3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. POYNTON, at the request of Mr. Speaker, presented a petition, signed by thirteen residents of Balaklava, South Australia, praying the House to reduce the duties on agricultural and mining machinery.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs yet laid on the table the papers promised months ago, dealing with the importation of patent medicines into Australia ?
– I should be very glad if the honorable member, or any other honorable member, who desires to see these papers, will call at the Department, where they will be freely accessible. There are one’ or two which it is not desirable to lay on the table of the House.
– Why not put them on the Library table?
– That would necessitate some expense and trouble.
Report (No. 9) presented by Mr. Hutchison, read by the Clerk, arid adopted.
– In this morning’s newspapers it is stated that the PostmasterGeneral . has taken steps to establish a separate administrative branch for the telephone service. I think it is desirable that that should bc done, and I hope that the Minister will l(it us know whether the statement is correct.
– The administration and supervision of the telephone service ‘ is receiving my close attention, and I propose to consult the Public Service Commissioner and the Treasurer with a view to carrying into’ effect the. intention referred to.
– When, the Copyright Bill was being discussed, in December, 1905, ‘provisions referring to newspaper copyright were omitted, and the AttorneyGeneral promised that on a later occasion - the following year, I think - a Bill would be introduced to’ deal with the subject. Is he aware that counsel has advised that great legal difficulties have arisen because of the omission of the part referred to, and does he propose to redeem the promise which I have mentioned?
– The administration of the copyright law is with the Customs Department. When the matter was before Parliament in 1905, a promise was made in regard to certain provisions dealing with another aspect of the law. I shall be glad if the honorable and learned member will direct my attention to the difficulties to which he particularly refers. If he does so. I shall consult the Department in connexion with the matter.
– Is it proposed to bring in a Bill which will affect newspaper copy-
– I do not know that that is the intention of the Department at the present time; it was in contemplation. I shall be glad to look into the matter.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Substituted Regulation, No. 22 (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 106.
Public Service Act - Substituted Regulation, No. 142 (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 108.
Public Service Act - Regulation No. 104 amended - Telephone Attendants - Statutory Rules 1907, No. log.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice- -
In reference to a statement of the English Under-Secretary of State for the’ Colonies in the House of Commons, on the 36th August last - “ The Dominions Department of the Colonial Office would have the responsibility for the government of the Colonies and possessions geographically associated with them “ -
Whether this is a correct interpretation of the arrangement recently arrived at by the Imperial Conference?
Whether Australia is a part of the Dominions Department so governed?
As this is the most recent pronouncement of the government of Australia actually, though not ostensibly, carried on by the Colonial Office, will he protest against ‘ same, and continue to endeavour, to secure further real selfgovernment for Australia by the separation, of- Australian affairs from the Colonial Office’ control?
– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s ‘ questions are as follow -
No despatch dealing with this subject has yet been received from the Colonial Office, though one is expected.
The letter of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, which was published in the Times of 26th August, 1907, contains all the information’ in the possession of the Department.
The despatch when’ received will be replied to, and a copy of both documents will be laid on the table.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What is the total number of adults employed in the postal, telegraphic, and telephonic services of the Commonwealth ?-
– Inquiries are being made, and- the desired information will be furnished as soon as possible.
Duty on Stearine and Paraffine Wax - Congestion of Bonds - Extra Sittings-Appointment of SubCommittee.
– The following paragraph appears in to-day’s Argus -
SYDNEY, Wednesday.- When the conference of the Federal Council of Chambers of Manufactures resumed to-day the secretary stated that he had had an interview with Sir WilliamLyne, who was desirous that the conference should pass a resolution upon the question of duty on stearine and wax, in order to strengthen the hands of the Federal Government.
I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs if there is any truth in that statement ?
– The Secretary to the Conference, who is also Secretary to the Chamber of Manufactures here, spoke to me about the matter, and asked me what was likely to take place. I told him that I ‘was very desirous of having the duties passed, and he said that he would like to bring the subject before the. Conference.
– According to a statement in to-day’s Argus -
Owing to the slowness with which Parliament is dealing with the Tariff, the accumulation of goods in bond as they arrive is still proceeding, and, notwithstanding the increases effected in bonded space during the last few weeks, the pressure on the bonds is becoming greater than ever.
In view of these facts and the inconvenience caused to trade generally because Parliament has not yet dealt with the Tariff, is the Minister of Trade and Customs now prepared, or will he be prepared at an early date, to suggest an arrangement which will expedite its passing?
– If I knew anything which would expedite the passing of the Tariff, I should ‘be glad to suggest it. Any inconvenience caused to merchants and others doing business with the Department, or having goods in bond, we shall try to alleviate as much as possible.
– As the discussion of the Tariff is occupying so much time, will the Government see fit to propose that the House shall meet on six days a week, so that we may finish by Christmas?
– The honorable member does not mean that.
– He may not mean it; but I am very much in favour of some such course. I said last week that, if we did not get on more quickly with the Tariff, something must be done to facilitate business, and . I suggested that we should meet every morning, except Tuesday, at half-past ten.
– Let us sit every day in the week until we finish.
– We cannot sit on Tuesday mornings, because then members are travelling to Melbourne from the other States.
– Some of us have to stay in Melbourne all the time.
– That is so.I also said that if, meeting every morning, we did not get on fast enough - and I hoped to commence the early sittings this week - it would be necessary, in order to finish the Tariff by Christmas, to sit every day except Saturday or Monday.
– Every day but Sunday.
– That would be rather too much. If we do not get on more quickly, I think that next week additional time must be taken.
– Surely forty-eight hours a week is a fair thing.
– I would suggest to the Minister in charge of the Tariff that it might be possible to appoint a subcommittee, consisting of a member from each party, to go through the Tariff, and determine what items might be passed without debate. Those items could then be passed by the Committee of Ways and Means, and the discussion confined to the remaining items.
– Is it the intention of the Government to send the Tariff to the Senate in divisions, as each’ is dealt with in this Chamber?
– That is not finally decided. Its determination will depend partly on the progress which we make during the next few days.
In Committee of Ways and Means (Consideration resumed from 23rd October, vide page 5081):
Item 40 (as amended), Candles, Tapers, and Night Lights : -
Upon which had been moved by way of further amendment -
By Mr. John Thomson -
That after the figure “ 2d.” the words “ and 0.1 and after 24th October, 1907 (United Kingdom), per lb.,1½d.,” be inserted.
By Mr. Johnson -
That after the figure “ 2d.” the words, “ and on and after 24th October, 1907 (United Kingdom), per lb.,¾d.,” be inserted.
– I find upon inquiry that there is not much likelihood of my proposal in favour of granting an increased preference to the Mother Country receiving much support. There seems to be a desire on the part of some members of the Committee on this side to support the imposition of a duty of1d. per lb. upon candles of British origin. In order to save time, therefore, I ask leave to amend my amendmentby substituting “1d.” for “¾d.”
Amendment amended accordingly.
– I hope that the Committee will not agree to the amendment.
– I am. sure that after such an intelligent appeal on the part of the Treasurer the Committee will reject the amendment. The honorable gentleman gets out of his chair-
– Does the honorable member wish me to remain in the chair ?
– The Treasurer merely expressed the hope that the Committee would not agree to the amendment, and resumed his seat. Is his statement to be regarded as a ukase to the supporters of the Government? I should like to know whether the Ministry intend to adhere to their original proposal to levy a duty of 2d. per lb. upon candles from the United Kingdom, which would result in the abolition of any preference?
-The honorable member knows perfectly well - because the statement was made the other evening - that the Government intend to agree to a reduction of the duty to1½d. per lb. As the duty under the general Tariff has been reduced to 2d. per lb. I want to extend a preference of½d. per lb. to the goods of the Mother Country.
Question - That the words” and on and after 24th October, 1907 (United Kingdom) per lb.,1d.” (Mr. Johnson’s amendment), proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. John Thomson) agreed to -
That after the figure “ 2d.” the words “ and on and after 24th October, 1907 (United Kingdom), per lb.,11/2d” be inserted.
– That was very sharp practice.
– I must ask the honorable member to withdraw that statement.
– I say that it was a very sharp piece of procedure. Before I could get round the chair, the amendment was put and carried.
– Order ! . The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw.
– I should like to point out that several honorable members were in the act of passing from one side of the chamber to the other when the question was put. I think that there was a little misapprehension about the matter.
– The Chairman has a right to protect honorable members.
– When I fail to do so, I hope that the Committee will do its duty. I wish to say that whilst honorable members were crossing the chamber I called “Order” upon two occasions. I then waited for a short time before distinctly putting the amendment. The honorable member for Lang rose in his place, as if to speak, and then resumed his seat. After he had done so, I put the question. It was not put hurriedly. I can assure the Committee that I have no desire to rush the business through.
– By way of personal explanation, I wish to say that the question was put and carried before honorable members had resumed their seats. The honorable member for Lang occupied a better position than did most honorable members, inasmuch as he acted as a teller during the recent division. I lost no time in crossing the chamber, but before I could get round Mr. Speaker’s chair the question had been put and carried. I was thus prevented from speaking as I had intended.
– My object in rising after the division had been taken was to continue the discussion. When you, sir, put the question, I understood thatyou were stating it with a view to its being further debated. I would also point out that when honorable members who are not Ministerial supporters are obliged to cross to the other side of the chamber, they are not permitted to speak from the Treasury Benches, and on the present occasion they were not allowed sufficient time to cross over to their accustomed places.
– I would point out to the Committee that, when there are two amendments to be decided, it is quite a common practice for honorable members to remain upon a different side of the chamber to that upon which they are accustomed to sit, until those amendments have been finally dealt with.
– I move -
That after the letters “N.E.I.” the words “ containing not more than 6 per cent. of paraffine wax “ be inserted.
Nearly all the stearine candles imported contain a slight admixture of paraffine wax, which is used for the purpose of im proving their quality and appearance. This admixture very rarely exceeds 5 per cent., but, in the absence of some such provision as that which I propose, all stearine candles imported will have to pay a duty of 2d. per lb. under paragraph a, as being composed of “ paraffine wax in part.” To prevent this, I move the insertion of the words I have indicated.
– I desire the Committee to come to a vote upon this question as quickly as possible. The amendment would have the effect of creating complications which would be very difficult to overcome, in that it would necessitate each box of candles imported being subjected to an analysis in order to determine whether the candles contained more than 6 per cent. of paraffine wax. I am assured that there is no necessity whatever for the amendment, and that stearine candles are very much better than candles composed of an admixture of stearine and wax.
– I move -
That after the figures “1½d.,” paragraph B, the words “ and on and after 24th October, 1907 (General Tariff), per lb.,1¼d.,” be inserted.
I submit this motion in order that this duty may bear some relation to the duty already decided.
– Why not make the same concession in this duty that has already been made in regard to candles ?
– I feel more disposed to propose that the duty be higher.
– As we have altered the previous item by reducing the duty of 2½d. to 2d., it would be only fair to make a proportional reduction as proposed.
– That ought to be done as a consequential amendment.
– There is nothing consequential in the matter ; the Tariff will be 1d. against Great Britain as before.
– We are dealing with other places besides Great Britain, and I am now speaking of the general Tariff.
Mr.Watson. - If the duty remains as at present, there will still be a preference of½d. in favour of Great Britain.
– We are not dealing with the preference column at present, but with the general Tariff.
– But the general Tariff affects the preference to Great Britain.
– We propose to deal further with the preference column.
– And make the duty lower than before, I suppose !
– After all the speeches made yesterday, and the day before, on the subject of preference - after all the perfervid oratory in the protestation of our attachment to the old land, our first action to-day is to increase an already prohibitive duty.
– The duty is left as before.
– I am speaking of the whole item, and I contend that there is an addition to the old duty. The old duty was prohibitive in regard to British candles, seeing that none are imported ; and, after protesting our desire to develop trade with the Mother Country, it is proposed, on the first item dealt with, to shut the door still more tightly, so as to prevent even the possibility of trade.
Question - That the words, “ and on and after 24th October, 1907 (General Tariff) per lb.,1¼d.,” proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 19
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That after the figure “1d.,” paragraphB, the words “and on and after 24th October, 1907 (United Kingdom), per lb.,¾d.” be added.
This amendment, if carried, will preserve the proportion which previously existed.
.- I hope that we shall not waste time over a small matter like this. The adoption of the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Lang would not mean a difference of £300 in the total duty paid on the present importations from Great Britain.
.- I would remind the Committee that paraffine wax candles are made from material which we import, whilst the candles dealt with in item 40B are made from stearine which is manufactured here. I think that we ought to differentiate between the two duties.
Item 41 (Solid spirit heaters) agreed to.
Item 42. Stearine, paraffine wax, beeswax, carnauba, ceresine, and Japanese or vegetable wax, per lb.,1d.
– I move -
That the words “ and on and after 25th October, 1907, per lb.,½d.,” be added.
I submit this amendment as a protectionist who believes in a fair Tariff, which will apply equally in its incidence to all sections of the community. Under the Constitution, public servants who were transferred from the State to the Federal service at the establishment of the Commonwealth lost none of their existing or accruing rights, and I think it is just as necessary that the States themselves should be protected in the same way. In Tasmania we have a candle-making industry which has teen injured under Inter-State free-trade by the competition of the larger factories of the mainland. Prior to Federation, we had there four soap and candle factories, employing a large number of hands, but the competition from the mainland became so keen, inconsequence of the establishment of Inter-State free-trade, that two of them had to close down. If this item be’ passed, as proposed by the Government, the remaining soap and candle factories in Tasmania will have to close. I hope that the Committee will be prepared to extend consideration to the industries of the smaller States. It has been said that the use of paraffine wax candles in mines is injurious to miners, but those made in Tasmania are sold for household purposes, the miners obtaining other candles to suit their- special requirements.
– But the paraffine wax candles made in Tasmania could be sent to the other States for use in the mines.
– That is not likely whilst we have on the mainland much larger factories, which can successfully compete with them.
– The honorable member, as a good protectionist, ought not to complain about this duty.
– I have not gone back on any of my platform pledges. When I first offered myself as a candidate for election to this House, I said publicly that I believed in a fair protectionist Tariff, and would vote against any duty that was calculated, in my opinion, to be prejudicial to the public interest. My proposition is designed to do justice to Tasmania, and I feel confident that the representatives of the larger States will be prepared to do this act of justice to an industry of one of the smaller States. The Tariff Commission took evidence in Tasmania, as well as -on the mainland, in regard to the manufacture of candles, and the protectionist section of it recommended the imposition of a duty of Jd. per lb. on paraffine wax. The Chairman of the Commission, the honorable member for Bendigo, in dealing with this question , in the course of the general debate on the Tariff, said -
At the same time we recognised that there were candlemakers in Tasmania and New South Wales who were making composite candles - that is candles composed partly of stearine and partly of paraffine wax - and wc declined to accede to the request to increase the duty upon paraffine wax and the raw material, because any such action would oppressively affect the manufacturers in question.
That decision was arrived at after careful consideration, and I hope that it will be indorsed bv the Committee.
.- I move -
That the figure “ id.’” be left out.
If that amendment be adopted I shall submit a further proposal that the Government be requested to bring down a message to increase . the duty to 2d. per lb. It is generally recognised that the use of paraffine wax candles in mines should not be encouraged, as thev are injurious. to the health of the miners. If we allow paraffine wax to come in at a low duty it will be used extensively for moulding candles in Australia, with the result that our large stearine candle works will probably be closed, and many men thrown out of employment. Stearine is manufactured in Australia. The raw product, from, which it is made is produced in abundance here, arid I fail to see why we should destroy a great industry for the benefit of foreign producers.
– Paraffine wax” is made here.
– Some paraffine wax may be produced at the shale works at Hartley Vale, New South Wales, but the quantity is infinitesimal as compared with our output of stearine. Australia is a stockraising country, and, therefore, the raw material necessary for the manufacture of stearine candles is produced here. I hope that my proposal will be agreed to.
.- The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Balaclava is designed to prevent the introduction of paraffine wax. I would point out that, on page 12 of the report of the free-trade section of the Commission, it is stated that -
Some of the makers who protested most loudly against the importation of the -material were the largest buyers of it, and made candies with the largest proportion of wax.
Among these were Messrs. Kitchen, Mowling, Upton, Clarke, Testro, and Gillies. A certain proportion of wax is absolutely necessary in the making of some classes of candles. The principal ground on which it is urged that we should encourage the manufacture of stearine candles is that stearine is made from tallow,- which is largely produced in Australia. Mr. Mackinnon, a well-known candle manufacturer, told the Commission that -
The use of paraffine wax enables a larger quantity of tallow to be used in the manufacture of candles. A lower percentage of the byproducts required to be extracted, while the use of the wax stiffened and finished the candles made of this low-grade stearine.
It will thus be seen that the introduction of paraffine wax tends to increase the use of tallow, an Australian product, in the candle-making industry.
.- I wish to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that our imports of paraffine wax, exclusive of some importations from Japan, have increased from 1,168,000 lbs. in 1.904 to 6,363,000 lbs. in’ 1906. There is no doubt that the local manufacturers use this foreign product in their manufacture, and it behoves us to impose upon it a fair duty. I recognise, as the honorable member for Bass has said, that we should deal fairly with the candle manufacturers in Tasmania, but. as we make candles from stearine, an Australian product-
– Paraffine wax is necessary to mix with it.
Mi-. FAIRBAIRN . - I do not agree with that contention. Candles made from stearine are as good as any made from paraffine wax. I am inclined to support the Government proposal. The protectionist section of the Commission, in recommending that a duty of J-d. a lb. should be imposed on paraffine wax, was largely influenced by the fact that there are in Tasmania two candle-moulding factories. I shall be glad if the honorable member for Bass could show us some way in which the Tasmanian industry could be preserved without injury to the more important industry, the manufacture of stearine. In my opinion we should support the Government proposal, in order to protect the stearine factories.
