3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know if the Vice-President of the Executive Council has caused an inspection to be made of the bells on these premises, and, if so, whether they are now in proper working order. . I desire also to ask whether the Government intend , to make provision foi cases’ in- which members are prevented from voting by reason of the failure of the bells to ring in any part of the building?
– The matter is for .’ the President, not for the Minister, to deal with. I have caused inquiries to be. made, and have been informed by the electrician that it is impossible to prevent occasional failures, but that he tests the bells each morning, to see whether they are in order. I have given instructions that they must also be tested . each sitting duy within half-an-hour of tha time appointed for the meeting of the Senate ; all that is possible will be done to prevent. honorable senators from being iri-‘ convenienced by their failure to ring. As to whether steps will be taken to enable honorable senators who, through the’ nonringing of a bell, were not present at a di* vision to afterwards record their votes, no doubt the Standing Orders Committee, if it knew any method to overcome the difficulty, would report accordingly ; but- 1 am afraid that it will be impossible to do more than to make frequent tests to ascertain the condition of the bells, and to take all known precautions to prevent their failure. Strictly speaking, honorable senators should be in the chamber when matters of moment are being debated. If they were in their places when divisions were . called for, no trouble of this kind would arise.
– A bell in my room which was not in working order yesterday is still OUt of order, so that three honorable senators who were there at the time appointed for the meeting of the Senate received no notice that the hour had arrived.
– I shall give instructions to have the bell attended to at once.
asked ths V:ce: President of the Executive Council, upon notice - - For what chief purposes certain States have been largely paying while other States have been chiefly receiving from the revenue of the Commonwealth the various sums set cut in Table XVIII.. of Bulletin No. XI. issued by the Government Statistician ?
– I have gone into the matter carefully with the” head of the Department of the Treasury, and, as a result, conclude that . our very able and industrious Statistician has supplied what might be regarded as” excessive informaton, in such a form that it is calculated to. mislead. In the table in Bulletin No. n, to which the honorable senator refers, the figures in the first column show the’ amounts spent in the several States, totalling .£657,728. . Those figures, while representing the technical expenditure for the. time being in ti e several States, do riot represent the amounts actually charged to each State. To. give a familiar instance, the amount charged against Victoria in connexion with the services . of Parliament, is something like £12,000. Most honorable senators have their, cheques paid into accounts in the local banks, and this money. with other expenditure in connexion with the maintenance of these buildings, is temporarily charged against Victoria, but at the end of the month adjustments are made, and each State debited per capita. Another instance : the head office of the Pacific Mart Service being in Sydnev, £3,000 was paid the other day in connexion with that. That amount is debited to New South Wales for the moment. as the money was spent there. But at the end of the month an adjustment takes place.
– It was paid there, not spent there.
– It was paid there, and technically it was spent where it was paid. From that stand-point I think it will-be admitted ait. once that the word “spent” is somewhat misleading. I think that my honorable friend Senator Clemons will see that the real point is as to the debiting - the charging - to each State of the amounts for which that State is liable. Since the 30th of June, 1904, “other” expenditure, has been charged on a per capita basis. I have had the particulars of these several amounts taken out. If. they are of any value. to the honorable senator, or if they will give any information whatever to the Senate, I will gladly read them. But I do not think, after the explanation I have made, that thev’ can Le of much value.
– I should not have asked a question on the subject if I did not think, the information would be valuable. I do not want the’ Vice-President of the Executive Council to undertake too laborious a task, and therefore shall not require, him to read the whole of the figures, but if he will laY the paper upon the table any honorable senator will be able to read it.
– I shall be happy to read it if it is desired, but I think the purport of the paper can be explained by giving particulars of the amounts for each State. I will ask Hansard to publish the whole of the details, and will’ give the results now.
– On a point of order, Mr. President, I submit that Hansard cannot contain that, which is not read in the Senate. If the. Vice-President of the Executive Council wishes to put the particulars in Hansard,’ he must read them. He cannot read a portion and have the rest inserted in Hansard.
– I think the honorable senator is quite correct. We cannot have, embodied in Hansard anything’ that does not absolutely take place in the Senate. I think the whole difficulty can be got over if the Minister - will lay the paper upon the table. Then honorable senators will have access to it any time.
– I will simply lay it upon the table. I may mention, however, that the amount of “other” expenditure paid during the period in New South Wales was £74,501 ; in Victoria the amount paid was £i37<TS°; in Queensland, £436i500-
That large amount was principally accounted for by payments on account of the sugar bounty.
– Is the VicePresident of the Executive Council simply reading the Statistician’s statement?
– No, I am reading the totals, with full particulars of which I am furnished. The expenditure in South Australia was £948 ; in Western Australia, £2,854; and in Tasmania, ,£5,775. The amounts charged against the several States are as stated in the paper, which I will lay upon the table. No doubt the Printing Committee! will see its way to recommend that the document be printed.
– Arising out of the answer just given by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I may say at once that I am greatly indebted to him for the obvious trouble that he has taken, and for the lengthy answer that has been given, by which, I have not the slightest doubt, he has desired to explain the matter to the Senate. If I may ask him a question arising out of his answer, I should like to know whether he will explain two items which remain in my memory? Will he explain briefly why, in the case of Queensland - I am quoting from memory - a very large sum, amounting, I think, to £436,000, was spent, while Queensland’s contribution to such expenditure was a very much smaller sum, amounting at any ‘rate to under £100,000 ?
– The expenditure in Queensland was principally due to sugar rebates.
– I am not trying to make this question controversial in any way. I should also like to ask why in one other instance, in my own .State of Tasmania, £5,775 was spent, whilst Tasmania’s contribution, so to speak, for such expenditure, was £28,763? If the VicePresident of the Executive Council can give a definite answer briefly on those two points, I shall be obliged.
– Of course, the statement that I am furnishing now is only for part of the financial year.
– I only dealt with part of the financial year.
– The honorable senator has mentioned Queensland. So far a? that State is concerned, the amount of “Other” expenditure, .£436,500, is made up of payments in connexion with the sugar bounty, £423,434; expenses in- connexion with the sugar bounty, £3,453; expenditure on account of Papua, £5,000 ; expenditure for the repatriation of Pacific Islanders, £3,104; and sundry small items, £1,509 - making, as I have said, a total of £436,500. These items cannot be taken separately for any portion of the year, because they are subject to complete adjustment at the end of the year, and will be in strict accord with the Estimates which are furnished. It is very difficult, of course, to make any comparison as regards the figures for the several States.
– I have not asked for that at all.
– No. I have explained how the Queensland “Other” expenditure is made up.
– Can the honorable senator answer my question about my own State, Tasmania ?
– As regards that State, I hardly understood the honorable senator’s question.
– The facts are these. A sum of £5,775 was spent in Tasmania, whilst Tasmania’s contribution towards that expenditure was practically £28,000. Can the Vice-President of- the Executive Council explain that?
– Yes. It so happened that expenditure was incurred that would not correspond with the expenditure in any other particular year-. The total payment was £5,775, and the final adjustment was £28.763. That is to say, Tasmania took its share of what was excessively paid in Victoria, Queensland and other States. When it took its share of that, the amount debited to Tasmania, on the per capita basis, was £28,763.
– Was that “other” expenditure debited to any particular item or purpose ?
– For Tasmania there was charged in connexion with the mail services £5,417, and for sundry small items £358-
– There is a big balance between £5,775 and £28,7°3-
– I have not the particulars of the £28,000 here. .
– It is only for a portion of the year, not for the whole year. For the whole year it would work out very differently.
– Surely the VicePresident of the Executive Council will put into printed form the reason why Tasmania was charged with £28,000.
– I do not think that the honorable senator has asked for those particulars. He has only asked for the particulars of “other” expenditure.
– I do not name any particular State.
– However, the answer to the honorable senator is that these amounts have been charged against the various States - amounting, in the case of Tasmania, to£5,775 - and have been paid in the way I have explained. Ultimately, when Tasmania had to bear and pay her share of the whole expenditure, it came to
– It is the£28,000 about which I should like to have some particulars.
– I shall be very happy to get them for the honorable senator tomorrow.
asked the Minister, representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Department to provide better postal, telegraphic, and telephone facilities between the Outer Harbor near Port Adelaide and other parts of the city?
– In reply to the honorable senatorI have to state -
It is the intention of the Department to provide better postal and telegraphic facilities as the facilities at present afforded have been of a tentative nature, and the trial shows that increased facilities are required.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers tothe honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
By “larger amount” I mean a larger amount than was originally estimated.
Retirement of a Postal Official.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Will the Government lay on the Table of the Senate the papers in connexion with the compulsory retirement of a Postal official from the Claremont (W.A.) Roads Board, by order of the Deputy Postmaster-General ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as f ol lows : -
There is no objection to laying the papers in question on the table of the Library, and this will be done as soon as the portion of the file now in Western Australia comes to hand.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following reply : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
What steps are being taken by the Federal Government with a view to co-operating with the State Government of Western Australia in the construction of a graving dock at Fremantle that would be suitable for the accommodation of warships?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
This matter is still under consideration, and is the subject of correspondence between the Commonwealth and State Governments at the present time.
– When the correspondencecomes to hand, will the Minister cause it to be laid on the table of the Library ?
– I am not familiar with the terms of the correspondence which has been proceeding on the initiation of the Minister of Defence, through the Prime Minister, and I should therefore be glad if the honorable senator will repeat his question later on.
Senator BEST laid upon the table the following paper -
Statement of “Other” expenditure made in the several States for period from 1st July, 1907, to 30th November, 1907.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from nth February, vide page 7972):
Division IV. Agricultural Products and Groceries.
Item 70. Matches and Vestas of all kinds : -
In boxes containing 100 or less of Matches or Vestas, per gross of boxes (General Tariff),1s. 9d. ; and on and after 1st November, 1907,1s. ; (United Kingdom),1s. 6d. ; and on and after 1st November, 1907, 6d.
In boxes containing over 100, but not exceeding 200 Matches or Vestas, per gross of boxes (General Tariff), 3s. 6d. ; and on and after 1st November, 1907, 2s. ; (United Kingdom), 3s. ; and on and after 1st November, 1907,1s.
For each additional 100, or portion of 100 Matches or Vestas per box, an additional duty, per gross of boxes (General Tariff),1s.9d. ; and on and after 1st November, 1907,1s. ; (United Kingdom),1s. 6d. ; and on and after 1st November, 1907, 6d.
When in boxes with matter thereon ad vertising any commodity other than the Matches contained therein, in addition to the duties set out in (a), (b), (c) above, per gross of boxes (General Tariff), 7d. ; (United Kingdom), 6d.
– Since the Senate rose last night, I have found, as the result of inquiry, that the duty was fixed by another place as the result of an arrangement between the acting leader of the Opposition and my honorable colleague, the Treasurer, after consultation with other parties. In those circumstances, it is the intention of the Government to stand by the duty as it. appears in the schedule. I was more than amazed at some statements made last night by Senator Clemons, since they werecompletely opposed to some of the ideas that I had in regard to the industry. The honorable senator gave no authority for his statement, but, no doubt, was justified in making it upon his information. The representative of the firm of Messrs. Bell and Company - Mr. Mackenzie, whom I know personally - called upon me to-day, and I gave him a general outline of the statements which were made last night. I now propose to read a letter which he has addressed to me, and which speaks for itself. As one side of this question has been mentioned, it is only fair that a statement by the other side, for which I give my authority, should also be put before the Committee. The letter, which is dated the 12th inst, is as follows -
Dear Sir, - R. Bell & Co., Ltd.- Wax Vesta Makers.
Some statements have been made in the Senate with regard to this industry which are quite incorrect, and we therefore beg to supply you with the following information. Profit : - This company has never made £10,000 profit in any one year, nor even £5,000.
– I do not think I can allow the honorable senator to read a letter referring to a debate in the Senate during the present session. Standing order 400 provides -
No senator shall read extracts from newspapers or other documents, except Hansard, referring to debates in the Senate during the same session.
– It was merely because of my anxiety to give the source of my information that I proceeded to read the letter. Let me say, then, that the company under the first Federal Tariff lost heavily for two years ; only a fall in the price of its raw materials saved it from being shut up. The wages paid for 1906 were over £6,000, though the factory was several times worked short-handed in consequence of the difficulty in getting some of its raw material. The average number of vestas in the ordinary round paper box is fortyfive when the boxes leave the factory. This average is strictly maintained, and is a condition of every contract. The buyers are the large wholesale merchants, who would very quickly complain if the facts were otherwise. This quantity has been the average, both in the local and in the imported boxes, for many years.
– It is very invidious for me to rise to a point of order, because I know that Senator Best is replying to certain statements I have made; but yon have ruled, Mr. Chairman, that an honorable senator is not entitled to read extracts from documents referring to debates in the Senate during the current session, and I would point out that, as we all know, Senator Best, despite that ruling, is continuing to read from a letter addressed to him by Messrs. Bell and Company. I do not personally desire to prevent his doing so, but I think we ought to take care that your ruling is not disobeyed.
– Iunderstood the Vice-President of the Executive Council to say that he was now makinga statement. The honorable senator may be taking his facts from some document, but he is making the statement himself, andit will appear in Hansard as his own statement.
– So far as the point raised by Senator Clemons is concerned, it is quite immaterial to me whether I am assisted by any notes in this matter at all. The point that I wish to make is that, so far as my inquiries go, Messrs. Bell and Company have never made a profit of £10,000 in anyone year - as was alleged by my honorable friend - neither have they made so much as £5,000.
– What I said was that under the existing Tariff of1s. per gross they would make a profit of £1 0,000 a year.
– Then all that I can say to my honorable friend is that I misunderstood him, and I think there are many other honorable senators who occupy a similar position.
– I detailed their output of 300,000 gross, and I said that under the present Tariff they would charge 10d. per gross more than they have done.
– Under the present Tariff the firm have never charged anything in excess of their previous .prices.
– For the reason that they are not booking orders.
– Senator Millen may have better information than I possess, but 1 scarcely think that his statement is correct. My information is that, since this Tariff was introduced, Messrs. Bell and Company have not charged anything extra for the matches which they have supplied. When the duty was reduced from is. per gross under the old Victorian Tariff to 6d. per gross under the Commonwealth Tariff, the result was disastrous to this particular company. For the first two years they had great difficulty in upholding the industry at all - it was a struggle - and had it not been that their raw material in the shape of stearine, cotton, and other materials had fallen in price, they would probably have been unable to carry on operations.
– Did not the prices of those articles fall outside of Australia as well as inside?
