3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I beg again to ask the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, without notice, the question I asked on the 19th August with reference to the cost of administering the quarantine establishments in the different States ?
– I have been furnished with the following return showing the annual expenditure on the quarantine establishments and the value of buildings : -
Rush of Applicants.
Yarrawonga, Wednesday. - For the seven blocks of the Forest Reserve, near Mulwala, about 471 applications have been received - about 67 for each block.
Wagga, Tuesday. - The ballotfor the Bullen bong . Plain block, of 775 acres, c.p.l., took place before the local land board yesterday. There were 168 applicants, of whom 156 were admitted to the ballot, and they comprised all ages and both sexes. The winner was a single man, A. H. Fisher, of Corowa, the next in order being H. Heinrich, of Jindera, and A. F. Hunter, of Bethanga-road. and to ask whether, in view of their frequently expressed desire to encourage immigration, the Government will consult with the States Governments to see that a supply of more suitable land is made available before inducing persons, particularly those belonging to the agricultural class, to come here?
– The Government has at all times made it known that, so far as its immigration policy is concerned, it is anxious to work in conjunction with the States, and undoubtedly, if it can, to induce thousands to come to our shores.’ We have millions of acres of land which will necessarily be made available.
– Bearing on the same subject, I desire to ask the leader of the Senate, without notice, whether the - Government is in any way responsible for bringing immigrants to the Commonwealth, particularly to New South Wales? According to the statements of some recently arrived immigrants, they have been lured to New South Wales under what they consider false pretences. Judging from a statement in to-day’s Age they have been unable to get employment, their money has run out, and their home is in the Sydney Domain. Thy *sire complaining bitterly about the advertisements which have been inserted in the newspapers in the old land. I want to know if the Government is in any way responsible for the advertisements which induced the men to come to Australia ?
– I am quite satisfied that the States Governments are equal to all their responsibilities as regards finding land for those who come to our shores. It is the clear duty of the Federal Government to establish, as I hope they will in conjunction with the States, a policy which will attract to our shores a stream of suitable immigrants.
– That is not what I desired to know. What I asked was whether the Government is spending money in the old country in advertising Australia, and by those advertisements inducing persons to come to the States, only to’ find on their arrival that thev can get neither land nor work, some of them having been forced to sleep in the Sydney Domain ?
– The amount expended by the Government up to date has, I think, been small. But it is intended, with the consent of Parliament, to spend considerable sums in advertising the Commonwealth.
– In view of the bombardment of questions to which the Minister has been subjected from the other side, may I inquire whether- he is. in a position to state that the official Labour Party has repudiated its professed desire to bring immigrants to Australia.
– I ask my honorable friend to give notice of the question.
– r beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether he has seen in a Melbourne newspaper to-day a statement to the effect that the Commonwealth is setting aside a large area of land in Hudson’s Bay for the use of settlers, and, if so, whether the information in question has been ‘ supplied officially ?
– Hudson’s Bay?
– Hudson’s Bay is usually supposed to be in North America.
– I must confess that I have not seen the paragraph.
– Perhaps my honorable friend will look it up at his leisure.
– Will my honorable friend be good enough to give notice of the question ?
– Arising out of Senator O’Loghlin’s question, I beg to ask the leader of the Senate whether he will communicate with the present, not late, president of the Immigration League concerning the scarcity of land in the States, and ascertain whether Dr. Arthur or his party will assist the Commonwealth in circulating the facts amongst the people of England, with .a view to inducing some of them to emigrate to our shores ?
– I confess that I hardly realize the full purport of my honorable friend’s question. Dr. Arthur, I under-; stand, is -the president of a league.
– No; he was sacked lately.
– I do not think that the. Government is called upon to recognise the gentleman to whom my honorable friend has referred, and ask him to undertake the responsibility which he has suggested.
– I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, whether, in view of the sensational statement made in Senator Findley’s question, with reference to some allegations about immigrants to New South Wales, he will communicate with the Government of that State, and put himself in a position to acquaint the Senate with the true facts of the case, if there are any true facts, at its next meeting, as the reputation of Australia is really involved in the matter?
– I do not think it is reasonable that a statement made by an honorable senator should be catechised outside, but if my honorable friend will draw my attention to any statement in a newspaper, and ask me to inquire as to its ac curacy, or otherwise, I shall be very glad to do so.
– In relation to the contract for the construction of ammunition waggons, which was, mentioned “in the debate on the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill, can the Minister representing the Minister of Defence tell the Senate the length of time which the contract has to run, and if Messrs. Robison, Sons, and Company, of Melbourne, are the successful tenderers as stated in the press? Has he noticed in this morning’s newspapers that the firm are discharging’ from forty to fifty employes on the ground that they have not sufficient employment for them? In view of his own statement that it would take the firm from twelve to fifteen months to supply the ammunition waggons, will he make inquiries as to the reason for the discharge of those men?
– I am not aware of the circumstances to which the honorable senator has referred, but if he will repeat the inquiry on Wednesday, I shall endeavour, in the meantime, to secure all the available information in order to give him a reply.
– I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, if the Government propose to ask the authorities in England whether thev intend to take any, and, if so, what steps to put an end to the mischievous, unpatriotic, and traitorous speeches which are being made by a gentleman called Keir Hardie in India?
– I think my honorable friend will see that if we mind our own business we shall’ act wisely.
– It is the Empire’s business. The man deserves hanging.
– I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether, in view of the fact that the Australian Women’s Work Exhibition is to be opened in Melbourne on the 23rd instant, at 3 o’clock, he will make an arrangement to enable honorable senators .to attend the opening ceremony by postponing the_ hour of meeting.
– I approve of the suggestion of my honorable friend. In the circumstances, I think that we might see our way to meet at 5 o’clock instead of at 3 o’clock on that day.
– I’ refused an invitation on the ground that the Senate would be sitting on that day.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government during the present Session (either through the Tariff Bill or otherwise) to take steps to place British settlers in the New Hebrides in a similar position to transact business with the Commonwealth as is enjoyed by French settlers in those islands who transact business with New Caledonia ?
Has the Government seen and given consideration to that portion of. paragraph No. 27, in a letter dated Suva, Fi i i, 22nd February, 1907, from the High Commissioner of the Western Pacific to the Secretary of State, in which he suggests that British-grown produce from the New Hebrides might be admitted into Australia under special Tariff conditions under a certificate of origin from the Resident Commissioner or other suitable British official?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 3rd October, vide page 4174) :
Tobacco Leaf for the manufacture of cigars, high grade, of a quality to be presented ; (period) 5 years ; (rate of bounty) 2d. per lb. ; (maximum payable in any one year) ^4,000.
– No more interesting speech has been delivered on this item than that which we heard yesterday from Senator Findley. The honorable senator endeavoured to prove that it is impossible in Australia to grow a leaf suitable for the manufacture of cigars. This was a somewhat strange departure from the attitude which the same honorable senator took up a few days ago in discussing, other items of the schedule. He then said that we could grow anything in’ Australia, and of the very best quality.
– I did not say “ of the very best quality.”
– The honorable senator certainly said that anything could be produced in Australia.
– And that nothing was to come in except by balloon.
– Senator Findley said that if any honorable senator professed to be a protectionist, and opposed any item in the Bounties Bill, he was not really a protectionist, and that, so far as he was concerned, he would like to build a wall right round Australia so high that if any products entered the country it would have to be by balloon. He has taken up an entirely different attitude on the item now under discussion. It is true that the honorable senator speaks with u certain amount of authority on the subject of tobacco, because he was a member of the Tobacco Commission, and if he has failed to convince himself as to the way in which he should vote on this item, he has at least convinced me that I should vote against it. The Tobacco Combine has a monopoly in Australia of the machinery for manufacturing cigars.. It, ,perhaps, would be well for me to refresh the minds of honorable senators by reading an extract from the report of the Tobacco Commission, which proves conclusively that even if Australian leaf could be grown suitable for the manufacture of cigars, the small man could not compete with the Combine. If I believed that the granting of this bounty would mean that assistance would be given to the small manufacturers, I should be prepared to support the item. I take this from the evidence given before the Tobacco Commission by Mr. Hirschman. at question 7090 -
By the. Chairman. - What information do you wish to give to the Commission? - I desire to complain of the way in which the tobacco trust work machines to make what is called the inside of a cigar, but which, in the trade, is known as the bunches. The trust use, on an average, ten machines a week, putting it at the lowest estimate, but the capacity of each machine permits it to make about 3,000 bunches per diem.
Where are those machines used? - In Melbourne, in the States Tobacco Company. I produce, for the information . of the Commission, what is styled the bunch before becoming, a cigar: It is made bv hand, or by block. The ten machines would turn out 30,000- bunches a day, which would be at the rate of 150,006 per week. A boy or girl is employed on each machine, and is paid, at most, 15s. per week to work it. That shows the cost of making the quantity I have named in a week would be £7 10s. The cigarmakers of this city have lately had a case before the Arbitration Court, and from the particulars given there, it is seen that the very lowest at which I could make the cheapest cigar would be 2s. 6d. per 100; that is, to finish it right out. The rolling means putting on the covers after the bunches are made, and whether they be Sumatra, Havanna, or Mexican, the cost is is. 8d., or two-thirds for rolling, and 10d., or one-third, for making the bunches. So that to manufacture 150,000 by hand at 10d. oer 100 would mean £62 10s., as against the cost by machinery of £7 10s. The ‘ rate I have mentioned is as fixed bv the Arbitration Court, and is the same as in Victoria for block-work cigars. If taken on the basis of 50 working weeks in a year, it would mean a total wage of ^3,125, as against machinery wage of ^375, giving the trust an advantage of j£2,75° Per annum.
– It is ‘only the _ low1 grade cigars that are made toy machinery. The best cigars are made by hand.
– That is just the point I wish to make, because all the Australian leaf used in the manufacture of cigars is used in the manufacture of the low-grade cigars, since it is inferior leaf. If we decide to grant this bounty, the Combine will secure the whole of it, because they are the largest buyers, and it will be utterly impossible for the small manufacturers to compete with them. It is worth our while to compare the amount of imported leaf with the quantity of Australian leaf used in the manufacture of cigars. In an appendix attached to the report of the Tobacco Commission, I find that in 1904 the quantity of leaf imported was 407,234 lbs., as against a production of 31,099 lbs., of - Australian leaf. The quantity used in the manufacture of cigars in the same year was 251.189 lbs. of imported leaf, as against 9,680 lbs. of Australian leaf. It has been contended that if we grant this bounty it will assist the cigar industry.
– It will encourage the growth of cigar leaf.
– I admit that it will assist the grower, but it will not assist the local manufacturers of cigars.
– Will it injure them?
– It will, for this” reason, that the Combine is in a position to buy up the whole of the local production of cigar leaf,- and so prevent the small manufacturer from being able- to secure any of this leaf for his purpose.
– If the leaf is inferior, how will that injure the small man?
– I care not whether we grant a bounty of ,£4,000 or £40,000 ; we cannot improve the quality of the leaf grown.
– How does the honorable senator know that?
– I have come to that conclusion on the evidence given before the Tobacco- Commission by experts. I will shortly permit Senator de Largie to prove to the Committee, if he is able, that by granting a bounty we can alter the natural conditions under which tobacco must be grown in Australia. If we strike out the item, the amount set apart for this bounty might be reserved for some other industry.
– I do not know whether it is because the Bill has been so long before honorable senators, but some of them would appear to view the later items in the schedule differently from the way in which they viewed the earlier items. I again point out that underlying this Bill are two principles : the -first, that it is desirable that the Government should, by means of bounties, attract attention to productions in Australia which have not yet been listed amongst the productions of the Commonwealth ; and, secondly, the principle of confidence and belief in the capacity of ‘the Commonwealth to produce almost anything that is required for the sustenance or comfort of man. Since this item has been under discussion it has been contended that Australia has not produced and cannot produce tobacco leaf suitable for the manufacture of cigars. It has to be remembered that in the past there has not been much attention given to the cultivation of tobacco leaf of this kind by the ordinary grower of tobacco. Apart from that fact, I do not think that the attention bestowed upon the subject has been commensurate with its importance, and the possibilities of the business.
– In Victoria they have been experimenting for years “on the Government farms.
– My honorable friend referred last evening to the fact that when it was considered desirable to encourage the manufacture in Victoria, the bounty was given in such a way that a number of Chinamen went in for cultivating the plants, and that they studied quantity but not quality.. I think’ the same has been the practice in different parts of Australia where attention has been given to the growth of tobacco. I will quotean extract from a report by Mr. Nevill, the Queensland expert to the Agricultural Department of that State. Reference is made in it to the growth of the leaf, and he says -
There is now a demand for a limited amount of cigar tobacco, and at satisfactory prices : and farmers in the coastal districts are inclined to go in for growing this character of tobacco, and some 30 or 40 acres will probably be planted the coming year, divided between the Upper Coomera and the Cardwell districts, with a small lot at Bowen. For the small experimental lots grown this year very satisfactory prices were obtained. The samples have elicited most favorable comments from the purchaser, with the opinion that an expert demand can be created ; should this be so, the demand for these tobaccoes will be a large one. I believe it is true, for some of the samples show considerable merit, which will be greatly improved as the growers become more expert in the growing and handling.
Mr. Nevill, I may point out, is not only the Queensland expert in regard to tobacco, but he has had a considerable experience in the United States, and has followed the growth of tobacco of different varieties there. He continues -
These tobaccoes should prove very profitable, as in the country north of Bowen two crops per year can be grown, and should yield a ton to the acre - say 12 cwt. for the first crop, and 8 cwt. for the second one. At 7½d. per lb., this would yield £70 per acre. This crop can thus be made a very profitable one to small farmers with growing families, as children of either sex, from twelve to sixteen years of age, can be employed to great advantage. I consider the outlook for the future of the tobacco industry in this State as most promising, and, if farmers can be induced to take the necessary care both in cultivation and handling, we will gradually displace much of the imported article.
It has been urged that if a bounty be given for the growth of cigar leaf of high grade as prescribed - the proposal under notice - the benefit will go to the Combine, which is the greatest manufacturer of cigars in Australia. It has also been said that no bounty car be claimed under this proposal, because Australia cannot produce tobacco of “the quality that would entitle the grower to it. With regard to this item, as with regard to others, I am not in a position to speak as an expert, and therefore I shall have to call to my assistance, and to the assistance of the Committee, the advice and testimony of those who may be looked upon as authorities. I have here a letter which, singularly enough, actually anticipates both of those objections. It was not written in contemplation of the present debate. It was received by the Department of Trade and Customs within the last few days from a distributor of cigars and tobaccoes in Sydney. The writer is neither a grower nor a manufacturer.
