13th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. H. Mackay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the public interestin the cruise of the trade ship, Nieuw Holland, I ask the Minister for Commerce whether he can give to the House any information regarding the progress of the vessel?
– The cruise was organized by the Chamber of Manufactures and other exporting interests. . The Government has no connexion with it other than that it has a representative on the Nieuw Holland. Reports from him, and in the public press, indicate that the vessel has been very well received at each port of call, and, as a result of inquiries which have reached me from our representative on board, I have already communicated with several Australian exporting firms.
– Having regard to the buoyancy of the Commonwealth revenue, and the announced intention of the Government to propose an amendment of the Invalid and Old-age Pen sions Act, will the Prime Minister seriously consider the restoration of pensions to the 1929 level?
– I can only reply, as I have already done to numerous earlier questions, that when the Government is considering its financial proposals for 1933-34, pensions and all other Commonwealth obligations will be dealt with in the light of the financial position then existing.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs yet received a report from Mr. Leo Buring, following his investigation of the wine industry ? If so, does he intend to lay it on the table, or to place it in the Library, so that honorable members may. have an opportunity to peruse it?
– Mr. Buring’s report has been received, and will be considered by the Government next week, after which no doubt it will be released to honorable members.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs considered the desirability of reducing the price of grapes, which was fixed some years ago, in order to bring it into closer relation to existing values? If the vote for the payment of a bounty on wine exported be maintained, will not a reduction of the price of grapes be likely to result in a wider distribution of the bounty and a greater export of wine?
– The price of grapes was reduced last year, and the rate then adopted has been continued this year. The position of the wine industry has been thoroughly investigated by Mr. Buring. Yesterday I informed the House that the fixed price does not apply to grapes used for the production of wine for local consumption, but will continue to apply to those used in wine for export.
– In view of the changed policy of the River Murray Waters Commission, will the Minister for the Interior state the intention of the commission in regard to the erection of a barrage at or near the mouth of the river Murray? If such a barrage is to be constructed, will the work be undertaken in the near future?
– This project was underconsideration some time ago, but unanimity was not reached. Before any work can be undertaken a new agreement will have to be made by the Governments of the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. The initiative will have to be taken by one of the governments, and then the proposal can be referred to the commission. Until those initial steps are taken, the matter will remain in abeyance.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral yet in a position to announce the sites of the proposed regional stations for wireless broadcasting ?
– Will the Minister say also whether an A class station is to be established in North Queensland, and if so where?
– The Government has decided to erect additional stations on the north coast of New South Wales and in Northern Queensland. Tenders and specifications are being prepared, and will be available about a week or ten days hence, when the sites will be announced.
– I ask the Treasurer whether, in calculating the anticipated surplus for the current financial year, he has taken into account the Commonwealth’s obligations in regard to war debts, and contributions to the sinking fund? If not, has the right honorable gentleman any reason to believe that Australia’s war debt to the United Kingdom will be ultimately commuted or forgiven?
– At the present time, the Government is not formulating a financial policy for the next year. Later, when complete figures for the current financial year and the estimates of the various departments are available, we shall be better able to estimate the prospects for the following year.
– Provided we get rain.
– Timely rains will mean a good deal, and will undoubtedly affect the financial outlook. When formulating its policy for the next financial year, all relevant factors will be taken into account.
– Has the Minister for the Interior noticed the dilapidated condition of the rotunda in York Park, Canberra? If so, does he intend to repair or remove it?
-My attention has not been previously called to the state of the rotunda, but I shall have inquiries made regarding it.
– Is it the intention of the Government to bring down to the House at an early date an amending bankruptcy bill?
– It is proposed to introduce before the House rises legislation to give substantial effect to the recommendations of the committee representing all parties which recently met and dealt with this subject. The report of the committee has been very valuable to the Government, and when the matters with which it deals are being considered, the Government proposes to introduce a provision to remove a difficulty which, it is believed, exists’ with reference to the operation of the Debt Adjustment Acts, particularly applying to farmers in the various States in relation to the bankruptcy law of the Commonwealth.
– Yesterday I promised that to-day I would intimate to honorable members the bills which the Government hoped to dispose of before the adjournment of the House. In addition to the amending bankruptcy bill, which has been referred to by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham), and the consideration of the tariff schedule, which, when completed, will be followed by the Customs and Excise Tariff Bill, it is intended to introduce the Commonwealth Grants to States Bill, a Supply Bill, the Inscribed Stock Bill, which is largely a machinery measure,’ the Antarctic Territory Acceptance Bill, and the Navigation Bill, which deals with international conventions in regard to the load line, safety conditions, and so on. An undertaking has also been given that an opportunity will be provided to enable the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) to submit his report in connexion with the work associated with his representation of the Commonwealth at the last Assembly of the League of Nations. The Government hopes to dispose of these matters before the House adjourns at the end of the month.
SUPPLY (“Grievance Day”).
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - proposed.
. - I desire to bring under the notice of the House an anomaly relating to pensions, which, I think, the Government should rectify at the earliest moment. It relates to reductions of pensions, and in this respect the mothers of deceased soldiers have suffered more than any other class of pensioner. It will be remembered that when the provisions of the original Financial Emergency Act were applied, the Government of the day asked for certain evidence regarding the expenditure upon repatriation, and the various bodies representative of returned soldiers met and subsequently submitted to the Government a report containing a recommendation as to the manner in which the reduction of pensions should be applied. I do not challenge the honesty of those who made that recommendation, but I do feel that it has operated in a manner quite contrary to their wishes, and, furthermore, to the wishes of the Government which adopted it. I find that the mother of a deceased soldier has had to bear a percentage decrease of her war pension, and that that pension has been taken into consideration in calculating her old-age pension. Both the war and the old-age pension have been reduced under the original Financial Emergency Act. Furthermore, under the recent amendment of the act, the old-age pension of the mother has been reduced by 2s. 6d. when her war pension is in excess of that amount. It is in respect of that reduction that grave injustice has been done to the mothers of deceased soldiers. I am sure that this House had no desire to impose this additional burden upon them. These mothers are becoming aged, and many of them, because of financial troubles, have been compelled to apply for the old-age pension. It is not just that the percentage reduction of pensions should hear more heavily upon them than upon any other class of pensioner. Their sons, had they not given their lives for this country, would have been of considerable assistance to their parents in their old age. One case which has been brought under my notice by the Old-Age and Invalid Pensioners Association of South Australia is that of a. mother who lost two sons at the war. She has since lost her husband, and has an invalid son who, although he receives a small invalid pension, is practically dependent upon her. In addition, this mother has to meet her obligations in respect of a war service home which she is purchasing. The burden has become too great for her to bear. She has a daughter 21 years of age who is unemployed, and is, therefore, a further charge upon the mother.
– What is the amount of pension received?
– I do not know the exact figure, but it can easily be ascertained. This mother is receiving a pension on account of two sous who were killed abroad, and also an old-age pension, both of which have been reduced under the original Financial Emergency Act. Her war pension was taken into consideration by the department in calculating her old-age pension, and now, because she is receiving a war pension of over 2s. 6d. a week, her old-age pension has been further reduced by that amount. If a careful calculation were made I think it would be found that this mother has suffered a greater percentage cut than persons who receive invalid or old-age, or repatriation pensions. The Pensioners Association has requested a thorough investigation of this subject with a view to the rectification of anomalies, and I trust that the Government will give favorable consideration to its request.
Mothers, like that to whom I have referred, deserve every help and consideration from the Government.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Lyons) adjourned.
Customs Tariff (1932) : Special Duties (No. 4) : Primage Duties (No. 2) : Customs Duties (Canadian Preference, No. 2) : Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 1) : Special Customs Duties (No. 5) : Excise Tariff Amendment (No. 3)
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Considerationresumed from the 10th May (vide page 1326), on motion by Sir Henry Gullett (vide page 1167, volume 135) -
And on motion by Mr. White (vide page 29) -
And on further motion by Mr. White (vide page 1094).
Group 1. - Items amended by the Scullin Government which are not supported by Tariff Board reports.
Division 10. - Wood, Wicker and Cane:
Items 303 (a) and 305 (a to e) agreed to.
Division 11. - Jewellery and Fancy Goods
Item 319, sub-item (a1 to 4) agreed to.
Division 12. - Hides, Leather and Rubber
Item 324, sub-item (a) agreed to.
Division 14. - Vehicles
Items 352 (a4) and 357 (a)agreed to.
Item 359, sub-items (d3) (f2, 4 to 9) (g3 to 8)-
Vehicle parts, viz. : -
(2) Wind screens whether imported separately or with motor vehicles or parts thereof except when parts of the types of bodies enumerated in paragraph (3) of sub-item (d) of this item - each, British, 30s. ; general, 50s., or ad val., British, 40 per cent. ; general,60 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Brake drums and shoes, for motor trucks and omnibuses - per lb., British,1s.; general, 2s., or ad val., British, 45 per cent.; general,65 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Devices for catching or fastening motor car doors, excluding handles -
Remote controlled -each, general, 4s., or ad val., British, 40 per cent.; general,60 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
) Other - each, British, 9d. ; general,1s., or ad val., British, 40 per cent.; general, 60 per cent., . whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Wind screen wipers - each, British,6s. ; general, 7s.6d., or ad val., British, 45 per cent. ; general,65 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Vehicle parts, whether imported separately or incorporated in or forming part of any goods covered by sub-item (d) of item 359, viz. : -
Shock absorbers - each, British, 10s.; general, 25s., or ad val., British, 40 per cent.; general, 60 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
.- The duties on vehicle parts, covered by the item now under consideration, have been very greatly increased since 1929, and many of them arc inordinately high. I have received numerous letters from various automobile associations throughout Australia complaining of the duties on motor car bodies and vehicle parts, and stating that the imposition of these duties makes the parts of motor cars, in particular, excessively high. Recently I read in the Melbourne Argus a very interesting article in which the writer imagines the experiences that Alice in Wonderland if brought into contact with our customs schedule. The article reads as follows: -
ALICE IN TARIFF-LAND.
Importing a Motor Car.
Alice should never have been allowed by Lewis Carroll to stay on the other side of the looking-glass. Alice in Tariff-land would have found much more to amuse - or bemuse - her than the mere antics of a March hare and a mad hatter. Had she imported a motor car into Australia, she might have acquired sufficient jabberwocks and slithy toves to trouble her rest for the remainder of her days.
This shows the kind of mental arithmetic Alice would have had to wrestle with. Ina paper published in London she sees advertised a beautiful English car for £198. Realizing that the great non-existent Australian motor car construction industry must be protected, she readily agrees to pay the duty of £85 on the saloon body and the duty of £41s.1d. on the assembled chassis. Her first shock comes when she finds herself assessed at £42 10s. and £2 0s. 7d., the additional 50 per cent. duty imposed by the Scullin Government. Then the fun begins. Alice finds that a motor car comprises not merely a chassis and a body. It has, for tariff purposes, more component parts than the Strassburg clock, and it must be examined in the light of customs regulations more complex than the pyramids of Eluzih.
The Customs Department begins with the outside packages, applies to them section 408a and a rate of 20 per cent., and collects 15s. 9d., a glance at the road springs - and section 359f1 (40 per cent.) yields £2 3s.1d., plus a special duty of £11s. 7d. The spark plugs, under section 180h, yield 9s. at1s. 6d. each, the shackle bolts (359 g3) at1s.6d. a lb. yield 3s. 5d., and the king and tiered pins - under the same section, but at a rate of 45 per cent. - yield 5s. 6d. Eight “ U “ bolts enrich the revenue by 8s. - section 359 04. The ignition coil (section 1.79 d5) produces6s., the spring gaiters (359 d4 b) £2, the instrumentboard and bonnet (359g5) 7s. 6d. each, the plated radiator shell (359 g6 a) £2, and the lampware (206 a), at a new rate of 25 per cent., £2 2s. 8d. The customs official casts an eye over the accessories and assesses “ portion, of the tools” (section 208 a) - 45 per cent. - at 17s. 4d. A glance at section 359 f1 assures him that he must miss nothing; he, therefore, adds £1 9s. 3d. (at 40 per cent.) for “ vehicle psirts not elsewhere included “, and increases this by 14s. 8d. “ special duty.”
Surely there is something else? Certainly! Inflator (section 352 a4 - 45 per cent), 1s.11d.; “sundry articles” (section 122 a) 45 per cent., 13s. 9d. ; packing (section 374 b - 20 per cent.),11d.; machinery (section 176 F1 - 45 per cent.), 2s. 8d. ; and, “ advertising matter “ - this means an instruction-book, see suction 338 a - at ls. a lb., 3d., plus 2d. special duty. The carpets (section 118 a) at 16 per cent, augment the revenue by os. Id., and the windscreen wiper (section 359 rS- 45 per cent.) by Cs. 5d. When the blessed word “ primage “ is uttered, and Alice sees £20 13s. 7d. added to her duty bill, she knows the worst.
Her car, worth £198 in England, has cost her more than £359 - apart from freight, exchange and landing costs, and the tyres and battery which she has still to buy, Alice would have fared worse if she had purchased an American motor car.
– Why did not Alice buy a motor car in Australia?
– I was not with her at the time. Many people who feel that it would be worth while to purchase a motor car in England have no realization of the enormous charges that are made on vehicles entering this country. I know intimately an American engineer travelling round the world who bought a motor car and utilized it in various countries. When he came to his last port of call in Australia, he thought he would sell the car here, but on inquiry he found that if he did so, he would have to pay more duty on it than the full purchase price he would be likely to get for it, and he decided that it would be less costly for him to throw the car into the ocean than to sell it here.
The Automotive Industry Association of Western Australia has written to me complaining that high duties are .imposed on many motor car parts which are not made in Australia. I believe that the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Casey) can deal more specifically than I can with this subject. I urge that the duties should be remitted until the Government is satisfied, from the report of the Tariff Board, that they are necessary. Although they have been in force for a long time, they have never been approved by this Parliament. A little while ago I pointed out that a small screw, 1£ inches in length, and worth at the outside 3d., was sold in Perth recently for 2s. 6d., while for another item which the buyer assured me could be purchased in Great Britain for 2s. 6d. the sum of 15s. was charged. I hope that that sort of thing will be changed.
.- The committee is now entering upon a discussion concerning a series of items relating to the component parts of cars, about nearly all of which I wish to say a few words, and I shall begin with some general remarks about the item as a whole. Until the end of 1927 a motor car chassis came into Australia unassembled, and, with the exception of batteries and tyres, was dutiable as a whole. In the last two years of the BrucePage Administration the few additional minor parts were excluded from the chassis, and subjected to higher rates of duty. Upon its accession to office, the Scullin Government made specially dutiable a large number of other parts of the chassis, lt is the duties upon those parts which we are now considering. During the last month or two, there has been a series of Tariff Board inquiries covering probably half of these items, and it is understood that the. remainder will receive attention within the next month or so. The picking out of these parts for special duties has not had the effect intended by the Scullin Government; that is, it has not given a large amount of additional employment to Australian workmen. But, on the other hand, it has subjected motor car importers and assemblers to a great deal of trouble, and has added considerably to the total cost of the chassis to the purchaser. I know that the Minister has the general reform of this item in mind, but I take the opportunity to ask if he is bearing in mind the simplification of the item. I do not necessarily suggest that there should be a reduction of the aggregate duty collected by the Customs Department, but that those concerned may be relieved of some of the inconvenience to which they now have to submit, and may not be in the position of the young lady just mentioned by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory).
At this stage, we in Australia cannot make motor cars from the bottom up, because our market is not sufficient to permit the economic manufacture of any one, model of car. I believe that it would be necessary to have an assured market for from 6,000 to 10,000 cars of a single model to enable the local manufacturer to compete with cars assembled here from imported chassis parts, and we are a long way from having such a market. Now, a motor car has long ceased to be a luxury, and has become an economic necessity, ami, therefore, the best way to foster industry is to keep its cost down, and so maintain transportation at as cheap a figure as possible. Cheaper transportation means more business for the worth-while associated industries, such as the garage and repair business, the tyre industry, the oil and petrol industry, and motor-body building, together with any factories which can make car accessories at a reasonable price. A great many, if not all, of the alterations made in these sub-items by the Scullin Government did not tend in that direction. It picked out a number of parts belonging to the chassis, the engine, and the body that they thought could probably be made in Australia. I do not question that they can be made here; but they cannot be made economically. The result has been an increase in ‘costs, and a considerably dearer motor car. Three of these subitems provide a high fixed duty only, while a number of the others impose a fixed duty and an ad valorem duty, so arranged that the fixed rate is the operative duty. It can be said that on at least half a dozen parts there is, in effect, a high fixed duty which is specifically disadvantageous to those marketing cars in the lower price range. I have made as accurate a calculation as possible of the effect of these duties on the final cost of a Ford car and truck - the duties on component parts of the chassis that are separately listed for duty. I estimate that the additional cost of a Ford car to the public by reason chiefly of the increase in these duties by the Scullin Government is just under £25 in Australian money, and just over that amount for a Ford truck. If tyres are eliminated, the additional cost is slightly under £21 in the case of the Ford car, and slightly over £21 in the case of the Ford truck. That represents an increase of something like 10 per cent, in the final cost of a Ford vehicle. Had the increase of cost given any appreciable degree of additional employment in the industry, the duties might be justified; but that has not happened. I do not know of any individual factory solely engaged in making motor car chassis parts other than tyres, batteries, spark plugs, and springs. My point is that, generally speaking, these heavy increases in duty have resulted only in a small amount of additional work as a sideline in a certain number of engineering workshops. The Ford Company, whose principal works are situated in my electorate, is one of the large motor car importers and assemblers in Australia. That company has a relatively large output, and it makes itself or buys locally as many parts as it can, bearing in mind quality and price, which, however, in actual practice, limits the Australian-made chassis components to something quite small. This fact is explained by evidence given before the Tariff Board in respect of several of these components, to the effect that, high as many of these duties are now, they would have to be doubled to force their production in Australia, and this would mean uneconomic production that would still further increase the cost of cars to the Australian public.
The recent decision of the Customs Department that safety glass should be admitted under by-law is much appreciated by the motor trade. It will definitely result in three or four models of various makes of cars being equipped with safety glass at a slightly increased cost, bringing Australia more into line with older countries, in some of which the use of safety glass is mandatory.
In connexion with three or four of these sub-items, no person came forward to give evidence before the Tariff Board in favour of the existing duties. It ia, therefore, clear that these duties were not of great concern to any one. The Tariff Board continued its inquiries, and arrived at decisions, without any evidence other than that in opposition to the existing rates of duty.
That the wholesale raising of duties, as practised by the late Government, is sometimes harmful, is shown in relation to door catches. The higher duties imposed by that Administration induced one or two manufacturers to invest money in plant for the manufacture of these furnishings, only to find that there was such a. limited demand for each pattern, and such ‘a wide range required, that the catches could not be economically manufactured. The manager of one of those companies, which failed, turned King’s evidence, mid opposed the Scullin Government’s duties, under which he had been induced to establish his business.
Now, if 1 may be permitted to discuss some of the sub-items of item 359 -
The duty on motor car bodies, British, was raised from £65 to £S5 each by the Scullin Government. In my opinion, it would be well to revert to the former rate. There Ls no recent report from the Tariff Board on this sub-item; I believe that in 1925 the board held an inquiry, but its report was not laid on the table of Parliament, and, indeed, was never published. At least, I have not seen it. The raising of the duty from £65 to £85 was done by ministerial action during the regime of the Scullin Government. There was no need for the higher duty, because only 76 complete car3 entered this country in 1931, and, in the following year, 93. A good proportion of those complete cars were model cars, which Australian manufacturers afterwards copied. The real effect of the higher duty was to place a heavier burden on those who imported complete cars, or brought to Australia second-hand cars which they had purchased abroad. In my opinion, a reduction of the duty to the previous Tate of £65 would not materially affect the number of complete cars imported, although, of course, some revenue would be lost. I recognize that this question is a part of the larger question of the Government’s policy in relation to the importation of British or foreign cars into Australia. I do not recommend any definite line of action for the Government to follow; but I do suggest that it should take into account the advisableness of reducing the duty on motor car bodies from £85 to £65 when the tariff schedule is before another place.
I express my gratification at the recommendation of the Tariff Board in connexion with brake shoes, and I hope that it will be accepted by the Government. Brake shoes for motor trucks are required in Australia for replacement purposes, but the makes and designs are so numerous that only a few of each kind is required. Since it is economically unsound to make these brake shoes in Australia, except as a small side line, the cost of the Australian-made article is greater than that of imported brake shoes. I hope that the Government will adopt the recommendation of the Tariff Board in this connexion, and eliminate brake shoes as a separate subitem.
The result of the Tariff Board’s inquiry in. relation to windscreens I also regard as satisfactory. The duty previously in operation was prohibitive. If, as I expect, the Government accepts the recommendation of the Tariff Board, no harm will be done to Australian windscreen manufacturers. I am informed that the Ford Motor Company, which made its own windscreens when the higher duty operated, will continue to make them in Australia under the lower duty.
Devices for catching or fastening motor car doors are manufactured in Australia principally by the Ford Motor Company, and General Motors Holden’s Limited, for their own purposes. Very few, if any, such devices are made commercially in Australia and sold throughout the trade; apart from the requirements of the two companies I have mentioned, the door catches required are imported. As I have already mentioned, one manufacturer who was induced by the high duties imposed by the Scullin Government to set up a factory in Australia for the purpose of making these door locks lost practically the whole of the £6,000 which he invested in plant and equipment. Later, he was one of the principal witnesses against the Scullin Government’s duties.
What I have already said applies to practically all of these sub-items. The Tariff Board has instituted an inquiry into the duty on window winders, but its report is not yet available. I hope that as a result of the board’s investigation, the duties will be reduced to the rates which operated in 1928 as amended by the Ottawa formula. As in the case of door locks, so in the case of window winders, the Ford Motor Company and General Motors Holden’s Limited manufacture their own requirements, and there is practically no commercial manufacture of these goods in Australia. Were I asked to give reasons why the duties should not be the same as on chassis, namely, free, 22^ per cent., and 27£ per cent. British, intermediate, and general tariff, respectively, I can only say that’ duties of 35 per cent. British and 55 per cent, foreign are justified if they cause the two companies mentioned to continue to make their own requirements. In the manufacture of window winders, these companies employ a certain number of Australians - not many it is true - whom we should keep in employment if possible. Window winders are subject to fixed duties of 4s. British and 5s. foreign, which aTe out of all proportion to the value of the article, and bear most hardly on the purchasers of cars sold at moderate prices.
It may be conceded that the duties imposed by the Scullin Government on windscreen wipers have had the effect of establishing in this country an industry which supplies practically the whole of the Australian requirements of windscreen wipers. The windscreen wipers made by Diecasters Proprietary Limited, of Melbourne, are satisfactory, and reasonably priced. This company supplies the whole of the requirements of the Ford Motor Company and most of the other windscreen wipers used by Australian motorists. The manager of this small but efficient company gave his evidence before the Tariff Board in an honest and straightforward way. The Opposition, I am sure, will ask why, in , this instance, the duty should be altered downwards, if everything is going on satisfactorily in regard to. this sub-item. The manager of this company has put forward the argument that dumping may occur, if the duty falls below a certain level, and, indeed, that dumping has been practised. Yet I cannot see that the possibility of dumping should be accepted as a valid argument for maintaining a duty at a prohibitive level. There is now practically no importation of these wipers.
Returning for a moment to my King Charles’s head, a transcript of the evidence taken before the Tariff Board shows that hour after hour is occupied in inquiries into prices. In respect of each tariff item under examination, the board comes fresh to this subject, having no background of knowledge as to the price situation, and it has to build up its information in the course of many weary hours of discussion and interrogation; whereas, if there had been a prices board, which specialized in these matters, it would have been able to hand a slip of paper to the Tariff Board containing all the relevant information. I again submit to the Minister that the matter of constituting a prices board should be seriously considered as a definite means of expediting the board’s inquiries generally, and making its work much more effective. The institution of such a prices board, working in conjunction with the Tariff Board, might well prove in practice to go a long way towards meeting many of the arguments advanced by the Acting Leader of the Country party (Mr. Paterson) with regard to the prices which the primary producers have to pay for their goods. The report of the board on windscreen wipers is not yet available, but I hope that the result will be a lowering of the duties to some point below the prohibitive level at which they now stand.
The next sub-item in which I am interested is 359 g3, which relates to shackle bolts, pins and assemblies, spring hangers, king pins, tie rod pins, tie rod ball pins, and tie rod ball studs. These are items that have been picked out from the chassis, and they are relatively unimportant, so far as size and price are concerned. The manufacture of these metal parts makes no great demand on the skill of the makers, except in regard to the heat treatment that they require. These items were selected by the last Government as things which could be made in Australian workshops; but, in my opinion, small as they may be, in almost every instance they are articles on which the safety of the motor car and its passengers depends, particularly those parts connected with the steering mechanism. Car assemblers, I take it, have the very reasonable desire to sell their vehicles with, at any rate, all the important parts that have to take great stresses, and on which the safety of the passengers depends, made by the actual manufacturers of the vehicle, so that the guarantee under which the car is operated is effective in the hands of the user. That, I think, precludes a number of these items from being made, in the near future at least, in Australian factories; and that has been the experience. The Ford Motor Company makes only one of these items in its own works, and it imports the rest. They are articles that cost only a few pence each when massproduced in their respective countries of origin ; yet, if they were made in this country, they would cost, in most instances, almost as many shillings as they now cost in pence, and the assembler could not be sure that the heat treatment would be such as to guarantee their strength in use. These are the articles to which I particularly referred in my more general remarks at the outset, and on which the present tariff would have to be at least doubled in order to be effective.
The tariff on radiator shells is slightly misleading. It is imposed on the shells, but it is really a tariff for the purpose of assisting the nickel and chromium-plating industry. Honorable members will see that the unplated radiator sheila come in free, while they are subject to a duty of British £2, and general £3, if plated. The manufacturers’ cost for plating is, on the average, probably between 7s. and 10s. each, and I submit that a £2 duty merely to encourage the local plating industry is an unreasonable one. No report on this matter has yet been received from the Tariff Board, although an inquiry has been held. One hopes, not that the duty will be wiped out - that would be a serious blow to one of the large plating works in Sydney - but that the rate will be reduced to a much lower level.