– That may be so, but it is beside the question.
– Why did not Messrs. Bell and Company apply to the Tariff Commission for a larger duty?
– They have always desired a heavier duty. They assure me that it is quite impossible to carry on operations under the existing rate.
– Then why did they not give sworn evidence?
– I cannot pretend to say. As the result of my inquiries, 1 can only say that they find it impossible to carry on under the existing” duty.
– Then they are acting dishonorably. They ought to have appeared before the Tariff Commission.
– Their wages sheet, instead of being £3,000 as it was in 1895, was upwards of j£6, 000 in 1906.
– They do not deserve to be listened to.
– Does the VicePresident of the Executive Council know what wages they are now paying?
– Yes; they are paying upon an average £2 per week to their men, and 1 6s. per week to their girls.
– How many men have been employed in the establishment during the past month?
– Their total number of employes is 200.
– There is not a man employed in the factory. The place is shut up.
– I am talking about the year 1906, when operations were in full swing. I have told Senator Clemons that the average wage paid to the men is £2 per week, whilst that paid to the girls is 1 6s. per week.
– Are those figures taken from the report of the factories inspector, or have they been obtained from the firm itself?
– I gave my authority at. the beginning of my remarks. My observations are based upon the statement of Mr. Mackenzie, with whom I am person-
Ally acquainted, and whom I know .to be thoroughly reliable.
– Did he assign any reason why the firm did not appear before the Tariff Commission? It is unfair for him to come “ whining “ here . in this way.
– Surely I am at liberty to make a statement to the Committee when I give my authority for it.
– When . we cannot cross-examine Mr. Mackenzie.
– Are we crossexamining Senator Clemons?
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council is doing so.
– I nm not. I am combating the statements made by him last evening - statements which are opposed to my own knowledge of this industry. Honorable senators have expressed themselves desirous of prohibiting the introduction of wax vestas into Australia. That these matches will be imported is inevitable. But I have the assurance of the gentleman te whom I have mfa red that if this duty be imposed the firm with which he is associated have in immediate contemplation the extension of their factorv and the manufacture of wooden matches in connexion with their industry.
– What is the good of that ?
– With very great humility I say that in mv judgement there is a very great deal of good in it. T f>m surprised that honorable senators should be so restless when the other side is being stated.
– Because Messrs. Bell and Co. have not acted honestly.
– They should have appeared before the Tariff Commission.
– I have felt it my duty to make this statement as the result of my inquiries. I have told honorable senators the authority upon which it is based, and it is for them to judge of its value for themselves. I have not the slightest doubt that, if necessary, my information would be confirmed by a statutory declaration. As the duty upon matches was the subject of compromise between the representatives of various parties in another place, I hope that the Committee will maintain it in the form in which it appears in the schedule.
.- In speaking upon this matter last evening. SenatorClemons stated that Messrs. Bell and Co. had made a profit of about £9,000 per annum, and that the wages which they paid to their employés amounted to £3,000. To-day we have had a statement by the Vice-President of theExecutive Council to the effect that in 1906 this company paid in wages double the amount alleged to have been paid by Senator Clemons. In their circular - of which I dare say every honorable senator has received a copy-
– It is a singular thing that I have not received a copy of it. and I believe that several other honorable senators upon this side of the chamber are in a similar position.
– The circular which has reached me, and which is signed by R. Bell and Co. Ld., states that there are now nearly 200 hands . employed in the industry, and that the Government reports will show that the wages paid to them compare favorably with those paid in any other industry. In order to test the accuracy of that statement, I obtained from the Chief Inspector of Factories of Victoria a copy of his annual report for 1906. It will be interesting to those who oppose the duty - as it was to me, who desire to see the benefits of the new protection policy extended to Australian workers in protected industries - to know exactly what wages are paid, what labour conditions obtain, and how many men and boys are employed in this particular protected industry. I shall compare the statement supplied by the company to the Vice-President of the Executive Council with the statement which they are compelled by law to furnish to the Chief Inspector of Factories. The latter statement they have to swear to, and the Chief Inspector of Factories includes it in his annual report. The VicePresident of the Executive Council stated that the average wage of the men in the employ of this company was £2 a week. According to Mr. Ord, however, there are 37 males employed in the factory - I take it that he refers to this particular factory, because there is only one wax match factory in Victoria - of whom there are 17, over the age of 21, in receipt of £1 15s. 5d. per week. Therefore, according to the company’s own sworn statement, there is not a man in their factory getting £2 a week or over. There are 2 boys of 13 years of age who get 11s. 3d.; 7 boys of 14 years of age at 7s. 8d. ; 5 boys of 15 years of age at 8s.1d.; 1 of1 6 years of age at 17s.; 3 of 18 years at 15s. 8d. ; 1 of 19 at 16s., and 1 of 20 at £1 per week. Therefore, of the 37 males 17 are adults in receipt of 35s. 5d. per week each, and the other 20 are juveniles. There are 138 females employed in the factory. Their average wage is 12s. 8d. One girl of 13 years gets 7s. a week; 11 girls of 14 years get 7s.10d. ; 17 girls of 15 years get 10s. 7d. ; 13 of 16 years get 10s. 7d. ; 23 of 17 years get 12s. 3d. ; 26 girls of 18 years are paid 13s. 4d. ; 12 of 19 years 13s. ; and 12 of 20 years 13s.10d. per week. There are 23 women of the age of 21 and upwards, who are paid 16s.11d. per week. This report shows that the average wage in the whole factory, for males and females, is 14s. 8d. per week. During the course of his interesting speech last night - although I do not agree with all he said - Senator Clemons said that this was a most unhealthy, and, in a measure, dangerous trade, and that he wished Australia to be rid of it on that account. Reference is made, in the circular sent out by Bell and Company, to the conditions in their factory, as follows -
The industry is a perfectly healthy one when worked under proper conditions. All the talk about unhealthiness originated through some cases of illness occurring in one factoryin England (not ours) some years ago, when the work was performed under totally different conditions to ours. Our factory is well lighted and ventilated. The only work exposed to the fumes of phosphorus is the heading, which is done by men only in an open shed.
They admit that portion of the work done in their factory is unhealthy and dangerous, and for that reason, according to their own showing, performed by men. What kind of wage do they pay those men for ‘ doing that dangerous work? The highest wage paid in the factory is 35s. 5d.
– Then the Minister’s statement that £2 per week is paid is contradicted by the report of the Chief Inspector of Factories?
– Absolutely ; and that report is an official document. ‘ The figures which appear in it Have.. been supplied by the firm themselves, and sworn to.
– And now the manager of the company seeks to use the Vice-Pre- ‘ sident of the Executive Council for the purpose of informing us that the wage is £2 per week.
– Is there any Wages Board in the industry?
– Unfortunately, no. Whilst I am a protectionist, I am not so anxious to give effective protection to this firm, knowing the conditions that obtain at the present time, when they are getting-a fair measure of assistance through the Tariff. But I am prepared to vote protection for this and “ any other firm, provided that they observe reasonable conditions, and eliminate child labour from their factories. There is no doubt that under the new protection the present conditions will not be permitted. This is an industry that employs nearly 200 hands, of whom only seventeen are adult males, and twenty-three are adult females, earning low wages. That is not the kind of labour conditions that any labour representative desires to encourage in the Commonwealth. I shall not support theproposed reduction of the duty, but I am here to urge the claims of those engaged, in the industry to that measure of protection to which they are entitled, but which they are not now obtaining in this factory, as is proved by the figures I have quoted.
-1!?]’ - Senator McGregor argued last night that if the duty were increased from is. to is. 6d., it would lead to the estab.lisment of more factories and great com> petition in Australia, so bringing down the price of matches. But it appears to me that there is great danger that the competition which would be set up in Australia would result in the creation of conditions resembling those alleged to obtain in the Old C’ountry and elsewhere. Whilst Senator Clemons was speaking with regard to- the condition of the factories in the Old Country, I and others asked, by way of interjection, whether there was any information as to the death rate amongst employes. I notice that neither Senator Clemons nor Senator Neild - both of whom described the horrors qf the industry in the United Kingdom - were able to give any information on the subject. If I believed the statements made, I should feel compelled to vote in favour of prohibiting the manufacture of matches in Australia, rather than for raising the duties in order to encourage the industry. I find, however, that in 1893 a Commission, which was appointed in England to inquire into the matter, reported that, owing to the introduction of new rules, the match-making in 1 dustry was comparatively a healthy one. Official returns show that between 1894 and i8q8, 3,134 persons were employed in the industry, of whom 1,551 were actually engaged on the phosphorus process ; that of. those 1,551 only 36 developed necrosis, and that of the 36, or, say, 7 per annum, no less than 80 per cent, were cured. In a very lengthy report made to the Imperial Government in 1899, reference was made to teeth trouble in the industry ; and it was pointed out bv medical men that probably those troubles are no greater in this industry than in other industries which employ men of the same class ; that is to say. those engaged in the match industry suffer no more than do other employes who, because of their comparatively low wages, are unable to have proper attention paid to their teeth. Although, perhaps, twenty years ago the conditions in the industry may have been very bad in the United Kingdom, it is hardly fair for honorable senators to make such statements as that to which I have referred, when, according to official reports, the conditions had vastly improved even nearly nine years ago. The figures show that those engaged in matchmaking suffer in no greater proportion than’ do those employed, for instance, in steel and iron foundries, where a certain amount of risk is attached to the work. I shall not vote for an increased duty, but follow the rule I have observed hitherto, and seek to retain the duty as at present. If it be true, as the Vice-President of the Executive Council has assured us,, that this firm are practically losing money, what will occur if more factories are started? It will mean that the conditions of employment will have to be altered in the direction of economy, with the result of “less satisfactory conditions from the employe’s point of view. We are told by the
Vice-President of the Executive Council that this firm pay £6,000 per annum in wages, and that they have never yet in any one year made £5,000 profit. Under the circumstances’, an additional duty would appear to hold out no very cheerful prospect of inducing others to enter the industry.
– The conditions in regard to this item have altered somewhat since last evening. It was then understood that an amendment would be moved by Senator McGregor in order to increase the duty, and that it would be supported by the Government. I have since learned that, while I was absent for a few minutes, the Vice-President of the Executive Council stated he does not intend to support the increase, but, if possible to retain the duty as it appears in the Tariff. However that may be, I still desire to say a word or two. Last night Senator Clemons made a statement which was, in a sense, challenged all round the Senate. The statement was to the effect that the manufacturers did not supply the number of matches they were supposed to supply in; each box ; and I have made some inquiry in:o the matter. I find that the Commonwealth Government are under contract with a certain individual, who is evidently a distributor, for the supply of matches manufactured by Bryant and May, Bell and Bla:k, and others. I have not managed to get samples of each box, but I have one here labelled “Bell and Company, wax vestas, established London, 1832,” and this was supplied to the refreshment room of this Parliament House under a contract of nth June, 1907.
– Was the contract with the manufacturer?
– No; with the distributor, and it was for the supply * of general stores to the Public Departments. Under the contract, the box which I have here should hold 410 matches, but on counting them I find that there are only 323-
– That has absolutely nothing to do with the manufacturers.
– This is a box issued in the name of Bell and Company, who have a factory at Burnley, near Melbourne.
– This has nothing to do with the manufacturers.’
– But it raises a question which will hare to be considered when a very heavy protective duty is proposed. We have to consider the general conditions of the industry, and the manner in which it is carried on ; we are not here to assist manufacturers, whether abroad or in Australia, to “get at” the public. Another box was counted by a second person, and it was found to contain only 315, instead of 410 matches, and I say that the statement of Senator Clemons is justified by this one fact.
– The statement of Senator Clemens, as I understand,’ was that, so far as the manufacturers were concerned, there were only twenty-nine or thirty matches where there should be forty.
– That was not my who: e statement.
– As to the distributor, it is another question altogether.
– It is not another question altogether. This firm have their main factories in England, and a. branch factory in Australia, anS being, both importers and manufacturers, are in a condition (o control the market.
– It is hardly likely that the retailer would put the matches in smaller boxes.
– The retailer sells the boxes as he gets them from the factory; he is a mere distributor.
– Where are those matches made?
– I am unable to say where the matches are made, but I know that they are made by the same firm; Whether they are made in Victoria or in England the immorality of the transaction is just the same, ana touches the same people.
– Ah, but it does not touch the point as to whether we. should admit them or not.
– I am only stating facts which I ascertained in endeavouring to discover whether the statement–of Senator Clemons was correct.
– If these matches were made in England has that fact any bearing on the point in question?
– There is nothing to show where the matches were made, as the honorable senator will see if he examines the box. The origin of the duty on waxmatches in Victoria was peculiar, as Senator Best knows. When its Tariff was revised in, I . think, 1889, a complaint was made by a number of country members of the Legislative Assembly, that many bush fires had been caused by the careless use of wax vestas. Parliament determined to try to prohibit their use, and imposed a very stiff duty on wax matches, and a very light duty on wooden matches, but instead of the duty prohibiting the use of wax matches a factory was started in Victoria. I am sorry in one sense that it was ever started. It is a small, pettifogging industry, which’ never can pay big wages.
– If the profits are as stated, why can it not pay good wages to its hands?
– I do not know what the profits are, but I believe that, no matter what duty may be imposed, in competition with the world it could never pay good wages to its hands. It is a very small industry, and I do not think that for the sake of one factory we should penalize the whole of the continent to a very considerable extent. The duty is levied on a box containing 100 matches, so that if a box contains only 50 or less the duty is practically doubled. I do not think that the Commerce Act can be administered when boxes, which ought to contain 100 matches, are allowed to be imported with one-half of that number. I fmd that all contracts for matches have been cancelled. This morning I made inquiries at the office of the State Tender Board, ‘ where I was informed, not only by the officer in charge, but also by the receiver, that for years past they have never been able to get the full number of matches in. a box. They informed me that on the last occasion, when contracts were being let, they counted a box and found that it contained 410 matches. They said to the contractor, “ We are not going to take 410 instead of 500 matches, for which we shall have to Day. We will let you a contract for supplying so many boxes containing 410 matches each.” What was the result? Instead of getting 410 matches in a box they are getting 323. The practice which has been going on for years is still continued. If the increased duty proposed by Senator McGregor be granted what will be the consequence? Bell and Company have simply cancelled their contracts in order to charge an increased price if the duty in the schedule is raised. I am sorry that Senator Best was so ill-informed as to state that Bell and Company are paying £2 per week to their men. As Senator Findley has quoted some of the rates, I -will not weary the Committee by repeating them.
