14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr.BEASLEY-I wish to askthe Prune Minister aquestion without notice:In view of the statement made by ‘ the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Dunstan, at the conference of the Country party, heldat Bendigo yesterday, that the United Australia party was politically bankrupt,., that it had neither ideasnorsuggestions, and that it had beenspeaking with two voices -
– Order! I cannot allow a question of that nature. It does not relate to public business nor. to. the administration of the Prune Minister’s Department.
-If you would allow me to finish the question, Mr. Speaker, you would seethat it has reference to a CommonwealthMinister.
MrSPEAKER.- Then the honorable member shouldhave approached the ma tter in adifferent way. He has quo ted an opinionexpressed at acertainconf erence which hasno relation to’ any publicoffice ofthe Commonwealth. Inasmuch as hemaynot himselfexpress an opinionwhenaskingaquestion,he has noright to quotetheopinion of another individual.
Mr.BEASLEY-I ask the Prime Ministerinwhatlightdoeshe view the positionoftheMinisterfor the Interior (Mr. Paterson)seeing that that honor; able gentlemanwas present at the conference, atwhichtheseremarks were made; and apparentlyacquiesced in them?
-The question is not inorder.
Mr.BAKER.- Yesterday thePrime Minister designated as “rubbish” certainquestionsthatIputtohim.What comment hashenow to makeupon the statementpublished yesterdayby the SydneySun and to-day bythe press generally,that he hadwarned theGo- vernmentparty-
-Order! As the question does notrelate to public business, it is disallowed.
Bill brought upby Mr. Hughes, and read a first time.
Bill broughtup byMr.Hughes, and read a first time.
-Will the Prime Minister state whether the Government of Great Britain has been requested to ask SirWilliamBeveridge to assist theCommonwealth in the examination of a scheme of national insurance. Ifso, has a reply beenreceived ?
– Aninvitationhas been sent totheBritish Government to recommend anauthoritative person, notnecessarilySir William Beveridge.Noreply has yet been received.
Mr.LAZZARINI-About sixmonths ago I brought upthe caseof inmates of the Waterfall Sanitoriumin viewofthe declarationof theCommissioner ofPensions thatthatinstitution was anasylum, andthe Treasurer promised tomake inquiries to ascertain whetherthey could be treated moreliberally. Have thoseinquiriesyetbeen made? If so, withwhat result?
Mr.CASEY. - Arrangements have lately been made in connexionwith institutions as theWaterfallSanitorium tothe effect that, if apensionerisan imitate of the institutionfora longer period than six months, and thus qualifiesasa permanent inmate, the Government willmake retrospective the payment of 5s aweek to thatpensioner for the first28days. Shoulda pensionerdie in the institution before theexpiration of six months, arelative who canprovedistress may claimthe pension for that period of28 days.
– In view of the overlappingof industrial awards and the clashing ofjurisdictionowing to this multiplicity of Arbitration. Courtsand other industrial tribunals in Australia, as well as of the unfair competition among manufacturers, and theirritation, confusion and expense thereby occasioned to industrial organizations throughout the Commonwealth-
– Order ! The honorable member is expressing an opinion instead of asking for information.
– I ask the Minister representing the Acting AttorneyGeneral whether the Government is taking any steps to bring together representatives of the States with a view to the initiation of one general industrial arbitration system in Australia?
– In part this question relates to policy. Insofar as it does so, 1 am unable to answer it. Then, too, there is the further objection that I represent one who is himself acting for another. I shall, however, answer the question so far as I am able to do so. The matter to which the honorable gentleman has directed attention is of the utmost importance. In my opinion uniform legislation which would ensure a uniform basic wage and standard hours throughout Australia would be of the utmost advantage.
– On the motion for the adjournment of the House on Tuesday night the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) referred to the treatment of the employees of a contractor who had undertaken a painting contract in the Federal Capital Territory. Inquiries that I have made from the Department of the Interior disclose that the facts stated by the honorable member are substantially correct. The department is looking into the matter further to see what additional money is due to the contractor, with a view to doing its utmost to protect the employees who have suffered loss.
– In order to reduce the cost of flying, will the Minister for Defence consider the taking of whatever steps are necessary to allow a rebate of the tax paid on all petrol used in aviation?
– The honorable member has asked me whether I will refer this matter to the Civil Aviation Board, which is just about to function, the regulations having been gazetted. One of the first matters with which it will deal, at the instance of the honorable member, is that of the cost of flying. I shall he very glad not only to refer it to the board, but also to consider personally the matter of the rebate of tax paid on petrol used in aviation.
Mr. WHITE laid on the table report and recommendation of the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
Ordered to be printed.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether an application has been made by the States for a Commonwealth grant to assist technical education? If so, what States have made the application?
– Communications on this subject have been received. I believe that representatives of the States are unanimously making certain requests to the Commonwealth. The matter will be . placed definitely before the Government by a delegation comprising a couple of State ministerial representatives.
– Has the Minister representing the Acting Attorney-General yet had time to inquire into the charges that I made on the motion for the adjournment on Tuesday night, in relation to the unfair distribution of work on the waterfront ? If not, will he look into the matter at his earliest convenience?
– I am not able to give the honorable member any information at the moment, but I am looking into the matter.
– Last year a geological conference was held in Melbourne which the Minister in charge of Development (Senator McLachlan) invited Sir David Rivett to attend. In view of the failure of the States to agree to the establishment of a Commonwealth Geological Survey Department, will the Prime Minister state when the appointment of such a body may be expected, with a view to combing the gold resources of the continent?
– As -the honorable member has indicated, it was impossible to reach unanimity at the conference, but certain recommendations emanating from it are at present under consideration, and will be dealt with by the Government as soon as possible.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. Yesterday, I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) whether the Government had decided, if defeated again on the tariff, to treat the matter us vital, and stand or fall by its tariff policy. The Prime Minister characterized my question as such utter rubbish that it did not deserve a reply. In the Sydney Sun of yesterday, there is published a statement to the effect that members of the Government party were warned by the Prime Minister yesterday morning that the Government would, in fact, stand or fall by its tariff policy; that any further reversals of the Government tariff proposals under its Ottawa obligations would involve the resignation of the Government. The newspaper article went on to say that, as the result of this warning, it was expected that the threatened tariff crisis would be averted.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon.G. J. Bell).The honorable member is not entitled, when making a personal explanation, to make long quotations from newspapers.
– Yesterday, I asked a question which the Prime Minister described as utter rubbish, and he declined to answer it. Now we are furnished with proof that the suggestion implied in my question was well founded.
– It is evident that the purpose of the honorable member in seeking to make a personal explanation was to state his opinion on a certain matter referred to in a newspaper. He asked a question on the same subject yesterday, and that question was out of order, although I did not interrupt the honorable member. It was evidently asked with the object of giving annoyance rather than for the purpose of seeking information. The Chair will not permit questions of this nature as they infringe the rules governing questions.
– Will the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties state whether, as far as he knows, any information has been received by the Acting Consul for Belgium from his Government regarding negotiations for a trade agreement between Australia and Belgium ?