– Then he does not understand much about it.
– If he were a grower or a manufacturer we should probably be told that he was an interested party. But he is an important distributor in Sydney, and has been carrying on business in that capacity for a number of years. He has also had experience in England. What t wish to impress upon the Committee is that this letter was not written in connexion with the Bounties Bill at all, although it bears upon certain important points which have been brought forth during this debate. . I do not know the man. The name on his stationery is, “ T. S. Prescott and Co., importers of high-class Havanah cigars and Egyptian cigarettes.” Surmounting the name are five coats of arms, and as many names, of Governors and Governors-General to whom the firm has been appointed to supply tobaccoes.
– He did not give evidence before the Royal Commission.
– Does he carry on business in Hunter-street?
– The address is 17 Hunter-street, Sydney. He says -
Doubtless you have been observing the colonial cigar manufacturers’ remarks regarding colonial leaf, which leaf they allege is unsuitable for manufacturing cigars. As a retailer of long experience in Sydney, and previously in England, I want to draw your special attention to certain important facts ofl the colonial trade, more especially those concerning colonial leaf. When I was iri Brisbane in June this year, I was introduced to a cigar by one of the leading hotel proprietors there.
It will be observed that these facts only came under his notice in June last, which may explain why he did not tender evi dence before the Royal Commission, which sat some time before -
This cigar- was made in Australia from leaf grown in Australia, and I found it to be the equal of any cigar made in Australia from imported leaf. That is. this cigar completely contradicts the statement made by New South Wales manufacturers that colonial leaf is not sufficiently high grade for cigar making. As a matter of fact, however, our local manufacturers practically boycott the colonial leaf; and the only way that they can be made to use the colonial leaf is to put a heavier duty on imported leaf. In the past, the duties have been imposed to suit the local manufacturer who uses imported leaf ; the duty on imported manufactured tobacco, having always been very high, while that on imported leaf is comparatively low. Consequently the local manufacturer is drawing all his materials from other countries and crying “ stinking fish,” or to be literal, “ stinking tobacco “ to all leaf grown in Australia. Thus the local manufacturer has got the trade on an altogether wrong basis, that is wrong from the public’s point of view, because present conditions keep the trade in a few manufacturers’ hands, keep up the prices of tobacco and cigars, vet prohibit the growing of colonial leaf.
In that paragraph, the writer sets forth first of all that leaf can be grown that is suitable for the manufacture of cigars in Australia equal, if not superior, to cigars manufactured from imported leaf; and secondly, that the encouragement of the use of imported leaf for Australian-made cigars throws the trade into a few hands -
You will at once* perceive that if a heavier duty were imposed upon imported leaf, the local manufacturer would thereby be forced to use locally grown leaf : to publicly acknowledge its good qualities and potentialities, and to encourage and support its production. Thus tobacco-growing as an industry in Australia would be placed on a reasonable and equitable basis, the more so since one immediate consequence would be that other manufactories would spring up and compete with those at present existing.
What this gentleman advocates is an alteration of duties, so as not to differentiate between imported and Australian cigar leaf in favour of the former, but whether it be by abolishing or reducing the differentiation of Customs duties, the fact that stands out prominently is that, in his opinion, local cigar leaf can be used with advantage in the manufacture of cigars, in Australia, and that such cigars are equal to, if not better than, those produced from imported leaf. He points outas another consequence, that this policy would lead to an increase in the number of manufacturers in Australia. Both of those conclusions are in direct opposition to what has been urged by honorable senators who are opposed to this item. I say again, that I do not know the writer of this letter. I did not see it until yesterday. It came within the last few days to the Department of Trade and Customs. As far as I know, it was absolutely unsolicited. It had no bearing, so far as the writer knew, upon this debate in the Senate. But it brings prominently before us the opinion of the writer that Australian cigar leaf can be grown successfully, and that the consequence of promoting its growth will be the establishment of a number of manufacturers, and thereby an increase of employment. He goes on to say -
In the present position of the New South Wales tobacco manufacturing trade, the tobaccogrower labours under every possible disadvantage. His market is so restricted that his price is kept at anunpayable level, and he is not humanly able to develop and improve his output. In a word, he is being crushed down by overwhelming forces. Consequently, it is only by a heavierduty on imported leaf that his market can be opened up and facilities and opportunities given him for growth and expansion, not only in regard to cigar leaf, but also for tobacco-growing in general. Tobacco made from Australian grown leaf is not recognised to-day. This is most unjust to colonial leaf, because I have experimented with tobacco grown and manufactured in South Africa, and I have found a ready sale for it here, although in aroma, colour, and smoking qualities the South African leaf is much inferior to the Australian.
Honorable senators are probably aware that quite recently South African tobacco has been exposed for sale in considerable quantities in the shops of the retail tobacconists in Melbourne. It is an important opinion coming from a source of this kind - a gentleman who is engaged in handling Havana cigars and Egyptian cigarettes and the best class of tobacco goods - that cigar leaf can be produced in Australia suitable for making good cigars. He does not, it is true, suggest a bounty, but the alteration of Customs’ duties on Australian and imported leaf.
– Why not abolish the Combine ?
– That is not what we are dealing with now. This gentleman says that if we can encourage the use of Australian leaf by means of a Customs Tariff it can be usedadvantageously, not only so far as the smoker is concerned, but also from the point of view of the industry.
– Would not that be the better way to do it ?
– I am not concerned with that point now. I am adducing evidence to show that we can grow a leaf suitable for the manufacture of cigars, and consequently that the bounty would be beneficial.
– Is not tobacco a simple crop to grow?
– Not in the case of cigar leaf. Mr. Nevill, in speaking of it, says : “ Thorough cultivation is very necessary in this crop.” He also says that it requires great care, both in cultivation and in handling. A good deal of instruction is required as to the different processes of cultivation. Mr. Nevill, who has had American experience, has not the slightest doubt that cigar leaf can be grown in Australia. He especially mentions country north of Bowen in Queensland. It has been suggested that Mr. Prescott, from whose letter I have quoted, knows nothing about tobaccogrowing.
– We had scores of experts before the Royal Commission, and the Minister has not mentioned one of them. Why should he mention a gentleman as to whose motives for what he has written we know nothing?
– I have been listening very attentively and interestedly while honorable senators all round the Chamber have been quoting from different experts. What I rose to point out was that this man was absolutely independent, and could not be charged with having the bias of a grower.
– How does the honorable senator know that?
– He is as independent, so far as I know, as any other witness produced. Primâ facie, the fact that he is a handler of high-grade cigars should lend some value to his opinion, which was absolutely unsolicited, and was not given in connexion with this Bill. However, it has such an important bearing upon the Bill, it has been received so recently, and touches so exactly the very views that have been put forward here both this morning and yesterday, that I should have been neglectful of my duty and of the interests of the tobacco-growing industry in Australia if 1 had not submitted the information to the Committee. If honorable senators choose to attach no value to it, and nurture a suspicion that it is given for sinister or personal reasons, that is their own affair. All that I wished to do was to submit to honorable senators the information furnished to the Government, and point out that it was not obtained to order. The communication came, so far as I know, absolutely unsolicitedly from Mr. Prescott. It was not prompted by any letter to him, or by any other action on the part of the Government. I draw attention to the fact that this man’, who has probably handled more cigars than the whole of the members of the Committee will do in their life-time, has given an opinion to which I attach, at any rate, some weight and importance. Apart altogether from that, the fact that there has been very little cigar leaf grown in Australia in the past, or the further fact that what has been grown has been comparatively inferior, does not conclude the question as to the possibilities of Australia. We offer in this Bill a certain sum for a certain period as a bounty to encourage people to produce more and better cigar leaf. Can they do it? If they cannot, we do not incur a halfpenny of responsibility. If they can, and do, we pay them the bounty, and, no matter what our previous opinions were as to the possibility or otherwise of establishing the industry, they will be paid the money, and Australia will be repaid in the fact that.it has been demonstrated that such leaf can be produced here.
– I should not have risen again but for some of Senator Needham’s statements. I believe that if he were convinced that the bounty would be beneficial to any industry in Australia he would support it. His objections were of two classes. The first was that the Tobacco Combine would reap all the benefit and the small man would get none. In that view he is considering the manufacturers of cigars, but the bounty is not supposed to directly affect the manufacturers, either in combines or as small men. It is proposed, not for the manufacture of cigars, but for the production of cigar leaf. We should consider whether the production of cigar leaf in Australia would not beneficially affect the small manufacturers, because, if the manufacture of cigars is confined entirely to imported leaf, it plays directly into the hands of the combines’ or larger men, inasmuch as it will not pay to import small quantities. Consequently, a small man would have very little chance if all the cigar leaf had to be imported. On the other hand, if, by a bounty or increased duties, we encourage the growth of the leaf in Australia, we put the small man in a much better position, because then he will be able to get his cigar leaf as required, and will not be at the mercy of the Combine or of larger manufacturers, as he is now, and always will be if he has to depend entirely on imported leaf. I have shown that there is no possibility of the bounty going into the pockets of the Combine to any greater extent than into the pockets of the small manufacturers. The principle laid down in the Bill is that the money shall be paid to the person who produces the cigar leaf. That ought to satisfy Senator Needham that he is in error in imagining that the bounty would” operate in the interests either of the Combine or the small manufacturer, although its effect would undoubtedly be to assist the small manufacturer in Australia. I have not the least doubt that with the production of cigar leaf in the Commonwealth, the number of small manufacturers would increase, and the competition would, to a great extent, help the grower. With respect to the next point, as to whether cigar leaf of a good quality can be grown in Australia or not, Senator Gray will not take the evidence of anybody.
– Of everybody.
– I am very glad to hear the honorable senator say that, because he objected very seriously to the independent and unsolicited evidence quoted! by the Minister.
– There will be no use for Commissions or other bodies to conduct inquiries if that practice is to be adopted.
– Circumstances arise which make it impossible for every man with special knowledge to go before a Commission.
– The Minister says that he does not knowanything about the person.
– He gave the man’s address, so that the honorable senator can make inquiries. The honorable senator should attach some importance to his opinion, seeing that the Minister of Home Affairs stated that he has all sorts of lions and unicorns, and crowns, and little dogs on his letter, thus showing that he is intimately connected with Royalty or ViceRoyalty. That should be something in his favour to Senator Gray’s mind.
– And also the fact that he comes from New South Wales.
– It should be another point in his favour in Senator Gray’s eyes that he comes from the “ma” State. I have repeatedly heard the word “ farmers “ used in connexion with the growth of leaf for tobacco and cigar making. Tobacco growing is not farming, but gardening. At one time it was said just as confidently that it was impossible to produce good wine in Australia. I heard that when I came to Australia first. People used to say that we could not grow good wheat, and, in fact, that we could not do anything right in Australia ; but one by one those fallacies have been disproved, and Australians have made a success of almost everything that they have undertaken in earnest. I have not the least doubt that the same will apply to the growing of leaf, not only for tobacco, but also for cigars, in the very near future. About twelve months ago a Science Congress was held in Adelaide, and at that time I had the pleasure of travelling to Adelaide with, and also receiving a visit in this House from, one qf the largest tobacco growers in the tropics. He gave me considerable information about tobacco growing, particularly cigar leaf growing. His name and address is R. Parkinson, Raoul, Bismarck Archipelago. It is impossible to say what his nationality is. One would take him to be a German, but his name is English. Any one, even Senator Gray, can write to him. He confirmed my previous impression that tobacco growing is not farming, but gardening, and gardening of a high class. The tobacco seeds have to be properly selected,” and the beds properly prepared. The plants have to be properly selected, anc properly planted out, and properly attended to afterwards. Moreover, if they are for a particular purpose they have to be attended to from the selection of the seed to the final gathering and curing of the leaf for the ultimate purpose for which they are intended. All this proves that there is more in the cultivation and growth of tobacco than is covered by the simple term of “ farming.” Mr. Parkinson informed me that with all the care that is taken in the growing and preparation of tobacco mistakes may sometimes be made. He gave me an instance where a crop worth ^40,000 was spoilt through the action of one- night. That shows the difficulty that there will be in inducing the growers in Australia to go to all the necessary trouble. I object to the constant reference to plug tobacco, because there is better tobacco than that in use in Australia. I would like honorable senators to speak of it as pipe tobacco, instead of plug tobacco.
– What is the difference ?
– Hand-made tobacco is not plug tobacco.
– Well, it is called plug tobacco.
– If the honorable senator were more particular in his phraseology no one would find fault with him. Mr. Parkinson, with a more extensive experience, I believe, than any person who gave evidence before the Tariff or Tobacco Commission - experience not only in the Bismarck Archipelago, but in Sumatra, Java, and the Philippines, in which he has interests, too - declared that as regards soil and climate portions of Australia are admirably adapted to the production of tobacco leaf of the highest quality, and of even cigar leaf.
– Then why does he not engage in the industry here?
– Because his hands are full in other places.
– A capitalist’s hands are never too full if he can see his way to make a fortune, and, according to the statements of some honorable senators, he could make a fortune here by growing this leaf.
– It is very likely that Mr. Parkinson sells any quantity ‘of his tobacco here. To show the great care and attention which must be paid to the production of tobacco leaf, I mav mention that for the greater portion of his tobacco leaf he gets from 2 s. 6d.. to 5s. per lb. It will .not be until the growers in Australia strive- to produce an article of similar quality that they can hope to succeed in the industry. I am strongly in favour of the bounty being paid only upon the production of the highest quality of cigar leaf, so as to induce our growers to make a more perfect selection, to adopt more perfect methods of cultivation, and to devote greater attention to the curing and other handling of the leaf. If we succeed in encouraging the growth of cigar leaf, it will undoubtedly be of great advantage to Australia. This industry has brought millions of pounds to other countries, and it will do the same for Australia if proper attention, is paid to the cultivation and curing of the leaf. Senator Findley, of course, ‘ takes up a strong at,titude on this question, but his strength of opinion seems to approach more to bigotry than to true conviction from a consideration of honest facts.
– No, it shows exactly the opposite.
– On every other occasion the honorable senator thinks that Senator Findley is wrong. This is probably the exception, which proves his fallibility, not his perfection. For the purpose of encouraging the production, of cigar leaf in the United States the Congress imposed a duty of 9s. per Vo’.
– And that did not succeed .
– Thev did succeed in growing cigar leaf in Georgia and other southern States.
– Look at the quantity which thev import from Cuba.
