1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Minister for Home Affairs if there is any truth in the rumour that the contemplated visit of inspection by the members of the House of Representatives to the proposed federal sites is to be abandoned .; if not, .1 should like to know what the arrangements will be 1
– There is no truth in the rumour, though I cannot tell the honorable member at the present moment exactly what the arrangements will be.
Resolved (on motion by Mr. Chapman) -
That leave of absence for two weeks be granted to the honorable member for Cowper.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been called to a recent debate in the French Parliament, during which it was stated, apparently with the acquiesence of the Colonial Minister, by a member who appeared to be an expert upon French colonial affairs, that some years ago an arrangement was entered into between England and France that, if the practice of sending convicts to New Caledonia ware discontinued, the interests in the New Hebrides claimed by Australia would be given up to France. I should like to know from the right honorable gentleman if he is aware of the existence of such an arrangement f
Mp. BARTON. - I saw a paragraph on the subject in the cable news recently. I have no reason to believe that such an arrangement is in existence, and every reason to believe that it is not. The matter was brought up for consideration during the Imperial Conference in 1887, and upon, I think, the unanimous advice of the delegates from Australia, the Colonial - office refused to adopt the suggestion. I have no reason to think that it has been repeated at any time since then, or has received any countenance.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he will admit free of duty, as if exempt tinder the head of engineers’ lathes, tho following lathes, now taxed, namely, watchmakers1, brass-turners’, electricians, bicyclemakers’, and similar lathes. “ Mr. KINGSTON.- -This will necessitate a slight alteration of the Tariff, which will be proposed.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster - General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Whether the latter is aware that complaints arc being made in Perth -
– The answersto the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Ordered (on motion by Mr. Bamford) -
That a return be laid upon the table of this House, showing -
The quantity of sugar manufactured and held in stock on the 8th October, 1901, upon which excise duty has since been paid.
The amount of duty so paid.
In Committee of Ways and Means (Recommittal)
Consideration resumed from 16th April (vide page 11783).
Item 134 - Spirits, viz. -
Distilled wholly from grape wine, per proof gallon,11s. per proof gallon, 1 2s.6d.
N.E.I., per proof gallon, 13s.
Amendment (by Mr. Kingston), as amended, again proposed -
That the words “Distilled from barley malt, molasses, or maize, wheat, oats, rye, either wholly or mixed with grape wine” be inserted in line i.
Upon which Mr. O’Malley had moved -
That the amendment be further amended by the insertion of the word “potatoes” after the word “rye.”
– I am not at all certain, after having listened to the opinions which have been expressed during the debate by experts, whether the consumers of spirits will suffer any greater disadvantage if potato spirit, mixed with wine spirit, is charged excise duty at the rate of 1 2s. 6d. per proof gallon, than they will suffer through the action of the committee in imposing that rate on spirit distilled from wheat, oats, and rye. I do not know why honorable members have not gone further, and suggested the inclusion of rice spirit, from which the Chinese drink “samshu” is made. The spirits consumed by the Chinese and native population in the northern portions of Australia, the rice spirit and the Malayan “arrack,” which is distilled from maize, are vile decoctions unfit for human consumption, but I do not see why they should be excluded if the committee intend to place spirit distilled from potatoes, rye, and other inferior ingredients upon a level with spirit distilled from barley malt. At the present time a large quantity of locally-distilled spirit must find its way into consumption, but under a different name, because, although we know from the statistical returns that a great deal of distillation is carried on in both Victoria and South Australia, in places like Melbourne, Warrenheip, and the Mount Gambier district, very little Australian spirit, with the exception of Joshua’s brandy, and South Australian brandy, is openly sold in the hotels.What happens is that the Australian spirit is mixed with spirit imported from other countries, and very much to the detriment of the health of the people of the Commonwealth. It is a common thing for the drinkers of whisky to hear that it is quite an exception to get a pure, drinkable spirit in most of the hotels throughout the Commonwealth. The houses in which one can get a decent, wholesome glass of whisky or brandy are much fewer than those in which one can get an article called whisky or brandy, but which is virtually poison. While I am as desirous as is any honorable member to protect the revenues of the State, I hold that this is a most important question, and the larger excise duty we put on spirits distilled from all sorts of products, especially the inferior ones, the better it will be for the health of our people, irrespective of the question of getting a little revenue. For that reason I am somewhat surprised that it is sought to include spirits distilled from wheat, oats, and rye at the lower rate. Undoubtedly from wheat weget a very crude spirit. From rye we also get a very crude spirit. From potatoes we get a crude spirit. I question the advantage of permitting these spirits, mixed, to some extent, with grape spirit - there is no check as to the extent to which they are mixed - to come in at the lower rate of excise. It would be a very good thing indeed if we could make them all come in at the highest rate of 13s., under the n.e.i. line. Pure grape spirit should he the national spirit of Australia, because we are certain, of its effects on the human body. If we could limit to a very great extent the consumption to pure grape brandy carefully distilled and well matured - a” spirit which is recommended by the medical faculty - we should be doing a very good thing. For that reason I am inclined to oppose the insertion of the word “ potatoes.” I am sorry that by reason of absence I was not able to take the same stand in regard to other products which have been included in this item, because the mere point that the spirit shall be mixed with spirit made from grape wine, seems to me to be of little or no moment. It does not seem to me that it will have the effect of improving the quality of spirits sold to the consumers throughout the Commonwealth.
– I do not think that we ‘ need waste time on the question of inserting the word “potatoes.” Whatever may be the quality of the spirit that is distilled from potatoes, happily we have a better purpose to which to turn them, and notably in the instance of Tasmania. Her interests will be best served by their being used as an article of food, for which they are eminently suitable, rather than as a material for distillation. Our potatoes would have tobe priced at 10s. per ton to enable them to be used for distillation with any chance of profit to the distiller. The price now realized by potatoes in Tasmania is £’i per ton. How many potatoes are going into distillation at that price 1 If the price were low, I take it that it would be more profitable for the potatoes to be used for feeding pigs than for distilling liquor.
– We have heard a good deal on the question of adulteration, and, therefore, I rise to give the effect of an analysis of the figures relating to imports and production. Last year Victoria imported 738,746 gallons; and manufactured 193,000 gallons. Queensland imported 458,000 gallons, and produced 66,000 gallons ; while South Australia imported 124,000 gallons, and produced 75,000 gallons. In other words, these three States imported 1,321,247 gallons, and produced 334,545 gallons. The import duty is 14s. per gallon, and the highest excise duty is 13s. per gallon, and by refusing to insert these words we wish to put all spirit at the rate of 13s., except, of course, the grape spirit. A duty of ls. per gallon on the local production amounts to £16,727. In other words we have already given nearly £17,000 to encourage local production, and I trust that the committee will cancel this intermediate rate, which gives an additional 6d. per gallon. The proposal of the Minister is bad enough, because it will involve a sacrifice of revenue, as well as the temptation to adulteration. I have been told that all these additions will leave very little under the n.e.i. line. I ask the committee to abolish the rate of 12s. 6d per gallon. From the revenue stand-point, the honorable, member for Tasmania, Mr. Hartnoll, has appealed to us to do so with a considerable amount of force, which is supplemented by the figures I have given.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
– Owing to a little complication which occurred last night, the committee may not be quite certain where it is. Last night I moved an amendment, with the object of leaving all this spirit at the rate at which ib was, and preventing any adulteration from taking place. The result of this amendment would be that an article would be sold as brandy which is not brandy. I do not wish to see this country made a big distillery. I ask the two or three honorable members who are advocates of temperance outside1 the chamber whether they intend to act quite differently in the chamber, and whether, even from their point of view, they think it is advisable to cut down the duty, or to adopt the Ministerial proposal to allow the article to go out to the public as one thing when, in fact, it is another thing. I feel sure that the honorable members for Echuca and Melbourne Ports ought to agree with that view, even if they do not act upon it, and I shall carefully watch their votes. It is perfectly clear that the effect of rejecting the proposal of the Government will be not to allow anything to go out to the public unless it is absolutely what it purports to be. We seem to have got ourselves into a tangle, and I should like to know exactly how we stand. The more the difference is increased between wine spirit and grain spirit, the more is encouragement given to pure Australian brandy. It is perfectly clear that if the one line is to come in at the rate of lis. per gallon, and the other is left dutiable at 13s. per gallon, it will be a great encouragement to sell brandy made from the grape only. I trust that the
Ministers will not persevere with their amendment, but will adhere to the rate of 13s. per gallon for the spirits included in the n.e.i. line. Last night, it appears, I made a slight mistake. I said that spirits made from rye, wheat, and oats, and mixed with spirit made from grapes, were being allowed to go out at the rate o.f 12s. Gd. per gallon. I drew the Minister’s attention to it. He denied it at the time, and I find that I was not absolutely correct. What is being done s that the 12s. 6d. is being charged, but they deposit a further 6d., which unless the amendment proposed by the Minister is carried will be retained by the Customs. If the amendment is carried that 6d. will be returned. That is a correct statement of the state of affairs.
– I said yesterday that I was surprised to hear it suggested that the reduced rate was being collected and that I did not believe it. But I find that it is so. I directed certain instructions to the draftsman in reference to the Tariff. The instruction I gave was that in the case of a mixture of spirits upon which the excise was lis. and 1 2s. 6d., the excise collected should not be higher than 12s. (3d. That was simply intended as an instruction as to a line in the Tariff to be approved by Parliament. I never had the slightest idea until I heard of it last night that anything else had happened. But my instruction was construed as a sanction for the alteration of what I had previously decided to be the proper interpretation of the Tariff, and the reduction was made. I do not blame my officers, who have a great deal to do, and I venture to think that not very much blame attaches to myself. I gave instructions the moment I heard of it for the stoppage of the collection of the lower rate. Of course it would be impossible, having declared that a certain interpretation of the Tar iff necessitates the collection of the higher rate, to alter the practice by collecting the lesser rate until Parliamentary sanction is obtained. M y attention has been called to the fact that the Tariff, as it emerged from the first committee was, as regards this particular matter, a compromise. Our policy has been to stick to the compromises we have made. I refer honorable members to what took place upon this item. The Treasurer spoke as follows : -
As the committee is so evenly divided with reference to these duties, mid the Chairman may possibly be placed in the position of giving another casting vote, I suggest as a fair compromise that we should fix the duty on spirits made of barley mult, molasses, and maize at 12s. (id. I hope that this will obviate any possibility of unpleasantness- Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN (Wentworth)__
I understand that .the Treasurer consents to the duties being fixed at Ils-, 12s. 6d., and 13s- respectively
– -I have no objection to that.
– Then I accept the offer of the Treasurer as a compromise.
– He did not speak for me. No one can speak for me on the matter of spirits.
– I am not suggesting that any one has sufficient authority, to speak for the honorable and learned member for Werriwa in reference to -anything, though the report contains this record : -
Amendments (by Sir William McMillan) agreed to -
That the words “and on and after 7th February, 1892, 12s. Gd.” be inserted after the words “ lis.”
That the words “ and on and after 7th February, 1902, 13s.” be inserted after the words “12s. Gd.”
Something has been said to the effect that we have proposed an alteration. I do not think it can seriously be said that we have proposed anything in the nature of an alteration.
– The Government are proposing to charge 6d. less excise.
– What I said when I desired to have an amendment drafted was that in the case of a mixture of spirits on which the duty was lis. and 12s. 6d., the excise collected should not be higher than 12s. 6d. ; and when I gave that instruction it looked so obviously reasonable that I did not think there could be the slightest difference of opinion about it. However that may be, the honorable member for Bland proposes that spirits made from raw barley, wheat, rye, and oats be added to the 12s. 6d. list. In regard to that I have in my hand a report from the Chief Inspector of Distilleries, in which he says -
I see no objection to these being added to the 12s. (id. rate. All these produce good spirit. By mixing a small quantity of raw grain with malt, a higher yield of spirit is obtained. A small quantity of oats mixed with malt is considered necessary for the .aeration of the mash. These grains at some seasons may be cheaper than Barley malt. Bye is used with barley malt in the making of gin, and is said to improve the spirit. Grain-is allowed in Great Britain, and is largely used . See statistics.
– Does he recommend blending those spirits with grape spirit 1
– I am not speaking about the blending. Honorable members will recollect that our sole desire was that when two spirits of different kinds upon which the excise was, lis. and 12s. 6d. respectively were blended, we should not apply anything more than the 12s. 6d. rate to the blend.
– If they are blended in half and half proportions 1
– No, the honorable member will see that he is wrong there. Some people suggest that we should look at the proportion of the different spirits in the blend, and that if it is found that there is a certain proportion of the Ils. spirits we should charge only lis., and that as regards the residue of spirits dutiable at 12s. 6d. we should charge 12s. 6d. I do not think that the question of the blending of the spirits was seriously considered. There would be a great deal to be said in favour of charging according to the proportion of the spirits contained in the blend. But the strict legal construction of the Tariff was such as required the spirits in the lower classes to be wholly distilled from certain material, and if they were distilled from blended material, they were to be taxed, not in the proportion in which the spirits were used, and” not at the rate for the higher class of the two, but at the highest rate of all, 13s. We have consented, inadvertently, to a breach of the compromise which was made, and of which honorable members opposite did not remind us. What we propose to do in connexion with the matter, if the committee is not in favour of remedying the question of duty applicable to blending, is to go back to the old arrangement, and carry out the compromise arrived at.
