1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator GLASSEY presented a petition from 96 farmers and agriculturists at Ingham, on the Herbert River, in the State of Queensland, praying the Senate not to validate excise duty on sugar prior to 8th October, 1901.
Senator BRAKE laid upon the table
Regulations under the Post and Telegraph Act.
– In the last number of Hansard I find an error in the record of the pairs. As you are aware, sir, I paired with you, on the motion of Senator Smith, to reduce the duty on condensed milk; but it is recorded that I paired against the motion.
– The statement of the honorable senator is quite correct.
If it is the intention of the Government to appoint a Committee of Public Accounts ? to which he replied -
I am informed by the right honorable the Treasurer that it is his intention to appoint such a committee.
As no further action appears to have been taken since that date, I now ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
When the Right Honorable the Treasurer will be prepared to give effect to his intention to appoint a Committee of “’ Public Accounts”?
Will such committee consist of members of both the Senate and the ftpiiseof Representatives?
Will the appointment of such committee be made under a” joint standing order of the two Houses,” or by means of a Bill ?
– T - The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Vice-Presi dent of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– T - The following are the answers to the honorable and learned senator’s questions : -
Four or five can easily be selected by Government. If Parliament wishes, it will of course be easy to odd others.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– I - I think that the honorable senator is under a misapprehension as to the proper authorities in connexion with library matters. He should apply to the President of the Library Committee.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– A - Appointments will be made at an early date, but whether the full number referred to will be appointed has yet to be decided by Cabinet.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Ewing) -
That six weeks’ leave of absence be granted to Senator Harney on the ground of urgent private business.
In Committee. (Consideration resumed from 6th June, vide page 13400).
Division IV. Agricultural products and groceries.
Item53 - Starch and starch Hours, including rice meal, and rice, tapioca, and potato Hours, 2d. per Lb.
Upon which Senator Sir Josiah Symon had moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 53, by inserting after the word “starch” the words “ per lb., 2d., and on and after 1st July, 1902,11/2d.” ,
– I wish to draw attention to the importation of starch into New South Wales in 1900, and to the declared value of the imports. The total imports amounted to 5,237,000 lbs., valued at £57,800, which is equal to 25/8d. per lb. There was imported from Victoria, 1,392,000 lbs., the declared value beingequalto 27/8d.; and from Germany, 1,673,000 lbs., the declared value being equal to 21/4d. per lb. The proposal which has been made to reduce the duty to l1/2d. pet lb., which, minus the excise duty of Id. per lb., is a protection of1/2d., means a protection of £4 13s.8d. per ton, and upon the price which I have mentioned, and which it must be remembered is not the shipping value, but the landed value, it is equivalent to 171/2 per cent. on the starch from Victoria, 22 per cent. on the starch from Germany, and 19 per cent. on the aggregate imports. It is to be borne in mind that no party in the Chamber is especially desirous of giving any protection to the raw material of starch, but only to the value imparted to starch by the manufacturers of Australia. Starch in Australia is, I believe, wholly made of imported rice, and if we take the value of starch at about 23s. per cwt.., and deduct from that the value of the cleaned rice used,11s., we have a balance of 12s.. which may be taken as the cost of making starch in Australia, plus the manufacturer’s profit. So that on an outlay of 12s. per cwt. in the manufacture of starch we are willing to give a protection of 4s. 8d. - somewhere about 40 per cent. - which surety is enough. What we have to consider is - Under what conditions is the trade being carried on, and what amount of protection, cast out. as an ad valorem duty, does the1/2d. per lb. that we are willing to give afford? It amounts, roughly, to about 40 per cent. on the value imparted to the article by the added labour in the local factory ; and surely that is enough for any industry. We are not to be asked to add 20 per cent. to the value of rice. We do not wish to give the retailers so much protection for selling the rice, and therefore it must be distinctly borne in mind that the whole of this protection is absolutely on the labour that is employed in converting rice into starch. Therefore I suggest that 4s. 8d. per cwt. on labour, and profit aggregating about 12s., is a very extravagant protection. As regards the price of starch abroad, I hold in my hand a well-known American publication, the Exporters’ and Importers’ Journal, dated New York,5th April. I find that the quotation of a leading firm, the New York Starch Company, is 4 cents per lb. - that is 18s. 8d. per cwt. - for 40-lb. or 50-lb. packets. That quotation gives some idea as to the cheapness at which starch may be manufactured. We also have the fact that, in the year 1 900, from Germany there was imported between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 lbs. of starch into New South Wales, which was landed at a cost of about 21/4d. per lb., clearly indicating that the cost of manufacture in Germany could not have exceeded 2d. per lb. Another important fact is that the starch sold in our retail shops is almost always a proprietary article. The confidence of the public is secured by the brand on the packet, and in this way what are practically great monopolies are built up. Colman’s, Reckitt’s, and Silver Star starch - which is an Australian article - are all well known. By means of a lavish expenditure on advertising, and the quality of the articlesold,thesebrandshave obtained a large sale. It is undesirable that we should treat proprietary articles as ordinary articles of commerce which can be made by all sorts of people. It is not wise that we should perpetuate great monopolies in any direction.
As the principal brands of starch are proprietary articles, there is very little chance of the smaller States deriving any revenue from- this duty. Of course, on locally made starch excise will be obtained, but I am now speaking of the difference between the Excise and the Customs duty. If that difference is substantial it will undoubtedly mean that the trade will be the monopoly of one or more manufacturers in Australia, and there will be no additions to the revenue of the States. The only way in which the States can derive revenue from this article will be by decreasing the Customs duty, so that starch maybe imported from other parts of the world.
– I would draw the attention of those honorable senators who are not very anxious as to how the vote on this item goes, to the fact that the duty on starch came before the House of Representatives on the 25th March of this year, when absolutely no alteration was made. On a previous occasion the proposal of the free-trade party to reduce the duty to 1-Jd. was lost by 33 votes to. 17. There were seven pairs on each side, so that in a House of 64 members a majority of sixteen was against any alteration. What hope is there, then, of successfully making a suggestion for the reduction of the duty t The motion for the imposition of an excise duty, made by Mr. Kingston, was agreed to on the voices on 17th April. The annual consumption of starch of Australia does not amount to more than 2 lbs. per head of the population, so that no great harm can be done by leaving the duty at 2d. per lb. The £d. per lb. which the free-traders would knock off the duty would not remove any great disability from anybody. I therefore think that Senator Symon would do well to withdraw his motion. In Australia Caiman’s starch is put upon the market at about £10 per ton more than the price charged for it in England. This fact plainly goes to show that if we remove the protection to the local manufacturer, and the Australian industry is wiped out, the price of starch will be put up to what it was before the industry was established. It is misleading to say that the industry is in the hands pf one local manufacturer. There are several firms engaged in the manufacturing of this commodity. Messrs. Lewis and Whitty employ 40 hands, and there are other makers throughout the Commonwealth. I hope that, in the interests of those who are directly engaged in the industry, there will be no interference with the proposal of the Government. Queensland is indirectly concerned because our people can produce rice from which starch is made. Although at present the bulk of the starch is manufactured from imported rice, the time may come when, if this duty is not removed, the rice producers in Northern Queensland will grow sufficient for all the purposes of the local starch manufacturers.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).I wish to draw attention to the serious blow that will be struck at the revenues of the States if effect is given to the proposition of the Government. I will take the estimate of the Government to show what they expect to lose from duty. In New South Wales, where there was no duty on starch in the year 1899, there was imported roughly 3,250,000 lbs. of starch, of which 1,000,000 lbs. came from other States, leaving 2, 250, 000 lbs. which was imported from abroad. In 1900 the net imports from abroad were 3,603,611 lbs. At the duty proposed by the Government of 2d. per lb., the revenue of New South Wales alone for the year 1899 would have been £18,962, and the revenue last year would have been £30,000. But the total Government estimate for the whole Commonwealth is £3,733. So that the Government expect to obtain from the whole Commonwealth only one-sixth of the revenue which would have been obtained in a normal year in New South Wales. It is evident, therefore, that the Government have been so anxious to impose practically a prohibitive duty, that they have forgotten their pledges in regard to moderation and the necessity for raising revenue. I would ask honorable senators, and especially those who tell us that the financial interests of the States they represent require gentle handling, to vote with me in reducing this duty so that there may be a larger revenue at the ‘ disposal of the States. We have the clearest possible proof that Melbourne manufacturers have been selling starch in New South Wales, a freetrade State, at a lower rate than that obtained in Victoria. If Messrs. Harper and Co., and other manufacturers of starch in Melbourne have been, able . to compete against the world in the free-trade State of New South Wales, I cannot see that they will be injured if we reduce the protection from Id. per lb., as it really is, allowing for the excise duty, to 1/2d. per lb. Messrs. Harper and Co. have also been quoting shipments of starch for foreign ports at lower prices than those ruling for their product in Melbourne. When they can sell at these prices at a profit , in the open markets of the world, they should be able to do the same here. For that reason, and believing that the measure of protection which we are prepared to grant is generous to a fault, I propose to vote for the motion.
honorable senator has made a use of the figures included in the Government estimates which I should like to correct. It is clear that the estimate of £3,733 in respect of the revenue from this duty is a very low one, but it was made when the duty proposed was 2d. per lb., and when there was no excise. Of course, with no excise duty, the whole Customs duty of 2d. per lb. represented the amount of protection, but the protection under the Tariff now is reduced by the amount of the excise duty, and, therefore, is only Id. per lb. Undoubtedly, if we have less protection there must be a larger volume of importation, and, therefore, the figures which Senator Millen has used are quite inapplicable to the new condition of things. I should like to appeal specially to Senator Macfarlane - who appears to be in a chronic condition of doubt whenever reference is made to the figures put forward by the Government - by pointing out that revenue amounting to £5,354 was collected during the six months from October to 31st March last, notwithstanding the duty of 2d. per lb. The original estimates had to be made first of all upon the basis of the actual returns previously. That was more or less a constant quantity which could be ascertained ; but another element which had to be considered was the extent to which local production would affect imports. That was entirely a matter of guesswork. We made a very large allowance for the local production, and, undoubtedly, with the full protection of 2d. per lb., it would have been very large, and would have cut down the importations. As it is, the protection has been diminished and the revenue has been added to.
This is one of those cases in which I take it that the committee will set itself fairly to work not to obtain the greatest amount of revenue, but the greatest amount of revenue which is consistent with the reasonable treatment of existing industries. That is the point to which we are directing our attention now. We find that, notwithstanding the duty of 2d. per lb., the starch imported into New South Wales during the six months named yielded £2S1 revenue. There must have been considerable loading-up in that State, because during tile same period £875 was received in Victoria, whilst in Queensland £2,804 was collected. In South Australia the duty yielded £924, in Tasmania £270, and in Western Australia approximately £200, making a total of £5,354. To show the extent to which the revenue has been increased, and therefore the protection diminished, I should like to compare these figures with the .estimated returns. The figures relating to New South Wales must be abnormal. They amount to only £281, which is absurd under the circumstances. But taking Victoria I find that while the Government estimated that for the twelve months a revenue of £1,042 would be collected from this source £875 was received during the six months named, -or nearly equal to £2,000 per annum. We estimated to receive £500 in Queensland for the year, but as a matter of fact £2,804 was collected for the six months, or equal to between £4,000 and £5,000 per annum. £416 was the estimate for South Australia, but £924 was collected for the six months, or nearly equal to £2,000 a year. £216 was the estimate for Tasmania, whereas we received £270 for the six months. Therefore, in all these cases the revenue returned to the States under the altered condition of things has been very much larger. In endeavouring to balance the desire to obtain the largest amount of revenue and to afford a fair measure of protection, the Government proposal leant more to the protective than to the revenue side, but the amendment made by another place has made the balance more in favour of the revenue than the protective incidence: If the motion were carried it would cub down the protection to a point at which it would be practically nothing. We have to ascertain what was done in the House of Representatives in regard to this duty in order to see whether the motion, if carried, is likely to be adopted. There was a unanimous consensus of opinion on the other side that the duty on salt should not be interfered with, on the very proper ground that there had been a compromise arrived at in the matter in another place. We find that this duty was originally fixed at 2d., that an attempt was made in another place to reduce it to the extent now proposed, that the Treasurer then intimated that the Government intended to impose an excise duty of Id. per lb., and that after a long discussion the proposal to reduce the duty was defeated by a very large majority.