– That is quite true. In the United States, as in every other tobacco-growing country, it was found that for the production of the best brands of cigars a variety of leaf is necessary. Some leaf has the texture which is necessary ; other leaf possesses the approved aroma, while other leaf has the right flavour. From evidence which has been given in my presence, I know that great stress is laid upon the quality of the Sumatra leaf. The greatest merit of that leaf lies in its texture, because it is considered to possess very little flavour or aroma. Its texture, however, is of the best quality, and the leaf is admirably adapted for the outside wrapping of cigars. It is the same with cigar leaf grown in every other country. Mr. Parkinson said that if Australia engaged in this industry, as it ought to do. undoubtedly it would establish a reputation for Australian leaf equal to the character of the leaf which is grown in almost any country. He said that it would be sought after to be used not alone but in combination with the productions of other countries. In America, they found that they could not produce the necessary variety of cigar leaf and the local leaf had to be blended with cigar leaf from other countries. Did the Congress abolish the duty on cigar leaf? No. The duty was reduced by one-half, and at the present’ time it is higher than anything which has entered into the mind of a member of this Parliament. Even with a duty of 4s. 6d. per lb. the Americans import a large quantity of cigar leaf for the purpose of being blended with the class of cigar leaf which they produce themselves. If we keep in view our destiny, we shall endeavour to make perfect everything which can be produced here. We ought to give even possible assistance to this industry. The time may come when not only Australia will toe using Australian cigar leaf, but America and other countries, recognising its difference, and in many respects its superiority to other cigar leaf, will be eagerly seeking after it. It is for those reasons that I, with much earnestness, advocate the granting of this bounty.
Senator SAYERS (Queensland) [11.40% - I rise with a certain amount of reluctance, because, with the Minister of Home Affairs, I think we have spent a very long time on the consideration of the schedule. Since the debate on the second reading of the Bill, I have not spoken. I would not have risen to speak to-day if this matter had not cropped up. I intend to support the item. Since the Bill was brought to the Senate, the Customs duties on tobacco have been altered in another place, and further protection has been given to tobacco.
– Protection to the leaf.
– The protection must be given to the leaf, if it is given to the tobacco.
– It may be divided between the grower and manufacturer.
– Yes; but I do not take much notice of the manufacturer. I assume that, we want to encourage the production of high-grade leaf for the purpose of making better cigars and better tobacco than we can get at the present time. I wish the grower , to get the benefit of the bounty. The manufacturers are well able to protect themselves, and I believe that, if necessary, they could raise the price of tobacco on the market.
– Does the change which has taken place elsewhere favour the grower in preference to the manufacturer?
– That is what I doubt. I have not yet gone into the matter, so that I am not able to offer an opinion. The Minister of Home Affairs quoted a letter from a gentleman in Svdney ; but if I caught its tenor correctly, the writer contradicted himself. He tried to make out that it is from mere prejudice that the manufacturers do not use colonial leaf. If they can get colonial leaf at a much cheaper price, and of equally good quality, it is to their interest to use it, and I believe that they would study their own interest in using it. But we know that all over the Commonwealth there can be procured a tobacco called Perfection tobacco, which is not made by the Combine. How many senators or persons outside will smoke that tobacco?
– I do not- think that the out-and-out protectionists call for Perfection tobacco. They generally ask for the other tobacco.
– I smoke Perfection tobacco.
– A very large number of persons do not smoke it.
– It is very good tobacco.
– I am a very heavy tobacco smoker. I would prefer to smoke Perfection” tobacco if it agreed with me, but, unfortunately, it does not. I intend to support the item. I would not mind if we gave an additional id. per lb., and required that the leaf should be worth at least is. per lb. I believe that there is land on which it can be grown. Senator McGregor mentioned that Mr. Parkinson, of the Bismarck Archipelago, has said that cigar leaf can be grown in Australia, and Senator Findley asked why that gentleman did not engage in the industry here. My opinion is that when he can get labour at from 3d. to 6d. per day, he will not come to Australia to try to grow tobacco leaf. Let us, by means of a bounty, induce persons to come here and see whether they cannot make a success of the industry. Once it is made, a success, we shall be able to produce all the grades of tobacco required for home consumption. Our labour will be protected against the cheap labour in the Bismarck Archipelago, Java, and Sumatra, by the import duty. I want inducements to be held out to the planters to make experiments. If we can make a, success of the industry, £4,000 a year will be a mere’ bagatelle. If high-grade cigar leaf cannot be produced, the /bounty will not be paid, but I hope that it can be produced. The matter has been very fully threshed out, and if I thought that this bounty would be squandered on the manufacturers, I should vote against the item. . I believe the intention is to encourage the growth of a better quality of tobacco leaf iri Australia in order that the people of the Commonwealth may be induced to smoke Australian tobacco. We have heard that manufacturers have a prejudice against Australian leaf, but I think it is reasonable to suppose that they would not stand in their own light, and that if it was good leaf, they would use it, when they could get it so much more cheaply than imported leaf, the duty on imported leaf being taken into account. Locally manufactured tobacco made from Australian leaf can be purchased at as low a price as 2s. 6d. per lb. I believe that if we grant this bounty we shall encourage Australian growers of tobacco to produce a leaf as good as that produced in other parts of the world, and for that reason I shall vote for the item.
– I should like to support this item ; but, on looking through the evidence given before the Tobacco Commission, I find that the Tobacco Combine, having a monopoly of high-class machinery for the manufacture of cigars, and being the largest purchasers of leaf for this purpose, would be able to secure the entire bounty. That is something which we have sought to guard against by a special clause in the Bill, and in connexion with which we have made only two exceptions, in tinned fish and dried fruits. The Tobacco Combine, having’ the exclusive use” of cigar-making machines, must be in a position to suppress competition, and would have the growers of cigar* leaf in Australia completely at their mercy. The- evidence given before the Tobacco Commission shows that manufacturers of cigars in Australia, by hand labour; are very much handicapped by the competition of the Combine. A witness named Arthur Hirschman, in explaining the difference between the cost of manufacturing cigars by machinery, and by hand, stated that at 10d. per hundred, it cost £62 10s/ to manufacture 150,000 cigars by hand, whilst the cost of manufacturing the same quantity by machinery was only £7 10s. This -witness had been engaged in the manufacture of cigars in the old country-, and in Australia, for seventeen years. He considered the position so serious that he suggested that the Commission should recommend an Excise duty equivalent to the difference in wages paid for the manufacture of cigars by hand and by machinery. At page 33b of the report of the Commission, he gave this evidence -
I would ask that the Commission recommend that the Excise be made equal to the wages paid, and it should be levied on all machinemade bunches.
So that unless there are more buyers in the market, the witness suggests that an Excise should be imposed, which .at present would not be thought of. He makes if plain that it is impossible for those manufacturing cigars by hand to compete successfully with the Combine, having the exclusive use of cigar-making machinery. With such an advantage, the Combine would be able to prevent competition, the bounty could not find its way into the pockets of the growers of the leaf, and so the intention of the Bill would be frustrated. I do not know what the duties imposed by the Tariff will be by the time it leaves this Chamber, but I notice that, at present, it provides a very reasonable protection to the growers of Australian leaf. A duty of 3s. 3d. per lb. is imposed on unstemmed leaf, and of 3s. on stemmed leaf. Assuming cigar leaf to be worth is. per lb., that represents a duty of at least 300 per cent. In view of that ample protection to the local growers of cigar leaf, and in view of the fact that it is likely there would be only one buyer of the leaf when it was produced, and there would be no chance of the bounty finding its way into the pockets of the growers, I must oppose the item.
.- I should not have risen were it not for the fact that Senator McGregor, in his desire to have this item retained, made a vigorous appeal from the protectionist point of view. I wish the honorable senator to understand that I am as ardent as he in my advocacy of protection. I have a strong belief ‘in Australia, and desire to see Australian industries encouraged in every possible way.
– Apparently the honorable senator has not the same faith in Australia as I have.
– It may be that the honorable senator’s faith in this matter is not based on the evidence which has come before me.
– Faith without works is dead.
– Senator McGregor incidentally mentioned that at the Science Congress held in Adelaide last year, he had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman who was largely interested in tobacco culture in various parts of the world, and who assured him that in parts of Australia .cigar leaf of the very highest quality could be grown. I venture to say that if the gentleman referred to was a business man he would, have embarked in the business of growing cigar leaf in Australia himself, or have induced others interested in the matter to follow the advice he tendered to Senator McGregor. What has been the result in connexion with the growth of tobacco in Australia? I am not here to decry Australian industries. Far from it; but experience has shown that the consumption pf plug tobacco, or ‘-pipe “ tobacco, as Senator McGregor thinks “it should be called, manufactured from the leaf most extensively, grown in Australia, is decreasing. What is the reason for this? It is because Australians, the great majority of whom are protectionists, prefer to smoke tobacco made from imported leaf. It is evident that the imported tobacco suits their taste best. Whatever opinions men may have on the subject of free-trade and protection they prefer to satisfy their own tastes, even though they should have to pay a .little higher price in order to do so. Senator Keating has mentioned that Mr. Prescott, whose place of business in Hunter-street, Sydney, I have visited, has stated in a letter that recently when he was on a visit to Brisbane, a cigar made in Australia, entirely from Australian leaf, was given him, and that having smoked it, he found it equal in quality to any cigar made in Australia from imported leaf. One swallow does not make a summer, and though Mr. Prescott may have been told that the cigar was made from Australian leaf, he had no absolute guarantee on the point. Last night, during the debate on the Tariff in another place, a member of the Labour Party produced a cigar which he said was made in Australia from Australian leaf. Mr. Reid said that if it had been an Havana cigar it would have been smoked long ago, and it was subsequently discovered that whilst the cigar was made in Australia it was made from imported leaf.
– Will the honorable senator permit me to say that Mr. Prescott, in his letter, does not say that his experience was confined to one cigar, but that the kind of cigar to which he referred was first- brought under his notice in Brisbane in July last.
– I am satisfied that if. a good cigar leaf can be grown in any part of Australia there is an immense market for it. The manufacturers of cigars have no prejudice against a good article, no matter where it is grown. They have to cater for the requirements of the Australian people. I am a protectionist, but looking at this matter seriously, even the most ardent protectionist would hesitate to support this item. I mentioned yesterday that the grower in Australia of cigar leaf was given an advantage under the Tariff of 3s. per lb. on unstemmed tobacco. .That, however, is only . one side of the question, and as a matter of fact those who desire to manufacture cigars in Australia entirely from Australian leaf ale protected to the extent of 7s. per lb.’, without taking into consideration the charges, incidental to the importation of cigars. The Tariff, as originally introduced, imposed a duty of 7s. 4d. per lb. on cigars. Last night, in the House of Representatives, that duty was altered to 7s. 6d. - a fixed duty. The recommendation of the Government is that there shall be an Excise of 6d. per lb. So that there would be a protective duty of 7s. for the man who wanted to engage in the growing of tobacco suitable for the making of cigars in Australia.
– No; that is a protection against the imported cigar. But the grower would still have to compete against imported leaf.
– There is, first of all, a fixed duty of 7s. 6d. per lb. on cigars. Then there is an Excise- of 6d. That gives the local grower a preference of 7 s. Under the new regulations the manufacturer of imported leaf will have to pay 2s. 6d. on unstemmed tobacco, and 3s. on stemmed. He will also pay an Excise of 6d. That ought surely to be sufficient protection to the grower of Australian leaf. Tobacco, we know, varies in price as well as in quality, but if the growing of cigar leaf cannot be made a success under that increased protection, a bounty of 2d. per lb. will not make a success of it.
– It will assist.
– That argument would apply to a number of items for which the honorable senator voted.
– I supported those items because I was convinced that Australia is suitable for the production of the articles in question. But I am influenced in the vote I intend to give on this item by the opinion of men who are better versed in the subject than I am - men belonging to a trade union, and who have been engaged in cigar-making for a considerable period of time in various parts of Australia. They say unhesitatingly that a tobacco suitable for making good cigars has not been grown in Australia.
– The bounty does not affect them ; it is the duty that affects them.
– They say,, further, that they are thoroughly satisfied that the better quality of cigar leaf can never be grown in Australia. I venture to say that men who have been for years engaged in the manufacture of cigars from various kinds of leaf, and who have smoked the cigars made by themselves, are in a very good position to express an opinion regarding the various qualities of tobacco suitable for the making of cigars.
– The Combine a little while ago bought Queensland cigar leaf for is. a lb. v
– For what purpose ?
– For making, cigars.
– The States Tobacco Company, which is part of the Combine, engages in. the manufacture of cigars, but the British Australasia Company, which is the major portion of the Combine, does not make cigars at all.
– It must have been the part of the Combine which makes cigars which bought the leaf.
– One shilling a lb. is not a big price to pay. I should like to have evidence as to how the price is to be arrived at. If we are going to pay away ,£20,000, how are we to determine what quality of cigar leaf is to receive the bounty ? I am not satisfied that a highgrade cigar leaf will be grown in Australia as a result of this proposal. In the absence of information on that point, and fortified to a large extent by the assurances of men who are better able to form an opinion than myself, and who tell me that Australia is not suitable for the growing of high-class tobacco for cigar-making, I have . decided to vote against the item.
– The main objection raised by honorable senators who have opposed the item is that the bounty will go into the pockets of the Combine. There is evidence to the contrary. The Combine does not provide the only market which would be open to the growers of cigar leaf. I received yesterday the annual report of the Department of Agriculture and Stock, Queensland, for 1906-7. On page 92, under the heading- “ Cigar tobacco,” I find that the following report is made by Mr. Nevill. Of course it was written some time ago, and before there was any question of this bounty being proposed. He says -
We have progressed far enough with our efforts to stimulate the production of cigar tobaccoes to have every confidence in the future. The prices realized have 3’ielded an average of something like £60 per acre, and there is now a prospect of several farming centres becoming principally tobacco-growing. If we succeed in producing as good an article as our efforts indicate, these tobaccoes will return handsome profits to growers for export, and they will not have to depend altogether upon local markets.
In the meantime, the local demand will take all we can produce for several years to come, and at prices that will be more remunerative to the small farmer than any other crop he can grow.
