 per cent. In order to give .South Australia a further sum of £50,000 as the Minister for Trade and Customs suggests, extra taxation to the amount of half-a-million would have to be imposed on the Commonwealth, and in order to give Tasmania the additional sum of £35,000 which she requires, we should have to impose extra taxation to the amount of £1,000,00.0. I admit that, this is one of the difficulties in the way, but Ministers ignored it when they framed the Tariff, and I cannot agree to the proposal that because one State is short of what is required by her the whole Commonwealth should be taxed to make up the deficiency. If direct instead of indirect taxation were proposed, I am sure no honorable member would agree that because Tasmania required £35,000 the rest of the Commonwealth should be taxed to the extent of £965,000. I have the same objection to indirect taxation as to direct taxation if it is not necessary. Every penny taken from the community over and above what is necessary for the purposes of Government brings about evil consequences, and after the way in which Ministers have thrown away income in connexion with dozens of items, the committee are not called upon to support their present proposal. If they show a disposition to relieve the people of the burdens imposed by the Tariff, which will have the effect of diverting money from the general community into the pockets of particular classes, I shall be prepared to recast some votes, and to assist them in bringing about a system of taxation which, while being as moderate as possible, will yet yield to some of the smaller States more revenue than will the Tariff as at present framed.
– I hope that the committee has recovered from the effects of the excited harangue of the Minister for Trade and Customs. The right honorable gentleman was somewhat aggressive as usual, especially in his references to the representatives of Western Australia. The Minister seems to be always colliding with the unfortunate sliding scale, although that is a portion of the federal compact to which he was one of the assenting parties. If he had. an objection to the special Tariff which allows Western Australia to levy duties upon Inter-State imports, he should have taken a stand against it at the convention at which it was adopted. He is showing bad taste in continually bringing it up and reproaching Western Australians with displaying an unfederal spirit. What was the cause of this outbreak on the part of the Minister for Trade and Customs ? It was the reminder given by the honorable member for Perth that the Treasurer some time ago spoke of the duty now before the committee as being necessary for the maintenance of the Western Australian revenue. That is ridiculous, because the Western Australian Treasurer at this moment has a surplus of over £200,000, and the additional revenue is not in any way required. The Minister for Trade and Customs displayed gross ignorance of the estimates of his own colleague, the Treasurer, when he says that the special Tariff of Western Australia would yield some £660,000 per annum. It really only produces about £20,000 per month, or at the rate of £240,000 per annum.
– I did not say anything of the sort. I said that that was an estimate to which I did not subscribe.
– Why did the right honorable gentleman quote it if he did not believe in it ; what was the use of humbugging the House by quoting figures on which the right honorable gentleman could not rely himself ?
– It was the best estimate I had before me.
– How could that be? Has not the right honorable gentleman the Treasurer’s figures as to the actual revenue for five months, showing that the special Tariff has produced only about £20,000 per month? Is that not the best of evidence? Surely the honorable member does not need to be reminded by a layman that that is better evidence than the bogus estimate of a collector of customs made more than twelve months ago? The special Tariff in Western Australia has actually produced during the last five months only £20,000 per month, and yet the Minister tells the committee that it will yield £660,000 per annum. Why is the Minister always bringing up the Western Australian Tariff; why does he not look at the duties which are being imposed under the Federal Tariff? The revenue derived from duties on oversea products under the State Tariff of Western Australia rarely exceeded £600,000 per annum ; but the Federal Tariff will compel the people of Western Australia to pay about £1,200,000 in the shape of duties upon oversea goods, or at the rate of nearly £7 per head of the population.
– Doesthe honorable member say £600,000 was the largest amount collected on oversea goods under the State Tariff?
– Yes, I do say so.
– That shows that Western Australia derived £354,000 from the duties on Inter-State imports.
– Supposing she did; I am not speaking of what occurred ten years ago or five years ago, but of what we are deriving to-day.
– In 1897 Western Australia derived £476,000 from duties on Inter-State imports, if the duties collected on over-sea products amounted to only £600,000.
– And it was a good thing for South Australia that we took so much produce from her in our prosperous years.
– Western Australia did not forget to tax us to the extent of £500,000.
– But the South Australians did not pay the tax.
– It was collected upon their goods.
– The South Australians did not pay the tax; it was paid hy the people of Western Australia who consumed the goods. What I complain of is that the Minister is continually reproaching the people of Western Australia in connexion with this special Tariff, for which the honorable members representing that State are in no way responsible. The right honorable gentleman was a member of the Convention which sanctioned the compact, and he should have opposed it then if he had any objection to urge.
– Does the honorable member say that I supported the special Tariff in Western Australia ?
– I did not say that the right honorable gentleman supported it ; but I- never saw any record of the fact that he opposed it.
– I did my best to prevent its being increased, anyway.
– The honorable member was a party to the compact, and should respect it, and is not displaying good taste in referring to it now.
– I say I am, when the representatives of Western Australia want to deprive the other States of revenue similar to that which is guaranteed . to their State by the special Tariff.
– Does not the right honorable gentleman know that the special Tariff will disappear in a few years 1
– Why is it not removed at once 1
– It is not in our power to remove it. If the people of Western Australia choose to remove it they can do so ; but I deny the right of the Minister for Trade and Customs to tell them that they ought to do so. The Federal Tariff has practically doubled the taxation of the Western Australians upon imports from oversea. The special Tariff upon imports from the other States of the Commonwealth yields only £20,000 a month, whereas the Federal tariff yields over £100,000 per month.
– So that the honorable member makes out that Western Australia is deriving nearly £1,500,000 per annum from customs duties.
– The Treasurer’s figures based upon the revenue for five months, and his estimate for another three months, show that the Tariff will yield £1,100,000 odd.
– The honorable member’scalculation of £100,000 per month under the Federal Tariff, and £20,000 per monthfrom inter-State duties, would give a total of £1,444,000 per annum.
– If the right honorablegentleman takes the £1,100,000 odd which the Treasurer estimates will be derived under the Federal Tariff and adds it to the- £240,000 which will be derived under thespecial Tariff, he will ascertain approximately the total customs revenue of Western Australia. I am giving a fair average of the totalsfor which the Treasurer has already furnished returns - that is, up to the end of February. The Treasurer knows that my statement is not very far out when I say that thisFederal Tariff produced on oversea goods an amount for those months of nearly £100,000.
– Close on £100,000..
– I would suggest that theright honorable gentleman should instruct, his colleague the Minister for Trade and Customs in the correct use of figures, to save him from ridiculous interjections.
– I would advise the honorable member to learn to make use of Coghlan
– I do not want Coghlan when we have the returns of revenue submitted by the Government.
– About £90,000 is the average.
– Taking March ?
– No; without March.
– At any rate did not the right honorable gentleman say that the taxation of Western Australia through the Customs was going to be £7 per head ? What has become of his estimate of £3 17s. 7d. per head, of which he spoke last October? I sympathize with the position of South Australia, as explained by the Minister for Trade and Customs. I do not see that there is any great virtue in taxation of any kind,- whether direct or through the Customs. There is no merit in merely compelling people to pay taxes. I also admit that it is our duty to consider the financial position of the States. We shall not be true to the trust which has been reposed in us if we do not take into account their financial conditionin the taxation we impose through the Customs. It is no part of our duty, as far as I can see, to compel the States to resort I to direct taxation. The Minister for Trade and Customs has very clearly shown that the resources of South Australia, in the matter of direct taxation, are practically exhausted. I want to show those who are in favour of direct taxation that there is little or nothing to be obtained from that source in Western Australia.
– There is not a penny of land or income tax there.
– Does the honorable member know how much of the land of Western Australia has been alienated 1
– I know that the eyes have been picked out of the land long ago.
– That is very true. I do not say that it would not be possible to impose a land tax, but the amount derived from it would be a mere drop in the bucket. The position of Western Australia is that the bulk of its land is held by the Crown, which is prepared to make enormous sacrifices to induce people to take it up. What is the use of a land tax in a State where the people have to be subsidized in order to induce them to settle on the land ?
– There is a very large area undisposed of.
– Those who are in favour of direct taxation for Western Australia do not give a sufficient amount of consideration to the conditions of that State. Personally, I am in favour of direct taxation. I should be in favour of abolishing Customs taxation altogether if it could be done. But the position in Western Australia is that there is practically nothing to tax.
– There is more money made in Western Australia per head of the population than in any other State, and how much of it is taxed 1
– Is the honorable member not aware of the dividend tax 3 Every company that declares a dividend, pays 5 per cent, of the amount of the dividend to the State.
– It is the only direct taxation we have.
– I should be in favour of an income tax when it was necessary, but I want to show the committee that these duties are not required ; that Western Australia does not want this revenue; and when the Treasurer puts forward an appeal on the ground that Western Australia wants money, he is, whether purposely or otherwise, simply misleading himself and the committee.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney).- I am sorry that the Government have not seen their way clear to come to any other decision than that expressed in the whirlwind that the Minister for Trade and Customs has delivered. The right honorable gentleman has spoken of the necessity of standing by the pledges made in the Federal Convention, and that are implied in the Federal Constitution. Undeniably it was agreed that a certain scheme of finance should be entered into. But it does not reflect very much credit on the great financiers of Australia that they should have devised so monstrous a scheme. They themselves, when contemplating their own scheme in actual working, are aghast, and do not attempt to defend it. What are the facts ? The Minister for Trade and ‘ Customs has said that Tasmania and South Australia are on the brink of ruin, and that we must do something for them. He has pointed out that these States conduct their affairs economically. There is no question that they do. South Australia has reduced its Parliament and its Ministry almost to vanishing point. If that kind of economy be a virtue that State deserves encouragment. It has set an example to Australia that I am very much afraid the other States will be slow to follow. It is economy that resembles the case of the man who lived on 6d. a day and earned it. We read more of such examples in books than we meet them in actual life. Tasmania, we are told, is going one better. The only way I can think of going one better than South Australia would be to have only one Minister of the Crown, and one member of Parliament, and allow them to take it in turns to be that Minister. There would then be none of the wretched quibbling and divisions of opinion that have taken place in the past. The Minister has told us that these things have something to do with the matter under consideration. But they have nothing whatever to do with it. One would imagine that the Government had provided for the necessities of the smaller States, but the Treasurer knows very well that he contemplated leaving them with a deficiency each year. When the Treasurer made his financial statement he admitted that he contemplated this state of affairs, which he now calls atrocious. He estimated that Tasmania would receive for the month of March £29,000. The amount that State formerly derived was £41,465.
