1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m.and read prayers.
asked the “Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon.notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Ordered (on motion by Senator Pearce) -
That there be laid upon the table of the Senate a return showing -
The total amount of salary and allowances paid to the Governor-General for the year ending June, 1902.
Cost of maintenance of Government Houses in Melbourne and Sydney, including repairs and alterations.
Expenses of the Governor-General in connexion with the Executive Council.
Special payments or grants, ifany’.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from Thursday, 10th July, vide page 142S4).
Division’ VIII. - Earthenware, Cement, China, Gloss, and Stone.
Item 87 - Cement, Portland, Plaster of Paris, and other like preparations having magnesia or sulphate of lime as a basis ; also Gypsum, not prepared, per cwt., 9d.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 87 by adding the words “and on and.after 1st Ansust, 1002, M.”
I think I shall be able to show that a duty of even 6d. per cwt. will be most extravagantly protective, and that it will be destructive of revenue, although not to such a large extent as the duty now being collected. I have received a very interesting letter from Messrs. J. Barre Johnston and Co. n well-known and reputable firm of importers in Sydney, who say : -
The modified duty of 9d. per cwt. on cement in place of that of Is. per cwt. originally proposed, works out as nearly as possible to 2s. 6Ad. per cask. This in our opinion is still too heavy, when the amount of protection which the oversea charges on the imported article already give to the local manufacturer are considered. The price for the best brands of English or German cement may be taken at 6s. per cask free on board shipping port, and the cost landed on wharf here works out as follows: -
Cement per cask free on board … 6” 0 Freight per sailer (present rate) … 2 8 Insurance … … …. … 01? s0?
Exchange 90 days at 4 per cent, and stamps………… 0 44
Wharfage at Sydney … … … 0 5
Therefore the local manufacture is already protected to the extent of 3s. 7d. per cask, while, as the great bulk of the demand is for cement delivered, not ex ship, but ex store, a further addition is made to the charges, in the shape of re ceiving into and delivery ex store, of 2M. to 3d per cask, according to the store it is put into, with rent at one-third of Id. per week during its stay in store. The cost, as a rule, is rarely lessthan 3d. to 4d. per cask - especially if it is tested for Government use. Therefore these additional charges may be taken to be, at the least,5?d. per cask, making the charges to be added to the free on board price 4s. per cask, or 06 per cent., and with a 2s. 6?d. duty you have over 100 per cent, in favour of the local manufacture. This, we believe, the people of the Commonwealth never contemplated, as naturally the cost of all buildings, whether of a public or private nature, must be materially increased to the detriment of the pockets of every one.
I think that gives a very clear and just statement of the position. The freight upon cement may vary from, time to time. In some cases it may be less than the amount stated by Messrs. Barre Johnston and Co., and in others very much more. For ‘ some considerable time large quantities of cement have been manufactured in New South Wales by Messrs. Goodlet and Smith Limited, who carry on their operations at Granville, near Sydney; and within the past few weeks another very large establishment has been erected in the neighbourhood of Mudgee. In the Sydney Daily Telegraph of last Saturday, the following statement was published : -
Referring to certain statements made in the article published in the Daily Telegraph of 28th June, relative to new cement works at Portland, Messrs. Goodlet and Smith Limited, who manufacture “Rock ,! cement, and claim to be the first successful manufacturers of cement in Australia, write to us as follows : - “Your report says - ‘ The chief trouble besetting most o£ the previous attempts to make cement locally has been the almost impossibility of securing uniformity of quality. Sometimes it has been good, and sometimes bad. There has in most cases never been that certainty of result which is so essential to permanent trade success,’ Evidently, you are unaware that we have been manufacturing cement for several years at Granville, and of a quality fully equal to the best imported, and superior to Hie’ majority of it, us is shown by the Public Works tests, Water, and Sewerage Board, and Railway tests. “During last year we sold upwards of 55,000 casks, of which four-fifths was tested and used by the Government departments. This fact in itself speaks for the quality and regularity of the manufacture. The remaining portion, of equal standard, was sold to private consumers. “ We always have in our stores 20,000 casks of cement, all of which wo guarantee to pass Government tests at Sydney, admitted to be as severe as any in the world. We think you will see your statement was misleading, and prejudicial to us, who have been the first successful manufacturers of cement in this State. “Our plant is equipped with the most modern machinery, an , with the additional engine just erected, will double our output this year.”
This statement should be sufficient to prove to honorable senators that cement can be manufactured within the Commonwealth without the assistance of any duty whatever. I do not, however, feel called upon to make any elaborate statement as to the possibility of manufacturing cement under free-trade conditions, because I am willing to impose a duty of 6d. per cwt., which is equal to 30 or 40 per cent, ad valorem. No doubt the firm of Goodlet and Smith Limited are quite willing that a substantial duty should be imposed so that they may be able to enlarge their operations and secure a portion of the trade now being clone in adjoining States by importing firms. At the present time the Canadian duty upon cement is 20 per cent., which would be equal to 4d. per cwt., or twothirds of the rate I am now proposing. In New Zealand the duty is 2s. per barrel, equal to 7d. per cwt., or 2d. per cwt. less than the rate now being collected under the Tariff. In New South Wales cement has been admitted free of duty. In Victoria the high duty of ls. per cwt., equal to 3s. 4d. or 3s. 5d. per barrel, has been collected, and in Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia a duty of 2s. per barrel, equal to 7d. or 7£d. per cwt., has been levied. In Tasmania, the rate imposed under the State Tariff was 9d. per cwt. I wish now to direct the attention of the Senate to the question of the revenue that would probably be derived under the duty proposed by me. Senator O’Connor has made some most audacious statements with regard to the revenue expected from various items. It has been repeatedly stated that the effect of the duties imposed by the Federal Tariff could not yet be properly gauged, because the importations which were now taking place would, of necessity, be reduced. If that be so, and if we check the movement, we shall also check the falling-off in the revenue. Let us examine the figures relating to New South Wales. In 1900 the importation of cement and plaster of paris into that State totalled 182,500 casks. Deducting the quantity re-exported, there is a balance left of 172,350 casks, which, at ls. per cwt. - the original rate upon which the Government based their estimate - would yield a revenue of £28,722. But their original estimate was that only £15,000 would be received from importations into New South Wales, proving conclusively that they calculated that the effect of the duty would be to -curtail the imports by something like one-half. I further point out that even a duty of 9d. per cwt., which is the rate at present operating, would yield £21,542, or some thousands of pounds in excess of the original estimate. It may be suggested . that in 1900 the imports of cement into New South Wales were excessively large ; but that statement is contradicted by the figures for the three previous years, namely, from 1897 to 1899 inclusive. I have added together the total imports of cement and plaster of paris during that period, and deducting therefrom the quantity re-exported, I find that the average importation of cement foi- those years was 198,000 barrels, or more than was imported in 1900. Consequently we may take it foi’ granted that the importation in 1900 was but norma], and that the position in regard to New South Wales is fairly represented by the figures I have given. If the
Government estimate is to be realized, it means that the importation of cement into that State must be reduced t by one-half. Now let us take the figures for Victoria. During the same period, namely, 1897 to 1899, its importation of cement averaged about 47,000 barrels, or only about one-fourth of the importation into New South Wales. In Victoria the duty which operated was excessively heavy. Thus, we see, that the effect of such a duty is to restrict importation, and consequently to diminish revenue. It may be interesting to Honorable senators to note the course of events in Victoria. In 1890 its importations totalled 888,000 cwts. Of course, that was in one of the boom years, when building operations were extremely active. Butin 1891 the imports fell to 497,000 cwts., in 1892 they amounted to 662,000 cwts., in 1893 they declined to 237,000 cwts., and in 1894 to 65,000 cwts. Since the bursting of the boom ‘Victoria has, more or less, recovered her position, as will be seen from her imports for the past six years, which are as follows:- 330,000 cwts., 130,000cwts., 71,000 cwts., 207,000 cwts., 141,000 cwts., and 163,000 cwts. These figures prove very clearly that in Victoria the local works have secured a large part of the cement trade ; so that very little revenue finds its way into the Treasury. In the smaller States of Western Australia, Tasmania, and South Australia, theimportationsof thiseommodhty under the influence of the present Tariff are bound to be curtailed year by year, until the factories of New South Wales and Victoria monopolise the whole of the trade. With regard to Queensland, I notice that in 1900 her importations totalled 66,000 barrels, upon which a duty of 2s. per barrel was paid. The rate which I. am now proposing represents about Is. 8d. per barrel. The duty of 2s. per cwt. in the northern State produced a revenue of £6,658. If, however, the factories of New South Wales and Victoria supply the whole of the requirements of Queensland, the latter will derive no revenue from this source. If Senator Glassey is interested in securing revenue for the State which he represents, let him assist me in resisting the imposition of duties which preclude that desideratum being attained. I submit that I have made out an overwhelming case for a reduction of this duty to the rate which I have proposed. In suggesting such a high rate I lay myself open to a good deal of censure from the people of New South
Wales, who have hitherto had the use of cement free of duty.
– I am very glad to have such valuable testimony from the honorable senator regarding the success of the policy of the Government in fostering this industry in New South Wales.
– I have not given any such testimony.
– The honorable senator would not do so expressly, and, therefore, I regard his remarks as the more valuable, because I draw from the facts he has stated most’ conclusive proof of the success of that policy. He has told us of the factory of Messrs. Goodlet and Smith, which has always been successful, and which has produced an article that no one can doubt is quite equal to the imported. But what I refer to is his statement that since the imposition of this duty two new and very important establishments have been started in New South Wales - one in Mudgee, and another at some place which the honorable senator did not name. There can be no doubt that the result of the operation of the duty which has been imposed, combined with the fact that the Australian market is now available for any cement that is manufactured, will enable this industry to increase rapidly all over the Commonwealth. It is one of those industries which ought to be fostered because it is natural to the soil, and can be successfully carried on in several of the States. It can be carried on in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania. In the last-named State, although no factory has yet been started–
– Hear, hear.
