1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN pre sented a petition from the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, praying that the same duties as are imposed upon the importations of the citizens of the Commonwealth may be imposed upon all importations of the Governments of the Commonwealth and of the States.
Petition received and read.
– I wish to know from the acting Minister for Defence if his attention has been drawn to the alarming statements which have appeared in the press in connexion with the treatment of the soldiers who have been brought back from South Africa in the steamer Drayton Orange. If so, will he cause inquiries to be made, and have a thorough investigation of the whole matter ?
– One could hardly fail to have his attention directed to the alarming statements which appear in this morning’s Age and Argus, and as soon as I reached my office I communicated on the subject with the general officer commanding. The Drayton Grange will reach Melbourne about four o’clock this afternoon. She is inside Port Phillip Heads, and the sick men who were on board her, except a few who are convalescent, and who will be left on board, have been landed.
– Those who have survived.
– I hope that all the sick will survive. Those who have been landed have been comfortably housed, and are being well attended to. Everything that could be done for them is being done, under the direction of Colonel Williams. I have asked the General to cause an inquiry to be made at once.
– I hope it will be a thorough one.
- Colonel Williams, Captain Tickell - I wanted to appoint Captain Colquhoun, but he is ill - and two other officers will proceed on board the vessel this afternoon or to-morrow morning; and make a thorough inquiry into the charges which have been published. They will then report to me, and when I receive their report I shall be able to determine whether there is occasion to take further action. Honorable members must remember that they cannot accept every newspaper statement as absolutely correct, because reports are often exaggerated. It is therefore well to get as near to the truth as possible before coming to any decision.
But if the report of the officers I have named is what I anticipate it will be, I shall communicate with the Imperial authorities on the subject. If necessary, I shall also appoint another board, with more extended powers, to investigate the matter, but I hope that that will not be necessary.
– Will the report be given to the press ?
– Probably ; but I do not wish to promise that at the present time.
– Will it be laid upon the table of the House ?
– Yes, if that is desired.
– If I understood the Minister’s answer to the question which I asked upon the subject yesterday, it was to the effect that an inquiry would be made, and that if the statements which appeared in the press are found to be true, steps will be taken to inform the Imperial military authorities, so that a similar blunder may not occur again. I should like to know now if the Minister proposes to go no further than that? Does he think that an inquiry will, of itself, be sufficient to console the relatives of those who appear to have lost their lives through the negligence of the military authorities ?
– It is impossible for me to say, until I have obtained a report upon the subject, what steps will be taken, but if the matter has to be reported to the Imperial authorities, it will not be merely reported, but properly emphasized. It will be time when the exact position of affairs is ascertained to determine what should be done for any who may have suffered through the negligence of the military authorities in South Africa.
– Can the Minister for Home Affairs inform the House of the probable date of the appointment of the commission of experts which is to report upon the federal capital sites?
– The matter is one for the consideration of the Cabinet, and I intend to submit it to my colleagues within the next two or three weeks. It is impossible to say exactly when the commission will be appointed.
– What is the estimated cost ofthe commission ?
– It is impossible to say ; but the commission should be composed of the best experts we can obtain, and I do not think we should limit it to public servants. The fixing of the federal capital site is a very important matter. It should not be rushed ; neither should it be dealt with by persons who are not competent to deal with it properly. I do not think that the cost of the commission will be very much. It will not be an amount about which any one can raise a scare.
– Is it the intention of She Government to maintain houses for the Governor-General at both Sydney and Melbourne?
– The Government Houses in Sydney and Melbourne are low in the possession of the Government of the Commonwealth, but what will be done with regard to them in the future it is im- possible to say. I understand that the proposals of the Government in regard to the Governor-General’s allowances will be laid upon the table to-day.
– Have the Government yet finally decided what amount of drawbackthey will allow upon the exportation of goods containing sugar which has paid duty ?
– I do not think it will be well, as a general rule, to consider the quantity of sugar in jam as equal to more than 5-12ths of the whole contents of the jam ; but we are disposed to assist the export trade in every way, and are therefore willing to provide facilities, if necessary, for the manufacture in bond of jam intended for export, so that no duty will have to be paid upon the sugar used.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister yet received the report from the magistrate appointed to inquire into the influx of Italian immigrants into Western Australia? If so, when will it be available for honorable members?
– The report with appendices was received at the commencement of last week, and was sent to the Government Printer, but further appendices, containing information from outlying parts which the magistrate had been unable to reach, have been received by this week’s mail, and therefore I am afraid the document will not be ready for honorable members before next week.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs lay upon the table of the House a return showing the expense of the prosecutions which have taken place up to the present time under the Customs laws of the Commonwealth?
– If the House so desires I shall be happy to have such a return prepared.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the report in regard to patents, to which reference was made yesterday by the honorable member for South Australia, Sir Langdon Bonython, will be laid upon the table at a sufficiently early date to enable honorable members to consider its contents before next session ?
– Undoubtedly. We hope to obtain the return within the next fortnight.As honorable members know, we have not the control of patents, and although the States officers treat us with every cordiality we have no right to ask them to neglect State work which is very pressing.
– The report will not be of much value unless we obtain it at an early date.
– Is there anything specially to prevent the Government from taking over, at an early date, the Patents departments of the States ?
– There is nothing except that I think it is desirable that we should have federal legislation for the regulation of the department before we take it over.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral why casual men engaged under some of the Deputy Postmasters-General in the erection of telegraph lines are not paid their wages promptly. Two cases have been brought under my notice in which men working in my own electorate have not been paid for six weeks. I presume that other cases have occurred in different parts the Commonwealth.
– I must ask the honorable and learned member to give notice of his question.
– I would ask the acting Prime Minister whether it is intended to allow the Deputy Postmasters-General power to deal with these cases ?
– The Deputy PostmastersGeneral will be allowed every power consistent with the proper discharge of the work of the department. I would point
Out, however, that the majority of the numerous complaints which have been brought before the House during the last few weeks relate to action taken by Deputy Postmasters-General when they have been left with a free hand.
– I desire to ask the acting Minister for Defence when the scheme for the re-organization of the Defence forces and retrenchment in connexion with- the department will be laid, as promised, before the House 1
– I do not think it was promised that the scheme would be laid before the House before the Estimates were submitted. The Estimates are being prepared, but I cannot say when they will be presented to honorable members. It- is impossible to give the true foundations of the whole scheme until the Estimates have been prepared and submitted to the House.
– Then we are not to see the scheme until the Estimates have been submitted 1
– I do not know what the honorable and learned member desires me to do. Am I to give a mere skeleton of the scheme ? That would be of little use. I fail to see how I can give any details of the scheme of retrenchment until the Defence Estimates have been prepared.
– Is the House to understand that no skeleton of the scheme for the re-organization of the defence forces will be submitted, and that honorable members will be left to gather from the Estimates what is intended to be done ?
– To a certain extent the Estimates will speak for themselves. But a definite statement, giving fuller information than might, perhaps, be gathered from a perusal of the Estimates, will be made in regard to the scheme. When the Estimates are submitted every information will be given.
– But when 1
– It is impossible to say. It seems to me that the honorable and learned member desires to deal with this question before it is ripe. It is not ripe for consideration at the present time.
– I desire to lay upon the table a paper relating to the GovernorGeneral’s establishment, which honorable members will receive with interest. In moving -
That the document be printed,
I may perhaps be allowed to direct the attention of honorable members to the manner in which the expenditure relating to the Governor-General’s establishment, and the Federal Executive Council, is here submitted, in order that we may be prepared to deal with it if necessary,, in advance of the Estimates. As honorable members are aware, before a Governor-General can be appointed, it will be necessary for the House to determine what expenses it will authorize in connexion with his establishment. The question can now be considered quite free from its relation to any particular person, as the present acting occupant of the office can scarcely be affected by any determination which may be arrived at. When honorable members take the paper in their hands, they will notice on the left hand side of the upper column the appropriations for 1901. During the debates that recently took place, it was shown that the Governor-General’s establishment was provided for in different votes. Seven or eight different items appear here, and in most’ cases the votes of which they are part include appropriations for purposes other than those connected with the GovernorGeneral. An examination of the Canadian and States systems shows much the same practice ; but it also shows that in each case the distribution under a number of headings of the actual amount voted tends to obscure both the total amount and its purposes. On one side of this paper will be found grouped the appropriations as they appeared in the last Estimates. On the other side it is shown that, so far as future votes are concerned, only one line will appear in the Estimates : “ GovernorGeneral’s Establishment.” The House has decided that there shall be no more allowances, and there are none here. Of the sums set out in this paper none will be paid to the Governor-General. They will be paid in order to maintain the house or houses in which the Governor-General resides, and to provide the necessary official expenses connected with the discharge of his duties. It is not competent for me at this stage to explain the contents of the paper, but I may perhaps be pardoned for saying that, inclusive of the special vote of £5,000 which was made last year, the appropriations for the Governor-General’s establishment amounted to £13,180. The proposal about to be submitted in the current year’s Estimates for the same establishment will be for an . appropriation df £5,500. Honorable members will find set out, in regard to the proposals for the current year, a number of details, which indicate what, after very careful and prolonged inquiry, we have been able to set down as the essentials. We have given every particular that it is possible to supply for the information of the House, and have out down every sum as low as is possible with the information at present at our disposal. But the House will not be asked to vote these details, because, notwithstanding all the inquiries which have been made, there is still some u u certainty as to whether some of the amounts are not too small, while others may, perhaps, be too large. The House will be asked to vote on this information the lump sum of £5,500, in one line, to meet the expenses of the Governor-General’s establishment.
– Is provision made for two residences 1
– We provide for the maintenance of Government ‘House, Melbourne, and Government House, Sydney, for the use of the Governor-General. It is not for rae to argue the question now more than to say that the position of the State of New South Wales, and the magnitude of its capital, appear to render it desirable, in the interests of the Commonwealth, that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral for the time being, should have every encouragement to visit that most important centre of Australian life. In regard to the total sum that appears on theEstimates for the expenses of the Federal
Executive Council, so far as they relate to the Governor-General, honorable members will, find that in this paper two changes have been made. The effect is that whereas last year a sum of £2,475 was appropriated for this purpose, we are asking for the current year a sum of only £1,925. We have reduced the amount set apart for various expenses of the Governor-General by £1,000, which, we think, upon the new lines of economy, will be sufficient. The increase that appears, and to which I wish to call the attention of the House, is made op. grounds of policy, and not in relation to the GovernorGeneral himself so much as to the Executive Government of the Common weal th. Honorable members who have acted as advisers to a Governor of any of the States will be aware that at the present time the practice in communicating either with the Colonial-office, or through the Colonialoffice with foreign powers, or with any of the great dependencies of the Empire, “is always the same. The communications which pass between the GovernorGeneral of the Commonwealth and the Governors of the States have also been treated in one way. All that the Executive does when sending a .despatch to a State, to the Colonial-office, or to a foreign power, is to ask the Governor-General to send the message, and by-and-by to receive a reply. The intervening processes have been hitherto undertaken in the case of a State by a member of the Governor’s s.taff, or, in the case of the Commonwealth, by a member of the Governor-General’s staff. There has been no responsibility to the Executive for what has transpired during the intervening stages. In my own experience in an Executive, an instance occurred in which a loss was incurred amounting to several times this total annual cost of our Executive Council officers owing to an error in the transmission of an important message relating to a question of finance.
– Order ! I am afraid that the Minister is going further than the motion for the printing of a paper will permit. I must ask him to keep to the question.
– What is proposed in this case is that instead of having :i clerk to the Federal Executive Council at £150 a year, together with another clerk provided for under a general vote, the House shall be asked to vote for a secretary to the Federal Executive Council a salary of £600 a year. This proposal is made in order that in future the officer having the custody of all despatches and the receipt of all public communications of every character passing from or to the Government of the Commonwealth from or to any other Government, whether within or outside Australia, shall be a Commonwealth officer responsible to the Government for his work. As a matter of policy we submit this to the House. It is a somewhat novel procedure in Australia, but has closer analogy to the Canadian practice. It has been long felt that the Government ought to be itself the controller of all its official correspondence. Any communication which a Governor or Governor-General may desire to despatch should be sent in his own name and character, apart from the despatches sent or received by him for the Commonwealth Executive. I ask pardon for this explanation, being anxious that when honorable members read this paper they should be able to see at once the three departures that it marks from the old practice. First, we propose to bring under one total the whole of the expenses relating to the Governor-General’s establishment instead of distributing them . Secondly, we propose to set them out as a lump sum, giving the fullest detail that we are able to supply. Thirdly, while we greatly reduce the expenditure under the vote for the Federal Executive Council, we propose to take over the whole control, through a Commonwealth officer, of external communications passing to or from the Commonwealth Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon no- tice -
– The answers to the. honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 .Four of the States, viz., New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, have providedby special enactment that no member of the Federal Parliament shall bo qualified for nomination or election to their respective State Parliaments ; a fifth, viz., Tasmania, has enacted that no member of the Parliament of Australia, or Minister of the Crown under the Commonwealth, shall sit as a member of either House of the State Parliament ; the only exception to this class of legislation being the State of Queensland.
New South Wales, Act No. 73 of 1900, section 7. - A member of the Parliament of the Commonwealth shall be incapable of being summoned or being nominated or elected as a member of the Legislative Council or Legislative Assembly in the nineteenth or any subsequent Parliament of New South Wales.
Victoria, Act No. 1723 of 1901, section 2.- No member of either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia shall be at the same time qualified for nomination or election as a member of either House of the Parliament of Victoria.
South Australia, Act No. 731 of 1899, section 2. - No member of either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia shall be qualified for nomination or election as a member of either House of the Parliament of South Australia.
Western Australia, Act No. 5 of 1900, section 2. - No member of either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia shall at the same time be qualified for nomination or election as a member of either House of the Parliament of Western Australia.
Tasmania, Act No. 5 of 1900, section 9, subsection (1 ). - No member of either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia shall be capable of sitting as a member of either House of the Parliament of Tasmania.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster - General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s requested amendments resumed from 6th August, vide page 14928):
Division IV. - Agricultural products and groceries.
Item 13, Stearine, per lb.,1d.
Request - That the duty be reduced to½d.
– The duty on candles, stearine, and paraffin wax was originally l½d. per lb., which was reduced by the House to1d. In the Senate the duty on candles has been allowed to remain at1d. per lb., but the duty on stearine has been reduced to½d. per lb., and the duty on paraffin wax to ¼d. per lb. It is somewhat unfortunate that a large number of the Senate’s requests for a reduction of duty relate to items in this division, which embraces agricultural products and natural industries. We are of opinion, as we have been all through, that the duty on stearine and candles should be exactly the same. Practically the whole of the work is done in the manufacture of the stearine. The mere making of the stearine into candles employs very little labour, being done mostly by machinery, and with very few hands. But the making of stearine is an industry which requires a very large amount of capital, gives a large amount of employment, and uses up a large quantity of our tallow. Under these circumstances, and seeing that those who are interested in this industry have to pay duty on a considerable quantity of material they use, we think that they are fairly entitled to the amount of protection which was granted by this House. Stearine is mostly produced in Germany, where it is made very cheaply, not from tallow, but from palm oil. If I recollect aright, palm oil bears a duty of 6d. per gallon, and even if it were obtainable in large quantities, the amount of the duty would practically prevent its being used here for the purposes for which it is used in Germany - the manufacture of the stearine. Therefore, the article is made much more cheaply in European countries than it can possibly be made here. I do not know the exact value, but it is said, I believe correctly, that the German product would be sold there for about £35 per ton, whereas in Australia the cost of its manufacture would be £45, or near that amount. So that the amount of the ‘ duty, considered in relation to the extra cost of manufacturing the article here, appears to be very small indeed. Stearin must not be regarded as an ordinary raw material, used in manufacture, because it is simply brought in, put into a - mould, and made into, candles. The preparation of stearine is an industry in which a large, amount of money is expended. We think that to allow, as we believe would be allowed under the suggested duty of ½d. per lb., a large importation - of German manufacture would be to cause a serious loss, and an injury to local industries, which give a large amount of employment both directly and indirectly. Under these circumstances, we consider that the amendment which has been requested should not be made.
– Is it not the raw material for articles other than candles 1
– It is practically a manufactured article when it comes to be used here. I move -
That the amendment requested be not made.
– As this item seriously affects the candle manufacturers in the State I represent, I desire to make a few remarks. It is a somewhat novel thing for me to defend the candle manufacturers of that State, because they combined and spent their money to prevent my return to this House. Under the duty passed by this House, they are placed in an unfair position, and, in a spirit of fairness, I desire to save their necks from being placed under the heel of the large manufacturers of Victoria- and other States. The price charged by the manufacturers of stearine in Victoria is £45 spot cash, f.o.b., in Melbourne, and the freight, wharfage, and other expenses incidental to its delivery in Tasmania amount to 25s. per ton, so that the landed cost is £46 5s., or exactly 5d. per lb. In Victoria the manufacturers of stearine are also the manufacturers of candles, and they wish to have all the States under their control for the sale of their special productions. They are charging the trade in Tasmania 5j’d. per lb. for their candles, subject to a discount of 7^ per cent, for payment within 30 days, which reduces the cost to 5¼d. per lb. net cash. The manufacturers of stearine, who are also manufacturers of candles, in Victoria and other States, only permit small manufacturers in distant States the exceedingly absurd profit of £d. per lb. on their productions. They can have only one object in view, and that is to create a demand for their candles in the other States’ to the exclusion of stearine, thereby closing up the manufactories in the small States, and securing a monopoly. I claim the vote of those honorable members who on many occasions have spoken so loudly in favour of scouting monopolists out of the Commonwealth. I believe that it has been industriously circulated by those interested in this matter, that if this requested amendment of the Senate be agreed to the Standard Oil Company, the only company in Australia that produces paraffin, intends to immediately increase their price so that the manufacturers shall get no benefit from the proposed alteration in the duty. I desire to inform the committee that there is not a single word of truth in that statement. The Standard Oil Company has contracts already in existence with the manufacturers in the other States, and they have intimated that whatever alteration may be subsequently made in the Tariff, the manufacturers shall get the benefit of it. I ask honorable members, ought we not to let every industry stand upon an equal footing t Why bolster up the large manufacturers, and, at the same time, enact a law the effect of which will be to destroy the smaller industries of the various States 1 . The facts I have brought under the notice of honorable members clearly prove that it is quite impossible for the small manufacturer to exist under the circumstances set forth in- the schedule submitted to the committee. The smaller manufacturers know that the spirit of protection is so thoroughly abroad in Victoria that it is somewhat useless to attempt to combat it in its entire force, and they are therefore willing to submit to a duty of £d. in the one case and of a id. in the other, giving to the manufacturers of stearine in Victoria an advantage to the extent of as much again as that given to the producers of paraffin wax. It should appeal to the judgment of honorable members that it is not fair to place the manufacturer’ in the smaller States at a disadvantage in this respect, and they should take advantage of the present opportunity to remedy, so far as possible, the injustice sought to be done by the present proposal of the Government.