These figures show that the Treasurer contemplated leaving Tasmania with a deficit for that one month of about £12,000. That is to say, he contemplated leaving Tasmania with a deficit of £144,000 for the year. Now the right honorable gentleman says that if we reduce this duty Tasmania will be left with a deficit of £122,000. The reason why the right honorable gentleman’s original estimate has been falsified is simply because the Tariff produced more revenue than he anticipated. There was a difference between the Treasurer’s estimate and the actual receipts of £5,200 odd for the month of March.
– But the readjustment of Inter-State duties will alter that altogether. Tasmania will get £3,000 a month from Inter-State duties.
– I suppose that will alter the position of New SouthWales also ?
– It will alter the position of all the States.
– Will it make the position of New South Wales better or worse ?
– It will make her a little bit worse off.
– New South Wales is so “ jolly well off,” as has been said, that that is nothing. But Tasmania will suffer still more by this adjustment. Is not that provided for in the right honorable gentleman’s estimate?
– Yes ; but it is not provided for in the figures for the month of March, which the honorable member is quoting. About the middle of April we shall be able to make the adjustment.
– It is clear, however, that the Treasurer’s estimate provided for Tasmania being short by about £12,000 a month.
– Is that the State Treasurer’s estimate?
– No ; it is the right honorable gentleman’s own estimate as printed in this morning’s Age.
– They got their figures from us, but the notes are their own, and I am not responsible for them.
Mr.HUGHES.- The right honorable gentleman is not going to say that the press is wrong ?
– I feel sure that this is not one of the occasions. In any case the Treasurer cannot deny that his own estimate provided for Tasmania going short. His. estimate would also have left South Australia with a deficit on the year of £38,000. There is the statement.
– According to this statement, South Australia was to have a surplus of £47,000.
Mr. HUGHES. If South Australia was not facing a deficit why should there be this unnaturalattempt at economy?
– According to the Treasurer a surplus was to be provided.
– If the Government succeed in passing this duty they will obtain £40,000 additional revenue. Will that be sufficient to make Tasmania or South Australia solvent if they be insolvent now?
– It will help them.
– To what extent? If we knew that a man was going bankrupt for £10,000 and gave him a pound, that would only help him to buy a meal and then to purchase a revolver with which to shoot himself.It is an insult to a State, if it is bankrupt, to offer it such a pittance. According to the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, the remission of the duties on tea and kerosene would increase the deficit of Tasmania to over £140,000. Her share in the additional £40,000 proposed to be raised by this duty will be £2,000, less her quota of 25 per cent. to the Commonwealth, while South Australia will receive £3,000.
– The honorable member assumes that we deduct one-fourth from this amount. We do not do so.
– Then South Australia will receive £4,000, while Tasmania will obtain £2,000. That is to say two States will receive £6,000 revenue from this source, while the other States will be taxed quite unnecessarily to the extent of £34,000. When a proposal was made that this £6,000 should be lent to the States in question a cry was raised as if it were some idiotic suggestion. It was merely a proposal to lend them £6,000 at a reasonable rate of interest, which would amount to an annual charge of something like £300 on the finances of the Commonwealth.
– Long-dated bills?
– When the Treasurer comes down with his inevitable loan we shall not hear any talk of long-dated bills. They will be so dated that we shall not live to pay them ; our unfortunate posterity will have to foot the bills, and every one will say that it is magnificent finance. On the other hand, when it is suggested that instead of four of the States being taxed unnecessarily to the extent of £34,000, in order that two States may receive £6,000, it would be better to advance the £6,000 to the’ latter, it is said that such would be wildcat finance. I can only suppose that those gentlemen who were charged by an infatuated and foolish” nation with the duty of drawing up a scheme of finance for the Commonwealth were mad. We are told that “ those whom the gods love die young,” and that “ those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.” I can only assume that prior to their destruction these gentlemen were made financially mad. There never was. a scheme so utterly opposed, to all ideas of sound finance and so disastrous to the best interests of the nation as that provided for in the Constitution. It is impossible to find one man who would justify such a system. We have South Australia with a supposed deficit of some £40,000 caused by the remission of the duties on tea and kerosene, and ‘ it is proposed to impose additional taxation to the extent of £40,000 all over the Commonwealth in order that that State may receive 4,000. Even if she receives the amount named she will still have a deficit of £36,000, while New South Wales and other States which have already too much, will be loaded unnecessarily to the extent of £34,000. Is that the way in which to encourage good government ? Those who tax a nation . to a greater extent than is necessary do that which is calculated to corrupt and debauch that nation. With plenty of money it is possible to corrupt anything. It is unnecessary for me to give a better illustration than the condition of America ; and the difference between customs and direct taxation is in no wise more marked than in the fact that it is almost impossible to reduce a customs duty when the Government have a surplus, whereas in such circumstances a direct tax can be lessened. When America had customs taxation to a greater extent than was necessary, she had her coffers loadded with an abnormal quantity of coin. What did she do with it 1 She devoted it, amongst other things, to the creation of a pension fund, and contributed to the longevity of mankind to such an extent that pensioners who went into the civil war in the heyday of manhood and were tottering to their graves when they came out of it, are now in the vigour of their youth ; while others, who were dead before . the civil warstarted, now come up regularly for their pensions. I do not wish to say anything -against the Americans, for they have long recognised this accursed upas tree, but are unable to cut it down. The system has reared up an army of men who are at the bidding of any Government or party. A Government with ample funds at its disposal need never turn its attention to; good legislation so long as it attends to popular legislation. It need not bother about anything except squaring troublesome people and filling. the pockets of those who are inclined to open their mouths too wide. We require legislation to benefit the whole people, not because people in any one district want to loot the Treasury for a post-office tower, while others require something else. That is one of the kindergarten systemsof financial and political government. If under such circumstances a member wants anything for his constituency he obtains what he wants, a majority is secured for the complaisant Ministry, and everything is for the best in the best of all possible Parliaments. While I have a tongue to wag against, such a system I shall wag it. I believe that the system under which more revenue is collected than is required, and especially by means of Customs taxation, is wrong. It is impossible to decrease Customs taxation without striking a blow at vested interests, and directly an attempt is made, it is said- “ If you touch this duty you will destroy such and such an industry, and throw thousands into the streets.” Any one would imagine, from the cry that has been raised, that South Australia was in a worse position because we havestruck off the duties on tea .and kerosene ; that we have committed a breach of trust by lightening the burdens of the people therein this respect.’ But why should that be so ? Is a citizen of South Australia some beingwho is altogether alien to us, or is he not one of the very persons whom we are representing in this Parliament ? Am I not a representative of South Australia just as much as I am a representative of any other part of the Commonwealth 1 Undoubtedly I am. These men whom we are accused of’ ruining are those for whom I am seeking to do my best. To say that when I vote to strike off a duty of 3d. on every pound of tea they consume I do them a deadly wrong is the apotheosis of foolishness, yet we are told that because we have done this the people of South Australia are worse off than they were before. If they want to obtain more revenue, there is this unexploited residue upon which they can operate. Tlie sum of £40,000 to which reference has been made, is still in the pockets of tlie people there. It can’ be got at by means of direct taxation. In that way just as much taxation as is required may be imposed, and other States which are financial will not be compelled to bear taxation for their sakes. The municipal form of government is the best system so far as taxation is concerned, because no one in a municipality ever votes for an increase of rates for the purpose of any particular work without carefully thinking over it. He knows that if he builds a bridge or makes a road, he has to pay for it out of his own pocket, but when he is obtaining a road or a bridge from the good old Government, the position is altogether different. Under the system by which we govern all Australia, the people in the distant States do not realise that they pay for whatever they obtain from us. It has been said that the leader of the Opposition, during the debate on the Federal Convention, declared that it was a sacred duty that we should not allow the smaller States to become insolvent. It is one thing to contemplate a system which would make them insolvent, and another thing to be face to face with a system which will not make them insolvent, but may embarrass them financially. The right honorable gentleman at the head of the Opposition may have conceived a system of things which would absolutely make the smaller States insolvent, but the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, will not say that this system will make them insolvent. It will simply embarrass them temporarily. I am sure that lie will not say that the contemplated shortage will make Tasmania insolvent. It will simply embarrass her. It has been said that Tasmania did not haggle over entering into federation. I assume that she entered it like every other State, feeling that it would be best for all. She is called upon to make this sacrifice, and she knew that the demand would be made. Every citizen of Tasmania must have known, when the Commonwealth Constitution’ Bill was before the people, ^ that under its financial clauses it would be quite impossible to levy taxation which would absolutely secure that State. We were told in New South Wales that a £5,500,000 Tariff would make New South Wales secure. Now we are called upon to sacrifice ourselves to the extent of at least £3,500,000 per annum ; to submit to far more taxation than is necessary in order to se’cure the financial position of the smaller States. The Treasurer’s previous estimate for the year was £8,009,000. His revised estimate is 8,587,000, while he estimates that in a normal year the revenue will be £8,942,000. That is practically £9.000,000 sterling. The Treasurer has said that New South Wales is getting great benefit out of her enormous surplus, but I venture to say that if the New South Wales people had an opportunity of saying what they thought of this extraordinary “ gift of the gods “ we should hear a very different opinion expressed. If a vote were taken in New South Wales to-morrow the electors would return a large majority in favour of striking off this extra taxation. It is a queer way to benefit people by taxing them on everything they eat and drink. If the Federal Parliament owe a sacred duty to the States, who has best performed that duty - the Government or the Opposition ? According to the Treasurer’s statement, he proposes to leave some of the States with a shortage amounting to £140,000 per annum. Which side of the House is it which has put the States in a better position? To whom is due the fact that the revenue now is £1,000,000 in excess of what the Treasurer estimated. The Treasurer has been compelled to listen to the voice of wisdom - to realize that the committee is not of his way of thinking, “so far as taxation is concerned. Had the Treasurer been so ready to talk about the sacred duties of the States, say when machinery items were before us, we should not now be compelled to consider the unfortunate position of South Australia and Tasmania. The Treasurer will admit that if the Opposition had had their way there would have been no shortage, or, at any rate, that the shortage would not have been so great. At the eleventh hour the Treasurer comes down and says what the Opposition has said all along; but the Treasurer wishes to effect his purpose in such a way as will affect existing industries, embarrass some of the States to the extent of £140,000, and enlarge an already unduly swollen revenue in New South Wales, while doing no good, beyond giving £4,000 to South Australia, and £2,000 to Tasmania. Under the circumstances, I can only express the hope that the committee will not support the proposal of the Treasurer, but that the Government will accept the reasonable suggestion of a duty of 5 per cent. If the Treasurer really wishes to achieve simplicity, he can do so by adopting that suggestion. If he does not desire simplicity, let him leave things as they are. If the Treasurer wishes to carry out his idea of simplicity to its logical conclusion, let him put all cotton piece goods on the free list. I made that suggestion the other day, but the Treasurer has not even deigned to consider it ; and I know too much of politics to expect that, so long as a minority is behind me, the suggestion will be entertained. However, it annoys me to think that the Treasurer should speak about simplicity when, as a matter of fact, thereare other lines which have just as much right to be treated as cotton piece goods as have those before us, and yet that he should make no effort to consider them. I shall offer strenuous and continuous opposition to this and other lines, which the Treasurer proposes to reconsider, and whether he or I succeed, it will not be for want of a strong endeavour to imbue the right honorable gentleman’s Government with a little reason.