Mr. Nevill, as honorable senators are aware, has been in the tobacco growingdistricts of America, and is an authority second to none in Australia upon this subject. He points out that, not only can cigar tobacco be grown in Queensland, but that it can be grown profitably for export. So that, if any attempt is made by the Combine to cut down prices-, the grower will be able to export his leaf. So far as concerns the ability of the country to grow good cigar leaf, I may remind honorable senators that when this item first came before the Committee, I drew attention to the fact that 200 lbs. or 300 lbs. of leaf from Bowen had been sold at a price equal to is. a lb. Of -course, that is not a very high price, but I am satisfied that higher grades of leaf can be grown, especially in our more tropical climates. The proposal as it stands is that the bounty shall be given for tobacco leaf for the manufacture of cigars “ high grade, of a quality to be prescribed.” I do not know how it will be possible by regulation to prescribe a quality. I take it that the Government will have to act upon the market price. If we can export cigar leaf so as to prevent the Combine from knocking down the price, there will be no difficulty in arriving at the value of the leaf upon which the bounty is to be paid, any more than there would be a difficulty in arriving at the value of ginned cotton, New Zealand flax, or a number of other items in the schedule. But an effort should be made to see that the Government does not “ throw too low a main “ in giving the bounty. I should like the value to be placed at a high figure, but I do not expect that the Committee would be prepared to go as far as I would. Possibly it will meet the views of honorable senators if I propose to leave out the words “quality to be prescribed,” and insert “ market value to be prescribed being not less than is. per’ lb.”
– Can that be moved, in view of the ruling yesterday?
– Yes. I do not propose to extend the scope of the bounty. If anything, the proposal would limit it. It will prevent the Government from making a regulation under which the bounty would be paid on tobacco worth od. or 10d. per lb.
– Would the proposed amendment alter the destination” of the bounty?
– No. The item generally is one which I think might very well be supported, and I intend to vote for it. At the same time, I shall be glad if it is so altered as to prevent the Government from paying the bounty by regulation upon too low a grade of leaf. I move -
That the words “quality to be prescribed” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words : - “ market value to be prescribed, being not less than is. per ‘lb.”
– I should like to direct the attention of protectionist senators, who, I am sure, do not wish to injure in any way the prospects of tobacco growing in Australia, to the fact that the duty which has been proposed in favour of Australiangrown tobacco leaf will probably be reduced. We know that the small cigar manufacturers of Australia have raised a great outcry about the proposed protective duty, and I think it is reasonable to anticipate a reduction. We should therefore take this opportunity of making up for it by means of a bounty. I urge that consideration upon honorable senators, because I am quite sure that tobacco growing in Australia has not .yet had a sufficient test for us to know really what we can do in this regard. I am prepared to give reasonable weight to the opinions of experts, but no expert evidence has been quoted to prove that tobacco leaf cannot be grown in Australia. Senator Findley repeatedly referred to what he called “ experts in the making of cigars.” Their opinions may be entitled to every consideration, so far as regards the work of manufacture, but I fail to see what weight should be attached to their views about the production of the raw material. This young country of ours has too short a history for any one to say that he knows exactly what it can produce. The area is so enormous, the varieties of soil so great, and the climatic conditions so varied, that anything is possible in the way of production in Australia. When Senator Needham was speaking, he asked me if I could change natural conditions so that cigar leaf could be produced. I do not propose to attempt to change nature by means of a bounty, but we know that in the case of products which require more expensive methods of cultivation, bounties are of great assistance. We do not intend to alter the whole face of nature by proposing a bounty. ; our object is to assist growers “in taking advantage of natural conditions. The basic principle of bounties or protection is to help any industry that can be reasonably expected to show favorable results. I remind Senator Needham that his own State has great possibilities in the production of tobacco leaf, a very high quality of which has actually been grown there. On page 616 of Coghlan’s The Seven Colonies of Australasia, for 1901-2, it is stated that -
In Western Australia, preparations are being made for cultivating tobacco on a large scale, and a company has been formed which proposes’ to acquire suitable land for raising the crop. Samples of the product grown in the State have been submitted to experts and pronounced equal to the finest Havana, and a large firm in England has undertaken to purchase any quantity of similar leaf at from is. ad. to 3s. per lb.
The quotation of such prices shows the possibilities of tobacco culture in Australia. No man “can afford to take up a cocksure attitude and say that we cannot do this, that, or the other. The statement I have quoted on the authority of that very careful statistician shows what can be done in Western Australia, where very little encouragement has been given to the cultivation of any tropical or semi-tropical product. If we can produce a high-class tobacco, bringing so high a price-
– If we can.
– The bounty, of course, is in the nature of an experiment. The whole of these proposals may be said to be experimental. If it is wise to give bounties for articles which we have no evidence have been produced in Australia at ail, we ought to give encouragement -to this industry, for we know that tobacco has been grown in Australia with varying degrees of success. We have as many advantages for the production of tobacco leaf of a good quality in Australia as any other country. I cannot understand the arguments of those who are prepared to give a bounty for the production of inferior leaf and yet are against giving a bounty for cigar leaf. I was quite prepared to support Senator Pearce’s amendment, but, having failed to secure that, I see no logic in the attitude of those who say that, because thev cannot get a bounty for the production of inferior leaf, they will not vote for a bounty for the production of a superior article. ‘ We are making altogether too much of the Trust bogy. I know that the Trust have enormous power, but i!t is going too far to say that the whole of the bounty will probably go into their pockets. If there is any danger of the bounty for cigar leaf going to the Trust, there would be a great deal more danger of a bounty for tobacco leaf generally going to them, because they are the sole makers of tobacco in Australia, whereas there is an enormous number of small cigarmakers
– Whom this bounty will not help.
– That is the strangest and most cross-eyed kind of logic that I have ever listened to. I cannot follow the process of reasoning of those who are prepared to give a bounty on tobacco which the Trust, of which we are so frightened, controls, and yet refuse to help the cigar industry, where there are a number of small manufacturers in competition with the Trust.
– The hand makers cannot hold their own against the Trust, who own the machines.
– They are dying out every year.
Senator DE LARGIE..If so, why did Senator Pearce propose that the bounty should be extended to tobacco leaf generally?
– I said that I was going to vote against the item, even if it was amended in the direction in which I moved, because, in either case, the bounty would go to the Combine.
– I cannot understand building up simply in order to pull down again. I am satisfied that if we give a bounty for the production of a superior kind of cigar leaf, there will be a probability of its being produced in Australia equally as well as leaf of the inferior kind that has been suggested. I therefore support the item as it stands.
– I am sorry that Senator de Largie misunderstood the position which I took up. He could not have listened to me. I said that in either case I thought the Combine would get the benefit, but that if there were a majority of the Committee prepared to give a bounty, I believed that it would be better to give it on plug tobacco leaf than on cigar leaf. I added that in either case I would vote against the item, no matter which way it was put. That is the position which I still take up. I happen to know a little about the company referred to in the quotation used by Senator de Largie from Coghlan. That glowing report from Coghlan is the report which appeared in the prospectus of the company floated in Western Australia. The company was formed. Mr. J. M. Speed was one of the directors. They proposed to grow tobacco, of the kind described, at Hamel, a district which Senator Lynch knows well. After one season, the company went into liquidation. That was the end of the tobacco-growing industry in Western Australia. No tobacco leaf has been grown there since. Of the whole of the tobacco leaf used in making cigars in Australia for the last year - 1905 - of which we have any returns, 251,189 lbs. was foreign or imported leaf, and only 9,680 lbs. was Australian leaf.
– Is not that an argument why we should try to make it all Australian ?
– You may succeed if you can confine the people of Australia to inferior cigars. Otherwise you will not. Senator McGregor argued that because some gentleman who lived in the Bismarck Archipelago told him that cigar leaf could be grown in Australia, we should vote for the bounty. I understand that we are asked to give weight to that gentleman’s opinion, because he has been growing tobacco in the Bismarck Archipelago.
– The honorable senator ought to quote correctly.
– Am I to understand that he said cigar leaf could not be grown in Australia?
– Am I to understand that he said it could be grown?
– I did not say that he was growing tobacco in the Bismarck Archipelago. I said that he was living there, and was interested in tobacco growing in Java, Sumatra, and other places.
– At any rate, that gentleman, who does not live in Australia, told Senator McGregor that cigar leaf could be grown in Australia, and therefore the honorable senator is prepared to vote £20,000 on the “say-so” of some man who does not live here.
– That is only if this superior leaf is produced here.
– Senator Story quoted from the evidence of a witness before the Tobacco Commission, who also was not a grower. If Senator de Largie wants the evidence of a grower, I ask him not to accept the evidence quoted by Senator Story.
– The witness understood! the growing of cigar leaf.
– That is why the statement of Senator de Largie carries no Weight. It does not necessarily follow that a man needs to be a grower in order to understand the position. Senator Story quoted a witness as saying that cigar leaf can be grown in Australia, but he was cautious to stop where he did. What was the next question which was put to the witness. He was asked, “ Do you think that is a payable price for cigar leaf”? and his answer was “ No.” The price quoted was1s. per lb. The next witness quoted by Senator Story was Mr. Smith, of Wangaratta, who is a buyer, and not a grower. He stated that cigar leaf can be grown in Australia. He was asked,. “ Wouldyou consider that price satisfactory “ ? and he said “Yes.’” Senator Story quoted that answer, but he did not quote the answer of Mr. Thompson, and in that respect I think he showed great diplomacy. The tobacco leaf referred to by both witnesses was tobacco leaf grown on the Edi State Farm. That is the only place where cigar leaf has been grown in Wangaratta.
– Does not that show that it can be grown?
– Yes, under a cheese cloth..
– In Glasgow a man made a fortune by growing tomatoes under glass.
– All it proves is that at the Edi State Farm a Victorian tobacco expert grew cigar leaf which realized1s. per lb.
– It is grown by a similar method in America.
– In Cuba it is grown in the open air.
– It is grown successfully in other places by that method.
– It is not grown successfully anywhere by that method. Certainly it is grown here and there by that means, but, commercially speaking, it is not grown successfully in America.
– We have a more suitable climate.
– The climate in the Southern States of America is similar to that which prevails in Queensland and the Northern Territory. With regard to the sample which has been paraded so much before the Committee, the very men who ought to be able to express an opinion say that a fair price was not given for it. Senator de Largie seems to think that the Combine will not have so much chance of getting this bounty as they will have of getting the other bounty. If he will turn to page 377 of the Tobacco Commission’s report, he will see a table showing the quantity of tobacco leaf which is used in the various factories. The Customs Department are not allowed to make public the names of the various manufacturers, but I am in a position to inform the honorable senator that the quantities of 1,136,471 lbs. and 402,361 lbs. represent the totals of leaf used by two firms in the Combine in the first six months of 1905. The smaller quantities were used by small cigarmakers. The sixty cigarmakers to whom the honorable senator referred, used 300 lbs. each. Furthermore, if he will look through the report of the Tobacco Commission he will find that ever since the formation of the Combine the number of cigar manufacturers has been rapidly dwindling. We gave the number for each year and showed that it has been rapidly decreasing. If he will look through the list which I have just indicated he will discover that in Victoria in 1905 no less than five cigarmakers closed their establishments.
– They died.
– No, their businesses died.
– In their report the Commission show that much improvement can be effected by proper instruction being given.
– Yes, and in the Senate I supported the amendment of Senator McColl because I thought that he proposed a better way by which to assist tobacco growing. If we had adopted his proposal there would have been no possibility of money being handed straight to the Combine. In my opinion it is only a question of time when, with a monopoly of the machines indicated by Senator Lynch, the Combine will control the whole of the cigar-making trade. It ls rapidly tending in that direction now. Senator McGregor said that this bounty is for the grower, not for the manufacturer. What has the grower to do with hia leaf? He is obliged to sell it to the manufacturer. There is only one buyer, and when the grower comes along this buyer says - “ Last year I gave you 10d. per lb. for the leaf.- You are now getting a bounty of 2d. per lb., and this year I will give you 8d. per lb.”
– We can deal with that position?
– Under the new protection.
– We can nationalize the industry.
– We cannot .nationalize the industry, because at present we have not the requisite number on our side.
– We can export the leaf to Hamburg.
– We are now .dealing with a question of practical politics. If “the leaf “could be exported to Hamburg it would come into competition at once with cigar leaf grown in those countrieswhich are naturally adapted to its production.
– We can grow leaf of Letter quality.
– Does the honorable senator in his wildest moments think that Australia can produce better qualities of tobacco leaf than can be produced in Java and Sumatra ?
– Why not?
– I believe that no words of mine could alter such fanaticism.
– When Senator Pearce was Chairman of the Tobacco Commission he heard evidence to the effect that Sumatra cigar leaf is altogether unfit for the manufacture of cigars.
– I cannot at this moment refer to the particular statement in the report, but I know that an expert witness stated that Sumatra leaf is very bitter and altogether unfit for the body of the cigar. He said that its principal virtue lay in the fact thai it had a very silky texture, and therefore it made an excellent wrapper, giving a nice appearance to the cigar. Very few cigars are made entirely from one kind of leaf. As a matter of fact Sumatra cigar leaf is only used for the outside covering of cigars. In Australia we have produced the cigar leaf which is used in the body of the dear, the bunch and the inside _ wrapper. That, I think, is of great importance, because a very much larger quantity is required for that purpose than is needed for the making of the outside covering. The arguments which have been used against the grant of a bounty upon the production of cigar leaf were used years ago, when it was contended that we could not produce good wool or good wheat. What are the facts to-day? Owing to experiments having been made in the growing of wool and wheat - certainly at the expense of private individuals, and without very great encouragement from the State - to-day we are producing better wool and better wheat than can be produced in any other part of the world. That result has only been achieved by the prosecution of experiments at the expense of the persons who were interested in the industries.
– The honorable senator is now referring to quality, and not to quantity.
– I am referring to quality. To-day we produce a wool which every other nation sends its buyers here to secure. Yesterday I pointed out the position in regard to the growing of cigar leaf. I freely admit that so long as the Tobacco Combine exists it will be a menace to the tobacco industry.
– There is not an iota of proof that it is a menace.
