15th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether any provision has been made in the expanded defence programme for an enlargement of the activities of rifle clubs, and to avoid the discouragement of the rifle club movement by the restrictions implied in replies whichhe has given to recent questions?
– The membership of rifle clubs has been limited to 50,000. Provision has been made on the Estimates only for that number. The matter of increased provision is one that will be dealt with in the coming year’s Estimates.
– Is the Prime Minister yet able to make a statement dealing with the policy of the Government in respect of the export of iron ore from Australia ?
– by leave - After exhaustive consideration of the matter, the Government has decided to prohibit the export of iron ore from Australia as from the 1st July next, and a proclamation to this effect will bo issued forthwith.
During the year 1936 the question arose as to the extent of iron ore deposits in Australia suitable for utilization by the iron and steel industries. Up to that date there had been the general impression that Australia wasso well endowed with iron ore that there was no cause for anxiety as to the adequacy of future supplies. When the matter was before it, the Government came to the conclusion that on the available evidence it would not be justified in taking action to curtail exports, but, since there appeared to be some ground for doubt, decided to have the whole matter investigated in order that it might possess the fullest possible data before coming to a final decision.
To clarify the position, the Government instructed Dr. Woolnough, the Commonwealth Geological Adviser, to go thoroughly into the matter and make a report. In the light of the report which Dr. Woolnough has now made, it is satisfied that the accessible iron ore deposits capable of economical development are so limited as to compel their conservation for Australian industrial requirements.
Careful consideration has been given to the proposal that licences should be granted to export limited quantities of iron ore, but the Commonwealth Government has decided that such action would be inconsistent with the necessity to conserve Australia’s limited, iron ore resources.
Although the Government has accepted the advice contained in the report of the Geological Adviser, it is its intention to proceed, in collaboration with the technicalofficers of the States, with a complete detailed survey of Australia’s iron ore resources. Preliminary steps with this end in view have already been taken, and will be followed up with the utmost expedition. It is the sincere hope of the Government that this survey will result in the appearance of some reassuring features. If so, it would be prepared to reconsider its decision, but the advice it has at present is of such a definite character that it is felt that there is no option but to impose an immediate embargo. In reaching that decision, full cognizance was taken of recent developments in Australia.
Eighteen months ago, when this matter of iron ore resources was first discussed, no doubt existed as to the adequacy of our iron ore resources, and the Commonwealth Government saw no reason to place limitations on their exploitation. Only as the result of investigations in the lair eighteen months, initiated owing to apprehension which had been expressed by experts, has doubt, increasing into anxiety, arisen, and resulted in the decision to prohibit exports.
The Government will be prepared to examine and consider equitable claims for the reimbursement of expenditure which up to this date has actually taken place in connexion with developmental operations directed towards the exploitation of our iron ore resources for export.
I lay on the table of the House -
Iron ore reserves in Australia - Report, dated 14th April, 1938, by Dr. W. G. Woolnough, Commonwealth Geological Adviser, on the technical aspects of the iron ore reserves in Australia. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Copies of the report, and of the brief statement that I have just made, will be placed in the Library for the information of honorable members.
Mr.CURTIN (Fremantle) [2.35].- I shall not move for an adjournment of the debate, because I feel certain that if I do not speak now I shall have very little opportunity at any subsequent sitting to deal with this matter, at least in some of its more salient features.
Government Members. - Oh!
Mr.CURTIN.- Honorable gentlemen opposite know that I am a diligent reader of newspapers. They also seem to have a fairly accurate idea of the manner in which the business of the session is to be conducted. I believe that I, as the judge of what is likely to be the outcome, am well advised in proceeding with this matter forthwith.
I direct attention to the final paragraph of the statement of the Prime Minister, in which the right honorable gentleman =aid -
The Government will be prepared to examine and consider equitable claims for the reimbursement of expenditure which up to this date has actually taken place in connexion with development operations directed towards the exploitation of our iron ore resources for export
L point out that, if that be limited purely to au examination of the expenditure of companies, it will not, I think, adequately treat the situation. As the result of the withdrawal of labour from this industry the States of South Australia and Western Australia will, I think, be faced with a certain degree of difficulty which otherwise they would not experience. It is not sufficient to say that the Commonwealth Government will be able to ensure that the iron ore which is not exported will ultimately be useable in Australia itself. The present economic position of South Australia and Western Australia is such that those States are without that great variety of industries which it would be to their advantage to possess. Consequently the Government of Western Australia was quite justified in looking forward hopefully to the prospect of the development of, for example, Yampi Sound. I believe that the Commonwealth Government itself would have derived advantages economically as the result of the successful launching of that enterprise. I point out to the Government that one of the largest beds of iron ore is located in a part of Australia which at present is practically without population. It would be of great service to the Commonwealth if the sparsely peopled areas of this continent, particularly those that are located in the north or the northwest, were developed, so that population might settle in them, with the result that not only would civic order be established but also there would be available focal points around which we could develop an organization of a character which would lead to the more effective defence of those areas. That is the strictly economic aspect, but there is another and more important one.
We have, ultimately, to show that we are able to develop and settle these areas ; that we are not pursuing a mere doginthemanger course, being unable to occupy the land ourselves, yet determined to prohibit any one else from attempting to do so. The Prime Minister may say that Western Australia and South Australia habitually make application for special grants from the Commonwealth under section 96 of the Constitution, and that they can put forward in their submissions before the Commonwealth Grants Commission, or such other body as may be set up to take it3 place, whatever losses they suffer because of the embargo upon the export of iron ore. I submit, however, that that is not an adequate treatment of the situation. Immediate unemployment will occur in Western Australia and South Australia as the result of the embargo, and there is no immediate prospect of the displaced labour being easily transferred to other industries in those States. It is not as though they had the diversity of industry which obtains in New South Wales and Victoria. The limitations of the economic life of Western Australia and South Australia make for them what would he an easily manageable problem in the larger States one of special difficulty. Therefore, I ask the Government not to prohibit the export, of iron ore without taking steps to encourage a market for that ore within Australia. To leave the iron ore deposits in the north unexploited might not be an unreasonable thing if the geological survey had really been completed, and we knew accurately what our iron ore resources were. It would appear, however, that, until eighteen months ago, no real effort had been made to ascertain the extent of our deposits, and that the survey which has been carried out since then is admittedly incomplete. The Prime Minister has told us that it is intended to have a more complete survey made, and he even expressed the hope that sufficient additional deposits might bts discovered to make it possible once more to resume exports.
I do not welcome proposals for the restriction of exports from Australia. I acknowledge that iron ore may be used for the manufacture of munitions, and for aggressive purposes by warlike countries, and I acknowledge also the great difficulty of the international situation. I am cognizant of a state of public opinion which is inclined to believe that countries, by imposing blockades and embargoes of an economic character, can make war less likely. I recognize the public sentiment behind this matter, but 1 warn the country that the economic solvency of Australia depends very largely upon the maintenance of our export trade. We must sell each year more than we import in order to maintain the credit of the nation, and to discharge our obligations. Anything whichtends to restrict Australian production of goods for sale in other countries can’ be justified only on the gravest grounds of national emergency. Any statement to the effect that our iron ores are not adequate ought to be supported by some evidence regarding our own actual requirements. There ought to be some clearer indication of the relation between needs and supply before we lightly shut down on the export of Australian products, having regard to the heed for financing our overseas obligations, and paying for imports. The imposition of embargoes of this kind is sometimes justified on the ground that they will restrict the activities of aggressor nations, but such action carries with it also a definite danger to the pence of the world.We are saying now that other countries cannot have iron ore supplies from Australia, because we need them ourselves. What would happen if some other countries were to say that we could not have petrol supplies because they needed the petrol for themselves?
The Commonwealth Government, by implication, gave its permission to exploit the iron ore resources of Western Australia. A large sum of money has been invested in the enterprise by an English company.Now, the Commonwealth Government, having given at least tacit encouragement to the enterprise, discovers that itmust reverse its policy, though it suggests that in a little while it may be able to change its mind again and permit exports. This shillyshallying, this backing and filling, over so important a matter affecting our exports is, at the best, unbecoming a national government.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker-hon. G. J. Bell.)
N oes…… 35
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I regret very much that the Government has decided to place an embargo upon the export of iron ore. Probably I have had more experience in connexion with this particular matter than any other honorable member of the Parliament. I was Minister for Mines in Western Australia years ago when Mr. Montgomery, one of the most competent mining engineers Australia has ever had, made a most exhaustive examination of the deposits at Yampi Sound. His report was considered by the committee appointed by the Commonwealth Government to report upon the iron ore available in Australia. At Koolan Island and Cockatoo Island wehave a huge deposit of highest grade iron ore above high water level that can be found anywhere in the world. I remind honorable members that the committee that reported upon this subject to this Government confined its attention to ore above high water level. On a location where the tide varies from 27 to 30 feet, it will be readily realized that there must exist an immense quantity of ore which could be profitably exploited below high-water level. I was a member of a syndicate in Perth which, in 1922, tried to make arrangements for the exploitation of this ore and generally to get some effective mining operations started in the north. The syndicate spent about £8,000 in trying tointerest English capitalists in certain projects, but unfortunately all its efforts in that direction failed. Other interests subsequently took the matter up and after a great deal of activity arranged for the formation of a company. Undoubtedly, a certain proportion of the funds of the company is of Japanese origin. I am justified in saying that Brasserts are under some obligation to Japan for financial assistance to enable the resources at Yampi to be developed. Negotiations in connexion with this subject have been proceeding for the last three years, and the Commonwealth Government has had a long time in which to make investigations. The interest in the subject has not developed in a few days. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited should be the best judge of the extent of the reserves of iron ore in Australia. We know very well that this company has exported hundreds of thousands of tons of iron ore over a period of years. Even within the last fortnight, some thousands of tons of ore have been exported; the company would be hardly likely to do this if it had any doubts regarding future supplies. Years ago, efforts were made to induce the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited to interest itself in the deposits at Yampi Sound, and to develop the resources there, but without success. The Australian iron and Steel Company Limited has, I believe, through the Queensland Govern ment, purchased the smaller island and some activity is proceeding there. If honorable members are anxious to obtain information as to the developments at Koolan Island, I advise them to look at the illustrations which have been published in the West Australian. They will then see that substantial developments have taken place.
I do not think that anything has done more to injure and retard developments in North Australia than Commonwealth policy. As long ago as 1906, I reported that valuable mineral resources existed in the north. From one area 60,000 tons of ore were treated for 120,000 ounces of gold. I do not suggest that that is a fair estimate of the value of that particular field, for the ore treated consisted of prospectors’ lots, but there is in that particular area a banket formation similar to the South African occurrences. This is known to cover over 60 miles, and the crushing of some 12,000 tons showed this formation to be worth 8 dwt. to the ton, a highly profitable proposition in any other part of the world. According to competent authorities there are thousands of square miles of tin-bearing country in that region, as well as deposits of tantalite, chrysotile asbestos and other minerals. Unfortunately, Commonwealth policy has prevented the exploitation of these deposits. As to the opening up of Yampi Sound, there is no knowing what would result from the employment of about 300 men in that area. Many of them would undertake prospecting on their own account, and the result would possibly be of great advantage to Australia.
– What development has taken place at Yampi Sound?
– There are two islands, the larger of which is Koolan Island, within a quarter of a mile of the coast. The island rises to a height of 600 feet above sea level. There is a most magnificent harbour there. I know something about this subject because on the only occasion on which a big vessel called at the island I was on board, and I was able to examine the deposits. The iron ore is rated at from 55 per cent, to 60 per cent., and it is easily worked. At present gantries and wharves are being erected, and roads are in course of construction. I wish to emphasize that under the mining laws of Western Australia, only white persons may be employed in mines. It will be seen, therefore, that the question of Asiatic labour does not arise.
– Are the deposits situated on an island?
– Yes, there are two islands. The larger of them is about ten miles long.
– How far is Koolan Island from the mainland?
– At one end, it is within a quarter of a mile of the mainland; at the other end, the distance is about three miles. There is a wonderful anchorage in deep water, and between the island and the mainland the tide flows at about from eight to ten knots an hour. I have no personal interest in the existing company, and am not concerned whether it or some other organization exploits these deposits, but their development is a matter of importance to Western Australia and indeed to the Commonwealth. The Government has given no indication of its future intention in regard to them. It may be that the work which has begun will cease. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) regards the decision of the Government as a dog-in-the-manger policy, and any person fully acquainted with the iron ore deposits of Australia must agree with him. Certainly we cannot say what the repercussions will be. Other countries . will probably say that Australia allowed these valuable deposits to lie idle for many years without making any attempt to develop them, and as soon as an attempt in that direction was made, it stepped in and caused the work to he abandoned. I am afraid that the decision of the Government has been made too late. Had it made up its mind earlier, the situation might not have been so serious. The people of Western Australia resent the action of the Commonwealth Government. I contend that there has not been such a complete examination of the iron ore deposits of Australia as to justify the Government’s action. The report submitted to the Government states that only the iron ore above high water level can be success fully exploited, but I maintain and have pointed out to the Prime Minister that the deposits between high and low water levels, and, indeed, even below low water level, could be worked. In fact there is at least double, and probably three times, more iron ore now profitably available than reported to the Government. There would, of course, be engineering difficulties, but they would not be insurmountable. A grave mistake has been made, and the result will be a retardation of the progress and development of Western Australia. I hope that the Government will insist upon an expert committee making a thorough investigation immediately of the iron ore deposits of Australia. If that be done, I am confident that it will be found that for many centuries there will be no danger of a shortage of iron ore in Australia. The action of the Government is but one more blow to Western Australia and the development of its resources.
– When this subject was discussed at length last year, Ministers scoffed at the possibility of a shortage of iron ore supplies in Australia. I am glad that, as the result of the agitation which took place and for which members on this side of the House were largely responsible, an investigation of the deposits at Yampi Sound has been made. Dr. Woolnough’s report confirms practically everything that was said by myself and other honorable members on this side as to the desirability of ascertaining the extent of the mineral resources of Australia. It should have acted much more promptly, but although itsaction is belated, it will relieve the minds of a great many people throughout Australia who, whilst not desiring selfishly to lock up the mineral resources of this country, realize the necessity to protect them. My view is that should the further investigation which the Government proposes to make prove that Australia has an exportable surplus of iron ore, the matter could be again considered, but we are bound to give first consideration to our own needs. I can understand the fear of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) and of the Leader of the
Opposition (Mr. Curtin), thai injury will be done to Western Australia by the decision of the Government, but I realize that it is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to protect the assets of Australia. It might, however, consider compensating Western Australia for the loss which that State will sustain.
– ‘Western Australia does not want compensation. It wants to see men working these deposits.
– That would be better, of course, but it must be remembered that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has what amounts to a monopoly, and gets most of its iron ore from South Australia. In view of the protection which it has been given, there should be some obligation on the company to develop the Yampi Sound resources. There are other large deposits of iron ore in Australia, but some of them are not sound commercial propositions. Reference has been made to the mineral deposits of Tasmania. An examination would probably reveal that there are large deposits of iron ore in Tasmania, but not so suitable for manufacturing purposes as those obtainable at Koolan Island.
– Experts say that Tasmanian ore is quite suitable for manufacturing purposes.
– That may be so, but it is a debatable point. When I spoke on this subject last year, I said that the Koolan Island deposits contained the freest iron ore in Australia, although the quantity available was not large, and apparently that is confirmed by the expert’s report. Honorable members generally will desire to study the report, in order to see whether it confirms the statement made years ago by Mr. Clements, who was regarded as one of the greatest authorities on the subject, and who made it clear that our supplies are limited. He made a survey of the probable quantities of iron ore existing, not only in Australia, but also in other parts of the British Empire. His report indicated, for instance, that, although iron ore exists in Newfoundland in large quantities, it has some constituents which make it unprofitable for use. The same is true of some of the deposits in Great Britain itself, and. consequently, no attempt is made to develop them, because it is found more profitable to obtain ore from Spain. Probably the British deposits will be reserved until such time as the authorities there arc unable to obtain supplies from other countries. For some time the Melbourne Age has advocated the protection of Australian mineral deposits, and also the need for an early investigation in order to ascertain the quantity of ore available in this country. It has drawn attention to the statement of Dr. Pritchard, an authority on the subject, regarding Yampi Sound deposits. The Government must realize that an earlier investigation would have enabled it to avoid some of the difficulties which now confront it. No doubt, it will be said that Australia is endeavouring to prevent Japan from getting iron ore; its action will -be regarded as an unfriendly act towards a near neighbour. Whatever may be said in that connexion, it is essential that we protect these deposits rather than that they should be exploited by other nations. The assurance given by the Prime Minister must give us a sense of satisfaction, although there is general disappointment that action was not taken earlier. In the Industrial Australian Mining Standard of the 15th July, 1937, reference is made to the interest taken by Japan in Australian iron ore. It quoted from the London Mining Journal of the 12th June, 1937 as follows: -
Recent questions in the House of Commons have directed attention to Japanese activities with a view to securing supplies of iron ore from Australia. Attention was particularly called to the deposits on Koolan Island, Yampi Sound, to which reference has occasionally been made in the mining journal. According to statements in the Sydney Morning Herald, Mr. Jj. C. Moore, chief mechanical engineer of John Savage and Company, of Duluth, stated that the company would mine the ore for H. A. Brassert and Company Limited, who owned the leases. When full production was reached in about two years’ time, they expected to mine 1.000,000 tons per year, the bulk of which would probably go to Japan.
The Japan Steel Tube Company, with which are associated the Kokura Steel Company and the Tsurumi Iron Works, is reported to be sending three engineers to Australia and New Caledonia to study the possibilities of obtaining iron ore from those sources.
Imports of foreign ores continue on a very heavy scale. Under the impulse of urgent necessity, other sources of supply have been extensively tapped to compensate for the decline in the output of the Spanish mines.
The scheme for shipping ore to Japan from the Blythe River ‘ deposits on the north-west coast appears to have fallen through, and it is now reported that a company will shortly be floated in Hobart under the title of the Tasmanian Iron Mines Limited, which will utilize the iron ore for the production of pig and foundry iron, and ultimately for the manufacture of steel tubes and fittings. The company is expected to have a capital of £350,000.
As Japan has complete control of huge deposits of iron ore in China, its interest in Yampi Sound deposits is indicative of their value. It has been rumoured that the exploitation of the mineral deposits at Yampi Sound was closely associated with the development of the cattle trade in the north-west portion of Western Australia, and if that is correct, one can understand that many Western Australians desire it to continue. I believe that the Australian Natives Association, which figures largely in the movement to restrict or prohibit the export of iron ore, sent a deputation to the authorities with a view to getting some restriction placed upon the export of iron ore until the extent of the Australian deposits was ascertained, and the decision to prohibit its exportation will give that body satisfaction. I regret that it has taken the Government so long to make up its mind. Last week I asked the Prime Minister a question relating to a statement that appeared in the public press regarding the forfeiture of certain leases on Koolan Island, and he promised to secure information on the matter.
– I obtained the information today; the Western Australian Government informed me that it had not approved of the forfeiture of leases.
– The statement in the press was that the matter would be referred to the Minister for Mines in Western Australia.
– That Minister disapproved of forfeiture.
– I am glad that the Prime Minister has now furnished the required information on this subject because a number of honorable members have been anxious to obtain the full facts and to see that Australian interests are fully protected. It appears that the leases are not to be forfeited, but the Commonwealth Government has decided to prohibit the export of iron ore. The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) was one of those who doubted me when I brought before the House the possibility of the iron ore reserves of Australia being seriously depleted and he suggested that the estimate of production was wide of the mark. I think that he will admit now that the statements that were made at that time rested on a sound basis. As the Australian output of fabricated iron increases it becomes more necessary to protect our iron ore resources. I should like the House to deal with the question from a national viewpoint, because I consider that it is our duty, as representatives of the Australian people, to ensure that the reserves of iron ore and other minerals such as tantalite, of which Australia possesses the largest deposit in the world, are investigated anddeveloped. For armament purposes tantalum is of great value and yet large quantities of tantalite have been exported because of the high price that it commands on the world’s market. Any investigation undertaken of Australia’s mineral resources should include all the metals which are used for hardening iron. There is something substantial in the contention submitted by members representing Western Australian electorates and there is an obligation on the Government to assist Western Australia in the development of its mineral resources, because, in that way, the progress of that State will be materially helped and its population increased.
– The decision that the Government has reached on this matter has not been easy or pleasant. Before arriving at its decision’ the Government explored the actual position in respect of the potentialities of economic mineable supplies of iron ore in Australia, and I think it would be appropriate for me to emphasize a few paragraphs in the report of Dr. Woolnough, the Commonwealth Government Geologist, because in arriving at its decision the Government was guided largely by the report, which will shortly be placed in the hands of honorable members. After describing the general nature of iron ore and pointing out that itmust be of a certain purity and that the deposit must be situated near the coast, Dr. Woolnough writes -
Workable deposits must be so situated as to be within economical transportation radius of adequate supplies of coal of just the right quality. In existing conditions only deposits favorably situated for water transportation are economically possible of exploitation . . . In Australia there are only two groups of iron ore deposits which satisfactorily comply with all these conditions, namely, the Iron Knob group in South Australia and the Yampi Sound group in Western Australia,Many other important iron deposits are known to exist, but all of these exhibit one or more characteristics excluding them from economic consideration at present or in the immediate future.
Then Dr. Woolnough describes the other deposits of consequence throughout Australia, and says that they are not within the range of economical exploitation. He states -
The Yampi Sound deposits have been variously estimated to contain from 63,000,000 to about 90,000,000 tons of ore. These estimates, however, assume a depth of profitable mining which is almost certainly excessive in existing economic conditions in Australia. . . .