– I am indeed surprised to hear the honorable senator joyfully acclaim the fact that this industry has not yet been established in Tasmania. Senator Macfarlane may possibly look upon the importing of cement as an industry. I am referring, however, to the natural riches of Tasmania, which ought to be developed. There is no reason why that State should not have as good an opportunity of supplying her own requirements in this respect as has any of the other States. Senator Pulsford has dealt with this matter from the point of view of revenue, and from the point of view of protection. From the former stand-point, he made some reference to an alleged mendacious statement of mine, which he did not follow up, so that’ I must regard his remark as a piece of isolated political animosity. I do not know that it hangs to anything or means anything. But the honorable senator did not criticise the figures which I gave. The Government estimated that a duty of ls. per cwt. upon cement would produce a revenue of £44,250. As a matter of fact, the collections for six months totalled £16,420. During a portion of that time, a duty of 9d. per cwt. operated, and during the remaining period, a tax of ls. per cwt., so that, considering the circumstances under which the collections were made, I do not think that the Treasurer’s estimate was very far out. At all events, experience shows that this item will produce a very substantial sum. The question is whether we shall lose or gain revenue by adopting the lower rate which has been suggested. That largely depends on the encouragement of importation. The honorable senator has referred to the charges. Of course most of those charges are pretty consistent, except the charge for freight. Every one knows that the freight for cement varies considerably. Ships, especially the sailers that bring out cement, are often glad to take large quantities of it, and the freightin those cases may be very much lower than that which Senator Pulsford has quoted. Cement is one of those commodities which can almost be classed as ballast. It is put in a position in the ship where- it can be carried with the least cost and the greatest convenience, and the freight is often so low that it may be left out of consideration. Senator Pulsford’s calculations are based upon the ordinary market price, but in the case of very large contracts that price may be very materially reduced. I have been informed that the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works now has a contract for large supplies of cement for some works that are being carried out here, and that the price quoted is very much lower than that which Senator Pulsford has mentioned. When a purchaser is dealing with large cement works at home, and buying considerable quantities, the price is often cut 25, 30, and 40 per cent, below that which has been quoted.
– Oh, no !
– I know of instances in which it has been clone. If cement can be imported from abroad in large quantities at a cheap rate, and with low freight, it will, in many instances, be brought from abroad, whether the duty be 6d. or 9d., simply to get the advantage of a great supply. As a large quantity of cement must come in, there is likely to be just as great an import a’t 9d. as at 6d., and there is no reason why we should not get the advantage of the difference between 6d. and 9d.
– If the duty does not reduce importation, why did the original estimate of the Government show that they expected the imports to be reduced through the action of- the duty one-half ?
– The Government in making their estimate, have undoubtedly calculated that there will be a great reduction of the importations into Australia, because for instance in New South Wales, where cement was free, a duty will be imposed, and that will improve the market for the local cement and cut down importations. But that will not go on to the utter exclusion of foreign cement. The duty will shut out a large proportion of it, and will encourage the local manufacture, but there will be a considerable quantity of foreign cement imported. There were duties on cement in nearly all the States before federation. In Victoria the duty was 3s. 4id. per cask, in Queensland 2s., in South Australia 2s., in Tasmania 2s. 6d., and in Western Australia 2s. The duty we propose amounts to 2s. Bid. per cask, which is lower than the rate previously in force in Victoria, and is about the same as that imposed in Tasmania. In Tasmania the amount received from the duty in 1899 was £1,261. Queensland received £8,877. We certainly ought not to abandon any portion of the rate which gave Tasmania that amount of duty, nor ought we to decrease the revenue derived by Queensland. It is remarkable how the industry has .been increasing, no doubt in anticipation of the policy which was expected to be pursued under federation. According to Coghlan, in 1899-1900 the number of persons employed in the cement industry in New South Wales was 125, in Victoria 216, in Queensland 106, and in South Australia 91. In 1900, according to the Victorian Government statist, there were employed in New South Wales 155 persons, in Victoria 254, in Queensland 74, in South Australia 81, and in Western Australia - the figures for which include the men employed in the limestone quarries - 231. There have also been a few employed in Tasmania. It has been proved conclusively that the cement produced here is as good as any that cam be supplied, and at all events in the early stages of the operation of the duty, we may expect to get a considerable amount of revenue, though as time goes on no doubt the local production will be greater. But the argument ‘we have used over and over again applies unanswerably in this case, that by the increase of these works there will be increased employment, not only in the manufacture of cement, but in the number of persons handling it, and this will lead to an increase in the dutiable goods consumed, which will more than make up for any loss of revenue from cement. Therefore I trust the committee will regard what is proposed as a reasonable duty which is calculated to bring in a fair amount of revenue, and at the same time give a reasonable protection to this very important industry.
– I have been rather struck with the peculiar position in which Senator Pulsford finds himself with regard to the revenue from this item. Lust night he voted for free kerosene, and, according to his political creed, kerosene being used by nearly every one is an appropriate article to be taxed. Cement, however, is consumed by a limited number of people. If the honorable senator is so anxious to secure revenue, why did he not vote in the direction of putting an impost on kerosene ? Comparing the wages paid by the makers of cement abroad with those in this country, I find that in Germany, whence most of the imported cement comes, the men work for about ten hours a clay for 2s. 6d. In the Victorian cement works the men get 6s. and 6s. 6d. a clay, under ordinary conditions, but when they are producing cement for the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of “Works, the minimum . rate of wage is 6s. 8d. per day, whilst, when they are engaged upon Government contracts, the minimum wage is 7s. per day of eight hours. Sir Malcolm McEacharn, in the House of Representatives, gave the cost of importing cement. These are the figures : - Cement, free on board at port of shipment, 5s. per cask, which is a very low price ; freight 2s. 6d. per cask, interest 5d. per cask, wharfage 6i-cl. per cask, stacking 1-Jd. per cask, and duty at the rate of 9d. per cwt., 2s. 6d. per cask, making a total of Ils. Id. I may say, in passing, that these are the figures of a gentleman who is supposed to be an expert in preparing such returns. In May last the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works accepted a tender for the supply of imported cement at 10s. lid. per cask, so that, if Sir Malcolm McEacharn’s figures are correct, the importers lost 2d. per cask upon it, apart from the cost of carting and handling. I was connected with the sewerage works of South Australia, and I was a member of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works for ten years and a half. Cement was obtained for the South Australian Government at an import cost for freight of 6d. per cask.
– That cannot be done now.
– Possibly not : but at that time cement came out’ as ballast, and it is still being used as ballast. It is far better for the purpose than iron, which lies too close together. If the freight charges prepared by Sir Malcolm McEacharn are correct, the importers must haVe some object in selling their cement to the Board of Works for 2d. per cask ‘ less than it costs them. There can be only one object, and that is to kill the local industry. That has been their object from the first, and I do riot say that any other set of men would not do the same thing under the same circumstances. What we desire to do, however, is to place the people of the Commonwealth in such a position that they will not be subjected to this practice. Even if it is not correct that the freight on a cask of imported cement is 2s. 6d., it is a very good thing’ that we have Australian cement works. But for their existence no doubt we should have to pay what a contractor had to pay before their establishment, 18s. or 20s. a cask. The cement used in the Adelaide sewerage works did not cost less than 1 Ss. per cask. When the tramways, were being constructed in Melbourne there was a scarcity of cement here, and Messrs. McLean Bros, and Bigg, who were supplying it to the Tramways Trust for about 10s. 6d. or 1 ls. per cask, had to pay as much as 25s. a cask for it in order to keep their contract going. They would not have had to pay such a price if cement had been manufactured here. Senator Pulsford’s figures in regard to the importation of cement during 1S99 are substantially correct. In free-trade New South Wales, where there was no duty, the value of
British cement imported during the year was £14,77S, but the value of foreign cement imported was £107,388, £96,000 worth coming from Germany. Honorable senators should mark the difference between these figures and those relating to the States in which there was a duty on cement. During the same year Victoria, which had a duty of 3s. 4^-d. a cask, imported £11,961 worth of British cement, and only £7,670 worth of foreign cement. In Queensland, where there was a duty of 2s. per cask, £26,871 worth of British cement was imported, while only £8,802 worth of foreign cement was introduced. In Western Australia, where there was a duty of 2s. per cask, £5,866 worth of British cement was imported, and £11,744 worth of foreign cement. It seems an extraordinary thing that when a duty is imposed most of the goods subject to it are obtained from our own people. So far as the price is concerned, it seems to be immaterial whether there is a duty of 6d. or 9d. per cwt., or whether the material is free. In March, 1899, the importers charged the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works 15s. 9½d. per cask for cement, and in June of the same year, Victorian cement was sold to the board at 12s. 5d. per cask, a reduction of 3s. 4£d. When I refer to the Board of Works I am not citing the case of any small concern which uses a few casks of cement now and again. The board has already consumed about 320,000 casks, or more than all the Governments of Australia have used in the same period. I may be told that there was a difference in the quality of the Victorian and British cement supplied at these prices. I will admit at once that the imported cement is better for some, but only very, minor, purposes. It has been found by the board that the Victorian cement does not set quite as rapidly as some of the imported material, and they have imported cement for what is called “rendering” the inside of sewers. As the Victorian article does not set so rapidly, the moisture oozing through it washes it off when used in this way, but it is equally as strong as, and in some cases superior to, the imported cement. As a rule, the longer a cement takes to set the stronger it is. It seems to me that
Cement will always be imported for special purposes,, but if we had no local manufacturers the importers would do as they have done in the past - and what any other set of men would do in their place - raise the prices. The only way to checkmate that is to encourage the production of Australian cement. As the Victorian cement supplied to the Metropolitan Board of Works in July, 1899, cost 3s. 4£d. per cask less than the imported cement - an amount which by a coincidence was equal to the duty - it may be said that without the duty the imported article would ‘have been sold at the same price. Without a duty, however, there would have been no competition, and the probabilities are that the price would have been 18s. or 19s. a cask.
– Is there no competition amongst importers 1
– There is at tunes, until they find that it does not pay. Then they meet and talk the matter over. In February, 1900, the duty in Victoria was still equal to 3s. 4£d. per cask, but the importers supplied the Board of Works with cement at 13s. 10d., while the Victorian article was sold to them at 13s. 3d. per cask. There was thus a difference of only 7£d. between tho two, so that the duty could not have increased the price of the imported article to the extent of 3s. 4£d. per cask as it appeared to have done in the first instance which I- cited. These cements are of equal quality, one being a little better for some purposes and the other superior for other purposes. I hope that the duty will not be reduced. The difference between 6d. and 9d. per cwt. is not a very heavy tax.
– It amounts to 10A;d. per cask, and that is considerable.
– It is not very heavy when one remembers that a yard of concrete is worth from 35s. to £2, and that a cask of cement actually gives about a yard of concrete. The difference- in that case would be about lOd. on £2, which is not a very big percentage. Surely it is worth while paying that impost in order that we may have a check upon importers, aud a supply of local cement, which will cause the money expended in this direction to be distributed amongst our own people instead of going to Germany. It will keep our own people employed, and make the Commonwealth self-contained ia this respect. I am afraid we shall never be able to produce cement to answer all purposes, and consequently if the local manufacturers attempt to fleece the consumer the importers will step in. They can do so now, and will do so whether the duty is 6d. or 9d. per cwt. I trust that the committee will agree to allow the duty of 9d. per cwt. to remain. It is 25 per cent, less than that which prevailed under the Victorian Tariff.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).I understood Senator O’Connor to make some reference to Tasmanian cement. I said “ Hear, hear,” and he misunderstood my meaning.
– I said that there was no manufacture of cement now being carried on in Tasmania.