– I have at close intervals for some time past urged upon the Consul-General for Belgium that he should endeavour to obtain instructions from his Government authorizing him to embark upon negotiations. So far those instructions have not been received, but I shall again take the matter up with the present Acting Consul-General.
– Can the Acting Minister for Commerce state whether the election of members of the Australian Dairy Produce Board has yet been completed, and if so, who are the persons elected ?
– I have no information as to whether the election has been completed, or who has been elected, but I shall make inquiries.
– Is the Acting Minister for Commerce able to say when payments arc to ‘be made to exporters of apples and prunes of the bounties recently voted by this Parliament?
– Everything is in order for the making of the payments, and the money will be handed over almost immediately.
– Will the Acting Minister for Commerce say whether there is any truth in the rumour that the small lounges in the Hotel Kurrajong are to be converted into bedrooms for the accommodation of members of the Commerce Department who are to .be transferred to Canberra?
– That is a matter which comes directly under the control of the Minister for the Interior. I have had nothing to do with the detailed plans of arrangements inside the Hotel Kurrajong
– In view of the fact that Parliament will be in recess for several months during the winter, will the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs arrange that honorable members may be regularly supplied with authoritative information regarding international affairs ?
– Arrangements will be made from time to time, when authoritative information not published in the newspapers is available, to -see that such information is supplied to honorable members.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior able to say when the new Commonwealth offices in Anzac-square, Brisbane, will be ready for occupation? J believe that under the terms’ of the contract, the time for the completion of the building has long since expired.
– I am not sufficiently acquainted with the position to answer the honorable member’s question, but I shall convey to the Minister for the Interior his groat anxiety that the building should be completed.
– Has the Acting Minister for Commerce received from the various wheat-growing States the in formation necessary to enable a beginning to be made with the distribution of the bounty on wheat?
– I have received by telegram the nominations of the representative in each State to be proclaimed as the prescribed authority for the distribution of the wheat bounty.
– Has the Treasurer yet had time to give attention to the petition which I presented to this House some time ago, praying for the restoration of pensions and public service salaries ?
– The honorable member’s question deals with a matter of government policy, and it is not customary to answer such questions.
– Has the Acting Minister for Commerce received a protest from the producers of eggs in country districts against the proposal of the department to deny them the right to have their eggs cleaned at export stations?
– A communication to that effect was received only this morning. Full consideration has not yet been given to it, but the honorable member should know that there are serious disabilities associated with the cleaning of eggs once received into store. It is in the interests of the producers that cleaned eggs should not be placed on the export market.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral’s Department abandoned its proposal to employ female telephonists continuously throughout the night at the Sydney General Post Office?
– I shall obtain the information for which the honorable member asks, and forward it to him.
– by leave - The summary of the German peace plan was delivered in London by Herr von Ribbentrop yesterday, and the substance of its contents is as follows : -
Although refusing those parts of the other Locarno Powers’ proposals of 19th March relating to the submission of the Franco-Soviet Pact to the Permanent Court of International Justice, and to the Rhineland International Force, and giving no undertaking regarding fortications, Germany will, if France and Belgium act similarly, send no further reinforcements into the Rhineland, while the troops already there will not move nearer the Belgian and French frontiers. Germany will permit the investigation of the carrying out of these assurances by an Anglo-Italian neutral commission.
On the basis of complete reciprocity, Germany is prepared for the future to agree to military limitation on the Franco-Belgian-German frontiers, and proposes to negotiate within four months for 25-year non-aggression orsecurity pacts with France and Belgium and, if desired, the Netherlands. These would be guaranteed by the United Kingdom and Italy, and supplemented by an air pact. Germany’s neighbours on the north-east and south-east will be invited to conclude non-aggression pacts, and Germany is prepared to re-enter the League of Nations either immediately, or after the conclusion of the agreements. An arbitral tribunal is proposed to secure the observance of the several agreements. Germany also urges further efforts at reduction and limitation of armaments, with the regulation of aerial warfare as the first task.
– In view of the confusion which exists regarding the recent amendment to the Repatriation Act dealing with service pensions and pensions for tubercular ex-soldiers, will the Minister for Health arrange to have printed a handbook setting out the benefits which may be obtained under this legislation?
– I shall be very glad to do so. I quite understand the difficulties in which the honorable member and others find themselves, and I have recently boon in communication with the Chairman of the Repatriation Commission, who has made commendable efforts to reduce the act to intelligible English. Up to the present, however, he has not succeeded, but he is still engaged on the task.
– On two previous occasions I asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs if he had received any information concerning the conflict taking place in Mongolia between Russia and Japan. In this morning’s newspapers details are published of still more extensive military operations, and I ask the Minister whether any official information has been received which he can place before the House ?
– I regret that I have not given a formal reply, but up to last night the information was not at the disposal of the Government. From the information now at the disposal of the Government, there is no reason to believe that the frontier clashes have been serious or important in nature. In fact, the clashes which have taken place recently are said not to be so serious as those of three or four months ago. The Government has no official information in regard to what appeared in this morning’s press.
Consideration resumed from the 28th November, 19-35, on motion by Mr. White (vide page 2125) -
That . . . the schedule to the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act 1933-1984 be amended as follows: -
And on further motions by Mr. White (vide pages 444 and 760) -
That . . . the schedule … be further amended as follows: -
– Honorable members will recollect that tho Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act 1933-1934 provides in certain cases for a deduction from the amount of duty payable under the British preferential tariff. The goods to which the deduction applies are those to- which protective duties apply, as listed in the schedule to the act. This deduction, while Australian currency is depreciated to the extent of not less than 16 J per cent, in relation to the British country from which the goods are imported, is one-fourth of the amount of duty or 12^ per cent, of the value for duty, whichever is the less. When the currency depreciation is less than 16J per cent., but not less than 11 1-9 per cent, the deduction is one-eighth of the amount of duty or 6$ per cent, of tho value for duty whichever is the less. This deduction was intended to compensate for the protective value of exchange.
Since the end of 1933 the Tariff Board in its reports has recommended rates of duty based on present exchange conditions with a corrective increasing the rates gradually as exchange moves towards parity. As the protective value of exchange in each individual industry is influenced by the dependence of the manufacturer on imported or exchangeaffected materials this new method provides a much more satisfactory way of dealing with the problem than the former method.
The purpose of the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) proposals at present before the committee is to eliminate from the operation of the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act 1933- 1934 those items and parts of items for which provision for exchange fluctuations if now made in the items themselves. I move -
That the schedule to the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act 1033-1934, as proposed to he amended, be further amended as follows: -
By inserting “234 (a.) except as to goods entered for home consumption on or after the 29th November, 1935, and before the 2nd April, 1930”; and
By inserting “241(c) except as to goods entered for home consumption on or after the 29th November, 1935, and before the 1st April, 1936 “.
The goods covered by the items referred to herein, namely, item 234 a, cement, and item 241 o, sanitary and lavatory earthenware, &a, ‘ were subject to exchange adjustment under the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act 1933- 1934.