– I have endeavoured to arrive at the position of South Australia, to which State the discussion is, to some extent, directed. The Minister for Trade and Customs has, I think, over-coloured the case, so far as South Australia is concerned. The Treasurer’s revised estimate, introduced on 18th March, showed the revenue of South Australia to be £683,985.
– That included tea and kerosene.
– For 1900, which was the year prior to federation, the revenue from Customs was £639,004. That leaves a surplus in favour of South Australia of £44,981, and I have endeavoured to ascertain the loss which will follow the placing of tea and kerosene on the free list.
– Will the honorable member not first debit the share of federal expenditure?
– I shall do that also. I am at present dealing with this year.
– The honorable member should deal, not with this year, but with a normal year.
– I take this year because I think we ought to be accurate in our figures.
– What is the use of taking a solitary year ?
– We know that this is not a normal year. The revenue will be greater next year.
– It is a fairly normal year so far as South Australia is concerned. There was not so much loading up there.
– On some of the free lines I think there was just as much loading up in South Australia as elsewhere, and since the Tariff has been introduced goods have been held largely in bond. From the quarter dated 9th October to 31st January the revenue actually received from tea in South Australia was 10,755.
– That is not a fair way of calculating, because there might be holding back in the hope of tea being made free. That makes all the difference in the world.
– That was done to a great extent.
– There is a possibility that that was done, but the figures I have given are the actual revenue received. The item of oils was not divided, but the total amount received on this score for the same three months was £6,690, and the Treasurer took half of that as representing kerosene. Taking into account what would have been the returns from kerosene and tea over the remaining five months of this year, the figures I have given show a loss of £17,625 to South Australia. That leaves a surplus of £27,356, from which we have to deduct an estimated federal expenditure of £26,500. It will be seen that the surplus vanishes with the exception of £856. That is running very close to the line. When we were dealing with the item of tea, I made it clear that I could not see that South Australia could afford to lose the revenue from both tea and kerosene. I said that I should vote for tea being made free, but could not support a similar course with kerosene. The committee have, however, made both items free, thus involving a large item of revenue, and I shall give the State the benefit of the doubt and, upon this item, vote with the Government. I said onFriday that I should vote for a 5 per cent. duty, but after going into the figures, I shall support a duty of 7½ per cent. on the ground that it is better to be on the safe side. I understand that there is no legal bond between the States and the Federal Parliament as to how the former shall be left in connexion with revenue. But there is a moral obligation that the States shall not, if possible, be placed in a worse financial position than hitherto. It would not be in the interests of the Commonwealth to have any State deficiences as the result of the working of the Federal Parliament during the first year ; and I think I have made it clear why I am now going to vote for a duty of 7½ per cent.
– I do not wish to delay the division, but I cannot allow the remarks of the Treasurer and of the Minister for Trade and Customs to go uncontradicted. It has been said by the Treasurer that the members of the Ministry during the federal campaign did not estimate that less than £8,500,000 would be required for the purposes of the Commonwealth, but in a speech delivered by him to his constituents on the 13th April, 1898, and reported in the Age, he said -
It seems extraordinary to notice the divergence between the various estimates as to the revenue the Federal Treasurer will require. Mr. Reid puts it down at £7,500,000.
– That is too long to expect any one to be consistent.
– I do not expect the Government to be consistent, except in their inconsistency. But the people had a right to believe that they would not be misled by those in positions of high responsibility, such as the Treasurer then occupied.
– The revenues of the States have largely increased since 1898.
– The honorable members for North Sydney and South Sydney, and other honorable members, have admitted that when they were addressing their constituents in New South Wales they did not estimate the requirements of the Commonwealth at more than £7,500,000 per annum. We who fought, not against federation, but against the Federal Bill, pointed out that, considering the manner in which the financial clauses were framed, and the fiscal faith of the men who were likely to form the first administration, the amount would probably be much higher, because they would be ready to increase it to any extent to carry out the policy of protection in which they believed. Those on the Ministerial side of the Chamber, however, told the electors that the policy of the Government would be such that free-traders as well as protectionists could support it.
– So they have supported it. What about Brother Knox ?
-i leave him to defend his own actions. In view of the excuses which have been made for increasing the revenue, I should like the committee to listen to the following significant statement which was made by the Treasurer : -
I think it will be better to make a Tariff to suit the mainland colonies, the Federation to make up to Tasmania the £80,000 that State would be short by the Tasmanian basis not being adopted.
Those who advocated the adoption of the Federal Bill led the people to believe that £7,500,000 was all that would be required by the Commonwealth ; but, as I have stated, we, who opposed the Bill, were of a different opinion, and the recent election in Tasmania has shown that the people are beginning to realize that they were deceived, and that they are now thirsting for the opportunity to express their opinion upon the manner in which the affairs of the Commonwealth have been administered by the Government. Although the Treasurer admits that a large number of merchants are keeping their goods in bond in anticipation of the reduction or remission of duties, the actual returns of the revenue have largely exceeded the estimate which he made in October last. The actual receipts up to the beginning of October amounted to £2,146,753. From the beginning of October to 8th October they amounted to £361,000; from the 9 th October to the 28th February, to £3,339,117 ; and the estimated receipts for the quarter ending 30th June next are £2,750,000, or a total of £8,567,453 for the year. On 8th October, however, the Treasurer estimated that the receipts for the year would be £8,009,000, so that upon his own figures there would be a surplus of £578,453. But making the calculation upon the average receipts for the three months following the 8th October, and estimating what would have been received under the new Tariff during the three months following 30th June, the surplus for the twelve months will be seen to be nearly £700,000, and we have reason to believe that in a normal year the actual revenue will exceed the Treasurer’s estimate by over £1,000,000. During the discussion, however, he has made certain statements in regard to t the action of those who voted for the removal of the duties upon tea and kerosene. We told him at the time that if hb would agree to the remission of duties to a similar amount on mining and agricultural machinery, clothing, hats, boots and shoes, and other necessaries of life, we would vote for the proposed duty on tea ; but that we were determined to reduce the unnecessary taxation on tea unless more liberal treatment were given to the primary producers. The Treasurer, however, would not listen to that proposal.
– How could he do so and still meet the needs of the smaller States?
– I have just shown that the Treasurer is of opinion that it would be better for the Federal Government to make up any loss to the smaller States directly than to call upon all the people of the Commonwealth to pay increased taxation, and I quite agree with him.
– Out of what fund could such a payment be made ?
– Does not the honorable and learned member know that there is a provision in the Constitution which was framed precisely to allow this to be done ? We on this side would perhaps rather vote for a tax upon tea than upon some other articles, and we have succeeded in obtaining some very important reductions in the rates of duty upon other lines ; but notwithstanding these reductions the Government will, according to their own showing, obtain a surplus of £700,000 more than they expected to obtain for this year. Under these circumstances we are justified in objecting to the imposition of an additional £300,000 taxation. Honorable members know full well that, where duties which are practically prohibitory are reduced, the amount of revenue that is obtained from the articles upon which they are imposed is increased. Therefore it does not necessarily follow that a reduction of duty means a loss of revenue. That is shown by some of the Treasurer’s own figures. Notwithstanding the reductions which have
32 Q *
been made, the Treasurer is receiving more revenue than he anticipated. Take for instance the item of - timber. A large quantity was placed in bond, and in Victoria’ alone many thousands of pounds have been lost to the revenue. ‘ So it is with regard to other items. The Treasurer admits that the merchants abstained from paying the duty on certain articles in the hope that the duty would be reduced or repealed. In view of that fact we have no right to impose additional heavy burdens upon the people. I cannotunderstand the attitude of the Government.. After a severe struggle they unanimously agreed that certain items should be made duty free, but now they seek to impose a heavy tax on some articles. If the Government take this course in regard to cotton goods they must expect that honorable members will try to reduce the duties on other items. My opinion is that all cotton piece goods ought to come in dutyfree, as has been the case in Victoria and in two other States. Even in Queensland a duty of only 5 per cent, has been imposed. We realize that we have not a majority sufficiently liberal to the people of the Commonwealth to take that view, and therefore we areprepared to vote for a 5 per cent. duty. We believe that the Government would have quite enough revenue to meet the necessities of the case if no duty were imposed. I should not have risen but for the remarks of the Minister for Trade and Customs. We could not allow his speech to go uncontradicted. It is our duty to defend our position. We have heard” thetwo -Ministers at the table continually trying to make people believe that we havedone some terrible act in abolishing theduty on tea. If we are beaten in our efforts to take the duty off cotton piece goods, I shall vote for a 5 per cent. duty. I trust that honorable members will show sufficient liberality to the people of the Commonwealth, even at this late stage, to relieve them from heavy taxation.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).In pleading for South Australia’s revenue, the Minister for Trade and Customs was not justified in representing to- the committee that they have given to that State less revenue from customs duties than she had before. So far as we can judge up to the present, she is getting quite as much as she got previously, plus the expenses of federation, even with the tea and kerosene duties taken off. I shall avail myself of another opportunity to discuss her finances. “We have increased the duty on revenue items such as drugs and chemicals, glassware, oilmen’s stores, undressed timber, fancy goods, watches and clocks, musical instruments, and pipes. The duty on all these items has been increased 5 per cent. above the South Australian rate, so that necessarily they must bring in 5 per cent. more revenue. The excise duty on beer has been increased from 2d. to 3d., and the excise duty on spirits has been increased. Previously we had no excise duty on tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, or snuff, but now a heavy excise duty is imposed. The revenue from all these items is absolutely overlooked. In order to be fair, we must place before the public of South Australia the fact that we have been piling up burdens on them in the shape of revenue -duties. We were not sent in to pile up more burdens than they had previously borne. For that reason we have no excuse, so far as we can see now, for imposing on them further burdens in the shape of duties on articles which had hitherto been admitted free, when we recognise that we have obtained quite as much revenue from Customs taxation, notwithstanding the abolition of the tea and kerosene duties, as was previously obtained.