In the circumstances, then, and until the whole question has been clarified and stabilized by a critical survey of all reasonably probable sources of supply of ore, it is absolutely essential, from the purely technical aspect, that steps be taken to conserve the iron ore reserves upon which must rest to a very large extent, the future industrial development and prosperity of Australia. . . .
At present we are using over 2,000,000 tons of iron ore a year. In view of the expansion of the iron and steel industries of Australia which has taken place in the last few years, and the practical certainty of further large expansion within the next few years, it is certain that if the known supplies of highgrade ore are not conserved Australia will in little more than a generation become an importer rather than a producer of iron ore.
I have read a few paragraphs which can be fairly quoted separately, and which indicate the basis on which the Government has been moved to come to this important decision.
– What is the estimated available tonnage at Iron Knob?
– That matter has been the subject of a re-calculation lately, and every report that comes in gives a progressively lower available tonnage even there. With regard to South Australia, the report proceeds -
In South Australia, the only major accessible deposits are those of the Iron Knob group. Official estimates oftonnages availablelie between 150,000,000 and 200,000,000 tons. These deposits do, and must, unquestionably constitute the backbone of the Australian iron industry for a long time to come. Unfortunately, the largest deposits of the group show an increasing percentage of manganese, to more than the admissible limit, with increasing depth of exploitation. This must be counteracted by dilution of the ore with other iron ore low in manganese, since the manganese cannot effectively be removed in smelting.
– What are the exports of iron ore from Australia annually?
– It has not been suggested that there has been any substantial export at all. Exports amounting to 1,000,000 or 2,000,000 tons a year have been proposed; but, speaking from memory, the exports from South Australia have probably not exceeded 10,000 tons a year.
– The quantity exported last year was 267,000 tons.
– Until comparatively recently, the Government has not been in . possession of information so concrete or decisive as that now at its disposal. When this matter was under consideration eighteen months or two years ago, there was no indication of a threatened shortage of iron ore.
– What quantity is used in Australia?
– Not much more than 2,000,000 tons a year; but the quantity is rapidly increasing. Two years ago the Government had no concrete knowledge of iron ore resources. No survey had been made of Australia’s iron ore resources, and nobody here had any appreciation of the situation which has since developed. That is the reason why at that time the Government gave no encouragement, or, indeed, discouragement, to the company that proposed to exploit the Yampi Sound deposits; but, as time has gone on, as reports have come in., and as the Government Geologist has obtained further information, the Government has become increasingly anxious about the situation, in the interests of the future of Australian industry.
– Has the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited made any protest against this exploitation ?
– I am not acquainted with the affairs of that company, except that it has at Iron Knob what it believed, until lately, to be a very substantial supply of ore. I understand that the company is now interesting itself in the deposits in the north-western portion of Western Australia.
– Has it restricted its exports of iron ore?
– I understand that exports up to the present time have consisted largely of ore having a high manganese content. We are fortunate in having iron ore in which the manganese content is high, because other countries require a small quantity of this ore for mixing with purer ore, to enable thom to manufacture steel of certain quality. Recently the Government has been building up its information on this subject, and I can assure the House that its decision was not reached lightly. No government would welcome being placed in the position of having to deny to the world the export of an essential’ raw material.
– Should not the Governments of South Australia and Western Australia be compensated for the economic loss that will be involved?
– With my very limited knowledge regarding the point mentioned, I should not care to make any statement in advance. As the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford) has said, this should be regarded as a national matter.
– No one State should be made to bear the whole of the penalty which national policy will impose.
– I do not suggest that Western Australia is regarding this matter from a purely local point of view, although there has been some little hint of that in the past. If it is necessary, in the interests of Australia as a whole, to prohibit the export of iron ore, that is unfortunate for Western Australia.
– Is that all the Minister has to say?
– No. The Leader of the Opposition spoke of “ shillyshallying” in this matter, and of “ backing and filling.” I draw attention to the fact that this has -been a more or less urgent public question for the last eighteen months at least; in fact, for nearly two years. The honorable gentleman is Leader of His Majesty’s Opposition in this House, and I should like to know what the Opposition’s attitude to this subject has been, as expressed through him. The Government has been building up its policy and has reached its conclusions on definite factual grounds. If it could have avoided the imposition of the embargo it would certainly have done so. It has not been able to do that. During the last month or two it has become increasingly evident that the imposition of the embargo could not be avoided.
– In that action the Government has very general support throughout the Commonwealth.
– I believe it has. Therefore I again ask the Leader of the Opposition if his charge of shilly-shallying is a correct description of the Government’s attitude in this matter. Some figures which have just been handed to me show that I was in error earlier when I spoke of the tonnage of iron ore exported from Australia. I find that in 1935-36 we exported 437,000 tons and in 1936-37 267,000 tons ; and I understand that there has been a progressive decline since then, but I have not the actual figures.
– Those figures relate to exports by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited.
.- Honorable members will readily understand that, as my constituency includes Iron Knob, Iron Baron and Iron Monarch, hills on the western side of Spencers Gulf where the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has been operating for many years, I am very much interested in the action taken by the Government to place an embargo on the export of iron ore from Australia. I approve the Government’s courageous action because, as I understand the situation, the known deposits of high-grade iron ore in Australia are not so extensive as was generally believed. During the last three or four years, as has been pointed out by the Treasurer (Mr. Casey), there has been a much higher proportion of manganese ore mined at Iron Knob than in former years. The Treasurer has furnished the House with figures relating to the total exports for the year 1936-37. I understand that of the total of 267,124 tons exported from Whyalla, Japan took 194.000 tons.
– Who exported that ore ?
– The company which is operating at Whyalla. I am informed that the ore exported to Japan was valued at 10s. a ton. In the same year our exports of pig iron totalled 6,171 tons, nearly all to New Zealand, valued at about £4 a ton. If the Government, had not decided to place an embargo on the export of this ore, there would be, I believe, danger of a shortage in the not distant future. I say this because the United States of America, which was believed to possess almost limitless supplies, last year imported 68,000 tons from Australia. The Government should be congratulated for its decision, if somewhat belated, to protect Australian interests. Its decision may not be welcomed unanimously in Western Australia and South Australia, but I feel sure that eventually the course taken will benefit Australia. Recently the Government of South Australia entered into a contract with the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited to erect at Whyalla blast furnaces for the manufacture of pig iron and other products. This industry will give employment to a large number of workers. The output of Australian pig iron in 1935-36 was 2,270,000 tons, and the metal trades production was of a total value of £23,075,892, and the industry gives employment directly to about 18,000 workers. The Government’s policy will, I believe, lead to the establishment of an important industry at Whyalla.
.- I welcome this opportunity that has been afforded to honorable members to express their opinions on this important subject, which has an international aspect that has not been touched on by previous speakers. As good Australians we should do all in our power to prevent foreign countries and potential enemies from obtaining in Australia supplies of essential raw materials which may one day be used against us. I regret that already 194,000 tons of iron ore has been exported to Japan. Within the last year or two there has been a geological survey, covering large portions of the Commonwealth, and it is significant that there is some doubt as to the accuracy of the estimates furnished by Dr. Woolnough of Australia’s reserves in iron ore deposits. I suggest that the figures be checked. A wider survey may be deemed necessary to resolve the doubt as to ourreal position. In South Australia alone there are from 150,000,000 to 200,000,000 tons of ore. We have been told that 2,000,000 tons annually are used in Australia to-day. If that he the case, surely there is scope for some export trade. I -would allow the Commonwealth to export iron ore to Great Britain, for example. I know that there is a move in big financial circles, both industrial and banking, on the other side of the world, to finance a very big scheme in Australia. I believe it would be a good idea to persuade those interests to develop some of our latent resources. J do not want the ore to be exported to any foreign countries with which we might be at war in the near future, but it would be good business if the Government were to allow exports to be made to Great Britain,
– Does the honorable gentleman know what quantity of iron ore Great Britain has? Why talk about sending iron ore to Great Britain?
– The right, honorable gentleman does not know everything. I am endeavouring to show that there are interests in Great Britain which are asking for our iron ore to-day and are prepared to invest their capital in the development of our resources. I appeal to the Government to reconsider its decision.
.- The Government has executed another somersault in relation to its policy. Just on two years ago, the question of the export of iron ore from Australia, became a verylive one. On many occasions in this Parliament, I sought to secure from the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) information with respect to the Government’s intentions in this particular matter. I well recollect that when I. made some comment upon press statements in other parts of the world with respect to a shortage of iron ore, not only in Australia, but also throughout the world, the right, honorable gentleman said that there was no need for alarm, that the Government was watching the position very closely and that it had secured the advice of experts to the effect that there was no immediate danger of Australia being short of this commodity. In now trying to justify the alteration of its policy, the Government 13 again relying on the views of experts. If 1 recollect rightly, one of the experts upon whose judgment the Government originally relied was none other than Dr. Woolnough. Having had a little experience of the reports of different experts, it appears to me that they generally submit a number of findings in the hope that one of them will hu correct. On this occasion, the Government is apparently using the report of an expert as an excuse for changing its policy. I am of the opinion that there is something more behind its decision than the mere fact that a particular Commonwealth expert has reported in certain terms. I understand that the report of Dr. Woolnough has been in the hands of the Government for some considerable time. I feel sure that such an important report would be given immediate consideration by the Cabinet. On that assumption, I desire to know why the Government has delayed its decision in this matter. Was it unable to make up its mind what course to pursue, or had it first to obtain the opinions of other people? I believe that finally the decision was a hurried one. Had the Government intended a few weeks or even a few days ago to place a complete embargo on the export of iron ore from this country to any other part of the world, in order to conserve our resources for the future use of Australian citizens, why did it issue an ultimatum to the waterside workers, who took action to conserve other resources of this country, by refusing to load scrap metal for shipment to foreign countries that are engaged in war? If the Government were consistent, it would now withdraw its threat to invoke the provisions of the Transport Workers Act, which is known as the ‘’ dog-collar act “ by Australian citizens, against the waterside workers, in an attempt to compel them ro load for shipment to other parts of the “ rid scrap metal intended for the manufacture of war equipment. If it be correct to say that, in order to for the manufacture of war equipment, we must not export iron ore, the same principle should be applied to the shipment of scrap metal to foreign countries, and the Government should immediately withdraw the threat it, has issued against the waterside workers. The importance of this matter cannot be doubted. Every member of Parliament should give very grave consideration to the probable consequences of the application of this policy. I am not saying for a moment that it is not the correct course to follow in order to conserve the resources of this country for the future use of Australian citizens. But what, then, becomes of the policy of Empire co-operation which was espoused by the Government? When the members of the Labour party, quite recently, during a debate on defence matters, said that prior consideration must be given to the claims of Australia and the Australian community, the supporters of the Government said that that was not the correct course, to pursue, but that we must link up with the policy of Empire co-opera tion.
Order! The honorable member is not in order in quoting from a debate in this session that has been concluded.
– I .contend that the great bulk of the iron ore to be exported, no matter to what part of the world it might go, will be required for the manufacture of defence equipment, so that any action taken by the Government to prevent British industries from obtaining supplies to carry out their defence programme must of necessity be an interference with the policy of Empire cooperation in defence matters. I am of the opinion that, at the moment, the British Government does not want iron ore from Australia. Had it done so, I am perfectly satisfied that this Government, which is but a puppet of the British Imperialist Government, would not have placed an embargo on exports from this country. There is no doubt that this Government has been fully informed of the desires and intentions of the British Government in this matter, and that its action has been taken, not in consequence of the report of any experts - although that excuse may be offered - but because it has been advised by people overseas, whom it recognizes as a superior authority, of the policy that should be applied.
My principal reason for rising was to draw attention to the inconsistency of the Government in now agreeing to place an embargo on the shipment of iron ore abroad while at the same time threatening to apply the provisions of the Transport Workers Act to the waterside workers for having given it a lead by refusing to load a particular material that is required by nations engaged in wars of aggression for the manufacture of war equipment. I desire the Prime Minister to indicate to the Parliament, before this discussion closes, the exact intentions of the Government with respect to that particular threat. If the Government wishes to place itself in a consistent position before the public of Australia, it will have no alternative but to admit that the waterside workers were fully justified in the stand that they took. If that be admitted, the Government should immediately withdraw the ultimatum it has issued to the Waterside Workers Federation.
.- I do not wish the House to believe that, because I voted for the continuance of this debate, I am therefore opposed to the prohibition by the Government of the export of iron ore from Australia. I am in entire agreement with the stand which the Government has taken. But, notwithstanding that fact, I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) that, if the debate were not continued now, a long time might elapse before it was resumed. I would not, however, go so far as the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price), who said that no further opportunity would be given to us; but I believe that, because of the pressure of government business, the matter would have been, deferred for a considerable period.
There has been a good deal of public sentiment in connexion with this matter, a.s far back as 1934. I quote from Current Notes on International Affairs, issued by the Department of External Affairs on the 1st March, 1937, as follows:-
In October, 1934, permission wa« (riven to a group of five Japanese experts to inspect the Yampi Sound deposits.
I believe it was at that time that public interest became acute. The Government having now finally taken action in the matter, a debate in this Parliament is justified. I think that the Government believes, after factual investigation - as the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has pointed out - that the iron ore resources of this country are not sufficiently extensive to permit of exports in the future. I believe that to be the primary consideration upon which the Government based its decision. But there is another factor which I consider i3 of even greater moment; that is, the position from the viewpoint of defence, and our diplomatic relations with foreign countries to whom the iron ore might be exported. Before developing that line of argument, however, it maybe as well to examine the existing position. The document from which I have already quoted goes on to say -
The scheme provides for the sale of the ore at. the operating company’s works at Koolan Island, and not on delivery in Japan, so that it is necessary for a limited number of Japanese experts to remain on the island to satisfy themselves as to the proper grading and analysis of the ore and thereby eliminate a great many difficulties and possibilities of disagreement.
I believe that it is beyond the financial resources of this country to develop these vast deposits to the extent that is possible. In the first place there is not sufficient local demand for the ore to justify it. Japan, of all foreign powers, is most likely to be interested in the development of these deposits; but whatever foreign country may undertake their development, we must consider what would be our position in the event of that country becoming our enemy. If we permitted a foreign country to expend millions of pounds in the exploitation of the industry, if we allowed it to get the enterprise into full working order, and then suddenly decided that we wanted all our iron ore deposits for ourselves, and took steps to enforce that policy, our action could only be described as expropriation of that country’s assets. Such a situation might lead to a major disagreement, with all the possibilities of international conflict. It is that consideration, I believe, which has actuated the Government in taking this important step at the present time. The Government is entirely justified in what it has done, because it is acting to prevent the possibility of serious international repercussions in the future.
.- I agree with the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford) that we should take a broad national view of this question. I support the action of the Government. We should recognize that the iron ore deposits of Australia are our natural heritage, and that they cannot be replaced. Some are accessible, and some are inaccessible. If we allow the accessible deposits to be exported for the trifling price of 10s. a ton, the time will conn.’ when it will cost much more than that to bring the inaccessible supplies to places where they can be treated.It would be economically unsound to permit the unlimited exploitation of our accessible iron ore supplies. If we did so, we should be in the position of the farmer, who, in a good season, sold his hay because he did not need it, and then, in the season of drought, had to buy hay from elsewhere at exorbitant prices to feed his stock. Even apart from this consideration, it is bad business to dispose of iron ore for 10s. a ton, when it would be worth £10 a ton after being treated at the furnaces, and turned into iron and steel. It will not be too late for the Government to change its policy if further supplies are discovered. Iron ore does not depreciate in value by keeping, like a case of apples or a case of butter does. It will still bo valuable in years to come, and t he price is not likely to sink below 10s. a ton. The policy of the Government is one of safety first. It recognizes that the people of Australia have the first claim on their country’s natural resources, and after them, the unborn generations. We may sell our wool and wheat, because we can produce more; we cannot do so with iron ore.
The argument that we should permit this export, industry to be developed at once because it would provide employment is short-sighted and has not much to recommend it. The population supported by the industry at Whyalla is very small compared with that which obtains a livelihood from the iron and steel manufacturing industries which use the ore in Newcastle and elsewhere.
.-I dislike this policy of embargoes and restrictions. It is the policy which, throughout the world, is making for international tension, and international disturbance. We are very anxious in Australia to develop our country, and to justify thoroughly our claim to occupy a very big area with a relatively small population. This policy of embargoes cannot fail to retard development in two areas which are not naturally favored for agricultural and pastoral settlement.
The conditions under which iron ore would be exported from Iron Knob in South Australia, and Yampi Sound in Western Australia, differ very materially. It is difficult to see why there is any need for an embargo at all in the case of exports from Whyalla. Iron ore exported from this place has been so rich in manganese that it would be very difficult to treat in Australia. Dr. Woolnough reported upon it as follows: -
Unfortunately the largest deposits of the group show an increasing percentage of manganese, to morethan the admissible limit, with increasing depth of exploitation.
The bulk of the ore exported from Whyalla has been obtained from pockets in the quarries where the ore is so rich in manganese as to make it difficult even to blend with the pure iron ores from other quarries of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. Merely to dump such ores would be to add considerably to the expense of quarrying, and would increase the cost of ore to the smelters. Moreover, this ore with a high manganese content, is very valuable for blending with the ores poor in manganese, such as are produced in other countries. A certain percentage of manganese in ore is valuable. It improves the quality of certain kinds of steel, but when there is too much present, it renders the ore unsuitable for the making of steel. As the company has developed its quarries in the Middleback Ranges it has been able to obtain larger quantities of ore free from manganese, and thereby to use more manganese ore for blending in Australia and to export less. It would be some handicap to the industry if the export embargo were to be insisted upon.
This, however, is a relatively small consideration as compared with the embargo on the export of iron ore from Yampi Sound. It has been demonstrated that it is not economically possible to work the Yampi Sound deposits for the benefit of Australian industries. I certainly agree that it is desirable to conserve our iron ore deposits to the extent that they are needed for our own purposes, but I fail to see how we who represent South Australian and Western Australian electorates will be able to convince our constituents that this embargo is necessary at the very time that pressure is being put upon the waterside workers to assist in the export of more scrap iron. If an embargo were applied to scrap iron it would accumulate in the backyards of foundries and on the farms until it was needed by the local smelting industry, and the price would bring it into the market. I very much regret that the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) did not explain why it is necessary to hold up the development of Yampi Sound, and at the same time press forward with the export of scrap iron from the more favoured States. We should consider not only the direct benefit of the mining and quarrying, but also the contingent benefits. A population settled in this area would be a nucleus which would make possible the establishment of gardening, agricultural and pastoral pursuits there to at least some extent. It is most difficult to start these activities in our drier and more remote areas, and to subject an industry there, such as the mining of iron ore, to an embargo is most regrettable. This policy of restricting the flow of trade has caused a great deal of the unrest that exists in the world to-day, and the Government should have given us fuller reasons for having adopted this course.
Before this action was taken we should have been given an opportunity to debate at much greater length than hitherto our relations with other countries. Certainly that important subject should be fully discussed before any action is taken against the waterside workers. It is very difficult for the waterside workers to appreciate how the Government may be embarrassed by their conduct. If a full debate had occurred on our relations with other countries the Government might have been able to give more satisfactory reasons than any given up to date for having taken this action. Unfortunately, the whole idea of the Ministry seems to be to confine debate on foreign relations within the smallest possible compass. It would have been much more satisfactory to adopt a system of licences in respect of this iron ore than to suggest that compensation would be paid. Naturally, owing to the lack of information, we are very much in the dark. There may be more satisfactory reasons for the Government’s action than have yet been given. The statement of the Prime Minister was obviously prepared on scanty lines. I therefore hope that later in the debate other Ministers will inform us somewhat more fully of the Government’s attitude on the subject.
– Like most other honorable members, I welcome the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), though I agree with other speakers in this debate that such a statement should have been made many months ago. The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) spoke truly when he said that this is a delicate and difficult problem. I believe there is much more behind the Government’s decision than appears on the surface. We are not passing through orthodox peace times, and we should put out of our minds altogether any considerations of advantage or disadvantage consequent upon this action to the companies exploiting these deposits, for those interests are actuated only by considerations of private profitmaking. I believe that the Government has been compelled to take this action because we are not passing through ordinary times. Doubtless, considerations of the suitability of the particular quality of iron ore in Australia have been before the governments of both Australia and Great Britain. I have no doubt that the report recently furnished to the Government by Dr. Woolnough on our iron ore deposits has been reviewed by the British Government in the light of its knowledge of the iron ore deposits in other parts of the British Empire. Experts associated with ArmstrongWhit worth Limited, Vickers Limited, and other great armaments-manufacturing firms, and also the metallurgists and chemists of government departments in Great Britain, have given careful thought to the variations of the quality of the iron ore in different parts of the Empire, and decisions have been made as to the suitability of particular deposits for special purposes, particularly the making of arms and ammunition, lt is well known that much of our iron ore is not of a suitable quality for the manufacture of plates for modern battleships, nor i3 it really suited for the manufacture of munitions. The question that had to be decided, I have no doubt, was what quantity of iron ore we have available for these purposes. lt cannot be doubted, surely, that the interests which have undertaken the exploitation of the deposits at Yampi Sound know exactly the particular purposes for which that ore is suited. Possibly they knew this earlier than did our own chemists and metallurgists. Because they discovered that our ore was suitable for particular purposes, and they desired raw material for such purposes, they took steps to secure control of the area. This, in turn, led to more intensive investigations by the Empire interests which control1 the iron ore deposits in other parts of the Empire, into not only the countries in which the ore from such deposits shall be used, but also the purposes for which it shall be used. In my opinion, the Government has taken this action after full consultation with the Imperial authorities.