– The remarks of the last speaker would have a very great amount of force if they were quite correct. I have yet to learn in what way the smaller manufacturer is handicapped, if, instead of using a foreign byproduct, he has to use the product of our own soil, and of our own factories. The raw material required by the small manufacturers has been, and is being supplied by the candle manufacturers of Australia. When we have caudle manufacturers in Victoria, New South Wales, and other States working independently and competing one against the other, all talk of monopoly is simply ringing the changes upon words. We have nothing approaching a monopoly in the business. AVe have no monopoly even in Victoria, so that it cannot possibly be said that there is a monopoly in this business in the whole Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable member deny that there is a combine ?
– I do, most decidedly. Sworn testimony that there has been no combine, and that there is no combine at the present time was given recently before a commission, and there is no doubt that these firms are acting entirely independently of each other. I am quite sure that if the amendment requested by the Senate is made, the larger factories employing the greater number of hands will be seriously handicapped. I have no desire to handicap any of the small men. If I thought there was a monopoly in any way to injure the small men in Tasmania or New South Wales, I should be the first to object to it. I have a written statement from Messrs. Kitchen and Sons, of Victoria, and Mr. Gillies, a large manufacturer in New South Wales, stating that they have supplied these people with their raw material, and have never had the slightest complaint, and that they are willing to continue to supply them. What we have to decide in this matter is whether, in the interest of the small manufacturer, we are prepared to fairly cripple the larger one. The stearine used is manufactured solely from tallow. We hear a great deal of primary industries, and surely it is better that we should use our own raw material than that we should purchase the by-products supplied by a foreign company. The honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. Hartnoll, condemns monopoly, and yet he talks as the champion of the Standard Oil Company, of America, which is one of the biggest monopolies in the world. Surely, if we are to have monopolies, it is better that they should be in the hands of local companies, whom we shall be able to regulate and control 1 Unless we keep this work in the Commonwealth, we shall be supporting a foreign monopoly, over which we shall have no control whatever. I repeat that no small manufacturer has suffered in the past, and guarantees can be given that no small manufacturer shall suffer in the future. If this duty is lowered, as the Senate requests, we might just as well lower the duty upon candles, and close down our factories.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has argued strongly in favour of one or two individuals who manufacture stearine. If he has any knowledge of the subject, the honorable member must know that the machinery required in the manufacture of stearine is rather expensive, and that is the reason why only one or two companies possess the necessary plant.
– There are three in Victoria alone.
– All selling at the same price.
– Outside of the combine there are none, and for the purposes of this argument they may be dealt with as one. I remind the honorable member also that it would require but very few men to make all the stearine required in the Commonwealth, while a very great many hands are employed in the manufacture of candles, and in labelling and packing the boxes. The honorable member opposes the requested amendment in the interests of a couple of firms, forgetting entirely that we are dealing with the raw material required by the small manufacturer. That was pointed out when this matter was previously dealt with by this committee. Honorable members will remember that protests were read from many small candle manufacturers, asking that this article, which is their raw material, should be admitted free. The request of the Senate does not go as far as that. We are not asked to admit the article free, but to reduce the duty to £d. per lb., because it is the raw material of the small candle manufacturers. Unless we desire to wipe them out altogether, we should concede what is requested. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has referred to one or two manufacturers, and quoted Messrs. Kitchen and Sons, of Victoria, and Mr. Gillies, of New South Wales. Whether these firms are running together in this matter or not I do not know, but. as they both have stearine plants, I am quite sure they will both be found earnestly engaged in pointing out that there should be a duty upon this article. Probably they will also try to explain that the duty will make it cheaper. If that argument is advanced, we should deal nobly by them, and prevent their suffering by taking care that their own proposal to make the article cheaper shall not be brought into force. When we consider the price of stearine and compare the duty upon it with the duty upon candles, we shall find that if the amendment which the Senate requests us to make is not made we shall actually be imposing a higher percentage of duty upon stearine - the raw material for candles - than we are imposing upon candles themselves. The present duty is equivalent to an ad valorem duty of 25 per cent, or 26 per cent., whilst the duty of Id. per lb. on candles is equivalent to an ad valorem duty -of from IS per cent, to 19 per cent. Protectionists themselves, who must see the anomaly which has been created, should surely vote with us to reduce the duty as requested by the Senate. This is another instance in which the House of Representatives might show some regard for the other Chamber. When we send a measure up to the Senate, we send it up for the consideration of honorable senators, and we should not entirely ignore the decisions to which they come. In this matter the Senate was unanimous, and even protectionists like Senator .”Keating and others were agreed that as this is a raw material for the candle manufacturer, the duty upon it should be reduced. I am arguing on behalf of the small men who say that this article is their raw material, and if they are allowed to enter into competition with the larger men, by being able to get their raw material practically duty free, the price of candles will be lowered for the men engaged in mines and for the poorer house- - holds. The honorable member for Newcastle should not forget that this is a tax which will fall almost exclusively upon miners and the poorer .households. The members of the Senate were so convinced that this is a raw material of the candle manufacturer, that the Vice-President of the Executive Council did not even divide the committee of the Senate upon the proposal to reduce the duty. This is, therefore, peculiarly a matter upon which we should come to some arrangement with the other House if possible. I again ask honorable members, as I asked them last night : Are we going to consider these requests of the Senate, or are we not 1 Because if upon each request that is brought forward, honorable members are going to vote blindly, the sooner the Minister in charge of the Bill admits that he is going to entirely ignore the other House, and asks to vote against these requests en bloc, the better it will be for us all. It will place the Senate in a humiliating position”, which is evidently what the Minister desires. I should view a collision between the two Houses with the greatest possible dismay. It would tend to add to the feeling of insecurity that at present prevails. We should do everything possible to prevent it. If I were considering the interests of the party to which I belong, I should agree to many of the high duties being allowed to remain, because that would enable us to point out the faults in the Tariff with greater vehemence. But I protest against the action of the Government in not trying to meet the Senate half way.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has stated that there are no combines between the candle manufacturers of Victoria. If that be so, will the honorable member explain how it is that they all chai-ge the same price for the article1? If there is no combine, what is the explanation 1 It is an arrangement for mutual profit at all events. It is rather curious for a free-trader to support a duty for the benefit of manufacturers, but I am not supporting the interests of the larger manufacturers on this occasion, but those of two or three of the smaller candlemakers. I desire to point out the injustice that the original proposal of the Government in regard to stearine will inflict upon them. In Tasmania, before this Tariff came into force, there was no duty upon stearine. The article could be landed there for £35 pelton ; but now, owing to the duty, the cost is £45 per ton. In fact, the duty has actually prohibited the smaller manufacturers from importing stearine. A Tasmanian manufacturer, Mr. Evans, landed a cargo a few days after the Tariff came into operation, and was obliged to send it out again, because he could not pay the duty and compete with . the Victorian manufacturers. Under the circumstances, I urge the committee to do an act of justice to the smaller manufacturers, who cannot live if the higher duty is imposed. If the smaller manufacturers go to the wall, the larger ones will have the whole of the business in their own hands. As the labour party have distinctly said that they are opposed to monopolies, they ought to support the Opposition on this occasion, and agree to the duty requested by the Senate.
-When this question was last discussed the representatives of Tasmania were not so much concerned about stearine. The opposition they then offered was to a tax upon paraffin wax. It was then stated that after the Tariff came into force the manufacturers of Melbourne had positively refused to supply the Tasmania]! candle manufacturers with the best of stearine. I found that statement to be absolutely untrue, and those who made it now say that they were not referring to the present occasion, but to what took place many years ago. The committee should remember that- both paraffin and stearine are practically the manufactured candle, except that the material has to be moulded, and the wick to be run through. Paraffin is a byproduct of petroleum oil. Very little labour is involved in the manufacture of the candles from the material. A very few boys would be sufficient to mould all the candles required for the Common weallth If we adopt the suggestion of the Senate it will be inequitable. That House requests that the duty of Id. may be left upon the manufactured candle, and that the duty on stearine may be reduced to-Jd., and the duty on paraffin to (. The work that is necessary for the manufacture of candles from the stearine does not warrant the difference between £d. and Id. in the way of protection. When the question of employment of labour is taken into consideration there is ten times more reason for placing a duty upon stearine than upon the manufactured, article. Some hundreds of hands are engaged in the various States. On the other hand, how many industries would be crushed out in Tasmania if we rejected the Senate’s request ?
– Every candle and soap manufacturer will be crushed out.
– According to the information given to the committee on the last occasion, the candle making industy of Tasmania benefits about four boys ; and to assist such a manufacture, and for the sake of allowing palm stearine to be introduced from Germany, we are asked to do an injury to an industry that is employing some hundreds of hands. As to the paraffin, it is largely used in producing what are known as composite candles, which are placed on the market simply for the purpose of bringing about a reduction in the price. The composite candle is of no use for mining purposes. It can be used only in the colder parts of Australia. It is made from the byproduct of standard oil mixed with stearine. The tax upon it, proposed by the Tariff, is a very small one, amounting to Id. per lb. The duties in force in the States, with the exception of New South Wales, Tasmania, and Western Australia, before federation were greater than those now collected. It was always recognised that stearine should carry the same duty as the manufactured candle. The request of the Senate was carried upon the representation of men who were interested in the agency of the Standard Oil Company. I can quite see that ; and I am not going, in their interests, to vote for reducing a duty upon an article of this description. For every one ton of stearine that is imported by the small manufacturers of candles, the big manufacturers import 50 tons ; and it is now admitted that the smaller manufacturers are being supplied with stearine by the larger makers at what is a nominal profit on the cost of production. For these reasons, I trust that the request of the Senate will be rejected.
– It is rather amusing to hear the honorable member for Newcastle on this question, because, as a rule, when capital and capitalists, are under discussion, the honorable member takes the most cautious attitude, being, I believe, of the sincere opinion that capital requires very careful watching. It would appear that this particular capital in the honorable member’s own electorate acts on benevolent principles, and is actually eraployed for the purpose of providing, at practically no profit, plenty of stearine for the small manufacturers. My own impression is that the object of manufacturers of stearine is to get all the profit they, can out of their customers.’ We are told by the honorable member for Newcastle that the stearine manufacturers supply the article at a nominal price to their competitors.
– I said that that was the information given to me by the man of whom the honorable member is speaking.
– Of what man am I speaking ?
– The man from Tasmania who is “lobbying.”
– I do not know to what man the honorable member is referring. If the honorable member does not believe that this stearine is being produced on benevolent principles, what does he mean by his remarks 1
– What I mean is that the Tasmanian people admit they are getting stearine at a reasonable price.
– That is not admitted.
– What fools the people in Tasmania must be, if they are being treated in this handsome manner, to move heaven and earth in order to get rid of those who regard them so benevolently ! What they really want is to get out of the hands of those who at present supply them, and to obtain the stearine as cheaply as possible. That is a commercial attitude which is not taken up by honorable members on the other side, who believe that capitalistic enterprises are conducted on purely benevolent principles. We on this side do not believe any such twaddle. The people who produce stearine want every far-thing they can wring out of the consumer.
– Does not the same argument apply to the foreign trader ?
– The argument applies to all traders, and we shall be on common ground if we all recognise the fact.
– Who has said that the manufacturers confer a benefit on their competitors 1
– The statement has been made twice that the manufacturers are actuated .only hy an intense desire to foster the competition of the Tasmanian candle-makers by producing the raw material at a price which practically leaves no profit.
– That is a great exaggeration of what was really said.
– I must be allowed to put my case in my own way. We are told that stearine is produced from palm oil ; and the Treasurer has apparently got hold of the same fiction.
– In Germany, stearine is produced from palm oil.
– My information is that palm oil, in conjunction with tallow, is used only for the purpose of producing a superior kind of stearine.
– In some cases stearine is almost entirely palm oil.
– My authority is to the effect I have indicated. ‘We are told that the bulk of the labour is used in making stearine ; but my information is to the contrary. I understand that the labour employed in making and packing the candles is six times greater than that required in the manufacture of stearine. If there be opposition to any distinction between candles and stearine, why not reduce the duty on the candles to -d. 1 If honorable members are anxious to level up the difference, let us reduce the duty on candles. Why not consult the consumer occasionally? My own impression ‘is that this request of the Senate is fair and reasonable. It will enable those who require stearine to get it at a reasonable price, and thus to compete with the large manufacturing companies in Australia.
– There may be something in the contention that the duty on stearine should not be as high as that on the completed candle. The only difficulty I have at present is that the Senate proposes to fix the duty on paraffin wax at £d. per lb., as against Id. per lb. on the completed article, and £d. per lb. -on the stearine. I cannot agree to go so far in the direction desired by the Senate, but it might be reasonable to provide that the duty on stearine shall be lower than that on the completed candle. I admit that there is some danger of a few of the monopolistic firms in the Commonwealth, not so much “getting at” the consumer in the meantime, as “ wiping out “ the small manufacturers by compelling the latter to pay a high price for stearine. I have heard several complaints on that score, and it does not seem proper to allow any possibility or reasonable probability of such conduct, if it can be avoided. I am prepared to meet the Senate to the extent of fixing a lower duty on stearine, but I cannot consent to a lower duty than J-d. on paraffin wax.
Question - That the amendment requested be not made - put. The committee divided.
Majority …. … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment requested made.
Item 15, Paraffin wax, beeswax,….. animal fats, per lb.,1d.
Request. - That the duty be reduced to¼d.
That the amendment requested be not made.
Although the committee have decided that the amendment requested reducing the duty upon stearine to½d. shall be made, the Government are not prepared to amend the duty upon paraffin by reducing it to¼d. per lb. Paraffin comes here as a completelymanufactured article, and has only to be run into moulds to be converted into candles. The whole subject was debated during the discussion of the request for a reduction of the duty upon stearine, and I therefore do not propose to do more now than to have the opinion of the committee on the subject placed upon record. Although honorable members may not be prepared to go ‘to the length of retaining the duty at1d., I do not think that they should reduce it to as low as¼d. per lb.
– As we want to save time, and to compromise as far as possible, I think we might very well decide to reduce the duty to½d. per lb., and I therefore move -
That the motion be amended by the addition of the following words, “ but that the duty be fixed at½d.”
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- I hope that the amendment will be accepted without debate. The opinion was generally expressed during the discussion upon stearine, that a duty of½d. per lb. all round would be a fair compromise, though I think that the duty upon paraffin might be lower than the duty upon stearine.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I shall support the amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth, although personally I should like to see the duty upon paraffin fixed at¼d. per lb. I would point out that whereas stearine is worth 4d. per lb., paraffin is worth only 2d. per lb., so that a duty of½d. per lb. upon paraffin will give the local manufacturers of it twice as much protection as is afforded to the makers of stearine.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Item 21, Fruits and vegetables, viz. : - . . . . . Raisins and other, including peel and ginger, preserved (not in liquid), per lb. 3d.
Request. - That the duty be reduced to 2d.
That the amendment requested be not made.
– The Treasurer has been using somewhat contradictory arguments in defence of the existing duty. He says, first of all, that if we accept the request, we shall prevent the expansion of the local raisin industry, and render it necessary to increase our importations by 50 per cent., in order to obtain as much revenue as we receive now from a duty of 3d. per lb. On the other hand, according to the Treasurer’s own statement, if we leave the duty as it is, and thus encourage the extensive local production of raisins, we shall reduce the revenue obtainable from this duty, and ultimately it will be destroyed entirely, provided that the industry expands to a sufficient extent.
– It will be reduced ultimately, but not for many years to come.
– The one argument destroys the other, and I think we can cast them both aside. Looking at the matter entirely from a protectionist stand-point - and I recognise that as there is a majority of protectionists in this Chamber, we have to deal with these questions somewhat from that point of view - surely all protectionists will admit that an industry which cannot carry on with 80 per cent, of protection costs the community too much in the way of the increased price demanded for its products. Eighty per cent, is the protection which the raisin-growing industry would receive under a duty of 2d. per lb. According to a price list in the Melbourne Journal of Commerce, the raisins with which those from Mildura have to compete are selling, duty paid, at 6d. per lb. When we deduct the duty of 3d. per lb., as well as the freight charges, from that price, it must be seen that these raisins cannot cost more than 2£d. per lb. at the port of export. Twopence on 2id. ‘is SO per cent., while 3d. is 120 per cent. Surely that is too much. This is a request which honorable members who are protectionists may well concede, without departing from their own principles. I can see no good ground for resisting the request of the Senate. With a duty of 2d. per lb. the industry will be tremendously protected, and, in that case, I do not see why we should insist on a protection of 120 per cent. I trust that in the interest of compromise with the Senate, in the interest of the comsumers, and without injury to the producers, the committee will comply with the request.