– Although I have collected a considerable amount of matter on the subject, I am satisfied to allow a division to be taken. We have “discussed the subject from every standpoint, and it is just about time that we came to a decision. I shall be satisfied, if the committee is willing to take a division now, to postpone my address to some other occasion.
Question - That the word “free,” proposed to be inserted, be so inserted - put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) put -
That the amendment be amended by the omission of the figures “ “ with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figure “5.”
Ayes … … … 25
Noes … … 24
Majority. … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
– In order to secure uniformity in regard to all these goods, and make them all subject to a duty of 5 per cent., I move -
That the following exemptions be omitted : - Cotton and linen piece goods, viz. : - Plain white or unbleached, Italians, Silesias, n.e.i., pocketings, flax paddings, buckrams, French canvas, wick, lamp and candle, and on and after 10th December, 1901, prints, bookbinders’ cloth, label cloth, vellum cloth.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the word “ duck “ be inserted after the word “canvas,” in the exemption “Canvas, hessians, and brattice cloth.”
– When we were dealing with the proposed new item relating to bags and sacks, it was agreed that we should not fix the duty until we had decided the rate to be levied upon goods forming the raw material used in the manufacture of bags. As we have reduced the duty on the raw material by 2½ per cent., we suggest a similar reduction upon our original proposal, making it 12½ instead of 15 per cent. I therefore move -
That the following new item be inserted : - “ 57a. Bags and sacks, calico, hessian, linen, and meat wraps, whether partly or wholly made, ad valorem 12½ per cent.”
– In view of the reduction of the duty upon the raw material, I think it would be fair to fix the duty on bags and sacks at 10 per cent. I find that in connexion with wheat and flour bags, half-sacks cost about 3s. per dozen, and the duty of 15 per cent. on 3s. would amount to 5½d. per dozen bags. Twenty half-sacks are required to bag one ton of flour, and the duty would amount to a tax of 9d. upon every ton of flour. The cost of wheat bags would be so increased as to represent a tax of3-16ths of a penny upon every bushel of wheat bagged in halfsacks. Quarter-sacks are valued at 2s. 8d. per dozen, and a duty of 1 5 per cent. would represent 4.8 pence per dozen, or at the rate of1s. 4d. for every ton of flour, and 5-16ths of a penny for every bushel of wheat bagged. These figures, I think, are sufficient to show that the duty is too high, and I thereforemove -
That the amendment be amended by the omission of the words “12½per cent.” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ 10 per cent.”
-I suggest that the Treasurer should agreeto reduce the duty to 10 per cent., which will afford a sufficiently wide margin for protective purposes between the raw material and the manufactured article.In this case there is no question of the sacrifice of revenue to any appreciable extent, and the Treasurer would save time and avoid a lot of useless discussion by agreeing to the amendment.
– I think that, I am being asked to go too far. We proposed a duty of 15 per cent. upon the manufactured article, and 7½ per cent. upon the raw material. That would have afforded a protection of 7½per cent to those engaged in bag-making, but now I am being asked to reduce the protection to 5 per cent. If the committee wish to act fairly they will reduce the duty upon the manufactured articles so as to retain the same margin as was first provided for.
Question - That the amendment be amended by the omission of the figures “ 1 2½,” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “ 10”- put.
The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 26
Noes … … … 23
Majority … …3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
New item, as amended, agreed to.
– I should like to propose to insert after the word ““linen “the word “canvas.” Canvas bags are largely used in North Queensland.
– The honorable member cannot do that now. He has lost his opportunity.
Special exemptions….. Bags and sacks, viz., bran, corn, flour, potato, onion, gunnies, ore, sugar bags and mats, woolpacks, bandages, elastic stockings, surgical…..
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) proposed -
That the words “flour,” “gunnies,” “bags, and “ be omitted.
– What will this amendment mean’? After the committee has decided that 5 per cent. is to be the margin between the raw material and the manufactured article, it would not be right to give a larger margin in other cases.
– This means that all the big bags will be free - the flour bags, the millers’ bags, and so on.
– The object of the amendment of the Treasurer is to strike gunnies out of the exemptions.
– I understand that the word “gunny” is a generic term, covering all the bags that come here from Calcutta. The word should not, therefore, be used here.
– These exemptions were inserted by the committee, because otherwise the articles mentioned would come under the 25 per cent. duty.
– The intention of the amendment is to bring them under the 10 per cent. duty.
– I question whether that object will be attained. During the adjournment for dinner I have had an opportunity of consulting the Treasurer, and I think that the’ confusion which is likely to result in bags not specially named being charged 25 per cent. is due to the omission of the letters “ n.e.i.,” the item being framed on lines which require their presence.
– If we insert “ n.e.i.” the difficulty will be met.
– Yes ; it will prevent the bags to which I refer being charged 25 per cent. duty.
– No one desires to do that ; at a later stage I will make the necessary amendment.
– I think it would be very much better to allow all these articles to remain in the exemption list. The obvious intention was that these bags should all be exempt.
– Not flour bags.
– A large quantity of flour is put up in corn sacks.
– We cannot avoid that difficulty ; but there are flour bags of a particular description.
– I cannot see what purpose is served by making a distinction between bags in which flour and wheat are put up. I believe it is understood that gunnies are a coarser kind of bag in which it has always been the custom in some parts of the Commonwealth to pack potatoes.
– Potato and onion bags will still be free.
– Then why strike out the word “ gunnies? ”
– Because the word “gunnies “ includes something more than potato and onion bags.
– That is so.
– Then, as to the words, “ sugar-mats and bags,” why not allow the words “ and bags “ to remain ? No doubt there is some deep design underlying the proposal to omit them.
– Those words were inserted late one afternoon when the committeewere in considerable confusion, and itwas admitted subsequently that a mistake had been made.
– Ordinarily sugar is put up in mats ; if it were put up in bags those bags would be dutiable.
– Bags imported for the purpose of being used for the packing of sugar will be dutiable.
– I do not see the sense of the propsal. It seems to me to be at the best a pettifogging arrangement to sweep into the meshes of the Tariff things which might very well be left out. I hope the Treasurer will save time by allowing the words to remain as they stand. At all events in order that we may have an intelligent and discriminative vote on this question I would ask that the three items be put separately.
Amendment amended accordingly.
Question - That the word “flour” proposed to be omitted, stand partof the exemption - put.
In division -
– I desire to withdraw my call for a division.
– On a point of order I desire to ask when it is permissible to withdraw a call for a division? The tellers have been appointed, and I submit that it is now too late for the right honorable member to withdraw his call. My only desire in raising the point is to ascertain up to what time a call may be withdrawn.
– Strictly speaking, it is not in order to withdraw a call for a division ; but with a view of facilitating business and conserving time, I have at all times, with the concurrence of the committee, allowed a call to be withdrawn. If an honorable member desires at any stage to save time by withdrawing his call for a division, and the whole of the committee give their concurrence, the committee are surely their own masters. I will take an instruction on the point. If the committee desire me to rule strictly in accordance with the standing orders, then once a division is called for it must be proceeded with, and the call cannot be withdrawn. I think, however, that that is not their desire. I believe it to be their desire that time should be saved, and when an honorable member, having called for a division, asks to be allowed to withdraw the call, and the committee give their concurrence to its withdrawal, the wish of the committee should be given effect to.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– I am quite sure that calls for a division have always been allowed to be withdrawn for the purpose of expediting business ; but perhaps in future, after the tellers have been appointed, we might observe the rule strictly and allow the division to proceed.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) proposed -
That the word “ gunnies “ be omitted.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- As the list of exemptions stands at present, there is no duty on gunnies ; but there is very grave doubt as to whether gunnies will fall under the 10 per cent. heading or under the 25 per cent. heading if the amendment be agreed to.
– The honorable member for North Sydney raised a question, and I did not think there was any doubt that the duty would be 10 per cent. But to prevent any question, I promised to take care that a new line was put in making the duty 10 per cent., and not 25 per cent.
Question - That the word “ gunnies” proposed to be omitted, stand part of the exemption - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 21
Noes ………. 30
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the words “and bags “ be omitted.
– I move -
That the following exemptions be added : - “Leggings, knee-caps, thigh-pieces, and wristlets.”
These articles are of a similar character to surgical elastic stockings ; they are made in exactly the same way and used for the same purpose.
– These articles are made in New South Wales and Victoria.
– I am advised that they are not made in any of the States.
– It would be as well to specify that these leggings are surgical leggings ; otherwise ordinary leather goods may be admitted free.
– The word “surgical,” which appears in the exemption list, would apply to these articles also.
– Is this amendment accepted by the Government ?
– I suppose we shall have a protectionist pointing out that the use of these articles employs doctors, who in turn employ somebody else, and that in time we shall have a local wooden-leg industry. We ought to accept the suggestion of the honorable member for Laanecoorie, who can speak with some authority on this subject. When men are ill they are deprived of the means of earning a livelihood, and at such a time they ought not to be taxed.
– Will the words of the amendment be inserted before the word “ surgical “ or at the end of the exemptions 1 The meaning ought to be made quite clear.
Mr. SALMON (Laanecoorie). - I should like to amend the amendment by moving that the words “ leggings, knee-caps, thighpieces, and wristlets “ be inserted after “ elastic stockings “ and before the word “surgical.” That will make the meaning quite clear.
Amendment amended accordingly.
– It is in favour of the amendment that elastic stockings are already included in the free list ; but these stockings were made free by mistake. We did not know at the time that these articles were manufactured in Victoria and New South Wales. It does not follow that because people want these appliances in times of accident, they should not pay for them, and thus encourage a local manufacture which will be of advantage to the community. Under the circumstances we do not see why we should make the exemption proposed.
– This means a duty of 25 per cent., and these articles ought to be free, or as nearly free as possible.
Amendment agreed to.