– Can Senator O’Connor give us the estimate for this modified proposal ?
– The The estimate, of course, is entirely dependent on the way in which local production will operate. We find that there is a consumption in Australia of about S,000,000 lbs. of starch, and making the best estimate possible upon the basis of what has been done in Victoria i and South Australia, the only States in which there have been starch manufactories, one-third of that quantity will be imported, and two- thirds will be manufactured in Australia. In time, no doubt, the whole of the starch required in Australia will be locally manufactured, but for a very long time foreign brands will keep their hold on the market. We know that, by reason of their greatoutput, they can undersell the local article if they see any chance of capturing the business. We know that Colman’s starch sells in Australia at £20 as against £30 in England. That kind of thing is done in the case of many manufactures, because, in the first place, it is found to be worth while, even at a loss, to keep hold of the foreign market, and in the second place, there is not always a loss sustained, because the manufacturing firms can afford to sell surplus productions at a cheaper rate. As Senator Millen has pointed out, Harper and Co. sold at a lower price in Sydney than in Melbourne.
– Were they selling at a loss?
– The They may not have been, but the fact that they were selling at a lower price in Sydney than in Melbourne is not a proof that they were making too much profit upon the sale of the article in Melbourne. If that were, so the fact that Colman’s starch is sold at £10 less in Australia than in London would be a -reason for treating the competition with Colman differently. We estimate that there will be 6,000,000 lbs. of starch made here and 2,000,000 lbs. imported, and I believe that that importation of 2,000,000 lbs. will go on for a very long time.
– Does not the honorable and learned senator see that the duty of 2d. per lb. upon .an import of 2,000,000 lbs. would give a revenue of considerably over £15,000?
– W - We have estimated the revenue at £16,666.
– The Government’s original estimate was £3,700.
– I h I have already explained that very fully. We estimate a revenue of £16,666 with a duty of 2d. per lb. upon importations, and the excise revenue on the balance of 6,000,000 lbs., at Id. per lb., is estimated to be £25,000, making altogether a total revenue of £41,066. It seems to me that that is a very fair estimate of the revenue to be derived under the circumstances, and that this proposal in the Tariff is a fair apportionment of the benefits of the duties as between protection and revenue. To cut down the protection to such an extent as Senator Symon proposes, would be to do an injustice to existing manufacturers of starch in Australia. We find honorable senators saying glibly that only such and such a number of men are employed in the particular industry protected. But, as a consequence of the operations of this industry, paper-box makers, nail-makers, printers, lithographers, paper manufacturers, and strawboard manufacturers are employed.
– And a few lobbyers
– I - I hope that no imputations of that kind will be made. If the number of lobbyers here for importers were counted, I believe it would be found that there were a great many more of them than of manufacturers’ lobbyers. I think it would be very much better if outside persons interested on either side in this matter of the Tariff were to pair off during its consideration. When it is considered that all the persons to whom I have referred are concerned in securing a fair amount of protection to this industry, it will be admitted that the proposal we make does not ask for too much. It has been shown that it does not alter the price of starch to the consumer. It is well known in commercial circles here that since the manufacture of starch was begun in Victoria and South Australia, the price of the article, which is quite as good as imported starch, has decreased year by year, until it is now considerably lower than it was before these manufacturers began. The simple reason is that the importer has now the competition of the local article against him, whereas before he had it all his own way. Under all the circumstances I hope that this very moderate duty, which must be admitted to be a fair compromise between protection and revenue, and which interferes to the least possible extent with an industry already existing, will be accepted by the committee.
– I am sorry that Senator Pulsford should be inclined to give every encouragement to the manufacturer everywhere else but in Australia. According to the honorable senator, the labourer here must not be protected, and the local manufacturer must get no interest upon his capital, no matter what the consequences may be. The honorable senator is willing that the import duty should be reduced by id., but supposing it were reduced to 11/2d., and the excise duty were to remain at1d., what would be, the revenue derived ? Senators Pulsford and Millen have contended that it would result in a decrease in the quantity locally manufactured, and an increase in imports. Senator O’Connor has estimated the total importations of starch at 2,000,000 lbs., with a local output of6,000,000 lbs., under the Tariff proposals. I will allow for an import of 4,000,000 lbs., with the duty reduced to11/2d., and allow 4,000,000 lbs. to be manufactured in Australia, with the 40 per cent. protection which Senator Pulsford speaks of. That would yield as nearly as possible a revenue from customs duty of £25,000, and from excise duty of £16,500. Putting the two together, we get a total revenue just about equal to the estimate of revenue under the Government proposal. Are we to waste the time of the country and of this committee battling about a proposal which will give exactly the same result as that already submitted by the Government? The reduction of1/2d. in the import duty will have the effect of decreasing the local manufacture of the article, causing less employment to be given to our workers, and affording less opportunity to persons to invest their capital. If, as Senator Pulsford would try to make us believe, this reduction would not increase the imports or decrease the local manufacture, then it ishe who would be decreasing the local revenue.
– It is a singular thing that an honorable senator like the last speaker, who starts by lecturing the committee on waste of time, usually proceeds to waste time without rhyme or reason. He got up, apparently, to deliver himself of that opinion, and to found it on this idea : that according to any reasonable calculation of figures the two proposals would amount to the same - that it was really the difference between tweedledum and tweedledee - but he expects us to assume that the figures he gives are the reasonable calculation. I do not wish to suggest from what source he has derived them, but I prefer to take some of the figures given to day by Senator O’Connor. These figures, I think, show as plainly as possible that the proposed reduction will give a very considerable increase in revenue, and, at the same time, will have no serious or prejudicial effect on the manufacturers’ interest, that we are all solicitous, not needlessly to injure, certainly in Victoria. There have been used by Senator O’Connor, two arguments, which I think ought not to be passed without dissent. The first is in reference to the vote that was taken on this item, as shown by the records in the other House. An attempt was made to induce honorable senators to abstain from giving effect to their judgments on this item, but the same argument would apply to every other item in the Tariff. I am here for the purpose of exercising my judgment to the best of my ability on each item. I am not going to reopen a matter which has been the subject of an absolute compromise, but it is a very different thing where a proposition was made and defeated in the other House. I do not object for a moment to an examination of the records of the other House with the view of ascertaining the arguments which were put forward, and I find that the Minister for Trade and Customs expressed the wish, which is mine, that we shall not do anything which will make the fortunes of the manufacturers of starch. The second point to which Senator O’Connor referred was that Colman’s starch is sold in Australia at £10 per ton less than it can be bought for in London. I take leave to very greatly doubt the accuracy of that statement, from whatever source it comes. But if it is correct, it will pay traders magnificently to buy Colman’s starch here and send it back to London for re-sale at a cost of £2 10s. per ton. It will leave them a splendid margin of £7 per ton, or they may knock off another £2 10s. per ton, and undersell Colman in his own market. I think honorable senators will see that that statement will not assist us in arriving at a conclusion on this very important matter from a revenue point of view. I felt at the time that the letter which SenatorStyles read from a rival manufacturer was intended, and certainly was calculated, to do a very grievous wrong to people who are not here to defend themselves. No one would doubt for a moment the perfect good faith of Senator Styles as he declared it ; but he went a little further, and unnecessarily, I think, expressed his own belief in the statement that the weekly wage paid to employes was from 35s. to 40s. in Lewis and Whitty’s factory, and in England 12s., out of which 2s. has to be paid for rent. I take leave to express my entire disbelief in the accuracy of any such statement. It is a perfect outrage for Lewis and Whitty, or any other firm, to send here a letter to be read, thinking that it will improve their prospect of securing a very high rate of protection, in which they make a statement of that kind about a firm of the standing of J. and J. Colman. The statement ©n the face of it bears its own refutation, and its own condemnation. From Messrs. James Service and Company, the agents for J. and J . Colman, I have received the following letter : -
It has been reported to us that Mr. Styles, in his place in the House, made a statement that the firm of Messrs. J. and J. Colman Ltd. , London, only paid their workmen 1 2s. per week. This statement is so absolutely incorrect that we have no hesitation in giving it an emphatic denial.
Senator O’Connor has given some figures showing that the revenue for this year was estimated at £3,733, and that the actual collections for the six months were £5,354, representing a total import revenue of nearly £11,000 for the year. There evidently was a large loading up under the free-trade regime of New South Wales - at least that is the only way to explain the small amount of revenue received in that State. Of course the inference from the statement of my honorable and learned friend is that these estimates are absolutely unreliable. Being made in a highly elastic way they expand or contract just as the necessities of the argument require. I ask honorable senators to consider the figures which
Senator Millen quoted from the Statistical Register. In 1900 New South Wales imported 3,603,611 lbs of starch from outside the Commonwealth, and 1,476,944 lbs. from within the Commonwealth, while in 1899 she imported 2,275,519 lbs. from outside the Commonwealth, and 1,487,000 lbs. from within the Commonwealth. In “Victoria the total imports in 1899 were 56,017 lbs. In 1900 the importations were 114,708 lbs. The conclusion is that in Victoria importations were practically prohibited, and had shrunk to nothing. Not merely did Victoria substantially supply all her own wants, but she exported 1,750,000 lbs. to other parts of the Commonwealth. So that the effect of the duty of 2d. was practically, so far as Victoria was concerned, that importation was prohibited. If that be so, and we fix this duty at 2d., what becomes of the revenue? By reducing the duty to 1 1/2d. we at least encourage to that extent importations from abroad, and at least 1/2d. per lb. duty above the excise of Id. per lb. is obtained upon every 1 lb. of starch imported into Australia. Senator O’Connor says that, if the duty be reduced as proposed, about onethird of the 8,000,000 lbs., which is the total consumption of Australia, will be imported. Is that likely to be the case? In Victoria, at present, the production of starch for export and local consumption amounts to something like 4,500,000 lbs. Is it not probable that, by reducing the duty to lid., that production will be continued, and that, in addition, from 3,500,000 to 4,000,000 lbs. of starch will be imported and pay duty without doing a halfpenny worth of damage to the local manufacturers ? It is true that the duty will not enable them to overtake the whole of the demand, but more revenue will be received. Senator O’Connor says that the duty of 2d. only gives a protection of Id., because there is also an excise of Id. per lb. But it is the duty of 2d. which is the key that locks the door against importation. The Id. excise is merely a means of securing revenue, and diminishing the vast fortunes of the starch manufacturers. It is the duty of 2d. which restricts importation. It is said that the reduction of the duty will injure the industry. Let that be shown. * It is not sufficient to make a general statement. Let some one get up and prove that the industry will be injured, and that people will be thrown out of employment. I will keep a -perfectly open mind, and yield to such proof. But we have not had a single figure or a single practical reason or suggestion as to the possibility of such a thing happening. I have received a letter from a starch maker in South Australia, who states that he would be quite willing to pay 6s. a cental duty on rice if we knocked off the excise on starch. It is not the reduction of the duty that the starch manufacturers really complain about. By reducing the duty, we should at least to some extent check the diminution of the revenue by keeping up importations to about their present level instead of keeping them out altogether. If, on the other hand, the effect is, as stated, to cut down the importations to one-third of the total requirements of Australia, it means that the reduced duty will not interfere with the local production of starch. I appeal to honorable senators to say that it is quite enough to impose a duty amounting to £19 a ton on this article.
