3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– In reference to the system of delayed telegrams, concerning which a question was asked yesterday by Senator Dobson, I desire to know from the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, what steps were taken to acquaint the public with the fact that such a system was in existence?
– If the honorable senator will give notice of his questionI shall be glad. I understand that the system referred to was in existence some time ago, probably before the establishment of the Commonwealth.
– I do not think that the public knew much about it.
– Probably not, seeing that the Postal Department was then administered by the several States.
– I desire to ask the 1 Minister representing the PostmasterGen,eral if, in making inquiries relative to the system of ‘delayed telegrams, he will endeavour to ascertain whether the break-down of the system was due to the fact that it proved inoperative, or whether it was handicapped and destroyed by reason of the method under which it was” administered?
– In making inquiries of the Postmaster-General’s Department, I shall draw attention to what the honorable senator has suggested ‘in his question, with a view to having the points raised by him elucidated.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether lie is aware that a certain amount of dissatisfaction has been expressed in Tasmania at the promotion of Mr. E. A. Blakney, of the Hobart General Post Office, from the fifth to the fourth class of- the Public Service, and whether he will obtain for. the information of the Senate a report from the Public Secvice Commissioner upon the subject?
– Yesterday Senator Mulcahy asked whether there was any objection to laying upon the table of the Senate copies of all documents relating to the classification of the position occupied by, and the promotion of, Mr. Blakney. In reply, I stated that, personally, I saw no objection to complying with the honorable senator’s request, and that I thought that procedure was adopted in all such cases. My reason for making that statement was that on the previous day I had tabled, pursuant -to Statute, some papers in connexion with the promotion of an officer in . the Postal Department named Liston. I pointed out that if that’ were the usual course of procedure in such cases,- it would be followed in the case of Mr. .Blakney. But in any case I promised to bring the matter under the notice of the Public Service Commissioner. Upon looking into section 23 of the Public Service Act, however, I find that the reason why the papers were tabled in Mr. Liston’s case was that that officer had -not been promoted in the ordinary way. That is to say, he had not been advanced from subdivision to subdivi sion, after spending at least a year in each, but had stepped up a few subdivisions, and in all such cases it is necessary that the papers relating to them should be laid upon the table.
– Blakney’s case is a parallel one, I think. .
– I do not think so. That officer has merely been advanced one step I find, although advanced to another class. In the case that I quoted as an illustration, only the formal papers were tabled, but in Mr. Blakney’ s case I take it that what is desired is not so much the formal documents but the substantial reasons for the action which has been taken. I shall ask the Public Service Commissioner to report as to the substantial reasons for the action that has been taken in Mr. Blakney’s case, and I shall have very much pleasure in laying the report upon the table of the Senate.
– I am informed that only one of the waggons in question had been constructed for the Defence Department, and that -had been constructed before the establishment of Federation, lt was not one of the recently constructed waggons.
– I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council a question relating to the statement which appears in the newspapers to-day to the effect that the Treasurer is favorably considering an application from Tasmania for a refund for alleged loss of revenue owing to articles being purchased in other States and afterwards consumed in Tasmania. In this connexion, I desire to “ask whether the Minister recollects the promise w”hich he made that other States whose circumstances are somewhat similar to those of Tasmania should be communicated with, for the purpose of ascertaining if they desire to make a similar claim. Have other States been communicated with, and, if so, did their Premiers put forward any claim upon the same ground?
– I remember my honorable friend asking me a question upon this subject, and I then explained to- him that so far as consultation with other States was concerned, the Treasurer was in immediate consultation with Victoria and New South Wales, which were the States affected by the claim of Tasmania. I think that I also intimated that if any similar claim were, put forward on behalf of Western Australia I had not the slightest doubt that my honorable colleague, the Treasurer, would give full consideration to it. If Senator Pearce will give notice of his question, I shall gladly consult, my honorable colleague in reference to it.
– Arising out of the answer given by the Vice-President, I wish to ask whether .the Government seriously contemplate making a payment of the kind indicated, either to Tasmania or any other State?
– My honorable colleague, the Treasurer, so far. as I know, is of opinion that if a just claim can be made out either by Tasmania or any other State in regard to the alleged leakages of revenue which have been the source of complaint for some time, he is prepared to recommend such a payment My honorable friend will see that the action taken will depend entirely upon, the cass which is made out by any State.
– I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he has any objection to laying upon the table of the Senate a copy of the judgment of the High Court in the recent South Australian disputed election?
– It was published in the newspapers.
– I have no objection to a copy of the judgment being laid upon the table. The order of the Court has already been placed before the Senate, but my honorable friend, I apprehend, refers to the full text of the judgment, which I think it is desirable should be laid upon the table.
– To the ‘best of mv knowledge the amounts have not been paid. I shall be happy to make further inquiries so that I may completely satisfy honorable senators on the subject. Of course, honorable senators are aware that the urgent matter is the one now being dealt with in Committee.
– From the Government’s stand-point.
– And from the country’s stand-point. I can make no promise at present as to interrupting the passage of the two Bills now being proceeded with in order to proceed with the one suggested by the honorable senator.
Senator BEST laid upon the table the following paper -
Memorandum issued by direction of the Minister o£ Defence on the proposed organization of a National Guard for the land defence of Australia. Dated 31st January, 1908.
Ordered to be printed.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, uponnotice -
With what object has notice been recently issued to Tasmanian fruit-growers that the Commerce Act regulation with regard to exports will be most rigorously enforced this season, when public announcement was made by Ministers of the Government that last season the regulations were being carried out satisfactorily?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows-
Whilst the provisions of the Commerce Regulations have hitherto been complied with in the more important respects, it was considered advisable to give growers a reminder with a view to the stricter observance of certain details which were necessary in their own interests to avoid delay and possible annoyance.
From what fund or account was the sum of Five thousand pounds paid by the Commonwealth Government to or in respect of the NimrodSouth Pole Exploring Expedition?
– The sum has been paid from the Treasurer’s advance towards the cost of the expedition.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
In reference to the reply given by the then Minister of Defence on 14th June, 1906, as reported on page 147 of Hansard, vol. xxxi., as regards Commonwealth servants having, the right to accept elective civic positions with the consent of the Governor-General, as provided in section 79 Public Service Act 1902, and the promise that the instruction issued by a former Administration to Heads of Departments (to the effect that all such applications were to be refused), should be withdrawn (see Hansard, page 4806, November, 1905.)
Is the Minister aware that the DeputyPostmasterGeneral of Western Australia has recently called upon a member of a Roads Board of that State, who is also a postal official, to resign his seat on that body?
If the Minister is aware of the fact, what was the reason for the action?
If the action was taken by the Deputy Postmaster-General, without reference to the Minister, is that not a breach of the promises referred to?
Will the Minister call upon the Deputy Postmaster-General for a report upon the whole proceedings ?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That the Order of this Senate, made on Thursday, 23rd January, 1908, that certain correspondence between the Prime Minister and the Premier of New South Wales on the subject of the Federal Capital be not printed, be, and the same is hereby, rescinded.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 30th January, vide page 7751) :
Division IV. - Agricultural Products and Groceries.
Item 46 - Liquorice, viz. : -
Root in its natural slate, free.
Crude; Crude Paste; and Block Juice, per lb.,1d.
Other, per lb., 3½d. ; and on and after 30th October, 1907, 3d.
.- I desire to move in regard to paragraph c that a preference be given to the United Kingdom.
– We have not disposed of the General Tariff column.
– It will be necessary to dispose of that column first.
– I understand that I will have an opportunity later?
– We are now dealing with a proposed duty of 3d. per lb. on liquorice under the General Tariff. This represents an attempt, I suppose, to give work to people in Australia in the manufacture of liquorice. The steps taken are clear. The liquorice root, which obviously is not produced in Australia, is made free, in order to encourage its importation. The next.stage, in paragraph b, is to allow crude liquorice, crude paste, and block juice - liquorice manufactured to a certain stage - to come in at a duty of1d. All this is typical of the protectionist idea. But when we come to the final paragraph there is proposed a duty of 3d., which, if translated into ad valorem proportions, must mean 100 per cent. at least.
– Has the honorable senator the figures as to the importations?
– I have not, but this is hardly a question of importation, seeing that we do not grow liquorice here. One object of the three duties taken together is, I suppose, to give employment to what obviously must be a limited number of people in Australia, in converting the liquorice, either from its crudest form or from its semi-manufactured form, into the finished article for general consumption. Even if Australia were absolutely unanimous on the question of protection, it should not be necessary to induce our people to enter into such an industry by means of a Tariff like this. The proposed duty cannot under any circumstances have any other effect than to enhance the price; and even if it were thought desirable to turn Australian labour into such a channel, it should not be necessary to impose so heavy a duty. If we left a margin of 2d., or even of1d., between the root and the finished article, it should be ample, even if we desired to encourage so small an industry. I know that protectionists are now inclined to say that they do not object to enhanced prices, so long as employment is given in the country.
– What number of hands would the industry employ - half a dozen?
– Certainly more than half a dozen, but, to use ordinary terms, it would employ very few people indeed, who might profitably engage in other occupations. The employment afforded by means of the duty is wholly out of proportion to the inevitable increase of the price to the consumer, and therefore . I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 46, paragraphc, 2d. per lb.
This motion does not express my real desire but merely a desire to obtain some practical result, my opinion being that liquorice ought to come in free. The displacement of labour under free imports would be so infinitesimal as to make no difference; and I am certain that a duty of 2d. more than outweighs any disproportion in the cost of labour; indeed, a duty of1d. would more than compensate for that. Under the circumstances, however, I propose a duty of 2d.
– Senator Clemons has stated the matter very fairly from a protectionist stand-point. It is no doubt the desire that we should have the benefit of any labour involved in the production of the manufactured article; but liquorice has always borne’ the same duty as confectionery, and, in addition to the protectionist reason, the idea is to keep them in line. The duty on confectionery was fixed at 3d.
– Why did the Government fix a duty of 3½d. in the first place ?
– Both liquorice and confectionery were fixed at 3½d. in the first place.
– The greatest protectionist manufacturers in Australia told the Tariff Commission that, if the crude liquorice were made free, a duty of 2d. was ample for the other classes.
– I do not desire to go over the ground from the protectionist stand-point, which has been so fairly stated by Senator Clemons but I urge that it has always been the practice to charge liquorice the same duty as that imposed on confectionery, and that is the reason why the duty on liquorice was fixed at 3d. in another place. Senator Clemons is under a misapprehension when he says that the duty of 3d. will probably amount to 100 per cent., because, as a matter of fact, it represents no more than 25 or 30 per cent.
– With liquorice at1s. a lb?
– The price is from9d. to1s. a lb. ; and I submit that 35 or 30 per cent. is not unreasonable protection.
– I do not think that the Minister would give anything like1s. per lb. for liquorice.
– I have many a time given1s. for a mere stick of liquorice.
– It is1d. and 2d. per stick.
– Chemists charge from9d. to1s.; and I am talking of the best classesof liquorice. I am aware, of course, that inferior qualities can be bought at from 4d. to 5d. The duty on confectionery has been reduced to 2½d. ; and I remind Senator McColl, who proposes to move a preferential duty that if his desire is to be carriedout, the general Tariff must remain at 3d., according to the decision of the Committee last night.
– If the duty on confectionery is 2½d. should this dutynot be the same?
– Under the circumstances, I had to let the duty of2½d. pass ; but I warn Senator McColl that I shall strenuously resist a reduction, by way of preference, to 2d., which would not be consistent with the decision of the Committee last night. In 1906 the imports from the United Kingdom were 30,000 lbs., and from other countries, particularly Italy, 182,000 lbs.
– According to Mr. Knibbs’ report the imports from the United Kingdom were 44,709 lbs.
– Then my memorandum must be inaccurate; because, according to Mr. Knibbs, the imports from the United Kingdom were 44,709 lbs. of the value of £1,632. From France the quantity sent was 42,509 lbs., of a value of£1,600; from Italy 121,029 lbs., valued at£4,386 ; while we got some from Spain, and a small quantity from the United States of America. The total importation is 212,435 lbs., valued at£7,837. There is no reason why liquorice should not be manufactured here. Due provision is made for the importation of the raw material, and of the semi-manufactured article, and I think that protection should be given to the workmen engaged in putting the finished product on the market.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [11. 3]. - I take the same position in regard to liquorice that I did in regard to confectionery, under which heading it really comes. In the case of confectionery, the Government proposed a duty of3¾d., which the House of Representatives reduced to 3d., while on liquorice they proposed a duty of 3½d., which the House of Representatives reduced to . 3d. There is no reason why liquorice should not be manufactured in Australia ; the question we have to consider is whether the industry would not be reasonably protected by a lower duty. The free introduction of liquorice root must be of great advantage to the local manufacturers, and no doubt a considerable quantity of liquorice is manufactured in Australia. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has not given us any evidence in support of his statement that the industry will be strangled or ruined if a duty of 2d. is imposed.
– It is very difficult to obtain informationas to the quantity manufactured in Australia. Particulars can be obtained as to the manufacture of some States, but not as to that of others.
– I admit the difficulty. I am merely remarking that we are being asked to increase by 50 per cent. the duty under which, so far as we know, the industry has flourished in the past, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council has given us no adequate reason for the increase. Both sections of the Tariff Commision recommend a duty of 2d. per lb. on liquorice, the protectionist section adding that, when the import value is more than1s., the duty should be 25 per cent.
– No one will object to that.
-I should have no objection, because it is evident that the value of imported liquorice is not more, and probably less, than 9d.
– The figures show that it is about 9d.
– According to the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, page 8, a Western Australian manufacturer admitted that the selling price of imported goods is from 2s. 8d. to 2s.11d. per box of from 5 to 6 lbs., which works out at less than 6d. per lb., and of the local article, 2s. 9d. per box of 7 lbs., or about 4d. per lb. Those are probably the wholesale prices. He said that the local manufacturers were forced to reduce their price to 2s. 9d., in order to get below the English prices, and were therefore unable to make a fair profit. On those figures a duty of 3d. per lb. is equivalent to 75 per cent. of the wholesale price of the locally-manufactured liquorice, and is more than 50 per cent. of the wholesale price of the imported liquorice. Another small item of fact worth bushels of theory and argument is the statement of Messrs. Blogg and Hoadley, two Victorian manufacturers imbued with the Victorian view of protection. The report states -
If the crude liquorice were admitted free neither witness desired any alteration of the existing duty of 2d. per lb. on liquorice confectionery.
Are we to go behind that? What are we doing? Even according to the view of the Government and my honorable friends who take a strong view as to protection, we are coming to the aid of these manufacturers. They tell us that if the crude article is admitted free they want nothing more than a duty of 2d. per lb. If the crude article is admitted free, why should we give them more than that protection? I think it is folly to do so. I hope that Senator Best will not resist the proposal to make the duty 2d. per lb. This is not a question which involves in the slightest degree any matter of preference ; it is not a proper subject for preference. The question is, Are we to make the duty more protective? If we leave the duty at 3d. per lb. we shall, from my point of view, unnecessarily increase the price to the consumer, because the manufacturers do not ask for that; whereas if we keep the duty down we shall do justice to the manufacturers; we shall meet their request literally.