– It is altogether a mistake for the Minister for Trade and Customs to speak of the arrangement come to about the duty of 1 2s. 6d. as a compromise. I regard it as nothing of the sort. Let me detail the circumstances. I have not had time to look up the whole of the debate as reported in Hansard but I well remember that, if it had not been for the manner in which the pairs were arranged, the 13s. rate would have been carried. The voting was equal, and the Chairman, in accordance with the usual practice, gave his vote with the noes. The point was raised by the honorable member for Kennedy as to the manipulation, as he said, of a pair, which brought about that even voting, but for which those of us who are in favour of the 13s. rate would have won. The point was, that the honorable member- for Canobolas was induced to pair under the impression that another honorable member intended to vote in a certain direction. Because of that misunderstanding - there was nothing intentionally wrong - those who were in favour of the 13s. rate were robbed of their victory. While the feeling was high the Treasurer, to get over the difficulty for the time being, proposed that the rate be 1 2s. 6d.
– In the meantime the honorable member for Wentworth had suggested that the rate be 12s. 9d.
– We had not been proceeding by differences of threepence but of sixpence. As one of those present on the occasion, and one who was in favour of the thirteen shilling rate, I repudiate the suggestion that a compromise was arrived at. The whole point is that we were deprived of our victory by a misunderstanding in. connexion with a pair.
– No one moved for a recommittal to alter what was done.
– I can quite understand that honorable members after six months’ work upon the Tariff have got into such a condition of mind about that they hardly know where they are. Many of them were quite content to allow the thing to go to Sheol, or any place short of it, rather than propose an alteration. The Government themselves have proposed an alteration, the effect of which is to rob the revenue of 6d. per gallon, in regard to a considerable proportion of the spirits that will be subjected to excise. Yet the Treasurer and the Minister for Trade and Customs a few nights ago wailed about the loss of revenue to the smaller States. I cannot honestly reconcile their two attitudes. If the smaller States are short of revenue, what better method for raising revenue is there than an excise on spirits. Personally I do not admit that they will be short to the extent imagined. But there cannot be a more legitimate opening for raising revenue than by means of a set of duties that will effect no hardship whatever, and make no difference so far as the retail price is concerned. Suppose we refuse to insert the words proposed, and leave the duty at 13s., what is the position? Taking the actual coat, not of the matured spirit, but of the original spirit, and adding the freight, a difference of1s. per gallon in favour of the local distiller means protection to the extent of about 120 per cent. So far as I have been able to calculate, with the assistance of those who know something of the trade and the probabilities of its development, the amount of revenue represented by the sixpence is nearly £20,000 ; and it is unwise to make such a sacrifice. That is not direct loss, but allowance is made for the difference occurring in the importations by the extra consumption of the locally-made article, consequent on the lower rate of excise. At any rate, £20,000 is an amount of revenue which, in this connexion, we are justified in making an effort to retain. I reiterate that there was no compromise. It was a very good natured suggestion, I admit, that the Treasurer put forth, in view of the fact that a number of honorable members felt that they had been jockeyed or robbed- not to use these words offensively - of a certain victory. To allay the immediate heated feeling, the 12s. 6d. was proposed, but under all the circumstances I do not see that the Government have anything to complain of if this question be now put to a division.
– As a quiet listener to the debates, I have been forcibly struck with the inequalities of protection. I remember that protection to the extent of 5 per cent, was given to the galvanizediron industry of New SouthWales, though many honorable members did not specially regard the impost from the protective point of view, but rather as a means of increasing the revenue to that small extent. The more favoured industries of Victoria are content with duties of 15 per cent., 20 per cent., or 25 per cent. We are now discussing an article which every one regards as a fair and legitimate source of revenue. Distilling is, to a considerable extent, a mechanical process, which does not employ much labour ; and it was principally on the ground that the Victorian industries employ labour largely that protection was asked for and granted on their behalf. The proposal before us will absolutely give 75 per cent, of protection to the distillers. Any quantity of spirit can be distilled from any of these grains and products at 2s. per gallon, and on such an article it is even now proposed to give the distillers a protective advantage of 1 s. per gallon. Under the previous decision the protection given is 75 per cent., and in view of the needs of the smaller States, and of the fact that in Queensland and Tasmania every source of revenue should be preserved to the fullest possible extent, Ministers are pursuing a course that is not desirable in the general interests of the Commonwealth. As much revenue as possible should be raised, consistently with justice to those engaged in any special industry, and spirits can fairly be made the subject of additional taxation.
– As Ministers have claimed that a compromise was come to on this item, I desire to say a. few words, because I should not like to accept the responsibility of breaking any compromise duly arrived at. The circumstances of the former vote were as stated by previous speakers. If there were a compromise, and to some extent the decision may be called so, withregard to the particular items under this heading, it is the Ministers themselves who have departed from it by re-introducing the subject at the recommittal stage, and it is that departure which has caused all this discussion. There is good reason for the objection of many honorable members to placing blended brandies on the same footing as brandies produced from grain. It was urged, and possibly correctly urged, that brandy distilled from grape wine is infinitely more wholesome than brandy distilled fro ingrain. That view was maintained by Ministers, and a considerable distinction was made in favour of the grape brandy.. The present proposal is to allow brandy, which is blended in order that it may imitate grape brandy, to come into competition with what has been declared tobe the more wholesome product. An advantage is to be given to blended brandy which was not given to it under the previous decision. As has been well said by the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. Hartnoll, it is proposed to deplete the revenue ; that is to say, these who find it profitable to imitate grape brandy would, in the absence of the present proposal, have to pay 6d. per gallon extra for the privilege. Under our previous decision the lower duty of 12s. 6d. was allowed on pure grain brandy, but if the products were blended, and an advantage sought by imitating grape brandy, the6d. extra had to be paid.
– Blending is allowed in all ordinary distilling.
– There is no objection to blending. There is nothing to prevent the duty being paid, and the blending then being carried out; but the position previously taken up was that the sale of pure grape brandy should be encouraged by a lesser excise, and tlie sale of coarser grain brandy to that extent discouraged.
– That is so, but the honorable member wants to go on further.
– Under the present proposal grape brandy may be imitated by a certain admixture of the grain spirit ; and honorable members may reasonably say that if to that extent the production of the better article is discouraged, the extra sixpence ought to be paid. No action has been taken by the Opposition to disturb the previous decision ; any such action has been on the part of the Government, for the reasons they have stated.
– The point as to blending was not really considered.
– But it is brought before us now for our consideration, and I am inclined to agree with those who think that it is undesirable, if grape brandy is so much the better article, to give encouragement to blending, which is meant to enable the manufacturer to declare that what he is selling is grape brandy, though it is only partially so.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- The contention that there was any compromise has been entirely disposed of. The Government now propose to allow the blending of spirits at a different rate to that on which the committee previously decided ; and the effect of our stopping short, as proposed, will be to practically abolish the whole of the 13s. lines. What other articles are spirits made from than those already mentioned ? Having included all other grains, we shall, if we do not agree to the 13s., do away with the “ n.e.i. ‘”’ duties, and thus make a most serious difference to the revenue. Temperance members may be called on to assist in preventing the adulteration of spirits, and I shall be surprised if they are found voting for the Government. I trust that the committee will allow the duty to remain at 13s.
Mr.KINGSTON. - In accordance with our previous intimation, and for reasons stated, we propose to let the amendment go, and on recommittal bring the duty down to the figure at which it originally stood.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - Ministers have stated that the duty was fixed as the result of a compromise ; but whatever compromise may have been arrived at was abandoned by Ministers themselves when they brought down the proposed alteration. Therefore the responsibility for any breach of compromise rests upon the Government.
– Honorable members know very well that the question of blended spirits was not even considered on the former occasion ; and the proposal by the Government that blended spirits should not be charged at a higher rate of duty than if they were distilled wholly from any one of the materials used in their manufacture was not a breach of the compromise arrived at.
– We never admitted that there was a compromise.
– With regard to the statement that honorable members were not aware of any compromise, I. may point out that the proposal adopted by the committee was offered in set terms by the Treasurer as a compromise, and was accepted and moved as such by the honorable member for Wentworth.
– - And Ministers have gone back on that.
– We have done nothing of the sort, except that upon finding out that a mistake was made, we have withdrawn sufficiently to give effect to what we believe to be the intention of the committee.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- I had intended to move an amendment, fixing the duty at 13s., but I find that that will not be necessary, as if matters are allowed to stand, all spirits will be subject to the same duty under spirits n.e.i., excepting grape spirits.
Amendment, as amended, negatived.
Item 135 : - Sugar, per Cwt. of manufactured sugar, 3s., until 1st January, 1907, less, from the 1st July, 1902, a rebate to the grower of sugarcane and beet…… All rebates to be allowed at the time of delivery of the cane or beet on the ascertainment in manner prescribed of the sugar -giving contents.
– I move-
That the words “and so that it may be prescribed that the average sugar-giving contents of the cane or beet in any particular district shall be token to be the sugar-giving contents of each lot of cane in such district “ be added.
I am happy to say that, judging from the number of applications we have received, there is an intention on the part of the people of Queensland to take advantage of the provisions of the Tariff with regard to the rebate. I have no doubt that their expectations that they will be able to carry on operations by employing white labour and to obtain the rebate they desire, will be realized. Tho idea is - and I have no doubt of its feasibility - that as regards certain districts the average sugar-giving contents of the cane grown can be well ascertained. The proposal is that instead of attempting to determine the sugar-giving contents of each lot of cane as it arrives at the mill - which would cost a large sum of money and give a lot of trouble - the average should be taken for the district, and payment made accordingly. We are merely taking power to prescribe the conditions under which the sugar contents of the cane shall be ascertained, and I hope that after a conference with Dr. Maxwell, the sugar expert, whose valuable services I shall be only too delighted to avail myself of, we shall be able to arrive at the be3t method of encouraging sugar growing by white labour in Queensland.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - I should like to know whether Ministers have considered how the rebate is to be charged. It is stated in the press that the law officer of the Crown has advised Ministers that the rebate should be paid out of the revenue derived by the State in which the sugar is grown - and that is an intelligible position. On the other hand it has been suggested that Ministers generally hold the view that each State should pay the rebate in proportion to the quantity of sugar imported. I shall not press for an answer upon this point now, as I know that Ministers are so little versed in their own policy that it would be cruel to ask them for an opinion off-hand. I shall therefore simply request them to bear the matter in mind.
– I do not think I shall be out of order if I take advantage of this proposal to ask a question with reference to the excise on sugar. Is it distinctly understood that in the year 1907, when the present special arrangement comes to an end, there is to be no excise duty on sugar ?
– Of course the excise will lapse then unless some further action is taken in the meantime. 33 q
– If any prospect of a discontinuance of the excise were held out, the Government in 1906, on proposing that there should be an excise duty upon sugar in 1907 and following years, might be met by the statement that in 1901-2 the Government of the day had entered into a compact with the Queensland sugar-growers to the effect that after 1906 there should be no excise. This is another of those questions which rise above the commonplace, and it would be cruel to ask the Ministry for even a chance expression of opinion on the subject. When we are dealing with the Tariff Bill, however, I hope the Government will make some definite statement which will disabuse the minds of the sugargrowers of any notion that there is any compact on the part of the Federal Government that no excise dutv shall be collected after 1906.
– It is well known that no Government or Parliament can very well bind their successors.
– No, but a compact may be entered into or an honorable obligation may be established.
– We are not attempting to bind any Parliament or Government ; but it is our fervent hope’ that the excise duty upon a natural industry such as sugargrowing will cease at the end of the period mentioned in the Tariff.
– I do not think that the Minister has been explicit enough. In all countries those who hold vested interests are always prepared to declare that compacts have been entered into to relieve them of their burdens, and the Government in office when the present arrangement comes to an end should not have to face a declaration on the part of the sugar-growers that an understanding was arrived at that they would not have to pay any more excise duty. Similar questions have arisen over and over again in the United States. If in the first American Commonwealth it had been declared at the outset that the ownership of slaves was not a vested interest under the United States Constitution, much expenditure of blood and treasure would have been saved, and the Southerners would not have been able to declare that they were being robbed and plundered of rights to which they were entitled under the Constitution. We have, in the sugar question, one very similar to that which arose in America, and we may .judge from the feeling already exhibited over the Wanalta question in Queensland of the difficulties that will probably arise in the future unless the understanding now arrived at is perfectly clear.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I presume that Ministers are acting upon the suggestions of their officers in this matter 1 Mr. Kingston. - We have not failed to secure all available information on the subject.
– I objected to the original proposal brought forward, but as it was carried against me by the committee, I desire to see the administration of it conducted as satisfactorily as possible. I am prepared to leave to the Ministry, without much discussion, the determination as to what is the best thing to be done in such a matter. They arc the executive body, and it is to them we shall look to answer for any maladministration.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia).- With reference to the alteration made in the amendment as printed, it appears that, instead of taking the average sugar contents as struck in each mill during the year, the average to be taken is that ascertained by Dr. Maxwell as the average found to exist for five years in each district. I should like to know if that is so, and if it is intended to accept the average .already struck by Dr. Maxwell 1
– I will not say that in so many words, but of course we shall have the benefit of the advice of Dr. Maxwell in fixing the average.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move-
That the following new item be inserted : - Starch, on and after 26th March, 1902, per lb., Id.”