The next item in which I am interested is shock absorbers, which is an important matter from the point of view, particularly, of the Ford Motor Company. The Ford car is peculiar in that it has transverse springing, which is almost unique; but that method of springing necessitates a special type of shock absorber which has been developed from the Houdaille shock absorber, and this is made in the Ford works in Canada to close limits of precision. The Ford company has called for tenders for these shock absorbers, and has tried to get them, or a colourable imitation of ‘them, made in Australian factories, but it has completely failed. The Ford car would not have its present qualities of suspension - I do not wish to say more than that - if any shock absorber that could be made in Australia were used. It is a matter of common knowledge that Duly and Hansford, of Sydney, turn out the Dufor shock absorber, which, I believe, has been found perfectly satisfactory when fitted to 20 or 30 makes of cars, but it is impossible to use it on the Ford car as now designed. The height of this duty is much more than appears from the schedule. On a recent batch of imported unassembled chassis, the duty on the absorbers was a little over half the total duty paid. On this batch of chassis, the duty amounted to £1,400, of which £720 was the duty on the absorbers alone. My point is that it’ has been found in practice that, so far as the Ford Company is concerned, suitable shock absorbers cannot be made in Australia, you might almost say, irrespective of price. This point was well taken by the Tariff Board, and I am glad to say that its recommendation is in favour of bringing down the present British duty from 10s. to 5s., with a slight increase in the ad valorem duty. That still leaves a fairly heavy impost for the Ford company, and eventually, the public, to bear, and in their case it must be regarded as purely a revenue duty, because no tariff, however high, could encourage the manufacture in Australia of shock absorbers to suit Ford requirements.
I conclude by again expressing the hope that the Government will take notice of those recommendations of the Tariff Board that are already to hand, and of those that come to hand in the future, in the direction of a considerable scalingdown of the existing duties. I’ feel sure that those duties were put into effect by the last Government in an attempt to stimulate employment. They have not had that result. The number of men employed in the manufacture of motor car parts is very small, and I consider that the burden which the motoring public, and, in many cases, the farmer, has to bear is much more severe than is warranted by the increased volume of employment.
– It may facilitate the debate on this item if I indicate briefly the proposals of the Government, so that honorable members may be fully conversant with what is intended, and he able to view the matter in its true perspective.
A report has been received from the Tariff Board with respect to windscreens. The Government proposes to move for the reduction of the fixed duties on this subitem from 30s. and 50s. to 10s. and 15s. respectively, leaving the ad valorem rates as they appear in the schedule.
It is proposed to ratify up to to-day the existing duties of1s. and 2s. on brake shoes for motor trucks and omnibuses. In accordance with the recommendation of the Tariff Board, the subsequent duties on those brake shoes will be levied under another item.
The report of the board is to be followed in the case of windscreen wipers, the fixed duties on which will be reduced from 6s. and 7s. 6d. to 3s. and 6s., and the ad valorem rates from 45 per cent. and 65 per cent. to 27½ per cent. and 45 per cent.
The only other proposal of the Government is to reduce the fixed duties on shock absorbers from 10s. and 25s. to 5s. and 12s. 6d. ; but the ad valorem rates are to be increased from 40 per cent. and 60 per cent. to 45 per cent. and 65 per cent.
Mr.R. GREEN (Richmond) [3.34].- Since the duties on motor bodies were ratified, there has been an increase of £20 a body. As the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Casey) has pointed out, a very small number of motor bodies has been imported into Australia during the last couple of years.
I propose to show that these duties have had the effect of building up in Australia a series of motor-body building plants that are quite inefficient and uneconomical. As a matter of fact, the bodies that have been turned out are nasty, without being cheap. One had only to inspect the types of bodies on new cars at the last Royal Agricultural Society’s show in Sydney to realize that. I examined a light but an expensive car that had on it an Australian body. A superficial examination showed that that body was not up to the mark, but a complete examination made one feel thoroughly ashamed that any Australian manufacturer should allow such work to leave his factory. Occupying the driver’s seat, the ground was visible through the floor boards, between which there was a space of from¼ inch to3/8 inch. Honorable members can imagine the discomfort that would be caused to a driver on a wet or a dusty road.
– What was the name of the car?
– Where was the body made ?
– In Sydney. It was a positive disgrace to any Australian manufacturer.
– There are not many like that.
– Unfortunately,I must contradict the Minister. I examined nearly all the cars on view. With three exceptions, they had Australian bodies, and a comparison of the Australian and the imported body made me ashamed of the local product. The finish of the Australian article was bad, and not in any way commensurate with the price charged for it. I saw two chassis of a certain make of car, one having an imported and the other an Australian body, the Australian being modelled on the imported. A comparison of the two in regard to finish, trimmings, and the like proved that the imported body was immeasurably superior to the Australian. Some of these matters may appear trifling, but it must not be overlooked that “ trifles go to the making of perfection, and that perfection is no trifle “. The cost of the American body was 88 dollars, which at par would be less than £20, and, at the present rate of exchange, under £30. The Australian body had built into it a number of imported parts; for example, the two steel uprights in which the doors fitted, as well as some of the front portion of the body. The cost of the inferior Australian body was no less than £193 for a similar chassis. If any honorable member thinks that the charging of that price is a fair thing to the purchasers of cars in Australia, I must disagree with him. As the honorable member for Corio said, transport must be made as cheap as possible within reason. Motor cars have ceased to be a luxury, and have become a necessity of every-day life. I am sorry that some of those honorable members who support the protection of the Australian body-building industry had not an opportunity of examining the large collection of cars at the recent Sydney Show. If, after having done so, they were still able to say that they preferred Australian bodies, they would show themselves to be poor judges of quality. “Why is it that every person who advertises a second-hand car for sale stipulates expressly that it has an imported body, if that is so? It is obviously because every one recognizes that the imported body is superior. If the body happens to be Australian, nothing is said about it; the car is simply advertised as a car. About two and a half years ago, in company with other members of the Public Accounts Committee, I inspected Holden’s bodybuilding works in. Adelaide. I saw the plant which had been installed, including the dies and presses used for stamping out panels, and I saw that a large part of the plant was standing idle. The managing director, Mr. Holden, emphasized the enormous overhead cost of such a factory, and it was borne in on me that the inordinate price of Australian-made bodies was largely due to the high cost of dies, which might be used for making only a few bodies. There is no doubt that the cost of bodies could be materially reduced, if the panels were imported and made up into bodies in this country. We should then have “a much superior article, both in quality and finish, and the price would be more reasonable.
The car I had before that I am now using had an Australian body. After using it for fifteen months, during which it ran between 7,000 and 8,000 miles, the body was in a dreadful condition as a result of faults inherent in the body itself. I made up my mind then that I would never buy another car with an Australian body. The car I am now using has an imported body, and, after having done something over 15,000 miles, the body is in excellent condition, without a squeak or a rattle. The other was practically falling to pieces after the car had done a little over 7,000 miles, and both cars were driven only by myself. The general appearance, as well as the durability of Australian-made bodies, is so inferior that they are an absolute disgrace to the Australian manufacturers.
.-When protection was granted with the object of encouraging the motor-body building industry in Australia, many persons, including those who had previously been engaged in making buggies and other horse-drawn vehicles, converted their plants, and set about making motor bodies. As might have been expected, there were many failures during the experimental stage, but those failures have now been largely overcome. Of recent years, there has been a gratifying improvement in the quality of Australian-made bodies. An examination of the bodies turned out by such a firm as Holden’s in Adelaide makes it evident that Australian motorists have very little to complain of in regard to the majority of Australian-made bodies. Those engaged in the motor industry are satisfied with the quality of the article produced here. The price is the chief cause of complaint, but that trouble seems to be inherent in most things manufactured in Australia.
In regard to chassis, the position is rather different. Prior to 1930, chassis were admitted at fixed rates of duty, and the chassis then was what is generally understood as the complete car, minus the body - something capable of independent locomotion. The Scullin Government’, in its desire to set up new industries, stripped the chassis of almost every small part, until what was left was very little more than the engine and the frame. The result has not been satisfactory, and I am glad to see that these small subdivisions are now under the consideration of the Tariff Board, which is the authority properly constituted to recommend an appropriate scale of duties.
I have had placed before me a number of suggestions for the amendment of the tariff in respect to chassis parts. Subitem 359g covers king pins, shackle bolts, pins and assemblies, spring hangers, tie rod pins, tie rod ball pins, and tie rod ball studs. These are all parts of the chassis, and are now dutiable under various headings at a much higher rate of duty than the fixed rate on the chassis. The request is that there should be a reduction of the duties, and also that a number of essential parts of a chassis should be dutiable at the rates applicable to chassis. It is further requested that temporary wiring and instrument boards, used solely to facilitate packing, and ^ immediately scrapped when the chassis is unpacked, should not bc dutiable, and that permanent instrument boards should pay the same rates of duty as the chassis. This is desirable because, - so it is claimed, a permanent instrument board gives individuality to a car, and although these boards can be made in Australia, it is affirmed that their appearance is not equal to that of the imported article.
– A few moments ago we listened to an extraordinary anti-Australian speech from the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green). I resent very much the aspersions cast by the honorable gentleman upon the Australian bodybuilding industry. On many other occasions the honorable member has voiced Australian sentiments in this chamber, so 1 can only conclude that on this item he has gone very much astray. I am inclined to believe that the Australianmade body of the car about which he complained - I think he said it was on a Riley car, built in Sydney - was purchased second-hand.
– It was a new car.
– Then the honorable member’s complaints are the more difficult to understand, because he declared that it was possible to see between the floor boards, and I am sure, that no manufacturer of repute would place on the market a motor body in that condition. I have had many opportunities to inspect motor-body building establishments in other countries as well as in South Australia, and I have no hesitation in saying that at least two firms in my State, Holden’s Limited, and Richards Limited - the latter happens to be in my own electorate - are manufacturing excellent types of motor-bodies, almost equal to those produced in any part of the world.
– It was a Richards body on my car.
– Then I resent the honorable member’s allegations, because I know that Richards Limited is manufacturing a splendid type of motor-body, and is quite undeserving of the complaints made by the honorable gentleman. Australian-made bodies, I contend, are equal to the standard of bodies made in other countries, and costs have been reduced materially during the last few years. The duty on a touring car body is £90, whereas an Australian panelled touring body is sold for approximately £40. I hope that the honorable member for Richmond will take another opportunity to inspect the Australian motor-body building establishments. If he does so, I am convinced that he will have reason to reverse his judgment, and will agree that their bodies compare favorably with those made in other countries.
.- The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) has just been severely criticized by the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) for having criticized the quality of Australian-made motor bodies. To some extent I agree with the honorable member for Richmond, and I fail to see that strictures on an Australian industry necessarily imply an anti-Australian outlook. Our manufacturers would be well advised to take heed of criticism. They should be given to understand that this “goodenough “ policy, which has been so much in evidence in recent years, must be abandoned, and that they must give their attention to the production of articles equal, in every respect, to imported commodities. I have no desire to single out t any particular firm for criticism. It is my opinion that, generally speaking, the quality of Australian-made motor bodies is not up to that of imported bodies. I speak as one who has driven various makes of cars for very many years. I claim to be a reasonably good driver, and I have no hesitation in saying that imported bodies have stood up to the work much better than Australianmade bodies. I know, of course, that many firms in Victoria, and, possibly, also in South Australia, manufacture bodies equal perhaps to the world’s best. Those made by Martin and King, of Melbourne, I regard as quite equal to imported bodies ; but, generally speaking, the ordinary type of motor-body made in Australia is not up to the standard of the American or English product. I am in agreement with the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Casey), who expressed the hope that the Tariff Board would make an inquiry into this section of the motor . industry, and that, as a result of its recommendations, the duties would be substantially reduced. There can be a material reduction without endangering the stability of the Australian industry. Lower duties would, I contend, mean a reduction of the price for motor-bodies. Seven or eight months ago prices for locally-made motor-bodies were increasing, but they are now declining. Whether this is due to the removal of the 50 per cent. surcharge, I cannot say ; but I am hoping that, following the inquiry by the Tariff Board, we may expect a lower range of duties on bodies, and also on the various sub-items now before the committee. It must be obvious that the proposed rates of duty on devices for catching or fastening motor car doors are entirely unnecessary. Cheap transport contributes to the progress and prosperity of a country; yet governments adopt the fallacious policy of adding to the cost of transport by the imposition of unnecessary burdens. The motor car is no longer a luxury ; it is the common mode of transport of the present generation, and its cost should be reduced wherever possible. Heavy duties are imposed upon windscreens, brake shoes, handles for motor car doors, devices for catching or fastening motor car doors, window-winders, windscreen wipers, axle shafts, shackle bolts, pins and assemblies, spring hangers, king pins, tie-rod pins, &c. Many of these parts are not, and cannot be, economically produced in Australia. The market is limited ; there are many makes and models of motor cars, and it is impossible for any firm to manufacture cheaply in small quantities these various articles. Moreover, the design is constantly changing. In recent years the main development in motor cars has been, not so much in the engine as in the steering gear, accessories, and parts. These are being constantly improved, and no one manufacturer could afford to alter his plant to cope with the frequent changes. ‘ The Tariff Board’s report on devices for catching or fastening motor car doors contains a recommendation that is diametrically opposed to the principles of tariff-making to which the present Government is pledged. Although there is no existing industry to protect, and duties on these devices were not requested, and it is admitted that they cannot be economically produced in Australia, the board has recommended duties of 40 and 60 per cent. At the outset of its report, it stated -
No witness appeared in favour of the proposed duties.
Then it proceeded -
By H. G. D. Wilson, late director of Australasian Pressed Metals Limited (in liquidation), Sydney -
At one time Australasian Pressed Metals Limited, which was manufacturing sundry small lines for the motor trade, decided to manufacture an auto-body remote controlled lock. For this purpose £550 was spent in the purchase of dies, and £1,300 in additional plant.
The company produced a considerable number of locks, which were sold to the trade at 5s.6d. each, whereas previously the company had landed in Australia from the United States of America a similar type of lock at 2s. 5d. each.
Notwithstanding the tariff protection of 4s. on each lock, which practically prohibited the importation of this line from the United States of America, little or no progress was made, as there was not sufficient demand for the one type of lock.
The company found its business unprofitable, and was forced into liquidation. The manager of the Ford Motor Company, Geelong, stated that his company was manufacturing about 12,600 locks annually, which cost 2s. 7d. each, and gave work to “ about two hands “. The invoice price of similar locks in America was 10½d. each. This industry has been found economically impossible; it gives practically no employment, yet the board has recommended duties of 40 and 60 per cent. One of the principles of tariffmaking adopted by this Government is that protection shall not be given to any industry that has not reasonable prospects of success. The manufacture of these door-fastening devices has been proved to have no chance of success, and, therefore, no duty should be imposed. At a later stage. I shall move that the rates on subitemf, paragraph 6, be postponed for further consideration. [Quorum formed.]
.- The Tariff Board’s reports on these sub-items were made available to honorable members only within the last 24 hours, and we have had little opportunity to study them. My Government has been criticized for having imposed duties on motor car parts. In 1929-30, Australia was passing through a very difficult period, and the motor trade was fortunate in that importation was not entirely prohibited. At that time it was doubtful whether Australia could meet even part of its overseas obligations. The balance of trade with America was seriously adverse to this country, and prominent and trusted financial advisers recommended that the Government should immediately prohibit for twelve months or two years the importation of motor cars. The Government was advised that, by reconditioning old cars, Australia could dispense with importations for a considerable period. The Government was not prepared to adopt such a drastic course. The motor chassis is a peg upon which hangs a big Australian industry. It represents a smaller proportion of the total cost of a motor car than most people are aware. The Government did the next best thing; it imposed duties that were designed to exclude a large number of imported parts which could be made in Australia. It is true that, in the manufacture of some parts, the development has not been great; but the committee must recollect that purchases of motor cars have declined considerably. I quote this paragraph from the report of the Tariff Board on shock absorbers -
The demand for Australian shock absorbers since the operation of the proposed duties has been small because of the comparatively small demand for new cars during this period and the existence of unsold stocks of cars imported with shock absorbers, fitted before the proposed duties commenced to operate. From records of motor car registrations, the board computes that 75 per cent, of the new cars now being imported into Australia are being (.quipped with shock absorbers of Australian manufacture. The Australian factories are now operating to their full capacity, and, after considering the possibility of an increase in the demand of new cars, the board is satislied that the Australian manufacturers can meet a large proportion of the Australian requirements.
It is not argued that this industry employs a large number of men. It is a small industry, but it must be remembered that the greater the number of small industries the more beneficial is the effect upon employment and our trade balance. Let me draw the attention of the committee to one or two sub-items. It is proposed to reduce the duty on windscreens. The Tariff Board in its report says that in some cases the only imported material used is glass. It then says that in other cases practically all the material used is imported. In no case does the Tariff Boardsuggest that Australian glass is used in the making of windscreens. The fact is that within the last six months there has been a considerable demand by the manufacturers of windscreens for Australian glass. The article which is now being made by the Australian Window Glass Company is of considerable thickness. Samples of it were shown to the Minister this morning, and I contend that no layman, could distinguish between the local glass and plate-glass. The Tariff Board at that time was not aware of the increasing demand for Australian-made glass for windscreens. The board, in putting its case against maintaining the duty on this article, said that a large proportion of the material used in its manufacture has to be imported.
– The evidence was to that effect.
– Probably the evidence was heard before the demand arose for Australian glass. It is only within the last six months that the Australian glass manufacturer has proved his capacity to make glass suitable for windscreens. That is another reason why the duty should not be reduced. The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Casey), who made a thoughtful speech, and other honorable members, have suggested that it is not possible for the Australian manufacturer to make motor car parts in the variety in which they are needed.
– We have not suggested that in every instance.
– The remarks of the honorable member for Corio and other honorable members had general application to the parts covered by this item. Take, for instance, the sub-item relating to windscreens. In 1928-29, according to the report of the Tariff Board, the value of the imports was £7,816, and in 1931-32, £141. That shows that the importations have practically ceased, and that the whole of our requirements is being manufactured in Australia. In 1928-29, we imported from the United States of America windscreens to the value of £6,000, and in 1931-32, windscreens to the value of only £80.
– In 1931-32, 95 per cent, of the windscreens used in Australia were manufactured locally.
– The Tariff Board also points out in its report that Holden’s manufactures practically the whole of its own requirements. Take the sub-item relating to brake shoes, an article which some honorable members have suggested cannot be made in. Australia. Actually, brake shoes are being made locally. The report of the Tariff Board shows that they are being made from cast steel of Australian manufacture. One witness in support of higher duties, pointed out that the locally-made brake shoe was sold in 1928 at 32s. 6d., and that the present price was 20s. Another witness, who supported higher duties, pointed out that his firm started operations in 1927, and that, at that time, its price was competitive with that of the imported, article. The board refers in its report to that’ evidence, and does not disprove it. We can therefore assume that it accepted that statement. In 1927, this witness pointed out that the price charged by his firm was competitive with that of the imported article, and that since then it had reduced its price by 50 per cent. Another witness suggested that the importers followed the example of the local manufacturers and reduced their prices. Surely that shows the value of this industry to Australia. It has been suggested by some honorable members that shock absorbers are too small an item to be made in Australia, but I would point out that in 1928-29 the value of the imports of this commodity was £90,000, and last year only £2,700. That shows conclusively that the local article has displaced the imported. The value of the importations from the United States of America was, in 1928-29, £59,000, and this year, £874. While we may not at present be able to produce wholly Australian-made motor curs, we can make most of the parts. In view of our trade balance with the United States of America, which is not satisfactory, we should walk warily before we reduce any duties affecting parts of motor cars which can be manufactured in Australia.
.- I have already referred to motor car bodies under a different tariff group; but I have risen to speak on this item because of the remarks of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green), which I cannot allow to remain unchallenged. Either that honorable member was unfortunate in the purchase which he made, if the car were new, or, as stated by the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) he must have purchased a secondhand car.
– The honorable member for Richmond said that the car was new.
– In that case he was unlucky. The honorable member said that at various shows he had viewed different makes of cars with Australianmade bodies, and that he had seen many defects in them. I admit that in the early stages of motor-body building in Australia, there were many defects in the bodies, but the position is quite different to-day. When motor-body building first commenced in Adelaide, I purchased a car which had many defects in the body, but since then, I have had several cars, all of which have been entirely satisfactory to me. I have viewed cars at various city and country shows, and I am quite satisfied that the locally-made body is equal to the imported. The honorable member for Richmond, in his criticism of Australian motor car bodies wa3 very unfair. South Australia has one of the largest body-building establishments in the southern hemisphere. It is wonderfully well equipped, and capable of producing any design desired by purchasers. I refer to Holden’s establishment at Adelaide, which covers many acres of land. In that city is another large body-building establishment, that of J. T. Richards Limited, which is turning out an excellent article. I listened with interest to the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson), but I could come to no other conclusion than that his opinion, of the Australian-made body, was biased. I had previously discussed this subject with him outside this chamber, and the only defect in the Australian body to which he could refer was in the design of the panel. I am sure that, if required, the Australian manufacturer could make a panel more in conformity with the overseas design.
I am not in favour of the duties relating to some of the sub-items. For instance, the duty on door handles and door catches is 4s. I notice by the report of the Tariff Board that the invoice price of door catches is lOd. or 10£d., so that the duty of 4s. together with other charges, would make the selling price of that small article over 5s. The same thing applies to door handles and many other motor car parts. I am rather surprised at the recommendation of the Tariff Board, particularly in regard to door fasteners. The board states that the number of fasteners made in Australia is 12,000 annually, and that the industry provides work for two men. In view of that, I fail to understand why this industry should have such an enormous protection. The same thing applies to door handles, windscreen wipers and other parts, and I advise the Minister to consider seriously before he accepts the recommendations of the Tariff Board in respect of them. If they were manufactured, in large quantities, and the industry gave employment to a large number of men, I should adopt a different attitude, but the price of motor cars has reached its highest point, and if we impose excessive duties on motor car parts, the manufacturers in Australia will seize the opportunity to take full advantage of the protection given to them, and the public will pay the piper.
.- The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) is quite wrong in stating that the manufacturers of motor car parts are seeking to exploit the public in regard to the prices that they charge for their products. I am satisfied that the Australian manufacturers give to the Australian consumers a much fairer .deal than is given to them by foreign interests. It has been proved time after time at inquiries by the Tariff Board that our manufacturers, as a rule, do not charge higher prices than are justified for their products. It is the commission and distributing charges on all manufactures, whether local or imported, that press so heavily on the consumer.
General Motors Holden’s Limited is a most efficient enterprise. Unfortunately, however, it has not been found possible to keep them in constant operation. That is partly due to the fact that some motor parts and accessories are still being imported which could and should be manufactured in these and other works similarly equipped. If adequate protection were granted, articles which are at present being imported could be made here. This would permit the Holden works to be maintained in operation. I have been somewhat surprised at the intermittent work which many of the men employed by Holden’s have had. This is due, not to any unsympathetic policy of the management, but to the policy of the Government, which allows the importation of motor parts from foreign countries. Men may be employed in the works at Woodville for three or four months, and then have to “ stand off “ for a similar period.
– That is not so at present.
– Fortunately, Holden’s have secured orders recently which have made it possible for them to engage extra hands; but there is a possibility that, when these orders are completed, many of the men at present employed at the works will be dismissed. We should endeavour to build our motor-body industry on a sound foundation. Everything that can be manufactured in Australia should be made here. The reduction of duties proposed by this Government on certain motor accessories and parts will dislocate conditions in the industry. General Motors Holden’s Limited have justified the consideration by way of tariff protection shown to them in the past. Contrary to the criticism of certain honorable members, the motor car bodies produced by that firm are equal to any produced elsewhere. Splendid work-shops have been constructed, and a large amount of capital has been employed in the industry. This is one of the very few secondary industries in which the people of South Australia are engaged to any considerable extent, and it should, on this account, also, be accorded sympathetic treatment by the Government. I appeal to the Minister not to reduce the degree of protection at present afforded the industry; but to pursue a policy which will strengthen our motor bodybuilding and motor car manufacturing industry in all its departments. [Quorum formed.]
.- The rash and provocative statements made by the honorable memberfor Richmond (Mr. R. Green) have, without doubt, caused other honorable members who did not intend to participate in the debate to change their mind and to do so. The honorable member adversely criticized our motor body industry; but I. have received testimony again and again from persons qualified to speak on this subject to the effect that the motor bodies at present being made in Australia are equal to those made in any other part of the world.
– A different tale has been told to me.
– If the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson) would visit some of the motor body-building factories of Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, he would be convinced of the excellence of the bodies now being made in Australia. Two firms in Adelaide - in particular, General Motors Holden’s Limited and J. T. Richards and Sons Limited - are making first-class bodies. A few weeks ago the motor body-building industry of Australia was severely criticized in this chamber. In consequence of that debate, I requested the secretary of General Motors Holden’s Limited to furnish me with a copy of some remarks made by the. chairman of directors of the company, Mr. Holden, at the general meeting of the company held in March, and he did so. I direct the attention of honorable members to the following paragraphs from the reported remarks of Mr. Holden : -
We have secured, during the course of the year, many new contracts, and the bodies now being turned out for this year’s models are extremely attractive, and the various distributors are pleased with the product.
We have just received cabled advice from the meeting of the General Motors Management Group in Europe to the effect that the plants in the Far East, India, South Africa and New Zealand, and possibly some others, will be drawing upon us for certain of their bodies. It is particularly interesting, I think, that the industry in Australia has developed to such an extent that export now becomes a probability in the near future.
It is interesting to know that our motor body industry has developed to such a stage that we may now expect to build up an export trade. Mr. Holden went on to refer to the debate which occurred in this House, and said -
We have read in the papers during the last two or three days the discussion in the House of Representatives in regard to body duties. It was evident from the discussion that the factswere not known by those participating. It is a very serious matter that the fate, possibly, of an Australian industry should turn on an ill-informed debate of this kind.