– We shall give the manufacturers all they ask for, and they usually ask for more than they expect to get.
– My honorable friend is quite right. We shall give these manufacturers all they ask for. The great bulk of this commodity comes fromItaly and other foreign countries, only one-fifth of the imports coming from the United Kingdom. The question is simply whether we are going to confine ourselves to meeting the request of these manufacturers for the protection which they think will be sufficient, or to increase the price, as we must do,by raising the duty by½d. or1d. per lb. No alleviation will be given to the consumers of this country by taking off½d. per lb. in respect of the small quantity that comes from the United Kingdom. I hope that Senator Best will see his way to fall in with the request of Messrs. Blogg and Hoadley, and leave the duty at 2d. per lb.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 46, paragraphc, “Liquorice, other,” 2d. per lb. (Senator Clemons’ request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … .. 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
– If I understand the position aright, we have agreed to a duty of 2d. per lb. on liquorice. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended that where the value of this article was over1s. per lb. the duty should be 25 per cent. Do I understand that that is not before the Committee ?
– It is not.
– The question has been argued fully from all aspects, and therefore I shall content myself with moving a request that that recommendation of the Tariff Commission should be adopted by the House of Representatives.
– The honorable senator will see that the Committe has already voted for the imposition of a lower duty. The question put to the Committee was as between a higher duty and a lower duty, and it will not be competent for the honorable senator now to submit a proposition to increase the duty.
– I take it, sir, that what we were dealing with was the ordinary marketable liquorice which, according to Senator Symon, is sold by the local manufacturers at 4d. per lb.
– We are dealing with liquorice as described in the Tariff.
– I wish to deal with high-class liquorice, which is quite a different article.
– The Committee can only deal with what is contained in the schedule. We have been discussing paragraphc. The Committee has decided in favour of a lower duty. The honorable senator cannot, therefore, move a higher duty than 2d. in that paragraph. The only way in which he can achieve what he desires is to move that the House of Representatives be requested to insert a new paragraph dealing with high-grade liquorice.
-I will accept that suggestion, and therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 46 by adding the following new paragraph : - “d. When the invoice value, including the inside packages, exceeds 1s. per lb. ad. val., 25 per cent.”
The matter has been fully argued, and* from the returns that we have before us it is shown that a considerable amount of liquorice must be introduced into the Commonwealth worth over1s. per lb. The duty that has beencollected absolutely shows that. The argument that has been used is that it would be a perfectly fair thing to impose an ad valorem duty on expensive liquorice. It has been stated that liquorice of high grade does not come from Great Britain. As far as I know, liquorice is principally manufactured in Italy, Spain, and the West Indies.
– Has the honorable senator any evidence that liquorice worth 1s. per lb. and over is imported?
– I am taking the returns which we have- the amount brought in and the amount of duty paid.
– Can the honorable senator tell us whether any liquorice whatever comes in. at an invoice value of over1s. per lb. ?
– The Tariff Commission seem to think so.
– They do, and have made a recommendation accordingly.
– They say, If it does come in at a value ofmore than1s. per lb.”
– Then the matter has to be determined on the invoice value.
– Senator Guthrie states that the returns show that liquorice is imported of a value of over1s. per lb. I should like to know from what source the honorable senator gets his figures. According to Mr. Knibbs’ statistics - and I am not going to question them - in 1906, 103,624 lbs. were imported into Australia at a value of £11,288. Those facts are contained on page 74, Part I., of Mr. Knibbs’ tables. They relate to crude liquorice. Honorable senators will see that those figures work out at less than 6d. per lb. The honorable senator desires to impose a higher duty on liquorice of a value over1s. per lb. Clearly, he is wrong in assuming upon the basis of these figures that such liquorice is imported. His argument does not apply in that case. Take the “Other” class of liquorice. It will be seen from the figures that 104,099 lbs. were imported at a value of £7,817. That does not work out at1s. per lb.
– It is all bulk liquorice; some of it may be worth more than1s. per lb.
– But Senator Guthrie said that he relied on these figures. I asked him what evidence he had, and he said that he took the imports. They do not justify his statement.
– Then the duty would not operate.
– In the United Kingdom liquorice costs 9d. per lb.
– Senator Trenwith says that if we take the United Kingdom, we find that it costs 9d. per lb., or thereabouts. No one has answered Senator Guthrie more completely than Senator Trenwith does. Those figures are much less than Senator Guthrie’s. The figures do not support his statement, though the figures, plus the honorable senator’s imagination,may do so. I did not ask for his imagination, but for his authority. He has given it to me, and I reply that that authority, in itself, is not sufficient.
– The honorable senator who has sat down has absolutely misconstrued the reply which I gave him. He asked me for my authority. I indicated the figures quoted during the debate from the honorable senator’s own side of the Chamber. Senator Symon made the statement that he had no objection to a higher duty where the liquorice is of a value of1s. per lb., because that was a fair and reasonable thing to do.
– But there is no importation of such liquorice.
– As a matter of fact, there is.
– We have to take these figures as relating to liquorice imported in bulk. Some of it may be worth 2d. per. lb. ; other may be worth 2s. The honorable senator knows as well as I do that some confectionery is imported that is sold at far less than1s. per lb., whilst other confectionery is sold at 2s. and 2s.6d.
– Liquorice confectionery ?
– Confectionery in which liquorice is used as a component part. In many instances liquorice is used as a medicine.
– Now the honorable senator is coming to the liquorice sold at over1s. per lb.
– We have had a Royal Commission, which has made a recommendation to us,and its opinion is worth some consideration. I believe that we are acting wisely in proposing an ad valorem duty in respect of liquorice exceeding a value of1s. per lb.
– I understood that there would be no objection to my honorable friend’s proposal. As a matter of fact, we import some liquorice of a value exceeding1s. per lb.
– For confectionery or medicinal purposes?
– I am simply talking of liquorice, and that is what we are dealing with. So. far as I have been able to gather we imported from Greece last year only about 231 lbs., of a value slightly exceeding 1s! 4d.per lb. The imports may be much larger than I have stated, but the point made by my honorable friend is that this was a recommendation of the Tariff Commission, and that it must have had some evidence on which to found it.
– The explanation is perfectly simple. I can say with some confidence that liquorice of the value of1s. per lb., or over, is imported for medicinal purposes and does not in any circumstances come within the category of liquorice used as an alternative for confectionery. I am quite prepared, since I cannot obtain anything better, to vote for a duty of 25 per cent. on all liquorice of the value of1s. per lb., or over, provided that it is not intended for medicinal purposes.
– We could not distinguish between the two classes.
– The Tariff differentiates in a number of cases between two classes.
– Such a provision could be evaded.
– Then does the Minister say that the Department will allow similar provisos in regard to three or four other items in the Tariff to be evaded ?
– But such a pro vision would be opera to evasion.
– The whole Tariff is, and if the honorable senator is going to attach any importance to the point just raised by Senator Best, he must have regard to it in the case of every item. I hope that Senator Guthrie will recognise the reasonableness ofmy suggestion.
– All liquorice .is for medicinal purposes. No one buys liquorice except to cure a cold or something of the sort.
– The honorable senator ought to know better than that. Every chemist endeavours to obtain, for medicinal purposes, the purest form of liquorice, and hence the supply set aside for such uses has a higher value than other varieties. It is only such liquorice that has a value of is. per lb. or more. I hold that everything that is honestly and fairly used for medicinal parposes ought to come in free.
– I should be prepared to accept a proposal to limit this provision to liquorice to be used as confectionery.
– I accept such a qualification.
– * would point out to the Committee that the Tariff Commission recommended no such qualification as Senator Clemons suggests, and that if such a qualification were imposed it would render the suggested request absolutely worthless. There is complete facility in respect to this item for evading any duty of the kind, and I would therefore repeat that the qualification suggested would make the item utterly worthless.
– At the outset of the debate on the Tariff honorable senators generally expressed . a desire that there should be a mutual effort to make some progress; but it is rather disheartening to those who are endeavouring to do so to find that the VicePresident of the Executive Council absolutely declines to meet the view of a considerable number of honorable senators respecting a very small matter the difficulty in regard to which could be overcome by a simple Customs regulation. It has been said that the duty has been reduced. Here is a proposal to .put it up again. The quantity of liquorice of a value of more than is. per lb., which is imported, must be small, and it is only proposed to put back the duty to the point which the Minister originally desired, making an exception where, if ever an exception was made, it ought to be made, and that is in the direction of liquorice for medicinal purposes. The Minister has urged as a reason against the adoption of that course the possibility of fraud and evasion.
– Not the possibility, but the absolute assurance.
– Knowing .the adroitness of our experienced Customs, officials in meeting all attempts of the kind in more complicated cases, I am surprised that the Minister should suggest that they could not overcome this little difficulty. In Excise cases, in the matter of the implements made and wages paid by certain manufacturers, we accept a declaration, and if in a case of this kind a declaration from the importers is not sufficient, there is another simple method of meeting the difficulty. The Department has already a determination regarding the importation of opium’ under regulations, and if it is thought that this is a sufficiently serious matter to warrant regulations to defeat any attempt to defraud the Customs, surely the officials have sufficient ability to. frame them. I rose to express my regret that, in a matter of this kind, the Minister is not prepared to accept a request which goes nine-tenths of the way that he desires to take.
– I hope that Senator Clemons will not persist in his suggestion. Liquorice, in the public mind, is very different from opium. Nearly everybody has an idea that liquorice possesses medicinal properties, and buys it in the belief that its use has some restorative effect. I have bought liquorice, and have met thousands of others who have done the same, believing that it would cure or relieve a cold or some other like ailment. Sarsaparilla has ‘ a similar reputation. If confectionery were manufactured containing sarsaparilla, it would be purchased in the same way as liquorice, for what were believed to be its medicinal properties, and thus our object in passing the Tariff would be defeated. For the reason that I have given, I think that Senator Clemons might withdraw his suggestion and allow the Committee to go to a vote on Senator Guthrie’s request.
– I take this opportunity to remind Senator Millen and other honorable senators on his side that they have very little reason to complain of some qf the supporters of the Government in connexion with the debate on the schedule. They have taken up a great deal of time in discussing trifles at length, and, while thev have done so, other honorable senators who might also have spoken have sat suffering for the good of the country.
– The honorable senator does not look very ill.
– I am astonished that Senator Findley, who is one of the leaders of the protectionists, should this morning have strayed from the flock. I regard the new leader of the Opposition as a very sensible and reasonable man, and while I am prepared to allow the honorable senator a great deal of latitude as a free-trader, I appeal to him, seeing that he is opposed to increased duties, to say how any deficiency in the revenue should be made up. In this instance, it is not so much a question of the particular duty which should be imposed,but of leaving a loophole in the Tariff which would enable importers of this article to evade the payment of any duty at all. I am astonished that such a proposal should have been made by such a wideawake senator as Senator Clemons. Dealing with the suggestion that liquorice is used as a medicine, I remind honorable senators that no such proposal as that now made was submitted to the Committee when we were considering the duty on whisky, which is frequently ordered by doctors, and taken by people as a medicine. I should like to ask Senator Neild whether, as the son of a doctor, he is prepared to apply the same principle to the duty on whisky. I am satisfied that if that principle were applied to the duty on whisky, we should receive little or no Customs revenue from importations of that article. I regard liquorice as a luxury, and if we are to derive revenue through the Customs, let it be by the imposition of duties on luxuries. If Senator Findley desires to maintain his position as a leading protectionist. I hope he will try to get back to the fold on this item.
– I should like to ask you, sir, whether it would be competent for me to move in the direction I have indicated after the request moved by Senator Guthrie has been dealt with.
– I think it would be better if the honorable senator were to move the insertion of the words “ except for medicinal purposes “ as an amendment of the request moved by Senator Guthrie.
– I note that in connexion with other items, the phrase used is “ not medicinal,” andperhaps it would be better to adopt that phrase.
– That would be worse than ever.
– My only reason for suggesting the insertion of those words is that they are already to be found in the schedule. Honorable senators will notice that herbs are dutiable at so much “ if not medicinal.” However, I have no objection to use the words I have previously used, and I therefore move -
That the request be amended by inserting after the words “ per lb.” the words “ except for medicinal purposes.”
.- Because of a remark which I have just overheard, I point out that if the request as proposed tobe amended by Senator Clemons be carried, it will not follow that liquorice required for medicinal purposes can be imported free of duty. It will be subject to the duty of 2d. per lb., already approved by the Committee.
Question - That the words “ except for medicinal purposes “ be inserted (Senator Clemons’ amendment upon Senator Guthrie’s request)- put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the request negatived.
Request agreed to.
Item 47. Coffee and Chicory, viz. : - (a.) Raw and kiln dried, per lb., 3d. (b.) Roasted, or ground ; in liquor form, or mixed with milk or other substances, per lb., 6d.
SenatorCROFT (Western Australia) [11.53].- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 47 free.
– We do not grow it in any part of Australia except for experimental purposes.
– That is nonsense.
– In any case, I regard the duty proposed as a purely revenue duty. The imports of coffee into the Commonwealth last year totalled 1,693,990 lbs., upon which, under a Tariff of 3d. per lb., .£20,973 was paid by way of duty. It is now proposed .to retain the same rate. Personally, I intend to extend adequate protection to, every genuine Australian industry ; but I am not prepared to assist the Government to impose revenue duties upon articles of daily consumption. I regard coffee as the workingman’s drink. It is about the only” drink that he can purchase at a low price, and, seeing that tea has been placed upon the free list, we cannot logically refuse to place coffee in the same category.
– We can be thoroughly logical, because we do not grow tea, whereas we do produce coffee.
– If we are growing coffee save for experimental purposes, why is it necessary. to import such enormous quantities of that commodity each year?
– Did the honorable senator vote for the Bounties Act?
– I supported some of the items contained in the schedule to that measure. I voted against the payment of a ‘bounty upon coffee because the industry is not a natural one to Australia.
– Not natural to Western Australia, the honorable senator means.
– Nor is.it natural to Northern Queensland. Until we have gone further with our experiments in coffee culture we should not impose this heavy tax upon the people.
– The very coffee that the honorable senator has been drinking in this building for the past two months is Queensland coffee-
– If we cannot produce coffee we had better abandon all idea of developing the Northern Territory.
– When it “has been proved that we can grow coffee successfully I shall be most pleased to assist in developing that portion of Australia by promoting the growth of coffee there.
– The time to assist in that direction is now.
– I nm aware that with the honorable senator, wherever Queens land is concerned, the time is always now. The effort of that State to supply the requirements of Australia in the matter of coffee have not been successful. At all events, importations halve not declined.
– I trust that the Committee will not agree to the proposal of Senator Croft. It is not very long since the Senate, in dealing with another measure, went very exhaustively into the consideration of the question of the growth of coffee in Australia. During the course of the debate upon, that occasion a good deal of information was forthcoming regarding coffee production throughout the world. As a result of that discussion Parliament decided that a bounty of id. per lb. should be paid for eight years upon all the coffee produced in Australia under the conditions laid down in the Bounties Act. It would lae rather a curious procedure if with one hand we were to offer a bounty for the production of coffee, whilst with the other we took away the protection which has been accorded to the industry.
