13th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. H. Mackay) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Prime Minister received from the Premier of South Australia a protest against the prospective loss of a Beat by that State upon the redistribution! of electoral boundaries based on the recent census and requesting Commonwealth action to prevent such a step being taken, on the ground that South Australia’s population has declined because of disabilities suffered under federation? If that letter has been received, what does the Government intend to do to meet the situation?
– A letter in the terms referred to by the honorable member has been received from the Premier of South Australia. I cannot pretend to an exact knowledge of the position, but I understand that the Commonwealth has no power to do what the Premier suggests. The law stipulates that electoral boundaries shall be automatically adjusted according to the rise or fall of the population. I shall, however, look closely into the matter.
– Will the Assistant Treasurer favourably consider the remission of sales tax on opticians’ requisites to the extent that relief has been afforded to dentists?
– Belief is already given on such sight-testing apparatus or other optical gear as is sold to registered practitioners. As the Prime Minister has already announced, consideration will bc given to applications in respect of other optical gear along with many other applications that have been made for relief from sales tax.
– In view of the published statement of the chairman of the Wheat-growers Conference which met yesterday at Canberra, denouncing the Government’s proposals for the handling of this season’s wheat crop, is it intended to vary those proposals in the direction suggested by me when I moved the adjournment of the House recently by guaranteeing a price of 3s. a bushel at country sidings?
– I have no personal knowledge of the statement to which the honorable member has referred, although [ am aware that certain wheat-growers’ representatives met in Canberra yesterday. As a matter of fact, I left those gentlemen only a few minutes ago, and hope to return to them shortly to discuss the whole position with them. The Government has no present intention of varying its attitude towards assistance to wheat-growers. Twelve days ago it was stated that that question would be determined when the Government was in a better position to estimate the need of the wheat-growers. That is exactly where the Government stands to-day.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a report in to-day’s Canberra Times to the effect that, in the event of no substantial relief being provided by the Government to wheat-growers, direct action should be resorted to by an Australian-wide holdup of wheat? In view of the fact that the Austraiian Wheat-Growers Conference now sitting at Canberra is representative of 40,000 wheat-growers, and that a direct-action Australian-wide hold-up of wheat would have disastrous consequences on the people generally, will the Government reconsider the request of the wheat-growers with a view to giving them some measure of assistance? Further, has the attention of the right honorable gentleman been drawn to the request of this conference for uniform marketing legislation for Australia, and an Australian price for wheat for home consumption ?
– As has already been made very clear by the Minister for Commerce, every one of the questions raised by the honorable member has received the consideration of the Government. If it is thought that the threat of direct action by a section of the Australian people will influence the policy of the Government, a very great mistake has been made. This Government will deal with the position on the facts as they come before it, and will pay no heed to threats from any quarter.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to the reported statement of the Leader of the Opposition that his party would be entirely opposed to the raising of funds to assist wheat-growers by means of a sales tax on flour? Does the right honorable gentleman consider that, in its effect on the Australian consumer, there is any difference between a sales tax on flour and a home price for wheat such as has just been suggested by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition?
– There is.
– Order !
– If the effect of each would be to increase the price of flour and bread to the consumer-
– That would not necessarily be the effect.
– Order !
– On that assumption there is no difference in principle between the two propositions.
– I remind honorable members that the Chair demands silence during the asking and answering of .a question. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has repeatedly defied the Chair, and I hope that he will not similarly offend again.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform honorable members whether it is a fact, a3 has been stated, that the celluloid handles and bristles of what are sold as Australian made toothbrushes are imported from Japan, and that the manufacturing operation in Australia is carried out on German machines?
– This is the first that I have heard of such a suggestion. If the honorable member will supply me with full particulars, I shall have inquiries made into the matter.
– In view of the fact that Federal Government employees whose wages are fixed by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court have not shared in the partial restoration of the cuts that were made in their wages under the Financial Emergency legislation, as have those employees whose salaries or wages are fixed by the Public Service Arbitrator, will the Prime Minister consider the rectification of this unconscious injustice?
– I have stated previously that the Government cannot interfere in cases where wages and conditions are fixed by the Arbitration Court or some other tribunal.
– The employees to whom I refer are not altogether in that category.
– The Government has dealt reasonably and fairly with all those who come directly under its control. When the Arbitration Court adopted a new method of fixing “the basic wage, which was to the advantage of the employees of the Commonwealth, it was promptly adopted by the Government J. cannot give the honorable member an undertaking to interfere with the decisions of the Arbitration Court.
– In view of the action of the Loan Council, and a decision arrived at in this chamber arising from the alleged decline of the national income, resulting in a lead being given to the Industrial Court in cutting wages, and in view also of the present attempt by this Parliament to make restorations in other directions, will the Prime Minister take steps to see that the court makes a similar restoration, seeing that the principle has been established in this Parliament?
– In. view of the difficult financial position of the Commonwealth and the States, a Premiers conference, not the Loan Council, some time ago came to a certain decision which undoubtedly was reflected in the action of the Arbitration Court, but at no time did a Premiers conference attempt to dictate to the Arbitration Court or to influence its decisions in a direct way. In the circumstances, I cannot give any undertaking to attempt to influence the court to alter its decision.
– Will the Prime Minister see that Government employees, who are suffering reductions of wages by reason of decisions of the Arbitration Court, and .who also suffered a further reduction under the financial emergency legislation, at least receive the samo consideration as other Government employees to whom some restoration of pay has been made?
– If there are sections of Government employees who have suffered in that way I shall certainly give consideration to their case with a view to their being treated on. the same lines as members of the Public Service generally.
– Several honorable members have made inquiries regarding the reported prohibition- of Australian barley into Belgium. I am now in a position to say that inquiries have revealed that from the 13th October this year the importation of all cereals into Belgium - not only Australian barley - has been prohibited, except under licence. So far, there has been no actual prohibition of any Australian product. The matter is being closely watched by the High Commissioner, who is in consultation with the Belgian authorities.
McCRUDDEN MACHINE GUN.
– Can the Assistant Minister for Defence inform the House whether the expert committee which was appointed to investigate the merits of the McCrudden gun has yet submitted its report? I understand that this committee will report to another committee, but I desire to know now whether it has made any report?
– When the honorable member brought this matter before me, in some correspondence which passed between us, I undertook to advise him as soon as a report was submitted. So far, no further report has been furnished; when it comes to hand, I shall let the honorable member know.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs been called to a letter in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald from Baldwin’s Limited, in which that firm states that it had reduced the current price of galvanized iron by the maximum discount extended to customers who purchase 200 tons or over? If that report is correct, does the Minister still hold to the quotations in respect of imported galvanized iron which he gave in this chamber recently?
– If the honorable member will examine the Barnard report, he will see that I mentioned £26, not £28 a ton. The letter which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald is based on a misconception regarding the price. The company does not contradict my statement that galvanized iron is cheaper in Australia than in New Zealand; it merely states that it is cheaper here because the exchange between New Zealand and Great Britain is high. As a matter of fact the exchange rate between Australia and Great Britain is the same as between New Zealand and Great Britain. The company also refers with satisfaction to the fact that the Argentine is buying galvanized iron from Great Britain. I hope that that is merely an indication that the Argentine is following Australia’s example and intends to be as good a customer of Great Britain as Australia is. In regard to the further comment that the Government is not giving effect to article 10 of the Ottawa agreement, the Tariff Board, in its report, points out that, if the duty on galvanized iron were lower, the price of this material would be increased to Australian consumers, because of the lessened Australian production. I commend the report to the honorable member.
– In view of the restrictions which have been imposed onthe transport of stock by the Federal Tick Commission, on which the Commonwealthhas a representative, practically preventing young stock from being taken to the Sydney market, will the Federal Government take steps to ensure that this
Stock may be lulled in the country, as in the past, instead of being practically destroyed for nonothing, as would be the result of the increased inspection charges levied by the New South Wales authorities ?
– I shall have the matter investigated and let the honorable member know the result.
– Is the Prime Minister in a position to make a statement to the House on the proposed Public Works loan of approximately £7,000,000, and when does he expect that the issue will be arranged ? Further, will he endeavour to have this money made available to the States before ‘Christmas, in order that a. substantial number of the unemployed’ may be given work?
– I have no statement to make, but this matter, with others, will be considered by the Loan Council later this week. As to making money available at an early date to enable the States to proceed with their public works programme, I can inform the honorable member that the States are now carrying out the programmes decided on at a previous meeting of the Loan Council. I have no doubt that the Loan Council will find the money necessary for the completion of that programme. There will be no delay whatever on the part of the States because of the Loan Council having to consider the financing of the further programme.
– Is the Prime Minister in a position to indicate when the initial steps by way of a conference of Premiers or otherwise will be taken towards the introduction of uniform industrial laws throughout the Commonwealth, particularly in respect of the hours of labour and the basic wage?
– It has already been decided to hold a Premiers conference early in the new year, in order to discuss constitutional matters. At that conference the Commonwealth will see that the matter raised by the honorable member is discussed.
– I did not quite gather from the right honorable the Prime Minister’s reply to the honorable member for Lang, whether he had, at any previous time, indicated the attitude of the Government to the matter. I now ask him whether he is of the opinion that it would conduce to industrial peace and the general progress of the country to have uniform working hours and conditions throughout the Commonwealth?
– The matter is, of course, one of policy, and, in the policy speech delivered on behalf of the party which the Government represents, it was clearly indicated that the fixing of the basic wage and the minimum number of working hours by a Commonwealth authority was receiving consideration. I am not in a position at this stage to make a definite statement on the matter. It has been receiving the consideration of the Government, and will be further considered, but, if any change were made, it would be necessary to have the agreement of the States. Therefore, the Premiers Conference is an appropriate body to discuss the subject. In the meantime, it will not be overlooked by the Government.
– When I was speaking on the motion for the adjournment on Friday last, in connexion with the drastic conditions imposed on school teachers in the Northern Territory, the Minister for the Interior said that if anything of the nature complained of bad been done, the Administrator was responsible for. it. I now ask the Minister whether it is not. a fact that the Administrator objected to the contemplated action, and that since Mr. Brown’s departure from the Northern Territory, he has confirmed his objection by letter forwarded by air mail? If that is the position, will the Minister say who is actually responsible for the unprecedented action taken -in regard to Northern Territory school teachers?
- Mr. Brown returned to Canberra yesterday, and I have not had an opportunity to discuss this matter with him, but at an interview Mr. Brown had with the Administrator it was agreed that no action would be taken until Mr. Brown returned to Canberra. I shall have inquiries made in order to ascertain why action has been taken without reference to me.
– A statement published in the Sydney Morning Herald today contains the suggestion that Townsville, among other places, is a suitable locality for a regional wireless station in North Queensland. Can the PostmasterGeneral say where the station will be constructed ?
– I am not in a position to state the exactlocation yet, . but tenders have been accepted for the work, and additional inquiries will be made before the exact site is determined. Negotiations will be carried on with the land-owners, and until these have been completed and the site chosen, it will be premature for me to indicate the precise locality where the building will be erected. As soon as the matter is finalized the honorable member will be advised.
TENN ANT’S creek gold-FIELD.
– Has the Government yet considered the advisability of acting on my suggestion that a geologist and assayer should be sent to the Tennant’s Creek gold-field to assist in its development?
– As the honorable member is aware a government inspector of mines visited that field only a few weeks ago, and made a report regarding it. The Government has given some consideration to the matter, but does not think it advisable to send a geologist there at the present juncture for the purpose of reporting on the field.
QUEENSLAND cotton crop.
– Will . the Minister for Trade and Customs make a statement to Parliament as to the result of the conference held in Sydney recently between representatives of the cottonspinners, the growers, and the Customs Department regarding the disposal of 1,750 bales of cotton lint which is the balance of the Queensland cotton crop remaining unsold?
– The conference was quite satisfactory to both the growers and the spinners, but if the honorable member desires a full statement regarding it, I shall obtain details and furnish the information later. papers.
The following papers were presented : -
High Commissioner for . Australia in London -Report for 1932.
Air Force Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1933,’ No. 117.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act - Statement for 1932-33.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amendedStatutory Rules 1933, No. 116.
Quarantine Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1933.. No. 118.
Sydney “ Sun “ : Comments on Parliamentary Allowance Decision.
Debate resumed from the 27th October (vide page 4034), on motion by Mr. Ward -
That, in view of the printer and publisher of Sun Newspapers Limited having been ad- judged . guilty -of contempt, they now be called to the bar of : this House forthwith, in order that the House may demand ‘from them an explanation of their conduct, and,, if necessary, deal with them as. it thinks fit.
– I move -
That this order of the day be postponed until Thursdayn ext.
The object of the present motion is to allow further consideration to be given to the matter. I understand that the debate was adjourned on Friday last for that purpose.
.- The Opposition does not desire to vote against the postponement of consideration of this matter until Thursday, but hopes that the Government will carefully consider it between to-day and Thursday. After the very strong pronouncement on Friday last by the Acting Leader of the House (Mr. Parkhill), when he said that the machinery of the Crown Law Department, would be put into operation in order to determine the powers of the Parliament and of the Commonwealth Government to deal with a case of this kind, I had thought that overtime would have been worked during the weekend, and that after the lapse of four days the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) would have been able to make a definite statement as to the Government’s intentions. The right honorable gentleman and the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) were absent from the House on Friday, but I remind the Prime Minister of the effective speech made by the Acting Leader of the House, who had almost the unanimous support of honorable members when he said -
The statements complained of are entirely untrue. The object of this paper is very clear. In pursuance of a. policy of bowelless commercialism-
– The honorable member may not debate the original question.
– I do not desire to debate it, but I urge the right honorable the Prime Minister to refer to last Saturday’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald-, and read the strong pronouncement made on behalf of the Government by the Postmaster-General, who declared that salutary action would have to be taken, and- that the matter could not be allowed to rest where it stood. I hope that the Government, will not retreat from the strong attitude taken up by the Acting Leader of the House last Friday. There should bo no need for any further delay. The powers of Parliament are well known to the Crown Law officers, who should also be familiar with section 49 of the Constitution, which states that the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament in matters of this kind are in all respects identical with those of the House of Commons. The Government’s position is still further strengthened by Standing Orders 284 and 285.I hope that the Government is not; disposed to yield to any influence which might have been brought to bear upon it, but that, in the words of the PostmasterGeneral, salutary action will be taken when the matter is again brought forward on Thursday next.
– The strongest action is essential.
– I agree with the honorable member. We do not oppose the postponement at this stage, but we urge the Government to take firm action.
– The original motion in connexion with this matter was moved by my colleague, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). When I was discussing the subject with the Prime Minister this morning I told him that the honorable member for East Sydney, who is an alderman of the City of Sydney, would be detained there, and wouldbe unable to attend Parliament to-day. However, he has arrived unexpectedly, and I wish the Prime Minister to understand that the information I gave him this morning was given in all good faith. We do not oppose the postponement of this matter until Thursday. I know the reason for the postponement, and I do not wish to discuss it now, butI expect the Government to be able to proceed with the matter on Thursday next, and deal with : it finally.
Motion agreedto; order ofthe day postponed.
In committee : Consideration of Senate’s requests resumed from the 27th October (vide page 4059).
Item 147 -
Ironand steel, viz.: -
Plates and sheets, plain tinned,ad valorem - British, free; general, 10 per cent. anda deferred duty as follows: - On and after1st October. 1 933 - r 147. Iron and steel, viz.:
Plates and sheets, plain tinned, per ton - British, 70s.; general, 115s.
Senate’s request -
Leave out deferred duty.
Upon which Mr. White had moved -
That the requested amendment be not made, but the deferred duty be altered from 1st October, 1933, to 1st January, 1934.