– I wish to supplement the statement of the honorable member for Fawkner regarding the importation of paraffine. Last year, as he has pointed out, it amounted to 6,363,946 lbs., of which 285.745 lbs. came from the United Kingdom ; 459.994 lbs. from Burma ; 1,064,662 lbs. from India; 3.330 lbs. from New. Zealand; 1,070.012 lbs. from the Straits Settlements; 1,104 lbs. from Belgium; 255 lbs. from Dutch Borneo; 718 lbs. from Germany; 71.636 lbs. from Java; 16 r, 141 lbs. from Sumatra ; and 3,250.349 lbs. from the United States of America.
– Paraffine is largely a by-product of the operations of the Standard Oil Company.
– Yes. The quantity of paraffine imported in the first six months of this year was 3,297,253 lbs.. The use of Australian paraffine will largely help the development of our oil industry, because this by-product is almost valuable enough to in itself give a good profit.
– ls much now being made?
– A good deal. A company is now finishing a railway 30 miles long, and is spending £8,000 in connexion with the opening up of a seam of shale 4 ft. 6 in. in diameter, which is the best I have heard of in Australia. It will commence operations next month, and from the district from which it is working, and, I dare say, from other districts, immense quantities of oil will be obtained. If we wish to help native industries, let us use the paraffine which is made here, instead of that which is imported.
– Will not the proposed duty give protection ?
– Yes. But although there are some who say that I try to get the highest duties possible, in this instance it was considered, after the question had been thoroughly gone into, that a duty of id. would be a fair one to impose. The duty proposed in the Kingston Tariff was rid., but it was reduced by Parliament to Jd. I regard our proposal as a fair compromise. I have a letter from a candlemaker. in which he asks that the duty shall be made 2d. He states distinctly that it is better, if possible, not to use paraffine wax, because it injures the best stearine candles.
.- Li’ke other honorable members, representations from both sides have been put before me in regard to a number of items. While I cannot ses my way to vote for a higher duty than that proposed by the Government, I think it right to rea’d- to the Committee the following statement contained in a letter sent to me from a large limited company in Sydney -
As you are aware, the Government propose nl- lb. If this is carried, paraffine wax. candles (Rangoon, &c), will be. used just the same as at present, in fact, the sale will increase very, largely. If it is not good to use paraffine candles-, and for this purpose the duty on the candles was raised to 2d. per lb., it issurely just as important to raise the duty on the wax, which will bc in the interest of stearine makers of Australia.
– Without doubt, the Tariff Commission had similar evidence before it, as well as evidence on the odier side.
– Strong representationshave been made to me from another quarter, in favour of the reduction of the duty to ½d., in accordance with the recommendation of the Tariff Commission. In view of what has been said by the Minister, I do not think I should be justified in voting for a higher duty than1d. The industry which most needs protection and development is the stearine industry, which is the natural one.
– I wish to remind the Committee of a fact, which I am afraid is frequently forgotten, that the Constitution is a solemn agreement of partnership between the States. Forgetting that, we frequently give our attention chiefly to the affairs of the larger States, which are by degrees monopolizing the manufactures of Australia. I am obliged to the honorable member for Bass for having called attention to a proposed rate of duty which, if agreed to, will seriously affect the industries of the State which we both represent. Under a Tariff which allowed the free admission into Tasmania of both stearine and paraffine, two factories were established in years gone by, which gave employment to a large number of people, and their operations, after years of struggle, began to return a fair profit. The Kingston Tariff, which placed a duty of id. upon stearine and paraffine, seriously affected this industry. I submit that, in view of the evidence to which reference has been made by the honorable member for Illawarra, and of the fact that five-sixths of the candles consumed in Australia are locally made, it is not necessary to increase the duty. The factories of which I speak will have to close if the proposed rate is agreed to. Two members of the present Government, as well as myself and another honorable member sitting on this side of the Chamber, were members of the first Commonwealth Ministry, which pledged itself to give effect to the Maitland manifesto of the then Prime Minister, Mr., now Sir Edmund, Barton, which stated that by the Tariff which would be imposed there should be no destruction of industries. That was part of a compact which was to last, not for a few years, but so long as the partnership between the States should endure. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission has recommended the imposition of a duty of½d. per lb. upon the articles enumerated in this item, and I can see no reason why we should ignore its recommendation by increasing the rate levied under the old Tariff, and there by destroy some of the factories which we are pledged to maintain.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the amendment of the honorable member for Balaclava would have the effect of increasing the duty proposed upon the articles enumerated in this item from1d. to 2d. per lb., and would therefore increase a tax or burden upon the people.
– I would point out to the honorable member that there is no amendment before the Chair to increase the duty from1d. to 2d. per lb. The question which I shall put to the Committee is - “ That the figure proposed to be left out stand part of the item.
– It is very desirable that from time to time the attention of the Committee should be called to broad principles which, though not immediately applicable to any particular item, may underlie the whole of them. The honorable member for Denison was perfectly justified in reminding honorable members that the Government proposal, if agreed to, would involve a breach of one of the broad principles upon which we were returned to this House. Although I am a representative of the largest State of the Commonwealth, I am always very willing to entertain protests of this sort from the smaller States, where they go to the root of the Federation of which we form a part. I do not profess to know much about the particular commodities specified in this item, but I certainly sympathize with the representatives of Tasmania when they point out that - if the proposal of the Government be adopted - greater encouragement will be offered to the manufactures of Victoria, whilst those of the smaller States will be destroyed. I now wish to call attention to another broad principle which seems to me to touch the present work of the Committee. The duty on thisparticular item under the old Tariff was½d. per lb. The proposal of the Government would completely ignore the recommendations of both branches of the Tariff Commission, and would increase the old rate of duty by 100 per cent. From time to time I have inwardly protested against the barrowloads of appeals which have been made by manufacturers to me in common with other honorable’ members. I do not hesitate to say that some of their communications contain the most infamous exaggerations. We get ex parte statements from both sides,. each one giving the lie to the other. The only effect which this correspondence has had upon my mind has been to convince me of the great value of a body like the Tariff Commission, which sat in a judicial capacity, which subjected the authors of these communications to a most searching cross examination under oath, and which, after hearing their evidence, endeavoured to arrive at a conclusion which was just and reasonable under all the circumstances. That Commission sat for two and a half years. Its Chairman was the honorable member for Bendigo, who is a confirmed protectionist. After hearing all the evidence in favour of those who advocate a duty of 2d. per lb. upon these articles, and also the testimony of those who favour no duty at all, the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended that the rate of duty operative under the old Tariff should be adopted. I am informed that the comparative statement relating to the Tariff which is before honorable members, contains an error. The honorablememberfor Illawarra assures me that, under the B column of the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, the words “ 10 per cent. “ should be substituted for “ 20 per cent.” He further tells me that 10 per cent. is equivalent to ¼d. per lb. The protectionist section of the Commission having heard all the evidence of manufacturers, recommend the adoption of a duty of½d. per lb., and the free-trade section of that body recommend the imposition of a duty of ¼d. per lb. Therefore, even if we accept the recommendation of the protectionist half of the Commission-
– Will the honorable member accept their finding in respect of all the items in the schedule?
– I do not say that I shall, but I will accept the complete Tariff Commission’s findings, because its members are in an infinitely better position to judge of this question than we are. We frequently hear honorable members say, “ I have received a letter from so-and-so,” mentioning the name of a large firm of manufacturers, ‘’ and they recommend that a certain rate of duty should be adopted.” Now, it may be a very proper thing for honorable members to echo the recommendations of large manufacturers who happen to be located in their particular constituencies. But personally I do not think it is the right thing to do. We are here to hold the scales of justice evenly as be tween all parties, irrespective of States and of constituencies. I can point to my own action in respect of the duty upon wire netting to show that I am not preaching what I do not practice. The ‘Treasurer has told us that he has received a letter recommending the imposition of a duty of 2d. per lb. upon these articles. The honorable member for Balaclava made a similar statement.
– I did not.
– I understood him to do so.
– It was his leader who stated he had received a letter.
– I feel that I am sent here to hold the scales of justice evenly as between the two extremes. The Treasurer has told us candidly that in many cases he has asked for double the duty that he expects to get.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– The Treasurer did say so.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to say that I have never said or even thought what the honorable member attributes to me.
– I withdraw the statement in the form in which I couched it. But the Treasurer told us that in some cases he had asked for a higher duty than he expects to get.
– I did not. The honorable member must not make misstatements of that kind.
– Then I withdraw the assertion unconditionally. Honorable members will recollect what the Treasurer did say, and I leave them to judge of the accuracy or otherwise of my statement. But whether the Treasurer said so or not, does not touch my argument that we are here to do our duty to the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. We are here to remember the consumer - the forgotten factor in protectionist arguments. I feel that it is quite impossible for any of us to give these matters the same judicial treatment that has been given to them by the Tariff Commission. The members of that body have considered some of these items for hours and days together. They have heard the evidence of all the gentlemen who are nowpestering us with ex parte letters, and they have also heard the testimony of those who protest that the other side are asking for too high a rate of duty. Having regard to all the circumstances they have recommended the imposition of certain duties. When we find that the free-trade section of the Commission recommend the adoption of a duty of¼d. per lb., whilst the protectionist section, whose sympathies are naturally with the manufacturers, recommend the imposition of no higher duty than ½d. per lb., how can we adopt the proposal of the Government to double the old rate? I ask honorable members to recognise the one-sided and ex parte character of the evidence now put before us with regard to these commodities.
.- I wish to point out that we have just affirmed that the duty upon candles composed wholly or in part of paraffine wax shall be 2d. per lb. Only a very small amount of labour is involved in the moulding of paraffine wax into candles.
– Did the honorable member say that there is no labour involved?
– I say that there is very little.
– The manufacture of stearine also necessitates the employment of very little labour.
– Seeing that we have already imposed a duty of 2d. per lb. upon paraffine-wax candles it seems to me somewhat anomalous that we should be asked to levy a duty of only 1d. per lb. upon pure paraffine wax itself. I am very sorry that the Treasurer should have made the statement which he did, because it practically prevents the Committee from expressing its opinion upon the amendment to place 2d.per lb. upon paraffine wax. In my own electorate there is a large candle factory which has invested£100,000 in plant and machinery and which employs 157 hands indoors. Its total employes number 200.
– What factory is that?
– The Sydney Soap and Candle Company. I have asked that company to supply me with a report upon this matter under different headings, and the most concise way in which I can place the information before the Committee is by reading extracts from that report. The company state that -
Foreign competition is a serious matter. Our business, in which nearly£ 100,000 has been expended in plant, &c, was started for the manufacture of soaps, stearine candles, and stearine with its by-products, glycerine, and oleine, from Australian tallow under the old Parkes Tariff, which provided for duties on candles and also on stearine, but not on paraffine wax, which was then very little used in candle-making. Of late years this wax has been imported from America and Burmah on a very large scale, and as it is the finished article, all its costly refining being done in countries of origin, it only requires a very inexpensive moulding plant and boy labour to melt it and mould it into candles. This material is a by-product in the manufacture of kerosene from petroleum, and is principally in the hands of the Standard Oil Trust of America and the Burmese Rangoon Oil Company. These firms control prices and shipments and dump their cheap material into any unprotected market which they may wish to capture by knocking out existing candlemakers.
The importations of paraffine wax from America which have increased so largely during recent years, point conclusively to the practice of dumping from that country. The report goes on to say -
The American wax is controlled by the Standard Oil Trust, and the Burmah Company will not sell us wax of the quality of their best candles. The present Tariff provides a small but utterly inadequate duty on wax.
The effect of these large imports of wax, which makes a cheap but very inferior candle, has been to largely cripple our stearine business, which is only about one-third of its former dimensions under the Dibbs Tariff; this means a greatly restricted local market for our’ raw material, tallow, and a great diminution in hands employed, and Australian-made chemicals, boxes, paper, &c, used.
We consider this competition is absolutely unfair, as without an adequate duty we are at the mercy of the American Standard Oil Trust, who can dump their virtually finished article against our Australian-made stearine, of which all the complicated processes of manufacture are carried out here.
It is, therefore, absolutely necessary, in our view, that a duty should be imposed on wax and stearine equal to candle duty. The stearine candle imports are entirely from Belgium and Holland, and the wax candles come from America and Burmah.
The report goes on -
Probably a number of workmen would be doubled at least in New South Wales, and a matter of£15,000 or so more wages paid. This would, however, depend somewhat on imports of Australian-made goods from other States made under cheaper labour conditions than prevail here ; in any case there would be a very large increase in labour, as during the good times of the Dibbs Tariff we were turning out nearly thrice the stearine and employing a very great number more workmen than at present.
On the subject of the rate of wages in Burma and other countries the report gives some valuable information -
The rate of native wage in Burmah paid in the manufacture of Burmese wax and Rangoon candles is 5d. per day ; in Belgium and Holland in the manufacture of stearine and stearine candles it is about 15s. per week, of 72 hours. We have no data as to the wages paid by the Standard Oil Trust in America, but however high they might be it would not concern or help us here, as the Standard Oil people fix their lighting or dumping rate regardless of cost.
Some reference having been made to the effect of the duty on the consumer, I made a point of asking the company if they were favorable to the new protection scheme of the Labour Party, and I was informed that the company were prepared to accept the proposed conditions. In that connexion the company say -
This company pay the highest rate of wages in the soap and candle trade in the Commonwealth, and would cheerfully agree to the “New Protection” idea of giving the workers a share, provided adequate protection (which would really protect) were given to the trade. There is too much Inter-State competition to render any Trust or Ring possible, and as there is sweating carried on in our trade in some of the States -
Perhaps the Tasmanian representatives will listen to this- we should hail legislation bringing all wages payable in the Commonwealth up to our level at least, and also to enforce the placing very legibly on each packet of candles the net weight of the contents.
In addition, it has been pointed out that paraffine wax candles are very injurious, and; that miners’ all over Australia are calling for their prohibition.
– Who is the author of that report?
– I have already informed the Committee that the report is from the Sydney Soap and Candle Company.
– Mr. Clarke is the manager of that company; who is the writer of the report?
– Mr. John H. Kitchen, managing director. In view of the fact that paraffine wax candles are said to be injurious to miners, we ought to do all we can to encourage the use of candles made from Australian stearine. The Hartley Vale Company are manufacturing oil from shale, and, no doubt, will be able to turn out paraffine wax as a by-product. It is anomalous to impose a duty of 2d. per lb. on paraffine wax candles, and then to propose a duty of half that amount on paraffine wax, thus nullifying the decision at which we arrived a few minutes ago.I am disappointed that the Treasurer has adopted an attitude which will prevent any honorable member proposing, with any hope of success, that the duty on paraffine wax shall be raised to 2d. per lb.
.-I hope that the Committee will decide to reduce the duty from1d. to½d. Under the latter duty, which was fixed in 1902, practically no stearine was introduced into Australia; and, from that point of view, I am personally not particular whether the duty be½d. or1d. per lb. In regard to paraffine wax, however, I think the Committee would be right in making the reduction suggested. I suppose that 90 per cent. of the candles made in Tasmania are of paraffine wax; and it would not pay any firm there to erect a still for the making of stearine, because such a still would have to be run day and night, and would turn out more stearine than is required in so small a community. There were four factories in Tasmania not long ago under the duty of½d. per lb., but now there are only two ; and we may readily imagine the result to the remaining factories if the duty be raised to1d. If we are to have protection it ought to be fair and just all round. It is unjust, merely in order to bolster up Messrs. Kitchen and Sons, and one or two other wealthy candle makers, to crush out the smaller manufacturers of Tasmania. I am satisfied that the Committee will give that generous consideration which is essential to the industry by agreeing to the amendment proposed. The manufacturers of stearine candles have nothing to fear from the manufacturers of Tasmania, who could not possibly compete by exporting their product to the mainland. No one would be benefited by the increased duty on paraffine wax, except those manufacturers already strong enough to do without any such aid.
– The miners would benefit.
– The miners do not use paraffine wax candles from Tasmania.
– Unfortunately, they are compelled to do so.
– Icontend that, under the circumstances, the Tasmanian manufacturers of candles are entitled to the favorable consideration of the Committee. It is not only on behalf of the candlemakers that I am making this plea; because paraffine wax is used in a large number of other industries. For instance, it is used in the dairying industry, to which, more than any other, Victoria owes its present flourishing condition.
– So does Queensland.
– That is so. I have in my .possession the following letter, written, not by a Tasmanian, but by a. Melbourne man -
Paraffine wax is used in Australia for many other purposes than candle-making. For in. stance, in the great dairying industry an immense amount of waxed paper is employed in the packing of the butter. We exported during last season from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia about 1,250,000 56-lb. boxes of butter, every one of which had to be lined with waxed paper. An equal number of boxes would be used locally, also lined with waxed paper. Waxed wrappers are also used’ in the confectionery trade and in the putting up of tea. lt is also used in the local finishing of certain electrical goods and in many other ways. In fact, paraffine wax is the raw material of many manufactures and trades outside candle-making. Again, there is the consumer point of view. Candles are the light of the poorest classes. Wax candles are also very extensively used in mining and other industries. Further, it is well known’ that there is a Stearine Trust or Combine in Australia headed by J. Kitchen. If the id. prohibitive duty is imposed, Kitchen and his friends will be’ able to charge what they like for stearine, or refuse to supply this raw material to candlemakers who compete wilh them…..
The statement that there is a combine or trust is, I think, well founded. Not very long ‘ago, certain Australian manufacturers endeavoured, by dumping candles in Tasmania, to “knock-out “ the local manufacturers. The latter, however, bought up all those candles at the price asked, and, sending them back to Victoria, sold them to the original makers at a good profit.
– Who is the author of that letter? Is the honorable member prepared to lav it on the table?