I have fixed that date because it was on the 25th March that the committee reduced the duty on rice, and it is intended to make up any loss of revenue by this excise duty.
– Why single out starch for an excise duty %
– Because if we did not do this we should not obtain the same amount of revenue that we otherwise would. Honorable members will recollect that when discussing the subject of starch we agreed that the duty upon rice, which is the raw material of starch, should be fixed upon the basis of a contribution by the manufacturer who uses the raw material, of Id. per lb. for starch. Honorable members will see that unless this proposal is adopted there will be an advantage to the manufacturer greater than that which he should enjoy.
– What will be the position of the department in making the duty retrospective 1
-There will be no trouble whatever in giving effect’ to the . proposal.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).The right honorable gentleman told the committee in fixing a duty of 2d. per lb. on starch, that it was his intention later on to propose an excise of a Id., but he has never yet told the committee why, out of all the numerous items in the Tariff, starch should be selected for an excise duty. This is deemed one of those articles which is in the category of non-revenue producing articles, and to which scientific prohibitive protection should apply. The right honorable gentleman now fixes a duty so as to keep outside of the Commonwealth all foreign starch”. That is clearly the intention of the Government: but why does he select this article, produced within the Commonwealth, for this impost for revenue purposes ?
– Because if this were not done perhaps’ the English manufacturers might come in and share the benefit with the local manufacturers.
– - Because we do not wish to make the fortunes of the manufacturers of starch.
– At any rate, we might be told why the right honorable gentleman proposes an excise duty upon starch, and not upon rice, butter, tea, or any of the other articles which enter into the home consumption of the people of the country? If there is a reason for this special treatment of starch we ought to know what it is.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- The right honorable the Minister for Trade and Customs has made a very startling admission just now, in reply to the comments of the honorable member for Parramatta, upon this somewhat peculiar extension of the excise duties. He has said that he does not wish to make the fortunes of the manufacturers of starch. That is a startling admission that, until now, this Tariff has been framed to make the fortunes of the manufacturers of this article. It was a most injudicious remark to make. The explanation of the proposal of the Government is that this article has been so peculiarly favoured in the Tariff, as it stands, that it is necessary to make this extraordinary departure. One would have thought that it would have been a very much simpler thing to apply to this particular line the rule applied to many other lines. There are a great many other industries here using raw material upon which they have to pay duty, but in their case no excise duty is proposed. Why an excise on starch, if it had been properly treated, as the other industries had been treated, in dealing with the Tariff ? The Minister says that when the duty upon rice was fixed, an arrangement was made as to the rice to be used in the manufacture of starch, which necessitates this proposal. I think some other arrangement might have been made, as has been made in the case of other articles, without the necessity of establishing an excise which is, to some extent, an expense upon the public, because an excise department involves the expenditure of money. I do not oppose this duty, because, although the expedient may be a roundabout one, it probably has the effect of making the margin in favour of the manufacturer of starch more reasonable than it was. Of course, the suspicious outsider may say that this is a clever contrivance to keep foreign manufacturers out of the competition; that if the duty had remained as it was, they would have been tempted by it to come to Australia to manufacture starch. While this excise will not prevent the local manufacturer from securing the market, it will prevent any foreign manufacturer from making his home amongst us. That is one of the ingenious speculations that arise from this somewhat roundabout way of dealing with the subject. The Minister explains it by saying that it is due to the adjustment of the duty upon rice, but as I have said there are a number of other articles upon which adjustments have been made so as not to involve the establishment of an excise duty.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta). - I wonder why some of the Victorian members do not say something upon this matter. Here is a proposal which must permanently increase the price of this article. We have been hearing from Victorian members all through the debate upon the Tariff that protective duties are not taxes. That is a favourite subject for a homily by the honorable member for
Gippsland, but he must admit that this proposal would impose a tax upon the people, and would result in a permanent increase in the price of the article. If, heretofore, commodities have been cheap in Victoria, because of high duties, starch can no longer be included in that category. Having taken steps to prevent the introduction of the outside article, Ministers proceed to tax the article produced within the Commonwealth for the benefit of the revenue. Why should they not get this advantage by another process? Why not give the people of Victoria the benefit of cheap starch as heretofore, instead of permanently raising the price by1d. per lb ? That is what I should like to hear from Victorian members. But it seems they do not care what happens to Victoria so long as a stray manufacturer gets what he wants. I should have thought that they would protest most strongly against the imposition of such a duty as this. This is a case in which they must admit that their favorite theory will not hold good any longer, because they are now deliberately assisting the Government to permanently raise the price of this article to all who will have to use it.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I move -
That the following new item be inserted : - “Matches, on and after 18th April, 1902, per gross, 3d.”
I should like to remind honorable members of one or two of the facts connected with this industry. The duty was reduced from 1s. to 6d. When the subject was previously discussed I stated that the total number of persons employed at Bell and Co.’s factory at Richmond, according to the registration under the Factories Act, was 49, and that of these 41 were females. When they were asked to supply materials to ascertain the wages paid, the manufacturers gave some figures which fixed the number of hands at 93. I believe that the number 93 comprises kindlers and others who can scarcely be called factory hands. The manufacturers have stated that the wages paid are - for males, an average of 18s.8d. per week, and for females 1 4s. 1 d. per week, so that neither the total number of persons employed, nor the wages paid, justifies a loss of revenue, or any serious consideration for this industry. The duty imposed by the Victorian Parliament in 1894 was intended, not as a protective duty, but to discourage the use of wax matches, and, like many another legislative interference of the kind, it had quite the contrary effect, and led to the establishment of a match factory in Victoria by an English firm, and a consequent loss of revenue, comparing the returns of 1894 with those of 1899, and- taking no account of the increase of population in the meantime, of £10,000 a year. The Melbourne match factory supplies about three-fourths of the Victorian demand, and, applying those figures to the whole consumption of Australia, it is evident that if the duty of ls. per gross had been retained, there would have been a loss of revenue of £50,000 a year. Now that the rate has been reduced to 6d., the loss, taking into account the increase of population, and assuming that no excise duty is put on, will be about £30,000 a year. I think it better that the local factory should disappear than that the revenue should be a loser to that extent. A duty of 6d. per gross is equivalent to an ad valorem duty of from 28 to 33 per cent., and the import charges amount to a further protection of from 18 to 23 per cent., so that the total protection is about 50 per cent. As I did not wish to be unfair to the local manufacturers, I asked them to put before me whatever facts they thought would tell in their favour, but, before referring to the information with which they have supplied me, I wish to point out that the reduction of the duty from ls. to 6d. has been followed by a proportionate reduction in the price of matches. When the Victorian duty of ls. per gross was in force, the price of imported matches in Melbourne was from 3s. 2d. to 3s. 6d. per gross, duty paid, according to brand, and in Sydney, the price was from 2s. Id. to 2s. 6d. per gross, according to brand ; while the price of Victorianmade matches in Melbourne was 3s. per j gross, less 5 per cent., and in Sydney between i 2s. -Id. and 2s. 6d. per gross. That statement is confirmed by a letter which I have seen from Messrs. Anthony Hordern, and Sons, of Sydney. Since the duty was reduced to 6d. per gross, the Melbourne price for locally-made matches has come down to 2s. 4£d. per gross. That fact was published a few days ago in the Argus.
Mi. Mauger. - But why was not the company’s reply published 1
– I am going to give their reply. I was furnished by them with an advance copy of the letter which they sent to the Argus. In that letter they say that the reduction was owing to a forced realization, because they preferred to sell at that price rather than submit to the possibility of having to pay an excise duty of 3d. per gross later on. I ask honorable members what weight they attach to that statement ? Messrs. Bell and Company must have been conscious that their case against the imposition of an excise duty was a bad one, or they made a rather stupid commercial transaction. They say that consumers have for years past been paying the same price for matches in Sydney and Melbourne, namely, Id. for two boxes. It seems to me that that is a deceptive though I do not say a designedly deceptive statement. The prices I have given are for merchantable quantities, and they show that the price has been increased’ or decreased in proportion to the duty. The value of a single box of matches is so small that it is impossible that its price could be affected by a variation of duty.
– - Then the merchants pocket the profit. The honorable and learned member sees no objection to that, but he does not wish the manufacturer to make a profit.
– I do not intend to argue that question. No matter who pockets the profits, the revenue loses. The following letter from the company restates some of the facts which they put before me at an interview. Complaining that a statement was made here about the poor quality of their matches, they say -
We have not received :i single complaint during the last five years, and yet we manufacture for all the leading merchants of Melbourne, and also for Cameron Brothers Limited, who are the largest distributors of matches in Australia. We are ready at any moment to submit this question to experts, and are prepared to stand or fall ‘by their verdict.
I do not think I said anything about the quality of the Victorian matches, but if I did, it was merely by accepting the statement of some interjector. Upon inquiry I have found nothing to disprove their statement that their matches are as good as the imported matches.
– Then we can manufacture one article which is as good as the imported article.
– The honorable and learned member would not make that admission in regard to South Australian furniture.
– I did not make the statement attributed to me in regard to South Australian furniture. My denial of it will be borne out by honorable members who heard my speech, and by an exact transcript of the notes of the debate taken by the Hansard reporters. I said that the industry, from the point of view of those who had proposed a 25 per cent, rate, to lead to high wages, appeared not to be flourishing, as a wages board had a few years ago been asked for ; and advantage was taken of a jocular interjection, which had no local reference, that I made about the wriggling of drawers, to try to secure my political decapitation. To remove misapprehension, let me repeat what I said - that one can obtain first-class locally-made furniture in South Australia, but one must pay for it. I know that, because I have made a personal inspection of some of the factories, and have seen the work which they turn out. At the same time, I stand by my original statement that the industry and the consumers would be better off without the duty. The case for the wax match industry has been supported by the Age with an ability which I admire all the more because of its inherent weakness. They point out that the raw material used in the manufacture of wax matches is pretty severely taxed - that stearine, for instance, pays a duty of 3£d. per lb. But, according to the gospel of the protectionists, if an import duty is placed upon a commodity, it will eventually be supplied locally without any increase of price, and the evidence given before the Victorian Tariff Commission in 1895 was that the stearine used in the wax match industry is supplied by local manufacturers, so that the existence of an import duty upon it cannot affect the price. The report of the Tariff Board, which is dated March, 1895, shows that the glue which is used in the match industry is manufactured locally. How, therefore, can it be affected by the duty ? I am arguing from the protectionist stand-point, that the import duty does not affect the price of the article, except to bring it down. Again, the wrapping paper which was taxed at 6s. per cwt. in Victoria, is now rated at 3s. per cwt., so that they cannot rely very much upon that item. .On strawboard, which has been rated at 4s. per cwt. in Victoria, the Government proposed a duty of 2s., and it was reduced at the instance of the freetraders to ls. If we had had our way, it would have been made duty free, as I believe that very little of the article is used in the match industry. If this excise duty is passed, I believe there is not a free-trader who would not support a proposition to remit the duty of 3d. per gross on boxes. We did not wish the duty to be imposed, and we are quite willing that it should be struck’ out. I ask the committee to impose this excise duty in order to prevent a tremendous leakage of revenue.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I trust that the excise duty will be imposed. If the import duty on matches had been reduced to 3d. per gross as I desired, I should not have SUPported the imposition of an excise duty. If all the matches used in Australia were imported, even subject to a duty of 6d. per gross, the revenue would be about £35,000 a year. What I object to is that any one should have the right to derive so much money from other members of the community without making a contribution to the Treasury. As the local manufacturer can raise the price of matches he sells by 6d. per gross, it is clear that he ought to give back at least half of that sum. To my mind he ought to return a great deal more, and think himself lucky if he got a return of one halfpenny for the collection of 5 1/2 for the Treasurer. To show how considerably the price of matches is affected by the rate of duty, I have only to mention that on the day after it was reduced from ls. to 6d. per gross, the local manufacturer was quite willing to reduce the price of his < matches to merchants and others by 6d. per gross, and has already done so, showing that he had been taking advantage of the duty since its imposition. At the present time the factory pays very little more than £1,500 a year in wages, and if it supplied Australia with all its matches the wages’ bill would amount toonly £3,000, while the loss to the revenuewould be about £35,000. It is a very considerable loss indeed, and men calling themselves labour men, vote for such a thing. Why not instead pass a law, giving the whole of the £35,000 to the men instead of only £3,000; and they tell us they do such things in the interests of the workers. In the first instance the Ministers said that they intended to have an excise duty on matches, and that they were perfectly prepared to stand by their proposal. But when any honorable member on that side gets up now and says that the price of all the raw material is increased, it is absolutely different from the statements they have hitherto made. When the honorable member for Melbourne Ports wished to get a duty on stearine, he screamed himself hoarse in denouncing every one as vile and mendacious who dared to assert that the price of the article was raised by the imposition of the import duty. He asserted that because there was a duty of l£d. per lb. imposed, the article was very much cheaper than it had been. The fact that he has made a statement of an exactly opposite nature is not surprising. I presume the only place in which he thinks it is not necessary to make a correct statement is in this chamber. I should be very sorry to think that any honorable member would make such a statement outside, when proof to the contrary can be so readily afforded. In this instance the duties on the raw material have been considerably decreased. Prom the point of view of the protectionists, the imposition of a duty cheapens the price of the article, and therefore the company is getting the full benefit of the duty of 6d. per gross. That amounts to from 35 to 20 per cent, on the f.o.b. price in London, and the cost of bringing out the matches runs from 15 to 20 per cent., so that the present protection which this factory enjoys is about 50 per cent. I trust that the excise duty of 3d. per gross will be agreed to, and that if not the item will be recommitted.