– That is so, but I am one of those who are endeavouring to establish the industry there. It must not be forgotten that this is an article which costs at least 50 per cent, of its value to import, and very often more. Honorable senators opposite are mistaken in saying that it is brought out for nothing as ballast. As a matter of fact the freight is from 2s. 6d. to 3s. and 3s. 6d. per cask,’ which is at least 50 per cent, on the first cost of the article. I agree with Senator Styles that there will always be cement imported, because different kinds of cement are required for different purposes. I hope that the article will be largely manufactured in many places in the Commonwealth. It must be remembered that it requires chemical treatment, and is not one of those things which is merely dug out of the earth. There is a good deal of labour and skill required in the industry.
– Then the local manufacture cannot pay with a duty of only 6d.
– I think it can, when the large import expenses of 50 or GO per cent, are added. Senator Styles says Chat the local article is produced at 1 2s. 3d. per cask, while 15s. was charged for the imported article. Before that the honorable senator objected to the importers selling at a loss in order to injure the local article.
– I did not say I objected. I said they did so to secure the trade for themselves, and that it was a proper thing to do from their point of view.
– I do not think that any one objects to people losing money in that way, and I remind the honorable senator that there is greater competition amongst importers than amongst manufacturers. Considering the heavy importing charges I think fid. per cwt. is a very fail1 duty to impose.
– I am sorry that Senator Pulsford should have sprung this motion upon the committee. If the honorable senator had given us due notice we might have been able to discover what really is his reason for proposing the motion. I think it must be for the encouragement of crimes like that committed by Deeming. I can conceive of no other reason, because he must see that it is more to the interests of those who use cement legitimately to have an import duty upon the article. From Queensland Statistics I find that, with a duty of 2s. per barrel, there’ were imported into that State in 1 900 from the United Kingdom 37,475 barrels ; from New South Wales, 4,000 ; from Germany, 28,367; from Belgium, 10; and from the United States of America, 365 ; or a total of 70,217 barrels, of a value of £36,719. The countries of origin were> the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, and the United States of America. Senator Pulsford seems to me to have taken but a provincial view of the question. The honorable senator has not considered Victoria, in which State there are two factories, employing 57 hands. There are cement factories also in Queensland, but I have not been able to get the figures concerning them. The honorable senator would ask our Australian workers, who probably receive an average of £2 a week in this industry, to compete with workers in Germany, who are paid a wage of from 15s. to 18s. per week of 60 hours. The honorable senator would also ask the local manufacturer to compete with German bountyfed cement, brought out here in subsidized ships. As a people we ought to object to the Commonwealth being the dumping ground for the surplus products of Germany and other places. If they were working upon equal terms, with the same factory laws, the same rate of wages, and the same standard of living as obtains in Australia, there might not be any objection to a little healthy competition, but it is not healthy competition when our people have to compete with men who are being paid from 15s. to 1 8s. per week. The cement factories in New South Wales, it should be remembered, have been established since federation.
– I can find no record of any cement factories in New South Wales prior to federation, and I should be glad to hear from Senator Gould the particular date at which the factories which he has in his mind were established in the free-trade State. Senator . Styles has already referredto the price charged for cement before the local production of the article was commenced. I find that it was selling at from 15s. 9d. to 17s. 6d. per cask.
– It was as high as £1 per cask here in Melbourne.
– When the local industry was established the patriotic importing industry which kept the price of imported cement up to £1 per cask actually reduced it to 9s. per cask to try to kill the local manufacture of the article. These are the gentlemen whom Senator Pulsford asks the people of the Commonwealth to encourage. The Victorian Government, some six or eight months ago, let a contract forcement, and the average price of imported cement supplied under that contract was 9s. 2d. per cask. Will honorable senators tell us that it is a disadvantage to the general consumers of cement in the Commonwealth that an import duty should have been levied when it hasresulted in the consumer getting cement cheaper, and in the local manufacture of the article getting a chance of something like fair competition ? I desire to know from Senator Pulsford- what has become of the spirit of compromise which the honorable senator told us he had such a large stock of a few days ago. I find from the records of another place that when this matter was before the House of Representatives the honorable member for Gwydir moved -
That, after the word “cement,” the following words be inserted : - “ per cwt., Is., and on and after 2nd February, . 1902, 9d.”
After a very long debate the Government accepted the amendment. There was perfect unanimity in the House on account of the spirit of compromise existing, yet now we find Senator Pulsford, who claims to have some reasonableness, proposing that the duty should be further reduced. I should like to know fromthe honorable senator whether this motion is the result of a concerted movement on the part of the free-trade party in the Senate, or whether it is due merely to his own inordinate desire to have a finger in the pie. Prom the limited support which the honorable senator appears to be receiving, I am inclined to believe that the motion is not the result of a concerted movement, but is one “of those irritating propositions which can lead to no good whatever. I ask the honorable senator whether lie has the slightest hope that if the motion is accepted by the committee it will be agreed to in another place.
– Could not the honorable senator discuss the motion upon its merits 1
– I have discussed the motion upon its merits with regard to importation and local production ; but in this Senate, which is a revising Chamber, surely the prospect of another place agreeing to a motion adopted here is worthy of consideration. If the course adopted in the Senate had been to deal only with obvious anomalies in the Tariff there might not have been so much objection, but we have lately been taking item after item whether important or not, whether it has been horseshoe nails or agricultural machinery, and trying to alter the decisions come to in another place. That is a course which can lead to no good, and where a unanimous decision has been come to in another place upon an item, I believe it to be my duty to point it but to the committee. Where the divisions have been very close there has been legitimate ground for attempting the alteration of duties : but if we desire to show the public that we are reasonable men, we ought not to waste time upon proposals of this sort.
– Senator Higgs has been driven to the old argument, which has hitherto been used without success, that the Senate is merely a body to revise and to correct technical errors made by the House of Representatives. Honorable senators, however, have a better idea of their duties and powers. They recognise that the Senate has had certain definite powers conferred upon it, and that those powers are to be exercised with all fairness and moderation. In the exercise of those powers it is as free and independent as the other Chamber. It is true that we have no right to originate measures of taxation, though it was urged yesterday that we should suggest to the House of Representatives the imposition of additional taxation in regard to one of the items in the Tariff. We are, of course, justified in making whatever suggestions in regard to the Tariff we consider, after fair deliberation, to be reasonable and in the interests of the communitv atlarge.
– Should we not consider the compromises arrived at in another place ?
– Yes, , where there has been a compromise. Senator Styles trotted out the old bogy that, without the duty proposed in the Tariff, the foreigner would secure our markets, and prevent the local producers from selling their cement. It is time that honorable senators ceased to trouble about that bogy, more especially as the argument is of no force whatever in the present case. The honorable senator alluded to a contract recently let in Victoria for the supply of cement at 9s. 2d. a barrel, and he told us that, if we reduced the duty, imported cement would be sold so cheaply that local producers could not afford to make cement. But the contract to which Senator Styles has referred was let since the duty upon cement was fixed at 9d. per cwt., and honorable senators have ridiculed the idea that the difference between- 6d. and 9d. would be of any account to the importer. The probabilities are that there were special circumstances connected with that contract of which we are not aware. Senator Styles also showed that the Metropolitan Board of Works had paid as much as 15s. per barrel for imported cement, while it got the colonial cement at a much cheaper rate. But the reason for that difference in price was given, when he told us that the imported cement was required for one kind of ‘work and the locally-made cement foi’ another, because they differed in quality. Why did he not inform the committee that, although as much as 15s. lid. was paid by the Board of Works, in 1898, for imported cement, the price paid in December, 1900, was only 13s. 7-i-d., the prices paid in the interval being upon a diminishing scale ; while the prices of colonial cement fluctuated between 12s. 5d. in 1S9S and 13s. 0d. in 1899? Those are figures obtained from the secretary -of the Metropolitan Board of Works, and may be relied upon. Differences in prices are to be accounted for by fluctuations in the state of the market, caused by the nature of the supply and demand. It is instructive to know, however, that before there was any duty upon cement in New South Wales, the price there was between 10s. 6d. and lis. a barrel, while in October last, in anticipation of the imposition of the duty, it rose to 12s. per barre], and in May to from 13s. to 13s. 6d. per barrel. ‘ The cost of bringing cement from foreign countries is very high. While cement may be worth only 5s. or 6s. a barrel iri London, the freight upon it landed here is at least 2s 6d. a barrel, and there are innumerable other charges which increase its cost to Australian consumers. These charges are a protection to the local manufacturers which is equivalent to from 50 to 75 per cent, upon the prime cost of the article, and that should go a long way to assist them in competing with the manufacturers of Ger1 many, who pay lower wages than are paid here, and with the manufacturers of Great Britain, who perhaps do the same. Senator Styles’ observations show the position of affairs in regard to the cement industry in Victoria to be a very strange one. He told us that while the men engaged in making cement receive from 6s. to 6s. 4d. a day when the cement is for an ordinary customer, they receive 6s. 8d. a day when it is for the Metropolitan Board of Works, and 7s. a day when it is for the Government. It seems to me that if they are entitled to a wage of 7s. a day when producing for the Government, they are entitled to the same wage when producing for private individuals. It is extraordinary that the Government should always be regarded as a milch cow, and have to pay the highest price for everything it requires, not only to contractors and corporations, but to the whole community. Senator O’Connor says that, in the- interests of the revenue, we should adhere to a duty of 9d. per cwt ; but he admitted that the importations of cement will be materially decreased as the effect of this duty. No doubt the Commonwealth duty has been a relief to the cement importers of Victoria, because it is lower than the State duty was ; but it is higher than the average of the duties in the other State Tariffs, and very much higher if New South Wales, which had no duty, is taken into consideration. The duty proposed by Senator Pulsford is equivalent to ls. 10½d. a barrel, and as the prime cost of cement on the other side of the world is 6s. a barrel, that, in addition to the freight and other charges of importation, will give a very large amount of protection to the local manufacturers. In New South Wales, the old-established firm of Goodlet and Smith have been manufacturing cement for many years without the protection of a duty. I do not know if the new company- at Mudgee, to which Senator Pulsford alluded, is of quite recent date,’ or whether it is working on the lines of a company, though in a more extended form, which has existed for years past, though I have been told that it is. It has been suggested that cement is brought out here as ballast, at a merely nominal freight ; but in answer to that objection, it has been pointed out that . it is not suitable for ballast, and that in any case a ship would not take a full cargo of cement at a merely nominal rate. A. vessel may occasionally take a little cement as “stiffening” at a lower rate; but large quantities are always charged for at reasonably high rates. The local producers of cement will, under a duty of 6d. per cwt., have a protection of ls. 10£d. per barrel, and the amount of the freight and other charges incidental to importation, and they will also have the advantage of being in close touch with the consumers, and therefore should find their industry a very profitable one.