Since the 29th November, 1935, duties have been provided in the tariff under present exchange conditions in respect of these items, and action was accordingly taken under the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) proposals to omit items 234 a and 241 c from the list of items to which exchange adjustment applies.
However, as the result of decisions of the committee when these items were discussed in connexion with the Customs Tariff proposals, duties have been imposed which are higher than those considered by the Tariff Board to be necessary under present exchange conditions. Accordingly, it is proposed that the duties resulting from the committee’s decision should again be subject to exchange adjustment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. White and Sir Henry Gullett do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. White, and passed through all its stages without amendment or debate.
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from the 28th November, 1935 (vide page 2127, volume 147), on motion by Mr. White-
That the schedule to the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) 1934 be amended as hereunder set out . . .
And on further motion by Mr. White (vide page 760) -
That the schedule … be further amended . . .
– Under the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) proposals, provision is made for special rates of duty on the following goods of Canadian origin: - Ex. 291, veneers; 328, goloshes, rubber sand boots and shoes and plimsolls; 359, chassis for motor vehicles; and 157, barbed wire.
Veneers and goloshes produced in Canada were, under the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) 1934, admitted at rates higher than the British preferential rate, butlower than the general tariff rate. Alterations have been made in the rates of duty under the British preferential and general tariff rates, and the proposal preserves the relativity of the Canadian duty.
In the case of chassis, no alteration in the rate of duty is proposed, but the verbiage of the item hasbeen altered somewhat to agree with the item under the British preferential and general tariffs.
In regard to barbed wire, Canada has hitherto been entitled to the British preferential tariff. In its report which was tabled to-day, the Tariff Board has recommended free admission of barbed wire from the United Kingdom, and, in the case of Canadian wire, a rate of 50s. per ‘ ton with a corrective for exchange fluctuations. The proposal before the committee gives effect to this recommendation, and I may say that the Canadian Government has signified its agreement to this departure from the conditions originally existing.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted.
That Mr. White and Mr. Archdale Parkhill do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. White, and passed through all its stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from the 28th November, 1935 (vide page 2129, volume 147) on motion by Mr. White -
That theschedule to the Excise Tariff 1921- 1933 be amended as hereunderset out -
And on further motion by Mr. White (vide page 444) -
That the schedule … be further amended -
– I do not know that any explanation is needed as to this item. It relates to the maturation period for whisky. A full explanation was given when the Tariff Board report was tabled. The period of maturation is reduced from three to two years under this excise proposal.
Item agreed to.
By omitting the whole item and inserting in its stead the following item: -
Tobacco, manufactured, n.e.i. -
.- I move -
That the item be amended by adding the following to paragraph (1) of sub-item (b ) : -
And on and after 3rd April, 1936 -
In the manufacture of which all the tobacco leaf used is Australiangrown - per lb., 3s.
I move this because I think that it would be in the interests of the tobacco industry if the Government agreed to the reduction proposed. It would give a preferential margin of1s. 6d. per lb. on all Australian leaf used; that is, the excise duty would be 4s. 6d. per lb. on tobacco made from imported leaf, and 3s. per lb. on tobacco made from Australian-grown leaf. The required revenue could be maintained by an additional flat rate of 6d. per lb. excise on the manufactured product, which flat rate could be made a revenue adjuster to bc raised or lowered as more or less revenue was required.
– That would raise the price to the smoker.
– The Minister would be able to ensure the Government receiving us much revenue as was received last year.
This would allow of blending to get the best smoking results, and would stimulate the use and sale of Australian leaf, thus mutually benefiting growers and consumers. In Canada, excise is levied on the leaf going into manufacture, and a duty concession is allowed on tobacco containing not less than 50 per cent, locally-produced leaf.
When a differential excise was first proposed the Government raised the objection of difficulty of administration in that most of the tobaccoes were composite, and excise was collected on the manufactured tobacco. For instance, a tobacco made from 50 per cent, imported, and 50 per cent. Australian leaf would bc as much imported as Australian. The proposed scheme of leaf excise gets over that difficulty, and would be simple to administer.
In .1934-35, some 17,000,000 lb. of leaf, valued at £1,300,000, was imported, about 10,340,000 lb. of which, valued at £1,242,000, came from the United States of America. The bulk of this leaf could be grown here, and the money kept in Australia giving much needed employment directly and indirectly.
In the opinion of the Australian Tobacco Growers Association, the recent reduction by 8d. per lb. of the excise on tobacco made wholly from Australian leaf is of little benefit. In practically all countries where tobacco is manufactured it has been found essential to blend the leaf in order to obtain the best results. Australia is no exception to that rule. The restriction of the reduction to tobacco which is 100 per cent. Australian eliminates large quantities of good quality Australian leaf which is blended with imported leaf. The following official statistics for Australia for the year 1934^35 may interest honorable members; and will prove that the preferential rate of excise duty, giving Australian growers an advantage of ls. Od. per lb., could be put into operation without serious lo3S of revenue :; -
Tt will be noted that in the process of manufacture the loading increased the weight of tobacco by about 10 .per cent., and of cigarettes by approximately 3 per cent.
For the information of honorable members, I shall set before them a scheme suggested and approved by the Tobacco Growers Association -
These calculations do not include revenue from excise on cigar leaf or from imports of tobacco, cigarettes and cigars in the maufactured state.
The scheme suggested and approved by the Tobacco Growers Association overcomes difficulties of administration previously raised by the Government against differential excise duties. Price adjustments could be passed on to consumers. Increases made in import duties on leaf have invariably been passed on, composite brands going up in price according to the percentage of imported leaf contained in them. Price reductions can likewise be passed on. Revenue would be safeguarded, while preference on Australian leaf would stimulate the use of that leaf. and the sale of tobacco containing it, thus mutually benefiting growers and consumers.
The suggested scheme for differential excise duties in regard to manufactured tobacco provides for an excise duty of 4s. 6d. per lb. on imported leaf, and 3s. per lb. ou Australian leaf, and, in addition, a flat rate of 3d. per lb. on the manufactured product. Taking the figures which I have given for 1934-35 as a basis for calculation, we find that the excise duty on the imported leaf - 9,008,000 lb. at 4s. Od. - would return a net revenue of £2,026,800. The 3,210,000 lb. of Australian leaf used, which would be subject to an excise duty of 3s. per lb., would return £481,500. The flat rate of 6d. per lb. on 11,866,000 lb. would yield £296,650, whilst the excise of 7s. per lb; on the 4,766,000 lb. of tobacco manufactured into cigarettes would give a net return of £1,668,100. Under the differential scheme the net revenue from excise would total £4,473,050, on the basis of the 1934-35 figures. In addition to the revenue the import duty of 3s. 6d. per lb. on 9,008,000 lb. of imported leaf used in the manufacture of tobacco would return £1,576,400 and, in addition, 4,486,000 lb. of cigarette leaf at 5s. 2d. per lb. would yield £1,158,883, making the total net revenue from import duties £2,735,283, which, added to the revenue from excise, gives a grand total of £7,208,333. Tho calculations do not include revenue from excise on cigar leaf, or from the import duty on tobacco, cigarettes and cigars imported in the manufactured state. The suggested scheme would return to the Government about £700,000 more than the £6,500,000 which the Tariff Board considers is a reasonable impost to place on the tobacco industry. Moreover, it would overcome the administrative difficulties advanced previously by the Government as a reason for not imposing a differential excise duty. Price adjustments could be passed on to consumers. Increases of import duties on tobacco leaf have invariably been passed on to consumers, the prices of composite brands rising in proportion to the percentage . of imported leaf contained in them. Price reductions also could bp passed on. The revenue would be safeguarded, whilst preference on Australian leaf would stimulate its use, and the sab of the tobacco containing it, thus benefiting both growers and consumers. I submit that this scheme would give a stimulus to the industry which received a setback when the present Government unscientifically meddled with the protectiveduties which were imposed some years ago.