– Even suppose that the Tobacco Combine possesses great power, it will be to the advantage of Australia if we can induce persons to devote their capital and their time to the production of a superior kind of tobacco leaf. The potentialities of the industry are immense. If we can succeed in inducing persons to produce cigar leaf by offering a bounty, it will be a good thing indeed. I do not like to hear persons saying that Australians cannot produce certain things, when, as a matter of fact, they have not had a fair chance. So far, those who have attempted to grow cigar leaf have not received the slightest encouragement. Senator Findley has said that cigars made of Australian’ leaf are abominable. But, as a matter of fact, the leaf which has been used in the manufacture of those cigars has not been cigar leaf. A factory in Adelaide purchases a large quantity of ordinary tobacco leaf, for the purpose of making ordinary plug tobacco. I have been informed on the best authority that about 7 per cent. of the leaf is picked out by an expert, and used for the manufacture of cigars. It is not cigar leaf, and, consequently, the cigars made of that leaf are nothing like equal in quality to the imported cigars, which are made from cigar leaf. The object of the bounty is to induce persons not to grow tobacco leaf for the manufacture of plug tobacco, but to devote their attention to the production of a different variety of tobacco leaf, which,asa matter of fact, weighs only one-third of the plug tobacco leaf. We want to induce persons to grow a smaller quantity of tobacco leaf, with a view to obtaining a higher price. I do not think that the amendment suggested by Senator Chataway would be in the best interests of the industry. During the experimental stages a number of persons might be induced to grow cigar tobacco in the hope of earning the bounty. Possibly, for a year or two they might grow a leaf which could be used only for the manufacture of cigars, and for which they might not be able to get more than11d. per lb. If Senator Chataway’s amendment were carried they would be unable to obtain the bounty on that leaf ; they might then become discouraged, and give up the cultivation of cigar leaf. But ifthe item is allowed to stand as it is in the schedule, and the Government prescribe the conditions on which the bounty is to be paid, the regulations will have to be submitted to Parliament, and, if necessary, honorable senators will be in a position to object to them. We may assume that in draftingthe regulations prescribing the conditions the Government will act on the best advice they can get, and in the interest of the people whom we wish to serve, by granting this bounty.
– The Combine should not be regulated; it should be abolished altogether.
– In common with Senator Needham, and many other members of the Senate, I would like to see the Combine abolished. I wish to see the tobacco manufacturing industry nationalized, because I believe that that is the only way in which we can get it out of the hands of the Combine ; but, in my opinion, the Combine are here to stay for a few years more, and their existence is no reason why we should not endeavour by the assistance proposed to encourage the growers of tobacco leaf to cultivate a superior article. I hope the item will be passed as it stands in the schedule.
– A strong argument in favour of my amendment is that, to some extent it would act as a check on the people whom every one seems to fear, and would prevent them cutting down the price of leaf to the grower. There is not the slightest doubt that the largest local manufacturers of cigars have done their best to encourage the growth of cigar leaf in Australia. They have hired men to give instruction to farmers, have distributed seed, and have done a great deal of work in this way, for which they are deserving of some credit. If the minimum value of the leaf on which the bounty is to be paid were fixed by Statute it could not be altered from day to day by regulations, and the buyers of the leaf would know that they could not reduce the price below a certain figure, as the moment they did so the grower would lose the bounty and would cease the cultivation of cigar leaf. I omitted to mention that cigars have been made in Queensland from leaf grown in that State at the Texas Station, controlled by the Queensland Government. I had the pleasure the other day of enabling several gentlemen to smell a Queensland cigar whilst I smoked it myself. Those who had the advantage of testing its aroma described it as an uncommonly good cigar. I may be asked why we do not continue to manufacture such cigars. The reason was explained to me by Mr. Nevill, who really manufactured the cigar at the Texas Station. He explained that unless it was possible to obtain considerable quantities of leaf of that quality it would be impossible to establish a brand, and as honorable senators are aware, a great deal of the success obtained in the sale of certain cigars is due to the establishment of a recognised brand. It is because people are not growing sufficient quantities of cigar leaf of good quality in Australia, to establish a_ brand that we have not first-class Australian cigars now on the market. I think that my amendment would promote rather than interfere with the intention of the Bill. .
– I hope that even at this late hour Senator Chataway may be induced not to press his amendment, but that if he does press it the ‘Committee will not agree to it. It is proposed that the bounty shall be given for “ Tobacco leaf for the manufacture of cigars, highgrade, of .a quality to be prescribed,” and I point out that, while we could fix the minimum market value of the article on which the bounty was to be paid, that might be provided for in the regulations. I think it would be more desirable that the regulations should prescribe the quality, and, if necessary, determine it by the market value of the leaf. In the regulations justice might be done to the other considerations to which Senator Chataway referred in submitting his amendment. There might be reasons for a fluctuation in the value of the article from time to time, and let me remind honorable senators that by leaving the words “of a quality to be prescribed “ in the schedule the Committee would not give the Government of the day an unfettered or uncontrolled right to fix the minimum value of the article, or impose any other condition, since the regulations must be tabled in Parliament, and would be subject to the veto of either House. If Parliament is sitting, they must be tabled within a ‘ certain period after they are made, and if Parliament is “ not sitting they must be tabled within a certain period after the next assembling of Parliament, and it is open to either House to negative or modify any particular regulation. I am glad to have an opportunity to hear what honorable senators think the method of determining the quality and the minimum price of the leaf should be, but I point out again that any regulations prescribed would be open to the review of honorable senators. For this reason I ask the Committee not to support the amendment, and I hope Senator Chataway will see the wisdom of withdrawing it.
– “ intend to support the amendment. I assume that the Government propose to offer this bounty to encourage the production of a high-class tobacco leaf, suitable for the manufacture of cigars. The intention is to encourage the growth of leaf of the very best quality, and it is not intended that the bounty should be paid for leaf of an inferior quality. I propose to vote against the item, even though it should be amended, but if it is to be carried, I would prefer that it should be in the form suggested by Senator Chataway. I think that those who have any knowledge of the subject recognise thaithe weak feature in connexion with Australian leaf is not in the cultivation of the leaf, but in the curing of it, and the details of production, to which Senator McGregor has referred so fully. The honorable senator gave the Committee a very good idea of the peculiar conditions connected with the production of tobacco leaf. We wish the growers of Australian leaf to bring their production up to the highest possible standard. It has been proved beyond doubt that tobacco can be grown in many parts of Australia. In fact, it has been grown to such an extent at times that the supply has been more than equal to the demand, and a great quantity of leaf has been destroyed. It is, therefore, clear that the bounty is not necessary to discover whether we can grow tobacco or not, and it is only necessary to induce our growers to grow leaf of a high quality. The Minister suggests that we should leave it to the Government by regulation to prescribe the conditions under which the bounty is to be given. I object to that. I think that we should fix the minimum price of leaf in respect of which the bounty shall be payable. To do that would enable the grower to know what he would be likely to get for his crop, and the manufacturer to estimate the price that would have to be paid for the article.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2p.m.
Question - That the item “ Tobacco, leaf “ be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Fish Preserved as prescribed; (period) 5 years; (rate of bounty)½d. per lb. ; (maximum payable in any one year) £10,000.
– The Minister, during his second-reading speech, was asked a question as to how he would define “ fish,” and why the Government had not included pearl shell. He promised that he would further enlighten the Senate at a later stage. Can he now tell us why pearl shell has been omitted?
– The secondreading debate took place so long ago that I almost forget what occurred. I think that a question was put to me referring to pearl shell, and I pointed out that this item dealt only with fish, as the word is generally understood. Whether pearl shell could be brought under the definition I am not quite sure.
– What would the Minister call pearl shell ?
– I should not call it fish. It would have to be dealt with in a separate measure. It was not intended to include it in this. If there are valid reasons why the collection of pearl shell should be supported by a bounty, they will be considered. So far, the Government have seen no justification for including pearl shell in this schedule.
– Has the Minister considered the question of adding fish preserved in casks? A large trade is done in pilchards and herrings preserved in that manner.
– The item is quite wide enough to include fish in casks, I think.
– Do I understand that we are actually asked to give ,£50,000 for fish preserving when there is plenty of fish on the spot? I cannot understand it, and shall certainly vote against the item.
– We imported 15,000,000 lbs. of fish in tins last year.
.- Before we give a bounty for preserved or tinned fish, we should try to obtain a better supply of fresh fish for local use. There is no article of food which should be cheaper or more easily obtainable, but there is no article which at present is dearer than fish. The price of ordinary fish for ordinary people is very high indeed. I think the proposed bounty is entirely premature. If it were intended to encourage the catching of more fish, and the putting of it upon the market in a better way, I should be inclined to support the item.
– The honorable senator who has last spoken has put forward a consideration which was before the Government when they inserted this item in the Bill. Our waters have never been exploited for commercial purposes to anything like the extent that they should be’ But it is impossible to expect that we shall supply ourselves with fresh fish, and obtain the necessary quantity to do so,’ without being in a position to establish a fish-preserving industry.
– It will be a long time before we exhaust the local market.
– That is the very reason why this bounty is proposed. If persons embark upon the industry of supplying fresh fish on a large scale, they will obtain much more from our waters than would suffice to supply our population.
– Oh, no.
– The honorable senator must know very little about fish if he takes that view. It is a palpable fact that in every place where fishing is carried on to any extent not only are the local requirements supplied, but a surplus is obtained which is disposed of elsewhere. In various parts of Tasmania fishing is carried on. They catch flounder, trumpeter, and barracouta, for instance. If they catch more than is sufficient foi the local supply, they have a surplus on hand suffi cient to enable them to go in for preserving on a certain scale. That is what we want to encourage.
– What becomes of the trumpeter which they catch in Tasmania? We never see any of it over here.
– A good deal of it is sent away from Hobart. It is only caught on a certain portion of the coast. It would be futile to think of establishing a fishing industry for the supply of the home market only. Considering the extent of the waters around our coasts, thereis no doubt that we can obtain sufficient fish of an excellent kind to support a considerable industry. I think that it is. proper to endeavour to establish an industry for preserving what may be called our surplus fish.
– There is no surplus.
– There would be a surplus if the industry were conducted ona considerable scale. If there is no proper industry established for preserving, people will not be induced to embark upon fishing extensively. Take the case of Canada, where a large number of people are engaged in the fishing industry. If they simply fished to supply their own home market, the amount of money and the number of men employed in the industry would be lessened in the ratio of Canada’s own demand to the actual provision that Canada makes for herself and sending fish abroad.
– Canada has the fish, but we have not.
– There has been, very little organized or sustained effort to ascertain the riches of the. Commonwealth in this regard. We hope to uncover possibilities that were not thought of before. If we do establish in the Commonwealth an industry for the preservation of fish, either for home consumption or for export abroad, there will be a very much stronger inducement for our own people to go into the fishing industry. They will have, not only the market in our own country to supply, but also the opportunity of turning over their surplus fish to the canning factories.
– I had ho particular hope that this item, even if passed, would do anything to stimulate the preserving of fish, but what little hope I might have entertained has been entirely dissipated by the Minister’s remarks. Whilst he does not dispute that at present the home market is not sufficiently supplied, he says that, if the bounty is offered, and the fish preserving industry started, men will catch more fish, and thai the surplus over and above the supply required for the fresh fish market will be utilized by the factories. Surely the Minister knows that no factory can afford -to pay for fish for preserving purposes, the price which that fish will fetch in the fresh fish market?
– That is so; but in my own State fishermen will guarantee to supply fish for manure at considerably less than the price that they can get in the fresh fish market.
– Surely the Minister does not desire to suggest a bounty ‘in that direction ?
– It shows that they can catch the fish.
– They can, at certain times. I know that large tracts of country in England are manured by no other process. If the fishermen to-day are not prepared to catch the quantity which they can sell locally at higher prices, they are not likely to be stimulated to catch a larger quantity to sell at lower prices. If it is correct that no factory can afford to pay as much for fish for tinning purposes as it will fetch in the fresh fish market, it is idle to talk about stimulating the preserved fish industry until we know that we have a surplus available. I quite agree with Senator McColl that the real” trouble at present is that the fresh fish supply of Sydney and Melbourne is entirely inadequate. The big establishments may have a supply, but the ordinary suburban householder in both cities can only get a most intermittent supply of inferior quality at exorbitant prices.
– And in the country districts the people rarely see fish.
– Of course, fresh fish is out of the question 400 or 500 miles away in the interior in the summer. But this bounty will in no sense help the dwellers inland.
– I only mentioned it to support the honorable senator’s contention that the difficulty now is with regard not so much to preserved as t6 fresh fish.
– While it may not come within the province of the Federal authority to look into that question, it is within our province to consider whether or not we have a right to support this proposal until we know exactly where the seat of trouble is, and until some effort has been made to remedy it. I know, of no matter to which the municipal or State authorities could better devote their attention than that of the position presented by both the fish and fruit trades. There is something wrong in the case of both those trades. The producers are producing an insufficient supply, and ought, therefore, to be getting high prices, and yet they are not ; while, on the other hand, the consumers are unable to satisfy their own requirements at anything like a reasonable price. The difficulty is in that direction, and the proper remedy can only be determined upon by a thorough examination of the details of the trade. I have no knowledge which enables ‘me to say where the trouble is, but I know that this bounty is not going to put it right.
– I desire some information from the Minister before I give a vote on this item. Does the term “fish” include beche-de-mer? That is a very important fishing industry along the Great Barrier Reef, on the eastern coast of Australia. The trade has been developed very considerably lately. The beche-de-mer, or sea slug, as it is called, is secured, split open, and dried in the sun. A large quantity goes to China even now, and I see that a good deal of it is consumed in Australia. I noticed quite recently that it is finding its way to Melbourne, and. is used in the form of soups, and what l may call “ fish entrees.” A paragraph in the Cairns Daily Argus states that -
New ground has been struck on’ Swain reef, outside the Great Barrier, which has .not been fished until the last few weeks, the point of departure being Port Mackay. Great hauls are being made in quick time, and the old Northern fishing grounds are deserted for the new find.
In another paragraph in a Mackay paper, it is reported that -
Two more beche-de-mer vessels have arrived ia the river with good cargoes of slugs. One boat’s cargo is estimated tn be worth about ^170, and the other at about ^450.
These facts show that the industry is of some importance. Is beche-de-mer to be included in the fish on which bounty is to be paid when preserved as prescribed ? It . is most important that we should establish along our Great Barrier Reef, if possible, a good fishing industry, because the constant running of cutters along the reef will form a sort of outpost for defence purposes, and as we do not know much about the reef, which is exceedingly dangerous and is always altering, all the information- that can be obtained about it should certainly be obtained. The beche-de-mer boats are mostly owned and controlled by white men, who largely employ coloured labour. If they are allowed to compete for the bounty, they, will employ white men, which isi the very thing that honorable senators desire to bring about. Another animal, which I should hesitate to call a fish if it were not for the dictionary, is the dugong, which is caught along the Queensland coast. A book which I looked up describes it as one of the dolphin family, which I take to be fishes. The dugong is used for the production of oil, and in another form is produced as a kind of bacon. Will dugong and beche-de-mer be included under the heading of preserved fish?
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Minister of Home Affairs) [2.251. - My own opinion is that beche-de-mer could not be included under the title’ of fish.
– Would the honorable senator call oysters fish?
– I should think that if it was intended to include them the proper way to do it would be to say “ fish, including shell fish.” If it was meant to include beche-de-mer, tHe wording should be “ fish, including beche-de-mer.” I am inclined to think that the things mentioned by Senator Chataway do not come’ under the item. They should be specially mentioned.