.- The request before the Government is that the deferred duty be deleted from the schedule. The rates in this deferred duty were first proposed as far back as 1920, and have been from time to time renewed. At that time, presumably, commercial prospects were brighter than they have been since, and it seemed likely that the tinned-plate industry might shortly be developed; but thirteen years have elapsed, and the industry has not yet been established. There are signs at the moment, however, that action may shortly -be taken, and the’ manufacture of tinned plate put in hand. The right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) said that he disagreed with the method of encouraging the development of industries by the insertion in the tariff schedule of deferred duties, but I put it to the committee that no one would be prepared to embark on the heavy expenditure involved in the establishment of an industry of this kind without some security being offered. It must he remembered that prime labour costs in Australia are80 per cent, higher in the heavy industries than in Great Britain, and the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited could not be expected to embark on this enterprise without an assurance of protection from the Government. The granting of this protection does not necessarily mean that the Australian purchaser will have to pay more for the product of the industry than he now pays for the imported article. We, in Tasmania, per head of population, use a greater quantity of tinned plate than the people in any other part of the Commonwealth. It is used in large quantities in the preservation of fruit and fruit products, fish, meat, &c. We may, therefore, be expected to ask ourselves whether the establishment of an industry for the manufacture of tinned plate in Australia is likely to injure our canning operations. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) stated quite frankly that he had no objection to the establishment of the industry in Australia, but he added the proviso that the users of tinned plate should not have to pay more than they are paying now. I entirely agree with him in that, and there is no reason why they should have to pay more.
– The tinned-plate industry will be the exception if they do not.
– It will not be the exception. If the honorable member took the trouble to make himself conversant with the facts, he would learn that a great many Australian-made products are now selling for less than the price at which similar goods can be imported, duty free.
Australia’s requiremen t of tinned plate is 50,000 ‘tons a year, approximately 1,000 tons a week. Comparing this industry with other similar ones, it seems probable that employment would he provided in the tinned-plate industry for from 500 to 700 additional persons. The Broken Hill group of industries in Newcastle is now well established. Prom the mother steel industry have grown several subsidiary undertakings, the latest being the pipe manufacturing works. As the managing director of the company stated recently, in Newcastle, when representatives of the provincial press were inspecting the works, the more the mother industry can be surrounded with subsidiaries, the greater will be the output, and the lower will be the cost over the whole range of products. An additional 50,000 tons output from the steel mill should make a pronounced difference in overhead costs of the steel mill itself, and this economy should be reflected, in the products of both the steel mill and the tinned plate works.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) has supplied the committee with some details regarding the expenditure already incurred by the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited in anticipation of the establishment of this industry. He has said that, in round figures, the company has already spent approximately £500,000. There may be some confusion of thought regarding this expenditure, and, in order to clear it up if possible, I point out that a definite proportion of the capital expenditure on the steel mill can properly be allocated to the tinned plate industry. It is true that there was no such industryin existence at the time, but when the mill was laid out, provision was made, not only for the production of steel for such commodities as steel rails, plates, angle-irons, &c, which are peculiarly the output of a steel mill, but also for the manufacture of tinned plate. The mill is also big enough to provide the raw material for subsidiary industries when they become established. It is natural that, when the company embarked upon the expenditure of millions of pounds on the installation of steel works, it should look ahead to the time when subsidiary industries would come into being around its main undertaking, and make provision for them at the outset. Therefore, although’ the expenditure incurred to date may be, for the most part, in respect of the steel mills, it is reasonable to allocate some portion of the total cost to other and allied industries, established or to be established in the future, such as galvanized iron, wire, nails, tinned plate, and steel pipes. But apart from this allocation of expenditure to the cost of developing the tinned plate industry in Australia, the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited has carried out investigation work at the cost of many thousands of pounds. Officers representing the company have been sent overseas, and some are still abroad pursuing investigations as to the latest and most economical methods for the production of this commodity.
– Can the honorable member say what amount has been expended in that direction?
– From my knowledge of the company’s operations, I know that it has spentmany thousands of pounds in carrying out this investigation work; and it is only fair, when Parliament is” considering the worthwhileness of this new industry, that it should take into account the heavy expenditure incurred in connexion with the steel industry generally. Some years ago, the Tariff Board inquired into this” industry in an abstract way,- and recommended a deferred duty, the ratesbeing 76s. a ton British, and 115s. a toil general. I am not in a position to say whether those rates are suitable to the conditions that obtain to-day, but I should imagine that the position should again be investigated, because wages and the cost of materials are considerably lower than in 1920. In that year, the price of galvanized iron was at least twice as highas the price ruling to-day* To cite another item, cement was then £16 a ton. Therefore, the Tariff Board should again inquire into the industry in the light of the substantially different conditions now obtaining. That body will fulfil its function only if it pays regard, not only to the economics of the steel industry, but also to the requirements of those people who will use the product of this new industry. It must study carefully the economic requirements of those primary producers who export their products in the form of canned goods, and any recommendation which it might make must ensure that they are able to sell their product, particularly on . the English market, in large quantities, and at a reasonable cost. I feel sure that the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited will offer no objection to the principle that the Tariff Board should police the duty, so as to ensure that costs are cut to the lowest possible limit, and that the users of tinned plate, and the people generally, are not exploited.
– The board should also recommend measures to ensure that the product of the plate mills will be sold to the users of the product and not to the trade only.
– I shall not discuss that phase of the industry at this stage. Last week representatives of the provincial press visited the Newcastle works and subsequently were entertained at luncheon by the managing director, Mr. Essington Lewis, who, in the course of his remarks, made an important statement of the company’s policy which, I suggest, should be placed oil record for future reference, if that should be necessary. I take the following from the report of Mr. Lewis’ statement as published in the Newcastle Morning Herald of Saturday, the 28th October-
It is the company’s policy to get its products into consumption at the lowest possible prices compatible with costs of production. Since one of the greatest factors an cost is tonnage, each one of the industries to which I have referred assists very materially in reducing prices of the raw materials . to each of the others. The other factors, of course, are modern and efficient machinery and equipment, and the keeping of plant right up to date with world practice involves the expenditure of very large sums of money. A good deal of the expenditure on the plant you have seen to-day has been undertaken at a time when the world’s affairs were very unstable, and when the future was unknown. I simply mention this to convey an idea of the risks involved, and the great feelings of confidence that our board has in the future of Australia. Money is still being poured into these works in improvements and extensions, and the resultant savings arc being “ passed on to consumers.
This is for the special benefit of the honorable member for Forrest -
We have already spent approximately £10,000,000 on the steel works, the iron ore mines, collieries and various quarries, he added, and I can state definitely that, as a result of extensive study of iron and steel plants in other parts Of the world, we have here at Newcastle quite as an efficient and good a type of plant as that which exists anywhere, having regard to the volume and nature of Australia’s requirements. We are already selling most of our products to consumers at prices below those at which they could bo imported from Great Britain at the present time on a duty . free basis, and we look forward to the time when we can do more in this direction. When it is borne in mind that wages paid in the steel industry in this country are approximately 80 per cent, in excess of those paid in Great Britain, you will readily realize what a high state of efficiency it is necessary forus to maintain inorder to sell at present prices. I might also mention in passing, that we have succeeded in reducing the Australan prices of every product we manufacture. So far as the quality of our products is concerned, this compares more than favorably with that of any other steel producing unit in the world. This is in a very large measure due to the great advantage we have had in the excellence of our iron ore deposits and the close metallurgical control at various stages of production; also to the very excellent and intelligent class of labour available in this country.
The professions of the company in this matter areclear and unequivocal. The managing director states that it has reduced the price of every commodity which it is producing, and that prices in Australia for the output of its mills and subsidiary industries are lower than prices at which similar commodities can be imported duty free. He adds that, as the volume of the company’s business increases, it hopes to be able to pass on the benefit to the users in Australia.
Having regard to the whole of these facts, and to the further fact that this immense unit of the steel industry which has been established in the Newcastle district is still expanding and has become a vast consuming centre for . Australian produce and products, there should not be any doubt in the minds of honorable members that, if the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited establishes the tinned plate industry in Australia, and if the Tariff Board keeps it under proper surveillance, the people of this country will not be exploited.
.- I should like to know if there has been a recent report from the Tariff Board on this item?
Mr.White. - The board is making an investigation now.
– The Government has adopted the principle that no new duties shall be imposed until after the receipt of a report from the Tariff Board. If this motion is carried, it will be competent for the Minister to bring the deferred duty into operation whenever he pleases, and thus Parliament will have parted with the control which it can now exercise over it. That would not be consistent with the principle that no new duties shall be imposed without a report’ by and the approval of the Tariff Board. I cannot see how we can consistently place in the hands of a Minister the power to impose a duty that has not been inquired into by the Tariff Board.
– All duties are being validated until an inquiry into them has been held by the Tariff Board.
– As this duty, has not operated up to the present, it will be a new duty when imposed. The Ottawa agreement provides that no new duties shallbe imposed until a report of the Tariff Board has first been obtained, yet the committee is asked to give the Minister the power to impose this duty without the recommendation of the board! That is not right. This item is more important than the bulk of the items in the tariff schedule.
– Clause 12 of the customs tariff now under consideration provides that deferred duties shall not be applied without the recommendation of the Tariff Board.
– Two stages should precede the imposition of such duties. In the first place, the Tariff Board should hold an inquiry into the matter; and, secondly, the consent of this Parliament to their imposition should be obtained. It is now proposed to dispense with one of those stages. The committee is being asked blindly to give the authority to bring the duty into operation on the recommendation of the Tariff Board.
– The duty could be imposed only if the Tariff Board made that recommendation.
– A duty of 76s. is proposed. Where are the data which would make it reasonable for the committee to agree to that proposal? Why should the duty not be 176s., or even 7s.? The Minister must think that honorable members are so tame that they will vote for anything that he suggests. The proper course would be for the Tariff Board to report on the matter, and for that report to be considered by the committee. An industry which is more important than this, and more worthy of consideration, is that which is carried on by fruit-growers in Australia. Those primary producers, by exporting a portion of their production, are bringing money into this country, whereas the iron and steel industry merely takes advantage of local trade at asubstantial cost to the community.
-There is no duty on this item at present.
– I am aware of that. That is the reason why fruit cans are obtainable at a reasonable price. I fear, however, that if the Minister is empowered ‘to impose the deferred duty, the public will have to pay shockingly, as it has in connexion with other . branches of the iron and steel industry. The fruit-growers are working on the narrowest of margins, and have to meet the keenest competition. If the cost of cans were materially increased, it would he bad, not only for these fruit-growers, but also for Australia generally. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin,), who is well acquainted with the iron and steel industry, has urged that some cover should be given to the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited. Is not the fruit industry entitled to the guarantee that it will not be exploited by the iron and steel industry, as other industries have been for years?
– What industry has been exploited ?
– That is a very long story; it has been published in Tariff Board reports. The boast of the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited that it can sell its products at a lower price than that of the imported article free of duty, could be tested by removing the duty. The company is not prepared to submit itself to the test of actual competition. If it has confidence in its ability to substantiate its claim, and the Minister believes that it is serious, let the issue be decided. I do not believe that the company could carry on without protection. I consider that the removal of the existing embargoes would lead to the importation of iron and steel goods at, a lower price than is now obtaining. The Broken Hill Proprietary Limited and its supporters are aware of this and, therefore, insist upon high duties. The interests of fruit-growers demand consideration. I do not wish to appear prejudiced against the iron and steel industry, but I do ask that protection equal to what it enjoys shall be given to the fruit industry.
.- I can understand the reason for the special pleading of the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) on behalf of the iron and steel industry; but he must be on the horns of a dilemma, seeing that he has in his electorate a big jam-making and exporting industry.
I object to the use of deferred duties to tempt people to establish secondary industries. Only last week the justification advanced in this chamber for the duties on galvanized iron was that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), when Prime Minister, promised John Lysaght _ Limited substantial protection if it would establish works in Australia. Although the right honorable gentleman is now in the political background, his promise is still regarded as binding, whether the industry in question is doing a service or a disservice to Australia. We have enough industries which not only are not bringing a shilling into this country, but in the majority of cases are increasing the cost of production and of living, without, adding to their number. The cost of secondary products is greater in Australia than in any other country in the world.
– Would the honorable member prefer the iron ore to be exported instead of being used in Australia?
– The honorable member must be aware that tremendous water carriage and high exchange provide this industry with sufficient shelter at the present time. It is well aware that, once established, the protectionist vote in this Parliament is sufficiently solid to protect it, no matter what effect it may have on the fruit industry or the tinned meat industry. I object to this inducement being offered before a commencement is made with the establishment of an industryr The Tariff Board should first examine the. case. Why does the honorable member for Denison want a duty of 76s. against Great Britain and one of 115s. against other countries, if the local concern is of benefit to the people and can compete with overseas companies? The industries that use tinned plate cannot stand the addition of one farthing to their present costs, because even now they arc carrying on at a loss. For the reasons that I have given, I shall vote against the deferred duty.
.- For at least three reasons, the committee should support the Senate’s request to strike out the proposed deferred duty. The first is, that if tinned plate can be produced in Australia at a competitive price, there is no need for such a high duty as 76s. a ton to be substituted for the free imports from Great Britain that we now enjoy. The second reason is, that the point has not been satisfactorily cleared up as to whether substantial capital expenditure was incurred by the iron and steel industry iu connexion with the manufacture of tinned plate, prior to I .he undertaking which we understand was given by the Commonwealth Government ro the British Government, that deferred duties would not be imposed in future unless substantial capital expenditure had previously been incurred.. The third reason is, that we have no satisfactory information as to the necessity or otherwise for the adoption of 76s. or any other rate of duty.
I attach the greatest importance to the (list of the reasons that 1 have given - the menace of a duty of 76s. on a commodity such as tinned plate. I regard such a duty as a real danger to the future of the canned fruits industry, the jam industry, the tinned meat industry, the tinned butter industry, and other exporting industries. Had the iron and steel industry given an undertaking to supply tinned plate to those export industries at world parity prices. I should have welcomed and supported this new enterprise ; but in the absence of such an undertaking, I’ cannot do other than support the request of the Senate. It is always better to stick to already established export industries, than to run the risk of destroying what we have in order to commence building up something fresh.
.- I again appeal to the committee, on broad national lines, to encourage men to take up small holdings of from five to ten acres, adjacent to the cities, on which they may engage in fruit or vegetable growing, or dairying. No occupation offers such a wide appeal as that of the fruit-grower; but if a. large quantity of fruit be grown, there must be an export market, and we cannot afford to do anything that might increase the cost of production, seeing that world parity prices have to be accepted, and freight and other charges have to be borne, by the producers. Notwithstanding what the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin), or the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White), may’ say, there is not the slightest doubt that those who are obliged to purchase the products of the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited have to pay for them a far higher price than they would for the products of overseas companies if imported free of duty. Some time ago I received from an importer in Western Australia a letter in which he stated that he had been refused supplies of Australian-made iron and steel, because he would not join an association/’ of iron and steel merchants, and that, later, after he had been compelled to join the association, he had made 15 per cent, more profit on the Australian material than he had previously made on the material which he had imported from England. The honorable member for Denison might also have told the committee where the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited * obtained the £10,000,000 which it has expended on plant. I assure him that it did not come from the shareholders. He did not tell us that shares in that company, which originally cost 8s. each, were converted into shares of £1’ each. Honorable members have said that we can depend on the recommendations of the Tariff Board, but I remind them that the act does not provide for action being taken only in accordance with that body’s recommendation. It sets out that a deferred duty shall not be brought into operation until the Tariff Board has submitted a report - not necessarily a favorable one. Honorable members may recollect that a deferred duty on glass was put into operation, contrary to the law, without any report having been obtained from the Tariff Board on the matter. The present .Minister himself brought into operation the deferred duties on steel plate without having obtained a report from the Tariff Board.
– Since I have been Minister, action has not been taken without the matter having first, been referred to the Tariff Board.
– That is not so. The Minister’s answers to my questions prove otherwise. If the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) were here, he could tell the committee what happened in connexion with tho canning industry at Shepparton. The Customs Department forced the canners to purchase plant made in New South Wales, which afterwards had to l>e scrapped in favour of imported plant. The fruit, and butter which Australia exports to tropical countries must be consigned in tin containers ; but the extra cost involved in having the containers made in Australia, makes it difficult to dispose of these primary products in the open market of the world-. It is all very well for the honorable member for Denison to say that the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited will supply these articles as cheaply as they can bo imported. It should be able to do so, considering all the concessions that it has had over a number of years. With the exchange position favorable to Australia, and likely to remain so for a long time, tinned plate should be available at lower prices. I hope that the Minister will compel manufacturers who are protected under our tariff to sell their goods at reasonable prices to all who require them, and not only to a small coterie of persons who are members of associations which- control the retail prices of the goods.