It was stated that the number of men employed was not worth considering; the fact is that in our own plant in Woodville, we are employing 1,575 hands to-day, and could employ more if we could get skilled tradesmen. We have been working overtime every night’ and Saturdays and Sundays to cope with the business.
That remark was evoked by a statement made by a member of the Country party. Perhaps the conscience of the Acting Leader of the Country party (Mr. Paterson) may be pricked by the reading of the next paragraph which I shall quote. It is as follows: -
Our estimate of the number of people employed in the body-building industry, including the subsidiary industries, making such things as door locks, castings of various kinds, also in the timber industry, producing timber for motor bodies, steel, &c., even at the present moment, is between 10,000 and 12,000, so that the industry means a good deal to Australia In the matter of employment.
Let me remind honorable members that these observations were made as recently as the 24th March. I direct the attention of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson) and the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Casey) to statements that I have just quoted, which, I submit, are a complete answer to the criticism to which the industry was subjected in this chamber not long ago. Although it is a fact that only two or three men may be engaged at a time in the manufacture of door handles and locks, honorable members must realize that those men, having completed the available work of that kind, can be transferred to lathes in other parts of the works, where they can make other necessary motor body accessories. Under such conditions, their firms can manufacture on a competitive basis. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) will bear me out when I say that, instead of sending orders abroad for the duplication of certain machines, many great factories have them constructed by their own engineers. While it would not pay to set up an industry to manufacture machines that are required only at rare intervals, Australia should be able to supply the major portion of these requirements. Mr. Holden continues -
It is also rather a remarkable fact that the price of motor cars in New Zealand, where they are imported complete from England, is practically the same as the price of cars in Australia, which proves that the motor body industry is not a factor in increasing the price of cars locally.
Obviously, if foreign manufacturers can squeeze out Australian industries, they will then charge purchasers higher prices, as is now being done in New Zealand. The figures submitted by Mr. Holden have not been contradicted ; in any case, a man in such a responsible position would not make false statements, as he knows that his utterances are subject to public criticism. He goes on-
One factor must be borne in mind, and that is that varying from 80to90 per cent. of the value of the car to the public, remains in Australia, only from 10 to 20 per cent. being sent out of the country; it must be obvious to everybody that were the complete cars to be imported, the country could not afford the financial drain, especially in view of the low price of primary products, and the present position of the trade balance.
I want to inform the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson) particularly, that if these . parts were not manufactured locally, we should have to purchase them from the United States of America, with which country we have had an adverse trade balance for many years. At one time, we paid to the United States of America almost £40,000,000 per annum, largely for the purchase of motor cars, and were given a reciprocal trade of but £10,000,000 per annum. If honorable members desire to injure local trade and throw many more Australians into unemployment generally, the best thing they can do is to reduce these duties. It is strange that the lower duties on windscreens decided upon by the Tariff Board are precisely those recommended by the importer who gave evidence before the board. I should say that that person would mention a figure which would enable him to compete successfully. Our Tariff Board should adopt the policy of the British Tariff Board, and make its chief concern the welfare of Australian industry If it merely listens to what importers say, we shall have many Australians who are now employed walking the streets looking for work, and if that is to be the result of meddling with the tariff schedule, it will take a lot to save the Government from the wrath of the people.
– I agree with the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Casey) that this item, which covers a number of parte for motor vehicles, and includes bodies, should be simplified so far as possible. With his typical exaggeration, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) declared that an article purchasable in Melbourne for1s., or thereabouts, costs 15s. in Perth.
– At all times, the honorable member for Swan is meticulously correct, and it is unfair, particularly in his absence, to make such a statement.
– Our difficulties are sufficient, without exaggeration. If this items were clarified, as suggested, it would make matters simpler for all. Apart from providing employment, the chief concern of the Government is to provide the public with a good article at a reasonable cost. It has been definitely proved that motor car bodies can be made successfully in Australia. I am sorry that, because of an unfortunate experience, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) characterizes all Australian bodies as being bad. I agree with the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) and Adelaide (Mr. Stacey), that locally-made motor-bodies are an excellent production. The fact that since last December the number of employees engaged by Holden’s has increased from800 to 1,500, and that the firm is exporting some of its products, is a sufficient indication of the efficient manner in which the firm carries on business.
The Tariff Board has inquired into windscreens, and the report has been made available to honorable members. I am sorry that the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) regards as suspicious the fact that the duty recommended by the board was that advocated by an importer. The Tariff Board is not a kindergarten, and it views the evidence from all angles. The report of the board on this item reads -
The evidence obtained by the board regarding overseas f.o.b. prices and Australian manufacturing costs, clearly indicates that the proposed specific rates of duty of 30s. each (British Preferential Tariff) and 50s. each (General Tariff) are unnecessarily high. In some eases these rates are higher than the Australian manufacturer’s prices. The general tariff rate of 50s. is higher than the Australian selling-price of a windscreen suitable for an average popular-priced touring car, which was given as £2 5s.
There are many other pertinent references, all indicating that the industry is receiving a fair deal. The honorable member for Corio said that, under the new duties, the Ford Company will continue production at the reduced rates suggested by the board. The making of windscreens is but a subsidiary part of a great industry, and I suggest that inquiries by the Tariff Board are fairer to the industry and consumer than any rule of thumb method whereby a government decides upon the rates of duty to be imposed.
– I should not have spoken on this item had not the honorable member for . Richmond (Mr. R. Green) and the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson) made vicious attacks upon one of the most important and successful industries carried on in Australia. The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) said that the firm of Holden’s was established in his State. There are a number of motor-body builders successfully operating in Queensland, including a branch of Holden’s in Brisbane. I have had a fair amount of experience in connexion with motor work and motor driving, and I am of the opinion that the bodies manufactured by Holden’s compare favorably with any that are imported. The honorable member for Indi expressed a contrary opinion, aud also said that Holden’s turned out standard bodies, which was customary in connexion with the imported article. Actually, imported motor-bodies are specially designed or “ custom built “, yet an impartial examination will reveal that the product of Holden’s compares more than favorably with the imported articles so far as durability, style, and comfort are concerned. I hope that the Government will agree to give this industry and its subsidiary industries a greater measure of protection. Instead of belittling Australian manufacturers, honorable members should give credit where
Credit is due. [Quorum formed.’]
.- I should not have risen a. second time had not the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) misquoted what I said in an earlier speech. I did not attack Holden’s Motor Body Builders, as stated by the honorable member ; I did not mention any firm or company by name. The honorable member also accused me of having said that Holden’s produce a stan dard body. I did not say that. I said that, generally speaking, the standard . bodies fitted to each of several makes of cars by different companies were not equal to standard imported bodies. I recognize the importance of the motor bodybuilding industry to Australia, and I hope that it will continue to grow, and to employ more and more Australians. There is, however, considerable room for improvement, and I hope that before long these improvements will be made, and also that prices will be brought down.
.- The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson) made a general attack upon the motor-body builders of Australia, and surely Holden’s, one of the biggest Australian manufacturers of motor bodies, must have been included in his remarks.
– I did not mention Holden’s.
– The honorable member attacked the industry generally; and since he did not exclude Holden’s, his remarks must be construed as constituting an attack on that company. I have seen many motor car bodies made by Holden’s, and have found them to be of good quality. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) referred to a motor car with an Australian motor body, which, he said, was useless after 8,000 miles of travelling, and he then proceeded to condemn all Australian motor bodies, which, he said, were a disgrace to those who made them. Last night the honorable gentleman said that we should not condemn all Australian axe handles because one broke soon after it was bought. The honorable gentleman should not be inconsistent; he should apply his own reasoning to motor-car bodies. ,1 know of one car fitted with an Australian body which, after travelling 20,000 miles over rough bush roads, is still sound. If cleaned and polished and placed in a show room, it would scarcely be distinguishable from a new body. I am surprised that honorable members should attack industries which provide employment for their fellow Australians. Most of the imported car bodies come from the United States of America, a country with which Australia has an unfavorable trade balance. If not checked, the Government will do to the motorbody building industry what it attempted to do to the tobacco-growing industry.
.- I understand that while, I was out of the chamber the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) charged me with having made exaggerated statements, in that I had said that 15s. was charged in Western Australia for an article which in Sydney or Melbourne cost a few pence. His accusation was grossly unfair. I did say that a screw, which ordinarily sold for about 3d. in Melbourne or Sydney, cost as much as 2s. 6d. in Western Australia, and other articles, the ordinary price of which was 2s. 6d. in the eastern States, might cost 15s. in the western State. If the Minister i3 not prepared to accept my statement, I shall write to the person from whom I obtained my information for his invoice, and submit it to the Minister for his perusal.
– I should not have risen were it not that I consider that a slur has been cast on Australian workmen by two honorable members. I speak with some knowledge of motor cars fitted both with British and with Australian bodies when I say, without hesitation, that Australian motor bodies are equal to the best imported bodies. It is true that, in the early stages of the motor-body building industry in this country, the appliances were somewhat primitive, and the results not altogether satisfactory; but I am convinced that the motor bodies now turned out by
Australian factories are equal to the world’s best. Any mau who is not satisfied to ride in a car with an Australian body ought to be made to walk. He would then learn to appreciate their value.
.- In support of the statement by the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) regarding the good quality of Australian motor bodies, I mention that some years ago I owned a light runabout #ar, fitted with a body made by Richards in South Australia. After having been driven more than 105,000 miles over rough, bush tracks in the forest country of South Australia that car was still in good order, at the end of five years. I ask honorable members to compare the performance of that car with an Australian body with that of the car mentioned by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) .
– I move -
That sub-item (f), paragraph 2, be amended by adding the following: - “And on and after 12th May, 1933 -
Windscreens whether imported separately or with motor vehicles or parts thereof except when parts of the types of bodies enumerated in paragraph (3) of sub-item (u) of this item - each, British, 10s.; general, 15s.; or ad val., British, 40 per cent.; general, 00 per cent, whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
This amendment is moved in order to give effect to the recommendations of the Tariff Board in a recent report. No alteration is made in the ad valorem rates of duty, but the fixed rates are reduced by 20s. each, British tariff, and 35s. each general tariff. Under the 1921-30 tariff, there were no fixed rates. The ad valorem rates under the amendment are 5 per cent, higher than the general rate under the 1921-30 tariff.
Question - That the amendment (Mr. Guy’s) be agreed to- put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move-
That sub-item (f) paragraph 4 be amended by adding the following: - “And on and after 9th March, 1933, brake shoes for motor trucks and omnibuses - per lb.,1s. British, and2s. general, orad val., 45 per cent. British, and65 per cent. general, whichever rate returns the higher duty, up to and including 11th May, 1933.”
This amendment is submitted as the result of a recommendation by the Tariff Board. It will be seen that it is proposed to legalize the duties on brake shoes, up to to-day, at the same rates as those mentioned in the group memorandum in the possession of honorable members. The amendment automatically provides that brake shoes will now be subject to the low chassis duties provided under sub-item d4 a of item 359, Brake drums and shoes imported separately will automatically fall under sub-item d4 a at the rates of free British, and 32½ per cent. general. Brake drums and shoes imported with motor vehicles are dutiable as part of the chassis.
.- I regret that a substantial reduction is to be made in the duties on brake shoes, and this action must have the effect of minimizing employment in this branch of the motor car parts industry. The manufacture of brake shoes in Australia is not a monopoly, for at least six manufacturers make them. This is one of the small, subsidiary sections of the motor industry, but it contributes to the total number of Australians employed in the manufacture of motor parts. Owing to the depression, the amount of employment that this industry provides has greatly diminished ; but, with a return to normal times, there will be a substantial increase in the total number employed. The cumulative effect of these reductions of duties must be an increase of imports of motor parts made of foreign steel, thus robbing the Newcastle Iron and Steel Works of its local market, and throwing more mechanics and artisans out of employment. The reduction of the Australian output of manufactures to the extent of 1 per cent., and the diversion of the trade to countries overseas, represents a loss to the Australian workman of 4,465 jobs. A diversion to the extent of 10 per cent. means a loss of over 44,000 jobs annually, and a 20 per cent. diversion would be responsible for a loss of about 89,000 jobs per annum. Can we afford to give away this employment ?
– I rise to a point of order. I object to the honorable member making general observations about unemployment. He is not referring to this industry at all.
– I thought that the honorable member was alluding to the motor industry; I am not in a position to know whether the figures quoted relate to the industry to which the item refers.
– Owing to the present depressed condition of the industry, the demand for brake shoes, I admit, is probably in the vicinity of only 5,000 per annum; but with an improvement in trade generally, the manufacture of these articles will develop into an important subsidiary section of the motor industry. Owing to Australia’s adverse trade with other countries, frequent demands were made when the last Government came into power, not only for high import duties, but also for the prohibition of the importation of motor chassis for a period of two years. These requests were submitted, not by fanatics, but by men who had the interests of Australia at heart. The Government realized that the chassis was the peg on which the motor industry of Australia hung, and if it had prohibited the chassis, a great deal of unemployment would have been caused in the motor car parts industry. The local manufacturers’ price for brake shoes has been reduced from 32s. 6d. to 20s., and this affords an illustration of the fact that when goods are made in this country the tendency is for their prices to fall. Brake shoes have been imported mainly from the United States of America, which has been purchasing only about £18,000,000 worth of goods from Australia, as compared with the £40,000,000 worth that Australia has been importing from the United States of America in normal times. The importation of these motor parts means, in the aggregate, the use of a substantial quantity of iron and Steel of foreign origin in the motor cars purchased in Australia. One manufacturer in Sydney has been able to place on the market a brake shoe superior to the imported article, and the cost has been considerably reduced. The present price is from ls. to ls. 6d. per lb., although it was 3s. 4d. per lb. when the manufacture of these goods was first commenced in this country. I protest against these reductions of duties. It may be said that, in the manufacture of motor parts alone, the reduction will not result in throwing thousands of men out of work. That is true ; but, in the aggregate, it will result in fewer opportunities for the young people of this country, whom we desire to have trained in our own factories, and in less employment for Australian workmen.
– The honorable member’s remarks have too general an application. He should confine his observations to the sub-item before the committee.
– I am not of a particularly combative nature; but on a great many occasions in the last month the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) have made me a little hot under the collar. He begins speaking of brake shoes, which is an infinitesimally small item, and then he goes on to refer to tens of thousands of persons who will be thrown out of employment. His remarks are reported in the press in summarized paragraphs, and the people are led, time after time, to a wrong conclusion.
– Order! Subitem f includes quite a number of articles besides brake shoes, and the subitem as a whole is before the committee.
– I thought that it was understood by most honorable members that the subject of brake shoes was under discussion. Both the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) and his deputy (Mr. Forde) spoke of the proposals placed before them a few years ago by their sound advisers, as they were described, of putting a complete embargo on the importation of motor cars into this country. But as both those honorable members went on to say, the advice given proved to be unsound. It can be taken that in general only about 10 per cent, of the price finally paid by the public for American and Canadian’ cars, which, unfortunately, form the greater number of those used in Australia, goes out of this country.
– I said that we were advised by those who were regarded as sound advisers, but the Government did not accept their advice.
– I hope that I have not misrepresented the right honorable gentleman. If there had been a desire to correct the adverse trade balance, the kinder thing in the end to do to the trade would have been to put high super duties on motor parts for a definite period, in order that those interested would not be misled into thinking that there was a standard rate of duties behind which they could establish new industries. As is known, a considerable amount of capital has been wasted by persons who believed they could make these articles, tried to do so, and found that impossible.
– That statement is of the wild kind that the honorable member accused the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) of making.- He has instanced only one man.
– I shall proceed to give a number of instances in which money has been lost by persons who found, as the brake shoe people did, that there is a demand for a tremendous variety of types, and only a comparatively small number of each. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred in particular to brake shoes, and made a great song about the number made here. I shall read a few telling comments of the Tariff Board on the item. There are seven companies in Sydney running motor trucks and omnibuses. With respect to those companies the board says -
The requirements of the seven Sydney companies referred to in the previous paragraph were 128 brake shoes for replacement on 8,000 vehicles requiring 50 different types.
That shows that the economic production which is possible in other countries is quite impossible in this country. The making of this and similar tiddlywinking small parts will not advance the least the day when motor cars will be made in Australia. When our population warrants the equipment of factories for the complete making of motor cars, these parts will be produced by radically different methods, and in most cases by different people. I suggest that these greatly increased duties have done much more harm than good. Stating the matter in quantitive terms, the duties on the component parts of the chassis alone have involved an increase of £25 in the cost to the general public of the Ford car, and of slightly more in the case of the Ford truck.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Hutchinson) agreed to -
That paragraph (6) of sub-item (f) be postponed.
– I move -
That sub-item (f), paragraph (8), be amended by adding the following: - “ And on and after 12th May, 1933 -
Windscreen wipers, each, British, 3s.; general,6s. ; or ad valorem, British, 27½ per cent.; general, 45 per cent. ; whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
This amendment is made in order to give effect to the Tariff Board’s report of the 26th April, 1933.
The duties under this paragraph were increased by the previous Government, and the matter was referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry. The board has now recommended the duties that I have proposed. They represent a reduction on the previous Government’s proposals of 3s. each or 17½ per cent. British, and of 1s. 6d. each, or 20 per cent. general. The ad valorem rates are lower than the 1921-30 tariff rates by 12½ per cent. British and 10 per cent. general.
– The duties now proposed were recommended by the
Tariff Board after carefully reviewing the manufacture of windscreen wipers in Australia. The wiper manufactured in Australia is of the vacuum type, and the Tariff Board is satisfied that it is of good quality, and is supplied by the local manufacturer at a reasoable price. The electric type, which represents about 10 per cent. of the requirements, although not manufactured in Australia, competes with the vacuum type; consequently a certain amount ofprotection is necessary against it. The fixed rate duty of 3s. each under the British preferential tariff represents approximately 37½ per cent. against the vacuum wiper, and is sufficient to protect the local manufacturer. Electric wipers are dearer than the vacuum type, and it is mainly on the electric type that the ad valorem rates will apply.
The Australian article is considered by the trade as very efficient. It has been exported to New Zealand, on which market it has successfully competed against the products of the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The fixed rate of 6s. each under the general tariff is necessary in order to protect the local manufacturer from the competition arising from the importation of low-priced wipers of foreign origin. Evidence was given to the board that foreign wipers were being quoted at particularly low rates.
The Tariff Board has drawn attention to the marked disparity between the manufacturer’s price and the retail price, and has urged a review of distributing charges and methods, with a view to the reduction of the retail price. This matter will be followed up by the department, and every endeavour will be made to see that the retail price is a reasonable one.
The Tariff Board is inquiring into the whole of these sub-items, and is determining what is reasonable protection.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That sub-item (g) be amended by adding the following to paragraph (8) : - “And on and after 12th May, 1933 -
Shock absorbers, each, British, 5s.; general, 12s.6d. ; or ad valorem, British, 45 per cent.; general,65 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
The rates under this paragraph were increased by the previous Government, and the matter was referred to the Tariff Board to ascertain if the higher duties were necessary. The fixed rates now proposed have ‘ been recommended by the Board. They are lower by 5s. each in the case of the British tariff, and by 12s. 6d. in the case of the general tariff, than the previous Government’s rates; but the ad valorem rates are 5 per cent, higher. No fixed rates operated under the 1921-1.930 tariff. The ad valorem rates that I have just-proposed are 5 per cent. British, and 10 per cent, general, higher than that tariff.
.- The Tariff Board has recently submitted its recommendation in connexion with shock absorbers, after a full review of the local industry. The board has ascertained that capital to the extent of approximately £20,000 is employed in Australia in the manufacture of these articles, and that employment i3 given to about 100 persons. Seventy-five per cent, of the new cars coming on the Australian market’ are equipped with Australian-made shock absorbers. That is indicative of the fact that the local articles are efficient. Shock absorbers are now part of the standard equipment, and are intended to last the life of the car. Replacement business is small; consequently it is the original equipment business that must be obtained by the local manufacturers if economic manufacture is to result. The local prices for replacement compare very favorably with the overseas replacement prices; but the local prices for original equipment are higher, although not unreasonably so, and the board considers that the rates i have just proposed will provide adequate protection. The overseas suppliers do not make a reasonable allowance when shock absorbers are not supplied; consequently, higher duties than those which would otherwise be needed are necessary to counteract this practice. I point out that this amendment will make cheaper shock absorbers for light cars, which are more the vogue than the heavier and more expensive cars, while the increased ad valorem rates will more adequately protect the heavier types. It also provides a further clarification of the position in regard to motor car part’s. The duties are considered adequate for the protection of the local industry. The report of the Tariff Board contains some pertinent comments. The whole case was put before the board by both sides, and I think that it will be agreed that a reasonable view has been taken by the board.
.- I regret that the Minister has seen fit to reduce the duty on shock absorbers. If honorable members peruse the report of the Tariff Board they will find that prior to the introduction of the duties by the last Government, shock absorbers were supplied to motor car importers for the initial equipment of two makes of car only ; but since the imposition of the fixed rates of duty, the following makes of motor cars are being equipped with shock absorbers made by the firm of Duly and Hansford, Marrickville, New South Wales : -
British Cars. - -Armstrong-Siddeley. Austin. Citroen, Morris, Riley, Rover, Fiat, British Standard, Singer, Triumph, Wolseley, Crossley. Hillman, and Sunbeam
American Cars. - Willys-Overland, WillysKnight, Dodge, De Soto, Plymouth, Hudson, Essex, Studebaker-Rockne, Durant, and Hupmobile
Another manufacturer in Melbourne is to-day supplying shock absorbers for Hupmobile, Reo, Hudson, Essex, De Soto, Austin, and half a dozen different makes of Morris cars. It was pointed out in evidence before the board that in 1929 American-made Lovejoy hydraulic shock absorbers supplied for the standard equipment of motor caT3 were invoiced at £2 12s., f.o.b., for the light type, and £4 3s. 2d. for the heavy type. When these shock absorbers were deleted from the cars as imported, the allowance made for non-supply was only 15s. for the light type, and 20s. for the heavy, type. This illustrates the measures that were being adopted by overseas suppliers in order to defeat, if possible, the protection afforded to manufacturers. This company, Duly and Hansford, of Sydney, has a most uptodate factory, in which modern and efficient plant has been installed. As a result of the protection granted by the last Government, 75 per cent, of the shock absorbers used on cars in Australia to-day are made locally. Unfortunately, the sales of cars have dropped, and there is temporary unemployment in the industry. In 1929, 75,000 cars were sold, but for the corresponding period of 1931- 32, only 10,000 were sold. Consequently, the demand for shock absorbers has fallen off very greatly, but we hope that times will improve, and that, with the return of normal trade conditions, the industry will provide employment for a greatly increased number of persons. If the Minister goes on reducing duties on all motor car parts as he has been doing, the number of unemployed will be an ever-growing one. Discussing the price of shock absorbers, the report states -
Retail soiling prices of “ Dufor “ shock absorbers made by Duly and Hansford are £9 9s. for the senior type and £7 7s. for the junior type for sots of four. Before the imposition of the proposed duties the retail prices were £11 10s. and £9 9s. respectively.
The Minister, no doubt, will say that the reduction of these duties will not result in further unemployment, but we know that in the towel-manufacturing industry one shift of employees was sacked last week.
.- The honorable member has failed to note that the new ad valorem rate is higher than that which operated under the last Government.
– The fixed rate is lower, and the ad valorem rate is only 5 per cent. higher.
– The Deputy Leader’s statement that the amendment of the rate will produce further unemployment is nonsense. The statistician’s figures show that unemployment for the first quarter of 1933 has been reduced to 26.5 per cent., which is the lowest since the first quarter of 1931. Those figures are compiled from returns supplied by the trade unions.
– Do those figures apply to this particular industry?
– They apply to every industry. The figures I have quoted are sufficient refutation of that oft-reiterated statement that the amendment of the tariff by this Government is producing unemployment. Since the present Government assumed office, confidence has increased, and unemployment has been reduced. The Tariff Board has inquired into this industry, and has recommended reasonable rates of duty instead of the absurd rates imposed by the last Government.
Question - That the amendment (Mr. Guy’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Sub-items, as amended, except paragraph 6 of sub-itemf, agreed to.
Division 15. - Musical Instruments
Item 365, sub-items (a) (b) (c) agreed to.
Division 16. - Miscellaneous
Items 390 (a3), 397 (f) and 419 (d) agreed to.
Group 8. - Items not included in Groups 1 to 7.
Division 1. - Ale, Spirits and Beverages
Item 10, sub-item (b) agreed to.
Division 4. - Agricultural Products and Groceries
Items 51 (c1) and 82 (i) agreed to.
Division 5. - Textiles, Felts andfurs, and Manufactures Thereof, and Attire.
Item 106, sub-items (e3) (f3) -
Buckles, clasps and slides for hats, shoes and other, attire -
Buttons, n.e.i., including blanks and those partly finished -
Amendment (by Mr. Guy) agreed to -
That that portion of the Tariff Resolution introduced into the House of Representatives on 8th March, 1933, relating to paragraph (3) of sub-item (e) of item 106 be incorporated in the present proposals as on and from the 9th March, 1933, in lieu of paragraph (3) ofsub-item (e) of item106 of the Tariff Resolution introduced into the House of Representatives on the 13th October, 1932.
Amendment (by Mr. Guy) proposed -
That that portion of the Tariff Resolution introduced into the House of Representatives on 8th March, 1933, relating to paragraph (3) of sub-item (f) of item 106 be incorporated in the present proposals as on and from the 9th March, 1933, in lieu of paragraph (3) of sub-item (f) of item 106 of the Tariff Resolution introduced into the House of Representatives on the 13th October, 1932.
.- Why has the Minister departed from the usual practice of increasing the rate of duty on foreign imports in accordance with the terms of the Ottawa agreement? In this case the British duty has been reduced by 10 per cent. There are in Australia two factories engaged inthe manufacture of these buttons, and the industry has made considerable headway during the last two years.
.- The foreign rate was already sufficiently high. The present rates are higher by 20 per cent. and 25 per cent. than those operating from 1921 to 1930. In the opinion of the Government, the protection is adequate.