Item 56. - Apparel and attire, and articles n.e.i., not containing wool or silk, partly or wholly made up (not being piece-goods), including articles cut into shape, ad valorem, 20 per cent. ; and on and after 5th December, 1901, 25 per cent. ad valorem.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- Under the Tariff, as it stands, cotton and linen handkerchiefs are charged a duty of 25 percent.; but I wish to have them treated as cotton and linen piece-goods, upon which the committee have fixed the rate of’ 5 per cent.
– The Government are willing to make the duty upon them. 15 per cent.
– I consider that too high ; but, to save time, I am willing to agree to a duty of 10 per cent. Perhaps it’ would meet the convenience of the committee if we were to review the whole item, and fix a duty of 15 per cent. upon all articles made of linen. Pieces of damask tablecloth, some of which were admitted duty free, others at 10 per cent., and others at 25 per cent., were shown to the committee some time ago, between the materials of which our inexperienced eyes could detect no difference, except that some were partially hemmed. I think that there should be uniformity in these matters. I move -
That the following new line be added : - “ Towels and handkerchiefs, made of cotton or linen, ad valorem 15 per cent.”
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to
Apparel and textiles. Special exemptions.
– I move -
That the following exemption be added : - “Printers’ blanketing.”
This amendment is moved to remove what seems to be an anomaly. It has been pointed out to me that printers’ blanketing in the large piece is subject to 15 per cent. duty, but that if it is imported in small pieces it comes under the head of cotton and linen piece goods at 5 per cent. From the protectionists’ point of view it is a ridiculous distinction to impose a lower duty on the so-called manufactured article than on the big piece. I think the Treasurer will see his way to accept my amendment. There is an anomaly, and it ought to be rectified.
– There is no anomaly, because all the goods are dutiable at 1 5 per cent.
– Blanketing is subject to a duty of 15 per cent., but does the Treasurer say that some of these goods are not subject to a duty of 5 per cent?
– No; unless they are cotton or linen goods.
Item agreed to.
Item 63. - Parasols, &c., . . . 30 per cent. advalorem.
– When we were dealing with the subject of umbrellas and parasols some confusion arose with regard to umbrella sticks and handles mounted and unmounted. Handles that were not mounted in any shape or form were exempted from duty ; but as nearly all handles have some mounting upon them it was thought that it would be wiser to do away with any distinctions which might lead to trouble in administration, and make all handles and sticks and what are called “fit-ups” subject to a duty of 10 per cent. This will be practically a revenue duty, but as those engaged in the umbrellamaking industry enjoy a fair amount of protection, I think we may fairly ask them to pay the duty now proposed. I move -
That the following new line be inserted : - “ Parasol, sunshades, and umbrella handles, sticks and fit-ups, whether mounted or not, ad valorem 10 per cent.”
– I have taken some interest in this question, and have made representations to the Customs authorities regarding it, because I consider that the duty now proposed is too high. I therefore move -
That the amendment be amended by the omission of the figures “10” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figure “5.”
– I trust that the proposal of the Government will be accepted, as it will facilitate administration. I understand that in one State 20 per cent. duty has been charged uponumbrella handles and sticks, whilst in other cases they have been admitted free of duty. I should like to know whether fit-ups and sticks that are in the rough will be admitted free of duty.
– All sticks and fitups, whether in the rough or finished, will be dutiable under my proposal.
– I think that handles, sticks, and fit-ups in the rough should be admitted free.
– I hope the Treasurer will accept the amendment. It would be impossible to impose any such duty as would give this particular trade all the protection it desires, and I think, moreover, that a 5 per cent. duty will yield as much revenue as would the higher rate proposed by the Government.
– All these sticks must be imported, and we may as well impose a duty of 10 per cent. upon them.
– I am astonished at the attitude-assumed by the right honorable member for Tasmania. A few nights ago he was bewailing the position in which Tasmania would be placed owing to the abolition of the duty on tea and the reduction of other duties, while now he is refusing a revenue duty of 10 per cent.
– We are not going to live upon the duties levied upon a few umbrella sticks.
– Some of these sticks are extremely valuable. W e do not know whether the right honorable gentleman is interested in the matter, but it is rather suspicious-
– I rise to a point of order. I should like to know what the honorable member seeks to imply. I am not a manufacturer of umbrellas, and I am not an importer of umbrella-sticks or handles, nor have I anything to do with the importation of these goods. I hope, therefore, that the honorable member will not infer that my voice is raised or my vote given merely to promote any personal interests.
– I withdraw, and sincerely apologize to the right honorable gentleman. Of course, I only meant that he was generally interested, as we all are, in umbrellas upon a rainy day. I think we might very well support the duty of 10 per cent.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - The only doubt I have about voting for this duty arises from the fact that it may be used as an argument elsewhere in support of a duty of 30 per cent. upon umbrellas.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the following exemption be omitted : - “And on and “after 7th December, . 1901, handles not containing gold or silver.”
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 63. - Piece goods, namely : - Woollen . . * . ad valorem,* 15 per cent. Coatings, vestings, trouserings, n.e.i….. ad valorem, 15 per cent.
– I move -
That the following new line be added : - “ Cotton hosiery, ad valorem 10 per cent.”
Prior to the Federal Tariff cotton hosiery was admitted free of duty into New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia, whilst in South Australia there was a duty of 10 per cent., and in Queensland and Tasmania 25 per cent. Consequently, so far as three of the States are concerned, the reduction of the duty will not in any way interfere with any established industry, otherwise I should be one of the last to move in the matter. I believe that since the duty of 25 per cent. was imposed a number of samples of cotton hosiery, and I refer only to socks and stockings, have been produced in South Melbourne and Richmond by the aid of machinery formerly used in connexion with the manufacture of woollen hosiery. Nonew machinery has been introduced, nor has any new industry been established, and I am informed that considerable difficult)’ would be experienced in establishing the cotton hosiery industry on a sound basis. The policy of the Government has been to avoid the destruction of existing industries, and I have always supported that principle,but in this matter there is no local industry to be considered.
I am told that the duty presses very heavily on the socks and stockings largely used by the poorer classes, and that the effect has been to raise the price of cotton socks from 6d. to 8d. per pair. Already, through the duty, cotton hosiery has gone up 33 per cent., and the traders, who pay 27½ per cent. duty, must have some profit on their outlay. That is, a 6d. pair of stockings or socks is now 8d.
-Who pays that?
– What is the use of the honorable member asking such a question as that? This is a revenue duty. There is no local production in the article, although a few samples have been produced.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports says they can make them here.
– I am not responsible for anything he says. I am simply placing before the committee the information at my disposal.
– I support the amendment. If I thought that the imposition of a duty would succeed in establishing a large industry in the manufacture of cotton hosiery here, I should be very glad to support the duty ; but I feel that a very heavy duty would be required to make the industry permanent, and a duty of that kind would press very severely upon those who would have to pay more for their goods. Cotton socks and stockings are not good things to wear in a country such as this, but a great many people are unable to get any others, and we should not for the problematical chance of establishing an industry tax the people in regard to these very necessary articles. I understand that the honorable and learned member for Bendigo confines his attention to socks and stockings only, because the word “ hosiery “ in its general application is very wide indeed, and applies to underwear of various kinds. Of course, if socks and stockings are mentioned no mistake can be made.
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra). - I am convinced that if the duty is left as it stands, there will be an extensive industry for the making of hosiery. I know of two large factories in the constituency I represent, and of another in the constituency represented by the honorable member for Southern Melbourne.
– Employing two girls and a man.
– If the honorable member will come with me I will show him places where there are hundreds of girls working. I admit that they are making woollen hosiery at present, but they have turned out dozens of samples of cotton hosiery, believing that it was the intention of the committee to leave the duty at 25 per cent. Cotton hosiery is extensivelyworn during the summer months, especially by the poorer portion of the community, and, if the duty is allowed to stand, it will make the trade regular all the year round. The figures supplied to me show that the hosiery turned out by these firms will be able to be sold retail at 6d. per pair. The work will be done here and we can legislate as we like as to the conditions under which the work will be done.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - I find myself in an embarrassing position. I have to support a proposal made by one ardent protectionist, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, and supported by another equally ardent protectionist, the honorable member for Echuca. My embarrassment arises out of the fact that I support the amendment for entirely different reasons from those which probably actuate them, although the honorable member for Yarra has completely contradicted their statement as to the local manufacture of this hosiery. It does not signify whether the hosiery is manufactured here or not. We have to fix a fair duty. These articles are necessaries of life, and if we impose a duty of 10 per cent. upon them we shall have fulfilled our duty to the public and to the revenue.
– I sincerely hope that the amendment moved by the honorable and learned memberfor Bendigo will not be carried. He has laid down rather an extraordinary doctrine in saying that as there is noexisting industry for the manufacture of this hosiery we should not impose a protective duty. We want to know what are the latent possibilities of the industry. Those who are engaged in the manufacture of hosiery have given sufficient indication to show that they are capable of manufacturing and supplying the local demand for cotton hosiery. Consequently this is emphatically not a revenue duty, buy a protective duty. There is undoubtedly a large possibility for the industry here. Money has already been invested in it; and manufacturers are prepared to go on with it. It has been said that there is no plant for the manufacture of cotton hosiery, and that what has been made has been turned out from the woollen machines. That is perfectly correct, but if the plant is fit to turn out cotton hosiery, is it not right that we should give summer and winter work to those who are engaged in the industry? The manufacture of cotton hosiery supplies a winter demand for a summer commodity. It is admitted that samples have been manufactured. I have supplied the honorable and learned member for Bendigo with price lists that show that these samples can be supplied at 6d. per pair. Thus the price will not be increased one iota to the consumer. This is an instance in which a protective duty will cheapen the article.
– It is very amusing to hear protectionists like the honorable member for Southern Melbourne arguing on the one side, and the honorable and learned member for Bendigo on the other. It should be remembered that there are woollen mills in Victoria as well as cotton weaving-machines for the making of hosiery. In the first place, the raw material for the manufacture of cotton hosier comes in free, whilst woollen yarns are taxed at 10 per cent., and woollen hosiery is taxed at 25 per cent. Where does the fairness come in of allowing cotton hosiery to enter at 10 percent. , whilst woollen hosiery is taxed at 25 per cent.? Nine-tenths of the people of the Commonwealth wear woollen hosiery, or woollen mixed with cotton. I should be quite prepared, if the honorable and learned member for Bendigo would agree to vote for 10 per cent. on woollen hosiery, to support him in this amendment, but we should not make fish of one and fowl of another. If manufacturers can make cotton hosiery here with woollen hosiery machines, more power to them. I should like to see 20 or 30 of such factories in the Commonwealth. But why should this industry require to be spoon-fed? The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has admitted that since the 25 per cent. duty was imposed, the price of socks has gone up by 2d. a pair.