We have to bear in mind that the Government’s defence programme visualizes not only the needs of Australia, hut also the co-ordination of its activities with those of other Empire countries. Personally, I am sorry that the Government has not confined itself to our own particular needs; but I am not so foolish as to overlook other features of the policy which it has adopted. The Government is, of course, interested in the standard patterns of arms and munitions being used throughout the Empire and it is setting itself out not only to provide for our own needs but also to sell supplies, when necessary, to other countries. That being so, it has undoubtedly co-operated with the British Government in seeking to resume full control of our iron ore deposits. That, in my opinion, is sound policy from the Government’s point of view. I believe that the great ma33 of the people of Australia will be relieved when they realise that the Government ha3 decided to prohibit the export of iron ore to Japan or any other foreign country.
I regret that a measure of unhealthy secrecy and mystery has been associated with the formation of the company formed to exploit the iron ore deposits at Yampi Sound. I shall even go so far as to say that some of the actions taken in this respect, have been unethical. Many people knew that moves were on foot to prevent a particular nation from securing a monopoly of the iron ore deposits at Yampi Sound, but the outside interests concerned in the negotiations were ultimately able to get their own way. The great danger I saw throughout these negotiations was that a group of foreign financiers would get a footing in Australia and secure vested interests in a certain commodity which was of great value to Australia. The longer the Government allowed -the situation to continue the more likely it became that our White Australia policy would be violated. From this aspect the problem facing the Government was undoubtedly difficult and delicate. The Government has been unduly hesitant to act, but it is a case of “ better late than never ‘’. The policy it is now applying will commend itself to the people of Australia. Our people are not favorable to the export of any minerals from this country for the purpose of making munitions.
I suggest that the Government should now announce that it does not intend to proceed with its threatened action against the waterside workers of Australia. These men have taken the course they are now following, not because they thought there was any possible financial gain to themselves in it, but because they believed that they were acting in accordance with public opinion in this country. I have seen piles of correspondence addressed to the Waterside Workers Federation by ministers of all denominations, groups of various kinds, including groups associated with the various universities, and many representative and private citizens urging the waterside workers to maintain their attitude. If it had not been for the publicity given tothe actions of the waterside workers and the sympathetic propaganda of outside bodies the men would have reviewed their position before now.
– They are likely to initiate one of the gravest, industrial disputes ever known in Australia.
-I do not think so. 1 again ask the Government to reconsider its proposed action in respect of the waterside workers, seeing that the men have been supported by a very great volume of influential public opinion in this country.
– I realize something of the feeling of many honorable members in connexion with the action the Government has now taken. I am conscious, too, that these feelings will be shared by a. considerable number of persons in the general community. It is undoubtedly a fact that it has been the practice for a great many years in Australia to over-estimate grossly the natural resources of Australia in certain respects. One of the most glaring instances of this has been in relation to our iron ore deposits. These are not anything like so extensive as we had been led to believe they are. We have been very glib at different times in telling the people of other countries about the tremendous natural resources of Australia, many of which were entirely nonexistent. The survey of our iron ore resources which, by the way, has not yet been completed, shows that our case is very different from what we thought it to be. The report upon which the present action of the Government is based, is dated the 14th April, 1938, hut we had a pro-warning in March that all was not well.
An endeavour has been made to associate the prohibition of the importation of iron ore with the export of scrap iron and scrap tin. The actual position is that there is neither a demand nor a market in Australia for these waste products. The question that honorable members have to consider is whether they will stand behind the Government in its endeavour to conserve our iron ore resources or whether they will merely consider what may be done with our scrap iron and scrap tin. I say with all respect to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) that the policy of Australia in respect of foreign trade will not be determined by certain trade unions, or the leaders of certain churches, or the professors and students of certain universities; it will be determined by the Commonwealth Government in Canberra, which is the sole authority to decide such things. While it is in office the present Government will accept the responsibility for such decisions. Should other gentlemen succeed to the government of the country, as some day may be the case, they can hand over their responsibility to others if they be so inclined. The present Government says that, in the interests of future generations as well as of the present population of Australia, it is necessary to conserve the iron ore resources of this country. It says, further, that if necessary, it will say when an embargo shall be imposed in respect of any other product. In offering advice to its supporters the Opposition would be wise to recognise the warning issued by the Government this week. From the attitude that it has taken up the Government will not withdraw. .
– The unions will be impressed with the inconsistency of the Government.
– They will also be impressed with the inconsistency of the Opposition on this subject. If their members compare the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition with those of the honorable members for Marihyrnong (Mr. Drakeford) and Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) they will have difficulty in reconciling them. The Government was faced with a delicate situation. As the work of excavation has proceeded the iron ore deposits at Iron Knob have been proved to contain increasing quantities of manganese. According to information which the Government has received from geological experts, there is a distinct shortage of manganese ore in the Commonwealth. It is, therefore, necessary that these deposits shall be conserved. Action is just as necessary in respect of the deposits at Iron Knob as in respect of other resources. Figures supplied recently show that the continent of Europe contains no less than 42,000,000,000 tons of iron ore, as yet unexploited, whereas the Australian deposits amount to only a few hundred million tons. Moreover, many of the Australian deposits are situated long distances from the coastline, and some of them contain other elements which do not make them an economic smelting proposition. Honorable members opposite may rest assured that any action that the Grovernment has been obliged to take was not taken without due regard to its policy of improving Australia’s trade relations with other countries. I draw the attention of honorable members to a statement by the Prime Minister on the 31st August last, as recorded in Hansard, Vol. 154, page 288-
The responsibility for constant watchfulness for the conservation in the national interests, not only of our iron ore resources, but also of the essential non-ferrous metals, is one which falls on the Commonwealth Government. This responsibility the Government accepts, and will act upon whenever and in whatever connexion it is necessary.
There could be no more complete answer to some of the contentions of the Opposition to-day than that statement, which was made just before the dissolution of the last Parliament. Admittedly, the Government had other views at one time - views based on the expert advice it had received before the inquiry recently undertaken.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order No. 119.
In Committee ofWays and Means:
Consideration resumed from the 18th May(vide page 1249), on motion by Mr. White(vide page 427) -
That the schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-36 be amended as hereunder set out ….
Division V. - Textiles, Felts and Furs, and Manufactures thereof, and Attire.
Item 105 (Cotton piece goods).
– Honorable members will recall that in May, 1936, proposals were introduced into this chamber substituting duties of so much per square yard for the duties formerly levied on an ad valorem basis on cotton piece goods and artificial silk piece goods. This change was necessitated by conditions which had developed in the textile import trade, and were being materially aggravated by alterations of the incidence of ad valorem duties brought about by currency depreciation in different countries. I shall endeavour to explain the effect of currency depreciation on the incidence of ad valorem customs duties. Under the Customs law of the Commonwealth, duties on the ad valorem basis are levied on values calculated in terms of sterling. For the purpose of determining the amount of duty payable on goods invoiced in currencies other than sterling, those currencies are converted to sterling at the current rate of exchange. As honorable members are aware, Japan is the principal competitor of the United Kingdom in supplying Australia’s import requirements in these classes of piece goods. The depreciation of the Japanese yen to a value of 42 per cent, below the value of the depreciated pound sterling had the effect of destroying the incidence of the ad valorem duties, and of materially reducing the amount of duty which an Australian importer of Japanese piece goods was required to pay. For example the tariffs in operation until the 22nd May, 1936. provided for total duties of 30 per cent. British preferential tariff, and 50 per cent. general tariff, on artificial silk piece goods. A parcel of Japanese piece goods having a sterling value of £100, with the pound sterling and the yen at a parity, acquired a sterling value of £58 when the yen was depreciated by 42 per cent, on the pound sterling. In effect, that meant that an importer, instead of paying duty amounting to £50 on the parcel of Japanese goods, paid ditty amounting to only £29. [Quorum formed.] In practice, that amounted to the virtual elimination of the British preference on artificial silk piece goods, and a substantial reduction of the preferences originally provided on cotton piece goods.
Consideration had also to be given to those countries which up to that, time had not depreciated their currencies. Importers of goods from those countries continued to pay duties based on the sterling value of their currencies determined at the current rate of exchange. That meant that imports from such countries were subjected to charges considerably higher than those collected on similar goods of Japanese origin. The fixed rate duties were designed to restore the preference to the United Kingdom, and at the same time to smooth out the inequalities which applied to imports of piece goods from different foreign countries.
The United Kingdom has a special interest in the trade in these goods, as cotton piece goods constituted the largest single item in the trade of that country with Australia. That trade suffered severely by direct, competition from Japanese cotton piece goods. It was also detrimentally affected by competition from extremely low-priced artificial silk fabrics of Japanese origin, which, because of their low cost, were replacing cotton fabrics for many purposes.
In order to show the changes which took place in the direction of trade following the depreciation of the Japanese yen, 1 shall include the figures for natural silk fabric also, because, just as artificial silk was displacing cotton, so was if, displacing fabrics of natural silk.
The average imports of these goods from the United Kingdom, prior to 1931, amounted to 157 million square yards. By :l!)35 they had fallen to 126 million square yards. In the same period, imports from Japan grew from an averago of 33 million square yards to almost 163 million square yards. Other supplying countries were affected even more -(ve rely than was the United Kingdom. Yardage figures in respect of imports from them are not available, but whereas their combined trade in piece goods averaged £2,700.000 prior to 1931 it had fallen to £460.000 in 1935.
The duty changes made in May, 1936, were effected following the failure of negotiations between the Commonwealth rind -Japanese Governments for a limitation arrangement with respect to the export of Japanese textiles to Australia similar to the arrangements which Japan had entered into with other countries. As is generally known, the imposition of those duties led io a tariff dispute with Japan. Later the issue was settled amicably.
When the textile duties imposed in May, 1936, were discussed in committee towards the end of that year, negotiations for a settlement of the issue were in progress. They were on the basis of the Commonwealth reducing the duties imposed in May, provided that the Japanese Government took action to control the export of textiles to Australia and to limit them to agreed quantities. As those negotiations were not sufficiently advanced when Parliament adjourned for the Christmas recess in 1936, the Government sought, and obtained, authority from Parliament to proclaim a reduction of the rates, in order that the arrangement with Japan might be put into effect as soon as agreement was reached. This power to reduce the duties was given temporarily, and was subject to two conditions: first, that the proclaimed rates should not be higher than the rates originally introduced in May, 1936, and, secondly, that a tariff proposal incorporating the reduced rates would be introduced within fifteen days of the reassembly of Parliament. Agreement on the issues in dispute was reached with Japan on the 26th December, 1936. In respect of textiles, its terms were that Australia would permit the importation of specified quantities of goods at the rates of duty embodied in the tariff proposal now before the committee. These rates have been in operation since the 1st January, 1937. The arrangement with Japan covered cotton piece goods and artificial silk piece goods included under a number of different items and sub-items of the tariff. The present proposals, therefore, contain a. number of items and subitems on which both the action taken by the Government and the proposals are identical. I suggest, therefore, that consideration of the discussion as a whole would be facilitated if members wishing to discuss the piece goods items would do so while the present item is before the chair.
– I do not ask for additional protection for an industry unless I am convinced that its establishment will be of benefit to Australia, particularly in the direction of assisting this country to develop more fully some of its natural resources. On this ocasion, I rise to appeal to the Minister to give additional consideration to item 105 (a)(1)(c/). which relates to the finishing and dyeing of textiles. One of the most important operations associated with weaving is the finishing and dyeing of the material after it has been woven into fabrics. In most countries the finishing and dyeing is an entirely separate industry, but we in Australia have failed to recognize it as such, because we have not the experience of older countries in such matter. I have personal knowledge of one company - Poullar’s Limited, of Sydney - which established buildings and plant at a cost of about £50,000 and employed some 300 hands with the object of developing the finishing end of the weaving industry in Australia. The plant was established about 1929, and although the company experienced much difficulty in carrying on operations during the depression years, it managed to struggle through that period and by 1936 had established a substantial business, which was not returning a huge profit, but which showed promise of success and permanency. Then the trade trouble with Japan caused a change in the position, and the tariff was altered from an ad valorem rate to a duty charged on the square yard. The yardage duty was imposed without full consideration being given to its possible effect on the industry. When grey cloth is submitted to dyeing and finishing, a. shrinkage occurs, and this involves increased payments of duty on the yardage rate. The company pointed out to the Government the effect of the new duty, and a manufacturing bond was established, the cost of which was borne by the company concerned, so that the yardage of the goods imported would be taken into consideration after they were dyed. When the duty was altered to the yardage rate, the protection that was enjoyed by this industry was destroyed, and the dyed and finished good3 were allowed to come into Australia at the same rate of duty as grey cloth. Out of approximately S5,000,000 square yards of cloth imported, between 50,000,000 and 60,000,000 yards is printed or dyed cloth which this particular section of the industry does not want to handle. The industry recognizes that a choice between low-grade -and high-grade good» must be given to the consumer, and therefore it decided not to handle the lowgrade lines. But at the same time, it asked the Government to assist it by separating the various kinds of imported cloth into grades so that the industry could be maintained. The Government was not prepared to separate the better grade material, which would have amounted to only between 5,000,000 and 6,000,000 square yards of cloth, which is a very small proportion of the total quantity imported. The company said, however, that it was prepared to concede that consumers should have the opportunity to obtain low-grade material at as low a cost as possible, and it did not want to handle it, but, it was prepared to establish an industry to handle the better class of cloth in the grey, so that it would have some justification for the expenditure of £50,000 on its buildings and plant. The case was submitted to the Government and the Tariff Board, but the request that the items should be separated was not granted. The Government may be under the impression that, by leaving this particular item open in the tariff schedule, the customs revenue may be affected, but it ought to realize that the amount of revenue likely to be lo3t would be only about £30,000. I suggest that the loss of that amount of revenue would not be- too much for the Government to pay for the establishment of an industry that would be of great value to Australian weaving, for which I predict a bright future. If we are not prepared to foster the various sections of the textile industry in their initial stages, we shall possibly have a repetition, when a stage of high production is reached, of what happened in the manufacture of drill cloth. Honorable members will remember that the Government gave favorable consideration to the case of manufacturers who were prepared to weave drill cloth. Immediately the looms started to move and there was an appre- ciable increase of output. However, the manufacturers found that one section of the industry, which would give a finish to the cloth comparable with that of imported cloth, was lacking; consequently the weaving of drill goods has practically collapsed in Australia. That is probably what will happen if encouragement is not given to the finishing end of the weaving industry.
– How many factories are interested in the finishing section of the industry ?
– There are three or four factories in New South Wales, but Poullar’s Limited is the pioneer and is now employing 300 hands. The company has pointed out that not only is this particular enterprise the forerunner of a great weaving industry in Australia, but also that if it were successful in getting the items in the schedule separated, as is advocated, it would be able to employ 200 additional hands. If between 300 to 400 skilled operatives could be constantly employed in the finishing section, there would be a substantial nucleus established for the future development of the weaving industry. Poullar’s Limited is not only relying on the training of local male employees; it has brought experts from abroad to train operatives in the factory. The claims of the companies interested in the industry, so far from being frowned on by importing and other business interests, are actually being supported by them because it has been found that cloth goods, which go out of fashion because of their colour can be treated at the finishing works and made fashionable. This material can be marketed profitably, which otherwise would have to be jobbed out at great loss. I ask the. Minister to give favorable consideration to the request for the separation of the items in the schedule, in order to give the finishing section an opportunity to handle goods of good quality which are imported in the grey, and thereby encourage an enterprise which will ultimately be of value to a great weaving industry in Australia.
Mr.LAZZARINI (Werriwa) [4.53]. - Either the preferential tariff is purely a revenue tariff or the general tariff is. prohibitive, shutting out imports from other countries than those included in the British Commonwealth of Nations. It cannot be argued that the tariff is a protectionist one, when there is a difference of 600 per cent, to 900 per cent, between the general rate and the preferential rate set out in Division V. of the schedule. Examination of the items in the division reveals the wide discrepancy between the two rates. In one case the preferential rate is½d- a square yard, and the general rate3½d. a square yard. In another case, the preferential rate is 1½d. and the general rate 9d. a square yard. How could any firm importing goods from Great Britain and paying a duty of lid. a square yard, import similar goods from another country and pay a duty of9d. a square yard, when in many cases the retail price of the goods is not equivalent to 9d. asquare yard? If the tariff is to be a revenue one it will place the burden on the low-grade goods which the poorer classes purchase, and, if it is to be a prohibition tariff, it will cause all sorts of disturbances and reactions outside Australia. I should like the Minister to explain why in some cases the preferential rate proposed is 1½d. a square yard, and the general rate 9d. If the Government wants to exclude non-British countries from trading with Australia, it should make its intention clear and admit that the tariff is intended to be prohibitive. If it is considered necessary to place a duty of 9d. a square yard on goods imported from non-British countries, and to impose a preferential rate of only½d. a square yard on the same class of goods, then the tariff is a revenue one. Rather than have such wide discrepancies between the two rates, I should prefer goods to come in duty free. However, I maintain that there should be reasonable protection for Australian industries and a reasonable measure of preference extended to other British countries.
Mr.FORDE (Capricornia) [4.55].-
Some of these duties are for revenue purposes, and were imposed as the result of the visit to Australia of the British trade delegation about eighteen months ago, and the quota arrangement, particularly in respect of imports from Japan. Other duties have a protective value. To the extent that they tend to safeguard and develop Australian industries, they will always have my whole-hearted support. I was interested to hear the remarks of the honorable member forWentworth (Mr. Harrison), who urged that increased protection should be given to certain ind ustries in New South Wales and in other States under item 105 (a) (1) (d), which relates to artificial silk piece goods. The case which he presented should be ardently supported by honorable members on this side of the chamber. I was interested to notice that even that honorable gentleman made an admission that the Government had neglected to maintain adequate protection of a very deserving industry. The pioneer company has employed 300 persons, and the positions of quite a number of the employees have been in jeopardy as the result of substantial tariff reductions. The Government should come to an early decision on the subject of the increased protection asked for by many manufacturers of lightweight woollen material under sub-item 105 (1) (d). Materials such as woolstra and others, made entirely from fabrics other than cotton and wool - wood fibre, I. understand - are being brought into Australia under this sub-item, and sold for the manufacture of children’s tunics in competition with light-weight woollen materials.
– They are absolute rubbish.
– The opinion of the honorable member is of value in this matter, because I believe he has expert knowledge of clothing material. These goods will find a ready market in Australia, if they are allowed to be brought in, and I submit that it is the duty of the Acting Minister (Mr. Perkins) to give consideration to the report of the Tariff Board on this matter before the present parliamentary sittings are concluded. Can the Acting Minister state whether he has yet received the hoard’s report, and whether the Government will come to a decision on its recommendations before the winter adjournment?
Several of these items deal with the cotton industry, which is of the utmost importance to Australia. The secondary branches of this industry are established in the large cities of southern States and, in addition, about 4,000 persons are engaged in the growing of raw cotton, particularly in Queensland. This industry, and especially the primary section of it, has had a somewhat chequered career, because of many varying government decisions in respect of the tariff protection afforded to it. It is one of the great natural industries of Australia. This country grows wool of the finest quality, and we can also produce the finished article of a high standard. Similarly, we grow cotton equal in quality to that produced in any other part of the world, and there is no justification for exporting our raw cotton. It is absolutely’ necessary to maintain adequate protection of the secondary branch of the industry to enable it to purchase the whole of the Australian-grown cotton. The Labour party . in both the Federal and the State spheres has taken a keen interest in the primary and secondary branches of the industry. The Queensland Government gavegreat impetus to the growing of raw cotton in that State, first by a guaranteed price in 1920 of 5½d. per lb. for seed cotton. As the result of that assistance, the area planted with cotton was increased in 3 years from 160 acres to 35,000 acres. When it was decided to treat the industry on a national basis, and the Commonwealth bounty was substituted for the State guarantee-
– Order ! The honorable member’s remarks would be more appropriate to the general debate than to a specific item.
– I am urging upon the Acting Minister the need for increased protection to the secondary branch of the cotton industry that uses the raw material, grown on the farms of tropical Queensland. This is necessary to develop an industry which promote- closer settlement, particularly in a great State like Queensland, where millions of acres are awaiting subdivision. There was a time when the protection of the secondary branch of the industry was neglected, with the result that the growers had to export their cotton to the Liverpool market to be sold in competition with the product of black-labour countries, whilst the equivalent in cotton yarns of 20.000 bales per annum of raw cotton was being imported into Australia. The Cotton Industry Bounty Bill was introduced by me, as Minister for Trade and Customs, in 1930. It provided for a diminishing bounty up to the end of 1936, and a stabilised price for raw cotton for a similar period. It was stipulated that when the bounties expired, protective duties would take their place. The Scullin Government took immediate steps to extend the scope of the protection to many lines of manufactured cotton goods, such as knitted and other piece goods, blouses, coats, costumes, dresses, robes, knitted apparel, socks, stockings, common wool, and linters ; also cotton seed oil. By that means the demand for the Australian grown cotton lint was considerably increased, with the result that four new cotton spinning mills were established. Nearly 2,000 additional persons were employed in the cotton spinning industry, and an extra 1,000 in the knitting industry. These facts have an important bearing upon the necessity for protection of the industry to maintain the demand for Australian grown cotton. The duties imposed under Labour’s sympathetic administrationincreased the acreage under cotton as follows : -
In return for the stabilized price paid to the growers by the manufacturers, the latter asked for adequate protection of their yam and cotton piece goods, with a gradual expansion of the duties to other yarns and knitted goods to meet the growing development of their factories. But, with the defeat of the Scullin Government, came a change of policy. The duties on cotton piece goods were slashed, and that brought about a cancellation of the stabilization agreement entered into with the manufacturers. At least eight different decisions were made in respect of protective policy, and this caused uncertainty among the growers as to what acreage they should plant with cotton. Prices for raw cotton went down. Consequently the growers have been on the bread line. The manufacturers gave the Queensland Cotton Board notice of termination of the agreement, and, unfortunately, of the 1933-34 cotton crop, 9,000 bales were sold on the Australian market and 4,000 bales of the balance had to be exported. Care should be taken to avoid a recurrence of this trouble. I have repeatedly urged that increased protection should be given to the secondary branches of this industry. The. Lyons Government, somewhat belatedly, restored a measure of protection to the secondary branches of the industry, and there ha3 been an increase of the demand for Australian grown cotton, but I do not wish to see a slackening of that policy. The industry has had to -depend largely on bounties, yet I do not desire bounties to become permanent and take the place of protection. Whilst I am glad the bounty is to be completely restored to the predepression level, I hope that eventually the industry will be able to stand on its own feet, provided adequate protection is afforded to the primary and secondary branches of it. The growers should not have to come cap in hand to the Government for a bounty, and be dependent on the whims of honorable members every year when the finances of the Commonwealth are under consideration. To-day, fortunately, the growers can sell the whole of their crop; but, if there be any whittling away of the protective incidence, of the tariff, it will mean that the manufacturers will not buy the product of the Queensland farmers. This is a great national industry, and I desire its primary and secondary branches to develop side by side.