– I do not wish to take up time unnecessarily, but when an attack is made upon an industry by which not only the workmen but also the employers concerned will be made to suffer, I should be wanting in my duty to my constituents if I did not, to the best of my ability, defend them. I am anxious to see the Tariff passed as soon as possible so that we may knowwhere we stand, and as there is very little prospect that the Senate will indorse the view put forward by Senator Pulsford, I hope he will withdraw his motion. Senator Gould has referred to German competition as if it were a myth instead of a reality, but it is too late for the honorable senator to seek to convince us that there is no fear of German or other continental rivalry. It is true, as Senator Gould has stated, that the prices of locally manufactured cement have fluctuated considerably, but the same thing has happened with regard to the imported article. The importers know very well that if the local industry becomes firmly established they will not be able to obtain the prices formerly commanded by them, and that their large profits will disappear. They have therefore sold their goods at very low pi-ices - even at a loss - in order to cripple local enterprise. As the Vice-President of the Executive Council has pointed out, the cement industry is being carried on in every State of the Commonwealth. In Victoria we have two factories, which employ about 300 hands. This is no mushroom industry, such as our friends opposite are so fond of referring to, but is a substantial enterprise, in which a considerable amount of capital has been embarked. In view of the duty previously levied on cement in Victoria, and the protection afforded to the local manufacturers, I should have thought that our free-trade friends would have been content to allow the duty to stand at 9d. per cwt., which represents a considerable reduction on the rates hitherto prevailing. In Germany the workmen engaged in cement factories are employed for from 56 to 60 hours per week, and receive 2s. 6d. per day, whereas Australian workmen are engaged for 48 hours per week and are paid from 6s. to 6s. 6d. per day. The cement industry has not yet been brought under the operation of the Victorian Factories Act, but we are hopeful that this and every other industry in Victoria will soon be subject to the minimum wage regulations. The Victorian Government and the Metropolitan Board of Works lay down stringent conditions as to the wages to be paid by Government contractors. In the specifications of the Metropolitan Board of Works it is provided that-
The contractor shall pay as wages for a da3*:s work of eight hours, not less than- for boys up to 16 years of age, 2s. Hd. : for youths between 16 and 18 years of age, 4s. ; for youths between 1 8 and 20 years of age, 5s. : for men between 20 and 55 years of age, 6s. 8d.: and for men over 55 years of age, 5s. 6d.
Surely these wages are sufficiently low to suit any one. In my opinion they are a great deal too low. The Victorian Government contracts contain similar provisions for the protection of -workmen. In the Railway department the minimum wage is fixed at 6s. 8d. per day, and in other departments at 7s. per day. The contrast between the wages paid and the hours worked in Germany and Australians in itself sufficient to show the great disadvantage at which local manufacturers are placed, and shows conclusively that if the local industries are to be carried on under reasonable conditions, a fair amount of protection must be afforded. The rates of freight for cement are very low. In some cases that commodity Ls carried free as ballast, and where a charge is made it does not . often exceed 10s. pelton. Therefore, the natural protection of which we have heard so much, does not operate to any appreciable extent in the case of cement. Prior to the imposition of the duty upon cement in Victoria, two factories were established,- and an attempt was made to carry on operations without the assistance of a duty. What was the result 1 Before the factories were started imported cement was being sold at 16s. and 18s. per barrel, but immediately afterwards the importers brought their prices down to 9s. per barrel, equal to a reduction of 50 per cent. They saw that if this infant industry were permitted to succeed, all the handsome profits they had been making would disappear. They therefore sold their cement at a loss in order to close up the factories, and they eventually succeeded. In 1892, just prior to the imposition of the duty upon cement in “Victoria, the factories were again started, and they have been able to carry on operations ever since. The reduction already made in the duty upon cement is sufficiently serious from the point of view of the local manufacturers, but if the motion be carried the industry i:i Victoria will be killed. Experience has proved that we cannot successfully compete with German labour, and the moment that the local industry is wiped out, the price of the imported article will be increased. I hold that it would be wise to profitably employ our own people, even if by so doing the price of cement were slightly enhanced.
– I rise for the purpose of stating a fact which appears to me to have a very important bearing upon this controversy. After the introduction of the Tariff, when the duty upon cement was ls. per cwt., instead of 9d. - the rate operating at present - a contract was entered into by the Metropolitan Board of Works for the supply of 5,000 casks, valued at £2,729. The contract was made with a German firm, and the price of the cement delivered in Melbourne, duty paid, was 10s. lid. per cask. Now, we Have been told that in New South Wales the price of this article was from 13s. to 13s. 6d. a cask. I assume that that was also the market price in Victoria. Yet for the large quantity I have indicated we find that a contract has actually been made to deliver cement in Melbourne, duty paid, at 10s. lid. per cask. That most completely bears out the argument which I previously used, that where big contracts are made with foreign firms the cement will continue to come in, irrespective of whether the duty is 9d. or 6d. per cwt. If one goes through the various contracts entered into by the Metropolitan Board of Works he will find that they differ astonishingly, the reason being that sometimes foreign competitors, for the purpose of obtaining business, are willing to cut their prices to an unduly low rate.
– When I entered the Chamber I had .an open mind upon this matter, but I had practically decided .to vote for the item as it stood upon the ground that the Senate should cease making alterations in the Tariff which are not of a very important character. In future, I intend to vote against all suggestions that I consider unimportant. In the present instance, however, I feel inclined to support Senator Pulsford’s motion upon its merits and upon the arguments which I have heard. Taking the price of cement at 6s. per cask it will be seen that a duty of 9d. per cwt. represents approximately 2s. 6d., or 41 per cent., and if we reduce the impost to 6d. per cwt., or ls. 9Jd. per cask, it will still be equivalent to 30 per cent. We have heard very conflicting statements in regard to the import charges. We may estimate them at 3s. 7d. per cask - as, I believe, Sir Malcolm McEacharn did - or we may calculate them at 4s. 4d. per cask.- But whatever those charges are they represent a natural protection of from 50 to 70 per cent., which, added to the duty, will give an enormous advantage to the local manufacturer. Senator O’Connor has alluded to the contract entered into by the Metropolitan Board of Works for the supply of 5,000 casks of cement at 10s. lid. per cask, which is a very low price. He seems to think that the fact of such a contract having been made, bears out the argument that foreign firms constantly reduce their price 25 per cent, or more for the purpose of securing business. But, with regard to cement, I know that his statement is incorrect. During the past ten years the cost of that article has not varied except between 5s. 3d. and 6s. 3d. per cask, f .o.b. It is quite certain, therefore, that the manufacturers who have control of the cement market have not reduced their price in the way that Senator O’Connor has affirmed.
– The importers have done so.
– Let us look at what the importers and the local manufacturers have been doing. In January, 1892, the price of local cement was 10s. lid. per cask, with no duty operating, whilst that of the imported article was lis. 3d. per cask. In August, 1894, the cost of the local article was lis. 5id. per cask, with a duty of ls. 9d. per cask, whilst that of the imported cement was lis. 9d. In 1898 the price of the local article was 12s. 5d., with a duty of 3s. 4£d., that of the imported cement being lis. 3d. In 1901 the local cement was worth 13s. 2d. per cask, with a duty of 3s. 0½d., and the ‘imported, 14s. 3d. In the following year the price of the local article was 13s. Id. per cask, with a duty of 2s. 6id., whilst that of the imported was 13s. 6d. From these figures I gather that the importers have in no way attempted to capture the Australian market, or to crush the local manufacturer. They also prove that the local manufacturer has invariably increased the price of his article in accordance with the duty, and that the foreign manufacturer has worked hand in hand with him. I would further point out that, under the Government proposal, if the quality of the local cement were improved, there would be a great danger of considerably curtailing the imports. When that result had been attained, the local manufacturer would grow careless, and probably supply the public with an inferior article.
– Every cask is tested.
– That does not get over the fact that if we surround the manufacturers with too much protection, we shall spoil them, and do a wrong to the public.
– The Victorian duty was 3s. 4d. per cask, as against the 2s. 6d. per cask proposed by the Government, and yet the Victorian manufacturers turned out good cement.
– They were obliged to make good cement in Victoria, because the imports from Germany and America were considerable. Senator Barrett has repeated the old story that if the proposed duty be reduced the industry will be wiped out of existence, and the local manufacturers deprived of their means of livelihood. What are the facts? One of the largest factories in New South Wales, which turned out nearly as much cement as the biggest establishment in Victoria, shut its doors under the Dibbs Tariff, because it found itself unable to sell its cement, and because of its large accumulation of stock. But having got rid of that stock it opened its doors a few months afterwards under the Reid Tariff without the aid of any duty whatever, and from that time onward it has held- its own and is still going strong. Senator Styles says in effect - “I cannot walk along the road of competition unless I am propped up with a couple of sticks,” but the New South Welshman says, “ I can travel that road’ without the aid of any sticks.” I think it is a very great mistake for honorable senators to ask us to decide upon a duty on the chance that the shipping trade will be anxious to obtain iron or cement for ballast at a low rate. Of course, I understand that shipping companies are constantly charging low freights. I know that frequently shipping combines such as the Pierpont Morgan combine are established. They charge exactly what they like. When trade is good and business flourishing, does any one suppose that iron and cement will be brought out as ballast 1 The shipowners will charge £1 or 25s. per ton, and the natural protection which the local manufacturers of cement enjoy will bc simply enormous.
– The assurance shown by the free- trade advocates is really marvellous. Senator Dobson is continually telling us that it is unwise to hobble industries, and better to give them free scope in order that the persons engaged in them may obtain that buoyancy and manhood which he is so fond of commending. But can the honorable and learned senator answer the statements made by Senator Barrett and Senator Styles that, in Germany the minimum wage paid to employes in the cement industry, amounts to 2s. 6d. for about ten hours’ work? Boys are paid a correspondingly low rate. The wages paid in Melbourne and Sydney, where cement works are carried on, amount to from 8s. to 10s. per day, whilst boys are paid 5s. per day, for. eight hours’ work. Is it possible for our manufacturers to compete with the Germans on such terms 1
– Yes, and they can do it easily.
– I want to hear substantial reasons given, because mere platitudes will not satisfy me that it can be done. We are told of the enormous amount of money that it costs to bring imports to Australia in consequence of the charges for freight, storage, haulage, and so .on. That, we are assured, constitutes a natural protection. Let the freetraders put that into figures, so that we may know exactly what the natural protection amounts to. Mere generalitieswill not do for us. AVe want something substantial. I am sick and tired of listening to these continual platitudes of which no proof is given. There are employed at the present time in Victorian cement works about 300 hands. Their case demands more consideration than seems to be given to it by honorable senators opposite. Let Senator Pulsford answer the question I have put - Whether our manufacturers can be expected to compete against the Germans whose workmen earn only 2s. 6d. for ten hours’ work % Do honorable senators opposite want our people to be employed at all, or are they here as advocates of the foreigner, irrespective of what the results may be to our own people 1 I am not here as an advocate of Germany, or any other foreign country, but as a defender of my own country : and I am weary of listening to platitudes from those whose patriotism seems to consist of advocating the interests of the foreigner at the expense of the people of Australia.