– That is the strongest argument against the retention of the duty
– I think not. When the Bounties Bill was under consideration one of the arguments adduced against the payment of a bounty upon the production of coffee was that a duty of 3d. per lb. _ was already operative upon that commodity.
– But that argument did not prevail.
– It did npt. Upon that occasion it was pointed out that a duty of 3d. per lb. was not sufficient to stimulate the growth of all the coffee required to meet local demands. It was therefore proposed that in addition to the duty of 3d. per lb. a further encouragement should be offered the industry in the shape of a bounty of id. per lb.
– It was shown conclusively that the industry had been seriously affected by the reduction of the duty from 4d. per lb. under the old State Tariff to 3d. per lb. under the Commonwealth Tariff.
– Upon that occasion one of the arguments advanced by Senator Chataway was that under the Queensland Tariff a higher duty than that imposed under the Commonwealth Tariff had been operative upon coffee, and that whilst that higher duty prevailed the pro duction of coffee in Queensland was larger. With the history of the industry before us, we cannot reasonably expect to stimulate the production of coffee by the payment of a bounty of1d. per lb., if we decrease the measure of protection which has hitherto been accorded to that industry.
– Has the Minister noticed that the imports of coffee have increased since the imposition of the duty of 3d. per lb. ?
– Undoubtedly. In 1903 the imports of coffee into the Commonwealth totalled 1,425,415 lbs., in 1904 they were 1,291,000 lbs., in 1905 they aggregated 1,754,000 lbs., and in 1906, 1,093,000 lbs. When a higher duty was operative in Queensland, the output of coffee there was greater than it has been since the reduction of that duty, notwithstanding that coincident with that reduction Inter-State free-trade was established. Upon a former occasion I think it was pointed out that the quantity of coffee consumed in Australia, per head of the population, is very small relatively to that consumed in other parts of the world. In Great Britain, too, the people do not drink much coffee. There, the consumption is 0.7 lbs. per head per annum, whilst the consumption in other countries ranges from 3 lbs. per head in France, to 23 lbs. per head in Holland. Coghlan estimates that the coffee requirements of Australia are 2,300,000 lbs. per annum. Nothing like that quantity has ever been produced locally, but that fact does not conclusively demonstrate that with the aid of a fair protective duty, and of the bounty, we shall not be able to foster the industry to such an extent that it will be able to supply a large portion of the demands of the Commonwealth in the near future. Senator Croft was reminded by interjection during his speech that Queensland coffee is being consumed upon these very premises. Only a day or two ago I made an inquiry upon this matter, and I was informed that the coffee supplied to honorable senators in our Parliamentary Buildings comes from Queensland.
– I can quite understand growers who wishto advertise their coffee sending it to Parliament House. But what I wish to know is whether Queensland coffee can be purchased in any of our shops ?
– I cannot say.
– As a matter of fact, we tax ourselves by imposing a protective duty upon coffee ; we pay a bounty upon its production, and we are even prepared to go to the extent of drinking Queensland coffee, and yet the industry has not been established.
– I am satisfied that it is not advisable to reduce the duty upon coffee, much less to place that article upon the free list. The policy of this Parliament has been to endeavour to promote its growth, and to this end we have gone to the length of adding to the existing duty of 3d. per lb. a further measure of encouragement, by authorizing the payment of a bounty of1d. per lb. It was never intended that we should offer that bounty to encourage coffee production, with a. view to subsequently reducing the duty.
– The position is just the reverse. That was the very argument which was used when the Bounties Bill, was under consideration.
– I do not think it was used by a single senator. Certainly it was not used from this table, and I do not recollect any other honorable senator using it. Had anybody done so attention would have been drawn to its fallacy by almost every member of this Chamber. I hope that we shall not interfere with the duty proposed, which is the rate recommended by both sections of the Tariff Commission.
.- There is evidently a disposition to make coffee free on the part of some honorable senators who ought to recollect the vote they gave On the Bounties Bill. It would be highly inconsistent for any honorable senator who voted for a bounty on coffee to vote now for the free admission of the article.
– What about those who voted against the bounty ?
– They will probably vote for the duty of 3d. per lb. There is no doubt that the majority of people in Australia have declared in favour of a protectionist policy, and are extremely anxious for, the development of every part of the continent.We must not regard the question from a State point of view. To urge that some honorable senators are supporting the duty because coffee-growinsr will probably flourish betterin Queensland than in some other State, is to take a very narrow view.
– It does not flourish any better in . Queensland than it would in the north-west of Western Australia.
– That is all the more reason why Western Australian senators should support the duty. When the duty was 4d. per lb. in Queensland, under the State Tariff,, the industry was in a better position than was the case when the duty was reduced to 3d. under the Commonwealth Tariff. ,
– How much better ?
– Very much better. I cannot for the moment quote the figures, but I used them when the Bounties Bill was under consideration, and additional figures were quoted by Senator Chataway to show that there had been a very serious decline in the area under cultivation and iri the output.
– The area under cultivation has increased.
– According to the official figures the area cultivated for coffee in Queensland has not increased since this Parliament lowered the duty. It is evident that if Australia is to be a nation worthy of the name, serious consideration must be given to the protection of industries which are yet in their infancy. Coffee can undoubtedly be grown in various parts of Australia successfully and profitably if sufficient encouragement is given to the industry. It is ‘ established beyond the shadow of a doubt that pure coffee of excellent quality, altogether different from some of the adulterated coffee which finds its way to Australia to-day, has been placed upon the market from Queensland in various States, and has been supplied in the refreshment rooms in this building. Those who are competent to express an opinion have pronounced it to be the finest coffee thev have ever tasted.
– Why do not’ the public use it more?
– Possibly their palates have become accustomed to the adulterated imported coffee. The public will have to be educated up to the pure article. We know the history of adulteration in the Old Land. When the co-operative societies started there they found it almost impossible to sell pure coffee and butter, because numbers of their customers had been in the habit of buying the adulterated articles, and had become accustomed to them.
– Very few people will drink pure coffee.
– There was a time when very few people drank pure wine. They had been accustomed to drink adulterated wine, beer and whisky. But those days are passing away. We have in Victoria a Pure Food Act, and I hope similar measures will be passed by the other States Parliaments. The people will then be educated up to the necessity of having pure foods.
– Would the honorable senator force the community to drink what thev do not! like?
– I would force them in their own interests to drink the pure as against the adulterated article. The question of whether this item shall be retained or not is a serious one in the interests of Australia. If the duty on coffee is removed what is to become of the undeveloped and unpeopled parts of the Continent? Within a very short period Parliament will probably agree to take over the Northern Territory, which has an area six times that of Victoria and a population of only about 3,000. of whom 2,000 are coloured people. The Territory is eminently suitable for coffee growing.
– Not by white people.
– We have settled the white Australia policy. It was said that the sugar industry could not be carried on except by coloured labour, but that idea was exploded long ago.
– It has not been proved in regard to the Northern Territory.
– We have not yet made a start to do so, but what coloured people can do white people can do. In many respects white labour on the whole is cheaper than coloured. If the duty is removed and coffee admitted free the Bounties Bill in respect of coffee becomes a farce. One penny per lb. is offered in that Bill for the encouragement of the industry. With that amount, and a duty of 3d. per lb., there is a possibility of a very big industry being established not only in Queensland, but in parts of Western Australia.
– What authority has the honorable senator for making that statement with regard to Western Australia?
– It has been said that the north-western parts of Australia have similar soil and ai somewhat similar climate to certain parts of the Northern Territory. If so, they are suitable for coffee culture. Coffee is not altogether a poor man’s beverage. It is used to a very limited extent by what are called the poorer classes. Tea is the poor people’s drink. Many people in good circumstances take no Other beverage than coffee, sometimes with milk and sometimes without, in the belief that it is a better stimulant than alcohol. I trust that the duty will remain as proposed by the Government.
– sincerely hope that the Committee will see the wisdom of supporting Senator Croft’s motion. When the Bounties Bill was before the Chamber I took up in regard to this item precisely the same attitude as I intend to take up now. Senator Chataway gave us then some very useful information as to the prospects and possibilities of Queensland as a coffee country, but he showed that under a high State duty coffee culture had been, as it were, played at. He proved that every man who attempted to grow coffee in Quensland did so on a little patch in his spare moments while doing other things of a more useful character.
– Where does . the honorable senator get that evidence from?
– We can get it from Hansard. The report of the Committee of experts on the Bounties Bill also gave very clear and sufficient reasons why coffee should be admitted free. Admitting, as Senator Findley claims, that Australia has declared in favour of a policy of protection, has it decided to adopt a policy of mad-headed protection? Are we to impose duties upon articles with which we have not the remotest possibility of supplying ourselves, in order to cai ry out a policy of high protection? Surely Australia has not reached that point yet. The decrease in the production of coffee in Queensland has clearly shown that the industry is a failure. That fact is in keeping with the statement that every man who attempted to grow coffee there did so on little patches.
– Then the honorable senator does not believe in the small man, but wants big plantations?
– I had a little garden on one occasion, and grew maize. I raised two plants about it. ft. high, and obtained 4 good cobs from the two. I did that exactly in the same sense as Senator Chataway gave us to understand that the Queensland planters were growing coffee. There has always been a comparatively high duty on coffee in Queensland. It was 4d. per lb. before Federation, and it has been 3d. per lb. since.
– In Western Australia there was previously a. duty of 3d.
– Even if it were 10d., I do not think that anybody would te likely to bother himself with the industry. We have the fact that already countries more suitable to the industry are prepared to supply the whole of the markets of the world. I have no objection to the coloured man producing anything in his- own country, if he stops in his own country. We drink the coloured man’s lea, and are likely to do so for a considerable time, because we know that that course is absolutely wise. The evidence in. the case of coffee is quite as strong as it is in the case of tea; and it is idle, simply for the sake of showing that we are highly protectionist, to continue to levy taxation on the people of Australia, amounting to nearly ^£30,000 per annum. There is no possibility whatever of this industry ever becoming even worthy of an attempt to establish it in Australia, and I heartily support Senator Croft’s motion.
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia^ [12.22]. - I shall support the motion of Senator Croft. I am just as pronounced a protectionist as there is in this Chamber.
– Protection influenced by geographical position !
– I resent the insinuation that I am speaking now purely from a States point of view. As Senator Findley has pointed out, Western Australia has as good an opportunity, if an opportunity exists at all, to grow coffee as Queensland is supposed to have, and I cannot be accused of opposing this duty because of any hostile spirit towards Queensland or any other State. From what I have seen of the Northern Territory, I am under the impression that it would be ages before we could grow there sufficient coffee to supply our own requirements. For years past protection equivalent to 75 per cent, has been accorded to coffee ; and if that is not sufficient there is no possibility of any duty establishing the industry. I opposed the proposal under the Bounties Bill to devote ,£12,000 for eight years to the encouragement of the production of raw coffee, and I am supported in that attitude bv the fact that, when visiting the Northern Territory. I saw there an abandoned coffee plantation.
– From the protectionist stand-point that is an argument for an increased duty.
– That may be.
– Why was that coffee plantation abandoned?
– Simply because we must first consider the question of irrigation.
– That was not the reason ; the man who owned the plantation became financially embarrassed, and the banks foreclosed.
– In preFederation days the owner of that coffee plantation had the advantage of as high a duty as is proposed now. We find that in the ten years from 1896 to 1905, notwithstanding the high protection, the acreage under coffee cultivation increased only from 26 acres to 335 acres. This information I get from a speech delivered by Senator St. Ledger, who used the fact as an argument in favour of a bounty on coffee. The statement that the attempt to grow coffee has simply been in small garden patches is amply borne out.
– A protectionist would say that it might fairly be regarded as a struggling industry.
– At any rate, it cannot be called a strangled industry, seeing that it has never had any existence. This is a revenue duty pure and simple, which resulted in 1906 in a return of £28,000 or , £29,000.
– Then increase the duty.
– I would rather vote for a duty of1s. than for the proposed duty of 3d. ; but I decline to lend myself to the imposition of any revenue duty. We have been told by Senator Findley that coffee is not a poor man’s drink ; but, in my opinion, it is just as much a beverage of the poor man as is tea. I admit, of course, that the consumption of coffee is not so large as that of tea, but nevertheless it is a poor man’s drink, and ought to be admitted free, in view of the fact that no duty is imposed on tea. Each year there is an increase in the imports, and the official figures show that Brazil is prepared to supply the whole of the world. To that Senator Findley’s reply is that we ought to encourage the production of coffee by white labour rather than the importation of coffee produced by black labour. I quite agree with that view; but I contend that the proposed duty will not bring about that result. The honorable senator has failed to convince the Committee that the proposed duty will encourage the development of coffee culture in Australia by white labour. The attitude I am taking up now is only consistent with that I took up in regard to the bounty, which I regard as a waste of money. I seek to have coffee placed on the free list, not because I am actuated by hostile feeling towards any State, but because I am confident that we cannot, by means of a duty, foster the industry in Australia.
– I am rather amused at the statement by Senator Needham that he is a pronounced protectionist. However, I am becoming accustomed to people proclaiming themselves to be one thing, and proving by their conduct that they are either something entirely different, or that they have no conception of the meaning of the language they use. If Senator Needham is a pronounced protectionist he will vote for a higher duty instead of the total aboli- tion of the duty on the ground that it does not encourage production. If he regard? this as merely a revenue duty he ought to vote, not for its abolition, but for its increase.
– Senator Needham said that he would rather vote for a duty of1s.
– And I ask Senator Needham why hedoes not do so.
– A duty of1s. would be of no use.
– Why does the honorable senator oppose the duty of 3d. ?
– Because it will not encourage the growth of coffee.
– I was also much amused at the statementof Senator Henderson that there is no possibility of this industry being established in Australia. The statement only proves what a wealth of ignorance some people possess about the resources of Australia. I am as sure as that I am standing here, that, with proper encouragement, Australia is capable of producing not only sufficient coffee for our own requirements, but enough to supply the demand of the entire world,
– The honorable senator is very optimistic.
– I am not optimistic without reason. I have seen coffee growing, and I have drunk coffee entirely manipulated upon the premises, and better I have never tasted. Some honorable senators, from whom I certainly expe.ct.ed some- thing better, have poured contempt and ridicule on the industry because it is a small man’s industry - because, as they put it, coffee is grown in patches. If there is one reason stronger than another why I support this duty, it is that this is a small man’s industry. It is pre-eminently an industry in which a man with a small family can engage, and one which will assist to root a large number of selectors to the soil. Although we have been told that coffee cannot be grown in Australia, there were under cultivation in 1906 216 acres, producing 107,445 lbs., of coffee.
– Coffee has been grown only in small quantities.
– Everything nowgrown or produced in Australia was’ at one time grown or produced here only in small, quantities. At one time, very few boots were made in Australia, and we were importing the wheat necessary to feed our population.
– Was it ever questioned that we could grow enough wheat for our own requirements?