This subject transcends party politics, and I appeal to honorable members,, irrespective of party, to support my proposals.
Mr. THOMPSON (New England) t 11.21]. - I support the proposal of theeputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde), and hope that the Government will see its way to accept the scheme outlined by him. The honorable member has shown how most of the difficulties, which now confront this industry could, be overcome. I cannot understand why these duties should be singled out to be made a party issue. According to theSydney Morning Herald, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) claims that the Government does not regard the tariff as a party issue, and did not whip members in regard to it. I hope that that means the Government has changed its views in regard to tobacco. If it does not, the tobacco-growers will know that this is the only tariff item which the Government treats as a party iSsUe, and they will have to decide which party, or parties, they will support in future. The Government is forcing them to view this subject from that angle. In my opinion the proposal of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition does not go far enough. I should like to see a differential reduction of the rate of excise by at least 2s. per lb. Had the Minister accepted the proposal made in this chamber recently, by which another £200,000 or £300,000 could have been obtained from import duties on tobacco, he could easily have agreed to a differential reduction of the excise duty by 2s. . per lb. He refused to accept that proposal, however, and now I suppose he will tell us .that the present proposal cannot be accepted because it would mean a substantial loss of revenue to the Government. , I am afraid that we cannot expect the Minister to agree to the proposal of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, although I am not entirely without hope that he will adopt a reasonable attitude. I have no wish to refer to recent happenings, other than to say that there is evidence that a section of government supporters will not always make loyalty to the Government their first consideration. In regard to this item, however, the supporters of the Government are loyal to a man, and will not listen to any argument advanced in opposition to the Government’s proposals. Apparently, they are not concerned with the interests of the growers, although unimpeachable evidence that those interests are being prejudiced has been placed before them. In view of the mental elasticity shown by a number of Government supporters in regard to other tariff items, which resulted in the Government being humiliated, there is a clear precedent for them to follow in regard to the duties on tobacco. If they fail to stand by the tobacco-growers it will be only because of some reason which, as yet, is hidden from other honorable members.
Mr.Forde. - One good turn deserves another; the Country party stuck to the Government when the duties on cement and earthenware were under consideration.
– I was pleased to notice in the last budget that the Government had receded from its previous attitude of opposition to differential rates of excise on Australian tobacco. I said then that, although the growers would appreciate the reduction by 8d. per lb. of the excise on tobacco manufactured wholly from Australian leaf, in my opinion the reduction was not enough, and was more in the nature of a friendly gesture than a real contribution to the industry. Since then eight or nine months have elapsed, and there is evidence that my prediction was right, for the industry has not improved in the meantime. Indeed, the . number of growers has declined considerably, and there has been an enormous reduction of the area under crop - from 16,000 acres to 8,000 acres in twelve months. It may be claimed that a 50 per cent. reduction of the acreage under tobacco is due to the prevalence of blue mould and other diseases, and to climatic difficulties ; but the growers have always been faced with such difficulties and accept them more or less philosophically. For a number of years the industry has averaged only one good crop in three, and for that reason the margin of protection given to it should be greater than to those in which the return is more regular and the profit more assured. That aspect of the industry has not been fully considered by those who maintain that it is the most highly-protected in Australia. When the customs duties on tobacco were under consideration recently we asked for a small increase of the import duty in order to provide between £200,000 and £300,000 additional revenue which would go to make up for any loss arising out of a differential reduction of the excise duty, but the Government rejected that proposal. Consequently now, although it would entail a considerable loss of revenue, we are forced to ask for that reduction of the excise duty without any corresponding increase of the import duty.
– It might not entail any loss.
– I shall be surprised if the Minister does not bring forward evidence to prove that it would do so.
– A little imported leaf is used for blending in all tobacco put on the Australian market.
– But I am assuming that a - differential excise duty in favour of 100 per cent. Australian tobacco would be continued. Indeed, I am of opinion that if it were given sufficient differentiation in excise, the Australian leaf would not need to be blended with imported leaf. The margin of advantage it now has is only equal to about 4d. per lb. spread over the whole quantity used in the manufacture of tobacco. It is too insignificant to be of much use to the growers. If the Government would give the industry real assistance it would give the growers a reduction of excise rates by, say, 2s. per lb. on 100 per cent. Australian tobacco for a five-year period. The Government, however, is unwilling to give the Australian industry that chance; it places the Australian leaf on the same price margin as imported brands, with the result that the cultivated prejudice against the use of Australian tobacco brings about large purchases of the muchadvertised imported brands. Australian brands are not advertised to any extent, but colossal sums of money are spent in advertising well-known and popular imported brands. If the Government would assist the Australian industry in the way I have suggested, it would have the effect of removing this issue from the political arena. The Australian tobacco industry has been, as it were, a running sore in Commonwealth politics for a number of years, and on several -occasions Ministers have barely escaped defeat on their proposed tobacco duties. It is true that Ministers have to consider not only the interests of a few growers, but also those of a big smoking public; but I contend that the smoking public is interested in the successful establishment of the tobacco-growing industry. Indeed, it was demonstrated during yesterday’s debate on the motion submitted by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn) that the people of Australia view with concern a continuance of Australia’s unfavorable trade balance with the United States of America, from which country most of the tobacco used in ‘ Australia comes. Knowing that! Australian growers can produce good leaf, the people of Australia are asking why we should continue to import about 90 per cent, of our tobacco requirements. If the issue before the people to-day were whether they would be in favour of shutting out imported tobacco, I am sure that they would be overwhelmingly in favour of using Australiangrown tobacco leaf. Not many years ago the same issue arose in South Africa where, in consequence of the cultivated prejudice against the local tobacco being so great that the South African growers could not get a footing in their own market, the Union Government imposed an embargo on the importation of tobacco for five years. At the end of that period, when the embargo was lifted, the people had become so accustomed to smoking the local tobacco that there was no increase of importations and I feel that the same result would follow if the Commonwealth Government would adopt a similar plan and say that for five years,