– For a long time there has been a small clique in Victoria doing all they possibly could to damage the reputation of the Victorian match factory, and trying to crush it out of existence. . These individuals have not the courage or the ability to get any Victorian to make this attack, but they have inspired honorable members who come from other States. They have been haunting the precincts of the chamber from day to day, and inspiring honorable members. I do not blame these honorable members, I am sure that the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, is of too generous a nature to wilfully do anything which would savour of a vindictive character.
– I raised this question on the hustings in South Australia.
– Yes ; but inspired by false information, which emanated from a little clique in Victoria.
– I made the same point at the elections last year.
– We all know the source of this false information. I thought that this wretched match-box question was fought out at an earlier stage of this interminable debate.
– The excise duty was given notice of.
– Yes; but the Government’s proposals seemed to embody a very fair and reasonable concession in the direction of what is known as the freetrade principle, amounting to a reduction of practically 50 per cent, on the old Victorian duty. Because while they imposed an import duty of ls. per gross, they proposed to levy an excise duty of 6d. per gross, which was equivalent to a reduction by 50 per cent, of the protection which this factory had enjoyed under our protective system. Surely the most rabid free-trader ought to be satisfied with that reduction. My honorable and learned friend fought the battle to reduce the protective duty, inspired no doubt by the source I referred to, and succeeded in getting the import duty reduced to 6d. per gross. But. he is not satisfied with that reduction, and he now wishes to reduce the protection by another 50 per cent. It seems to me that the attack on this industry is becoming too pronounced. It is partaking of the nature of a persecution. It is suggestive of a determined attempt to wipe out a Victorian industry. It is not a question of revenue, but a question of the persecution and ruination of a Victorian industry. If honorable members had not been inspired in this way, no doubt they would not have taken the action which they have taken. The proposals of the Government amounted to a reduction of the protection by 50 per cent. The free-traders are not satisfied with this reduction, but also want to place an additional burden upon the industry in the shape of an excise duty, bringing down the protection to 3d. It has been said that there is a protective duty on boxes, and that according to the protective theory the price of boxes ought not to be increased. As a matter of fact the boxes locally produced are not used in the industry. Match boxes are imported. The tax on the boxes amounts to 3d. per gross : so that if the 3d. per gross is imposed the protection to the match industry will be practically wiped out altogether. I hope that the committee will not, through a feeling of vindictiveness and a desire to injure the industry, give effect to the malicious attempts made from time to time by a small clique to crush out one of the industries of “Victoria.
Mr. WATSON” (Bland). - I must resent the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. This question was first brought up last October when, speaking to the general question, I instanced the match industry as one evidence of protection run mad in Victoria. I believe that I was the first to mention it, and that was before I had heard one word locally in reference to the match industry. Consequently there could be no suggestion of inspiration from any quarter in my case. I do not know the proprietors of the match factory, and have not been to it. They had an opportunity of placing the facts of their case in the hands of honorable members, and I am sure that every fair-minded man would give consideration to their representations. But I am still convinced that it is not worth our while to make sacrifices in order to maintain this industry. We are not justified in increasing the price of matches to the consumer for the sake of a few people in Melbourne. If the amendment of the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, is carried, there will still be a margin of 3d. per gross in addition to the natural protection, which, considering that matches are rather a bulky commodity in comparison with their weight, must amount to a fair percentage. Personally, I should be prepared to leave no margin. I trust the amendment will be carried.
– It has been urged that as the match industry of Victoria is only a small one it deserves to be wiped out. It might as well be said to an individual - “You are only one person in the community and should be wiped out.”
– What I said was that I would sooner the industry went to the wall than spend £50,000 a year to keep it going. “
– I know that there are honorable members opposite who would rejoice if this industry could be wiped out. If they could go to their constituents at the next election and say - “ We helped to strangle a Victorian industry,” probably the announcement would be cheered. The narrow provincial feeling in some of the States is so keen, even to-day, in spite of federation, that there are honorable members who would be applauded for helping to cripple a Victorian industry, even though it is carried on under conditions which insure for the workers fair remuneration and reasonable hours of labour. Those honorable members would prefer that goods consumed in this country should be made by persons working without any restriction in the matter of wages and hours. Matchboxes are made in the east end of London for 2^-d. per gross, or sixteen boxes for a farthing. I have no doubt that the honorable and learned member for Werriwa would like to see such conditions prevailing in this part of the world. He believes in free-trade in flesh and blood. I do not.
– The honorable member is not correct in making that statement.
– Then I withdraw the remark ; but it is well-known that there are some honorable members who believe in free-trade conditions as applying to labour as well as to goods, whilst there .are other free-traders who protest just as vigorously against that idea, but I cannot see how you can protect the worker, unless you protect the product of the worker. I believe that there should be a margin of at least fid. between the excise and the import duties. I feel sure, from the information that I have, that if the amendment of the honorable and learned member for South Australia is carried the factory in Melbourne will be closed up. If the industry is carried on here we can legislate with regard to the labour conditions of those who are engaged in it, whereas if the goods are imported from abroad we have no control. I am prepared to give the industry an amount of protection that will enable it to be carried on under fair conditions. Therefore I trust that the committee will reject the amendment.
– A great deal of heat has been imported into the discussion. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo seems to be under the impression that members of the Opposition take a stand against this particular industry because of some deep-rooted prejudice they have against Victorian manufactures. I had heard of the Victorian match factory long before I ever saw Melbourne, and of the way in which the industry had been foisted on the people of the State ; and I took occasion to refer to the subject when I first addressed this Chamber. No Victorian has approached me with information of the character to which the honorable and learned member for Bendigo takes exception, my information coming wholly from those interested in maintaining this industry on the lines on which it was established, that is, to a certain extent, under State patronage or protection. There is no justification for the charges made by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. The members of this Chamber have been supplied with interested information, which, when sifted, has been found to be largely fictitious ; and I hope that if it falls to the lot of this Parliament to again consider the question of Customs taxation, some means, such as that provided in a Royal commission or other body with power to take evidence on oath will be adopted for the purpose of presenting the real facts in connexion with the various industries. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has himself been responsible, no doubt in good faith, for information quite at variance with other information, which has so far not been controverted ; and that instance alone shows the need for thorough and impartial inquiry, such as I have suggested. It is not fair in the interests of the community that a particular industry such as that under discussion should be subsidized by the State ; but, at the same time, I do not see that the proper way to encourage a native manufacture is to impose an excise duty. I do not believe in the round-about method of imposing 6d. at the Custom-house, and then imposing an excise duty of 3d. in order to secure revenue j and I can only suppose that the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, is possibly trying to remedy a defect created by the committee being led to vote for the higher rate. This industry has been living on the public of Victoria by means of the wretched system of indirect taxation which finds favour in this State. But that fact does not justify us in imposing excise at this particular time. I should prefer to see the customs duty reduced to 3d, and, therefore, I cannot support the amendment.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).For recklessness of statement it would be hard to beat the speeches of the two Victorian members whom we have heard this afternoon. One honorable member shrieked that we on this side of the House were simply the “ puppets of a small clique “ who are trying to destroy this Victorian industry, and that the members of this clique have been haunting the Chamber for some time. Such a charge by a representative of Victoria is exceedingly “ rich,” in face of the fact that for the last six months honorable members have scarcely been able to get into the House for the number of Victorian lobbyists plying their business nightly.
– I suppose there were no importers amongst them.
– No doubt importers had to lobby, but for every importer there must have been a dozen manufacturers or their agents.
– I think the honorable member is wrong.
– We have seen the honorable member for Melbourne Ports fetching and carrying for the manufacturers in the gallery every night, and making statements which five minutes afterwards he had to modify. If members of the Opposition chose to retort, we might call honorable members on the Government side, “ puppets of the manufacturers.” The practice of lobbying, if not checked, will earn for the House a by-name similar to that which has been earned for the Parliament of the United States. The honorable member for Yarra went further and practically said that honorable members on this side of the House, particularly New South Wales members, would be delighted to see the Victorian industries ruined. Can the honorable member suggest any motive for such fiendish delight, or point to any word or deed in the past to justify an allegation so slanderous? We on this side of the Chamber have as m u el 1 regard for the interests of the working man as has the honorable member for Yarra. We desire that the match-making industry of Victoria shall be treated in the same way as is every other industry. We do not wish to close it up, or to inflict any harm upon it, but it should be made to stand upon its merits. Those interested in an industry that has been coddled and bolstered up in such a way as to disgust even an orthodox protectionist like the leader of the labour party ought not to ask for further support for it, and the honorable and learned member for South Australia is to be commended for his attempt to divert into the Treasury some of the money which has hitherto passed into the pockets of the manufacturers.
Mr. HENRY” WILLIS (Robertson).The Victorians cannot take to themselves any credit for the establishment of the matchmaking industry. The report of the
Victorian Tariff Commission shows that the duty upon wax vestas was imposed with a view to discourage their importation, and to promote the use of safety matches. It was stated in evidence before the commission that the local industry provided employment for 53 hands, of whom 48 were girls, two were boys, and only two were men, the wages averaging less than 10s. per week. It was shown clearly that the industry was not one to be encouraged. Dr. Gresswell said -
The destruction of bone to the extent even of the loss of the whole of the lower jaw might take place as the result of the handling of phosphorus in this particular industry.
The revenue of Victoria was depleted to the extent of £12,000per annum, and the wages paid to those engaged in the industry did not amount to more than £5,000 a year. The sum of £7,000 per annum got into the pockets of the employers. The local manufacturers have derived immense benefits, and as the effect of the amendment will be to divert into the Treasury 50 per cent, of the profits derived by them from the import duty, the proposal should have the strong support of the Treasurer.
Question - That the new item “Matches, on and after 18th April, 1902, per gross, 3d.,” proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 19
Noes … … … 24
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Division VI. - Metals and machinery.
– Before the amendments, of which notice has been given, are moved, I desire to mention what the Government propose to do. We propose to leave the exemptions already provided for in the Tariff, and to make certain additions to them. We agree to include porcelain fittings, including lamp holders, except switches over 4 inches in the base, insulating tapes, meters, arc lamps and accessories, resistant coils, rheostats, static transformers and terminals. I think the honorable member for Kooyong who has made suggestions with respect to these articles is satisfied that this will meet what is required in that particular line. The honorable member for Dalley desired to include in the free list electrical, pneumatic, and hydraulic machine tools. He was good enough to supply me with particulars, and I find that, with the exception of two, caulking and chipping machines, to which we raise no objection, they are at present included in the exemptions. The right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, desired that rock-boring percussion drills should be added to the exemptions, and we raise no objection to that. The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, desired to move an amendment omitting the words “ except glass jars “ from exemptions under electrical materials. I am satisfied that his wishes will be met by a proposal, which we will accept, to strike out the words “ except glass jars,” and insert in lieu thereof the words “ including glass cells used therewith.” I think these observations will show that we are prepared to meet the wishes of honorable members in these matters.
Amendment (by Mr. Wilks) agreed to -
That the following exemptions be added - “ Caulking and chipping machines.”
– I wish to say that the list to which the right honorable Treasurer has referred is the result of the conference which took place with the desire to avoid discussion and delay. I wish to add that all those interested in electrical matters acknowledge the courtesy of the right honorable gentleman in this matter. I move -
That the following exemptions be added : - “Porcelain fittings, including lamp-holders, except switches over 4 inches in the base, insulating tapes, meters, arc lamps and accessories, resistance coils, rheostats, static transformers, and terminals.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir Edward Braddon) agreed to -
That the following exemption be added : - “Rock-boring percussion drills.”
Amendment (by Mr. Batchelor) agreed to-
That in the exemptions relating to electrical materials - the words “except glass jars,” be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words” including glass cells used therewith.”
Resolutions reported with further amendments.
Resolved (on motion by Mr. Kingston) -
That the standing orders be suspended, so as to enable the resolutions to be recommitted this day, and all necessary steps to be taken for introducing the necessary Bills, and reading the same the first time this day.