– I should like to make one or two remarks about a letter which I quoted on Friday. The letter was from Messrs. Lewis and “Whitty, who stated that Mr. Lewis had visited Colman’s place in England, and found that the employes received 12s. per man, out of which they paid 2s. a week each for the use of a house and a piece of land, and that Colman’s charged Id. per child for schooling. A contradiction was made at the time by Senator Symon. AVe are ‘told now that Messrs. James Service and Company flatly contradict Messrs. Lewis and Whitty. I understand also from Senator Symon that James Service and Company are the agents for Colman’s starch, but, notwithstanding that fact, the honorable and learned senator has not given us any information in reference to the wages which, according to that firm, are paid by Colman. We have simply had a denial which any boy in the street might have chirruped forth. Lewis and Whitty gave us the details, and I should have thought that Messrs. James Service and Company, in supplying the information, would have said - “The wages are so-and-so, and not what Messrs. Lewis and Whitty state.” But we have had no such statement from Senator Symon. All that he has said is - “These are the facts. 38 e 2
You must believe them without any evidence.”
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - In reference to an interjection made by Senator Millen that the Senate is haunted by lobbyists, I would ask how the manufacturers of starch, or any other commodity dealt with in the Tariff, are to communicate with honorable senators, if they desire, to do so, unless they come to the House or write to them. Senator Symon has read two or three letters this afternoon from different firms in regard to this very item, and while I do not know that the life of an honorable senator is made particularly happy by repeated visits, I do not think that the representative of any industry should be debarred from interviewing an honorable senator if he has information to give or believes that an injustice has been done tohim under the Tariff. Senator Symon wishes to alter this item, but members of the party to which he belongs have expressed certain opinions with regard to it. We have been told that some kind of agreement was arrived at in another place in regard to the duty, and I know that when the excise duty of Id. per lb. was proposed, Mr. Reid said that he did not oppose the duty, because although the expedient might be a roundabout, one, it probably had the effect of making the margin in favour of the manufacturer of starch morereasonable than it was.
– He condemned the excise duty.
– No. He said, “ I do not oppose the duty.” Honorable senators should ask themselves what prospect there is of carrying the suggested amendment in another place. Honorable member’s of another place, who comprise both protectionists and free-traders, have done what they think best in regard to this duty, but now, because it is desired apparently that some alterations should be made, Senator Symon proposes to frame the Tariff in accordance with his own views. It has been said that a certain firm in Victoria has. been selling its starch cheaper in Sydney than in Melbourne. The price of Colman’s. starch has also been mentioned, and the reason that induces Colman to charge £10 per ton less for their starch in Sydney than in London must be apparent. It is human nature to try and keep up prices. Even the very fishermen in Port Jackson, in order to keep up prices, throw their surplus hauls overboard.
– I have seen the same thing done with raspberries in Tasmania.
– Isuppose the vegetablegrowers follow the same principle. In view of these facts is it not reasonable to suppose that Colman, rather than bring down the price of starch in London, or throw their surplus manufacture into the sea, send it to Australia, notwithstanding that they obtain £10 per ton less for it in our markets than in London? We were told by Senator Symon that he had no figures on this subject, and that therefore he would take those submitted by his honorable and learned friend. Was that because there ^appeared to be uo figures in the secret catechism used by honorable senators of the Opposition ? I have looked through Social Conditions : Material for Comparisons between New South Wales, and Victoria, Great. Britain, the United States qf America, and Foreign Countries, but I cannot find anything in it relating to starch, and as that publication was prepared for the free-trade party, tha majority of them cannot consider that the Government propositions in regard to starch are very harsh. Only those who are anxious to have a dig at the Government, or to alter the Tariff, would bring forward such a motion as that before the Chair. I wish to emphasize the point made by Senator Styles that employes of Colman evidently receive a wage which approximates more nearly to £1 than to 12s. per week. If in addition to a wage of 12s. per week, they are allowed the use of a house with a piece’ of ground which they may cultivate, for 2s. a week, their remuneration may be brought up in that way to £1 per week. But even that wage is lower than those paid throughout the Commonwealth. Sufficient stress has not been laid upon the point that, although Messrs. Service and Co. deny the statements made by Messrs. Lewis and Whitty, they do not offer us any facts which we can investigate.
– I have been looking at the Board of Trade’s list of wages, and I find that they run from 20s. to 25s. per week, although I cannot find anything relating to the wages paid in food trades.
– Did the honorable and learned senator find any reference to operatives who were paid 12s. a week, and allowed the use of a house and a piece of ‘ ground for cultivation purposes for 2s. a week ?
– That compares with 12s. 6d. a week, with_no allowance for wet days or tucker, which, according to Mr. McDonald, is paid in Queensland.
– I do not think the honorable senator ever heard Mr. McDonald, the honorable member for Flinders in the State Parliament, make such a statement. Twelve shillings and sixpence is about the rate of wages paid for farm hands, but they are also allowed rations and so-called lodgings.
– Senator O’Connor has admitted that one. estimate put forward is obviously an understatement, and it is to that extent misleading, but the estimate which the honorable and learned senator has submitted is even more misleading. He says that the total consumption of starch in the whole of Australiais 8,000,000 lbs., and I desire to point out that his estimate that 2,000,000 lbs. will be imported even if this Tariff is imposed is a hopelessly inaccurate one. I draw attention to the fact that, with 32 per cent, of the population of the Commonwealth, Victoria in 1S99 imported only 56,000 lbs.; and taking the same proportion for the whole of the Commonwealth, the total imports would be 175,000 lbs., and not 2,000,000 lbs. We must remember that the factories in Melbourne are not limited to their present output, and it is only reasonable to assume that, in a short space of time, they will be supplying the whole of the Commonwealth in the same’ proportion as they are now supplying the Victorian market. It would be a serious reflection upon the local manufacturers to suppose that they can now manufacture 4,000,000 lbs., and that, with a protection of Id. per lb., and the markets of the whole Commonwealth open to them, they will be able to( increase their output by only 50 per cent. It is quite true, as Senator McGregor suggests, that the revenue to .be derived under the reduced duty would be about the same as that under the duty proposed in the Tariff on Senator O’Connor’s basis of importation ; but I have shown that there are practically no imports of starch into Victoria, and in a very short space of time the imports into the whole of the Commonwealth will show a similar diminution.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - If there were no starch imported the excise duty would still bring in something like £33,000 or £34,000, and that would only be about £8,000 less than the estimated revenue under the Government proposal or under the proposal made by the Opposition. . In addition to that, I have always contended that if we keep the people employed in connexion with the industry, their consumption of other dutiable articles will far more than make up the difference between that £34,000 and the estimated revenue of £41,000 which we are now discussing. Senator Symon has told us that he took the trouble to get his figures from the firm of James Service and Co., but I propose to deal with some of the figures which the honorable and learned senator used when last discussing this subject. He was endeavouring to show the natural protection to the local manufacturer, and he told the committee that the freight was £3 per ton, and that the exchange and insurance would amount to another £1 ; that would be £4 per ton. I wonder where the honorable and learned senator got those figures’! If those are the figures of James Service and Co., they must have hired little packets to bring starch out in lots of 100 tons at a time. I find, upon inquiry from authorities as reliable as Service and Co., or Senator Symon, that freight is charged upon this commodity at per ton, measurement. Honorable senators will know that freight is charged by measurement when that gives a higher freight than a charge by weight would give. It appears that the freight per ton measurement is 27s. 6d. I find that the charge for exchange at sight is 21/2 per cent. We are told that Colman’s starch is sold in Victoria at £20 per ton, and therefore, allowing five tons to the £100 in value, the exchange would amount to 10s. per ton. The insurance charge is 1 per cent., and that would amount to 4s. per ton, so that the charges upon freight, exchange, and insurance would amount to £2 Is. 6d. instead of the £4. If all the calculations and figures quoted bear the same relation to the actual facts as those which I am endeavouring to correct now, I would ask honorable senators what confidence they can put in arguments based on calculations of that description? I hope that when the vote is taken honorable senators will set aside such extravagant statements.
– It is often asserted that the imposition of a duty enables the local manufacturer to tax the consumer, and no better illustration of that could be given than this duty upon starch, because, in addition to the consumer having to pay into the Treasury, he has also to pay into the pockets of the manufacturer. The price quoted for starch before the imposition of this Tariff was £25 10s. per ton, and the price now quoted is £44 6s. 8d. I got those figures from the commercial columns of the Age, of 6th June, which quotes Hoffman’s starch at 43/4d. per lb. The duty at 2d. per lb. would amount to £18 13s. 4d., and that, added to the freetrade price of £25 10s., would make £44 13s. 4d., so that the consumer has to pay not only the duty, but something additional. Then, if we look at the effect of the excise duty, we find that the price, before the Tariff in Melbourne, was £26 10s., and to that the Melbourne manufacturers have added £9 3s. for excise duty, at1d. per lb., and an additional £6 7s., to make up the price at present charged. Thus, in addition to the people having to pay the duty upon imported starch to a certain amount to the public Treasury, we find that the general public purchasing Victorian starch besides that which they have to pay in excise to the public Treasury, pay into the pockets of the manufacturer £6 7s. per ton.
– T - That is absolutely contrary to the experience of Victoria year after year.
– Those are the actual facts from the experience not of Victoria, only, but of the whole Commonwealth, and the manufacturers can, therefore, well afford to have a lower duty from the stand-point of protection. It has been asserted here to-day that the London manufacturer has sold starch in the Australian market at £10 per ton less than the London price. Senator McGregor has completelyknocked the stuffing out of that argument in proving that the freight between London and Australia is only 27s. 6d. per ton. If that were a fact the importing industry to which Senator Pulsford has referred would have quickly taken advantage of it by buying starch here and sending it back to be sold in competition with the article sold in London.
– They would make only one deal like that.
– Even one deal would be very profitable to them. The prices I have quoted satisfy me that the industry can be carried on with a lower protective duty.
– T - The last speech is a fair illustration of the wild statements which are made on behalf of the free-trade side. Senator Pearce has aa ingenious theory that, if the fact I stated about the price in London and Australia were true, people would immediately buy Colman’s Starch here, send it home, and sell it at a profit there. Any practical man would understand at once that the firm knows everything which is going on, and would very soon put a stop to any large purchases for that purpose. I have documents which prove conclusively the- facts I have stated. According to Colman’s own price list, No. 1 starch, in papers 4 lb. to 5 lb., is quoted at 34s., and when parcels of 2£ cwt., or upwards, are taken, 5 per cent, discount is allowed. So that £32 a ton is the quotation in London for the article. According to Morton’s Weekly Export Prices Current for March, 1902, the export price of Colman’s No. 1 starch, large papers, 4 lb. to 5 lb., was £22 per ton. That is to say, the export price in London “was £10 less than the price for local consumption.
– Then the consumers here benefit.