Mr. Thompson. by cheapening the local product, it would give the Australian industry a chance to establish itself firmly in the Australian market. -Instead of the Australian industry being compelled to compete against the much-advertised imported tobacco on an almost level footing, we should give it an excise margin of say ls. 6d. or 2s. a lb. That would put it on its feet. The Government has given honorable members no information in regard to the effect of these proposals on the revenue. Some time ago the Minister said that he was watching the position, but was not able to say whether the estimate of the Treasurer had been realized - that the loss arising from the differential cut of 8d. per lb. would bc £90,000 a year. As the Treasurer’s estimate must have been largely guess-work, honorable members are entitled to know the exact result. At the same time a reduction of the excise on tobacco used in the manufacture of cigarettes by 6d. per lb. was estimated to involve a loss of revenue of £25,000, but we. were told that the manufacturers would pass that on to the consumers. They have not done so and the Government has no means of compelling them to do so. The quality of the cigarettes placed on the Australian market by the tobacco combine to-day is exactly the same as before the excise cut of 6d. was made. It is very inferior. These cigarettes are greatly over-rated, and it should be possible for a good Australian cigarette to be put on the market which would enjoy a great deal of popularity among smokers generally. Figures which have been placed at my disposal - they arc not official and therefore may be subject to correction - reveal that the actual revenue loss involved in the reduction of the excise duty on cigarettes by 6d. per lb. has proved to be something like £119,000. That calculation is based on the quantity of cigarettes manufactured during the last twelve months. If these figures are correct, the Treasurer’s estimate was sadly astray. The Government should withdraw this unnecessary gift to the manufacturers of Australia and divert it to the tobacco-growers. There was no necessity for it. If the £25,000 had been applied in respect of tobacco made from Australian leaf, the Government could have reduced the excise duty on it by1s. per lb. There is no evidence that the reduction of 6d. has been of any benefit to the smoking public. I do not think that the revenue position which existed when the Treasurer made his estimate prevails to-day. The Government is obtaining at least £6,000,000 from tobacco duties annually and, in’ the opinion of the Tariff Board, that is considered to be a fair thing. Thereis no justification for the Government to adopt this measly policy of making a cut of 8d. in the excise on Australian tobacco, which has to stand on its own merits in competition with imported leaf. Spread over the whole industry it represents a differentiation of only 4d. per lb. and is of no value to it. It is merely a friendly gesture on the part of the Government, which is quite unnecessary because at the end of the year the industry will be in a worse position than ever. To-day, there are 2,000 tobacco-growers, and 50 per cent. less land is under cultivation, but more than half the growers are not selling their product. The industry has been delivered a knockout blow by the shilly-shallying policy of this Government during the last four or five years. The only way to display genuine friendliness for this industry is to guarantee it security over a definite period. I suggest that the Government should accept the proposal of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) and formulate a policy which will remain unaltered for at least five years. I feel sure that if this were done and a sound policy were adopted, future Governments would continue it.
Every honorable member knows that I have been an advocate for this industry ever since I have been a member of Parliament, not because I hold any venomous spite against the tobacco combine, but because I consider that Australia is entitled to this additional primary producing industry, the success of which is jeopardised by the operations of the tobacco combine. This Parliament is the only authority vested with sufficient power to clip the wings of the tobacco combine, but, except for a brief period, it has consistently refused to do so. By chopping and changing its policy, and by refusing to take the industry seriously, it has made it impossible for any man to regard tobacco growing as a safe economic investment. Though many people have lost considerable sums of money in this industry, the combine has continued to exploit the market profitably. Farmers and storekeepers have lost heavily. I know one man who has lost thousands of pounds as a result of his belief that this Government would do the right thing by the growers. Many storekeepers in the tobacco-growing districts have hundreds of pounds worth of tobacco left on their hands.
Mr.White. - It cannot be good leaf.
– The Minister will keep on making that assertion. The trouble is that there is only one effective buyer in the Commonwealth and that that buyer has been given a privileged position by reason of our protective policy.
– There are other buyers.
– The other buyers who are operating are not substantial purchasers, and are, in fact, being driven out of the industry by the tobacco combine, which picks and chooses the tobacco it will buy. When the Minister was speaking yesterday on another matter, he said that local growers were producing only 25 per cent. of the tobacco consumed in Australia, the remainder being obtained from the United States of America. What the honorable gentleman should have said, was that we could produce all the tobacco needed here, but that the policy of the Government would not permit more than 25 per cent. of it to be provided from local sources. The honorable gentleman has twisted and turned so frequently in the course of his speeches on the tobacco industry, that it is difficult to find any consistency in his remarks. But the plain fact is that if the Government would alter its policy, a degree of security which is now lacking would be afforded to this industry. As many people have been ruined through investing money in tobacco-growing, I trust that we shall find a sufficiently large number of honorable members with an Australian outlook to accord this industry the support that it should receive. A proper understanding of the needs of the cement manufacturing and lavatory equipment manufacturing industries by a number of honorable members forced the Government to accord reasonable protection to them, and I sincerely trust that proper steps will be taken to cause the Government to protect the Australian tobacco industry to such an extent that we shall not be obliged to continue to obtain 75 per cent. of our requirements from America, where tobacco is grown by negro labour. Our own white Australian farmers and storekeepers should be given a chance to overcome the disabilities forced upon them by the Australian tobacco monopoly.
.- I support the amendment. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) said, by interjection, a few moments ago that more than one buyer was operating in Australia. That is true in one sense, but in actual fact only one effective buyer is operating, and that buyer regulates the price of tobacco. Had the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson), on previous occasions, supported with his vote speeches of the kind that he has just delivered, the tobaccogrowers would now be in a better position. The honorable gentleman has delivered similar speeches on other occasions, but has not supported his speech with his vote.
– That is absolutely untrue. I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member for Herbert entitled to misrepresent me and deliberately misconstrue my remarks?
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).The honorable member has not raised a point of order, but I request the honorable member for Herbert to confine his remarks to the subject before the Chair.
– What I said about the honorable member for New England was by the way. It is quite true that many people have lost large sums of money through investments in the Australian tobacco-growing industry. They were led to believe that the Government would adequately protect the industry at least during the period when it was becoming firmly established in the Commonwealth ; but in actual fact the Govern ment has placed intolerable burdens upon the tobacco-growers, and also deprived them of the degree of protection which they enjoyed when the Scullin Government was in office. It is of little use for the Minister to assent that all commercially usable tobacco has been sold, for I know differently. I believe, like the honorable member for New England that the reductions proposed in the schedule now before the committee are simply a gesture which will be of very little value to the tobacco-growers. We know that all tobacco manufacturing countries import a certain quantityof tobacco for blending purposes. Even in the United States of America, where tobacco has been grown for more than 300 years, some tobacco is imported for blending purposes. The position of Australia, however, is very different, for the policy of the Government permits the great bulk of our tobacco to be imported. That is a state of affairs that we desire to remedy. The figures submitted to the Government by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr.Forde) indicate clearly that adequate assistance can be given to the Australian tobacco-growers without endangering the revenue. Certain honorable members of the Country party stated that the Minister for Trade and Customs had given a definite promise that when the excise duties were under consideration adequate protection wouldbe provided for the local tobacco-growers, but the schedule now before us is sadly deficient.