– Before moving the recommittal of the Tariff as an amendment upon the motion that the report be now agreed to, I wish to inform honorable members that the items which the Government propose to recommit are these : Item 18 - Coffee and chicory - to add the words “and kiln dried” after the word “raw, “and to strike out the words “kiln dried” in the next line. Item 41 - Oilmen’s stores - to add the words “and flavouring” after the word “ culinary.” Item 57a - Bags and sacks - to add the words “ bags and sacks n.e.i., 10 per cent.,” and to add to the exemptions, after the word “ bran,” the words ‘” chaff “ and “compressed fodder,” omitting from the exemptions the words “ meat wraps, made up, or in the piece.” In item64 we wish to insert the word “ moleskin” after the word “denim”; and we intend to amend item 64a so that the duty upon piece-goods for water-proofing may be reduced to 5 per cent. We wish to recommit, item 74, to make the duty on gas and oil engines and on high-speed engines and water and steam turbines 15 per cent. In Division VI., we wish to deal with machine tools for metal working, and hydraulic wheel presses, and to add to the special exemptions under “scrap iron and steel “ the words “ and subject to departmental by-laws, materials for use as scrap iron.” We wish to recommit item 99, to impose a duty of 10 per cent on unrefined glycerine; and item 115, to add the words “ or its equivalent “ to the duty on uncoated printing paper. Then in item 119, we wish to omit the letters “n.e.i.,” where last occurring, and to insert the words “ wheels tired and bolted, bodies, undergears, under-carriages, tops.” Finally, we wish to re-insert the words “ distilled wholly from barley malt, molasses, or maize,” in item 134. I move -
That the resolutions be now recommitted to the Committee of Ways and Means for the reconsideration of items18. 41, 57a,64, 64a, 74, Division V. : special exemptions, 99, 115, 119, and 134.
– As in committee the rather alarming ruling was given that we cannot be allowed to go beyond the actual wording of a proposal for recommittal, I intend to move the omission of the words “ to 5 per cent.” in the Minister’s amendment for the recommittal of item 64a. I also ask that the items moved may be put to the House separately.
– If the House so desires, I will, when all the items desired have been moved, proceed to put them seriatim.
– I accept that amendment.
– I desire the recommittal of item 40, so that soap dyes may be placed upon the free list ; of item80, to make the duty upon solar and residual oil1/4d. per gallon ; of item 116, to make the duty on printing ink 10 per cent.; and of item 74, to omit the word “ engines “ before the word “ lathes.”
– I should like to know exactly what amendments the Government intend to support. On the last recommittal, we had questions which had been decided by the committee by a majority of seventeen recommitted, although the Government knew that they would have to oppose any amendment : and then hours have been wasted in discussing the whole matter over again, simply to arrive at the same conclusion a second time.
If the Government are opposed to an amendment, they should vote against the proposal for the recommittal of the item.
– We propose to do that. When the Tariff was last recommitted, we accepted all proposals for recommittal, because honorable members were anxious to get away, but on this occasion we shall oppose the recommittal of items which we think should not be amended.
– If the Government had done that on the last occasion, they would have saved days of discussion.
– I desire the recommittal of item 38 ; and also the recommittal of item 135, for the reconsideration of the special exemptions relating to brushware.
– I wish the duty on paraffine and stearine wax to be reviewed, and on behalf of the honorable member for Wentworth I desire the duty on bananas to be reviewed. I do not propose to proceed with the new item of ls. 6d. per gallon excise duty on Australian wine, which stands in my name, because it would involve tho expenditure of considerable time when I desire to do all I can to complete the Tariff.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I desire the duty on tanners’ measuring machines to be reviewed.’
– I wish the import duty on methylated spirits to be reviewed.
– I desire the recommittal of the item “tents, tarpaulins, sails, and flags “ with the view of imposing a 15 per cent, duty, and also the recommittal of the exemptions in item 7-1 with the view of omitting “sewingmachines” and inserting “sewing-machine heads.”
Mr. KNOX (Kooyong). - In order that the decision of the committee that mining and electrical machinery and electric appliances be (subject to a duty of 15 per cent, ad valorem may be given effect to, I will move that the duty on engines, boilers, pumps, machines, and machinery, n.e.i., be reduced to 15 per cent, ad valorem.
– I desire cask-making machines to be placed on the list of exemptions in Division VI.
– Under the head of machine tools for harness and saddlers and bag makers, I wish to exempt strap - cutting, riveting,- creasing, stitchpricking, tracetrimming machines and presses and dies for loops.
– I desire that the duty on bicycle parts finished or plated, except cycle frames brazed and joined, or cycle wheels built, be reviewed.
– On behalf of the honorable member for Wide Bay, I wish axe handles to be placed on the free list.
– On behalf of the- honorable member for Moira, I desire that the duty on combined harvester be reviewed.
– I desire the recommittal of item 102 with the view to exempt axe and other handles, and also the recommittal of item 99, with the view to place unrefined glycerine on the free list.
– I wish the duty on unrefined glycerine to be reviewed.
– I desire the recommittal of item 115 for the especial consideration of “printing paper uncoated, in sizes not less than 20 to 25 inches,” and the consideration of the article of “ writing paper in sheets not less than 16 x 13 inches” in the exemption list. In item 116, I wish to review the duty on “ calendars and almanacs, cards and booklets, printers, visiting, menu, programme, wedding, and funeral ; Christmas, New Year”, Easter, and birthday ; scraps and transfers ; ink-stands, ink-bottles, and inkwells; paper knives, blotters, blotting cases and pads : billheads and other printed, ruled, or engraved forms of paper, n.e.i., bound or unbound ; books, account, betting, cheque, copy, copying, diary, drawing, exercise, . guard, letter, music, memo., pocket, receipt, and sketch ; envelopes, stationery packets, wrappers for writing paper, memo, and sketch blocks, memo, slates and tablets, labels, tags, and tickets, manufactures of paper, n.e.i., including printers’ matrices ; inks, writing and printing, and ink powders ; wax, sealing and bottling.” I also desire item 125 to be reviewed, because the poorer class of brushware is subject to 25 per cent, duty, and the better’ class to 15 per cent. duty.
– I should like to know, sir, whether it is competent to move that the Tariff be recommitted 1 It seems to me that it would be a simpler I way of dealing with these matters.
– It is perfectly competent for the honorable member to take that course.
– I desire that the duty on tea be reviewed.
Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).I wish that the duty on oilmen’s stores may be reviewed.
– Shall I be in order, sir, if I move that the whole Tariff be reviewed 1
– The honorable and learned’ member would be perfectly in order in moving that the Tariff be reviewed.
– It would be much better to recommit the whole Tariff : but I know that an amendment to that effect would not be carried.
– I will now, as desired by the House, put the items seriatim. The question is that item No. 2, methylated spirits, be recommitted.
– We do not object to its recommittal.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The question is that item 115, ‘duty on stearine and paraffin wax, be reviewed.
– We strongly object to this being done. The matter has been discussed and thrashed out.
– I cannot permit the Minister for Trade and Customs to rise and speak on each part of this list. The parts could have been discussed separately just now : but they are now being put as a complex motion, and are not open to debate.
– Supposing that an honorable member desires to move an amendment on any part of the complex motion with the view of allowing greater or less liberty in committee, will it be in order?
– That has been done in a number of cases already. I have a number of cases here in which it is proposed to strike out specific alterations, with the view of putting in the word “ reviewed.” If there are any honorable members who desire any other items to be reviewed, it is competent, before I proceed to put the question, for any one who has not spoken to move that the word be inserted, instead of any specific items.
– Will it not facilitate business if the Government will announce now what proposals they are going to support?
-It is perfectly competent at this stage for any Minister who has not spoken to go through the whole list, and indicate which items they will agree to recommit, and which ones the recommittal of which they will oppose.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - I desire to explain the reasons for making my proposal.
– The honorable member has exhausted his right to speak. He should have made the explanation when he submitted his proposal. He must wait now until the House gets into committee.
– In committee we cannot discuss anything not covered by the precise terms of the motions for recommittal, and we are anxious to know when the instructions to the committee may be debated. You have ruled that we cannot speak to the items. I should like to move an amendment, and discuss the reasons why certain other instructions should be given.
– What is the. point of order 1
– When will it be in order to take that course ?
– The honorable member would have been perfectly in order when he spoke in suggesting reasons why certain instructions should . be given : but he simply moved certain additions to the motion and resumed his seat, and by so doing he exhausted his right to speak. Any honorable member who has not yet spoken mav discuss the whole list before I proceed to put the separate items, but any one who has spoken on the motion before the Chair has not the right to speak again.
– Will it not be in order for an honorable member to speak on those items which are not on the list ?
– No. On the motion that the report be agreed to, the Minister for Trade and Customs moved that not all items, but certain items, be recommitted ; then other honorable members moved that certain items, of which some are printed and some are not, be recommitted, and I am now proceeding to put the items one by one to the House.
– I wish to ask you sir, whether the debate was not practically closed when you put the question which, for the sake of convenience, you are now stating in parts. The fact of the question being put in parts, I think, does not have the effect of reopening the debate and enabling an honorable member to speak while we are practically dividing.
– The right honorable member is perfectly correct. I had only commenced to put the question, and did not desire to put the items so speedily as to prevent honorable members from moving for the recommittal of other items. But since I have put the first portion of the question no further discussion can be permitted.
– The difficulty is that an honorable member is not permitted to speak in support of any motion to recommit which he has given notice. Each of the proposals before the Chair is absolutely a separate proposal.
– I have already ruled that it is not so. I will repeat my ruling. I rule that there is one motion submitted by the Minister for Trade and Customs. Other proposals have been submitted by other honorable members. On the original motion each proposal to recommit might have been discussed in detail.
– You have ruled, sir, that an honorable member cannot speak twice on any subject. Suppose that after an honorable member has moved for the recommittal of an item, some other honorable member gives notice of a motion to recommit an item that is not mentioned on the paper. That, if carried, goes to the committee as an instruction, and we cannot have a word to say about it. Surely there must be some means whereby the House can discuss the instruction 1 Otherwise it cannot fairly be called an instruction of the House to the committee.
– I cannot permit any discussion when I am putting the resolution in parts for the convenience of the House.
– Shall I be in order in moving an amendment with regard to one of the items which it is proposed to recommit?
– The honorable and learned member will be in order from this point of view only - that I am only now commencing to put the portions of the motion ; as the honorable and learned member has not spoken and I have not yet put the first item, he will be in order.
– With regard to item 65, I desire to move that the words “15 per cent.” be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “reviewed.”
Question - That item 15 be recommitted, with a view to reviewing the duty on “stearine and paraffine wax” - resolved in the negative.
Question - That item IS be recommitted, with a view to proposing the insertion of the words “ and kiln dried “ after the word “ raw,” and their omission from the next line - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That item 21 be recommitted, with a view to reconsidering the duty on “ bananas “ - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That item 40 be recommitted - resolved in the negative.
Question - That item 41 be recommitted, with a view to propose the insertion of the words “ and flavoring “ after the word “ culinary “ - put.
– May I move an amendment with regard to item 41 - Oilmen’s stores ?
– That point has already been disposed of. No further debate oau take place. If when I am putting any motion an honorable member prefers some other wording to the wording which I put, and wishes the wording to be modified in any way, I have no doubt that the House will consent to such modification, but not to the extent of debate or of an amendment such as I understand the honorable and learned member wishes to move.
– The point I should like to put is whether you, sir, could not suggest to the House some other way in which honorable members might be able to say a few words on the subject. I am not sure whether the ruling you have given is not right, but I should like to have the items put in such a way that honorable members will have the opportunity which they would have had if they had known in the first place that this proceeding was to be adopted.
– The honorable and learned member cannot discuss the question. I see no way in which any debate or amendment can now be submitted to the House. It is perfectly competent for the House either to recommit, or not to recommit, but it is not possible to amend any proposal to recommit which is now before the House.
– The standing orders have been suspended.
– The standing orders have been suspended only for a certain object, and not to the extent of permitting what the honorable member desires.
– The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, mentioned soap dyes as coming under item 40, but it will be found that item 40 refers only to nuts.
– I am not responsible for any mistakes which any honorable member may have made. If an honorable member in proposing to recommit item 40 means item 41, I cannot help that.
– I understand, Mr. Speaker, that you rule that there is no way in which we can alter or modify any of these items. The difficulty is that when we get into committee the Chairman will immediately rule that the items as they appear here are instructions from the House. They are proposed now after some honorable member who is interested has spoken, and you rule ‘that honorable members cannot express an opinion as to any modification, the time for that having gone by. But honorable members have never had any chance of expressing an opinion. The consequence is that these items go into committee as instructions from the House, when in reality they are not so, because the House, as such, has never had an opportunity of considering them.
– That point can best be answered by a reference to item 41, “Oilmen’s stores,” which I am now putting, and which the Minister for Trade and Customs has moved shall be recommitted with a view to adding the words “ and flavouring “ after the word “ culinary.” The honorable member for Darling Downs proposed to refer to the committee the whole question for review, and that proposal was put and negatived. The question now is that the item be recommitted simply with a view of adding the words I have mentioned. It would have been competent for any honorable member to propose that, instead of there being any limitation, the word “ reviewed “ be inserted. The whole question, and not any particular duty, would then have been open for review ; but the time for that has passed.
– I think that there ought to be a discussion of the whole matter, though I am not at all sure that the Speaker is not quite right. It is only in view of the peculiar difficulty in which I and other honorable members find ourselves, that I venture to raise the point. But in view of the unanimous expression of opinion I shall not take up any further time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That item 48 “ salt “ be recommitted with a view to proposing the addition of the words “and on and after 1 8th April, 1902, per ton, 10s.- put. The House divided -
Ayes … … … 23
Noes … … … 24
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That item 55 be recommitted - resolved in the negative.