– I shall lav it on the table with the permission of the honorable member for Bass. I do not know that I am actually bound to give the name of the gentleman who wrote the letter ; but the document is here for any honorable member to see if he so desires. I have no wish to repeat arguments already advanced by other honorable members; and I leave the matter to honorable members, trusting that they will extend fair and generous treatment to the manufacturers of Tasmania.
– - It is evident that the suggestion that the duty on stearine and paraffine wax should be increased to 2d. per lb. is due to a desire to make a whollyunnecessary gift to the large candle manufacturers of Australia. The proposition’ is an extraordinary one. We have alreadyincreased the duty on foreign candles from id. to 1½d. and 2d. per lb., although under the old Tariff the manufacturers here had practically captured the bulk of the Australian trade. Apparently the local manufacturers have sufficient influence to secure the acceptance of their representations, and eventually their prices will be raised to the full extent of the duty. We are asked to make a large gift from the moneys of the people of Australia to those engaged in a successful industry. The shares in some of the candle-making companies of Australia have been advancing, and their present rates are far above the levels of previous years. We are .now asked to. so fortify them that no one will be able to compete with them. By the imposition of a duty of 2d. per lb. not merely on paraffine wax, but on stearine and the other associated articles in this item, we shall enable the large local manufacturers to control the market and to crush out any small competitor. The smaller States have reason to complain of the way in which these duties are dealt with by the Parliament. It is all very well ‘for representatives of “Victoria and New South Wales to support the imposition of duties which they know, or ought to know, will lead to a monopoly, in their own States, but they ought to be prepared to extend consideration to the manufacturers in other parts of the Commonwealth. I am prepared to accept the statement of those who are competent to speak with authority on this question that the use of paraffine candles in mines is injurious to the health of the miners, but if their use for such purposes is to be discontinued it will be necessary for the States to impose a prohibition. Even if we adopted the proposal of the honorable member for Balaclava we should not overcome the difficulty. Paraffine is already being produced in Australia, and Sir George Newnes’ company will shortly give an increased output. It seems idle to declare that paraffine is injurious and should not be used in imported candles, whilst at the same time we allow paraffine wax to be locally used.
– We can get rid of one of the two evils by producing paraffine for our own use.
– That is the whole secret. As a matter of fact, a considerable quantity of paraffine wax is used in composite- candles, and the duty of 2d. per lb. will not prevent the use of such candles in our mines. This duty will fall on composite candles only according to the proporton of wax used in them. In addition to that, locally produced, some paraffine wax will be used in any event in the manufacture of candles in Australia. It is not contended that the use of paraffine candles above ground is injurious to health, and we should not refuse to give the people an opportunity to procure a cheap candle if they desire to do so. I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bass. It cannot be said that the candle-making industry was badly treated under the old Tariff, and since we have increased the duty on candles I fail to see why the course proposed by the honorable member for Balaclava should be adopted.
– The honorable member for North Sydney has supplied a very strong argument against the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Bass. He states that we are now producing paraffine wax in Australia, and that we shall shortly produce it in much larger quantities. Surely if paraffine wax is to be used, the locally produced article is preferable.
– It will be used in any case.
– But not so largely as it would be used if the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Balaclava were adopted. The lower the duties the larger the importations. Where high duties have been imposed the imports to which they relate are so small that some honorable members declare them to be unworthy of consideration. I agree with the honorable member for Denison that the object of the Tariff is not to destroy industries. But we should consider whether it is wise to protect a small industry in Tasmania employing only thirty hands at the expense of hundreds of men engaged in the industry in other parts of the Commonwealth. Whilst I have no desire to do anything detrimental to an industry in any State, I certainly do not wish to grant a special advantage to manufacturersin one State at the expenseof others in the rest of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for North Sydney has said that if the duty be increased to 2d. per lb. the public will be at the mercy of a combine. A large quantity of candles is produced in South Australia, but the manufacturers there have not expressed any opinion, either to the Commission or this Parliament, on the question of whether the duty should be raised or reduced. There is a very large factory in South Australia which is not connected with the Combine.
– It is.
– It was.
– There is still an understanding between the candle manufacturers of South Australia and those of the other States.
– One of the representatives of the firm with whom I had a conversation the other day spoke in such a way that I came to the conclusion that his firm had nothing to do with the Combine. I shall be very much surprised if the Government, calling themselves a protectionist Ministry, are prepared to support the reduction of duty proposed by the honorable member for Bass. There will be nothing to prevent the candle makers of Tasmania entering into unfair competition with those in the rest of the Commonwealth if we grant them a special concession. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission reported that -
Under the Commonwealth Tariff that huge trust, the Standard Oil Co., had found opportunity to send large quantities of its products into Australia. The paraffine wax imported by the candle moulders of the Commonwealth mostly came from this extensive business concern. Judging from some of the evidence tendered before the Commission, the Standard Oil Company was determined to bend to its control the whole of the Australian candle trade. Otherwise, it was difficult to explain the circumstances that it supplied paraffine wax to Australian candle moulders, paying freight, insurance, and exchange, at the some price that was charged to American manufacturers.
– The figures quoted just now by the Minister disprove that statement.
– The honorable member must admit that the Standard Oil Trust has always been successful in crushing any concern that it has attacked. Sir George Newnes’ new company will be destroyed by the. competition of that Trust if the duty be reduced.
– By competition in respect of a by-product?
– It will be wiped out of existence, so far as its main product is concerned. Twenty years ago, the meat industry could not have been what it is to-day, because there was not the sale for by-products that now exists. We should do all that we can to encourage the use of by-products in Australian manufactures. An enormous quantity of molasses is annuallyrun to waste by the sugar company. I would do all I could to encourage its use.
– Would the honorable member vote for a duty on kerosene ?
– I have always opposed the taxing of articles which are not produced in the country.
– There is in existence a company which is going to produce kerosene.
– It is not prepared to meet the needs of the consumers of the Commonwealth. When it is ready to do so, I shall be ready to give it protection. I am not going to penalize the consumers of kerosene until the company has its product ready to distribute. It is true that the imposition of duties will not prevent the use in mines of candles which are injurious to health, but if the importation of obnoxious candles were largely reduced, more stearine candles would be used, greatly to the advantage of the health of the miners. No good reason has yet been advanced why the Government should budge from its position. It would be our duty, if we could do so without injuring the Commonwealth as a whole, to assist a struggling industry in Tasmania or elsewhere, but it would be bad policy to injure, perhaps, 2,000 or 3,000 persons for the benefit of a few individuals.
– How will any one be injured by the carrying of my amendment?
– The carrying of the amendment will allow paraffine wax to he imported in almost unlimited quantities. I should like to see produced here all the wax used in Australia, and the honorable member for North Sydney -seems to think that that may come about. But last year 6,440,544lbs. of wax were imported, of which 3,250,349 lbs. came from the United States, and were probably produced by the Standard Oil Company. The honorable member for Bass is doing right in appealing for a struggling industry in his State. As the honorable memberfor Wilmot has shown, there used to be four candle factories in Tasmania, and now there are only two.
– Are not all industries struggling? The two Tasmanian factories may be doing better now than when there were four.
– I think the facts show that they are having a considerable struggle. No doubt the honorable member for Bass is more concerned about the employes than about the manufacturers. But it would be a mistake to assist these few persons at the expense of the hundreds or thousands in the candle-making industry elsewhere. If we encourage the use of Australian by-products, we shall thereby give employment to a great deal of labour in addition to that employed in the industries using them. I hope that the Committee will reject the amendment.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [4.36]. - I understood the honorable “member for Hindmarsh to say that he would support in every way the use of Australian byproducts, and, as a Queensland representative, I therefore ask him why he and the party to which he belongs would not support the Government proposition to impose a duty of1s. per cwt. on treacle?
– Because hundreds of thousands of tons of molasses have been run to waste.
– By the biggest monopoly in Australia, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
Colonel FOXTON.- One has only to hang out the monopoly rag and honorable members will butt at it. The honorable member for Herbert, who probably knows more about this subject than all the other members of the LabourParty put together, has stated that the company is worthy of consideration, and deals honestly and fairly with the growers. .
– Since State mills were established, not before.
Colonel FOXTON.- There have been State mills in Queensland for fifteen or twentyyears. They were in existence long before the Colonial Sugar Refining Company was regarded as a monopoly. Honorable members do not like to be reminded that they would not support a duty for the protection of the manufacture of a byproduct of a large industry in the State of Queensland. The Government withdrew its proposal because of the pressure brought to bear on it by the Labour Party. The honorable member for Hindmarsh, when twitted by the honorable member for North Sydney with a disinclination to vote for a duty on kerosene, said that he was not prepared to give protection to an industry which was not established.
– Because it is not supplying the article.
Colonel FOXTON.- Then I understand the honorable member’s idea to be that protection is not to be given until industries are started. As a protectionist, I think that the fostering and encouragement of new industries is what is aimed at.
– Is ‘the honorable member ready to vote for a duty on kerosene ?
Colonel FOXTON. - That is. not the question. I am dealing with the reasons given by the honorable member for objecting to a duty on kerosene. The former duty on paraffine wax, as well as- on stearine, was, I understand, Jd., and there was little or no stearine imported .under it. The Tariff Commission recommended the continuance of that rate. Under it certain factories have been at work in Tasmania, which, according to uncontroverted evidence, will be strangled if the rate is raised upon their raw material, in the form of paraffine wax. As a representative of one of the less populous States, I have every sympathy with Tasmania when threatened with unjust treatment in the interests of the larger States. I have voted to give ample protection to the candle-making industry, but I do not think it desirable to destroy the factories of Tasmania, whose existence can do little harm to the industry on the mainland. Therefore, I shall vote for the amendment.
.- I regret that we did not deal with the duty on raw material before dealing with that on the finished article. Had we known that honorable members who voted for an increase of 100 percent, in the duty on paraffine wax candles would vote for a duty of £d. per lb. on paraffine. wax, the position would have been very different. There was one candle factory in my electorate, but it was closed after the first Commonwealth Tariff was’ imposed. It was a stearine factory.
– The Combine closed all the smaller places.
– We shall be able to deal with combines. The only party which has proposed an effective method of doing so is the Labour Party. Honorable members opposite have merely paltered with the question. Having increased the duty on paraffine wax candles,- we should increase the duty on paraffine wax. The making of such candles is merely moulding, the making of stearine candles employing from four to six times as much labour. I am given to understand that in Tasmania there are two small candle factories using .paraffine wax, which should be considered - and
I do not hold a brief “for any manufacturer, because I am here to look after the interests of the worker-
– And of the employer.
– No ; I leave the’ honorable member to do that. I am here to represent the worker.
– The honorable member is a class legislator?
– Yes; a first-class legislator.
– The honorable member represents only one class? Mr. TUDOR. - I represent the only class who are worth considering - the people who produce the wealth of the world. The Tasmanian manufacturers are turning out 300 tons of candles a year. In other words, they are consuming about 672,000 lbs. of paraffine, assuming that no other ingredient is used in the manufacture of their candles. In 1904 the Commonwealth imported 1,168,736 lbs. of paraffine wax, in 1905, ,3,662,591 lbs.; and in 1906, 6»363»946 lbs.
– More paraffine wax is required on account of the butter exported.
– Does the honorable member suggest that even 500,000 lbs. of paraffine wax is annually used in the preparation of the paper in which our butter is exported?
– I wish that we were sending away sufficient butter to require the use of that quantity of paraffine wax.
– So do I: I trust thatthe Committee will not agree to a reduction of the duty upon this item. Seeing that our manufacturers previously enjoyed a protection of only id. per lb. upon paraffine wax candles, surely, now that they have been granted a protection of 2d. per lb., they are in a position to pay a little more for their raw material. .Certainly, they occupy a much better position than they occupied previously. Even if we agree to the Government proposal, their position will have been improved to the extent of at least Jd. per lb. .As honorable members are aware, the climate of Australia will not permit of the use of paraffine wax candles in many places. The bulk of these candles are used in Tasmania. I would further point out that paraffine wax is imported chiefly from America, India, Burmah, and the Straits Settlements.
.- In supporting the proposal to reduce the duty to Jd. per lb., I wish to say that the statement which was read to the Committee by the honorable member for Cook - although it was a pleaby a local manufacturer in favour of granting a monopoly to local manufacturers - was not in accordance with tact. Amongst other things, it declared that the bulk, if not the whole, of the paraffine wax imported into Australia was sent here by the Standard Oil Trust.
– I did not say that. I said that that Trust sent 3,000,000 lbs. of paraffine wax here annually.
– I understood the honorable member to say that the Standard Oil Trust was practically supplying Australia with the whole of its imports of paraffine wax. I am also reminded that the honorable member for Hindmarsh made a similar statement. Now, as a matter of fact, almost 50 per cent. of the total importations of paraffine wax into the Commonwealth come from the Straits Settlements and from British Burmah. If honorable members will turn to the comparative statement relating to the Tariff and to importations and duty payments for 1906, they will find that our imports of paraffine wax during the year totalled 6,457,692 lbs., valued at £13,623. During recent years’ the British Imperial Oil Company has . become a very strong competitor with the Standard Oil Trust of America, with the result that the latter has not the monopoly which it formerly enjoyed. I wish, further, to point out that in the stearine industry very little labour is employed. The bulk of the work is performed by machinery, and the industry is one that we are not justified in attempting to bolster up. The candle making industry throughout the Commonwealth is practically in the hands of a very few individuals. These have already crushed a number of the smaller manufacturers, and under the monopoly which we shall give to them, if we sanction the duty proposed, they will possess even greater power to crush small competitors. I do not think it is the desire of the Committee that we should create monopolies. If anything is to be done in the way of promoting industries, I think that, even from a protectionist stand-point, more regard should be paid to the struggling man than to the individual with an immense amount of capital, who by means of business combinations is in a position to crush his smaller rival. But honorable members seem determined to give every possible assistance to the bigger men who are able to pool their interests, and thus establish monopolies. Later on we shall be doing our best to circumvent the very monopolies which we are now creating.
– The sooner the better.
– The honorable member is one of those who is assisting to pass legislation which will have the effect of creating monopolies.
– I prefer local to foreign monopolies.
– I fail to see any difference between the two evils. I do not see that the competitor who is crushed by a monopoly is benefited by the knowledge that he is crushed by a local and not by a foreign monopoly. If I were to be placed under a steam roller and crushed into pulp it would not be any consolation for those who are dependent upon me to know that that roller was made by a local firm and not by a foreign one. The effect would be precisely the same. To me it would not matter whether I were crushed by a roller of foreign manufacture or by one which was manufactured in Collingwood. I hope that before we proceed further with this kind of legislation honorable members will give serious thought to that aspect of the matter. After we have firmly entrenched these monopolies, after we have enabled them to increase prices to the consumer, to limit their output, and generally to restrain trade, we shall hear the very honorable members who are assisting to pass this legislation crying out against such iniquities.
– We shall do more than cry out.
– Surely prevention is better than cure. Those honorable members who now desire to bolster up monopolies will be the loudest in their cries for legislation to mitigate the evils of their own creation.
– The honorable member wishes to assist the foreigner.
– That is utter nonsense. Healthy competition destroys monopoly, and the assistance of foreign and British trade is necessary to destroy andprevent the creation of monopolies, whether foreign or local.
– Cannot we impose checks upon the local man?
– Now is the time to impose those checks. But instead of doing so we are building ramparts around him to protect him. We are creating a power at our own doors with which presently we shall be engaged in a deadly struggle. The duty of id. per lb. is equal to £9’ 6s. 8d. per ton, and amounts to prohibition, which will have the effect of throwing the smaller candlemakers out of the industry. Further, it will place those smaller men at the mercy of this Combine or Trust, who will be able to charge what they like for stearine. This Trust or Ring, not only makes candles, but manufactures stearine ; and I cannot see what earthly hope there would be for any small capitalist to hold bis own against their monopolistic power. Under the circumstances, the proposal of the Government is iniquitous and cruel. The other night, I made a statement in regard to the manufacture of Rangoon candles, which was contradicted by the Treasurer. The statement was to the effect that these candles were falsely labelled, with the intention to deceive the public; and I have here a telegram from Chiltern to Messrs. Gollin and Company, to the effect that the statement I then made about Messrs-. Kitchen and Sons supplying those candles was absolutely correct. I merely mention this to show what kind of firm it is we are endeavouring to bolster up by means of these duties. A duty of Jd. per lb., added to the 30s. per ton represented by the freight, amounts to 25 per cent., protection ; and I point out that these candle-making firms, who are in the. ring, have been eminently prosperous. A few years ago, their shares were at i.?s.,. whereas they are at 30s., in the case of some of the companies ; and that certainly does not show that this is. a declining industry.
– The shares were at the lower rate under free-trade.
– At any rate, the rise indicates that the companies are improving (their position ; and ‘no justification has been shown for the proposed increase of the duty.
– I cannot understand the logic of the honorable member for Lang. I do not know whether that is due to any lack of sequence in my reasoning powers ; but it seems to me that the honorable member is jealous of anything like success or development in the industries of Australia.
– I was speaking of monopolies.
– If the honorable member Can show that monopolies do not exist Under free-trade, we had better eschew protection. But, as a matter of fact,, under either policy we shall have monopolies.
– Two wrongs do not make a right.
– There are not twowrongs j and, in any case, we have a better chance to control monopolies here then wehave to control monopolies elsewhere. I should like to know, whether the honorable member means that the proposed duty will put prices up or put prices down ?
– It will put the price of stearine up.
– Both the big men and thesmall men may have to pay the same price ;. and any advantage there is in buying, largely is now available to the large manufacturers. . What is to hinder the cheapmakers of India or elsewhere giving some concession to the man who buys largely? I altogether fail to see how the argument of the honorable member applies ; and I am prepared to indorse the imposition of” the duty. We have been told that paraffine wax is not made in Australia; but I have in my possession a letter from the Commonwealth Oil Company of New South Wales, stating that their output is very considerable, and that, when in full swing, which is expected to take place eighteen? months hence, they will, in all probability,, be turning out more paraffine wax than is at present imported into Australia.