– The Government is continually studying the problem of differential excise duties.
– It was the Deputy Leader of the Country Party (Mr. Paterson) who stated that the Minister for Trade and Customs had given a promise that reasonable protection would be given to the tobacco-growers, when the excise duties were under consideration. I know that the Minister has denied that such a promise was made.
– I gave no promise of the kind referred to.
– The Minister has said that he cannot accept the amendment because of the detrimental effect it would have on the revenue; but I sub- mit that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has indicated clearly that no detrimental revenue results would follow. The Australian tobacco industry could, with a reasonable degree of protection, provide very much more employment than it provides at present. Practically all the tobacco required for local use could be grown in this country. I definitely deny that all commercially usable tobacco grown locally is purchased by the British-Australasian Tobacco Company, which is the only effective buyer in the Commonwealth. I have in my electorate a small establishment in which handmade tobacco is manufactured, and I have been informed by the proprietor, Mr. Bayliss, that it is utterly impossible for him to buy, at the Townsville tobacco sales, the leaf that he desires to buy, because the British-Australasian Tobacco Company has first call on the market, and reserves all the best quality leaf for itself. This huge organization can do that kind of thing, because it has- an abundance of capital behind it. Yet the Minister continues to tell us, apparently expecting us to believe him, that the British-Australasian Tobacco Company is acting in the best interests of the growers. Unfortunately, a great quantity of really good leaf is left on the hands of the growers. The Tobacco Investigation Committee was informed that, if growers made complaints concerning the treatment meted out to them by the British-Australasia Tobacco Company, they were, subjected to a kind of duress. Some of the men who made complaints found that, in the following year, they were unable to sell even . a pound of tobacco leaf to the BritishAustralasia Tobacco Company: That, I submit, is unfair treatment. I sincerely trust that the Government will give earnest consideration to tho merits of the’ amendment, for it provides the very minimum of protection necessary to ensure the progress of this important industry.
– I shall not delay the committee many minutes, for I do not wish to reiterate the arguments of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in support of the amendment. I shall examine the sub ject from a slightly different angle from that of the mover of the amendment. I offer a strong protest against the flippancy of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) and the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett), in dealing with certain Australian industries which merit the protection of this Parliament. The tobacco industry is a “ winner “ and it could be extended very greatly. Millions of acres of land in North Australia, at present unused, are suitable for tobacco-growing. Both climatic and soil considerations ensure that good tobacco leaf could be grown on that land. We shall be forced to do more to promote the economic occupation of our second-class tropical lands, the soils of which, according to the industry, are the only types suitable for the production of high-grade leaf. While it is true that tobacco is being grown on some unsuitable areas in the south, it is also true that a great deal of suitable tobacco-growing country is available in the north where the climate is dry and the atmosphere appropriately humid during the growing period. The soil is eminently suitable for tobaccogrowing. A grower who is permitted to operate in an obviously unsuitable district is a menace to northern development. This Parliament should take steps to encourage the settlement of these northern areas by men capable of growing good marketable tobacco; then the combine would bc obliged to buy the leaf on sheer merit. I admit that many good tobaccogrowing districts are to be found in the south; but, to-day, science is the handmaiden of the tobacco-growers. If we also apply human sanity to this industry, progress is certain. It appears, however, that we have developed a kind of bovine mentality in connexion with it. The only things that will help us are science and sanity acting together. If we desire to show ourselves as real Australians, we should take steps to encourage the settling of our tropical regions by capitalizing the few crops that are suitable. I was intrigued by the suggestion of the honorable member for Now England (Mr. Thompson), that we should follow the example of the South Africans. In the sister dominion, the Africanders have been encouraged to develop the tobacco-growing industry, and there is every- reason why Australians should be encouraged to develop the Australian tobacco-growing industry. If the Minister were a real Australian, with an Australian outlook, he would do his best to foster this industry. I do not, of course, wish to cast any slurs upon the honorable gentleman.
– If the honorable member for the Northern Territory is a real Australian, I do not wish to be one.
– I fear the Minister has misconstrued my remarks. I have no desire to be rude. I am suggesting that we should be broad in our outlook on this industry. The suggestion of the honorable member for New England, that an ‘ embargo should be placed on the importations of tobacco for five years in order to develop the local industry, is worth consideration, but this could only be brought about gradually. It may bc true that we do not yet understand all the secrets of blending tobacco; but we certainly know enough to produce a good article. I have been in touch with many tobacco-blenders who are also tobaccogrowers. In Darwin I have mct some of these men who have been in Cairo, the home of tobacco-blending, Greece, and other important tobacco-blending centres.
– Order ! The honorable member should be aware that the subject of blending is not involved in this discussion.
– I am endeavouring to demonstrate how insufficient is the excise to put the industry upon a sound footing. The Government should pay the closest attention to the recommendations of Dr. Dickson, of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. If there were a graduated tariff imposition culminating in five years in an embargo against importations of tobacco the local industry would be established in a similar fashion to the motor industry and its problems would be solved. Manufacturers would take advantage of the protection, factories would be erected, and skilled blenders would be brought to the country, introducing the secrets of Vending known only to them. This information, I regret to say, is now being utilized by the tobacco industry in an endeavour to prove that Australia cannot grow suitable leaf; but I contend that millions of acres are eminently suited to this purpose- I am confident that honorable members who aim at being real Australians realize that truth.
.- The Government regrets that it cannot accept this amendment. During the last three years it has made a very careful survey of the tobacco-growing industry, and has done much to foster it. Honorable members are aware that the provision of an annual grant for encouraging cultural work has been of considerable assistance to it. A definite improvement of the quality of tho leaf has been achieved, so much so that 50 per cent, of the leaf now grown in Australia can be considered to bc -high-grade. The Government has raised the import duty by 6d. per lb., and has reduced the excise by 8d. per lb. on pure Australian leaf and ls. 4d. per lb. on that for the use of aborigines.
Perhaps I should ignore the remarks of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain), but in view of his reiteration of the words “real Australian,” I cannot let his speech pass without some comment. The honorable member sets himself up as one who has an intimate knowledge of the industry; he shows inordinate presumption for one who has never been heard of in it before. I point out to him that the action of this Administration in reducing the excise on tobacco for distribution among aborigines, has been of immense advantage to the Northern Territory. Yet the honorable member made no reference in -his speech to that aspect ; perhaps he had not heard about it. Oi’ is it that the aborigines have no vole3? News travels slowly in those distant parts. He is noted here for taking up any catch-cry in the press-
– Order !
– In regard to the policy of the Government, I made a complete statement during the discussion of the item previously on the import duty. The Government believes in offering every possible assistance to the tobacco-growing industry, and will take every measure to ensure the sale of all good quality leaf.. Action is taken every year in that connexion.
– There is difficulty in obtaining a market for some of .that leaf.
– If the honorable member will inform me of any saleable leaf of good quality which cannot be marketed, I will see that the matter is investigated.