– Is the Minister prepared to accept an amendment to include trepang and dugong?
– I asked the Minister during his second-reading speech, by way of an interjection, for some explanation of this item, and whether any provision was made to encourage the pearl-shell industry of Australia. The Minister then promised to give some information when the item was reached in Committee.
– Before the honorable senator came in, I spoke to the question. Senator Henderson raised it again, and I referred to what the honorable member said in his second-reading speech.
– I am sorry that the Minister has not seen his way to give some encouragement to the industry. We have secured good results from our attempts to convert into white industries many industries which, in the past, have been almost wholly in the hands of coloured labour. The sugar industry is a proof of that. If we followed the same course in the case of the pearl-shelling industry, excellent results might be expected. I have with me some quotations which will strengthen the case for doing something in this direction. I should like the Minister to agree to make provision for a special message on the subject. I recognise that we are somewhat hampered at the present stage in doing all that we should like to do, but I have every right to expect the Government, ‘who have all along been identified with the policy of taking industries out of the hands of the Asiatics, and putting them into the hands of white men, to give me some assistance in the encouragement of the pearl-shelling industry. No assistance has ever been extended to it, although it is an important one to Australia. It has been gradually going down for the last few years. The suggestions which I am about to offer will, I think, prove a solution of. the difficulty, and prevent the industry from totally disappearing. There is little doubt from the way in which the pearl shell is being dragged from our coasts that, unless some means is taken to encourage .the cultivation of pearl shell, our coast line will very soon be denuded of it to such an extent- that the industry will- be completely wiped out.
– The boats have gone away to German New Guinea now.
– I do not think that they have met with much success either in German New Guinea, or in the Aroo Islands. The Clarke Combine, who went to those coasts, have not met with a great deal of success. The latest information I have is that their fleets are now returning to the Australian waters where they previously did better. In the past it has been a very valuable industry. It would be a great pity indeed if we took no step to encourage the cultivation of pearl shell, and allowed the industry t6.be completely destroyed by the present method of fishing. It is well known that the Asiatics have depleted all the shallow waters on the coasts of Queensland and Western Australia. Deep fishing is almost the general rule. The shallow waters have become depleted by reason of the fact that no time has been allowed for the cultivation of pearl shell.
– They depleted the Thursday Island grounds and attributed that result to the White Australia poliCY
– Yes. Much harm has been done in the past by allowing constant deep fishing. It is, I think, the opinion of most men who are acquainted with the industry that the deep waters ought to be kept as a sort of breeding ground for the shallow waters, which can always be fished with white labour. In the deep waters the prosecution of the industry is attended with some risk. I would regret to see white men obliged to fish in deep water. In shallow water it is, comparatively speaking, an easy kind of industry for a white man to follow. It is only in very deep water, where there is an enormous weight over the diver’s head, that the danger of paralysis is so great. In shallow water that danger scarcely exists. For that reason I would like to see some step taken to protect the industry and to supplant black with white labour. If we were to adopt that policy, we should establish on those portions of our coast which now carry a very small population a race of white fishermen. I hold that the shallow fishing ‘of pearl shell could be carried on by white men along our coast just as easily as any other kind of fishing is carried on in Europe and the United Kingdom. I am convinced that much good would be ‘done b substituting pearl shell for some item in the schedule. Two years ago Mr. Saville Kent reported on this question to the. Government of Queensland. His report is headed “ Torres Straits Pearl-shell F ishcries,” and may be seen among the parliamentary papers for the second session of the Queensland Parliament in 1905. In the early part of his report he says -
As will be recognised by the perusal of the above recorded data, the assemblage together of a number of individuals is absolutely essential for the abundant propagation of the species. lt is through the full recognition of this fact and by assistance given towards the restoration of corresponding conditions on an adequate -scale, and at suitable locations, that I would -propose to bring about the resuscitation of the much depleted Torres Straits pearlshell fisheries. What i have to suggest ‘is, in fact, the establishment of a certain number of Government pearlshell-breeding .reserves, on which shall be laid down and maintained for breeding purposes only a suitable number of mature “healthy shells. These shells, to the number, say, of about one thousand to each breeding depot, should be enclosed in cheaply-constructed wood and wire netting frames, wherein they will be protected from their natural marine enemies, and also be effectively safeguarded from human interference. A decision as to the “best locations for the, establishment of these proposed Government breeding reserves can scarcely be arrived at without some further information being at my disposal concerning the nature of the ground, the predominance of the currents, and other details that would, I conaider, be best arrived at in consultation with leading representatives of the pearlshelling industry.
He goes on to say -
So far as I can indicate localities suited for this purpose without a further special inspection of the grounds, I might suggest some point in the vicinity of Badu Island, from whence the brood would be effectively distributed over what is locally known as the “old ground.”
His report is very lengthy, and therefore I only propose to pick out a few of the more interesting passages on this question -
Within a period of three or four years from the establishment of the proposed breeding reserves, I consider that the adjacent waters within many miles from these breeding centres should be restocked with young shell to such an extent as to permit of profitable fishing.
From the opinion of this great expert it will be gathered that a return will be obtained from this industry much more quickly than will be derived from any industry in respect of which a bounty is proposed. He suggests that the best breeding grounds are the depleted shallow grounds, in which may be found the natural food for the molluscs, and which are within easy access. I hope that honorable senators will recognise the feasibility of his proposal. He goes on to say -
I should, at the same time, recommend that these proposed breeding reserves should be made a permanent institution, under which circumstances young brood will be continually supplied to replace the adult shell withdrawn, and there should be no further recurrence of the deleterious depletion of the beds that has brought about the present unprofitable condition of the Torres Strait fisheries.
As a practical illustration of the efficiency of the foregoing suggested method for restocking the surrounding waters with young shell, I mav mention that in that island in the South Pacific to which the greater portion of the Torres Strait shell was transported and laid down in frames as above described, a period of six months sufficed for the propagation of the molluscs to such an extent that many of the parent shells were found with as many as from ten to twenty or thirty or more young attached to their surfaces. At the same time, it was scarcely possible to raise a coral mass from the adjacent reefs without finding young Torres Strait shell growing on them.
The report shows that the experiments which have been tried in certain localities point to the feasibility of what might be called the artificial cultivation of pearl shells. Another report on this subject has been made bv Mr. Gale, Inspector of Fisheries in Western Australia. In his report on the fishing industry for 1906, he says -
Other countries are turning their attention to the scientific investigations of the pearl-shell molluscs, with a view of improving their own pearling industries, and the time must come, sooner or later, when artificial cultivation must give place to the present methods of obtaining shell. Desultory experiments have been made in different parts of the world without much conspicuous success. If, however, proper methods are adopted, and these will eventually be proved, and suitable localities chosen, there is no reason why the pearl shell could not be cultivated in immense numbers, the same as the edible oyster, in many parts of the world, which gives employment to thousands of persons, and a permanent flourishing industry maintained.
The opinions of the experts I have quoted are very encouraging. They go to show that the depleted shallow beds, which are washed by waters in which there is ample food for the molluscs, are adapted to the successful propagation of the pearl shell. Having regard to the encouragement which is recommended by both Mr. Kent and Mr. Gale, I think I am justified in suggesting to the Minister that this subject should receive more consideration than has evidently been given to it. On the present occasion, the Government should not lose sight of the policy which has been so successful in connexion with the sugar industry. Repeatedly we have been reminded that the northern coasts of Australia are greatly in need of white population. I do not know of any persons who would be capable of rendering greater service to the country than would a race of fishermen. The climatic conditions against which we have to fight on the land do not prevail to any great extent on the water. Storms are much less frequent on our northern coast than in any other part of Australia. Therefore, the conditions of a fisherman’s life on our northern coast would be less dangerous than, and not so arduous as, that of the fishermen who operate on the coasts of England, Ireland, and Scotland. We have every reason to anticipate a successful result if some encouragement is given to bring about the transfer of the pearl-shell industry from coloured to white men. 1 do not propose a radical alteration straight away. I do not suggest that at a given date we should tell the Asiatic that he must go. I would like the existing conditions to continue until it is made sure that the bounty system will result in the establishment of the pearl-shell industry in the hands of white men.
– What bounty would the honorable senator suggest to enable white men to compete with coloured labour ?
– In view of the ruling which the President gave last night, I do not see the advisability of making a suggestion with regard to the amount of the bounty. It would be of no use for anyone to move in that direction at the present time. All that I can reasonably ask the Minister, to do is to give this question! more consideration, and to see if a special message cannot be brought down on behalf of this industry. I regret exceedingly that it has received so very little attention from . the Government. The question is worthy of very serious consideration, in view of the enormous extent of our coastlinewhich is unoccupied. It is also worthy of consideration whether we should not do something to prevent the complete extinction of the pearl-fishing industry, which is still a very important industry,, but one which is fast disappearing, owing to the depletion of the deep waters.
– The shallow waters.
– No, I am afraid the shallow waters were depleted long ago, and the deep waters are now fast being depleted. I am afraid the time is not far distant when we shall have’ nopearl shell accessible to the fishers on our coast. Experts have advised that in three or four years from the time the spat islaid down the fish can be caught. It would, therefore, be some time before we should need to spend any money in theform of a bounty on pearl fishing, and ample time would, therefore, be given tothe Government for full inquiry into the question. If the Minister, is not prepared to give an answer straight away, I hope he will at least admit the advisability of considering the matter, with a view .to future action.
. The total amount to be appropriated for the payment of this bounty is ,£50,000. I believe in the principle of bounties, and I should gladly support this item if I thought that it would have any effect whatever in providing the people of Australia with an increased supply of fish. As mosthonorable senators must be aware, fresh fish is a luxury in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Hobart. This is a proposal to give a bounty for an article which at present is beyond the means of the ordinary citizens of the Commonwealth. Youcannot get a decent fish in Melbourne at under 10d. or is. per lb., and the bulk of the people are unable to buy any but the coarsest kinds of fish. The Government propose a bounty amounting to ^50,000 for preserved fish, when, so far as I know, we have not the fish in Australian waters to preserve. At present, I understand that there are fish rings in the large centres, and that in Melbourne large quantities of fish are destroyed to prevent a reduction in the prices. We cannot hope to compete in preserving fish with countries where fish are caught in hundreds of tons. I see by this morning’s newspapers that there has been an immense haul of fish in the North Sea, and we cannot compete with countries where fish can be obtained in such quantities. I have done a little fishing in Queensland, New South Wales, and Tasmanian waters. I have talked with men who have made their living at fishing for many years, and they have told me that we have no fish in great quantities in these waters. We have ground fish, but we have a coral bottom in nearly all our waters. The Government have made provision for a trawler, and I may say that trawling, has already been tried in Australian waters by private enterprise and by the Government of New South Wales. I have said that if I thought that we had fish in our waters in sufficient quantities, and that the granting of this bounty would be the means of bringing fish within the reach of the masses of the community, I would support the proposal.
– The Queensland waters are teeming with fish.
– I’ do not think the honorable senator knows anything about it.
– I have seen the fish there.
– So have I, and have been amongst them a good deal. Brisbane is the head-quarters of the fishing industry in Queensland, and fish can be obtained cheaper there than in Melbourne.
– Thev can be obtained along the Barrier Reef.
– If any attempt were made to trawl for fish along the Barrier Reef the nets would be torn to pieces on the coral. A man might be fishing there in twenty fathoms, and when the boat he was on swung round on her anchor he would be fishing in thirty fathoms. It is quite impossible to use a trawler in those waters. With the exception of mullet, which for the most part are caught by Chinamen in Queensland, most of our fish, are caught with hand lines, as are the best fish found in Tasmanian waters. There is a species of trumpeter caught in small quantities in Tasmanian waters by netting, but they are found amongst kelp, and a trawler could not be used for the purpose as the net would be filled with some hundreds of tons of kelp inside of five minutes. Our best fish are for the most part caught by hand lines, and they fetch on the market up to is. per lb. We could not hope to tin fish at that price. I have seen fish sold in Hobart at 10s. per dozen, and the fish would not weigh more than 1 lb. each.
– I have had flounder twice the size served in Victoria for is.
– The- honorable senator might get two served in Tasmania for is.
– I should like to know where?
– In Launceston.
– The honorable senator could not get them at that price in Hobart.
– I can get two cooked with all the accessories for is. at Launceston.
– By express leave of the Tasmanian Government flounder have been brought from Hobart for propagation in New South Wales waters, and yet you cannot get flounder in Hobart pf any kind under 7d. I am speaking now of the prices I have seen marked up in the fishmongers’ shops. I could buy flounders in Tasmania at 5s. a dozen, but I should have to go down the coast to get them at that price, and I am surprised to hear” that they are sold at 6d. each in the shops at Launceston.
– You can. get four for a shilling in Launceston.
– From Swansea all round the east coast you cannot get flounders tinder 5s. a dozen. There may Le a ring in Hobart keeping up the price of fish, but there is a fish market there controlled bv the corporation, whilst I have seen fish sold in Launceston only off a cart close to the bridge. For the life of me I cannot see how we can expect any practical result from this proposal to offer ^50,000 in bounties for preserved fish on the, information we have before us. A large sum of money is being spent on a trawler, and if the operations of the trawler prove that we have school fish, and can expect to be able to tin them- successfully, I might be prepared to support such a proposal. I have taken a special interest in the item since the Bill was first introduced, and I have asked people engaged in the fishing business about it. From the’ information I have received, I have come to the conclusion that in existing circumstances it is useless for us to hope to be able to preserve fish in competition with countries like North America and Great Britain, where i-ish suitable for tinning are caught in large quantities. We know that hundreds of thousands of tons of salmon are caught every year in British Columbia. , We have good fish in Australian waters, but we have a coral bottom which makes trawling impossible. We have some school fish like mullet and barracouta which are caught in large numbers in Tasmanian waters. But they are not fish that people take to.
– They are called “spring salmon” in tins, I think.