– In the meantime the smaller factories will be shut up.
– The” smaller factories cannot make paraffine wax, which is a natural” product. When we have a company which can make all the paraffine wax required inAustralia, it is hardly likely that such a company, in view of the attitude adopted in this House, will endeavour to extort undue profit from the consumer. Should the company do so, the smaller manufacturer will have a grievance which will bevoiced here, at any rate so far as I am.concerned.
– The grievance is that the smaller men cannot get paraffine wax.
– The company I have mentioned are prepared to make all, or nearlyall, the paraffine wax required in Australia. At present the company employs about 1,300- men, and pays ,£13,000 monthly in wages. Candle-making is one qf those industries in which, in my opinion, ‘ protection ought1 to have the effect of reducing prices. That has been the effect of protection in other industries where competition is fairly easy.
I can quite understand that protection may build up monopolies in larger industries, which are more essential to the development of the country than is candle-making. There is the iron-making industry, for instance, which must of necessity be a monopoly ; but surely it is not suggested that, therefore, we must not develop that industry and make our own guns and machinery. The same principle is involved, only its application is of lesser degree, in the case of candle-making. I am prepared, in the interests of Australia, to experiment with the duty proposed.
.- As the Government will not adopt the idea which I have presented to. the Committee, I beg to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- The more this subject is ventilated, the more we see the absence of any justification for the Government proposal. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission were able to see their way clear to recommend a duty of½d., not being prepared to suggest any increase, in view of the fact that if an increase were adopted, the smaller men. would be crushed out.
– Are Rangoon candles and paraffine wax candles identical?
– Practically so.
– I have received letters from miners’ associations in several parts of “Victoria, protesting against such candles being manufactured or imported.
– It has already been pointed out that if these are not proper candles to be used in mining, it is for the States authorities to prevent their consumption. The honorable member for Yarra said that in the manufacture of stearine candles there was four to six times more labour employed than in the manufacture of paraffine wax candles. I am sorry the honorable member is not in the Chamber, because I should certainly have liked to hear some justification for that assertion. The labour cost in connexion with the manufacture of candles was gone into very closely by the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission. I may point out that the protectionist section of the Commission did not seem to bother themselves much about the labour cost of this or any other product. I contend that the labour cost is one of the most important facts to be taken into consideration, especially by protectionists, when deciding as to the rate of duty necessary. On this subject, the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission say, at page 20 of their report -
Witnesses were in practical agreement that the entire labour cost in the manufacture of best stearine candles does not exceed £6 per ton. At an average price of 4d. per lb., the product would thus be worth£37 6s. 8d. per ton; therefore, the proportion of labour cost to product would be 16 per cent. Wax and composite candles cost much less, from £111s., all wax, up to £3 10s. per ton for composites, including the making of the stearine. At an average factory value of 3½d. per lb., equalling £32 13s. 4d. per ton, the labour cost would range from 5 per cent. for wax to11 per cent. for composite candles, according to quality.
There is a very great difference between those figures and the ratio presented to us by the honorable member for Yarra.
– What deduction does the honorable member draw from that fact, in regard to the item before us?
– The deduction I draw is there is no justification for the proposal of the Government, but that, on the contrary, there is every justification for the recommendation of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission. On the question of labour cost, I would refer honorable members to page 19 of the report of the free-trade sectionof the Commission, where it is shown that Mr. Testro, one of the most competent witnesses that we examined upon this question, gave evidence that-
With an up-to-date plant, costing £40,000 or less, and 150 men and boys, he could produce all stearine required by the Commonwealth.
That does not suggest that a great deal of labour is involved in the production of stearine.
– What about the labour employed in hewing the coal required in connexion with the industry as well as in other directions?
– Does the honorable member think that we should take all these subsidiary matters into consideration? In dealing with this question of labour cost, are we to consider the labour employed in every industry even remotely associated with the manufacture of stearine? It is pointed out in the report that Mr. Testro - gave a lucid explanation of the process, and in answer to further questions re-affirmed his first estimates and stated that 50 men and 70 boys would produce 120 tons of stearine a week.
We know that at present the requirements of the Commonwealth are being provided for locally. No stearine is being imported under this Tariff, and our statistics show that manufacturers of stearine in Australia have nothing to fear in regard to competition from abroad. The evidence of Mr. Upton, a well-known manufacturer of soap and candles in Sydney, was that he did not desire a duty on either stearine or paraffine wax. Candle manufacturers in Tasmania, as well as in other parts of the Commonwealth, who were able at one time to obtain paraffine free of duty, felt the pinch of the old Tariff, and they will certainly be seriously prejudiced by this duty which is apparently designed to force the whole of the candle-making industry into the hands of certain manufacturers. I agree with the observations made by the honorable member for Lang as to monopolies and am surprised that the Labour Party, who are supposed to be strongly opposed to combines and trusts, are not prepared to take advantage of the present opportunity to prevent the growth of a monopoly in connexion with the manufacture of candles in Australia. In order that they may thoroughly understand the position, it is absolutely necessary that honorable members should learn who are the owners of the various candle-making factories in the Commonwealth. I hope that the representatives of Victoria will not think that in referring to Messrs. Kitchen and Sons I am making any personal attack on them. I have no animosity towards a Victorian manufacturer or a Victorian industry.
– We know that.
– Evidently some honorable members do riot think so, because they have succeeded in persuading the Minister of Trade and Customs that, notwithstanding my views on this question, the industry in Victoria needs more protection.
– What would the honorable member have said if I had proposed a duty of 2d. per lb. in respect of this item? Had I done so it would probably have been carried.
– The honorable member apparently is able to carry any proposals in this Chamber.
– I was pressed to propose a duty of 2d. per lb., but I have put before the Committee what I think is a reasonable proposition.
– At page 13 of the report of the free-trade section of the Commission it is pointed out that -
For the proper consideration of the evidence it is necessary that the position of the various makers of stearine and candles should be understood. Messrs. J. Kitchen and Sons Limited have establishments in Melbourne and Brisbane; have a half, and apparently the controlling, in terest in the Sydney Soap and Candle Company; an interest in the Brisbane Soap Company ; had a small interest, subsequently increased, in the firm of J. Kitchen and Sons and Marsh Limited in Adelaide: had an interest with Burford and Company, of Adelaide ; in a business in Western Australia, which they sold out to a relative ; and have, it is admitted, a sale arrangement with Burford and Sons, of Adelaide. The former managing director of the Sydney Soap and Candle Company said he thought Kitchen and Sons were “everywhere.”
Further information on the subject will be found at pages 14 and 15 of the report, but I think the quotation I have made will satisfy honorable members that Messrs. J. Kitchen and Sons Limited have practically a monopoly of the business. The imposition of an increased duty on paraffine wax will enable them to build up a still greater monopoly.
– They do not make paraffine wax.
– But they use a large quantity. The manufacturers in a smaller way of business in Tasmania also use it, and have irrefutably shown that if these duties be imposed, their establishments will have to be closed.
– A Tasmanian told me the other day that he did not know that we were making paraffine wax in New South Wales.
– I do not think that we make a large quantity.
– At Hartley Vale, sufficient paraffine wax can be produced to supply the whole of the requirements of Australia.
– I am glad to hear it. That is a recent development. When the Commission was inquiring into this question in Sydney, it was told that the New South Wales Kerosene and Oil Company at one time manufactured paraffine wax, but had ceased to do so.
– How many witnesses examined by the Commission, asked for an increased duty on paraffine wax?
– At. least five. They were all manufacturers of stearine, and they naturally asked for a higher duty. It is to be regretted that the managing director of the Sydney Soap and Candle Company, a letter from whom has been read to the Committee by the honorable member for Cook, did not see fit to appear before the Commission. We sat for some time in Sydney, and had he appeared before us, we should have had an opportunity to cross-examine him. The Committee should receive with very great caution letters written by those who failed to avail themselves of the opportunity to put their case before the Commission. The honorable member for Hindmarsh asserted that the Standard Oil Company had practically a monopoly of the oil trade in Australia. The figures quoted this afternoon by the Treasurer showed distinctly that the importation of oil is in the hands of the Standard Oil Company and the BritishIndia Company, and that the importations of the first-named company are more than equalled by those from other parts of the world. From the remarks made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, one would imagine that the Standard Oil Company had a monopoly of the trade.
– They tried to secure a monopoly.
– But they have not been successful. Another company has been fighting them in this market, with the result that those who use paraffine wax are able to obtain it on much better terms than before. If this duty were removed, the users of paraffine ‘ wax would be able to supply a better candle at a cheaper rate.
– The free-trade section of the Commission for the most part recommended revenue duties.
– To a large extent, we did.
– The free-trade section of the Commission does not want to hurt the poor man.
Mr.FULLER. - No. It would be a good thing if honorable members would think a little more of the position of the poor man. Monopolistic manufacturers appear to be able to get the ear of some honorable members, whilst the poor man is unable to do so. Let me put before the Committee some figures as to the imports of paraffine wax. From Burma were imported 459,994 lbs. ; from India, 1,064,662 lbs. ; from the Straits Settlements, 1,070,012 lbs.; from Java, 71,636 lbs.; from Sumatra, 161,141 lbs. - in all these countries the output is under the control of the British-India Company - ; from Dutch Borneo, 255 lbs. ; from the United Kingdom, 285,745 lbs. ; from New Zealand, 3,330 lbs.; from Belgium, 1,104 lbs.; and from Germany, 718 lbs. In none of the countries which I have named is the output, under the control of the Standard Oil Trust, and the total importations from them about equal the importations from America controlled by the Standard Oil Trust, which came to 3,250,349 . lbs. . How, then, can the Standard Oil Trust have a monopoly of this market, when quite as much as it imports is imported by other companies? In my opinion, there is nothing to justify the proposed increase. The free-trade section of the Tariff Commission found that the manufacture of stearine is carried on profitably by several manufacturers in the Commonwealth, and could be profitably produced without fiscal aid if modern plant were employed. If the manufacturers of stearine in Australia are suffering - and they did not prove to the Commission that they were - it is because they have old. machinery. According to Mr… Clarke, the present manager of the Sydney Soap and Candle Company, it, some fifteen or twenty years ago, to use his own expression, threw away tons of money in machinery, which had to be put on the scrap heap, and new machinery introduced. Of course, that has increased the cost of the company’s operations. But the evidence of Messrs. Kitchen, Upton, and others shows that stearine is being successfully manufactured in the Commonwealth, and that the manufacturers are not suffering from the competition of importers. Furthermore, a duty of½d. per lb., or £4. 13s. 4d. per ton, is equal to from 13 to 15 per cent. upon the normal shipping value in Europe, while the natural protection in freight and charges approximates 10 per cent. more, or 25 per cent. altogether. The entire labour cost in the manufacture of stearine ranges from 2 to 6 per cent. of the value of the finished product, according to its quality and grade. In the lower grades, which are largely used in the principal factories in New South Wales and Victoria with an admixture of paraffine wax, the labour cost is often as low as 2 per cent. I have already shown that the factories in which stearine is made are mostly under the control of one firm. To impose an extra duty would seriously handicap certain candle manufacturers. The smaller candle makers have nowto purchase their stearine from the larger people. As the honorable member for Wilmot has shown this afternoon, it would not pay the Tasmanian makers to lay down an expensive plant for the manufacture of stearine.
– The manufacturers of Tasmania do not get much of ashow, so that they might be given a little consideration sometimes.
– I have made a strong plea for the small manufacturers, but there does not appear to be much desire on the part of honorable members to help them.
No case has been made out for an increase of duty. On the contrary, everything points to the fact that there is no need for the present duty on stearine, and that the reduction of the duty on paraffine would greatly help the small candle makers of Tasmania and of other parts of the Commonwealth.
.I have been very much amused by the splendid protectionist arguments which, during the debate, have come from members of the Opposition. They have been contending that we have no right to cripple small and struggling industries for the benefit of large ones. Yet, as free-traders, they are willing to allow the large foreign manufacturers to cripple and destroy the small manufacturers of Australia. I am delighted to hear them now express apprehension in regard to the position of the small manufacturers.
– Is the honorable member going to vote for a duty of½d?
– I shall vote for a duty of1d. I hope that the effect of the duty will be to abolish the use of paraffine wax candles, and to compel the Tasmanian makers to use stearine.
– It has been shown that they cannot do so.
– Then, I ask how many hands are employed in the Tasmanian factory ?
– About thirty.
– It is one of the small industries which the honorable member says he wishes to foster.
– It is an extremely small industry. The members of the Opposition have a lot to say on behalf of the primary producers. I ask them why they are standing by an industry employing thirty hands only when they know what enormous benefits Federation has given to Tasmania?
– Tasmania has received greater benefits than any other State.
– When drought occurs, Tasmania is enormously benefited by Federation.
– Does Federation produce droughts for the benefit of Tasmania?
– Federation allows Tasmania to send her produce to the other States free of duty.
– She could send it to New South Wales free of duty before we had Federation.
– I hope that we are fighting for industries for the good of all Australia. . Those who have said so much about the primary industries, might well advise Tasmania to drop this little manufacturing industry, and further develop her primary resources. It is farcical to appeal against Federation on behalf of an industry employing thirty hands.
– The honorable member will find himself voting for large duties for the protection of industries quite as small.
– The Labour Party has been twitted with allowing monopolies to come into existence. What we are fighting for is the establishment of industries. When monopolies arise, we shall try to destroy them. Honorable members will at least give us. credit for good intentions in that respect.
– The honorable member, and those who think with him, propose, first to allow the monopolies to come into existence, and then to deal with them.
– : Surely prevention is better than cure?
– It is impossible without special legislation, to prevent the creation of monopolies. I am glad that the members of the Opposition have endeavoured to expose attempts’ at trustification. The Hansard reports will be valuable, later on, when we come to deal with monopolies under the new protection, or by nationalization. We are at one in’ our desire to prevent monopolies, and we desire to see the work of this industry ‘done in Australia.
– The honorable member does not wish to see any of it done in Tasmania.
– Tasmanians should strive to regard themselves as Australians. The idea underlying Federation was a desire to establish a solid united nation under the Southern Cross. Our fight is to insure that the work of manufacturing these candles shall be done in the Commonwealth. Later on, when we come to deal with trusts, we shall claim the support of honorable members opposite.
– And we shall not get it.
– I do not desire to prolong the debate. I hope that we shall soon come to a division upon the item. It seems to me that the discussion has clearly proved that the paraffine wax candle industry is merely a moulding industry, whereas the stearine industry is one of the natural industries of Australia.
– The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has taunted those who are attempting to preserve some of the smaller factories from being crushed by an absolute monopoly. He has endeavoured to make it appear that the representatives of Tasmania alone are defending these establishments. I am glad that common-sense is inducing some of those who are sitting in close proximity to him to entertain an entirely different opinion from his own. Some honorable members appear to think that Melbourne and Sydney are the only places in the Commonwealth which deserve consideration so far as their manufactures are concerned.
An Honorable Member. - That is very unfair.
– The honorable member for Kew England has charged us with attempting to protect an industry at which he sneers because it provides employment for only thirty hands. Are there no other industries which will be afforded protection under this Tariff and which have started operations with a less number of operatives? Do his fiscal proclivities induce him to believe that an industry should assume certain proportions before it is granted any measure of protection ? So surely - as we agree to the higher rate of duty proposed upon this item, so surely shall we close the small candle factories in Tasmania, and so surely shall we confer an absolute monopoly upon one or two manufacturing firms.
– Under existing conditions the candle manufacturers of the Commonwealth are doing very well. They have practically .secured the whole of the trade. The agitation which is being engineered by Messrs. Kitchen and Co.-
– What about the agitation promoted bv Mr. Metz who is sitting in the gallery? I think that it is disgraceful.
– Those who are endeavouring to build up a” great monopoly and to wipe out the small factories, are at liberty to approach Ministers quite openly without having insinuations made against them. If we desire to create a monopoly in the manufacture of candles, we are proceeding upon’ exactly the right lines. But surely there are places outside of one or two large centres which deserve consideration at our hands. The factories established in the smaller States of the Union are not receiving the consideration to which they are entitled.
– They get an equal chance.
– If we agree to the duty proposed upon this item they will not get an equal chance. It is the use of paraffine wax which enables the smaller , candle manufacturers to live. Those who condemn the use of paraffine wax candles m our mines should recollect that these articles were manufactured by the very men who are now seeking to obtain a monopoly in this trade. We know that Messrs. Kitchen and Company sought to crush their rivals in Tasmania by means of dumping. It is on record in the sworn evidence tendered to the Tariff Commission that that firm dumped its candles, wholesale into Tasmania in an endeavour 1o destroy the small factories there. But they found for once that the men who were interested in the trade there purchased those very candles, sent them back to Melbourne, and sold them here at a profit.
– If the Tasmanian factories survive, does the honorable, member think that they will have much chance of success in fighting the Combine?
– i know that if we agree to the proposed duty we shall confer an absolute monopoly upon one or two of the large candle-making companies. The honorable member for Yarra has stated that the small’ factories in Tasmania are sweating their employe’s. In refutation of his statement, I need only mention that the gentleman who conducts one of those factories was the candidate selected by the Labour Leagues to contest a seat for the representation of Tasmania in the Senate in the first Commonwealth Parliament. I do not believe that the Labour Leagues of that State would deliberately select a sweater to run in their interests.
– Is he not a member of the Labour Party in the Tasmanian Parliament at the present time ?
– I rise to a point of order. . I do not think that the honorablemember for Franklin is in order in introducing the name of this individual . as having stood in the interests of the Labour Party.
– The honorable member is perfectly in order.
– I did not introduce this matter. The Treasurer mentioned the name of a particular individual, and the honorable member for Yarra suggested that the factory which he conducted was being run under sweated conditions.