– T - The consumers do not benefit. Does the honorable senator suppose for a moment that the price would be quoted by Messrs. J. and J. Colman so much lower for Australia than for London unless they had to fight local manufacturers’? With the control they have of the starch market, if it were not for the local competition, Messrs. J. and J. Colman would be able to get nearly the same price in- Australia as in London. Why do they not get the same price here ? Because they know that they have to capture the market from the local manufacturer, and that is the reason why from the time when starch began to be produced largely in Victoria it has been much cheaper to the consumer here than it was before. Senator Pearce is altogether wrong in the deductions which he makes from the fact that certain charges are now made for starch. According to the honorable senator, Harper and Co. are charging very much more than even the excise and import duties entitle them to charge. I presume that at this particular time they can get more for their article, just as in exactly the same way, when the Tariff was introduced, a large number of retailers increased the price of articles on which there was no duty. At particular times an article may be able to realize a greater or lower price in the market. Under normal conditions the experience in Victoria has been that year after year the price of all starch has been brought down by reason of the local production. In September, 1891, Colman’s No. 1 starch, white, was quoted in London at £22 10s. for export, and at £32 for local consumption, while in the free port of Sydney it was sold at £25 10s. per ton. We have no figures to show the extent of the protection, and why it is not enough. You cannot measure ti matter of this kind by merely comparing the cost of local production with the cost of production at home, with duty and charges added. In some businesses you may do that, but in others you cannot. We have the undeniable fact that, in order to get possession of this market, firms like Colman’s and Rickett’s are able to sell their starch at a third less in Victoria than they charge in London. When you consider the conditions of labour here, it is not too much to say that you are only dealing with the industry reasonably if yon retain the difference of Id. between the excise duty and the import duty. After all, it is a question of a small amount of revenue that is involved. If the whole of the starch were made here we would get 1/2d per lb. less on 1,000,000 lbs., whereas, if it were all imported, we would get £d. per lb. more on the quantity. If we increase the amount of importation and diminish the amount of manufacture by one-half what it is according to my estimate, what is the result ? We shall lose revenue to the extent of £S,000 a year. We must consider what this industry means, what the employment of the people in not only this industry but in all subsidiary industries means, and remember that every man in constant employment becomes a consumer of dutiable articles on which we must collect more revenue.
– How much does that represent at the rate of 2 lbs. of starch per head? It. is infinitesimal.
– M - My honorable and learned friend knows that it is one of those benefits which cannot be calculated. At the same time it is a benefit which I think every one who looks at the matter from a statesmanlike point of view will recognise. If we do lose a certain amount of revenue on starch, it will be more than made up by the increased imports of dutiable goods which are consumed by persons who are in constant employment at good wages. That experience is borne out wherever the experiment of a higher Tariff has been tried, and notably in the case of America. If it is a question of £8,000 to the revenue, even allowing that the amount of importation is double that which we expect, is that a reason why we should cut clown the protection to a, point at which it becomes questionable whether the industry will be able to live 1 We are not entitled to look at the question from the revenue point of view only. Honorable senators who are not fanatic freetraders have just as much right to consider the point of view of not cutting down the protection too low as they have to consider the point of view of revenue. Considering the competition the industry is subject to, I hope that the committee will leave the duty at the rate at which it was fixed by a very large majority in another place.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - The honorable and learned senator is like the Irish car man who kept a canter for the avenue. Whilst I admire the constant protectionist argument that by keeping up the high duties we give employment to an extra number of men, who consume a quantity of dutiable articles, I think we ought to confine that in this instance to the consumption of starch. The number of persons employed in starch-making is 100, and I do not think that 200 lbs. of starch, represented by the difference of1/2d., will go very much towards equalizing the revenue, which Senator O’Connor admits will be more under my proposition than under the item as it stands.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 53, by inserting after the word “ starch,” the words “ per lb. 2d., and on and after 1st July, 1902, 11/2d.” - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … …. 14
Noes … … … 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The remainder of this item is really included under the name of “ starch flours,” which is a generic term. These flours are not used as starch, lor instance, tapioca flour is either a direct product from the cassava root, like tapioca itself, or else it is the raw material of some manufactures. It will be agreed that 2d. per lb. on these articles, which are a raw material in the manufacture of confectionery, would be too high. The duty, at any rate, should not be higher than that on sago and tapioca under item 47, where the rate is 4s. per cental. I think it must be by inadvertence that these starch flours are included under item 53, seeing that they are not used as starch. According to my information, starch flour is the dust which must be removed before the solid starch can be made. For this reason I intend to move that the duty be reduced to1/2d. per lb.
– Potato flour is used for dressing and polishing twine. There was no duty upon it under the Victorian Tariff. There is under this Tariff a duty of 20 per cent. on twine; and a duty of 2d. per lb. on potato flour, which is used in the dressing of the twine, would be a heavier duty on the raw material than on the finished product. I therefore ask Senator Symon not to move his amendment with regard to the whole of the rest of the item.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 53 by adding the words “and on and after 1st July, 1902, starch flours, including rice meal, and rice, tapioca, and potato Hours, per lb.1/2d. “
Under item 23 the duty on corn-flour is1/2d. If rice-flour is used for food there is no reason why it should be charged with a higher duty than corn-flour.
– I - I can assure Senator Symon that he is mistaken in supposing that starch flours are not of the same nature as starch. We all know what ordinary solid starch is : but there is also a starch that is imported in the form of flour. One particular brand is called Robin’s starch. It is aflour, but is used in the same way as ordinary starch. It is quite obvious that, if we make a difference between starch and starch flour of this character, we give an enormous impetus to the consumption of flour starch.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - In view of the vote which has just been carried, I do not desire anything in the nature of starch to -escape. With the permission of the committee I will withdraw my motion.
Motions (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 53 byinsertingafter the word “starch” the words “including Starch in powdered form.”
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 03 by adding the words “ and on and after 1st July, . 1902, starch flours, including rice meal, and rice, tapioca, and potato flour,1/2d.”
Item 54. - -Straw, per ton,5s.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 54 by adding the words “ and on and after 1st July, 1902, free.”
The committee has already decided that hay and chaff of all kinds shall be included in the list of special exemptions, and it appears to me that if the more valuable product of the field is duty free, this article should also be free. The retention of this duty would lead probably to great dissatisfaction in the work of the Customs department. A great deal of wheaten hay will probably be claimed to be wheaten straw, and there will be considerable conflict.
– I - I shall vote against this motion. No doubt it follows exactly the same line as that to which the honorable senator has referred, and I shall not take up any time in discussing it.
Motion agreed to.
Item 65. - Table waters, aerated or mineral, and preparations packed for household useforthe production thereof, including sparklets ; also ale, porter, and other beer, cider, and perry containing less than 2 per cent. of proof spirit, ad ralorem, 20 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 55 by adding to the special exemptions “On and after 1st July, 1902, Sparklets.”
If the position in regard to sparklets had been thoroughly understood in another place, I believe, from what I can learn, that they would have been placed upon the free list. A sparklet is not a preparation for the production of soda, seltzer, or any other kind of water coming under this item. I have obtained a syphon and a box of sparklets to place before the committee, and I wish to show the difference between this and any preparation for the making of table drinks. The small bulb or sparklet contains carbon di-oxide, compressed at about 700 to 1,000 lbs. to the square inch, and it cannot be made in the Commonwealth for years to come, for the reason that its use here is not sufficient to justify anything of the kind, while it is also patented, and for the present can be made only by one firm. Their effect upon water, or any other liquid, is simply to aerate it. The preparation necessary to make that aerated water a substitute for lemonade, sodawater, or like drinks is contained in little tabloids sold in a phial like the one I hold in my hand. The tabloids are included in this item, and there is no desire to remove the duty off them. Among these tabloids, of which I have a great number, is one which is an anti-enteric. That kind of tabloid, used in conjunction with the sparklet, has been found very beneficial in South Africa. I am informed that 10,000 boxes of sparklets were sent over to South Africa during the war, and were used very extensively in the hospitals there. The small box which I hold in my hands contains twelve, and a gross of sparklets weighs only 41/2 lbs. Those who work so earnestly in the interests of the people in the back-blocks should have no hesitation in agreeing to ,my motion. In the back country I have had to use water that was practically rotten, and if these sparklets had been in my possession I should have been able to make it more palatable. The apparatus is very simple. Honorable senators will see that it can be carried and used in the country with ease. The syphon is filled with the liquid, the head is then screwed down, and, piercing the bulb, causes it to aerate the water. Then tabloids may be used to make whatever kind of aerated water is desired. All that we ask is that the sparklets shall be free from duty. If the duty is removed they will be sold at ls. per box, but while the duty remains the price charged will be ls. 3d. per box, as there is no possibility of bringing any local manufacture!’ into competition with the importer. People may be willing to pay ls. for an article, when if they are asked to pay ls. Id. or ls. 2d. they would make serious objection. With respect to the quantity introduced into Australia, it has amounted in value to only about £20,000 within the last three years. That £20,000 covers the apparatus I have exhibited, and the value of the different other preparations which also have to pa)7 duty. If we deduct the value of the apparatus, and- of these preparations, from the £20,000, and divide it by three - because the importation has only existed for about three years - there is only an import of about £5,000 per annum shown, and that would give a revenue of only £300. From the revenue point of view the duty is insignificant, and from the protectionist point of view it will be impossible for generations, probably, t6 establish a manufacture of this description in Australia. I hope honorable senators will recognise these things and will not oppose the motion because a particular individual has moved it.
– If If I thought there was any justification for the suggestion that Senator McGregor could be claimed as a freetrader, I should be very much grieved, . because there is no more consistent or eloquent advocate of the principles of protection than the honorable senator. I think he may very well make a proposition of this kind without violating protectionist principles. I do not intend to support the motion, but I do not intend to take up time over it. It is one which I think the committee can settle very quickly
– I shall have very great pleasure in voting alongside of my honorable friend and fellow free-trader, Senator McGregor. It will be observed that in this item we have the words “packed for household use.” When we were discussing the duty upon oilmen’s stores we found the elimination of words similar to these had been made use of in a Customs decision for the purpose of admitting free anything that was not packed in a small form. This, I think, is a good opportunity for Senator O’Connor to make the explanation he promised with respect to the same words in connexion with oilmen’s stores. If that explanation is made we shall probably be in a betterposition to decide whether they should be eliminated in this case or not.
– If I thought for a moment that these sparklets would purify the water in which ducks swim, and which Senator McGregor has had to drink, I might see my way to vote with the honorable senator. He surely forgets that, in laying down this principle, he may strike a blow at a great industry. Some day we may have a great industry in Australia for the purpose of manufacturing these little pellets to shoot invigorating gas into the ducks’ water. The. honorable senator must not forget also, that he is proposing to bring this article into competition with the soda water manufacturers in Melbourne, and he must think of the patter which may be heard upon the streets of the feet of the people cast out of employment, and of the crowd who will go to swell the ranks of the unemployed by the free introduction of an article of this kind. No true protectionist should lose sight of the fact that this may add to the ranks of the unemployed many persons who are now in employment. It is, of course, only protectionist nonsense I have been talking, but turning to the other side of the question surely a luxury of this kind should yield some revenue ? Where is the justification for imposing even a revenue duty upon table waters, soda waters, and articles of that kind if we are going to admit this article free of duty? Senator McGregor has told us of the working man who is going to carry these things about the gold-fields of the back blocks for the purpose of sparklifying his water. I am sure he will do nothing of the kind, because they have no medicinal qualities at all, and will simply give to the stuff he drinks an effervescence which it otherwise would not have. It will remain dirty water still. If Senator McGregor thinks that he can drink dirty water in future with impunity by using this article he is very much mistaken.
– I intend to support the motion. I point out, however, that the substance with which these cartridges are charged comes in free when it is imported in bulk. That is an anomaly which, I think, the committee should not hesitate to rectif y, by making this chemical free when it is enclosed in these small cartridges. There is a good deal of fever in the back blocks of Australia, and medical practitioners are continually prescribing aerated drinks for fever patients. A man could carry a pocket full of these cartridges with him when riding on horseback in the back country, where he could not take a case of soda water. Although the article may be spoken of as a luxury, there can be no doubt that it is useful in cases of fever, and it might be very well placed upon the free list.
Senator STYLES (Victoria). - I desire to say that as a protectionist I intend to support Senator McGregor’s motion on the ground that this article is a raw material.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I intend to vote for the motion, because while these sparklets may be used as a luxury by a few persons, from my knowledge of the interior of Australia I know that in very many cases of sickness in country hospitals and private homes, to say nothing of the benefit to travellers, this is an article which possesses an amount of usefulness which cannot be claimed for the ordinary bottled article. A man cannot carry soda water by the dozen about the country, whereas these are things which he can carry. Senator McGregor made some reference to dirty water, but it is possible also to apply the article to clean water.