– What does the Minister moan by “ saleable leaf “ ?
– I mean from bright mahogany upwards. , The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has suggested the imposition of a lower excise on all purely Australian tobacco, and he put forward a scheme whereby no loss of revenue would be incurred through the adoption of his proposal. I am not satisfied with his figures but I am prepared to analyse them. If the scheme does not bring in the difference of revenue, and he suggests raising the excise on the whole of the leaf used-
– I suggested putting an additional duty of 6d. per lb. on all manufactured tobacco, which could be made a revenue adjuster, and that the excise on Australian leaf used in manufacture should be reduced from 3s. lOd. to 3s. per lb.
– Tn my opinion, that scheme would raise the price to the smoker. The essence of the Government’s proposal - a reduction of Sd. per lb. - was that the benefit of -id. per lb. could be passed on to the smoker; and, in the majority of casus, that has been done.
– What about the Australian leaf used for blending purposes?
– Several honorable members have mentioned applying the reduction to blended leaf, but I fail to see how such a system could work in the event, say, of 10 per cent, of American leaf being blended with the Australian. No concession on that basis could be passed on to the smoker.
– The reduction of 8d. per lb. really amounts to only 4d. per lb. when spread over the whole of the Australian crop, if the leaf for blending purposes is excluded from benefiting from the reduction.
– That is so. The Government budgeted to forgo £90,000 of revenue in order to make this reduction, and it is working out that way. The honorable member in this connexion should see a reply which I gave to the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. McEwen) in this House recently. The concession granted to aborigines involves another £3,000. These facts were amply traversed when the committee discussed the import duty. I believe the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) has suggested a prohibition of imports.
– No. I merely mentioned that South Africa imposed on embargo. I did not suggest that there should be an embargo here.
– Then it must have been the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) who made the suggestion. I point out to him that Australia is capable of producing only one-quarter of the tobacco required for use in the Commonwealth. The honorable member, however, speaks airily about factories being dotted about the country and about prohibiting all importations. If his suggestion were adopted, the trade would have difficulty in carrying on, and unemployment would immediately be created. The Government has gone a long way in granting concessions to assist the industry in a cultural way, and by increasing import duties and reducing the excise. At present it is prepared to go no further, but it will observe how the present system is working. If other concessions are possible, it will make them. Every government desires that eventually Australia will be in a position to supply, if not the whole, at least the bulk of the tobacco required in the Commonwealth. But it must be a gradual process; the present Government docs not propose to repeat the mistake of inviting men into disaster, as was done by another administration by imposing excessive import duties.
.- The statement of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) that previous governments had invited people into disaster when they protected this industry was quite uncalled for. That disaster would not have occurred had it not been for the fact that the Government, of which he is a member, increased the excise and removed the margin of protection that was given to this industry. The blending of tobacco, I consider, cannot be discussed with any degree of authority by laymen, but I venture to say that if necessary Australia could produce a variety of tobacco leaf in the tropics and the southern areas that should lend itself admirably to blending. An all-Australian brand of tobacco now put on the market is the QLD, hut it is difficult to purchase it in any of the country districts. Blending, however, should not be one of the considerations vital to the conduct of the industry-. The Minister stated that, if the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) were carried, the price of tobacco would be increased to the public. The manufacturers of tobacco in Australia publish their share and profit lists; if the Government is desirous of protecting the public, it should take action against this profiteering, instead of against the growers.’ . Honorable members have spoken at great length about profiteering by secondary industries. I noticed that, when the fate of the secondary industries was at stake, a number of honorable members who support the Government were prepared to rush to the aid of tho masses living in and around the closely-populated manufacturing centres. But when the existence of 5,000 primary producers, who have no lobbyists to state their case, i3 in jeopardy, the matter becomes one of minor importance with them. I hope that the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson), who is the whip of the Country party, will be successful in persuading members of that party to support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. In regard to the quality of Australian leaf, I consider that it could be manufactured to-morrow into a smokeable tobacco, and the Australian’ smoker, if other brands were not available, would adapt himself to the Australian-grown product. If Australia were to take the same stand as South Africa has done, and give the manufacturers five years in which to establish the industry, I venture to say that afterwards no imported leaf would be smoked in Australia. The honorable member for the Northern Territory’ (Mr. Blain) stated that the margin of protection should be greater; the honorable member for New England, I think, made the same remark in connexion with excise. If .the Government is not prepared to go to the length of imposing an embargo, some consideration should be given to a rebate of portion of the excise to the man who is prepared to grow a saleable leaf. If that policy were followed, as was done with the sugar-growing industry when it was in its infancy, the tobacco-growing industry would be given an opportunity to find its feet. After all, the judge of the quality of the leaf is the buyer; there is no other authority to decide it. If the Australian tobaccogrower received the same consideration as that which was given to the grower in New Zealand, the Commonwealth would be able to supply all of its own requirements, and the Government would lose no revenue thereby. The embargo as a suggestion to place the industry upon a solid footing could also be introduced without incurring any great loss of revenue to the Government. At the end of five years I do not think it would be necessary to grant the industry any protection; the grower of leaf would have established the industry, and the Australian smoking public would have acquired a taste for the local product. Tho honorable member for New England has shown that five years after the imposition by South Africa of an embargo upon the importation of tobacco into tha* dominion, the whole of its consumption was of local production. This industry provides a good deal of employment, and would materially assist in solving the problem of both child and adult labour. Instead of imposing a wage tax, primary industries should be developed first for local consumption and then, if possible, for export. The Government of New Zealand guaranteed to the tobacco-growers of that dominion a certain price for tobacco leaf exported. If a higher price is obtained in London, the grower benefits correspondingly. The reduction of the excise suggested by the Deputy
Leader of the Opposition would give to the local grower a preference of1s. 6d. per lb. over the imported leaf. That is not too much to ask. The acreage under production has droppedby more than 50 per cent. since the alteration of the duties imposed by the Scullin Government. Practically half the growers have lost their capital and have gone out of production, not as the result of blue mould, but on account of the activity of a parasite which attacked the industry when the present Government came into power.
– That is not correct.
Mr.RIORDAN.- The evidence available proves that, while the Scullin duty operated, the Australian leaf found a ready market. The production in the last year of its operation totalled 10,000 lb. The best test to apply to the policy of the present Government is the production to-day. The political plea which is always made is that the consumerwill be affected.. The consumer can be protected by attacking the large profits made by the manufacturers, who felt no ill effects even during the years of the depression. The opportunity is here presented to members of the Country party to vote in the interests of the primary producer. The reduction sought is not excessive. If they are not sold lock, stock and. barrel to the United’ Australia party, and can justifiably claim that they are representative of the primary producer, I ask them to lend their support to this industry. I hope that the amendment will have as ready an acceptance as was experienced by amendments moved in connexion with cement and other manufacturing industries. All the investigations prove that 10,000 growers would be needed to produce, on small areas, Australia’s requirements of tobacco. The industry is capable of supporting 30,000 persons, and is) therefore, worthy of every encouragement and support.