.- I hope that the request of the Senate will be agreed to. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin), who has given us expert information on this subject, pointed out that the conditions prevailing in Australia seven or eight years ago were entirely different from those existing today. The honorable member, than whom no one in this chamber is better qualified to speak on this subject, questioned the need of the industry for a duty as high as is suggested in this item, and therefore I ask the Minister to accept the Senate’s request, and to refer this matter back to the Tariff Board for consideration in the light of conditions existing to-day.
Dr.EARLE PAGE (Cowper) [4.13].- I have listened in vain for sound reasons for refusing to agree to the Senate’s request. In my opinion, the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited itself would be wise to accept the Senate’s request, so that a Tariff Board inquiry may be held immediately and a report issued indicating what the board regards as a reasonable duty. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) has rightly said that conditions in this industry to-day are entirely different from what they were thirteen years ago. The original rates of duty were fixed without inquiry by any competent outside tribunal; they were a shot in the dark. The Tariff Board has recommended that a deferred duty shall cease to operate after two years, unless definite steps are taken to establish the industry for which the duty has been provided. The adoption of such a course Would prevent a repetition of some of the things which have happened in the past as a result of executive action, and would . accord with the promise which Australia has given to the British Government. We should refrain from doing anything which might be regarded as constituting a breach of the Ottawa agreement. If Australia had not had the assistance of Great Britain in disposing of its products during the last fourteen years, and had been forced to sell them in the open market of the world, our exporting industries would now be in a state of chaos. We have been able to carry on only because of the assistance rendered by Great Britain. I urge the acceptance of the Senate’s request.
.- I am surprised that members of the Country party should favour the acceptance of the Senate’s request. During the discussion on the galvanized iron industry it was shown clearly that the existence of an Australian factory to manufacture this material resulted in lower prices than obtain in New Zealand where there is no local industry and galvanized iron is admitted free. I mention galvanized iron because its manufacture, like that of tinned plate, is a subsidiary industry of the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited, which has assured me that the imposition of this duty would not mean increased prices. We should accept the Minister’s assurance that the deferred duty will not be put into operation unless the Tariff Board recommends that it be done. The establishment of the iron and steel industry in Australia is a matter of national importance, if only from a. defence point of view. The more subsidiary industries that are established in Australia, the more will the company’s overhead costs be distributed, and the lower will be the prices of its manufactured goods. It is fundamentally unsound to import raw materials which are to be found in large quantities in Australia, especially at a time when unemployment is rife. The establishment of the tinned plate industry would provide employment for over 500 bread-winners, many of whom are now out of work. A number of other subsidiary industries would benefit. Our experience during the last war clearly demonstrated the wisdom of every nation attaining high industrial development. The greater the quantity and variety, of the commoditiesthat are produced in Australia, the better it will be from a defence point of view, apart from the large amount of employment that will be found for our people. The Minister’s assurance amply safeguards the position of those honorable members who fear that exporting industries will suffer as the result of the proposed duty. I have no doubt that our experiences regarding galvanized iron and barbed wire will be repeated in connexion with tinned plate, and that a reduction rather than an increase of the price will occur, because competition among the local manufacturers will prevent exploitation of the public.
.- I hope that the committee will accept the Senate’s request. Members of the Country party welcome the action of the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited in extending its operations to the manufacture of tinned plate, provided that a burden is not thereby placed upon other industries; but it seems to me that the Government is hurrying matters too much in opposing “the request of the Senate. Why should we not wait for the report of the Tariff Board on the matter? Although, according to the Deputy Leader of tho Opposition (Mr. Forde), the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited, and the subsidiary company, are prepared to give a guarantee that the price of tinned plate will not be increased, we must not overlook the fact that prices generally are still falling. It was interesting to hear from the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) that the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited had reduced its prices, but prices of all commodities have been falling since 1929, and it seems to me that there is room for a further drop in steel products. The bars from which galvanized iron is made, and which are sold to the subsidiary company at £8 or £9 a ton, are obtainable from other sources at £2 15s. a ton. Evidently one section of the industry is making a profit at the expense of the other. We should take no action that would place an additional burden upon the canned fruit industry. We have spent millions of pounds on irrigation works, and hundreds of millions of gallons of water are available for the purpose of developing the fruit-canning industry, if an outlet is available for its product. Despite the huge expenditure on the Hume reservoir, not a bucket of the water that has been conserved has yet been used for irrigation purposes; but I have no doubt that water from this source will be required in the future by fruit-growers, and, if any action is taken by this committee to increase the price of tinned plate, a great disservice will be done to the fruitcanning industry.
.- The opposition that has been expressed to the Senate’s request that a deferred duty should not be imposed is rather unreasonable. It has been said that he who goes slowly goes safely, and it seems to me that in this matter the Government is moving too quickly. If a deferred duty is not availed of within a couple of years, it should automatically be removed from the schedule, and the Tariff Board should review the matter before any duty operates. The primary industries, are as much entitled to protection as are secondary industries. Despite the assurances of the Deputy Leader of the ‘ Opposition (Mr. Forde) and others regarding the price of tinned plate, we should remember that, in the early stages of its career,’ the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited assured the government of the day that it would not require tariff protection. Nevertheless, on many occasions, purchasers of the products of the company have had to pay through the nose for their requirements. I feel justified in saying that a deferred duty should not come into operation until it has been reported upon by the Tariff Board. It. is quite as important to conserve the interests of exporters of tinned fruit, jam and meat, as to find additional work for a subsidiary industry of the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited.
– I emphasize that no duty is now placed on tinned plate, but there is a prospective duty. The deferred duty has been in the tariff since 1920, and if the Tariff Board recommends its application, it will come into operation. Therefore, the fears expressed by certain honorable members are unjustified. The company states that it has spent a great deal of capital in preparation for the manufacture of tinned plate, but it will have to submit proof of that to the Tariff Board. Much of the discussion, I submit, has been beside the point. When I stated on Friday that the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) allowed the deferred duty to remain in the tariff throughout the regime of the Bruce-Page Government, he waxed indignant, and said “I subordinated my tariff views in the interests of great national affairs.” Although the right honorable gentleman did that, he did not forget little items such as butter, cheese, potatoes and rice. :
– Order ! The Minister is digressing.
– The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) has said that the primary industries are as much entitled to protection as are the secondary industries, and I quite agree with him; but they are not more entitled to it. The duty on butter was raised from 3d. to 6d. per lb. when the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) was in office, and that was an increase of 100 per cent. I might mention a whole batch of primary products, the increased duties on which ran into hundreds per cent. The proposed deferred duty which has been discussed for two days would amount to only 20 per cent, if applied.
– The Minister must not discuss the duties relating to other items.
– The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) claims that he takes a broad national view in tariff matters. For years he has opposed the iron and steel duties, but has he ever said anything against the placing of a prohibitive duty on butter.
– I voted against the increase of the butter duty, and I ask that the Minister’s remark be withdrawn.
– I cannot ask an honorable member to withdraw a remark said to be incorrect.
– I withdraw the remark with pleasure; if my memory is at fault in the matter, it is because it happened so long ago, and perhapsI may be excused.
Consideration of the terms of reference to the Tariff Board regarding the deferred duty will show that the canning industry is not in danger. The Government is desirous of seeing that costs are not raised in this essential industry. The Tariff Board has been asked to report upon the following questions : - (a) the necessity for the retention of deferred rates of duty under item 147 of the Customs Tariff . 1921-1930, and item 147 of the Customs Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the 13th October, 1932 ;
The company will have an opportunity before the Tariff Board to prove its bona fides and commitments, and if a duty is recommended by the board, the Government will consider the matter, and, in due course, take action. Meantime, it cannot accept the request of the Senate, and I ask the committee to reject it.
– Is the Minister merely asking for the maintenance of the status quo, pending the receipt of the board’s report ?
– That is all.
Question put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Item 157 -
Barbed wire, per ton. British.68s.; general. 1 80s.
Make the duty per ton, British, 40s.
Motion (by Mr. Guy) proposed -
That the requested amendment he not made.
.- The Australian manufacturers’ prices over the whole range of fencing wire and wire netting are lower than the duty-free landed cost of similar wire imported from Great Britain.
– That shows that the duty is unnecessary.
– The duty is necessary in order to prevent dumping. Certain importing agents would, otherwise land large quantities of wire at ridiculously low prices, and not until it was in the country and the damage done would it be discovered that the wire had really been dumped. The result would be that the Australian industry would be injured, and workmen would be thrown out of employment. I should like the Minister to say something regarding the effect of the recent reduction of primage on this item. Since the Senate made its request, primage adjustments have reduced the effective duty on barbed wire by 17s. a ton, and it is probable that the Senate would take a different view of the matter now from what it did two months ago. The manufacture of barbed wire is another subsidiary industry of the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited’s works at Newcastle. It would be a retrogressive step to reduce the duty at the present time, and allow barbed wire to be dumped in Australia from overseas. The effect would be to increase the overhead costs of the local manufacturers, while there would be no appreciable reduction of price to the users of barbed wire. The f.o.b. Liverpool price for barbed wire, plus freight, insurance, exchange and duty, is £3 10s. a ton more than the price of the Australian article,, c.i.f. Australian ports. I trust that the committee will turn the request down by an overwhelming majority.
.-I support this request, because the main company engaged in the manufacture and distribution of barbed wire in Australia does not seem to have been giving the users a fair deal. Eighteen months ago this company, instead of reducing the price in conformity with the general fall in prices, actually raised it by 30s. a ton, and that price has been maintained ever since. Every one knows that the prices of coal, metal, and spelter have fallen, while interest rates, wages and taxes have also been reduced. The fact that these reductions have taken place in the many items which go to make . up the manufacturing costs justifies us in be- . lieving that the price of barbed wire should have come down.
Mr.White. - Does the honorable member say that the prices charged by all the companies in Australia are the same?
– The present price of number 14-gauge barbed wire is £25 5s. a ton, the same as it was eighteen months ago.
– But there are many other companies making wire, and selling it for less than £25 a ton.
– The price charged by the major companies has been maintained, and though there are a few small companies selling for less than £25 a ton, they are experiencing difficulty in obtaining supplies of plain wire for their manufacturing requirements. We should not forget that the Australian manufacturers enjoy natural protection to the extent of several pounds a ton. Freight on wire from Great Britain to Australia is £2 a ton, exchange amounts to £3 5s., while buying charges, wharfage, insurance, &c, amount to another £1 a ton, making £6 5s. a ton in all. If we approve of the Senate’s request that the duty be reduced to £2 a ton, the manufacturers will still enjoy protection to the extent of £8 5s. a ton, which is equivalent to 60 per cent. Galvanized iron is only 33 per cent, dearer than in pre-war times, but barbed wire is 60 per cent, dearer. Therefore, we are justified in supporting the Senate’s request so that the manufacturers may not be able to exploit the users but will be compelled to reduce prices to a reasonable level.
.- The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) said that these duties were necessary, because without them many workers would lose their employment. I remind the honorable member that when he went out of office the number of unemployed was 130,000 more than when he assumed office.
– The honorable member knows that that was due to the acute economic depression.
– The depression would not have been nearly so bad but for the policy pursued by the Government to which the honorable member belonged. Great Britain has never been a great exporter of barbed wire to Australia, the principal competition having always come from Canada and the United States of America. This was recognized by those who imposed the present duties, and for that reason the rate on foreign wire was raised to £9 a ton. The price of barbed wire in New York was £12 a ton, to which had to be added a duty of £9, plus £3 transportation charges, &c, bringing the price up to £24 a ton. The locally made barbed wire was sold at £23 10s. a ton.
I have made previous reference to the fact that restraint of trade has been practised in connexion with the distribution of this commodity. When the present Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) was a private member, he was informed by a manufacturer of barbed wire in Melbourne that it was necessary for him to buy the plain wire, which he used for the manufacture of barbed wire, from one of the Broken Hill subsidiary companies. He was selling the barbed wire without consultation with the other manufacturers, and for this reason Ryland Brothers and Lysaght Limited were dumping barbed wire into Melbourne at the price which they charged this manufacturer for the plain wire. They threatened him that they would continue to do so unless he refrained from exporting wire to New South Wales and Queensland, and raised the Victorian price of his product by £6 a ton. The Minister has informed us that . the interests of the consumers will be protected, but it is obvious that very little protection, is being afforded when this sort of thing can go on. We asked that the matter be referred to the Tariff Board for investigation, and we were informed that this would be done. However, the then Minister for Trade and Customs informed us later that the inquiry had been stopped because the manufacturer concerned had declined to press his complaint. Here was a definite case of restraint of trade, calling for action under the Tariff Board Act, which enacts that the Minister shall send to the Tariff Board for inquiry any complaint received that a manufacturer is taking undue advantage of the protection afforded him and is charging unnecessarily high prices for his products. One can readily understand why this Melbourne manufacturer should withdraw his complaint if lie were permitted to do so. He knew that if he did not withdraw it the iron heel of the interests affected would come down upon him, and perhaps put him out of business. In that case, it was clearly the duty of the then Minister for Trade and Customs to order the fullest investigation into the complaint that certain people, having secured a monopoly of the market, were acting in restraint of trade. On other occasions I have mentioned that Lysaght Limited and Rylands Brothers fix the wholesale and selling prices for wire netting. Under that arrangement, if I ordered, say, 10 miles of wire netting, I should be required, in effect, to give a bonus of about £40 to tie firm that accepted my offer. No special engineering skill is required in the manufacture of barbed wire. The maker simply buys the raw material from the manufacturer who draws the wire, and machines do the rest. I hope that the committee will accept the Senate’s request. My only regret is that the Senate did not also request a reduction of the rate on foreign barbed wire, because a duty of £9 a ton is preposterous. How can we expect a country like Belgium, for example, which buys largely of our surplus primary products, to continue to trade with us, if, in addition to the natural protection afforded by freight and a high exchange, we impose a duty of £9 a ton on barbed wire from that country?
.- I direct the attention of the committee to the fact that, while the Senate’s request for a reduction of the duty on British barbed wire to 40s. a ton appears to be reasonable, in tariff item 159b, wire, the material from which barbed wire is manufactured, carries a duty of 52s. a ton British and 120s. general. So the logical thing to do, if the committee agrees to the Senate’s request, is to reduce the duty on the raw material. It is essential that farmers should be able to purchase this commodity at the cheapest rate. “While it might be argued that certain manufacturers are not taking full advantage of the protection .given to them, it is also true to say that they are not prepared to meet foreign competition in the manufacture of wire, which is the raw material for the manufacture of wire netting and barbed wire. A reduction of the duty on wire would give substantial relief to primary producers. Since wire used for the manufacture of barbed wire carries a duty of 52s. a ton. the Senate’s request to reduce the duty on barbed wire to 40s. a ton might, if accepted, place certain manufacturers at a disadvantage. Nevertheless, I shall support the request in the hope that, in the near future, we shall have an opportunity to consider the duty on wire also.
.- The Senate’s request to reduce the British duty to 40s. a ton was not supported by the Government in that chamber, and it is not in accord with the Government’s policy. A duty of 68s. a ton is moderate ; it represents only 20 per cent, ad valorem, and with exchange deduction, it would be much lower. A duty of 40s. a ton is equivalent to an ad valorem duty of only 12 per cent. Will any honorable member say that that is adequate protection for a secondary duty?
– On the Minister’s own showing, it is unnecessary.
– The honorable member might say the same of the duties on many other commodities. But would he agree to a reduction, by 50 per cent., of the duty on butter ? He is silent. Gippsland is listening! The Government’s policy is to treat all sections fairly. It believes in adequate, but not prohibitive duties. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) mentioned a complaint made some time ago to me, when a private member, by a Melbourne manufacturer, that certain firms were acting in restraint of ‘ trade ; and the honorable gentleman added that I protested to the then Minister for Trade and Customs (Sir Henry Gullett). But the honorable member did not state the whole of the facts. The complaint made was that the product was being sold too cheaply. As I remember the matter, it related to nails chiefly.
– Nails and barbed wire.