Senator Sir . JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I rise to explain why I shall be unable to vote with Senator McGregor to make this article free. The honorable senator concluded his speech by saying that he hoped no one would vote against him on personal grounds. I do not think I need give my honorable friend that assurance, but if it be necessary I do so most emphatically. I shall vote for anything in the direction of a reduction of duties, or for commodities being made free where they are articles of general and ordinary consumption, and do not appear to me to be luxuries. I congratulate Senator McGregor upon the attitude he has taken up in this matter. He does not go quite as far asI should like, but his motion shows the educative benefit of the debates which have been going on for so long. I anticipate that the honorable senator will yet not only be found voting upon this side, but moving motions which we on this side can support. Soda water in every form is of great value in cases of sickness. Mineral waters are also of great service, but if sparklets are made duty free I think that all the articles in this line would have to be treated in the same way. I regret that I am unable to support my honorable friend, because I consider that sparklets come within the category of luxuries. A duty of 20 per cent. is very high. It ought to be reduced to 15 per cent. If Senator McGregor will agree to make all the articles in this line subject to a duty of 10 or 15 per cent., I shall be with him. If, on the other hand, he adheres to one line out of the lot, I am afraid that I cannot support him.
Motion agreed to.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I rise to ask Senator O’Connor whether he will not agree to reduce the duty on table waters to 15 per cent.? From our point of view 20 per cent, is a shocking duty to impose.
– A d A duty of 20 per cent, on the remaining articles in this line is certainly not too high, because these are articles of luxury. There are local articles which take the place of some of these waters. Table waters, aerated or mineral, come in to a certain extent, while soda water and other waters of that kind come in, but not to a very large extent. I believe that there are some special soda waters which come in, but the greater proportion of our supply of soda water and lemonade is made here. The great bulk of the revenue which is collected under this item is derived from the importation of mineral waters like Apollinaris. Is there any reason why foreign Spa waters should not pay a duty of 20 per cent. ? Certainly they are articles of luxury, from which a revenue ought to be derived. There is really no necessity for the importation of these waters, because at Helidon and Herberton, in Queensland, we have Spa waters which I think are quite equal to any imported water.In New South Wales we have the Cooma water and the Zetz Spa water, which are quite as good as any of these imported waters. In Victoria there is the Hepburn mineral water. While we have these natural products, why should we take special pains to lower that which is really a revenue duty, when it may have the effect of diminishing the sale of our mineral waters ? There is no reason why we should abandon any revenue from an item of this kind. In the passage of the Tariff through the other House we have been dropping revenue, and when the sum total of the effect of our suggestions comes to be dealt with, I think it will be found that a great deal of revenue has been lost here. But whether that is so or not, certainly these waters ought to pay a duty of 20 per cent. I hope that the duty will not be reduced.
Senator STYLES (Victoria).- In the interests of the public health I should like to see the duty on these waters increased to 200 per cent. Dr. Gresswell, who is Chairman of the Board of Public Health in Victoria, and who, like most doctors, is, I believe, a free-trader, has made a statement which I think will carry great weight even with those who only know him by repute. In a communication tome he says -
In reference to item 55, table waters : Preservatives, saccharine, and other substances are used for these waters, and there is no doubt that in this State all such additions will be prohibited before long, so that it might be well to protect the native industry by raising the duty on table waters to an almost prohibitive rate. This applies to the whole of the lines under item 55 ; and after the word “perry” the words “fruit iuices” might well be introduced.
The opinion of Dr. Gresswell is entitled to very great respect. It is not a question of protection or of revenue, but a question of the public health throughout the Commonwealth. In several States mineral waters are bottled and vended under the inspection of Government officers, and it is known whether the article is wholesome or not. It seems to me that we could not do wrong by imposing a very high duty on table waters, which, after all is said and done, are luxuries. I would move that the duty be increased to 40 per cent. if I thought that there was a chance of carrying the motion. I am afraid that the representatives of the Government would vote against any such motion.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 55, by adding the words “ and on and after 1st July, 1902, 25 per cent.”
These articles are beyond all doubt luxuries. There is a very fine cider industry in Tasmania, and I wish to protect it against the competition of foreign makers. With regard to aerated waters, my experience leads me to the conclusion that they are mostly used by the gentlemen whose interest Senator Symon has championed so freely during the debates on this Bill. A man who can pay for a whisky and soda can afford to bear a little of the burden of taxation.
Question put. The committee dividedAyes … … … 5
Noes … … … 22
Majority … … 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I wish to call attention to an anomaly. Under this item, “ table waters, aerated and mineral,” are taxed 20 per cent., but under item 105, medicinal waters are to pay duty at 15 per cent. It would be hard to determine whether some imported waters come under the heading of medicinal waters or mineral waters. The bulk of the foreign table waters imported into Australia are medicinal in their character, and they are used as table waters because of their medicinal properties. It would be a fair thing to put the whole of these waters under the 15 per cent. duty. Under this item articles used in the production of aerated waters are liable to a 20 per cent. duty, while under item 105, tartaric acid and carbonate of soda are placedupon the exemption list. They are the articles which are used for the production of sodawater for household purposes. Any person who uses a gasogene in his house purchases so many ounces of carbonate of soda and so many ounces of tartaric acid. To relieve the Customs officers of the extreme difficulty of differentiating between medicinal and table waters,I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 55 by adding the words “and on and after 1st July,1902, 10 per cent.”
– I - I understand that Senator Neild’s difficulty is with regard to an apparent conflict between item 55 and item 103. But there is no conflict. Item 105 deals with medicines, patent and proprietary, including medicinal water and oils. There are such mineral waters as Hunyadi Janos, which contain minerals to such an extent that they are properly described as mineral waters. A table water such as lithia water may contain minerals to some extent, but it is a manufactured water. Whether manufactured or not, it is a water containing a mineral to an extent that no doubt has an appreciable effect. It may be so with other waters, but could any Customhouse officer be confused in the distinction drawn between table and medicinal waters ? There can be no difficulty in distinguishing between these two classes, and, therefore, they are placed under separate headings. Senator Neild has referred to the fact that such things as carbonate of soda, tartaric acid, cream of tartar, and citric acid are included under the heading of special exemptions. The difference is that, if a chemist or some one else makes up these things for use in the household they come under the heading of the duty with which we are dealing ; but when the articles are mere chemicals, and the person who buys them has to take the trouble of separating the quantities and mixing them, they come under the list of special exemptions in item 105. We are dealing with the raw material in the one case, and with the article ready for use in the other.
– I think that Senator Neild has very properly called attention to items 55 and 105 taken together, and particularly to the exemptions under item 105. I appealed to Senator O’Connor to accept a duty of 15 per cent, in this case, but the difference between the table waters mentioned in item 55 and the other waters which pay a duty of 15 per cent. under item 105 is fairly clear. I am bound to say that, looking at the eccentricities possible in the administration of the Customs department, it is impossible to predict what may happen, but if this item is administered, not only with fairness and intelligence, but with uniformity, there can be no difficulty. There is Apenti, and a large number of other waters, which are quite distinguishable from table waters, and if they are a medicine I would suggest to my honorable friend that when we come to item 105, we should consider whether there ought not to be a reduction in the duty. I would ask Senator Neild not to press his motion to a division, because, if these are interpreted as table waters, the duty will be a very heavy one in favour of Helidon spa water.
Item 36. - Tea, per lb., free; in packets, per lb., free.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - ‘The question arising under this item may involve something like £500,000 of duty. The duty is not idly to be taken off or put on, and, therefore, following the course adopted very properly by another place, I ask Senator O’Connor to postpone the item. It has to be viewed from a consideration of the whole Tariff rather than from any preconceived ideas, one way or the other. I move -
That item 56 be postponed.
– I agree that the question of a duty on tea is of very great moment, and should not be treated lightly. As I mentioned in my second-reading speech, I intend to move that a duty of 3d. per lb. be placed on tea in bulk, believing it to be my duty to do so in view of ‘our deplorable condition from a revenue point of view. I shall agree to the motion for the postponement of the item, but when opportunity offers, I shall certainly take the course I have indicated.
– I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will not agree to a postponement. What is the effect of the postponement of any item upon the public mind ? Tea is free at the present time, and it is quite possible for every merchant in Australia to stack his premises with it. The merchants would do so if they thought that a duty would be placed upon it. Even if Senator Symon and others, so favorable to the imposition of direct taxation, were to succeed ultimately in putting a tax on tea, no revenue could be obtained for a time, because the warehouses would be stacked with tea sufficient to last for a year or two to come. It would- be far better to settle this question at once.
– I - I explained the position of the Government in regard to this item when moving the second reading of the Bill. That position has not altered, and we intend to oppose any suggestion in reference to the item. At the same time, I realize with those who may hold an opposite view, that it is a very important matter to consider, and that perhaps their view may depend to a certain extent upon the result of the suggested alteration of other items in the Tariff. Therefore, and as it appears that time may be saved in the conduct of business, I see no objection to the motion.
– The weight of evidence goes to show that this item should not be postponed. At our present rate of progress we may hope to get through the schedule about Christmas, and are business people who deal in tea to be kept in suspense for the whole of that period? I think that some of those who desire a postponement have counted heads, and, knowing that there is no possibility of tinkering successfully with this item, they hope that in the event of a delay something may turn up. It would be preferable to deal with the issue at once. We have had no notice of various propositions made by certain honorable senators, and now because Senator Symon is not ready to proceed he wishes the consideration of this item to be postponed. I am very sorry that Senator O’Connor has agreed to the proposal.
– I have been taken aback by the action of some honorable senators with regard to this item. It is a question upon which we have all made up our minds, and we might just as well discuss it now. If the question is put to a division I shall vote against the proposed postponement. The largest tea merchant in the city of Melbourne tells me that through the action taken in another place he lost something like £2,000 upon the tea he had in his warehouse. I know that another gentleman, who also deals in tea, suffered a great deal of loss in consequence of the action taken. It is not right to the commercial or the general public that the settlement of this matter should be further postponed. Now that the duty has been taken off I think the general feeling is that it should remain off. I cannot support the Government when I believe them to be wrong, and I shall be no party to any compact for the postponement of this item.
– The leader of the Opposition might very well have given some reasons for the postponement of this item. It has been suggested that it is necessary that it should be postponed because we may have to make up by a duty upon tea revenue which may be lost by the cutting down of the duties upon other items. The tea duty is therefore to be held over our heads in terrorem, and if we desire to cut down other duties, we mustface the prospect of a re-imposition of the tea duty. I shall not consent to its reimposition. Every honorable senator has made up his mind upon the question, the Government have given a clear announcement of their position, and no sufficient reason has been advanced for the postpone- ment of the item. I protest against its postponement, and I hope the Government will allow the committee to deal with the matter now.
– I - I desire honorable senators to understand that there is absolutely no ground whatever for the suggestion of Senator Barrett that there is any compact between Senator Symon and myself for the postponement of this item. As a matter of fact I had myself been considering the propriety of postponing the item if there was to be any attack made upon it. I did not care to state the reason unnecessarily, but honorable senators who have regard for the revenue will, I am sure, see that if a suggestion were made now that a duty should be re-imposed upon tea, there would be nothing to prevent cablegram orders being sent immediately to China and large quantities of tea arriving here and getting in before the duty was imposed, assuming that the other House accepted the suggestion. The duty would, of course, not be imposed until the suggestion was accepted by the other House, and probably not until the Tariff Bill became law. Honorable senators are aware that the suggestions agreed to by the Senate make no difference whatever in the collection of duty. I do not think it is at all likely, but if it was decided to re-impose the duty upon tea the Government would be placed in the position of having to lose the duty upon practically the whole of the season’s teas.