– I trust that the committee will not accede to the request of the Senate. In this House it was decided on the voices to maintain the original duty which had existed in four of the States. A few weeks ago I presented a petition from 292 bond fide raisin growers of Mildura, and the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, also presented a petition from almost 100 raisin growers of Renmark. If the original duty of 3d. per lb. is not maintained, I am inclined to think that the industry will nob be able to exist. Mildura was brought into existence ten or twelve years ago in consequence of the imposition of a duty of 3d. per lb., and it has only been within the last two or three years that the raisin growers have been able to make any headway. It has a population of almost 5,000 persons, of whom 3,500 are dependent on the industry. It is a most significant fact that whereas the wholesale price of imported raisins in Melbourne was 6d. per lb. before Mildura sultanas were offered in the market, Mildura sultanas - which, I suppose, are recognised as the best that the world produces - are sold at 3£d. per lb. for the lowest quality, up to 5d. per lb. for the best quality. Their production” has certainly brought about a reduction of the price of imported raisins. From a return which has been circulated by the Treasurer I find that for the first nine months after the Tariff came into operation a revenue of £126,000 was raised from the duties on fruits and vegetables. His original estimate of the revenue for the whole year was £164,000. If the collections for the next three months should be on the same basis as those for the last nine months, we shall have -raised a revenue of £168,000. A reduction of the duty to 2d. per lb. will mean a loss of over £50,000. In Persia, which pretty well supplies the world, with raisins, wages run from 8d. to lOd. a day, children obtaining only half that rate; whereas at Mildura, Renmark, and other raisin-growing settlements in the Commonwealth, at least 6s. a day is paid. It is impossible for our raisin growers to employ white labour, and to compete with Asiatic labour. Again, the oversea freight from Persia to Australia is less than the freight from Mildura to Melbourne. Since the imposition of this duty of 3d. per lb., 420 acres have been added to the acreage under sultanas, and I am inclined to think that if the duty is not maintained, the death knell of sultana growing will be sounded in the Commonwealth.
– This is one of those cases in which I think the Senate has requested the imposition of a duty which would amply compensate for all difference in regard to wages and cost of transit. I think it will be admitted by every honorable member that 2d. per lb. is a very high duty to impose on this class of goods. Whether it is applied to raisins or other kinds of dried fruits, 2d. per lb. represents a very high duty, being in some cases equal to 100 per cent. Surely it will not be contended that that will not amply compensate for all differences in regard to wages and cost of transit ? I do not see why any opposition should be shown to the Senate’s very reasonable request. I believe that from the revenue point of view the Treasurer would not be very much out of pocket if the requested reduction were made. I also believe that a larger consumption of imported fruits at a reduced price would not necessarily tend to the displacement of Mildura raisins, because if these cheap products were brought within the reach of the people, a very much larger number of persons would be able to purchase than can do so under existing conditions. The cheapening of a product does not always mean a displacement of the local article. The price of Mildura raisins is not high, and there is no need for a duty of 3d. per lb. to protect them. If there was such a vast difference between the price of the imported article and the price of the local article that a very stiff duty was needed to exclude the imported article, I couldunderstand the attitude of honorable members on the other side. But they are pleading here every day that the price of the local article is cheap, and has not been increased by reason of the duty. That is their contention, and I suppose that the only argument which can be advanced is that they want the whole market to themselves, and wish to prevent people who are willing to pay a fair price, and a reasonable duty into the bargain, from exercising any choice. If the Minister intends that this duty shall be prohibitive let him say so. A duty of 2d. per lb. will practically give the market to the local producer. It is sufficiently protective for all practical purposes, and it is sufficiently high for revenue purposes. Why should the people of Western Australia or the people of New South Wales be put to the expense which is involved in this exceedingly high duty, when 2d. per lb. is admitted to be sufficiently high for all reasonable protective purposes? If honorable members wish to exclude the imported article they might as well impose a duty of 1s. per lb.
– Cannot they grow raisins in New South Wales ?
– I dare say they could. When we have the exceedingly large army of unemployed that exists in some parts of the world, we may be driven to the desperate necessity of, cultivating everything. But the fact that New South Wales has not so far developed a raisin industry does not imply that her people are wanting in enterprise, or that they are in any need of this protection. We have to find profitable occupation for our people in many directions, but it does not at all follow that we must seek to grow everything under the sun. If we did find it to our advantage to import dried and preserved fruits from abroad, we are now confronted with the necessity of paying a duty of 3d. per lb. We consider that 2d. per lb. is an exceedingly high duty. We do not see the justice of its imposition, but we are willing to pay it, because we quite understood when we federated that we should have to put up with a number of obnoxious duties. I do not intend to argue against the Minister’s idea of protecting this industry, but I maintain that 2d. per lb. - the revenue duty which existed in some of the States - is quite high enough for all protective purposes. We have had pictured this afternoon the possibility of the destruction of this industry if we reduce the duty to the extent of1d. per lb. Is it at all likely that Mildura raisins will be driven out of the market, and that there will be no prospect for that settlement if the duty upon raisins is reduced to 2d. per lb. ? I do not believe that even honorable members opposite can stretch their imagination so far as to believe that the industry is dependent upon an extra1d. of duty.
– It is in its initial stages.
– It would be just as sensible to impose a duty of 6d. per lb., or to prohibit the importation of raisins from outside the Commonwealth. If that is the object which honorable members have in view, let them say so. We have a very reasonable proposal before us - to reduce the duty to 2d. per lb. That represents from 25 to 50 per cent. in some cases, and in many cases as much as 100 per cent. I understand that about 80 per cent. is the average amount of protection that it gives, and surely if that is not a sufficient measure of protection, honorable members should cease to clamour for protection at all. I am satisfied that the industry which the honorable member has so much at heart will not suffer to any appreciable extent from the reduction proposed, while it will bring relief to tens of thousands of people throughout the Commonwealth who. are at present most severely taxed in connexion with this commodity.
– The honorable member for Lang tells us that in his judgment the reduction of this duty of 3d. per lb. will not affect the growers of raisins in the slightest degree. I presume that he is not interested pecuniarily or otherwise in the curing or growing of raisins, and that he is, consequently, in a position, to pose as an absolute authority upon the cost of producing and curing this fruit, and the exact amount of duty necessary to protect the industry.
– He may know as much about it as the honorable member for Moira, after all.
– A great deal more. It is peculiar that those who have no practical knowledge of a subject appear to know a. great deal more about it than do those who have a little practical knowledge. I was going to say that, those who are interested in growing and curing this fruit, and who have sunk their money in the industry, say that a reduction of the duty will endanger the continuance of the industry. It remains for those who say that a duty of 3d. per lb. is a prohibitive duty to prove that the cost of raisins has been increased since we have established these productions in the Commonwealth under the protection of that. duty. It is an absolute fact, beyond the region of successful refutation, that raisins have diminished in price since we have successfully established the growing and curing of the fruit in the irrigation colonies. Some honorable members consider that it would be very much better to have people unemployed in “Victoria and other States, and to import raisins under a duty of 2d. per lb., than to have the fruit grown and cured here in sufficient quantities to supply our own requirements under the protection of a. duty of 3d. per lb. I differ very materially from them. I am amongst those who are prepared to support the establishment of every industry for which we have natural resources and facilities, even though the protective duties required to establish it may appear somewhat high. It can- . not be questioned that we have the. natural facilities for the growth and cure of , raisins and currants. The attempt has been made in Victoria, and also South Aus- . tralia to foster this industry, and in 1889, i the latest year for which I have the figures, we grew and cured over 1,000 tons j of raisins and currants under the protection I of. a duty of 3d. per lb. It must be remem 1bered that the difference between that duty and the revenue duty existing in New South ‘ I Wales is only Id. per lb., while as the result of the higher duty in Victoria we have settled a number of people from whom the . i Commonwealth must get some benefit, inasmuch as they are taxpayers and are not a charge upon the State, and are profitably ; employed in supplying to all sections of the I community a product for which there is a demand. I am prepared to go so far in support of. a protective duty as will enable . those people to continue their industry. I think the Government are to be com- . mended for their action in this case. As a matter of fact, in one settlement in Victoria, £1,000,000 of private capital has . been invested in this industry, which is assuming large dimensions, and I think I can assume that about a similar amount has been expended in South Australia. They have had great difficulties to contend with, , but they have established beyond the shadow of a doubt the fact that it is possible, ; with the assistance of a duty of 3d. per lb., to raise locally a sufficient quantity of this particular class of produce to supply the Commonwealth without unduly , increasing the cost to the consumer. Honor’able.members may say that this is a duty - of 50 or 80 or 100 per cent, as they think fit, but I look upon that as almost immaterial. provided that it is not prohibitive, and it has not been proved to be prohibitive. We are asked whether we shall continue the revenue duty of 2d. per lb,, as in New South Wales, for all time, without securing the establishment of the industry here, or whether by the imposition of a protective duty of 3d. per lb. we shall secure ‘the establishment of an industry which will employ a number of persons in the production of this commodity without increasing its price to the consumer? That is the position as it presents itself to. my mind, and I see no justification whatever’ for agreeing to the amendment requested by the Senate. Reference has been made to the tax put upon the people of Western Australia by the- duty of 3d. per lb. I find, upon reference to the return laid before us, that the duty upon raisins in that State previous to the introduction of the Commonwealth Tariff was also 3d. per lb.
– What about bottled and tinned fruits and currants ? They are all included in the ‘same item.
– Is it not true that the duty upon raisins in Western Australia is 3d. per lb.?
– Yes: and the price there is from 8d. to 9d. and ls. per lb.
– That is because the people of that State continue to impose a duty upon the products of the other States of the Commonwealth. If they desired to have the price of this article reduced they might have reduced the Inter-State duties in the first instance, especially as I am informed by some representatives of Western Australia that they do not require the revenue.
– They have a surplus of nearly £500,000.
– If that is so, it is strange that those who represent the people of Western Australia in the State Parliament do not repeal the Inter-State duties, for the reasons I have stated I shall certainly support the proposal not to make the amendment requested by the Senate. Wherever there is a possibility of establishing industries natural to the conditions existing in the Commonwealth, we need not be great!)’ concerned about the rate of dutv necessary for the purpose.
Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN (Wentworth). - There is a sweet simplicity about the honorable member for Moira which is in keeping with the beautiful name of his electorate. The honorable member asked who are the people to determine a duty, and he says that they are the people who ave interested directly in the product upon which it is proposed to impose the duty. If only the opinion of the people who are interested in the various products and manufactures had been considered, even the Tariff as originally introduced would have been a mild dose of’ protection in comparison with” that which the Government would have proposed. We have now a Tariff the keynote of which the Prime Minister gave as “ revenue without destruction,” and I say honorable members must view the question of’ revenue and consider the question of fairness all round, 42 l z and they have a perfect right to criticise and to look with some degree of apprehension upon the opinions of those directly interested in the product in question. The honorable member has stated, and this illustrates his simplicity, that so long as we stop short of absolute prohibition we are all right. Eighty-five per cent, is absolute prohibition, we will say, and therefore,, if we impose a duty equal to 80 per cent., according to the honorable member’s argument, we shall be all right.
– No what the honorable^ member says is not my argument.
– These are exactly the tactics of the present Government and their advisers in framing this Tariff. We shall find that in nine cases out of ten ii» these fixed duties by some very ingenious process they have arrived at a rate which is just below absolute prohibition. There is one thing which I think ought to appeal to honorable members on both sides. If we are to form a Tariff which may be called scientific, and by that expression I mean a Tariff that is fair in its incidence, even if it. be of a protective character, by what right have those who produce this particular kind of fruit been given double or treble the protection given to those who produce other kinds of fruit ? I say this is unfair, and when the enlightened economist comes to review our handiwork in the shape of this Tariff, will he not say at once - “ What are all these anomalies ? How is it that one producer gets a protection of 50 per cent., and another of 100 per cent., and another of only 25 per cent. 1”
– For a very simple reason - -the cost of production.
– The reply is this -. All these different duties have been so ingeniously devised that, as the honorable member for Moira says, they are all right so long as they stop short of prohibition. This is revenue without destruction. This is the pledge of the election period. Let us look at the matter from another point of view. Is not this one of the duties in connexion with which wemight reasonably compromise- with theSenate ? If it is not, is there any such duty at all, and is there any sense in our discussion of these requested amendments? It is all very well to look at the comparative statement of the duties charged in the different States, but those duties were imposed before we had Inter-State freetrade. The)1; were to a large extent of a provincial character. But now that InterState duties have been abolished, and the growers have the whole market of Australia thrown open to them, a duty of 2d. should be sufficient. If the committee wishes to create good will between the two Houses it should give way to a substantial extent ; and this is one qf the items upon which we ought to give way.
– I do not think that my honorable friend should have twitted the honorable member for Moira, for saying that the people engaged in the raisin-growing industry are entitled to express an opinion as to what amount of duty is sufficient to enable their industry to succeed.
– He practically said that they were the only people whose opinion should be considered.
– Has not the primary producer »& much right to express an opinion as to whether there should be a certain degree of protection as has the person who imports raisins ? With regard to what my honorable friend has said as to the -amount of duty necessary to support the industry, I reply that the amount that is requisite has been proved. New South Wales, on one side of the Murray, has pl.0cisely similar land to that which Victoria possesses on the other side. But on the one side of the Murray there is a perfect desert, although there was a duty of 2d. per lb. on raisins in the State; whilst on the other side oi the river, where there was a duty of 3d. per lb., there is a sufficient settlement of people to warrant the construction of a costly railway. Before that settlement was in consequence of the imposition of the duty established, the land was considered to be absolutely valueless; in fact, it was considered to be worse than valueless. It was regarded as a breeding ground for vermin that was nothing better than a menace to the rest of the country.
– Does not the honorable member think that a duty of 2d. is enough 1
– It has not proved to be enough in New South Wales where it was tried, although I am sure the people of New South Wales are just as enterprising as are those of Victoria. New South Wales has a large territory of precisely similar land. The raisin - growing industry does not require the best land. Very indifferent land will produce first - class raisins. It is a serious matterto run a risk, even assuming that 2d. will possibly be sufficient. There is at any rate a great doubt about it, and those who are engaged in the industry believe that the duty is not enough. In the initial stages of the industry, and for several years afterwards, it requires a considerable duty, because the cost of initiating it is very heavy. Intense culture cannot succeed without considerable expense. But the industry is one that is capable of expansion to an almost unlimited degree.
– But if we cannot grow the raisins at a reasonable price, what is the good of the industry 1
– My honorable and learned friend will not deny - because the fact can be easily proved - that the growing of raisins in Victoria decreased their price. The price is lower now than it was before the industry was established here.
– Is that in consequence of the duty 1
– Yes, to this extent : That it is in consequence of the establishment of the industry. If my honorable and learned friend would try to comprehend, I am sure that he has sufficient intelligence to understand, but he shuts the windows of reason, and does not try to realize the facts. Without the duty I am perfectly satisfied that the raisin - growing industry would never have been established. The duty was the cause of the establishment of the industry. It is admitted that when a duty is first imposed it must necessarily increase the price of an article;- but if that duty leads to the establishment of an industry on a sufficiently large scale to. overtake local requirements, local competition will reduce the price and keep it down.
– Below the original price?
– The price in Astoria is below the price ruling before this duty was imposed, and when we were dependent upon foreign importation. Most of our raisins were imported from California.
– Then the duty has done its work.
– The duty has not done its work ; and if it has, its re.imposition can do no harm. Where -is the harm of keeping a dutv on the statute book if it does no injury ?
– Because it leads to the formation of trusts
– There is no trust in connexion with the growing of raisins.
– There is, and I can give the names.
Mr.F. E. McLean. - Victoria has spent thousands of pounds besides the duty in developing the industry.
– And a magnificent thing it will be if it succeeds. There are millions of acres of similar land in South Australia and New South Wales and Victoria, so that the industry is capable of expansion to an enormous extent. I trust that honorable members will give consideration to the fruit industry generally. There are large possibilities for it. We are situated at the antipodes of the earth, and our seasons are the very opposite to those in the old world ; so that when fruits are out of season there they are in season here. We can export them ; and I hope to see the fruit-growing industry become a very large one. It has very great potentialities. I am as anxious as my honorable friend the acting leader of the Opposition can be to accede any point that we reasonably can do to another place. I recognise the right of the Senate to make requests, and I hope that we shall endeavour to meet them in a friendly spirit. But the raisin-growing industry is so important that it would be a misfortune if we did anything that could possibly lead to its destruction.
– This is a matter in regard to which the Government might very well accept the compromise offered by the Senate. We have been told that locally-produced raisins can be sold here at from 3½d. to 4d. per lb. The price of foreign-grown raisins is from 2½d. to 3d. per lb., to which has to be added all the importing charges and the duty, bringing the net price up to 6d. per lb. The local industry so far as Victoria is concerned is established, and does not require the extra duty. In Western Australia we are at a great disadvantage. At present we produce very little, and have to import very largely. Our railway charges to the interior, where these fruits are largely used, are high. The arguments that have been hitherto adduced have been from the point of view of the producer. But what about the consumer? Surely in regard to a matter of this kind, the interest of the consumer should have some consideration. If the question be looked at from that point of view, the amendment requested by the Senate will be made. (Committee counted.)
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- The request of the Senate is, in my opinion, moderate ; and I do not suppose that even extreme protectionists will contend that the lowering of a duty from 100 per cent. to 75 per cent. is likely to ruin an industry. It is perfectly true, as pointed out by the honorable member for Gippsland, that there has been a development in the raisin industry. The honorable member, however, speaks as though the whole of the people of Renmark and Mildura were engaged in this industry, and as if Messrs. Chaffey Bros., in founding these irrigation enterprises, were influenced by the fact that there was a duty of 3d. per lb. on raisins. The fact is that Messrs. Chaffey Bros. wished to commence their irrigation colony in New South Wales, but the Government of that State dallied so long that land on better and cheaper terms was obtained in Victoria and South Australia. The founders of Renmark and Mildura believed the production of raisins to be natural to Australia, and on that ground alone were prepared to embark their capital. There is no doubt that at the present time raisins are being produced in such quantities that we are able to export them ; if that were not the case it would be better to have nothing to do with the industry. There is not the slightest doubt that we are able to export, and the duty is kept on solely for the benefit of a few individuals - in other words, for the benefit of a trust. If the Ministry were true to their principles they would lower this duty, for that is the very remedy they propose in order to get rid of trusts. Messrs. Gollin and Co. and Mr. Crespin are the agents for the trust, and the growers of the Goulburn Valley were threatened that if they did not join, raisins would be sold at such a price as to involve them in ruin. It is wrong that such power should be placed in the hands of a couple of individuals. Only the middling and lower qualities of fruit are sold within the Commonwealth, the higher qualities, owing to the operations of the trust, being kept for export.