– Ah, but he made an error.
– The honorable senator will find that the Vice-President of the Executive Council was not ill-informed.
– I am prepared to stand on what the Chief Inspector of Factories has stated in Appendix C to his report. I find that there are two males of 13 years of age who get ns. 3d. a week.
– Where ?
– At the factory in Burnley. .
– The honorable senator does not find that statement in the report.
– Is it going to be alleged now that this report has no reference to Bell and Company, of Richmond?
– It also has reference to another industry.
– It relates to “ fire kindlers and matches (wax).” The fire-kindler industry is a very small affair, and the fact that the two industries are referred to in the return scarcely affects the position as regards “the match factory. That is a very small 1000-hole for honorable senators on the other side to try to crawl through.
– It is a fact.
– Well, I will read this as if it were correct.
– It is not correct.
– The return says that in the production of fire kindlers and wax matches there are employed two males at 13 years, ns. 3d.; seven at 14 years, 7s. 8d. ; five at 15 years, 8s. id. ; one at 16 years, 17s. ; three at 18 years, 15s. 8d. ; one at 19 years, 16s. ; one at 20 years, 20s. ; and seventeen at 21 years and over, 35s. 5d. There are thirty-seven males getting an average of 22s. a week.
– Does the return say, thirty-seven males?
– Yes. Of female employes there’ is one at 7s., eleven at 7s. lod., thirty at 10s. 7d., twenty-three at 12s. .3d., twenty-six at 13s. 4d., twelve at 13s. > twelve at 13s. lod., and twentythree at 16s. nd. There are 138 female employes averaging 12s. 8d. a week. I merely rose to refer to the statement made last night by Senator Clemons ; and, seeing that the Government have decided to oppose an. increase of the duty, I do not know that I need to continue my remarks.
I am prepared to vote for the duty in the Tariff, but will strenuously oppose any increase of it.
– I am sorry to have to speak again on this question. Last night I spoke fully, but to-day Senator Findley and Senator McColl have relied upon the report of the Victorian Chief Inspector of Factories as a complete refutation of the statement made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. Now, the fact is that the figures in that report refer to two industries, and do not refer to individual factories. We are, therefore, quite unable to say how far they properly relate to an industry or modify or alter the average in taking the figures covering the two industries.
– Where is the other industry carried on ?
– I do not know, butI can tell the honorable senator that the figures in the return relate not to wax matches, but to fire kindlers and wax matches. There is only one factory, and if the line began with the words “ wax matches,” we should know that it referred to Bell and Company. It refers to two industries ; Bell and Company do not make fire kindlers, and therefore it refers to somebody else. Of course,the second industry is not an imaginary one. Of what magnitude it is, I am quite ignorant. I do not know whether it is of any magnitude or not, but I know that the line relates’ to another industry besides the wax match industry, and therefore the figures, taken conjointly, cannot with any confidence be relied upon as accurately describing the wage conditions in one of the factories. Senator McColl has stated that the Commonwealth has a contract with some distributers to furnish it with boxes of matches containing certain quantities. That these boxes do not contain the stipulated number of matches is no proof at all that the factory owners cheat. I have looked at the box produced by Senator McColl, and can discover nothing upon it in the form of a declaration that it holds 410 matches.
– The contractor says that it does.
– But the contractor is not the manufacturer. It is not the manufacturer who undertakes to supply 410 matches in each box.
– Could the honorable senator put 25 per cent. more matches than it already contains in the box produced?
– No; but that is not the point. A contractor agrees to supply Senator Millen with boxes that contain 410 matches each. He goes to a manufacturer and makes a contract with him for boxes containing 315 matches each. The manufacturer faithfully carries out his undertaking with the contractor-
– Has the honorable senator persuaded himself that that is a reasonable argument ?
– I have persuaded myself that we have no proof whatever that Bell and Company undertook to supply 410 matches in a box such as that produced.
– We have, because we have their name on the box.
– But it is not stated on thebox that it contains 410 matches.
– In the contract it is so stated.
– But the contractor is another man.
– The honorable senator is a good special pleader.
– If you contract with a man to supply you with boxes containing a certain number of matches, and you get boxes containing a less number, you do not go to the man who manufactures the matches and say, “ You are a cheat,” but to the contractor with whom you agreed that you should be supplied with boxes containing a certain number.
– He would pass the honorable senator on to the other fellow.
-If he did, my obvious answer would be, “I made no agreement with the other fellow, but with you.” The Commonwealth did not agree with Bell and Company for the supply of 410 matches in a box, but with a certain contractor. The contractor has not complied with the terms of his contract, and that is being used as an argument against Bell andCompany.
– The middleman would necessarily contract to supply boxes of matches containing the number the manufacturer puts into them.
– My experience of the middleman is that he makes as much profit as he can, especially when dealing with persons who are lax or careless in their business, as the Commonwealth authorities appear to have been in this instance, when they have been satisfied to take boxes containing 315 matches instead of 410. In such circumstances, the contractor may consider that he is on a good wicket; but that is no evidence that Bell and Company have been cheating in connexion with the number of matches they place in a box.
– What is the honorable senator’s only alternative? Is it not that R. G. Wilson and Company have been cheating ?
– Decidedly. Even if Bell and Company supply the contractor with a less number of matches in each box than he has specified in his contract with the Commonwealth. The next point I urge is that trie box produced did not come from Bell and Company, of Richmond-, at all.
– Does the honorable senator propose to labour that point?
– We are dealing now with the question of matches made in Australia, and we have had produced a box of matches made in London.
– Does the honorable senator affirm that the box of matches produced were made in London ?
– No, but I affirm that so far as any evidence on the face of the box goes, they were, because the box is so marked.
– The honorable senator will not say that these matches were made in London.
– I cannot say that.
– The honorable senator must know that these people trade as Bell and Company, London, and never as Bell and Com pan v. Australia.
– I do not know that.
– Then the honorable senator ought to know it.
– And Senator Clemons talks about R. G. Wilson and Company.
– I say that we have not a tittle of evidence to prove that Bell and Company undertake to put 410 matches in such a box as that produced. Then there is no evidence so far that these matches were made in Australia, and I am inclined to think that they were not. At any rate, what I rose to point out was that the statement that Bell and Company do not pay ^2 per week to their men is incorrect, and that the citation of the
Victorian Factory Inspector’s Report is of no value, because .that report does not refer merely to Bell and Company.
– Has the honorable senator any evidence that Mackenzie’s statement is correct?
– None but Mackenzie’s.
– - Mackenzie tells one lie in his statement when he says that they employ 200 hands, because there is not that number employed in the manufacture .of matches and of lirekindlers combined.
– Mackenzie tells only one lie, and that is from beginning to end of his statement.
– Mackenzie ha* the misfortune to represent an industry conducted in Victoria. If he represented an industry conducted in London he would be very truthful however far from the truth he was. At any rate, I think I have disposed of the value of the Factory Inspector’s Report as evidence that Bell and Company do not pay £2. per week. It is merely evidence that the average wages of those employed in the match-making and firekindler industries does not amount to £2 per week.
– It is also evidence that there are not 200 employed in both industries, and that Mackenzie must therefore have told a lie.
– That is not the point with which I am dealing. I am not pretending to support all the statements made by Bell and Company. I do not know them, and I do not know how many hands they employ. But I say that the’ report relied upon as an unmistakable refutation of Mackenzie’s statement is no refutation of it. And I say further that the suggestion that Bell and Company are cheating because thev supply a contractor to the Commonwealth with matches containing a less number in each box than he has contracted to supply is based upon evidence which would . not’ be accepted by my honorable friends opposite upon any. other question. There might be something in the contention from the other side if it could be shown that Bell and Company declare that boxes such as that produced contain 410 matches, but we have not a tittle of evidence to that effect. All the evidence we have on the subject is that some one else has contracted to supply the Commonwealth with boxes containing 410 matches, and have supplied them with boxes of matches manufactured bv Bell and
Company which contain only 315. The contractor may have bought them, and probably did-
– The honorable senator knows that the boxes have been reduced in size.
– I do not know anything about it.
– Senator McColl gave the honorable senator the information on the authority of an official of the Victorian Tender Board.
- Senator McColl said that for years past, and he did not mention how many, the authorities could not get the number of matches contracted for in each box. It might have happened - and probably did, because the Commonwealth has not been many years in existence - that during the whole of the existence of the Commonwealth the authorities have not been able to get the number of matches in each box that was contracted for. All I ran say in that connexion is thatthe Commonwealth authorities must be supervising these contracts very loosely indeed when they do not insist in getting what they have contracted to get.I urge that all these questions are after all apart from the issue we are discussing. Bell and Company may be extremely bad employers here and in London. The wages paid in the match industry may be extremely low in Australia, as we know they are in London, but the question we have to consider is whether it is better to have matches made in Australia for the use of Australians by Australian people than to have them made in London for the use of Australians by English people. There is not in my mind, nor can there be in the mind of any protectionist, two opinions on that point. If Bell and Company are paying miserably low wages, we should take the steps which we can take to compel them to pay higher wages; but the fact that they are paying low wages is not a good economic reason for preventing the carrying on of the industry here. The industry should not be destroyed because it is paying or has paid bad wages. The laws of the States, and we hope the laws of the Commonwealth, place at our disposal means for requiring the payment of good wages to all employed in Australian industries. But if we destroy this or any other industry, itwill cease to give employment to our people, which is undesirable from a protectionist point of view.
– I regret that the Government will not support my request. In my opinion, it is only by increasing the duty that the difficulties which have been spoken of this afternoon can be surmounted. It is said that it is impossible to get contractors to the Commonwealth to fulfil the terms of their contracts, and that the industry here cannot pay fair wages, owing tothe low duty which has hitherto been in force, because matches are made in Great Britain and elsewhere by persons who are paid low wages and who work under bad labour conditions. It is with the intention of enabling manufacturers in Australia to observe fair conditions that I have moved my request.
– There is no request before the Chair.
– I intend to move a request which must precede that of the honorable senator.
– In that case I shall, of course, withhold my request, though the whole question might well be argued now. It must be remembered that in 1906 the Tariff of 1902 was in operation, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council has stated that the local match factory nearly -had to close its doors under that Tariff, and never was in a flourishing condition.
– That was a mere statement.
– What the honorable senator said were mere statements.
– I am not an interested party. The other statement is that of the men themselves.
– It was a mere statement that the company would make a profit of £9,000 or £10,000, because it would add acertain proportion of the duty to its price. I understood Senator Clemons to say that it had made a profit of £10,000,though his statements are so indefinite that, when challenged, he, lawyerlike, can always get away from them. However, I do not wish to misrepresent him. If he meant to say that the company will make a profit of £10,000, he was drawing on his imagination. No one else thinks that it? will. With respect to the £90,000 which he mentioned, did he mean to say that it has been made, or that it will be made?
– I told the Committee last night.
-The honorable senator spoke on the assumption that1s. would be added to the price of the local matches. But as our importations come chiefly from Great Britain, only 6d. at most could be added.
– I was not dealing with the subject of preference.
– The honorable senator was talking in the way that is usual with free-traders. . I have heard thousands of them speak in that way.
– There are not thousands.
– Well, a great many. I am surprised that he did not follow the example of Mr. Le Mesurier who, when before the Tariff Commission, not only added the duty to the value of the importations, but 50 per cent. profit on the duty as well. The honorable senator should have told us what is happening, or what has happened, not what he imagines will happen.
– I was dealing with the present Tariff.
– Itdoes not operate in the manner indicated by the honorable senator. If the duty be increased as I wish, Bell and Company will have competition to face in Australia, and the Commonwealth and the States will have control of the match-making industry, and can compel the payment of fair wages and the observance of good conditions, enforcing the proper treatment of the public by requiring a statement on each box of the number of matches contained in it, and insisting that the box shall contain that number. But at the present time the only competition of the local factory is with manufacturer abroad who are interested in it, and whilst the present conditions remain, the public cannot hope to be fairly dealt with, nor will fair play be given to the workers.
– I wish to comment briefly on Senator Trenwith’s statements, because he. more than any one else, has tried to defend an impossible position.
– It was a bad defence.
– It could not have been worse. Let me show why. He contended that the figures officially supplied by the Victorian Inspector of Factories proved nothing as to the wages paid in Bell and Company’s local factory, because they cover both that factory and another in which fire kindlers are made. If the rates of wages are the same in both factories, the inspector’s figures cannot be quarrelled with; but if the rates of wages are higher in the fire-kindler making industry, they must be lower than stated in Bell and Company’s factory, whereas if they are lower, Messrs. Bell and Company pay more than the figures show.
– Whatever they show is no evidence of what Bell and Company pay.
- Senator Trenwith will hear all he wants to know about the payments made by this firm, and I advise him, until he hears those particulars, to make no comment.
– There is nothing that can injure me in finding out the truth, though I do not expect to find it in that way.
– If the honorable senator interjects, he may be made to seem very small when the facts come out. I do not suppose the number of people employed in the fire kindler industry- if I may so designate it - materially affects the issue. But, at any rate, Senator Trenwith will hear to what extent it does affect.it. I take a number of his statements. I do not suppose that we shall ever have in the Senate a more complete instance of the undesirableness of any senator, nomatter on what side he sits, and no matter what his views may be, practically lending himself to something which has been supplied to him by an interested party, than we have had in this discussion. I assure the Committee at once, and without any hesitation, that the statement which, thanks to the Chairman’s assistance under the Standing Orders, the Vice-President of the Executive Council was compelled to make on his own responsibility, was wholly inaccurate. With regard to the matter of wages, he submitted a statement which we know as a matter of fact was made on the authority of a Mr. Mackenzie - who is either a partner in or manager for or in some way concerned with Bell and Company’s factory. It bristled with inaccuracies so far as it was dwelt upon by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. On the point of wages it was wholly inaccurate andmisleading. I do not remember whether in that statement he repeated an assertion which has been made in a circular distributed broadcast by these same people as to the number of hands employed being 200.
– Yes, he did. He said that the employes numbered 200, and the wages paid amounted to £6,000.
– I should like to tell the Committee that at the present time there are no men employed in the factory ;tt all. The conditions under which the industry is carried on in Victoria are these. For a considerable part pf the year no matches whatever are made. At- the present moment no matches are being made. The employment -is intermittent and irregular, and for a large part of the year there is none whatever. The statement with regard to 200 . hands being employed is wholly inaccurate and deliberately misleading.
– Even when they are at work, 200 are not employed, according to the factory inspector.