– Postponing the item will not help that.
– I t I think it will. I have explained that if it was proposed to re-impose a duty upon tea now, before that proposition could be dealt with by the House of Representatives there would be time to have large supplies imported free before the duty could be imposed, whereas, if we wait until the end of the Tariff before dealing, with this item, there will be no time for importers to operate in any wholesale way. There is another strong reason for the postponement from the point of view of procedure. There appears to be some impression that I have consented to the postponement of the item from some spirit of complaisance and a feeling of amiability towards Senator Symon. I aspire to a character for amiability, but not at the expense of principle, or at the expense of carrying on the business in a proper way. I hope I have satisfied the committee that there are strong reasons why, in the interest of the business of the Senate and in the interest of the Commonwealth, the discussion of this item should be postponed.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I hope honorable senators will reconsider the position, because those who desire that there should be free tea in the interests of the overworked and badly-paid people throughout the Commonwealth, know that there are some honorable senators who would impose a duty upon tea if they got the chance. Senator O’Connor has mentioned that there will be a great interval between the carrying of a suggestion here to impose a duty upon tea and its imposition, if it is agreed to by the House of Representatives. But if I read the Constitution aright we may send a suggestion to the other House at any time. If we carry a motion here to impose a duty upon tea, there is no reason why the House of Representatives should not deal with that motion at an early date. No sufficient reason has been given for a postponement of the item, which will be inconvenient, if not dangerous.
Senator BARRETT (Victoria). - I am not satisfied with the explanations which have been given. I have no desire to see the vote in favour of free tea endangered by something which may subsequently happen with regard to other items. From a tactical stand-point it is a splendid thing for the leader of the Opposition to get a postponement of this item. He may continue to whittle down the duties upon other items, and at the conclusion of the consideration of the schedule we shall be told that the reductions which have been made will result in the loss of so much revenue that we shall be compelled to impose a tax upon tea. I cannot submit to that, and I shall vote against the postponement of the item.
– I have read in a certain document that - “ In vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird.” But the net has been spread clearly here, and the unfortunate bird has fallen into it. The leader of the Opposition has not disguised his object in the slightest. He stated plainly that when we have done with this Tariff it may be found necessary, in the interests of revenue, to impose a duty upon tea. Those may not have been his exact words, but that is the only meaning I could take from his utterances. The honorable and learned senator holds this duty in reserve. His policy is to cut and slash at this Tariff, reduce duties here, there, and everywhere, and then at the close re-impose the duty upon tea to make up the deficiency in the revenue. I am opposed to any duty upon tea, and I see no reason why the subjectshould not have been treated upon its merits, just as mineral waters were treated. Why did not Senator Symon propose a postponement of the item covering the duty upon mineral waters ? I have been astonished at the Government lending themselves so easily to the desires of Senator Symon. Senator O’Connor has given as a reason for the postponement that if a proposal to impose a duty upon tea were carried here it would lead to a great deal of speculation in the tea trade. I believe that is quite true, and it is not at all desirable that it should happen, because the probability is that we should not get any revenue from tea for this season. But I have not the slightest idea that anything of the kind will happen. Unless there is some conspiracy between the Government and the Opposition to impose a duty upon tea, I cannot see that there is the slightest possibility of the leader of the Opposition carrying a motion to impose such a duty. Senator O’Connor has told us many times that we must stick to the letter of the Tariff as it has come to us from the House of Representatives
Why does not the honorable and learned senator stick to the letter of the Tariffwith regard to tea? He must know perfectly well that if the Government are opposed to the re-imposition of a duty upon tea it cannot be carried here, because every honorable senator in the labour corner is against it. I must come to the conclusion that the Government have simply abandoned their declared position when Senator O’Connor agrees to postpone the discussion of this item because the leader of the Opposition asks him to do so.
– He has expressly disclaimed that. He has said that he was on the point of moving the postponement himself.
- Senator O’Connor knows perfectly well that the re-imposition of the duty upon tea cannot be carried if he sticks to what he said previously. I must conclude that both parties are holding the tea duty in reserve, so that if the duties upon other articles are whittled down too much, they can fall back upon the working man’s morning cup of tea.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I think the Government should have taken some notice of what happened in another place. We know that when this item was put into the schedule as free, there was a great outcry by a number of business people in the community, and deputation after deputation approached the Government to induce them to bring the matter up again. We know that Mr. Philp, the Premier of Queensland, made an outcry against the proposal, and said that Queensland would suffer greatly from the loss of revenue, and he was looking to the Senate to make a change since he could not get the Government to act. The Government in another place told us plainly that so far as they were concerned the thing was at an end, and they were not going to interfere. What is the reason for the back-down from that attitude? Why is it that the honorable and learned senator has given way? When I made a proposal for the increase of the duty upon another item we could get no alteration in the rigid determination of the honorable and learned senator to adhere to the Tariff as it stood. Now, however, it appears that there is a change.
– T - That is directly contrary to what I have said. I have said that if a motion to impose a duty on tea is proposed the Government intend to adopt the same attitude, and will oppose it.
– I have no desire to take up the ro1e of candid friend to the Government, but it appears to me that this is a mistaken policy. The honorable and learned senator has fallen in with the views of a known enemy, who has declared his intention to sweep away protection wherever he can. We know that Senator Symon will attempt to destroy the protective character of this Tariff in every way he can. He is prepared to relieve those who can afford to pay for high-class cigars, muscatels, and almonds, of the burden of taxation, and at; the same time to impose further taxation upon the working classes by making them pay a duty upon tea. The honorable and learned senator cannot have the slightest hope of carrying a motion for the imposition of a duty upon tea ; but time is everything to the man who has a bad case. The honorable and learned senator as a lawyer knows that time is what the criminal wants, and time is what the political criminal now wants.
– Is that in order?
– If the honorable senator referred to Senator Symon he was not in order, and he must withdraw the expression.
– I remind you, sir, that the objection is taken by this super-sensitive individual who suggested the other day that I was a “jackal”; but I will withdraw the expression. If there is no prospect of Senator O’Connor giving way, it will be necessary for me to state a number of arguments against the postponement of this item.
– I - I have quite made up my mind as to the postponement for the reasons I have given.
– I hope that if in future Senator Symon desires to postpone any item he will give us notice. I shall vote against the postponement, and if no one else callsfor a division against it, I shall do so.
– As As an opponent of a tea duty, I wish to protest against a postponement of this item. It is decidedly unfair to keep commercial men in a state of suspense. The newspapers have led tradesmen and the general public to believe that an attempt would be made in the Senate to reimpose the duty. Tea importers wish to know as soon as possible whether it is to be re-imposed, and that is one of the reasons which impel me to vote against the motion. I am very much surprised that Senator O’Connor has agreed to a postponement of the item. He must know that there are yet to be considered many items which, if agreed to as they stand, would bring in a certain amount of revenue. If Senator Symon should succeed in carrying this proposition - undoubtedly a very clever one from his point of view - and in reducing the duties on many items, it would leave him something to come and go upon. It is generally known that the accepted leader of the free-trade party in Australia has stated that it would be just as well to have something to come and go upon, if further revenue has to be obtained. If Senator Symon should be successful in reducing the duties on various items, and thereby diminishing the revenues of the States, it would furnish him with this argument - that if honorable senators did not reimpose the duty on tea, the States could not get that amount of revenue which they required to carry on the work of government. As one of those who believe that the revenue which is necessary to the States can be obtained by the imposition of duties on articles which can be produced or manufactured in the Commonwealth, I hold that tea should be duty free. Believing that Senator Symon is of the opinion that a postponement of this item will assist him in inducing honorable senators to reduce the duties on the remaining items, I shall vote against his motion.
– I can assure Senator O’Keefe that the motion is not prompted by any party motive. I think it is a proposal which is in the interests of the Senate generally, and the reasonable conduct of public business. I do not see any reason why we should enter into any arrangement to-night which after a time we might have to alter, and which would be subject to the very serious objections that have been pointed out by Senators O’Connor and Symon. I shall vote for the motion.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - This is a tactical move on the part of the leader of the free-trade party in the Senate. Later on he may or may not move in the matter of imposing a duty on tea. He can make a virtue of necessity later on if he wishes. If he should succeed in making some alterations in the Tariff, and should find later on, as he finds now, that he cannot interfere with the free admission of tea, then of course he will tell the general public that, having succeeded in amending the Tariff, his party do not propose to further increase the burdens on the working classes. We give the honorable and learned senator every credit for his strategy Senators Playford and demons, who are absent, are in favour of imposing a duty on tea, and if a vote were taken to-night he would not have the benefit of their votes.
– If Senator Clemons were here to-night he would support a motion for the postponement of the item.
– Becausehe can see just as far as can any other free-trader. Senator Playford favours a duty on tea, but he is not present, and that is why we who wish to have free tea should go ahead if we can. I regret that we cannot decide the question to-night. Unconsciously we have wasted a lot of time over various propositions, and now it is proposed to postpone the consideration of this item in order, I suppose, to enable honorable senators to get facts as to why a duty should beimposed on tea. I wish it to be understood that we in this corner, both free-traders and protectionists, are in favour of having free tea. I am satisfied that a postponement of the item will not bring any advantage to Senator Symon from this quarter.
Question - That item 56 be postponed - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 17
Noes … … … 7
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Item 57. - Wine, unfermented, agreed to.
Postponed item 41. - Oilmen’s Stores, n.e.i., including culinary and flavouring essences, soap dyes, condition foods, and other pr eparations used in the household, ad valorem, 20 per cent.
– Whe When this item was before the committee on a previous occasion a statement was made that the Minister for Trade and Customs had admitted duty free the goods in bulk which went to makeup the oilmen’s stores to which it refers, and I promised to ascertain how the matter stood, and to make an explanation. I have had the advantage of a conversation with my honorable and learned colleague. It appears that originally the item concluded with the following words : - “Whether otherwise exempted or not, when in packages for retail sale,” which made it quite clear that the only articles subject to duty were those which were prepared in that way, and were ready for sale as for use in the household. A discussion took place in the other House, with the result that the words I have referred to were struck out. Then the item assumed the shape that it has at the present time - that is to say, oilmen’s stores, including certain things that are mentioned, and other preparations used in the household, were taxed at 20 per cent. and opposite to the duty there were certain lines which were free from duty. The item as originally brought in, included infants’ and invalids’ food, and the revenue which was to be obtained from it was something like £18,000 a year; but when infants’ and invalids foods’ were put upon the free list, the revenue was reduced by £10,000 a year, leaving about £8,000 a year. When that amendment was made, the Customs officers at first interpreted the item to mean, thatall these articles used in the household, whether put up in packets or not, were to be taxed. On that understanding the)’ were proceeding to put the law in force in regard to a number of articles which previously had been free. They asked the opinion of the Minister as to whether a number of these articles, such as tartaric acid, cream of tartar, acetic acid, and a number of other goods which would involve duty altogether to the extent of about £20,000, were to be taken to be included in the oilmen’s stores which were to be subject to duty ? Mr. Kingston made a minute to the effect that it was not intended by that amendment to enlarge the scope of the articles subject to duty, but that the only difference made by the amendment was that the goods referred to in the item were to be dutiable whether they were imported in bulk or singly. Afterwards another set of articles were brought before Mr. Kingston, who was asked to decide whether these additional goods were to pay duty. He decided again that the scope of the original intention was not to be enlarged - that is to say, that no other articles were to be brought under the operation of the duty than those originally included under the heading of oilmen’s stores. A question was asked in the House of Representatives in December, 1901, in the following terms: -
The answer of the Minister was -
An alteration made by the committee was construed by the officers to include these goods as dutiable ; but though this meaning couldbe justified, the Government, recognising that this was not so intended by the House, have directed the free admission of these goods.