– The persons mentioned occupy a similar position to that of wool salesmen ; they are merely agents.
– Of course, they are merely agents ; we cannot expect a robber to label himself. In the Argus of 15th February, 1899, there appears a paragraph relating to this matter ; and it must be remembered that under the libel law in Victoria it is very easy for any aggrieved person toobtain compensation from a wealthy company. The Argus of that date contained the following : -
Raisins were exported to New Zealand andNew South Wales at 3d. per lb., while the Melbourne merchants had to pay5½d. per lb. This year the Mildura trust has announced its determination to lower the export price for the best samples, and to raise the price for the lower samples, which they reckon will be consumedby the Victorian public on account of the duty of 3d.
Did the trust endeavour to show that thai Statement was untrue?
– There was no trust to doso.
– That paragraph is no proof of the existence of a ring or trust.
– I have challenged those interested to show that they did not sell at a lower price outside the Commonwealth than they did within the Commonwealth.
– I challenge the honorable member to show that prices have been higher since the imposition of the duty.
– If prices be lowered in consequence of the duty, surely an injury is being done to the producers of Mildura and Renmark. In the middle of the season 1901, the prices of raisins were raised all over the world in consequence of the failure of the Italian crop. Before this failure became known, the export prices charged by the trust for extra brown lexias was 3½d. per lb., while the price charged for those sold for home consumption was 4½d. per lb.
– What is the authority for that statement?
– I am quoting from the trade prices given at the time. For ordinary brown lexias for export, the price was 3d., as compared with 4d. per lb. for raisins for home consumption. Subsequently, in the same season, extra brown lexias for export were 4½d. per lb., and those for local consumption 5½d. per lb. A similar increase was made in the price of ordinary brown lexias, those for export being charged 4d. per lb., and those for home consumption, 4½d. per lb. During the season that is just over, extra brown lexias were sold for 3¾d. per lb. to merchants who bought them to send abroad, but merchants who intended to sell them for local consumption had to pay 5¾d. per lb. or 2d. per lb. more, while for ordinary lexias the prices were 3¼d. per lb., and 4¾d. per lb. The Minister for Trade and Customs has told us that he is opposed to the formation of trusts, but that was merely a statement made for the benefit of the public. Ministers really rejoice in the fact that they are the promoters of a Tariff which enables trusts of all kinds to take money from the pockets of the consumers. Whenever a few people form themselves into a trust, their representations receive far more consideration from thisGovernment than do the representations of the many thousands of individuals who have to buy from that trust.
Question - That theamendment requested be not made - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Item 2.1, Fruits and vegetables, viz. . . . Vegetables, dried or concentrated, Jo per cent.
Request - That vegetables, dried or concentrated, be added to the special exemptions.
That the amendment requested be not made. The Government originally proposed a duty of 20 per cent, upon dried and concentrated vegetables, but that was reduced by the committee to 15 per tent. The Senate wishes to remove the duty on these articles altogether, but we cannot see our way to do that. The industry which this duty protects is progressing well in South Australia, and is of advantage to the growers of vegetables, because it gives them better opportunities for disposing of their productions
– The drying and concentration of vegetables is an industry which requires as little capital, and as few appliances, as almost any industry in the Commonwealth. Vegetables are grown in every State, and are being exported by- at least half the States, and it seems to me, therefore, tha,t the industry requires no protection. It might be desirable to obtain some amount of revenue from -these articles, however, and therefore I should be willing to vote for the reduction of the duty to 10 per cent, as a compromise. No doubt the use of dried and concentrated vegetables in outlying parts of Australia will increase as time goes on, because of the impossibility of getting fresh vegetables there, and the ease >and cheapness of the carriage of concentrated vegetables. They are very cheap and common necessaries of life, and if we are to raise revenue by -placing a duty upon them, we Ought to make the tax as .light as possible, in the interests of those who are pioneering on the outskirts of the habitable parts of the continent. Although I am not personally interested in the industry, I have seen something of it, and I know it is one which requires very little capital. Any one possessing a few hundred pounds, and facilities for growing vegetables, can enter upon it. It requires only the use of small ovens, drying rooms, and a shed for cutting up and packing. It is the simplest of all industries, and does not demand, even from the protectionist point of view, the excessive protection proposed by the Government. A duty of 10 per cent, would be ample, and might possibly return a little more revenue than would ever be obtained from so high a rate as 15 per cent. The Treasurer has contended that a duty of 15 per cent, is a low one, but in the interests of those who reside in the outlying parts of the continent - in Western Australia, Queensland, the extreme west of New South Wales, and even some parts of Victoria - to whom these vegetables must be for many years to come an absolute necessity, we might very well extend the hand of compromise to the Senate and agree to a duty of 10 per cent. I move- -
That the motion be amended hy adding the words “ but that the duty be fixed at 10 per cent, aci valorem.”
– I shall support the amendment. The right honorable the Treasurer has brought forward the question of Compromise, to which reference has been made several times during the debate as applying to this committee. But we have passed the stage of compromise so far as this committee is concerned, and we have to consider that anything in- the value of compromise must be as between ourselves and another place. I think that a duty of 10 per cent. would be a very fair one, and that this is a matter in which we can very fairly meet the Senate half way.
Mr. E. SOLOMON (Fremantle). - I also intend to support the amendment. It must be remembered that dried vegetables are not used where fresh vegetables can be obtained, and consequently they do not interfere in any way with the consumption of the fresh article. Taking that fact into consideration, I think that the lowertheduty is fixed the better it will be, and that we should certainly make a compromise with the Senate.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- As we have failed to carry a proposal that the duty should be 10 per cent., I presume that it would be useless to propose a further amendment that the duty be 12½ per cent.?
Motion agreed to.
Item 21, Fruits and vegetables, viz. : -
Fruits and vegetables, n.e.i. (preserved in liquid, or partly preserved, . or pulped) - Halfpints and smaller sizes, ad valorem, ltd. per dozen ; pints and over half-pints, ad valorem, 1s.6d. per dozen ; quarts and over pints, ad valorem, 3s. per dozen ; exceeding a quart, ad valorem,1s. per gallon.
Request. - That the duty be reduced to1 5 per cent.
– I must ask the honorable and learned member to withdraw that expression.
– It is only a joke.
– It is not a joke. The record of such offensive language brings discredit upon the country. I must ask the honorable and learned member to withdraw the remark.
– I certainly withdraw it.
– I do not object to these insinuations, because I am well known throughout Australia. On behalf of a representative body I might object, but I do not think it is necessary to do so in the circumstances. . The rates which were proposed were not unreasonable. We determined that a fixed duty was the proper one to adopt. It is consistent with the duties on other items, and there is no reason why in this case we should make any alteration. Therefore, I propose -
That the amendment requested be not made.
– A little while ago the acting leader of the Opposition expressed surprise that there should be any discrimination in the rates of duty imposed on different kinds of produce. Some differentiation should be made in the duties on this line of produce. A very good reason why we should have a lower rate of duty on some kinds of produce than on others is to be found in the class of labour engaged in production in other parts of the world.
Perhaps some of the cheapest labour to be found in the world is engaged in the production of some of the articles which are included under this heading. I speak particularly of pineapples preserved in liquor. It may be said that I speak feelingly, because I represent that part of Australia in which pineapples are produced to a greater extent than in all the rest of the Commonwealth. If the representative of a constituency is not allowed to voice its requirements because he is interested therein, the chief purpose of parliamentary representation is defeated. . If Queensland, or any other part of Australia in which the pineapple is produced, is asked to compete with the East Indies, Singapore, and adjacent countries, we shall have, under the Government proposal, a protection of only 4 Jd. per dozen quarts.- I hold in my hand a communication which was ‘ addressed to me by the Chamber of Agriculture in Queensland, and when I state that, it is signed by the Hon. A. J. Thynne, as President, it will be seen that it comes to us with a certain amount of authority, and in a from which deserves our consideration. The Chamber of Agriculture has made some inquiries with results which lead them to speak with some certainty on the question. I ask the committee to bear with me while I read some extracts from their communication -
Many of the fruits which are imported ure the products of the United States, Great Britain, and other countries where the supply of labour is drawn from people of European descent, but the pineapple is not . to bo included in that category. Singapore is the centre of one of the greatest pineapple countries in the world, the work of cultivation being done by the cheap servile or coloured labour, which is so very abundant. Through the trifling cost of production, Signapore is able to compete successfully all over the world, and to supply even pineapple-growing countries at a less cost than the locally grown fruit.
Speaking of the cost of labour in Queensland, Mr. Thynne says -
In this State the wages paid for the class of work done in connexion with pineapple growing are at the rate of £1 10s. per week, while in the Straits Settlements the wages paid are only nominal. , The late Mr. Ellison visited that part of the world to inquire into the pineapple business, and reported to the local society that the Javanese labourers there were remunerated with an allowance of rice and a money payment of 6d. per week per family employed.
That is why I wish to point out that the rates of protection should be greater on some kinds of produce than on others. Ever since I have had the honour of a seat in Parliament, I have endeavoured to protect white labour against coloured labour, and against the product of such labour wherever it might come from. I am therefore, consistent in advocating the retention of this duty. In another part of this communication Mr. Thynne says -
The industry of canning pineapples hasbeen recently started, and last year some 12,000 cases were preserved, and unless prevented by the incidence of the Tariff, a much larger output will be made next season.
The Tariff, as passedby the House of Representatives, was for fruits in liquids -
Pints and under quarts,1s. 6d. per dozen ;
Quarts, 3s. per dozen.
Even under this Tariff the Singapore producers can beat the local production of preserved pineapples, especially if they are allowed to import at the lower rate in tins or bottles, which are nearly, though not quite, quarts, in contents.
It is proposed by the Senate to alter the duty to an ad valorem of 13 per cent. The invoice price of Singapore preserved pineapples is - per dozen quarts, 2s.6d. (on which15 per cent. duty would be 4½d.), making total equal to 2s.10½d. per dozen.
I think honorable members will agree that it would be impossible for fruit, grown under European conditions, to compete with fruit at that price. There is no need to go into the question of how this industry willbe affected by the legislation in connexion with the sugar industry. We have endeavoured to preserve the Commonwealth for the white race, and in carrying out that policy we have to some extent handicapped all those industries which are dependent on the use of sugar. That is not a sacrifice which any of us regard as being hard, considering the object we have in view. It is only in certain latitudes where the pineapple will flourish. I suppose that its growth will be confined pretty well to Queensland, the northern part of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The growth of the fruit is certainly a primary industry, and it employs many persons in tinning and in other directions. It is with regard to, not only the pineapple, but to other fruits that I hope that the duty will be retained. Australia is destined to become a very large fruit-producing country. Fruits of every clime can be produced, and even if the duty should involve the people of the Commonwealth in extra ‘cost, it will be well worth their while to make that little sacrifice in order to build up the industry. I do not look upon the present position of an industry as a reason why it should receive protection. We should keep in view the capabilities of the industry which we are desirous of building up. There are few industries which are capable of greater expansion within the Commonwealth than is that of growing and preserving fruits. I hope that the duty will be maintained as it is, and that by-and-bye the Senate will see the wisdom of its retention.
Mr. WATSON (Bland). -I trust that honorable members inthe free-trade party will give a little more consideration to this than perhaps they have given to some of the other requests. Because it seems to me that the question of ‘what percentage or what fixed duty should ‘be placed on fruits, particularly in syrup, depends upon the duty which is charged on sugar. So far as I am informed, I cannot agree with the figuresgiven bythe Treasurer. I understand thatthe in bond price of imported sugar is generally about £12 per ton. We do not anticipate such an expansion of the sugar industry as to materially lower the price of the article. Every one knows that the sugar duty was practically the price which we agreed to pay for the abolition of black labour. I should not have supported the imposition of such a high duty on sugar but for that consideration ; and that feeling, I think, operated materially with a large number of honorable members. While we charge local preservers the full extent of the present duty, or its equivalent in the high price of the local product, they will be placed by the Senate’s proposal, not onan equality with the outside producer, but at a disadvantage tothe extent of about 35 per cent., which means, of course, that it would be absolutely impossible for them to put up any fruit. The price at which they would have to sell in order to pay for the sugar would be so enormous, as compared with the price at which the preserved article in sugar could be imported, that the whole trade must fall to the ground. It is not fair to put the local manufacturer at that disadvantage.
– Does not 12½ per cent. cover that?
– No, I am informed on expert authority that a dozen quarts of ordinary American table fruits are valued at 5s., on which the import duty under the Government proposal is 3s., amounting to 60 per cent., and that the duty on the sugar in a dozen quart tins is, on the basis of £6 a ton,1s., or 50 per cent., leaving a margin of 10 per cent, in favour of the local producer. Under the Senate’s proposal, however, the duty on a dozen quarts, valued at 5s., would be 9d., which is equal to 15 per cent, while the duty on the sugar in the contents is ls. per dozen, which is equal to 50 per cent., leaving a difference of 35 per cent, against the local producer. Even the most ardent free-trader would not seek to put the- local manufacturer in a worse position than his competitor beyond the sea. If we desire to leave any margin in favour of the local producer, we must uphold the Government proposal. If on
Mie other hand there is a majority in favour of a reduction of the duty, then I submit that it should not be greater at the most than the equivalent 10 per ‘ cent, advantage, which the local manufacturer has. It is well that honorable members should know exactly what the position is. I fear that members of the Senate had not the figures before them, because, while it may appear to be a reasonable thing to impose a duty of 15 per cent, upon the manufactured article, the relative value of the sugar contents, as compared with the total value of the article, should be taken into consideration, and a proportionate allowance made. I trust that under the circumstances the Government proposal will be adhered to.
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney).I have to confess, in the first instance, that I am deeply interested in this item, and consequently I shall not vote upon it. But at the same time the committee is entitled to whatever information I can give honorable members, and, as a representative of the manufacturers, I am entitled to be heard upon the question. A great deal of misapprehension exists with regard to this item, which I feel quite competent to remove. So far as the discussion has gone honorable members have dealt with the item as though it included only fruits, in the manufacture of which sugar is used. As a matter of fact, the item is a very wide one, and embraces not only fruits which may or ma)’ not contain sugar, but also vegetables and pulped fruit, which is the raw material of the manufacturer. These articles vary so greatly in character that it is impossible to propose a reasonable or just duty while they are included in the one item. The information given by the Treasurer as to the value of sugar in the Australian and in the home market is not in accordance with facts. The right honorable gentleman makes a greater distinction between the value of sugar here and in the home market than his Tight honorable colleague the Minister for Trade and Customs is prepared to admit in dealing with applications for drawback. W e have represented to the Minister for Trade and Customs that the value of sugar here is £18 and its value in England £10. The Treasurer says that the value of sugar in England is .£7, and its value here is £20.
– I cannot allow any more drawback than the customs duties or excise paid.
– I am not arguing upon.that point now. What I am saying is that, when it suits Ministers in support of a particular policy to do so, they are prepared to quote prices of sugar which they will not accept, even in a more modified form, from those who are applying for a drawback upon sugar used in manufactures. The honorable member for Moreton seems to me also to have been misinformed when he says that Singapore pineapples can be landed in the Commonwealth at 2s. 6d. per dozen.
– No. I say that is the invoice price at Singapore.
– There would only be the freight to be added, and I do not think the price quoted by the honorable member ‘can be correct, because there are hundreds of merchants in the Commonwealth who would be glad to buy at that price, even with the duty of 15 per cent, added. Though I am interested in this matter, I say that on the whole these duties are excessive, and are not required by the manufacturer. Speaking as one interested in the manufacture of these goods, perhaps more largely than any one else in the Commonwealth, I say that we shall make a signal blunder if we deal with them en bloc. They ought to be separated. So far, the honorable member for Bland seems to me to be the only member of the committee who understands the bearing of the sugar duties upon this question. Some of us who are interested in these manufactures have been willing to vote for heavy duties upon sugar, in order to preserve a white Australia, though it seriously handicaps us in our business. 1 may say that my own firm is £.2,000 worse off this year than last year on account of the sugar duties. We have agreed to that, as the price of a national benefit, and we ask that our position may be recognised in other respects. But, so far, we have been unable to get any equitable decision, or any really just treatment, from the Minister forTrade and Customs in the matter of drawbacks. I say, as a manufacturer, that we do not require this heavy protection. We require only an opportunity to trade with the world in the natural fruits of the Commonwealth, on something like free lines. But seeing that we have, for national a d political reasons, consented to a duty of n6 per ton on sugar, we should not be expected to assent to a reduced duty of 1 5 per cent., as now requested by the Senate, upon canned table fruits put up in sugar and heavy syrups, because the sugar contained in these goods must pay a customs duty of £6 per ton, or at leasta duty of £3 per ton under the excise regulations, and that being so, we cannot compete with goods put up at the other end of the world with the cheap bounty-fed sugar grown on the Continent and purchased in London for something like £8 or £9 per ton, while we have to pay £18 per ton. I recommend the Government - and if they do not adopt the suggestion I shall ultimately move in that direction myself - to separate these itemsproviding that the duty upon table fruits put up in syrup shall remain at the rate agreed to by the House of Representatives, and then when we come to deal with things like vegetables, which do not contain sugar, and pulped fruit, which is the raw material of some manufactureswithin the Commonwealth, I shall contend that a 15 per cent. duty,as suggested by the Senate, is ample protection for those lines. I remind the committee that we have just passed an item including concentrated or dried vegetables at a duty of 15 per cent. If that is a sufficient protection for dried vegetables it is surely a sufficient duty to place upon vegetables put up in water in cans.