– The complaint was to the effect that nails were being sold in certain States at such a price that, if action were not taken, it would compel certain manufacturers to go out of business, as the firm that was underselling was the only maker of the wire needed as raw material. I took the matter up with the then Minister, who quite rightly ordered an investigation by the Tariff Board. Subsequently, most of the people concerned said they had no further complaint to make, and the Minister could do nothing further. If the honorable member has other information, and if he will inform me, I shall have inquiries made. I ask the committee to reject the Senate’s request.
.- There is no later report from the Tariff Board in connexion with barbed wire, than the one issued six years ago. Parliament debated this item at some length in the early months of this year. On that occasion the defence put up by the
Government was that this industry was not taking advantage of the protection given to it, and that barbed wire was being sold as cheaply as it would be sold if no duty had been imposed. I do not dispute that statement. I merely contend that, if barbed wire can be manufactured in Australia, and sold at a profit without taking advantage of any part of the tariff of 68s. a ton, the Senate’s request for the reduction of the duty to 40s. a ton is reasonable and should be accepted.
– If the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Thorby) has any further information on the subject which he mentioned, and if he will place it in my hands, I shall have an investigation made. I understand, however, that there has been no complaint about the duty on wire.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s request -
Make the duty British, 20 per cent.; general, 37½ per cent.
Motion (by Mr. Guv) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not made.
.- I submit that the Senate’s request was made in absolute ignorance of the facts, and that, if given the opportunity to do so, it would reverse its previous decision. Senator J. B. Hayes was evidently badly informed when he said that these duties should be reduced in the interests of orchardists and fruit-growers generally. The small orchardists for whom the honorable senator claimed to speak are paying for hand-operated spray pumps, not twice as much as they should, as he alleged, but a lower price than that at which similar pumps can be purchased in New Zealand, the United States of America, and - for certain lines - in Great Britain.
As Minister for Trade and Customs, I had opportunities to inspect the operations of this industry, and it was at my instigation that the protection was given which placed it on its feet. I say, without fear of contradiction, that it is one of the most efficient industries in Australia, and that it has been a great boon to grapegrowers, banana-growers, dairy-farmers, and orchardists, as well as to fire brigades in country districts, which use Mole’s knapsack spray to combat bush fires. The local industry supplies a superior article, the price of which, on the average, is 10 per cent, lower than that of the cheapest. British article. The seven companies which make spray pumps in Australia are M. S. Regal Limited ; Henry Lane (Australia) Limited, Newcastle; John Banks, Limited, Melbourne;’ A. Simpson, Adelaide ; A. Jarrett, Sydney ; The Pope Sprinkler and Irrigation Company, South Australia; and the Gay Sprinkler Company, Victoria. The biggest of these -is M. S. Regal Limited, which supplies probably 50 per cent, of Australia’s requirements, and employs 150 persons in the busy season.
The Tariff Board carefully investigated this industry, and concurred in the duties imposed by the Scullin Government. The following comments, which I have abstracted from its report of the 7th September, 1931, are worthy of being placed on record : -
Notwithstanding that last statement, we have this audacious recommendation of the Senate. I-
– The honorable member may not refer to the request of the Senate as “ audacious “.
– This unreasonable request, if granted, would place the Australian industry in real jeopardy. Employment in it would be reduced, and importing interests would be able to land shipments of these goods to its detriment.
Let us consider comparative prices of some of the lines produced. Mole’s patent knapsack sprayers, which are used by banana-growers, vignerons, and orchardists, are priced in Australia at from 75s. to80s. The prices in the United King-‘ dom are 92s. 6d. and 97s. 6d.; and in New Zealand, where there is no local industry and imports are free from duty, the price is 105s. That explodes the argument that the absence of tariff protection results in the imported article being sold at a lower price. Now take the case of the model A bucket pump, which is used extensively by farmers. The price of that pump is 27s. 6d. in Australia, 33s. 4d. in the United States of America, 28s. in the United Kingdom, and 35s. in New Zealand, where there is no local industry and no duty is imposed. Those figures prove that the lower price in Australia is due to the existence of the local industry, which competes against imports.
The price of small tin atomizers, which are used in large quantities throughout Australia for killing flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, and other insect pests, is from1s. to1s. 3d. in Australia, 2s.1d. in the United States of America, 2s. in the United Kingdom, and 2s. 6d. in New Zealand.
I would point out that, at the inquiry held by the Tariff Board, Mr. F. G. Carr. of Henry Lane (Australia) Limited. Newcastle, speaking as the Australian representative of W. T. French and Son, of Birmingham, in support of the present duties, stated that it was the intention of his principals, when the duties were confirmed, to manufacture in Australia the complete range of hand-operated spray pumps which the Birmingham firm was exporting to this country. Almost two years have since elapsed, but that undertaking has not yet been honoured. Evidently, this firm is waiting for the duties to be reduced in accordance with the request of the Senate, when it will again export its products to Australia and compete with the local manufacturers. It would not be fair to endanger the security of the local industry by so lowering the tariff as to enable this firm to ignore its undertaking.
The companies which make these pumps in Australia purchase locally their non-ferrous metals - that is, metals that will not rust, such as brass sheets, brass tubes, brass rods, brass castings, zinc and copper. The balance of their requirements, such as tinned plate and steel tubing, they import from England, and pay on it exchange at the rate of 25 per cent., a charge that benefits primary producers. The local industry was ‘ of substantial assistance to the dried fruits industry in the Murray river valley when it was threatened with the fungoid disease. The fruit-growers in that area were then able to obtain immediately large supplies of knapsack sprayers from M. S. Regal Limited, at a price which was 30s. below that charged in New Zealand, where there is no local industry and imports are free from duty. Thus they were able to save their crops. This is further evidence of the slipshod manner in which consideration was given to the matter in another place.
– Order 1 The honorable member is distinctly out’ of order.
– I have no wish to cast any reflection upon the Senate.
– The honorable member will not be in order in referring to the debate in the Senate.
– Evidently freetrade interests supplied misleading information, and that led to this request being made. I hope that the committee will reject it by an overwhelming majority.
– It is because the report of the Tariff Board was made in 1931, and not foi- the reasons advanced by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde), that this matter has been referred back to the board. The Government asks the committee meanwhile to reject the request of the Senate arbitrarily to fix a different duty, and to accept the existing rate. I shall not go over the ground that has already been covered by the honorable member in eulogy of the local industry, which undoubtedly has been of benefit to Australia.
.- A comparison of the duties on’ spray pumps and other appliances used by orchardists with the duties on implements used by the sugar-growers of Queensland, is all in favour of the latter. Whereas an orchardist has to pay a duty of 45 per cent, on the spray pump which he uses, a sugar-grower pays only 20 per cent, on the pump used by him. Cane loaders, cane unloaders, and cane harvesters, channel-making graders, garden and field spraying machines, not including spray pumps operated by hand or foot, as used by sugar-growers, are subject to a duty of only 20 per cent. It would appear that the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) when Minister for Trade and Customs had a hand in framing these duties. Another instance of differential treatment is shown in regard to some of the implements used in the coal industry. For instance, coal-cutting machines are subject to a duty of only 27 per cent.
– Order! The machines referred to by the honorable member are not included in the requested amendment now before the Chair.
– I have mentioned these other items by way of comparison to show the unfair treatment of orchardists.
.- The Government has, undoubtedly, gone a long way in various directions to assist those engaged in horticultural pursuits, particularly by exempting from the sales tax many of the articles which they use; yet it endeavours to maintain exorbitant duties on spray pumps, atomizers and vaporizers, which are necessary for the production of clean, sound fruit. Under the 1951-30 tariff, duties on these goods ranged from 20 per cent. British to 25 per cent, intermediate, and 30 per cent, general tariff. Notwithstanding a high exchange rate, and the primage duty, .which gives an additional protection to Australian manufacturers, the Government attempts to justify duties of 45 per cent. British, and 65 per cent, general, which are higher even than those imposed by the Scullin Administration. If the Government were consistent, it would reduce the duties on the articles used by horticulturists. The duties recommended by the Senate, namely, 20 per cent. British and 37-J per cent, general, are sufficient to give the local industry ample protection, particularly in view of the added advantage to them of the exchange, primage duty, and handling costs.
– There is an exchange deduction to be taken into account.
– That is so; but it does not counteract the whole of the benefit of the exchange rate.
.- Members of the Country party protest against the duties on spray pumps and other goods which, they say, press heavily on primary producers; but if .they were to examine the position more carefully,, they would realize that the manufacture of these goods in Australia has resulted in prices being lower than ever before. If the primary producers of Australia were better educated in regard to these matters, they would riot so readily follow some of their so-called leaders. Surely honorable members in the corner are prepared to give local manufacturers credit for what they have done for the primary producers of Australia. They should know that a lowering of the duties on these goods would result in a heavier burden being placed on horticulturists and others who use them. Experience has proved that lower prices are the natural result of a scientific tariff. The Tariff Board, in its report, states -
The indications are that the Australian manufacturers have endeavoured to supply a high-quality product at a reasonable price, and that users have derived advantage from the existence of the local industry.
The board goes on to say that, in its opinion, the industry is one worthy of encouragement. It is difficult to convince some honorable members that it is immaterial whether the duty is high or low, so long as users obtain articles . of good quality at reasonable prices. In this case the Tariff Board itself has stated that the manufacturers have not exploited the users. I do not believe in exploitation by either importers or local manufacturers; but I know that there has been far more exploitation by the former than by the latter. We shall act in the best interests of the primary producers by rejecting the Senate’s request.
.- It is surprising to find members of the Country party supporting the Senate’s* request in this instance, because usually they are in favour of following the recommendations of the Tariff Board. There is, perhaps, no other industry of which the Tariff Board has spoken so favorably as .the one concerned in the manufacture of spray pumps and other implements used by horticulturists. The committee would be well advised to accept the Tariff Board’s recommendation in this instance. In December, 1931, after a thorough investigation of this industry, the Tariff Board reported -
The board is satisfied that the quality of the Australian product of the types under consideration is good, and that they give satisfaction to users.
It also points out that, although the public was invited to give evidence at the inquiry, “no witnesses appeared in opposition to the request for an increased duty”. Evidently, the primary producers were satisfied with the treatment accorded to them by the local manufacturers. Prior to the 20th June, 1930, the bulk of Australia’s requirements of these goods was imported, but the imposition of higher duties led to the establishment of an Australian factory which, admittedly, has rendered good service to primary producers in addition to giving employment to between 130 and 150 workers.
– Although the Tariff Board’s report is dated December, 1931, the inquiry took place in July and August of that year.
– At the inquiry, Mr. F. G. Carr said that if the higher duties were confirmed, the full range of spray pumps now manufactured by W. T. French, of Birmingham, England, would be made in Australia; but it has not yet done so. Although the field has been left to the one company at present operating, that company has not taken advantage of its position. That is clear from the Tariff Board’s report that -
A considerable amount of labour is involved in the production of these goods . . . local manufacturers have not taken undue advantage of the position to exploit users. On the contrary, the indications are that the Australian manufacturers have endeavoured to supply a high-quality product at a reasonable price, and that users have derived an advantage from the existence of local industry.
The board went on to say that the duties previously in existence were not sufficient to give the local industry adequate protection. I could understand the attitude of members of the Country party if the local manufacturers of these goods were taking advantage of the tariff protection to exploit the primary producers, but it is clear that they have not done so. A comparison of the prices for these goods in Australia with those in other countries-, shows that Australian users are receiving better treatment than are those in freetrade countries. Despite the protection afforded by the tariff, a sprayer knapsack, as used by banana-growers, vignerons and orchardists, is sold in Australia at from 75s. to 80s., whereas the price of a similar article in freetrade Great Britain is from 92s. 6d. to 97s. 6d. In New Zealand, where no tariff is imposed, the price of this article is 105s., or 30s. more than the price charged in Australia. It is obvious that the users in Australia are not exploited by the manufacturers. A model A bucket pump, used extensively by orchardists, is sold at 27s.6d. in Australia, and at 33s. 4d. in the United States of America. The New Zealand price is 35s., and in freetrade Great Britain this article costs 28s., or 6d. more than in Australia. The local price of small tin atomizers, employed for the destruction of flies, mosquitoes and other insects, is from1s. to1s. 3d. each, compared with 2s. in the United States of America and Great Britain, and 2s. 6d. in New Zealand.
Despite the protection that the local industry has received, the prices of its goods are lower now than in 1906. The primary producers of Australia have received a fair deal - from it, and the Tariff Board is thoroughly satisfied that it is not exploiting the public. Had this information been available to honorable senators, possibly their request would not have been made. I point out to those who constantly claim that the recommendations of the Tariff Board should be closely followed, that here is a glaring instance in which the Senate has departed from the board’s recommendation. I urge honorable members to support this industry, because it has not taken advantage of the tariff barrier. [Quorum formed.]
Motion agreed to.
Machinery, viz.: -
Linotype, monotype, and other typecomposing machines n.e.i., typewriters (including covers): machinery used exclusively for and in the actual process of electrotyping and stereotyping; aluminium rotary graining machines; adding and computing machines, and all attachments, ad valorem, British, free: general, 20 per cent.
Senate’s request -
Amend paragraph to make it -
Linotype, monotype, and other typecomposing machines n.e.i., typewriters (including covers); machinery used exclusively for and in the actual process of electrotyping and stereotyping; aluminium rotary graining machines, ad valorem, British, free; general, 20 per cent. Add to sub-item the following new paragraph : -
Adding and computing machines and all attachments, ad valorem, British, free; general, 10 per cent.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
The object of the amendment is to reduce the general duty on adding and computing machines and all attachments from 20 per cent, to 10 per cent. Prior to the Ottawa agreement these machines were dutiable at 10 per cent, general, but when the agreement was being negotiated it was agreed that the machines covered by item 169 (a) (2) should be given a preference of 20 per cent. Subsequently, however, it has been ascertained that adding and computing machines, which are included in that paragraph, are not being manufactured in the United Kingdom, and consequently the 20 per cent, duty is not serving any useful purpose to the United Kingdom, but merely imposing an additional burden on the users of these expensive office appliances. This reduction is- being made after consultation with the British Government’s representative in Canberra, and with his approval.
Motion agreed to.
And on and after 9th March, 1933 -
Item 174. - Machines, machine tools, and appliances for use in connexion therewith. viz. : -
Wood-working machines and appli ances,but not including extra knives, viz.: -
Senate’s request -
Leave out “Drawing” and insert “Drying”.
Mr. WHITE (Balaclava- Minister for
That the requested amendment be made.
The object is merely to correct an error in the printing of the schedule.
– I ask the Minister to have the duties on tools listed for consideration by the Tariff Board. The tool-making industries conducted by Scott and Son Proprietary Limited, of Melbourne, and W. H. Plumb Limited, of Sydney, are in. serious jeopardy because of the reduced duties on tools and because of the tariff and exchange adjustment scheme. The matter has been referred to the board, but it is not listed for immediate consideration, and the 1921-30 rates will operate until the present proposals are ratified by Parliament. The companies concerned hope that the new rates will not be put into operation. I ask the Minister to request the board to reconsider the matter, otherwise the companies either will have to close their doors or to invest their capital in other channels.
– The honorable member is dealing with hand tools, but the Senate’s request relates to machine tools. The firms mentioned by him have made many requests for higher protection, and these have been sent to the Tariff Board for investigation. I do not believe that the position of the local industry is so serious as the honorable member has suggested.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s request -
Insert new sub-item - (.j) Main reduction gears imported for use with steam turbo-generators or steam turbo-alternators - ad valorem, British, free; general, 15 per cent.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
The object of this request is to give effect to part of a recommendation by the Tariff Board with regard to turbogenerators. For the information of honorable members, I draw attention to the following extract from a report by the board: -
With reference to main reduction gears which are used in certain types of steam turbogenerators to transmit power from the turbine to the generators, the evidence before the board showed that local manufacturers and also representatives of overseas manufacturers of turbo-generators are of the opinion that Australian gear cutters have neither the equipment nor the experience necessary for the production of suitable gears. Irrespective of the duties applying to reduction gearing, suppliers of turbo-generators would hesitate to experiment with Australian-made gears, as the responsibility for their performance rests with the supplier of the complete generating unit.
Other parts of turbo-generators . are adequately protected, but the board claims that this part is not economically produced in Australia. It, therefore, recommends that the duties be - British free, and general 15 per cent.