– What wages are paid in that factory?
– i do not know, but the very fact that the gentleman in question was the selected candidate of the Labour Party, and contested a seat for the representation of Tasmania in the Senate, should be sufficient to absolve him from the imputation of being a sweater.
-591- - I wish to say a word or two in order to explain my position in regard to the item under consideration. In this Chamber I have always been classed as a good protectionist, and upon the present occasion I do not know whether or not I shall be accused of inconsistency’, because I intend to vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Bass.
– The honorable member proposes to give a friendly vote?
– Surely Victoria can spare an occasional vote for a Tasmanian industry ?
– That argument does not appeal to me. I was about to say that two years ago, at an exhibition held in Sydney under the auspices of the Australian Natives’ Association, one of the most interesting exhibits was that of the Hartley Vale Company., who showed ttie manufacture of shale f rom the crudest of oil up to the finished product of benzine. The same company also gave practical illustrations of the manufacture of candles; and the industry appeared to me one which might very well be encouraged and supported. Subsequently, however, I found that the paraffine wax - one of the products of the shale - was neither more nor less than a by-product, which, iri my_ opinion, did not deserve the consideration I, at the time of the exhibition, felt inclined to give.
– How does that square with the honorable member’s fiscal principles?
– I am explaining that I shall vote for the lower duty because I think it is ample to- effect the purpose in view.
– We might as well have no duty at all.
– Now that that interjection has been made, I may tell the Treasurer something that, perhaps, he will not like. A few days ago, from my place here, I said I would vote for the highest duty proposed by the Government on the item of wire netting; but what action did the Government take?
– The Government went down on their knees !
– The honorable member knows perfectly well why the Government acted as they did.
– I did not know anything about it. On that occasion, as future events showed, there was no necessity for me to place myself in an- invidious position ; but I spoke under the impression that the Government would stand to its colours.
– Order ! The honorable member must not discuss that question.
– I refer to wire netting merely as an illustration of my position in regard to the item now before us. On that occasion-
– Order ! The honorable member must not discuss that question.
– Then I shall say that on a former occasion, without any necessity, the Government dropped myself and a number of other honorable members “in the soup.” On the present occasion, however, I think that the present duty of Jd. is ample, amounting as it does to £4 odd per ton ; and I, therefore, intend to vote for the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Bass. The argument, as to the position of the smaller States, does not appeal to me ; but I may say that I have in my pocket evidence as to a combine in regard to an item which will come under consideration shortly. It is proved conclusively that combines are formed in these industries; and, as honorable members know, I am opposed to combines, as being diametrically opposed to the interests of the people of Australia. We ought not, by means of very high duties, to enable a few manufacturers to form combines at the expense of the public.
– Several honorable members have condemned the Committee for not adopting the suggestions of the Tariff Commission. The position of those honorable members seems to be that they follow the recommendations of the Tariff Commission when it suits them to do so, and ignore those recommendations when these are not in accord with their opinions. Did Parliament relegate to the Tariff Commission the right to fix the duties? If Parliament did do so, why should we put ourselves and the country to the trouble of considering the Tariff? In my view, however, the Royal Commission was appointed because itwas considered that a few men could collect, better than the larger body of Parliament, evidence from those who are directly interested in industries, and present the result in the shape of a report, leaving it to Parliament, in its wisdom or unwisdom, to decide what shall be the Tariff of Australia. Honorable members seem to have lost sight of the fact that the Committee have already, by a large majority, fixed the duty on candles made of paraffine wax, and also of other materials. Yet we are now discussing the question whether we shall allow the importation of the raw product at the low duty of½d. per lb.
– That duty was recommended by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission.
– I have already dealt with the Tariff Commission. I am assured by men who work in this industry that, in the manufacture of stearine, six times as much labour is employed as in the manufacture of candles. Of course, I am not a candle maker, and, like honorable members opposite, can ‘ only speak from information received. I may say that I have little concern with employers ; my only interest is with the working men who sent me here. Of course, I have enough common sense to know that unless employers can make theirbusinesses pay, the wages paid must be small ; but the information I have given as to the proportion of the labour employed, is that given to me by those who are most closely interested, as employes, in this industry. Under such circumstances, where is the common sense in allowing paraffine wax to be imported in large quantities? I may be derided for expressing the opinion that Tasmanian manufacturers ought to be able to manufacture the whole of the candles required in that State. But I see no rea son why that should not be so. I cannot believe that the only chance of the Tasmanian manufacturers lies in importation of this raw material. Surely there is enough tallow in Tasmania to provide all the stearine that is required; and I say that in spite of the fact that some £40,000 has been estimated as the cost of plant and machinery, I have known candles to be made in a little shed, at very much less than their cost to-day, though, of course, it must be admitted that the larger and the more modern the appliances, the cheaper the production. In my opinion, the manufacturers of Tasmania ought to be able to place the natural stearine product on the market as cheaply as do the manufacturers of Victoria. Another fact which seems to be lost sight of is that in New South Wales to-day paraffine wax is being produced, and that a duty would be beneficial to the manufacturers of that State. It has often been said that the protectionist proposals are made in the interests of the cities of New South Wales and Victoria; but, as a matter of fact, the oil works of New South Wales are situated in the country. Knowing that we have tallow here, and also paraffine wax, it seems illogical on the part of any protectionist, even of the milk and water and revenue tariffist order, to accept the proposal for a duty of½d. I quite understand that many honorable members, who represent mining or agricultural constituencies, must pay regard to the price at which the candle is placed on the market; but it has been proved over and over again that protection does not eventually mean an increase in price, but rather the” reverse. There are innumerable examples of the truth of that statement, and I am not claiming more for the manufacturers here than I am willing to concede to the manufacturers and producers in every other portion of Australia. Honorable members may not be immediately concerned in this item before us, but the time may come when items in which they are interested, and in regard to which they expect to get some support-
– Log rolling !
– Log rolling ! I am speaking from an Australian stand-point. Is it log rolling to ask the people of Queensland and Western Australia to assist the people of New South Wales and Victoria? In my opinion such a request represents an Australian sentiment which ought to be acted upon both in this House and outside of it. Has it been suggested that the power given to Western Australia under the Constitution to impose a special Tariff for five years was the result of log rolling?
– No; that was a proper bargain.
– Was there any semblance of log rolling in connexion with the insertion in the Constitution of the provision .that the Federal Capital should be in New South Wales?
– I must ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– I appeal to honorable members to deal with this question from an Australian stand-point. . We must be guided, not by any consideration of what may suit the people of one electorate, but rather by a desire to benefit Australia generally. The candle-making industry is a large one in which some of our natural products are employed, and it would be foolish to impose a high duty on the manufactured’ article if we did not also impose a reasonable duty on the stearine and wax used in the production of that article. I should like to see a duty of 2d. per lb. imposed, since we have imposed a fair duty on the finished product.
– I should like to remind the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that the proposition that the duty should be reduced to Jd. per lb., so far from being a freetrade one, was actually made by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission. After taking evidence, and giving the matter full consideration, that section of the Commission recommended that, in the interests of Australian industries, and from a protectionist, and not from a freetrade or a revenue point of view, a duty of ½d. per lb. should be imposed. That being so, the Opposition are not raising, in this case, the fiscal issue. I do not understand the position taken up by the honorable member for New England. Notwithstanding the efforts that we are making to suppress monopolies, he does not seem to be very much concerned about their creation. He ought to remember, however, that it is a very serious thing to suppress a young industry in any part of Australia in the interests of a big combine or association. We may not be able to do all that we want to dOj. birt young industries, although perhaps they do not employ a large number of men, should receive from protectionists a. fair amount of consideration.
– Does the honorable member affirm that there is a combine?
– I cannot speak from personal knowledge, but I understand that the great candle manufacturers of the. Commonwealth have an arrangement which practically makes them an association. The Royal Commission have reported to that effect, and the statement has not been denied. We must remember that the Commission was composed of gentlemen of very great intellectual power and experience whohave had the advantage, which we have not had, of seeing the witnesses and hearing: the evidence. They have laid it down that the great manufacturers of candles have a. sort of association which is tantamount to throwing the whole industry under the one power, even if it does not mean turning the whole of the profits into the one pocket. Whether a man is a protectionist or a free-trader his feelings are rather in favour of the small ^struggling industry which has been able to fight’ combinations.
– But the candle-making industry in Tasmania is purely artificial.
– If that be so we should be a little more desirous of preserving the plant, which has been struggling under such unfavorable conditions. When the old Tariff was under consideration, a statement that a man and a boy had a . tinpot factory in Little Bourke-street carried the whole Committee, but when we now hear that factories in Tasmania have to fight against dumping and all sorts of contrivances, the position seems to be different. We are not asked to forsake the protectionist view of this question, because the protectionist branch of the Commissior* proposed, the’ very duty which the honorable member for Bass desires should be imposed. The reference made a few minutes ago to the presence in the gallery of a manufacturer who is interested in this question was wholly uncalled for. Night after night, since the introduction of the Tariff, there have been manufacturers in’ the gallery.
– They ought not to be there.
– When we were dealing with the duty on wire netting, the Trea- surer himself invoked the influence of the Honorable A. Meeks, who was present.
– That is not cor:rect.
– I heard the honorable member mention his name.
– I did not ask him to come here. As. a matter of fact, I told him that I did not think it was wise for him, or any one interested in these matters, to come here.
– The honorable member must recollect that, whilst the duty on wire netting was under consideration, he referred, as a sort of indorsement of the statement that -he was making, to the presence in the gallery of the Honorable Alfred Meeks, a member of the firm of Gibbs, Bright, and Company, who have the wire netting factory in New South Wales. It is wrong to refer to the presence in the gallery of ‘ men who, so to speak, are fighting for their lives in connexion with the Tariff. Surely they have a right to come here to listen to the debates.
– It is most injudicious for them to do so.
– There is, for instance, Mr. MacRobertson, who makes most excellent sweets. I have not had the pleasure of’ seeing him, and cannot say whether or not he is here to-night. I do not object to gentlemen affected by the Tariff being present and taking an interest in the Tariff discussion. I have not met the gentleman from Tasmania to whom reference has been made. He has never asked my influence. I received a letter from him, and was very much struck by its contents.
– He lias not sought the influence of any one.
– He has not come near me, nor has any one- else interested in the Tariff done so. I have been deluged with letters, and one man wrote asking me to support a duty of 300 per cent. I have had all sorts of requests made to me by letter, and I think that those affected by the Tariff are entitled to attend in the gallery and also to have their letters considered. The letter written by the gentleman from Tasmania to whom I have referred was, I thought, worthy of consideration, and I find that his statements are supported by the evidence taken by the Royal Commission. I am sure that when we see a small concern fighting against a big combination we all. naturally desire that it shall not ‘be crushed.
– In view of the remarks of the right honorable member foi: East Sydney as to the presence in the gallery of persons interested in the Tariff, I wish to make a few observations. It is within my knowledge that certain persons within the precincts of the House have been pressing and worrying honorable members. Some of them attempted to worry me about certain duties in the Tariff, but I promptly told them that the best thing they could do was to leave me alone. The canvassing that I have seen going on around this Chamber is positively indecent!
– The honorable member does not say that when a protectionist comes along.
– The leader of the Opposition referred to a gentleman who certainly did not come here at my invitation. On the contrary, I have advised those interested in the Tariff to keep away. It seems to me that the canvassing that is going on is indecent. I know a good deal of what is taking place, and have warned every one that, so far as I am concerned, canvassing will have the opposite effect from what is desired.
– Will the honorable member put a stop to the picnic parties to the various Victorian factories that are now taking place?
– I have nothing to do with them.
– Who were in the galleries when the harvester duties were under consideration ?
– I do not know, but I think it is well that I should make this general’ statement. I do not want any person interested in the Tariff to come here.
– I have seen the honorable member referring to persons in the gallery.
– Not when I have been in charge of the business before the House.
– I do not know whether the honorable member was or was not in charge of the business of the House at the time.
– I do not think any one has seen me referring to persons in the gallery when I have had charge of business. I am going to say something later on about a gentleman who was here the other night in connexion with the duty on pianos. In regard to all these items honorable members should be able to arrive at a conclusion as to what is the right course” to pursue without being worried by interested - parties. As to Mr. MacRobertson, ‘ to whom the leader of the Opposition referred, I may say at once that he saw me the other night, and that I told him straight out what I thought and what I was going to do.
– He. had no reason to see the honorable member. He had got all he could wish for.
– Why- has the honorable member singled out the piano man?
– Perhaps later on I shall explain.
– His opponents have also been here.
– I hope that the Committee will agree to the duty of id. per lb. proposed by the Government. I- am going to fight very hard for it. I have been asked before to-night to agree to a duty of 2d., per lb., but I feel that our proposal that the duty shall be id. per lb. is a reasonable one. We have imposed on candles from foreign countries a duty of 2’d. per lb., and there certainly ought to be on paraffine wax a higher duty than that which prevailed under the Tariff of 1902. For that reason, if for no other, I sincerely trust that the Committee will pass the item as it stands. Although a large section of the Committee would doubtless have supported a duty of 2d. per lb., we felt that a duty of id. per lb. would be sufficient, and as the Government proposition is a moderate one I trust that it will be indorsed by the Committee.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– The Government propose to place a duty of id. per lb. on stearine, paraffine wax, beeswax, and similar substances, .the duty under the Kingston Tariff being Jd.’, which rate the “A” section of the TariffCommission recommended the continuance of, while the “B” section recommended a duty of 20 per cent. I understand that a: duty of Jd: per lb. is. equal to one of 15 per cent., and” a duty of id. per lb. to one of 30 per cent. Therefore the Government proposal is 10 per cent, above the recommendation of the ” B “ section of the Tariff Commission, and twice as high as the rate recommended by the “A” section. The “A,” or protectionist, section of t the Commission may be taken, to have given full consideration to the interests of the manufacturers. I learnt from the evidence that one firm alone could supply all the stearine required in Australia, and that some years ago it. refused to supply stearine to the factories in Tasmania. Thus there is already a monopoly in existence. Manufacturers have stated that very little stearine is imported, because, with a duty of Jd. per lb., it would hardly pay to import it. The higher rate proposed bv the Government is not asked for by the trade, and is not needed for protective purposes, because the local manufacturers have command of the market. Therefore, if imposed, it can only so to swell the profits of the manufacturers by increasing prices. That is a business-like view which even a protectionist might take. As for paraffine wax, I am informed that the best quality is made in New South Wales, although a great deal is imported. Much of the imported wax is used in candle-making; but if the duty on it is increased, the price of the candles in which it is used will be raised, while no more employment will be given. Under these circumstances, I cannot understand the action of the Government in wasting time by sticking out for their proposal. Why do they not accept the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, and let us get on to some other item better worth fighting about? Why is the Treasurer so stubborn that he will not take the advice of his friends, and of those on this side whom he regards as his enemies, though we are not so, notwithstanding that we fight in the interests of the consumers, of the workers, and of the industries of Australia ?
– Let us get to a vote.
– I wish, before a division is taken, to make the Minister amenable to reason. We have heard of no good ground for increasing the duty as proposed.
– What would the honorable member consider a fair thing?
– I should like the duty to be taken off altogether.; but I cannot do the impossible.
– The honorable member could try.
– I am more reasonable than is the honorable member, and’ think it wise to take the course of least resistance. I hope that the Government will not insist on the proposal to make the rate1d.
– I shall support the amendment of the honorable member for. Bass. I understand that those engaged in the stearine industry desire to have the duty increased, not so much to prevent the importation of stearine,as to prevent the importation of paraffine wax, which enters largely into the manufacture of candles in Tasmania.
– To the extent of 90 per cent.
– The paraffine wax candles cannot enter into competition with stearine candles in many parts of Australia, because in the summer time the weather is too warm. In my own district, last week, the temperature in some places was from 90 to 100 degrees in the shade, and under such conditions the paraffine wax candles become so soft that they will not stand upright.
– Paraffine wax candles could be used all over Australia in the winter time.
– No doubt; but people will not stock candles which they can use only in the winter months.
– Why is not kerosene used?
– Kerosene is largely superseding candles as an illuminant, though candles are still used in many homes, and very largely for mining. The conditions in mines allow paraffine wax candles to be used.
– Does the honorable member advise the use of Rangoon candles in mines ?
– I do not advise anything. All I wish to point out isthat paraffine wax candles are suitable for Tasmania, and are made there; but if the proposed duty is agreed to, and the importation of paraffine wax stopped, this industry will be destroyed. To my mind, the industries of Tasmania are of as much importance as those of Victoria and New South Wales, because we are legislating, not in the interests of any particular State or States, but in the interests of the whole Commonwealth. Why should we, in the interest of the manufacturers of Melbourne and Sydney, who make stearine candles, kill the Tasmanian candle-making industry, by preventing the importation of paraffine wax?
– Because paraffine wax candles arenot as good as stearine candles.
– They are equally good under certain climatic conditions, and can be used in Tasmania all the year round. They could not, however, compete with the stearine candles in any but the colder districts of the main land. If there is so much to be said against the Rangoon candle, if its fumes are really poisonous in their effects upon miners, it is a marvellous thing that those facts were not placed before the Tariff Commission.
– Men would get the sack for giving such evidence.
– Then the honorable member must hold that Royal Commissions are useless..
– They never get full information.
– Where men are so terrorized by, and so much the slaves of those who employ them, that they dare not state the facts to a properly constituted Commission, it is hopeless to try to investigate their conditions. I refuse to believe that that is so. If there be evidence that it is, this Parliament will be lacking in its duty if it permits of a continuation of such conditions in the industries over which it has control. This is not a matter which affects the working man alone. Even if it had been in the interests of our great mining companies to suppress any evidence upon this point, it would not have been in the interests of the candle manufacturers. It would have been distinctly to their advantage to have brought the matter under the notice of the Tariff Commission. Personally, I refuse to attach any importance to evidence of an ex parte character.