– If Senator Glassey had asked whether I was capable of standing on this floor I should have said that standing up would be a sufficient proof. When he asks whether it is possible for Australian manufacturers to compete against the Germans, I reply that I have ShOwn that it is done in New South Wales. I agree with Senator Glassey that in the great protectionist country of Germany wages are nothing like so high as in New South Wales or in other parts of. Australia. But when we remember that cement is selling at about 6s. a cask in Germany, and that it sells at many more shillings per cask in Australia, apart from any duty whatever, the honorable senator will see, if he takes the trouble to work out what the extra cost means, that it is quite easy to do what is being done. Surely it is an answer to the question whether a thing can be done, to show that it is done.
– I wonder at Senator Pulsford’s presumption, because he ought to know that the cement industry of New South Wales was supported almost exclusively by the Government. Not 10 per cent, of the cement manufactured in New South Wales is used outside the Government departments. New South Wales did not protect her industries under the Reid regime, but she gave them preferences that, to my mind, were almost as good as protection. Senator Dobson has the very best of intentions towards Australia, but somebody seems to stuff him with figures that - he does riot understand, and in an instant he is wafted away out of the region of reasonable possibility. He told us that locally-made cement is sold at about 12s. or 13s. per cask, and that imported cement costs a trifle more. In face of the fact stated by the Vice-President of the Executive Council that a contract was made by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works for imported cement at 10s. lid. per cask, I wonder how he could make that statement. Yet the honorable and learned senator, with his want of knowledge, or his prejudice, will tell us that the price of imported cement is 14s. Such statements would surprise any reasonable individual. Senator Pulsford and Senator Dobson seem to imagine themselves to be experts on nearly everything. They have, no more patriotism than the leg of a wheelbarrow when the interests of Australia are involved. The only interests they consider are those of the foreigner, and they seem to be actuated by a desire to get everything as cheap as possible, and to reduce wages as low as possible. They talk about the quality of the locallymanufactured cement as though they knew anything about it. Did they ever use cement ? I am sure Senator Styles has used hundreds of barrels more than they ever saw. I doubt whether one of them ever put his hand into a cask of cement in his life, or knows the difference between cement and plaster of paris. The locallymade cement has been put to the severest tests when it has been used by Government departments. It has been tested far more severely than any of the imported cement, simply because many of the departmental officers, like Senator Pulsford, had free-trade prejudices, whilst others were doubtful. But after long years of struggling in South Australia, the use of local cement was adopted in most Government works where cement was available, and has proved altogether satisfactory. Honorable senators opposite have talked of different cement being used for different . purposes. There is Keen’s cement and Roman cement, but they have nothing to do with what we are discussing. We are dealing with Portland cement, if I understand anything about the subject. Can these honorable senators tell us in what respect the imported cement differs from the locally-produced article? Is it that the foreign cement will set better out of water than in water, or anything of that kind 1 Is it because the colonial article, when used in stuccoing a building, comes out in different colours ? “What do these honorable senators know about it 1 They know nothing ; they have obtained their information from persons who know no more than they do.
– We have obtained it from authoritative publications.
– In many instances the authority to which they go knows less than they do themselves. I should prefer to’ take the word of Senator Styles - who has used large quantities of cement - backed up by my.own experience, to any information which honorable senators of the Opposition can obtain from “authoritative publications.” Those who have had practical experience know that the locally- made article is as good as any that can be imported. We do not deny that certain brands of German and English cement are good ; but we maintain that we can manufacture in Australia cement that is equally as good for all purposes. I have been told by engineers, who have had a great deal of theoretical experience, that European cements’ have stood the tests of hundreds of years, . whereas the Australian industry is of comparatively recent date, and that it is necessary to wait and see whether practical experience will prove that the local article has the same stability as imported cement. The absurdity of that contention is that some of the English and German works whose cement they are ready to use, without any test such as they demand of the Australian article, have been established for only a few years. Our. own production will stand if anything, superior tests, and in the interests of our own people we should do all that is possible to encourage its manufacture. As to the fluctuation in prices, I know that prior to 1890 the retail price of imported cement, which was used very largely in the Melbourne building trade, went up as high as £1 per cask, and in some cases even greater. But as soon as She duty was imposed, and before the local article could be placed upon the market, the prices dropped to less than 10s. per cask. We knew, however, that the importers could not stand that very long, and that they were bound to charge a higher price for it ultimately. The moderate protection which the Victorian Government gave to its own manufacturers enabled them to pay wages while making a reasonable profit. Honorable senators of the Opposition do not desire to see any one making a profit, save the foreign manufacturer, who can obtain cheaper labour than can be secured in Australia, and compel his workmen to work longer hours. I hope the public will take notice of the patriotism of these honorable senators, and that, in this instance, at all events, they will not prevail against those of us who wish to encourage industries that rightly” belong to Australia. In this case even a duty of 100 per cent, would not be too high, because, before labour is applied to the material used in the manufacture of cement, it has no value. In view of the fact that labour in Australia is 100 per cent, dearer than it is in Germany, and that our working hours are less- - -and we hope still further to improve the conditions of those who work under our laws - it’ is necessary that the degree of protection should be greater in the case of this manufacture in which labour is the principal factor than in regard to an article whose value is confined merely to the material itself. If honorable senators of the Opposition would view the proposal from every standpoint, and” not run away when honorable senators like Senator Styles seeks to give them information, this duty would be agreed to.
Senator BARRETT (Victoria).- In reply to a statement made by Senator Glassey, Senator Pulsford said a few minutes ago that Messrs. Goodlet and Smith, who carry on cement works in New South Wales, had established their industry under freetrade conditions. I would point out, however, that they commenced operations under the Dibbs protective Tariff, and I have been assured that they have openly stated that since the abolition of the State duty they have only carried on in the hope that under the Commonwealth Tariff they would obtain some protection. The managing partner has declared that without protection they cannot make their business a success. The proprietors of the big Commonwealth cement factory in New South Wales also assert that unless they are protected they will not be able to carry on successfully. It is idle, therefore, for Senator Pulsford to say that these factories have been established under free-trade conditions. Messrs. Goodlet and Smith have been able to carry on owing to the recognition they have received at the hands of the New South Wales Government. The State Government recognised that the firm would have a hard fight after the remission of the duty, and whenever possible they have used its cement. I think this is a complete answer to Senator Pulsford’s statement.
Senator STYLES (Victoria). - I desire simply to say a word or two in reference to the cost of casks. In England they cost Is. each.
– They cost Is. 3d. each.
– They cost Is. each, but in Australia their cost is 2s. Sd. each.
-they bag the cement here, and buy up old casks.
– I know more about the matter than does the honorable senator, for I have earned my living in a profession which has to deal largely with cement. I was also chairman, of the sewerage committee of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works for several years, and in that capacity had to deal with these matters.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 87 by adding the words, “and on and after 1st August, 1902, 6d.” - put. The committee divided -
Item S8 (China) agreed to.
Item 89. - Earthenware, brown ware, and stoneware, n.e.i., and tiles, n.e.i., ad valorem, 20 per cent.
– I feel that there ought to be a difference in the rate of duty imposed upon the expensive articles of china, parian, and porcelain ware, included in the . previous item, and used by those who can afford luxuries, and the duty upon common earthenware, dealt with in this item. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 89 by adding the words, “and on and after 1st August, 1902, 15 per cent.”
I make no lengthy remarks upon the motion, because we have reached a stage of the proceedings when voting is more efficacious than oratory. The motion is in accordance with the suggestions previously agreed to in connexion with other items on the principle that the less expensive articles commonly used by the poorer classes in the community should receive more reasonable consideration than is given in respect of articles used by the rich. I point out in addition that in connexion with this item the importation cost is very much heavier upon low-priced articles, and runs up to something like 80 per cent. I follow the practice I have adopted for some weeks past in submitting the motion briefly, and I hope it will not be alleged that my brevity is due to any lack of argument.
– Having carried china, parian, and porcelain ware at a duty of 20 per cent., there is really a very strong reason why the duty with which we are dealing now should not be interfered with, on the ground of difficulty in administration. There are many varieties of earthenware, brown ware, and stoneware, and some of them are most expensive. For instance, a great deal of what is called Doulton ware is earthenware delicately made, elaborately painted, and very costly. Some of the brownware is also very expensive. We may have all kinds of delicate work imported in earthenware as well as in chinaware. There is great difficulty in distinguishing between chinaware made from china clay in Germany and the fine earthenware made in England, and we know, that it is most undesirable for purposes of’ administration to have these varying rates of ‘ duty, as they lead to fraud and to great difficulty for the Customs authorities and also for importers. There is no ground such as the honorable senator has put forward for classing the goods imported as earthenware, brownware and stoneware, as goods used by the poorer people, and those imported under the previous item as goods used by those who are better off. As a matter of fact, different varieties are to be found under both of these heads, and that being so, the duty should be the same upon both. In addition to that, this duty of 20 per cent, is a very reasonable duty when compared with the duties previously existing in some of the States. In Queensland the duty was 25 per cent., in South Australia earthenware was dutiable in some cases at 15 per cent., and in other cases at 20 per cent., while tiles were dutiable at 25 per cent. In Tasmania the duty was 25 per cent., and in Victoria the duty was a measurement duty, which amounted to probably a good deal more. If we are going to snip a little duty off here, and a little there, in matters which are of no great importance, but which still affect the revenue, and also affect administration, I really do not know in what position this Tariff will be when it is finally dealt with. I ask the committee to say that this is one of the cases in which the duty proposed should not be interfered with.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I have been rather surprised at the argument of the Vice-President of the Executive Council that the duties upon these two items should be the same for administration purposes, when I remember that the Tariff, as at first introduced by the honorable and learned senator’s colleague, provided for a very great difference in the duties. In the one case the duty proposed was 20 per cent., and in the other case 6d. per cubic foot and 15 per ce’nt. Members of both Houses have set their faces against these measurement duties, .and apart from the duty of 6d. per cubic foot, my proposition is identical with the ad valorem duty first proposed by the Government. The argument that for administration purposes it is necessary that the rate of duty should be the same upon both these items, is entirely disproved by the action of the Minister, for Trade and Customs, in introducing the Tariff in a form which the VicePresident of the Executive Council now says is not workable.
Item agreed to.
Items 90 (Filters) and 91 (Glass) agreed to.
Item 92 - Glass, viz. : -
Polished plate, li.e.i., per 100 superficial feet, 10s. ; Sheet per 100 superficial feet; 2s. ; Polished plate, each plate not exceeding 7 superficial feet, per 100 superficial feet, 5s.
Polished plate, each plate exceeding 7 superficial feet, aud not exceeding 12 superficial feet, 7s. 6d.
Senator BARRETT (Victoria). - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 92 by adding to the duty “ Glass, viz. . , . Polished plate, each plate not exceeding seven superficial feet per 100 superficial feet, 5s.,” the words “and on and after the 1st August, 1902, free.”