– There is no local production.
– Is it to be supposed that the local production of hosiery will bring down the price from8d. to 4d.? If the local competition would have that effect, it would be a good thing to make the duty 50 per cent., which by the .same reasoning ought to bring down the price to 2d. $er pair. If we had a ring fence all round Australia, we should, I suppose, be able to get everything for nothing, and give the purchaser a coupon entitling him to obtain gratis a new pair of drawers, or a new bedstead, for using the things. That is how the protectionist argument ought to pan out if it were true. If cotton hosiery comes in at 10 per cent., woollen hosiery should also come in at 10 per cent.
– I am quite in accord with the honorable member in his desire that woollen hosiery shall be admitted free or at as low a rate as possible. We are not dealing with woollen hosiery at this stage, but that is no reason why we should allow cotton hosiery to remain at 25 per cent., when there is a possibility of reducing the duty to 10 or 15 percent. Cotton hosiery is used very largely by the poorer classes of the community, who can least afford to subsidise the factories which we are told will be established under these high duties. If it were true, as contended by some’ honorable members who favour protection, that the effect of this duty would be to reduce the cost, and that the higher the duty the lower the cost of the articles to the consumer, I should be in favour of placing a prohibitive duty on these articles. Experience shows, however, that the manufacturers grind out their profits between the upper millstone of as much as they can get from the consumer and the lower millstone of paying as little as possible to their workmen for the production of the article. I do not believe that the mere imposition of a duty is going to reduce the cost of the articles affected. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has shown by communications he has received from commercial men dealing in these goods that the present duty, instead of reducing the cost of the article to the consumer, has increased the price, those who require cotton hosiery having to pay 8d, instead of 6d. per pair. I heartily support the honorable and learned member for Bendigo.
– As the result of inquiries made by me I am under the impression that these goods are not being manufactured here, and in view of the fact that they are used by the poorer classes, I have made up my mind to support the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. If I could be assured that they were being successfully manufactured here, and that they could be sold at anything like the price of the imported article, I should support the duty ; but my opinion is that this is merely a revenue duty, and that 10 per cent, will be sufficient.
– Before the Tariff was introduced these goods were free, and were not being made here ; but since the introduction of the Tariff, I have been shown samples of hosiery made here. Surely if samples can be made a quantity can be turned out ?
– Has. the Minister been informed of the price at which they can be produced locally ?
– Yes. My information is that they can be produced at 4Jd. per pair, and sold retail at 6d. per pair.
– That is denied.
– I have no personal experience, but that is the information which has been conveyed to me. I submitted the samples to a fairly good expert, who said they were really excellent articles. We are not to refuse to place a reasonable duty on these goods, simply because they were not being manufactured when the Tariff was introduced. If we can encourage their manufacture by the imposition of a reasonable duty as well as preserve existing manufactures, I think we should do so. It seems to me that the advantage of our proposal is this : Woollen hosiery is made at a certain time of the year, and for the rest of the year the persons engaged in that particular work have to remain idle or to seek employment in some other direction. If they have a reasonable amount of protection they will be able to manufacture the cotton and woollen goods on the same machines. If they can manufacture woollen hosiery I fail to see why they should not be able to manufacture cotton hosiery, and if there is a reasonable amount of competition, no doubt prices will be kept down. The yarn used for cotton hosiery if imported, is liable to a duty of 10 per cent, and if the duty on cotton hosiery were fixed at 25 per cent., the local manufacturers would have a margin of 15 per cent. On reconsideration, I admit that 25 per cent, is too high a duty to impose, but on the other hand that 10 per cent, would be too low. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo might be satisfied with a duty of 15 per cent., which would give a reasonable amount of protection.
– I am prepared to accept that proposal.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).It is rather amusing to hear the different statements made by honorable members who happen to represent protectionist interests. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo was very candid with the committee. He gave ns the truth, and I am sorry that it was not placed before the committee on previous occasions when similar proposals were under consideration. He admitted fairly that the effect of the present duty has been to raise the cost of the article to the users by about *30 per cent.
– That is so in every case until there is a large local production.
– Unfortunately our protectionist friends will not always admit that. They continually tell us that the effect of a duty on an article is to lessen the cost of that article to the consumer.
– But what are the users to do while these large industries are being established? If we retain the present duty I am afraid that many will have to go without socks. I support the proposal that the duty be 10 per cent., and I regret that a similar view of the position was not taken before we imposed the heavy duty oh hats and caps and boots.
– This is one of the many instances we have had of a section of the committee quietly submitting itself to the manufacturers. We are asked absolutely to bow down to and accept the assertions of any single manufacturer in Australia, and to follow the course desired by him.
– Does not that apply equally to importers ?
– That is a different thing altogether. If an importer comes to this committee and asks that some article be admitted free, is his request granted? No. His statement that if the article is allowed to come in free he will sell it at a lower price than that which has prevailed under the duty is certainly not accepted.
– It is by the Opposition.
– Not the statement of a single importer. In this case we have a single manufacturer coming to certain honorable members of this committee, and saying - “We do not make these cotton goods. AVe have had woollen knitting machinery by us, and could have made these cotton goods long ago ; but we have not done so, although we might with advantage to ourselves when there was no demand for woollen hosiery. We have been unable to do so in competition with the imported article, notwithstanding that we have enjoyed the advantage of having the machinery in .position and lying idle at certain times. If you only exclude all competition we will not only produce these articles, but sell them at a lower rate than that charged for the imported goods. Remove the competition and we will compete ; but as long as there is competition we are not going to compete.” That is the present position, and it has frequently occurred. It is most extraordinary that any one manufacturer, whether in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, or elsewhere, can come to this committee with a single statement of which there cannot be proof - because what he says will occur has not yet occurred - and can induce the committee to provide a profit for him by imposing a duty on the people of Australia. The honorable- member for Bendigo chooses to desert his 10 per cent, proposal, but I shall certainly vote for the reduction of the duty to that extent. If the manufacturers have the machinery by them, and there is part of the year during which they are not engaged full time in the manufacture of woollen hosiery, owing to the absence of any demand for it, then a duty of 10 per cent, shuld surely be amply sufficient. A duty of 10 per cent, would shut out competitors, and they would not have the opportunity which would be open to them if the duty remained at 25 per cent. - but of which, of course, they would not take advantage - of putting up the price of the articles to the full extent of 25 per cent.
– Our experts tell us that the word “ hosiery “ includes a great many things with which the honorable and learned member for Bendigo does not wish to deal, and I therefore ask him to agree to his amendment being amended by the substitution of the words “ socks and stockings” for the word “ hosiery.”
– I have no objection. The principal object of my amendment was to free socks and stockings.
Amendment (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -
That the word “hosiery” be omitted, with a view to insert, in lieu thereof, the words “socks and stockings.”
– I submit that the amendment is an important limitation of the original proposal. “ Hosiery” is a wide term, which may mean a great deal more than the amendment of the Minister for Trade and Customs, and I submit that the right honorable gentleman is not in order in submitting that amendment.
– The Chairman has never ruled that we cannot limit an amendment.
– If the Minister wishes to omit any words he can have an opportunity later on by moving a recommittal.
– The honorable member for Parramattahas admitted that the amendment is in order by saying that it means reducing the proposal of the honorable member Bendigo. It would be quite competent to exempt everythingbut socks and stockings, or to add after “ hosiery “ the words “ being socks and stockings “ ; and therefore I submit that the amendment is quite in order.
– We might as well hear from the honorable member for Bendigo what he meant by the term “ hosiery.”
– In submitting the amendment, I distinctly limited the word “ hosiery “ to socks and stockings which are used by the poor people.
TheCHAIRMAN.- I think the amendment is relevant to the question, and therefore quite in order.
– Does the Chairman rule that the only test of whether an amendment on a recommitted item is in order is relevancy ? It has been ruled previously that these recommitted items may not be departed from ; and here there is a wide departure.
– I gave my ruling in very few words with the object of conserving the time of the committee. It is the right of the committee at all times to reduce a proposal, and the effect of the amendment is to reduce.
– The honorable member for Macquarie said that most men wear socks. I knew an American statesman, Jerry Simson, of Kansas, who was known as the “ sockless member “ ; but he was sent to Washington and he made a good statesman. I see nothing in the wearing of socks.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) negatived -
That the amendment be amended by omitting: the figures “10” with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “ 15.”
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
– I do not intend to proceed with an amendment of which I have given notice to the effect that the duty on woollen piece goods, or goods containing wool, n.e.i., be 20 per cent, ad valorem. I regret to have to withdraw the amendment, but Ifind that I cannot get the numbers necessary to carry it, so that it would only be wasting the time of the committee to proceed further.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- When the committee decided on the duty of 15 per cent, on coatings, vestings, trouserings, n.e.i., flannels and flannelettes, it was understood by most honorable members that it had reference only to woollen goods. I find, however, that not only have cotton tweeds been charged the duty, but also moleskin trouserings, although the latter are specifically mentioned amongst cotton and linen piece goods n.e.i., which were rated free from the 4th December. That would seem to be an extremely forced interpretation of the Tariff. Cotton tweed ought to come in at the same rate as other cotton piece goods.
– Would they not come in as cotton or linen piece goods ?
– No ; they are charged 15 per cent, as coatings, vestings, and trouserings ; but, as they are cotton goods, I think they should be charged at the rate which applies to cotton and linen piecegoods. I move -
That after the letters “ n.e.i.” the words “ not being cotton or linen “ be inserted.
Of course, if these tweeds are mixed with wool, they will be charged at the rate applicable to woollen goods, but if they are purely cotton, they should be charged at the rate applying to cotton goods. ‘
– The Customs officials feel strongly upon this matter, not because of the amount of revenue involved, but because of the imposition upon the public.
– What is the amount of revenue involved ?
– I think it would be covered by £5,000. I will read part of the report which I have received on this subject from one of my officers - “Coatings, vestings, and trouserings, n.e.i.,” practically means the articles specified, when made of cotton in imitation of woollen tweeds, serges, &c. Much German cotton tweed is imported which is so much like the woollen tweed of Australia in pattern and finish that only an expert can distinguish the difference. The invoice price of such is very low - about 8d. per yard. It is made up here into ready-made suits, and having the same appearance as wool, comes into serious competition with it. Woollen manufacturers say that the patterns of Australian tweeds are sent to Germany for imitation.