– The sworn statement was made that Rangoon candles were manufactured in Melbourne by Messrs. Kitchen and. Company.
– It is a well known fact that paraffine wax candles are manufactured locally. But I am dealing with the allegation that the use of paraffine wax candles in mines prejudically affects the health of the miners. Evidently there is a desire on the part of our large manufacturers to get rid of the competition to which they are subjected in Tasmania. In view of the evidence tendered to the Tariff Commission and of the recommendations made by that body, I am not prepared to inflict an injustice upon that State. I intend to support the amendment of the honorable member for Bass.
.- No argument has been advanced in favour of the imposition of a duty of id. per lb. upon this item. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has declared that paraffine wax is a product of Australia, and that, therefore, we ought to encourage its use. Is he prepared to adopt a similar line of reasoning in regard to the imposition of a duty upon kerosene? Some honorable members have affirmed that Tasmania should produce her own stearine. But Tasmania is only a small State, and to establish stearine works there would necessitate a capital . outlay of about £40,000. Even when the works had been established, there would not be a sufficient local demand for their produce. Any business man must recognise that it is impossible to establish such a large industry as stearine in a small community like that of Tasmania. Of course, it has been urged that such an industry would be in a position to export its produce to the mainland. But large stearine works have already been established there, and Tasmania would not be in a position to compete successfully against them. The statement has also been made that the paraffine wax candle industry in the State which I represent employs only a limited number of hands. It . may be my misfortune, but throughout my life I have made it a practice to study the weak and the poor. If my. honorable friends of the Labour Party will adopt a similar course upon this occasion their action will redound to their credit.
– How many boys are employed in the industry ?
– I do not know. I do not go round the factories inquiring as to the class of labour which they employ. But during the course of this debate it has been pointed out that one of the Tasmanian manufacturers was considered good enough to be selected to contest a Senate election as the nominee of the Labour Party. The Government boast that they have accepted 400 of the recommendations of the pro tectionist section of the Tariff Commission. Why, then, do they ignore the conclusion at which that section arrived in respect, to this particular item? I -have been charged with considering this matter from a provincial stand-point, but if any other industry in the Commonwealth occupies a similar position to that of the paraffine wax industry of Tasmania I shall be found supporting it.
– The ‘factories in Tasmania could purchase their paraffine wax from New South Wales.
– The factories in New South Wales will not supply it.
– How does the honorable member account for the great increase which has recently taken place in. the imports of paraffine. wax?
– It must be due to the increase of the factories upon the mainland. One honorable member has stated that if those who are engaged in the industry in Tasmania cannot make a livelihood they should abandon it in favour qf some other industry. To my mind, this is a cold-blooded way of dealing with the matter. The ‘honorable member for Laanecoorie has declared that this is a State matter. But he was very much perturbed when a suggestion was made that a civil servant from another State should be brought to Melbourne to fill a high position in the Postal Department here. I trust that a duty of £d. per lb. will be substituted for the” proposed duty of id. per lb. One section of the Committee has affirmed that its members will not vote for any higher duty than that recommended by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission.
– How is the Opposition corner upon this question?
– They are an uncertain quantity. I leave the matter in the hands of the Committee. If honorable members support the Government proposal I shall be very disappointed, because I shall think that they have not acted in a truly Federal spirit. For the sake of insuring justice all round, I trust that the existing duty will be reduced.
Question - That the following words be added, “ and on and after 25th October, 1907, per lb., Jd.” (Mr. Storrer’ s amendment) - put.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 43 (Lard and lard oil, &c), item 44 (Mixed or compounded waxes), agreed to.
Item 45. Confectionery, Cocoa and Chocolate, viz. : -
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That after the words “ sugar candy “ the words “ medicated confectionery “ be inserted.
– I am afraid the adoption of this amendment will prevent any prior amendment, such as the omission of the words, “cocoa and chocolate.”
– If the amendment before us be adopted, no amendment in an earlier portion of the clause can be moved.
– It is only due to the Committee that the Treasurer should informus why he makes this proposal now. Why did he not insert “medicated confectionery” in this item when the Tariff was drafted?
– This is an amendment which I have been asked by the Department to move, because medicated confectionery can be included here more appropriately than later on under “ Medicines,” in which it at present appears, and from which it will be excised, if thepresent amendment be adopted.
.- It will be observed that the duty, in the case of item 291, “ Medicines;” is entirely different from the duty now proposed by the Treasurer; and I fail to see why medicated preparations should be taxed at the enormous rate applied to confectionery. There are certain well-known medicinal’ preparations containing sugar, which, if the amendment be carried, will come within the category of confectionery; and I think that it is simply monstrous that such preparations should be so classified. Poor people may often, have to avail themselves of the simpler forms of medicine ; and I see no justification for placing upon them what is practically a prohibitive duty.
– The Treasurer has not told us that the reason for the transposition, is the imposition of a largely-increased duty. Medicated confectionery, if dealt with in item 291, will bear a duty of 15 per cent., whereas, if the amendment be carried, it will have to bear a duty of, perhaps, 60 or 70 per cent. Medicated confectionery is quite distinct from ordinary confectionery. One class of confectionery is supposed to give a great deal of pleasure, while the other is intended to cure pain of some kind, and is simply a medicine.
– The honorable member for Parramatta is quite mistaken, because, under whichever item medicated confectionery appears, the duty will be about the same. Under item 291, the medicated confectionery is described as “ troches,” which would include, for example, cough lozenges ; and I am informed by the ComptrollerGeneral, that,- while the duty will be about the same, it is more convenient to collect it under the heading of confectionery.
.- There seems a likelihood of this amendment being accepted very quickly, but i warn honorable members that it represents a considerable danger. If the Treasurer had taken the trouble to read the report of the Royal Commission on secret drugs, he would have found that a large and important part deals with what is called medicated confectionery, under cover of which, not only drugs, but alcohol in various disguises, is dispensed. I suppose, however, that the only object of the Treasurer is to get his Tariff through, and obtain revenue.
– The amendment will result in no more revenue.
– Confectionery, in the ordinary sense, is supposed to be harmless, whereas medicated confectionery may be a most dangerous manufacture. There are honorable members who, if they had been present, I should have expected to advocate the exclusion from the country of medicated confectionery. It is contended that the drink habit is engendered by the juvenile consumption of sweets in the form of medicated confectionery. Chlorodyne and other dangerous drugs are made up in this way. Just as in the days of our childhood, a’ Gregory powder was administered to us in a spoonful of jam, fo various drugs are concealed in confectionery. The honorable member for
Barrier, who has taken a keen interest in the question of patent medicines, should be able to give us some interesting information on this question, and I think the matter is. one which we should take into serious consideration.
Amendment agreed to.
. -I move -
That after the figures “ 3?d.” the words “ and on and after 25th October, 1907, (General Tariff) per lb. 2d.,” be inserted.
During the discussion of the Tariff reference has been made again and again to the facility for the formation of combines which is afforded by high protective duties, and before granting further protection to any industry we should be careful to .ascertain whether any combine exists in relation to it. I have nothing to say against the confectionery works in Victoria, which I inspected a few days ago, and which I found to be thoroughly up to date; but I have before me a copy of a letter addressed by Mr. W. T. Home, secretary to the committee of the retail confectioners, to the editor of the Argus, and published in this morning’s issue of that newspaper. Mr. Home writes - ‘
I am desired by the committee of retail confectioners’ to place before our legislators and the public the reasons for and against the increase in duty on confectionery. The proposal is the outcome of efforts put forth by the local manufacturers for many months past, and when the present tariff was announced it came as a surprise .upon an unorganised body of shopkeepers who had to face the strongest combination of manufacturing confectioners Victoria has yet seen, backed up by a bank balance so substantial ‘that opposition seemed almost hopeless. Mr. W. Bowman, whom we have to thank for voicing our side through your columns,- has shown (“ The Argus,” October 15) that all manufacturers but one had joined the combine, the smallest being required under the constitution to pay £10 entrance fee, and a subscription of 2^ per cent, weekly upon this, equal to ^13 per annum. This is not a ordinary trade association, and its constitution proves that it will be almost impossible for any’ new manufacturer to commence business, unless be becomes a member, and the combine reserves to itself the right to refuse admission. Turning from the power and financial strength of the combine to the industry itself, we claim to have shown very conclusively that the progress made by manufacturers is proof that under “the former tariff- they were amply protected. In the progress report of the recent Tariff Commission (page 8), in spite of decreases shown, in Queensland and Western Australia, figures are given showing that the whole number -of factories in the Commonwealth increased in six years (1899-1904) from 71 to 79, and the number of hands employed from 1,845 to 2,418. Since the last date given, a still more striking proof of the progress made is found in the report of the chief inspector of factories (Victoria), issued in May……..
I do not think it is necessary to read the whole of the letter. It contains a direct charge that a combine exists amongst certain manufacturers in the confectionery industry in this State. I intend to make an effort to show that such a combine exists. I shall begin bv reading a letter written by Messrs. Bennett and Taylor, importers and wholesale confectioners, and published in the Argus of 25th September.
An Honorable Member. - Importers?
– It is somewhat singular that as soon as one attempts to quote evidence from any one, save a manufacturer, it is suggested that no reliance can be placed upon it”. The writers of this letter did not hesitate to append their names to it. I have often heard my friends, and” especially members of the Labour Party, assert that it is dangerous for a man to put his name to a charge against a body of men, because it often results in his being “ boycotted. Every labour man knows that it is more than many a man dare do. The letter is as follows - .
In your issue of yesterday appears a statement by Mr. MacRobertson, denying altogether that there is a Confectionery Combine, or that anything - in the nature of such exists. On or about the nth August, we, by request, waited on the Secretary of the Chamber of Manufacturers with reference to a document which we wereasked to sign under threat of being refused local goods. In this document was embodied a clause binding those who signed to procure all their requirements for the’ confectionery trade, only through members of the Victorian Manufacturing Confectionery Association.
As, at one stroke, this would rob us of a considerable portion of our business, we refused to sign. On the evening of August 14th we again attended by request at the Chamber of Manufactures, and had the matter further threshed out, with the result that the association gave way with regard to oversea importations, but absolutely prohibited shipment from Sydney, even insisting that we must cancel all contract with New South Wales. This action alone proves the incorrectness of Mr. MacRobertson’s statement, and is conclusive evidence of an existing Combine. Additional proofs to the above facts of the working of a very real and live Combine will be given at the proper time and place.
Yours, &c, (Signed) Bennett and Taylor.
I have in my possession a copy of the constitution of the Combine, which is known as the Victorian Manufacturing Confectioners’ Association.
– It has been circulated by the people concerned.
– Since it has become public property, it is unnecessary for me to read the whole document, but I shall quote from it certain clauses which to my mind disclose a state of affairs to which an end ought to be put. Under clause 5 it is provided that: -
That bears out the statement made in the letter written by Messrs. Bennett and Taylor. It is also provided that five members shall form a quorum, that rules may be rescinded or varied, and that a member may be expelled. Under clause 3 of the general rules it is provided that -
The names and addresses of. all middlemen,, wholesale merchants, and special customers shall be registered by the Association, and it shall be considered an infringement of the Association’s rules for members to supply other parties than -those who are registered at the prices allowed by the Association’s rules for middlemen, wholesale retailers, merchants, and special customers.
Clause 4 provides that the prices of goods and discounts as fixed by the association are the minimum prices and the maximum discounts, and must be strictly adhered to by members of the association. It is further provided that -
In the case of Middlemen, Wholesale Retailers, Merchants, or special customers not selling at the Association’s list or exceeding their discounts or acting against the interests of this Association, the said Association has the power to eliminate the said Middlemen, Wholesale Retailers, Merchants or special customers from the registration roll.
‘Every Member shall charge the respective rates and charges and adhere to the terms and conditions which may be agreed to by resolution from time to time, and shall not be at liberty to depart from them in any way. Subject thereto, no discount, no money gratuity, and no advantage direct or indirect shall be offered or allowed by any member or his agent or employee to any customer or other person in connection with the sale of Confectionery.
The Association shall be entitled to call upon any Member or any employee of any Member to make a statutory declaration that the declarant has not directly or indirectly evaded these Rules, and may also insist upon such Declarant giving details as to price or prices charged and other particulars which may in the opinion of the Association be deemed expedient or desirable.
Although I am reading from copies, I have seen one of the originals, and I am informed that there are persons who are prepared to come forward to produce them, and,if necessary, to support by testimony on oath every statement that I am making. An agreement was made between the middlemen and the Association in which the members of the latter say -
That upon the Middlemen entering into the under-mentioned Agreement with the Victorian Manufacturing Confectioners’ Association, the Members of the Association will supply Authorised Middlemen with their Confectionery, as heretofore. They will also undertake’ to supply them with Imported Confectionery, as far as can be obtained at the time of ordering.
They allow 15 per cent. On their part, the middlemen say -
We, the undersigned middlemen, hereby undertake to adhere strictly to undermentioned terms and conditions, and will abide by all Rules, Regulations, and Conditions, as may be made from time to time by the Victorian Manufacturing Confectioners’ Association -
That we will only sell to Retail Shopkeepers.
That we will not charge less than such price or prices as may be fixed, by the Victorian Manufacturing Confectioners’ Association from time to time.
That we will not allow a greater discount than 2½ per cent.
– That agreement has not been signed by any of the middlemen.
– The honorable member, no doubt, knows more about this agreement than he would care to tell the Committee. How does he know that it is not signed?
– He has a copy of it, and so have I.
– The agreement continues -
That we will adherestrictly to all Rules, Regulations, and Conditions that may be made from time to time by the Victorian Manufacturing Confectioners’ Association for the better management of the Confectionery trade after such have been submitted to us.
That in case of any dispute or charge being made against us, we will place all our books, accounts, papers, &c, before any Committee that the Victorian Manufacturing Confectioners’ Association may appoint to investigate the charge, and will abide by any decision that such Committee may give.
That in the event of any fine or penalty being inflicted by the Victorian Manufacturing Confectioners’ Association for any breach of these Conditions, or any Conditions that may be adopted from time to time, we will satisfy such fine or penalty within one (1) week of such decision.
Then the manufacturers say -
We, the undersigned Manufacturing . Confectioners of Victoria, desire to intimate to our Customers that owing to the increase in the price of Raw Materials, it has been found necessary to revise Prices and Discounts.
On and after this date, the discount to all Customers will be2½ (per cent.) if Account be paid on or before the end of month following delivery, after which period strictly nett.
Guillot & Co.
Dillon, Burrows, & Co.
The Miller Confectionery Co. Pty. Ltd.
Long & Smith.
The Amazon Confectionery Co.
McPhillimy Bros., Geelong.
In a letter, signed by Mr. A. S. Fergusson, manufacturing confectioner, of 464 Smith-street, Collingwood, the writer says - the communication is addressed to Mr. W. Bowman, Windsor -
In answer to your questions, I am not a Member of the Victorian United Confectioners’ Association, commonly spoken of as the Combine.
They refused to supply me with any of their goods, and I am given to understand that I will not be able to handle their goods until I join.
I have another letter from Sydney - I do not wish to use names in this instance, for special reasons - to the following effect -
Yours to hand enclosing cheque for which please accept our thanks.
We regret we cannot execute your order sent us to-day, until the Deliberations of the Intending Association are completed, which we trust will be next week ; until then, Mr.- would rather not ship any more orders.
A third letter in my possession reads -
Dear Sir, -
Dictator regrets very much that he has not been able to write you a fitting letter, following up our telegram of yesterday, but please take it broadly, that you are now expected to maintain the Victorian Association’s price, as our word has been given that this shall be done, and the price list is in your hands.
We have also word that you will receive a List of people who enjoy higher than usual discounts, so that you shall be on an exactly level basis with them in making quotations. Of course, as things now stand, the whole question resolves itself into one of quality.
It. is alleged that various discounts are allowed which range up as high as 15 per cent. The following is a list of prices issued by the Combine immediately after the Tariff came into operation -
I have also a letter’ addressed to the members of the House of Representatives in which the writer sa.ys -
As a Retail Confectioner, I protest against the increase of Duties on Confectionery, for the following reasons : -
That I shall have to bear- the extra burden, for the position is such that I cannot charge the Public the extra duties, and I have no hesitation in saying that by allowing imported Confectionery to come in on a fair duty, the local manufacturers will be able to make progress in the future as they have amply done in the past on a duty of id., and 2d. per lb. For example, similar goods that are sold to shop-keepers in England at lod. per lb. and are retailed to the Public there at id. per oz., are made by the leading firms here, and are sold, to us at is. 3d. per lb., which we have to’ retail at 2d. per oz., or 2s. per lb. This shows that the Public of Australia are already very heavily handicapped and the shop-keepers here are in a worse position than those in England, for we have not got the population to work on. our rents are higher, cost of gas over 100 per cent, more, and many other things . are in keeping with those mentioned.
The following are also some of the troubles that I have had to contend with : -
– What firm supplied the short- weight boxes?
– I should not like to say positively, but I think that it was Macrobertson.
– If the honorable member does not know definitely, he ought not to make that statement.
– If the Committee desire to ascertain who supplied short-weight boxes, they can very easily do so, because the author of this letter is prepared to give sworn evidence, if necessary, and the same remark is applicable to his wife. The document continues -
Another grievance - A friend of mine was paying 7d. per lb. for a line and I was being charged 8d. per lb. for the same line, same quality, and by the same traveller. In another case I was paying is. 3d. per lb. for a line, but another . friend of mine was being charged is. 5d. per lb. for the same line, from the same firm, but not the same traveller. .Another, unfair practice - Certain lines of toffy . at 8d. per lb. are put up in tins, which tins .weigh about a lb. The gross weight is charged, but only 6d. is allowed for the empty tin ; thus the shopkeepers lose 2d. or more on every tin, if they have not discovered this trick. Then again, the discount has been (and I have every reason to believe is still) a source of great complaint. I have been getting 5 per cent., but J. find some have been getting 10 per cent., and some 15 per cent., whilst one lady who sighed our petition to Parliament showed me invoices (two of which I now hold as evidence) on which she received no discount at all ; yet we, as retail confectioners, are asked to trust these firms who are craving for more protection, which will, if carried, .injure us still further, and penalize the public.