Amendment agreed to.
Paragraphs, as amended, agreed to.
Item 114, sub-item (d) -
Hats, caps and bonnets -
Caps, n.e.i., per dozen - British, 15s.; general, 17s.; and ad valorem - British, 35 per cent.; general, 55 per cent.
.- I cannot allow this item to go through without again protesting against the practice of imposing a fixed rate of duty, and an ad valorem rate, in addition. The original duty, which operated from 1921 to 1928, was 12s. British and 163 foreign, the ad valorem duty being optional. Now the duty is somewhat higher, being 15 per cent. British and 17 per cent. general, and, in addition, there is an ad valorem duty of 35 per cent. British and 55 per cent. foreign. This double-barrelled duty is a vicious thing. It is bad enough to have a fixed rate of duty when it is a high one; it is very much worse when we have, in addition, an ad valorem duty, because we frequently do not know, and cannot find out, what the percentage equivalent of the fixed rate is. I move -
That sub-item (d) be amended by omitting the word “ and “ with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ or “.
Sub-item agreed to.
Division 6. - Metals and Machinery
Item 136, sub-items (a) (b) (c1) and (e2).
Iron and steel -
.- I direct attention to paragraph e2, under which the proposed duties on wire for fencing purposes are 52s. British and 172s. general. These duties have been debated at such length on other occasions, that I do not now propose to occupy, unduly, the time of the committee. Prior to the accession to office of the Scullin Government, wire was imported duty free from Great Britain, and the duty on foreign wire was 120s. a ton. While I admit that it is immaterial to the industry whether assistance is given in the form of a bounty or a duty, it means a great deal to purchasers of the commodity. The imposition of a duty enables higher prices to be maintained than otherwise would be possible. “When these duties were imposed by the previous Government, an amendment was submitted by the late Mr. P. G. Stewart to make the duties on fencing wire free, British, and 120s. general. That amendment was supported by almost every member of the then United Australia Party with the exception of the Minister and t,he honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Penton). Many honorable gentlemen who to-day adorn the treasury bench, took strong objection to the Government’s proposal to protect the industry by means of duties in lieu of the bounty. In August, 1930, the wholesale price of galvanized fencing wire, 8-gauge, was £14 5s. a ton. In September last, the price was £15 13s. 4d., an increase of £1 8s. 4d. a ton. I dare say it will be declared by the Minister (Mr. White) that the price for fencing wire is not higher than it would be if no duty had been imposed. On that point all I need say is that, under the Ottawa treaty, we have* undertaken to maintain the duties against British products at a competitive level, and I contend that if our .manufacturers ca.h produce fencing wire without taking advantage of the existing duties, that is prima facie evidence that there is no need for this protection. I move -
That sub-item (e), paragraph (2), be amended by adding the following: - “And on and after the 12th May, 1933 -
– These iron and steel duties were increased by the Scullin Government without report from the Tariff Board, and, in accordance with the pre-election promise of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) this Government will not take action to reduce the duties without a report from the board, which is the recognized economic authority in connexion with tariff matters. The board is now making the necessary inquiries. I expect to have its report before very long. When it has been received, the Government can move, in the Senate, for a request for the amendment of the item should the occasion warrant such action. I cannot accept an amendment at this juncture.
.- To me, it is amazing that members of the Country party should so persistently decry Australian industries, and in particular the iron and steel industry. It is well known that time after time prices for Australian-made iron and steel products have been reduced. No other industry is subject to such adverse criticism, notwithstanding that it is highly efficient, and provides more employment for our people than any other secondary industry. Although prices for Australian iron and steel have been lower than for imported products, so great is the prejudice in some of the States that even government tenders have been given to outside firms.
– What State has done that?
– Western Australia, South Australia, and even New South Wales. Some years ago, the South Australian Government placed orders with overseas firms for railway material and equipment, and not so long ago requirements for the Government tramways of New South Wales were obtained from outside the State. This industry provides a great deal of employment, not only in New South Wales, but also in other States. In South Australia, for example, employment is given in the mining of ore from Iron Knob and its transhipment to Newcastle, and in Queensland work is provided in the production of chrome and other essential commodities used in the process of manufacturing” iron and steel. The industry has always dealt fairly with the people of Australia. During the war, when prices for all products were soaring, the cost of railway material required in Australia was not increased’. I strongly resent this antiAustralian attitude of members of the Country party. It has been stated repeatedly in this debate that certain duties have been reduced in accordance with the Ottawa trade agreement. Great Britain herself has departed from the terms of that agreement in relation to certain primary products. Our unemployment problem, acute as it is, will be very much accentuated if there is any interference with these duties. The British preferential duties do not, in every instance, benefit only bona fide industries of the Mother Country, because it is well known that British manufacturers sometimes import blooms from foreign countries, instead of doing this work in England and giving employment to British workmen. They also take unfair advantage of the preferential duties by simply drawing wire rods and rolling the iron and steel. I stand for the encouragement of Australian industries every time, and I thoroughly disapprove of heavy importations from (Countries like the . United States of America, which takes so little from Australia. It can be said, for our iron arid steel industry, that practically every person employed in it is Australian-born, so it should be to our interest to give it every encouragement, thus ensuring more employment for our people. I hope that the committee will pass all the duties provided in this item.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
.- The committee should not accept the suggestion of the Minister that we should await the report of the Tariff Board on this item. The matter transcends in importance any attitude the Tariff Board may adopt, and even the provisions of the Ottawa agreement. The Government should declare as part of its policy that, particularly at this time, nothing should be done which will make more expensive the cost of production and the development of new land. A great portion of Australia is famishing for rain, and unless we experience a good downpour at an early date, the position of the farmers will become serious. We must realize the dependence of the nation upon primary production, and I make a special appeal to those honorable members who, in 1931, supported the amendment proposed by the then honorable member for Wimmera, the late Mr. P. G. Stewart, that the duties on fencing wire should be reduced. Since that time, wages, the price of coal, and interest on capital have been considerably reduced, and the position of the primary producer has become much worse; indeed, the majority of men on the land are on the verge of bankruptcy. Only to-day, I received the following letter from the Agricultural Society of Meckering, Western Australia: -
I am instructed to bring to your notice the following resolutions passed at a special meeting of land-owners held at Meckering on Friday, 17-th March: -
That this public meeting of land-owners of representatives of the Meckering Roads Board district views with great alarm the prevalence of rabbits in this district and throughout the State. We are of the opinion that the rabbit not only destroys large areas of crop and stock feed, but through the introduction of a foreign disease known as toxic paralysis or carrion poisoning, is tb-day causing the death of many thousands of sheep and cattle throughout the State. The mortality is rapidly increasing each year. . . .
In view of the already heavy losses to stockowners, which must be a great loss to the State as well, we urge upon the Government the grave seriousness of the position, and further, as a matter of national emergency, urge the Government to have removed all imports and other duties on rabbit netting to make rabbit netting available to the landowner at greatly reduced rates. If this is not done, we are of the opinion, basing our ideas on the increase .of mortality of stock during the past two or three years, that the stock -carry ing capacity of country districts will be reduced to such an extent as to cause great monetary loss to land-owners, whilst in many instances, comparatively few, if any, stock will ‘ be carried throughout the dry period, with consequent serious depletion to State wealth and revenue.
The losses sustained by land-owners from other causes also have been immense. I remind the committee of the attitude to this item adopted by leading members of the present Government when they were in opposition two years ago. The present Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) then said -
One of the reasons for the disparity in prices, and for the unevenness, the inequality, and the injustice in the world readjustment now taking place, is that, in the secondary industries, industrial conditions are being maintained largely in defiance of economic circumstances, whereas in primary production, it is impossible so to maintain industrial conditions.
The present Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill) said -
I shoud like to know when this industry will grow feet and be able to stand upon them. . . . The burden of assisting this industry under a bounty system fell, with whatever fairness there is in this world, upon all sections of the community, and the primary producers were not called upon to bear an inequitable share of the load.
That is in accord with my suggestion now that wire should be admitted free of duty, and that, if in the opinion of the Tariff Board the manufacturing industry still requires assistance, the Government should pay a bounty on production, and thus distribute the burden over the whole community. It is true that nearly £2,000,000 has been paid in bounties to the iron and steel industry, which should now be able to stand on its feet. The Postmaster-General continued -
But the effect of protecting the industry by means of the tariff will be that the users of this wire, who are principally primary producers, will have to carry practically all the burden. I protest in the strongest possible terms against this unfair treatment of the primary producers by supporters of the Government failing to seize this opportunity to assist them. … I shall certainly have the greatest pleasure in supporting the amendment.
I hope that to-night the honorable gentleman will have equal pleasure in supporting the amendment to remove this unfair burden from the backs of people who are in a much worse position than when he made his earnest appeal two years ago. The honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett), recently Minister for Trade and Customs, said -
I say, definitely, that if the nation as a whole cannot afford to maintain this industry by the payment of a bounty, the primary producers should not be called upon to carry the burden; the industry should be allowed to go out of business.
The determination of whether the primary producers are to continue to bear the burden of maintaining the iron and steel industry is a matter of national policy. The industry is a national one, and is worthy of some encouragement. But I have argued ever since 1920, that the nation, and not only one section of the people, should support it. One of the evil effects of imposing heavy duties on iron and steel is that these imposts make more costly the raw material of other manufacturers, who, in turn, have to ask for increased tariff assistance so that they may be able to compete with other countries in the domestic market. I recollect that sworn evidence was given before the Tariff Board that the iron bars used for conversion into galvanized iron sheets cost the Australian manufacturer as much as the finished article costs the British manufacturer.
– Can wire be imported at a price below that at which the local product is being sold?
– I have not to-day’s quotations ; but a little time ago it could be imported at a lower price from
England, and at considerably less from Belgium.
– I am told that it cannot be done now.
– If the iron and steel industry requires assistance, why should not the honorable member and; every section of the community be compelled to bear a share of the burden, instead of the whole of it being placed on the primary producers? I agree with, the remarks of the Attorney-General, in 1931-
The wiser course in the interests of the community, and of the industry itself, as well as of the iron and steel industry, and the coalmining industry, would be not to impose the duty proposed by the Government.
Mr.Scullin. - He has since seen the light.
– What did the present Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) say on that occasion ?
– The present Prime Minister stated -
In view of the fact that assistance cannot be given them in the way we desire, surely we are not justified in insisting that only a certain section shall carry a burden which should be borne by the whole of the people. In view of all the circumstances, I am compelled to change my attitude, not with any desire to interfere with the iron and steel industry, or to reduce the number of men employed in it, but to afford some relief which must be granted to the primary producers of this country.
That was the opinion of the right honorable gentleman two years ago. Is not the position of the primary producers worse to-day than it was then? The woolgrower is receiving less for his product, and is not now able to pay his expenses. Notwithstanding the slight increase in the price of wheat this year, the position of the grower is worse than it was two years ago. Thousands of them are bankrupt, yet they are asked to pay toll so that others may live in luxury. I again appeal to the committee to disagree with what the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) has proposed. This is not a matter to be governed by a recommendation of the Tariff Board. If that body declares that assistance should be given to the manufacturers, let it be given by way of bounties contributed by the whole of the people. Even at the risk of conflict with the Ottawa agreement, it is essential that these essential materials of primary production be supplied at the lowest possible price, because of the national importance of the exporting industries.
,- I support the amendment of thehonorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson). I fully realize that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) is tied by the pledge given by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons). That is his misfortune, and it must not restrain us from putting the case as we see it for the primary producer. I object to this duty upon two grounds; first, as a matter of principle, and, secondly, because it is not necessary. I quite recognize that the iron and steel industry is a key industry, and that it provides considerable employment, not only in New South Wales, but also throughout Australia generally. Starting at Iron Knob, in South Australia, it provides employment for men engaged in transport services, in the coal-mines, in the smelting process, and in the drawing of the wire. If it is an efficient industry, there should be no obligation upon the part of one section of the community to carry its burden - if there is one. The manufacturers of wire say that there is no burden on the industry, and that they are not using the tariff protection in respect of their prices. Recently, they published their price-list in the daily papers. They state that the prices of black fencing wire, No.8 gauge, of galvanized iron fencing wire, No. 8 gauge, and of barbed wire are respectively 15s. 7d., £3 18s. 3d., and 14s. 3d. a ton less than the prices at which the imported British wire could be sold, without taking the duty and primage into consideration. Under existing conditions the industry does not, need this tariff protection. J am prepared to admit that, with an alteration of the exchange, the conditions may alter; but if it is necessary in the future to give some assistance to the industry, the burden should rest on the whole of the community, and not upon one section of it. The pre-war wholesale distributors’ price of No. 8 galvanized wire was less than £9 a ton. To-day the price is over £16 a ton, or an increase of about 90 per cent. As those who use this commodity have to compete in the markets of the world in respect of their primary products, and to accept world’s parity, there is no justification for giving this industry a monopoly, and the power to charge extremely high prices. We have to recognize that it has a considerable natural protection, and that transport charges in relation to the prices are heavy. It has the protection of the exchange and primage. The local manufacturers have admitted that they do not need the tariff to enable them to compete with oversea manufacturers. There is, therefore, sufficient justification for the removal of these duties.
My next point is that the price of material from which the wire is made has not, in recent years, been reduced by the manufacturers. We find, on analysing their price-lists, that since July,1930, the price of pig iron has been reduced by 22s. 6d. a ton, that of merchant bars by 25s. a ton, that of beams and channels by 25s. a ton, and that of angles by 25s. a ton, but that’ the price of the rods from which the wire is made has been actually raised.
– That is not correct.
– I am quoting the pricelist of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited as supplied to me within the last three weeks by the representative of the company, Mr. Menzies. It is, therefore, of no use for the honorable member to dispute my figures. On the 15th July, 1930, the price of rods in coils was £13 2s. 6d. To-day it is £13 3s. Yet, in respect of the other articles that I have mentioned, prices have been reduced by from 22s. 6d. to 25s. a ton. These rods in coils are the basis of fencing wire, barbed wire, wire netting and wire nails, and there seems to be no justification for an increase of the price of this one commodity. We have to remember that, since July, 1930,wages have been reduced considerably, that interest rates have been reduced, and that other reductions of costs have taken place. In addition, the price of coal to-day is considerably less than it was three years ago. We are, therefore, not justified in continuing to protect this industry. Some honorable members may say, “ What harm has the protection done considering that the price is less than that of the imported article”. I submit that when we grant protection to an industry which does not need it, we invite others to seek similar protection, and that although one industry may not exploit the people as a result of being given protection, others may do so. I believe that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is efficient, and that it is doing its utmost to reduce prices. But this assistance given to them may be made the basis for requests, difficult to refuse,’ for similar treatment by others who would exploit the public. On the ground that protection is unnecessary for this industry and should not be afforded to it, I support the amendment of the honorable member for Gippsland.
.- I support the amendment of the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) for several reasons, including those advanced by the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock). Although the duty of 52s. a ton against British wire is not being used at present, there is little doubt that it has been imposed to increase the foreign rate through the maintenance of the margin of preference of £6 a ton as between British and foreign wire; and that margin has so raised the price of foreign wire as to enable the local manufacturers to charge a price higher than would otherwise obtain. In earlier years before the duty was made so high against foreign wire, most of our imports came from Germany or the United States of America. By grasping at a duty which is neither used nor required, on British wire, the manufacturers have really secured a prohibition against foreign wire, the only wire which is really competitive, with Australian wire. For that reason, I submit that this duty in its incidence operates in some instances with such fiendish cruelty upon a particularly down-and-out section of the community that it could not be supported by honorable members or introduced by a Minister who thoroughly understood the circumstances. During the administration of the Bruce-Page Government the assistance given to the local manufacturer was about the same as it is to-day; but it was implemented by a bounty which placed the burden of the protection given to the iron and steel industry upon the whole community. In the early stages of the financial depression, when the previous Government took office, and the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) said that it was of no use to use a feather duster, the bounty was withdrawn, and this duty was substituted, which meant that the cost of maintaining this industry was shifted from the shoulders of the whole of the people to those who are developing this country. The placing of that extra burden, amounting to 52s. a ton in respect of wire, upon the pioneering section of the community just at a time when they, too, were suffering grave financial and other difficulties, can be described only as one of fiendish cruelty. It was perpetrated by the government of the day in a period of dire necessity, and, I am sure, in ignorance of the suffering that it caused, but that at the present time, when Commonwealth finances have improved considerably, although no improvement has taken place in the position of the man on the land, and in the districts where the pioneering work is being done, the Government should continue this burden is incomprehensible to me. It makes one consider whether men who can do such a thing have any Australian outlook at all; because the holding of Australia by us depends, not upon the concentration of people round coal mines or steel works, or in building industrial palaces and marvellous Commonwealth Bank buildings adjacent to harbours and in thicklypopulated “centres, but upon the spread of white settlement throughout the continent. If we are to keep Australia white and maintain our standards, we must settle the inland and northern parts of this country, and, in order to encourage settlement, the first essential is cheap equipment for providing water supplies and for the subdivision of land. I have heard some honorable members, who represent city interests, say that the cattle industry is in difficulty because of the poor quality of the cattle that are bred here; but decent cattle cannot be bred unless the land is fenced to enable the settler to control their pedigree. In the north of Australia the cost of wire is so prohibitive that there are no bullock or heifer paddocks. It is not only a cruel and savage policy to throw the cost of keeping this industry going, upon the shoulders of the people who are really establishing the claim of Australia to remain a white country; it is also a shortsighted, dangerous, gambling policy. It is exposing our charter to hold the whole of this continent to the gravest risk. For that reason, and those advanced by the honorable member for Gippsland and the honorable member for Riverina, I support the amendment. I urge the Minister to postpone this item, at any rate until he has received the report of the Tariff Board. This key industry should be assisted by means of a bounty which will be borne by the whole of the people of the Commonwealth, and not by squeezing the assistance in sorrow, difficulty, and ruin from that section of the community which is having the hardest battle to maintain itself, and upon which depends the maintenance of Australia as a White Australia, and a country with decent standards of living.
– I regret that my friend the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) should have resorted to such extravagant language in his opposition to the Government’s action, which, he said, was fiendish cruelty. He repeated that statement later in his speech, so it was not accidental, and he also spoke of the Government’s policy as being savage, dangerous, and shortsighted. I submit to the honorable member that, if he does not want to make the man on the land more unhappy than he is at present, he should argue the case on its merits. He and the members of the Country party are aware of the serious position of the man on the land, but they must remember that the Government knows it, too.
– It does not.
– It does, and, what is more, it does not only talk, but acts. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) has said that this industry has been spoon-fed to the extent of £2,000,000; but I remind him that the wheat-growing industry has been assisted to the extent of £2,000,000 in one year! It is becoming a fetish with the honorable member for Swan to make charges of this kind. He should examine the facts. If he did so he might occasionally cite them. Let me remind the honorable gentleman, and also the honorable member for Wakefield, who took a great part in the negotiations preliminary to making the Ottawa agreement, and who should be the last to talk about the admission of foreign wire to Australia to the detriment of British and Australian wire, that the price of British wire landed in store without duty would be £15 19s. 8d. a ton, whereas Australian wire, made in Australian factories from Australian materials by Australian workmen, is sold at £14 13s. lOd. a ton, and so is less expensive than wire from overseas would be if it were admitted without- duty. Why all these heroics in such circumstances ? Why should honorable members endeavour to make the man on the land discontented ? The honorable member for Wakefield and members of the Country party supported the tariff statements made by the Prime Minister during the last election campaign.
– We did not.
– These honorable members, at any rate, sailed into this Parliament on the cry that they would not cut down the tariff without report by the Tariff Board.
– We did not say anything of the kind.
– Whether the honorable members said that and believed it is best known to themselves; but their changed attitude is in contrast with the policy of the Government. The duty on this wire is not injuring the man on the land, and it is not savage, cruel or fiendish, as has been suggested. Actually, Australian wire can be bought here for less than British wire could be bought for, even if it were admitted duty free. That statement is also applicable to wire netting, a subject which is very frequently discussed in this chamber by the honorable member for Swan. The honorable member knows that wire netting is admitted duty free.
– That is not correct.
– A dumping duty is applied.
– The anti-dumping provisions of the Industries Preservation Act are applied to it only to ensure that overseas exporters shall not sell their wire in Australia at a lower price than that for which they sell it in their own country, and so that British manufacturers shall not use Continental instead of British steel. We are entitled to demand that this shall be so. Honorable members of the Country party make slight anomalies the justification for a great deal of talk which may be good propaganda, but which is not according to the facts. They are endeavouring to gat the producers to believe that this Government is not the friend of the man on the land; but the Government appreciates, just as much as does the corner party, the importance of the primary industries to Australia, and has the support of more members with primary interests than are to be found in the ranks of the Country party. The policy of the Government is that this industry, as well as all other industries, shall be inquired into by the Tariff Board. No harm will be done and no one will be fleeced by leaving this duty where it is. The report of the board should come to hand very shortly, and it will be dealt with as soon as it is received.
.- I congratulate the Minister (Mr. White) for having dealt so well with the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) for having used unruly language. The honorable gentleman made a number of wild statements concerning wire. I remind him, and also the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), that when Mr. MacDougall, of Victoria, the first drawer of wire in the Commonwealth, offered to take his wire rods to Western Australia to manufacture wire there in order that the Western Australian people might obtain it at a lower price, the traders of Western Australia warned him to keep out of their State. The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) said that the price of wire rods had not come down. Because of the honorable gentleman’s inexperience he did not realize that’ there are two kinds of wire rods. We are not dealing at the moment with the rods used in building construction. The wire rods from which wire is made have been reduced in price time and again. Honorable members of the Country party have advocated the substitution of a bounty for the existing duty, but those of us who have been any time in this Parliament will recollect that when the bounty system was in operation the members of the Country party took every opportunity that presented itself to urge the Government to discontinue the bounty and provide a duty for the protection of this industry. When the bounty was in force they complained about it, and now that the duty is in force they complain about it. These honorable gentlemen would patronize any industry of any other country rather that an Australian industry if by so doing they could get wire a little more cheaply.
– That is not so.
– I have proved it to be so in regard to certain railway materials required by South Australia and Western Australia. The engineers who set the standards, subject the Australian products of iron and steel to more tests than are applied to similar products of any other country. Pour tests are applied to the rails in the United States of America, whereas, from the time the raw material - is placed in the furnace until the finished rails are placed on the market, the rails manufactured in Australia undergo 22 tests. Australianmade wire is subjected to just as severe a testing. It has been said that the Australian cattlemen want more wire, but I ask honorable members who have traversed the great interior of this country whether there are not hundreds of miles of country through which not a single fence passes.
– That is the trouble. We want to remedy that state of affairs.
– Many of the cattlemen would not use wire if they could get it. I remind honorable members that this is the National Parliament, and I ask them to deal in a national w7ay with the subjects that come before it. There are wire-drawers in Sydney as well as in Newcastle, and I venture to say that the primary producers of Australia rely on the population of these two centres to buy very large quantities of their produce. I appeal to honorable gentlemen not to be little Australians. We know very well that some of the English wire manufacturers will not even patronize the blast furnaces of Great Britain, but buy their blooms from Belgium and the Continent. in order to obtain a small advantage. I believe that this committee will have enough sense to protect this Australian industry adequately. We must realize that our primary industries need the support of secondary industries. I trust that the Government will retain these duties.
.- I support the amendment, and I trust that the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) will not describe me as a little Australian for doing so. My support of it is not actuated by any mean spirit. The case in favour of the amendment has been put with ability. Wire is a most important article to the primary producers, and the inquiry respecting it should have been made by the Tariff Board at the earliest possible moment. If that had been done, a good deal of this discussion might have been avoided. We must realize that economic production is necessary in both primary and secondary industries. To ensure economic production in our primary industries, the subdivision of our paddocks is an absolute necessity. Unfortunately, the outlay nf primary producers on fencing wire for subdivision cannot be looked upon as reproductive as could an outlay on superphosphates, for instance. There is no direct result from expenditure on fencing; yet it is absolutely necessary expenditure. Competition is the soul of business. When we were dealing with the carbide industry yesterday, the Government declared that competition was necessary in order to prevent a carbide monopoly from developing in Australia. It was admitted that the carbide industry was efficient. If it be necessary to prevent a carbide monopoly from developing, is it not just as necessary to prevent an iron and steel monopoly from developing ? I should like to know why this item was not submitted to the Tariff Board much earlier ?
– Because it comes almost last in the schedule..
– The Tariff Board should have been asked to give precedence to it. The arguments advanced by honorable members have shown that wire is cheaper in Australia than in Great Britain, the price being £14 13s. lOd. as against £15 19s. 8d. Why then, the necessity for the duty? Why not introduce the element of competition in this industry as was done in connexion with carbide?
– The honorable member evidently wants that competitive wire to come from Germany; he knows that it cannot be purchased cheaper in England.
– It is the honorable member who desires to trade with Germany, for he would not refuse to sell any of our primary products to that country. I do not see that I can serve any useful purpose by further taking up the time of the committee. In my opinion, the spirit of this amendment is quite in keeping with the Ottawa agreement, and I shall support it.
Mr. PROWSE (Forrest) £8.47].- 1 cannot understand why the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) should be so fickle. He has charged honorable members who support this amendment with inconsistency. I remind him that the same item was dealt with when the Scullin Government was in power, and, on that occasion, several who now sit on the ministerial bench held similar views to those held by members of the Country party then and now, for our opinions on the subject have not altered. There-‘ fore, it is supporters of the Government who are inconsistent, not honorable members of the Country party. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) is guilty of a double act of inconsistency, for when he was a member of the Scullin Government, he supported the Scullin duties; later, when he relinquished office and went into opposition he apologized for changing his mind. I should like to know whether the right honorable gentleman again intends to change his opinion and vote against this amendment. I also recall that an amendment, the same as that now before the committee, was supported by the present Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) and the present Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill), who referred to the proposal of the then Government as an iniquity, designed to inflict a tremendous imposition upon primary producers. The honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett), who later became Minister for Trade and Customs, said that if the duty meant the imposition of any additional burden upon the primary producers, the industry concerned should go out of existence. Where, then, can the Minister point to inconsistency on the part of honorable members of the Country party? As I have previously pointed out, the real issue is what the people of other countries pay for similar wire, for it must be remembered that we are in competition with those countries. I do not know the prevailing price in Great Britain, but I believe that wire for which we are paying £15 13s. 4d. a ton can be obtained in England for £10 10s.