– Is it not ,a fact that the Customs department is now charging 15 per cent, upon all moleskin which can be used as trouserings 1 I. am informed that it is so.
– I shall be delighted to look into the matter. I do not think it should be dealt with in that way, although I. do not like to express a definite opinion upon matters of administration until I have heard from my officers exactly what they are doing, and the reasons for their action. The duty which the honorable member wishes to reduce was imposed to protect the manufacturers of woollens and the public against fraud, and, therefore, I ask the committee not to extend to the importers of cotton tweeds a mercy which they do not deserve.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - I think that the honorable member for Bland should be satisfied - that the Minister for Trade and Customs will take such steps as will prevent duty being charged upon articles at a rate at which it was not intended that they should be taxed.
– The Minister promised to make inquiry in regard only to moleskins.
– That appears to me to be the only article in regard to which we should show any concern. Coatings and trouserings made of cotton in imitation of wool are a fraud on the public which both free-traders and protectionists - especially free-traders - should do their best to prevent.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I think that the amendment is one which should be carried. These goods are invoiced as what they are - as cotton goods - and they should be charged duty accordingly.
– But the retail purchasers do not see the invoices.
– I am afraid that we cannot help that. We have no power to pass an Adulteration Act. Besides, in nineteen cases out of twenty these goods are sold as exactly what they are. If a man goes into a shop and wants to buy a certain length of tweed, he is told that one kind of tweed is a’ certain price, but that if he wants a woollen tweed he must pay more for it. In some shops deception may be practised, but the great bulk of the people conduct their business honestly.
– In 99 cases out of 100 a man simply says, “ I want a suit of clothes,” and he does not ask what the material is made of.
– And he certainly could not tell whether it was cotton or. woollen.
– There are a dozen easy ways of detecting the difference between cotton and linen tweed goods. I guarantee that if a piece of tweed containing a mixture of cotton and wool were placed before me I could separate every bit of cotton from the wool. The Minister for Trade and Customs, however, tells us that the resemblance between cotton and woollen tweed is so great> that experts are deceived by it. Assuming that to be so, if we put the same rate ad valorem upon the shoddy article as upon the genuine one, we shall give an impetus to the sale of the shoddy article, though thesame result might not follow if we imposed specific duties. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that a roll of cotton tweed is worth £3 and a roll of woollen tweed £6, a certain rate of duty ad valorem would require less to be paid upon the cotton tweed than upon the woollen tweed, and consequently the cotton tweed would be much cheaper than the woollen tweed, and the poorer classes, who are compelled to purchase cheap material, would buy it in preference to the woollen tweed. It would lead to the use of the inferior article. I am sure that there is not an’ honorable member with commercial experience who will not bear out my statement. If a specific duty were imposed and we were charging 6d. or 3d a yard on each, there would be a great deal of force in the’ contention of the honorable member for Maranoa, but if he looks at the question from the other standpoint, he will see that to place the same ad valorem rate on bothclasses of goods is to increase the consumption of the inferior article. I trust thatthe proposal will not be carried, because it would produce a result opposite to that” which the Minister for Trade and Customs intended.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa). - I have the authority of the honorable member for Bland to say that if the Minister for Trade and Customs will agree to allow moleskins to come in at the lower rate, he is willing to withdraw his amendment.
– I am perfectly willing to do that. I think the honorable member must be misinformed as to moleskins being taxed at this rate. I shall look into the matter.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I wish to ask to draw the attention of the Minister to the last line under this head -
Corduroy, imitation moleskins, zephyrs, galateas,shirtings not being flannelette, and denims, ad valorem, 15 per cent., and on and after 4th December, 1901, free.
Should not these articles, being cotton or linen piece goods dutiable at 5 per cent., be struck out 1 Certainly denims, which were made dutiable to-day, at 5 per cent., should come out.
– The intention of the Government and the committee was that we should have one rate with no exemptions. If the Chairman, or whoever controls the altering of the items afterwards, holds that this is not sufficient, we shall have to deal with the matter later on. I have taken a note of the suggestion of my honorable and learned friend.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 64. - Piece goods, not containing silk, to be used in the manufacture of cloth, made waterproof with indiarubber, pursuant to departmental by-laws, ad valorem, 15 per cent. on and after 7th December, 1901, 10 per cent.
Amendment (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -
That the words “ not containing silk” be omitted.
– In view of the fact that cotton and linen piece goods are now dutiable at 5 per cent., would it not be better for the Government to reduce the duty on the raw material used in the manufacture of waterproof cloth from 10 per cent. to at least 7½ per cent. ? It would not be in order to move an amendment at this stage, and, therefore, I suggest to the Government that the duty should be reduced later on.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - I may mention that some of these piece goods are cotton or linen piece goods. As they are purely raw material, and are not manufactured in Australia, it is only reasonable to subject them to the same rate of duty as cotton and linen piece goods. The Australian demand would not be sufficient to justify a manufacturer in engaging in the manufacture of this raw material. A 10 per cent. duty is a needless hampering of those who do waterproof these things, and of the public, because it must be paid by the consumer. It cannot be a large revenueproducing item. I do not suppose that any State would object to the reduction of the duty on revenue grounds. I strongly urge that it should be reduced to 5 per cent. The duty on this line was fixed at 10 per cent., when similar articles now dutiable at 5 per cent. stood at 10 per cent. The duty could be reduced on recommittal in two or three minutes. Neither a protectionist, nor a freetrader, nor a re venue- tariffist could find a single reason to urge against the reduction.
– The Government will give the matter their best consideration.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move-
That the following exemption be added: - “ Regalia, namely, embroidery woven sashes.” “We find that these articles are not made here, and we, therefore, propose to admit them free.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).Does that include all regalia ?
– No. The exemption is limited to woven sashes, because all other kinds of regalia are made here.
– I am told that very few articles of regalia are made within the Commonwealth, and I therefore move -
That the amendment be amended by the omission of the words, “ namely, embroidery woven sashes. “
– A large number of articles of regalia are made within the Commonwealth, and a considerable amount of employment is given in connexion with their manufacture. I, therefore, hope that the Government proposal will be agreed to.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa). - When this matter first came under the consideration of the committee, I moved that friendly societies’ regalia should be placed on the free list. Since then I have found that a great deal of the regalia is made within the Commonwealth, and, speaking on behalf of one of the largest friendly societies in Australia, I am in a position to say that they will be perfectly satisfied if the Government proposal is carried.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item66. - Trimmings…. feathers ad valorem, 15 per cent.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to-
That the word “undressed” be inserted before the word ‘ ‘ feathers. “
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 67. - Yarns, partly or wholly of wool, ad valorem, 10 per cent.
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra). - I had intended to move that yarns on cop or cone for manufacturing be placed on the free list, but I find that these materials are being made, not only in Victoria, but in other States, and I therefore desire to withdraw my proposed amendment.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - I do not see why the proposal should be withdrawn. A very strong point has been made of importing these yarns duty free into Tasmania in order to assist the woollen industry in that State. I move -
That the words “and on and after 9th April, 1902, yarns, on cop or cone, for manufacturing purposes, free,” be added.
– Originally the duty imposed upon woollen yarns was 15 per cent., but in consideration of the use of some imported yarns by woollen manufacturers, I consented to the reduction of the duty to 10 per cent. That being so, I trust that the committee will not reverse what was done some few weeks ago.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa). - I hope that the amendment will be agreed to. I find that woollen yarns are imported very largely from Huddersfield and Bradford, and used extensively for the making up of woollens here. Any assistance we can give to the woollen industry should be cheerfully extended to it. We send our wool away to England, and it is used with other wool in making yarns, which are returned here to practically form the ground-work of the woollen goods made in Australia.
– The yarns are made here as well.
– For one yarn made in the Commonwealth, millions are made in Great Britain, and if the protectionists are consistent, they will vote in favour of the free admission of this raw material.
Item agreed to.
– I move-
That the following new item be inserted - “70a, Iron galvanized, plain and sheet. On and after 9th April, 1902, per ton, 15s.”
We had a long debate upon the duties that were proposed upon plain and corrugated galvanized iron. We drew a distinction between plain galvanized iron upon which we proposed to levy a duty of 15s. per ton, and corrugated iron upon which we proposed to charge 30s. per ton. That proposal was rejected by a small majority, and both classes of iron were placed on the free list, chiefly because it was considered that thedistinction, made between plain and corrugated iron was wider than it ought to be. About 40,000 tons of galvanized iron are imported into the Commonwealth every year, and we consider that the article is a fair subject for a revenue duty. We are now proposing to impose a uniform duty of 15s. per ton upon corrugated and plain galvanized iron alike, from which we expect to derive £33,000 per annum.
– I should have liked to hear from the Minister for Trade and Customs some more definite reasons for the recommittal of this item. The circumstances attendant upon the recommittal of several items have certainly been very peculiar. I have heard it stated that this is a quid pro quo Tariff, but I do not know what justification there may be for a charge of that kind. It has been said that because certain exemptions have been carried in spite of the Government, Ministers are entitled to look to certain honorable members to reverse the votes previously given. The proposed duties upon galvanized iron were discussed fully on the previous occasion, and the vote of every member of the committee was accounted for. By a majority of no less than seven it was decided to place galvanized iron upon the free list, but now, for some reason not explained, the whole matter is to be again discussed, and probably a great deal of time will be wasted. We may almost infer from the action of the Government that some honorable members have not known their own minds, because they are now expected to reverse the votes previously given. I would remind the committee of the seriousness of this duty to a very large number of the people of the Commonwealth, and more” especially to those who live in the country. In the district I represent nine out of ten of the houses are built of galvanized iron, which is also used extensively in connexion with the construction of tanks, condensers, and other things employed in the conservation of water. Those people who have to live in galvanized iron houses have to put up with quite enough without paying more than is necessary for their galvanized iron. A house of this kind is not the best place of abode under any circumstances. It is very hot during the summer and excessively cold during the winter. I believe there is only one concern in the whole Commonwealth that is likely to be” affected by the duty. The industry in New South “Wales has been established under free-trade conditions. If it had been established under protection, some sympathy would be felt for those who would be deprived of a duty upon which they had been relying for some years. But that consideration does not apply in this case. In four States, galvanized iron has been upon the free list. The proposal of the Government is made, notwithstanding the fact that a substantial majority of the committee decided on a former occasion, that galvanized iron should be free. It cannot be claimed that that decision was arrived at under any misrepresentation of the facts. If there was any misrepresentation, it was in connexion with returns supplied to the House in connexion with this and similar matters which must be admitted to have been false. The honorable member for Kooyong moved for a return showing the number of men engaged in various industries. It has been pointed out that figures were given in that return mentioning 292 adults as engaged in the galvanized iron industry in Queensland. It is well known, however, that there is no such industry in that State. The effect of the duty in Sydney was that galvanized iron was immediately raised in price £1 per ton, from £21 5s. to £22 5s.