I think I have said enough to warrant the Minister of Trade and Customs in postponing the consideration of this item.
– He has left the chamber.
– That is the usual courtesy which he extends to me. Since I commenced to fight the . excessive duties levied under this Tariff I have had nothing but insults from the Minister. -Upon the first occasion that I spoke he told me that I ought to cross to the other side of the chamber. To-night I am endeavouring to defend the interests of the thousands of persons throughout the Commonwealth who retail confectionery in a small way. If their statements are correct we ought to reduce the duties levied under this item.
– We can deal with the Combine when the Australian Industries Preservation Bill is under consideration.
– I say that we ought to deal with it now. The honorable member’s experience of the way in which the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act has been allowed to become a dead letter should be sufficient to convince him of that. He knows perfectly well that* owing to the negligence of the Government in failing to put into operation the provisions of that Statute, a number of trade unions are being ruined. God help the small shopkeeper if we sanction the imposition of the duties proposed upon confectionery, and then go into recess.
– Why should we give an extraordinary duty to a flourishing .trade?
– I have not dealt with that aspect of the matter. It is a very flourishing industry, and it is controlled by a combine. Protectionists argue that the effect of protection is to induce competition, and that as a result prices- decline. But, under the operation of a combine, there is no possibility of prices being reduced. Surely in view of the statements which I have read - statements which can be supported by sworn evidence - we should hesitate before we sanction the imposition of the duties proposed, in the absence of a thorough inquiry.
– It is a splendid case for the nationalization of the industry.
– While we are preaching the beautiful theory of nationalization, the unfortunate shopkeepers will be fleeced by the Combine.
– Is the honorable member opposed to its nationalization?
– I am opposed to ridiculous proposals in favour of nationalization. The honorable member will be a grey-headed old man before the confectionery industry in Australia is nationalized. I wish to secure something in my own time, and not in that of my grandchildren. But it seems to be an offence to suggest that a confectionery combine exists. If the Minister of Trade and Customs isnot in a position to reply to my statements to-night, he might very well agree to postpone the consideration of this item until he is..
.- Some of the comments upon the Confectionery Combine which have emanated from the members of the Labour Party are rather amusing when we recollect what happened the other day in connexion with the bakers’ strike. When some members of the labour combine desired to sell their labour a little cheaper than the majority of their fellow trade unionists, whatoccurred ?
– The employers combined to lock them out.
– They were actually fined. In other words, we have one form of government inside another form of government in this country. We have the municipal government, the State Government, the Federal Government, and the Trades Hall.
– And the Employers’ Federation.
– The Employers’ Federation is not permitted to fine anybody nowadays. It was able to do so at one time. It is singularly amusing to hear these violent onslaughts upon combines emanating from persons who are members of the biggest combine in the country. I admit that the formation of combines is typical of the spirit of modern trading. Of course, our object must be to so regulate the operations of such bodies as to prevent them from robbing the retailer and the public. I had previously read all the statements which the honorable member for Grey has placed before the Committee this evening. I dare say that there may have been excessive combination on the part of the manufacturers of confectionery, but now that the matter has been ventilated, there is not much risk of any further injury being inflicted upon the retailers. The petition which I presented to this House, and which was signed by 744 confectionery retailers, constitutes a strong indictment of the methods which have hitherto been followed bythe manufacturers of confectionery. But now that they realize that the retailers are combining against them, it is very probable that if their methods are continued they will have the worst of the deal.
– What can the retai lers do if we exclude imports ?
– They can combine and refuse to sell the goods of the manufacturers. The confectionery industry is a very valuable one, and one which every civilized community desires to encourage. There is no doubt that the manufacturers of Australia are gradually getting this industry into their own hands. In 1905 the number of people employed in the confectionery trade in Victoria was. 797, whereas in 1906 the number was 1,043, which shows a very satisfactory increase. In 1899 the number of manufactories in the Commonwealth was 71, whereas in 1904 the number was 79, while the number of hands had increased in the same period from 1,845to 2,418.
– That was under the old duty.
– Yes. We do not desire to see any great increase in the price that the public have to pay for confectionery, but at the same time, it is satisfactory to know that the local manufacturers are gradually obtaining the Australian market. In 1906 the importations of ordinary confectionery into the Commonwealth amounted to only 3,000,184 lbs., representing a value of £116,000. This, in comparison with the total consumption in Australia, is a very inconsiderable figure.
– The importations have been gradually increasing.
– Importations have slightly increased, as is shown by the returns, and I cannot find any reliable information as to what the local production really is. However, the local manufacturers are- getting the market, especially for the lower-priced articles, though some progress has yet to be made in regard to the more valuable confectionery, such as chocolate creams and so forth.
– What is the reason the local manufacturers cannot get the market for chocolate creams?
– I cannot say, but we are told that it is because the i local manufacturers have not the proper sort of machinery.
– It is want of capital.
– I do not think that want of capital is the- cause. We have to impose a duty that will keep the maximum of trade within our own country, and yet not add too much to the price to consumers.
– Who are largely children.
– Who are largely children. We have also to remember that the cost of raw materials, such as glucose and- a considerable number of essences, which are to . a great extent imported, is increased by the present Tariff ‘; and that, to my mind, justifies more protection to our local manufacturers.
– The late duty on glucose was _£8.
– And I moved that we adopt the late duty.
– I think it will be found that the raw materials of the confectionery business have been greatly increased in price. We must also remember that there is a high Tariff on sugar in Australia, whereas in Great Britain the manufacturers may obtain cheap sugar from Germany and other countries, where large bounties are granted. This places the Australian manufacturers in a very unfair position. In Canada, a country which is similarly situated to Australia, the duty on confectionery is from 3$d. to 6d. per lb., but, of course, Canada has to face the competition of the United States, and therefore, must have a high Tariff in order to protect her industries.
– There is also a heavy duty in the United States.
– It is of no use comparing Australia with the United States, where the people manufacture the whole of their requirements?
– In the returns we have-, the Canadian Tariff given is Jd. per lb. and 35 per cent.- that is in 1901.
– That is not the case now. In any case, we are not exactly in a similar position to Canada, because we enjoy the protection of freights over a long sea voyage, and, therefore, do not require such a high duty.
– What changes have there been in the conditions of the industry here since the last Tariff was imposed?
– We have the fact that importations are increasing, though I do not think they are increasing so rapidly as local production. However, this is one of the industries which I think ought to supply the whole of the requirements of Australia.
– Will the proposed duty increase the price to the consumer?
– I should set my face very strongly against any duty which would increase the price to the consumer. There has been a great deal of discussion on that point; and, from the Melbourne Argus of 30th August, I see that Mr. MacRobertson has said that his prices have been increased by only z per cent., and that he justifies the increase by contending that his raw materials have been enhanced in cost by the Tariff. On the other hand, a statement has been made that Mr. MacRobertson’s prices have increased in some instances by 33 per cent., and, under such circumstances, a poor unfortunate member of Parliament is naturally inclined to say, with David, that “ all. men are liars.” In a debate of this sort we cannot enter into all the details of this industry ; and I greatly deplore the absence of the honorable member for Bendigo, who would have been able to throw a great deal of light on the subject. In the absence of that honorable member, we have to do the best we can. In my opinion, this is an industry which ought to supply the whole, or, at any rate, the greater part of the Australian demand; and I shall favour an increase of duty. I cannot go so far as the Government propose, because the duty which they submit is in the nature of prohibition ; but I would impose a duty of 2jd. per lb. as against Great Britain, and 3d. per lb. as against other nations. That I regard as a fair compromise, and if I get an opportunity later, I shall move in that direction.
– That is 50 per cent, more than the duty recommended by the honorable member for Bendigo.
– I know that the duty I suggest is higher than that favoured by the honorable member for Bendigo; and I repeat that I am sorry that that gentleman is not here.
– We have the results of his inquiry.
– But in some cases those results are somewhat meagre, and this is one of the cases. The confectionery industry is a good, clean industry which ought to receive the benefits of protection. It is an industry in which the people here may engage, we hope, with profit, and one which may even attract people from across the seas.
– There is no doubt that the honorable member is a protectionist !
– I always have been a protectionist, and I see no reason to change my opinion. We desire to have industries of every kind in Australia, so that we may have a thriving population. I would sooner see people in country occupations ; and I hope we may hear something from the Government about immigration.
– Under the high Victorian duties population was driven away.
– I do not think so; on the contrary, I think it was a. certain amount of protection which kept the people within the State; and I am very glad to find that we are now becoming suppliers to the Commonwealth. I shall vote on the lines I have indicated,and at the proper time will move in the direction I have inditated.
– I regret that the Attorney-General is not present, for I understand that a copy of the agreement between . the middlemen and the Manufacturers Association, which the honorable member for Grey read to-night, was sent to the Crown Law Department nearly a month ago. The honorable member has placed before the Committee information furnished to him by one side of the trade, and I candidly admit that I have been supplied with certain facts by a member of the Manufacturers Association, who, I do not forget, stood by one of the employes of the Confectioners’ Union when other employers tried to boycott him.
– The agreement which the Association sent to the Crown Law Department is not thatwhich I read, but a later one.
– I followed the honorable member’s reading of the agreement, and am confident that it is identical with that which has been sent to the Crown Law Department.
– There are two in existence.
– Then the officers of the Crown Law Department can compare that sent to them with the agreement which the honorable member read this evening. If the Manufacturers Association have committed a breach of our Anti-Trust legislation, it will be open to the Crown Law Department to take action. They were not afraid to put their agreement before the Department. We all know that the importers are anxious not to lose any part of their trade, and they would naturally do their utmost to prevent the expansion of an Australian industry. It has been said that this industry is holding its own. I have taken from the Customs returns the imports for 1904-5-6, and find that, whereas the imports of confectionery in 1904 totalled 2,724,000 lbs., 2,729,000 lbs. were imported in 1905, and 3,237,000 lbs. in 1906. Milk chocolate is a line which has displaced, to a large extent, ordinary confectionery, and I find that the imports of cocoa and chocolate in 1904 were 2,449,000 lbs. ; in 1905, 2,821,000 lbs. ; and in 1906, no less than 3,355,000 lbs.
Mr.Atkinson. - The Combine’s business has been increasing at a greater ratio.
– I am dealing now with the increase of imports. The honorable member for Grey quoted a letter written by Mr. Horne, Secretary to the Retail Confectioners’ Committee, which appeared in this morning’s issue of the Argus, and which contains an absolutely misleading statement as to the state of affairs disclosed by the report of the Victorian Chief Inspector of Factories. I took the trouble this afternoon to compare the figures quoted by Mr. Home with those given in the report of the Chief Inspector of Factories, and found that an attempt had been made to mislead us. Had he taken the figures from appendix B, which deals with wages and employes, he would have found that the increase was only fifty-five employes.
– Is the honorable member prepared to have the matter investigated by a Select Committee?
– I am prepared to support the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into this matter, and to support any amendment of the Australian
Industries Preservation Act that is necessary to enable us to deal with importing as well as local combines. I am not prepared to see local manufacturers labouring under disabilities, whilst the importers who are making enormous profits are allowed to go free. If the importers would place their books before a Select Committee, I am sure that the local manufacturers would do the same.
– Do the importers ask for duties?
– No; they merely, ask for our trade.
– The honorable member knows that Cadbury’s pay as good wages as any one.
– Is that the only firm that is exporting confectionery to Australia? I gathered that the honorable member for Fawkner is prepared to differentiate in favour of Cadbury’s or any other British firm which is granting -fair conditions to its workers. I believe that Cadbury’s treat their employes well ; but it is because their conduct is the exception to the rule that it is extolled throughout England. What about the Scottish and other firms which are exporting confectionery to Australia? Do they pay their employes a minimum wage of1s.0½d. per hour for a week of forty-eight hours? Have they to pay an import duty on their sugar? According to the figures I have quoted, our imports of confectionery have increased by 600,000 lbs. during the last three years, whilst our imports of chocolate and cocoa have increased during the same period by 900,000 lbs. And yet we are told that the position of the local manufacturers under the old Tariff should remain unaltered.
– Do not the jncreased imports, as well as the largely increased local production of confectionery, show that we have been enjoying prosperous seasons?
– Our imports of confectionery have, roughly speaking, increased by 33 per cent. within the last three years. Can any one say that the local manufacture of confectionery shows a corresponding increase ?
– The local industry has done very well.
– It certainly has not increased its output by 33 per cent. within the last three years. Surely the confectioners have as much right to participate in the general prosperity of the community as have any other section ? The honorable member for Denison told us this afternoon that it was understood at the inception of the Commonwealth that under the Federal Tariff existing industries would be considered, and that the duties relating to them would not be cut down. I believe that in pre-Federation days, the duty on confectionery under every State Tariff was higher than that imposed under the first Federal Tariff. In some States a duty of 4d. per lb. prevailed, while in others duties of 3d. and 2d. per lb. were in operation. Under the first Federal Tariff, however, the duties on confectionery were reduced to 2d. per lb., and on cocoa and chocolate to1d. per lb. I trust that we shall not be led away by any ex parte statements. I am as anxious as is any honorable member that a combine shall not impose unfair conditions upon the retailers, but I would be the last to say that manufacturers have not as much right to band together as I have to join in a trade union with those who work with me. Unfair competition and unreasonable discounts have been largely responsible for the existence of sweating. The letter quoted by the honorable member for Grey shows that at one time in some cases a trade discount of 15 per cent. was allowed, and that there is now a fixed discount of2½ per cent. The retailers complained when irregular discounts were allowed, and they complain now that the Association has decided upon a fixed discount so that all may be placed upon an equal footing. I am confident that the manufacturers do not fear any inquiry.
– Then let the item be postponed in order that an inquiry may take place.
Mr. TUDOR.If the honorable member is prepared to move for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the profits of the importers as well as of the local manufacturers I shall vote with him.
– I have voted for legislation as drastic as that which the honorable member has supported. I vote for fair play.
– I, too, am prepared to vote for fair play. I certainly am not prepared to denounce our own people while outsiders are allowed to do as they please.
– Are not the shopkeepers our own people?
– Certainly they are; but the petitions against these duties have been hawked around.
– Cadbury’s paid for the lot of them.
– I do not believe that, but I certainly do believe that a number of agents, finding that under the new Tariff they would not have as good a time as they had been enjoying, took action. The honorable member stated that prices had been increased. When Mr. Abel Hoadley was before the Commission, a question was put to him which shows that in one case a big reduction was made. At page 568 of volume II. of the Minutes of Evidence will be found the following question -
Although you come before this Commission and ask us to recommend the reduction of duties on sugar and glucose you yesterday reduced the price of this jube jube by 3¼d. a lb.
Prices are constantly fluctuating.
– The honorable member should read what follows, to show why the price was reduced.
– I was about to do so.
The explanation is that we had to compete with others, and had to sell at the same price.
– An attempt was being made to cut out some one else.
– The evidence continues -
What others? - Other manufacturers.
In Victoria? - Yes, in Victoria.
Have the others reduced their price? - The others were taking our trade, and had reduced it previously.
There is not a word there about an increase in the price. On the next page I find this evidence -
What was the price before the reduction? - 1s.11d. per lb.
Are you losing on it? - We do not hope to lose much on it, because we have bought material cheaper than we used to buy it, and we are able to turn out more than we were formerly. We must increase the output, or it would not pay us.
There are about 300 lines of confectionery altogether, and prices have been increased in regard to about thirty of them. We have been told that the price of chocolate dates has been increased, but we were not told, as we should have been, that the duty on dates has been increased from1d. to 2d. per lb. Apparently the manufacturers are expecting to pay that increase, instead of passing it on.
– The protectionists say that it is never passed on.
– Honorable members know that dates are not grown here. Then the duty on almond kernels has been increased from 2d. to 4d. per lb. Must the manufacturers pay that increase?
– They use a large quantity of locally produced material.
– They use all that they can get, but they cannot get locally onefourth of the almond kernels that they re quire. On almond paste and meal the duty has been increased from 2d. to 4d., and on gelatine from 2d. to a rate which, on the quality used, is equivalent to 35s. per cwt. Furthermore, manufacturers of confectionery have to pay a duty of 6s. per cwt. on their sugar, ord. per lb. ; of 8s. per cwt. on glucose, or1d. per lb. ; and of2d. per lb. on cocoa butter.
– They could get that locally.
– Not nearly enough is produced locally. The honorable member, having been in trade, should know that.
-I do not know it.
– I believe that not onefourth of the cocoa butter which is used is produced locally. Starch is also used for the making of jelly moulds, and on it there is a duty of 22s. per cwt. There is also a duty on walnuts and other raw materials which I will not now specify. Prior to Federation, in New South Wales, the duty on confectionery, cocoa and chocolate, and sugar candy, was1d. ; in South Australia, 3d.; in Queensland, 4d. ; in Tasmania, 2d. on confectionery, 4d. on cocoa and chocolate, and 2d. on sugar candy ; in Western Australia, 4d. on confectionery, nothing on cocoa and chocolate, and 4d. on sugar candy ; and in Victoria, 2d. on confectionery, 3d. on cocoa and chocolate, and 4d. on sugar candy ; the rates in the Kingston Tariff being 2d. for confectionery,1d. for cocoa and chocolate, and 2d. for sugar candy, or lower than the average of the rates for the six States. The honorable member for Denison said this afternoon that the industries which were in existence prior , to Federation should receive as much protection now as they did under the State Tariffs. In today’s Argus, notwithstanding the footnote to similar correspondence in yesterday’s issue, “ This correspondence is now closed,” a letter appears which has obviously been inserted because it was thought that the debate on the confectionery duties would almost certainly come on to-day, and there would be no opportunity to reply to it. The action of the newspaper in publishingthe letter under these circumstances was like that which is frequently taken at election times, when “ squibs ‘ ‘ are issued or charges are made on the day of polling, so that candidates will have no opportunity to reply to them. Some of the statements in this letter are absolutely unreliable.