– What is the cost here?
– It is £15 13s. 4d. for No. 8. and £15 17s. 6d. for No. 10 galvanized wire. Our primary producers have to pay for this commodity approximately 50 per cent. more than the price paid overseas.I remind the representatives of the workers that it is in the interests of their supporters that this duty should be reduced; for then the price of the wire would fall and create additional employment. To-day it is beyond the capacity of the man on the land to buy this commodity, though he sorely needs to extend his fences. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) and others have pointed out that fencing wire must be used before wire netting can be erected. Rabbits are getting the upper hand of the man on the land; apparently they do not know anything about the depression, for they are increasing rapidly. Farmers must exercise unceasing vigilance and expend money on compartmental fences to hold the pest in check. Those possessing a broad Australian outlook should see that the industry of the man on the land does not languish, for it is ho who is producing the wealth which enables factories to be established, and other sections of the community to exist. Honorable members know that the wage of £1 19s. 6d. which was paid years ago was equal to the present basic wage of £3 10s. 6d. a week. They should endeavour to create additional work, and place more in employment, and should not strangle our great, primary industries in an attempt to foster unnatural city industries. I believe that the present Minis ter for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) voted in favour of a similar amendment to this, because on that occasion there was then a block vote of the Opposition.
– I did not.
– Then I guess that the honorable member was absent from the chamber. I hope that, in the interests of their integrity, honorable members who then voted for that amendment will not exhibit a change of front when the division is taken on the amendment to-night.
.- I should not have spoken on this item if certain honorable members had not charged others with cruelty to a section of the community. Honorable members who have spoken in support of the amendment have proved by their own words that all they ask is that the general community should pay what amounts to a bounty on a commodity that is practically an implement of trade. Honorable members of the Country party acknowledge that if the duty were removed, primary producers would not be able to purchase wire imported from Great Britain any cheaper than they now purchase the locally-made article. The only variation of opinion was that expressed by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker), who drew attention to the possibility of obtaining cheaper wire from Germany. It is futile for honorable members to go back three years and refer to the speeches then made by others. The fact is that, with unblushing effrontery, those supporting the amendment are asking the people of Australia to provide a bounty on fencing wire. I cannot see why the rest of the community should pay the farmers 52s. a ton through a reduction of the cost of their fencing wire.
– We are not asking for that.
– The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) definitely suggested that a bounty should be paid on wire, and the honorable member for Wakefield declared that a bounty was the best proposition. It would mean a reduction of the price of wire to the extent of 52s. a ton. Seeing that wire can be purchased in Australia for £15 19s. 8d. a ton, as against £14 13s.10d. in Great
Britain, I see no reason why the community should pay such a bounty to the farmers. I do not wish to be cruel or unkind, but honorable members who support the ‘ amendment will have to make out a much better case if they want my support. They talk of a languishing primary industry. Honorable members know that if our prinia-y industries are in difficulty it is because the price of land has been maintained by its owners beyond its productive value. Only recently, while travelling to Sydney, a prominent land agent assured me that farmers in New South Wales were paying for land prices equal to £2 an acre above its productive value. Honorable members who disparagingly refer to the development of city industries to the detriment of country interests must be aware that those in the cities are passing through even more difficult times than those in country areas. Yet we are told that city dwellers should provide farmers with a bounty of 52s. a ton on fencing wire, when that commodity cannot be imported at a lower price than that now charged in Australia.
I am aware that the Country party is subjecting members of the United Australia Party to virulent attacks and much misrepresentation, and I have not the slightest doubt that when the division is taken on this amendment the result will be broadcast and used as propaganda against honorable members on this side.
– The honorable member must connect his references with the item.
– Only recently the result of a certain division was published in a number of country newspapers, and that will be done on this occasion.
– Order ! The honorable member must not disregard the Chair. Action taken in connexion with the results of another division does not concern this item.
– I was hoping to influence some honorable members who otherwise, because of misrepresentation, might be led to vote for the amendment.
– I shall ask the honorable member to resume his seat if he does not connect his remarks with the item before the Chair.
– I was endeavouring to counteract the misrepresentation of certain honorable members that the payment of a bounty is the only question at issue. Some honorable members would have the man in the city pay cash by way of a bounty, in order that the farmers may obtain their wire at lower prices. Should there be any timid soul on this side of the chamber who is afraid of the accusation of the honorable member for Wakefield, that supporters of the Government are cruel and unkind, a little persuasion may influence his vote on this item. It is important that we should shepherd the vote on wire.
– The honorable member is entitled only to give reasons why the item should, or should not, be agreed to.
– The amendment should not be agreed to, because it is against _ the interests of this country.
Honorable members have suggested that the exchange rate represents a charge on wire which country people are called upon to pay.
– -Nonsense! We did not say that.
– Honorable members in the corner do not object to the exchange rate when it increases the value of their exports, but they object to it when it raises the price of these things which they purchase. Why should the rest of Australia pay a bounty on wire? According to the honorable member for Wakefield, primage duty and exchange, and the difficulty of obtaining wire, are burdens with which the man on the land is. inflicted. I have been long enough in this Parliament to recognize that this argument is always advanced by those who advocate the granting of assistance to the man on the land and claim that the money must be found by the city man. I shall vote against the amendment, because I believe that it is in the best interests of the country that our primary producers should stand up to their obligations, pay for whatever they use, and not a3k other industries to pay bounties on their behalf. I know that some honorable members honestly believe in bounties; but I have never believed in them. If, instead of asking for bounties, honorable members would turn their attention to land values. with aview to seeing that land is valued according to its productive capacity, they would be doing something for their country.
– The issue before us is not one of agreement with or opposition to duties. Honorable members have conceded that the price of Australian wire is lower than that of imported wire.
– Only when compared with the price of English wire.
– The amendment applies only to British wire. It is claimed that the only point at issue in the amendment is the payment of the bounty. That is so, for, had it been otherwise, I could hardly understand the reference of the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) to the Country party, and those people who may, or may not, support duties in the interests of their own industry, or of industry in general. In the past the honorable member has not hesitated to put the knife deeply into industries for the protection of which reasonable duties have been proposed.
The amendment is not a new one, for not long ago a. vote was taken on this subject. . Indeed, the cupboard is now being searched for the skeleton, so that it may be revealed to the committee and honorable members told how they voted on that occasion. Since I desire to be consistent, I am bound to admit that the bounty system as applied by the BrucePage Government to galvanized iron, wire and wire netting operated to the advantage of the manufacturers and the primary producers. To-night an amendment has been moved with the idea of restoring that bounty. The assistance which is necessary to keep the works at Newcastle going could best be provided by granting a bounty, which would not act detrimentally to the primary producer, particularly in view of the adverse conditions under which he is now operating. On previous occasions I have supported proposals which have had the same objective as that of the amendment now before us. The quality of Australian wire is unquestioned; it is unsurpassed by that of any wire made elsewhere. Moreover, its price is satisfactory to both purchaser and manufacturer. I have not heard any argument to-night which would justify me in altering my intention - an intention which will be revealed when the vote is taken. I shall be guided by the arguments put forward in this debate.
– The issue raised by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) is definite, namely, that the duty shall be free, British, and 120s., foreign. There is no suggestion of developing a scheme of bounties or bonuses.
– That could not be provided here.
– We are really thrown back to the question whether the British rates shall be free or not. I cannot see my way to support the amendment. In the first place, we are asked to act without any report from the Tariff Board. That is not consistent with the views expressed on other occasions by the members of the Country party. I have contended throughout that in tariff matters we should be guided by the Tariff Board, although not necessarily accepting its recommendations. When considering these matters, we should have before us the information which is most likely to be contained in a report of the Tariff Board. In this instance, we are asked to act without any report, although this matter is before the Tariff Board for consideration. Until the board has furnished its report, our only proper course is to stand by the proposed duties.
– The honorable gentleman was a member of the Government which admitted wire free, if from Britain.
– That may be; but that Government also provided for a bounty. Generally, members of the Country party are opposed to bounties and embargoes and other forms of State assistance. It is not fair to attempt to persuade the public of Australia that these duties have been fiendish in their operation. Indeed, it is open to question whether such language is parliamentary. Black No. 8 English wire landed in the store costs £15 19s.8d. a ton, exclusive of duty. The duty is £2 12s. a ton, so that the cost landed in the store and inclusive of duty; is £1811s. 8d. per ton. Australian wire of similar gauge landed in the store is £14 13s.10d. a ton.
– What is the price of that wire in England?
– It is £10 5s. a ton. But that is not the proper basis for comparison; we must make a comparison on the basis of the cost landed here in the store, exclusive of duty. The landed cost in the store of English galvanized No. 8 wire, exclusive of duty, is £18 10s. 2d. a ton. Adding a duty of £2 12s. a ton, we reach a total cost of £21 2s. 2d. a ton, compared with £16 ls. 4d. a ton for Australian wire landed in the store. I fail to see that the duty is fiendish, or that it operates to the detriment of the man on the land. The Minister was justified in making the reply that he did to an inaccurate statement.
– Who supplied the figures cited by the honorable member?
– The figures were supplied by the Minister, who obtained them from the Customs Department. I prefer official figures to ex parte statements not subjected to investigation. Figures supplied by responsible departmental officers are certainly to be relied upon, unless honorable members can prove them to be wrong.
– The figures agree with ours.
– Therefore, the honorable member for Riverina would certainly not agree with the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker), who described the duties as fiendish.
– I said that they are unnecessary. I oppose them on principle.
– There is a vast difference between “ fiendish “ and “ unnecessary “. I contend that we should stand by this industry, which is part of the great iron and steel industry of Australia, which uses the natural products of this country. If any industry ought to be regarded as natural to Australia it is the steel industry. I support these duties first on national grounds, apart altogether from economic reasons. This great country of ours must be developed. If Australia is to be a complete nation, able to defend itself in the hour of supreme need, and ready to take its part as an outpost of the British Empire, the steel industry is one of the first that wo should wish to ‘establish and maintain upon a sound footing.
But I contend that the protection of this industry can be justified absolutely upon economic grounds. I am amazed at the readiness there appears to be to bring foreign material into Australia, on the ground that it will introduce the element of competition. Obviously, the desire is to permit the entry into this country of a large quantity of foreign goods, which can only have the effect of interfering with existing local industries, and the natural corollary is that to the extent to which they compete with our own industries, Australian labour must be displaced. I represent one of the largest farming districts in the Commonwealth, and the farmers in my electorate are as much concerned as people in the cities as to what they are to do with the large number of lads growing up and requiring employment. Parents are constantly asking what is to be done with them. Are the country lads throughout Australia to be employed only on the land? Many of them would be glad to take up holdings for themselves if land could be made available for them; but quite apart from that difficulty, not every country youth desires a life on the land, or has a natural bent for it.
– The honorable member’s remarks are of too general a nature; he must debate the item before the Chair.
– The industry that manufactures wire provides employment for Australians, and I contend that boys in the country are as much entitled as city youths to get a diversity of employment, and even employment in this particular industry. The problem of unemployment is felt as keenly in the country districts as in the cities. Until we receive a report from the Tariff Board on these duties, we should maintain them, because the Government has adopted the principle that duties shall not be altered until the board has submitted a report on them. It has been shown that these duties, far from being fiendish, have operated to the advantage of the community. I have indicated that they are desirable from a national point of view, because they are necessary to develop all the resources of this country in order that the maximum amount of employment may be provided for the people.
.- Iam not at all surprised at the remarks of the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane), for, whenever any proposal in the interests of the primary producers is submitted, he immediately opposes it. Ho has purely a city mind. He declares that he will not have the cities saddled with a bounty on wire for the benefit of the country people; but we are not now dealing with the subject of a bounty on wire, and, in any case, city and country folk would share equally the cost of any bounty that might be given. To my mind, however, that would be a. fairer method of assisting the man on the land. 1 am somewhat surprised at the Minister (Mr. White), who has said on more than one occasion that the action of the Country party in seeking reductions of duties is purely political propaganda. As a matter of fact, it is nothing of the kind. The duty on fencing wire was opposed by the honorable gentleman before he became a member of the Government, and if it was wrong when he was in opposition, it is wrong now.
– That is just another inaccuracy.
– The Minister opposed the amendment.
– At any rate, the members of the Ministry, when in opposition, opposed these duties absolutely and solidly. I was not in the House at the time, but I understand that the Minister did not support the proposed reduction. If he did not vote, that is another matter.
– Another inaccuracy !
– Members of. the Country party are as anxious as members of the Government are to see the local industry prosper, and if serious competition comes from foreign countries, it will be detrimental to the local industry. In the case of another primary industry which was on the point of being established in this country, we had the Government and the present Minister for Trade and Customs saying that if it got an over-feed of protection it would have economic digestion. Some of our industries are in that position to-day.
I listened with interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker), than whom no honorable member is in a better position to know the expense and trouble, associated with the development of new country. He has pointed out the cost involved in breeding stock in the vast areas outback. The small farmer is in a similar predicament to the pastoralist. At the present time, the farmers have great difficulty in meeting their obligations, and it is necessary for them to adopt modern methods of work. That means improved pastures, and very small paddocks. To-day, a man on the land cannot afford to cut his farm into small paddocks, owing to the high cost of fencing wire. Several honorable members have referred to the cost of wire in Great Britain. The British farmer pays £20 5s. a mile for the material for his fences; the South African farmer is charged £24 0s. 6d. a mile; and it costs the Australian farmer, who is compelled to provide a great deal of fencing, no less than £41 13s.10d. a mile for his material.
– Is that the price for wire only?
– No; it is the cost of steel posts, one barbed wire, and 5 plain wires.
– English currency?
– Yes; I have given the prices in the countries mentioned. Honorable members will realize what a burden the cost of fencing places upon the primary producers, when the material alone, including posts, amounts to £41 13s.10d. in Australia, as against £24 0s. 6d. in South Africa. I propose to support the amendment, and I hope that the Government will sec fit to give the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, and the drawers of wire, a bounty instead of a duty, so that the whole community will share the burden.
.- We have heard a lively argument between the two wings of the United Australia Party as to what was that party’s policy tit the last election. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) informed us that the pact-
– The question hefore the committee is not the policy of parties at the last election.
– Honorable members wish to know the reason for the division of opinion regarding this item.
The Minister stated that he did not record a vote regarding the duty on fencing wire when a similar amendment to that now before the committee was submitted by the former honorable member for Wimmera, the late Mr. P. G. Stewart. I notice, on referring to Hansard, of the 18th September, 1931, page 262, that the Minister for Trade and Customs was absent when the division was taken, but he was paired with the present Assistant Minister (Mr. Guy). Looking round the chamber to-night, I can see quite a number of honorable members on the front bench who abused the Scullin Government in no uncertain way regarding this very item. As a representative of an electorate in which a large quantity of fencing wire is used, I listened with interest to the remarks of those honorable members who claim to represent the primary producers. One would imagine that the Australian’ pastoral industry was being exploited because of the prices charged for wire, but an examination of these prices over a long period shows that a gradual fall has occurred. On the 1st September, 1932, the price of black fencing wire was £14 5s. lOd. a ton, while British 8-gauge black fencing wire cost £18 lis. 8d. a ton, a difference of over £4 a ton in favour of the local product.
– Does that price include the duty?
– Yes. Without the duty, the price of the British article was £15 ls. 5d. a ton as compared with £14 5s. lOd. for the Australian wire.
– What is the cost of 8-gauge wire in England?
– It is £10 5s. a ton, and the freight to Australia is 2s. a ton. I shall give the names of those who voted in that famous division, upon an amendment identical with that now moved by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson). They are as follow: -
It will be interesting to note how the Minister will vote when the question is put to-night. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) has been consistent throughout in the attitude that he has adopted, but that cannot be said of other members of the Country party. I trust that the Government will not accept the amendment, because I do not believe that it will benefit the primary producer one iota. It is in keeping with the policy of the Country party, which is endeavour* ing to mislead the primary producer into the belief that, if tariffs were wiped out, he would probably be able to purchase his requirements more cheaply. That would not be the result.
.- If the committee will give me leave, I shall make a slight alteration to my amendment, so as to bring it into line with the position that obtained under the Government led by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr.
Hughes),’ and later under the BrucePage Government. I propose to make the amendment read as follows: -
Fencing wire, gauge 8 to 14, British, free; general, 120s.
– Is it the pleasure of the committee that the honorable member for Gippsland be allowed to amend his amendment?
– I object.
– Objection having been taken, leave is refused.
– That will suit me. My desire was merely to consider the Minister.
The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane), referring to the difference between protecting an industry by a bounty and doing so by means of a duty, implied that with the bounty system the city was compelled to pay for something that was required in the country. One might with more justice say that under the present system the country is compelled to pay for something that is produced in the city. As a matter of fact, so far as the finding of the money is concerned, the burden under the bounty system was not confined to the city, but was spread over the whole of the people of Australia. In expressing the opinion that he did, the honorable member showed that he is tremendously at variance with the view expressed two years ago by the present PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Parkhill), who said that the protection of this industry by means of a bounty at least spread the burden with the greatest possible justice over the whole of the people, whereas a duty imposed the burden solely on the users of the wire.
I also wish to deal with the references of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) to the speech of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker). The Minister practically accused the honorable member for Wakefield of being desirous of whittling down the preference to Great Britain over foreign countries, despite the fact that’ that honorable member was largely responsible for drafting preference proposals that were made prior to the visit of the Australian delegation to Ottawa. The honorable member for Wakefield has no such intention.
– J am very pleased to hear it.
– The honorable member supports my amendment which has for its purpose the retention of the full margin ‘ of preference as between Great Britain and foreign countries. That margin is £6 a ton. The duty proposed by the Government is 52s. British, and 172s. general, a difference of 120s. The difference between free and 120s. is exactly the same. The point that the honorable member for Wakefield made was, that if this foreign duty were brought down to £6 a ton there might be a little keener competition in regard to price fixing in our own industry. We could easily produce wire with the assistance of a- duty of £6 a ton against foreign countries, in view of the wonderful advantage that we possess in the quality of the ore available in Australia, compared with that which is used for this purpose in other countries. In the book issued by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, entitled “ Silver to Steel “, it is pointed out that so rich is the Australian ore that 1 ton of it will do the same work as 2 tons of the ore obtained in England, or 2.8 tons of the ore obtained in Germany. Having the tremendous natural advantage of the possession of ore which contains 66 per cent, of iron, surely we can compete with any overseas country with a duty of £6 a ton, plus the natural protection afforded by freight and other charges !
The Country party opposes this duty on principle. Every protectionist country in the world allows the free entry of certain articles as a matter of policy. That highly protectionist country, the United States of America, has expressly provided, as a matter of policy, for the free importation of agricultural implements. Australia has not done that; but up to two years ago fencing wire was free as a matter of national policy. The Government led by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) in 1921 gave a bounty to this industry in order that British wire might be kept absolutely free. It is recognized throughout Australia that the subdivision of this vast continent is essential. That question was referred to - rather unfortunately, from his point of view - by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins). We certainly need a great deal more subdivision than we have. Honorable members of the Opposition are always advocating subdivision, the breaking up of large estates, closer settlement, and the like. We wish to give encouragement to such a policy, by making as cheap as possible a commodity that furnishes a means of subdividing. Development should not be retarded by any action that might, if not to-day, then to-morrow, increase the price of wire. It is true that to-day the manufacturers are able to dispense with the use of this duty, on account of the natural currency protection of £25 10s. “But, if that protection were withdrawn owing to the currencies of the world coming closer together, doubtless they would avail themselves of the duty, and the user of the wire would have to pay. The amendment before the committee is identical with that which was moved in this chamber two years ago. Reference has been made to-night to the support which that amendment received from gentlemen who to-day adorn the treasury bench. Those gentlemen did not merely fall in behind the amendment,* and quietly support it; they spoke most strongly in favour of it. There was no half-heartedness, no ambiguity, about their statements. The honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett) went so far as to say that, if the wire-drawing industry could not be carried on without imposing a new burden on the primary producers; we should be better off without it. The present Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) stated in his most judicial manner that it would be better for this industry, for the iron and steel industry, and for the coal industry, if this duty were not imposed. The present PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Parkhill) referred to the unfairness of shifting a burden from the whole of the community - where it was carried so long as the industry was assisted by means of a bounty - to the backs of those who were less able to bear it. I would put this point to the honorable member for Barton, if any further point needs to be put to him : When the Scullin Government withdrew the bounty and imposed a duty, it said, in effect, to the makers of this wire, “ The whole community can no longer afford to subsidize you through the Treasury ; we shall, therefore, give you a duty in place of the bounty, ana that will enable you to compel one section, which is less able to bear it than the whole community, to continue the payment of the subsidy.” The present Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) strongly opposed the duty two years ago. If the attitude then taken up by the right honorable gentleman, as well as by the honorable member for Henty, the present Attorney-General, and the present PostmasterGeneral, was right, how does it become wrong to-day? The same principle is involved. It goes further than a mere question of the price of fencing wire. Underlying it all is the possibility of increasing the cost of a commodity that is necessary for the development of Australia. Currency protection may not continue indefinitely. Consequently, we say that the duty ought to come off ; that at all times wire ought to be sold in this country, whether there is currency protection or not, at a price no greater than that at which it can be imported from Great Britain; and that, if the industry cannot continue on that basis, and it is considered desirable that, as a key industry, it should be continued, the burden should be carried by the whole of the people, by means of a bounty, rather than by the imposition of a duty, which has to be borne by the users of the commodity.
– I have already discussed whether the industry is economic or not, and have quoted figures to show that the price of British wire landed in Australia free of duty is £15 19s. Sd., while the price of Australian wire is £14 13s. lOd. Some honorable members of the Country party who are prepared to make extravagant statements on occasions, resent any replies being made to those statements. Some of them have quoted division lists, and in almost every instance erroneously. They have tried -to show that members of the Government are inconsistent in their attitude towards this item. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) in particular - though I do not generally worry about his dismal dirges-
– The honorable member for Forrest said that, when a former member for Wimmera (Mr. P. G. Stewart) moved an amendment for a reduction of duty, I supported it. When I said that I had not voted as he stated, he declared that I must have been absent from the House. Again, the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Gibson), whose utterances carry considerable weight in this Parliament, but who resents anycriticism of his party, attacked me, and said that I opposed the duty when I was in Opposition. He also, when I denied having voted as he said, stated thatI must have been absent from the House. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) became thoroughly tangled. He started quoting the wrong debate, and read the wrong division list to show that the Assistant Minister (Mr. Guy) and I were both absent when the division was taken. That is not correct. Members of the Country party have tilted at fiscal windmills so often, and have so blunted their arguments, that they have now reverted to personal misrepresentations, perhaps unwittingly. I refer the honorable member for Wimmera to page 164 of Hansard for 1931, on which the item is set out as follows: -
By omitting the whole of sub-item (e) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: - “(e) (1) Wire of No.15 or finer gauge (Imperial standard wire gauge), ad valorem, British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 45per cent.; general, 55 per cent.
Wire, other, per ton, British, 52s.; intermediate, 152s. ; and general, 172s.”
On this item the late Mr. P. G. Stewart moved the following amendment : -
That the sub-item be amended by adding the following: - “ And on and after the 24th September, 1931 - “(e) (1) Wire ofNo. 15 or finer gauge (Imperial standard wire gauge), ad valorem, British, 20 per cent. ; intermediate, 35 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.
Wire, fencing, of gauges Nos. 8 to 14 (Imperial standard wire gauge), both gauges inclusive, for use only as fencing wire without further manufacture, or for such manufacturing purposes as may he prescribed by depart mental by-laws, per ton, British, free ; intermediate, 100s.; general, 120s.
I spoke on the item, and at page 174I am reported as follows: -
I intend to support the duty. This industry migrated from Victoria to New South Wales in order to be near the principal source of coal. Unfortunately, by the transfer it was placed in the hot-bed of industrial extremism, I have every sympathy with enterprises that are afflicted by the blight of “ Langism “.
Those sentiments were heartfelt, and,I think, were shared by a good number of honorable members at that time. The division list is shown in the volume, and, as honorable members may see by perusing it, the Assistant Minister and I voted with the “ Noes “ against the amendment. I am sorry that the explanation has proved so lengthy, but members of the Country party should check their statements. I trust that this little reprimand will be effective.
The Government seeks merely to validate the present duty. It asks the committee to support the duty until the Tariff Board report is received. Then, if it is deemed advisable to effect an alteration, a request for an amendment will be brought down when the tariff is before another place.
– I cannot allow the reiterated statements of members of the Country party to go without comment. All the time they are complaining that the duty on this item is imposing a burden on the primary producers. They say that it should be taken off the shoulders of the primary producers, and spread over the whole of the community by means of a bounty. When the Acting Leader of the Country party (Mr. Paterson) was speaking, I asked him a reasonable question, which he avoided by hurrying on to something else. I asked him to explain to me in what, way the primary producers are bearing a burden as a result of the duty.
– When the exchange rate falls, the primary producers will feel the weight of the burden.
– That is an evasion of my question. When it is shown on official figures that the landed cost of this wire in Australia, without duty, is 25s. a ton more than the price charged by the Australian manufacturer, it is absolute misrepresentation to say that the protection of the local industry imposes a burden on the primary producer. The figures I have quoted cannot be denied, and the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) has been fair enough to admit that. The Acting Leader of the Country party said that, if the exchange rate fell, British wire could be landed in Australia at £3 a ton less than now. I remind him that if the exchange rate fell, the primary producers would receive less for what they send overseas. There is no other section of the community which receives so large a subsidy as a result of the high rate of exchange as those who produce for export. The honorable member’s “ifs and aus “ do not help his case. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), and the honorable member for Riverina quoted figures to show that the price of wire in Britain is £10 5s. a ton. Therefore, they say, the Australian primary producer is being penalized to the extent of £4 a ton. I remind them that if we wiped the Australian factory off the face of the earth, the price at which British wire would be landed in Australia would be £15 19s. 8d. a ton, while the primary producers are buying Australian-made wire at £14 13s. lOd. a ton. There is not an argument left against that case.