– It has been said a thousand times that Australia would never be able to grow enough wheat to feed her population.’ The old squatters, of whom I suppose some honorable senators to be the lineal descendants, though they do not possess their broad acres, used to say that the Darling Downs, one of the most fertile tracts in Australia, would not grow a cabbage. They said that because they had a personal interest in preventing small men from invading their territory; but I do- not ‘know why my honorable friends wish to block settlement, unless from pure cussedness, or want of knowledge of the capabilities of the country. We are not yet producing enough coffee to meet our requirements, because Parliament has not offered sufficient inducement to persons to embark in the industry. A bounty of id., with a duty of 3d., may encourage our farmers to grow coffee more largely ; but if it be found that the encouragement is insufficient, I shall be prepared to vote for more protection. Indeed, had not Senator Croft moved to make the item, free, I should have moved to make the duty 4c!. However small an industry may be, it gives employment ; and an industry which helps to root settlers to the soil, and enables them to bring up their families in decency and comfort, should have the support of every patriot. The people of Australia, as I read their mind, have determined that protection’ is the best policy for them, and I hope, therefore, that the request will be defeated, and that the Committee will ask the House of Representatives to make- the duty 4d.
– The honorable senator should be satisfied with 3d.
– If 3d. is not effective,’ protectionists should vote for whatever rate may be required to give adequate protection. I want the people of Australia to produce their own coffee, and I believe that they will do so if the law gives them sufficient encouragement.
– It is almost beating the air to thresh out again the possibilities of coffeegrowing after the exhaustive debate on the subject in connexion with the Bounties Bill ; but there are some figures to which it might be well to draw attention, as supplementing what I said on that occasion. There appears in the report of the Tariff Commission an explanation of the decrease in the production of coffee since Federation as compared with the pre-Federal days. The Commissioners say that -
The representative of the Queensland Government dealt with the effect of the old and new Tariffs upon the” coffee-growing industry of his State. The duty of per lb. under the
Queensland Tariff had been in existence for years, and had given the industry its first start. The areas which were placed under coffee cultivation in 1895 would have scarcely come into bearing before Federation, as it took four years to obtain a crop of coffee from newly-planted trees. Thus it was that the industry di’d not make any real progress between 1895 and 1900. In 1895 the production of coffee in Queensland had been 14,060 lbs. ; in 1896, 9,707 lbs. ; 1897, 81,614 lbs. ; 1898, 56,55* !bs. ; 1S99, 104,981 and 1900, 102,134 lbs.
In 1906 the output was 107,445 hbs., the second largest output in the history of the State, whilst it is generally believed by those who have a -knowledge of the position that the crop of 1907 was still larger, though, the returns are not yet complete. I do not claim that the industry has yet made any great advance, as the area under coffee has decreased. Unfortunately many experimental crops have failed, which is often the case in the pioneering of an industry ; but the present production shows that Australia can produce her own coffee at a reasonable cost. The country in which coffeecan be grown is not limited to one or two patches. There are large areas in the Northern Territory suited for the cultivation of the tree, while coffee is being grown under marketable conditions in Cairns, in the Mackay district, in the neighbourhood of Brisbane - where the bean is sold in the parchment roasted, and put on the market, and, according to the Queensland Agricultural Journal, Mr. John Bell has grown coffee successfully at Chatsworth Island, on the Clarence River. His crop last year was 1,694 lbs., and sold at from 1s. to1s. 3d. per lb., whilst this year he expects to get 6,000 lbs. Therefore coffee can be grown in various large centres, along a coast line 1,500 miles in length, and Parliament has granted a bounty for its production. I regard bounties as a means to direct the attention of the people to the possibilities of producing various commodities, but having granted a bounty of1d. per lb. for the production of coffee, I would not afterwards turn round upon the producer, and, by removing the duty, place him in a worse position than he occupied under the old Tariff, with a duty of 2d. per lb. Senator Henderson is, of course, the humorist of the Chamber. I do not doubt that in this case his statement was a joke, but it was rather misplaced.He made jest of the fact that, in a speech on the Bounties Bill, I had alluded to the coffee growing business as being “ a small man’s business.” He went so far as to say that it was carried on in tiny gardens, and that when they had nothing else to do the wife and children picked the berries, took them inside, and roasted them. Of course, it is unnecessary for me to assure honorable senators that that was all pure imagination on the part of Senator Henderson. In the first place, he does not know anything about the matter; and, secondly, that is not what I said, so that he could not have got the information from me.Let us turn again to the official evidence on the subject. The chief official of the Queensland Agricultural Department was examined in 1905, and, referring to his evidence, the Tariff Commission say -
At the time evidence was given (1905) there were 342 acres under cultivation, all held in small areas with the exception of one holding at Mackay, which belonged to a company.
That holding, I happen to know, contains 25 acres.
– Cannot the honorable senator quote some independent wit ness or evidence given outside Queensland?
– If the honorable senator will get up and give evidence, I will say, “ Can we not get some independent evidence regarding coffee growing, except from Western Australia? “
– Does the honorable senator admit that there are only 342 acres under cultivation in a country with a coastline of 1,085 miles?
– I do-
The average size of each coffee holding would be about 10 acres.
It is hardly justifiable to contend that this coffee is grown on a very tiny scale in a back yard or a front garden, where it can be picked by the wife and the children at their leisure. It has also been contended thatwe cannot grow coffeeof the required quality - that, I take it, is a point which must be replied to - and Senator Gray interjected, “ Why do people not drink it? “ The bulk of the locally-grown coffee with which I have any acquaintance is readily purchased by the public at a very decent price. I will admit, however, that in the coffee-growing business, just as in the sugar-growing business many years ago, each grower has an idea that he will establish a little plantation and do his own roasting and curing, and’ so forth. At one time, each sugar-grower wanted to own a plantation and a little tin-pot mill, with the idea of acquiring fame as the grower of a particular brand of sugar. In many cases where coffee has been roasted on a plantation or farm, a bad roast has been put on the market, and that may account for the fact that a certain quantity of coffee has not been readily accepted by the people and consumed. But we have proved conclusively that where the coffee from. Cairns, Mackay, and Buderim has been sold to professional roasters and put on the market - not held in a roasted form for months before it is sold but put on the market promptly and properly - excellent results have been obtained. I am in a position to say that, not long ago, the experts who roast coffee for Parliament House, as well as for theprincipal clubs, hotels, and restaurantsin Melbourne, received from Queensland a 50-lb. bag of coffee beans - that is green coffee hulled - androasted it here. They tested the coffee and pronounced it as being of the highest quality, inferior possibly to Mocha. That was the most that they could say against Queensland coffee.
– How much, of it was there ?
– It was a 50 lb. bag that I got down.
– Was that the lot?
– It was part of 107,000 lbs. that were grown. The same verdict was given in connexion with a smaller quantity of coffee which was sent down as a sample from the Buderim district. Honorable senators know that in our refreshment room Queensland coffee was served for weeks and was praised all round. I think that there is no doubt about the quality of Queensland coffee. As regards the question of price at the present time imported coffee - the cheap and poor kind and probably the adulterated variety that Senator Findley spoke about - can be bought at as low as is. 3d. per lb., but the average coffee of decent quality which is bought here costs is. 6d. per lb. Of course is. 3d. per lb. would be the price of such coffee if there were no duty to be paid. Growers in the southern part of Queensland are selling coffee in the parchment - that is with the parchment on it, but with the pulp taken off - at 10d. per lb. in Brisbane. To hull it, roast it and put it on the market would, probably cost 4d. per lib. There is a very slight margin between the price at which coffee can be put on the market in Queensland and the price at which first-class imported coffee can -be bought. Consequently honorable senators can see that coffee can be produced in Australia with a reasonable amount of profit, and that the industry can be made an important and valuable one. Let me also draw their attention to this passage in the report of the Tariff Commission: -
In Queensland it was said that the bulk of the coffee sold was produced in countries where labour was both cheap and plentiful. It came into the southern markets in the raw state - that was hulled, but not manufactured - and principally from the States of Central and South America, India, Ceylon, and Java. In Queensland, 6s. Sd. per day was paid for labour against 4d. per day in other coffee countries.
– How many men are employed in the industry in Queensland?
– I have not the figures by me. If it was only one man it would be something; it would be better than employing several blacks in another country. White labour is employed at decent wages, and with this amount of protection the industry can compete with imported coffee. I hope that my honorable friends from Western Australia will not insist upon taking off the duty. I firmly believe that the industry is now on a sound basis, and that with the encouragement given under the Bounties Act it will become one of the most important industries in Australia.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 -p.m.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [2.0]. - While I am not particularly anxious to make the item free, because coffee has for many years been regarded as a reasonable subject for taxation, I do not exactly know why so high a duty has been proposed, unless it is to enable the teetotallers to contribute to’ the revenue as much as possible. By to-day’s mail I have received a letter giving me some very useful informaton on the subject of chicory, and I’ desire to bring it under the notice of honorable senators. The letter comes from a gentleman, who is extremely well known’ in the commercial world of New South Wales, and who, having been known to me for.over forty years,’ is, I can affirm, a man whose statements with reference to prices, and so forth, are eminently reliable..’ There are one or two manufacturers of chicory in New’ South Wales. Before the new Federal duty was imposed chicory was purchasable in Sydney for 2fd. per lb. Since the duty has been raised to 6d. the manufacturers are charging from 3d. and 4½d. per lb.
– Then they are selling chicory for less than the amount of the duty. ‘
– Yes, according to this letter. I do not think I am doing any harm in mentioning that it comes from Mr. J. R. Love -a name thoroughly well known in the grocery trade in Sydney. No name is better known or more’ respected. The letter informs me that the price for chicory, in London, in 56 lb. tins, is £14 per ton; that is, 1½d. per lb. The Ministry have positively submitted a proposal to the Senate to place a duty of 6d. per lb. on an article which is sold in London for only 1 Id.
– I would remind the honorable senator that we are now dealing with coffee.
– It appears to me that it is impossible to separate the items.
-There are two duties, as the honorable senator will observe.
– If you rule, sir, that I must confine my remarks to the paragraph before the Committee, I will do so; but the manner in which the two questions are mixed up is most undesirable.
– I shall put them separately.
– But my remarks apply to the fact that chicory and coffee are mixed up in this schedule, and that both a and b refer to the two articles. I think it desirable that the two should be dealt with separately, otherwise we are prevented from rational divisions upon entirely different subjects. However, in view of the Chairman’s direction I suppose it would be better for me to reserve my remarks with regard to chicory.
– I intend to support the item as it stands, and to oppose the request submitted by Senator Croft. The incidental effect of my action will be to show that at all events there is no foundation for the allegation that has been made that the senators from theWest are influenced by geographical considerations. When the Bounties Bill was under consideration I voted in opposition to the proposal to give a bounty for the production of coffee, because I then thought it would be useless to try to establish the industry in this country. I believed that coffee was in the same category with two or three other articles that are producedabroad, and that to spend money in endeavouring to establish the industry here would simply conduce to waste. But there is a feature connected with the coffee-growing industry of which I was not then aware, but which has caused me to revise the opinion I held upon the Bounties Bill. I allude to the opportunity that the growth of coffee in Australia provides to a number of our poor and struggling people to earn a livelihood. The evidence on that point collected by the Tariff Commission is very clear. I do not think that we have any reason to doubt the evidence of Mr. Scriven, who states that the average holding on which coffee is grown isonly about 10 acres. Taking the average yield for the last two years, as shown in the Queensland records, we find that in 1902 it amounted to 350 lbs. per acre, and in 1903 to 497 lbs. The average was 420 lbs. A holding of 10 acres produces, therefore, 4,200 lbs. of coffee. That quantity divided into the amount of the imports for 1906 yields a dividend of something like 404 holdings that would be required for the production of the coffee consumed in Australia.The importations amounted to 1,600,000 lbs. If we do not give this assistance to the coffee-growing industry it means that the 402 persons who might supply the 1,600,000 lbs. of coffee required in Australia would not be given employment. For my part I hesitate before I cast a vote which will have the effect of depriving any Australian of employment. It may be thought that my present position is inconsistent with my vote on the item coffee in the Bounties Bill. But I look upon the matter in this light : We have committed ourselves to paying £12,000 in eight years on account of coffee. We are merely making half an effort if we do not follow that up by giving ample protection to the growers. That consideration is sufficient toreconcile the vote which I intend to give on the item before the Chair with that which I gave on. the Bounties Bill, and my general attitude towards this Tariff is that I will not tolerate any item unless I think it is designed to give ample protection. At present we have determined to give a bounty of1d. per lb. on coffee. If we do not give ample protection that money will be wasted. So far as sugar is concerned, the policy of Australia is that our people are willing to pay a higher price per lb. for their sugar in order to keep the industry alive. Now coffee is not far removed from sugar. In New South Wales, before Federation, even some revenue tariffists were favorableto paying a higher price for sugar in order to maintain the sugargrowing industry. Why should not the same argument apply to coffee -growing ?
– Because we can easily produce the. one article, but not the other.
– That coffee can be produced in Queensland has been amply demonstrated, and in view of the fact that wehave taken half a step towards establishing the coffee-growing industry upon a firm basis, my judgment tells me that we should supplement what we have done by imposing an adequate protective duty. Coffee growing is essentially a small man’s industry.
– A poor man’s drink.
– After all, when the matter is looked at fairly and squarely coffee is not an essential in household consumption to such an extent as is tea or sugar. In fact, if a close analysis were made of the facts it would be found that coffee is in the nature of a luxury.
– It is as much a necessity as tea.
– It certainly does not enter into household consumption to such an extent as do sugar and tea. In the case of sugar we have decided to pay a high price to encourage the industry. The same reasoning as led us to do that applies with the same force to coffee. As we have made an effort to encourage the industry I am not going to allow the money we have determined to spend to be thrown away. Seeing that we are engaged in framing a Tariff that will stand for some time, I wish by my vote to assist in proving whether or not it is possible to produce coffee in Australia, and I feel that the industry cannot be established unless we grant this additional protection.
– What surprises me in the debate on this question is the attitude of senators holding views such as are entertained by Senator Lynch. I have always understood that many prominent members of the Labour Party were honestly opposed to the raising of an enormous revenue through the Customs. There has been since the establishment of Federation a heavy duty on coffee, and that duty will continue to be for many years a heavy revenue-producing one. Even the most sanguine believer in protection and our own industries will not say that for many years hence Australia will produce anything like as much coffee as we require for our own use, and so long as she fails to do so this will be a heavy revenue-producing duty. That, from my point of view, means the heavy taxation of the consumers of coffee, to whatever class they belong.
– They belong to all classes.
– I think so, and neither Senator de Largie nor I desire class taxation, unless it be applied to luxuries.
– What did the freetrade section of the Tariff Commission recommend ?
– Did they give the matter any consideration?
– We offered no recommendation with regard to the duty.
SenatorFindley. - It is stated in this official paper that the free-trade section favoured a duty of 3d. per lb.
– Since the free-trade section made no recommendation, they must be taken to have acquiesced in the existing duties.