– I am not at all impressed by what the board says on this matter, and I shall have something further to say about it when the next request is under consideration. It is regrettable that the Minister has handed tariff-making over to the Tariff Board. This policy has had mischievous results, and is placing many Australian industries in jeopardy.
.- I am glad that the Government is acting on the Tariff Board’s recommendation in this matter. Despite the fact that the admission of many items under by-law has been a matter for ministerial decision, those new duties will only operate as the result of a specific provision in the schedule. In the past we have “been handicapped in the development of primary and secondary industries because much equipment which could not be made in this country has been subject to heavy duties. The sub-item “metals and machinery, n.e.i.” covered too wide a range, and I am glad that in this matter the Government is taking the “ bull by the horns,” and placing on the free list a British article that cannot be commercially manufactured in Australia.
Motion agreed to.
Motive power machinery and appliances (except electric), viz.: -
Senate’s request -
Add new sub-item -
Turbines, steam, or water, and parts thereof, imported with or for use with turbo-generators or turbo-alternators: -
1 ) Turbines, steam or water, not exceeding 2.000 horse-power, ad valorem - British, free ; general, 15 per cent.
Partsof steam turbines exceeding 2,000 horse-power imported separately or with complete or incomplete assembled or unassembled turbines, viz.: -
Boxes and blocks, nozzle; diaphragms and fixed blading together with packing and caulking strips; filters, oil; governors, including speeder gear with motors and controllers ; labyrinths, spindle gland (meshing portions ) ; pumps, auxiliary oil, with regulators ; rotors, complete with blading and couplings; strips, gland and dummy; tachometers and instruments ; wheels, worm and gear, ad valorem, British, free; general, 15 per cent.
) Other, ad valorem - British, 45 per cent.; general,65 per cent.
Parts of water turbines exceeding 2,000 horse-power imported separately or with complete or incomplete assembled or unassembled turbines, viz. : -
As prescribed by depart mental by-laws, ad valorem - British, free; general, 15 per cent.
) Other, ad valorem - British, 45 per cent.; general65 per cent.
For the purposes of this sub-item, horsepower shall be determined as prescribed by departmental by-laws.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
This request hasbeen made in order to give effect to the Tariff Board’s recommendation on turbo-generators, and covers the turbine end, whilst request 21 covers the electrical end. The present practice of charging duty on the whole of the turbo-generators, even though a certain portion is not manufactured in Australia, is altered, and a reasonable duty of 45 per cent., British, and 65 per cent, general, is provided on those parts which can be successfully manufactured in Australia, with free admission from the United Kingdom on those parts which cannot be manufactured locally.
Paragraph 1 provides for the admission of turbines, both steam and watery not exceeding 2,000 horse-power at the rates of free, British, and 15 per cent, general.
During the Tariff Board inquiry no objection was raised by local manufacturers to the free admission of turboalternators up to 1,000 k.w. To provide for overload and inefficiency, a turbine, to drive an alternator rated at 1,000 k.w. continuous rating, would normally be constructed to develop at least 2,000 horse-power.
Paragraph 2 covers steam turbines exceeding 2,000 horse-power, and provision is made for the free admission from the United Kingdom, whether imported with overseas turbines or not, of those parts which cannot be manufactured locally, and which are at present admitted under departmental by-law for use in the manufacture of Australian-made turboalternators only. The parts which can be manufactured locally are made dutiable at the rates of 45 per cent. British and 65 per cent, general.
– Does the Government regard 15 per cent, as a sufficient margin of preference?
– That is the margin provided for in the Ottawa agreement. I agree with the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) that the system we are introducing is preferable to allowing admissions under by-law. I do not’ wish to have the responsibility of making by-law admissions if it can possibly be avoided. This is an instance in which the Tariff Board has been able to dissect an item in such a way as to admit some parts at preferential rates, while protecting other parts capable of being commercially manufactured in Australia. It is obvious that in this way costs will be reduced, and the completed machines will be cheaper.
Paragraph 3 relates to water turbines over 2,000 horse-power, and similarprovision to that made in respect of steam turbines is made for the free admission from the United Kingdom of parts which cannot be commercially manufactured in Australia, but owing to the great diversity in design it is not possible, as in the case of the steam turbine, to mention specifically the parts which are to be admitted free. These will be dealt with under departmental by-law.
At the present time, certain parts of turbines, and the complete alternators and generators, are admitted under departmental by-law, free, British, and 15 per cent, general, when imported for incorporation in, and use with, a complete turbo-generator, or complete turboalternator, the balance of which had been manufactured in Australia. If these parts were for use with a turbo-generator or turbo-alternator which had been completely built overseas, duty is chargeable on the complete plant. The Tariff Board recommends that these parts which are’ now being > admitted under by-law for incorporation in, or use with, an Australianmade machine be definitely inserted in the tariff with rates similar to those applying under the by-law item, namely, free, British, and 15 per cent, general, whether such parts are to be used with a machine wholly imported or with one partly manufactured in Australia.
The present practice of charging duty on the complete turbo-generator if certain parts are not manufactured in Australia brings about a condition of protection which is out of all .proportion to the value of the work done in Australia. Several examples of this are given in the board’s report, and it is shown that the protection on the parts manufactured in Australia ranges as high as 300 per cent. Under present conditions, the local manufacturer is able to charge higher prices for the parts manufactured by him, and the overseas manufacturer is able to charge higher prices for the parts which be supplies.
The Government always watches the effect which any tariff alteration has on employment, and in this case the Tariff Board was asked to submit a further statement as to what effect the adoption of its recommendation might have on local employment. The board has replied that there is no prospect at present, or in the near future, of any orders being placed for large steam turbogenerating plants, and that the adoption of the recommendation will have no immediate effect on employment. It states that the adoption of the recommendation is calculated to reduce the initial cost of these machines, which should result in reduced capital expenditure by electricity undertakings, and allow of reductions of charges, or the release of capital otherwise required for purchase of equipment. Reduction of the price of electricity would allow of lower production costs in all industries, with consequent increased sales and employment. The board considers that the loss of employment in the manufacture in Australia of generating units would be offset by an increase of employment in other industries.
A feature of recent Tariff Board reports is that, where highly protected fields of Australian industry have come before the board for investigation, and it has been ascertained that local manufacturers are not availing themselves of this protection, it has recommended a further refinement of the tariff with a view to freeing from duty such goods. It 13 apparent that high duties on important key industry goods which are not manufactured in Australia only retard the development of the country, and ‘ prevent national progress. Consequently, it is to the benefit of the country generally that this refinement be made. The board’s recommendation in this instance gives a fair protection, namely, 45 per cent. British, and 65 per cent, general, on those parts which can be manufactured in Australia, and, at the same time, permits of tlie free admission of those parts which cannot be manufactured here.
.- I am very sorry that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) has decided to interfere with this item. It affects an important branch of the en*gineering industry which provides employment for many Australian workmen, including youths who are anxious to learn a skilled trade. Before the committee consents to the Senate’s request, a further public inquiry should he held by the Tariff Board, and the representatives of the industries concerned should be given an opportunity to bring forward new evidence, which, I understand, is available. The present duty on turbogenerators was imposed by the Bruce-Page Government in 1928, in accordance with a recommendation of the Tariff Board, and therefore does not come within the list of duties not supported- by Tariff Board reports. The inquiry held by the board into this subject in 1928 was very much more complete than that held in 1933. The board has sensed that the policy of the Government is to revise duties in a downward direction, and. has framed its recommendations accordingly.
Thompson’s engineering company at Castlemaine, the Clyde Engineering Company, and Mort’s Dock and Engineering Company in New South Wales, all urge that the old 1921-28 tariff provisions be continued until a more complete investigation of this highly technical subject has been made. The members of the Tariff Board, cannot be expected to be experts on. everything. The board submits about 200 recommendations a year, and we cannot hope that its reports really contain the last word on everything from engineering to textiles. In fact, it is turning out reports so rapidly that it cannot deal with all subjects, particularly an important one like this, as they deserve.
Australian companies are manufacturing turbo-generators in Australia with Australian artisans from local material under licence from Vickers Electrical Company of Manchester, the English Electric Company of London, and the British, Thompson Houston Company of Rugby. The British manufacturers do not seek this reduction of the duty, because they have entered into satisfactory arrangements with Australian manufacturers. The precipitate action of the Senate cannot be justified. The Minister has stated that the Senate’s request should be ratified, because no big turbine jobs are imminent, and employment will not be affected. I have learned, however, that negotiations have been proceeding for some time in connexion with several important undertakings; but the manufacturers have found that the prospective buyers are hesitating to clinch the contracts, because they hope that the Senate’s request for reduced duties will be agreed to by this committee. Whether or not’ the local manufacturers receive the orders, depends entirely on the action which we take now. If we agree to the Senate’s request, the * orders will go overseas, instead of being placed with Australian engineering firms. Despite the- Minister’s solicitude for the unemployed, there can be no doubt that, if these orders are placed abroad, either many Australian workmen will lose their employment, or others, who might hope to have been engaged, will remain unemployed. Turbo-generator construction is an important section in the engineering industry in Australia, and, at this time, when the need for improved defence and commercial independence is being urged upon us in eloquent speeches by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), we should be careful to take no step which will retard development. We should guarantee to these firms the whole of the Australian market.
The Labour party does not go half way in regard to these matters, and is not prepared to share the market with overseas manufacturers, whether they bo British, Continental, or American. If we agree to the Senate’s request, all hope of revival in this branch of the engineering trade will be lost, and there will be fewer opportunities for skilled engineers, or for boys desiring to learn the trade. The Castlemaine company has actually carried . out turbo-generator construction work of this kind to the value of £630,000. When I was Minister for Trade and Customs I visited their works, and I know something of what they are able to do. For the last few years they have been having a very lean time, and if duties are reduced now, their output will decline, and their overhead charges will increase. During 1928, half their staff was employed in the manufacture of turbo-generators alone. It is clear from the Tariff Board’s latest report that the board has viewed the subject from a narrow, academic point of view, and has declined to consider the need for developing the industry for the benefit of Australia and its people. Certainly, -in a young country like Australia, definite action must be taken to check the importation of those ‘goods which interfere with the development of essential industries that . provide remunerative employment to Australian artisans equal to the best to be found in any other country. Australian operatives should have an opportunity to prove their worth. This industry will afford that opportunity. Now under this proposed new sub-item the protection is to be whittled away and this important industry made vulnerable to attack by manufacturers overseas, where labour costs are only about one-half Aus.tralian costs. I urge honorable members, even at this late hour, to reject the
Senate’s request and thereby ensure the continuance of the existing tariff protection given, not by the Scullin Government, but by the Bruce-Page Government after full investigation by the Tariff Board.
The establishment of turbo-generator manufacture in Australia has compelled overseas manufacturers to reduce their tender prices when competing for Australian contracts. Sworn evidence to this effect was given before the Tariff Board by Mr. Clark, who stated that tenders recently published in England for turbines of similarsize for Scotland and Australia respectively, showed that the price for Scotland was £190,000, whereas the tender price for the Australian contract, with freight and duty included, was £168,000. Surely, it is clear to all honorable members that the destruction of this Australian industry will not benefit this country. The acceptance of the Senate’s request, will be a serious blow to (his important side of the engineering industry.. Of course we shall be told that the Industries Preservation Act provides ample safeguards, but we all know- that a considerable time elapses before its provisions become operative. Indent agents are not at all likely to disclose the invoice prices of overseas manufacturers. Such matters are treated as strictly confidential, and Australian manufacturers are unaware of the severity of this competition until large orders have been placed in this country. Then following the usual practice there is reference to the Tariff Board, and further time elapses before action can be taken by the Minister. In this time of phenomenal unemployment, when a hundred thousand young people are leaving school annually to enter the labour market, this Parliament would be recreant to its trust if it sanctioned any proposal to whittle away the protection which is so essential to the successful carrying on of Australian secondary industries. This branch of the electrical engineering industry will, if adequately safeguarded, absorb a large number of highly skilled operatives. From the point of view of employment, as well as of defence, it should be adequately protected. Keeping in mind this great ideal, we should do all that lies in our power to’ make Australia selfreliant. Unfortunately, in this case we shall have one excuse after another advanced to justify the action of the Government in robbing this industry of the protection given to it by the Bruce-Page Government, in which,I may add, the Country party had equal representation with the Nationalists. In fact the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) agreed to the duty then imposed, and, for seven years, apparently, was quite satisfied with it. Now he will endeavour to persuade us that it is ruinous to rural interests. I urge honorable members to disregard what he may say on this subject, and show that they stand for the protection of Australian industries.
. -I congratulate the Government on its action in connexion with this item. The Senate’s request to remove the duties from electrical equipment will, if accepted, probably do more to assist Australian secondary industries than the imposition of higher duties on other -items, because the cost of electrical equipment has an important bearing upon the efficiency of so many secondary undertakings. It also influences very materially the use of electrical appliances in connexion with public utilities, especially in the rural district. The removal of the duties will also prevent the over-capitalization of industry which has been a characteristic feature of many industrial concerns in the past. Hitherto, public and private undertakings have been compelled to pay, in some cases, thouands and even hundreds of thousands of pounds for plant and equipment for basic industries, and the heavier cost involved through high tariff protection has been reflected in the higher charges made for electricity and other services. In the past, Australia has, to a greater or less extent, deliberately shut itself off from the full enjoyment of the advantages due to modern inventions and advancements in technique. I am glad to know that the Government is supporting the request made by the Senate. If accepted by this committee, many of the delays and difficulties experienced in the past in connexion with the. importation of electrical appliances will disappear. On *many occasions duringthe last seven or eight years, I have had to fight the Customs Department for two or three years before machines which should not have been dutiable were admitted duty free, although from the beginning of the negotiations it was” shown conclusively that the machines in question could not bc commercially manufactured in Australia. In some cases, years elapsed before “requests for relief from duty were finally and satisfactorily dealt with. I have personal knowledge of important public undertakings which could not be put in hand simply because of the greatly increased capital charge due to the heavy duties imposed. In some cases, relief was given, ultimately, through ministerial action. I am glad to know that, in future, there will he no necessity for -representatives of public bodies or private concerns to go cap in hand to the Minister, and ask him to remove the duties for a day in order to allow the free importation of certain classes of electrical machinery, which cannot be commercially manufactured in this country.
Some important evidence on this subject was given by Mr. E. Bate, representing the State Electricity Commission in Victoria before the Tariff Board inquiry last year. I take the following from the board’s report of the 3rd February last: -
Although improvements have been made during the last twenty years in turbine economy, there machines are by no means stabilized in design. Important improvements may bo introduced by any one of almost a dozen overseas manufacturers, and the effect of even a comparatively small improvement in steam consumption will be to greatly influence the buyers’ choice of a. machine on economic grounds.
For instance, whereas ten years ago turbines operating at pressures in excess of 250 lb. per square inch were comparatively rare, installations have, of recent years, been set to work on much higher pressures ranging up to .1,500 lb. per square inch, and in the same way the range of operating temperatures has increased from, say, 050 degrees, to 900 and 1,000 degrees.
As indicating the importance of freedom in this matter of choice of plant, it may be pointed out that on at least three occasions, a decided advance in practice in the United States of America has been stimulated by the purchase of an English machine incorporating a radical forward step in design hy an enterprising and far-sighted- supply undertaking, in spite of immense local pressure to adhere to the United States of America designs. An industry so intimately identified with all forms of the community’s activities is, in our opinion, entitled to reasonable freedom in its choice of its important and fundamental apparatus. Improvements in generating plant; as before said, may originate in one of many countries and become the property, by patent rights, of a particular manufacturer, and it is possible that this hypothetical manufacturer might be associated with one local concern for part local manufacture, though there is a major chance that this will not be the case. In the first event, it has already been shown, when present tariffs operate, that the local buyer suffers under the arrangement as far as cost is concerned, and in the second case, it is obvious that although technical and economic considerations might be all in favour of free importation, considerations other than these may prevail, and a loss be inflicted on the community, the possible extent of which it is now proposed to illustrate by accurate example.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 -p.m. [Quorum formed.)
- Mr. E. Bate, an engineer attached to the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, in evidence before the Tariff Board, stated that a variation of 10 per cent, upwards in the steam consumption of a 25,000-kilowatt turbo-alternator would, on a given loading basis, involve an increase of the fuel bill by £15,800 per annum, the capitalized value of which would be £199,000. He then said -
Now, since the machine can be purchased, excluding duty and erection, for about £30,000, it is obvious that considerations relatively much more important than the price of the machine itself may be involved.