The Acting Leader of the Country party stated that when the Scullin Government took office, it abolished the bounty on the production of wire, and substituted for it a duty. This, he said, was tantamount to a declaration that the whole community could not bear the burden of helping the industry; therefore, one section of the community would have to do it. I remind him that a bounty is imposed to give a start to a struggling industry. When the industry has established itself, the bounty should be removed. In this case, the bounty was removed when the industry proved, by successive reductions of price, and by its general efficiency, that the bounty was no longer necessary. The company was able to make wire and sell it in Australia at a price below the landed cost of British wire. I have here a price list showing that the price of wire was reduced from £46 a ton in 1921 to £14 a ton. When the industry could supply the whole of the Australian requirements at a price below the. landed cost, it was a reasonable thing to abolish the bounty, particularly when the country was in a bad financial position. Here is what the Tariff Board, in its report of 1925 on agricultural implements, stated -
In 1021, No. S black fencing wire was being sold in Australia from £40 to £50 per ton. When Bylands started to manufacture, they placed their product on the market at £30 per ton. British prices then began to drop. Bylands gradually came down to £22 10s. British prices fell to the same level. Bylands could only make black fencing wire, and it was noticed that it was in black fencing wire that United Kingdom prices were reduced, while United Kingdom prices for galvanized wire remained at a higher level. After local manufacture of galvanized wire became a factor in the supply of the Australian market, the United Kingdom prices dropped in the same way as those on black wire had previously dropped.
That is the report of the Tariff Board, to which honorable members of the Country party pin their faith.
– I desire to correct a statement of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White). He is fond of correcting other honorable members, and I therefore refer him to page 249 of the volume of Hansard from which he quoted.
– Honorable members must realize that a discussion as to how members voted, when it amounts to nothing more than a charge of inconsistency, is not relevant to th» question before the Chair. Certain charges have been made and answered, and I cannot allow the discussion to go any further.
– Am I not in order in replying to the Minister’s statement?
– The ‘ honorable member for Swan and other members of his party were the first to refer to the voting in divisions in the last Parliament, and the Minister has replied. It did appear at first that honorable members might be quoting matter in favour of their argument, but as the discussion has now developed into personal criticism and nothing more, it has obviously nothing to do with the question before the Chair.
– In the circumstances, I must leave it to the good sense of the Minister. If he will look at the page I have mentioned, he will see that in the division the Assistant Minister (Mr. Guy), who supported it, paired with the Minister, who was absent.
Question - That the amendment (Mr. Paterson’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Cit airman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sub-items and paragraphs agreed to.
Items 143, 152 (a2, 3) 155 (a) (b) agreed to.
Machines, machine tools, and appliances for use in connexion therewith, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, ad valorem, British free, general 15 per cent.
.- I move-
That that portion of the tariff resolution introduced into the House of Representatives on 8th March, 1933, relating to item 174 with the exception of paragraph (70) of sub-item (x) be incorporated in the present proposals as on and from the 9th March, 1933, in lieu of item 174 of the tariff resolution introduced into the House of Representatives on the 13th October, 1932, and that paragraphs (71) to (88) both inclusive of sub-item (x) be renumbered (70) to (87).
This item was amended by the resolution of March, 1933. The amendment now proposed is being made in order that that portion of the March resolution relating to this item, with the exception of 174
.- I am glad to hear the Assistant Minister (Mr. Guy) say that cane-shredders are to be taken out of the schedule. Two Serby shredders are being used in Queensland, one at the Tully mill and the other at Bingera. The latter, I understand, came from a dismantled mill of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in Fiji. All the others are National shredders. All of the machines required by the sugar industry in Queensland could be manufactured at Walker’s Limited, Maryborough, and at the Bundaberg foundry.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 179, sub-item (d3a) -
Amendment (by Mr. Guy) proposed -
That that portion of the tariff resolution introduced into the House of Representatives on 8th March, 1933, relating to sub-paragraph
of paragraph (3) of sub-item (d) of item 179 be incorporated in the present proposals as on and from the 9th March, 1933, in lieu of sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (3) of sub-item (d) of item 179 of the tariff resolution introduced into the House of Representatives on the 13th October, 1932.
.- The Tariff Board recommended that the duties be 15 per cent. British, and 50 per cent. general. Can the Minister explain why the general tariff decided upon is only 40 per cent. ?
.- The manufacture of electric fans is a new industry, and is being carried on efficiently. The Tariff Board, after inquiry, recommended a general tariff which, in the opinion of the Government, was rather high. I may add that overtures have been made by the Italian Chamber of Commerce for the negotiation of a trade treaty with Italy, and as Italy is one of the principal suppliers ofthis particular article, it was considered that the margin of preference recommended by the board, namely, 35 per cent., would be needlessly provocative. The local manufacturers are, I am informed, satisfied that they can compete with British and foreign manufacturers at the rates appearing in this sub-item.
Amendment agreed to. Sub-paragraph, as amended, agreed to. Item 192 agreed to.
Item 208, sub-items (a) (b) (Manufactures of metal, n.e.i., and anchors).
.- It seems to me that duties of 45 per cent. British, and 65 per cent. general, on the manufactures of metal, n.e.i., are somewhat high,. and operate harshly in certain circumstances. Not long ago, a gentleman suffering from defective hearing imported an acousticon costing, in London, £7 7s., upon which he was forced to pay total charges of £5 7s.1d. made up as follows: - Duty, £3 12s. 9d. ; primage, 16s. 2d., and sales tax,18s. 2d. As he was not in prosperous circumstances, these charges pressed heavily upon him. I am informed that if he had obtained this instrument through hospital authorities, it would have been admitted duty free. A person who is unfortunately deaf, but has not to enter a hospital, should not be penalized by excessive charges on an instrument that would mitigate his affliction. They are not made in Australia. Surely this anomaly can be removed. I ask the Minister to consider whether the item can be amended so that these instruments may be imported free by the afflicted who need them. I understand that trace chains, also, are included in this item. There was reasonable competition in respect of them, and there was no trouble before the duties were raised. Will the Minister review the matter, and, if possible, restore the duties to the former lower level?
. Manufactured metals n.e.i. cover thousands of items which may range from tacks to tram cars. That an imported acousticon should be subject to a heavy duty does seem harsh. The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) brought this matter to my notice, but under the present law no remission of duty can be made. Had the acousticon been required for a public hospital it would have been admitted under more favorable conditions. I cannot say offhand whether acousticons are included in manufactured metals n.e.i., but I am prepared to consider whether the duties upon them should be reduced. Inquiries will have to be made as to the extent to which they are imported. I understand that other appliances for the use of deaf persons can be obtained which do not bear such a heavy impost. The duties of 45 per cent. and 65 per cent. on trace chains are not excessive. Where a specific item can be inquired into by the Tariff Board that is done, and any recommendations for lower rates receives due consideration. I promise to consider whether the duties on trace chains should again be referred to the board.
Sub-items agreed to.
Item 213 agreed to.
Division 7. - Oils, Paints, and Varnishes.
Item 232, sub-items (c) (d), agreed to.
Division 8. - Earthenware, Cement, China, Glass, and Stone.
Item 250, sub-item (g), agreed to.
Division 9. - Drugs and Chemicals.
Item 278, sub-item (a2a), agreed to.
Item 285, sub-item (a) -
With an additional duty if spirituous as follows: - If containing not more than 20 per cent. proof spirit, per gallon - British, 4s., general, 5s. And for every additional 20 per cent. or fraction thereof of proof spirit, per gallon - British, 4s.; general,5s.
Amendment (by Mr. Guy) proposed -
That that portion of the tariff resolution introduced into the House of Representatives on the 8th March, 1933 relating to sub-item
.- I understand that Australian insulin is sold at a cheaper rate than the imported article, hut some sufferers from diabetes cannot bear the after effects of the former. I have two diabetic friends who have discovered that the imported insulin suits them better, and they can afford to pay the higher price for it, but there may be other sufferers who cannot afford the extra cost of the imported article. I sincerely trust that the Minister will amend this item so that imported insulin may be made available to all who need it at a lower price.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move-
That the sub-item be further amended by adding the following: - “And on and after 12th May, 1933: -
With an additional duty if spirituous as follows: - If containing not more than 20 per cent. proof spirit, per gallon - British, 4s.; general,5s. And for every additional 20 per cent, or fraction thereof of proof spirit, per gallon - BVitish, 4s.; general, 5s.”
The only alteration effected by this amendment is the exclusion of insulin. I shall later propose that insulin be included in a new sub-item.
Amendment agreed to.
Sub-item, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Guy) proposed -
That the following new sub-item (c) be added to item 285 : - “ On and after 12th May, 1933 -
.- This is an important, amendment. No doubt many honorable members have received complaints from diabetic sufferers that the Australian insulin does not suit them. There are others, including medical practitioners, who declare that the local article is equal to, if not better than, the imported. Nevertheless, the Government has decided to place insulin on the free list.For many years, it was admitted from all countries free of duty, and a sum was placed on the Estimates to cover the amount of duty properly payable under the tariff; but because of the production of insulin by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories - the only Australian manufacturers of this product - the previous Government withdrew the concessional admission by making no provision on the Estimates to cover the duty. Importers of insulin were then required to pay the full rates under item 285, sub-item a. Since the full rates have been charged,numerous requests have been made by diabetic people for a remission of the duty. These requests have come mainly from those patients upon whom the standard types of insulin do not have a beneficial effect. There are others who in the past have been obtaining successful results from the use of a particular imported brand, and have acquired faith in its efficacy. If a patient were admitted to apublic hospital, and only imported insulin suited him, it could be made available for his treatment, but an indigent person not entering a hospital would find the cost of imported insulin unduly burdensome. The Government does not desire to place any obstacle in the way of those patients who desire to obtain insulin from overseas, and provision is being made for the admission of the product at rates as low as possible. Action has been already taken to exempt insulin from primage duty. In proposing this amendment, the Government does not acknowledge that the local product is in any way below the standard of imported insulin. Moreover, I assure honorable members that the local laboratories did not exploit the public when the full rate of duty under item 285, sub-item a, was payable. At the present time, the list price of standard insulin manufactured by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories is about1s. 7d. per 100 units, less substantial discounts to retail chemists and hospitals. The price of the local product is considerably below the English domestic price of 2s. per 100 units. It would appear, therefore, that the Australian manufacturer is in a position to command the local market without the assistance of a protective duty. By the amendment which my colleague has proposed the government department that produces this remedy will not be penalized, but diabetic patients will benefit.
Amendment agreed to.
Division 10. - Wood, Wicker and Cane.
Item 291, sub-items (h1, 2, 3) (i1)-
In sizes of 12 inches x 10 inches (or its equivalent) and over, per 100 super, feet, British, 10s. 6d. ; general, 12s.6d.
In sizes of 7 inches x 2½ inches (or its equivalent) and upwards, and less than 12 inches x 10 inches (or its equivalent), per 100 super. feet, British, 12s.; general, 1 4s.
In sizes less than 7 inches x 24 inches (or its equivalent), per 100 super. feet, British 13s. 6d. ; general, 15s. 6d.
.- These sub-items include Douglas fir, popularly known as Oregon. I understand that the timber duties have been referred to the Tariff Board, and I hope that its inquiry will be thorough, and that effect will be given to its recommendation. I do not know what the recommendation will be, but the hoard, being a sensible body, can hardly do other than advise a reduction of the duties on Oregon, as it did on previous occasions. The duties should be lowered to 8s. and 8s., and the preference of 2s. to Canada retained in accordance with the existing trade treaty. Ever since I entered this Parliament in 1928 I have been hammering at successive governments to lower these duties; but, unfortunately for South Australia, I have not succeeded. In 1914 the duty on Oregon was 6d. per 100 super. feet. To-day, the duty is 14s. per 100 super. feet, with a preference of 2s. for Canadian Oregon. In consequence of that preference, the importation of Canadianoregon into Australia is gradually increasing. It should be noted that in addition to the duty of 14s., primage duty of 10 per cent., and sales tax of 6 per cent. are levied. The duty was increased against the recommendation of the Tariff Board. It reached its peak of 14s. per 100 super. feet in July of 1930, and that rate, unfortunately, still obtains. The following figures relating to a shipment of Oregon just arrived by the Boren show the drastic nature of the duties and other charges on Oregon : -
In addition, there were handling and other charges, including profit, which made the distributing price at Port Adelaide 33s. per 100 super, feet. To that must be added the sales tax of 6 per cent. Most honorable members will agree that that constitutes not only a heavy imposition on a vitally necessary constructional timber, but also a severe burden upon our primary producers. We have no local timber suitable for roofing purposes.
– On what authority does the honorable member make that statement?
– Let me inform the honorable member that, although the South Australian Government owns several mills cutting pinus radiata, in the last six months tenders have been let for over £100,000 worth of public buildings in and around Adelaide in respect of which the architect in chief has not specified the use of even one foot’ of pinus radiata in the roofs of those buildings. As a matter of fact, the specifications provide that Oregon shall be used for all the roofs. In South Australia, public and private buildings are built mostly of stone, or brick and stone. Few houses are built of wood, although wooden houses are to be seen in numbers in the other States. In South Australia, Oregon is used almost without exception for roofing, purposes. Let me give honorable members some idea; of what the heavy impost on Oregon means to that State. I have been informed by members of the Master Builders Association that the present duty means an additional cost, on a 5-roomed house, of £16 15s. That is a heavy charge, particularly in these days where our chief desire is to relieve unemployment. Owing to the climatic conditions of South Australia, Oregon is the only timber suitable for roofing purposes. I do not blame honorable members who represent constituencies in which timber is grown for advocating the us3 of local timbers, but surely they must recognize that the more we reduce the cost of building the greater will be the quantity of local timber used, not for roofing, but for flooring boards and internal fixings. I do not want it to be thought for one moment that I am against the usa of Australian timbers. For many years I was a member of the South Australian Parliament, and during that period I was a firm advocate of afforestation. South Australia has done more than any other State to encourage afforestation, but the timbers it is growing are softwoods, which are not suitable for roofing purposes. Having built many houses in South Australia - I should not be ashamed to live in any one of them - I know probably as much as, if not more than, most honorable members of the value of timbers for constructional purposes. The difficulty with respect to pinus radiata is that it is impossible to obtain it in lengths of over 20 feet, and the price for 20 ft. by 9 in. by i in. pinus radiata at present is 33s. 6d. per 100 super, feet. It is possible to obtain lengths of Oregon ^ of from 10 to 60 ft. or even longer, in sizes of from 12 in. by 6 in. to 12 in. by 12 in. For tie beams it is absolutely essential to have the timber in one piece, and therefore pinus radiata is not suitable for that purpose. South Australia has done much to encourage afforestation, considerable areas having been planted with softwood pines. I hope that it will increase its activities in that direction. The Tariff Board, in considering this item, has already taken evidence in Sydney and will shortly visit Melbourne. The practice of architects from all parts of the Commonwealth is to specify Oregon for roofing material, and they .and other people connected with the building trade are advocating a reduction of duty in respect of Oregon. In all war service homes and garden city buildings Oregon is specified and used. I hope that this committee will see fit to reduce this duty. If I felt that any good purpose would be served, I would move an amendment to this item, but for the time being I shall withhold from doing so in the hope that the Minister will be able to give me some assurance that the Government will revise the duties on oregon in a way that will be satisfactory to South Australia. If the Tariff Board makes its report speedily an amendment of these duties may be requested in another place. A reduction of duties would not be detrimental to the country saw-mills ; it would eventually increase their output, and would help the building trade generally. I hope that the Government will see the wisdom of reducing these duties.
.- The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) has covered much of the ground that I had intended to traverse. I point out, however, that there is a serious shortage of both soft and hard woods in South Australia. In 1914, the duty on oregon was 6d. per 100 super, feet. At that time I was in the timber trade in Adelaide, and know that it was quite easy to sell building scantling at from 20s. to 23s. per 100 super, feet. The honorable member for Boothby has told us that the price of it to-day is 33s. per 100 super, feet. I direct the attention of honorable members to the fact that oregon is quoted in Canada at £2 per 1,000 super, feet, or 4s. per 100 super, feet; but when all charges are added to importations of this timber into Australia, the price is brought up to £12 16s. per 1,000 super, feet at the Australian wharf. This shows clearly that there is very little profit on this timber when it is sold by our timber merchants at 33s. per 100 super, feet. The honorable member for’ Boothby has said that the extra cost that our tariff policy imposes on the oregon used in a five-roomed workman’s cottage ia £16 15s.; but the position is actually worse than that. I calculate that the extra cost which our policy imposes on the oregon used in a four-roomed cot tage is from £16 to £16 10s., and on that used in a five-roomed cottage, about £22. It i3 not right that this should be so. I have before me the report which the Tariff Board made on oregon in 1930, and, in accordance with the recommendation contained in that report and with the provisions of the Ottawa agreement, I propose to move that the duties on oregon of 12 in. x 10 in. or over be 8s. British, and 10s. foreign. South Australia is almost destitute of hardwood. That State has gone in extensively in the last few years for afforestation. “We have planted chiefly pinus radiata, also pinus insignis, better known as “remarkable pine.” The trees are doing well, but it takes very many years for a forest to mature. It will be quite impossible for us for many years to come to get from our forests a timber larger than 9 in. x 3 in. in 20-ft. lengths. If timber is cut too early it is, of course, immature. We also suffer from the drawback in South Australia that the Government has control of the mills in the forests. The price of locally-grown 9-in. x 3-in. timber in South Australia is 33s. 6d., which is 6d. per 100 super, feet more than the price asked by the merchants for scantlings cut to building sizes and ready for use. It is always the same when the Government embarks upon industry. Wherever the State enters into competition with private enterprise it makes a failure of the business. I am afraid that, even after our forests have been cut out, and the timber is sold, the State will lose many thousands of pounds on its operations. When the State Minister in -charge of forests was in Mount Gambier recently, he told a number of persons interested in the building industry that, unless the mills could show a profit, the Government would have to cease operating them. I hope that it will be compelled to do so and that it will then hand the business over to private enterprise. If a reduction of duties on oregon is agreed to by the Minister, the people of South Australia will undoubtedly be able to” obtain timber at a more reasonable price than that which prevails to-day. On the other hand, I believe that if this Parliament were to double the duties on Oregon, the price of the timber grown in South Australia would also be doubled. I learn from the report of the Tariff Board that a large quantity of oregon is used in both Victoria and New South Wales as well as in South Australia, although I understand that New South Wales, like Queensland, has a considerable quantity of local timber suitable for roofing and other purposes. Still, we have no timber in Australia suitable for tie beams, &c., on jobs where 60-ft. and 70-ft. lengths are required. According to the report of the Tariff Board, Victoria has used a good deal more oregon than hardwood during the last few years. Tasmania, I understand, is able to provide local timber for most of its needs. Even if South Australia were to revert to its former practice of using Tasmanian hardwood for building purposes, the situation would not be entirely met, because Tasmanian hardwoods are not satisfactory. Our dry climate causes hardwood to warp very badly. As the honorable member for Boothby has said, tenders to the value of no less than £100,000 have been let for new buildings in South Australia in the last month or two, and, in every case, oregon has been specified for roofing timbers. In these circumstances, it is essential that the timber shall be admitted at the lowest possible rate of duty. It will be 30 or 40 years before we shall be able to use timber from our own forests to any large extent, and, even then, we shall not have local timber suitable for all purposes. It is possible to cut from pinus radiata scantling timber up to 20 feet in length, but as soon as the point is reached from which the tree sent out limbs, difficulties occur. If a 3-in. by 2-in. scantling of 20 feet long with knots in it has one end resting on the ground and the other end resting on the wall of a building, say, and it is given a shake, it will break at the first knot. The timber also twists badly, and is quite unsuitable for many purposes. In all the circumstances, I move -
That paragraph (1) of sub-item (h) be amended by adding the following: -
And on and after 12th May, 1933 -
In sizes of 12 ins. by 10 ins. (or its equivalent) and over, per 100 super. feet, British. 8s.; general, 10s.
and the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) have advanced reasons justifying the inquiry which the Tariff Board is now making. Its previous report referred to by the honorable members was made more than three years ago. The inquiry which the board is at present making is expected to be completed by the 13th June.
If the duties now in operation were reduced, the trading conditions of both the importers and the local saw-millers would be dislocated. These duties were well considered before they were enforced, and it would be unwise to interfere with them at the moment. Oregon 12 in. x 6 in. and over for underground mining purposes is admitted free, as recommended by the Tariff Board. Logs 10 in. x 3 in. are subject to a duty of 5s. British and 10s. general per 100 super. feet. If these duties were suddenly reduced, it would simply mean that logs would be imported, and all the sawmilling would be done in the cities. On sizes 7 in. x 2½ in. the present rates are 13s. 6d. and 15s. 6d., the Tariff Board’s recommendations being slightly higher; the honorable member desires to raise them to an even higher level. Those are the sizes which gave a good deal of work to saw-mills. On sizes7½ in.x2½in. and upwards, and less than 12 in. x 10 in., the existing duties are 12s. and 14s. respectively per 100 super. feet, while the recommendation of the Tariff Board was 13s. and 14s. In sizes of 12 in. x 10 in., the present rates are 13s. and 14s., and the recommendation of the Tariff
Board 12s. and 14s., while in sizes of 12 in. x 10 in. and over, the present rates are 10s. 6d. and 12s. 6cL, the recommendation of the Tariff Board being Ss. and 8s. These are the rates which the honorable member desires to increase to 10s. I submit that as this is a contentious subject, upon which there is such a divergence of opinion in the different States, we should wait until the Tariff Board completes its inquiry.
– Those concerned have suffered too long.
– It will be necessary to wait only a few weeks longer. Then, if necessary, an amendment could bc requested in another place, and the matter would come back to us for further consideration. If honorable mem”bers have any good arguments to advance on the subject, they could just as easily keep them until then; meanwhile we could push on with other items.
.- I consider that the rates proposed in the amendment moved by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) are on the liberal side, for they propose that there should bc a protection amounting to 200 per cent, against the British and 250 pel- cent, against the foreign timber. It has been pointed out by one of the most capable accountants in the Commonwealth that the cost of building a house in Australia to-day is burdened to the extent of over 100 per cent, as the result of the tariff, and a good deal of that burden is caused by the duty on timber. The cost determines the rent, and we know that the rent of a house is one of the main factors in determining the basic wage. If the cost of a house is raised by 100 per cent, by the tariff, and a good percentage of that increase is caused by dearer timber, the duty on timber is definitely affecting the basic wage in Australia, which, in turn, affects the cost of production in every other secondary industry, in the whole of the transport services, and, in fact, in all industries. I believe, therefore, that we are justified in urging that there should be no delay in the consideration of a reduction of the tariff on oregon. It has been stated that there are continued requests for the extension of afforestation in Australia.
Honorable members know that thoserequests are justified, for it is generally admitted that the supplies of our timber are limited. In the circumstances, what harm is there in making our timber supplies last longer by allowing Oregon to come in at a reasonable rate of duty?
As to any restriction of employment in timber mills, 1 point out that it is the policy of democracy that the interests of the many should not be sacrificed in the interests of the few. Practically every person in the community requires a home, and he is burdened for the sake of providing a little extra employment in a few sawmills.
.- This debate has somewhat surprised me, particularly the statement by the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) that the majority of the houses in South Australia are built of stone, or brick and stone. I was amazed to hear the honorable member, who claimed to have erected at least 60 houses, say that local timbers were not suitable for roofing purposes. That is entirely wrong. I say, definitely, that Australian timbers are more suitable for the purpose than those which are imported, particularly in villas.
– That is a matter of opinion.
– It is a matter of fact.
– Then why do persons buy
Oregon at extra cost?
– I shall come to that later. If the imported timber is of such great value, why do honorable members urge that there should be a reduction of the duty on oregon? Why, too, was so little Oregon used in this building, the woodwork of which, I understand, is practically entirely Australian?
– It has a concrete roof.
– For which Australian stone and cement were used. Unfortunately, South Australia is short of timber; in that connexion it has our sympathy. Since the duties have been placed on oregon, Australian timbers have been used to a. much greater extent than- previously. I speak with some authority when I say that, for a number of years, Australian timber has been used almost exclusively for the construction of wooden houses in Tasmania and Victoria. It is unquestioned in those States that local timbers are better for the purpose than imported timbers. I have been many years in the building trade, and I shall not be so foolish as to claim that local hardwood is suitable for every purpose; but, as a result of the duty on oregon, the use of our hardwoods has become more extensive.
– Then why is more Oregon being imported every year despite the heavy duty?
– I am not in the position .to offer any explanation other than that it may be going into States such as South Australia, which do not possess suitable local timbers. In Victoria, where large seasoning kilns are employed, I have seen narrow flooring boards of Australian hardwood perfectly laid .in public halls, without any risk of buckling. I consider that jarrah is superior to any imported timber for flooring purposes.
Accepting the figures quoted by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey), the extra cost resulting from the imposition of these duties would not be more than £15 on a fiveroomed house. Yet sales tax alone on the material used in the same house would involve the owner in an outlay of £50. If relief is desired, it can be given in that direction. I suggest that these duties should be allowed to remain until the latest report of the Tariff Board on the subject is made available, when the matter may be reconsidered. We should not do anything likely to hinder the further industries that have been so successfully established in Victoria and Tasmania.
.- I support any proposal to encourage the further use of Australian timbers, for no one has a greater admiration for our timbers than I have. The magnificent woodwork in this building is an example of the splendid asset that is ours. I often feel that we mis-use these beautiful timbers; that instead of confining their use to ornate furnishings, we squander them, unnecessarily, on the rougher forms of building.