– Certainly not. The printed statement to which Senator Findley has referred is in many respects erroneous in regard to the recommendations of the free- trade section of the Commission. This item, of course, involves to some extent that of the bounty on coffee. I can conceive of one set of circumstances in which I should be found voting for a bounty; I Can almost go further and say that I should welcome an opportunity to vote for a bounty if it would lighten the burden of taxation and enable an Australian product to be obtained at a reasonable rate as compared with the price at which the same article could be fairly sold elsewhere under good wages conditions. I have always felt that such a state of affairs would justify the bounty system, and if I could be shown that it would result, I should be willing on more than one occasion to vote for a bounty. We have agreed to the payment of a bounty on the production of coffee, and we admitted in doing so that many years would elapse before that bounty would produce any possible result.
– Not many, but several years.
– In all probability it will be six years hence. If I could be fairly shown that, as the result of the operation of this bounty, Australian producers would some years hence be enabled to grow coffee under fair conditions and sell it at a reasonable price, I should be prepared to advocate its continuance, and, if necessary, an increase of it. But it is largely because a bounty has been granted on the production of coffee that I shall vote to make coffee free. I cannot see why protectionists should not do the same. I could understand a protectionist saying, “ Owing to the operation of the bounty, coffee can be satisfactorily produced in Australia, but, even so, let us impose a duty until we know that it is not going to be imported.” But I cannot understand any honorable senator, relying solely on protectionist arguments, saying, with the fact staring us in the face, that this duty is nothing more nor less than an iniquitous revenue impost, that, he is prepared to vote for it. It used to be one of the tenets of protection that it was desir-able to impose heavy duties on things which could be made or produced in Australia; but protectionists were altogether indifferent as to the imposition of duties on goods that could not be produced here. Some would go so far as to say that goods which could not be produced -here ought not to foe taxed. This item seems to belong to that class of commodities which protectionists should hesitate to tax. It may be said that those who are not protectionists consider that a duty on such an item as coffee is desirable ; but my opinion is that we should remove the burden ot taxation in respect of such items. I shall be found supporting Senator Croft in his request that the item be made free, and, indeed, shall support any motion to remove the burdens of taxation imposed by this schedule.
– The argument addressed specially to protectionists by Senator Clemons is that this is a revenue duty. It is true that in the first instance, in most, if not all, of the States, this tax was imposed for revenue purposes, and had it been proposed, at that time, to abolish it, I, for one, as a protectionist, should certainly have voted against the duty.; but it would be strange for a protectionist, who has had imposed upon him, against hrs will, possibly, for many years, a revenue duty, to vote for its abolition just as it was becoming incidentally protective. That is the position. The duty on coffee, for a number of years, has been incidentally protectionist. It certainly produces revenue, but not a very large sum.
– Thirty thousand pounds per annum.
– In respect of the whole Commonwealth that is not an enormous revenue. The duty has developed, in some small degree, the production of coffee in Australia.
– To what extent? About . per cent.
– I do not know the percentage, but the quantity of coffee used in Australia is not very large. I heard the Minister of Home Affairs say that it was equal to about lb. per head of the population, so that the - people’s consumption is so small that this impost does not fall heavily upon them as a. tax. The point that I wish to make in answer to Senator Clemons’ appeal to protectionists to abolish a revenue duty, is that this duty, which is still largely a revenue one, was, in the past, completely and only a revenue duty; but that it has now become, in some degree protectionist, and that it would, therefore, be wrong for ‘ protectionists 10 abolish it.
.- I asked Senator Clemons, a few moments ago. whether his section of the Tariff Commission made any recommendation in regard to this item, or had considered it, and he said that it had not. I have here a report signed bv Senator Clemons, Mr. Fowler, M.P., Mr. Fuller, M.P., and Mr. Warns ley.
– The honorable senator is surely not going to tell us all about it?
-The honorable senator told us in all seriousness that the free-trade section of the Commission had not even considered it, and that we ought not to take into account a statement in. one of the official papers that it had made a certain recommendation.
– As a matter of fact I personally did not. ‘
– That shows how far so-called free-traders will go in regard to their reports and the extent to which the honorable senator will go when he has an opportunity to defeat the very thing he has recommended.
– I do not know what the honorable senator means.
– I do not know that I ‘am putting the matter wrongly by quoting the honorable senator’s own words. At page 237 of the report of the free-trade section of the Commission! the following paragraph appears : -
Item 17. Coffee and Chicory -
While the evidence does not materially help 113 to a conclusion, the differentiation of present duties between raw, 3d. per lb., and prepared, coffee, $d. per lb., appears excessive, and pre- judicial to the consumers. We suggest, therefore, a reduction of the duty on coffee and chicory roasted or ground, and in liquid form (17D) to per lb., 4d.
– That does not refer’ to the item we are now discussing.
– But the item is wrapped up in it.
– A reduction was recommended.
– But the recommendation is not that coffee shall be free.
Senator- Clemons. - We are not dealing with that item now.
– This is hair-splitting.
– If the free-trade section of the Commission to which Senator’ Clemons belonged was in favour of a duty of 4d. per Ux it is evident that it desired a revenue Tariff in regard not only to chicory but to coffee.
– I have pointed out that what appears in the printed statement circulated amongst honorable senators is not correct, and the discovery made by the honorable senator shows that it is not. We did not recommend a duty of 3d. per lb. in respect of the item we are now discussing
– In the case to which I have referred a revenue duty of 4d. per lb. was recommended.
– With respect to a totally different item.
– That is hardly so. The honorable senator appealed to Senator Lynch not to vote for the duty since all true protectionists were absolutely opposed to revenue imposts. In making that appeal the honorable senator showed that he was desirous of abolishing revenue duties altogether.
– So I am.
– Yet in the report from which I have read the honorable senator recommends a revenue duty in respect of coffee and chicory.
– Apparently I do so far as the report is concerned, because my name is attached to it.
– And I understood that the members of the Tariff Commission were prepared to stand by their reports.
– I have already said that I am not prepared to stand by them.
– I think the honorable senator should do so, as it may be assumed that he signed the report after giving consideration to the matter with which it deals.
– I gave consideration to this item in common with a thousand other items.
– The honorable senator endeavoured to prove that Senator Lynch was inconsistent, but I think it is proved that he is himself consistent only in his inconsistency. Senator Lynch gave substantial reasons why the proposed duty should be agreed to.
– Any man may change his mind.
– That is so, but we do not expect that an honorable senator who has made up his mind to recommend a revenue duty should be extremely anxious afterwards, at what he believes to be an opportune time, to abolish such a duty.
– I have already said that I would not adhere to the recommendations of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission because the whole features of the Tariff have been so changed.
– I thought it right to bring under the notice of the Committee what appeared to me to be the glaring inconsistency of the honorable senator.
– I rise as much to ventilate a complaint I have against the members of the Tariff Commission as for any other purpose. I believe that the members of neither section of the Commission did their duty in connexion with this question. Had they made recommendations according to the evidence placed before them, the free-trade section could not have recommended a revenue duty of 3d. per lb., nor could the protectionist section have recommended a similar duty from a protectionist stand-point. The evidence given by all the witnesses proved that a duty of 3d. per lb. on coffee had lamentably failed to effect any protective purpose at all. Tariff reform was urged as much for the purpose of removing anomalies as for anything else, and I hold that the duty on coffee, having been shown to be an anomaly, should be removed. It is of no value in encouraging the development of the local coffee industry. I base my opinion on the question not only upon the evidence given by the witnesses who appeared before the Tariff Commission’, but upon the years of experience of the industry we have had and the position it occupied some five years ago. The imposition of a duty on coffee was inconsistent with the attitude which we adopted in abolishing the duty on tea. because no reason can be urged for the abolition of a duty on tea which would not apply with equal force to the abolition of a, duty on coffee.
– Tea has never been grown in Australia.
– That is so. But if we had a duty of 3d. per lb. on tea it might be grown in Australia quite as successfully as coffee.
– There was a duty of 3d. per lb. 011 tea, and it was never grown in Australia, whilst under a duty of 2d. per lb., coffee has been grown in the Commonwealth.
– I still contend that if we afforded the same amount of protection to the production of tea as we have given for the production of coffee, tea might have been produced quite as successfully as coffee. Five years ago, we were told that by the imposition of a duty on coffee we should assist an established industry in Queensland. It is true that the industry was established, but only in, a very small way, and to such an extent as to be hardly worth considering. Representatives of Queensland in the Federal Parliament urged with great ardour the imposition of a duty on coffee. They said that the industry was growing, and would continue to grow, and that all that was necessary to bring about an industry in Queensland and in other tropical portions of Australia in the production of coffee as extensive and important as the sugar industry was the imposition of a protective duty on the article. AVe took the Queensland representatives at their word on that occasion, and in’ one of those spasms of generosity which has been on more than one occasion displayed towards Queensland industries, Parliament imposed a duty of 3d. per lb. on the commodity, representing a protective duty of something like 33 per cent. What has been the result? Notwithstanding the fact that in the meantime it has had thrown open to it the whole of the markets of Australia, and has been backed up by a bonus of £12,000, the industry is to-day practically at the stage which it had reached five years ago.
– The bonus was passed only very recently.
– The honorable senator will admit that we have passed a vote to provide a bonus for assistance to this industry.
– We really never gave the industry any assistance, because after Federation was established we took id. per lb. off the duty previously imposed on coffee.
– It is nonsense for the honorable senator to say that, because we gave the industry the whole of the Australian markets and a protective duty of 33 per cent., which was a much higher duty than that imposed in respect of almost any other commodity.
– It was not 33 per cent. It would be very poor coffee one would get for od. per lb.
– That is the price paid for the bulk of the coffee consumed throughout the world. I do not appreciate the imposition of a protective duty to foster a miserable industry which produces no more than 100,000 lbs. of coffee in the year.
– It employs 400 men.
– In the production of 100,000 lbs. of coffee?
– Yes; on the basis of 10-acre holdings. .
– If Senator Lynch had my experience in this Parliament, he would take a different view of this question. I have been through the stage through which he is now passing. I have had my moments of generosity in the granting of all kinds of assistance to these industries. We have given every encouragement to the coffee industry, and the production of coffee, so far from increasing, has been decreasing. We now produce only about 100,000 lbs. of coffee annually, and in a few short years the industry will probably disappear, whilst the consumers of coffee in Australia ‘are being saddled with an annual burden of ,£30,000 of unnecessary taxation for revenue purposes only. As a; protectionist, if I saw any reasonable prospect of the establishment of a valuable industry, even at such expense to the people of the Commonwealth, I should do what I thought necessary to establish it, but I should be a fool if I shut my eyes to our experience in connexion with this industry. If ‘we were dealing with the matter for the first time to-day, and knew nothing of the history of the industry in the past, I could understand honorable senators being prepared to extend to it a generous measure of protection. But honorable senators who call themselves protectionists should consider their position and whether they are likely to forward the doctrine they advocate by attempting to foster an impossible industry. We might just as well impose a duty to encourage the production of orchids at the North Pole as ai duty to encourage the production of coffee in Australia. I am talking in no parochial sense, because in the northern latitudes, of Western Australia the country is as suitable for the production of this article as is North Queensland.
– When the mining industry in parts of Western Australia peters out the people in the districts concerned will go in for cultivation.
– Since Senator Findley visited Port Darwin he imagines that all we have to do is to impose an enormous tax upon tropical productions to encourage people to undertake their cultivation in our northern latitudes. But I can assure him that in attempting to foster the production of coffee in Australia we are fostering a hot-house industry. The figures prove that beyond all doubt. Every year since Federation has seen a decline in the production of coffee in Australia, and yet in spite of that experience we have honorable senators like Senator Findley prepared to continue this unnecessary taxation upon the consumers of coffee in Australia.
– What are we to do with the tropical portions of Australia if they are not to be developed by being put under cultivation?
– If we can do no better with them than to raise themiserable quantity of coffee grown at present in Australia at a cost of£30,000 a year to our people they will be of no use to us whatever. Senator Lynch referred to the sugar industry as though it were on all fours with the coffee industry. In view of the fact that the coffee industry produces only 100,000 lbs. of coffee annually, while we consume in the Commonwealth in the same time 2,000,000 lbs. of coffee, the comparison is ridiculous. I hope the Committee will see that it is high time we applied something like common sense to these taxation proposals. In my opinion the bonus of£12,000 offered for the assistance of this industry will afford it ample protection, and I believe that the taxpayers of the Commonwealth will not tolerate this proposal to impose a burden of£30,000 a year upon them for its benefit. We have extended generous treatment to this industry in the past without any good result, and it would be lunacy to carry our generosity to it any further.
– I wish to make an explanation with regard to Senator Findley’s references to the report of the free- trade section of the Tariff Comirnission. The honorable senator, no doubt unintentionally, was somewhat unfair in what he said. The free-trade section of the Commission,dealing generally with the division in which this item is included, said -
We have accepted generally the summary of evidence contained in this report. The evidence was, as a whole, however, in our opinion so scanty and inconclusive that it seldom affords reasons for any recommendation modifying the existing Tariff - certainly not in the direction of any increased duty. If Parliament in its wisdom cannot see its way to reduce the duties, we respectfully submit that no justification exists for their being increased.
We recognised what the limitations of the Commission were, as Senator McGregor well knows, and we considered that there was no justification for an increase of the duty on this item.
– It is not proposed to increase the duty, but the honorable senator recommended that there should be a duty of a certain amount.
– Perhaps the honorable senator will permit me to finish what I intended to say.Quite apart from the item with which we are now dealing we went on to say -
Item 17. Coffee and Chicory -
While the evidence doesnot materially help us to a conclusion - and that bears out the previous statement that the evidence was extremely scanty - the differentiation of present duties between raw 3d. per lb. and prepared coffee 5d. per lb. appears excessive and prejudices the consumers. We suggest, therefore, a reduction of the duty on coffee and chicory roasted or ground and in liquid form (17B) to per lb., 4d.
Now, the corresponding duty under this Tariff is 6d. per lb. We continued -
As chicory is largely used to blend with coffee, frequently to the extent of becoming an adulterant, we consider that there should be imposed on chicory used for such purposes an Excise duty of 3d. per lb.
Seeing that we desired to be unanimous, and that we had to recognise the limitations imposed upon us by our commission, I think it will be conceded that we went as far as we reasonably could in the direction of recommending a reduction of these duties. Certainly we had no wish to see them increased.
.- I agree with Senator de Largie that it is time the protectionist members of this Committee considered their position. It is time they recognised that the primary industries of the Commonwealth are as much entitled to protection as are other industries. Senator de Largie has told us that the coffee industry has had the advantage of a protective duty for several years, and that nothing has resulted from it. May I remind him that Mildura has enjoyed the benefit of protective duties for the past twenty years; but it is only during the last few years that that district has emerged from leading strings. . Some honorable senators do not appear to recognise that it is not a very easy thing to induce the inhabitants of a country such as Queensland to abandon pursuits in which they are engaged in favour of industries which spring from the soil.
– If half of what Senator Findley knows be correct, Mildura ought to be the last place cited by the honorable senator.
– Senator Clemons, in his usual dogmatic manner, is unwilling to concede that anybody else knows anything about the conditions which prevail there.
– The conditions which obtain in Mildura are not as good as I should like them tobe, but they are 100 per cent, better than those which prevail in Tasmania.