Mr. Bate showed that a reduction of steam consumption by 10 per cent, represents about £32,500, less investment for boiler plant and buildings, for a 25,000-kilowatt turbo-alternator. It will thus be seen that this involves the very basis of the capital cost of establishing industries and of supplying power to undertakings which need it. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) contended, that the proposed duty should not be agreed to, because certain firms in Australia can manufacture this plant. I point out, however, that a thorough investigation by the Tariff Board showed that, in the majority of cases, only 40 per cent, of the constituent parts of these machines is produced in Australia, and that such machines are not as satisfactory as the imported, which are completely of the original design. That is especially the case with water-driven turbines, which in practically every instance need to be specially designed to meet the natural conditions that prevail at the site where they are to be erected ; and it is extremely unlikely that the same design will suit two different installations’. Obviously, therefore, it is impossible to standardize their manufacture, and such operations in Australia must result in a good deal of waste in the form of increased overhead expenses. The relatively small proportion of the operation that can be undertaken locally does not warrant the enormously increased cost or the lessened efficiency which results. The Tariff Board points out that the proportion of water turbines manufactured in Australia averages only 13 per cent., and in some classes is as low as 8 per cent. It then goes on to say -
In one important order alone, the duty on the imported parts of alternators remitted under by-laws was about £50,000, whereas the total value of local work approximated only £10,500.
The board then made the following recommendation : -
After carefully considering the incidence of the by-law practice with regard to alternators over 1,000 kilowatt, the board is satisfied that the imposition of any duty on the parts enumerated earlier would have no protective value for Australian industry, but would unnecessarily increase costs for electricity supply authorities, and it, therefore, recommends that these machines complete should be duty free from the United Kingdom.
I commend the Government for adopting that proposal. Its action in this case, taken in conjunction with that in connexion with dynamos, will do more to increase the effectiveness of Australian industry than any other action which has been taken for many years.
.- I do not know whether the Minister is prepared to allow the Tariff Board to give further consideration to this matter. He has stated that both he and the Government are keeping a close watch on the effects of tariff alterations upon employment. That is what most deeply concerns all honorable members. I understand that considerable labour employing concerns, like Mort’s Dock, Walker’s Limited, Thompson’s, and the Clyde Engineering Company, have embarked on this branch of engineering to a greater or less extent.
– I said that the item was referred back to the Tariff Board for that very reason, and that the board found that employment would be hardly affected.
– I hope that its forecast will prove correct. If an Australian firm can complete a turbo.-generator contract for over £600,000, there is no reason why the continuance of such operations should be made more difficult. The Minister has said over and over again that he has no desire to see Australian workmen displaced. I fear that if we agree to many of the Senate’s requests we shall be responsible in some measure for the dismissal of a number of hands. I do not depreciate the value of other undertakings when I say that the engineering section of the nation’s activities is by far the most important. In times of emergency this industry has played a foremost part in Australian affairs, and I would not for a moment consider the restriction of its opportunities for expansion. The right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) said that if we shut out machinery from other parts of the world we should lose the benefits of the improvements which are effected. That argument has been used in connexion with nearly every industry that has been established in Australia.
– The Tariff Board has made that statement very definitely.
– The Tariff Board is not the wisest body in. the world, and its pronouncements cannot always be accepted as gospel truth. While prepared to pay some regard to what it says, I am not willing to accept it as the final authority on customs tariff policy. Every up-to-date engineering concern in Australia has sent some of its brainiest men overseas to acquaint themselves with advances in engineering science. I am proud of the fact that some of those who are playing a foremost part in the great engineering and manufacturing concerns of Great Britain are Australian-born and received their early training in this country. I have met them when I have been abroad. One man has an income of £7,000 a year from- his salary, and the returns from an invention he was able partially to perfect in Australia. I do not shut my eyes to improvements in other countries;but I do contend that Australian engineering firms keep abreast of the latest developments. Australians who are performing valuable work for overseas firms could well devote their attainments to the advancement of industry in their own country. The manufacture of a new type of machinery has made possible mining operations which formerly were unprofitable. A big mining magnate said a few weeks ago that a local firm was able to supply the very best machinery in the world for up-to-date mining operations. Australia is a vast continent, and offers wide opportunities for electrical engineers, to whom every possible encouragement should be given. It has been proved over and over again that the Australian engineer, mechanic or manufacturer, with anything like a reasonable opportunity, can easily hold his own. Royalties are frequently paid for the right to manufacture in Australia inventions patented abroad. Some of the greatest engineering improvements in the dairying industry had theirgenesis abroad. They have been continually improved by local engineers, and are now far superior to the original inventions. I want our engineers to be given opportunities to show their skill. Should Australia ever again pass through a time of stress and storm, we shall need the assistance of these men. I hope that the Minister will watch the effect of the reduced duties on unemployment.
– I shall do so.
Motion agreed to.
And on and after 9th March, 1933 -
Item 179 (Electrical machines and appliances) -
(1) Dynamo electric machines, viz.: -
Alternating current machines -
Other (including exciters, if any, imported with and for use therewith)
Two horse-power up to 125 horse-power, both inclusive, ad valorem - British, 20 per cent. : general, 40 per cent,
Exceeding 125 horsepower, ad valorem - British, free; general, 15 per cent.
Direct current and universal machines -
Up to and including 20 kilowatts, ad valorem - British, 45 per cent..; general, 65 per cent.
Exceeding 20 kilowatts, ad valorem - British, free: general, 15 per cent.
Senate’s request -
Amend paragraph to make it -
(1) Dynamo electric machines, viz.: -
Alternating current machines -
1 ) Induction type -
Alternators (including exciters, if any, imported with and for use therewith) imported for use with steam or water driven turbines, ad valorem - British, free: general, 15 per cent.
Direct current and universal machines -
Generators imported for use with steam or water driven turbines, ad valorem - British, free; general, 15 per cent.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
The only alterations requested by the Senate are in connexion with items 179 D la 3 and 179 d 1c 3 covering alternators including exciters imported therewith, and generators imported for use with steam or water driven turbines. The effect of the request in relation to alternators is to make the duties free British and 15 per cent, general, instead of 45 per cent, and 65 per cent, respectively on alternators of less than 2 horse-power, and 20 per cent. British and 40 per cent, general on alternators of from 2 horse-power to 125 horse-power. The duties on alternators of over 125 horse-power, which are now free British, and 15 per cent, general, will remain unaltered. The other alteration affects item 179D1c 3 - generators imported for use with steam or water driven turbines. On generators of up to 20 kilowatts, or, approximately, 27 horsepower, the rates will be free British and 15 per cent, general, instead of 45 per cent. and. 65 per cent, respectively. Generators of over 20 kilowatts will remain unaltered. The Tariff Board has dissected these machinery items, and recommended that machines which are made in Australia should be adequately protected, while others which are not produced here should enter free if from Britain, and pay a duty of 15 per cent, if from other countries. The alteration recommended by the Senate will allow primary and secondary industries and municipalities which require machinery not made in Australia to get it at the lowest rates. The effect should be to reduce costs and cheapen electrical charges. Alternating current electric motors of up to 150 horse-power, which are made in Australia, will still bear duties of 45 per cent. British and 65 per cent, general. The Tariff Board has made a thorough inquiry, and is to be commended on its report. There is no need to fear that any Austraiian industry will suffer as a result of giving effect to the board’s recommendation.
.- I regret that there has been a change of attitude on the part of the Tariff Board in regard to this item. In 1928 the board recommended duties under which the industry nourished. Two members of the board at that time - Messrs. McConachie and Guy - are members of the board which recommended substantial reductions of the duties. Of course, it is well known that the board now functions under the shadow of a government which stands for a downward trend of duties.
– The Government does not attempt to influence the board at all.
– Since it came into office the Government has changed the personnel of the board by displacing a member with protectionist proclivities by one whose fiscal policy, like that of the Government itself, is of a shandygaff nature. I urge the Minister to have this matter reconsidered. A request for reconsideration has already been made by the Clyde Engineering Works, Mort’s Dock Limited, and Standard Waygood Company. Thompson and Company, of Castlemaine, Victoria, is also vitally affected. This firm has developed the electrical branch of its industry because of a declining demand for railway locomotives and other heavy machinery for the manufacture of which its huge factory was established. The company will be seriously affected by the decision of the Government to accept the
Tariff Board’s recommendation. The manufacture of industrial motors in Australia commenced in 1922, and in the short time that has elapsed since then, the Australian manufacturers have forced the cost to the user down to pre-war levels. About 35,000 machines of a total OUtPUt of 300,000 horse-power have been produced. Alternating current motors are manufactured locally in all sizes, speeds, patterns and types in common commercial use within the range of the horse-power mentioned in the tariff item now under consideration, and Australian manufacturers are capable of supplying the whole of the local requirements.
– These machines are not affected by the Tariff Board’s recommendation.
– In this branch of industry great progress has been made, but because of the comparatively small market in Australia, engineering firms can expand only by manufacturing the larger machines also. Unless they are given the whole of the Australian market, they cannot hope to produce such machines economically. I offer no apology for my action, as Minister for Trade and Customs, in imposing a heavy fixed rate of duty in order to give local manufacturers the control of the Australian market. In view of these alterations of Australia’s protectionist policy, it is no wonder that the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, a’t their annual meeting held in Sydney, expressed surprise at learning from the Prime Minister’s budget speech that the Tariff Board had recommended the application of a formula which would lower duties substantially all round. The meeting also deprecated the action of the Government in reducing duties under the Ottawa agreement. Now we have these further alterations, the excuse for which is an inquiry and recommendation by the Tariff Board. I wonder when the Minister and the Government will take the responsibility for their tariff policy, instead of hiding behind the board.
Let me examine the parrot-cry of the freetraders, that protection means higher prices. The manufacture of electric motors in Australia was commenced in 1922, when the duty under the British preferential tariff was 27-J per cent. The retail price of an imported 5 horse-power motor in 1921 was £G5. With the duty under the British preferential tariff at £5 each, plus 15s. for each horsepower, the price to users of a similar horse-power is now £27 15s., showing that, with increased protection, the price to users has dropped 57.3 per cent. Over a range of Australian-mad motors from 1 horse-power to 25 horsepower at 1,500 revolutions a minute, the average increase of selling price to users between 1929 and 1932 has been only 2 per cent. This proves that local manufacturers have not taken advantage of the increased duties, exchange, and other charges to increase their prices. The increase of 2 per cent, was due to the increased price of raw materials. The heavy duties imposed by the Scullin Government, amounting almost to prohibition, did not increase prices to Australian users as has been claimed.
There is a good deal of criticism of the levying of a fixed rate of duty on the basis of weight instead of as an alternative to ad valorem rates. I find, however, that in Belgium, Italy, Sweden, and other countries, duties are levied on the basis of weight. In 1929-30, Australia imported heavy dynamo electrical machines to the value of £421,000, but in 1931-32 the importations of similar machines were valued at only £134,000. In the case of direct current machines, the importations fell from £217,000 in 1929-30 to £37,000 in 1931-32. It is a pity that the Minister does not take into account the Australian standing of those who supported the increased duty before the Tariff Board and of those who opposed it. Those who supported a higher duty were the Electrical Manufacturers Association of New South Wales, Crompton, Parkinson Australia Limited, manufacturers of alternating current motors and static transformers, of Five Dock, New South Wales; Associated General Electric Industries Limited, manufacturers of dynamo electric machinery and transformers, of Sydney; Standard Waygood Limited, manufacturers of dynamo electric machinery, of Sydney; Clayton, Joel and Company, manufacturers of electric appliances, of Melbourne, Victoria; and McColl Elec- trie Works Proprietary Limited, manufacturers of electric motors, Fitzroy, Victoria. In opposition to the increased duty were the representatives of overseas manufacturers, including Bruce Peebles, of Scotland. I can understand the representatives of manufacturers in Scotland opposing the high duties imposed by the Scullin Government in order to assist Australian manufacturers and workmen, but surely this, country owes something to those who are prepared to invest their capital in Australia and to cater for the requirements of local users. For defence reasons, it is important that we should protect these industries. That argument should appeal strongly to the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who recently has made a number of eloquent speeches on the need formore effective defence. Surely the first step towards the defence of Australia is the development of our engineering industries. It is only natural that the Australian Association of British Manufacturers should also have opposed the imposition, of duties to protect an industry which was supplying a market which British makers formerly supplied. Unfortunately, with the assistance of the Government, the representatives of the importers will be able to defeat the ‘Australian manufacturers. I hope that it will be some solace to the Minister to find that his action will result in a number of skilled workmen in Australia being thrown out of employment in order that effect may be given to the Ottawa agreement. I ask the Minister to refer the matter again to the Tariff Board for further investigation and report, because these industries are of great importance to this country. Wheat-growers say that they cannot eke out an existence on the land. Therefore brilliant young men who are passing through our universities should have an opportunity to obtain positions in .secondary industries. All the schemes advocated by the Country party would be impossible of accomplishment if it were not for the enormous sums invested in secondary industries. The Minister is doing a grave injustice to the people by allowing the Tariff Board to determine the fiscal policy of this country. If the Government is not prepared to accept the responsibility which devolves upon it, it should resign.
.- The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) has repeated arguments advanced by him on many previous occasions. The defencemindedness of honorable members opposite when discussing the position of particular industries is in marked contrast to their hostility to the training of defence personnel. The honorable member said that the Tariff Board was dominated by the Government, and was anti-Australian.. The board acts quite independently, and I point out that unemployment has diminished rapidly under the tariff policy of the present Government. The board, in its annual report, stated inter alia -
The board considers that a reasonable duty to protect an efficient economic industry should be high enough to raise the landed cost of an overseas product to the level which will -
compensate the local manufacturer for the higher cost (if any) of Australian labour:
offset the higher cost (if any) of raw materials and overhead charges; and
provide a marginal advantage in favour of the Australian manufacturer.
That statement is in accord with the Ottawa Agreement. The duties proposed are adequate, and the only alterations suggested are the slight changes that I have enumerated.
.- I am glad to note the change of policy that has taken place, but it is rather greater than the Minister has suggested. The most important alteration is the deletion of the specific duty of £5, and the return to the ad valorem basis. I have always been opposed to specific duties, because protection can be afforded against dumping by the provisions of the Australian Industries Preservation Act. On washing machines to which a¼ horsepower motor is attached as part of the original equipment, the duty was formerly £5 each. Duties of 45 per cent, and 65 per cent., instead of applying to practically all electric motors, are now limited to motors not’ exceeding 150 horse-power. The rates on motors of greater horsepower are, British, free; general, 15 per cent.
– The fixed duties were deleted some time ago.
– Their disappearance from the schedule marks an important and most desirable change. The Tariff Board was very scathing in its comments regarding this industry, and remarked that the protection afforded to the makers of engines that could not be economically manufactured in Australia mas far too heavy. On page 13 of its report on electric dynamos, dated the 20th October, 1932, the board stated-
Figures supplied confidentially to the board showed the f.o.’b. cost of motors from two important British manufacturers, and from the largest Swedish maker; also factory costs, sale price to retailers and retail price of locally-made motors.
The information shows that over the whole range of motors, the Australian manufacturers’ selling price to retailers varies from , approximately one and-a-half times to little over twice the f.o.b. price of British motors, and up to two and a half times the f.o.b. cost of Swedish motors.
The retail prices for induction motors made by both the large local makers are the same for similar machines. The margin between these prices and the cost price to retailers is regarded as unduly great in view of the claims made at the inquiry to the effect that one of the great advantages of the existence of the local industry was associated with the quick delivery that can be given of any motor within the manufacturers’ range.
There is no doubt that far too much capital has been invested in the manufacture’ of induction motors, and this must tend towards charges for overhead and capital being unduly high. As previously mentioned, one large manufacturer stated in evidence that his firm could supply “ almost all -the requirements in normal times.” Another manufacturer submitted a confidential statement showing that his firm has “ capital actually employed in the manufacture of induction motors” amounting to a sum over three times as great as that of the former firm.