I propose later to move the reduction of the duty upon the next line, polished plate exceeding 7 superficial feet, from 7s. 6d. to ls. 6d. This is a matter of some importance, and my action is taken in the interests of bevellers and those who deal in this particular article. I may say that under the Victorian Tariff the rate of duty was 30 per cent., but the plate glass which is the raw material and is not made in Australia was admitted duty free. The protection afforded to the local glass bevellers, so far as Victoria is concerned, has been reduced by 10 per cent., and in addition to that high import duties are charged upon the raw material, the polished plate which cannot’ be made in Australia, and the manufacture of which is confined to Germany and France. It was only last night that the manufacturers drew my attention to this matter, and this morning early I visited twoor three of the factories on the south bank of the Yarra in order to get some information. I am now able to say that the motion 1 propose is in accordance with the wishes, not only of the manufacturers, but also of the workmen engaged in this industry. I am assured that if this imposition is placed upon the raw material the local glass bevellers will not be able to compete with the finished article imported from foreign countries. I hope before I sit down to be able to make that perfectly clear. I wish Senator O’Connor to understand that I do not propose to sweep away the” whole of the duties upon this raw material. Much against our will, we protectionists find it necessary under some circumstances to impose duty upon raw material, and, in this instance, I recognise that revenue must be obtained from a duty upon glass. I, therefore, do not propose to interfere with the duty upon the larger sizes. I propose only to reduce the duty upon two sizes which are largely used in the bevelling industry. As I have said, polished glass is not made in Australia, and is not likely to be made here within our time. It is made only to a limited extent in England, and is not made at all in America, its manufacture being confined chiefly to Belgium and France. There are two reasons for that. In the first place, the continental countries which I have mentioned, have brought the manufacture of glass almost to a state of perfection, and, in the second place, they possess certain ingredients which cannot be obtained elsewhere. It is known that the French can produce certain shades in leather, silk, and other articles which cannot be obtained in England or America. The process has been a trade secret for centuries, but it has been found out lately that one of the reasons why France has a monopoly in this connexion is that the dyers there use a particular kind of water. Similarly in regard to the manufacture of glass, they are able to use certain things which other countries do not possess. Sand has been taken from Calais to England to be mixed with other ingredients in the endeavour to produce the quality of glass required, but without success, and the industry has never been started in America. The bevelling of glass, however, is a fairly large industry in Victoria, employing, exclusive of those engaged in other industries connected with glass making, between 150 and 200 men, and there are also a num ber of bevelling establishments in the other States. The industry is, therefore, one which requires consideration and assistance ; and, while I do not wish to pose as an alarmist, I feel convinced that if we agree to the high duty upon glass now in the Tariff, those engaged in the bevelling industry here will be unable to compete with the people of Belgium and France. In the first place, it must be remembered that there is a great deal of waste in the industry. If a manufacturer imports 100 superficial feet of glass, he has to suffer considerable loss in the waste caused by the bevelling, and by cutting the glass into the various sizes required. In that respect the industry is peculiar. Then, again, the rates of wages paid in continental countries in this industry are very much lower than those paid in Australia. In
Belgium, where the men work ten hours a day, foremen receive 25s. a week, workmen 15s. a week, and improvers 2s. 6d. to 5s. per week, and an alarmingly large number of women and girls are employed.
– Yet the industry is a highly protected one.
– Yes, but in those countries the employers have not the sense of responsibility which employers in’ British communities have, and the people there are used to industrial conditions which are repugnant to our ideas of what is right. In Germany, the men work from eleven to twelve hours a day, and foremen receive 21s. a week, workmen 16s. a week, and improvers from 3s. to 6s. a week. In Victoria the trade has been put under a wages board, and the lowest wage allowed is 42s. a week. The men work eight hours a day, and foremen receive from 50s. to 60s. a week, while improvers receive 5s., 10s., 15s., 20s., and 27s. a week. Furthermore, under the Victorian Factories Act, only one improver is allowed to the first man, two to the next two, three to the next three, and four to the next four, and up to ten, whereas in Germany and in Belgium the manufacturers can employ as many girls and boys as they like. In Germany the men work eleven hours a day, or 66 hours a week, which, at 16s. a week, is equal to an average wage of a little under 3d. per hour. In Belgium they work 60 hours a week for a wage of 15s., or 3d. per hour, and in Victoria 48 hours a week for a minimum wage of 42s., or 10id. an hour, which is more than 300 per cent, more than the continental wage. We often hear of British plate glass, and sometimes see a shipment marked “British plate,” but in nearly every case the glass so designated is manufactured on the continent. Messrs. Robinson King and Company are, I think, the largest manufacturers of plate glass in Great Britain, and they have a large factory at Brussels, which is worked with foreign labour. They . are prevented by the Belgium Government from selling in Belgium any of the. glass made there, and therefore it is exported to England and to other places. I think my remarks will show honorable senators that the glass bevellers of Australia are exposed to great competition, and would without protection and assistance probably be ruined. I can fairly claim the support of honorable senators who belong to the free-trade party in opposing the imposition of a duty upon the raw material used in an important industry. The Postmaster-General recently stated, in connexion with another matter, that the Minister for Trade and Customs would be empowered to remit the duty in cases where he was satisfied that an injustice would be done by collecting it; but we should not be dependent in a matter of this kind upon the good graces of the Minister for Trade and Customs. If the glass-bevelling industry is to prove successful, it must have the full measure of protection afforded by the duty upon the finished article, and, therefore, the impost upon the raw material should be remitted. I do ‘not propose to deprive the Government of all the revenue that would be derived from a duty upon plate-glass, because I desire to secure the free admission of plates only of a certain size, which are very largely used for manufacturing purposes. I am willing to agree to the imposition of a duty of ls. 6d. per 100 superficial feet upon glass in the larger sizes. I am not asking for anything that is extravagant or exorbitant, and I hope that the Government will not rigidly adhere to the duty now fixed simply because it has been agreed to by the House of Representatives. We should be prepared to’ deal with all these cases upon their merits, and as the measure of protection hitherto accorded has been very largely reduced, I hope that I shall be supported in my proposal.
– I quite recognise that the honorable senator is actuated by the best of motives in proposing to omit this duty, but, for several reasons, I cannot assent to his suggestion. In the first place, I think that the protection given to the workers in bevelled glass, although not so much as was previously accorded under the Victorian Tariff, is quite sufficient, in view of the standard adopted throughout the Tariff. In a great many instances the protection extended by the Tariff to those engaged in industrial enterprises is not so libera] as that which was previously enjoyed, and it may be thought that it is not enough. Still, all manufacturers are placed upon the same level. The protection accorded to glass bevellers by the duty upon the finished article is 20 per cent. In regard to their raw material, we find that a duty of 10s. per 100 superficial feet is imposed upon polished plate n.e.i. This amounts to 7 per cent, ad valorem. I admit that we are now dealing with polished plate in sizes not exceeding 7 superficial feet, the duty upon which is equivalent to an impost of 10 per cent, ad valorem. Inasmuch as the duty upon the finished article represents 20 per cent., the net protection afforded to the workers in glass is 10 per cent. - that is, supposing all the material is used, and that all the value of the imported finished article is represented by the material. Probably the value of the material in the imported finished article is something, less than the total cost, and therefore the workers in glass enjoy a net protection of something more than 10 per cent. I could point to many cases in which the protection given to industries amounts to only 5 or 7£ per cent., and comparatively, therefore, a net protection of 10 per cent, for the glass-workers is very reasonable. Upon polished plate, in sizes exceeding 7 superficial feet, and not exceeding 12 superficial feet, the duty of 7s. 6d. per 100 superficial feet is equivalent to S per cent, ad valorem, so that in that case the workers in glass enjoy a net protection of 12 per cent. A protection of from 10 to 12 per cent, is quite sufficient according to the standard that obtains all through the Tariff, and in view of the way in which other industries are treated. The duty upon the line with which we are now dealing, was originally fixed at 10s., and the same rate was also proposed for the plate-glass upon which the duty is now fixed at 7s. 6d. The glass’ bevellers were consulted, and they expressed themselves quite satisfied with the reduction from 10s. to 5s., and it was upon that understanding that the proposal was agreed to. The duty of 7s. 6d. upon the next line was proposed in the House of Representatives, and I understand that the glass bevellers expressed themselves satisfied with this reduction also. The alterations were made after careful consideration of the whole matter. I .can quite understand that the glass bevellers will not receive quite as much protection as they may desire ; but there are scores of other industries in the same position.
– So much the worse for the industries.
– That may be, but if we re-open this question we shall not be treating other industries fairly, and moreover, we should be departing from the policy which we have laid down, namely, that we should stand by the Tariff as it is. By adhering to this course, we shall bring the whole force of our party to bear in support of the Tariff, and achieve more satisfactory results than if we attempt to make improvements here and there.
Senator BARRETT (Victoria). - I scarcely think that the information given to the Chamber by the Vice-President of the Executive Council is correct. In the first place, I have to complain of the action of the Government in supporting the decisions of the House of Representatives whether they are right or wrong. The Government know that the present Tariff contains many anomalies, and that great hardships are being inflicted, and they are not acting fairly towards their supporters in adopting too rigid an attitude. I am here to support the Government so far as I think they are right ; but in the present case I hold that they are wrong, and that if the duty is passed in its present form it will inflict a great injustice upon an important industry. It will not only deprive a large number of persons of their means of livelihood ; but result in the loss of a large amount of capita], and, therefore, I feel compelled to persist in my efforts to bring about an alteration. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has admitted that some industries are not receiving such a large amount of protection as might be desired, and we shall be justified in departing from the continuous line of policy laid down by the Government if we are satisfied that more consideration should be shown in any particular case. There is no reason why the same rate of duty should be adopted in this instance as has been fixed in others. In some industries a 15 per cent, duty affords ample protection, whereas in others 25 or 30 per cent, duties would not be too high. In the glass-working industry the raw material is taxed to an inordinate degree and the glass bevellers are not satisfied, as the Vice-President of the Executive Council would lead honorable senators to believe. I have here a letter signed by all the glass bevellers in Melbourne, who are very much dissatisfied with the present duties. It is dated 17th March, 1902, and the letter was written before . the items were recommitted in the other Chamber. It reads as follows : -
We, the undersigned manufacturers of bevelled and silvered plate-glass, noticed a paragraph in the Angus of the 14th inst., as follows : - “Members of the House of Representatives have given notice of their intention to move the subjoined amendments, when items mentioned are recommitted.” Then follows a list of seventeen items. Hoping this would be a favorable opportunity to re-consider the duty.ou plate-glass under 12 feet super., for the following reasons : -
The fixed duty passed will ruin our industry, as polished plate-glass is our raw material from which we manufacture bevelled and silvered plateglass.