– No! So far as we can rely - and I believe we can- upon the particulars supplied by the factory inspector’s report, there is no time when 200 hands are employed - that is to say, employed not only in the match making industry but in the fire kindler industry as well. So that I do not think that even Senator Trenwith will attempt to argue any longer that that statement is anything but misleading.
– I merely argued that it was not disproved. I. did not make the statement.
– I say that many of the statements which have been made are absolutely disproved. I will mention, some of them. It is absolutely disproved that wages of 40s. a week are paid. It is absolutely disproved that the factory employs’ 200 hands. I will come to another statement. Senator Trenwith is very anxious to show that the statements made by me last night with regard to the number of matches contained in the various boxes which are sold according to trade usages, and in one case according to contract, as containing so many matches, were misleading. He says that we have proved nothing against Bell and Company. Now, what are the’ facts? The boxes are evidently those of Bell and Company. They have the name of the firm upon them. The only loophole Senator Trenwith can find is this. He says, .” I take it that the boxes which purport to contain 4ro matches and which are sold on that basis do contain that number.”
– I do not admit that they purport to contain that number.
There is nothing to show that they purport to contain any number.
– They are bought under contract and the’ number is specified.
– We have no evidence of that except the honorable senator’s statement.
– Senator Trenwith would be a strange man in a Law Court. He and Senator McGregor can split hairs together in a way that would be expected of them in some petty court. What we know is this. We have an official document to . show that matches have been bought by contract in boxes purporting to contain a certain number.
Sentor Trenwith. - Bought from importers.
– It was specified , that -they should contain ‘410 matches. They do not contain that number. I suppose Senator Trenwith will admit that it is a fact that they have been sold under contract as containing 410 matches. Yet he denied that just now.
– I did not, and do not deny it now.
– He said that we have no evidence that the boxes purport to contain 410 matches. The fact is contained in an official document which states, in words so clear that even Senator Trenwith cannot dispute them, that the boxes shall contain 410 matches. But Senator Trenwith says that there is no proof that the manufacturer sells them short. Hesays they may have been sold short by the distributor. He went further than F did. . I said last night that the public were being defrauded, that the consumer did not get what he ought to .get, that some one was cheating, that boxes which ought to, contain so many matches contained fewer. I said distinctly then, and I say now, that I have no absolute or direct evidence as to who did the cheating, but I repeat without the slightest fear of contradiction that cheating is being carried on.
– I indorse that.
- Senator Trenwith said emphatically that in his opinion the distributors, whoever they are, were the cheats. He even named the firm. They were Messrs. R. G. Wilson and Company. So far as I am aware they reside in Melbourne, but I never heard of them until these facts were put before me. But let us examine the probabilities as to R. G. Wilson and Company being the cheats in this matter.
– That is an unfair statement to put into my mouth - that I charged them with cheating. What I said was that so far as there is any evidence of cheating it is they who do it.
- Senator Trenwith deliberately said, as he will find when he receives his Hansard proof, that R. G. Wilson : and Company were the cheats. But let us examine into the probability of their being cheats. They hand over to the purchaser the matches which they , have obtained from Bell and Company. The box is evidently that of Bell and Company.
– It is marked “ Bell &. Company,” and it should be theirs. I do not doubt that.
– It is admitted then that this is Bell and Company’s box. If Senator Trenwith is correct in his statement that these distributors are the cheats, what has. to be done? First of all, I point out that the box which purports to contain 410 matches actually contains 323, or about ninety short. Now ninety extra matches could not possibly De jammed into that box. I invite Senator Trenwith to examine it.
– Not even nineteen more could be jammed into it.
– I have no hesitation in accepting Senator McColl’s assurance. At any rate, it is certain that ninety more matches could not be put into it. What then is the position with regard to the cheating? If R. G. Wilson and Company are cheating there is only one method by which they can cheat the public, and that is by having manufactured for themselves boxes which will contain about 330 matches, but which will not contain 410.
– Is that the only method? Could thev not buy a 300 box instead of a 400 box from the factory? Could they not buy a box which purported to contain 300 instead of 400?
– I will assume that also.
– Then the honorable senator admits that there is another way ?
– Could not .the discussion be carried on without mentioning the name of a firm?
– I quite agree -with that. ‘ ‘
– I feel tempted to make that interjection when I hear Senator Clemons mention the name of the firm to which he has referred.
– Who brought it into the discussion?
– Senator Clemons did when he mentioned cheating last night.
– I think that Senator Clemons has throughout the Tariff debates tried to refrain from mentioning names.
– I have. I have said over and over again that I do not like doing it. But the name of a firm has been mentioned. I say again that if this firm have cheated, one assumption is that they must have had special boxes made which would contain fewer than ‘410 matches in order that they might cheat the public. See what that means. It means that this firm ran the risk of distributing widely all over Australia boxes purporting to contain a certain number of matches when they did nothing of the sort. Further, it means that the firm would have had to empty all the larger boxes bought from Bell and Company - if the manufacturers were honest in the matter - and pack the matches again into smaller boxes which they had had made. Is that probable? I say that it is not credible at all. With regard to the suggestion of Senator Trenwith that- Bell and Company had other boxes made deliberately for the purpose of selling 32.^ matches instead of 4T.0, I say that such boxes are not known to the trade at all. Senator McColl has pointed out why this provision for boxes containing 410 matches has arisen. He has pointed out that- formerly the boxes were supposed to contain 500, but that in consequence of its being discovered by purchasers that they did not contain that number, the Commonwealth Government, in their contracts, decided to protectthemselves by endeavouring to get what thev thought they were buying. As, instead of getting 500 in a box they were getting 41:0, they specified that the boxes should contain 410. They practically said, : We find that we have been cheated, and we are not going to be cheated any more. We have been paying for boxes purporting to contain 500 matches, and have ascertained that they contain only 410. We shall therefore insist under our contract upon being supplied with boxes -containing 410 matches.” That was cheat No. 1.
Senator McColl’s box proves that the cheat is still going on.
– That the Commonwealth is still being cheated by its contractor ?
– That is an un-. fair and unwarranted statement. I am not concerned with the question of whether this cheating is being done by Messrs. Bell and Company or by some other firm, save that I should like to sheet it home to the right men. The main issue is that the consumer is cheated. The probabilities are that, having regard to the evidence be-, fore us, the cheats are Messrs. Bell and Company, because I believe the box to which reference .has been made is one issued by that firm. It cannot contain 410 matches; it does contain 323, and there is jio such standard box known to the trade. I do not know that I need answer any of the other statements made by Senator Best. I think that it has been conclusively proved that nearly every statement made by him is inaccurate; that he has been trying to bolster up an exceedingly bad case. On the authority of an interested man lie has asserted that £6,000 was paid away in wages by Messrs. Bell and Company in respect of one year. It is admitted that employment in the match trade is extremely intermittent. It must ako be admitted that it varies considerably from year to year. It may be that in one year this firm paid .£6,000 in wages, but I again affirm that that by no means represents a truthful statement of its annual payment in respect of wages in the match industry.
– Mr. Mackenzie’s salary may have been included in the total.
– Perhaps so; but vhether they did or did not pay £6,000 in one year, I know that a considerable amount has been devoted to the payment of persons employed in a ‘different industry, and that the statement is absolutely erroneous if it is intended to apply only to wages paid in connexion with the making of vestas. The statement as to the payment of £6,000 may have included - and coming, as it does, from a tainted source I shrewdly suspect that it does include - a great deal besides that coming under the heading of “wages,” as the term, is known to the Tariff Commission. Much may be included which no honorable senator would regard as being properly classified under that heading. Extremely high salaries may have been included in the total, whilst we know that it is a very common practice amongst trading companies not only here but elsewhere to disguise profits in the shape of bonuses to employes .who are practically shareholders. I hope that Senator McColl, who has the information at his disposal, will enlighten Senator Trenwith and the Committee generally with regard to the proportion of wages paid in respect of the manufacture of kindlers at this firm’s factory and the effect which that payment has upon the general average of wages iri the industry. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 79, paragraph a (imports under General Tariff), 6d. per gross of boxes.
.- Senator Trenwith has challenged the accuracy of a statement regarding the average of wages paid in the factory on the ground that the wages paid in the match-making branch are mixed up with those paid in the fire-kindler branch. I have since visited the office of the firm, and have ascertained that out of the total of 175 hands employed in the factory only 22 are engaged in the fire-kindler branch. It is impossible for the responsible officers to give the exact wages-
– Hear, hear ; that is all I said.
– It was impossible for them to give me a statement as to the exact wages paid since they are barred by Statute from doing so. But when I say that the twenty-two hands employed in the firekindler branch are men it will be at ‘ once recognised that the wages paid in that division must be above the average paid in the match-making factory. I was informed that the wages paid in respect of the manufacture of fire-kindlers are considerably above those obtaining in the match-making factory. That information was furnished; me at the office, and it clears up the point at issue since it shows that the wages paid in the fire-kindler industry have been added to those paid in -respect of match-making, and swell instead of reduce the total.
– I wish to emphasize a point to which some reference has already beenmade, and that is the great danger of paying the slightest attention to documentaryor other statements put forward by interested parties, more particularly when they have refrained from appearing before theTariff Commission. Senator Trenwith contended that there was nothing to show that
Messrs. Bell and Company stood before us as other than reliable witnesses. I am not going to compare the statements of others with those made by Mr. Mackenzie; I am content to take Mr. Mackenzie’s own statement as showing whether we can place any reliance on his evidence. There are two ways of telling a falsehood ; one is ‘ by making a deliberate mis-statement and the other -is by telling a half truth. In the result I can detect no difference between the two. We can fairly determine whether or not Mr. Mackenzie was anxious to voice the truth before this Committee by examining some of the statements that he made through the Vice-President of the Executive Council. The first statement made by him was that his firm had not increased prices consequent upon the new Tariff. That is a definite statement which is literally true but, at the same time, an infamous misrepresentation. It is perfectly true that the firm have not increased prices, because since the introduction of this Tariff they have absolutely ceased to take and execute orders.
– Ever since this Tariff was introduced?
– Since it came in. The factory works only during the winter months, and then contracts are made to supply matches. At the present time it is closed, and there is no particular necessity to either receive or execute orders. It has supplied all the orders received during the winter season, and therefore is just as well advanced if it refrains from taking orders until the near approach of the winter months as if it did not do so. Mr. Mackenzie, who I have no doubt is a shrewd man, simply says, “ We have not raised prices.” That is perfectly true, but I pronounce it as an infamous and wilful lie intended to deceive the Committee.
– Then it is the honorable senator’s contention that they have not sold any matches since this Tariff was introduced ? . .
– Exactly; and what is more they have notified those with whom they have contracts that they intend to take advantage of a clause which relieves them of the necessity to sell any more matches at the old rates. They have done nothing to raise prices, but they have taken advantage of a clause in the old agreements by which they need not sell any more at the former prices. Had they intended to continue to sell at the old rates’ it would not have been necessary for them to say, in effect, “ We are going to shield ourselves under a clause in the old agreement and to refrain from executing orders.” It may be literally true that they have not increased prices since the introduction of this Tariff, but the real and obvious truth is that, that is not the position. A statement has been made as to the wages paid in the industry. Mr. Mackenzie says that his firm employs 200 hands. We can again test the accuracy and veracity of this gentleman in regard to this matter. The number of hands employed in Bell and Company’s match factory is, of course, shown in the annual report of the Chief Inspector of Factories of Victoria, and, as Senator Trenwith has pointed out, it is bracketed with the number of hands - some 20 odd - employed in the fire-kindler industry. The Chief Inspector of Factories’ report, however, shows that the number employed in the two industries is less than 200. As some hands must be engaged in the joint industries, it is clear ‘that there cannot be 200 employed in the factory of which Mr. Mackenzie speaks.
– Is it not possible that there are others employed apart from those who had to be included in the return?
– Yes, it is; and although Mr. Mackenzie may have told us something which was the truth, that something has become a lie, since it does not embody the whole truth. Another statement made by this firm, evidently with the idea of inducing the Committee to favour a larger measure of protection, was that it intended, if the dutv were raised, to enlarge its plant and increase its output. I should like to point out that the manager of this company - whether it was Mr. Mackenzie, or some one else, I cannot say - in giving evidence before the Victorian Tariff Commission in 1895 or 1896, made exactly the same statement. He went on to say - and the evidence will be found at pages 341-3 of the report of the Commission, that with a. small additional plant, and 30 to 40 additional hands, the factory would be capable of supplying the entire requirements of Australia. Here, then, before a Victorian Tariff Commission, a statement was. made in connexion with a request for. greater legislative favours. Mr. Mackenzie has now a prospective hope of obtaining something, and he makes exactly the same promise. Irrespective of what Tariff may be imposed, no attempt will be made in Australia to produce all the matches we require. The Melbourne firm is a branch of a London firm, and I think this is a case in which we can affirm without the least doubt that there exists a combination, having absolute control of the market. There is not only a trade relationship between the manufacturers here and in England, but between English and Continental manufacturers. We have heard a great deal about our being able to deal with trusts within the Commonwealth, although we cannot deal with those beyond Australia ; but this is the first case that has come under our notice of a trust or combination embracing both internal manufacturers and external importers.
– Then the only course open to us is to nationalize the match-making industry in Australia.
– When the honorable senator submits such a proposition, I shallgive it my best attention. At present, however, we are dealing with a proposition to place Messrs. Bell and Company in a still better position to levy toll on the great bodyof the consumers. I admit that one can draw conclusions only from facts and occurrences that come under one’s notice, but according to the statements that have been made, thearrangement which has been arrived at is that the importers undertake to supply only a certain quantity of matches for the Australian trade, whilst the Australian firm of Messrs. Bell and Company undertake to keep their prices’ within a certain margin of thoseat which the imported article can be landed here. Consequently, it is a matter of supreme indifference to them whether the matches are made here or manufactured in England, and brought out here. The arrangement between the British manufacturers and those on the Continent, so far as Australia is concerned, is that the local firm has undertaken to take a definite output from Continental - principally Norwegian and Belgian - factories. The local firm undertakes the risks that may be incurred in connexion with the Australian trade on the Continental manufacturers agreeing not to supply more than the stipulated quantity.
– I do not quite follow the honorable senator.