– Asparagus and mushrooms.
– If the Treasurer is well advised he must know that this also includes large quantities of mashed turnips and other simple vegetables, which are largely consumed on our mining fields and in outside districts. On many of these goods we might very well agree to a dutyof 1 5 per cent. This item also includes pulped fruit, which is actually the raw material of manufactures, and cannot in any way come into competition with the fruit grown within the Commonwealth. We can grow all the peaches, apples, apricots, and fruits of that kind we require in the Commonwealth.
– What sort of pulped fruit is imported?
– The only thing I recollect at the present momentis strawberry pulp.
– We can grow strawberries here.
– The right honorable gentleman is quite right ; we can grow strawberries here ; and pineapples might be grown under hothouse frames in the arctic regions.
– Is the honorable member comparing our capacity for growing strawberries in Australia with the raising of pineapples in the arctic regions ?
– The simile might be somewhat hyperbolical, but I can tell the right honorable gentleman that I am speaking of what I know when I say we cannot get strawberries in Australia.
– If the honorable member comes to South Australia I can get him plenty of them if he will quote a reasonable price.
– If that is so, the people of South Australia must be lacking in enterprise, because we cannot get strawberry pulp in Australia at a reasonable price. What would be a reasonable price here should not be greater than a reasonable price on the other side of the world, plus the cost of importation.
– Fancy importing strawberry pulp into Australia !
– The right honorable gentleman expresses a certain amount of contempt about this, as he has done about many other things of which he knows nothing.
– I have learnt something about drawbacks.
– If strawberries can be grown successfully in South Australia there is a market for them throughout the rest of the Commonwealth, and the people of that State have not exhibited the enterprise and energy that they have exhibited in other directions, seeing that what they can produce is not placed in the hands of those who want it. It must be apparent to honorable members that it is ridiculous to include in the same category pulped fruit which is the raw material of a manufacture, and the highly-finished and expensive product of that manufacture - canned fruits put up in heavy syrup for table use. The two things should not be embraced in the one item in any Tariff.
– Is raspberry pulp not imported ?
– No, it is exported very largely. There is at the present time a surplus of raspberry pulp in Victoria and Tasmania, for which no market can be found. So far as I .know, strawberry pulp is the only pulped fruit* which has to be imported, because it is not grown so well in Australia as in Scotland, and in the south of France, and other parts of Europe. As to the question of the canned vegetables, there is no reason why we should put a heavier duty upon them than we impose upon evaporated or concentrated vegetables. We have assented just now to fix the duty on evaporated and dried vegetables at 15 per cent. I therefore see no reason whatever why these, very high duties - because when reduced to percentages, the 3s. per quart on the commoner sorts amounts to 200 per cent. - should be imposed. The Minister talks of canned mushrooms and asparagus. It is, of course, a fact that they would be included in this list. But in regard to wines we know that, while a duty may be 100 per cent, in one case, it may be 1,000 per cent, in another. So it is with regard to preserved fruits and vegetables. The Treasurer asks me if I can produce a tin of imported mashed turnips such as I say are used very largely by the miners. A few months ago I am perfectly certain that I could have produced some. Tinned mashed turnips were a common commodity amongst those who dealt in canned goods for miners and frontiersmen. They are very inexpensive, and a fixed duty of 3s. per quart, or ls. 6d. a pint, is utterly prohibitive. It amounts to something like 200 per cent.
– They are quite common goods in North-west Queensland.
– Quite so ; it is only men like Ministers, who are used to cities, and comfortable homes, and hotel dinners, who do not come across vegetables of this kind, such as are used in mining communities. The representatives of Western Australia are well aware that tinned vegetables are commonly used by the miners of that State. It shows great want’ of judgment to class these various goods together in the Tariff. When this matter was last before the committee I did not take part in the discussion from a sense of delicacy. I feel that I cannot vote on the present occasion ; but as I know something about the matter, and as I am to a large extent the representative of those who are engaged in this class of manufacture, I wish to state that they do not ask for the extraordinary protection which is offered to them, and which will not assist the revenue. Referring back again to the question of fruits put up in syrups for table use, I would remark that the contention of the Government with regard to the suggestion of the Senate is perfectly logical and just. If these fruits were admitted at 15 per cent., whilst the sugar contained in them was not paying any more duty, the locally-made goods would be at a disadvantage. The argument of the Treasurer so far as that is concerned is perfectly correct. I have worked out the case in this way. With regard to jams, the duty on which has been agreed to by the Senate, on a 2-lb. tin of jam, the value of which imported would be 6s. a dozen, the duty is 3s. a dozen, or 50 per cent. The sugar in this jam costs 2s. a dozen, and the duty upon that sugar is again 50 per cent. Therefore, the committee will understand that the duty on jams gives the manufacturer an equivalent, or more than an equivalent, for the duty he pays on the sugar he has to use in the manufacture of his jams. But turning again to the canned fruits in syrup, the value of a 2-lb. or quart tin would be 5s. a dozen on an average, and the duty suggested by the Senate of 15 per cent, would be 9d. a dozen on an average. If we look at the sugar contained in that quantity, the lowest cost, I take it, would bs about Id. per tin. That would be a duty of’ 6d. per dozen, or 50 per cent. Under these circumstances, I agree with the honorable member for Moreton and the Treasurer that we should, by adopting this suggestion, really stamp out an industry that consumes our best fruits. It is only the choicest of fruit that is put into syrups of this kind, not the refuse of the orchards. Of course the duty proposed by the Senate would, from my point of view . as a revenue tariffist, be preferable if we had no duty on sugar; but, having that duty, we must to the extent of it give the same protection to the manufacturers of this kind of goods. The original proposal of the Government, as contained in the schedule sent to the Senate, was 3s, per doz. quarts. Seeing that the cost would work out at 5s. per doz. in bond, if the Government had made that duty 2s. 6d. a doz. quarts it would have put the goods on an exact parity with the jams, and we should have given the manufacturers all the protection they need and much more than they ask for. Speaking as a manufacturer who has as much knowledge of this matter as any one in Australia, I say that this protection of 2s. 6d. a doz. quarts is all we can reasonably ask for, and is enough to enable a manufacturer to carry on a satisfactory business. But if the same duty is imposed, not only upon vegetables and fruits which contain no sugar, but also on fruit in the pulp form - which is the raw material of the jam manufacturer - then the committee will, even from the protective point of view, be defeating their own object. I would suggest that we should adopt as an amendment that the request of the Senate be accepted, with a modification with respect to fruit in syrup, by inserting it as a separate item at the rate of 9d. per half-pint; and so on, as originally proposed; I do not feel quite free to move an amendment myself under the circumstances, but what I have suggested seems to me to be a very rational proposal. It would probably fully meet the views of the Senate, and would protect the revenue as well as ‘the manufacturers in our midst. The manufacture of tinned vegetables in Australia, is an important one, as is alsothe canning of fruits. The honorable member for Moreton has truly said that the canning of pineapples in Queensland has become a considerable industry. He has. quoted figures to prove his statement. The figures for Victoria as to the canning of apricots, pears, and peaches are still moreconsiderable. I believe that the pears canned in Victoria are the very best in the world. So that the industry is a very important one, and we should be justified in protecting it to a degree equivalent to the duty the manufacturers have to pay on their sugar. But so far as regards the other lines, I think that the suggestion of the Senate might very well be complied with.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).The committee might very well accept the suggestion of the Senate in this respect. If the Minister for Trade and Customs were accustomed to go out into the back blocks of South Australia, where the people have not the means of growing vegetables,he would be well aware that they are to a great extent dependent upon canned vegetables. If they do not get them they suffer from scurvy and similar diseases. Yet we are endeavouring to keep out of the Commonwealth the vegetables which are necessary for the health of these people. Canned vegetables are imported into Western Australia to an enormous extent.
– Are they imported from oversea ?
– Two-thirds or three-fourths of the vegetables imported into Western Australia are imported from overseas, the remainder being imported from the Eastern States of Australia. Take the case of South Australia. At Tarcoola the miners can get no vegetables, except such as are imported tinned. The vegetables and fruits, which are necessaries of their health, should not be made prohibitive in price. The Minister for Trade and Customs interjected when the honorable member for South Sydney was speaking that strawberry pulp could be produced in South Australia in sufficient quantity to supply the whole of the jam trade, but I do not know any part of the State except the hills about Adelaide, where strawberries could be grown to any extent. The whole of that land is in the possession of the South Australian Company.
– Not now.
– How the company came into possession of the land is a matter of history. They have cut it up to some extent. I know that some city men have purchased blocks for summerresidences. But the bulk of the land where the city men reside is not good enough to keep a bandicoot.
– The honorable member does not know the capacity of a hillside ; there is Belair.
– The land at Belair, which was formerly a Government farm, is comparatively good, but it is not the best, even in the hills. That is not the land I refer to as being suitable for the growth of strawberries ; the cultivation will take place in the valleys where it is possible to dam the water.
– What about Coromandel Valley ?
– I do not think the bulk of the strawberries will be grown there. I have known from boyhood the districts in the hills where strawberries are grown, and I am familiar with the system of irrigation. I know that the rents are so high that there cannot possibly be cultivation for the purpose of supplying jam factories. Very fine strawberries, indeed, are there produced for the table, but it is quite impossible to grow them in sufficient quantities for the supply of jam factories.
– Strawberries are grown for jam factories in Queensland.
– I know that in Queensland the banana and pineapple are grown.
– And strawberries are grown and largely exported.
– Strawberries are grown in Sydney and in the mountains, but not as in France or in England, where they are cultivated in large quantities for the making of jam.
– Is not that done in Australia?
– Not to any extent. On the authority of the honorable member for South Sydney, I think I may safely say that it is almost impossible to get strawberry jam in the market on account of the high prices. While the water in South Australia has not been conserved to any extent, there is water to be dammed and irrigation may be used. The canning of vegetables has been spoken of as if it were an industry which requires some protection. But in the hills around Adelaide vegetables are grown in large quantities, and of the best quality ; and there the industry might be carried on in such a way as to compete with the imported product. On one occasion, when on a visit to South Australia, I heard Sir John Cockburn lecture on the preserving of the olive, and he demonstrated that it was impossible for Australia to produce that fruit of similar quality to that imported from Spain. The first reason given for this was that the climate is not suitable, and the second reason was that we do not grow the olive fruit to any large extent. The olive which is largely grown in South Australia is for the making of oil, and it is simply impossible in Australia to preserve it as a fruit.
– Does the honorable member say that it is impossible to turn out good preserved olives in Australia ?
– The honorable gentleman is astonished ; but Mr. Hardy, who is a large grower of olives in South Australia, was present at the lecture to which I have referred, and he produced samples of olives grown on a tree which he had specially imported in order to ascertain whether this fruit could be successfully cultivated on his estate.
– In the south-east of South Australia there are acres and acres of olives.
– The honorable gentleman is not acquainted with the process of preserving olives. I know that in and around Adelaide there are large plantations of olives, but these are used for the making of oil, and not as a fruit.
– Every sort of olive is, grown in South Australia.
– The olive fruit is not largely grown in that State.
– My father had his garden full of olives, including eating olives.
– I know the fine olive trees on the honorable gentleman’s estate, but they are not the fruit olive.
– I assure the honorable member that they are the fruit olive.
– I guarantee that the honorable gentleman has not had served on his table one preserved olive from the trees of his estate.
– Indeed I have, and they were preserved by Sir John Cockburn.
– I will not persist in disputing what the honorable gentleman says. Around Stepney and Kensington similar trees are grown, and the fruit is used for the purpose of oil manufacture. The olive that should be largely consumed in South Australia is not in any demand, for the reason that it is too expensive. The taste for the olive has not been cultivated here, and the digestion of the people is consequently impaired. If the high duty be left on the olive and various kinds of fruits and vegetables, the difficulties of the pioneer will be very largely increased.
– He will miss his pickled olives.
– And also his. canned fruit and vegetables. On the table of the farmer or the settler we more often find damper and meat than we find vegetables. I have frequently to go beyond the borders of civilization, and I do not remember on any one occasion seeing preserved fruit or vegetables, for the simple reason that they have always been found too expensive. Vegetables ought not to be a luxury in Australia. The ports ought to be made free so that this form of food may be obtainable at the lowest possible price. But the committee are not asked to make these commodities free of duty, but simply to accede to the most moderate request of a Chamber of free-traders. I “confess I was astonished to find free-traders consenting to a duty of 15 per cent.
– The honorable member originally wanted a duty of 15 per cent, all round.
– But I very soon found that there were reasonable men at the head of the Opposition, who, if they could not get a free-trade policy, were prepared to compromise and to accept duties of 15 per cent, on preserved fruits and vegetables. The Senate have met this Chamber more than half-way, and I hope the Government will not insist on disagreeing with the suggested amendment.
– The only argument of any strength in support of the case of the Government was that used by the honorable member for Bland, who said that the original proposal of this House ought to be maintained, because, if the suggestion of the Senate were agreed to, it would place local producers at a disadvantage to the extent of 35, per cent. In support of that position the honorable member referred to the duty on sugar, but he did not give any of the details on which he arrived at so startling a conclusion. I do not profess to know anything of the details, nor do I wish to impute to the honorable member for Bland any desire to mislead honorable members.
– The honorable member for South Sydney gave the details a few minutes ago.
– I have heard from other honorable members that the view taken by the honorable member for Bland, and those who think with him, is very much exaggerated. The proposal of the Senate “will, I am told, more than compensate for any losses which the producers may suffer by reason of the high price of sugar. However, that is merely hearsay. I was not present when the honorable member for S*outh Sydney went into details, but the figures might be worked out and placed before honorable members. The whole line of argument used simply shows the extraordinary position into which we are likely to get by pursuing the policy of protection. If, because of the protection of one industry we have to protect another, there can be no end, and ‘this so-called scientific system can produce nothing but wrong and confusion. When the last item was before the House, the Treasurer appealed to honorable members on the ground that the proposal of the Government meant only 15 per cent., which he seemed to regard as a very fair duty ; but on the present item we hear no such appeal, the duty proposed by the Government being immensely higher than 15 per cent. I do not wish to calculate what the impost may mean, but, at any rate, it must be many times 1 5 per cent.
– It is 150 per cent.
– The honorable member for South Sydney, who is an authority, says that the duty will be 150 per cent, in some cases. Although this is supposed to be a democratic Ministry, who wish to encourage all the industrial interests of the Commonwealth, we find them trying to vindicate a duty of 150 per cent, upon what in many parts of Australia are practically necessaries of life. To hear some honorable members speak, one would imagine that if we amended the duty in accordance with the request of the Senate our fruit industry would be. ruined. But the experience of Western Australia, where the State duty was 15 per cent., showed that Australian productions imported from other States could more than, hold their own with British and foreign productions in that market, and that the fruit industry there has been able to make great progress. I find, from the Western Australian Statistical Register for the year 1900, that the importations of bottled and tinned fruit into that State under a duty of 15 per cent, were £13,486 of British and foreign productions, and £21,903 of Australian productions. I have also figures which show that there has been a great increase in the acreage under fruit trees.# We must remember that in Western Australia the attention of the people has been directed almost wholly to gold-mining, in which profits are more rapidly made than in other pursuits ; but, notwithstanding that attraction, while there were 2,294 acres under vines, and 2,393 acres under fruit trees there in 1S97, there were 3,325 acres under vines and 5,296 acres under fruit trees in 1900 - three years later. It is monstrous, therefore, to propose a duty of 150 per cent, upon bottled and tinned fruits. These fruits are almost necessaries to people who are living in places where the conditions of life are very severe, who are doing good work for the Commonwealth, and who it is unfair to penalize by this heavy duty.
– I consider the question now under consideration of great importance to the Commonwealth. The fruit-preserving industry is one of considerable magnitude in each of the States, and I trust that the Ministry will neither amend the Tariff in the direction requested by the Senate nor acceptany of the suggestions which have been made by honorable members opposite. Some honorable members appear to think that strawberries cannot be obtained in any quantity within the Commonwealth. Their information on this subject is on a par with most of that which they possess in regard to the products of Queensland. In that State strawberries are very largely grown, and many tons are exported to New South Wales and Victoria long before the fruit in those States begins to ripen. Only last month, when I was at home in Brisbane, I obtained some delicious strawberries from my garden, and this month there will be an abundance of them. The plants’ will continue to bear for the next five months, and I regret that I am confined here and unable to get home to enjoy the fruit. Queensland strawberries are to be found at this season of the year in nearly all the fruit shops of Sydney. The Queensland growers have an advantage over the growers in other States in that, as their fruit ripens early, they secure high prices for it ; but those engaged in fruit preserving in Sydney and Melbourne will always be able to obtain all they want from that State. I rose chiefly to confirm the statements of the honorable member for Moreton in regard to the pineapple industry. That is an old and well-established industry in Queensland, and it provides employment for a large number of settlers in the southern districts and along the coast as far north as Cairns. Under the protection which we are now giving it will, no doubt, continue to nourish. The honorable member for Moreton made use of a letter signed by the Honorable A. J. Thynne, who for some years was Minister for Agriculture in a Queensland Government, and is one of the best authorities in the State upon agriculture and fruit growing, he being the founder of the Gatton Agricultural College. Some honorable members seem to imagine that the price quoted for Singapore pineapples was 2s. 6d. per dozen for ripe fruit, whereas it is 2s. 6d. per dozen quarts for preserved fruit, on which a duty of 15 per cent. amounts to 4½d., making the total cost 2s. 10½d., or about 3d. per quart landed in Melbourne. The cheapness of these preserved pineapples is due to the fact that in Java and the Straits Settlements the labourers who are employed to do the work of cultivation are paid only nominal wages. One authority states that the Javanese labourers are remunerated with an allowance of rice and the payment of 6d. per week per family employed. I visited Java not many years ago, and from inquiries I made in regard to the condition under which tropical industries are carried on there, I know that the wages paid for field labour are extremely low. Mr. Thynne also points out that fruit preservers in Australia are under a further disadvantage in having to pay more for their sugar than is paid in the Straits Settlements, the cost of sugar in Queensland being not less than £20 per ton, whereas in the Straits Settlements it is only from £10 to £11 per ton. Mr. Thynne, as president of the Chamber of Agriculture, Brisbane, writes -
This chamber is much concerned at the prospect of the destruction of an important industry, on which a large number of industrious and hardworking farmers rely for an outlet for their produce, and consider that it must be owing to want of information upon the subject that the change in the Tariff has been proposed.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I wish to know if the Minister for Trade and Customs intends to adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for South Sydney. The honorable member named the sugar contents of two or three articles, and suggested that a distinction should be made between some of these articles. We know that he occupies a position which enables him to speak with authority on this subject. He has pointed out that it is only in regard, to articles which are preserved in sugar that the higher duty is necessary in order to countervail the high duty fixed on sugar, but that so far as preserved vegetables are concerned the rate proposed by the Senate is really a very high one. Honorable members opposite would not give up. much of their principles by consenting to a duty of 15 per cent. upon the latter. Do the Government propose to make any distinction between the two classes?