Our raw material costs us in freight more per 100 feet than the finished article would per 100’ feet, because we are compelled to get considerably more than 100 feet to manufacture 100 feet of the finished article, hence the waste, which is sold to the bottleworks at 30s. per ton.
The fixed duty of 10s. per 100 feet super, on two-thirds of the glass we manufacture (which is under 4 ft. super.) into bevelled plate-glass, amounts to 19 per cent, on invoice cost, which we have proved to the Honorable the Minister of” Customs in our letters dated February 21st and 25th, also March 17th. On the other one-third of the glass we manufacture into bevelled glass, which comes under the 4 feet and 7 feet super, size, the fixed duty will amount to 16 per cent, on invoice cost. These areas of plate constitute the whole of our bevelling trade, with rare exceptions.
Polished Plate Glass from 7 to 12 feet superficial feet we manufacture into plain silvered plate glass, which is used for decorative purposes, shop fittings, &c, &c.
We have no natural protection on our raw material, therefore the exception in our particular trade.
The protection we have is only 20 per cent.. on the finished article, and as the working conditions we are under here in comparison with European manufacturers it is self-evident that if the duty is not altered our trade will be ruined.
Hoping you will use your powerful influence tohave our recommendation curried into effect, and save our trade from extinction.
We remain, yours faithfully,
S. Black & Co., ‘City-road,’ South Melbourne.
CorcREix & Co., City-road, Sonth Mel bourne.
Meadows & Co., 337 Latrobe-street, City. Melbourne GLASS Bevelling Works, Lygon- street, Carlton.
Federal Glass Works, a’Beokett-street.
Only this morning I visited three plateglass establishments, and I am convinced that if the Government levy the proposed duty upon the item under discussion, the bevelling industry will be wiped out of existence. I hope that the protectionists of this Chamber will not allow a duty of this character to pass.
– It seems to me that a mistake has crept into this item, so far as the figures are concerned. Generally speaking, as a protectionist, I am in favour of admitting raw material free.
Of course there are exceptions even to that rule, but the present instance does not supply one of those exceptions. Polished plate-glass is the raw material of the bevelling and silvering industry, and as it is not likely to be produced in Australia, it should be exempt from duty. But I wish todirect attention of the committee to the wording of this item. It reads - “ Polished plate, each plate not exceeding 7 superficial feet, per 100 superficial feet, 5s.,” whilst immediately below the following words occur : - “Polished plate, each plate exceeding 7 superficial feet, and not exceeding 13 superficial feet, 7s. 6d.” It appears to me that the words “per 100 superficial feet” have been omitted from the latter line. I would further point out that the larger the plate, the more expensive it is per superficial foot, so that a fixed duty would not represent the same percentage upon all articles. Moreover, the price of plate-glass increases enormously after a certain superficial area has been reached.
– The percentage which I gave was an average based upon the invoiced prices.
– I shall support the motion of Senator Barrett, because polished plate glass constitutes the raw material of glass bevellers and . silverers, and cannot be produced in Australia.
– I regret that Senator O’Connor cannot see his way clear to accept the proposal submitted. Of course we understand the position occupied by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who naturally desires to adhere to the Tariff in the form in which it reached us from the other Chamber. There are exceptional occasions, however, upon which he might take a rational view of any matter brought before the Senate, and I think that this is one of them. In Queensland, prior to the introduction of the Federal Tariff, there was, to my knowledge, one firm there which did a large business with a Melbourne house in bevelled and silvered glass. This Melbourne house had been engaged in glass bevelling and silvering, and had carried on a very substantial and profitable business. Not more than six weeks ago, however, I saw a tender from this very firm in Brisbane, covering an amount of several hundred pounds. The price was cut to the very lowest point, but as a matter of fact it, was not within miles of the quotations of the Belgian manufacturers, and consequently the order was lost. As a result, these people, instead of executing bevelling work, have become simply distributors, purchasing their materials in Belgium. I regard Senator Barrett’s proposal as an exceedingly just one, and intend to support it. I will not be a party to destroying one industry after another.
– Not a single industry has been destroyed.
– This particular industry has been destroyed. The firm to which I have already referred employed eleven hands. I am not prepared by my vote to compel my fellow men in Australia who receive 10½d. an hour to compele with those who work for 3d. an hour in Belgium. I think that if the other House were approached fairly, and in a spirit of compromise, itwould see the reasonableness of adopting the proposal now before the committee. I trust that the motion will be carried. This is not an industry which affects ray own State. There are one or two houses in Brisbane to which the matter is of some interest, but not of great importance. The industry is one, however, that affects a considerable number of people located in Victoria, and it is on their behalf that I say a few words, because, as I have often said before of other industries, I do not regard this as a matter which affects a particular State, but as one which is of importance to the Commonwealth generally. I again appeal to the Vice-President of the Executive Council to accept the motion, notwithstanding his reluctance, which we can all appreciate, to seeing the Tariff altered.
– I wonder that Senator Glassey does not show more concern for the revenue of Queensland. He is prepared to vote to throw away a considerable amount of revenue in this instance. Queensland imposed a duty of 15 per cent, on glass and 25 per cent, on bevelled glass, giving a protection of 10 per cent. In Western Australia we had a duty of 15 per cent, on the raw material and 15 per cent, on bevelled glass. Consequently, glass bevelling was done there without any protection. Yet the firm of E. J. Beckford and Co. - a name that is not unknown in Victoria - was able to carry on. Some reason should be given for making a special exception of the glass bevelling trade. Honorable senators opposite were not very anxious to free the raw material of the farming industry. They were quite willing to impose a duty of 15 per cent, on the machinery of the farmer. Nor did they express any consideration for the painter, when it was proposed to tax linseed oil and turpentine, which are his raw materials. I do not know whether this motion is proposed in the interests of those who can afford to buy furniture containing bevelled glass, which is only used in the best class of furniture. We do not find bevelledglass wardrobes in the homes of poor men. Under the duties proposed, Victorian firms will have a protection of 12 percent., and will, moreover, have the advantage of free Commonwealth markets open to them. I do not think that so much concern would be shown in this case if it were not a Victorian industry that is involved. It seems to me that the sympathy of some honorable senators is limited to the suburbs of Melbourne, and that they have no concern for industries which permeate throughout Australia.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 92 by adding to -the duty, “Glass, viz.: - Polished plate, each plate not exceeding 7 superficial feet, per 100 superficial feet, 5s.,” the words, “and on and after 1st August, 1902, free” - put. The committeedivided -
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 92 by inserting after the word “feet,” line S, the words “per 100 superficial feet.”
Motion (by Senator Barrett) negatived -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 92 by adding to the duty “Polished plate, each plate exceeding 7 superficial feet, and not exceeding 12 superficial feet, per 100 superficial feet, 7s. 6d.,” the words “and on and after 1st August, 1902, Is.6d.”
Item 93. - Glass, n.e.i. . . . Senator GLASSEY (Queensland).- There are several little matters relating to special exemptions in connexion with items which require to be made clearer. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the special exemption to item 93, “ Instruments for measuring the density of liquids,” by adding the words “ and on and after 1st August, 1902, including hydrometers, saccharometers, lactometers, salinometers, barkometers.”
– There is really no necessity for this proposal, because it has already been decided by the Customs department that these instruments shall be admitted free under the heading of “ Instruments for measuring the density of liquids.” However, if the word “ includiug “ is used I do not see any objection to the addition of these words. They will leave the generality of the line just as it is.
Senator GLASSEY (Queensland).- The matter has received the attention of those who sell and use these instruments, and it has been found by experience that it is necessary that the words I have named should be added to the list of exemptions. All I desire is that the list of exemptions shall be made clearer.
Motion agreed to.
Item 94 (Glassware) agreed to.
Item 05. - Glassware, n.e.i., 20 per cent, ad valorem.
– I wish to draw the attention of the committee to this duty. It is similar to that placed upon earthenware, brownware, and stoneware, but it will press much more heavily upon the poorer than upon the wealthy classes, as the transit and other charges upon imported glassware of this description amount to something like from 60 percent, to 80 percent, upon their value. The item includes ordinary tumblers and glassware generally, so that honorable senators will realize that it is a very heavy impost. I do not know what revenue the Government expect to derive from it.
– The estimate is £56,400 a year.
– That large amount of revenue will be drawn to a great extent from the pockets of the poorer classes : but judging by the decision arrived at in regard to earthenware, the opinion ‘ of the committee is that these high duties should be retained on articles of a similar character. Therefore I do not intend to do more than point out how heavily the impost will press upon individuals, and how unnecessary it is, except from the position taken upby Senator O’Connor - that the Government expect to obtain a large amount of revenue from it.
– I shall go one step further than Senator Gould has done, and enter my emphatic protest against this inordinately high rate of duty upon articles which are to be found in the homes of the working classes. The motion submitted by me to reduce the duty upon commonplace earthenware articles was negatived, however, by a sufficient majority to satisfy me that it would be useless to press this item to a division, so that I shall do no more than protest against such extravagant duties.
Item agreed to.
Items 96 (Glassware), 97 (Gelatine), and 9S (Glue), agreed to.
Item 99- Stone …
Unwrought marble, ad valorem, 10 per cent. Roofing slates . and unwrought slate slabs, ad ralorem, 15 per cent.
– The operative masons of Victoria have pointed out to me that the duty on unwrought marble and unwrought slate slabs will tax their raw material. They desire that those articles shall be placed upon the free list.
– We have any quantity of marble and slate in South Australia.
– On theother hand, the Operative Masons’ Society of Victoria tell me that suitable material of this class is not found in Australia. I do not intend to labour the matter, because in view of a recent division, I believe that it would be useless for me to take up the time of the committee in doing so, even if I had a better case. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 99 by adding to the duty, “Unwrought marble, ad valorem, 10 per cent.,” the words, “and on and after 1st August, 1902, free.”
– The statement which has been communicated to Senator Barrett by some body of operatives that a suitable quality of marble for local works does not exist in the Commonwealth, is highly erroneous. In New South Wales we have whole ranges of it, and I believe that in Queensland there is sufficient to build marble halls for my honorable friend until further orders.
Item agreed to.
Division IX. - Drugs and Chemicals. Item 100. - Acetic acid, extract or essence of vinegar, and Vinegar - Containing not more than6 per cent, of absolute acid, per gallon, 6d. . . .
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 100 by adding the words, “and on and after 1st August, 1902, Glacial acid, of 98 degrees of purity, per ton, £25.”
Glacial acetic acid is much purer than is the common liquid acid, and for that reason I desire to insert a separate line to deal with it. I find that it is the practice of the Customs department to rate this solid glacial acid in practically the same manner as liquid acid, namely, by reckoning 1 lb. weight as representing 1 lb of liquid. The Tariff does not provide for dried or solid glacial acid.