One manufacturer was able to supply the whole of Australia’s requirements, while another manufacturer said that he was able to supply more than three times the total requirements. I strongly hold that one of the chief factors in industrial progress and national prosperity is the cheapening of the use of electricity, whether in factory, house or shop, or on the farm, and one of the influences that has proved most antagonistic to development is the levying of excessive duties on machinery that cannot be commercially made in this country. Five or six years ago, Sir George Julius pointed out that we had penalized ourselves in this respect by attempting to manufacture over too wide a range, and I congratulate the Government upon having brought down a schedule that will give to Australian manufacturers a reasonable chance of engaging in mass-production over a small range, and at the same time allow other machines to be purchased at a cheaper price.
.- I desire to do nothing to hinder the development of secondary industries, but it is essential that those industries that receive the benefit of the tariff should be conducted on sound lines. Although the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) favours prohibitive tariffs, I believe that these arc responsible to no small extent for our present economic difficulties. Statements have frequently been made before the Tariff Board that certain firms are in a position to manufacture goods on a commercial basis, but some of them have been unable to prove their ability to do so. We should assist by all means in our power’ those industries that can be carried on commercially. I believe that the Tariff Board is doing good work, and I am prepared to be guided by its recommendations.
.- On this occasion honorable members should be guided by the report of the Tariff Board. When persons with capital to invest know that the board has reported on certain lines, the Parliament should leave them in a frame of mind in which they can act on the suggestions of the board without being afraid of a reversal of tariff policy at a later date. Honorable members who have no claim to expert knowledge may regard this as a border line case. Whether heavy machinery has a sufficient market in Australia to justify the investment of capital locally in the industry is a matter for experts. I understood the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) to say that capital had been put into this industry in Australia, owing, no doubt, to a recommendation of the Tariff Board, and I suggest that no reversal of policy should occur at the present time. The board’s recommendation was accepted by this committee, but objection to it was taken in the other branch of the legislature. The Minister and every other honorable member is in a difficult position in this matter, and since the experts are not unanimous about it, I suggest that the Senate’s request should be rejected. I admit that many of the Senate’s requests are the result of careful consideration, and indicate a greater knowledge of the matter than was available to honorable members when they agreed to certain rates of duty some weeks ago. In this instance, however, there is no weight of convenience or propriety in favour of accepting the Senate’s request.
– The outstanding feature of this request is the volte face of the Tariff Board. Only in 192S the board recommended a reasonable rate of duty, under which . the industry has since carried on; but the board, since its association with British manufacturers, as provided for in the Ottawa agreement, seems to have completely changed its outlook. Firms at Castlemaine and in New South Wales have been manufacturing these machines successfully for years. When the “Big Four “ were in Australia some years ago, one of them, who was associated with this class of work, gave his advice freely to the Australian manufacturers, and assisted them in every way in his power to build up their industry. Since then, the local manufacturers have been operating under licence from British firms, which have helped them with blue prints, &c. In some instances, assistance has been rendered by English firms not directly represented in Australia. Those English manufacturers have shown a better Australian spirit than has the Tariff Board. I must defer to the Minister’s greater military experience; but I do not believe that we are contributing very much towards the defence of Australia by teaching boys to bayonet bags of straw. Our best protection is to build up a .sound iron and steel industry, as was recommended by Sir Hugo Hirst and Sir Arthur Duckham when they were here. Since manufacture of these motors was commenced in 1928, nearly £2,000,000 worth of this machinery has been produced, and, in some engineering shops, the greater part of the staff employed has been, engaged on this work. Some of the machinery is installed at Yallourn, and Sir John Monash never had anything to say against it. I regret that the Government refuses to ask the board to review the matter once more.
– It has already been referred hack to the board.
– We have been told that the board in 1928 made a searching inquiry into the possibility of establishing this industry in Australia, and finally recommended a duty under which the industry has thriven. Now, the board has completely reversed its finding, and the industry, which has just become established, is likely to be destroyed. The action proposed by the Government is due, not to any essential alteration in the situation, but to the Ottawa agreement and the influence of the British manufacturers upon the board. I regret that this fine industry, which has been so freely praised by overseas visitors, particularly the electrical side of it, should be thus exposed to the danger of extermination. I heard . Sir Hugo Hirst and . Sir Arthur Duckham say that they had found the engineering plants in Australia as efficient as any in the world. Others have said that the only difference between Australian engineering works and those in Europe and the United States of America is one of size. Certain British manufacturers have their representatives in Canberra, and not a line can be put into the tariff schedule without their having a say on the matter. The Tariff Board should be an advisory body, as it is in Great Britain, instead of exercising practically dictatorial powers, as it does here.
Question - That the requested amendment be made - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr.Bell.)
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
And on and after 9th March, 1933 -
Electrical machines and appliances -
Electric household dish washing machines, ad valorem - British, free; general, 25 per cent.
And a deferred duty as follows: -
On and after 1st October, 1933 -
Electric household dish washing machines, ad valorem - British, 45 per cent.; general, 65 per cent.
Senate’s request -
Leave out “ 1st October, 1933 “ and insert “ 1st January, 1934.”
.- I move-
That the requested amendment be made.
This is a formal request to provide that the deferred rate shall not come into operation prior to the 1st January, 1934. The Tariff Board has advised that this alteration be made
.- I cannot see any reason for this item appearing in the schedule at all. I remember discussing the matter with one manufacturer, who told me that, if he installed efficient plant, he could make enough dish washing machines in a week to supply the demand in Australia for twenty years.
.- The statement of the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) is obviously an exaggeration. The Tariff Board is inquiring what capital expenditure has been incurred in connexion with the establishment of the industry. The duty is to bo deferred till next year, and if necessary will be further deferred by Gazette notice.
Motion agreed to.
Electrical and gas appliances, viz. -
Wall, stand or table lamps, ad Valorem - British 45 per cent.; general, 65 per cent.
Senate’s request -
Amend sub-item to make it -
. -I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
This request is made in order to give effect to a recent recommendation of the Tariff Board. The effect is to reduce the duty on wall, stand or table lamps, not principally of glass, by 10 per cent. On these lamps made chiefly of glass, the British preferential tariff is reduced by 20 per cent., and the general tariff by 5 per cent. The duties were increased by the last Government without its having received a report from the Tariff Board. The matter was referred to the board, which has now recommended that the item be amended in accordance with the request. The duties are midway between the 1921-30 tariff rates, and those imposed by the previous Administration. The Tariff Board, when recommending these duties, stated that, on the evidence submitted, they should provide adequate protection to the industry, and, at the same time, permit importations at a reasonable cost of lamps not made in Australia. It is estimated that employment is provided for 40 persons by the local industry, which at pre sent is practically free from any competition, so far as metal lamps are concerned. These types were formerly obtained from the United States of America. The retail prices of local lamps are approximately the same as the prices of imported lamps prior to the imposition of the higher duty.
– The fact that the Tariff Board has recommended the reduced duties does not impress me at all, and I make no apology for not having referred the matter to the board before I took action. The last Government had a mandate from the people to introduce a policy of effective protection, and it did so. The Minister said that only 40 persons were employed in the industry, suggesting thereby that the industry was hardly worth preserving, but I remind him that 40 such industries would employ 800 people. Apparently the Minister believes that we should import some lamps from overseas, but if we do so, some at least of our own people who are now engaged in their manufacture must be put out of work. At the present time, our overseas trade balance is becoming more adverse, and this should be taken into consideration when fixing rates of duty. I am opposed to the requested reduction, and shall vote against it.
Question - That the requested amendment be made - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Item 186- -
Screw hooks eyes and rings - ad valorem, British, free; general, 15 per cent, and a deferred duty as follows: -
On and after 1st July, 1933 - 186 - Screw hooks eyes and rings - ad valorem, British, 27½ per cent. ; general, 45 per cent.
Senate’s request -
Leave out “1st July. 1933” and insert “ 1st January, 1934.”
– I move-
That the requested amendment be made.
This is a purely formal request to ensure that the deferred duty shall not operate before the 1st of January next. The Tariff Board has supplied the necessary certificate that the deferred duty may be further postponed.
Motion agreed to.
Chain and chains of base metal, viz. : - ‘
Senate’s request -
Insert new paragraph -
Motion (by Mr. Guy) proposed -
That the requested amendment be not made.
– The Senate’s request was made at the instance of the Country party in that chamber. The Government is not prepared to accept it, but in order to bring the rates into line with the recommendation of the Tariff Board, it is proposed to amend the next sub-item to include chains made up into serviceable articles.
. I support the Senate’s request. Trace chains are amongst ; the farmer’s tools of trade, just as much as is an axe the bush-man’s tool of trade. For years, farmers have been penalized by high prices for trace chains due to heavy protection. Some years ago an ordinary trace chain could be purchased retail in country stores at 7d. per lb., and Jones’s tested chains at from 9d. to10d. per lb. In recent years, prices for an ordinary trace chain have advanced to1s. and1s”. 4d. per lb.,, and for Jones’s tested chains, to1s. 8d. per lb. It is high time that the tariff on this item was removed so that farmers may obtain trace chains at the lowest possible cost.
. - I desire to bring to the notice of the committee the conditions existing in the hand-forged chain industry caused by the removal of the protection granted by the Scullin Government. I am advised that when the increased duty was imposed, large stocks of drain were held by importers, and its beneficial effect was not felt until the 1931-32 season. At that time, the Falkiner Machinery Company, of South Brisbane, was employing six men and three learners,” and because of the improvement in business resulting from the tariff protection then . given, it was advertising for experienced chainmakers in order to give delivery of the additional orders that were being received. That company maintains that had the duty on hand-forged chains not been removed, it would now have been employing a large number of chain- makers and assistants, and using many tons of Victorian iron, as well as large quantities of coal and coke. Owing to the removal of the duty its business fell away, and it is now employing only four chainmakers for two days in each week. The Tariff Board’s report states that the hand-forged chain -½-inch and over imported into the Commonwealth for the year 1929-30, were valued at £15,000. This Brisbane company declares that it is in a. position to supply the whole of the requirements of Australia. It has a hundred-ton 15-fathoms testing machine which cost over £3,000 to install. This machine has been passed by Lloyd’s
Register of Shipping. It is necessary 10 have this testing machine in establishments producing large quantities of handforged chain in order to ensure uniformly high quality of manufacture, comparable with hand-forged chains produced in any part of the world. Since the protection was removed from this industry advertisements have appeared in the Sydney and Melbourne newspapers indicating that the importing interests have commenced a drive to oust the Australianmade article from the market. This company now finds it impossible to compete with importations from overseas. One reason for its-higher costs of production is that the steel used in the manufacture of roller chains is purchased from the Newcastle steel works of the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited, the products of which are rightly protected by substantial duties. As its roller chains are made from Australian, protected materials, and are sold in competition with imported roller chains admitted duty free, the Australian industry cannot hope to compete successfully unless it receives a fair measure of protection. The object of the present Government in removing the duty from this item has been to cheapen the cost of materials for the man on the land. The Falkiner Machinery Company points out, however, that its hand-forged and roller chains are used not by the farmers, but in Australian secondary industries. I, therefore, ask the Government to consider seriously the desirability of restoring to this industry the protection given to it by the Scullin Government, thus enabling, it to compete on reasonable terms with importations from overseas.
.- I hope that the committee will accept the Senate’s request. Chain is imported in bulk, cut into the necessary lengths for traces, and hooks attached.
– They are all made in Australia.
– That is not so. I remember the time when it was possible to buy almost a complete set of trace chains for the price now charged for a hook. There is’ no justification whatever for an ad valorem duty of 27-^ per cent. British and 4~i per cent, general.
Why should this Parliament increase the load that the agriculturist is bearing, when it is unprepared to assist him in other directions? I should like the committee to consider this matter on its merits and not to be biased by tariff predilections. Trace chains are necessary tools of trade. I heartily support the Senate’s request.
.- Sympathy ought to be shown with the poor manufacturer, considering the wretched conditions under which he has to operate. In the first place, he has to buy iron that is produced in Australia, and I am sure that he is not so well treated as the galvanized iron manufacturer, whose steel bars cost from £8 to £9 a ton, compared with £2 14s. a ton in Belgium. We must not permit a person to engage in manufacturing operations without assuring him a profit. The poor citizen who wants to open up new country in the bush does not count. The Tariff Board has shown that the cost of the production of raw7 materials in Australia is almost double what it is in practically every other country. Then there is the cost of transport, which is affected by the Navigation Act in the case of sea carriage, and industrial awards and conditions on the railways. On top of that, we have industrial awards which provide special conditions for tho employees in the manufacturing industries. I can well understand, therefore - and I am sure that the country can - how it is that in these matters the Government is always sure of the support of the members of the Labour opposition. Honorable members on both sides of the chamber are ever ready to place every obstacle in the way of the man who is producing wealth from the soil so long as the manufacturer and the worker may be benefited.
Question - That the requested amendment be not. made - put. ‘ The committee divided. (Chairman- Mk. Bell.)
Majority . . 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Chain and chains of base metals, viz. : - (c)N.E.I, not made up into serviceable articles - ad valorem, British, 27½ per cent.; general, 45 per cent.
Senate’s request -
Leave out the words “not made up into serviceable articles “.
– I move - .
That the requested amendment be made.
This has a hearing on the item that has just been dealt with. The effect of the amendment will be to make plough and trace chains dutiable at 27½ per cent, and 45 per cent., instead of at 45 per cent, and 60 per cent, as manufactured metals, thus bringing the item into line with the recommendation of the Tariff Board, which considers the proposed duty fair and adequate.
Motion agreed to.
Item 215 (Saws, n.e.i.).
.- I move-
That consideration of the Senate’s requested amendment No. 27 bo postponed until after the consideration of requested amendment No. 47.
The Tariff Board has just completed its report on this item, and the Government is anxious to consider it.
Motion agreed to.
Traps, viz.: -
And onand after9th March, l933,
Rabbit - ad val., British, 45 per cent.; general,65 per cent., or per dozen, general 5s. whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Senate’s request -
Make the duty British, ad valorem 30 per cent.; general, 50 per cent.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be not made.
This is a non-Government request. The reasons given in support, of it were that it would lower the price of traps, and establish the competitive level provided for in the Ottawa agreement. It was moved in another place after two other requests for lower duties had been defeated.
The Tariff Board’s report states that the industry is one for which Australian conditions in regard to demand are suited ; that local manufacturers make the class of traps required by the market in both the wire spring and the flat spring types; that practically all the raw materials are of Australian origin; that the capacity of the Australian factories is sufficient to supply all the demands; that local manufacture is efficient; and that consumers are not penalized by reason of local manufacture. The board also pointed out that the advent of local manufacture had resulted in a reduction of prices. In 1929, with the growing competition of Australian manufacture. Victor traps cost 19s. 6d. a dozen. To-day that trap is made in Australia and sold to merchants at 15s. 7½d. a dozen. This is an Australian industry that is well worth preserving, and the Government proposes to stand by the recommendation of the Tariff Board.
.- The Tariff Board definitely recommends certain duties without the provision of alternative specific duties. How, then, can the ‘Government claim that it is giving “ effect, to the report of the board, while it leaves those specific duties still operating?
.- The dreadful menace that the rabbit is becoming to Australia is universally recognized, and it is essential to take every step to minimize the danger. Rabbit trapping is an easy occupation in which men who are unemployed could earn a livelihood if they could obtain the traps cheaply. The Government desires to retain the existing very high duty.
– Does the honorable member agree with the Tariff Board’s recommendation?
– I should like to see lower duties. These double-barrelled duties are most objectionable. In view of the gravity of the rabbit menace, I hope that the Government will accept the Senate’s request.
– Before the Ottawa agreement there was a margin of 5s. a dozen in favour of United Kingdom manufacturers as against those in foreign countries. In order to retain that margin, the Government departed from the Tariff Board’s rates.
.- Honorable members of the Country party are prepared to support the Tariff Board’s recommendations when those recommendations suit them, but in other cases they disregard the board and seek duties lower than it recommends. The rabbit pest is a great menace to Australia, but tho substantial reduction of the price of traps as a result of the establishment of the local industry has done much to check it. This industry was established as a direct result of the Scullin duties.
– It was established long before then, and has operated continuously.