Question - That item57abe recommitted, with a view to proposing the addition of the words “bags and sacks, n.e.i., 10 per cent,;” the insertion in the exemptions, after the word “bran,” of the words “chaff “and “compressed fodder:” and the omission from the exemptions of the words “meat wraps made up or in piece” - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That item 64 be recommitted, with a view to proposing the insertion of the word “ moleskin “ after the word “ denim “ - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That item 64a be recommitted, with a view to proposing that the duty on piece-goods for water-proofing be considered - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That item 65 be recommitted, with a view to proposing that the duty on tents, tarpaulins, sails, and flags be recommitted - put. The House divided -
Ayes … … … 26
Noes … … … 22
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That item 74 be recommitted, with a view to proposing that the duty on gas and oil engines be 15 per cent. - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That item 74 be recommitted, with a view to proposing that the duty on high-speed engines and water and steam turbines be 15 per cent. - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That item 74 be recommitted, with a view to reviewing the duty on combined harvesters - put. The House divided -
Ayes … … … 25
Noes … … … 21
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That item 74 be recommitted, with a view to proposing the omission of the words “ sewing machines “ from the exemptions, and the insertion in lieu thereof of the words “ sewing machine heads “ - put. The House divided -
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That item 74 he recommitted, with a view to proposing that the duty on engines be reduced to 15 per cent, ad valorem - put. The House divided -
Ayes … … … 24
Majority … … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That item 74 be recommitted with a view to proposing that the duty on boilers, pumps, machines, and machinery, n.e.i., be reduced to 15 per cent, ad valorem - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That item 74 be recommitted with a view to proposing that tanners’ measuring machines be added to the exemptions - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That Division VI., special exemptions, be recommitted with a view to proposing the addition to the exemptions under machine tools (wood working), of cask-making machines, viz., rounding and bevelling, combined hoop-punching, shearing, splaying and bending, hoop-splaying and bending, stave- jointing, chining, crozing, and dowelling - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That Division VI., special exemptions, be recommitted with a view to proposing the addition to the exemptions under machine tools (metal working), hydraulic wheel presses - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That Division VI., special exemptions, be recommitted with a view to proposing the addition to the exemptions under machine tools (harness, saddlers’, and bag-makers’), strap-cutting, riveting, creasing, stitch-pricking, trace-trimming machines and presses, dies for loops - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That Division VI., special exemptions, be recommitted with a view to proposing the insertion after the words “scrap iron and steel” of the words “and subject to departmental by-laws for use as scrap iron “ - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That item 99 be recommitted with a view to proposing that the duty upon unrefined glycerine be reviewed - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That item 104 be recommitted, with a view to proposing that axe and other unattached tool handles be placed upon the free list - put. The House divided -
Ayes … … … 21
Noes…… … 26
Majority … … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That item 115 be recommitted, with a view to proposing that it be reviewed - put. The House divided -
Ayes … … … 22
Noes … … …. 25
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That item 115 be recommitted, with a view to proposing that the words “or its equivalent” be inserted after “ inches “ in the line dealing with “paper, printing, uncoated” - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That item 116 be recommitted, with a view to proposing that it be reviewed - resolved in the negative.
Question - That item 119 be recommitted, with a view to proposing that “ n.e.i.,” where it last occurs, be omitted, and that “ wheels, tired and bolted, bodies, under-gears, undercarriages, tops,” be inserted - resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That item 125, be recommitted with a view to proposing that ground brushes, 6 and 8 ozs.; sash tools, Nos. 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10; distemper, 2-tie, 8, 10, 12 ozs.; copper bound distemper, 8, 10, 12 ozs.; kalsomine brushes, Nos. 8, 7, and 6 ; paperhanging brushes, 8, 10, and 12 inches; varnish brushes, 4 and 6 ozs., be placed on the free list - put. The House divided -
Ayes … … … 21
Noes … … … 26
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That item 134, be recommitted with a view to proposing the insertion of the words “distilled wholly from barley malt, molasses, or maize “ - put. The House divided -
Ayes…… … 21
Ayes … … 22
Noes … … … 26
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That item 116 be recommitted, with a view to proposing that the duty on printing ink be 10 per cent. - put. The House divided -
Ayes … … … 23
Majority … … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That item 74 be recommitted, with a view to proposing the omission of the words “ engine lathes, turret “ from the exemptions under “machine tools (metal working),” resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That items 117 and 118 be recommitted, with a view to reviewing them - put. The House divided -
Ayes … … … 24
Noes … … … 28
Majority … … 4
In Committee of Ways and Means (Second recommittal) :
– I should like to know whether you, Mr. Chairman, intend to ask anybody to take the chair in your place. You have been voting this evening, and that has never been done before.
– I shall not allow the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, or any other honorable member, to make reflections on my action in the House.
– I am sorry, sir, that you should think that what I have said is a reflection on yourself. I do not think there is any tiling in what I have said to justify the term.
– I consider it not only a reflection, but a personal insult.
– There is no necessity for you to regard what I said as an insult. I am quite competent to say directly what I think, and you must not look in that manner towards me.
– Will the honorable and learned member resume his seat 1
Division I. - Stimulants.
Item 2 - Spirits, methylated . . . per gallon, 3s.
– I am sorry I cannot meet the evident wish of the committee, and allow this item to go without discussion. It will be remembered that during the discussion of the exise duty on methylated spirits I pointed out that the difference between the excise and the import duty was so enormous as to amount to five times the cost of production of the spirit. The Government themselves had evidently not considered to what extent protectionwasafforded to the local manufacturer, and the Minister for Trade and Customs admitted that there was reason for reconsideration. I can assure honorable members that 6d. per gallon as a price for spirits suitable for methylation, taking it at proof, is a liberal if not an extravagant estimate ; and my intention is to move that the duty be 9d. per gallon.
– Make it1s. per gallon.
– In order to save time, I move -
That the words “ and on and after 18th April, 1902,1s.” be inserted after the words “ Spirits, methylated . . . per gallon, 3s.”
Amendment agreed to.
Division IV. - Agricultural products and groceries.
Item . 1 8 - Coffee and chicory, raw, per lb. , 3d ; kiln dried . . . per lb. , 5d.
Amendments (by Mr. Kingston) agreed to-
That after the word “raw,” line 1, the words “and kiln-dried” be inserted, and that the words “ kiln-dried,” line 2, be omitted.
Item 21 - Fruits and vegetables . . . bananas, per cental, Is. on and after 28th November, 1901.
– I move -
That the words “ and on and after 18th April, 1902, 6d.,”beadded.
When this item was previously under discussion I moved, on behalf of the honorable member for Wentworth, that bananas be made free. When that amendment was negatived, it was sought to reduce the duty from1s. to 6d., but the forms of the House presented a difficulty, and the second amendment could not be submitted. Under the circumstances the Treasurer agreed that an opportunity should be given for a reconsideration of the matter on recommittal. The main arguments then put forward in favour of the amendment were that bananas are a wholesome form of food, required by a very large number of people, mostly of the poorer classes, and that it is, to the last degree, desirable that the Commonwealth should encourage trade with the islands. One main branch of that trade is in bananas, and unless we wish to see New Zealand snatch this commerce from us, we should deal liberally with the islands in the Tariff.
– I trust that the committee will not agree to this proposal. Originally it was proposed that the duty should be 2s., and after a reduction to 9d. had been suggested, it was ultimately fixed at1s. Under all the circumstances this is not an unfair degree of protection to give to those who are engaged in bananagrowing in Queensland.
– From every aspect it is unwise to place a duty upon bananas. It will be of no practical assistance to the Queensland bananagrowers, who already possess the Victorian market and do half of the trade with New South Wales. The bulk of the island bananas are brought into the Commonwealth at a time when Queensland cannot supply the market. The effect of the duty will be not only to deprive our people of a wholesome fruit for part of the year, but to neutralize our efforts to extend commercial relations with the South Sea Islands. The present duty has already had a serious effect upon the earning power of the vessels which provide our only means of communication with the islands, and upon which we are entirely dependent for the maintenance of trade relations. Some honorable members have stated that the duty is small, but if the banana planters in either Queensland or the islands secure a return of1s. per bunch net they consider they are doing very well.
Question - That the words “ and on and after 18th April, 1902, 6d.,” proposed to be added, be so added - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 22
Noes … … … 24
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item 41. - Oilmen’s stores, n.e.i., including culinary essences….. ad valorem 20 per cent.
Amendment (by Mr. Kingston) agreed to-
That the words “and flavouring” be inserted after the word “culinary.”
Division V. - Apparel and textiles.
Item 57a - Bags and sacks…… ad valorem, 10 per cent, on and after 9th April, 1902.
– I move-
That the words “bags and sacks, n.e.i., 10 per cent, on and after 18th April, 1902,” be added.
Some doubt was felt as to whether certain bags would not be subject to a duty of 25 per cent, if the item were allowed to stand as at present. The intention was that bags and sacks should be subject to a duty of 10 per cent, all round. We also think it wise to include chaff and compressed fodder bags among the exemptions.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir George Turner) agreed to -
That the following exemptions be added: - “ Chaff and compressed fodder bags.”
– I move -
That “ meat-wraps made up or in the piece “ be omitted from the exemptions.
This amendment is consequential upon the decision of the committee to make meat wraps dutiable at 10 per cent.
Amendment agreed to.
Item 64. - Piece-goods . Cotton and linen piece-goods, n.e.i. (including dungaree and denim), ad valorem, 5 per cent.
– I move-
That the words “and moleskin” be inserted after the word “denim.”
This is to carry out a promise, made when dealing with the matter previously, that upon reconsideration the duty upon moleskin should be fixed at 5 per cent.
– I think we should insert “ moleskin trouserings “ in order to make sure that moleskin will not be dutiable at the higher rate under “ trouserings.” It was previously included in the exemption list, and yet the Customs authorities charge duty upon it as “ trouserings “ because it could be made up into trousers.
– Moleskin means all kinds of moleskin.
– If it had been so construed I should not have raised the point.
– It is perfectly clear that it will only carry a duty of 5 per cent.
– I am perfectly agreeable so long as it is clear, but I assure the right honorable gentleman that a different construction was put upon it by the Customs officials when the Tariff was first introduced.
– I suggest that the mistake on the part of the Customs officials was probably due .to the fact that they were dealing with moleskin printed in imitation of tweeds, and to avoid such a mistake in the future we should insert the words “ moleskin plain or printed.”
– That will only limit it ; it will not be limited if we use the word “ moleskin “ without any qualification.
Amendment agreed to.
Item 04a. - Piece-goods to be used in the manufacture of cloth made waterproof with indiarubber pursuant to departmental by-laws, ad valorem, .10 per cent.
Motion (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -
That the words “and on and after 18th April, 1902, 74 per cent. ,” be added.
– The Government, after mature and deliberate advice from their officers, put in print a proposal that these goods should be admitted under a duty of 5 per cent. The only alteration made by the House in referring that proposal to the committee was to strike out the words “ 5 per cent.,” and provide that the item should be reviewed in order to permit of these goods being admitted absolutely free if the committee chose. After the lapse of less than two hours, the Government change their proposal from 5 per cent, to 7J per cent. That is not a fair way of treating the committee. I am inclined upon this occasion to follow the Government in the original proposal they submitted, and I move -
That the figures “ 7” be omitted, -with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figure “5.”
Mr. WATSON (Bland). - I think the honorable member for South Australia will be disposed to withdraw his amendment when he understands the true position. The increase of the duty from 5 to 7i per cent., as now proposed by the Government, really means less protection than a duty of 5 per cent, would give. At present the duty upon made-up waterproof cloth, or waterproof cloth, in the piece, is 15 per cent., while the duty upon piece-goods which can be made up into waterproof cloth with the rubber is 10 per cent. The Government originally suggested that the difference should be made 1 0 per cent, by the reduction of the duty on piece-goods to 5 per cent. They now propose to increase that duty to 7^ per cent., which leaves a difference between the two of 7^ per cent., less freight.
Mr. V. L. SOLOMON (South Australia). - I did not move the amendment under the impression that I was moving a freetrade item, but merely in order to find out a reason for the sudden change in the proposal submitted by the Government from 5 per cent, to 7k per cent.
– I am very sorry that the Government have changed their minds in regard to this matter, but I recognise that it is hopeless to follow the honorable member for South Australia.
– I must agree with the proposal of the Government, because the duty upon made-up waterproof is 15 per cent.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment agreed to.
Item 65. - Tents, tarpaulins, sails, and flags, ad valorem, free.
Mr. MAUGER (Melbourne Ports).- I propose to move that the duty upon tents, tarpaulins, sails, and flags be 10 per cent.
– Five per cent, is what the honorable member promised.
– The leader of the Opposition asked whether I would accept 5 per cent., but he would not accept that duty, and divided the committee upon the question. If I said I would propose 5 per cent., as I do not wish to do anything wrong, I move -
That the words “and on and after the 18th April, 1902, ad valorem, 5 per cent.,” be added.