– That experiment was tried by Jones and Company, in Hobart, where fish can be purchased at 2s. 6d. a box, weighing from 5 lbs. to 7 lbs. each. The article was placed upon the market in Sydney and Melbourne, but the enterprise was not a success. Jones and Company are large exporters of jams and have made a .success of that business. They are really intelligent people, and they would have made a success of fish tinning if there had been a possibility of doing so. If they could not succeed I do not think that others would be likely to do so. The public would not eat the fish which was tinned, even in Tasmania. Unfortunately, ,a disease called the “ worm disease ‘ ‘ attacks these fish, and I have seen as many as thirty out of 100 thrown away as unfit for human consumption. If the tinning industry were established, we should have to be very careful that fish unfit for human consumption was not placed upon the market. The fact is that we have hot suitable supplies here such as they have in the northern hemisphere. Take the Dogger Bank. Fishermen have been exploiting the waters there for 800 or 1,000 years - not one or two fishermen, but hundreds and thousands of them: It is true that we have large quantities of fish in our waters, but we have not suitable shoal fish. I would support this item as strongly as any senator if I believed that by means of a bounty we could establish, a successful industry. But, at present, I have heard no reasons to convince me that it is a wise thing to do. Senator de Largie has mentioned the subject of pearl shell. In Queensland large numbers of people went into the pearling industry some years ago. But, as in the case of our forests, they soon depleted the supply. Chinese, Japanese, and Queensland aboriginals were employed. If they got a quantity of small shell, instead of putting it back into the water, they kept it, and very soon made the pearling grounds barden. They rushed the thing, in fact, to get all they could out of it. If we did give a bounty on pearl shell it would take a few years before it became profitable to work the beds again.
– Only four years.
– But by the time the spat was got more time would be taken. Probably it would take six years. But then it would be difficult to prevent people from depleting the ground again, unless we had revenue cutters ‘ to look after it. Unless the Commonwealth Government had some system of patrolling the waters, we should soon have men tearing up the bottom for shell. Another thing which we should try to do is to keep the Japanese from fishing in our waters. Whether attempts in this direction would raise an international question I do not know. I very much doubt whether we should be able to do it. The Japanese are willing to work for wages which we could not expect white men to accept. Some years ago a man named Clarke made a large fortune from pearl shelling in Torres Straits.
– And he then asserted that the White Australia policy had ruined him.
– I believe he did make some such assertion. The greater part of the luggers have now gone into New Guinea waters, where the question of white versus black labour does hot arise.
– Is it not a fact that some of them have returned to the Queensland coast? I have information to that effect.
– It may be so; I am not in a position to say. All that I know is that the luggers went to fish in Dutch waters, and have established themselves there. If we are to give a bounty to encourage pearl shelling by white labour, we shall have to make the amount very much larger than is here proposed.
– Not necessarily.
– It would take some years for the beds to be replenished, and then we should have to wait four or five years before the shell was fit for market purposes. That would mean that those who went into the industry and employed white men would have to bear a large addition to the first cost. They would have to compete with the Japanese fishing in the waters alongside them, and whom we should probably be unable to prohibit.
– My proposal does not necessarily mean any interference with the ‘Japanese.
– White men receiving wages which we should like to see paid would have to receive a bounty if they were to compete against the price for which the Japanese could afford to put their shell on the market.
– Gas engines are now being used for pumping air to the divers, and therefore the same number of men need not be employed as formerly.
– The Japanese will do the same, so that we should still have the wages difficulty to contend with. I’ think it will be a costly experiment to give a bounty for pearl shell, but if we could do it successfully I should support an effort in that direction. But as to the tinning of fish, I do not think that sufficient reasons have been given for the inclusion of the item. Even now, if the Minister can show me where the fish is to be caught, and that the bounty will not increase their price to the consumer - who already pays too much - I do not say that I shall not alter my mind. But at present I cannot see my way to vote for the item. Unless the Minister can show that a successful industry is likely to be established it will be useless to spend ^50,000. I am prepared at any time to support a proposal for a bounty for any industry if I believe it can be fostered and flourish. But at present I cannot see my way to vote for this item.
– I have listened with interest to the remarks and the quotations of Senator de Largie, but, as I said at the outset of his remarks, I had just previously, in answer to Senator Henderson, stated if we intended to include pearl shell in this item, it would be necessary to add after the word “ fish “ the words “ and including pearl shell.” I do not think that pearl shell would be construed to be included in the item at present, nor was that intended by the Government. Senator de. Largie has submitted that it is desirable to encourage the pearl-shelling industry, and to increase the productiveness of the seas round the Commonwealth in this regard ; and he proposes that we shall endeavour to promote the carrying on of the industry by white labour. .With every one of those objects I’ am in hearty accord. I think it is desirable, if the industry is capable of expansion in the Commonwealth - and from the quotations given ( by the honorable senator it would, appear that it is so capable - to encourage it. It is desirable, also, that we should induce our own white people to engage in the in-‘ dustry. Whether that means the displace-. ment of the coloured labour already employed or not, it will, as Senator de Largie pointed out, give continuous employment toa large number of people around our own coasts, particularly in the undefended north. It will have the further effect of giving them employment which, under tropical conditions, will be more congenial’ than work upon land. The question, however, that comes before me and would confront the Government is as to what means should be adopted to give effect to such an object. The circumstances surrounding the industry are, in many respects, totally dissimilar to those .of any other, in the Commonwealth. They may be in some ways analogous to the circumstances of the sugar industry, but in many other respects they are totally dissimilar. It is necessary to go into all those circumstances, some of which Senator Sayers has touched upon, before it would be practicable to bring down any definite proposals for the extension of the industry and for inducing our own people to go into it. I assure Senator de Largie that theobjects which he has put forward as worthy to be striven after have my own^hearty accord and support, and the Government, so far as I know, are fully seized with the importance of doing something if practicable. . But it was not thought practicable, with the information at their disposal, to include in this Bill anything in that behalf. So far as I am concerned, the matter will be pressed continuously upon the Government, who will be glad to have any information which will serve to elucidatethe problems of what must be regarded asa somewhat difficult and complex question. Senator Sayers said that if he could be satisfied that fish were to be obtained in the waters of the Commonwealth, and also that the granting of the bounty would notmean ah increase in the price to the ordinary consumer, he might alter his mind and support the item. I should like him te* view this proposal in the same light as he agreed with me in viewing the last. I pointed out then that if the tobacco were not grown in the Commonwealth no financial responsibility would fall upon the Government. If the fish are not to be caught in Australian waters in sufficient quantities to warrant the establishment of a preserving industry, then our proposal to give £10,000 per annum bounty for five years will bring with it no financial responsibility. Before dealing in more detail with the views urged by Senator Sayers, I should like to point out the actual facts of the position. Honorable senators have urged that the demand for fresh fish in Australia as not supplied now, and that they would like to have some assurance that it can be supplied before we give any bounty for fish to be preserved. It is also stated that fresh fish, when supplied, is supplied at a cost that makes it practically a luxury. But the fact is that the demand for fish in Australia is fluctuating and capricious, as honorable senators will be told by fishermen, distributers, and others associated with the industry.
– That is because of the fluctuating supply.
– I am content to regard as the cause what the honorable senator accepts as the effect. I have been assured that the demand for fish in Australia is uncertain, uneven, and capricious. The Australian eats more meat per head than the inhabitant of any other country in the world. I have been repeatedly assured by people engaged in the fish industry that it was not worth while to send fish to certain centres, because the demand was so -uncertain and unreliable, while the demand for meat was continuous.
– But they say nothing about the cost of the fish.
– I am stating, first, the factors which lead to the present position. We are a meat-eating community in the main, and the demand for fish is not constant, nor is it so great as among other communities. The fisherman, when he brings a certain kind of fish to market, finds that thereis very little demand for it, and that the price he gets for it is very low.Further, the fisherman is not the fish distributor. He complains very bitterly, in more centres than one in Australia, that the price he gets for his fish bears a very small proportion to the price which the public pay the retailer for it. If the fisherman were assured that, apart alto gether from fresh fish for immediate consumption, there was a demand for his product in consequence of the establishment of industries for preserving it for consumption here or abroad, that would be one factor which, to a certain extent, would relieve him from the difficult position in which he now finds himself, ofbeing compelled either to take whatever price he is offered for his fish or destroy it. One honorable senator stated that in Victoria fish had been returned to the sea, or destroyed, rather thansold to the middleman, because the price offered was so small. The establishment of the fish preserving industry will create an extra demand.
– By the public?
– By those engaged in preserving the fish for sale here or export abroad.
– There will be plenty of sale for it in the inland portions of Australia.
– Exactly. The extra competition for the fish may have the effect of increasing the price obtained by the fishermen. That price then will certainly not bear such a disproportion to the price paid by the public as it does now.
– Is the honorable senator aware that in Tasmania at the present time fish are brought in from the sea and kept alive in troughs for months before they are sold?
– I am quite aware of the fact. I have seen them taken out of the river alive, and served on the table within a very short time.
– Then where is the necessity for preserving them?
– That only happens in Hobart. It could not be done in many other centres. Hotelkeepers and others in Hobart who have to supply a sudden demand can get fresh fish of almost any kind you like by sending down to the dock and having it taken out of their boxes. I know a good deal about what is being done in regard to fish in Tasmania, in the north and south, in the east, and in the north-west and west. The honorable senator referred to flounders. I can assure him that scares of times I havebeen served with two flounders - and all the accessories - for a shilling in Launceston.
– How is it that we cannot get flounders in Sydney under1s. a lb. ?
– I do not know. I have been astonished at the prices quoted by some honorable senators. If the fisherman knows that he will not be dependent merely upon the demand of the middleman who supplies fresh fish to the- public, but that he will have a permanent demand elsewhere, he is much more likely to go into the fishing consistently and” continuously than he is at present. Present conditions are very discouraging to him, and if he gets a fresh outlet for his fish, we have every reason to believe that it will be greatly to his advantage. If Senator Sayers’ views are correct, there will be ro finanical responsibility under this item. If mine are correct-, we shall stimulate the fishing industry itself, and encourage people to give their attention to it. Pro- bably no industry in which the inhabitants of the Commonwealth can engage is calculated to bring more profit directly or. indirectly to the Commonwealth. We must remember, first, that we are an island continent, and present to our enemies a sea-border only. It will be our responsibility at all times to maintain ourselves in a state of effective defence against aggression, and if we can only induce our people to enter into the fishing industry in proportion to their numbers to something like the extent obtaining in Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, and other countries, we shall have, as is pointed out in the report circulated amongst, honorable senators, a reserve of -
A race of men always fit, and with a minimum of training ready for naval service.
This report shows the number of persons engaged in the fishing industry in the United Kingdom to be 106,000, France 147,000, Italy 100,000, Norway 120,000, Russia 158,000, United States of America. 210,000, Canada 73,000, and Japan 2,508,000. The number of persons engaged in the fishing industry has been an important factor in the defence of every country. Great Britain, more than anyother nation, was engaged in this industry for centuries, and was to a large extent enabled to draw from her water-working population the reserves from which she built up her magnificent naval strength. Japan, no doubt, found it a great advantage in her recent naval war with’ Russia to have 2,508,000 of tier population engaged in the fishing industry. Honorable senators will remember that when the Russian Baltic Fleet went round the world to engage the Navy of Japan, it was stated- in the newspapers that many of the men on board had been drawn from inland, and had practically never seen blue water until they went on to the vessels, and so were absolutely’ worse than useless. Japan, on the .other hand, was able to draw successfully on. her seafaring population for her naval strength. We in Australia are doing all in our power to encourage our people to engage in bluewater occupations, because if we can get a fair proportion of them so engaged, we may rely upon it that they will have broken the back of the training which will be necessary to fit them to navally defend bur shores against aggression. Senator Sayers has thrown some doubt upon the capacity of Commonwealth waters to supply the fish-. From a report on the Bounties Bin, which was published, last year, and from which I had the pleasure of reading passages in connexion with the proposal for a trawler, I propose to read a few extracts with regard to the position in each State. In the first place, I shall deal with Queensland,- because Senator Sayers has referred to that State and the scarcity of shoal fish, in its waters. From Australia To-day, a publication which is brought out by the Commercial Travellers* Association, I ‘take this extract from a report on the Barrier Reef, by Mr. W. Saville Kent, who was quoted by Senator de Largie as the greatest fishing authority in the Commonwealth -
Queensland possesses a fish fauna remarkable both for the abundance of its species and for the structural variety of its constituents.- Alt told, the number of combined marine and fresh water species authoritatively recorded UP to date falls but little short of 900. In other words, it embraces two-thirds of the entire marine and fresh water fauna of the Australian Continent. Out of the foregoing total number, over 300 species may be classified as of more or less value for human food. Thev present almost unlimited possibilities of profitable employment. The waters- abound with shoals of fish akin to tbc European mackerel, herring, anchovy, and pilchard, which up to the present date have been literally allowed to run to waste. -
– It is a wonder that we never see these fish.
– I cannot help that. In the report Mr. Kent says quite the opposite to what the honorably senator says.
– I would rather take the opinion of fishermen than the opinion of Mr. Kent, and I think that the Minister would, too.
– I- can only quote the opinion of the greatest authority on fishing in Australia. For some years he was engaged in Tasmania as an expert. He has done more in connexion with fishing than has any other man in Australia, . and he. is regarded as the highest authority on Australian fisheries.
– He was paid a thousand or two by the Queensland Government to report on the subject.
– If the authority of this expert is not accepted, I do not know what authority to quote To my honorable friend.
– Let the Minister quote the authority of practical men, who for years have had to make their living by fishing.
– The honorable senator interjected that he does not see the fish, but I cannot help that. I have not seen them, either.
– In Queensland we never see those fish in the market.
– Exactly. Mr. Saville Kent says that the fish have been allowed to run to waste.
– That shows that our fishermen are not fit for their business. But I will take their opinion before I will take his Opinion.
– With regard to New South Wales, I shall quote what I quoted previously -
The President of the Fisheries Commission, New South Wales, Mr. Farnell, states that, with regard to seine fishery, the sea mullet, the pilchard, the herring, mackerel, and garfish abound in countless millions. The question of the supply of fish available for the industry is not open to dispute. He states further that the above fact need not be taken as a statement from him, but it is verified by every one who knows anything about the industry.
Mr. Dannevig, Fishery Expert of New South Wales, concurs.
With regard to New South Wales, this report quotes an extract from a pamphlet entitled “ The Fisheries of New South Wales,” and published in 1896. It reads as follows -
Of the presenceof the Maray - clupea sagax - say the Royal Commission in their report, in numbers close to these shores, we have indisputable evidence. At many of the coastal fisheries visitedby us we were enabled to establish the fact, on the authority of intelligent and reliable witnesses, that the herring does frequent our watersat certain seasons of the year. During September and October of this year pilchards made their appearance in countless numbers, both along the coast and in many of the estuaries, and from inquiries instituted at the time we are enabled to say that, had the Colony been in possession of establishments for treating and preserving these fish, millions of them could have been netted and converted into a marketable commodity. Mr. D. W. Benson, Inspector of Fisheries, stationed at Lake Ilawarra, has informed us that large shoals of pilchards were for several weeks seen off the entrance to that lake and off Shell Harbor. At Manly these fish swarmed in countless numbers, and at Middle Harbor and other parts of Port Jackson nearly as far as Chowder Bay the water was alive with the immense shoals. Large schools of the herring tribe were also observed at other fishing centres. The amazing abundance of these fish makes it indeed regrettable that from the mere’ lack of the necessary appliances for canning, salting, and otherwise treating them, tons upon tons were permitted to leave our shores.