– I understand that the combination controlled by Messrs. Bryant and May and Messrs. Bell and Company - of which the Australian company is a branch - has an arrangement with Continental manufacturers by which they agree totake from the Continental factories a certain output intended for the Australian market. They take that quantity. So far as the Continental manufacturers are concerned, they incur no risk whatever. The Combine take the specified quantity, and in return the Continental manufacturers undertake not to ship any more matches to Australia. With this sort of thing going on, it is idle to talk of competition, and one can readily understand the discretion of Mr. Mackenzie and those associated with him, in keeping as far away from the Tariff Commission as possible. The Commission was appointed to investigate the complaints of struggling and strangled industries. Now, nobody can pretend that Mr. Mackenzie was not aware of the existence of that body, or that he could have experienced any difficulty in ascertaining when it was prepared to receive his evidence. We may, therefore, assume that this gentleman was perfectly satisfied with the conditions under which his industry was being carried on, or - this is the only alternative - that he was not willing to place himself in a position where he might be required to answer awkward questions. Evidently he has no objection to preparing a statement which is wilfully false, and which is designed to mislead this Committee ; but he does object to submitting himself to cross-examination.
– That is very forcible language.
– The occasion warrants it. I have endeavoured to show that Mr. Mackenzie has wilfully attempted to mislead the Committee.
– His statements are accurate.
– As the VicePresident of the Executive Council was not present a few moments ago, and ashe has challenged my statement, I would again point out that there are two classes of lies - the lie which consists of deliberate misrepresentation, and thelie which contains: half the truth.
– I am quite certain that there are not 200 hands employed in the factory.
– The total number of hands employed, both in the matchmaking and fire-kindling industries, is only 175.
– There are 180 hands employed in the match-making factory.
– That is to say, that Mr. Mackenzie’s effort to speak the truth induces him to tell the Committee that he employs 200 hands, when, as a matter of fact, he employs only 180. I am quite satisfied to accept that fact as an absolute denial of the statement of the VicePresident of the Executive Council that Mr. Mackenzie’s assurances can all be supported. I would further point out that there is such a thing as the suppression of the truth. Mr. Mackenzie has attempted to suppress the truth by saying that Messrs. Bell and Company have not increased the price of matches, whilst withholding the information that the reason, they have not increased the price is because they have cancelled their contracts.
– I do not believe that that is correct.
– Senator McColl cited the instance of the State Tender Board. Does anybody mean to tell me that this factory would decline to supply its best customer, whilst not declining to supply all its customers?
– As a matter of fact, the firm are selling matches to-day.
– They have absolutely taken advantage of the provision in their contracts which enables them not to supply any more matches. It is all very well for these gentlemen to come to the Parliamentary lobbies at the eleventh hour-
– They are selling matches to-day, and yet the honorable senator’s statement was that they have not supplied any matches to their customers.
– They may have supplied a few gross. But my point is that Messrs. Bell and Company are not executing contracts or booking orders. Having refused the opportunity presented to him by the Government of the country to appear before the Tariff Commission and give evidence in support of his statement that the industry requires the aid of a. heavier duty, Mr. Mackenzie, in coming here at the last moment and making statements which there is no satisfactoryway of proving or disproving, is put absolutely out of court. To my mind the man who acts in that way stands at once marked “ Suspect.” Surely a man like Mr.’ Mackenzie, who declares that his industry cannot carry on unless the duty be increased, ought to have appeared before the Tariff Commission ! Can any one believe that an individual whose industry was in such a parlous condition would have abstained from appearing before that body? I repeat that he knew perfectly well that the document which he prepared at the eleventh hour contained untruths, and further I say that it was intended to mislead the Committee. I do not know whether Senator Trenwith wants to confer legislative favours upon individuals, irrespective of whether or not the nature of their industry requires them. But I assume that even a protectionist like him will not go to the length of saying that a protective policy ought to be prostituted to the extent of fattening every greedy and dishonest man who chooses to approach the Senate. It is quite . clear that the Government and the public have been defrauded in. the purchase of these matches. The whole of the surroundings of the industry suggest a complete want of that honesty which should constitute the chief claim of any person approaching us with a request for further consideration at our hands. Such a claim has not been put forward- - on the contrary, everything that is calculated to prejudice the Committee against this particular industry has unfortunately been only too abundantly in evidence.
.- My chief concern is that the Minister of Home Affairs should at once take steps under the Commerce Act to insure that boxes which are supposed to contain 45, j 00 or 200 matches shall have the number which they are alleged to contain plainly marked upon them. It is idle for us to unearth a system of cheating if we do not take steps to put an end to it.
– The honorable senator mentioned this matter last night during the course of the debate, and I then pointed out that if action were taken at all it would have to be taken under the Commerce Act.
–I understand that the Minister has given a public assurance that he will see that action of the kind I have suggested is taken. If the evil can be remedied I take it that it will be.
– As far as I can remedy it I will. ,
– If I have said anything which is unfair to Messrs. Bell and Company i regret it. However, they have only themselves to blame in this matter. The memorandum which was read by the Vice-President of the Executive Council commenced by describing the match industry as a struggling one, which would have to be abandoned unless a heavier duty were imposed. If that statement be true, it is one of the very industries the surroundings of which the Tariff Commission was appointed to investigate. Under these circumstances, one would have thought that one of the first applicants for an increased duty would have been Messrs. Bell and Company. In not having taken advantage of the opportunity thus presented to them they have been guilty of unfair conduct. Now they desire to make use of their protectionist friends in the Ministry, and of Senator McGregor, to putbefore the Committee an ex parte statement concerning their industry. Does Senator McGregor deny that their statement is an ex parte one, seeing that the VicePresident of the Executive Council read a brief prepared by Mr. Mackenzie, who does not submit himself to cross-examination ?
– I never in my life saw Mr. Mackenzie or any member of Messrs. Bell and Company until five minutes ago.
– I accept the honorable senator’s assurance. But the fact remains that efforts are being made to increase this duty by 300 per cent. The Vice-President of the Executive Council commenced his observations by declaring that the industry was a struggling one, which could scarcely carry on operations under the present duty. He also added that despite this disability the firm had not increased the price of matches. His informants neglected to tell him that immediately the increased duty is levied they will increase the price of matches enormously.
– They are careful to deny that they have ever made a profit of more than £5,000 a year.
– The very first sentence of the memorandum read by the VicePresident of the Executive Council shows that Messrs. Bell and Company desire the higher duty in order that they may be able to increase the price of matches to the consumer a good deal. When a man shrinks from submitting himself to crossexamination, and prefers to give a one-sided version to the representative of the Government, with a view to benefiting his particular industry, I decline to accept any statement thathe may make.
– As matches are practically a necessary of life, I hold that they ought to be produced in the Commonwealth under Australian conditions as to hours of labour and rates of wages. We use Australianmade candles, and practically all other household necessaries are of local production. Why should we draw the line at matches? Simply because their manufacture is associated with a legend that in the Old Country they are produced under very unfavorable conditions. That fact, however, constitutes no reason why we should not produce matches in Australia under proper conditions. The importations show clearly that at the present time we are almost entirely dependent upon outside sources for our supplies. During the five years in which the Commonwealth Tariff has been operative, the value of the importations of matches ranges from £113,000 to £160,000 per annum, so that the duty which has been in existence has not had any protective incidence whatever. The duty which is now proposed makes provision for the extension of a preference to Great Britain, which will simply mean that in the future the bulk ofour supplies will be drawn from that source, and there will be no consequent benefit to the industry in Australia. So far as the preferential rate is concerned, if we simply impose an extra 6d. per gross upon ‘foreign matches, andallow those from Great Britain still to come in at 6d., it will mean that we shall continue to draw our supplies from Great Britain, and that our industry will be in precisely the same position as it has occupied for the last five years. I intend, therefore, to support a duty which will have the effect of fostering the industry here, under liberal conditions which we hope will be fashioned on the Australian pattern, and provide for the employés a wage enabling them to live up to a reasonable standard of comfort and decency. Much has been said about the firm of Bell and Company. Whatever firm may be concerned, we should ascertain the truth. Their representative here has been held up as. a sweating employer, who has not told the truth in the statements he has furnished to the Minister. It has been alleged that we on this side are getting our information direct from Bell and Company, but I have met their manager only within the last three or four minutes. His statement that they employ zoo hands is substantially correct, as is shown by the letter which he wrote on 18th December last year to the Chief. Inspector of Factories, pointing out the headings under which his employés were to be found in the list. Instead of their being all found under the head of “ wax matches “ a number were also to be found under “cardboard box-making.”
– They are all included in the 175.
– Thev are not.
– Senator McColl alleges that the average wage paid in the wax match factory in Victoria is 14s. 8d.. but Mr. Mackenzie has another story to tell. We are entitled to listen to what the representative of Bell and Company has to say. I have here a press copy of a letter written by him to Mr, Ord on the 18th December, 1907, in which he outlines the number of employes and what wages they are getting. He states that females in the wax vesta, factory of the age of 13 years are paid 6s. 9d. ; of the age of i4> 9s. ; and the age of 15, 13s.
– Too high altogether !
– I am not defending the wages. I shall never be found defending beggarly wages, but at the same time I shall not allow considerations of this sort to interfere with my desire to see industries established. Although industries may be carried On at present under very unfavorable conditions, that should not prevent us from seeking to have them properly established in order that we may bring about better conditions. Until we have the industries we cannot create the conditions that we desire. The letter gives details of the wages of females from the ages, of 13 to sr, and states, with regard to males, that all over 21 receive an average of £2 per week.
– What is the honorable senator quoting from?
– From a press copy of a letter addressed to the Chief Inspector of Factories by Mr. Mackenzie, attorney for R. Bell and Company in this Slate. I obtained it from Mr. Mac- kenzie
– Then the Chief Inspector of Factories has misrepresented the facts?
– No; he simply gives two industries instead of one.
– -Will the honorable senator read from the book containing that letter the number of girls and men employed, and their wages?
– In ‘ the letter the number of girls employed is not given. The wages at different ages are given.
– It is all important, and ought all to appear in Hansard.
– Very well. It isstated that females of the age of 13 are paid 6s. gd. ; those of the age of 14, 9s.-
– I suppose I must raise the question as a point of order, or otherwise I shall not be able to draw attention to the fact that the honorable senator is, perhaps unwittingly, creating a difficulty for. his friends. He is quoting from a document which, according to the rules of the Senate, can be laid on the table and become public property. I do not know whether any honorable senator intends to move that it be laid upon the table, but if that is done, of course, the book will pass out of the honorable senator’s hands.
– It would be wrong to more in that way with regard to a private letter book.
– If the book is used in the Senate it ought to be open to the Senate to test it. If a private letter book is brought into the chamber and something is read from it, I shall insist upon the Standing Orders being carried out.
– The letter I have quoted is not a private one, inasmuch as it has appeared in the Chief Inspector of Factories’ report.
– The book will have to be laid upon the table. I shall move in that direction, as it has been quoted from.
– The page could be torn out of- the book, and placed on the table.
– I shall forego my right to quote from it, rather than mutilate the book. If Senator Clemons thinks that the letter tells against him I can understand the attitude he is taking up, but if he desires to know the truth he should listen to what I am reading.
– Standing order 350 says- -
A document quoted from by a senator not a Minister of the .Crown may be ordered by the Senate to be laid upon the table. Such order may be made without notice immediately upon the conclusion of the speech of the senator who. has quoted therefrom.
– That requires a vote.
– Then the honorable senator thinks he has the numbers?
– The Senate .would never be so unjust as to order that the whole of a private letter book should be laid upon the table
– The rates of pay given in Mr. Mackenzie’s letter are as follow : -
Vesta factory : - Females, 13, 6s. o.d. ; 14, gs. ; 15, 13s.; 16, 18s. ; 17, 20s. 7id. ; iS, 16s. 2 1/2d. ; 19, 17s. nd. ; 20, 17s. 6gd. ; 21, 19s. 9 1/2d. ; males, all over 21, average £1.
Strawboard box factory : - Females, 13, 7s. ; 14, Ss. 4d. ; 15, 10s. 3id. ; 16, 14s- 2£d. ; 17, 14s. 3d.’; 18, 15s. ijd. ; 19, 18s. id.; 20, 17s.; ai, 19s. 2d.; males, all Over 21, average £* os. 7d.
The letter concludes -
These,- as you will see, are much higher averages than your last year’s return shows, and they are the wages we are actually paying. We should be very glad if you can see your way to adopt our method, or if it be possible, suggest some way of making out the return which would enable you to state our position more correctly than the present method.
That embodies Mr. Mackenzie’s protest against the way in which the Chief Inspector of Factories had classified his employes, and also his objection to the. average wages credited to him in the records, of the Department, as quoted by Senator McColl this afternoon.
– Does Mr. Mackenzie state how many men, boys, and girls he employs ?
– He does not state the number in that letter.
– He does not say that the figures in the Factory Inspector’s report are wrong, but that they have been altered since.
– He says that they are wrong, so far as they refer to him. The following letter was sent in reply from the office of the Chief Inspector of Factories on the 2 1 st December, 1907 -
With reference to your letter of the 18th inst., I have the honour to inform you that I have looked up the record forwarded by your company for last year, and find that a number of names have been crossed off. These names appear to be employes .who ceased to work in the factory during igo6, and it is not usual to include ‘names which have been ruled out when compiling the statistics which appear in the Annual Report.
Section 25 (3) of the Factories and Shops Act 1905 provides that the Annual Report shall not be so framed as to readily admit of the identification of the occupier of a factory, and the figures regarding the manufacture of wax matches are therefore combined with those with respect to fire kindlers. This will probably account for the difference in the average wage mentioned in your letter.
Consequently there seems to be another side to the question. Mr. Mackenzie shows that the average wage for adult males in the vesta factory is £2 per week, whilst in the strawboard box factory it is £2 os. ?d. He addresses a letter to the Chief Inspector of Factories, requesting that the figures for the industry should be differently stated when . the “ next report is being prepared. I have no interest in championing the cause of Bell and Company, or of any other company. I merely wished to discover whether or not this firm do not employ 200 hands, seeing that Senator Clemons stubbornly disputes the statement that they do. As to the average wage, we have the statement of the manager that it is £2 or £2 os. 7d.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to accept the manager’s statement?
– Yes; in the absence of any. contradiction. I am not here to defend such a wage, but simply to point out that the statement made by Senator Clemons, and those who think with him, is subject to revision, and ought to be carefully a’nd cautiously accepted when it comes to a matter of influencing our opinion. I am. supporting the request proposed by Senator McGregor, in the belief that the industry cannot be established unless the duty is largely increased, seeing that during the last five years it is quite plain there has been no progress under the duty of 6d. per gross. Senator Millen and Senator McColl have referred to the fact that Mr. Mackenzie did not present himself for examination before the Tariff Commission. But we can all recall the feeling which there was in Melbourne at the time, and which was to a great extent encouraged by the metropolitan press, that the investigations and reports of the Commission would come to nothing.