– In my opinion it would be better to take the duty off the raw material than to impose a duty upon tents and tarpaulins. We are constantly asseverating our sympathy with those engaged in the primary industries, who, under the most adverse conditions of life, have continually to struggle against the rugged forces of nature. If there is a class to whom we should show favour more than to another it is those who are unable to make homes for themselves, and for whom a tent is the only covering from the violence of the elements. To place a duty upon tents is a piece of unrefined cruelty to such men.
– One of the blessings of this country is that in many parts of it men do not require tents at all, and prefer to sleep under the open sky. The honorable member for Parramatta talks of persons sheltering from the violence of the elements in tents, but many a time when the winds have howled and the rain fallen, I have found myself in the open, unable to make my horse move with whip and spur, and afraid to take shelter from the howling storm lest the ligntning’s flash should strike the tree under which I was sheltering, and kill both horse and rider. It seems to me, however, that it would be much better if, instead of playing the fool by endeavouring to use high-sounding language, honorable members would allow the committee to get on with business.
– I am in sympathy with the desire of the honorable member for Parramatta to make tents free, but, as there is a duty of 5 per cent, upon the raw material, I feel bound to vote with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, so that the local manufacturers may not be placed at a disadvantage in competing against manufacturers abroad.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- To test the bona fides of honorable members, I move -
That the amendment be amended by the insertion of the word “calico” before the word “tents.”
I understand that most tents are made of canvas.
Amendment of the amendment negatived. Amendment agreed to.
Division VI. - Metals and machinery.
Item 74. - Manufactures of metals, viz. : -
Agricultural machinery and implements n.e.i. * . . . ad valorem* 15 per cent.
Boilers, pumps, machines, and machinery n.e.i. ad valorem 20 per cent…..
Sewing machines ….
– Atthepresent time both gas and oil engines are dutiable at the rate of 20 per cent.; but the Government promised to propose the reduction of the duty to 15 per cent., and in the meantime to collect duty at that rate. I therefore move -
That the words “and on and after 18th April, 1902, gas and oil engines ad valorem 15 per cent.”
– As at first fixed by the committee the duty upon gas engines was 20 per cent., while oil engines were admitted free. Therefore, I think the Government should be content now with a duty of 10 per cent, upon both kinds of engines. I believe that the Treasurer was at one time of the opinion that they should both be placed upon the free list.
– I allowed oil engines to be placed on the free list under a misapprehension, as I thought they could not be made here ; but when I found that they could be made here, I desired to place both gas and oil engines on the same footing.
– I move-
That the amendment be amended by the omission of the figures “ 15 “ with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures “ 10.”
– I think that the amendment of the honorable and learned member for South Australia is a very reasonable one. As oil engines were at first made free by. the committee, I think 10 per cent, is a much fairer compromise than 15 per cent. Of course I should like to see both kinds of engines admitted free, but I do not think the committee is disposed to agree to such a proposal.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas).- It seems to me that the proposal of the Government is a retrogressive one. While there may not be any great difference between the mechanism of gas and oil engines, they differ greatly as to their possibilities. The use of gas engines must be confined mainly to the large towns where gas is easily obtained, while oil engines can be used any where, and are being largely used in the country districts for driving all sorts of farm machinery. They are also of service in butter factories, and of great use in a large variety of agricultural and pastoral industries. They are easily understood and managed, and they are not likely to create fires as steam-engines sometimes do. I shall be glad if the honor-‘ able and learned member for South Australia will withdraw his amendment for the present, to afford the committee an opportunity to say whether it will stand by the old proposition that oil-engines shall be duty free.
– I am willing to withdraw my amendment.
– I propose to move that the words “ oil-engines “ be omitted from the amendment.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Mr. Batchelor). - The amendment cannot be moved, because it is outside the scope of the instruction to the committee.
Mr.J oseph Cook. - Do you rule that the committee can alter the word “ fifteen “ ?
The ACTING CHAIRMAN. - The committee can alter that word.
– The only question referred by the House to the committee is whether these engines shall be subject to 1 5 per cent. duty. We are told by the Chair that we can alter the rate of duty, but that -we cannot make the article duty free.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- I believe I am following the practice that has been adopted by the Chairman.
– I submit that that question was not referred to the committee. Honorable members may have desired in the House to instruct the committee to fix the duty at 10 per cent., but no amendment was moved, because the Speaker ruled that the question could notbediscussed, andnow weare told from the Chair that the duty cannot be remitted. It is absolutely preventing discussion either in the House or in committee. It is a magnificent instrument to place in the hands of a Ministry. The rights and privileges of honorable members are completely put aside by these rulings. I do not think that the Chairman has ever given the ruling that has been attributed to him. I submit that there is no reason why an honorable member cannot move that oil-engines be duty free, if he can move that the duty be altered in any way.
– It has been ruled in the House that if the consideration of an item was desired to be re-opened, an honorable member should move that the item be reviewed. In this case the resolution was not to review the item, but to consider whether the duty on gas and oil engines should be 15 percent., and the only question to be decided is, whether that proposition shall be accepted or negatived. If it is negatived the duty will remain at 20 percent., but on a further recommittal the committee will have an opportunity to review the item. I take it, sir, that according to previous rulings from the Chair, the committee must either negative or confirm the proposition that the duty on gas and oil engines be 15 percent.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN. According to a ruling of the Chairman a resolution as received from the House must be either agreed to or disagreed to, and therefore the duty cannot be increased or decreased. I propose to adhere to that ruling.
– The Treasurer did intimate on one occasion that we could reduce the duty on an item, but could not increase it.
TheACTING CHAIRMAN. - The Treasurer’s intimation would not be a ruling from the Chair.
– The Chairman intimated that we might reduce the duty on an item, but could not increase it. I think that his ruling on both points was wrong, because every proposition is subject to amendment. Shall I still be in order in moving that the duty be 10 per cent?
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- Not according to the ruling given by the Chairman. The committee can only vote yes or no on the question referred to it by the House.
– I disagree with the Chairman’s ruling, because it is dead against the standing orders. We ought not to bind ourselves down to a stereotyped form. Any proposition is capable of alteration if the amendment is relevant. You, sir, are not bound by the rulings of the Chairman. His rulings are not recorded as the Speaker’s rulings are : they are not precedents, and I ask you to follow the practice which is prescribed in the standing orders, and declare that any amendment which is relevant to the question before the committee is in order, and that, therefore, we can either increase or decrease the duty on this item.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN. - If the honorable and learned member proposes bo dissent from my ruling, I would ask him to submit a statement in writing.
– I believe that we have all made up our minds on this question, and those honorable members who do not like to vote for the proposed duty will have an opportunity in the House of moving for a further recommittal of the item.
– While I should like to see as small a duty as possible placed on these engines, I cannot consistently vote with the honorable and learned member for South Australia. I have expressed the opinion here that 15 per cent, is a reasonable duty, and one which the consumers can properly afford to pay. There are no special parts connected with the manufacture of oil or gas engines that are materially different from the parts of driving or pumping engines, or engines made for other purposes. Therefore I am going to ask the committee to support me in getting a duty of 15 per cent, on other engines. That duty is a fair one, in view of the decision of the committee in the past, and I shall certainly vote for the proposal.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move-
That, the words “ and on and after 18th April, 1902, high -speed, engines and water and steam turbines, 15 per cent.” be added to the duty “agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural machinery, 15 per cent.”
This is a matter which we discussed very fully on the first recommittal, when we came to the conclusion that we should put highspeed engines and turbines at the same rate as other similar machines, 15 per cent.
Mr. KNOX (Kooyong). - I am quite agreeable to the duty being made 15 per cent., which is a necessary conclusion to what the committee has already done. But one point that should be cleared up is as to what constitutes a high-speed engine. The Treasurer has said that a high-speed engine is one which makes 400 revolutions per minute. I have a large amount of information which shows that all the experts in Australia who know anything about the subject indicate that an engine which makes 200 revolutions per minute is a high-speed engine. If the Treasurer will indicate his opinion that, in view of the information presented to me and to him, he accepts that conclusion, I shall be agreeable to vote for the amendment.
– We secured a definition from an expert with regard to the number of revolutions per minute that constitute a high-speed engine, but that has nothing to do with the Tariff. The Tariff simply says that the duty on highspeed engines shall be so’ much per cent., and what constitutes a high-speed engine is left to be determined in the administration of the Customs department. Some experts have told us that the number of revolutions has nothing to do with determining the speed of engines ; but that a high-speed engine is one in which the crank or cranks run in a chamber. All we can say is that high-speed engines shall be liable to a certain duty.
– Is it not a fact that at the present time these water and steam engines are upon the free list, and will not the effect of passing this amendment be to make them dutiable at 15 per cent1!
– We have already taken them out. of the free list; but there was an understanding that we should make all engines pay the same rate of duty.
– Then the effect will be to make the duty 15 per cent. Is the Treasurer prepared to give a definition of high-speed engines ?
– I said before that a high-speed engine is one making 400 revolutions a minute, without oiling, for eight hours. That definition was given by an expert, but it will not bind the department.
Mr. KNOX (Kooyong). - I will place in the hands of the Minister for Trade and Customs the information I have on this matter. The gentleman who supplied the Government with the information about the 400 revolutions has stated that it was supplied under a misapprehension. The information was given in connexion with another mode of calculation. I shall be satisfied if he will consider the matter, and give a departmental decision thereon.
Amendment agreed to.
– In the absence of the honorable member for Moira, I move -
That the following new item be inserted : - “ Combined harvesters, on and after 18th April, 1902, £15 each.”
The intention of the amendment is that there shall be a fixed duty instead of an ad valorem, duty on combined harvesters. The stripper and harvester is an agricultural implement of very great value and utility, which was invented in Australia as the result of many years of experiment and development. It is purely an Australian machine invented, to meet Australian requirements, as the result of Australian conditions. There is a great local trade in connexion with the production of these implements. The trade is not confined to one or two firms, but there are no less than fifteen firms engaged in the production of the machines in the various States. It has come to the knowledge of the manufacturers that makers of agricultural implements, in countries which I need not mention, have sent emissaries to Australia to “ spy out the nakedness of the land,” so to speak. They have purchased specimens of the machine, and sent them to their respective firms abroad in order that they might be imitated. As the result of this it is understood that a determined effort is to be made by those foreign manufacturers to imitate the machines - practically to engage in a piratical enterprise. This will be a great disadvantage to Australian manufacturers. There are special reasons why manufacturers want a fixed duty instead of an ad valorem duty. The value of a machine as placed upon the market by Australian manufacturers is about £85. I believe there have been no importations up to the present, but it is apprehended that an invasion will take place, as it is known that some of the enterprising gentlemen to whom I have referred are engaged in the operation of imitating and pirating Australian ideas. It is considered only a fair thing that the Australia manufacturers should be protected by a fixed duty against the designs of these manufacturers across the seas.
– Some time ago I mentioned these machines as entitled to special consideration As the honorable and learned member for Bendigo has said, the stripper and harvester is purely an Australian invention. There is a history attached to it which I trust the committee will permit me to relate. It occurs to the mind, naturally, that the invention might have been patented, in which case the present trouble would not have arisen. But there were some peculiar circumstances connected with the first exhibition of the machines which prevented the complete invention being protected. As long ago as 1879 the South Australian Government offered a prize of £4,000 for a machine of the kind. A competition took place at Gawler, and 39 firms competed. None of them were successful, and only some small prizes were awarded. But one man took the matter up privately, probably borrowing, a little in the way of ideas from each machine exhibited, so that he was not entitled to the whole of the credit. He worked on the machine for years, and in 1885 he started making combined harvesters. From 1885 to the present time there has been a gradual increase in the success with which the machines have been produced ; so much so that, at the present time, as the honorable and learned member for Bendigo said, there are about fifteen makers in the Commonwealth. There are two in South Australia, two in New South Wales, and several in Victoria. Within the last five years the machines have become a complete success. Some of the details have been patented, but the machines have not been patented altogether, through what is called “ prior publication,” in consequence of the disclosure of the parts at the exhibition at Gawler in 1879. Machines have been purchased here and sent both to the United States and Canada, where they have been imitated and copied, and are now being sent out to Australia to compete with the locally-made machines. I have heard of three or four being imported lately, but I have not seen any of them. In my opinion a fixed duty of £15 would be too high, the selling price here being from £85 to £90. For reasons which have just been hinted at, the makers of these machines would prefer a fixed duty, but I think they would be satisfied with a lower rate. It is well known amongst people who are interested that there is going to be keen competition in these machines, and I suggest that the fixed duty should be on only a value roughly approximating invoiced price, and not on the selling price. If we take £20 or £25 off the selling price we have left £65 as the invoice price, and 15 per cent, would mean . about £9 15s. each machine. If the honorable and learned member for Bendigo will accept a suggestion to make the duty £10, that will mean something like 15 per cent, on a fairly invoiced implement.
– Why cannot the local machines compete with those imported?