With regard to Herrings, this report on the Bounties Bill says -
But very little is known about the herring in New South Wales waters. One of thefirstto assert its presence at all was the late Sir William Macleay, F.L.S., who always exhibited an intense interest in the fisheries, both from scientific and economic stand-points. He went so far as to affirm that there is no sea on the globe favoured with a more rich or varied supply of fishes of the herring tribe than that which washes our shores. He names two principal species - the Maray,clupeasagax,asbeingalmost identical with the English pilchard, and * the Southern herring,clupeasundicia- which he claims to be, for excellence and delicacy of flavour unsurpassable, being superior to the common herring of Scotland, and which if preserved in oil after the manner of sardines would eclipse even those delicacies.
The report goes on to deal with the Tasmanian fisheries and the value of the industry in other parts of the world. I think it will be recognised that there is no reason to doubt the capacity of our waters if they are properly investigated and explored to furnish not only all the fish which the Commonwealth may require,but a good deal which may go profitably into markets abroad. If Senator Sayers is right in his opinion that the fish will not be found, he is committing himself to practically no expenditure. If, on the other hand, we are right in asserting that these waterscan be profitably worked for fish and that the industry can be established with advantage, then not only he, but we, will have the satisfaction of giving further employment to our own people, and in a direction which indirectly will be of great value and benefit to us in connexion with any naval defence policy which hereafter we may have to enter upon.
– Ihave seen the report of the Chairman of the Fisheries Commission of New South Wales, and to me it reads like a story in me Arabian Nights. It is very peculiar indeed that all our fishermen - and we have some good practical men-have not been able to discover the fish referred to, and put them on the market. I am not opposing the proposal because it .is submitted by :he .Government. The Minister knows that the Government of New South Wales has spent many thousands of pounds in promoting the fishing industry. What has been the result of the’ expenditure ? .Practically nothing. I am surprised at the Minister even reading the report and asking us to believe it. I cannot comprehend why lie took that step, especially as the Government of New South Wales has spent far more money than it is proposed to spend under this Bill. I believe that if the proposed bounty of ,£50,000 is spent we shall have practically nothing to show for the money.
– According to the honorable senator’s argument it will not be spent.
– t do not say that it will not be spent. An experiment has already been tried, and a bounty of ohe halfpenny per lb. might make a difference of one penny, per tin. Some persons might begin to tin barracouta, and if they obtained the bounty it might leave them, with a. margin of profit. The present canners have sent thousands pf tins of barracouta to Melbourne and Sydney, but they have not been able to make a profit, and therefore have had -to drop the business. If the grant of a bounty were authorized, a syndicate, or a company might bc formed, but that would not benefit the fishermen, because they would not receive one penny per dozen more for their fish than they are now getting. It is the most plentiful fish to be found on our coast, but there is a great doubt as to whether a large quantity of it is fit for human food. I do not want that kind of fish to be tinned. If a bounty fs to Le granted I want it to be given in a way which would benefit the men who are engaged in catching the fish. The Minister must be aware that the preservation or tinning of the fish would not be done by the fishermen. That work, if done under the offer of the bounty, would be done by a syndicate, and it would bring no advantage to the people df Australia or to the fishermen.
– The syndicate could give more to the fishermen for the fish.
– How much more would ihe syndicate be likely to give to the fishermen? At the present time the canners get the fish as cheaply as possible’. They are” offered in the market, and the price they bring is generally 2s. 6d. per dozen. Although the fish has been tinned and smoked, for instance, in Tasmania, still that has not led to an increase in the price. What I am afraid of is (hat this bounty, if authorized, would be wasted. The Minister, as well as the representatives of New South Wales, must know that the Fisheries Commission of that State has not been able lo achieve any good results with the parliamentary votes which have been placed at its disposal, and which represent far more than is intended to be spent under this Bill. For all these reasons I shall oppose the item.
– - In view of the fact that it is proposed to spend a large sum upon the construction and operation’ of a trawler, will it not bc better to wak until by means of the trawler we ascertain whether fish abound on our coast before wc pledge ourselves to give a large bounty upon the preservation of fish ? No harm- will be done by deferring the consideration of the item until we receive a report upon the results 0/ the trawling investigation. It is very doubtful whether we have edible fish in great quantities in our waters. We know that shoals of fish enter our large harbors at certain times, and at other times there are none of them to be seen. It would no doubt, be a very good thing if we had a canning industry thai could dispose of large quantities of fish when they were to be had, but I do not know: that there is any need for a bounty for the industry. If it would be likely to pay, I am certain that there is sufficient enterprise amongst our people to induce some of them to take up the work without Government assistance. There are some -varieties of the kingfish which were to be caught in Tasmanian waters fifteen years ago, and they have never been seen there since.
– We. wish to know where the’ fish go that are seen in our waters periodically.
– I think that no harm would be done by postponing the granting, of the bounty for preserved, fish until we have a report of. the operations of the trawler.
.- This Bill has been so long before the Senate, and I am so heartily tired of opposing votes of money that I believe will be thrown away, that I have remained silent during the last few days when the Bill has been before the Committee. But it appears to me that this item is especially one in connexion with which the Government are putting the cart before the horse. I agree entirely with what Senator. Macfarlane has said. I propose to quote a couple of paragraphs from the report, not of the New South’ Wales Fisheries Commission, but of the Australian Fisheries Conference, that met in Melbourne two or three weeks ago. I had the privilege of talking to the Tasmanian Fisheries Commissioner on the. subject of this bounty. I told him that it was suggested that’ a bounty should be offered for the canning of fish, and I asked him what he thought of it. He told me that he did not think we had any fish worth canning, or that would pay to can in comparison with salmon. I asked him what he thought about schnapper, and he said he did not think schnapper good enough for the purpose. I do not agree with that, because I think that schnapper should be good enough if they could be had in sufficient quantities for canning.
– Does he know anything about Australian mullet?
– I am quoting what he told me. The Australian Fisheries Conference adopted, amongst others, the following resolution -
That this Conference ‘ suggests ‘the appointment of a person of practical acquaintance with the fish and fisheries to be a Commissioner of Fisheries.
That it be the duty of the Commissioner to engage upon a systematic investigation of waters off the coasts of Australia and Tasmania and o? the biological and physical problems they present with the object of determining the character, abundance, geographical distribution, and economic value of the inhabitants of the waters, as also their migrations and the causes influencing or regulating the same, the object being to arrive at the life history of all species having economic value as well as those species to which they are intimately and essentially related.
That he’ make investigations into the history of the methods and apparatus connected with fisheries for the preservation and utilization of fishery products, and cause careful study to be made of new methods and apparatus introduced from time to time, with the object of determining their effect upon production and furnishing information upon which to frame intelligent legislation regulating the conduct of the fisheries and improving their methods and apparatus.
It would appear from this, and it must be within our own knowledge, that ourfisheries have not been developed. We are intensely ignorant of what our waters contain. We know little or nothing of the habits of our fish, the quantities in which they can be obtained, and their market value. The skilled men attending the Conference suggest that inquiries should be made upon these subjects, and as men of common sense we should not determine what bounty, if any, should be paid for the canning of fish until after we have received a report of the investigation which the Fisheries Conference think should be made. I am told by my landlady that for some whiting she has to pay 10d. a-piece. The cost of some of our fish is simply enormous, and yet we are being asked to give a bounty for the canning of fish which we cannot get fresh in sufficient quantities, and when we know that we have no chance of underselling the canned fish preserved in other countries. I think that this money will be absolutely thrown away, and the Government should withdraw the item.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [3.53]- - It is strange that this proposal should be made by a Ministry .whose general interests are chiefly identified with Victoria, whilst in the matter of the destruction of fish that State is the greatest sinner in the Commonwealth. You may go as often as you like between here and Sydney, and at the refreshment rooms at Albury, on the bank of the River Murray, and you will never be able to get a bit of Murray cod or Murray perch, and why ? Because the mineral works on the banks of various Victorian streams that flow into the Murray poison the waters and destroy the fish. That is a positive fact, known to every one who has been in that part of the world, and without going there people can obtain the information by reading what appears in the press. Whilst Victoria ‘ deliberately destroys one of the grandest fish to be found in the southern hemisphere, a Ministry with Victorian1 sympathies comes here with a proposal to grant a bounty on the canning of the very fish that Victoria is busily destroying- It passes one’s comprehension, except that the whole process of our friend the enemy is to slop down like a pailful of water one proposal after another without the slightest connexion, between’ them. If these bounty proposals of the Governmeat were discharged by a mountain howitzer battery, they could not come with more uncertainty ormoredeadly effect. I speak seriously when I say “ deadly effect,” because their effect is most demoralizing on the Chamber. There is one strong reason why we should not accept this proposal. By doing away with the goat bounty there will be a reduction in the number of goats, and there is not likely to be the same demand for old tins. We all know that goats browse on tins, and as now there is to be no bounty on goats we shall not need any fish tins. This proposal is certainly one which should be allowed to stand over that we might have a little time to think about it. It is notorious that fresh fish in Australia is at very high prices. If you go to the parliamentary refreshment room in New South Wales you cannot get a little bit of fish on a small plate under1s. Fresh fish is so outrageous a delicacy and so extreme a luxury in Sydney that the New South Wales Government are making phenomenal efforts to breed fish. They are bringing flounders from Tasmania and New Zealand, and, in fact, are floundering about in all directions in the hope of getting a few fish for ordinary consumption. It is ridiculous to talk of a canning industry when the fish supply of Sydney is drawn from as far as the Clarence River. 360 miles north. Fish are caught forty miles up that river and carried to Sydney packed in ice. The only reason why the Committee might consent to pass the item is that no one is ever likely to apply for a bounty under it, as no one is ever likely to get hold of enough fish to make it worth while to start a cannery. We know that the canneries established in America are immense establishments, dealing with thousands of tons of fish . Any one who is familiar with the coast line of Australia must know that there is no prospect of getting together atany part of it a sufficientsupply of fish to make a canning industry a success. We can never expect to get out of the retail stage in the fish industry until some successful effort ismadeto establish a fish supply.
Question - That the item “ Fish, Preserved,” be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Item agreed to.
Senator KEATING laid upon the table the following paper -
Return of particulars of claims and settlements in respect of lands acquired for rifle range, Sandy Bay, Hobart, and fortification, Mount Nelson, Hobart.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [4.1]. - I take advantage of this opportunity to refer to one or two matters of importance. This morning some sensational statements were quoted from certain newspaper reports by Senator Findley as to a horrible state of affairs connected with immigrants arriving in Sydney. I took the trouble - as indeed it was my duty to do - to telegraph to the Chief Secretary in Sydney, in the following terms -
Senate’s attention drawn to immigrants’ complaints at Trades Hall yesterday and reported in Melbourne press. Please wire me true facts by, 2 o’clock to-day if possible.
Statements by immigrants Labour Council published press to-day absolutely false. Emery refused farming work /i a week and keep the day he landed. No difficulty placing many more immigrants than are arriving current rates wages-
Mass meeting. Excise Tariff, implement makers, engineers, moulders, carpenters, woodworkers, painters, iron-workers, labourers, feeTrades Hall, Saturday. 5th October, 8 o’clock sharp. New protection policy at stake. All employes attend. ‘Protect yourselves.
The Government will not carry out the law, and by thus dallying with the matter, assists in defrauding the revenue, or defrauding the employes of these firms. They will not carry out this beautiful new protection system. They will mouth about it, but they will not do that which can be done now if they would only do their duty. I believe that there is a connexion between certain, funds of some associations and* certain firms, and that investigations by an accountant would very likely lead to some political scandals such as have occurred in the United States of America in relation to the Trusts and- certain election- eering bodies. I believe that is why the Government are afraid to do their duty. Hence, I say that one of two things is happening. Either the taxpayers are being defrauded bv not obtaining what they ought to obtain, the £6 Excise, or the persons employed by these firms are being defrauded by not being paid the stipulated and legal wages. I want to know from my honorable and learned friend, the Vice-President of the Executive Council - and I ask . the question with all friendliness, but all “ firmness - whether he will put himself in a position to give the Senate a satisfactory assurance upon this matter when it meets on the ‘first day of meeting next week?
– I entirely agree with Senator Neild - if the facts, as stated by him in connexion with the Excise duty onagricultural machinery, and the payment of fair wages to those engaged, in the industry, are correct. I am very glad that he has “ got a hustle on “ in connexion with that matter. But with respect to the telegram that he has received from New South Wales, I should like D. know 1: if it is as reliable as the telegram which he received from the . ex- Premier of the State about the election of Dooley ? In seeking urgent information in connexion with the question asked by Senator O’ Loghlin this morning, Senator Neild was very careful ‘not to ask whether the first portion of Senator O’Loghlin’s statement was correct - that is, that 176 applicants were applying for one block of land in New South Wales. An answer upon that subject would throw some light on the situationexisting there. If information is required, it should be of the most complete character; and I hope that when we meet next Wednesday, Senator Neild will be supplied with another telegram from the Chief Secretary of New South Wales, or from the Lands Department, with respect to the excess of applicants for blocks of land, with a view of showing the quantity of land available there.
– I wish to refer to the Australian Industries Preservation Act, and the proposed legislation to amend it. I point out to the Vice-President of the Executive Council that, in dealing with that question, we may have to consider an important point of constitutional law.
– The honorable senator cannot debate the Bill to which he has referred.
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council, when dealing with that measure, enlighten us with regard to the view of the Crown Law authorities on the constitutional aspect?
– To which Bill does the honorable senator refer?
– To the Bill to amend the Australian Industries Preservation Act. Will he, next week, give us some information on the constitutional aspect, embodying the opinions of the Crown Law authorities ?
– If my honorable friend, Senator St. Ledger, refers to the constitutional aspect of the Australian Industries Preservation Act now on the statute-book, I can assure him that it was elaborately discussed when it was before the Senate. If he will refer to Hansard, he will discover the various arguments and views of honorable senators regarding it.
– I was referring to the new Bill.
– I do not think that the amending Bill will involve any serious constitutional question- certainly not the constitutional questions which were originally involved when the Act was before us. With regard to. the somewhat excited statement made by Senator Neild, I shall be. very glad to place his representations before my colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, and to learn from him what, is to be said in reply.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.16 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 October 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1907/19071004_senate_3_40/>.