– That prognostication has proved to be true.
– I do not believe that. I mention the fact to show that the efforts of the press in the direction of nullifying the work of the Commission had a certain effect, in creating a reluctance to give evidence ; and, under the circumstances, there is reasonable excuse for those who did not come forward.
– - I am sure that Senator ‘ Lynch would not vote for protection with the mere idea” of making the rich man richer, but that, “on the other hand, he desires protection for tlie purpose of assisting the workers, and’ adding to’ the existing industries of the Commonwealth. But if Sena- tor Lynch will study the position, and regard it even from Mr. Mackenzie’s standpoint, he will find that his vote will enrich an already rich firm without any guarantee that an additional hand will be employed, or that a single penny more in wages will be paid. The fact is that this particular factory has had sufficient protection, not only to have captured the market, butalso to have paid the workers a higher wage; and that statement may be proved from Mr. Mackenzie’s own words. I do not rely on the report of the Inspector of Factories ; I admit that it is not reliable, because the industries are mixed. Briefly, the statement of Mr. Mackenzie is that the profits of the firm have never been more than £5,000, and, therefore, I assume that in the most favorable year that was the figure.
– No; what Mr. Mackenzie said was “nor even £5,000.”
– Then let us take it that the profit was £4,999 ! Does Senator Trenwith think that we are innocent lambs ? He knows that this manufacturer is on his defence, and meeting a charge of making an exorbitant profit. That being so, the manufacturer, looking over his books, says, “What statement can I make which will not be challenged ?” and he finds that statement to be that the firm have never made a profit of more than £5,000.
– But that might be only one year out of six; he tellsus that for two years they suffered heavy loss.
– I am going to assume that in the most favorable year the firm made nearly £5,000 profit.
– One year.
– And I intend to give the firm the benefit of the doubt in another respect. Mr. Mackenzie says that the firm have paid as much as £6,000 in wages, and I am not going to assume that that was paid only in the most favorable year. Mr. Mackenzie further says that the firm employ 200 hands - though the figures of the Inspector of Factories do not disclose that fact - but his figures show that, even including the fire-kindler makers, there are not 200 hands in the industry.
– But there is a strawboard division.
– However, I am going to accept Mr. Mackenzie’s statement that 200 hands are employed, not in strawboard making, but in making wax matches.
And what does that prove? On Mr. Mackenzie’s own. showing, in the year when the firm employed the most employés, and paid the highest sum in wages, the latter averaged £30 per annum, or11s. 6¼d. per week. That is below what is shown by the Factory Inspector’s reports, and it would appear that those employed in making fire-kindlers are paid better wages than are those who make the wax matches, seeing that, according to the Inspector, the average is 14s. 8d., whereas that disclosed by Mr. Mackenzie is us. 6¼d. Was foreign competition so keen that Mr. Mackenzie was unable to pay higher wages? The profit of £5,000 represents 10s. per week profit oh each employé. That is, Mr. Mackenzie made a profit of £25 per annum on each employé, and yet he paid each one on the average only11s. 6¼d. per week, or £30 per annum. What are we to assume? That he needs more protection ? Can it be said that what has been shown is not a fair margin of profit? Judging by the mostfavorable year, surely there arevery few industries where the amount of profit very nearly equals the wages paid.
– Will this remain a one-man industry ?
– Senator Needham knows that a man who has capital to invest will hot invest it in an industry which has got into the hands of a trust, but will rather choose one in which it is shown that competition sometimes succeeds. If Senator Needham were a capitalist, and saw that the match industry was a world-wide trust, he would hesitate before he invested, even behind the protective barrier, when that trust was already established there. A world-wide trust, such as that of the match industry, must have substantial capital, and it will spend much before it gives up its position to any new rival. We may dismiss the idea of any prospect of local competition. No matter how we raise the duty, we shall simply make a present of it to the trust. It may be said that under the new protection scheme we may give some of the profit to employes, but I point out that, under the old Tariff, the employes could have been paid something more nearly approaching a decent wage, without the employers being called upon to receive less than a decent profit. But the firm expected and received a profit which very nearly approximates to the wages paid. I agree with the suggestion that if this were a struggling industry those concerned had an excellent opportunity to place the facts before the Tariff Commission. On that Commission there were protectionists like Senator McGregor and ex-Senator Higgs, who would have been prepared to lend a friendly ear and place the most favorable construction on any case presented. It is idle to say that the press of Victoria, at any rate, ridiculed the Tariff Commission, and made it appear that the evidence laid before it would be valueless. As a matter of fact, it is due to the press of Victoria that there ever was a Tariff Commission, and that we are now dealing with the Tariff at the present time.
– But when the Tariff Commission was appointed the press did all they could against it.
– Which statement are we to believe - that of Senator Pearce or that of Senator Lynch?
– I do not think that we are in conflict, but that Senator Lynch has been led away by statements made to him this afternoon outside the chamber.
– Did not both the Melbourne Argus and the Melbourne Age ridicule the Tariff Commission ?
– I deny the statement that any manufacturer would be deterred from giving evidence by what appeared in the Victorian press.
– I know that there was a number deterred.
– As a matter of fact, the manufacturers and the protectionist press of Victoria set up the cry of strangled industries, and the cry was received with ridicule and contradiction by those who have thought otherwise. Does any honorable senator mean to tell me that, if a manufacturer knew he was suffering from foreign competition, and that there was a doubt on the part of Parliament on the point, he would hesitate a moment to place his case in the open light of day? The question has only to be asked to be answered in the negative. I shall vote for the duty in the old Tariff, because I see no justification for imposing duties not recommended by the Tariff Commission. Any extra duty imposed will simply mean a present of money to the manufacturers, with absolutely no guarantee that the workers will benefit to the extent of a single penny.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 79, paragraph a, “ Matches and Ves tas “ (imports under General Tariff), 6d. per gross of boxes (Senator Clemons’ request) put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 79, paragraph A (imports under General Tariff),1s. 6d. per gross of boxes.
I do not wish to repeat any arguments which I have already used. I merely want to point out that if the Committee pass the duty in the general Tariff as it stands, it will be practically a gift to Bell and Company and Bryant and May, and nobody else will have a chance of competing with them.
– Does not the honorable senator think that it is enough?
– It isquite enough for those two firms, because if the duty of1s. per gross in the first column is carried therewill be no competition. But if the duty is fixed at1s. 6d. in the general Tariff, and at1s. in the preferential Tariff, I have every reason to believe that within less than two years the manufacture of safety matches in Australia will be started, and then the competition with Bell and Company and Bryant and May in Australia will have the effect of keeping the price of matches at a reasonable rate. I have no reason to believe that if the duty in the general Tariff is carried as it stands there will be any safety for the public of Aus- tralia. If it had been possible under the Standing Orders for my request” to be dealt with before the other one, and it had been rejected, I would have been very much inclined to make matches free. I hold that unless we give sufficient protection to create competition it will be better for us to have no duty at all, I submit my request, because I consider that the duties as they stand in the two columns are in favour of the Combine about which we have heard so much, and that there isvery little guarantee for the safety of the public.
– I sincerely hope that the Committee will by a very large majority reject this request. We have had sufficient evidence quoted here this afternoon to warn us to be very careful in what we do. From the very beginning of this discussion I have had my suspicions about the propriety of protecting this industry. It was with no feeling of pleasure that I opposed the last request. I did so because I considered that the duty in the general Tariff was absolutely sufficient protection for anindustry of this character. I do not feel very certain in my mind that it is one which we ought to be particularly anxious to assist. I intend to support the position taken up by the other House in regard to the duty in the general Tariff. Senator McGregor has admitted that without any higher protection the duty of1s. per gross is an absolute gift from the Treasury-
– No, 6d.
– The honorable senator said that it is a gift of1s. per gross.
– No, it is a preference of 6d. per gross.
– Since 1902 these manufacturers have had a gift of 6d. per gross, which the other House has seen fit to increase to1s., and now the honorable senator, not satisfied with that liberal treatment, wants to give them another 6d. In my opinion they have had a very fair gift indeed.
– They ought to be given a single ticket out of the Commonwealth.
– Probably that would be a great benefit to the Commonwealth. I hope the Committee will see its way clear not to increase the gift that has already been bestowed upon these manufacturers. If they had been in an impecunious position, we might have considered the necessity of taking that step. But as the evidence proves that they have been amply provided for, and are living very well and that their workmen are living very badly, I think that it would be unwise to increase the gift, as fixed by the other House. I shall vote in that direction, with the hope that we may be able by other legislation, if the Victorian Factories Act is not sufficient, to secure for the employes the wages which they ought to receive. If I were the manager of a factory, my face would burn with shame if I put into the hands of any honorable senator a statement certifying that I was paying thirteen years of human flesh and bone at the deplorable rate of 6s. 9d. for a week’s work. I am satisfied that a man who has had the courage to do that is prepared to rob, plunder, and do anything which mankind has conceived in an evil direction.
– The honorable senator did not get 6s. 9d. a week when he was thirteen years of age.
– I did.
– The honorable senator ought not to have been working.
– I was working for four years before that event happened. I worked at that age for considerably more than 6s. 9d. a week, and in a country where we deplore to-day the conditions of the working man. When we compare the English conditions with the conditions which prevail in Victoria, and which have been described to us by men who are trafficking in the game, it makes some of us think that our early days were infinitely better than the early days of a good number of the Victorians. In the belief that we shall be able by future legislation to make the contemptible manufacturers of matches pay the wages which ought to be paid, I am prepared to support the duty in the general Tariff as it stands, and therefore to vote against the request of Senator McGregor.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 79, paragraph a, “ Matches and Vestas “ (imports under General Tariff), 1s. 6d. per gross of boxes (Senator McGregor’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 79, paragraph
A (imports from the United Kingdom),1s. per gross of boxes.
If there is an item in this Tariff in connexion with which we should be justified in abolishing the preference proposals, it is the one we are now considering. I am asked why I did not vote to abolish the industry in Australia, and my answeris that I hope by increasing the protection to the industry in Australia, we shall be able to secure better conditions for the workers engaged in it. Bad as those conditions may be, they are infinitely better than are the conditions obtaining in the industries in the Old Land. It is well known that only a few years ago the Salvation Army had to step in to save the girls employed in this industry in London, who had to work for something like eighty hours a week at a remuneration of between 6s. and 7s. It would appear that some honorable senator’s desire to encourage by a preferential duty the products of an industry carried on under such conditions. I do not wish to prolong the debate on this item, but I should like the manufacture of matches and vestas in Great Britain, in the matter of industrial conditions, to be placed on the same footing at least with the industry as carried on in Australia.
– Unfortunately, the effect of the honorable senator’s proposal would be only to increase the importation of matches from other countries where the conditions of the industry are just as bad as they are in England.
– I question whether the conditions obtaining in this industry in other countries are any worse than those obtaining in the United Kingdom.
– There are large importations of matches from Italy.
– And also from Japan, butI am referring to the conditions under which they are manufactured in other countries, and I am not disposed to give a preference to the industry as carried on in Great Britain, in view of the conditions obtaining there.
– Senator Needham has very clearly explained his object, but bad as the conditions of this industry in Great Britain undoubtedly are, I am inclined to think that those obtaining in other countries where the same kind of matches are made are worse.
– What authority has the honorable senator for that statement? He cannot show that there has been as much scandal in Italy in connexion with the match-making industry as has been shown to exist in connexion with the industry in England.
– Statements have frequently been made to the effect that the industrial conditions obtaining in Italy, Belgium, and other countries are not as good as those obtaining in Great Britain. It should not be forgotten that we are not as familiar with the industrial conditions obtaining in other parts of the world as with those obtaining in England, because for a very considerable time there has been a very healthy agitation to improve the industrial conditions in England. Some of the leadingsocial reformers, and amongst them, Annie Besant, have given much time and talentto efforts to organize women workers in this industry, and secure for them higher and better wages and a higher standard of living. If the statements contained in the circular received from the Victorian representative of Bell and Company be correct, the manufacturers of the United Kingdom were not the largest exporters of matches to Australia in 1906. According to the figures given they exported to the Commonwealth 250,000 gross, whilst Belgium exported 267,000 gross, Italy 260,000 gross, and Germany 104,000 gross.
– According to the Customs returns manufacturers of the United Kingdom exported to Australia 290,397 gross.
– I am prepared to accept the Customs returns as being the more reliable, and if the manufacturers of the United Kingdom were the only exporters of matches to Australia I should be prepared to vote with Senator Needham.Butwe have affirmed the principle of preference in respect to other items.
– On what conditions? It is a mock imperialsentiment.
– That may be, but the principle has been affirmed in connexion with other items, and as other countries are engaged in this industry and exporting to Australia, we should, by placing British manufacturers on the same footing as them, be acting inconsistently with what we have already done.
– Senator Needham thinks the conditions in this industry in Great Britain are so deplorable that by taking away a portion of the trade we should make them even more deplorable. That would be the effect of his proposal, since it would force some of the trade to cheap-labour countries, Such as Belgium, Italy, and Japan. Apparently the honorable senator would prefer that this trade should be done by any other country in the world than Great Britain. I might admit that the conditions in this industry in Great Britain are not such as I should like them to be, but I shall certainly not by any vote of mine do anything which would tend to make them worse by handing over a portion of the trade to manufacturers in Japan and Italy. One honorable senator has suggested that the conditions in this industry in other countries are better than in Great Britain, but Senator Findley has well said that a great deal of light has been thrown upon these things in Great Britain, whilst we have practically no information as to the. actual conditions obtaining in these industries in other countries.
– The worst conditions in England are nearly as good as the best in Italy.
SenatorSAYERS.- Senator Needham desires to take away a portion of the trade of the manufacturers of matches in the United Kingdom, and apparently is prepared to see those of’ our own flesh and blood in the Old Country starve, in order that some of the trade in connexion with this industry may go to foreign countries.
– Whatever views honorable senators may hold on the principle of preference, they should, after the lengthy debate we have had, understand what it means in regard to this particular item. They know that so far as Australian consumption is concerned, the production of matches depends upon two firms, who represent an active and safe combine. The Tariff, as before the Committee, makes provision for a preference of 6d. in favour of British manufacturers, and I am sorry to say that as a legislative body we, are proposing to add to the cohesive power and strength of the very combine whose operations in Australia we resent.
– Not under the new protection.