– If we remit this duty we shall not only injure the coffee industry in the tropical and sub-tropical portions of Australia, where this commodity’ can be produced, but we shall throw a damper upon other industries which are likely to be started there. Our action would thus have a bad moral effect. We talk about taking over the Northern Territory, but unless we are going to protect tropical industries, what- are we going to do with that Territory? Apart from the fiscal aspect of this question, coffee is an article which yields a large amount of revenue in every country in the world. From a revenue stand-point, from the stand-point of protection and of assisting our primary producers, the existing - duty ought to be retained.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [2.50]. - Sitting upon this tench, I feel myself in such an atmosphere of uncompromising protection that I think I must say a word or two with a view to dissociating myself from it, to a slight extent. I do not know whether Senator McColl will be like the leaven of which we read in scripture, and which, in course of time, leavened the whole lump. But at present I intend to resist his blandishments, particularly because he correctly described this duty as a revenue impost. He forgot, however, that the corresponding beverage, which we all so greatly enjoy - I refer to tea - has always been regarded as one of the greatest revenue-producing articles in free-trade as well as in protectionist countries. We have placed tea upon the free list, and I see no reason why coffee should not be included in the same category.
– The honorable senator might as well call Australian wine & 1 corresponding beverage.”
– If my honorable friend would drink a little more Australian wine it would mellow him, and make him take a much more sensible - I will not say “intelligent,” because he is always intelligent - view of the necessities of Australia and the interests of its producers. The honorable senator’s statement that the proposed duty is a revenue impostis one which comes with great force from him. But in this connexion I would ask him whether he is .not prepared to subscribe to that noble policy which is known as the “free breakfast table”? I have always been a believer in that policy.
– And in a free dinner table cil so
– And in free sparkling wines, too?
– The honorable senator might make the same offer to us all.
- Senator Millen, as the Benjamin of the flock, shall have Benjamin’s portion. Speaking seriously, I think that Senator McColl’s reference to this impost as a revenue duty has cut the ground from under his own feet. If it be a revenue duty, he, as an ardent protectionist, ought to be ready to see it modified in the interests of the consumers, so long as the general Tariff, produces sufficient revenue for the necessities of the Commonwealth. Personally I regard it - as it is regarded by the Queensland representatives - as a protective duty, which is intended to encourage the production of coffee. In this connexion. I recall the fact that very recently we had before us a Bounties Bill. Parliament was asked to authorize the payment of bounties for the encouragement of a series of natural products, including coffee.
– We authorized the ‘ payment of a bounty of id. per lb. upon the production of coffee, with the full knowledge that that .article already enjoyed a protective duty of 3d. per lb.
– I know that Senator Trenwith is bursting with knowledge, but I ask him to withhold it for a moment. It is a fact that we had before usa proposal to authorize the payment of a bounty for the encouragement of coffee production. That proposal was resisted upon two grounds. One of these was that a duty of 3d. per lb. was already operative upon raw coffee, and that such ah impost ought to be ample for the purpose of encouraging its production. Most free-traders, whatever their views regarding the Tariff, are willing to admit that if there is to be encouragement of local industry and natural production, it is fairer that it should be given by means of bounties, falling upon the general taxpaying community, than by means of duties falling upon the immediate consumers. One objection to that bounty was that there was no necessity for an expenditure of £1,500 a year to encourage the industry, as there was a heavy duty of 3d. per lb. in the Tariff. That objection, however, did not prevail, but there was another very material objection. I do not question what has been put before us by Senator Chataway, who is familiar with what is going on in Queensland, but this is not a product which is at all congenial to any part of Australia. That was the great objection I took to the bounty being given. I propose to remind honorable senators of the report of the experts on the subject. It is monstrous to say that we are to shell out money with both hands - to pull out the general taxpayer’s pocket and empty the consumers’ purse also - for the purposes of an industry which is condemned by the experts who went into it. In their report they give the quantity and value of the imports of raw coffee, and state -
While a very general feeling prevailed that coffee planting was not likely - at any rate in thenear future - to become an important Australian industry, Conference is of opinion that steps should be taken to encourage it.
We have taken the steps.
– We have taken a step.
– We have taken the step that was recommended. They goon to say -
It is undeniable that coffee of a good quality can be produced over large areas of the tropi cal and sub-tropical portions of the Continent.
Nobody disputes that.
The returns, however, from the plantations, are not at all alluring, while the consumption of coffee by thepeople of the Commonwealth is on a very slender scale. The experience of the chief coffee producing countries of the world - and these are countries where an abundant supply of cheap labour is obtainable - does not afford much hope for the extensive and success ful exploitation of the industry under Australian conditions.
Are we to be guided by these facts or are we not? Are we to impose a 3d. duty on a consumption of nearly 2,000,000 lbs. of coffee, and to keep that going on the consumers year in and year out, whilst we try to establish an industry which the experts say does not afford much hope of successful and extensive exploitation under Australian conditions? But that is not all. The members of the Conference are historical -
In Brazil, for instance, sufficient coffee is produced to meet the requirements of the whole world, the figures being as tinder : -
Year 1901-2, world’s consumption - 15,500,000 sacks ;
Year 1901-2, Brazilian production - 15,496,000 sacks.
It is also an ominous fact that according to the Tropeupflanzer - a recognised authority on all tropical matters - the planters of Brazil have not only destroyed large quantities of coffee berry because of the low prices prevailing, but have also pulled up thebushes growing on large areas of coffee plantation, and are using the land for other purposes.
That is the industry to which we have agreed to give a bounty of£1,500 a year and which we are asked to coddle by imposing a 3d. duty !
The. records available of Australian experience in coffee growing are by no means encouraging. In the year 1903 there were 318 acres under coffee in Queensland, the total yield being 83,632 lbs. Valuing this at 9d. per lb. - which is allowed to be a fair average price - the return would not be more than £10 per acre. Considering the labour involved in clearing and preparing the land, in picking and cleaning for market, and bearing in mind the fact that the plantation does not become productive until it is four years old, this return appears totally inadequate.
Therefore, there cannot be any production for four years, at any rate. I do not know how much revenue will be taken out of the pockets of the people in that time by the duty, but the bounty will be payable as well. If we are really to be guided by reliable information placed before us in regard to possible production in these matters, we cannot with any reliance upon facts support a duty of this kind.
– Some six years ago Senator Symon, in dealing with exactly the same item, uttered to the then . existing Senate some words of wisdom which made such an impression upon my mind that I propose to take to-day the course he then took. He voted to allow the duty of 3d. to remain on coffee.
– That was for revenue. We do not want revenue now. We have plenty.
– It- is true that the honorable senator did then make an effort to reduce the duty upon the manufactured coffee as against the other, but he accepted - I do not know whether he did so without demur or not - the duty which remains. I propose to do that to-day. The discussion which has taken place has at any rate enabled me to locate myself with regard to the methods by which a protectionist may be defined. We have had different designations of him for many years. We have had the scientific protectionist, the discriminating one, the reasonable one, the moderate one, and the new one. I have always had great difficulty in knowing exactly where one brand of protectionist terminated and another one commenced, but to-day’s discussion has brought out an entirely new brand - the geographical protectionist. I welcome his appearance, because there will never be any difficulty in determining what kind he is. If you know the particular geographical locality from which he comes, you know exactly what view he will fake. Frequently during, the discussion on the Tariff we have had protectionists contending that, quite irrespective of the present condition of an industry, a duty ought to be put on if it could be shown that there was any possibility of the industry being started in Australia. As a free-trader I altogether deny that, but it is strange that those arguments come from protectionists from those States which happen to be the consumers of the particular article which it is now proposed to tax.
– States which can produce the article just as well as Queensland can.
– But there is no possibility of their producing it as early. If the industry is to take root in Australia at all, about which I have grave doubts, it is much more likely to do so in the better developed State of Queensland than in the Nothern Territory ?
– If the honorable senator determined to cultivate coffee, would he go to the unsettled and uncivilized Northern Territory, or to Queensland, which has equally good soil, equally suitable climate, equally abundant rainfall, with all the market channels open to him, and all the accessories and needs of civilized life?
– 1 would as soon go to the North-West as to Queensland, where the industry has been proved a failure.
– The honorable senator might dd so; but the average man would prefer a country where roads and markets are already opened up and with, comparatively speaking, frequent shipping communication. The prospects are that, if the industry is to be established, it will first be in Queensland; and I understand why representatives of Western Australia view this subject from the point of view of a State where, for many years, coffee is not likely to be produced.
– Coffee could be produced in Western Australia better than in any State of the Union.
– I still affirm that if any one were guided by ordinary commercial principles, he would prefer Queens- land as the better developed State. But in saying this I, of course, exclude those who, like Senator de Largie, allow their loyalty to their States to warp their judgment. Under the circumstances’, even the strong protectionists from Western Australia have allowed consideration for the consumer to outweigh their generally strong protectionist bias.
– The charge of geographical protection, does not stand - it has been withdrawn.
– Not by me; but if the honorable senator wishes, I shall make an exception in favour of him. Still, it is a little curious that, not only on this, but on other items, honorable senators who are strong protectionists in regard to articles which their constituents make or have to sell, become strong free-traders in the case of articles which their constituents have to buy.
– What does Western Australia sell?
– I am talking of something that Western Australia has to buy. I predict that the time is not far distant when Western Australia and other small States will become absolutely freetrade, as consuming States, whereas, whatever strong protectionist movement there may be, will be centred in the bigger States and cities.
– The honorable senator’s remarks do not apply to Western
Australian conditions, either now or in the future.
– The future may answer for itself.
– But in the present.
– The opinions expressed by the Western Australian representatives strongly support my belief, not only as to the present, but as to the future.
– Senator Millen has made an almost humorous attack on Western Australian protectionists, forgetting that, like his leader, Mr. Reid, he entered political life, and was given political power in New South Wales, as a free-trader, by constituents who believed that that policy was best for New South Wales in the first case, and afterwards for the Commonwealth. But when it suited the honorable senator and those with him, they deserted entirely the freetrade electors, and took up a new system of politics.
– I must ask the honorable senator not to pursue that general line of argument.
– But Senator Millen made an attack upon us.
- Senator Millen was attacking the attitude of honorable senators on this item, and not in regard to the general question.
– On this item we have had a fair exhibition of Senator Millen’s attitude as a free-trader.
– As one who pledged himself not to lower the existing duties.
– The honorable senator was returned because of the policy which he and a few others promulgated, but-
– They returned us on it.
– The newspapers returned the honorable senator and many others. I still think there is no evidence that this particular duty would help any industry that is well founded. Senator Chataway, who presented the case very fairly, said that on a coastline of 1,500 miles there are only 347 acres under coffee cultivation, employing about 400 people. We must remember that amongst these 400 people are the wives and children of the planters, and though I do not know that they are badly employed, they do not indicate adult wage-earners.
– Does the honorable senator know that as a fact?
– I believe that such is the case around Cairns. From the protectionist stand-point I do not see that any harm would be done by allowing the raw material to come in free. A large number of people are employed in drying, crushing, and preparing the coffee for market, while others are engaged in the necessary printing, packeting, and distributing. No employment would be lost in this respect by placing the commodity on the free list, but would rather be increased. We have been told that the coffee industry exists in the Northern Territory, and I should be glad to think that that is a fact. I am satisfied, however, after a visit to that part of Australia, that, although land was given free or at a very low price, and coollie labour was employed, the industry had to be abandoned.
– It was the same with regard to sugar.
– Sugar is a natural product of the soil of Queensland, and there is scope for the further development of that industry.
– It took forty-five years to build up the sugar industry.
– Because black labour was employed. There is ample evidence that there are large tracts of country which may be devoted to the sugar industry, whereas we have no evidence that every effort has not been exhausted to secure land with the peculiar qualities necessary for coffee cultivation. Statistics show a falling off in the production of coffee, and I think I am right in standing by my motion that the item be made free.
– I cannot understand the attitude of some honorable senators who declare themselves to be protectionists. When considering an item the other day I pointed out that in a particular industry there were only forty people employed, ‘and I was at once told that protection ought to be extended, because more would be employed by-and-by. In the case of coffee it is admitted that 400 find employment, and that good coffee is produced ; indeed, to my own knowledge coffee has been grown in Queensland for twenty years. However, the Tariff did not afford sufficient protection against the product of the cheap coloured labour of other countries. I am not an out-and-out protectionist, but I believe in extending a moderate amount of encouragement to all industries; and, as I voted for a bonus on coffee, I shall support a duty of 3d. per lb. Honorable gentlemen whoall along have voted for protective duties seem prepared in this instance to throw protection to the wind. It seems to me that had coffee been grown in their States they would have supported the duty. I am prepared to vote for protection where I think it is needed, no matter what State may be benefited. I am not ready to vote for prohibition, but I shall assist in giving proper protection. It has been said that very little ground is available in Queensland for the growing of coffee; but in the Cairns district alone, hundreds of thousands of acres are suitable for coffee-growing, and in many other parts of the State there is land well adapted to the industry. I hope that the request will be negatived.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 46, “Coffee,” free- put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Croft) negatived -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 47, paragraph a,1d. per lb.
– The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended that coffee mixed with chicory or adulterated should be dutiable at 6d. per lb. Doss the Minister intend to follow that recommendation?
. -Under the last Tariff there was a duty of 3d. on raw and kiln-dried coffee, and of 5d. on roasted or ground coffee or coffee mixed with milk or other substances, including, of course, chicory. Now it is proposed that the rates shall be 3d. and 6d., it being considered most convenient for administrative purposes to have only two classes.
– Suppose that the coffee and the chicory were brought in separately.
– Each would still be dutiable.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [3.24]. - The market price of chicory in London, if sold in 56-lb. tins, is1½d. per lb., and the Government propose to place a duty of 400 per cent. on chicory.
– We do not want it here.
– Before this duty, one or two makers of chicory in New South Wales sold their output at 2¾d. per lb. ; but now they are selling it at5d. and 4½d. per lb., showing that they are keeping their prices below the duty.
– Do they explain why ?
– I have not a statement from them. My information comes from one of the most reputable merchants in Australia - a gentleman whose name has been identified with the commerce of Sydney, through himself and his deceased father - for at least sixtyyears, and whose name may always be mentioned with respect and confidence. I refer to Mr. J. R. Love. It isclear that this duty is positively needless, because the makers of chicory are selling it at a price materially less than the duty. If the duty were 3d. per lb. we should find that the selling price of 4½d. would represent exactly the duty and the price of the article in London. That is a much more rational proposition than to put on a duty which in itself is in excess of the selling price of the article, to say nothing of the cost. With a duty of 6d. per lb. an article worth½d. per lb. should be sold at the very least for 8d. per lb., in order to pay the expenses, but we find that it is sold at 4½d. I submit that the duty is out of all proportion to the value of the article, being no less than 400 per cent. If chicory is imported in a liquid form one is paying for water as well as chicory. I suppose that the article’ in liquid form is not more valuable per pound “in the leading market of the world - London - than the article in dry powder. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 47, paragraph a, 3d. per lb.