Question - That the amendment (Mr. Forde’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Items 8, 13 and 18 agreed to.
By adding a new item (19) as follows: - “ 1 9. Valves for wireless telegraphy and telephony including rectifying valves, but not includingmetal type valves, each, 2s.
And on and after 1st July, 1937-
Valves for wireless telegraphy and telephony including rectifying valves, each, 2s.”
Amendment (by Mr. White) agreed to-
That that portion of the tariff resolution introduced into the House of Representatives on the20th March, 1936, relating to item 19, be incorporated in the present proposals as on and from the 21st March, 1936, in lieu of item 19 of the tariff resolution introduced in the House of Representatives on the 28th November, 1935.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Preliminary matter agreed to.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adapted.
That Mr. White and Mr. Casey do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought upby Mr. White and passed through all its stageswithout amendment or debate.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is a necessary consequence of the proclamation by which the Commonwealth flour tax of £2 12s. 6d. a ton was terminated on 24th February, 1936. The purpose of the bill is to provide for refunds of tax paid on flour held in stock on that date by bakers, storekeepers and other persons, who are not flour millers.
The bill re-enacts the provisions which were originally enacted for a similar purpose, but which were repealed in December last, when the law was amended to provide for the continuance of the flour tax after 6th January, 1936, the original terminating date of the tax. The refund provisions were repealed ‘because it was contemplated at the time that the flour tax would continue until the inauguration of the plan for securing a home-consumption price of wheat. The refunding of tax on flour accumulated at a point of time marking both the termination of the flour tax and the commencement of the wheat plan would have resulted in freeing such flour, not only from the flour tax, but also from the burden of the increased price, under the plan, of wheat sold for home consumption. This would have led to a serious dislocation of the wheat and flour markets as the time of transition approached, and also to serious competitive anomalies in the marketing of wheat products after the inauguration of the plan.
By dissociating the termination of the flour tax from the inauguration of the wheat plan, these considerations have now lost all significance, and it becomes necessary to restore the original character of the tax as a levy on flour consumed in Australia during the period of its operation, viz., from the 7th January, 1935, to the 24th of February 1936. To do this it is essential to provide for refunds in respect of tax-paid stocks of flour held on the 24th February, 1936, as otherwise the tax would amount to a levy on flour consumed after that date, to the extent of the tax paid on stocks so held.
Honorable members will realize, also, that failure to provide for the refund of tax paid on stocks held on the 24th February, 1936, would impose serious competitive burdens on bakers holding considerable stocks of flour on that date, as such bakers, until they exhausted those stocks, would be forced to sell bread made from tax-paid flour in competition with bread made from tax-free flour by bakers having little or no accumulation of flour at the termination of the tax. It is estimated that the refunds provided for by the bill will amount to £100,000.
In addition to restoring the repealed refund provisions, the bill contains other more or less related provisions for the following purposes: -
This is made possibleby providing for millers to give under- takings not to claim refunds for bad debts, and by providing, in otter cases, for refunds to be proportionate to the amounts paid off the millers’ account for the flour.
.- I protest as strongly as I can against the practice which has grown up of introducing bills at the very end of a sitting, and passing them through all stages before those members of the community who will be affected have an opportunity to study them. This bill could have been circulated, I have no doubt, some days ago. Copies could then have been sent to Melbourne and Sydney so that those concerned might be able to determine the exact effect of the measure, and so that honorable members might learn whether, in their opinion, the bill contained anything other than what the Treasurer has led us to expect.
We know that the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) would not consciously deceive the House, but we have had experience in the past of hasty legislation which has had to be amended almost immediately because of faulty draughtmanship or because all the relevant facts were not before the department concerned at the time the measure was drafted. I have no desire to hamper the Government in putting through its programme of business, but I feel that I must enter my protest against this slipshod method of introducing legislation at the last moment, and then rushing it through before honorable members have even had an opportunity to compare the amending bill with the original act.
– It will be at least three weeks before this bill is dealt with by the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday, the 29th April, at 3 p.m.
House adjourned at 12.43 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Duty on Galvanized Iron.
k asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will Tie advise by what clause of the Ottawa agreement the absence of a specific request from the British Government to refer galvanized iron to the Tariff Board exonerates the Government from its obligation to do so, as provided by article 11, which states, “That a review shall be made as soon as practicable by the Australian Tariff Bo’ard of existing protective duties in accordance with the principles laid down in article 10”?
– There is no avoidance of an obligation on the part of the Commonwealth Government, as is suggested in the honorable member’s question. The last inquiry held by the Tariff Board into galvanized iron was in August, 1932. Whilst there is no clause in the Ottawa agreement which makes reference to the Tariff Board dependent upon a specific request from the British Government, it has, by agreement between the two governments concerned, been the practice of the Government in fulfilling the review provided for in article 11 to give precedence to those items concerning which specific requests have been received. suppliesof Key Products.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Having in mind the difficulties experienced in Australia during the world war in obtaining from overseas sources certain essential key products, namely, tinned plate, caustic soda and soda ash, will the Minister inform the House what plans have been made to provide for the production of these commodities in Australia?
– In order to encourage the local production of tinned plate, provision has been made in the Customs Tariff since March, 1920, for a deferred duty, but up to the present theAustralian iron and steel industry hasnot commenced the manufacture ofthis commodity. Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited propose to establish atPort Adelaide a factory for themanufacture of various alkaline products, including caustic; soda and soda ash. The output from the proposed plant, supplemented by that of the present Australian manufacturer of caustic soda, is expected to be adequate for the requirements of theCommonwealth.
d asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What progress, if any, has been made to eliminate the interference being experienced by wireless listeners throughout “Australia,?
– The information is beingobtained.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice-
– This matter has been receiving the consideration of the Government, and a decision will be announced at theearliest possible date.
Oil from Coal.
s. - On the 13th March, the honorable member- for Hunter (Mr. James) referred to developments which are occurring in Germany in connexion with the production of oil fromcoal. I have since consulted the Commonwealth Fuel Adviser, Mr. . L. J.- Rogers, in this regard, and am nowable to inform the honorable member that the actual and projected output of petrolin Germany is in the region of 270,000,000gallons per annum. The actual output of hydrogen ated petrol for 1936 will probably not exceed 100,000,000 gallons, and the completion of the full programme of extensions may be deferred for a few years. The delay in proceeding with these projects is probably due to difficulty experienced in raising the necessary capital. At the present rate of exchange, the price of petrol at filling stations at Berlin, expressed in Australian currrency, is3s. 3d. a gallon. The preference whichcoal spirit enjoys over the petroleum product, in the form of remission of taxation, is approximately1s. 8d. a gallon.The domestic petrol gains a further slight advantage in the concession rates offered for carriage by the State railways.The earlier development and more rapid application of the hydrogenation process in Germany, as compared with England,is due to two factors (1) the availability oflow temperature lignite tar, for which there is no other ready market, and (2) favorable conditions resulting from the protection afforded bythe heavy duty imposed on imported spirit.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 April 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1936/19360402_reps_14_149/>.