– I can assure the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) that the matter brought under notice by him in respect of item 105 (a) (1) (d) has been thoroughly investigated. It does not seem practicable to do as he SUE gests, for it would result in serious financial I033 to the Government; but, in view of his remarks, further inquiries will be made.
The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) has asked for information regarding the wide margins between the duties on artificial silk piece goods, the British preferential rate being l£d. a square yard, the intermediate rate 4d. a square yard and the general tariff 9d. a square yard. The general rate is not now operating. The duty in operation at the present time against Japan is the intermediate rate This is in accordance with the trade agreement with that country. The rates amount to about 17 -J per cent, ad valorem in other cases. Sometimes the duties are fixed on the recommendation of the Tariff Board, and sometimes by departmental action. In the case under notice protection is unnecessary, because under the agreement, the Japanese exporters are allowed to ship so many thousand yards per annum.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) has asked that early consideration be given to the report of the Tariff Board with regard to imported fibre materials such as woolstra, which compete with lightweight woollen materials of Australian manufacture. That report has not yet been received and I cannot, say that it will be dealt with by the Government prior to the conclusion of the present parliamentary sittings. It does not appear possible to deal with them this session, but I give the honorable member an assurance that reports, as they are received, will be laid on the table as soon as possible. The other matters mentioned by the honorable gentleman will receive consideration.
Item agreed to.
Item 116 (Parasols, sunshades and umbrellas n.e.i.).
.- In this item the British preferential tariff is 22£ per cent, ad valorem, the intermediate tariff, 50 per cent., and the general tariff, 53J per cent., subject to exchange adjustment, the intention being to protect Australian manufacturers of umbrellas against importations, particularly from
Japan. The item was the subject of a public inquiry by the Tariff Board last year.
The old rates of duty were - British preferential tariff, 30 per cent. . ad valorem; general, 50 per cent, ad valorem, subject to exchange adjustment. During the inquiry it was requested that the duties be made - British preferential tariff, 30 per cent, ad valorem; intermediate, 24s. per dozen and 50 per cent, ad valorem ; and general, 24s. per dozen and 50 per cent, ad valorem. The local manufacturing industry is an important one., and should be encouraged. The value of the output increased from £128,049 in 1933-34 to £144,115 in 1934-35. In the latter year the industry gave employment to nearly 300 persons, and the total wages paid amounted to £32,6S7. Importations from Japan have been increasing at a much higher rate than Australian production. During the last three years imports have increased by over 215 per cent., whereas, in the same period, the value of the Australian output has increased by only 10 per cent. The principal exporting country is Japan. A comparison of Australian and Japanese costs of production contained in a report from the International Labour Office, Geneva, shows that the average daily .wage for female workers in Japan employed in manufacturing industries was .079 yen, representing a wage rate of approximately 63. 4d. a week, compared with 45s. a week paid to Australian operatives. The following figures show the competitive position of umbrellas in popular demand: -
Competition between the Australian manufacturers prevents price3 from increasing beyond the levels which return minimum profits. The figures which I have given show that the rates proposed in. the item are inadequate to safeguard the Australian industry. I therefore ask the Minister to have the item investigated with a view to giving a greater measure of protection to Australian manufacturers.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) will readily understand that I am not in a position to accept his suggestion. The proposed rates provide for an increase of 3$ per cent, ad valorem in the general tariff, such increase being hi the nature of a margin for the purposes of treaty negotiation. The proposed British preferential tariff is the same as the effective rate under the 1933-36 tariff. In its report of the 28th October, 1937., the Tariff Board recommended rates of 22$ per cent. British preferential, and 50 per cent, general, under present exchange conditions. These rates form the basis of the proposed amendment. At the inquiry held by the board considerable stress was laid by local umbrella manufacturers on the increasing competition from Japan. However, a sifting of the evidence showed that the present importations are not comparable in price with Australianmade umbrellas. They comprise mostly the low-priced Japanese articles, which have opened up a new market, and cannot be regarded as displacing equal numbers of locally-made umbrellas. Importations from Japan also include a large proportion of children’s sunshades, in which local manufacturers are not greatly interested.
The principal increase of importations from Japan took place in 1935 and 1936. Inquiries made by the board show that the quality of Japanese umbrellas imported by department stores during those years was inferior, and orders were not repeated. The reduction- of imports from Japan during 1936-37 and the comparatively small value of imports during the first eight months of 1937-38 is the result of the attitude adopted by department stores. It, would thus appear that there were grounds for the Tariff Board’s contention that the fear of Japanese competition in these goods has been overstressed and that there must be some other reason for loss of business by local manu facturers. This reason was supplied by the board itself as the result of an examination of local manufacturers’ sales and importations, which showed that the Australian demand had undergone a marked contraction during the past few years, the sales having been approximately 05.000 dozen in 1927-28 and 40,000 dozen in 1936-37. Several factors have to be considered in determining the amount of protection to be given to this industry. First, almost the whole of the raw -material used is imported, and constitutes from 60 pei cent, to 70 per cent, of the cost of production. Secondly, most of the parts are admitted under customs by-laws at rates of, British, free; and general tariff 15 per cent.; whilst the duty on the covering material is small in relation to total production costs. Thirdly, direct labour costs represent less than 10 per cent, of production costs of the better class of umbrellas and 20 per cent, of the cheaper classes.
Consideration of these factors convinced the board that the nature of the industry was such that the claims for higher general tariff rates should not be conceded, but that the Australian industry was afforded adequate protection by the duties which existed under the 1933-30 tariff. The Government feels convinced that the protection provided by the proposed rates will permit the local umbrella industry to function successfully.
.- 1 direct the attention of the committee to the fact that, whilst the British preferential tariff has been reduced slightly there is an increase in both the intermediate and general tariffs. I should have thought the policy of the Government would be to free the channels of international trade and create a hotter feeling among the nations, rather than do something to cause markets to contract still further. International trade could be stimulated, I submit, by imposing lower rates in the intermedin te tariff than in the general tariff, in order to increase the opportunity for making reciprocal arrangements with countries that are inclined to trade with us. Our purpose should be to find more markets for Australian products. By offering other countries something tangible in the way of lower duties we may hope to increase our population sufficiently to defend this country in an emergency. At present we have less than 7,000,000 people. I venture the opinion that if the country between Mount Gambier and Cairns were controlled by some other country it would be carrying a population of between 20,000,000 and 25,000,000. I do not approve of the duties proposed by the Government in the intermediate tariff. I hope that something will be done to make possible mutually satisfactory trade arrangements with friendly countries. We are not doing this in the item before the committee.
Item agreed to.
Item 118 agreed to.
By omitting the whole of sub-item (b) (twice occurring) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: -
(1) Cotton or linen handkerchiefs, ad val., British,22½ per cent.: intermediate, 42½ per cent.; general,50 per cent.; or per dozen, intermediate,1s.; general,1s.: whichever rate returns the higher duty. And in respect of paragraph (1) - For each £1 by which the equivalent in Australian currency of £100 sterling is less than £125 at the date of exportation - and additional duty of, ad val., British, 3 per cent.; intermediate, . 3 per cent.; general, . 3 per cent.; or per dozen, intermediate, .08d.; general, .08d.; whichever is applicable.
. -Sub-item (b) of this item deals with the duties on cotton or linen handkerchiefs. I have been requested to make representations to the Government with a view to having the duties increased. Those engaged in the industry in Australia complain of rapidly increasing importations, particularly from Great Britain. In the last four years imports from the United Kingdom have increased by 70 per cent. The present position is the result of the Government’s trade diversion policy in the interests of Great Britain, which now has practically captured the trade from Japan as regards not only the raw materials, but also the manufactured article, to the detriment of Australian manufacturers. The increase of the duty in the general tariff and the trade diversion policy compelled Australian manufacturers to purchase their raw material requirements from the United Kingdom, instead of, as formerly, mostly from Japan. The granting of the application for increased duties was not recommended by the Tariff Board, but it did recognize that the existing tariff was inadequate, because it recommended an increase of the foreign rate from1s. to1s. 2d. a dozen in the event of Australian currency reverting to par with sterling. From evidence which the local manufacturers have placed before me, it appears that they have a strong case for favorable consideration. If the purpose of the Government’s trade diversion policy was to divert to the United Kingdom trade ordinarily done with Japan, it has been accomplished up to that point; at least British manufacturers ought to be satisfied, and the Government should consider that it has done sufficient. I am not sure whether the Tariff Board is prepared to give consideration to that view. It may merely have followed the customary procedure, and may not have paid any attention to the fact that the United Kingdom had already secured benefits by reason of other action which the Government saw fit to take. The present rate of duty is 22½ per cent, net British preferential, and 50 per cent., or 1s. a dozen, whichever is the higher, general tariff. The application was for 35 per cent. British preferential, 50 per cent, intermediate, and 50 per cent, general tariff, or 2s. 6d. a dozen instead of1s. a dozen. The board’s recommendation was, not to change the existing rate, but to raise the rate a dozen to1s. 2d. In the supply of plain handkerchiefs, the chief competition is from the United Kingdom, whilst Switzerland is the principal foreign competitor in the field of embroidered handkerchiefs. The Australian manufacturers say that considerable quantities of low-priced handkerchiefs are imported from the East, Japan’s invoice prices last year being approximately1s. a dozen. Imports are increasing. The Australian manufacturer, who enjoyed only 60 per cent, of the local market in quantity and value in 1935-36, has since met with even greater overseas competition, with the result that to-day he has barely 50 per cent, of that market. The following table sets out the progress of importations from the chief competitor, the United Kingdom -
Up to March. 1938, the imports totalled 239,000 dozen. Taking that figure as representing imports for one-fourth of the calendar year, the total imports for the full year will be 956,000 dozen, which is a substantial increase that must necessarily react seriously on the local manufacturers. A document that I have had supplied to me contains the following comment -
This rate of increased business from the United Kingdom is approximately twice that of the Australian output between 1932-33 (949,997 dozen) and 1935-36 (1,278,935 dozen ) , and local manufacturers report adverse effects on their latest year’s business, due to increasing imports. There has been a sharp rise, for example, in foreign competition, e.g.,
Higher duties in the general tariff on the raw material, cotton piece goods, have obliged Australian manufacturers to purchase vastly increased quantities of their raw materials from the United Kingdom.
The contentionof the manufacturers is that the Government, apart from any recommendation of the Tariff Board, might be prepared to consider the advantages gained by the United Kingdom beyond those that Parliament contemplated when the alteration of the policy in relation to foreign countries was agreed upon. I do not know whether the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Perkins) is in a position to say whether the Government, in the determination of these matters, merely looks to what the Customs Department puts forward, or whether it is willing to offset what may be regarded as the strict departmental decision, even against the United Kingdom, if special advantages have accrued to British exporters by reason of the adoption of another policy.
I shall not go into details of the employment aspect. That course is often followed, and sometimes the views expressed are not accepted, because it is considered that figures may be easily stated but not so easily proved ; but I am- informed that throughout Australia a large number obtain employment both directly and indirectly from this industry. It is the duty of the organizations concerned to police the awards, in order to see that the provisions in regard to wages, conditions of employment, and the like, are observed. I am satisfied that, in this respect, the industry has been catered for, and proper conditions are being observed. It has been found that if the present drift continues, the factories cannot be maintained at their present level. The manufacturers particularly ask that the Government shall consider the matter without regard to what the Tariff Board has recommended; that it shall view it in the light of the value of the trade diversion policy to the United Kingdom, and give to local producers the protection that they need.
– This may be fairly described as an important industry. It employs 500 workers, and the capital invested in it totals £250,000. I believe that the operation of the. tariff as it stands is a more serious matter to the industry than has been represented by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). As that honorable member has stated, the trade diversion policy of the Government has had a vital bearing on the prosperity of the industry. Nine firms are affected. The new duties which came into operation when the quota system was instroduced had the effect of preventing the local manufacturers from purchasing in a very favorable market and at a favorable exchange rate. It became obligatory on them to purchase at a different exchange rate, and at a very much higher initial cost. This has conferred upon the British manufacturer a double advantage and has imposed on the local industry a heavy penalty. I submit for the consideration of the committee the view that the Government never intended that its trade diversion policy should operate in that way. I feel that the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Perkins) might consider the advisability of referring the matter back to the Tariff Board. Within recent months the position of the industry has become progressively more acute. I conferred with the representative of one of the manufacturing firms as recently as last week. In order to give me some indication of the acuteness of the position, he told me of a visit that he had paid a fortnight ago. to a number of leading firms in Sydney with a view to testing the market for the products of hi3 establishment. Hordern Brothers, Farmers, Sydney Snow’s, Anthony Horderns’, and David Jones, all told him thai there is no market whatever for the handkerchief of Australian manufacture. He gathered the impression, and I have no reason whatever to doubt him, that the position of the Australian manufacturer will become progressively more precarious. As the trade diversion policy ha3 not only conferred a double advantage on the British manufacturers, but has also imposed a heavy penalty on the local industry - the endeavours of the local manufacturers to sell their article being met in almost all cases by a flat refusal to give an order, with the result that the industry is faced with the most acute crisis that has confronted it during its history - I ask the Minister seriously to consider the advisability of referring the matter immediately to the Tariff Board, so that it may be thoroughlyreviewed, and the Australian industry adequately protected. I consider that we have the right to make that request, and believe that the Minister will give it hi3 immediate and sympathetic consideration.
.- 1 support the representations of the honorable members for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) and Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) for the more adequate protection of this industry. Any industry which employs 500 persons cannot lightly be put out of business without serious repercussions, particularly at ac time when we are anxious to give” employment to young people who are leaving school and looking for work. This industry 13 not confined to one State. There are about twelve manufacturers in New South Wales, and two in Victoria. The duties were reduced by 5 per cent, in 1932. and there was a further reduction pf the British preferential rate when the exchange adjustment act. came into operation. At the inquiry he:d by the Tariff Board last year into the necessity for an alteration of the duties, the Australian manufacturers rightly asked for an increase, while the Joint Committee for Tariff Reform, which is representative of freetrade interests in the community, applied for a further reduction of the existing protection. Taking into account the exchange position, it will be noted that no increased protection is given. The principal effect of the adjustment is to make allowance for the protective value of exchange in the intermediate tariff rate. The result has been that the imports have doubled since 1934-35. It is little wonder that the representative of a manufacturing firm to whom the honorable member for Macquarie referred should find, on visiting several big retail houses in Sydney, that the Australian maker cannot market any of his products because of the competition of the imported article. While the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs is always courteous and attentive to representations from both sides of the House for increased protection, the Minister himself, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) was very intolerant of any suggestion that Australian industries could be in need of further protection. He used to challenge us to name one industry which found it impossible to carry on against oversea* competition. In the past, I have named many such industries. The one. now under consideration finds it impassible to compete against imported goods, and has had to reduce employment because of the whittling away of the protective tariff. Let us consider the chief competitor, the United Kingdom, which supplies to this market nearly 1,000,000 dozen handkerchiefs a year. British sales on this market actually grew from 527,408 dozen in 1933 to 882,768 dozen in 1937. Here was an increase of approximately 70 per cent., which was nearly twice the increase of the Australian output for the same four year3. Actually, at the time th« Tariff Board inquiry was held, it was shown that Australian manufacturers were enjoying only 60 per cent, of the local market, and with the growth of imports during the present year, this proportion has been still further reduced. We have now reached the position referred to by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson), who stated that a representative of an Australian factory could not place any goods in five of the main retail shops inSydney. That is a very serious position. If men invest capital in an Australian industry, and observe Australian conditions of employment, they should be given protection by this Parliament to enable them to sell their goods at a profit, and obtain a reasonable return on the capital invested. Every £800 worth of goods imported from overseas, directly puts an Australian factory worker out of employment, and indirectly takes away the employment of three other persons. This industry should he developed in Australia, because the Australian factories can supply the whole of the demand. If honorable members will closely examine the Tariff Board’s report on the industry they will note that there is in the board’s findings an implied admission that the present rates of duty are not entirely adequate. The board, however, is hedged aboutby various considerations, including the Ottawa Agreement, and agreements between Australia and other countries. It is not free today to make recommendations for the effective protection of Australian industries. The Australian manufacturers, for example, have twice sought recognition of the principle that specific, rather than ad valorem, duties are essential to protect the industry, particularly against foreign competition, and this principle has been recognized by the board itself in its last two reports. The local manufacturers asked for a duty of 2s. 6d. a dozen to meet foreign competition, especially from the Far East, from which invoices to Australia last year showed prices of loss than1s. a dozen. The board, in its finding, though still refusing to recommend any change of present duties, has agreed that if Australian currency reverts to par with sterling, an increase from the present1s. a dozen general tariff, to 1s. 2d. a dozen should be granted.
As regards competition from the United Kingdom, against which some slight additional protection was sought, it is my duty to point out that the labour producing this class of goods inthe United Kingdom, principally in the Manchester district, is entirely unregulated, as regards both wages and conditions. It has been the subject of the most scathing comment in the United Kingdom itself from newspapers of such standing as the Manchester Guardian, which show that the most deplorable conditions exist in the industry. Even in Ulster, where the industry has been regulated for some years, the award governing wages for the north of Ireland, prescribes rates of pay which are only half those now operating in Australia.
In the Manchester Guardian of the 11th December, 1936, there is published an article by Mrs. C. D. Rackham,a well-known authority in the United Kingdom on matters pertaining to industrial welfare. Here is what this writer has to say, inter alia -
Ashas been said, the existing act is completely out of date. At a time when a 48 or 44-hour week hasb een secured in many industries by trade-union action, and a 40- hour week has been under discussion at Geneva, the limit fixed by law for women and young persons is (it) hours a week, exclusive of mealtimes. 10½ hours on five days in the week and 7½ on (Saturdays. In textile factories the corresponding figures are 55½, 10, and5½. And the deplorable fact is (as the reports of the Chief Inspector show) these hours are actually worked in times of pressure and even by young people. A boy or girl can go into factory employment on leaving school at fourteen years of age, work from eight in the morning till eight at night (with1½ hours for meals) and until four o’clock on Saturday afternoon, and the employer it still within the limits of the law. Add to this the journey to and from work, often a long one, in the morning and the evening, and it will be seen to what exhausting toil we are subjecting many of our young people.
The products of those factories are brought out to Australia, and sold in competition with the products of fifteen or eighteen Australian factories that are employing Australians at standard wages, and under award working conditions.
– Do the hours mentioned in that article include overtime?
– There is no mention of overtime presumably they are the normal working hours. Nobody in Great Britain or Japan can. reasonably object to our asking in this Parliament for adequate protection for our own industries, so that they may ‘ observe decent conditions of employment, and pay wages based on Australian standards. That is all we are asking for now. I know that sometimes requests of this kind are brushed aside on the ground that they are made on behalf of back-yard industries. That does not apply in the present instance, although we should remember that the back-yard industries of to-day may be the powerful industries of a decade hence. This . industry used to provide employment for 500 people, though some have now been put off. I urge the ActingMinister, who, personally, is sympathetic to the industry, in which people have invested their capital which they are now in danger of losing, to give earnest consideration to my request. If he cannot to-day give a promise that the duty will be increased, I ask him at least to give an assurance that he will refer the item back to the Tariff Board for further investigation and report. Before the introduction of the Government’s trade diversion policy, the Australian manufacturers were able to buy their raw materials much more cheaply from Japan, but they now have to buy them from Great Britain at a higher price. Not only this, but Great Britain is now selling to us an everincreasing quantity of the finished product. We do not mind buying the raw material which we cannot produce here, but we can produce the finished article, and the tariff should be adjusted to enable us to do so.
.- I join with other honorable members in asking the Minister to reconsider this item with a view to affording adequate protection to this Australian industry. No less than £150,000 has been invested in plant and machinery in the industry, which provides employment for 500 persons. The industry developed steadily until recently, when it received a jolt because of tariff adjustments arising out of the Government’s trade diversion policy. The duties were investigated last year, and were reduced, since when there has been a serious increase of imports both from the United Kingdom and from foreign countries.