– - The duty which we have just passed will apply to chicory that comes under the designation of “chicory raw and kiln-dried.” The duty which is now under consideration will apply to chicory and coffee known as “ roasted or ground; in liquid form; or mixed with milk or other substance.” When the Tariff of 1902 was being framed there was circulated a table showing the duty on each item in the States prior to Federation. In Victoria there was no duty on chicory or raw .coffee, but on kiln-dried, roasted, or ground coffee, and coffee in liquid form there was a duty of 3d. per lb. It was the same in regard to chicory. There was no duty on raw chicory, but there was a duty of 3d. per lb. on kiln-dried, roasted, or ground chicory, chicory In liquid form, or chicory mixed with milk or other substance. Of course in New South Wales there was no duty on coffee or chicory in any form. In Queensland there were duties ranging from 3d. per lb. on raw coffee and chicory to 6d. per lb. on the article manufactured or put into liquid form or mixed with milk or other substance. In South Australia also there were varying duties. ‘ In Tasmania there were, duties on different divisions of the item - 3d. per lb., 4d. per lb., and 20 per cent. In Western Australia there were duties ranging from 15 per cent, to 3d. per lb. That I think all goes to show that even if we had decided to admit chicory and coffee, or either of them, duty free, we would still be justified in imposing a duty on coffee or chicory in the form referred to in paragraph b of this item, because, in order to convert the raw coffee or chicory into a usable article some industry must necessarily be established to bring about that conversion, and some employment must be thereby given. Obviously there is a distinction between the raw and kiln-dried article, whether coffee or chicory, and the article designated in paragraph b, and that is the justification for the action of the Government in proposing a duty of 3d. per lb. on the raw product and a duty of 6d. per lb. on the finished article, whether it be chicory or coffee. Senator Neild has referred to the proportion which the duty bears to the price of the article. His statement has reference probably to raw chicory. If the chicory which is sold at 4½d. per lb. comes under the designation in paragraph b and is not raw chicory, it clearly goes to show that the duty of 6d. per lb. has not raised the price of the article to the consumer by that amount, inasmuch as it has been sold at something less. The competition from internal production is sufficient to keep the price of the article below the amount of the duty. But I am inclined to think that the price of 4½d. per lb. must be charged for raw or kiln-dried chicory. In any case I hope that honorable senators will see that there is sufficient justification! for the differentiation in duty between the article as designated in paragraph a and the article as designated in paragraph b.
– The Minister of Home Affairs has endeavoured to show that there ought to be a difference between the duty on unprepared coffee and the duty on prepared coffee. I do not propose to follow him in that argument. What he has failed to do has been to show a justification for raising the duty on the article ‘described in paragraph b from 5d. to 6d. per lb.
– I had already replied to an inquiry by Senator Croft.
– The honorable senator may have done so to Senator Croft.
– No, I addressed the Committee.
– I did not hear the honorable senator do more than attempt to show that there ought to be a difference between the duty on roasted or ground or other prepared forms of coffee and the duty on raw. and kiln-dried coffee.
– I spoke before.Senator Neild moved his request, because Senator Croft had raised the very point which the honorable senator is now raising.
– I unfortunately did not hear the honorable senator’s reply, although I was in the chamber. I can see no justification for increasing the duty. There is a very strong argument against such an increase. The greater proportion of the coffee which is imported under paragraph b comes here in liquid form. Where is that used?
– At pic-nics.
– I hope that’ I shall never go to a pic-nic at which it is used. I. have never tasted decent coffee in liquid form, and I am a regular coffee dunker.
Liquid coffee is more particularly used in the remote households of the country, and unless there is some justification, of which I have not heard, I do not see that we are called upon to increase the duty from5d. to 6d. per lb. On the other hand, for the reason which I have previously given, I am unable to support the request to diminish the duty below that prevailing under the 1 902 Tariff.
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 47, paragraphb,5d. per lb.
Coffee in liquid form is an article that is used in almost all the smaller settlements of Australia. Every country storekeeper keeps coffee and chicory in bottles, to’ be sold to settlers and people round about who have no other way of obtaining coffee in this form. I contend that there is no occasion for increasing the duty. But there is really a combine in Melbourne, the members of which make one or two articles of this kind, and who are anxious to keep out importations. But there is no need for the dutv,because the quality of the article is very difficult to keep up, and we get a chance of obtaining a better article if some is imported. In any case, if we increase the duty to 6d. per lb., we shall inevitably increase the price, whereas if we leave it at 5d., as it was under the old Tariff, the price will remain the same to the consumer. No reason has been given for the increase of duty, and it is merely proposed because it is in the interest of one or two small manufacturers. The larger manufacturers are not concerned with it, because a very small factory would be able to supply the whole needs of the Commonwealth.
.-I hope the Committee will not agree to therequest submitted by the honorable senator. If I understood him rightly, at the close of his remarks he said that very little of this commodity was needed to supply the market. I trust that honorable senators will see that it is desirable, if weare to affirm, as we have done, not only in connexion with this Tariff, but otherwise, the policy of protection to the industries of this country , to make something like the proposed difference between the two classes of goods dealt with in the item. We can fairly leave it to our own people to convert raw coffee and chicory into the preparations to which reference has been made in the paragraph under discussion, and our own market can easily be supplied by our own manufacturers. I therefore hope that the Committee will see the wisdom and justice of adhering to the item as it stands. One of the recommendations of the Tariff Commission was that there should bea duty of 5d. per lb. on coffee and chicory, with an exception in the case of coffee mixed with chicory “or other adulterant,” in respect of which the Commission recommended a duty of 6d. The Government did not think it desirable further to complicate the coffee duties by having three lines with respect of them-one of 3d., one of 5d., and one of 6d. - thinking that it would be more satisfactory to all concerned that we should only have two divisions - a duty of 3d. on raw and kiln- dried coffee, and one of 6d. on all others.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 47, paragraph b, “ Coffee and Chicory, roasted or ground,” 5d. per lb. (Senator Macfarlane’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 48 (Eggs in shell), item 49 (Egg contents), item 50. (Egg Yolk), item 51 (Egg albumen), and item 52 (Egg not in shell), agreed to.
Item 53. Fish, viz. : - cold process, per lb.,1½d.
– I have to ask the Committee to request an amendmentof this item in respect of paragraph a. I wish to make the paragraph read as follows -
Fresh, smoked or dried (but not salted) or preserved by cold process, per lb.,1d.
The effect of the amendment, if made, would be to take out of this paragraph salted fish, such. as ling, which would be dealt with under paragraph d, Fish, n.e.i., per cwt., 5s. The paragraph was never intended to cover ling, the duty on which, under the old Tariff, was 5s. per cwt.
– Why is it proposed to reduce the duty to1d. per lb.?
– The proposed reduction is to bring the paragraph into conformity with paragraph c. In another place, the duty in respect of paragraph c was reduced from1½d. to1d. per lb., and since it is co-related with paragraph a, it is thought desirable to place the two lines on an equality. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 53, paragraph a, by leaving out the comma after the word “ smoked “ and inserting the word “ or.”
– Since the House of Representatives passed thisitem there has been considerable trouble in the Customs Department as to the particular paragraph under which certain lines come. I have been told that the Central Office has supported a decision of the Adelaide Customs House officials that a duty of1½d. per lb. shall be charged under paragraph a on kippered herrings in tins, sardines in tins, and other fish really coming under paragraph c and dutiable under it at1d. per lb.
– Smoked sardines.
– Smoked sardines are not in liquid.
– Yes, they are brought out in oil.
– Smoked sardines are dutiable at1½d. per lb. under paragraph a, but the object of the request is to reduce the duty to1d. per lb.
– I have here; a letter from an Adelaide merchant, who states that -
The Customs here are demanding duty on kippered herrings, and Norwegian sardines in tins, as smoked fish,1½d. per lb.
– Norwegian sardines are stated on the boxes to be smoked.
– The writer of this letter states that -
The words “ smoked fish “ were no doubt intended for such fish as New Zealand cod, red herrings, and such like smoked fish.
– That is what this request is designed to make clear. I can assure the honorable senator that it is proposed to have the one rate of duty in respect of paragraphs a andc.
– I take it that the effect of the requested amendment will be a two-fold one. First of all, it is to make the one duty prevail in respect of all items covered by paragraphs a and c, and, to that ex- tent to simplify the work of the Customs officials.
– Hear, hear.
– It would also overcome the difficulty referred to by Senator Guthrie, by which smoked sardines and other fish of the kind, evidently intended to come under paragraph c, have been made dutiable under paragraph a.
– That is so. It will likewise take salted fish out of paragraph a and put it under paragraph d, “ Fish, n.e.i.”
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Keating) proposed -
That the House of Representativesbe requested to amend item 53, paragraph a, by inserting after the word “ dried “ the words “ (but not salted).”
.Have the words “not salted “ a different meaning from that of the words “ preserved in salt or brine ‘ ‘ ?
– They relate to two different things.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) introduced, it was doubtless necessary to have the two separate paragraphs, a and c;. but now that it is proposed to have an all-round duty in respect of them, it seems to me that all these details are unnecessary. I would, therefore, suggest that before the schedule leaves the Committee, the Government should consider whether it is not advisable to’ embody the two lines in one.
– I mentioned the matter a day or two ago to the Customs authorities.
– I think that it would be advisable; rather than to leave the item as it stands.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Keating) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 53, paragraph a, id. per lb.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 53, paragraph c, by leaving out the words “ and smoked or dried.”
These words are unnecessary. Without them paragraph a, in’ conjunction with paragraph c, will cover everything, and be much clearer.
Request agreed to.
– I have to move a request for a verbal amendment in the wording of paragraph f. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 53, paragraph f, by leaving out the word “or” where it. first appears, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ and.”
As the paragraph stands, ft will app’ear that there might be an alternative, but that is not intended.
– If agreed to as proposed to be amended, the paragraph would involve the catching and curing of the fish on the same ship. I think that what was originally intended was that while the boats engaged in fishing should remain at sea, a tender should go round amongst them, and the fish caught from them should be cured on the tender. As it stands, the item -would provide for that, but if altered as suggested by the Minister of Home Affairs, it would not.
– Yes it would. As the paragraph stands, it would be possible for fish caught from a vessel that was not an Australian vessel to be admitted free if cured on an Australian vessel.
Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) [3-571- - Are we ‘to understand that while we have agreed to give a bounty on fish preserved in the Commonwealth, fish caught from Australian ships, if cured on shore, will have to pay duty ?
– No, they would not be imported.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) [3-581- - I think there is more in the point raised by Senator Chataway than perhaps appears at first sight. The proposal made is that if an Australian vessel going, I presume, outside our territorial limits catches fish which are then brought to Australia, they are admitted duty free. That is certainly the desire of every one, and they should be admitted free, whether cured on the vessels or after they are landed in Australia. If that is our intention, the paragraph does not meet it. What it says is -
Fish of all kind caught from …. any Australian registered ship.
That is not sufficient to secure the free entry of the fish. It must not only be caught from an Australian registered ship, but cured on an Australian registered ship. Is that wanted ? If this industry is likely to be established in Australia at all, it is very much more likely that fish caught at some distance from the shore will be brought rapidly to factories on the seaboard, and no one desires to impose a duty on such fish. I suggest that some revision of the wording is necessary. Fish of all kinds caught from Australian vessels should have free entry into Australia, whether cured at sea or not. We must all recognise the difficulty and sometimes the danger of drafting provisions in the Chamber, and I suggest that the Minister should postpone the item, or, if he prefers it, that we should let it pass as it stands, with the understanding that the difficulty will be looked into.
– I will withdraw my request, and’ let the item go as it stands with an intimation to the Committee that it mav be found necessary to recommit.
– j take it that means that the item will be recommitted.
– Not unless it is found to be necessary.
– Then we might have a repetition of what happened before when after a half promise by the Minister to recommit a provision, we were not able to get it recommitted.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 53 by adding the following new paragraph : - “ (g) Fresh New Zealand Blue Cod, free.”
– Then why tax smoked cod?
– No smoked New Zealand blue cod is imported. It is all smoked here. The cod is caught in New Zealand, brought here fresh, and cured here. What I propose would not injure Australian fishermen in any way, because there is.no fish found around the coast of Australia that is suitable for smoking except the barracoutta. That is rather a poor fish, and visits our coast very intermittently. After being seen in our waters the barracoutta go away, and are not seen again off our coast for months. The admission of fresh New Zealand blue cod would not interfere with the smoking of barracoutta. New Zealand blue cod is in very general use in Australia at the present time, and we have no fish in our waters which can be substituted for it. My proposal would not interfere with labour in the Commonwealth in any form, since the cod is really gutted and cleaned in New Zealand, and all the labour of curing, smoking, and preparing the fish for food is done in Melbourne.
– Is the honorable senator sure of that?
– Yes, I am. There is a large consumption of this fish in Melbourne, and this city is also the centre of a distributing trade carried on with the other States. I have no desire to reduce the duty on smoked fish, but to give effect to a proposal which will lead to an increase in the number of persons employed in the Commonwealth. At this hour of the sitting, I do not propose to speak at length on the subject, though I might say a good deal more in support of my proposal. I should like to know if the Government are prepared to accept it.
– Certainly not. Do not our own fishermen need protection ?
– What I propose would not affect them, but to exclude fresh New Zealand blue cod would be to deprive our people of a desirable food. Our fishermen require not protection, but that the industry in which they are engaged should be carried on under proper conditions, and supervision. It has never yet occupied the position that it should occupy, but the remedy for that state of affairs is a matter for State regulations. To impose a duty on fresh New Zealand blue cod would not help our fishermen in any way, whilst it would be injurious to the consumers of the article in. Australia. I should like the Minister to say whether he is prepared to accept my request?
– No, the Government are not prepared to accept it.
– Then Imust continue my remarks. I am advised -
– The trumpeter is miles better than the New Zealand blue cod.
– Certainly not. The communication which I have received continues
The blue cod is gutted and cleaned only in New Zealand, and the curing and smoking and all the labour attached thereto is done in Melbourne, which provides employment to a number of our people, as weforward blue cod after being cured here, to New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia.
I feel that I cannot do justice to this subject in the brief period at my disposal before the ordinary hour of adjournment, and therefore I wish to ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council whether - if I consent to allow the item to pass in its present form - he will agree to recommit it upon a future occasion ?
– Yes ; if the honorable senator will circulate his amendment in the interim.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [4.7]. - I beg to intimate that if Senator McColl’s amendment be persevered with, I shall move in the direction of extending to Great Britain a preference upon New Zealand blue cod. The VicePresident of the Executive Council smiles, but his colleagues in another place were partners to the granting of a British preference upon Chinese and Japanese bamboo blinds. If there be any reason for extending a preference to Great Britain upon bamboo blinds, there is equal ground for granting a preference upon New Zealand blue cod.
– If an opportunity is to be afforded for the discussion of this question upon a later date, it would be far better to adjourn now. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has given Senator McColl a definite undertaking in that connexion.
– I accept the VicePresident’s assurance, and I say that if we are tobe afforded an opportunity of discussing the item upon a future occasion, we ought not to pass it in its present form. Why not adjourn at once?
– - I am quite willing to adopt the suggestion of the leader of the Opposition, and accordingly I move that progress be reported.