That is to say, the free admission was permitted, not of any goods which would be included under oilmen’s stores, but there was to be a wider interpretation than the Customs officers had made in regard to goods under the heading of oilmen’s stores. Under these circumstances my colleague, having given thisdirection, left Melbourne for South Australia on some private business, and in his absence, the officers of the department interpreted his minute to mean that all goods which were made up as oilmen’s stores were to be admitted free. They issued the order embodied in the decision which was read to the committee. These decisions are not the decisions of the Minister, though they are issued under his authority. This decision’ was really given by an inadvertence and by a misrepresentation of the ruling of the Minister. Under that decision these goods, have been admitted free. The pointing out of the matter in the Senate was the first intimation the Minister had of what had been done. He looked into the matter at once, and has now given a direction that the mistake shall be remedied. It was an inadvertence that these goods were admitted free. The result will now be that all the goods that come under item 41 will be charged with duty, whether they are imported in bulk or in packages for domestic use. The question then arises whether the proposed reduction ought to be made or not. It does not involve a very great deal of revenue; but certainly these are all articles upon which it is fair that a duty should be charged. In the first place a number of them must be imported, and revenue must be collected on them, and there seems to be no reason why they should not pay the duty which is considered fair and reasonable under all the circumstances. I can see no reason why 20 per cent, should not be charged. It seems that all the articles on which the imposition of duty would press hardly have been omitted. For instance, the matter used for colouring butter is free ; isinglas, liquid rennet in packages of not less than £ lb., and a number of other articles, are free. Other items of general groceries which come under the heading of oilmen’s stores can very well pay the duty at 20 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 41 by adding the words “and on and after 1st July, 1902, 15 per cent.”
I am very glad indeed that my honorable and learned friend has explained what I felt sure - and said in express terms - was in inadvertence, in regard to a customs decision in opposition to what was not only an implied understanding, but an express arrangement made elsewhere in regard to this duty. It is gratifying to learn the genesis of the change that was made. It seems to me incredible that such a decision should have been arrived at by the Customs officers, who may well be cautious, considering the multiplicity of items that have to be dealt with, that the greatest possible care is exercised in regard to any decision. It is beyond the realms of belief that the Customs officers should have made this change, seeing that it is not by implication under item 41 that cream of tartar, tartaric acid, and other things are made free, but by an express special exemption under item 105. There was no need for any forced inter.pretation of item 41 in order that these goods might be admitted free. That matter now being cleared up, the position fs that I under item 41 goods in bulk, as well as goods made up in packets for retail sale across the grocer’s counter, are subject to the same duty of 20 per cent. I lay stress upon that, because the argument used by the protectionists against the reduction of the duty to 15 per cent, was that it was necessary to admit these goods in bulk free, and to have a heavy duty upon goods made up in retail packages, in order that there might be some protection and encouragement for the making up of the goods in packages. I regard the whole duty as far too high, but I am perfectly willing, for the purpose of revenue, that both the retail packets and the bulk stuff should come in at a reduced duty of 15 per cent. It is now practically admitted that there is no protective effect between the duty upon bulk goods and the duty upon goods in. retail packets. There is no margin of protection for the merchant who imports goods in bulk and packs them here. There may be an element of protection in the case of some goods which are ma’de here, but if that be so a duty of 20 per cent, is ‘ altogether extravagant. Surely 15 per cent, is ample protection for the line of goods referred to in item 41. If 3s. in the £1 is not sufficient to project the manufacturer of essences which contain no spirit, it ought to be.
– I am sure that the high -class -cigar man will appreciate Senator Symon’s efforts to get in salad cream, plate polish, blanc-mange powder and jelly packets a little cheaper, but I do not think that the great body of the people will appreciate his efforts, as if he succeeds in this direction he will probably endeavour to re-impose the duty on tea. The honorable and learned senator has complained of the Customs officials having given a wrong decision. I can appreciate the difficulties that they have had. The Government bring down a Tariff; the freetrade party commence to meddle with it, and they themselves claim that in some cases they have so fashioned it that its own father does not know it. The Customs officers are expected to keep pace with the extraordinary movements of politicians. Now in the Senate it is again proposed to alter the Tariff. I should say that the Customs officers are doing very well in that they have only made this one mistake so far as we have discovered. With regard to the duty, I take up the same position as I did when the item was last before us. Senator Symon has given no facts to show in what respect a duty of 20 per cent. will be a burden on the general community. “What are the particular commodities in regard to which burdens will be placed on the general taxpayer ? We were led to believe that it meant increasing the price of food-stuff’s, which are very largely used, and which if taxed would increase to an extraordinary extent the household bill of the ordinary family. No articles have been mentioned by the honorable and learned senator, but we know that this item includes a large number of luxuries, and surely they ought to pay a duty of 20 per cent. I should like to see the duty fixed at 25 per cent.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).I take it that if, according to the VicePresident of the Executive Council, the amount involved is small, the difference in the yield of revenue from a 20 per cent. and a 15 per cent. duty, must also toe small. If that is so, I feel more than ever inclined to vote for the motion. If the difference will only be small, then there must be a Larger importation, and consequently a larger consumption of these articles under the lower duty. Senator Higgs affirmed that none of the ordinary household requirements would be touched to a material extent under this heading, but I would point out that blanc-mange powders, for example, are ordinary articles of use in the humblest home in the country, although he referred to them as if they were a luxury. If with a 15 per cent. duty we can raise approximately the same amount of revenue as with a 20 per cent, duty, there is no justification for imposing a higher rate, seeing that with the latter there must be some diminution in the supply of these goods to a large number of the poorer householders throughout the country.
– I wish to enter a very strong protest against the remark which we hear continually, that because a certain thing is more or less of a luxury, a heavy duty should be imposed on it. As a democrat, I do not believe in making these distinctions. I have repeatedly noticed that articles to which, for many reasons, it is desirable that the masses of the people should have free access, are put more or less out of their reach by the efforts of those who call themselves the friends of the people. Some such articles are included under this heading. I disagree, too, with many of the remarks continually made with regard to pianos and other articles, which we are told are luxuries, but which some persons may require as a means of earning a livelihood. All classes have their desires, and, as far as possible, we ought to make articles of luxury, apart from tobacco and liquor, fairly available to the masses of the people.
– T - The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat has put forward a class of argument which he frequently uses, and which simply means that he thinks the principle object of the Tariff should be to increase importations. We do not wish to do that. We desire to obtain revenue, but when we find a series of articles like these, most of which are luxuries, and a large number of which can be made here, we say that on those that can be made here the duty should afford some kind of protection. As to those which are not made here, they should bear this reasonable duty of 20 per cent. Senator Pulsford has been at great pains to endeavour to fritter away the principle which has been admitted, even by freetraders, that certain articles which are not necessaries of life should bear a revenue duty. There are a number of such articles coming under the heading of oilmen’s stores. For example, there are imported baking powders. We make baking powder here, and those who wish to obtain the imported article are looking out for a luxury, and ought to pay for it. Then we have black lead, metal polishes, celery salt, cerebos, custard powders, egg powders, and things of that kind also coming under this heading. Looking at the duty from the point of view of revenue and protection, both of which purposes it serves, it is a very fair one. It is true that on the last occasion this matter was dealt with entirely from the point of view of the protection given to packing. I dealt with that view on the actual facts. After the explanation which has been given, those facts will be altered and that protection cannot stand. I do not think Senator Symon said anything attributing blame to the Customs officers, but I should like to say that considering the heavy duties imposed upon these gentlemen, especially when a Tariff has to be interpreted - and of course every point cannot be brought directly before the Minister - they have interpreted the items marvellously well.
From my own knowledge of what has been going on, I believe it is impossible that any body of men could have devoted their intelligence more loyally to the service of the State than have the Customs officials. If a mistake such as has been stated has arisen, it is a tribute to the marvellous way in which the officers have done their duty that mistakes have not arisen more frequently.
– I should like to complain of the failure of the committee to give me my own way in everything, for Senator Pulsford has certainly no more right to complain than I have. I, in common with other honorable senators, can see that the whittling away of these percentages only means the clapping on of the tea duty. That is what I am going to look to, and I intend to do all that I can to prevent the occurrence of anything of the kind. We have been told that there is only . a matter of £8,000 involved in the Government proposal, and consequently a reduction cannot make a very great difference. I would remind Senator Symon and Senator Pulsford that a packet of black lead will probably last the average householder for twelve months. Does the wife of the average working man use custard powder and blanc-mange every day in the week? I should like to see them obtain those articles more frequently, but the working classes know that if the duties on these things are reduced, they will have to pay very probably 40 or 50 per cent. duty on tea. For that reason, and apart from any question of protection, I shall support the Government proposal.
– I . should be rather surprised if Senator McGregor was not going to support everything in the way of duties proposed by the Government. The suggestion made by him in regard to the duty on tea is a very hollow reason for his refusal to support this motion. When the Government originally introduced this proposal they had no idea that it would extend in the way it has, and even when it was altered in another place they were not aware that they had spread thenet so far as they appear to have done. When Senator O’Connor dealt with this matter the other night, he urged that it was desirable to have the duty as a kind of protection in the interest of packers, but we have discovered that it will give the packers no protection whatever, while it will increase the duties upon a number of articles which it was intended should be free.
– T - That is not so.
– The honorable and learned senator told us distinctly the other night that the duty was not intended to affect goods in bulk, but that it would cover goods in packages. Now, he finds that a mistake has been made.
– I - I find that the administration was as I stated, owing to a mistake, which will be altered.
– We find that the duty is intended to cover goods in bulk, as well as packages. Therefore, this is a drag-net to catch things which the Government did not anticipate in the first instance that they were going to catch. We have a duty of 12s. 6d. per ton on salt, but because table-salt happens to be imported in bottles, it is to pay a duty of 20 per cent. under this heading. The whole thing is a farce, as far as it has been worked. We have one explanation one night, and another on another night. I would ask honorable senators whether, when we tax items such as those mentioned by the Vice-President - celery - salt, cerebos, and black -lead - a duty of 1 5 per cent, is not sufficient. It is absurd to try and tax all these little things which, ordinarily, are sold at Is., and the price of which will be raised to Is. 3d. or Is. 6d. There are certain honorable senators who would not reduce any duty, but I hope the committee will agree to this motion. Even then we shall be taking a leap in the dark.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - We have been twitted with casting about for another reason in this matter, but honorable senators will recollect that when the item was before the committee previously the main argument was that the duty should be lowered, because the commodity in bulk was admitted free. When we desired to impose the duty upon luxuries we were asked why we allowed the articles to come in free in bulk. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has now made an explanation in which it is shown that the letting of the bulk in free was a mistake, and it is honorable senators who are opposed to the Government who are casting about for another reason. They do not tell us tonight that they are trying to protect the poor widow who uses these articles. Senator Pulsford, the democratic senator from New South Wales, is very anxious that the working classes shall have pianos in their homes, and probably all the luxuries of life. I remember that Henry George, in discussing this question of taxation, said that he did not see why anybody should not have a piano, and champagne also if he required it, but he did not propose a duty on “ oilmen’s stores not elsewhere included.” He went for deriving the whole of the revenue from land taxation. I should like to know whether Senator Pulsford is prepared to go that far. Inasmuch as we are not receiving any direct taxation, we must try to make the Tariff a scientific one, which shall protect local industries, and at the same time make those who are able to do so pay a* little extra towards the cost of governing the country. The man who is so epicurean that he must have celery salt and salad cream should pay a little extra for those luxuries. Protectionists take up a logical position when they say that those who can afford to use these goods should pay a duty of 20 per cent. upon them. Democratic senators like Senator Pulsford have charged protectionists with desiring to place a protective duty upon these articles in the interests of the rich man as against the interests of the poor, but we say the average poor person does not use any of the commodities covered by this drag-net item. Senator Symon has succeeded in getting so many reductions of duty in the interests of those who are well able to pay that he should. cease moving such propositions as that now before the committee.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 41 by adding the words “ and on and after 1st July, 1902, 13 per cent.” - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … 13
Noes … … … 11
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Division V. - Apparel and Textiles.