The increase of duties in the general tariff on raw material forced Australian manufacturers to obtain their supplies from Great Britain at higher prices. If the industry is to prosper, and employment to continue, some set-off must be made by way of increased protection. As the honorable member for Macquarie pointed out, the Australian manufacturers are losing the Australian trade, and are having difficulty in placing their products in the retail shops. Importations from abroad can be sold at prices substantially below those at which the Australian articles can be marketed. There are strong reasons why the industry should be encouraged in Australia. The goods are produced under Australian conditions, and employees are paid Australian rates of wages. Imported goods are produced under industrial conditions that would not bo tolerated in this country. Wages are low, and the conditions are such as have not obtained here for many years. Our policy has always been to protect Australian standards and Australian conditions by adequate duties. I ask the Government to refer this item back to the Tariff Board at the earliest possible date for reconsideration. The. Ottawa Agreement provides that British manufacturers shall be given opportunity to compete on our market under fair and reasonable conditions. It cannot be said that the conditions are fair and reasonable when the local manufacturers are being driven off our own market. Sometimes when tariff items are under consideration extraordinary theories are advanced for and against the Ottawa Agreement, but in this case what is required of us is that we shall allow British manufacturers access to our market on conditions which will ensure fair and reasonable competition. Under the duties which prevail at present, imports of British handkerchiefs are increasing, as is shown by the following table: -
The increase in that period has therefore been- 69 per cent. Substantially increased imports have also been made in the last two years from China and Switzerland, the figures being -
These increases have undoubtedly seriously affected employment in this industry in Australia.
– The honorable member said the other day that the Government is doing a good job.
– I said in my speech on the first item of the schedule that the Government had done an extraordinarily good job, and I gave specific figures to show the rate at which employment had increased since the depression.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).The honorable member may not continue on those lines.
– I was endeavouring to reply to an interjection by the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney), but as I am not permitted to do so under the Standing Orders I simply shall conclude by asking the Government to refer this item back to the Tariff Board.
. -I cannot congratulate the Government on the effect of its tariff policy.
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the item before the Chair.
– That the Government is not standing up to its undertaking to protect the industries of this country is shown clearly by the criticism to which it is being subjected by its own supporters. I hope that greater protection will be accorded to our Australian industries in order that the number of unemployed persons in our community may be decreased.
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to item 120.
– Surely I may be permitted to criticize the Government, as its policy has resulted in 500 people losing their employment in this industry! J cannot support the view of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) that the Government has done a good job.
– If the honorable member for Denison does not confine his remarks to the item I shall direct him to resume his seat.
– The capital invested in this industry aggregates £250,000. We are therefore discussing an enterprise which is of substantial value to the Commonwealth and is worthy of adequate protection. The Government seems to be more concerned with closing down industries than with opening them up.
– I shall not call the honorable member to order again.
– It is well known that sweating conditions prevail in this industry in certain countries overseas. Our people should not be asked to enter into competition with products manufactured by sweated labour. I appeal to the Government to review the duties applicable to this industry in order that its diminishing output may be restored and its languishing business revived. It is only by adequately protecting our secondary industries that we shall make additional employment possible. Unless this matter be referred back to the Tariff Board for further consideration, there will he danger of an Australian industry being forced out of existence.
.- Australian manufacturers of handkerchiefs are greatly concerned because during the last two years 15 per cent. of that market which they previously held has been lost because of competition from overseas. That competition comes not only from Oriental countries, but also from Great Britain. British manufacturers send to Australia piece goods from which handkerchiefs are manufactured here. A policy in conformity with ours, and one we applaud, but they are also exporting manufactured handkerchiefs. As was pointed out by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson), handkerchiefs made in Great Britain are offered for sale at a much lower price; in fact 50 per cent. below the price of Australian handkerchiefs. Consequently Australian manufacturers are being forced off this market. They, of course, maintain Australian standards in relation to wages and working hours. I should not support this request unless I thought that the industry was worth protecting. I believe that it is capable of considerable development, if given the opportunity. No reasonable objection can be taken by British manufacturers to a policy which aims only at protecting an Australian industry. I ask the Acting Minister to give sympathetic consideration to the representations that have been made to him.
– I regret that the Government cannot accede to the request of honorable members to refer this item back to the Tariff Board. That body has already given to the matter its careful consideration. Moreover, not one request for further consideration has been received by me or the department from Australian manufacturers. The value of the handkerchiefs imported into Australia during 1928-29 was £380,000. Last year handkerchiefs to the value of only £153,000 were imported.
– Prices have fallen in the meantime.
– Evidence submitted to the Tariff Board showed that Australian manufacturers enjoy about 60 per cent. of the Australian market. Even if the duty on imported handkerchiefs were increased they would not gain the remaining 40 per cent. which represents mainly a class of goods not made in Australia. The increase of importations from Great Britain during recent years is due largely to the greater prosperity which now prevails, permitting people to buy goods of better quality than formerly.
– I wish to correct the mistaken impression on the part of the Acting Minister concerning representations by representatives of manufacturing firms affected by this item. As an argument against acceding to the request of honorable members the honorable gentleman said that representatives of the manufacturing firms concerned had not made any direct approach to him, or to the department. I suggest that the reason is that they are not well versed in such practices, and have been diffident about approaching the Minister. In contrast to their inaction in this connexion is the great activity of the representatives of some manufacturing firms who, at times, have been severely criticized by Ministers for indulging in lobby ing.I should not like to think that justice would be denied to a manufacturer merely because he refrained from lobbying. Rather should the diffidence which the representatives of these firms have shown about approaching the department entitle them to a greater measure of sympathetic consideration than has been given to them. 1 regret that the Minister has used against them the fact that they have not harassed or embarrassed him, or the officers of his department. I again appeal to him to accede to the request that this matter be referred back to the Tariff Board for further consideration.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– I do not think that the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Perkins) has given the claims on behalf of the handkerchief industry as much attention as they merit. It is an industry which we should foster, particularly when we are still trying to solve the problem of unemployed youth. The industry has been struggling for a number of years in Victoria, and to a larger extent in New South Wales, but it has improved the quality of its product and now Australianmade handkerchiefs are as popular as those made abroad. The duty on imported handkerchiefs was reduced in 1932 and the only reason for the reduction that suggests itself to my mind is that this small craft industry, like other small industries, was punished because it proved its efficiency. The reduction of the duty was a setback to the local industry. The competition of imported handkerchiefs became so keen that it lost ground, British manufacturers gaining the larger share of the market. Then, with the adjustment of the exchange, the overseas manufacturers secured further advantage. Later the Australian manufacturers were compelled to use Japanese raw material because of the higher price of British raw material and the situation was saved temporarily. I am sure that no one desires to see an increase of the amount of raw material imported from Japan as against cotton piece goods manufactured in Great Britain, but at this time all manufacturers were forced to buy in the Japanese market. I am aware that many British manufacturers of the finished article, such as serviettes and handkerchiefs, also sell the raw material for those articles. Thus the British manufacturers obtained a double advantage; they obtained the Australian market for the sale of their raw material and a further advantage when the duty on imported handkerchiefs was reduced. All these factors contributed to the serious undermining of the Australian industry. Surely the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs should agree that we ought to be able to manufacture all the handkerchiefs that Australia requires. Australian manufacturers now buy all the raw material from Great Britain, and it would be a fair compromise if greater protection were given to the Australian industry. It is one which could provide light employment for women who do not desire to enter domestic service. When large numbers of young girls are brought from Great Britain and complaints arc made regarding the introduction of such migrants the explanation usually given is that these young women are to enter domestic service in which there is a large demand for labour, but a number of them eventually drift into factory occupations. Some of these young women who come from Ireland and parts of England will have had experience in the linen industries, and they might be absorbed in the handkerchief industry if it were given sufficient protection to make it a thoroughly Australian industry. Although not a large industry it employs indirectly a good deal of labour. Protection has been given to local manufacturers of cardboard and craft paper and they have captured the Australian market. Manufacturers of fancy boxes and cartons in which handkerchiefs are packed for sale have also received protection. The decorative paper which is used on the cartons and boxes is prepared in Australia. Honorable members are aware that it has become the custom at Christmas and on other occasions such as birthdays to make gifts of handkerchiefs sold in fancy packets; these packets are the product of Australian labour. We have been successful in changing the habit of using Japanese raw material in the manufacture of handkerchiefs, and I think the honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett) was largely responsible for this when he was Minister for Trade and Customs, but a large number of the handkerchiefs from Great Britain were made and may still be made out of Japanese material. It is a wellknown fact that when this Parliament was dealing with the problem of the importation of Japanese raw material, British manufacturers were purchasing it. All sorts of roundabout methods were employed to continue the importation into Australia of J apanese laces and other goods. The trade has now been diverted to Great, Britain, and that country receives a double benefit because of the higher price received for the raw material and the reduction of our tariff duty on imported handkerchiefs.I move -
That paragraph (1) of sub-item (b) be postponed.
If this amendment is carried it will be an indication to the Government -
That the committee desires this sub-item relating to cotton or linen handkerchiefs to be referred back to the Tariff Board for inquiry with the object of an increase of duty.
.- I supportthe request submitted to the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Perkins) to reconsider the view that he has already expressed. Article 19 of the Ottawa Agreement reads -
His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia undertake that during the currency of this agreement the tariff shall be based on the principle that protective duties shall not exceed such a level as will give United Kingdom producers full opportunity of reasonable competition on the basis of the relative cost of economical and efficient production, provided that in the application of such principle special consideration may be given to the case of industries not fully established.
There has been no reasonable competition for Australia when the increased business from the United Kingdom has been so substantial, the imports of handkerchiefs from the United Kingdom having increased from 527,408 dozen in 1932-33 to 882,768 dozen in 1936-37. In addition, the British manufacturer has had a full market in Australia for the raw material from which handkerchiefs are made. Therefore Australia is not getting a reasonable chance in this contest.
According to the Ottawa Agreement, reasonable competition is to rest on the basis of economical and efficient production, into which consideration surely should enter the respective costs of production in Great Britain and Australia. In evidence given before the Tariff Board on the question of wages, it was stated that the wages paid in the United Kingdom are not under regulation, and that those employed in the industry work long hours at low rates of wage3, whereas Arbitration Court awards apply in Australia, and employers are required to comply with government regulations relating to industry. The Acting Minister for Trade and Customs said that he was not inclined to accede to the request of honorable members who have urged that the sub-item should be referred back to the Tariff Board because he has not received any written application for such action from the industry. I think that all honorable members have received definite indications from the industry that it desires that course to be followed. Indeed, a very strong case has been made out in support of it. I am sure that if the Acting Minister acceded to the request for the postponement of the sub-item, he would receive representations from the twelve firms which manufacture handkerchiefs. The industry is employing 500 persons, and it has been of valuable assistance in providing employment for young people. It is a highly efficient industry, producing goods at a reasonable cost, and I appeal to the Acting Minister to refrain from taking any action that would have the effect of giving it a set-back. The honorable gentleman has always been an ardent protectionist, and I hope that now he is acting for the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. “White) he will give effect to the principles which he enunciated when he was a private member.
– I wish to support the recommendation of the Tariff Board on this sub-item. No good reason has been advanced for a departure from the board’s recommendation. I was much impressed by the statement of the Acting Minister (Mr. Perkins) that the first protest that has come from the industry is that heard in the present discussion. I have been associated with customs matters a good deal in recent years, and any suggestion of an unfair recommendation by the Tariff Board has invariably led to loud protests to the department. I am informed that not a single local manufacturer has made any protest whatever to the department against the recommendation of the board in this instance. If that is so - and I am assured by the Acting Minister that it. is - surely the industry will be quite safe if the committee adopts the rates against which the manufacturers themselves have offered no kind of protest.
– That is not so.
– Then the protest ought to have been made to the department or to the Minister. In the absence of any formal or official protest, either the committee should adopt the board’s recommendation, or the board should be abolished.
.- 1 cannot endorse the view expressed by the honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett), that repeated representations should have been made to the department, failing which the committee should assume that there is no real discontent in the hand ker chief -making industry. As a matter of fact, one of the representatives of the industry communicated with me on this matter, and, when I asked him what he had done about it, he said he was of the opinion, from information received by him, that it was futile to approach the department, because once the Tariff Board had made its recommendation there was an end to the matter. He stated that he had been informed that, under the Ottawa Agreement, there could be no increase of the British preferential rate recommended by the Tariff Board. It has been said that some good might be done by referring the matter again to the board, and I hope that, if such action is taken, the conditions in the industry will be ameliorated, because, on evidence presented to me, I am convinced that it is entitled to increased protection. I am of the opinion, however, that it would be a waste of time to refer the matter again to the board, because, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) pointed out on a former occasion, it would be an appeal from Caesar to Caesar. Provided the circumstances in the interval had not changed, it would be foolish to expect the board to do other than endorse its own recommendation, because any alteration would be tantamount to an admission that the board had not made a thorough inquiry in the first place.
. -Some honorable members have raised the question as to whether the Tariff Board has given this matter fair consideration. They seem to imagine that the board has been influenced unduly by the policy of the Government, or by the Ottawa Agreement; but I can assure honorable members that the board is perfectly free to judge each case on its merits, and to make recommendations accordingly. Having read the board’s report, I consider that the board gave fair consideration to the matter on the evidence submitted to it. Officers of the department have calculated that the total protection received by the local industry is equivalent to a 32 per cent. duty. Even if the duties were trebled, I do not believe that all cotton or linen handkerchiefs used in Australia would be of local manufacture. The manufacturers know that they must approach the department if they want their claims to be considered, but no protest has been made. I cannot, accept the amendment submitted; but, if a prima facie case can be presented to the department by the manufacturers, I am prepared to refer the matter back to the Tariff Board. At the present time, there are no facts or figures before the committee to justify such action.
Question put -
That paragraph (1) of sub-item (b) be postponed.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Items 121, 130, 131 and 133 agreed to.
Division VI. - Metals and Machinery.
By adding the following to sub-item (d) : - “ Provided further that the rate of duty payable on iron and steel plate and sheet dutiable under this sub-item and entered for home consumption on and after8th September, 1937, and on or before 31st August, 1938, shall be - ad valorem, British,10 per cent.; intermediate, 15 per cent.: general, 27 per cent.
And per ton - intermediate, 20s.; general, 20s.
With maximum of per ton - British, 28s.
.- I move-
That the proviso be amended by omitting “31st August. 1938” and inserting in place thereof “ 28th February, 1939 “.
The effect of the amendment is to extend the date of operation of the proposed temporary reduction of duty to cover goods entered for home consumption between the 1st September, 1938, and the 28th February, 1939. la. other words, the amendment seeks to extend the operation of the temporary reduction of duty for a further period of six months. The demand upon Australian mills for steel is still particularly heavy and the local manufacturer!! art finding it difficult to supply requirements within a reasonable time from the date of placing of orders. It will still -be necessary, for some months at least, for the Australian output to be supplemented by imports, and the amendment now will allow these necessary imports to be admitted at the If i wor rates of duty now operating.
Amendment agreed to.’
Item, a3 amended, agreed to.
Item 147 (Iron and steel plates and sheets).
.- Tn this item there is a. heavy deferred duty of £3 16s a ton in the British preferential column to become operative on and after the 1st January, 1939. As tinned plate is not yet being manufactured in Australia, there is a possibility that the deferred duty will become operative long before Australian manufacturers are in a position to commence operations. I am not aware even that steps are being taken to establish the industry here, and it would be impossible to erect a factory and install the necessary plant by the end of the year. I. therefore, ask the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Perkins) to amend the item so as to prevent the deferred duty from being operative until the industry has been started.
– It is hoped that the industry will he established in Australia at an early date. How long it will take to commence the manufacture of tinned plate, I am not in a position to say; but there is every reason to believe that it will not be long.
– I impress on the committee the fact that this heavy deferred duty will become operative on the 1st January next unless we provide in this item for an extension of the time to a later date, thus ensuring that users of tinned plates, who are largely primary producers and canners, will not be penalized at- a time when supplies are not obtainable from the local manufacturers. I hope that when the industry is established in Australia, tinned plate will be manufactured as cheaply here as in any other country.
Item agreed to.
Items 152, 153, 161, 173 and 174 agreed to.
Item 176 (Laundry machines and appliances).
Mr. PERKINS (Eden-Monaro- Acting Minister for Trade and Customs) s.3S . - In regard to one particular section of the laundry machinery industry, inquiries recently made indicate that the circumstances have changed somewhat since the dale of the Tariff Board’s hearing. I refer to laundry washing machines covered by proposed item 176 (e) (3). Honorable members will have noted that the proposed duties provide full tariff protection on imported washing machines of a value for duty not exceeding £400. The duties are then reduced on a sliding scale as the machines become more expensive and their value, for duty purposes, increases above £400. The object of the sliding scale of duties is to remove the burden of the duties from the. larger a.nd more expensive washing machines which are outside the local manufacturers’ range of production. When these duties were recommended by the Tariff Board, they accorded full protection to the local industry over its whole range of production, and also provided a margin for expansion of that, range of production. Inquiries recently made indicate that a demand exists for larger and more expensive washing machines which the Australian industry is now producing. In addition, wage and material costs have increased considerably since the board’s hearing, with the result that the selling price of the larger Australian washing machines has also been increased. These developments indicate prima facie that the range of washing machines in respect of which full tariff protection is being accorded might reasonably be extended. I have accordingly taken steps to refer to the Tariff Board for further inquiry and report the question of the duties on these larger washing machines. I would point out, however, that this action is being taken, not because of faulty conclusions by the Tariff Board, but solely because of changed circumstances since the board’s inquiry.
.- I am pleased that the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Perkins) has decided to refer the sub-item back to the Tariff Board for further investigation and report, because it relates to a complex industry, and I. could not expect the Minister offhand to say whether or not the duties on the larger types of washing machines shouldbe increased, but the Australian manufacturers have made out a very convincing case. The Australian industry has specialized for over 30 years in the manufacture of laundry equipment of various kinds, and deserves further encouragement. It gives employment in one factory to approximately 70 persons and in another factory to about 30. The reduction of duty on the larger machines is a severe handicap, but what is more serious from the local manufacturers’ point of view is the sliding scale of gradually disappearing duties. When the f.o.b. price of certain categories of machines reaches a certain figure, the duty is wiped out altogether. The effect of the sliding scale will be to prevent the development of the Australian industry in connexion with the manufacture of the larger types of machines, and to that extent the tariff will be retrogressive. I am not in a position to say whether Australian machines are as efficient as imported machines. I have been told that they are, but people holding the contrary view have circularized honorable members with literature, declaring that they are not so efficient. Since the Tariff Board made its last investigation one Australian manufacturer, Mr. McKenzie, has inspected many of the leading manufacturing establishments of laundry plant in the United States of America. He states that the trend is towards the larger machines. When he was in Auckland, on his return to Australia, he was consulted with regard to the installation of a laundry plant for the city general hospital, and states that the authorities there confirmed him in the belief that the modern trend was towards the larger types of machines. In view ofthe complexity of the sub-item, I approve the action of the Acting Minister in referring it back to the board for further investigation.
.- What will be the position if sub-item e is referred back to the board ? I understand that ten of these machines are on the water for delivery in Australia. What is the position in regard to those machines, and any others that may be imported between now and the date of presentation of the Tariff Board’s report? Will they or will they not be subject to the duty?Representatives of the laundry industry have assured me that no machine of this type is built in Australia and that, to the best of their knowledge, none is likely to be produced locally in the near future. This industry has made very considerable strides in the last decade. It is prepared to admit that its costs are not solow as it feels they should be in order to bring the machines within the reach of a number of people who would like to take advantage of this aid to laundry work; but unless machines of the units referred to can be obtained, it is impossible to reduce costs. This matter should not lightly be referred back to the Tariff Board. A very careful inquiry has already been made into it. I believe it to be the opinion of honorable members of all parties that when the Tariff Board has made a report in respect of an industry, its advice ought to be followed, except in very definitely exceptional circumstances. I do not think that any fairminded person wishes the Tariff Board to be used as a sort of two-headed penny - if it reports as desired, its recommendation will be accepted, but otherwise a protest will be raised in Parliament and a further inquiry sought. I consider that the item ought to be passed by the committee; and I should like the Minister to explain fully the position of the industry in regard to orders already placed and those that may be placed between now and thetime when the Tariff Board will have an opportunity to reconsider the matter.
– The position in the cases mentioned by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn) will be unchanged. I ask honorable members to accept the duties now proposed, pending an investigation by the Tariff Board. The larger washing machines to which I have already referred, represent less than 3 per cent. of the production of washing machines by Australian manufacturers, and taken over the whole output of laundry machinery of all types, the proportion is even less.No appreciable harm could, therefore, be caused to the industry by the acceptance of the duties now proposed.
.- I offer my congratulations to the Acting Minister, on behalf of a number of honorable members on this side of the chamber who have been regularly in contact with him discussing the problems of this industry and urging that he should take the course that he has now indicated he will take. We appreciate the stand that he has taken in this matter, and extend our thanks.
Item agreed to.
Items 178 and 179 agreed to.
By omitting the whole of paragraph (4) of sub-item (e) and inserting in its stead the following paragraph: - “ (4) Resistors, fixed, each - British,3/4d.; intermediate,1d.; general,11/8d. ; or ad val - British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 50 per cent.; general, 57½ per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
And in respect of paragraph (4) - For each £1 by which the equivalent in Australian currency of £100 sterling is less than £125 at the date of exportation - an additional duty of, each - British, .01d.; intermediate, .01d.; general, .01d.; or ad val - British . 6 per cent.; intermediate, .6 per cent.; general, .6 per cent, whichever is applicable.”
– I move -
That item 180 be amended: by omitting the whole of paragraph (4) of sub-item (e) and inserting in its stead the following paragraph: - “ (4) Resistors, fixed, each - British,3/4d.; intermediate,1d.; general,11/8d. And in respect of paragraph (4) - For each £1 by which the equivalent in Australian currency of £100 sterling is less than £125 at the date of exportation - an additional duty of each - British, .01d.; intermediate, .01d.; general, .01d.”