– Does the honorable member know the price since galvanized iron was made free ?
– I do not. I am told that the process is a very simple one. Sheets of iron are imported and are dipped in galvanizing vats. That is all the labour that is involved in the industry. I sincerely hope that the committee will not agree to the amendment.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania.)- - The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has very properly said that’ Ministers are highly culpable in regard to waste of time, and it is utterly vain of them to endeavour to throw the blame of the procrastination on the Opposition. Here, for the second time, we have an item reconsidered after a long and protracted debate, and after the committee, by a majority of seven, had placed the article in question,, upon the free list. It was very much the same in regard to salt. There was great delay in the second debate in regard to that item, and there will be further delay, because the Opposition will endeavour to have it recommitted with the full hope and expectation of reversing the vote given to a great extent in error the other evening. Here we have an item reintroduced with the possible result of having to spend hoursupon it. For my own part, I trust that we shall show Ministers an example of moderation. Even when they tempt us to delay business in the exercise of our just rights, I hope that we shall resist the temptation, and set them an example which they require so badly. If, by our moderation in declining to discuss this subject at any length, we suffer defeat, as we did in regard to salt, I hope we shall in our full strength get both items recommitted, and both votes reversed.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa). - I cannot understand the meaning of this proposal.
– Both plain galvanized and corrugated iron are free at present, and we propose to make them both dutiable at the same rate.
– There will be no distinction. The mischief of the first proposal was that it provided too great encouragement for local corrugation, which does nob cost much.
– I do not intend to let the matter go by without its being fully debated. We had a fair stand-up fight between the Government and the Opposition with regard to galvanized iron, and the Opposition won. This is nothing more nor less than an attempt to catch the Opposition on the hop by atrick. The firm engaged in galvanizing does not want the duty. They have been carrying on without it in New South Wales. We learn that it means a revenue of £33,000, but the tax will fall upon the pioneers of Western Australia, western Queensland, and western New South Wales.
In the mushroom mining townships which spring up in the far western portions of Australia the buildings are almost entirely constructed of galvanized iron. I fail to see why this duty should be imposed. Some honorable members say that a matter of 5 per cent, is neither here nor there ; but if we reckon up the various 5, 10, 15, and 25 per cent, duties that have been imposed on the pastoral industry, we shall find that it bears more taxation than does any other primary industry in the Commonwealth. I believe that it would be impossible in the present state of the country to send a ton of galvanized iron from Longreach - the terminus of the Central railway line in Queensland - to Windorah, but if it were taken down there the cost at its destination would be three times as much as the original price paid for it at Rockhampton, on the coast. It is impossible to understand why the Minister for Trade and Customs should pick out the pastoral and mining industries - which he admits are the backbone of the Commonwealth - or, indeed, any other primary industry, in this way. It is said that 200 or 300 men are employed in galvanizing sheets of iron in the Commonwealth j but should we not have some consideration for the millions who have to pay, by means of these duties, for workmen in this and other trades? The Minister for Trade and Customs has told us of the great national industry of hole-punching bale-hoops. ‘The committee agreed that bale-hoops should be free ; but recently, when I received a wire from some of my constituents asking whether it was the intention of the committee that they should be subject to a duty of 25 per cent., I was informed by the Minister that the hoops in question were a “ manufactured “ article, because holes had to be punched in them. That is the interpretation given, in order to protect the great hole-punching industry in Victoria, which employs two men, and a machine costing £2 1 0s. The same remark applies to wire netting. New South Wales has got on without protection for many years, and it is strange that the Government should desire to put a duty of 10 per cent, all round into the pockets of these manufacturers when they do not require it. If the manufacturers in New South Wales had felt any need for the duty they would have shifted to Victoria long ago. I hope that the committee will not re-impose this duty, and that no 32 r 2 honorable member will go back on his previous vote.
– We want revenue.
– If the honorable member thinks that revenue is wanted, why did he vote to take the duties off tea and kerosene ?
– They were not protective duties.1
– Because they would not protect any industry in Victoria. If Victorians had kerosene shale in their backyards, or if there had been a tea farm of’ half-an-acre in Victoria, all the protectionists on the Government side would have voted for the retention of the duties on tea and kerosene. New South Wales does not require this duty.
– Yes, she does.
– We know that New South Wales is the most affluent of all the States, and it has been a free-trade colony. I trust that honorable members will vote for galvanized iron coming in free.
– I think the committee are entitled to some explanation from the Government. When this item was last before the committee the Government proposal was lost by a majority of seven, after a lengthy debate, and it is unfair that the Ministry should endeavour to re-impose the duty without any explanation in regard to the influence which has been brought to bear upon them to bring about the recommittal of the item.
– The honorable member could not have been listening. I gave an explanation.
– I have not been out of the Chamber, and, so far as I am aware, there has been no explanation, with the exception of the reply made by the right honorable gentleman to a question put by the honorable member for Maranoa. The Government are not conducting the business in a manner which is calculated to bring about a speedy end to the consideration of the Tariff. Had it been decided in a small committee to remit the duty, I could have understood the action of the Government in recommitting the item. But every honorable member was accounted for on the occasion of the last division, and the Government was in a minority of seven. We are entitled, therefore, to an explanation. I know that one gentleman, and only one, came to Melbourne and interviewed a number of honorable members with a view of having this duty imposed. If one manufacturer can bring sufficient influence to bear upon any Government to cause an effort to be made to reimpose such a duty as this, it does not disclose a very creditable state of affairs.
– When this item was debated very fully in committee on a prior occasion, I voted against galvanized iron coming in free, in the belief that the Government were justified in expecting to derive revenue from the duty. I see no reason why I should change the vote which I gave on that occasion, as I am still of the opinion that it is an item from which revenue might fairly be obtained. I agree with the honorable member for Kennedy that the Government might have favoured the committee with some fuller explanation of their reasons for seeking to upset so decisive a vote as that which was given upon this item on the last occasion. No doubt the Government have good reasons for the step they have taken, and they might well have taken the committee into their confidence to a greater extent than they have done.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- The point of view which honorable members should take is that we ought not to seek to alter a decision which was arrived at by the committee some time ago. With the exception of Mr. Speaker and of yourself, Mr. Chairman, every honorable member was accounted for when the last division took place on this item, and strong free-trader as I am, I would nevertheless decline to be any party to re-opening questions on which the Opposition were defeated only by one or two votes, for the reason that I think that the committee, having done their work, should not seek to alter it without the soundest of grounds for doing so. Certainly no reason has been given by the Government far asking honorable members to reverse the votes previously given by them. Before reversing their votes honorable members should be prepared to give their reasons, and they ought to be reasons which will bear examination. If they are not, or if a silent vote is given on a’ matter such as this, we shall stultify ourselves. I regard the honour of the House as being too great to be trifled with in such a way. I can understand honorable members who supported this duty before, taking up the position that they are bound to support it again; but’ I ask them to remember that they are not quite in the same position on this occasion. The reasons for such a change ought to be such as every one can appreciate and understand, and though some of the reasons given by honorable members on this side of the House for supporting the duty were sound, I ask them whether it is wise to re-open the whole matter? Should the previous decision of the committee be reversed, it will leave it open to people outside to say that it is only necessary to postpone an item in order to “ work” honorable members. If the Minister for Trade and Customs were able to say that by reason of a thin attendance, the real sense of the committee had not been taken, we could understand the present proposal, but such an explanation has not and cannot be given. If we consent to the present proposal we shall be asked, when the Tariff Bill is introduced, to change our votes in all directions, and I must* decline, except in case of palpable mistake, to reconsider items which have been so decided as that under discussion. The revenue argument of the Ministry applies with even less force than it did before, and in the interests of Parliament itself, the matter ought to be allowed to rest. Even supposing for a moment that the previous decision of the committee was not a wise one, it would be foolish to re-open the question, because then .there would be no finality to the Tariff.
-I shall vote with the Government on this occasion. I do not hold the extreme views which have, been expressed from this side, and I consider now, as I did four months ago, that there is no more fit and proper subject for duty than galvanized iron. The protection has been removed with the removal of the difference in the duty between corrugated and plain iron. This is an extremely small duty, amounting to only 5 per cent., although some honorable members appear to think that it is 15 per cent. A heavy duty of 30 per cent, has been placed on hats, two of which a man may wear in a year, whereas galvanized iron, on which the duty is to be only 5 per cent., may last for twenty years. I feel disgusted at the position which some honorable members on my own side have taken up on this question, and I intend to support the Government.
Motion (by Mr. Barton) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to bring under the notice of the Government a matter of some importance to the manufacturers of the Commonwealth. We have removed the duty upon disinfectants, but I take it that even free-traders are not anxious to penalize Australian manufacturers and workmen, and are willing that they should have a fair field, if no favour. But in the specifications for tenders for disinfectants for the Victorian Government and the Federal Government quite a large number of English brands, such as Little’s phenyles and Condy’s crystals, are specified, to the exclusion of locallymanufactured disinfectants, and thus a great deal of work will unfairly be given to English and foreign manufacturers. While I have no objection to the Federal Government joining with the State Governments where they can work harmoniously together, I think that if the Victorian Government is giving preferences to English and foreign manufacturers, the Federal Government should not follow their example, but should see that fair play is given to Australian manufacturers.
– I wish to bring under the notice of the Government a new regulation which has been issued by the Postmaster-General. Hitherto it has been the custom of some of the States to get local postmasters to do the work of wardens’ clerks, or to act in other positions for other departments, and the small allowances they have received for such services have enabled them to live with some degree of comfort, where otherwise they would be getting hardly a living wage. I understand, however, that the PostmasterGeneral has issued a notification that in future all these allowances are to be withdrawn, and that the money paid by the States for services done for their departments by postmasters is to be paid to the Postmaster-General.
– Perhaps the Government intend to make up the allowances to the postmasters in some other way.
– I hope that that is so. I intend to ask a question upon the subject to-morrow.
– If thehonorable member will give notice of his question for Thursday next, I shall have an opportunity to obtain the information for which he asks.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.5 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 April 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020408_reps_1_9/>.