– Can the honorable member show that there is not a combine?
– I am not concerned with that now. The writer, referring to the report of the Chief Inspector of Factories in Victoria, says -
In appendix A, page 5;. it shows in 1905 there were twenty factories, employing 797 persons; in 1906, twenty factories, employing 1,043 Per” sons ; an increase of 246 persons in twelve months.
Had the writer, who appears so desirous of giving the public the whole truth in regard to this business, turned to appendix B df the report quoted, as well as the import for 1905, which gives the wages paid to every individual in the trade, according to years, he would have found that, in 1905, the total number of persons employed was 987, and, in 1906, 1042, an increase of only 55. What reliance can be placed on a man who attempts to juggle with figures in that way?
– What does the average wage work out at?
– According to the report of the factory inspector, although the minimum wage for adult males is £2 10s., the average paid was £2 ros. 7d.
– What was the average wage paid to males, including apprentices and improvers?
– Of course, much less. Even under our Wages Boards system, .we do not require manufacturers to pay full wages to boys, though, perhaps, some of the free-traders will tell us that Messrs. Cadbury do so, and that in Switzerland girls earn as much as men do here. The writer of the letter to which I am referring says -
We have challenged the Combine to name one middleman who accepted their conditions of his own free will, without response.
– The honorable member has been using “ flimsies.” Why does he not stick to the Tariff reports, as I intend to do?
–The honorable member for Grey did not do so, in attacking the industry.
– And the honorable, member was ready to counter him immediately.
– I am always ready to fight for an Australian industry. I hold in my hand a letter from Mr. E. Davis, Chairman of the Victorian Middlemen’s Association, which is addressed to the Chairman of the Victorian Manufacturing Confectioners’ Association, and which . reads -
In this morning’s Argus I notice under the heading of “ Confectionery Combine “ that the secretary of the Committee of Retail Confectioners states that the middlemen were forced to sign the agreement with the Manufacturing Confectioners’ Association against their own free will. He also “ challenges the Combine to name one middleman who accepted their conditions of his own free will.” In reply to this assertion, I would like to say that my Association views with favour the agreement entered into, and believes that it is beneficial to the whole trade - manufacturers, middlemen, and retailers. The agreement in question has materially benefited the position of middlemen, as they are now on an equal footing with the direct representatives of the manufacturers, knowing that all prices are equal. In conclusion, I would say, on behalf of mv Association, that we middlemen were npt forced into signing any agreement that we thought detrimental to our own or the trade’s interests.
Mr. Home, in the course of his letter to the Argus, says -
I know from experience that lines usually retailed at 6d. will not sell at 6£d. or 7d., nor 3d. lines if raised to 3½d. or 4d. Confectionery sold at 4 ozs. for 6d. can only be altered to 3 ozs. for 6d., and this adds Sd. per lb. to cost to consumer, which is regarded, as excessive.
What does that mean? Four ozs. for 6d. is equivalent to 2s. per lb. For that class of confectionery, the retailers would not pay more than is. 6d. per lb. They would thus make a profit of 33 per cent, upon their outlay. But if the price be increased by 2d. per lb., they say that they must make a profit of 8d. per lb.
– It is quite clear that the consumer must’ suffer.
– No. The retailers themselves say that they will have to pay the duty, inasmuch as they cannot pass it on to the customer.
– The honorable member admits that the retailers are sweated by the Combine. He is advocating sweating. He is a sweater.
– I am not. If a proposal were brought forward to prevent » sweating, I know that the honorable member would vote upon the side which was in favour of the sweater. That is my idea of him. I trust that the Committee will not be led away by ex -parte statements emanating, either from one side or the other. While some honorable members object to a manufacturing ring, they are apparently willing to place themselves in the hands of something which is infinitely worse, namely, an importers’ ring.
.- The honorable member for Yarra has attacked those members of the Committee who are armed with “ flimsies “ - that is, with a brief for the importers. But he has admitted that he holds a brief on behalf of the manufacturers. I have consistently refused to make use of any information supplied either by agents or by manufacturers. I am content to rely upon ‘the reports of the Tariff Commission, and upon the information which has been supplied by the Treasurer. Whilst the hon.orable member for Yarra indorsed the proposal to increase the duty upon confectionery, he failed to assign any reason for his action.
– I said that the imports had increased during recent years.
– But the honorable member drew a wrong conclusion from .thatfact. To me it is indeed strange that the highest-priced confectionery is subjected to the same duty as the lowest priced. An ad valorem rate is not to operate, but we have specific duties of 3§ d. and 3jd. per lb.
– The cheap lollies will not be affected by the duty.
– Both the free-trade and protectionist sections of the Tariff Commission recommended the imposition of a duty of 2d. per lb., and I fail to see any reason why we should depart from their recommendation. Certainly the Government have not advanced any argument in favour of the increased duty proposed. When the Tariff Commission was appointed we were informed that it was intended to deal with the languishing industries of the Commonwealth. Now, the confectionery industry is a most flourishing one. A manufacturer in Western Australia admitted at the close of his examination by the Commission that the only competitors he had to fear were Inter-State competitors. I am prepared to support the recommendation of the Commission. The honorable member for Yarra has informed us that the price of dates, almonds, and indeed of all the component parts of confectionery has been increased by the Tariff. But he forgot to tell us that the price of paraffine wax and plaster of paris has also increased, and that these articles are used to a large extent in the manufacture of confectionery.
That statement is contained in the sworn evidence tendered to the Tariff Commission. I am satisfied that honorable members would not encourage their children to eat so much in the form of sweets if they were fully seized of the ingredients of modern confectionery. They” would prefer to see them consume more dried fruits. However, I have no desire to see the children of Australia organizing a monster demonstration against the honorable member for Dalley, and therefore I shall, say no more upon that aspect of the matter.
– Is the honorable member quite sure that paraffine wax is used in the manufacture of confectionery ?
– The last sentence to the addendum of the Tariff Commission as to the use of glucose in confectionery reads -
Evidence was also given showing that both paraffine wax and plaster of paris occasionally enter into the composition of confectionery.
– Does not that refer to chewing gum only?
– I cannot say. There is no doubt that confectionery is wonderfully and mysteriously made; and if we knew all the details, I am afraid that we should eat very little of it. The honorable member for Grey spoke of a combine ; but let me say that Mr. Stedman, one of the largest manufacturers in New South Wales, has stated openly that he does not require any duty beyond that of 2d. per lb. all round.
– Did Mr. Stedman give evidence before the Tariff “Commission?
– No; and the reason was that he did not require any increase of the duty. The honorable member for Batman, who is no child of innocence in business, has ingeniously interjected a question as to Mr. Stedman’s not giving evidence before the Tariff Commission. The fact is that he did not come forward as an interested party and ask for an increase of duty, being satisfied with the profits he is making - and all the more credit to him for ‘ the attitude he adopted. The honorable member for Yarra did not deny the statements of the honorable member for Grey in regard to the existence of a combine in this industry. I do not desire to deal with the question of combines generally ; but I remind honorable members that we were promised by the Government a measure of new protection under which combines or individuals who misused the Tariff for their own ends could be dealt with. In my opinion, the. new protection proposals ought to be introduced at once, because they would form a guide to many honorable members in their dealing with the Tariff proposals now before us. As a matter of fact, the immediate introduction of the new protection proposals would be the best way of securing a speedy dealing with the Tariff. As an ardent free-trader, I can say that I should not occupy much time in dealing with the proposed duties if I were certain that the benefits would be equally distributed amongst the manufacturer, the wage earner, and the consumer.
– I am amazed at the Labour Party voting duties until they have seen the new protection proposals.
– Quite so. Why should I be asked to vote for high duties before I know what the new proposals are? I suggest to the honorable member for Grey ‘ and others that they “ stick up” the Tariff until the Government have shown what they mean by their new protection. Personally, I should help in such a movement ; and I am astonished that the more ardent spirits of the Opposition have not endeavoured to force the hand of the Government in this connexion.
– I was the first to raise the protest.
– That is so; but what I am suggesting is resistance to the Tariff until the new protection proposals have been introduced, because it would be most unfortunate if the high duties proposed were adopted, and the Government got into recess without their scheme of new protection having been dealt with. The honorable member for Fawkner frankly said that he was a Victorian, and that he desired the confectionery trade to be captured by the manufacturers of his own State. What a truly “noble and Federal spirit ! I do not “desire to see any State obtain any special advantage from the Tariff ; and in view of the attitude taken up by Mr. Stedman, to which I have already referred, I am prepared to vote for a duty of 2d. per lb. all ‘round, with, of course/a preference to Great Britain in whatever proportion honorable members may desire. The honorable member for Fawkner was most unfortunate in his reference to the importation of the bountyfed sugar of Germany into England. A few days ago the honorable member received rather a severe castigation at the hands of the Melbourne Age, and I can only suppose that he is now endeavouring to put himself right, and desires to ‘obtain a panegyric as a thorough Victorian protectionist. In Germany the people are taxed in order to produce bountyfed sugar for export to England, to be there converted into confectionery, which is sent to Germany to undersell the German manufacturers.
– And shorter hours are worked in England.
– Quite so; and that is an answer to those who say that the confectionery of Great Britain is made by means of cheap labour, which competes with the more highly paid labour of Australia. English labour in this connexion competes not only with the highly paid labour of Australia, but with the low paid labour of Germany. I may say that I have refused, on this or any other item, to receive any technical information from manufacturers, importers, or importers’ agents, preferring to rely entirely on the results of the inquiries of the Tariff Commission. On this item there is no difference of opinion between the two sections of that Commission, because both recommend a duty of 2d. per lb. all round. Personally, I am astonished that the Commission should have recommended a specific instead of an ad valorem duty.- I cannot understand why low priced confectionery should bear as heavy a duty as the higher priced articles. I intend to vote for the adoption of the recommendation of the Tariff Commission, wilh a reservation in regard to preference to Great Britain. The honorable member for Yarra has said that he is prepared to do certain things. I ask him to assist us to stick up this Government until they introduce a Bill embodying their new protection proposals. If honorable members did that they would expedite .the progress of the Tariff,- and would have an .opportunity of fixing in legislative form measures which we all agree are necessary to counterbalance the weakness occasioned by the imposition of high duties.
– The honorable member for Fawkner has said that the duties charged on confectionery in Canada are from 4d. to 6d. per lb. He gave that as a reason why we should impose, if not so large a duty as that, at any rate one larger than that proposed by the’ honorable member for Grey. But I wish to point out that the information given by the honorable member for Fawkner was incorrect, although no doubt he believed what he said. I have in my; hand the 1906 edition of the Canadian Tariff, from which I find that the preferential duty on confectionery is22½ per cent. On the basis of the valuation of the confectionery imported into Australia last year, that percentage would amount to about 2d. per lb. The intermediate duty in Canada is 32½ per cent., and what is called the general Tariff duty is 35 per cent. I correct the statement of the honorable member for Fawkner so that others may not be induced by the supposed Canadian example to vote for higher duties than are warranted. It has been urged by the honorable member for Yarra that there is good reason for increasing the confectionery duties because many of the ingredients used are now to have higher duties imposed upon them. In reply, I point out that the duties on the important ingredients of confectionery have not been increased. The duties on sugar and glucose are the same as they were previously.
– I suppose the duty on plaster of paris has been increased ?
– I hope that that will not be used as an ingredient of edible confectionery. As to the minor items which are used, I point out that we have not yet reached them in the Tariff, and if we think that the duties on them ought not to be advanced we can vote against increases. There is no duty in this Tariff that can be less legitimately supported than the one under consideration. Unless we are going to adopt the attitude that we should not merely have protection but should actually shovel public money into the pockets of those who are members of the Confectionery Combine, we ought to take up some stand. Certainly we ought not to give to industries that are already doing remarkably well, and in which the wages paid are good whilst the profits are excellent, the benefit of vastly increased duties. The only result can be to put more money into the pockets of a few individuals. Surely we are not going to allow the people of this country to be charged rates that are entirely unnecessary. There is no better evidence of the increased prosperity of the confectionery trade than the number of hands employed. When we find an industry practically doubled it must be apparent that its progress is satisfactory. Any one who is acquainted with those concerned in it is. aware that it is a very pro fitable trade. To my own knowledge considerable fortunes have been made in it during the last twenty or twenty- five years. One of the largest manufacturers of confectionery in Australia, whom I know to be a very honest man, plainly told the Tariff Commission in his evidence that he did not require increased duties.
– Who is that?
– I refer to Mr. Stedman, of Sydney. Any one who knows him is aware of his reputation for honest and straightforward statement.
– But he is a large importer as well as a manufacturer.
– Most of the confectioners import as well as manufacture, but this gentleman’s importing business is nothing like so large as his manufacturing business. Whatever duties we impose, there will still be imports, for the reason that it does not pay to go to the expense of erecting machinery to manufacture the more fanciful kinds of confectionery, of which the consumption is comparatively small. The honorable member for Yarra has himself admitted the prosperous condition of the trade. It yields good profits to those engaged in it and pays good wages to the workers. Honorable members who require evidence of the strength of the industry have only to refer to the document quoted by the honorable member for Grey. If the manufacturers are strong enough to impose such terms on a large body of vendors they need no additional protection. Those who require protection are the people upon whom such terms are imposed, and who if they could would defend themselves by importing goods from abroad, although they could not do so because the late duties excluded. If I were a trader I would rather go out of business than sign such an agreement as that which has been quoted. But I think that I should be able to avoid that contingency by forming a combination of vendors who would manufacture their own supplies.
– That is cooperation.
– It is not in the ordinary sense of the term, but even if it were I do not object to it. The vendors, and especially those in a large way of business, would be able by organizing to establish their own factory, and to refuse to submit to such an agreement as that which the Manufacturers’ Association have called uponthem to sign. The best evidence of the strength of the industry, and the sufficiency of the protection it received under the old Tariff, is that the manufacturers here are able to make the retailers sign such an agreement, and to bring them to their feet. It cannot be said that the industry is afraid of foreign competition. If it were, it would not dare to insist upon such an agreement. That being so, it would be absolute folly to grant additional protection to it.
– Does not the honorable member think that we ought to grease the fatted pig?
– I do not, but if we grant this enormous1 increase in the protection afforded the industry, it will be able to obtain higher prices from the distributors, who in turn will be forced to pass on to the consumer the increased charges. We were assured by some honorable members when the elections in New South Wales were in progress that when we reached the schedule of duties many changes would be made, in order that the public should not be penalized, as the Government proposed.Now is the time for them to give some evidence of their determination to make some modifications. Confectionery is used by all sections of the community, and every additional penny which we impose means largely increased taxation. We want evidence that these excessive duties, against which the people kick, will be reduced.
– The people do not kick, it is only the Opposition.
– Those honorable members who took part in the recent general election in New South Wales know very well that the people of that State complain of the new Tariff. They were told by some of the members in the Ministerial corner that the Tariff was not to be regarded as having! been accepted by the Parliament, and that many items would be reduced. There is no reason for the increased duty on confectionery, except that duties have been imposed on some of the minor articles used in its manufacture, and since we can deal with those duties when we reach them, I fail to see why honorable members should be prepared to support this impost. The Tariff Commission recommended the old duty. It must be remembered also that in applying a duty of 2d. to edible cocoas and chocolates, which were under the1d. rate, we are granting a very considerable increase of protection to the industry. As to the new protection, it was admitted by the leader of the Labour Party that it. would be very difficult for the proposed Board to deal with prices. The honorable member for Yarra has already said that the wages paid in this industry are satisfactory, and that being so, the new protection will have no effect upon it. It would be practically impossible to deal with the selling prices.
– Our imports of confectionery should be decreasing, instead of increasing.
– The output of the local manufacturers is increasing far more rapidly than the imports are.
– Is not the honorable member aware that the labour employed in the industry has doubled? Is not that the best test of the output ?
– I do not think the honorable member will find that the local output has increased by 33 per cent.
– The labour has been doubled. It is true that during one year lately there was an increase of 500,000 lbs. in the imports, but there may. have been special reasons for that increase. Honorable members cannot judge by one year. Even if this high duty be imposed, we shall continue to have a large importation. There are certain lines of fancy confectionery the demand for which in Australia is not large enough to justify the erection of special machinery for its production. The manufacturers in most cases are importers ; they import the fancy confectionery, which it will not pay them to produce locally. Are we to impose a heavy duty on all confectionery in order that fancy lines may be made here? If we do so, we shall enormously increase the cost to the consumer. I hope that the Committee will not agree to the Government proposal, and that those honorable members who informed the electors of New South Wales, in connexion with the recent State election, that they would oppose duties which might press heavily on the workers and others will show that they were in earnest. If they vote for the imposition of duties which are unnecessary, even from the! protectionist stand-point, and will tend only to create a combine, and to put money into the pockets of the manufacturers, their action’ will not be forgotten.
– Does not the honorable, member say that of every proposal I submit ?
– Are these «ot reasonable and relevant arguments ?
– I object .to them because they have been repeated so often.
– I have not previously stated the facts which I am now stating, because they are specially applicable only to this item. The Minister is very hard to convince, however often arguments are put before him. I wonder that, strong protectionist though he is, he has gone so far, beyond even the Kingston Tariff and the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, in proposing rates which are altogether unjustifiable, and which will cause the public to be heavily mulcted because of the opportunity they give to the manufacturers to combine to increase prices. Progress reported.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
House adjourned at 10.48 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 October 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071024_reps_3_40/>.