The purpose of the amendment is to delete the alternative ad valorem duties from the proposed sub-item. In the existing sub-item, these alternative ad valorem duties are provided for immediately after paragraph 8 of the sub-item. There is accordingly no need for their repetition in paragraph 4 of the sub-item. The amendment is solely for the purpose of avoiding duplication, and does not in any way affect the rates of duty proposed.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Items 181, 185, 203. 204, 206, 208 and 209 agreed to.
By omitting the whole itemandinserting in its stead the following item: - “210. Metal pins (not being partly or wholly of gold or silver or gold or silver plated), viz.: - solid-headed short toilet, plain safety, hair; hooks and eyes for apparel; crochet hooks of steel or bone -
British, free: intermediate.15 per cent.; general, 15 per cent.”
– I move -
That item 210 be amended by adding the following: - “And on and after 20th May,1938- 210. Metal pins (not being partly or wholly of gold or silver or gold or silver plated), viz.: - solid-headed short toilet,, plain safety, hair; hooks and eyes for apparel; crochet hooks of metal or bone -
When in fancy boxes, ad val. -
British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 42½ per cent. ; general, 42½ per cent.
The purpose ofthe amendment is to bring all crochet hooks made from metal within the scope of the proposed item. At present the proposed item covers crochet hooks of steel or bone. It was intended by the Tariff Board that item 210 should embrace metal crochet hooks of all types, and the amendment gives effect to that intention. It has been ascertained that metal crochet hooks other than of steel have been imported. The only alteration is the substitution of the word “ metal “ for the word “ steel “ in relation to crochet hooks.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 216 agreed to.
Division VII. - Oils, Paints, and Varnishes.
Items 224, 226a, 231 and 232 agreed to.
Division VIII. - Earthenware, Cement, China, Glass, and Stone.
Items 234, 237 and 240 agreed to.
Item 241, sub-items (a) and (b) agreed to.
And in respect of sub-item (c) - For each £1 by which the equivalent in Australian currency of £100 sterling is less than £125 at the date of exportation - an additional duty of, ad val. - British, . 8 per cent.; intermediate, . 8 per cent.; general, . 8 per cent.
– I invite the committee to negative the rate of duty provided in relation to earthenware, on the ground that it is inadequate. The old rate would then automatically apply.
The pottery industry is of very great importance to Australia; it is a national industry, 98 per cent. of the raw materials used by it being of Australian origin. It is not confined to any one State or to half a dozen factories. As a matter of fact, there are 67 pottery factories in Australia to-day, employing approximately 2,200 persons, the wages and salaries of whom amount to £373,000 per annum. The value of the tiles, pipe and pottery used annually is £1,344,430. About two-thirds of the total requirements are supplied in Australia, particularly in New South Wales, but there are factories also in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. It is important to note that the ratio of wages and salaries to production is one of the highest in Australian manufacturing operations, namely, over 70 per cent., indicating an undoubted claim to protection by means of the most effective tariff. In relation to sales, the industry is an exceptionally large employer of labour, the wages paid by it representing approximately 50 per cent. of the value of its production. Extensive indirect employment is provided to coal and clay miners, carriers, case makers, &c. The industry is entirely dependent on the activity of the building trade. Consequently it was at a standstill during the depression. All sections of the industry are inter-dependent, and any tariff action which proved detrimental to this section of it would have serious repercussions throughout the industry as a whole. During the regime of the Scullin Government, a prohibition was imposed against imports of these articles. At that time, there was an adverse trade balance, and it was necessary to adopt drastic measures to curtail a flood of imports, to pay for which Australia did not have the necessary credit in London. This is one of the industries which had to meet a greatly increased demand, and it rose to the occasion. The Australian manufacturers satisfactorily met the whole of the requirements of the Australian trade during the period of the depression, and they could do so again now. Since the depression, reductions of the tariff have resulted in exceptional increases of imports of British origin, and consequently British manufacturers today are obtaining most of the benefit of the revival of the building trade. British manufacturers are in a position to flood the Australian market with imports, because of their lower production costs. They also enjoy the advantage derived from the fact that England is supplying a world market, whereas Australia must share with England and other countries the limited Australian market. The Australian manufacturers, after a century of production, are surely entitled to the whole of the Australian market. The largest pottery firm was established in Sydney in 1837, and to-day this firm employs 400 persons. Those who are opposed to protection for Australian industries sometimes claim that, under the shelter of protection, some firms are making exorbitant profits. That does not apply to this industry, however. Profits of Australian manufacturers of pottery have always been low. The highest profit shown by R. Fowler Limited, a representative Australian firm, since its inception, was in 1924. when£23,269 was earned on a capital of £290,000. Ordinary dividends could not be paid even in the boom years of1 928 and 1929, owing to greatly increased costs, and to the low selling prices imposed on the industry by the action of the Tariff Board. During the depression, losses totalling over £40,000 were made, and, in 1934. it was necessary to write off £100,000 of capital. During the tariff debates in 1936, reference was made to the unsatisfactory condition which required that the Tariff Board review its own decision, which had not been acceptable to Parliament. I said in Parliament at the time that it was not likely that the board would reverse its previous decision; that it was a case of appealing from Caesar to Caesar.
– Since then some of the firms have closed down.
– That is so.
– The review was a waste of public time and money.
– I believe the honorable member is right. Despite the presentation of a much stronger case, in which the Australian manufacturers clearly demonstrated their inability to meet British competition on the lower duties, the Tariff Board refused to reverse its previous decision. That is why I believe that the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Perkins) should allow the old rate of duty to continue, and should have the matter thoroughly investigated by the ablest officers of his department. Further increases of costs have occurred since the Tariff Board’s last inquiry, and these have had the effect of nullifying the conclusions stated by theboard in its report. Even had the board treated the industry justly, the position is altogether different now after a lapse of nearly two years. During the intervening period, the basic wage in New South Wales has increased from £3 9s. a week to £319s. a week. In Queensland, an increase of 7s. a week was granted, and in Victoria a rise equivalent to10s. 6d. a week, anda reduction of working hours from 48 to 44 a week, have taken place. Increased wages have been reflected in increased costs of raw material, with the result that the costs of manufacturers in New South Wales have increased by more than 10 per cent., while in Victoria costs have increased to an even greater degree. The Tariff Board says that the Australian industry should reduce prices, but how can it do so in the face of these increasing costs when English imports are pouring into the country, and filching the only market open to the Australian manufacturers? When the marketis restricted, overhead costs increase. If the Australian manufacturers were given a wider market, they would be able to reduce overhead costs, and could sell their commodity at a lower price. Since 1930, the surplus of profits over losses of the firm of R. Fowler Limited represents only 2.5 per cent. on the capital, and yet the Tariff Board says that prices should be reduced.
Now let use consider the financial position of a representative British company, which figures prominently in the Australian trade. From the Stock Exchange official year book, 1937, the following information has been extracted about Twyford Limited, England. This company paid handsome dividends even during the depression, the lowest rate being ‘7 per cent, in 1932-33. In 1927-28, when B. Fowler Limited suspended the payment of ordinary dividends, Twyford Limited paid a dividend of 15 per cent, and made a bonus issue of 50 per cent, which was capitalized. For the year 1934-35, they paid a dividend of 10 per cent, and made a bonus distribution of 2$ per cent., and yet they are claiming, under the Ottawa Agreement, that Australian duties should be reduced to 15 per cent, whereas in their own country, England, they are .protected by a duty of 30 per cent.
It is interesting to. note the serious encroachments made by overseas manufacturers, principally British, on the Australian market. For the twelve months ended the 30th June, 1937, the period immediately preceding the reduction of duties, the total value of imports under this head into Australia was £40,820, or £3,402 a month. For the six months ended the 31st December, 1937, after the reduction of duties, imports totalled £27,221, or £4,537 a month, an increase of 33.36 per cent. As imports have a selling value in Australia of approximately twice the statistical figure, it will be seen that goods to the value of over £108,000 are being imported each year, whereas we have in Australia the men and materials for their production.
Another surprising feature of the Tariff Board’s report is that it recommends that the general tariff rate on this item should be, under existing exchange conditions, 40 per cent, whereas it was formerly 60 per cent. This is all the more surprising because imports from Japan have only recently appeared on the Australian market, and Australian manufacturers have given evidence of the inadequacy of the existing tariff to afford protection. No evidence was given on behalf of any manufacturers other than British, and yet the Tariff Board recommended this reduction, thus further encouraging imports from Japan.
I also draw attention to the regulations requiring the branding of thi3 ware in Australia. Although a certain amount of opposition was offered to the introduction of these regulations by the British manufacturers, they are now asking for similar regulations to be applied to imports into their own country. The brand on goods coming into Australia is frequently applied in such a place, and in such a way, that it is almost impossible for the user to see where the goods are manufactured.
To summarize, lot me point out that this industry employs in Australia over 2,Q00 persons, and 98 per cent, of the raw materials are produced in Australia. There is no doubt of the quality of the product, and it must be borne in mind that wages have increased, in some instances by as much as 10s. 6d. a week, since the Tariff Board recommended a reduction of duties. An unanswerable case can be made out for allowing the old duty to apply.
.- I support the proposal that this sub-item providing reduced duties on sanitary earthenware be deleted, and I do so because I believe that an important natural Australian industry is being jeopardized by the present inadequate protection. Unlimited supplies of raw material are available in Australia. In fact, over 9S per cent, of the raw material used in the industry is of Australian origin. The industry has been operating in Australia for over 100 years, aud at present provides employment for 2,200 men. No less than £2.000,000 of capital has been invested in plant and machinery, and wages amounting to £375,000 are paid away each year, while the annual value of the output is £1,000,000. The main bone of contention, so far as I can discover from an examination of the Tariff Board’s report, is that the industry ha& not submitted to the hoard a statement of costs. The bulk of the outlay in connexion with the industry is represented by wages. Giving evidence before the Tariff Board, Mr. Campbell, general manager of E. Fowler Limited, stated -
I have previously stated l«-fore the board that the majority of our costs, of manufacture are beyond our control. Being mainly a handicraft industry, wages represent by far the largest proportion of costs, and as the rate of wages payable is fixed by State tribunals, it will be seen that the major portion of production costs are beyond the control of the management.
The duties which operated from the 1st April, 1936, to the 25th June, 1937, were as follows : -
Item 241. Earthenware, viz: -
Sanitary and lavatory articles of earthenware including glazed or enamelled fireclay manufactures -
) The value for duty of which does not exceed 20s. per article - ad valorem. *35 per cent. British,60 per cent. general.
The value for duty of which exceeds 20s. per article - ad valorem, *25 per cent. British, 50 per cent. general.
- Subject to exchange adjustment.
The duties applied for by the industry were as follows : -
W.C. pans, British,6s. nett; intermediate, 12s. ; general, 12s; cisterns, British,6s. nett; intermediate, 12s.; general 12s.; lavatory basins up to 24 inches in length, British. 4s.6d.; intermediate12s.; general 12s.; or ad valorem, British 35 per cent. nett; intermediate 60 per cent.; general60 per cent.: (whichever rate returns the higher duty).
All other lines of sanitary ware, British, 35 per cent. net; general,60 per cent.
The Tariff Board recommended a duty of 15 per cent. nett British preferential and 40 per cent. general, and these duties were brought into operation by the Government. It is extraordinary to me that although the British manufacturers of these articles expect the Australian manufacturers to maintain operations on the basis of a 15 per cent. British preferential duty, they themselves enjoy, in their own market, a protective duty of 30 per cent.
– And they are seeking additional protection.
– This is a deserving Australian industry, but it provides the most glaring example in the tariff history of this country of the instability of tariff protection. The protective duty on these goods was first filched in 1933, when the British preferential rate was reduced by one-quarter. In December. 1934, the British preferential rate was still further reduced from 35 per cent. to 15 per cent. In 1936, after a full discussion of the subject in this chamber, the reduced rate of duty was rejected and the duties which had operated since 1934 were restored.
Subsequently the industry was again brought under review by the Tariff Board, and in June,1937, the board’s recommendation that the reduced rate of duty should once more be applied, was made effective. This is the first opportunity that Parliament has had to review that recommendation. It is deplorable, in my opinion, that four serious changes should have been made in the last four years in the protective duties on the goods covered by this item.
One of the principal criticisms in the Tariff Board report on this industry is that -
No attempt is made by the Australian manufacturers to relate their selling prices to the cost of production.
Yet the board itself reported as follows in relation to costing and the existing practice in the pottery industry in the United Kingdom: -
In this inquiry it has proved more than usually difficult to arrive at significant comparisons between the actual costs of production per article of Australian and United Kingdom manufacture. The Australian customs official who conducted the investigation in the English factories stated -
It is necessary to point out, however, that there does not appear to be any regular system of costing in force in the sanitary earthenware industry. Neither of the two manufacturers specifically under notice has any costing system in operation.Mr. Bullock, Chairman of the Sanitary Earthenware Manufacturers’ Association of the United Kingdom, him self a professional accountant, states that it has been found impossible to establish costing systems in the trade. So many articles of various kinds are treated simultaneously, particularly in the baking and glazing processes, and the processes involved are so numerous that the recording of a cost for each article is not practicable. While total costs of production are of course available, individual costs are simply estimates by the manufacturers concerned, based on their extensive experience and knowledge of the various operations of manufacture.
This statement accurately describes the state of affairs in Australian factories. The processes in both countries are similar, and the board has therefore sought an explanation ofthe discrepancies in selling prices from an examination of the relation between the costs of wages, coal, raw materials, and overhead items in the two countries. Total costs of wages, coal, and raw materials are referred to as” prime cost “ in this report.
– The Australian manufacturers say that it is possible to apply a costing system.
– The extract from the report of the Tariff Board which I have just read is a complete answer to the honorable member’s interjection.
In my opinion it is grossly unfair and improper of the Tariff Board to ask the Australian pottery manufacturers to apply a costing system when it indicated in its own report that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to apply a costing system to the industry owing to the multiplicity of processes through which the numerous articles involved have to pass.
Another reason why this industry should be granted increased protection, is that since the Tariff Board issued its report, the Victorian factories have been called upon to face a serious variation of award conditions, for the hours of employment in the industry have been reduced from 48 to 44 a week. The new conditions have actually been in operation since the 28th April of this year. Moreover, the wage for adult males in the factories of New South Wales has been increased from £41s. to £412s. 3d. a week. Similar increases of wages have become effective in Victoria. Substantial wage increases have also been granted in Queensland since the board made its report. Another factor which is adding to the difficulties of the situation is that the cost of coal has been increased by 15 percent. at the pithead. All these circumstances have contributed to the serious position in which the industry finds itself to-day.
One of the most alarming elements in the whole situation is that importations of sanitary ware have increased since 1932-33 by nearly800 per cent. Taking the duty operative in 1932-33 as giving an index number of 100, the situation created by the several variations of duty gives the following index numbers -
This isan enormous increase.
– Does the honorable member suggest that every increase of wages or decrease of the hours of labour should be followed by an increase of duties?
– When imports of a particular line of goods increase by 800 per cent., with the result that local factories are closing down, the Government should seriously consider the granting of increased protection to the industry. I feel sorry for the industry, and sorry for the Government which could allow such a situation to continue without any attempt to remedy it.
– The Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) admitted in 1931 that he was an ardent freetrader.
– I am not an ardent freetrader. I am an ardent protectionist, believing in adequate protection for both our primary and secondary industries. I favour adequate protection for our industries. Another significant fact that should not be overlooked, is that although building permits increased by nearly four-fold in the period between 1 932-33 and March 1938, the sales of Australian sanitary ware did not increase in anything like the same ratio. Again, taking 100 as the index figure for 1932-33 the index figure for the period July, 1937, to March, 1938, is only 193.83. This remarkable discrepancy should be remedied without delay. Interstate sales in the same period have been on an unsatisfactory basis. Taking the index figure for 1932-33 as 100, the figure for the period July, 1937, to March, 1938, is only 138.36. This is a totally unsatisfactory state of affairs, which, I should think, would stun the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron).
– What protection is the honorable member asking for the industry ?
– I am asking for a British preferential rate of 35 per cent. to replace the existing rate of 15 per cent.
– The real extent of the protection at present, taking into account exchange and primage, is 85 per cent.
– Utter nonsense. Unfortunately, the Tariff Board seems to have adopted a stubborn attitude towards this industry. It will not face the facts, because the Australian manufacturers find that they are not in a position to submit costs in respect of specific items. As the British manufacturers are not able to adopt a costing system for individual articles, it seems to me to be quite unreasonable to expect the Australian manufacturers to do so. The method of manufacturing these goods makes it impossible- to apply a definite costing . system for each article. Hundreds of different articles go into the kiln together, the smaller items filling up the space between the larger ones. Several treatments are necessary in respect of each article, and the process differs in each case. In such circumstances it is obviously impracticable to allocate costs to each article. All that the manufacturers can do is to apply a genera] cost to the whole operation. In my opinion, a British preferential rate of 35 per cent, is essential to enable this efficiently conducted Australian industry to maintain its operations. Is it not deplorable that an industry which has been established in this country for more than 100 years should, to-day, be obliged to fight for its very existence? This is a natural industry to Australia. The whole of the raw material required is obtainable within the country. I cannot understand why the Government should hesitate to provide adequate protection.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) has moved to delete this item from the schedule, with the object of bringing the previous duty into operation. I had proposed to move a similar amendment. I shall support the amendment in the interests of the industry, and of the welfare of the employees, and I ask honorable members generally to adopt that attitude.
.- The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), although advocating a higher duty on the sanitary ware items now under consideration, actually gave reasons why a lower, rather than a higher, duty should be applied. He pointed out, in the first place, that all the raw material required by this industry i”? obtainable in <b’s country. He then said that the industry had been established here for more than 100 years. Surely these two facts alone are sufficient to justify honorable members adopting the attitude that a low duty should be sufficient to enable the industry to maintain its operations. If an industry cannot establish itself on a firm basis in 100 years, there must be something wrong somewhere. The honorable member, and also the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde), said that since the Tariff Board had reported on the industry, increased wages and reduced working hours had been, granted to the employees. The Tariff Board took that point into consideration and specifically mentioned it on page 8 of its latest report. When the Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred lo the difference between the duty of 3’) per cent, ruling in Great Britain and the duty of 15 per cent, which it is proposed to impose against Great Britain, he did r.ot say that the natural protection on earthenware goods represented by ocean freight, marine insurance, packing costs and exchange is about 70 per cent. The actual figure it about 72 per cent., but in order to be on the conservative side, the Tariff Board set it. down at 70 per cent. In competition with other European countries the British industry would not have the advantage of such a big natural protection, whereas Australia, being separated from other manufacturing countries by long distances, enjoys a heavy natural protection. Moreover, the 13 per cent, duty which it is proposed to impose against these goods is really equivalent to 16½ per cent., because of the method by which it is imposed. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) who was previously a member of the Government will be aware that 10 per cent, is added to the invoice co=t before the duty is calculated. Adding 10 per cent, of the 15 per cent, to the duty, we get an actual duty of 16i per cent, on the invoiced price. Similarly, the 5 per cent, primage really gives 5A per cent, protection. That is tn say. the protection is. 70 per cent., plus 16A per cent.., plus 5-) peT cent., a total of 92 per cent. If that is not sufficient, I do not know what more is wanted. Refer ence was made to wage costs. To that matter also the Tariff Board gave attention, for on page 8 of its report it stated -
Since the close of the inquiry the rate” of wages in the industry in Victoria have been increased. It is therefore impossible to fix on any exact ratio of wages in the two countries, but even after accepting the figure most favorable to the Australian manufacturers’ case, no higher ratio than £100 (sterling) to £140 (Australian) can be fixed. This the Board adopts for the purpose of future discussion.
That means that if the currencies are brought to the one basis the disparity in wages between Great Britain and Australia is as £125 is to £140. The Tariff Board deals not only with wages costs but also with the costs of coal and other materials, and it finds that the total cost difference is as £100 sterling in Britain is to £152 in Australian currency. In order to throw a little weight on the Australian side the board took £160 instead of £152. For the purpose of the inquiry it regarded £A.160 as the cost of producing in Australia articles which in Groat Britain would be sold f.o.b. for £100 sterling.
– The board’s report is a year old. Sinceit was prepared, wages have been increased. In Queensland the increase is 7s. a week.
– The Tariff Board admits that since the closing of the report wages have increased, but, even so, the margin is still tremendous. The natural protection of 70 per cent., of itself, more than compensates for the difference between £100 and £160, even if no duty were imposed. But both duty and primage are added. The industry is substantially protected. I defy any one to read the Tariff Board’s report impartially without coming to the conclusion that it made a painstaking effort to treat the industry fairly, if not generously. In order to obtain accurate information the Tariff Board went to the trouble to get customs officers from Australia House to undertake inquiries as to production costs in the factories in Great Britain. Dealing with the prices charged by the United Kingdom and Australian manufacturers, the report says -
If a shipment consisting of equal numbers of pans and basins were valued at £100 storing, f.o.b. United Kingdom ports, a similar quantity of Australian goods would cost about £214 (Australian) ex factory.
The word “ cost “ does not refer to production cost, but to the price charged the consumers. That is a tremendous difference between the charges made for a commodity required in the working man’s home, especially when we take into consideration the relatively narrow margin in the actual cost of production and wages. The Tariff Board went on to say -
After deducting prime cost from the £100 sterling, the United Kingdom manufacturer receives about £40 sterling to cover all his oncost, administration, inland freight and packing, all other costs, and profit, while the Australian manufacturer receives about £A120 out of his selling prices of £A214,to cover similar charges. Thus, while the Australian prime cost (i.e., labour, coal and materials) is no more than60 per cent. higher than the United Kingdom primecost, the Australian manufacturer charges an amount three times as much to cover all other costs and profit.