– American manufacturers have a great advantage in the fact that a great many other implements are manufactured by them along with those under discussion ; and it is feared that the latter may be invoiced at a very low price. I am informed that the profit on each machine is only about £10, and, if the duty be fixed at that figure, the manufacturers here will know what they are doing. I do not think that the difference between a fixed duty of £10, and a duty of 15 per cent, on £65, will affect the selling price or be detrimental to the agricultural community. The local inventors and manufacturers of these machines should be given some little consideration, and I advocate this duty only because of the exceptional circumstances. Every one practicallydespaired of getting these machines perfected, but the difficulties have been overcome, and, in consideration of the inventive spirit, pluck, and perseverance displayed, and in view of the fact that no patent can be obtained, I ask the committee to impose a duty which will mean something like 15 per cent, on a fair invoice price.
– What would be equivalent to 15 per cent.?
– Afixed duty of £10 would be about 15 per cent, on an invoiced price of £65.
– That is allowing £25 profit on each machine, or the invoiced price must be more than £65.
– It was suggested to me that the invoice price is nearer £75, but I am taking the lower figures.
– I am willing to accept the suggestion for a fixed duty of £10, instead of £15.
Amendment amended accordingly.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas). - I hope the committee will not abandon the principle which we laid down at the outset, of eliminating everything in the nature of fixed duties, which largely obtain in the American Tariff, and more than anything else have led to abuses in this connexion in the United States. If the percentage duty is considered not sufficient to cover the duties which have been placed on the raw material, I should prefer to increase the percentage. It is said that the machines cost between £80 and £90, but improvements may be effected -which will very materially reduce the price. I am not prepared to say that no machines -of this description are made in America ; but I do not think there have been any importations ; and I trust we shall adhere to the ad valorem principle.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta). - I have been told that the invoice price of these machines is from £30 to £40.
– The honorable member for Grampians says that the machines sell at from £85 to £90.
– The Treasurer has told us a score of times that importers make 100 per cent, profit when there is no competition and no duty.
– I do not think the honorable member will find that I ever said that.
– Who is the authority for the statement that the invoice price is only £30 or £40.
– A gentleman who is interested in manufactures of various kinds ; and on that price the fixed duty proposed would be the equivalent of from 25 per cent, to 33 per cent. The evident desire of the committee is to give the equivalent of 15 per cent., and under the circumstances the Government would be quite right in adhering to the percentage principle.
Mr. BRUCE SMITH (Parkes).- I do not profess to know much about harvesters, but the honorable member for Grampians tells us that, so far as his information goes, the invoice price of these machines is £65.
– I have no definite information.
– The honorable member for Parramatta tells us that he has been informed that the machines can be invoiced at from £35 to £40. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo, no doubt very laudably from his point of view, made a proposal for a fixed duty of £15, which he is now willing to reduce to £10. But why depart from the percentage principle, especially when there is such a wide difference as that shown between £35 and £65 ? The honorable and learned member is evidently content with a duty of £10 on the assumption that the machines cost £85.
– That is the selling price.
– We have nothing to do with the selling price. The question is, what the proposed duty will amount to on the invoiced price? In the face of the difference of opinion, why should we not retain the duty of 15 per cent., taking the chance of what the cost price may be ?
-We do not knowwhat 15 per cent, would mean.
– We do not know what a fixed duty of £10 would mean; and we are legislating in the dark. The duty might amount to 50 per cent., and I am sure that the honorable and learned member for Bendigo would not think of proposing such an impost. He is at present submitting a duty with an algebraic “ x “ ; and the best thing we can do is to apply the percentage principle.
Mr. MACDONALD-PATERSON (Brisbane). - A fixed duty of £10 could not possibly amount to 15 per cent. I have seen models of these machines, and have paid much attention to them at the different agricultural shows throughout Australia.
– Has the honorable member ever seen an invoice from America ?
– PATERSON. - I do not trust invoices ; and the honorable and learned member for Parkes as an excommercial man, plus a lawyer, knows that invoices are often what are commonly called “ faked.” In view of the fact that we are protecting Australian brains which produce machines more economical in their working than the best manufactured in America, I shall vote for a fixed duty of £10.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).Honorable members who advocate a fixed duty have not made out a case that this particular article is entitled to any duty. Patent rights afford the means of giving premiums to brains, and this particular manufacturer, we understand from the honorable member for the Grampians, garnered the ideas of the various manufacturers who assembled at Gawler many years ago. The machine having been perfected, others have copied the principle of its construction, and similar machines are now being made in Canada and the United States. The freight from Chicago to San Francisco is as great as that from San Francisco to Australia, and taking into account the expense incurred in importing the machines, and the fact that labour is as expensive in Canada and the United States as in Australia, no protection should be needed by local manufacturers. The profits made by the manufacturers in the past have been very high, and they wish to have a fixed duty imposed in order that big prices may still be secured to them. If honorable members moving in this matter are sincere in their desire to protect the brains and energy of local manufacturers, they should adopt an ad valorem, duty of 15 per cent., which would be the equivalent of a fixed duty of £10. But they have not made out a case for the duty. The argument that has been used with regard to “ faked “ invoices would apply equally to any other importations.
– Some of the American firms export to their own managers within the Commonwealth, and there is no check upon their prices.
– American manufacturers are as honest as any others, and as an ad valorem duty would be the more equitable, the committee should adhere to the principle they have already laid down.
Mr WATSON (Bland).- Some honorable members have overlooked the universal experience with regard to the relative advantages of fixed and ad valorem duties. It has been found that wherever the values of articles do not fluctuate to any considerable degree, it is preferable from the point of view of honest trading, to have fixed ratherthan ad valorem duties. Ad valorem duties have led to wholesale swindling of theCustoms in the United States, and although American traders are as honest as any others, they must have recourse to the same methods as are adopted by their competitors. There is no fluctuation worth speaking of in the values of harvesters, and a fixed duty would not only help fair traders amongst the importers, but would involve no unfairincidence as between the users of one machine and another. Where largesums are spent in advertising and canvassing, the selling price seldom bears a. proper relation to the actual value of the article. That applies to reapers and binders, and the mere fact that the selling price largely exceeds the cost of the goods landed within the Commonwealth does not necessarily indicate that the importers are reaping very high profits. The import value of the combined harvesters might be put down as’ between £50 and £60, out they are sold at between £80 and £90. If an ad valorem duty were adopted there would be a great danger of the exporting firms in America, which are also importing firms in Australia, placing their own values upon the goods imported. These firms would have invoices purely for Customs purposes because they would simply consign their goods from their factories to their managers in Australia. The combined harvester is an absolutely Australian machine, which enables the farmer to do his work with onesixth of the labour previously required, and at one-sixth of the cost involved in the use of the ordinary stripper. If we can by imposing a fixed duty equivalent to an impost of 15 per cent, ad valorem upon these machines, secure our own people against unfair trading, we are undoubtedly bound to do so. I have seen duplicate invoices sent here in regard to importations from America, and I am convinced that the same thing is quite practicable, and likely to be practised in regard to combined harvesters whenthey are imported.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I trust that the committee will adhere to the principle of imposing ad valorem instead of fixed duties, and that they will make no exception in favour of any particular firm or firms.
Question - That the new item “ Combined harvesters £10 each on and after18th April, 1902,” proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 24
Noes … … 25
Majority … … 1
Item 74. - “ Manufactures of metals.” Special exemptions - “ Sewing machines. “
-I move -
That the words “ sewing machines” be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ sewing machine heads.”
The sewing machine head is really the machine itself, and what I propose is that the cabinet-table and stand shall be dutiable. These articles are made largely in New South Wales, and I have consistently voted for New South Wales industries. Since the Government included sewing machines in the free list, the industry has been shut down, and it is one which employs a considerable amount of labour, and pays- good wages. I do not propose that the machine itself shall be subject to duty, but I appeal to the committee, in the interests of an industry which has been, and can be, carried on successfully within the Commonwealth, to put a reasonable duty of 15 per cent, upon sewing-machine cabinets and stands.
– I feel certain the committee will not agree to this amendment unless the honorable member for Melbourne Ports gives us some information in support of it. He says that this industry is carried on in New South Wales. We knew that before. I understood him to say also that, owing to sewing-machine stands being included in the exemption list, the industry has been shut down. I ask. any honorable member whether it is likely that an industry which has existed for many years absolutely without any protection is likely to be shut down because duty has had to be paid upon some of the materials used in connexion with it during the last few months ? I venture to say that this proposal is an outrageous one ; but if the honorable member could show that the industry had suffered by reason of the imposition of duties upon the materials used, I should be prepared to support him. What are the raw materials of the industry which are taxed ? The cast-iron stands are made here, and there is then only the wood-work, the handle, a hinge or two, and some varnish. I have taken the trouble to make a calculation, and I find that a gallon of varnish is sufficient for 48 of these sewingmachine tables - that is to say,1/2d. per table. The cover handles cost 3d. each, the lockplates cost 3d., the cover key costs1d., and the hinges and lock together cost 9d. The total duty would amount to 3£d., and with £d. for the varnish, the total per table would be 4d. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports says that this industry is going to be ruined because of a duty of id. upon each table, and he asks us to put a duty upon these stands in order to enable Beale and Co. to avoid the payment of this duty. I should like to ask the honorable member whether the wood used is Australian wood 1
-I do not know ; some of it may be.
– This is the only thing the honorable member has said he does not know since we have been here. I believe it is Australian wood that is used ; but whether it is or not, the honorable member has consistently voted against every attempt to make the admission of similar woods free. I have shown that the duty payable upon the whole of the materials necessary to make one of these sewingmachine tables amounts to 4d., and I ask honorable members not to agree to the amendment.
– The article the honorable member is so concerned about is made by a factory within the confines of my electorate. The honorable member for West Sydney put a strong case before the committee when he showed that the amount of duty involved is only 4d. per table. I have here a document sent to me by the Cabinet Makers’ Association of New South Wales. They lament the fact that the duties already imposed do not assist them, and they want some protection for sewingmachine stands. They say -
In the first place we wish to emphasize the fact that as the Federal Tariff stands at present it practically penalizes the production of Australian good.’!. Taking, for instance, the cabinet work of sewing machines, we find them included under the free list, while the raw material, such as timber, glue, methylated spirits, varnish, &c; with only one exception, namely, veneer, is heavily taxed.
I may say that I voted to have all those articles admitted free, but if the Ministry imposes a tax upon them, it is not my duty as a free-trader to fall into the mesh and vote for the protection of the finished article. It has not been the fault of the Opposition that these taxes have been placed upon the , raw material, and with respect to this Tariff I will use the words of the Cabinet Makers’ Association. They -say -
It will thus be seen what an injurious effect upon a large number of our men this Tarin* blun der will cause, and so strong is the feeling about it that we send you the following resolutions.
That is a statement of the feeling of the Cabinet Makers’ Association of New South Wales, and while I regret as a free-trader that I cannot support their resolutions, I must vote against this amendment.
– I have heard some statements made during the last few minutes which I think must have been made under an absolute misconception. I heard the honorable member for West Sydney make the statement that the duty upon these parts of sewing-machines would amount only to 4d. That is an absolute misstatement. I have taken the trouble to find out for myself, and I find that the duty would amount to 5s. or 6s.
– On what ?
– What is the use of talking nonsense? The honorable member has got his lesson from some one outside, who ought not to be allowed to prevent members entering this chamber.
– I rise to a point of order. The .honorable gentleman has stated that I have been guilty of making a deliberate misstatement. He must simply accept what I have said until he can bring some evidence to disprove it.
– The honorable member has no right to charge me in the manner he has done, with having said that he made a deliberate misstatement. What I said was that his statement must have been made .under a misconception, and that he had been receiving information from a certain person who stands around the door, and who should not be allowed to prevent members coming into the chamber in the way in which he does.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney). - I am not going to have. my source of information spoken of in that way. I got my information from a reliable source, and I know precisely where the honorable member got his. He got it from a manufacturer who is in-
Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume- Minister for Home Affairs). - The honorable member questions my statement that the duty amounts to 5s. or 6s .but I have taken the trouble to see these sewingmachine frames made, and to inquire into the process of manufacture. However, as I understand that the Treasurer -wants to get away, I shall have a few words to say on this subject to-morrow.
– I understood that the intention was that we should finish the recommittals this evening, and I maintain that a loyal disposition to carry out that intention has been exhibited by honorable members on this side.
– Nothing of the kind.
– I differ from the honorable member. The honorable member for West Sydney entered into details, showing the exact duty upon item after item of the various things which go to make’ up a sewing-machine frame, and the Home Secretary questioned his statement. Is the Minister prepared to refute the statement’ of the honorable member for West Sydney line by line ?
– I think that honorable members have been endeavouring to get on with the work, but we have not progressed as fast as I should have liked.
– Then why not finish before we adjourn ?
– Because the strain upon Ministers is very heavy, and I know that the Treasurer . feels it severely. We meet early to morrow, and I ask’ honorable members to assist us in finishing the recommittals then, so that the second reading of the Tariff Bill may be moved, and the leader of the Opposition may have an opportunity to make the speech which he desires to make upon it.
– Has the leader of the Opposition agreed to that course 1
– He has.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I understood that the leader of the Opposition thought that we might go on further to-night ?
– Then why does not the honorable member let us go on 1
– The members of the Opposition have .exercised what are their legitimate rights. They have not spoken at great length, but they have been forced to reply to the arguments of honorable” gentlemen opposite. There has certainly been no obstruction.
House adjourned at 1 1 .s p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 April 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020417_reps_1_9/>.