Some honorable members who represent South Australia have indicated that that State suffers a serious disability as a result of the existing duty on oregon. I have always stoutly supported Australian industry; therefore, I cannot be accused of possessing freetrade tendencies. I am generally regarded as a rabid protectionist, or even as a prohibitionist, in tariff matters; but I am convinced that, in South Australia at present, oregon is necessary for roofing purposes, and that, therefore, a high duty on oregon is not justified. It may be contended that pinus insignis, a soft timber grown in the forests of South Australia, is suitable for roofing purposes; but, unfortu nately, it is not available to the trade in any considerable quantities, probably because the forests are not yet sufficiently developed. So far as the timber for flooring joists and floors is concerned, I have no hesitation in saying that only Australian timbers should be used. Indeed, I would make their use mandatory. I appreciate our wonderful native timbers, and have no desire to do anything detrimental to the Australian timber industry, but I do think that we should be able to use oregon for roofing purposes without injuring the Australian industry. I am willing to accept for the present a lower duty on oregon, but only in respect of timber of large dimensions. I am not in favour of lower duties on oregon cut into small sizes, because I wish to preserve to Australian saw-millers the work of sawing the Oregon logs. In taking this stand I am departing from an almost unbroken record of support for the highest duties provided in the schedule, but I am convinced that I am not doing anything injurious to the Australian timber industry. I hope that the time is not far distant when from the timber growing in our forests we shall be able to supply all our softwood requirements.
– Honorable members, especially those who support the Government, would do well in this instance to adopt the policy that no alteration of duties should take place without an investigation by the Tariff Board. The duties on oregon are now being inquired into by the Tariff Board. In view of what the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) has said regarding roofing timbers, the following report of evidence given in Sydney before the Tariff Board on Tuesday last is interesting: -
Marcus Baldwin Welch, economic botanist, Technological Museum, said that from an examination of tests made to compare the strengths of native hardwood and oregon, the hardwood lost nothing by the comparison. The native timber was generally 30 to 50 per cent, stronger as a beam. In practice Oregon used for roofing purposes contained defects, such as knots, which might weaken the timber, while these were not found in hardwood.
– We cannot ignore the views of men engaged in the building trade.
– The honorable member asks me to accept his opinion in preference to that of the expert whom I have mentioned. Another witness before the Tariff Board was Mr. Norman Wm. Jolly, one of Australia’s highest authorities on forestry. The honorable member for Boothby will probably pay greater heed to the opinion of Mr. Jolly since he also is a South Australian and a man of high reputation. The newspaper report of Mr. Jolly’s evidence contains the following paragraph: -
Further questioning on the difference in the price of local hardwoods and oregon f.o.b. provoked the remark from witness that oregon was a menace to forestry. “America to-day is not paying for the cost of growing her Oregon supplies “, he added.
Honorable members are not asked to decide this question to-night because they are not in a position to do so. I have quoted some of the evidence presented to the Tariff Board. There is also evidence on the other side. The policy of the Government in regard to tariff matters is not to take action until a report from the Tariff Board has been received. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) quoted from a report of the board issued about three years ago. We should allow the present duties to stand pending the receipt of a further report from the Tariff Board. If we are to ignore the existing duties, we shall open up the whole question of forestry - the number and the area of our forest reserves, the number of persons employed therein, the capacity of Australian sawmills, and other questions, which really are matters under the consideration of the Tariff Board. The timber reserves of the several States vary considerably. It is true that because of climatic and soil conditions, South Australia does not possess timber reserves equal to those of the other States, and that the people of South Australia must therefore look outside their own borders for supplies; but in fixing duties we must consider the interests of the whole continent.
– Why injure one State in doing so ?
– Why injure five States in order to benefit one State? The position of South Australia must be considered; but I suggest that these are matters for prior consideration by the Tariff Board. The whole matter was fully considered in 1930 by a conference of representatives from all parts of the Commonwealth.
– I shall read portions of the report of that conference, if I have an opportunity.
– The honorable member can read the whole of it, if he wishes; but the present position should not be disturbed until another report is received from the Tariff Board.
– Three years have now elapsed without the rates being disturbed.
– The only course to adopt is to wait until the Tariff Board has submitted its report on the evidence now being taken in Sydney and throughout Australia. I have every sympathy for the people of South Australia.
– We cannot live on sympathy.
– No ; but the people of that State’ can accept sympathy and assistance, and if a case of hardship can be established, sympathy can be shown in a practical way. In the circumstances, I support the Government, and I shall vote against the amendment.
.- I should have been much better pleased if the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) had moved for a much greater reduction of this duty. I am glad, however, that the Minister regards this as a somewhat urgent matter, and expects that the Tariff Board’s report will shortly be available. Honorable members who were in this Parliament when the high duties on Oregon were imposed, will recall that the Parliament was stampeded into accepting them, owing to the number of saw-millers who had established themselves in Australia to provide timber for use in the erection of war service homes. The saw-millers were really speculating, and, when the requirements for these homes had been met, they said to the Government, “ Prevent any Oregon from corning into this country. We want the whole of the market. We desire to keep up the prices of timber in order to prevent loss by us.” I am not surprised at the eleventh-hour conversion of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin)’. I represent the largest hardwood electorate in the Commonwealth, and I thank the honorable member for Patman (Mr. Dennis) for the just compliment he has paid to Western Australia with regard to its jarrah; but honorable, members should view this matter dispassionately. Before these duties were imposed, quantities of Oregon were brought into Australia, and when the duties were put on, the same quantity, or even a larger quantity, of oregon was imported. The only effect of the high duties was to increase the cost of building. Australia has ‘not much softwood timber. Queensland is practically the only State that grows softwoods. Hoop and bunya pines are excellent woods; but it would be almost a crime to use hoop pine as roofing timber; it is too good for that purpose. It is excellent for cabinet work, and it makes the finest of doors. It seems strange that, when the Government of the Commonwealth was erecting war service homes, Oregon was used for the roofing timber. Oregon is the best wood for that purpose, there are no other woods so suitable.
– Hardwood is stronger than Oregon.
– Hardwood is more difficult to work, and it is not so suitable for lath and plaster work as oregon, because it shrinks and expands under various climatic conditions.
– Does the honorable member know that Canada uses hardwoods for building purposes?
– For flooring purposes, for which they are the finest in the world, and if we showed a spirit of reciprocity, we should be able to sell more of them abroad. My sympathies are entirely with South Australia, which is short of timbers suitable for building purposes. It has . neither hardwoods nor softwoods in any considerable quantity, and is forced to pay the heavy freights that are charged on imported timbers. Consequently building material is much more expensive in that State than in any other part of the Commonwealth. It costs twice as much to bring timber from Tasmania to South Australia as from Vancouver to South Australia, thanks to the Navigation Act. In Queensland the supply of softwoods is not much greater than the requirements of that State, and it does riot encourage the other States to use its timbers; I believe that a royalty is imposed upon softwoods. Owing to the operation of the Navigation Act, the freights from Queensland make it impossible for such States as South Australia and Western Australia to use Queensland timbers. For scaffolding work and for planking, oregon is the most suitable timber available, because it is both light and strong, and it is also preferred for the moulds used in concrete work. I am glad that the honorable member for Hindmarsh admits that the cost of Oregon imposes an additional charge of £16 on the timber used in building the home of a workman.
– I did not mention any amount.
– The honorable member practically admitted what I have said. Australia could have made a satisfactory reciprocal arrangement with Canada for a supply of oregon, and probably that country would have taken considerable quantities of our hardwoods. I remind honorable members that Australia has not too much timber. There is the possibility of the exhaustion of our supplies. One of the clamant needs of the hour is afforestation, for the benefit of future generations. We are exhausting what timber we have. Why force the exhaustion at a greater rate than is necessary? We need soft timber for the development of this country. If we have a surplus of hardwoods, let us sell them to countries that need them as much as we need softwoods. Why impose an unnecessary tax on building operations? Western Australian timber can be used in almost every part of a building, but it is par excellence for flooring. The fact that the high duty on oregon has enabled local timber producers and sawmillers to charge exorbitant rates for our own. woods has had the effect of preventing their greater use. I hope that the committee will readily agree to the reduction of the rates proposed.
.- I support the amendment of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey). The honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) asked why South Australia should desire to do an injury to five other States. South Australia has no desire to do an injury to the saw-millers of any other State. Whether the proposed reduction, of the duty is made or not. the saw-millers of the other States will not benefit, because in Adelaide, par*ticularly, and in the towns of South Australia, the people have been accustomed for many years to the use of oregon for roofing purposes ; and they are still using it. As the honorable member for Adelaide has pointed out, the duty on oregon is a direct impost on the people who build houses, because the architects and those who have houses built will not specify any timber other than oregon for roofing purposes.
– I do not think that the honorable gentleman is helping our cause by making that suggestion. The question is: can we supply the timber that is required?
– We can supply the timber that is required, but the people who are building houses in South Australia prefer oregon, because they believe that it is in a better class. I represent an electorate in which is situated the largest soft timber plantation in Australia. South Australia has taken a foremost part in the afforestation of softwoods. It does not possess the forests that the other States are blessed with, but some years ago, the State Government undertook the planting of softwoods. I say further, for the information of honorable members, that in the pinus radiata forest, South Australia has the largest and the best equipped bush mill in the Commonwealth. Despite the fact that I represent “ this area, and that it i3 at present placing on the market an excellent timber, I support the amendment, because pinus radiata is not yet able to take the place of Oregon for roofing purposes, although it is giving excellent results as a flooring timber, as well as for match boards and boxes. Millions of feet are being cut for those purposes, and the mill cannot cope with the orders it is receiving. When the trees are sufficiently matured to produce the lengths required, I believe that it will take the place that oregon occupies in South Australia at the present time; but until that stage is reached, the committee would be well advised to assist that State by agreeing to the amendment. At the moment, there is on foot in Adelaide, a movement to improve the conditions in the building trade by the provision of work for builders. Additional housing accommodation is needed, but on account of the high cost, building operations are seriously curtailed.
Mr. GEORGE LAWSON (Brisbane) 1 11.43]. - I support the item, because it. affects one of our great Australian industries. Queensland can boast of the possession of a wonderful range of timbers; they are unequalled, I believe, in any other part of the Commonwealth.
The debate to-night appears to have followed the lines of that which took place on axe handles last night. It has been interesting to listen to the different speeches that have been made for and against the duties. I followed attentively the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Cameron), and I am satisfied that South Australia is asking for lower duties on oregon because of the belief in that State that it is better than other timbers. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr.- Makin), by way of interjection, pointed out that that argument did not advance the claim of the South Australian people. If -that is the only reason for the desire in South Australia to have the duty lowered, it is n poor one. It is not fair to ask for a reduction that may cripple one of the biggest industries in Australia, in which thousands of workers are employed, not because .South Australia cannot procure a suitable timber, but because the people of that State prefer oregon.
– Queensland timber i« too expensive.
– If that were the only reason, I should not vote for the reduction of the duty.
– For a number of years, a considerable quantity of oregon was used in the construction of buildings in Queensland ; but never have I known it to be used in the construction of dwellings. It was used chiefly for scaffolding in the erection of large buildings; but, since the duty was increased, very little of it has been used for that purpose. Queensland grows timber that is suitable for any requirement in Australia. I am convinced that, if the people of South Australia were to inquire, they would find that the saw-millers of Queensland are able to supply them with a timber that is suitable even for roofing purposes.
Sitting suspended from ll.ko to 12.15 a.m. (Friday).
Friday, 12 May 1933
– The amendment moved by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) has shown that there is a considerable diversity of opinion among members of the committee in regard to the duties on timber. South Australian members, however, appear to be unanimous enough, even to the extent of one Labour member from that State expressing his intention to support a reduction. On the other hand, the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) has quoted the opinion of an eminent South Australian authority in favour of the use of hardwood, and this has had the effect of only further confusing the committee. The amendment of the honorable member for Adelaide is to reduce the duties from 10s. 6d. and 12s. to 8s. and 10s., and, in support of his amendment, it has been stated that it would effect a big reduction of building costs. This, however, has not been proved during this debate. The only estimate given is that the difference between the cost of a five-roomed brick or stone house built with oregon and one built with hardwood would be between £16 and £22, not a very large amount. It is not even clear that the reduction would be as great as that. I understand that the estimate is based on a comparison of duties of ls. per 100 feet and 10s. 6d. If that is so, a reduction of the duty from 10s. 6d. to 8s. would not effect much saving on such a house. I am interested in this matter in that there are several timber-mills in my electorate, but I have an open mind. Even among the timber-millers themselves there is a difference of opinion as to the probable effect of the timber duties. It may appear later that the rates could be reduced without injuring the millers ; on the other hand, it might, ultimately, be discovered that the present rates are necessary in order to keep the mills in production. Timber-milling is really a primary industry, and there is no doubt that the raising of the duties stimulated production. Capital has been invested in the erection of mills in ray electorate, and I am glad to say that, up to the present, the mills are doing very well.
– Many of the mills throughout Australia were tottering on the verge of bankruptcy until the duties were imposed.
– I am not prepared to go so far as that, but I know that the industry received an important impetus as a result of the increase. The mills employ a considerable amount of labour, and their operation makes for prosperity in the towns, and for further employment there. For that reason, I am averse to- the making of a hasty decision which might react unfavorably against an important Australian industry. The Minister has stated that the Tariff Board is at present making inquiries into the matter. I have been given to understand that the inquiry commenced late last month, and that it will soon be completed. The Minister has given an assurance that, when the board’s report is available, any recommended alterations of duty will be considered in another place, and then referred back to this chamber. I am prepared to > await the appearance of the report. The board will carefully consider all phases of the subject ; it will hear evidence from the millers and, if there are any, from those opposed to the existing rates of duty.
My study of the Tariff Board reports has led me to the conclusion that the hoard is always on the side of Australian industries. I have not yet read any report, nor seen any recommendation by the Tariff Board, which could fairly be said to endanger the future of any deserving Australian enterprise. I shall read the report on the timber industry carefully, and judge for myself, in the light of the evidence offered, the merits of the board’s recommendations. I shall then be able to give an intelligent vote which, I hope, will assist in the direction of safeguarding the interests of all concerned, the timber-millers, the workers and the public. I cannot support the amendment of the honorable member for Adelaide, which, in my opinion, was moved without due recognition of the changed conditions which obtain in the industry.
– In this instance the Government is, I think, doing the right thing, and it would be a mistake to interfere hurriedly with the duties as they now exist. When the last Government was trying to formulate a set of duties which would do justice to all sections of the timber industry, it found, as previous governments had found that, because of the numerous and sometimes conflicting interests involved, it was difficult to fix duties that would do the right thing by every one. Only after a great deal of thought, and after hearing many imputations and arranging many conferences, were the present rates worked out. Inevitably, some anomalies have developed ; but, in my opinion, the wisest thing would be to wait until we get the considered report of the Tariff Board, more especially as a conference is at present sitting in Sydney, and others will be held later in Melbourne and elsewhere. When we get the report of the board, we shall have something definite to work on. I have been interested indirectly in this industry for many years. I am certain that the imposition of the present duties gave it a much-needed impetus; but I am not so foolish as to think that the duties have not given rise to certain anomalies. It would he too much to expect otherwise. Every one will agree, however, that the timbermilling industry has developed as well as can be expected during this time of depression. Of course, business, has fallen off ; but it would be wrong to attribute this to the duties now in operation, when the real reason is undoubtedly the depression through which we are passing.
– There would be much force in the argument of the Minister and honorable members who have supported him that the committee should wait for the report of the Tariff Board before coming to a decision if it were a fact that we were to be allowed to wait; but the Government is endeavouring to stampede the committee into accepting and validating the dogmatically-imposed duties of the last Government, without any advice or recommendation from the Tariff Board. To be consistent with its election pledges, the Government should have acted upon the 1930 report of the Tariff Board and placed in the schedule the proposals then recommended. But, for various reasons, it has preferred not to take that course, with the result that a considerable section of our people will be penalized by these heavy duties until the board presents its new report, which, we understand, will be available shortly. Although there is a difference of opinion on the subject, apparently several Australian woods can, in certain circumstances, be used instead of oregon, but I have never heard of any Australian or other hardwood that does not creep ; this must always be an obstacle to its more general use for some classes of building work. Where Australian timber is readily available, and where transport costs are not excessive, certain eucalypts, particularly mountain ash, are used as a substitute for oregon. Many Queensland softwoods are not available at a reasonable price to people in the other States. This is not because of the higher wages paid in Australia as compared with Canada or elsewhere, but because of the heavy royalty exacted by the Queensland Government on timber cut in State forests, and the policy of the Forestry Commission to check the rate at which the State forests are being depleted. This royalty on Queensland timber represents a substantial contribution to State revenue, and enables the
Queensland Government to give relief to its taxpayers by means of these contributions from people in other States. This charge also discourages people from using more largely the splendid Queensland softwood in preference to imported timber. In many instances the royalty is so high as to completely offset the import duty, with the result that costs increase. Higher costs for building mean higher rents. These higher rents are an exaction from wage-earners, among others, unless they are allowed for by an increase in the basic wage. If the basic wage were increased, rail transport and harbour charges would be increased, and the costs of a great number of other commodities in Australia would be indirectly affected. In the final result the cumulative effect of these higher duties greatly increases the difficulties of our export industries. Since the Minister apparently is determined to validate these exorbitant duties, which were imposed some years ago without inquiry as to their effect on industry generally, those honorable members who would prefer to wait until the report of the Tariff Board is available have no option but to vote for the amendment. Once these timber duties are validated it will be difficult to secure a reduction.
– Can we not have an understanding as to the circumstances in which they shall be validated?
– I am afraid that any understanding on that point would be of limited value. At present these high duties are only supported legally because they appear in the schedule. If the amendments do not bring the duties below the 1921-29 level they may be further amended by the introduction of another schedule. But if this schedule is passed, it may only be amended by resolution of both Houses. These proposals have been before the Parliament for over three years, and I am surprised that the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) does not realize the risk of any future amending proposals being set aside to give place to less controversial government business. The validation ofthese duties will, in effect, load the dice against any further amending proposals. I intend to vote for the amendment.
Mr.RIORDAN (Kennedy) [12.33 a.m.]. - The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) has just told the committee that the royalty demanded by the Queensland Government on all timber cut from State forests is largely responsible for the present high prices charged to customers in other States. Apparently the honorable gentleman ‘is not aware that the royalty is refunded on all timber sent to the other States, so that part of his argument breaks down completely. Timber from all the States was used in the construction of this building. Can any honorable member find fault with it? At one time it was the practice even in Queensland to insist upon oregon being used for roof timbers; that is not the position to-day. Several Queensland timbers are quite suitable for that purpose. We have no assurance that a reduction of the duties would bring down the price charged for oregon in South Australia or any other State. At the most the reduction would be only a few pence per 100 super. feet. The existing duties gave immediate encouragement to the timber industry, and I have no hesitation in saying that they led to increased employment. Protection has helped the timber producers; therefore, why disturb the duties pending a report by the Tariff Board? That body has shown a tendency recently to reduce duties, but I hope that it will do nothing detrimental to the timber industry. As there is ample Australian timber available for all purposes, there is no need to importoregon; therefore, I trust that the amendment will be rejected.
– In Victoria, very little softwood is used in buildings.
– Then why is it imported into that State?
– It is used principally for scaffolding, as frames for concrete buildings, and for mining purposes. Ever since these duties were first imposed, concessions have been made to miners who preferoregon, because they say it creaks or “ talks “, and so gives warning of any movement in the mine. Australianhardwoods have stood laboratory tests far better than any of the imported softwoods. Another reason why the timber industry should be supported is that sawmilling is principally a rural industry, and employs thousands of workers. One cannot but feel sympathy for South Australia because of its deficiency in natural timber, but I congratulate the people of that State on attempting by afforestation to provide for their future needs. When I w:is in Canada, I inquired for seed of the Douglas fir.
– That timber would take 1.00 years to mature.
– It would grow in Tasmania and in the mountain districts of Victoria.
– I believe that it would. I have a personal interest in a pine plantation in the Mount Gambier district, where the trees are thriving in a. most gratifying manner. We of the British race seem to have been almost criminally neglectful of our forests. This is in marked contrast to the systematic re-afforestation in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany. Sweden exports millions of feet of timber annually; yet its forests show no signs of depletion. Had Australia followed a similar policy of conservation and reafforestation, its timber resources would be in a much healthier condition. In Victoria, we never think of using any timber but hardwood for roofing purposes. Because of the thorough seasoning which our woods now undergo in the uptodate plants attached to the mills, the troubles formerly caused by warping and shrinking are no longer experienced. When I was in Loudon, Miss West, an Australian architect, was trying to interest the people of England in houses erected almost wholly of Australian timber. Not only the walls and floors, but also the mantelpieces, cupboards, shelves, and ornamental features were of hardwood. She was making an excellent display of the uses of Australian timbers, which are yearly coming more into favour in the markets of the world. Some of the leading architects of London and the provinces are now inquiring for Australian timbers for building purposes. I saw at Australia House a wonderful display of timbers which elicited the admiration of experts. The Canadian people are fortunate in the possession of extensive forests of first-class softwoods, but they freely admit that Australian veneers, particularly blackwood, are the finest in the world. Five of the six Australian States grow excellent timbers, and if we pay: proper attention to afforestation, we shall be able to continue indefinitely the production of considerable quantities of both hardwoods and softwoods. I accept the Minister’s proposal to allow the duty to remain as it is until the Tariff Board considers the item. Whether it will follow its present practice of recommending a reduction of duty I do not know; but I hope that, in considering the item, it will act in the best interests of the Australian timber industry.
– The electorate that I represent contains an enormous quantity of timber. In Queensland a few years ago there was a great waste of some of the best timber in the world, because of the wholesale ring-barking and cutting of hundreds of thousands of feet of red cedar and silky oak. To-day at some of the railway stations in that State can be seen thousands of feet of these timbers going to waste because of the lack of a market. Much has been said about the difficulty of obtaining a local timber to take the place of Oregon for roofing purposes. I do not know what is the size of the houses that are built in South Australia, but I know that in Queensland little oregon is used for roofing. There is any quantity of Queensland pine without a knot or a limb, aud it can be obtained in any length required. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Cameron) has stated that in South Australia the architects specify the use of oregon for roofing purposes ; but those architects have not made much inquiry if they have not yet ascertained that Australia has timbers which are equal to oregon as a roofing material, and can be used for rafters, tie beams, and purlins. In many places in Queensland re-afforestation is taking place to a large extent. Unfortunately, bush fires have retarded that work; but there is no doubt about its possibilities. Experts generally throughout the Commonwealth are of the opinion that we have a supply of timber sufficient for fifteen or twenty years without further re-afforestation.
Most of the States are encouraging reafforestation. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) has suggested that in South Australia oregon is the only timber suitable for roofing. In Queensland, little oregon is used, even for scaffolding. We find that the Queensland softwoods are of sufficient length for scaffolding, and are able to carry all the weight required. A few years ago a little oregon was used in Queensland, but to-day practically none of it is used. That State is capable of providing all the softwoods required throughout Australia, and if that fact has not been sufficiently advertised throughout the Commonwealth, the blame does not lie with the quality of the timber. I hope that the committee will agree to the Minister’s proposal, and that the Tariff Board will, in making its recommendation, take into consideration the value of our timber industry to Australia as a whole.
– In no way have I tried to belittle Queensland timbers. What I said previously was that my amendment was in accordance with the Tariff Board’s recommendation, which was made three years ago. The Minister has stated that this item is now before the board; but when its report is received, it may happen that it will recommend no alteration of the duties. That would not suit South Australia. Some honorable members have referred to the timbers used in this building. They are beautiful, and I have nothing to say against them; but there are buildings in South Australia and in other parts of Australia for which these timbers would have been unsuitable. In the construction of factories, tie beams of up to 60 feet in length are needed for the first, second, and third floors. I know that concrete is now taking the place of timber in many large buildings; but Oregon is the most suitable timber for roofing. The representatives of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have stated that they are able to use local timbers in place of oregon. According to the report of the Tariff Board, which was made three years ago, Victoria was at that time import ing 55,000.000 super, feet of Oregon annually. The board stated -
Victoria is the most favorably situated of these four States in regard to supply and quality of hardwood suitable for building purposes. The saw-millers’ in that State appear also to be better organized. The present price at which hardwoods are offering is somewhat below that of oregon. The quantity of timber supplied has proved to be generally satisfactory for the purposes for which it is suitable. The normal imports of Oregon into Victoria are estimated to be 55,000,000 super, feet per annum.
If that State has sufficient timber for its own requirements, why was it necessary to import “such a large quantity of oregon? With respect to New South Wales, the board stated -
The importations of oregon into this State from the United States of America and Canada are very large, the requirements under normal conditions amounting to approximately 105,000.000 super, feet per year. The forests of New South Wales are less favorably situated than are those in Victoria, and the saw-millers do not appear to be so well organized. The hardwood timber obtained from the New South Wales forests is generally denser and less suitable for building construction. The softwood supplies of the State are a fast diminishing quality.
With regard to Queensland, the board stated -
The position of Queensland is somewhat similar to that of New South Wales. The first-named State was at one time richly endowed with softwood forests, but these are fast diminishing.
– That was three years ago.
– The position must be worse now. When speaking earlier in the evening, I mentioned the fact that South Australia was unable to use Tasmanian hardwood timber, which had been found to be unsuitable because of the climatic conditions. The Tariff Board takes the same view, because, in regard to South Australia, it said -
This State produces practically no hardwoods suitable for building purposes. As io softwoods considerable areas have been planted with pines, but these plantations will not be producing supplies of timber in any material quantities for some years. Very few wooden houses are built in South Australia, the large proportion of the buildings being of stone or brick. Hardwoods are obtained from other States, principally stringy bark from Tasmania and jarrah from Western Australia. These hardwoods are used for purposes where strength is the main requirement, but Oregon is used almost without exception for roofing purposes. Saw-millers contend that if hardwoods can be used for roofing purposes in Tasmania, it should be suitable for that purpose in South Australia. The experience of South
Australia, however, has been that hardwood scantling timbers produced in Tasmania warp and twist when used in South Australia, owing to the hot and dry climatic conditions.
The Tariff Board report supports every statement that I made. I could cite other pertinent extracts from the report; but I have quoted sufficient to establish my case. I therefore ask the committee to support the amendment.