– The honorable member for South Sydney, while not agreeing to the 15 per cent, duty proposed by the Senate, so far as it relates to goods preserved in sugar, seemed to think that 20 per cent, would fully cover everything.
– The honorable member for South Sydney admits that he wants a duty of 35 per cent, on some of these articles, because of the price of sugar used in their manufacture here.
– The statement was made by the honorable member for Bland, and he subsequently corrected it. If I understood him rightly he said that a duty of 17£ per cent, would fully cover any difference in regard to the price of sugar here and abroad. After the House had already assented to the duty of 9d. and ls. 6d. per dozen on the smaller-sized bottles, the Ministry accepted a proposal for the imposition of a duty of 2d. per dozen extra on bottles up to 10 ozs., whether empty or filled, so that really upon these small bottles the merchants have now to pay lid. per dozen instead of 9d. That is one of the anomalies that crept iri, and it is a very serious disability. I trust that the Government will yet see their way clear to accede to some of the requests made by the Senate in regard to this item. It would be a relief to the mining community to accept the proposal in regard to preserved vegetables.
– The duty amounts to 150 per cent.
– In some cases it does. It must be a revelation to many honorable members to hear the Minister for Trade and Customs, as well as certain honorable members representing Victoria, declare first of all that’ high duties are imposed in order to lower prices; and, secondly, that wages depend upon the prices of articles. What they really say in effect is that they favour the imposition of these duties in order to lower wages, for many of them have really the same effect as the lowering of wages would have So far as the bulk of the population is concerned. Whenever a proposal is made against increasing the taxation imposed upon the great bulk, of the people it. is a general subject for laughter on the part of honorable members opposite. They have not been accustomed to see any one stand up to defend the mass of the people from the rapacity of the few. If we agree to this request, we shall in effect assist the workers. Is not 3s. in the £1 a sufficiently heavy tax for honorable members opposite to support ? Of course it is not. The Minister for Trade and Customs says that the .Government desire a duty of 35 per cent., which is equal to 7s. in the £1. It is only the workers who use these things ; and what does it matter to honorable members opposite that the workers should be called upon to contribute the extra amount? The Minister for Trade and Customs is very ready to take 7s. in the £1 from the workers in order that the Government may be able to give 10s. in the £1 to syndicators under the Bonus Bill. I think I have sufficiently fulfilled my duty to my constituents, and the bulk of the poor people of the Commonwealth, by fighting on their behalf, and expressing my disapprobation of these outrageous duties.
Mr. SKENE (Grampians). - It seems to me that the honorable member for - South Sydney has made out a fairly strong case for some distinction being drawn between the various articles included in this item, and I should like to hear something on the point from the Ministerial side. Ministers seem to think that there is no reason why a distinction should be made. We know, however, that there is a heavy duty on sugar, and surely that should afford some ground for considering whether a distinction should not be drawn in regard to articles which are preserved in syrup ? If, as the honorable member has said, there are certain vegetables which are simply hermetically sealed in water, they must occupy a position very different from that of fruits preserved in syrup.
– Does not that simply amount to a statement that every one is agreed that the duty should be retained on half of these articles, and that there is a difference of opinion as to what should be the duty on the remaining half ?
– Even from that point of view I have not heard anything from the Government side as to the arguments advanced by the honorable member for South Sydney. By way of drawing the Minister in charge of the ‘Bill, and diverting the discussion to a point which I think ought to be cleared up, I shall move an amendment upon the lines laid down by the honorable member. I have no information on the subject, save what I have gained during the debate, and as I think the honorable member for South Sydney has made out a fairly good case, I should like to hear something as opposed to it.
– But the Senate has not made any distinction.
– The Tariff was debated for weeks in this Chamber, but no one asked that a distinction should be made in this case.
– I should like to hear the matter discussed. I move -
That the amendment requested be made, but with the modification that fruits in syrup be inserted as a separate item with the following rates of duty : - Half-pints and smaller sizes, ad valorem, 9d. per dozen ; pints and over halfpints, ad valorem, ls. (id. per dozen ; quarts and over pints, ad valorem, 3s. per dozen ; exceeding a quart, ad valorem, ls. per gallon.
– The amendment is rather inconsistent with my motion that the requested amendment be not made. The only way to get a fair vote will be for the honorable member to enumerate the articles which he wishes to except from the 15 per cent. duty.
– I do not care how the amendment is worded. My idea is to separate fruits preserved in liquid from fruits preserved with sugar.
– The only safe position will be for the honorable member to enumerate the articles which he wishes to except from the 1.5 per cent. duty.
– That will not do, because I wish to except all articles save those which are preserved with sugar.
– I hope that the honorable member for Grampians will not try to draw anT distinction. The only articles which have been pointed out to us are very few. It is generally admitted that almost all the articles in this item ought to be dutiable at the higher rate, because sugar is used in their preservation. If we add to the motion the words “except in regard to those fruits and vegetables in the preservation of - which sugar is not employed,” we shall have endless disputes and complications at the Custom-house, and that will not be satisfactory to either the department or the importers. We had better take a vote on the question whether ;he whole line should be dealt with and not try to do something which seems to me to be impossible. Otherwise we shall have to nsk the honorable member to specify all the articles which he proposes should come in at. 15 per cent.,, and. if he attempts. to do that the probability is that he will leave out the most important article.
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney). - I do not see the trouble which the Treasurer sees in making a distinction between these two items, because we have had State Tariffs in which it has been made. In New South Wales fruit containing no sugar was duty free for years, but fruit packed with the slightest addition of sugar was made dutiable as being preserved with sugar.
– They would preserve it with something else then.
– It does not matter what is used so long as the duty on sugar is not evaded.
– They might use all sorts of things.
– If the fruit is preserved with stilt the revenue will not suffer, but if sugar is used it will suffer. There is no difficulty in drawing a distinction between a tin of preserved apricots put up for table use and a large tin of pulp fruit put up for manufacturer’s use. If the Customs officials could not distinguish between the two things, they must have less brains than I believe they possess. The Minister would have no difficulty in making a distinction. When we get to the item of vegetables, which is the main line I wish -to see cheapened in the interests of persons in the back blocks and mining centres, the question will not arise, because the suggestion is that we should take fruits put up in syrups as a separate item subject to the duties which were originally proposed, and then take the remainder of the line fruits and vegetables, n.e.i., preserved in liquids or otherwise, as covering everything else, at 15 per cent. The statement of Ministers that it is impossible to make a distinction is a mere subterfuge in order to get rid of a proposal which has justice and logic behind it, and that is more than their original proposal has. A similar distinction has been made over and over again in other Tariffs. A distinction between canned vegetables and canned fruits can be made. A distinction between fruits hermetically sealed and fruits put up in syrup - a highly presentable article which can be turned out of the tin into a crystal basin and served on the table - can be made. It is nonsense for the Treasurer to say that if -such si distinction were made the Treasury would be robbed. The’ revenue can be defrauded under any system of customs duty, but not more under a proposal making a distinction between canned fruits containing sugar and preserved fruits and vegetables not containing sugar than under any other item in the Tariff. For instance, we imposed a duty upon certain decoctions containing opium, and the right honorable gentleman might just as well say that there are other liquids imported which also contain opium. It is for the Customs officials to find out whether they do contain opium, and they could as easily find out whether goods do or do not contain sugar. I say it is wrong to impose so low a rate of duty as 15 per cent. upon fruits preserved in sugar and sugar syrup when the local manufacturers have to pay a duty of £6 per ton upon sugar, and it is right on the other hand to impose a low rate of duty upon preserved fruits and vegetables not containing sugar, and which are required so much in the back settlements and mining centres.
-I propose to submit the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Grampians, in this form : -
That the motion be amended by the addition of the words “But that duty be fixed upon fruits in syrup as under : - Half-pints and smaller sizes, ad valorem,9d. per dozen ; pints and over half-pints, ad valorem, is.6d. per dozen ; quarts and over pints, ad valorem, 3s. per dozen ; exceeding a quart, ad valorem,1s. per gallon.”
– That will certainly not do. The request made by the Senate is that the duty should be fixed at 15 per cent. all round. The Government propose that the duty shall remain as it is, and we are, therefore, not willing to make the requested amendment. If my honorable friend desires to do anything in the matter he must take the responsibility of saying that we disagree with the request made except as to certain articles which he desires to have fixed at 15 per cent., and he must take the responsibility of naming the articles, or we shall not know what we are voting upon.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- I think that what is desired could be achieved by adding these words to the motion proposed by the Government, “ except as to fruits and vegetables, n.e.i., not preserved in sugar or sugar syrup.” That would mean that we agree with the request of the Senate as to these articles only. Where the articles are affected seriously by the duty upon sugar, the duties proposed by the Government will not be interfered with ; but where they are not affected by the duty upon sugar, the rate fixed will be 15 per cent. I ask the honorable member to put his amendment in the form I have suggested.
Amendment amended accordingly.
Mr. CONROY (Wer riwa).- The Government have not given us any idea as to how much of this proposal they are prepared to accept. So far as I can see, they are not prepared to make any distinction whatever, and I should like to have some reason given for their refusal to accept the amendment proposed. The item passed through in this committee without the distinction being made because honorable members did not understand the question. The honorable member for South Sydney, who is well acquainted with the subject, has shown that there should be a distinction, and I am sorry that Ministers are not prepared to go as far as possible in meeting the request of the Senate. I know who will be most anxious to agree with the Senate when the time comes. It is possible it will be honorable members on this side who will then be objecting.
Mr. WATSON (Bland). - I should like to say with reference to my previous remarks that I find upon going into the matter again that the information supplied to me was hardly correct. Yesterday, when I got the information I hastily came to the conclusion that it was correct, without sufficiently investigating it. On going into the matter again I find that the duty upon the sugar contents of fruits preserved in syrup does not amount to more than 16½ per cent. of the total cost, and it will therefore be seen that my previous observations were beyond the mark.
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney).I should like to add tothe honorable member’s explanation that, as it is pretty generally understood by several of my friends that the information the honorable member for Bland obtained was given him by me, I am not responsible for the inaccuracy of his statement. It is only the deductions which the honorable member drew from the information supplied which were not correct.
– That is so ; but I had information from others besides the honorable member for South Sydney.
Question - That the words “ except as to fruits and vegetables n.e.i. not preserved in sugar or sugar syrup “ proposed to be added be so added - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion agreed to.
Item 21 , Fruits and vegetables, viz.. . . . Fruits and vegetables n.e.i., 2s. per cental.
Request. - That fruits and vegetables, n.e.i., be added to the special exemptions.
That the amendment requested be not made.
Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN (Wentworth). - I do not propose to raise any discussion as to this item. After the last vote it is very clear that to divide would only be to invite a defeat. I am sorry that bananas have not been differently dealt with, in view of the close connexion between the Commonwealth and the islands of the Pacific : but I do not think any good can arise from discussion on the point.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I should divide the committee if there were any hope of securing assent to the Senate’s suggestions. The operation of the duty means that turnips, which might have been a valuable food for cattle and sheep during the drought, are taxed £2 per ton, when their price without the duty would only be 25s. per ton. This is the way the Ministry help people who are suffering from drought.
– I notice that the Treasurer, in dealing with this item did not mention how it applied to vegetables. But there is a marked distinction between fruits and vegetables. This distinction was brought home to my mind the other day, when I met a sheepbreeder in Collins-street, who told me that the sheep in New South Wales are dying in thousands, whilst others are being preserved by artificial feeding at such great expense that one large breeder is supposed tobespending at the rate of £1 , 000 per week. New Zealand, I am credibly informed, could supply us with turnips at 10s. a ton. But the duty on turnips under this Tariff is 45s. a ton. That is 450 per cent., plus the freight. A distinction between fruits and vegetables could be made without affecting any substantial alteration in the item, if we accepted the request of the Senate in regard to vegetables and disagreed with it in regard to fruit. Fruits embrace apples, pears, oranges, and so on. They are imported from California and from the east. They are a fair subject for duty. But surely cabbages and turnips are not on the same level. We should show a fair spirit in meeting the Senate if we made that distinction, agreeing with them as to one part of their suggestion and disagreeing as to the other part.
– I agree with the honorable member who has just spoken that this item ought to be amended. The producers of Australia are now suffering from an exceptionally severedrought, and this duty is” a heavy tax. Turnips could be largely imported as feed except that the duty is too high. Some turnips which were imported were actually thrown overboard on account of the duty.
– One of the best, feeds in the world is going to waste in North Queensland - molasses.
– The committee might reasonably agree to accept one-half of the suggestion of the Senate. The Minister professes to sympathize with the pastoralists and producers who are suffering such great distress, but he does nothing whatever to help them. Although the protectionist Government of New South Wales has appealed to the Federal Government to assist the people of the country and afford them relief in their distress, the Government have done nothing. We now have an opportunity of showing practical sympathy.
– And there is no revenue from vegetables.
– Of course there is no revenue from them when distress prevails throughout Australia. But the Federal Government will do nothing, because they are under the whip of certain men in Victoria who are reaping a rich harvest from the sufferings of the people in other States.
– Humbug !
– If the honorable member visits the country districts of New South Wales, he will see that there is no humbug about the distress.
– Nobody says that the drought is humbug.
– The Government are making money out of the disaster.
– The Federal Government are assisting people to make money out of unfortunate stock-owners, who are paying away all their hard-earned savings in an effort to keep their cattle alive. The honorable member for Maranoa told me the other day that in Queensland, about eighteen months ago, he and a neighbour each bought about 5,000 sheep. There was then plenty of grass, and a good demand for sheep, and, fortunately for himself, the honorable member sold at a good price. His neighbour, however, kept his sheep, and had to spend large sums in buying fodder ; and when the honorable member visited the place the other day, there was not a hoof left. Similar cases have occurred in New South Wales.
– The honorable member for Maranoa had more sense than his neighbour.
– No one expected there would be such a terrible drought. There is no evidence in the Tariff of any desire on the part of the Government to assist struggling settlers who, on the contrary, are being subjected to increased taxation in order that residents of States which are more fortunately circumstanced may reap a rich harvest. That is by no means Federal action j and I speak warmly on the subject, because I know from personal experience, the dreadful effects of the drought. The Government have been appealed to over and over again to afford some relief, and have given very encouraging replies to the representations made by deputations and members of this House. On one occasion, I complimented the acting Prime Minister on his kind and sympathetic reply to a deputation, and I thought at the time that the Government were sincere ; but in spite of the ample evidence of distress, no assistance has been rendered. This is not a revenue duty such as was foreshadowed in the Maitland speech. Indeed, the duty is so high that cargoes have been thrown overboard in preference to paying the duty. That the impost is regarded as prohibitive and not as revenue producing, is shown by the fact that no estimate is given by the Government of any revenue anticipated. I hope the Government will take the opportunity to show some practical sympathy with the unfortunate people who have so far received nothing but promises. I move -
That the motion be amended by the addition of the following words, “ except as to vegetables n.e.i.”
– I sincerely hope the Government will accept the reasonable amendment which has been proposed. The produce affected cannot be carried any great distance, and, under normal conditions will not enter into competition with local industry. It is not a commodity that is grown largely for commercial purposes, each farmer usually producing only enough for his own requirements. Recently some shipments of produce were brought from New Zealand as a speculation, and the shippers found to their consternation that they were called upon to pay duty representing something like 400 per cent.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that the shippers did not know of the duty?
– There was some promise made that either the Federal Government or the State Government would give relief by removing the duty.
– They thought that humanity and common sense would come to the rescue.
– Produce, which is sold in New Zealand at 10s. or 12s 6d. per ton, was, as I said, charged the enormous duty of 400 per cent., and it may be seen from the New South Wales newspapers that the shippers, rather than submit to the impost, decided to throw the cargoes into the sea. Fodder was brought to the quay ready to be landed, and on the shore stock were starving, and the Railway Commissioners were prepared to carry the produce practically free to the stock-owners’ door when the Federal Government stepped in with their ridiculous demands. Like the honorable member for Macquarie, I was impressed with the very sympathetic manner in which the acting Prime Minister promised to consider the representations made by the deputation which waited upon him, and I hoped that at least some temporary relief would be given immediately. But some months have elapsed, and no relief has been afforded. We were told that the acting Prime Minister was prepared to make some arrangement to enable the States Governments to step in, but the latter have informed the producers that the Federal Government stand in the way. Now, however, the Federal Government are afforded an opportunity of remitting the duty and making a concession which, though I do not regard it as of great value, will be evidence of practical sympathy, and will not interfere very much with their pet policy of protection. Mr. Miles McCrae, who is my authority for the statement as to the destruction of the cargoes of produce, is well known as one of the pioneer champions of the protectionist movement, but his language in condemnation of the action of the Government is much stronger than any used in this Chamber, and he rightly characterizes the duty as protection run mad.