– We are not now dealing with the question of the new protection at all, and Senator Sayers should see that if we give a preference in this case it will be to the two firms of Bryant and May and Bell and Company, who have already formed a combine, and who, from my point of view, are operating this match trade to the great injury of Australian consumers.
– The honorable senator would not like to transfer the trade to foreign countries?
– Senator Fraser must see that the question of preference, speaking generally, is a totally different question from that which is presented to us on this item. If we give a preference to the United Kingdom on this item, we shall be giving the advantage to the very people whose operations I resent, who are conducting the business in Australia under conditions that are disgraceful, and who are making enormous profits out of Australian consumers, which will be increased. Under the circumstances, I find it difficult to determine how to act.
– May not fresh factories be started?
– I do not think it likely that any firm will start in competition with Bryant and May and Bell and Company. I hope that I shall get a way out by the recommittal of the item. I think that if it is recommitted, a majority will vote to make it free. Those who will vote in that direction will be, of course, those who have always thought that it. should be free, and I think those who voted with Senator McGregor feel now that, as they were unable to . obtain adequate protection for the local industry, it would be better to have no duty at all. Personally, I cannot vote on this request. The factory carrying on match-making here is being virtually conducted by those who control the industry in Great Britain, who fix the prices of matches to the Australian consumer.
– Senator Needham has stated that match-making is carried on in Great Britain under very bad conditions. But, according to the official report of Dr. Cunningham to the Secretary of State and to the British Board of Trade, there were in Great Britain in five years only sixteen cases of poisoning of males and twenty of poisoning of females, or thirty-six in all, whereas in the State factories in and about Marseilles 50 per cent. of the employés were suspended from duty because of dental and other troubles, and in Aix and Provence 3 per cent., showing that much may be done by good hygienic methods to lessen the troubles attendant upon the making of matches.
– No doubt matches are made in Great Britain under conditions better than prevail in other countries.
– Yes ; and I think that on that ground one may justify giving preference to Great Britain.
– Iam inclined to vote against giving a preference to Great Britain on this item because of the following communication which I have received -
It may not be generally known that the match trade is in the hands of a combine, of which Mr. Bartholomew, the managing director, of Bryant and May, is the moving spirit. Bryant and May used to be an English firm, and nominally still are; but, as a matter of fact, the Diamond Match Company, an American concern, which first started business in Liverpool, bought out Bryant and May several years ago, so that to all intents and purposes Bryant and May is a foreign firm.
I am willing to show this letter to any honorable senator who wishes to see it. I am satisfied of the bonâ fides of the writers, who are large importers of matches, hardware, groceries, and many other commodities.
– The question is, do the English manufacturers conduct their business in a manner inimical to the public interests ?
– I am always ready to give a preference to British manufacturers, but in this case, it is proposed that a preference shall be given to an American combine which control’s the match market. Senator Clemons’ investigations’ in quite another direction confirm the statement which I have read.
– Honorable senators may talk of trusts and combines, but the question we have to decide is, shall the duty on matches imported from Great Britain be1s. or6d. The Committee has decided that the General Tariff shall be1s., and those who believe that rate to be too high have now an opportunity to vote for a rate of6d. on all matches coming from the United Kingdom. As for the Combine, it controls the Continental factoriesas well as the British. The question we have to ask ourselves is, have we a preference for matches made in Great Britain. Last night, when it was known that theV ice- President of the Executive Council intended to support a request for an amendment, I thought that he was taking a wrong course in view of what had transpired elsewhere. But he has to-day told us that he intends to stand by the Tariff. Those of us who lastnight urged him to do so, cannot now honestly propose something else.
– In my opinion, the Committee voted for a. duty of1s. to adequately protect the local match-making industry. A preference of6d. to Great Britain will bring our match makers into direct competition with those of that country. I do not think it will be asserted that the conditions of labour here are quite so squalid as those of Great Britain. We ought to be consistent. If we wish to place the local industry on a sound footing, we should give it ample protection. If we insist on the local manufacturers paying fair wages, and observing proper sanitary and other conditions, we mustprotect them from the competition even of British manufacturers. We should either destroy the industry as unworthy of a place on Australian soil, or shield it from the attacks of cheap labour competition.
– A duty of 6d. would protect it.
– During the last year for which we have information, we imported nearly £90,000 worth of matches of a particular kind, and obtained £20,000 in duty.We should either not protect the local industry, or protect it effectively. We should not do things by halves in a matter of this kind. The match industry is admittedly an unhealthy and undesirable one - an industry in which men and women would not engage unless under pressure of circumstances. Such being the case, let us either try to make the conditions as good as possible, or prevent the industry from being carried on. I believe that the duty of1s. will help the Australian industry materially, but if a preference of 6d. is given to Great Britain we shall be taking away with one hand what we give with the other. Therefore I intend to vote for no preference to the United Kingdom. I am not troubled particularly about Britain. I am an Australian - probably more Australian in feeling than are many honorable senators who were born in this country. I shall vote to give the match-making industry a fair chance in Australia. If we give a preference of 6d. to the United Kingdom it will not get a fair chance.
– The reason advanced by Senator Needham for moving for the abolition of the preference duty really was that the conditions of labour in the Old Country were practically just as bad as they are in any other country. That can be the only logical reason advanced for the abolition of the preference duty. But I should like to point out that in a volume called the Bulletin of the Department of Labour of the United States, published in September, 1906, particulars are given of the wages earned in the match factories in France. There are there 2,120 employes, of whom only 95 earn more than1s. per hour, that number including managers. There are 676 males earning an average of 41/2d. per hour and 1,444 females earning an average of 33/4d. an hour. If Senator Needham can convince me that in the Old Country things are worse than that I. shall be glad to vote for the abolition of the preference duty.
– I have been accused of being desirous of giving a preference to Japan and other foreign countries as against Great Britain. Let me point out that the Customs returns for 1906 show that the value of the imports of matches and vestas from Japan was £4 and from China £1. The total imports from the United Kingdom were 250,307 gross, the value being £33,939. The next highest country in the list is Belgium. The imports from that country were 267,098 gross, having a value of £24,969. Senator
Neild has said that the conditions of labour in the match factories in London are disastrous and discreditable. Consequently I hope that he will vote with me. I am not desirous of giving a preference to other countries as against Great Britain, but I do desire to safeguard the interests of the Australian worker. I do not wish to see him brought into competition with the sweated labour of the land from which his forefathers have sprung. Senator Chataway has endeavoured to disprove my statement that the conditions of labour in England are as bad as they are in other countries, but has quoted figures which prove conclusively my statement that the employes -in the match industry in London are working between seventy and eighty hours per week for a wage of between 7s. and 8s. per week.
– How do the wages earned in France prove the hours of labour in London?
– What are the hours of labour in France?
– Ten hours a day. Senator NEEDHAM.- They are twelve hours a day in London. Moreover, the figures quoted by Senator Chataway prove conclusively that more wages are earned in France than in London.
– What authority has the honorable senator for his statements concerning the wages in London ?
– It is a matter of history. There are not in our library the books that would be necessary to prove my statement, but it is well known that General Booth, the head of the Salvation Army in England, started a match factory in London in opposition to the private manufacturers, in order to give better wages and shorter hours of employment, as well as better sanitary conditions to the workers.
– Is that factory still in operation?
– Very well, then ; the conditions are better than they used to be.
– I am speaking of the people whom this preference duty would encourage. The Salvation Army institution does not export. It was started to save the girls ofthe factories from having to walk the streets at night and maintain themselves by prostitution. If we are desirous of encouraging the match industry in Australia we must not concede this preference duty of 6d. to Great Britain. By having our matches produced in Australia we can insist on the factory being conducted under conditions infinitely better than those obtaining in England. The various States Parliaments have enacted industrial legislation which will protect the workers, and we on our part can still further protect them by means of the Tariff and the new protection proposals.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [6.15]. - I understand that while 1 was out of the Chamber to see a Minister of the Crown on public business something was said about my remarks last night in reference to match making in England. Those remarks have been either exaggerated or misrepresented. Having only this afternoon checked the Hansard report of my remarks, I have necessarily more than a memory of what I said last night. I have positive knowledge. What I said was that I looked upon the match-making industry as an undesirable one, and that in no magazine article or book dealing with the ‘ ‘White Slaves of England,” could one read without finding the. match-making industry included. That is what I said, and I say it again.
– The honorable senator said that the industry in England was disastrous and discreditable. Tie used those words.
– Hansard did not hear them, if the honorable senator did. Perhaps the ears cf Hansard are not so long as his.
– I want to say a word or two about this matter before the . division is taken. I wish to appeal to the softer feelings of honorable senators. I know that the humanitarian instincts of the members of this Chamber revolt at the very thought of the conditions under which matches have been manufactured in various parts of the world. I can assure honorable senators that I have scarcely ever struck a match without having had vividly brought before my mind the- shameful conditions under which boys and girls, men and women manufacture the matches which we use, and I have often wished to have the power to improve those conditions. The Committee now has power to do something in that direction by refusing’ 10 consent to the policy of preference, so far as Great Britain is concerned, and by placing that country upon an absolute equality of compel it on with every other country. The duty o: is. will possibly enable the local manufacturers to make every match used in Australia under civilized conditions. The power to control those conditions will be in the hands of Australian citizens, so that no man or woman may feel qualms of conscience when he takes out a box and strikes a match. Here is an opportunity for honorable senators to give play to their humanitarian instincts. It is an opportunity such as very seldom comes within our reach. I hope we shall take advantage of it. If we do, I am certain we shall never be sorry for it.
– In considering this industry, and having ‘ regard to the conditions which obtain in other countries, we should not forget. the new protection policy which we hope to apply to this as well as to many other industries. We ought to have a duty on matches that will admit of the successful working of that policy. The present duty is not sufficient to permit of that state of affairs. If there is not a sufficient duty on an article to allow good wages to be paid in Australia, we should take the present opportunity of imposing such a. duty. I hold that in the past the wages that have been paid in th’s industry have been very bad. What is the use of our deploring the small wages paid in ether countries - what is the use of talking about the danger of “ phossy jaw” and the diseases incidental to chemical works - if we do not take steps to protect our own workers? Why deplore that state of affairs if. when we have an opportunity to do something that is likely to obviate it, as far as human effort can obviate it, in the near future, we refuse to take advantage of it. That is a common-sense view of this question, and I am surprised that such a champion of protection as is Senator Trenwith, should have determined to vote against an effective protective duty. Incidents of this kind bring the principle of protection into disrepute, and provide free-traders with excellent arguments in favour of the policy which they advocate.
– Has the honorable senator only just made that discovery ?
– No. I have long since taken note of tlie effect of such incidents ; but apparently Senator Trenwith has not, since in the case of matches he is willing to allow the grand principle of protection to be dragged in the dust for the sake of a miserable duty of 6d. per gross.
We must have regard, not merely to what another place has agreed to, or what the Government favour but to what we think is absolutely the best course to pursue. Senator Trenwith, notwithstanding his declaration that he would vote against the Government whenever he thought fit, has now decided, rather than do so, to throw aside for the time being the grand principles of protection. We find him determined to hang on to the coat tails of the Government. But neither Government, nor party, nor any consideration will prevent me from giving, when the opportunity presents itself, what I believe to be a common-sense vote. We have before us an opportunity to adopt a sensible course in regard to this duty, and we must not lose sight of the fact that many years may elapse before we have another chance to revise the Tariff. I hope, therefore, that Senator Trenwith, Senator Findley, and others who will go abroad later on to advocate the advantages of the new protection, will take care that the duty imposed upon matches and vestas is sufficientto permit of the payment of reasonable rates of wages in the local industry.
– How would Senator Needham’s request cover that?
– It would prevent notoriously sweated manufactures entering the Commonwealth.
– It would not prevent the sweated manufactures of foreign countries from coming in.
– No; but it would not give the sweated London production an advantage over that of foreign countries.
– What advantage will that confer on the industry in Australia ?
– It is proposed that the industry here shall be granted the protection of an additional duty of 6d. per gross, and I am surprised that the honorable senator, after listening to the long debate on this question, has not grasped the fact that the adoption of such a proposition must be beneficial to the local industry. Senator Chataway has presented some figures as to the wages obtaining in the match-making industry in France. Dr. Cunningham’s report, from which he quoted, shows that in some respects the conditions of the match trade there are better, at all events, than are those ruling in England. The danger of “ phossy jaw” in France is greatly minimized as compared with the position in other countries,and is certainly much less than it is in England. Senator Chataway said that only a certain percent age of the workers in the match-making trade in France receive over is an hour. They work, however, ten hours a day, so that the men to whose position he referred, apparently as furnishing a strong argument against Senator Needham’s proposition, earn at least 10s. per day.
– They are managers, foremen, heads of departments, and so forth.
- Senator Trenwith is always fearless and free in the statements that he makes, regardless of whether or not he has any authority for them.
– I was in France very recently and know what are the rates of wages there.
– The honorable senator seems to know the. ruling rates of wages everywhere. When an honorable senator referred to the wages paid in Italy he replied at once that he knew what they were. He seems to be a walking Encyclopedia. I do not profess to know as much as does Senator Trenwith regarding these matters, but I certainly have authority for the statements that I make. Unlike the honorable senator, I do not make a statement without an authority for it.
– The honorable senator is infallible.
– I am not infallible, neither is the honorable senator. At page 287 of his work, Life and Labour of the People in London, Mr. Charles Booth, an English writer who takes great care in compiling his statistics, and is quoted by politicians of nearly all shades of political opinion, shows that the wages paid in the match industry of London are not by any means reasonable. I find that, according to this authority, 21.59percent.ofthe female workers there receive wages ranging from 4s. to 6s. per week.
– In what year was that?
– The book was published in 1893.
– But I wish to know to what year the statement as to wages relates.
– We know that since 1893 there has been very little change in the wage conditions of England, and that there is still much room for improvement. As I was stating when interrupted, 21.59percent.ofthe female workers in the industry in London receive a wage averaging from 4s. to 6s. ; 29.73 per cent. a wage ranging from 6s. to 8s. per week; 29.63 per cent, a wage of from 8s. to 10s. per week; 14.86 per cent, a wage of from ros. to 12s. per week, and 3.96 per cent. - a wage of from 12s. to 15s. per week. Less than 1 per cent, of those engaged in the industry receive over 15s. per week.
– Does the honorable senator know that the greater number of hands employed in the Victorian factory are receiving only ros. 7d. per week?