That is a strong statement by the Tariff Board, which may be regarded as the umpire in these matters. It takes sworn evidence, and we can accept its views as being unbiassed. What would honorable members think of the suggestion that the manufacturers should fix the rate of wages to be paid to their employees? They would quickly reply that the Arbitration Court has been established to adjust such matters. It is just as unreasonable to suggest that manufacturers should fix the rates of duty. Just as we look to the Arbitration Court to deal out even-handed justice when making its awards, so we look to the Tariff Board to give an unbiassed and well-informed report as to the amount of protection necessary for an Australian industry to carry on effectively. In referring to the unduly high prices, the Tariff Board, on page 10 of its report, says-
The failure of Australian manufacturers to pass on these cost reductions to their customers is undoubtedly the reason for their loss of business to overseas suppliers.
Some effort must be made by this industry to recapture the trade which it lost to importers owing to the fact that it charged too much for its products. I do not think that we shouldbe called upon to provide a greater measure of protection than the Tariff Board says is fair. I shall support the Tariff Board’s recommendation.
.-I oppose the reduction that has been agreed to by the Tariff Board in respect of this item. Pottery making is one of the oldest natural industries in Australia. In addition to giving direct employment to a number of workers, it provides a great deal of indirect employment, because 98 per cent, of the materials used are produced in Australia. One of the most important features of the evidence submitted to the Tariff Board is the fact that the only opposition to the increased duties came from representatives of British manufacturers. Other local allied industries have raised no opposition whatever, although it would be only reasonable to expect that if the makers of earthenware were charging excessive prices and making exorbitant profits, the Master Builders’ Association and other organizations which use large quantities of the products of these factories, would protest. Let us consider the position which has been created since the duties Wei’n lowered. I refer particularly to the adverse effect which the increased imports have had on the local industry. The total imports into the Commonwealth for the year 1932-33 were valued at £5,439, and for the six months to 31st December, .1937, £27.221. I shall cite details supporting the statement that has been made to-night that since the Tariff Board issued its report there has been a substantial increase of wages in the industry, and consequently the cost of production is higher. The Tariff Board issued its report on the 5th April, 1937. In New South Wales there was an increase of ls. a week in wages in October, 1936, an increase of ls. 6d. a week in April, 1937, an increase of 6s. 6d. a week in October, 1937, and an increase of ls. a week in April, 1938, a total increase of 10s. a week since the Tariff Board completed its inquiry into the industry. In Queensland there was an inmasp of 7s. a week in the wage during that period, and in Victoria an increase of 10s.. 10d., taking into consideration the reduction of the working week from 48 in 44 hours. The percentage increases in the costs of the industry on account of wages since the Tariff Board completed it* hearing were 14.49 per cent, in New South Wales, 9.46 per cent, in Queensland, and 15.5 per cent, in Victoria.
– How did the honorable member work out those results?
– The reason for those percentages is that the largest proportion of the costs of the industry - 50 per cent, to 55 per cent. - is made up of wages, and any increase of wages must have a material effect on the costs. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) referred to the statement in the Tariff Board’s report setting out the findings of the Australian customs official who conducted the investigations in the English factories. He stated -
It is necessary to point out. however, that there does not appear to be any regular system of costing in force in the sanitary earthen wareindustry. Neither of the two manufacturers specifically under notice has any costing system in operation. Mr. Bullock (Chairman of the Sanitary Earthenware Manufacturers nf the United Kingdom) himself a professional accountant, states that it has been found impossible tn establish costing; systems in ths. trade.
J shall now quote from a letter ulrich .1 received from the Australian Association of British Manufacturer*, signed by Mr. S. Ferguson, the director of the association. A similar letter has been sent to nil honorable members for the purpose of correcting some serious misconceptions, which, Mr. Ferguson said, misled n number of honorable members into speaking and voting for the rejection of the Tariff Board’s recommendation in 1936. His letter states that one of the main errors made by certain members was -
Belief expressed that the Tariff Board had no information about production costs in England, whereas it actually had full details.
Yet the investigator for the Department of Trade and Customs stated that there was no costing system in operation in the industry in Great Britain. 1 shall refer now to the portion of the Tariff Board’s report, to which the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) referred, when he said that the board had censured the industry for not reducing its prices, and that if prices had been reduced it would have been able to maintain a reasonable share of the Australian market. An examination of the balance sheet of one company, which is the largest and oldest engaged in this industry in Australia, reveals that in 192S-29 it passed through a very difficult period during the depression, and, when the building industry was at its peak, had to suspend payment of a dividend on account of prices being forced down to an unprofitable level by the severity of British competition. Some years later the position was reviewed, and in 1934 when indications of recovery became apparent, the company, in order to place itself in a sound financial position, wrote-off two-fifths of its capital. The dividend paid last year, 7½ per cent., which was not a large one, was equivalent to only 4½ per cent. when the writing-off of capital is taken into consideration. This is conclusive proof that the largest company engaged in this industry is not making large profits. I have no faith in referring a matter back to the Tariff Board, when there has not been any radical alteration in the conditions affecting this industry.
– I take my stand on the same ground as the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson). The sanitary earthenware industry enjoys protection to the extent of 92 per cent. It has theprotection of a 15 per cent. ad valorem duty, the benefit of the exchange rate of 25 per cent. and the balance of the 92 per cent. is made up by transport and other charges. Even if there has been some increase of wages since the Tariff Board made its investigation,
The aggregate protection of 92 per cent. should still be sufficient. In view of that very high measure of protection, I think honorable members should show a little concern for the house-builders and home-makers of Australia. The cost of building has been raised to a crippling level against the workers. Earthenware is used in the erection of every new house, and the industry which produces it enjoys an aggregate protection of 92 per cent.; yet some honorable members are shedding tears over the unfortunate manufacturers and throwing the homemakers to the dogs. I appeal to honorable members to look on both sides of this question and to consider the position of the builders and purchasers of houses, as well as the manufacturers of earthenware. I desire to point out emphatically that now, five years after the Ottawa Agreement was entered into, we are on the eve of revising it. I claim that the agreement has been a great boon, not only to the primary producers of Aus tralia, but also to the secondary industries and the workers.
– The honorable member will not be in order if he continues to speak on that subject.
– I submit that if the amendment be agreed to, there will be a breach of article 12 of the Ottawa Agreement. I am not contending that this House cannot break article 12. This Parliament being supreme and possessing sovereign rights is not bound by the Ottawa Agreement, but if it breaks article 12 it breaks the agreement. We have kept this agreement intact, and lived up to our obligations under it for the best part of six years, but on the eve of a complete revision of it we are now asked to breach it. Such an unfortunate step in the very last hours of this great agreement would be deplorable. I appeal strongly to my friend, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), because Queensland more than any other State has gained out of the agreement. He cannot reconcile this amendment with article 12 of the agreement
– It is a matter of interpretation.
– Not at all. Article 12 states -
His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia undertake that no new protective duty shall bo imposed, and no existing duty shall be increased on United Kingdom goods, to an amount in excess of the recommendation of the tariff tribunal.
No honorable member can vote for this amendment without deliberately voting for a breach of the Ottawa Agreement.
– The Government desires the committee to adopt the recommendation of the Tariff Board, which has been brought here for the second time.I think we all remember the debate that took place in this chamber about two years ago on this most interesting subject of sanitaryware and lavatory articles. The vote went against the Government on that occasion, and the matter was referred back to the Tariff Board. I do not think any honorable member will challenge either the partiality of the board, or its competence to inquire into this or any other point submitted to it for determination. After a full investigation of the matter under consideration, the hoard has submitted a further report, in which it adheres to its previous recommendation.
– Does the Government accept every recommendation of the board?
– I am noi discussing that question. I submit that, this recommendation should be accepted, because this committee insisted on the matter being sent back to the board for further investigation. This committee voted against the Government previously, and it ought to accept the recommendation that the board has now furnished. 1 agree entirely with the attitude of the honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett) on. this matter. If this commit teo should support the attitude of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde), who, on tariff matters, is certainly a freetrader in inaccuracies at lines, ibc word of this Government could not be accepted, even when placed on a document such as the Ottawa Agreement. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) claims that there has been an increase of importations of earthenware as the result of that agreement. For what, I ask, was the agreement signed ? “Was the object not. to get a better market in the United Kingdom and other British countries for Australian products, and to provide an improved market in this country for certain products of the United Kingdom ?
– -On a point of order, I submit that the general principles of the Ottawa Agreement are not relevant to the matter under consideration by the committee.
– As the operation of the duties referred to in the sub-item subject to the Ottawa Agreement, I rule that the Assistant Minister’s remarks are in order.
– Unquestionably, the committee cannot afford to disregard its obligations under the agreement. If that contract means anything, it limits the extent to which this Parliament may increase duties without a recommendation for their increase by the Tariff Board. Such a recommendation has not been submitted in the present case. It was sought by the committee, and, after the board had re-investigated the matter, it declined to make the recommendation which certain honorable members desired.
The honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) has referred to the increase of wages in the local industry since the report of the board was signed. The facts are that the manufacturers themselves in their evidence - which 1 presume was taken on oath - said that the costs of materials, coal and labour represented only 45 per cent, of the total celling price of these commodities. The honorable member spoke of an increase of 10s. a week in wages, but to what would that amount if we worked out the proportion that wages represent of the total of 45 per cent, mentioned by the manufacturers? The honorable member spoke as though he were an oracle on this subject. I claim that the matter has not beer, cleared up by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis). There is a report from customs officials in London, who say that, after repeated investigations, it has been ascertained that no dumping has been practised by the British industry. When the department in Australia is prepared to report to the Tariff Board, or to the Parliament, that no dumping has taken place, T am prepared to accept its statement because I am confident that were there any doubt on the matter, the benefit of it would be given to the local manufacturer, and not to the British exporter.
A good deal has been said on the Opposition side lately regarding the high cost of building in Canberra. The Opposition wants more money appropriated for the purpose of accelerating the Government’s building programme in this capital, but it is pressing to-night for an increase of the cost of the materials which are put into buildings. Honorable members opposite cannot have it both ways. They cannot argue in favour of an increased building programme and lower house rents and at the same time vote for duties that must inevitably increase the cost of tha materials that go into buildings. It is unnecessary to debate this matter at great length. We ought to know our own minds a.bout it. Honorable members who vote against the Government must know, as was pointed out by the honorable member for Henty, that they willbe repudiating this Parliament’s commitments under article 12 of the Ottawa Agreement. They know that they will be putting a spoke in the wheel of certain Ministers overseas who are to negotiate a revision of the agreement, and they will make harder the path of those Ministers.
.- The Assistant Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) has endeavoured to intimidate the committee into the belief that, by retaining the sub-item as previously passed by this Parliament, we shall be violating article 12 of the Ottawa Agreement. That is not only incorrect; it is a gross mis-statement of the provisions of article 12, which was drawn in order that no then existing duties should be increased without reference to the Tariff Board. What has occurred in connexion with this matter? The duties on the goods specified in the sub-item under consideration have been approved by this Parliament, but the Government, for reasons best known to itself, has on two occasions laid a schedule on the table providing for a reduction of those rates.
– In accordance with the recommendation of the Tariff Board.
– But there is no obligation under article 12 for this Parliament to reduce any duty of which it has already approved.
– Then article 12 is meaningless.
– No. If the Minister laid on the table a schedule prescribing that the duties on earthenware should be increased, and if he had not previously submitted the proposed increase to the Tariff Board for investigation, and the board had not recommended the increase, then that would bo a breach of article 12 ; but there will be no violation of that article if the Parliament of this country refuses to reduce a duty embodied in the customs tariff because of a decision of the Parliament. Procedural arrangements whereby the Government con bring down a schedule reducing duties do not destroy the authority of the Parliament over the tariff schedule, and article 12 was never drawn to take away the sovereignty of this Parliament over Customs duties.
– I have heard honorable members of the Opposition argue that it was.
– What I am insisting on is that, when this Parliament says that a duty which has stood for years shall not be reduced, it is neither violating article 12 nor endangering any negotiations in which Ministers may be engaged overseas. All the special pleading of the Assistant Minister for Commerce falls to the ground. His specious argument was addressed to the committee two years ago by the government of the day, and it was annihilated by the former honorable member for Darling Downs, the late Sir Littleton Groom, who, drawing upon his experience in several ministries, his legal training, and his knowledge as the result of having represented the Commonwealth in many negotiations overseas, was a more reliable interpreter of the way in which article 12 should beapplied than is the Assistant Minister for Commerce, who has come into this Parliament even more recently than many of us. I ask the committee not to be intimidated by the declaration of the Assistant Minister for Commerce. Article 12 provides that “ His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia undertake that no new protective duties shall be imposed.” By rejecting this item, we shall not impose any new protective duty. We shall maintain the rate of duty which the Parliament has approved every time it has had an opportunity to deal with the Customs schedule and which was the duty when the Ottawa Agreement was made. Article 12 does not read in this way: “His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia undertake that no existing protective duty shall be retained without reference to the Parliament of Australia.” What it does do is to preserve the Customs schedule which was operating at the time the agreement was signed, and it laid down that there should be no increase of the duties in that schedule unless recommended by the Tariff Board. Therefore, I repeat that it is not proposed by the Opposition that the committee should reduce the rat*» which was operating when the Ottawa Agreement was signed, or that it should impose any new duty over and above that in force at that time. All the arguments of the Assistant Minister are so much fustian, and they have no legal validity.
– When this sub-item was before the committee almost two years ago, it was the only one in connexion with which the Ottawa Agreement was raised. On that occasion the matter was mentioned by the then honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green), and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) gave what some members of the committee believed was a wrong interpretation of the relevant article of that agreement. To-night the honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett) who had a great deal to do with the framing of the agreement and the drafting of article 12, has given us what he considers the true interpretation, but what I regard as a misconstruction of the King’s English. Article 12, as honorable members are well aware, reads -
His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia undertake that no new protective duty shall be imposed and no existing .duty shall be increased on United Kingdom goods to an amount in excess of the recommendation of the tariff tribunal.
The first reference is to a “ new “ protective duty and the second to the “ existing “ duty. The latter reference means, in connexion with this sub-item, the duty that was in operation at the time of the signing of the agreement. The ad valorem duties on earthenware then operative were, British preferential, 35 per cent., and general, 60 per cent. The
Tariff Board’s recommendation now is, ad valorem, British, 15 per cent. ; intermediate, 40 per cent., rates substantially lower than those in existence when the agreement was signed. . Article 11 is also relevant to this discussion. It reads -
His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia undertake . . . that after the receipt of the report and recommendation of the Tariff Board the Commonwealth Parliament shall be invited to vary, wherever necessary, the tariff . . .
Obviously, it was intended that this Parliament should be the final arbiter as to the rate of duty to be imposed in respect of any particular item. To be invited to vary implies that Parliament may not vary a duty. Hence there is no obligation on this Parliament to do so in respect of this sub-item. The Australian manufacturers request that the duties operating prior to the introduction of the present schedule shall be reverted to. The duties in the sub-item now before the committee are not the “ existing “ duties which the conference at Ottawa had in mind; they are proposed alterations of those duties. Therefore, if the committee votes against the sub-item it will simply be affirming that the “ existing “ duties shall remain operative. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), speaking for Country party members in this House, declared that 15 per cent, protection ought to be sufficient for any industry which adopted efficient methods. That is an extraordinary statement in view of the fact that some primary industries enjoy a protection of 800 per cent. I need only remind the committee of the duties imposed for the protection of tobacco-growers, and the measures taken to safeguard the growers of potatoes, onions, pears and apples.
– The honorable member is not in order.
– I resent the implications of the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) that if the sub-item be not accepted building costs will rise, simply because it is necessary to buy a wash-hand basin for every house that is being erected. I do not intend to be hoodwinked by such argument as that. I hope that the committee will adhere to its decision of two years ago, and not refer this sub-item back to the Tariff Board, but vote against it and insist upon the retention of the duties which were in existence when the Ottawa Agreement was signed.
.- I intend to vote against the sub-item because, I am convinced that, with a reasonable measure of protection, it would be possible to build up a very ‘important industry in the manufacture of sanitary and lavatory articles of earthenware. I also wish to offer a few comments with regard to the presentation of reports by the Tariff Board. On the 9th November. 1933, the board was asked to inquire into and report upon a certain industry, and in a few days, it submitted its report to the Government.
– Order ! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the sub-item.
– This is a matter of importance to the committee. I repeat that on the 9th November, 1933, the Tariff Board received instructions to investigate a certain tariff item-
– If the honorable member does not obey the Chair, I shall ask him to resume his seat.
-I do not wish to disobey the Chair, but I desire to tell the committee what really happened in connexion with one report by the Tariff Board because the same sort of thing might happen again. On that occasion the report was not presented to Parliament
– Order ! The honorable member will resume his seat.
. -It has been stated that article 12 of the Ottawa Agreement was not taken into consideration by the Tariff Board when it was determining the duties to be recommended in respect of this sub-item. The board specifically refers to the Ottawa Agreement in these terms.
Article 10 of the United KingdomAustralian Trade Agreement states that “ protective duties should not exceed such a level as will give United Kingdom producers full opportunity of reasonable competition on the basis of the relative cost of economic and efficient production,” and the board is convinced that a higher duty than15 per cent. (British preferential tariff) under present conditions could not be imposed if the terms to the agreement are to be complied with.
That shows that the board had full regard for the implications of the Ottawa Agreement. Many of the arguments put, forward by various speakers that the industry is being denied protection, are not well-founded. A natural production of 72 per cent. is in my opinion, pretty considerable. Articles manufactured by this industry are heavy and necessarily freight charges on competitive goods from overseas must be substantial. There has been a considerable expansion of the building trade during the last twelve months, and although the honorable mem ber for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr) scouted the idea that the higher cost of a few wash basins would not materially add to building costs, it is nevertheless a fact that building costs are rising all round and are considerably higher than they were twelve months ago. In New SouthWales last year, no fewer than 13,000 homes for workers were erected, everyone of which required sanitary articles and wash-hand basins of earthenware and higher costs for these goods would affect building costs.
– There has been no increase of building costs in the last twelve months.
– I disagree with the honorable member; there has been a substantial increase. The proposed reversion to the higher duty on this particular item will merely add to the load which those contemplating building will haveto carry. The Tariff Board has been set up to consider every aspect of the case presented to it. That is not possible to honorable members in the limited time available to them. The board has conducted investigations abroad, and as the result of its deliberations and its study of the purpose of the Ottawa Agreement has recommended a lower duty in order to give the British manufacturer a reasonable opportunity to compete economically on the Australian market. I support the board’s recommendation.
. -I thank honorable members of the Opposition for their golden silence, but I am not grateful to honorable members on this side who have opposed the Government. I feel that the responsibility rests on me to make some defence of the report of the Tariff Board.
Discounting, for the time being, the progress that has been made in the local industry, there has undoubtedly been some increase of the volume of importations of sanitary and lavatory articles of earthenware, &c., during the last few years. As a step towards determining the amount of protection warranted, the Tariff Board had to seek the causes for this increased volume of imports. The first fact established by the board was, that Australian manufacturers, by reason of their relations one with the other, have stabilized their prices at a level which, generally speaking, has remained unaltered since 1929, despite the fact that costs of production have been reduced since that date. On the other hand, overseas prices have been reduced for the domestic and the export trade alike. The failure of Australian manufacturers to pass on these cost reduction’s to their customers is undoubtedly the reason for the loss of some of their business to overseas suppliers. The question which then inevitably arose, and exercised the minds of members of the Tariff Board, was the cause of the high level of local manufacturers’ prices for sanitary and lavatory articles of earthenware. As honorable members are undoubtedly aware, the manufacture of sanitaryware is carried on as a part of the general pottery industry. After an extensive survey of costs of production, the board came to the conclusion that these costs were very much inflated by the undue allocations to the sanitaryware department, of overhead expenses which were properly chargeable to other sections of the pottery industry. In support of this contention, the board has pointed out, under the heading “ Summary of costs “, on pages 9 and 10 of its report, that whereas the Australian manufacturers claim that the cost of labour, coal and materials represents only 45 per cent, of their selling prices of popular lines, leaving 55 per cent, for other costs and profits, the cost of labour, coal and materials in the whole of the pottery industry is 62 per cent, of the sales value of the whole output, leaving 38 per cent, to cover profit and the remainder of the expenses of production. In other words, if the claims of the local manufacturers with respect to overhead, etc., were accepted, the costs of a pedestal pan at present selling at 23s. 6d. would be apportionable as follows: - Overheads and profit, 12s. lid., and labour, coal and materials, 10s. 7d.
The costs for labour, coal and materials can be measured. Therefore, accepting the figure 10s. 7d. as representing those costs, and applying the overhead of 38 per cent, which the pottery industry as a whole considers reasonable, we arrive at an amount of 6s. 6d. as representing reasonable overhead and profit on the article in question, thus giving an equit- able selling price of 17s. Id. The board could find no support for the claim of the manufacturers for 55 per cent, of the selling price to cover overhead items in the Australian production of sanitaryware and was prepared to concede overheads at not more than 40 per cent, of the local net selling price.
The only reason advanced to the board by the Australian manufacturers for their failure to reduce prices, was that their manufacturing operations as a whole were only moderately profitable at existing prices. With regard to sanitary earthenware, this reason is far from acceptable, as from the point of view of the consumer it may be considered unreasonable for a manufacturer to expect on individual lines sufficient protection to enable him to offset his losses or insufficient profits on other lines.