– That is the opinion of the leading protectionist newspaper in Sydney.
– That is so. It is not now a question of taking action outside the Constitution ; the Federal Government have it in their power to give a much needed concession by accepting the amendment of the honorable member for Macquarie. I trust that the good sense of the Government will prevent their giving special protection to a few, and cause them to remove this embargo.
Mr. KENNEDY (Moira).- When the honorable member for Macquarie was speaking I interjected “ humbug ; “ but I applied that word to the arguments he was using in reference to the distressed condition which overshadow the stock-owners of Australia to-day.
– Does not the honorable member believe that there is a drought in New South Wales to-day 1
– Seeing that I practically live in New South Wales and have some interests there, I think I know something of the climatic conditions in that part of Australia. But whoever says that the remission of the duty upon turnips would save any considerable number of sheep, is talking humbug.
– Would the remission of the duty give any relief at all ?
– I do not think it would. On a previous occasion I told the House that I was in the unfortunate position of having to buy food for starving stock, and, as my position has not been improved since then, I speak with some knowledge. On that occasion I expressed the opinion that the graziers of Australia have allowed themselves to drift into such a position that, as soon as the ordinary laws of nature cease to provide them with herbage for their stock, they have to come squealing to the Government for assistance. I said that there was not sufficient self-reliance amongst them, and I repeat that statement now. Upon occasions of this sort we should try to get down to the bed-rock of fact, in order to understand our true position. I do not shut my eyes to the fact that the present drought will be disastrous to the whole community, and will be felt for a considerable time to come.
– Does the honorable member wish to increase -the disaster by preventing the importation of fodder ?
– I wish to show that the declamation which we have heard against the attitude of the Commonwealth Government in respect to the suggested remission of the duties upon fodder and cereals is the merest flap-doodle.
– Where is the honorable member’s place situated 1
– Upon the borders of Victoria and New South Wales.
– If the honorable member goes into the western districts of New South Wales, he will find that there is a great difference between the conditions of the two places.
– I have been into the western districts of New South Wales, and I challenge, any one to prove that the present drought has caused the loss of ns many sheep in New South Wales as were lost during the drought of 1897. The pastoralists of the Commonwealth will have to bear an immense financial loss, and this loss will be felt by every individual in the community; but, having inquired very closely into the condition of New South Wales and Victoria - I do not refer to Queensland, because I have not had an opportunity to make a close inquiry into her conditions - I say that the drought of 1897 caused more loss amongst stock than the present drought has caused, or is likely to cause.
– In 1897 the people of New South Wales had no duties upon produce.
– And, notwithstanding that fact, they were paying more for fodder then than they are paying to-day.
– I did not know that’ they were.
– I know as a matter of fact that they were. In 1897 I was paying £6 10s. a ton for hay on the rails in Melbourne, whereas to-day I can get the same class of hay for £5 per ton, and whereas recently I could buy oats for 3s. a bushel, in 1897 I had to pay 3s. 9d. a bushel.
– The losses were greater in 1897, because there were more sheep to lose.
– I know that there were more sheep carried in New South Wales in the early nineties than at any other period in the history of that State.
– The drought of 1897 is not over yet.
– There has been a break.
– Not in many parts of the State.
– In 1900 there was a prosperous season in most parts of New South Wales, so far as the growth of herbage is concerned.
– Not in the west.
– I will give the com.mittee a typical illustration of the manner in which the pastoral industry is conducted in New South Wales to-day. In Riverina, which is the paradise of Australia for pastoralists, a gentleman who is a member of this Parliament last year grew 6,000 bags of wheat on his holding. He also cut chaff for six weeks continuously, using a steam chaff-cutter for the purpose. That holding is right in the midst of a drought-stricken district, but he put the value of his chaff into his pocket, and now he has not a single pound of feed to give his sheep, and they have died in thousands. On a previous occasion the honorable member for Robertson, following me, said that it was not the duty of the pastoralist to grow wheat ; that that is the duty of the farmer. Apparently, it is not the business of the pastoralist to grow hay and provide feed for his stock ; his business is to raise sheep, and then, when there is no natural herbage, to let them die, while he goes squealing to the Government for the remission of duties which do not stand in his way at all. Is it not delightful that self-reliant communities should be dependent upon persons who think it unnecessary to make any provision for the feeding of their stock when nature’s bounty fails 1 Will any one say that it would not have been possible to grow thousands of tons of? turnips in New South Wales this season notwithstanding the drought ? There are honorable members of this Parliament -interested in properties in New South Wales who will be heavy losers by this drought, but, notwithstanding that fodder is obtainable in Victoria ‘and other States to-day, they will not purchase it, owing to the uncertainty of having it delivered on to their properties.
– Why have not the pastoralists of New South Wales grown fodder?
– Because they have not all had the sense to do so.
– Because in previous years, when they grew it, the surplus stocks of other countries were allowed to come in and swamp the local stocks. New South Wales was caught napping in 1897, and she is caught napping again now.
– The honorable member would be caught napping if he had to face the same drought.
– How many sheep does the honorable member run 1 I undertake to say that he has not 100.
– One of the leading, journals of Victoria had as a head line to its report of what I said on this subject on a former occasion, “Is it portraiture or caricature 1” I challenged them then, and I challenge them now, to refute a single statement which I have made. I am prepared to give them the names of those to whom I referred on that occasion as having grown last harvest, and sold for 30s. a ton, ha)’ for which two months ago they were paying £5 delivered on to their properties again. There are pastoralists in New South Wales who sold last year’s wheat harvest for 2s. 6d. a bushel at the railway station, and who at the end of May and the beginning of June were buying wheat for 3s. 9d. a bushel to feed their sheep.
– Was not the wheat originally grown for sale 1
– Yes ; but those are the people whom honorable gentlemen opposite represent, and who ask for the remission of the duties. What does this parrot cry amount to ?
– The appeal for the remission of the duties conies from half the population of Australia.
– I am not prepared to argue the constitutional aspect of the question, but, seeing that these fodder duties are returned to the States from which they are collected, what is to prevent the Governments of the States whose people are materially concerned from paying an amount equivalent to the duties to those who are buying fodder to feed starving stock 1 There is nothing to prevent the States Governments from doing that without consulting the Federal Government at all.
That is one way in which the constitutional difficulty could be got over. The duty would be paid, and the States would get it back again. They could then give those who are in the unfortunate position of having to secure artificial food for their starving stock the benefit of the duty. New Zealand is the only place beyond the Commonwealth from which we can obtain turnips. I have had some experience in feeding stock upon that class of fodder, and I should be sorry to have to depend on turnips imported from New Zealand. As a matter of fact, it would be throwing money away to purchase them. In order to be useful as fodder they must be fairly fresh. Since 1S96 we have experienced two years in which it has been absolutely necessary to artificially feed stock throughout the greater portion of Australia, and the only way out of the difficulty that I can see is that we should grow our own fodder within the States, and conserve a sufficient quantity to enable provision to be made for at least a season ahead. It is utterly idle to think that we can depend on outside supplies to keep starving stock alive in dry seasons.
Mr. CAMERON (Tasmania). - I represent a State which, I suppose, has derived greater benefit, in proportion to its size, than has almost any other of the States, from the disasters that have overtaken the pastoralists in New South Wales and Queensland. It appears to me that it is wrong to charge a higher duty upon turnips, which are fit only for stock, than is levied upon potatoes, which are food for man. The duty upon potatoes is Jil pelton, and I certainly think that the duty upon turnips might be reduced to the same level. I am not prepared to support a motion for the total abolition of the duty, for the reason that the Federal Parliament, as a whole, has affirmed a protectionist policy, and if that policy is to be reversed in regard to one point, it should be reversed in regard to all ; but I am willing to afford that means of relief. The honorable member for Moira describes himself as a farmer, but certainly the speech we have just heard from him is not proof of his assertion. He asks whether turnips will afford relief to pastoralists who have starving stock to feed. If turnips can be obtained in fair quantities from New Zealand, the)’ certainly will afford an immense amount of relief. Those who know anything of the subject must be well aware that the intestines of stock fed for any length of time upon artificial food become congested. Turnips ‘ are succulent, and if sheep and cattle are occasionally fed upon them, they are kept in a healthy condition. On the other hand, if they are fed solely upon hay, wheat, or any other dry substance of that description, they are sure eventually to die. The committee may accept that statement as the practical experience of a man who lias suffered losses in this direction. For these reasons, I certainly think that if we can afford relief to the pastoralists of New South Wales and Queensland, we ought to do so. I am speaking as a farmer who has grown thousands of tons of turnips, and I can assure the committee that swede turnips - and that is the class which is now being sent from Tasmania into the mainland, and which would be imported from New Zealand-: - will keep sound for at least three months.
– -They are kept at home for double that time, and used for feeding stock which top the market.
– But turnips from New Zealand have to be carried across the sea, and the voyage has a certain effect upon them. They will not keep so well as they would if they were simply dug out of the ground and pitted ; but they will certainly keep for a month or six weeks. At the present time about 1,000 bags of turnips per week are being sent from Devonport to Sydney, and are realizing anything between £3 and £4 per ton. At the commencement of the season they were selling up to £6 per ton. The honorable member for Moira has asserted that root crops and fodder were dearer in 1897 than now. I can unhesitatingly contradict that statement.
– I said that hay and oats were dearer.
– I understood the honorable member to refer to artificial fodder. During the present season turnips from Tasmania have been selling in Sydney at £6 and £6 10s. per ton. In 1897, however, their value was only £2 and £2 10s. per ton.
– That is not 400 per cent, on £6.
– But if some relief is not afforded, the duty will amount to £2 per ton. We will assume that the value of* turnips in New Zealand is only 15s. or £1 per ton.
– They are selling at 40s. per ton, according to the la-test quotations.
– That being so, the-cost, duty paid, would be somewhere about £5 pelton, and to that amount would have to be added the charges for carrying them inland. It would be almost impossible for any one but a very wealthy man to be able to save starving stock by feeding them on turnips imported from New ‘Zealand at that price. I am speaking totally against my own interests and against the interests of a large class of farmers in Tasmania, but I like to see fair play all round, and I am prepared to support a legitimate duty to the extent of £1 per ton. The remission of the remaining £1 per ton would afford relief, and I ask the Government to rise to the situation and give the pastoralists that relief which unquestionably thev deserve.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).For pure unadulterated callousness it is a long time since we have heard anything like the speech made by the honorable member for Moira. From the way in which the honorable member lectures the pastoralists of Australia, one would imagine that the whole concentrated knowledge of pastoral and agricultural matters centred in the electorate of Moira.
– Who is lecturing now 1
– I am not going to lecture any one, because I do not pretend to know sufficient about the matter to enable me to do so.
– That is why the honorable member is speaking.
– On the other hand, I am not prepared to say that, all pastoralists are fools, as the honorable member for Moira impliedly has said.
– I did not say so.
– The honorable member says that they come squealing to the . Government when they might help themselves; that they are buying turnips which they should not buy, and purchasing fodder which is of no use to them. Then the honorable member for Laanecoorie said that if they had had any sense they would have grown fodder for themselves. It occurs to me that there is no escape from the position that these two honorable members possess all the knowledge upon this subject, and that the rest of the pastoralists must be poor, weak individuals. That is not a fair position to take up. It is particularly unfortunate that the honorable member for Moira should have adopted this attitude when the pastoralists are practically in’ a death struggle and do not know which way to turn. It is all very well to philosophize when conditions are normal. A lecture would be all right if the pastoralists in New South Wales and Queensland were equally as prosperous as are many of the pastoralists in Victoria ; but would it not be better for the honorable member for Moira to refrain from philosophizing until the drought is over ? These people are pleading for relief, and the Government have an opportunity to furnish it. The honorable member would display a more humane spirit if, instead of lecturing the pastoralists of Australia. - practically calling them noodle?, and arrogating to himself all the practical wisdom in the world - he either held his tongue or else assisted in giving them some relief. The honorable member talks about men going squealing to the Government. Have we seen during this session the galleries filled with pastoralists and farmers squealing for relief from the Government, in the way that the manufacturers of his own State have been doing 1 Throughout the Tariff debate we have had one long-drawn-out squeal from the honorable member for concessions for his own constituents.
– Nothing of the sort. I have often voted against the Government.
– Not one item affecting his own electorate has been under discussion without a squeal from the honorable member on behalf of his constituents. Have we not a vivid recollection of the honorable member appealing to the Government from time to time to save men in his own constituency from destruction ? But because we are asking the Government to afford relief to those who have suffered disaster in a large portion of Australia - to tide them over the drought, but not permanently to impose disabilities on the rest of Australia - the honorable member describes the plea as a squeal. If it is a squeal, it is the squeal of desperation.
– I am in the same class, and have suffered equally as much.
– I do not think the honorable member has much interest in the pastoral industry. He tells us, however, that he is a practical farmer ; that he knows what are the difficulties in connexion with tobacco-growing, and that he knows all the ramifications of the pastoral industry. He must be a remarkable man. I cannot pretend to such an intimate knowledge of the matter ; but I am constantly learning that people in my own electorate are in need of fodder, that their stock are dying, that they are practically ruined, and that they desire some relief, which the Government only can cifford. The honorable member thinks these people are squealing, while his friend, the honorable member for Laanecoorie, says that they have shown a want of sense. I can only attribute their opinions to their right-down ignorance of the conditions. We are told by the honorable member for Moira that the present drought is not as bad as that of 1897. That may very well be conceded. Our position is that in regard to a great proportion of our State the drought has never ceased since 1S97, and although the losses of stock may have been greater in that year, they were not proportionately as great as at the present time. There were more stock to lose in 1897 than there are to-day.
– There has been a continuous drought since 1S95.
– If a pastoralist meets with a bad season after he has had a series of good seasons he is in a position to see it through, but when one bad season comes on top of another his resources are crippled, and therefore he is not so well able to pull through as he was before, so that we can very well concede the bald statement of the honorable member that the drought is not so keen this year as it was in 1897. It does not follow, however, that the suffering to-day is not infinitely keener than it was in 1S97. Why philosophize in this way about . the trouble when we know that it exists only too acutely in our State 1 Here is a chance for the Government to give the pastoralists and farmers in the drought-stricken States some substantial relief without inflicting any injury on the Commonwealth or any one in it. All we ask is that these vegetables shall be allowed to come free, or, at any rate, at a low duty, so that these persons may be able to tide over then- difficulty until better times come round.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).The honorable member for Moira quite evaded the question before the committee. -The request of the Senate is that these fruits and vegetables should be added’ to the exemption list. The Government propose that the amendment requested be not made, and the honorable member’ for Macquarie makes the reasonable proposal that it should not be made except as to vegetables. That is a very fair compromise indeed. We, on this side of the House, are going a very long way when we swallow our convictions and say that there may be a duty on fruit, as a compromise, if the vegetables come in free. These vegetables would be chiefly turnips and potatoes, which would come from New Zealand.
– Potatoes would not come in.
– As it appears that only turnips would come in, we have gone to the very extreme in our ‘concession to the persons who ask for a protective duty. The free admission of turnips would give relief to all those dairymen in New South Wales who are located along the south coast, in the county of Cumberland extending out to the Wollondilly river, and taking in perhaps in its area nearly a third of the State, and in all the large centres of population. To some extent they may be used in keeping valuable stock alive, but they could not possibly be used to the extent which has been suggested by some honorable members, in keeping sheep alive. This class of fodder would not be suitable -for that purpose. It would be too expensive, and moreover it is too late in the day to attempt to feed sheep on turnips, because the winter is upon us, and all those highly bred sheep which are worth keeping, are being fed on fodder that contains more nourishment than do turnips.
– That is a mistake. Turnips contain greater nourishment than does anything else.
– In America, turnips and other kinds of roots crops are used for feeding stock, but turnips contain a very large quantity of water.
– Is the honorable member aware that turnips without anything else will fatten ?
– They will, but I do not think the honorable member will find that turnips are the most suitable feed for keeping alive highly bred stock ; other classes of fodder are used for that purpose. In the dairying districts of New South Wales turnips could be extensively used, and considerable relief would be given if they were admitted duty free. The honorable member for Moira went out of his way to refer to a speech which I made here some time ago, and in which I said it was not the duty of a pastoralist to grow wheat. Generally speaking he has very little land which is suitable for agriculture. He grows sufficient feed for the stock that requires to be fed, but he does not think of growing feed to keep stock alive’ in such a time as the present. If it were his business to grow feed as an agriculturist, it would be found that he would have silos in all parts of his run where the fodder would be stored for times of drought. His business is not to grow wheat, but to rear sheep and to grow wool. When the honorable member for Macquarie said that a great number of the pastoralists in New South Wales had endured so much privation that they were reduced to a state of ruin, the honorable member for Moira said it was all humbug, and he added that those men, if they had had any industry, could have grown sufficient feed during this drought to keep their stock alive. When I naturally asked why they did not do it, the honorable and learned member for Laanecoorie said it was because they had no sense. I think that the pastoralists of New South Wales, or any other part of Australia, will be found to have quite as much sense as have any other men in the Com mon weal th .
– I did not say all of them ; I said the improvident ones.
– The honorable member for Moira spoke about the pastoralists just as though they were in the habit of growing fodder and selling it in the market] and he added that they sold their fodder, and allowed their stock to starve.
– I know some who do. Does not the honorable member know any who do 1
– A man in a large way as a pastoralist does not do that kind of thing, but I can quite understand that the men who are engaged in mixed farming in Victoria might have sold the fodder which they had stored,- and that in a time of depression they found that they had no feed for their stock.’ Further, the honorable member for Moira said that these men did not grow fodder because they were afraid of the market being glutted. I should like to know where is the common sense of that remark. If they had grown fodder during the drought it would have been done, not for the purpose of being sold, but for the purpose of keeping their stock alive. Honorable members who sit on the other side of the House are most anxious to provide, even to the growing of turnips, some protection for the people of Victoria at a time when the free admission of fodder would be of immense benefit to New South Wales in keeping alive the dairy stock that have been brought together at very considerable cost. The dairymen are to be allowed to see their valuable stock die from the want of feed, simply because the protectionist section in the committee desires to give some benefit to the growers of turnips. This is a most selfish and unfederal policy to pursue. If the Government were prepared to make those amends which they profess themselves anxious to make to the sufferers from the drought in New South Wales they would show their practical sympathy by allowing these vegetables to come in duty free, thereby conferring a very great benefit on the dairy farmers in New South Wales.