– In moving -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Wednesday next,
I wish to say that I do so in deference to the strongly expressed wish of a number of honorable senators who have public engagements to fulfil. Honorable senators are aware that our Tuesday sitting is an innovation, and, of course, it is my duty, as far as possible, to consult their convenience. Nothing is more unsatisfactory than the taking of divisions in a thin Committee. In granting this concession, however, I have asked my honorable friends to give me their assurance - which they have done - that they will endeavour to facilitate the passing of the Tariff as soon as possible. I admit that the progress which we have made during the past week has not been as satisfactory as I should have liked it to be, but upon their assurance that reasonable expedition will be observed in the future, I have pleasure in submitting this motion.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [4.12]. - I must oppose this motion. Last week, it was specially arranged that we should meet on Tuesday next, and if the Vice-President of the Executive Council does not know his own mind upon the matter from one week to the next, where are we? I, for one, have made my arrangements to stay in Melbourne over this week end, and to attend here on Tuesday, next. But the Vice-President of the Executive Council, after telling me to-day that he could not spare half-an-hour to enable a Bill to be passed which would grant a few small sums to widows whose husbands had been killed, or had died whilst on duty, in the Commonwealth service, now proposes to set aside the consideration of the Tariff for twenty-four hours. He was absolutely indignant at my suggestion this morning that its consideration should . be deferred for only half-an-hour. After all his declarations as to its urgency, and of his burning desire to proceed with it, to the exclusion of every other subject - without anything more than the private communications made to him - he blandly proposes an adjournment over Tuesday next. Of course, I do not know how many honorable senators have approached him, but I suppose that if next week somebody else desires an adjournment until the following Wednesday, he will grant it. If this motion be carried,, I give him notice that I desire a similar adjournment in a fortnight’s time. With whom does he make these private arrangements ?
– If plenty of progress be made, the honorable senator may have his adjournment.
– What progress have we made to-day ? We were sucking a. bit of liquorice all the morning, cavilling about coffee, and talking about artificially-preserved eggs in the afternoon.. Instead of adjourning now, we ought to continue sitting until half-past 10 o’clock this evening.
– Why did not the honorable senator talk like that last week?
– Because there was a general desire that honorable senators should be enabled to keep the engagements into which they had entered- without any knowledge that an additional sitting day was to be proposed. This afternoon, however, the position is entirely reversed. We specially arranged to re-assemble on Tuesday next, but that arrangement has now been departed from at the private solicitation of some honorable senators. I shall’ vote against the motion, because we arenot by such adjournments getting -on with the business of the country and getting the Tariff out of the way in order that there may be a change in a certain direction.
Senator STORY (South Australia) (4.15]. - I shall support Senator Neild in opposing the adjournment over Tuesday. The Government are making a serious mistake. The gentlemen whose convenience they are apparently studying are those who have taken up the whole of the week in obstructing the passage of the Tariff. We have dealt with only about twenty items this week. As those who have done most of the talking cannot be here on Tuesday next, the Government ask for an adjournment over Tuesday, so that we may have a still greater waste of time when the business is called on again. Like Senator Neild, I have made arrangements to stay here, and cancelled my berth in the train to-day, because I understood that we were to meet on Tuesday. I strongly object to this adjournment being sprung upon us at this late hour. If I had known of it yesterday, I should have been’ on my way to Adelaide this afternoon. Unless we get on very much faster- with the Tariff, then, instead of finishing it before the nth March, we shall not be half way through, and the session will probably last until nearly Christmas. I hope a number ot honorable senators will object to the Government playing fast and loose with the Senate in this, manner. When we reassembled the Vice-President of the Executive Council proposed that we should sit on four clays a week, in order to get through the Tariff quickly. Senator McGregor asked that that should not take effect this week, because some senators might have made engagements for the Tuesday which they could not very well cancel. Now, however, when every one expected that we would meet next Tuesday, and arrangements had been made accordingly, the Government back right down to suit the convenience of one or two prominent oppositionists
– That is not correct.
– I will say the convenience of a few prominent independent senators, who desire to stay away on private business. We are to lose a day, and give those senators an opportunity of monopolizing the whole of the time again next week.
– I hope there will be no misunderstanding about this matter. No members of the Opposition have been more anxious than myself and Senator Guthrie, and one or two others who have not obstructed the business, for an adjournment over Tuesday. As there were a considerable num-ber on both sides who would be convenienced by an adjournment until Wednesday, and as several promised that they would do all they possibly could if the adjournment was granted to assist in “ the speedy passage of the schedule, I, for one, took part in urging the Vice-President of the Executive Council to grant it. I am sorry to see Senator- Story following Senator Neild in his usual system of shamfighting.
– Whatever tactics Senator Neild may adopt in. entering his protest against- this adjournment, I am sure that he expresses the opinion of many other senators. No doubt the adjournment will very much convenience a number. Perhaps, if we adjourned over the whole of next week it would convenience the majority of us. But we are here to study, not our own convenience, but the interests of the citizens of the Commonwealth. Strong complaint has been made about the uncertainty existing through finality not being reached with regard to the Tariff, and if no greater progress is made with” the schedule than has been made in the last three or four days, we shall probably be here for a considerable period. But the more frequently we meet, the greater certainty will there be of the .Tariff being completed within a reasonable time. No doubt, before the Government agreed to this adjournment, the pulse of senators was felt. I was approached and I then said that, we ought to consider, first, the interests of the Commonwealth. Arrangements have been made by certain senators to return to (heir homes this week.
– To take part in the South Australian election.
– Senators from other States are also concerned, but, as Senator Story pointed out, the Government proposed, when we met last week, that the Senate should sit four days this week, and only agreed to forego the’ Tuesday on it being pointed out that some honorable senators had made business arrangements for that day. There was no reason this week, seeing that the intentions of the Government were well known, why honorable senators could not have completed their business arrangements without asking for a further adjournment, which will delay the business of the country. There has been ample time to make any necessary arrangements, and no justification can be found for an adjournment until Wednesday next.
.- With many other honorable senators, I have refrained almost entirely from speaking this week, in order to help on the. business. I am disappointed that the arrangement entered into last week has not been carried out. It would be very much better if we forewent the Tuesday sitting altogether. The time has been taken up by a few senators, some of whom have spoken at great length, while others have refrained from speaking in order that the business might be pushed on. Senator Neild is perfectly right. This adjournment until next Wednesday has been granted at the request of a few senators, and if a few others want an adjournment next week until the following Wednesday, they cannot fairly be refused. If a quorum can be obtained on Tuesday, the Senate should meet on that day. The country is crying for an early settlement of the’ Tariff question, and yet, although we have managed to deal with only eight or nine items this week, it is proposed to abandon a day.
.- I do not like to place the leader of the Senate in a dilemma, but I think he has acted rather short-sightedly in not ascertaining the feeling of honorable senators before submitting this motion. In common with several others, I have refrained from speaking in order to save time; and it is evident that because we remain silent we are to be ignored in any arrangement of this kind. I resent that sort of treatment. I have assisted the Government as far as possible; and, in my opinion, I think they have deliberately departed from a well-defined arrangement. The country expects us to make rapid progress, and yet, in our second week, we propose to shorten our sittings by one day. Certain honorable senators, I - understand, have made representations to the Government ; but I knew nothing, of the proposed adjournment over Tuesday until the motion was submitted a few moments ago. Honorable senators on all sides ought to be consulted in such matters, and one or two ought not to take upon themselves to speak for the whole.
– - Sometimes a little reasonable concession to the desires of honorable senators leads to expedition instead of delay - a fact that is well known to those who have any experience of Parliament. Senator de Largie suggests that there has been a breach of faith, and urges that the feeling of honorable senators ought to have been ascertained before the motion was submitted. But the honorable senator has heard his leader, Senator McGregor, point out that he was one to urge an adjournment over Tuesday in order to meet the convenience of certain honorable senators j and surely a request of an honorable senator in the position of Senator McGregor ought to be assumed to be in accord with those who are associated with him. We can make progress only, by maintaining a friendly and kindly feeling amongst honorable senators. If honorable senators represent that they have engagements which it would be_ difficult and inconvenient for them to forego, and if they give their assurance to do whatever they can to expedite public business, it would be extremely injudicious on the part of the leader of the Senate to offer objections, and thereby, perhaps, create dissension, which would lead to more delay than is represented by an adjournment over Tuesday.
– How could I go on in the face of a sparse Senate? .
– We must all deplore that the exigencies of the case render it .necessary to lose a day, but, nevertheless, time may really be saved by furthering the convenience of honorable senators, and thereby securing that amity necessary to rapid progress on an exciting question like the Tariff.
– I regret the necessity for this discussion, and sympathize with the VicePresident of the Executive Council in” the position which he finds himself. I was not aware of any compact with the honorable ‘ gentleman to adjourn over Tuesday until the- motion was submitted ; and, like Senator de Largie, I resent any such treatment. We have not to consider the convenience of honorable senators, but the convenience of the people of the Commonwealth. I am not altogether in agreement with the remarks of Senator Neild, because, on reference to the journals, I find that honorable senator recorded as absent on several occasions during this session. Apart from that, however, I consider that every opportunity was given to honorable senators when the motion was submitted a little time ago by the VicePresident of the Executive Council in regard to the days of sitting. . We did not sit last Tuesday because certain honorable senators had not made arrangements to stay in Melbourne, and now we are asked to concede another day, though I do not know by whom. Any arrangement there may be was entered into without my knowledge or consent, and, so long as I am here, I shall claim a voice in such matters. Senator Trenwith suggests that an adjournment over Tuesday may be the means of expediting the business, but I do not see how that can be, for a da.y lost cannot be regained. I should much prefer to meet every Monday and Saturday ; and I shall oppose the proposed adjournment.
– Whatever view we may take of the motion, there is no desire on the part of any one to intentionally misunderstand matters or to be unfair. I may say that it makes no difference to me personally whether or not we meet on Tuesday, because I have made arrangements to remain in Mel.bourne over the week ends while the Tariff is under discussion. But the fact that I have made my arrangements ought not to prevent my extending consideration to other honorable senators. It is only seven or eight da’ys ago since we decided to alter the days of sitting: which have ruled ever since we have been a Senate. Those honorable senators who reside in Melbourne may say that it is an easy matter to adjust oneself to the altered arrangements in that brief time; but, as a matter of fact, the very reason which caused us to decline to meet on Tuesday last is a good reason for not meeting on Tuesday next. We did not meet on Tuesday last because there is a desire to give every honorable senator reasonable time to make such arrangements as will enable him to. attend the meetings of the Senate. The question now is whether any representations have been made that the time is not sufficient ; and I shall mention a case in point. There are certainly four, if not five, honorable senators under engagements, made prior to a week ago, to. go to Tasmania this week, and they cannot possibly return here until Wednesday next. There are other . honorable senators who have also entered into .similar engagements. Had those engagements been made since we decided to alter the date of meeting, there would be no obligation to consider the honorable senators in question ; but, under the circumstances, I -think the same reason which prevailed in regard to last Tuesday hold good in regard to Tuesday next, lt might be said that this sort of thing could continue indefinitely ; but the whole ‘ question would be what was a reasonable time to allow honorable senators in which to make their arrangements. It has been represented that one section or one member has asked for this adjournment, but at least a dozen have expressed the opinion that it is either impossible or greatly inconvenient for- them to attend on Tuesday. In a small assembly like this, the absence of eight or nine members makes a big difference, and the absence of three or four ‘ senators from the same State places that State iri a very unfortunate position. Furthermore, if we met on Tuesday with a sparse attendance, and divisions were close, an attempt would be made later on to secure recommittals.
– Should not the public business take precedence?
– Of course it should; and I have tried to deal with that aspect of the case. What I am now asking honorable senators to consider is whether it is reasonable or unreasonable to give consideration to those who had made arrangement’s before we changed our hours of meeting. ‘
– When the change was made, it was suggested that it should not apply to next Tuesday.
– Yes. I have arranged to stay in Melbourne to attend every meeting of the Senate, but others may not have found it so easy to alter their arrangements. In considering them, we shall probably in the end save time, because those who would in any case be absent on Tuesday next, would probably; if they felt displeased with the decisions then arrived at, move for recommittals.
– Personally,. I am opposed to an adjournment, even for a day; but Senator Millen has made out a strong case for adjourning until Wednesday. Senator McGregor, moreover, clearly took upon himself the responsibility for having brought this about, and I am not prepared to vote in opposition to the course to which he has agreed. At the same time, I say that when ‘a change of this kind is proposed, every senator should be consulted, so that he may make such arrangements as may best meet his convenience.
– It seems to me very probable that this accident and the arrangement arising out of it were inevitable. But the debate which we have had shows it to ‘be highly advisable not to allow the inevitable to occur again.
– I could not afford to ignore the representations of the leaders of the various parties in the Senate; and to yield to the suggestions made in this connexion will probably lead to greater expedition in the despatch of business than if we met on Tuesday, with a small House, with the almost inevitable result that attempts would afterwards be made to secure recommittals, whereby regrettable heat would probably be engendered. Much against my own wishes I have been obliged to recognise circumstancesas I have found them.
Question - That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Wednesday next - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 11
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Byway of personal explanation, I wish to say that I was paired with Senator Symon on the item “ coffee,” and kept the arrangement on the first division, inadvertently and thoughtlessly breaking the pair on a subsequent division. I understand that my vote in no way affected the result arrived at, but I mention that merely inci dentally. My desire is to assure Senator Symon and the Senate that I had no intention of breaking the pair.
– The following statement by the Victorian Minister of Labour appears in this evening’s Herald -
OUR FACTORY SYSTEM.
Child Labour in Biscuit Trade.
A Senator’s Statements.
Labour Minister Incredulous. “I am astounded at the statements made by Senator E. J. Russell, in the Senate yesterday, as to child labour in Victorian factories,” said the Minister for Labour this afternoon. “ Senator Russell,” continuedSir Alexander Peacock, “is reported to have said that, at 5 p.m. adult women knocked off in Victorian biscuit factories, and then children - kiddies, who should be in school - were brought on. These children, he said, were required to work till 3 in the morning. In reply to interjections, Senator Russell is credited with saying that he was an eye-witness of this state of things, and that he spoke of a period five years ago.
When I was speaking in reply to Senators Symon and Clemons, who had quoted the exports of biscuits, I was relating under what conditions the export trade in Victorian biscuits had been built up.
– Was not thehonorable senator moving at the time for an increase in the duty?
– Not then, but subsequently, after several honorable senators had spoken. I only desire to state, in reply to the inquiries of Sir Alexander Peacock, and other persons who are interested, that I re-affirm every statement I then made as to the conditions that existed during the period of which I spoke. And, in reply to the question of Sir Alexander Peacock as to why I did not report the matter, I want to say that I have spoken of it publicly in Victoria on many occasions, and if I omitted to notify the factory inspectors I might plead that at the time I was ignorant of the age limit in the Factories and Shops Act, which I thought was fourteen, and not sixteenyears. At that time I was a very young man, and might be excused for my want of knowledge. The conditions I described did exist, and if those whom I have challenged are prepared to take up my challenge I amquite willing to get statutory declarations from many persons working in the factory, which will prove up to the hilt the statements I have made.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.47 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 31 January 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080131_senate_3_43/>.