– But is not that a fair way of dealing with it 1
– It is a roughandready way of getting over the difficulty, and I do not object to it ; but I take exception to the rate of duty. I find that on glacial acetic acid imported at 98 per cent, of purity, the duty works out at about 8s. 4d. per gallon, or practically Is. per lb. That is a heavy tax upon a local industry, for the reason that it is only by the use of glacial acetic acid that it is possible to obtain a pure vinegar suitable for making pickles and other things for which vinegar is required. The duty is no less than about 300 per cent, upon the value of the article. Such an impost upon an article essentially necessary for manufacturing purposes seems to me, even from the stand-point of revenue, to be absurd. The excessive duty will have the effect of excluding most of the glacial acetic acid, which is the absolutely pure article in use by manufacturers who take a pride in the use only of materials of great purity in their manufactures. Up to the time of the introduction of this Tariff a similar duty obtained in the State of Victoria, and it resulted in the manufacture locally of acetic acid from acetate of soda. This acid, made from acetate of soda, can only possibly be made up to a strength of 60 per cent., while most of it is only 30 per cent., and it is never up to the purity of glacial acid, which is manufactured up to 100 per cent. Glacial acetic acid is ‘ made from acetate of lime that has been run three and four times through the stills, thus securing an eminently pure article. It is only by running it through the stills three and four times that the high quality can be secured. In England and all over Europe two-thirds of the vinegar produced is made from glacial acetic acid, and all the well-known brands’ of vinegar imported into the Commonwealth are prepared from this article. It is especially used in the preparation of English pickles, and that is the reason of the great difference which unfortunately exists between locally-made pickles and the imported article. I suppose it will be universally admitted that the’ English pickle is far before the article locally produced in any of the States.
– I had “Victorian pickles last week that were as good as any I ever tasted.
– I am glad the honorable senator has so satisfactory a digestive organ. I do not propose to discuss the question of Victorian pickles. I have studiously avoided doing so by speaking generally, but I can say that in the Parliamentary refreshment-rooms, which are used probably by a greater number of protectionists than free-traders, the English, and not the local article, is used, and that is, I suppose, because it has proved to be the most palatable. Do as we will, it is not possible to produce in the Commonwealth a sufficient quantity of white vinegar without the use of acetic acid in some form, and it is for that reason that I desire that the pure, rather than the impure, article should be imported. I remind the committee that the colonial manufacture of acetic acid has a protection in the cost of importation to the extent of from 40 to 50 per cent. I have here an invoice showing these rather remarkable facts : This is a little line of 167 crates of glacial acetic acid of the total value at the port of shipment of £140. By the time it is landed in Australia the cost of crates, carboys, cartridges, freight,, insurance, and so on, has added £103, so that we’ And that an article which costs £140 in the first instance costs £243 when laid down here. That is a natural protection of nearly SO per cent., and )-et the Government on the top of that ask for a duty of 200 per cent, on the cost of the article laid down here, and of 300 per cent, on the cost of the article at the port of shipment. The duty proposed is out of all keeping with the circumstances. It is of importance that these things should be known, and I may tell honorable senators that the vinegar ordinarily used in the Com- monwealth is made from spoiled wine and sour beer, but it is a very much less pure article than is produced by glacial acetic’ acid, distilled three or four times in order to achieve the actual maximum of purity, because I suppose that 98 per cent, of purity will be admitted to be about as near perfection as we can hope to achieve in this mundane sphere. I consider that the duty I propose is fairly liberal. I have given reasons why, in the interest of the public health, in the interests of the manufacturers of goods in the preparation of which vinegar is used, and in the interest of persons supplying the articles which are made into pickles, the industry should not be overwhelmed with a prohibitive duty of ls. per lb. which the Government propose to place upon an article which is only worth 3d. per lb. at the present time. I suppose we shall have mysterious quotations dug up from somewhere with the object of showing that my figures are incorrect, but figures from inspired sources are not always as reliable as those which come from actual trade sources. Roughly speaking, this pure article costs 3d. per lb. in Europe. I shall, perhaps, be told by and by that it costs about 15s. per lb., to judge by the extraordinary figures I heard quoted on the subject of varnishes, but I have here an actual invoice for the article at £28 10s. pelton. Since this invoice was made out, the price of glacial acetic acid has fallen to the extent of £4 per ton, and that in round figures is equivalent to 3rd. per lb., so that the duty proposed by the Government is even greater than 300 per cent. If the figures I have put before the committee are not sufficient to bring about the result I desire, it will not be worth while to take up time in discussing the matter at greater length, because I have given what appears to a business manto be excellent reasons for the proposal I submit, and which I hope the committee will agree to.
– I cannot accept this suggestion. If honorable senators will look at the plan of this duty, they will find that the principle is to begin with a charge of 6d. upon vinegar containing not more than 6 per cent, of absolute acid. Then upon vinegar containing more than 6 and not more than 30 per cent., the proposed charge is 2s. 6d., and then for every extra 10 per cent, or part of 10 per cent.,10d. per gallon. These are the duties upon acetic acid, extract or essence of vinegar and vinegar. The glacial acetic acid to which Senator Neild refers, and which he wishes described here as of 98 per cent, of purity, is the purest form in which the acid is produced, and it is a solid form, as I understand. The difficulty is that from the solid form by dilution are made the other forms of the acid introduced, and therefore the solid form should bear the same proportion of duty as the other forms. If that is not done, we shall destroy the whole scheme of taxation proposed upon this article. If the charge upon glacial acetic acid is low compared with the charge upon the liquid acids, the result will be that the glacial acetic acid will be imported at a low rate, and will be broken down afterwards into the other forms at present imported, and we shall in consequence lose duty. For that reason we must maintain the proportion of duty between the two. Glacial acetic acid, being equal to so much liquid acid of the different strengths stated, should pay duty upon that principle. It is the same principle, provided for already under the Customs Act, that where there is a concentration of any particular substance, we charge duty upon the concentration, not according to its weight or value, but according to the quantity of made-up article which can be produced from it. So here we charge duty upon glacial acetic acid in accordance with the quantity of acid of a certain strength that it is capable of producing, and if that is not done you put the products sent in here already mixed at different strengths in an unfair position. There would be a great deal of difference in the incidence of the two rates, and a great loss of duty if the motion were carried. A duty of 7s. 6d. per gallon upon glacial acid, with a strength of 90 per cent., is equal to a duty of £105 a ton ; but the honorable senator wants to make the duty £25 a ton. I shall oppose the motion, in the interests of the revenue, and to prevent unfairness.
Senator BARRETT (Victoria). - I trust that the committee will allow the vinegar duties to remain as the) are. I do not think that Senator Neild has made out a strong case for his proposition, and I join issue with him in regard to the quality of Victorian pickles, which he says is inferior.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– Pickles of Victorian manufacture have obtained medals in competition with pickles manufactured in other parts of the world, including England. That fact alone speaks for their merits. In Melbourne alone there are no fewer than six firms engaged in the manufacture of vinegar - Messrs. Brockhoff, Dickson, Star, Hoadley, Blogg, and Sutherland. During 1901, the firm of Messrs. Sutherland sold8,000 casks of vinegar, and during February and May of the present year, 860 and 360 casks respectively The vinegar industry gives a large amount of work to the coopering industry, and, on the average, Messrs. Sutherland give employment to three coopers all the year round, while, in three years, it has purchased 10,000 new casks from various cooperages. The timber used for making these casks is all Gippsland and Tasmanian blackwood, which has proved excellent for the purpose. These facts show that we have in existence here an industry which should not be disturbed, and I feel sure that the committee will negative the motion.
– I shall oppose the motion, upon the ground that the vinegar industry gives a great deal of work to the coopering industry, and therefore indirectly to the selectors of our country. If 10,000 casks are required for the vinegar made in Melbourne, the obtaining of the timber used for making those casks must give a large amount of work to our selectors, who would otherwise find their timber valueless.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I think that Senator Styles could not have paid attention to what I said in moving the motion. This acid is not imported in casks at all. It is a solid, and is brought in in carboys. The same number of casks, however, will still be required in the trade here. The question is whether it is better to have vinegar made from spoilt wine, sour beer, or acetate of soda, with a purity of only 30 degrees, or from glacial acid, with a purity of 100 degrees. However good the Victorian pickles may be, it is better that they should be made from pure vinegar than from impure vinegar. -I have moved my motion in the interests of the public health’, and of the local manufacturers of vinegar, to whom I am willing to concede a reasonable amount of protection, but I think that 300 per cent, is too high.
Question - That the House of Kepresentativea be requested to amend item 100 by adding the words, “ and on and after 1st August, 1902, Glacial acid, of 98 degrees of purity, per ton, £25 “ - put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative. Item agreed to.
Item 101 - Acids, vix. : - Muriatic, nitric, and sulphuric, ad valorem, 15 per cent.
– On behalf of Senator Dawson, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 101 by adding the words, “and on and after 1st August, 1902, free.”
The acids dealt with in this item are dangerous acids, and have, therefore, to be carried as deck cargo, which, if the weather . becomes rough, is thrown overboard. The risk is so great that the freight is very high, and it is not necessary, therefore, for the local manufacturers to have a protective duty. These acids are used in connexion with the chlorination process for extracting gold from refractory ores, and this affords an additional reason for placing them on the free list.
– I object to the motion on the ground that these commodities ought to be subjected to a duty, for the purposes of both revenue and protection.
Item agreed to.
Items 102 (Carbonate of ammonia) and 103- (Drugs and chemicals) agreed to.
Item 104. - Insecticides, sheep washes, and disinfectants, n.e.i., advaloran, free.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 101 by inserting, on ami after 1st August, 1902, the words, “including coal tar preparations for such purposes,” after the word “disinfectants.”
Item 105. - Medicines . … ad valorem, 15 per cent.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 105, by adding the words, “ and on and after 1st August, 1902, 10 per cent.”
This item includes all classes of medicines, and I consider that a duty of 15 per cent, would constitute too heavy a charge upon those who ore afflicted with sickness, and upon all our hospitals and infirmaries.
– This is a very fair duty, and I oppose its reduction.
Question put. The committee divided -
Question so resolved in the negative. Item agreed to.
Items 106 (Medical preparations containing opium), 107 (Perfumery), and 108 (Soda Crystals) agreed to.
Resolved (on motion by Senator O’Con nor) -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until Tuesday next.
Question of Privilege.
Motion (by Senator O’Connor) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish your direction, Mr. President, with regard to the course I should adopt in bringing before the Senate a matter of privilege. I notice that the AttorneyGeneral, in the course of a newspaper interview in Sydney, has reflected very seriously upon the transaction of business by this Chamber, and has threatened us in certain ways in connexion with a dissolution.
– The proper course for the honorable senator to adopt if he desires to bring a question of privilege before the Chamber is to state his intention of concluding with a motion. Moreover, the nature of the motion ought to be stated before any discussion takes place.
– Shall I bo in order in bringing the matter forward next Tuesday ?
– The honorable senator may give notice if he thinks it necessary. Of course, I do not know what the honorable senator desires to refer to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 July 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020711_senate_1_11/>.