– A remark which fell from the honorable member for Capricornia has given me some food for thought. He has said that turnips are saleable in New Zealand at 10s. per ton, and, as we are told by the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. Cameron, that the price in New South Wales to-day is between £4 and £5, the duty will bring the price, without freight, up to £2 10s.
– The price is 10s. on the farm in New Zealand, not f.o.b.
– What will it cost to place turnips on board ship ?
– About 10s. per ton, and the freight will be probably 15s. per ton.
– It is usually £1 a ton, unless the shipment is a large one.
– That would bring the price of turnips up to £2 per ton. According to the New Zealand Times of the 26th July - the latest newspaper which is available - the market rate in that colony is £2 per ton. If the market price in New Zealand is £2, and the cost of transport to New South Wales is 30s., the landed cost is £3 10s.
– If they are worth £2 f.o.b. at a New Zealand port, they can be landed in Sydney, without the duty, at from £2 15s. to £3 at the outside, and if the duty of £2 is added, it brings the value up to £5 straight away.
– Then we find that this is the position. They are quoted in the market in New Zealand at £2 per ton, and I am told that they can be placed on board and landed in Sydney for £1 per ton. That will make the price £3. Then they can be placed in the market in Sydney for another is. or 2s. per ton, and if we add the duty of £2 per ton it will bring the price up to £5 2s. As the price of turnips in New Zealand has not increased since the time the distress caused by the drought began to be felt, it appears that they could have been landed from New Zealand in Sydney at a profit of about 15s. per ton.
– The price has been a very varying one throughout the season, from’ 30s. to £4 10s. per ton.
– They were being used, not for stock, but for food for the inhabitants of Sydney at ±6 per ton.
– Seeing that there were thousands of bags of turnips going from Tasmania–
– One thousand bags was my statement, and 12 bags go to the ton.
– The Sydney Morning Herald is my authority for saying that there were 2,400 bags of Tasmanian turnips landed in Sydney last week. It all comes to this, that there is after all very little difference between the price of the New Zealand article landed in Sydney and the price of the Tasmanian article.
– Therefore neither could be used largely for feeding stock. Mr. SALMON. - But the contention has been that if the duty of £2 per ton were abolished and New Zealand turnips could be landed in the Commonwealth free of duty, there would be a large consumption of these articles by pastoralists for feeding stock.
– They would be used.
– Largely, I presume, because there would be no use in making the difference proposed unless for some substantial benefit.
– The pastoralists say they would use them.
– The honorable member for Lang knows the local conditions, and I ask him how much it would cost to place the turnips on the stations ?
– The Railway Commissioners are carrying them for next to nothing.
– Two shillings per ton.
– There would be a big demand for them by cattle owners round Sydney.
– I am not speaking of the people round about Sydney. I have been a good deal round Sydney during the last four or five months, and I know there has been no drought there. I am therefore not concerned about the people owning dairy stock round about Sydney. We are talking, not of dairymen, but of pastoralists, and not of the suburbs of Sydney, but of the arid West. We are told that there is a falling market in Sydney - honorable members admit that the price has fallen from £6 to £4 10s. per ton - and the market is extremely dull, according to the latest reports of the Sydney newspapers. There is, therefore, not the demand for this article that we were led to believe. It is shown that these turnips cannot be landed in Sydney for less than about £3 per ton. I presume that the importer, whoever he may be, will not be so benevolent as to desire to gain no profit at all, and under these circumstances the benefit to be derived from agreeing with the requested amendment- upon this item is very problematical. Finally, I should like to say that my remark regarding the pastoralist referred only to the improvident pastoralist. I say that he cannot see beyond next day. Australia has far too many land-owners and landholders who are prepared to leave everything to nature, and do not take ordinary care to provide for a time of drought. Mr. Horsfall and Mr. Samuel McCaughey hold properties in the centre of a district which has suffered as much as the properties of any other land-owners in New South Wales in consequence of the drought, but these men, by their foresight and providence, have been able to lay in a .stock of fodder which has saved their stock from almost total Annihilation ?
– Does not the honorable and learned member know that they have lost heavily.
– I know that they have, but they have not lost to the same extent as others, and their losses have been reduced in exactly the ratio of their provision for the time of need.
– They had a bigger purse.
– That is not so. I can assure the honorable member that the figures quoted by the honorable member for Moira are correct, and men who have even larger purses have lost more heavily. I know” of one man who has a larger purse who grew fodder, and then disposed of it, and he is now compelled to buy it back at a higher price. Yet these men are loudest in their claims that they should receive federal assistance at this juncture. “ Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I desire to reply to the statement made by the honorable member for Moira in regard to prices for fodder. The honorable member stated that there was a drought in 1897. I have looked up the commercial columns of the Sydney Morning Herald for August, 1897, and I find that the price of maize was 2s. 3d. in 1897 ; to-day it is 4s. lid. The price of lucerne hay was then from £2 to £3 5s. per ton, and to-day it is from £7 10s. to £9 per ton. Yet the honorable member for Moira has the audacity to tell this committee that in 1897 the price of hay and produce generally was as high as it is to-day.
– That is in the part of which he was speaking.
– Take wheaten hay.
– The “price of wheaten hay was from £3 J.0s. to £4 7s. 6d., and to-day it is up to from £5 10s. to £6 7s. 6d. In 1S97 the price of bran and pollard was 8£d., and to-day it is ls. 6d. The price of turnips was from £2 to £2 5s. per ton, and’ to-day the price is £4 10s., and it has been as high as £6 10s. per ton. There is a like increase in the price of all other articles of produce owing to the drought. Then my honorable friend talked about the Age. I find from the Age that the price of hay was from 2s. to 2s. 4d. in 1897 ; and to-day it is 4s. 4d., according to the Age. Bran was from 8fd. to 9d., according to the Age, in 1897 ; and to-day, according to the Argus, it is ls. 4-Jd. to ls. 5d. The price of pollard was from lid. to 10d., in 1897 ; and to-day it is ls. 5d. The honorable member for Laanecoorie told us that there was no drought around Sydney. I live within 34 miles of Sydney, and I can tell the honorable member that one of my neighbours, who has 400 or 500 acres of land, and some of it on the banks of a river, is now paying £2 per day to keep 50 head of dairy stock alive
– Why did he not grow fodder?
– We have to face the position that these nien have not grown the fodder. We may ask why a man does not make provision for sickness in his family, but that is no reason why we should not help him when he is in need.
– It is a reason why we should not tax him and rob him.
– Exactly, and that is what the Government are proposing to do now. What they propose is nothing but daylight robbery. After what was said by the honorable member for Moira, I thought it my duty to compare the prices of fodder in 1S97 with the prices to-day.
– Look at the difference in the price of meat.
– I can tell the right honorable gentleman that in some districts there is scarcely a hoof of stock left. I know that it has cost one pastoralist in the Canobolas electorate 10s. per head to keep his sheep alive up to the present time, and yet honorable members tell us that there is no necessity to make any concession to these people.
Mr. F. E. McLEAN (Lang).- No honorable member need offer any apology for taking up some considerable time in dealing with a question of this kind. I think the honorable member for Capricornia is entitled to the thanks of the committee for having given us an opportunity to discuss this question. One would have thought that when the cry of distress was ringing throughout the land a paternal Government would have rushed to the rescue without being implored and beseeched - without being put in the position of having to be almost bullied - in order that they might be brought to a sense of their duty in the matter. I cannot understand why it should be necessary for honorable members representing New South Wales to have to emphasize the needs of their State in the way they have had to do time after time in this House. If there were one spark of benevolence or of justice in ohe breasts of the Government they would themselves seek to devise means for effecting relief. I hardly think that we ought to put’ our plea on the ground of relief. We are not asking for charity. At a time like this it is a positive crime against the people to be colled: - ing these fodder duties. To hear honorable members talk about the pastoralists of New South Wales, one might .think that the Government were asked to do some great act of benevolence or to deal out some financial relief to the farmers. But the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. Cameron, representing a State that has benefited to a very great extent from the sale of its produce to New South Wales during this dry season, himself admits that the duties are too high, and aw beyond all reason. If the Government have any sense of justice, or any desire whatever to deal fairly with the people of New South Wales and Queensland, here is an opportunnity for them to revise this Tariff - if not to the extent we are asked to do by the Senate, at any rate by means of substantial reductions in the fodder duties. When the Tariff was under consideration by this House before the drought had reached the great extremity which has now been attained, farmers and pastoralists, and the people generally, were living in hopes that rain would come and enable them to tide over the severe crisis in their affairs. It is all very well for the honorable member for Laanecoorie and the honorable member for Moira to lecture the pastoralists of New South Wales, and tell them that they ought to have been more provident in storing their grain. Just fancy telling them they ought to have done that twelve months ago ! But ordinary men may be forgiven for not having had- such profound foresight as have the honorable members to whom I have referred. It will readily be admitted that the pastoralists may have made some mistakes. Ordinary men do make .mistakes. We cannot always foresee the great calamities that are going to overtake us. If there has been some improvidence in regard to saving produce which might have been the means of maintaining starving stock, that is no reason why this Parliament should refuse to recognise the oppression placed upon the people by means of these duties. We are not asking relief from the Government. We are simply asking them not to put the hand of oppression upon the people at a time when they are suffering: I regard these duties as being absolutely wicked and extortionate under the circumstances. In the terrible condition of things which prevails in New South Wales to-day, it is little short of a crime against that State to go on collecting the duties on fodder. The honorable member for Moira asks why the State Government cannot, out of the revenue which they are receiving from the Federal Government, pay for the fodder thus required. I venture to say that there is no authority upon our Federal Constitution who would say that that would be a wise and proper course to take under the circumstances. The Attorney-General of New South Wales has said’ that it is an unconstitutional thing, but as there is no High Court, it might be possible to do the unconstitutional thing. But are we to- encourage that view of things ? Would it not be more reasonable to expect the hand that oppresses to cease to oppress for the time being? Would it not be more reasonable to expect the hand that is collecting these duties to cease from their collection while the distress prevails ? Now that we, as a Parliament, have the opportunity of revising the Tariff, can we not, in the light of this dreadful experience, consent to a considerable reduction of the duty ? The members of the Senate have seen fit to make a recommendation that the duty should be repealed altogether, and I ‘ do not see why we should not accede to their request. It is all very well for the Treasurer to say that it is only a question of turnips. But he knows perfectly well that behind the question of turnips lies the whole question of the welfare of the people of New South Wales. He knows perfectly well that we are only asking for this relief for the urgent reason that has been properly represented, that if turnips had been admitted free it might have been possible to feed a larger number of stock, and to save their lives. The Minister for Trade and Customs, who generally makes speeches by way of interjection when we are bringing forward matters of vital importance to our States, has asked - “ What about the price of butcher’s meat in Sydney to-day 1” He thinks that the pastoralists are well off, because meat fetches such a high price ! I do not know by what process of reasoning the right honorable gentleman can bring himself to believe in such an idea. If the price of meat is high, it is because the price of stock is abnormally high. Is not that an evidence of the distress that prevails ? Is it not the most tangible evidence that our flocks and herds have been thoroughly depleted, and that the pastoral industry of the State is in a very bad way ? I believe that there is a feeling right throughout the State of New South Wales that in entering into the federal union and placing ourselves. at the mercy of these unreasonable and extortionist tax gatherers we have made a serious mistake. We have placed ourselves at the mercy of those who have no sympathy with us when the hour of distress comes. Is the cry of the people who are in distress, and is the unanimous voice of the whole people, to count for nothing with this Parliament ? Are we to believe, when the people are practically unanimous - when the protectionist population themselves, voiced by their protectionist newspaper organ, and by the protectionist Government in power, are unanimous - that this distress is only imaginary, and that if- the pastoralists had exercised a little more foresight and been a little more provident - if they had been as wise as their neighbours - we might have avoided this calamity? The demand made on behalf of our people for the reduction of this duty is a reasonable one. It is absolutely incomprehensible how a Government that professes to legislate and govern for the welfare of the people can sit calmly by and listen to such a demand without responding to it. It should have been unnecessary to make this demand on the floor of the House. At the first sign of distress the Federal Government should have taken action. They would have made themselves not only popular, but useful and honorable in the high office they occupy, if they had hastened to the relief of the people instead of waiting for this pressing demand to be made upon them.
– I cannot allow the pastoralists of New South Wales - my very particular friends - to be misrepresented in the way they have been to-night. I have been astonished to hear honorable members who claim to know something about pastoral pursuits, speak as they have done. The honorable member for Moira, for instance, has spoken of the drought of 1897 as if it were something that had come to an end. He appears to be ignorant of the fact that the drought started long before 1897, and has not ended yet. He spoke of the losses in 1897. The losses commenced before 1897. They occurred largely in the western district of New South Wales, where, he says, the pastoralists need not have lost any stock at all, and where, he asserts, their losses are due to their own carelessness and improvidence. In fact, the honorable member spoke in a most extraordinary way, so that I doubt whether he was ever in the western district at all. Certainly, if he ev went through it, he must have had his eyes shut or must have visited it in a particularly good season. It is a strange thing to hear an honorable member, who claims to be a pastoralist, talking in that way, seeing the degree of unanimity which exists between the pastoralists themselves as to the impossibility of growingfodderin the western district. Pastoralists who have a thoroughly practical knowledge of the country - a knowledge a good deal more practical than that of the honorable member for Laonecoorie, or that of the honorable member for Moira, or that of the two of them put together - say that they have absolutely failed in this respect. They have tried to grow fodder by irrigation where they had artesian bores, but they have failed. The Government itselfhas failed. Any amount of money has been spent ; and for honorable members to tell us that the pastoralists could grow fodder if they tried, is nothing short of nonsense. When a practical man like the honorable member for Moira talks, he expects honorable members to listen to him, and to pay attention to what he says. But I tell the committee, as knowing something about the matter, and as having listened to the sworn evidence of pastoralists themselves, that what the honorable member has said is entirely wide of the mark. I listened to the evidence of something like 260 witnesses before a Royal commission appointed by the New South Wales Government to inquire into the condition of the pastoralists, and as to whether the misfortunes from which they suffer could be prevented by any means. The evidence was unanimous that fodder could not be grown in these districts. What is the use of saying that provision could be made against the drought by means of forethought, when practical men say that the growth of fodder in the pastoral districts is impossible? Personally I believe that if the pastoralists had paid more attention to the reclaiming of salt bush, and the growth of the natural fodders of the soil, it would have been better for them than the growing of grain and other things. I am speaking, of course, of the western part of the State.
– I never referred to the western district. The remarks I made apply to Riverina.
– The fact is that in districts where these turnipsand fodder can be grown, it is not necessary for pastoralists to undertake their cultivation. Why should any pastoralist waste his time in ploughing land and cultivating stuff he does not want ? Drought is rare in the coastal districts, but no doubt the position is serious this year owing to the disaster having spread all over New South Wales. This has created a demand for fodder in the dairying districts ; and that is a point about which the Government do not seem to trouble their heads. There has been created this new demand on the supplies of the whole Commonwealth, and in this connexion mangolds have been overlooked. There may be a limited supply of turnips, but if these, together with mangolds, could be secured at a lower rate, they would be utilized throughout the dairying districts. If the fodder which is now under the consideration of the committee were freely imported, other kinds of fodder could be sent out west to the pastoralists. This may seem a small item, but small items very often become important when there is a keen struggle ; and there is more necessity for making this fodder free than appears on the surface. Of course, our protectionist friends may raisethe question of the permanent effects of the removal of a duty ; but, in my opinion, to free mangolds would not in any way affect the farmers, while it would certainly give a considerable amount of relief to people who are on the verge of ruin. Some reference has been made to Mr. McCaughey, and no doubt large sums have been in vested in irrigation, on the Murrumbidgee, where fodder has been grown. But in the mountains, where wheat and fodder can be readily cultivated, the seasons are generally good, and, as I said before, the man who is growing wool leaves the growing of wheat to the farmers. Out west, where it is abnormal to have a good season, it is impossible to grow wheat and fodder, despite what honorable members may say ; and it is not quite fair to lecture the pastoralists as they have been lectured, nor to speak of them as coming “squealing” to the Government. Of all classes in the community the pastoralists of New South Wales have done least in the way of asking Government assistance. The people of Victoria really do not know what a drought is. Not long ago I was through the pastoral districts of Victoria where there was great complaint of drought, but, asa matter of fact, roots and a certain amount of gross could be seen. In Queensland and New South Wales, on the. other hand, nothing can be seen but dust for hundreds and hundreds of miles, and that has been the condition for years past. This year the drought has crept into districts which have hitherto escaped, and the people have had to depend on feeding instead of, as previously, sending their stock into the mountains. The losses were greatest some years ago, and in my electorate, and in the electorate of the honorable member forCanobolas, there have been seven years of drought. It is idle to talk of people growing fodder in places where there has not been an inch and a half of rain in the last eleven months. If the honorable member for Moira is the wonderful practical farmer he describes himself to be, he ought to be engaged as the principal of the Hawkesbury College ; but, in my opinion, the honorable member would not be able to grow enough fodder to keep himself alive, let alone half-a-million stock. I am beginning to believe that Home honorable members do not realize the situation in New South Wales andQueensland. They are misled by conditions and experiences with which those of the two States I have mentioned do not in the least degree compare. If they did realize the situation, I know they have sympathy enough to attempt some relief, and I say that even the small concessions proposed would do a great deal of good.
House adjourned at 10.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 August 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020807_reps_1_11/>.