– From time to time attempts have been made to manufacture rabbit-traps in this country with varying success. In 1916, Messrs. Lowe Brothers, of Alexandra, Victoria, manufactured traps similar to a popular English pattern and sold them at 48s. a dozen. Later, when conditions became normal, English traps were landed at 28s. a dozen, with the result that the Australian firm went out of existence. Subsequently, Messrs. G. A. and L. Harrington commenced the manufacture of rabbit-traps in Australia, but after a year or two that firm also ceased production because of inadequate protection. In 1926, Kenneth Royle and Com pany commenced to manufacture three types of traps, but the firm went into liquidation in 1930, because it could not compete with overseas manufacturers.
– When did Henry Lane commence business in Australia?
– That firm has been in business in this country for many years, selling many other lines besides rabbittraps. I repeat that it was the imposition of higher duties by the Scullin Government which really established this Australian industry. In the 1921-28 tariff, the duties were 20 per cent. British and 30 per cent, general. Those rates were increased by the Scullin Government to 45 per cent, and 60 per cent respectively, or, a dozen, 10s. British and 15s. general. The present Government reduced the fixed rate to 5s. a dozen on the recommendation of the Tariff Board. The Senate desires to wipe out the fixed rate and to make the duties 30 per cent, and 50 per cent. If we accept the Senate’s request, this Australian industry will go to the wall.
– So it should.
– The destruction of this industry will inflict hardships upon trappers and others, who, because of the existence of the local industry, can purchase traps more cheaply than was the case when they had to rely on imported traps. There is no combine in this industry because there are five Australian manufacturers in the field - two in Sydney, one in Newcastle, and two in Melbourne. They employ about 300 workmen in the trapping season. The companies obtain their raw materials from the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited, which is thus enabled to distribute its overhead costs. Before the local manufacturers commenced business an imported American trap known as the “ Victor “ cost from 31s. to 33s. a dozen, and English traps from 25s. to 26s. a . dozen. To-day, “Victor” traps can be bought for 15s. 3d. a dozen, less than half of their former price. Last year, the “ Downey “ trap was put on the market at 18s. 6d. a dozen, and is now sold for 15s. 3d. a dozen wholesale. The present “ Victor “ trap is made by a local company which has the Australian rights of manufacture. In 1929, the average price of Australian traps was between 20s. and 21s. a dozen. By 1930-31, the price had fallen to 18s. 6d. a dozen, and in the following year to 17s. a dozen. These traps may now be obtained for 15s. 7½d. a dozen, and it is hoped that next- season the price will be 15s. 3d. Listening to some honorable members, one gets the impression that it is wrong for Australians to invest their money in manufacturing industries which give employment to our people, and retain money in this country. The establishment of manufacturing industries also builds up a local market for Australian primary products. Of the £70,000,000 worth of agricultural products grown in Australia each year, about £45,000,000 worth is consumed in Australia, and the balance exported. The manufacture of rabbit traps gives employment to persons, who, in turn, consume primary products, which are sold at inflated prices because of the existence of the Paterson butter scheme and similar arrangements. The alleged representatives of the farming community should be more consistent. If the request of the Senate is agreed to it will constitute a definite breach of faith with Australian manufacturers, who, because of the protection given three years ago, investedlarge sums of money in establishing the plant necessary to manufacture rabbit traps. This industry gives work to many Australians on the coal-fields of northern New South Wales, at Iron Knob in South Australia, and to seamen on coasting vessels, and it enables trappers and farmers to obtain traps at half the price charged when we were dependent on other countries for our requirements. I am amazed that members of the Country party should advocate in this National Parliament the claims of foreign manufacturers.
.- I cannot understand the attitude of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) and his party when I reflect that its members sought to remove the duty on explosives.
– That is not correct.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition would make it impossible for rabbit trappers to obtain traps at a price which would enable them to make a living.
– Rabbit traps are cheaper now than before the Australian industry was established.
– The honorable member compared prices to-day with those ruling in 1929, but he omitted to say that prices were then at their -peak. Before that prices were as low as 12s. a dozen retail. Moreover, the honorable member ignores the fact that this manufacturing industry was built up under duties of 20 per cent. British and 30 per cent, general.
– They could not make a success of the business until the Scullin Government imposed higher duties.
– The business could have been built up under the duties now suggested by the Senate. I hope that the committee will agree to the Senate’s request, if only to enable unemployed persons to make an honest living by trapping rabbits.
.- In this instance, the Government and its supporters are prepared to -allow a local industry to batten on the rabbit pest. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) stated that after the Scullin Government imposed high duties on rabbit traps, the price fell below the figure at which traps could be purchased years ago. That is not correct. The rabbit is such a scourge to the man on the land that we should not agree to the high duties now proposed, and even the rates suggested by the Senate arc far too high. This article should be admitted free of duty.
.- Cheap rabbit traps are required, not only by the primary producers, but also by a large number of men who would willingly go off the dole if they could obtain traps at a low price. The price of rabbit skins usually rises when the price of wool advances, and every inducement should be offered to rabbit trappers. Wehave an opportunity, in this instance, to help both the primary producers and the unemployed.
– The conflicting statements that have been made by various honorable members place an impartial observer in rather a difficult position. Whom are we to believe? According to reports submitted by the Tariff Board, the price of rabbit traps has been considerably reduced as a result of the advent of the Australian’ industry. That contention is disputed, but proof of the argument advanced against the duties is lacking.I understand that the statements made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr.Forde) are based on reports by the Tariff Board. The Minister himself said that’ the price has been reduced because of the establishment of the local industry, and no doubt he is guided by the result of departmental inquiries. When I hear the views expressed by some honorable members, I wonder whether this is an Australian Parliament. If I were guided by their attitude to Australian industries I should sometimes gain the impression that I was in a foreign country, because they show no desire to develop the industries of their native land. I remind the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Cameron) that the unemployed of whom I have knowledge would be unable to buy rabbit traps, no matter how low the price might be.
– Thousands of traps have been purchased by them recently.
– Honorable members talk about the needs of the unemployed when they wish to bolster up their own arguments, but they are found wanting when opportunities are afforded to them to assist this section in a practical way. No proof has been furnished that the establishment of the local industry is responsible for higher prices, and therefore I shall vote for the protection of the Australian manufacturers. No complaint can be levelled against the industry because of the way in which it is carried on, and it should receive the support of the National Parliament.
.- The argument submitted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) is illogi cal. He claimed that the advent of the Australian factories hadreduced the price of rabbit traps below that of the imported article; yet he said that if a 15 per cent, reduction of the tariff were made, four or five local manufacturers would be ruined, and higher prices would have to be paid for the traps. The committee must decide between the interests of four or five manufacturers and the vast number of people who need rabbit traps. Thousands of them have been supplied to the unemployed on terms by the New South Wales authorities, and every means should he adopted to make the price as low as possible. Twenty years ago these traps could be purchased at10d. each retail, or 6s. 6d. a dozen wholesale. The mere fact that the price has fallen in recent years does not prove that the local manufacture of the article has been of benefit to Australia, because the prices of many kinds of goods have dropped.
– Unwittingly, no doubt, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) incorrectly stated that the manufacture of rabbit traps began during the regime of the Scullin Government.
– No. I quoted every attempt to start the industry since 1916.
– In the little town of Weduesfield, in the Midlands, I met a trapmaker named Henry Lane, who questioned me regarding the possibility of trap-making in . Australia, and I suggested that he should investigate the matter for himself. I have not seen that gentleman since; I believe he is now dead. I noticed in the , report of the Tariff Board that he established himself in Australia in 1920 or in 1921, and the board inquired into his industry in 1925. Several firms- are making rabbit traps; no combine operates, and internal competition will keep the price down. I feel sure that the Australian industry will be adequately protected by the present duty.
.- In 1916, the firms of Lowe Brothers and Messrs. G. A. and L. Harrington, who had been manufacturing rabbit traps, went out of existence. Kenneth Royle and Company, and Henry Lane Limited, were also making them; but, like R. B. Davies Proprietary Limited and W. H. Downey, they were unable to capture the. Australian market until the Scullin Government imposed a high duty. I could supply documentary evidence that those firms could not have established their industry on economic lines without that extra tariff assistance. The Tariff Board admitted that the industry had reduced the price ‘by half, and was able to meet the whole of the requirements of the Australian market. The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) said that twenty years ago traps could be purchased at10d. each; hut I point out that they are sold by manufacturers to-day at 15s. 3d. a dozen. What commodity has not advanced in price in the last twenty years?
– Wheat has not.
– I have always advocated an Australian price for wheat. This is what the Tariff Board said in its report on the 21st of December, 1932-
The Tariff Board is, therefore, satisfied that the type of trap manufactured by Australian producers is that which represents the big and increasing bulk of the demand. Both wire spring and flat spring types of trap are now being manufactured in Australia, of satisfactory quality.
Prior to the operation of the Tariff Proposals 1929, the producers of rabbit traps in Australia, were Henry Lane (Australia) Limited, and Kenneth Boyle and Company, but the latter has ceased manufacture. At that time practically all traps imported from America were “ Victor “ traps manufactured by the Animal Trap Company, United States of America. Owing to the proposed rates of duty and the existing abnormal conditions, practically prohibiting the importation into Australia of American traps, the American company arranged for the local manufacture, under licence, of its product by R. B. Davies, Proprietary Limited, for supply to the Australian and New Zealand markets. Production was commenced in 1930.
Mr. Davies told me himself that, as a result of the duties imposed by the Scullin Government, he was able to obtain a licence for the manufacture of traps, which had previously been imported from the United States of America. The report continues -
Another Australian manufacturer, W. 11. Downey, Rozelle, New South Wales, has also commenced the manufacture of rabbit traps since the operationof the Tariff Proposals, 1929
Mr. Downey also told me that he owed the establishment of his industry to the Scullin duties, with the aid of which he had been able to reduce the price from 18s. 6d. a dozen to 15s. 3d. a dozen. The report goes on -
The Tariff Board is satisfied that the capacity of the factories of the three Australian manufacturers is sufficient to cope with any demand which may arise.
Australia and New Zealand are practically the only markets available in the world for rabbit traps, so there is no reason why the industry should not be successfully carried on here. Discussing the matter further, the report states -
There is no price agreement or arrangement between Australian manufacturers, and their present selling prices to the trade are lower than the landed cost of similar imported traps before the operation of the Tariff Proposals of 1929. It will, therefore, be seen that Australian producers are not taking undue advantage of the protection afforded them by the present abnormal conditions, and the higher rates of duty provided under the customs proposals.
The selling price to the trade of the Australianmade trap exceeds the landed cost duty free par exchange of the cheapest heavier type of British traps by only 44 per cent., but it exceeds the corresponding landed cost of the “Star and Crescent” (light British trap) by 53 per cent.
I admit that some protection is necessary, as otherwise the product of factories overseas, where wages are only half what they are in Australia, would be dumped in this country to the detriment of our own industry. Surely we are not to measure the degree of protection which an Australian industry should receive by the ability of an overseas manufacturer to produce goods at low wages. The Labour party has never stood for that form of competition. The Tariff Board concludes with this observation -
The Senate’s request is not worthy of two minutes’ consideration.
Question - That the requested amendment be not made - put. The committee divided. (.Chairman - Mr.Bell.)
Majority . . .._ 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s request -
Make the duty per lb., British, 2d.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
The Tariff Board recommended that the rates should be reduced to the level of the 1921-30 tariff, but an agreement was made by all the glue and gelatine manufacturers of the Empire at the Imperial Economic Conference at Ottawa to urge their respective governments to impose certain suggested duties, which would give substantial preferences to the products of Empire manufacturers.
– Was that stated in evidence before the Tariff Board?
– No; I understand that, the agreement came to hand after the Tariff Board had made its inquiries. The Australian manufacturers represented at the Ottawa Conference have agreed to . a reduction . of the fixed rates in the British tariff from 4d. to ‘2d., the alternative ad valorem British rate and general tariff to remain unaltered. Canada has already taken action in accordance with the agreement reached by the trade interests at the conference, and Australian gelatine is now admitted into Canada at a rate -of 5 per cent, instead of 12½ per cent.
The Australian industry is largely dependent on Empire markets for the disposal of its surplus output. This is evidenced by the fact that of the total exsports of gelatine and glue during 1931-32 “valued at £47,495, the quantity taken by Empire countries was valued at £45,000. In view of its dependence on Empire markets, the Australian industry considers that, if Parliament agrees to the . Senate’s request, . a lead will be given to other Empire . countries to accord . preference to the Australian product.
Since the request was made in the Senate, the United Kingdom ‘Government has increased . the preference on Empire gelatine from 10 per cent, ad valorem to 10s. 6d. per cwt., or 25 per cent, ad valorem. This very substantial preference for the Australian product in the United Kingdom market will provide a further opportunity to our manufacturers to secure a greater proportion of the market in Great Britain. The values of the net imports into the United Kingdom in 1930 and 1931 were £259,721 and £381,188, respectively. These imports were supplied principally by Belgium, Germany, France and Switzerland.
If other Empire countries follow the lead of the United Kingdom,- Canada and Australia, the result must be beneficial to the Australian industry, which is ready to seize the opportunity further to extend its overseas trade. The extension of the gelatine manufacturing industry, which is very efficiently conducted, will also benefit the meat industry by creating a greater market for the disposal of waste products. The reduction of the British preferential tariff rate will afford United Kingdom manufacturers a better opportunity to secure that portion of the trade in gelatine which is at present being met by foreign manufacturers, and which is not being catered for by the Australian industry. The Senate’s request is one which the committee can agree to, because it represents an effort by the various parts of the Empire to get together for the improvement of intraEmpire trade.
.- It is not often I find myself in agreement with the Minister, but I am in respect of this sub-item. I have made inquiries of Australian manufacturers of gelatine, and find that they have no objection whatever to the Government’s proposal. As the Minister has told the committee, Empire manufacturers of glue and gelatine came to an agreement at Ottawa, a result of which will be greater preference within the Empire with a view to capturing the English market. I think that is a very wise move. I have pleasure in supporting the Senate’s request.
Motion agreed to.
And in respect to sub-item (a), a deferred duty as follows: -
On and after 1st July, 1933 -
Senate’s request - -
Leave out “ 1st July, 1933,” and insert “ 1st January, 1934.”
Motion (by Mr. Guy) proposed -
That the requested amendment be made.
.- The deferred duty on this sub-item will affect an Australian industry soon to be established by the Australian Cream of Tartar Company, which is an amalgamation of two efficient overseas manufacturing concerns. This Australian company intends to spend £25,000 on the erection of a factory and the installation of a plant, and anticipates giving employment to a large number of people. 1 therefore urge the Minister to make the deferred duty operative as soon as the company is in a position to meet Australia’s requirements. The consumption of citric acid in this country amounts to 250 tons per annum, and the demand is increasing. For many purposes citric acid can be used instead of tartaric acid. The chairman of the Australian Cream of Tartar Company is at present abroad inquiring into modern processes and -costs of production. Before it commences manufacturing, the company desires the deferred duty to be applied, and also that the raw material, citrate of lime, be placed on the free list. When I was Minister for Trade and Customs I inspected the company’s factory at Parramatta, and was quite satisfied as to its efficiency. It has increased its output, and is now supplying the whole of Australia’s requirements, as well as 70 per cent, of the New Zealand market. I am confident that it will be equally efficient in the manufacture of citric acid.
Motion agreed to.
Make the duty - per lb., British, 2d.; general, 5d.
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
The local manufacturer having captured the whole of the Australian market, and intimated that the high rates in the schedule are’ no longer required, the committee can readily agree to the reduced rates requested by the Senate. The subitem is at present the subject of a reference to the Tariff Board.
.- This is another example of an efficient industry having been built up under effective protection. The duty of 5d. British, and 3d: general, imposed by the Scullin Government, was requested by the local manufacturer, with a view to shutting out importations. The effect of the additional protection granted by that Government will be Been from the following details: -
The beneficial results-of effective protection will bc realized when it is considered that prior to the Scullin duties the local company, which has now captured the whole of the Australian market and 70 per cent, of the New Zealand market, had only 50 per cent, of the home trade and did no business in New Zealand. It has reduced prices, and is now able to carry on under a lower duty; consequently, I shall not oppose the suggested reduction.
Motion agreed to.
House, adjourned at 10.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 31 October 1933, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1933/19331031_reps_13_142/>.