Item 58. - Apparel and attire, and articles n.e.i. * . ad valorem* 25 per cent.
– I propose, as to this item, to adopt the same course as was adopted in the House of Representatives, and deal with it after we have dealt with piece goods. I move -
That item 58 be postponed until after item67. It is obvious that we may enter upon a long debate, and may come to a conclusion upon item 58 which will be entirely useless if we subsequently make any alteration in the duties proposed on piece goods. Whatever the Tariff may be we must admit that there must be a margin between the duty upon piece goods and the duty upon the made-up articles. If we make an alteration in the duty on piece goods, we must make a correspondingalterationin theduty upon the madeup article. The House of Representatives first dealt with piece goods. I propose that we shall do the same, and we shall be able to fix the duty to be imposed upon the made-up article by a reference to the duty we have agreed to impose upon piece goods. If there is no alteration made in the duty proposed upon piece goods, there will be no reason, or at all events not the same reason, for proposing any alteration upon the duty proposed on made-up goods.
-I do not see why we should consult Senator Symon’s convenience in this matter. If the honorable and learned senator were to study our convenience, he would give us some ideas as to what he proposes to do with this Tariff. He would let us know what are really his designs, and we might then readily fall in with- any proposal to postpone an item. Our convenience has not been consulted by the honorable and learned senator in a single instance in which he has made direct and indirect blows at existing industries, except of course in regard to the item of tea, which has been postponed. We know that he desires to make a farce of the schedule, and to ridicule the Government. We are asked to postpone this item until such time as he can get all his ammunition ready and secure the presence of all his supporters. I ‘shall vote against the motion.
– Although in the natural order of things the item of piece goods should be taken first, still, before I can vote for the motion, I wish to hear some good reasons from Senator Symon as to why we should postpone item 58. He should indicate what he intends to do in reference to the duties on the goods that are related to that item ; but he simply stands up and asks for a postponement without assigning any reason. If we follow that course we shall create many gaps in the Tariff, and afterwards we shall have to retrace our steps in order to find out what we have done. I hope that on this occasion the representatives of the Government will not fall in with the views of Senator Symon.
– I d I do not see any advantage in postponing the item. If any items are to be postponed at all it might be reasonable to postpone all those before item 66, if it is understood that we are to consider the duties on piece goods to-night.
– I intend to move the postponement of that item.
– Tha That is the difficulty. I am willing to consent to the postponement. of items 58 to 65 inclusive until after item 67, which relates to piece goods, provided ‘that we proceed to the consideration of item 66 to-night. But if there is any suggestion to postpone that item also I must object, because it appeal’s to me that the duties on apparel and attire and articles n.e.i. are all founded on the duties which are imposed on the piece goods. The duties on the piece goods are reduced to such a low rate as a matter of revenue that I cannot understand any one proposing that they should be reduced.
– I only propose to redraft the item.
– I s I should object to its postponement for that purpose. We are here ready to deal with all these items, and there is no reason why they should not be considered now.
– There is a very good reason. ‘
– It It was a very different matter in the other House. The Government did not decide there what to do in regard to piece goods, because the duties on those articles depended very largely on the amount of revenue that was required, and that could not be settled until they had got to the end of the Tariff. But now that we know what amount of revenue has to be obtained, and what sum will be raised by the rest of the Tariff, we know the rates that must be charged on piece goods. As I intend to oppose very strongly any suggestion to alter, the duties on piece goods, I take it that we must discuss the Tariff on the basis that those duties shall remain as they are. I ask the committee not to consent to any postponement, because it appears to me that, if we do, other postponements will follow, and we shall be able to’ do no work tonight on the very part of the Tariff which we have come here to deal with.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I am afraid that Senator Barrett could not have been listening when I save what seemed to me a verv excellent reason why we should deal with the duty on the raw material before we dealt with the duty on the manufactured article. I apprehend that my honorable friend would fix the duty on the made-up clothing by paying some slight regard to the duty which is levied on the raw material. If we fix the duty on the manufactured article, and then go back to fix the duty on the material of. which it is made, we are putting the cart before the horse.
– The honorable and learned senator should say what he is going to do.
– It would be the most scandalous waste of time that was ever heard of if we inaugurated a general debate on this motion. The question of postponement should rest simply on the ordinary business principle of fixing the duty on the raw material before fixing the duty on the manufactured article, both duties being imposed for the purpose of protection. My honorable friend is going to make a suggestion, I think, that the yarns should be made free, but then that is going another step further back. I am perfectly willing that the consideration of the duties on the made-up articles should be postponed until we have dealt with the duties on the piece-goods and the yarns. If we are to have protective duties let us make them fair in a kind of graduated sequence, so that they shall operate reasonably as between all the different classes of manufacturers whose interestsare concerned. I only desire that these items shall be dealt with in the order in which a business man would deal with them. How will the transaction of public business be most facilitated ? By taking the items in the order in which I have suggested. If we deal with the duty on made-up apparel at once we shall have to debate the whole question over again when we come to consider the duty on piece goods. If we settle the duty on the cloth it may involve no alteration in the duty on the manufactured article, because although the duty is very high, still there must be some kind of a margin, and that margin will depend upon the duty which is imposed on the cloth. It will not help Senator Barrett, who wishes to deal with the duties on yarns, if we postpone the consideration of all the items down to item 66, as Senator O’Connor suggests. If yarns are made duty free, it may or may not be a good reason why we should reconsider the duty on cloth. Why should we postpone eight different items, as Senator O’Connor suggests, when all we wish to do is to postpone one item until after we have settled the duties on piece goods and yarns ? While his suggestion looks fair enough, and is in a certain sense fair, it will not promote the rapid disposal of the intervening items. If we take all the intermediate items we shall be able consecutively to deal with the items in the order in which, I am sure, they would have been put in the Tariff if it had been thought of.
– If there is anything in what Senator Symon says, why did he not propose, when the item sugar was before the committee, that we should wait until the Excise Bill was before us ? He did not propose the postponement of the item dealing with tobacco until we had considered the excise. The proper order of dealing with the items in the honorable and learned senator’s opinion, is that order in which he thinks he will be able most successfully to secure reductions of duties. I hope that we shall go straight on with the Tariff.
– I - I would point out that every one of these items depends directly or indirectly upon the goods dealt with under the item now before the Chair. But if there is a desire that we should first of all discuss piece goods I am willing to come to that item at once, and to postpone the other items until after piece goods have been dealt with.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).The desirability of discussing the duty on piece goods before we arrive at a decision with regard to other items, is practically admitted. I have never heard of so reasonable a request as that now made by the Opposition being met with such a want of courtesy. I urge the Vice-President of the Executive Council to agree to the request that has been made, and forwhich good and substantial reasons have been given.
– Senator Barrett will frankly acknowledge that the basis of the manufactures dealt with in the items now to be considered must be yarns, as to which the honorable senator has given notice of motion for the abolition of the duty. I intend to support him in that respect. That being decided, the question of the duty on manufactured cloth will arise ; and as to that, I intend to vote for the duty proposed in the schedule. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has asked why we should postpone the item in question. The reason simply is, that those who have an experience of the Tariff as it stands in this respect, know that it is of so complicated a nature that it is absolutely impossible to administer it at the Customs-house. The subject has been taken up by the whole of the warehousemen of the whole of the States, who have agreed to certain representations being made to the Minister for Trade and Customs. I have had three long interviews with the Minister, and have placed the views of the warehousemen before him. I am to see him again tomorrow, and am sanguine that I shall be able to convince honorable senators that the proposed alterations, which will practically place woollen piece-goods in one line and cotton piece-goods in another, will benefit the revenue, make the Tariff easier to administer, prevent fraud, and protect the honest trader. In the same way it has been found that the item dealing with bags and sacks is surrounded with difficulties in administering the Tariff, and those interested in the trade are now asking to have alterations made in the wording that will secure what they want. I strongly urge the Minister to consent to the postponement of item 66, which must necessarily govern a number of other items.
– I fail to see why the Government should object to a postponement. Senator Sargood has pointed out excellent reasons in favour of it. As the Tariff stands apparel and attire come before piece goods, although the duty on piece goods will materially affect the duty on them. Honorable senators will notice that the Tariff is ‘arranged alphabetically. If piece goods could have been brought under some heading commencing with the letter “ A,” probably they would have appeared first in the Tariff, and perhaps it was with the idea that it would be easier to refer to the Tariff when completed by taking the names of the articles alphabetically that this system was adopted. I think that the motion has been put forward with a view to facilitate the passing of the Tariff, and I hope that honorable senators will see that it is a reasonable thing to do. It will give us an opportunity to deal with two or three smaller items before we adjourn. Personally, I should be prepared to go on with the consideration of the item relating to piece goods, but an honorable senator who has been making inquiries, and who has had an interview with the Minister for Trade and Customs, thinks it desirable that there should be a postponement.
– I think that it is all argument and no business. If honorable senators who are insisting upon a postponement would act wisely they would proceed with the discussion of the item, because they are wasting as much time as they could possibly waste in that event. It is far better to proceed with the consideration of this item now, and if it is carried to-nightwe shall be able to go further.
Question - That item 58 be postponed until after item 67 - put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … … … 13
Majority … … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Item 59 - Bags and. sacks, . … ad valorem 10 per cent.
– I move -
That item 59 be postponed.
It is important that we should make the wording of the Tariff so clear that there will be the least possible opportunity of misunderstanding on the part of those passing goods at the Customs-house, and that the possibility of evasions may also be avoided. The difficulty in this case relates to the use of the words “ bags and sacks “ in the item. Certain bags and sacks are exempted, but whoever inserted those words was not thoroughly conversant with the trade. Honorable senators will see, for instance, that bran “ bags and sacks “ are exempt, but that no reference is made to “ packs.” Really, that is the whole matter. The word “ packs “ should be inserted in several places : but I am not prepared to go into the whole matter to-night. A deputation, both from the importers and the local manufacturers, has waited upon me, and the parties are trying to arrive at some mutual arrangement which the Customs department can accept, in order to obtain proper protection from the local bag-maker, while goods that are not made here are admitted free. I may say that I have discussed the matter with the Minister for Trade and Customs, and I hope that before the end of the division has been reached I shall be able to submit a motion which will receive the assent of the Minister.
– I appreciate the honorable senator’s good qualities, as I am sure we all do, but I venture to think that the deputation which waited upon him went to the wrong shop. Those who desired true protection should have come to us, for Senator Sargood is generally found voting for the reduction of duties.
Are we to consent to the postponement of an item at the request of every honorable senator who happens to have received a deputation? Senator Sargood has admitted that the whole matter is involved in the word “packs,” and we ought to proceed with it now. I have received several letters dealing with this very question and I wish to see it disposed of at once. I cannot consent to any postponement.
– I - I cannot consentto the postponement of this item when the honorable senator has given no reason for it.I am willing that the words “ bags, sacks, and packs” shall be used in the exemption list, if that will meet the honorable senator’s difficulties.
Senator Sir FREDERICK SARGOOD (Victoria). - The offer of the honorable and learned senator seems very equitable. If I wished to take any advantage, I should accept it. But it is not merely a question of naming, but also a question of the size of the packs. The local manufacturers are desirous that there shall be a certain size provided for, below which these goods shall be dutiable.
– I - I cannot consent to the postponement of the item, and I have given my reasons; but I have no objection to asking the committee to report progress now.
Senate adjourned at 10.2 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 June 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020610_senate_1_10/>.