– I ask the committee to vote against the amendment. The honorable members who represent South Australian constituencies are united on this subject, and it must be admitted that there are special circumstances in connexion with South Australia. That State has not the same facilities as the other States to obtain timber. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) has attacked the Government because of a fear that he seems to harbour that it will not carry out its undertaking to heed the report of the Tariff Board on this subject. I point out that the general rate of duty proposed in the amendment is mere guess work. The Tariff Board report is three years old. There is very little difference between the three rates of duty. The item cannot be postponed, because it is necessary to send a complete tariff schedule to the Senate. It would be foolish to introduce a new duty at this stage, for it would mean that the industry would be unnecessarily disorganized for a few weeks, until the Tariff Board submits its new report on this subject. The report of the board will be considered as soon as it is received. The Government has not delayed in giving effect to the board’s recommendations. This was shown clearly while we were dealing with group 7. In some instances, honorable members have complained that the Government has acted too quickly, because it has not given them an opportunity to consider reports. I urge honorable members not to listen to the argument that because one State suffers under a disability, other States should also be involved in difficulties. Honorable members of all parties who represent country constituencies, and also the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey), must remember that if the amendment is agreed to, it will mean that the work of cutting thesmall sizes oforegon timber, to which the lower duties already apply, will be transferred from country mills to city mills. I know that mills in the Warburton district of Victoria, and in other country districts, would not appreciatethis. It has been said that large quantities of oregon are being imported into Australia. This is, of course, true, because special sizes are being imported free for mining purposes. I urge the committee to endorse the duties proposed by the Government, and I give my assurance that the item will be re-considered when the report of the Tariff Board comes to hand.
Question - That the amendment (Mr. Stacey’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sub-items agreed to.
Item 303, sub-item (c) agreed to.
Division 11. - Jewellery and Fancy Goods
Item 318, sub-item (a1) agreed to.
Division 12. - Hides, Leather and Rubber
Item 328 agreed to.
Boots, rubber, viz: -
Gum and wading boots, ad valorem, British, 30 per cent.; general, 50 per cent.
– I move -
That that portion of the tariff resolution introduced into the House of Representatives on 28th April, 1933, relating to item 330 be incorporated in the present proposals as on and from 29th April, 1933, in lieu of item 330 of the tariff resolution introduced into the House of Representatives on the 13th October, 1932.
This item was amended by the April, 1933, resolution, and this amendment is proposed in order that item 330 of the April, 1933, resolution may nowbe considered. The April, 1933, resolution increased the duties on these goods from 30 per cent. ad valorem British, and 50 per cent. ad valorem general, to1s. per pair and 20 per cent. ad valorem British, and 3s. 6d. per pair, and 37½ per cent. general. That increase is strictly in accordance with the schedule that was brought down by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr.White) on the 28th April last.
– The duties under this item were increased on the 29th April to1s. per pair and 20 per cent. ad valorem British and 3s. 6d. per pair and 37½ per cent. general. This action was taken as a result of a recommendation by the Tariff Board, and the board’s rates have been adjusted only to provide the formula margin of preference under the Ottawa agreement. The 1921-30 rates were free British and 10 per cent. general. During 1929 the Tariff Board held an inquiry into this industry, and recommended rates of 25 per cent. British and 35 per cent. general. The previous Government imposed rates of duty 5 per cent. higher than those recommended by the Tariff Board, but this marginal increase was nullified by increases that were subsequently made in the duties on important raw materials, for example, crude rubber. In October, 1932, the general tariff rate was increased by 10 per cent. ad valorem in accordance with the preference formula under the Ottawa agreement. The surcharge of 50 per cent. of the amount of duty payable under the duties prescribed in this item has operated since the 4th April, 1930. It still remains.
There are two manufacturers of gum boots in Australia. The manufacture of these articles is carried on in conjunction with that of sand shoes. Under present conditions the manufacturers are engaged in producing gum boots during a portion of the year, while the remainder of the year they are used in the production of sand shoes. I am aware that Queensland members say that that is not the practice in the northern State. The board found that the increased duties imposed by the previous Government, together with the 50 per cent. surcharge and adverse exchange conditions, had enabled Australian manufacturers to capture the market. Up to that time, competition had been experienced chiefly from the United States of America and Canada. During the last few months, the competition from Japanese gum boots has been intense. The present exchange conditions are particularly favorable to Japan, and in those countries where Australian currency is at a discount, the effect of Japanese competition must he much more marked. In the opinion of the board, the Japanese boot has not yet reached the standard of the average Australian boot, but the low price at which the Japanese boots have been offered has ensured sales. The Australian manufacturer is labouring under considerable disability through revenue duties imposed on important raw materials, while the wages paid here are infinitely higher than those paidare Japan. The fact that the Australian manufacturers’ sales are confined to the local market also affect the cost of production. The local manufacturers requested the imposition of specific rates of duty which, the board ascertained, represented approximately 400 per cent on the f.o.b. price of Japanese gum boots in men’s size and about 800 per cent. in respect of the children’s sizes. The board was not prepared to recommend these inordinately high duties, for the reason that, if granted, they would constitute an undue burden on users of gum boots, such as dairymen, farmers, miners, and fishermen. The board was of opinion that a measure of relief should be granted against Japanese competition, and, accordingly, recommended duties equivalent to those now proposed, except for adjustments in conformity with the Ottawa agreement. The board realized that the proposed rates would not entirely eliminate competition from Japan, but considered that there was ample scope for the local manufacturers by reviewing production costs to reduce their wholesale selling prices, and still maintain a reasonable profit. The proposed rates will not affect the landed cost of British, Canadian, and American boots to any appreciable degree. The Government has met the manufacturers in the matter of duties on gum boots, and these manufacturers are now expected to play their part in meeting the Japanese competition.
– I assure the Minister that on this side of the chamber we were pleased to hear his report on this item, coupled with that of the Tariff Board, proving, as it did, what we have contended for the last three or four weeks. I have gone carefully into the report of the Tariff Board which indicates that a good deal of credit is due to the representatives of the industry for having done everything possible to facilitate the inquiry and assist the Government in formulating a suitable basis of duty. While, naturally, those engaged in the industry are not satisfied with the rates of duty - neither am I - they, nevertheless, admit that they are an improvement on those contained in the previous schedule. The Minister pointed out that, in addition to the exist.ing duties, the 50 per cent surcharge still remains on these items. From my investigations I found that the Queensland industry will be just able to carry on and compete with importations from Japan if that surcharge is continued. I should, therefore, like an assurance from the Minister that it will not be interfered with.
– Obviously, I can give no promise that the surcharge will remain. The fact is that it is in operation. When the possibility of the dumping of gum boots was brought to the notice of the department the matter was referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry, and if it is found that such a danger exists, the provisions of the industries Preservation Act will be bi-ought into operation. In the meantime deposits are being asked for on any indent of these goods.
.Honorable members on this side are naturally gratified that the Government should have given such favorable attention to the suggestions made by the Labour Premier of Queensland and Labour members of the Federal Parliament. Perhaps it would not be ungracious or uncharitable to point out that a Victorian, as well as a Queensland company, is concerned in this matter. That may be the reason why this Queensland industry has not been subjected to amerce attack by the Government. I have no wish to be uncharitable; I merely point to this coincidence. This industry affords an outstanding example of the value of the assistance given to Australian industries by the policy of protection. Under the protection afforded by the duties imposed after 1931, the local manufacture of gum boots was so stimulated that the imports declined from 83,500 pairs in 1928-29 to 819 pairs in 1930-31. During that period there was also a decided increase in the public demand for these goods. Since the Government has agreed to what we desire - although it hae not gone so far as some of us wished - there is no need to press this matter further. I hope that, when the Minister compared the imports from Japan with our exports to that country, he was not suggesting that the Government could do other than give the fullest possible protection to this industry. He did not appear to show that enthusiasm for the industry that we expected. Though this protection is not all that we wish, we hope that it will not be an isolated example, but that, when good reasons are advanced in future for increased assistance to Australian industries, the Government will pay heed to them.
– The. Minister’s explanation with regard to the surcharge was not entirely satisfactory. If the surcharge were removed, the protection recommended by the Tariff Board would be destroyed. I cannot see any reason why the Minister should be unwilling to give the committee an assurance that the surcharge will not be removed without Parliament being consulted. Surely the members of this committee are fit to be trusted !
Mr.White. - I cannot say any more than I have already said.
Mr.RIORDAN.- I should like to hear the Minister’s reason for not giving the assurance for which I have asked. Why will he not trust the committee? He said that he was unable to say more than he has said previously. So far he has not said anything. Why should any industry in this country be ruined without Parliament having a voice in the matter?
– I have no desire to evade the honorable member’s question. I pointed out earlier that the surcharge was retained for financial and economic reasons. The Government will keep this matter in mind; but I cannot make any promise as desired by the honorable member.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 332, sub-items (b2, 4) (e1, 2)-
Amendments (by Mr. Guy) agreed to -
Chat sub-item (b) be amended by adding the following: - “ And on and after 9th March, 1933 -
Hat-makers’ press bags and rings, gas bags, soles, pads, heels, cash mats, rubbered tyre fabric, tyre rubber photographic accessories of rubber not being integral parts of cameras ; cycle tube and motor car tube repair outfits, ad valorem, British, 25 per cent.; general, 50 per cent.”
That sub-item (b) be further amended by adding the following: - “And on and after 9th March, 1933 -
Rubber manufactures, n.e.i., ad valorem, British, 25 per cent. ; general, 50 per cent.”
Sub-items, as amended, agreed to.
Division 13. - Paper and Stationery.
Items 334, (g1a, b) and 338 (c), agreed to.
Division 14. - Vehicles.
Item 352, sub-item (a3), agreed to.
Division 16. - Miscellaneous.
Item 392, sub-item (a4) -
Provided that in the case of folded yarns being combinations of any of the counts specified in paragraph (3) of this sub-item, the fixed rate duty shall be payable on the resultant count. And in addition to such fixed rate as determined, ad valorem, British, 35 per cent.; general, 55 per cent.
– I move -
That the figure (4) be substituted for the figure (3) appearing in the proviso to paragraph (4) of sub-item (a) of item 392.
In the comparative memorandum issued to honorable members this alteration has been made. The item has been administered in accordance with the proposed amendment, so that no alteration of policy is involved.
Amendment agreed to.
Paragraph, as amended, agreed to.
Item 400, sub-item (b), agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Guy) -by leave - agreed to -
That the following bo reconsidered: -
Group 1. - Item 280,sub-item (d), paragraph (2) ; item 280.
Group 4. - Item 320, sub-item (c), paragraph (2), sub-paragraph (c) as amended.
Item 280, sub-item (d2)-
– I move -
That the paragraph be amended by adding the following: - “And on and after 12th May, 1933 -
Saccharin for all medicinal purposes, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, British, free; general, free.
Saccharin is admitted free of duty under departmental by-law for use in public hospitals. It is not made in Australia. The duties were imposed to prevent the use of saccharin in substitution for sugar. Saccharin, however, is an essential part of the diet of persons suffering from diabetes, and the amendment will enable it to be imported free. The prescription by departmental by-law will prevent the use of saccharin instead of sugar, and the interests of the sugar industry will be well conserved.
Amendment agreed to.
Paragraph, as amended, agreed to.
Item 286 -
– I move -
That the item be amended by adding the following: - “And on and after the 12th May, 1933 - 280-
Plasters, medicated or unmedicated, ad valorem, British, free; general, 10 per cent.
Wool, medicated, when not packed for use in the household, ad valorem, British, 15 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.
Wool, medicated, n.e.i., ad valorem, British, 25 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
For the purposes of the foregoing sub-items
and (c) the word “medicated” shall be as defined by departmental by-law.
The only amendment to this item is the addition of a proviso that the word “ medicated “ in sub-items b and c shall be as defined by departmental by law. Owing to substantial duties having been imposed under tariff item 123, subitem a2 on absorbent cotton wool, not medicated, the practice has been adopted by certain importers of importing cotton wool with a slight trace of medication, and entering it as medicated cotton wool under tariff items 286 b or c at the following rates of duty: -
When not packed for use in the household, ad valorem, British, 15 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.; otherwise, ad valorem, British, 25 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
During 1931-32, 19,463 lb. of cotton wool was entered through the customs as medicated, and the average f.o.b. value was 1s.10¼d. per lb., but during the nine months ended the 31st March, 1933, 78,142 lb. of cotton wool was so entered, the average f.o.b. value being only 7¼d. per lb. The average f.o.b. value of cotton wool entered as medicated has fallen by approximately 70 per cent., and this is a definite indication that, generally speaking, recent importations are not intended for purposes to which medicated cotton wool is usually put. The rate of importation of cotton wool entered as medicated during 1932-33 is five and a half times the rate during 1931-32.
Australian requirements of medicated cotton wool are not large. During 1930-31, prior to the local manufacture of unmedicated cotton wool commencing, the imports of the medicated product were only 10,692 lb., and this quantity can safely be stated to represent Australian requirements. The comparatively large importations during the first nine months of 1932-33 must, therefore, be regarded as a move to avoid the high duties on unmedicated cotton wool. The local manufacturers of unmedicated absorbent cotton wool are large users of Queensland short staple cotton. Thus, every pound of this slightly medicated cotton wool displaces an equal quantity of the local unmedicated product, and narrows the avenue for the disposal of Queensland cotton. Apart from the protective aspect, if this development of substitution is left unchecked, it will involve the Customs Department in considerable administrative difficulties. Quite recently, a sample taken out of a consignment of cotton wool invoiced as medicated, showed no trace of medication when subjected to a test by the analyst attached to the Customs Department. The proposal to define the word “ medicated “ by departmental by-law will enable the Minister to prescribe all methods of medication for legitimate trade purposes, and, if necessary, the method and degree of medication. By this means it will be possible to limit admission of cotton wool under item 286 b and c to the truly medicated product.
Amendment agreed to.
– I desire to make a personal explanation regarding something that was said during the course of the debate on fencing wire. When the duties on wire were under consideration in 1931, I spoke and voted as I stated during this debate. I find, on reading Hansard, that the item was postponed at the request of the then Minister for Trade and Customs. The debate was continued in the following week on the same subject, and it is shown in the division -list that I was paired. Nevertheless, I was paired on the same side as that on which I spoke and intended to vote. That was what the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) was about to point out when prevented from so doing by the Chair. All that I have said with regard to misrepresentation by other honorable members still holds good ; but I have made this personal explanation because I do not wish it to be said on a subsequent occasion that I did not tell the whole story.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 320, sub-item (c2c) -
And on and after 31st March, 1933 -
– I move-
That sub-paragraph (c) be amended by adding the following: - “ And on and after 12th May, 1933 -
1 ) Film for exhibition purposes only and not imported for or intended for purposes of copying; negative film or film imported for or intended for purposes of copying topical, scenic, travel-talk and similar films, serial films, and complete films not exceeding 2,000 lineal feet in length, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, per lineal foot - British, free; general, 4d.
Other negative film and other film imported for purposes of copying, per lineal foot - British, free; general,1s.
N.E.I., per lineal foot- British, free; general, 4d.”
It will be recollected by honorable members that a duty of1s. per foot was recently imposed on foreign negative film and foreign film imported for purposes of copying. The reason for the imposition of this increased duty from 4d. per lineal foot to1s. per lineal foot was that the practice had been adopted of importing only one copy of a film, and having the rest printed in Australia from imported raw stock. The loss of revenue was considerable, amounting to something like £100,000 per annum. Subsequent to the imposition of this higher duty, representations were made by all branches of the motion-picture industry, including the printing, distributing, and exhibiting sides. It was stated that the tax was more than the industry could bear under the present depressed conditions. The Government has had investigations made into the whole matter, and the reports which have come to hand, and the representations made by the industry have received very careful consideration. As a result, the Government has decided to exempt from the1s. per foot duty all foreign news reels, topicals, scenics, travel talk and similar films, also serial films and complete films of 2,000 lineal feet or less. I point out that British films come in free. The Government was satisfied that these kinds of films could not stand the imposition of the higher duty, and the amendment which has just been moved willmake them dutiable at the old rate of 4d. per foot. This amendment will operate very strongly in favour of both the printing and exhibiting branch of the industry. The1s. per foot duty will operate mainly on negatives and positives imported for copying purposes of foreign feature films. It is estimated that even under the item as amended, £60,000 more than the revenue collected during 1931-32 will be obtained. It is also hoped that the gradation of the duties will help to raise the standard of films in Australia.
– I am glad that the Government has thought wise to alter this duty; but even now the industry feels that it is likely to be under a distinct disadvantage, because it has already made its contracts. The exhibitors of films will be called upon to accept responsibility for the extra amount of duty, and their running costs are such as will not permit them to pay the additional sum likely to be claimed by the department. Ultimately, it would’ be passed on to the general public, upon whom already the impost in connexion with all forms of taxation on amusements has almost reached breaking point. I ask the Minister to realize that it would be well to take into consideration the position in which exhibitors are placed by reason of the contracts that they have made. If the duty to be imposed had the definite effect of raising the standard of films, that would be commendable, because there is a tremendous scope forimprovement in regard to certain types of films that have found their way into Australia. It appears to me that the standard of programmes has shown a decided improvement during the last twelve months.
– That is due to the film censorship.
– If it is, every credit should be given to the film censorship. Those who make films are beginning to realize that the public are demanding a higher standard than they were receiving some time ago.
– The introduction of British films has had the effect of improving the standard.
– The standard of British films is very high in many respects, and I commendthe British industry for what has been achieved in that respect; but even that standard is not by any means the highest that can be attained. I hope that the Minister will not impose on the industry any levy that is likely to prove injurious, but that every encouragement will be given to the exhibition of a better class of film, and thatthe Australian public will not be required to meet any additional charge merely for revenue purposes. In days of extreme national emergency, luxuries and entertainments should contribute substantially to the revenue, but it is not fair to impose a levy that is likely to bear more heavily on one section than on another. In the main, picture shows are patronized by working people, who cannot afford to pay the prices asked for admission to theatrical entertainments. I, possibly, have had as much experience as any honorable member as a patron of this form of entertainment, and I do not wish the exhibitors to pass on to working people charges that possibly are altogether beyond their means. I ask the Minister to give me the assurance that the other item which has not been reduced will be further investigated, to see if relief can be afforded in that direction.
– During the last couple of years, some very fine British films have been exhibited. I confess,however, that within the last twelve months, I have seen some imported films that should not be shown in any theatre. In conversation with exhibitors, I have been informed that they have no option but to take these films. That is a matter which should be inquired into. I support the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Sub-paragraph, as further amended, agreed to.
That the following be further postponed: -
Group 3 : Item 19.
Group6: Item 178, postponed sub-items (d) (e);
Item 242, postponed sub-items (b) (c).
Group 7 : Item 180, postponed sub-item (1);
Item 204, postponed sub-item (b);
Item 359, sub-item (f), postponed paragraph (6).
Group2. - Items which have teen amended in accordance with the Ottawa agreement,but not otherwise amended.
Item 331, sub-item (c), postponed paragraph (2), as amended -
Rubber and rubber manufactures, viz.: -
And on and after 9th March, 1933 -
– I move -
That the paragraph be further amended by adding the following:- “And on and after 12th May, 1933 -
(a) Rubber thread; apparel elastic, less than 1 inch in width, ad valorem, British, 35 per cent.; general, 55 per cent.;
Boot elastic; apparel elastic, 1 inch and over in width, ad valorem, British, free; general, 15 per cent.”
The consideration of this sub-item, which appears in group 2, was postponed until honorable members could peruse the Tariff Board’sreport. The amendment that I have just moved provides for an increase of 35 per cent. British, and 40 per cent. general, in the rates of duty on apparel elastic less than 1 in. in width, and rubber thread.No increase beyond the proposed rates is made in respect to apparel elastic 1 in. and over in width, or to boot elastic. The amendment is a result of a recommendation by the Tariff Board, which recently inquired into the duties on these goods.
The local manufacturer of rubber thread has plant of a sufficient capacity to manufacture Australian requirements, which are estimated at 60 tons per annum. At the time of the board’s inquiry this manufacturer was producing at the rate of approximately 25 tons per annum, sufficient for the requirements of its own manufacture of apparel elastic. The production of 25 tons per annum gave employment to 60 hands, and it is reasonable to assume that, if the company catered for the whole of the local requirements, a considerable increase of employment would result. Pure rubber constitutes 99 per cent. of the raw material in rubber thread, and is subject to a revenue duty of 4d. per lb. The local manufacturers are thus operating at a distinct disadvantage com pared with overseas producers of rubber thread. At the present time, British rubber thread is, according to the Tariff Board, landing, free of duty and with 10 per cent. primage, at 3s.10d. per lb., and the local manufacturer is selling at 4s. 8d. per lb. As an offset to this increased price, users will save considerably by reason of the fact that they will not, as has been the case in the past, suffer losses through large stocks of imported thread perishing before being used.
The board points out that the granting of increased duties will make the only other manufacturer in Australia of apparel elastic dependent on a. rival company for the supply of rubber thread. However, the local manufacturers of rubber thread gave an undertaking to the board to sell thread to their competitors in the production of apparel elastic at a price which will represent an economy on the price paid for similar imported thread. There are two manufacturers engaged in the manufacture of this commodity in Australia, and employment is given in the aggregate to 130 persons. At the present moment, the local manufacturers are able to supply the whole of the requirements of the Commonwealth in the narrow elastics, which are estimated to be in the vicinity of 250,000 gross yards with an approximate value of £130,000.
Subsequent reductions have been made in prices of apparel elastic. The board states that the main reductions of prices are on the cheaper elastic, and are probably due to either or both of the following causes: - (1) the advent of the local manufacturers; or (2) keen competition between two exporting countries, namely, Great Britain and Japan. The board also maintains that undue prominence was given by the local manufacturers to the cheap Japanese¼-in. elastic, while the greater demand is for a better class material. Before the Government came to a decision with regard to the duties on these goods, inquiries were instituted with regard to price movements. , It appears that when the local industry commenced manufacture, the principal suppliers of apparel elastic to Australia were the British and American manufacturers.
The local manufacturers placed several grades of narrow elastic on the market at prices slightly lower than the prices then ruling in Australia for comparable grades of British elastic. Immediately the local manufacturers came on the market the prices of imported elastic in all grades were reduced, and the Australian manufacturers reduced their prices still further, la recent months the depreciation in Japanese currency has resulted in such intense competition being experienced from Japan, that the prices of both English and Australian elastic have had to be reduced, and the Australian manufacturers are selling at a loss. -The Japanese, elastic is being used by apparel manufacturers in place of English and Australian elastic. The requirements of manufacturers for the cheaper elastics are estimated to form about one-third of the total Australian requirements of narrow elastics. The loss by the local manufacturers of their share of this trade can be readily appreciated.
The competition in rayon elastic, which is sold over the counter by retail establishments, is not so keen as in the case of cotton elastic required by the manu- facturers, but there is definite evidence that the Japanese are endeavouring to capture this portion of the market also. The local manufacturers have demonstrated to the board that the quality of the local product is satisfactory, and the prices at which they are prepared to sell if the duties are increased are well within the price range of imported elastic when it was admitted free of duty from all countries.
Amendment agreed to.
Paragraph, as further amended, agreed to.
Group 5. - Items amended by Scullin Government, and supported by Tariff’ Board reports.
Item 281, postponed sub-item (n) agreed to.
Group 7.-. - Items amended by Scullin Government which- are not supported by Tariff Board reports.
Item. 123, postponed sub-item (a) (“Waddings and cotton wool) .
– This item was postponed because certain members of the committee contended that the duty constituted an impost on hospitals.
When /the duty was first imposed some of us felt that that might be so, but the item is one of a group which has been under consideration by the Tariff Board. The local makers have not increased their prices to hospitals; in fact, as a deputation pointed out to me recently, prices have actually been reduced. The board has nothing further to report in regard to the item., and I ask honorable members to pass it.
, - I see no reason why I should depart from the attitude I took up previously. When I spoke on the item before, I showed that the difference between the price charged by the local makers and the price at which the commodity could he imported from Great Britain, free of duty, was £21 a ton. I think that it is unjust to impose this burden upon hospitals, and I shall vote against the item.
Sub-item agreed to.
House adjourned at 1.54 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s. - Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be made available as. soon as possible, to the honorable, member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) in answer to a series of questions, upon notice, regarding the distribution of Defence clothing to the unemployed.
Dumping Duty on Wire Netting.
asked- the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
e. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are aa follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - 1.Is it a fact that a memorandum issued by his department on the10th January last, signedby the Honorable C. W. C. Marr, for him, in reply to a letter from the UnderSecretary for Agriculture, Sydney, urging remission of duties and primage on netting and poisons, stated - “Wire netting, when of United Kingdom origin, is admitted free of duty ; but, if it is sold to an importer in Australia at an export price which is less than the fair market value of the goods at the time of shipment, a dumping duty is imposed “?
s. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions areas follow : -
e asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
Can he obtain copies of the trade agreements made by the Government of the United Kingdom with Denmark, Germany and the Argentine Republic; if so, will he make them available to honorable members?
– Copies of these agreements are being obtained, and will be available for perusal by honorable members when received.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1.No.
Mr.R. Green asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What is the telephone rental and cost per call in London for residential premises?
Are there varying rates for telephone rentals in the United Kingdom; if so, what is the range of such rates, and what is the cast per call ?
What is the annual total charge for one line for business premises, plus cost of 3,000 local calls (i.e., ten calls per day for 300 business days) in Australia, New Zealand, London, and Birmingham?
What is the annual total charge for one line for a private residence, plus cost of 1,500 local calls (being an average of five calls per day for 300 days) in Australia, New Zealand, London, and Birmingham?
l. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
New Guinea: Personnel or Legislature.
Mr.R. Green asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What are the names of the gentlemen recently appointed to the Legislative Council in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea*
What are the names and the official positions of the gentlemen appointed to theExecutive Council in thesame territory?
s. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Edward Featherstone Phibbs, Collector of Customs; Eric Patrick Holmes, Secretary, Department of Lands, Surveys, Mines, Forests, and Titles.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 May 1933, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1933/19330511_reps_13_139/>.