I consider that the Tariff Board, in its latest report, has justified its recommendation, and that if local manufacturers re-adjust their overheads so as to place a fair charge against the sanitaryware section of their business, they will be able to meet the competition of which they complain.
.- I am not influenced in any way by articles 11 and 12 of the Ottawa Agreement. I do not accept the view that all matters shall be referred to the Tariff Board and that its recommendations shall be accepted. The Government itself, on at least two matters, has rejected recommendations by the Tariff Board, one being the building of motor car engines in Australia. 1 voted against the Government on a previous occasion, and I intend to vote against this item.
.- T. cannot understand why the provisions of the Ottawa Agreement have been introduced into this debate. I am of the opinion that that agreement has nothing whatever to do with this particular item. In fact, when it was signed, the duty of 35 per cent, was in operation. The question before the Tariff Board related merely to production costs. It is a very simple matter to ascertain those costs in the case of an Australian industry. But what is the position in regard to British industries? How were their costs of production obtained? I would like the
Minister to tell us what method is employed at Australia House in this connexion. We have the evidence of our Customs officials that no costing system was in existence in sections of the British industry. The British tariff on this particular item is 30 per cent., and we are asking for only 35 per cent., I intend to support the amendment.
Question put -
That sub-item (c) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sub-item (c) negatived.
Sub-items (d) and (e) agreed to.
Mr. PERKINS (Eden-Monaro- Acting Minister for Trade and Customs; [10.48]. - Certain consequential amendments are necessary to place Item 241 in properlegal form consequent upon the committee’s decision to omit sub-item (c ) dealing with sanitary and lavatory articles. ThereforeI move -
That the item be amended as follows: -
By omitting the words “241. By omitting the whole item and inserting in its stead the following item : - “.
By inserting the words “241. By omitting Earthenware, viz. : - ‘. “.
By inserting the words “ By omitting the whole of sub-items (a) and (b) and inserting in their stead the following sub-items: - “.
By inserting before sub-item (d) the words “By adding new sub-items (d) and (e) as follows: - “.
The effect of the consequential amendments is to limit the proposals to subitems (a), (b), (d) and (e) of Item 241. Sub-item (c) is definitely omitted, and the duties on sanitary and lavatory articles will revert to the higher rates previously in operation under the Customs Tariff 1 933-1936.
Amendments agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 250 agreed to.
Division IX. - Drugs and Chemicals (Items 267, 280, 281 and 290) ; Division X. - Wood, Wicker and Cane (Items 291, 301 and 303) ; Division XI.Jewellery and Fancy Goods (Item 310); and Division XII.- Hides, Leather and Rubber (Item 333) - agreed to.
Division XIII.- Paper and Stationery.
By omitting the whole of paragraph (1 ) of sub-item (o) and inserting in its stead the following paragraph: - “ (1 ) Cover paper and pressings -
The free on board price of which is, or is the equivalent of, £20 sterling per ton or less, ad val. - British, 22½ per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent. ; general, 4.5 per cent.
– I move -
That sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (1) of sub-item (o) of item 334 be amended by omitting the words “ £20 sterling per ton or less “ and inserting in their stead the words “£20 sterling or less per ton”.
The object of the amendment is to remove any ambiguity in this item. As item 334 (o) (1) (a) reads at present it might be claimed that it applies to cover paper or pressings the free-on-board price of which is £20 sterling for one ton or for a quantity less than one ton, whereas it is intended that the item shall apply to such paper the free-on-board price of which does not exceed £20 sterling per ton. No difficulty is being experienced at present but the amendment seeks to remove any doubt which might be raised.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Items 342 and 343 agreed to.
Division XIV. - Vehicles (Items 352 and 359); Division XV. - Musical Instruments (Item 362) ; and Division XVI. - Miscellaneous (Items 395 and 440) - agreed to.
Preliminary paragraph agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Perkins) agreed to -
That the following- preliminary paragraph be added: - “2. That, notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing paragraph of this resolution, duties of customs collected in accordance with these proposals as introduced into the House of Representatives on the eighth day of December, one thousand nine hundred and thirty-seven, in respect of goods the rate of duty on which, as specified in the proposals as so introduced, is disagreed with by the House of Representatives, shall, where the duty is collected prior to the twentieth day of May, One thousand nine hundred and t h i rty-eight. at nine o’clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Territory for the Seat of Government, be deemed to have been the duties lawfully imposed in respect of those goods as at the time of collection and those duties shall be deemed to have been lawfnllv imposed and collected.”
Prefatory notes agreed to.
Resolution reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Perkins and Mr. Archie Cameron do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Perkins, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from the 8th December, 1937 (vide page 463), on motion by Mr. White (vide page 458) -
That . . . the schedule to the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act 1933-1936 be amended as follows: -
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Honorable members will recall that the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act 1933-1936 provides, in certain cases, for a deduction from the u mount of duty payable under the British preferential tariff. The goods in respect of which this deduction operates 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 162/3 per cent, in relation to the currency of the British country from which the goods originate, is one-fourth of the amount of duty or one-eighth of the value for duty, whichever is the less. “When the depreciation of Australian currency is less than 162/3 per cent., but not less than 111/9 per cent., the deduction is oneeighth of the amount of duty or 61/4 per cent, of the value for duty, whichever is less. These deductions are intended to compensate for the protective value of exchange. Towards the end of 1933 and down to the present time, the Tariff Board, in its reports covering protected industries, has recommended rates of duty based on current exchange conditions with a corrective increasing the rates gradually as exchange moves towards parity. As the protective value of exchange in each particular industry is governed principally by the use of imported or exchangeaffected materials, honorable members will appreciate that the present method of providing a variable exchange corrective in the tariff is a muchmore equitable, scientific and satisfactory way of dealing with the problem than was the former method.
The purpose of the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) proposals now under consideration by the committee, is therefore to eliminate from the operation of the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act 1933-1936 those items and parts of items for which exchange variations are now specifically provided in the relevant items of the Customs Tariff 1933-1936. I move-
That the schedule to the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act 1933-1936, as pro-, posed to be amended, be further amended as follows: -
By inserting “241 (c) except as to goods entered for home consumption on or after the 9th December, 1937, and before the 20th May, 1938”.
The goods covered by the item referred to in this amendment, namely, sanitary and lavatory earthenware, when admissible under the British preferential tariff, were, prior to the introduction of the main Customs Tariff proposals of the 8th December, 1937, subject to exchange adjustment under the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act 1933-1936. Subsequent to the introduction of the tariff proposals of the8th December, 1937, the duties provided for in respect of these goods have taken into consideration the protective incidence of exchange. Accordingly, action was taken in the complementary Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) proposals of the 8th December to omit item 241 (c) from the list of items to which exchange adjustment applies.
However, as a result of the decision of the committee when that item was discussed in connexion with the Customs Tariff* proposals, the duties now operating on sanitary and lavatory earthenware are those provided for under the 1933-1936 tariff. Accordingly, it is proposed that the duties resulting from the committee’s decision, in so far as the British preferential tariff is concerned, should again be subject to exchange adjustment.
Motion agreed to.
Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
Standing and sessional orders suspended ; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Perkins and Mr. Archie Cameron do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Perkins and passed through all its stages without amendment or debate.
Customs Tariff (Canadian Prefer- ence) Amendment (no.1) 1937-38.
Consideration resumed from the8th December, 1937 (vide page 463) on motion by Mr. White (vide page 459)-
That the schedule to the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) 1934-30, be amended as hereunder set out . . .
– The effect of the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) proposals is to apply customs duties equivalent to the duties under the intermediate tariff to costumes and dresses, piston rings for internal combustion engines, sparking plugs and carpet sweepers when these goods are of Canadian origin. The increases of duty on these Canadian goods are -
Costumes, dresses and robes -
Cotton, linen and other material - 3s. each,
Wool - 5s. each,
Silk - 4s. each, plus for all types l71/2 per cent.
Sparking plugs - 3d. each, or ad valorem 20 per cent.
Piston rings - 30 per cent., with minimum of 21/2d. each.
Carpet sweepers - 25 per cent.
Under the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Act 1934-36, these Canadian goods have been admitted into the Commonwealth at the British preferential rates, in accordance with the blanket provisions of the Canadian- Australian Trade Agreement of 1931, under which the British preferential tariff is applied to all Canadian goods not specifically scheduled in the agreement as being dutiable at other rates, and on which dumpingduty could not bo applied. In consultation with the Canadian Government, withdraws] of the British preferential tariff on the four items in question has been arranged.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Perkins and Mr. Archie Cameron do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Perkins, and passed through all its stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from the 8th December, 1937 (vide page 463), on motion by Mr. White (vide page 460) -
That the schedule to the Excise Tariff 1921-1936 be amended as hereunder set out, . . .
– I move -
That the item be amended as follows: - By omitting the whole of sub-item (l) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item : - “ (i.) (1) Spirit for use in the manufacture of essences, subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by Departmental Bylaws - ‘
To each liquid gallon of which are added six ounces avoirdupois of citrus essential oil produced in Australia from Australian ra w materials - per proof gallon, 12s.
Provided that., for each additional ounce avoirdupois of such essential oil which is added to each liquid gallon of spirit, the rate of duty shall he reduced by sixpence per proof gallon - with a minimum duty of - per proof gallon, 10s.
To which are added essential oils (except citrus essential oils) or other flavouring materials produced in Australia from Australian natural vegetable products - such flavouring materials and the quantities thereof to be prescribed by departmental by-laws - per proof gallon. 12s.
To which are added oleo resins, essential oils, or other flavouring materials, wholly produced in Austral in from imported natural vegetable products - such flavouring materials and the quantities thereof to be prescribed by departmental by-laws - per proof gallon. 12s.
For use in the manufacture of essence of vanilla from imported vanilla beans by the maceration process - per proof gallon, 12s. [2/ Spirit for use in the manufacture of senilis and toilet preparations, subject tosuch conditions as may be prescribed by departmental by-laws -
To each liquid gallonor which is added one-half ounce avoirdupois of citrus essential oil produced in Australia from Australian Taw materials, or one-half ounce avoirdupois of any one of such other essential oils or perfuming materiails produced in Australia from Australian natural vegetable products as may be prescribed by departmental by-laws - per proof gallon,16s.
Provided that, for each additional quarter-ounce avoirdupois (in the aggregate) of such essential oils and perfuming materials asare allowed under this sub-paragraph which is added to each liquid gallon of spirit, the Tate of duty shallbe reduced by three half-pence per proof gallon - with minimum duty of - per proof gallon, 14s. (b)In which are added essential oils or perfuming materials (except essential oils or perfuming materials allowed under item 2 (l) (2) (a.)) produced in Australia from Australian natural vegetable products - such materials and the quantities thereof to he prescribed by departmental by-laws - per proof gallon, 16s. (c, To which are added essential oils or perfuming materials wholly produced in Australia from imported natural vegetable products - such materials and the quantities thereof to be prescribed by departmental by-laws - per proof gallon.16s.
Spirit for use in the manufacture of essences,scents and toilet preparations, as prescribed by departmental by-laws - per proof gallon, 16s.”
The purpose of the amendment is to provide for the administration of the item by way of departmental by-laws only. In its present form, the item requires to be administered both by regulations under the Excise Act and by departmental by-laws. Experience has shown that the proposed item will prove particularly difficult to administer, and that constant changes of conditions will be necessary to meet varying processes of manufacture. The amendment seeks to lighten the burden of. administration by obviating the necessity for two methods of control - the excise regulations and the excise by-laws.
.- When a customs tariff schedule has been completed in committee a number of consequential alterations have to be made to other relevant portions of the legislation. Normally I should agree that such consequential alterations should be treated formally, but I consider that the amendment moved by the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Perkins) is more than a consequential result of the committee’s consideration of the customs tariff schedule. The amendment takes into account a number of matters which have hitherto been covered by regulations, and I can understand that such matters should be put into the form of an amendment of an existing statute, and thereby require the sanction of Parliament, rather than remain subject to an act of the Executive. It may be that when I have an opportunity to examine the amendment, I shall concur entirely in it, but I rather fear that it is asking too much of the committee for it to accept, without examination, the procedure which the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs has asked the committee to adopt. I can see no reason why honorable members should not be given a reasonable opportunity to scrutinize the amendment in order to ascertain whether the regulations are such as should stand. I do not desire to hamper the administrative side of the operation of the tariff excise, but I am disinclined to embark upon a complacent acceptance of everything that the Government does in this connexion. Honorable members ought to assure themselves that the statement which the honorable gentleman made is in strict accordance with the facts. In cases where regulations are proposed to be incorporated in the statute law, I desire to have a proper opportunity to examine them. Procedure exists whereby regulations may be disallowed by Parliament, but once regulations are incorporated in an act that is the end of the matter. 1 ask the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs to postpone consideration of the amendment in order to give honorable members an ample opportunity to examine the amendment. [Quorum formed.]
– Some honorable members would prefer this excise tariff item to be administered by way of regulation instead of through the proposed method of departmental by-laws.I feel, however, that, when the control measures which it is proposed to exercise by way of departmental by-laws are explained, honorable members will realize thatthe points involved are merely administrative issues and as such arc hardly matters with which this Parliament should be burdened. In order that the proposed item may be placed on a satisfactory working basis procedure must be laid down with respect to two distinct phases of administration. First, the classes of raw material which may be used in order that duty concessions may be obtained must be determined, and secondly, the routine which must be followed so that the item may be effectively policed and suitably administeredmust be decided upon. These are the control measures which it is proposed to operate by way of departmental by-laws. As regards the question of the determination of the classes of materials which may be used, I would point out that it has been the practice for very many years to deal with issues of this nature through the medium of departmental by-laws. This is quite normal procedure under both the customs and excise tariffs, and no new departure is therefore contemplated in connexion with this particular item.
Experience has proved that the proposed item does not permit of easy administration. The item establishes new principles, and, in order that all interested parties may receive full advantage of the benefits which it confers, frequent changes of administrative control will be necessary in the early stages of its operation. For example, the materials which may be used will require to be added to or restricted as the range of Australian raw materials available varies. In addition, essence and perfumery manufacturers are continually changing their production methods in order to improve the quality of their products and to place new lines on the market. This also will necessitate frequent revision of the list of permitted raw materials.
One of the purposes of the proposed item is to encourage the production and consumption of Australian-made essential oils. As the range of these products widens and their quality improves, essence and perfumery manufacturers will be able to use larger quantities of Australian flavouring and perfuming substances in their products. This in turn will necessitate frequent revision of the minimum quantities of these substances which must be used to obtain the benefit of duty concessions under the proposed item.
Administration by regulation, is much more cumbersome than by the method of departmental by-law. The latter method is much more flexible. In the administration of a complex item such as is the one under review, flexibility and despatch are important if the progress of the different industries involved is not to be hampered.
As regards the second issue - the procedure which should be adopted in order to safeguard the revenue and police the item - I think all honorable members will agree that this is a routine question of departmental administration and one with which this Parliament should not concern itself.
When new principles are introduced, as is the case with the proposed item, it is essential that the control measures to be operated permit of quick administrative changes to meet the changing needs of Australian industry. It may be pertinent at this juncture to quote the following extract from the report of the Tariff Board.
The board’s view is that the utilization of the duty concessions should be facilitated as far as practicable without undue risk of permitting abuses.
This is exactly what control by the method of departmental by-laws aims at. Honorable members will realize that Parliament alone is deciding the vital issues iu this case. For example Parliament will decide the rates of duty to be imposed and the basic principles to be followed.
These important questions will be determined by Parliament and they cannot subsequently be varied by departmental by-laws. The rights of Parliament are not in any way being infringed or restricted. A reasonable and businesslike method of administration of a rather involved item approved by Parliament is all that departmental by-law control envisages. I feel that honorable members will agree with me in the opinion that Parliament should not be expected to deal with comparatively minor administrative issues such as those which I have just outlined. This would certainly be a case of neglecting the substance for the shadow. In view of the explanation I have given I feel sure that honorable members will not further pursue this issue. So far as the customs tariff is concerned it is already the practice to deal with similar matters by departmental by-law and not by regulation.
.- I hope that the Acting Minister (Mr. Perkins) will comply with the request of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), that the consideration of this matter should be postponed for at least a week. A strong case for the postponement of the discussion has been presented. This item deals with a complicated section of the excise tariff, and a matter of this kind should be before the Parliament and the public for a sufficient time to enable the sections of the people who are particularly interested to make representations regarding the proposed duties before they are finally adopted.
– I was under the impression that the postponement of the consideration of this matter would seriously delay the operation of the tariff, but I find, on inquiry, that that is not so. I am, therefore, prepared to accede to the request of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin).
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday next at 3 p.m.
House adjourned at 11.22 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
t asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
t asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Fort at Cowan Cowan.
n asked the Minis ter for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the probable shortage of native timbers in Australia during the next fifteen or twenty years, will the Government renew the grants in aid of forestry to enable reafforestationto be accelerated, thereby safeguarding the future timber requirements of Australia and preserving this very valuable industry, which is in danger of being either restricted or eliminated?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
In view of the greatly increased commitments in respect of defence, national insurance and other matters, with which the Government is faced in the immediate future, it is unable to see its way clear to extend the grant to the States for forestry purposes.
n asked the Minister for
Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– Inquiries will be made and a reply will be furnished to the honorable member as early as possible.
e asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as as follows : - 1 and 2. The following table sets out the information desired by the honorable member: -
e asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
Federal Capital Territory.
Mr. Price ashed the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
What was the total expenditure on the FederalCapital Territory, exclusive of Jervis Bay, to 30thJune, 1937. under the following headings: (a) lands, (b) engineering works, (c) architectural works, (d) other capital expenditure, and (e) maintenance and administration ?
What were the total receipts to 30th June, 1937, and what was the total net expenditure?
What was the expenditure on the Federal Territory atJervis Bay up to the date mentioned?
What is the estimated value of the accumulated assets of the Federal Capital Territory?
n. - The information is being obtained.
n asked the Acting Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. The total production and average production per acre of wheat in each State during 1936-37 were -
3 and 4. The average yield per acre and the average total production of wheat in each State over ten years ended1936-37 were -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What will he the position, in relation to the national insurance scheme, of persons who are at present regularly contributing to hospital schemes entitling them to free treatment?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Hospital’ treatment is not provided as a benefit under the insurance scheme, although approved societies may, if they desire, make payments as an additional benefit in respect of such treatment out of surpluses ascertained by actuarial valuation of societies at the end of each quinquennial period. It is not anticipated that the insurance scheme will have any detrimental effect on the operations of the hospital benefit societies.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What were the fluctuations in (a)the shortterm debt domiciled in Australia, and (b) the short-term debt domiciled in London, for the financial years 1929-30 to1936-37?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The amount of the short-term debt of the Australian governments at, the close of each financial year was as follows: -
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
In view of the report in the Sydney newspapers on Friday last that the Government has decided to contribute the sum of £10 to the funeral expenses of South African war veterans who died in indigent circumstances, will the Government now consider giving needy exSouth African soldiers some assistance while they are living, by bringing them under the provisions of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Full consideration was recently given to the question of extending to South African war veterans the provisions of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, but the Government regrets that it was unable to sec its way to take action in this direction.
Motor Building Industry: Construction of Engines in Australia.
e asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
n asked the Acting Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
What restrictions are imposed upon (a) fruit, and (b) vegetables, entering New Zealand from Australia?
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
The New Zealand Governmentfrom the16th December, 1932, prohibited the importation into New Zealand of all fresh fruit and vegetables from Australia.
In September,1933, the embargo was lifted entirely on Australian pineapples.
Every year since the imposition of the embargo, the New Zealand Government has permitted the importation of South Australian oranges. Since December, 1936, this relaxation was extended to include the import of oranges from fly-free areas in Victoria and New South Wales during a limited period of the year.
In respect of this year, the New Zealand Government has agreed to admit citrus fruits from Australia from areas which are free from fruit fly.
Subject tothe satisfactory marketing of citrus fruit produced in New Zealand and the Cook Islands, no restriction will be placed on the quantities of oranges imported from fruit fly-free areas in Australia during 1938. The Internal Marketing Department, New Zealand, will be wholly responsible for and prescribe conditions in respect of the import of citrus fruit.
Migration: Rejection of Aliens. - Lady Northcote Trust.
Mr.Curtin asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
. How many foreign immigrants have been rejected by the Commonwealth authorities, and prevented from entering Australia during the years 1936-37 and 1937-38?
How many of these were Southern Europeans ?
n. - The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : - 1 and 2. For the year ended 31st December, 1 937, applications by aliens for admission into the Commonwealth were refused in 2,368cases. Of these 1,855 were from Southern Europeans. For the first four months of 1938, applications were refused in 868 cases. Of these 588 were applications by Southern Europeans.
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
n. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Northern Territory : Pasture Improvement.
Mr.Blain asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Will he make arrangements to have a scientific officer of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, concerned with pasture improvement, accompany him on his proposed visit through the pasture areas of the Northern Territory, so that practical and scientific knowledge may be co-ordinated and scientific basicdata collected as to the nutritional values of the native grasses, and a policy of introducing others inaugurated?
n. - The proposal will receive consideration.
r asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he obtain a statement showing in detail the present financial position of expropriated properties in New Guinea?
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply willbe furnished as soon as possible.
Export of Iron Ore.
s. - On the18th May, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Green) asked me a question, without notice, regarding the quantity of iron ore exported to Japan by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited from South Australia during the past few months. I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the total shipments of iron ore made by this company to Japan from the 1st January last to date have been 65,206 tons.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 May 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1938/19380519_reps_15_155/>.