– If that statement be correct I am astounded that such a state of affairs should exist in the Commonwealth.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
– This afternoon Senator Chataway instituted a comparison between the low wages which obtain in the match-making industry in England and those which prevail in France. In regard to the British match-makers I would point out that there is no better body of trade-unionists in the world than the women workers who are employed . by Messrs. Bryant and May. But notwithstanding all the efforts of their union, backed up by the social influence of such distinguished ladies as the Countess .of Warwick, they have been quite unable to obtain anything approaching a living wage. I have no information as’ to the rates of wages paid in the industry on the Continent, but in a report furnished to the British Government by Dr. Pannicum I have obtained some very useful data regarding the conditions surrounding the industry in France. In it I find the most encouraging evidence of the advantages accruing from nationalization as compared with those accruing from individual effort in this much-sweated industry. We have been told to-day that the match-making industry is scarcely worth developing - that it is an unhealthy industry and one calculated to breed disease among the workers. It is refreshing, therefore, to learn from this report that in France the manufacture of matches is being carried on without the use of phosphorus. “ Phossy jaw “ is thus prevented. The report to which I refer will be found in the parliamentary papers of the House of Commons, volume XII., of 1889. Under the heading “ Visit of Inspection to the. French Match Works “ the writer states -
In accordance with the instructions received from the Secretary of State I proceeded to Paris. Nothing could exceed the courtesy extended to me by the director and officials of the Department of State Manufactures during my stay. . . . Being obliged to find a new source of income after the disastrous FrancoGerman war, the National Assembly created different taxes by the law of 4th September, 1871, amongst which figured one on matches. ‘ All matches made in France, or imported, had to bear a Government stamp. The receipts, which were expected to reach about 15 millions annually, never passed 4,800,000 francs, owing to frauds which it was found impossible to prevent. The State, therefore, assumed control over the purchase, manufacture, and sale ‘of matches. In October, 1872, the monopoly was conveyed for twenty years, with the faculty of annulment every five years, to a company which agreed to pay the State : - (1) A fixed revenue of 16,030,000 francs per annum; (2) a proportional revenue should the annual consumption exceed 40 milliards of matches; (3) a duty of 10 per cent, on revenue derived from exportation. The cost of the compulsory purchase of the several factories was 30,500,000 francs for goodwill and 2,000,000 francs for machinery, stock, raw products, &c.
It will be noted that the amount of capital invested was very small compared with the cost of the goodwill. The report continues -
The farming company “ Cie Générale des Allumettes,” having obtained the monopoly of manufacture, also acquired that of exclusive sale. In the first “quinquennial period the State’ received an annual average of 16,238,000 francs. The contract was continued for a second term of five years.
I have placed these few extracts on record with a view to giving the Committee an idea of the history of this industry in France. The wages quoted by Senator Chataway show that the conditions which obtain in the nationalized industry there are very satisfactory to the worker.
– Just repeat them.
– The wages quoted by Senator Chataway were certainly very startling when applied to such an industry as that of match-making. He showed that, whereas, as I have shown, the minimum wage paid in England is from 4s. to 6s. per week, the minimum payable in France is 12s. 6d. per week.
– According to Mr. Mackenzie’s own statement, the average wage paid in the- industry in Australia was only us. 5d.
– The figures regarding the French industry are a splendid tribute to the advantages of nationalization.
– They do not pay half those rates of wages in the tobacco industry in France.
– The wages paid in the tobacco industry in France are much higher than those paid in any other industry. I am quite satisfied that if relatively the same rates were paid in the match industry in Australia there would be no occasion to extend to it the new protection. The minimum wage quoted by Senator Chataway for men engaged in the industry in France was 23s. iod. per week, and the maximum was 10s. per day.
– He said that there were 800 men who received over 10s. per day. Probably some get a great deal more than that.
– But even 10s. per day for a manager is a; very decent wage, according to the rates which prevail in the Old Country. The report from which I have quoted also shows that a very respectable revenue is derived in France from the making and sale of matches. All these facts indicate that ‘we should think twice before excluding the product of an industry such as that to which I have referred, in order to confer a benefit upon the sweated product of London. But my chief desire is to give to our own industry that consideration to which it is entitled. Unless we are able to secure .the whole of this trade to our manufacturers, I maintain that they are not getting a fair deal. I trust therefore that the proposal of Senator Needham will be carried.
– I feel bound to support the proposal of Senator Needham. I do so upon somewhat ‘ different grounds from those which impelled the mover of the request to take up the attitude which he has assumed. I think that we are all unanimous that our idea of preference should not cease when- we have extended to British trade a slight preference over foreign trade. We believe that the extension of a preference to Great Britain will also insure a healthy competition with our Austalian industries, or will, at least, prevent that increase in prices which might be possible in the absence of any preferential arrangement If my premises be correct, I think that upon this question of matches we have begun at the wrong end. I do not suppose that there are two honorable senators in this chamber who, looking at the question from a broad stand-point, will regard a preference . Or 6d. per gross to the United Kingdom as being sufficient to prevent an’ increase of price by the Australian manufacturers. This afternoon we have heard a good deal of talk ..about Messrs. Bryant and May and Messrs. Bell and Company. But who are they? Who are Messrs. Bell and Company? They are simply the Bryant and May, and Bell and Company, of other places. Consequently, if we gave a preference to England on this item, it .would not interfere with the price of the article when it reached us in Australia, because the people who can control the price in Australia do so in the case of the English goods, just as they do in the case of what they manufacture here. On the other hand, it lias been suggested that they may take advantage of the increased duty to raise their prices, and that they have refused to enter into contracts in the hope of getting a little higher price, than they could now.
– The honorable senator is going to help them to put the price up still higher.
– I am going to do nothing of the kind. These people are simply a branch of the English matchmakers, and any preference given to England will not affect us as Australians. If we want to give a preference that will produce effective and healthy competition, we should give it to Belgium or Sweden. I shall vote to remove the preference altogether, believing that then there will be just a possibility of most of the matches required in Australia being made here by-and-by. If that happens, we shall get the advantage of employing whatever labour is to be employed, under the very best Australian conditions. If we agree to a preferential rate for English goods, Bell and Company of Australia will simply continue their high importations.
– In small boxes.
– I think that can easily be remedied. A man, who sells boxes of matches should be compelled to comply with standard conditions in the same way as is the man who sells his goods by weight.
– We should then get . the same number of worse matches.
– We should probably be able to remedy that by making our own matches according to our own standard, as is done in France. I shall support Senator Needham’s motion.
.- Earlier in the evening I expressed myself as favorable to a preference for Great Britain on this item. I have since received information which has caused me to reconsider the vote I then intended to give. I am, first of all, concerned about the establishment of industries in Australia. As I am anxious to give as high protection as possible, with a view to firmly establishing industries, I feel that to give preference to Great Britain on this item would weaken this Australian industry. I am now convinced that if we give a preference to Great Britain, we shall be giving it to identically the same firm as is carrying on business in Australia. If it would have the effect of causing fair and healthy competition, there might be something in. its favour ; but, as the firm here and in England are parts of the same monopolistic tree, I am not disposed to encourage its growth outside of Australia. If it grows to any great extent here, the time is not far distant when some of us will set to work to nationalize the industry, ashas been done in France. I do not feel disposed, by voting for preference, to strengthen that monopolistic tree, not only in Australia, but outside of it.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 79, paragraph a, “ Matches and Vestas “ (imports from the United Kingdom),1s. per gross of boxes (Senator Needham’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
– I move -
That the House of Representative’s be requested to make the duty on item 79, paragraph
A (imports from the United Kingdom), 9d. per gross of boxes.
If this item is passed in its present form, the industry of match-making in the Commonwealth will not receive the slightest protection. We shall draw the bulk of our supplies from Great Britain as we did before. As we are framing a Tariff which is to last for some years, we should notallow this industry to be treated in that way. In order that it may be given some form of protection, I desire the difference between the two rates to be reduced to 3d.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Colonel Neild) negatived -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 79, paragraph B (imports under the General Tariff), free.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 79, paragraph B (imports from the United Kingdom), 2s. per gross of boxes.
This proposal is consistent with my action in regard to British preference. If I thought for a moment that preference would improve the position of British workers I should be found voting for it; but I sincerely believe that it will not in the slightest degree raise their status.
– May I suggest that the paragraphs b and c should be combined, for they both appear to signify the same thing.
– One duty is on a 2s. basis,and the other on a1s. basis.
– Pursuant to notice, I desire to move that the House of Representatives be requested to amend the wording of paragraph d, so as to make it read -
When in boxes with printed matter thereon other than the manufacturer’s name and address and description of the article contained therein.
The object is to prevent the utilization of this ‘ means for advertising locally some local production. I happen to have in my possession two boxes of matches which advertise a local production, while the matches themselves are manufactured- in Sweden.
– This has been a common practice for a long time.
– The- proposed amendment will indicate more clearly what was designed by the original wording. The manufacturer of matches may advertise as freely as he pleases the ‘fact that he is the manufacturer, but if the boxes be used for the purpose of advertising some Australian production, we think such a means’ inconsistent with the policy of the Government, and with what we believe to be the policy of the country. As the first step in the amendment desired, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 79, paragraph v, by inserting before the word “matter” the word “printed.”
– This is a very strange request. The object has been explained by Senator Keating ; and I am not sure to what extent it will commend itself to honorable senators.This question, of course, is associated with the legislation as to advertising which remained in force for some time, and which prevented the introduction of advertising matter in imported magazines and so forth. In that case, however, the objection was to advertisements relating to goods which were manufactured abroad, but which might come into Australia. If that legislation was defensible, it was on the ground that we do not desire goods made abroad to be advertised in Australia except under rules which we indicate; but the present proposal is rather the other way round. . I have no sympathy with firms who use this method of advertising, but, undoubtedly, the present proposal is to limit the opportunity which Australian manufacturers have for advertisement. I do not say that the proposal excludes all such opportunities, but it limits them ; and it seems to me to be a very doubtful- sort of position to take up, no matter what our views may be. Practically such advertisements can appear only on boxes containing wooden matches, and only to a limited extent on boxes containing wax vestas. The importation of wooden matches is fairly considerable, because at present they are not made in Australia.
– On a box of wax vestas produced to-night cocoa was advertised.
– I admit that occasionally advertisements may appear on small boxes containing wax vestas, but it will be generally admitted that they mostly appear on boxes containing wooden matches.
– That may be so in Victoria, but not in the other States.
– Then I shall only say that a large proportion of the advertisements appear on boxes containing wooden matches. There is not much likelihood of our manufacturing wooden matches for many years to come, and any advertisements must appear on boxes that are imported.’ The object of the request may appeal to some ; and, as I have already said, I have no desire that tobacco manufactured by the Combine, .for instance, should be so advertised. The duty appears to me, however, as one directed not against the advertising of foreign’ goods but the advertising of home-made goods. I have information that the duty is operative, inasmuch as it has been decided by the proprietors of one of the prominent local brands of tobacco to abandon such advertisements for the reason that they do not pay in face of the impost. If I were in the position of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and anxious to promote Australian manufactures under all circumstances,- I should think I was doing such manufactures an injury by this request.
– Matches are practically given away when they are subsidized by advertisers.
– And what about the Australian printer?
– I admit that, to a certain extent, such a duty may divert a. little additional work to the Australian printer; but, on the other hand, it would certainly .take from the Australian manufacturer in many branches of industry an opportunity for advertisement.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Keating) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 79, paragraph d, by leaving out the words “ advertising any commodity other than the matches contained therein “ with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ other than the manufacturer’s name and address and description of the article contained therein.”
– I rise to submit a request for the insertion of a new paragraph. During the discussion on this item, we have heard a good deal about a practice which has grown up, intentionally or otherwise, of putting into a box a lesser number of matches than that which, according to custom and trade usage, it is supposed to contain. I am quite sure that no one, whatever his fiscal views may be, can approve of a system of that kind, and every one must be desirous, as far as possible, of. putting the public in a position to know exactly what a box contains. The object of my request is to impose an additional duty on all matches upon the boxes of which is not stamped the number supposed to be- contained therein. I admit at once that it does not meet the case of matches manufactured locally, but that is a matter, for the State Governments to deal with. I venture to say that if we, having control of the imports, impose this condition upon the importation of matches, the State Governments will not be’ long in following our lead. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 79 by adding the following paragraph : “ e. When in boxes upon which the number of matches contained therein is not printed or stamped, in addition to the dutv set out in (a), (b), (c), above (imports under the General Tariff), per gross of boxes, 2s.”
– May I suggest to the honorable senator that it should provide for a statement of the correct number in each- box.
– There can only be one number.
– They can stamp a number on the box.
– If some other figures are put on a box they will not represent the number of matches therein. The public should be able to know exactly the weight or quantity which is supposed to be sold to them. .
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Minis ciple which underlies the proposal of Senator Millen has my approval, and I believe the cordial sympathy of the Government as a whole- I think that I could even gofarther than that, and say a similar provision with regard to matches of local production has like approval and sympathy,, but I point out that the introduction of a principle like this into a measure of thiskind at this juncture may lead to a considerable amount of disturbance in our import trade. In 1905, we passed a Commerce Bill dealing with a variety of imports to which a similar principle was applied. But as honorable senators will well1 remember, it was decided that that measure should not come into force until a date to be fixed by proclamation. One of the reasons for making that provision was in order to enable persons trading with Australia to become familiarized with tlie altered conditions.- If the request of Senator Millen is carried here, and acceded to elsewhere, it will come into force immediately, but for some time those who are sending in matches will be unaware of the altered conditions. That might not beexactly fair to persons who had already sent on articles of this kind.
– Suggest a time when it should come into force.
– If it were provided that it should not come into force for six or nine months it would give ample time to those who are interested in this trade with Australia to get acquainted with the altered conditions.
– I ask leave of the Committee to amend my request by inserting after the rate of duty the words “ on and after 1st September, 1908.”
– Earlier in the debate I mentioned that we could only deal with this matter under the Commerce Act. It does not extend to any articles which would include matches, and therefore it would have to be amended. We must rely on the States to enact a similar provision in regard to locally-produced matches.
– This request deals with only the imported article.
Request amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Item So. Meats, Poultry, and Game, viz. : -
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.40]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 8o, paragraph a,1d. per lb.
Hitherto the duty on fresh or smoked meats has been1d. per lb. That rate was recommended byboth sections of the Tariff Commission. In1906 the duty on the importations of fresh and smoked meats, &c, amounted to only£8, while the value of the duty on the quantity imported was but £4. 6s.10d. The idea of a Government clamouring to double that revenue !
– There was a scare against these meats in thatyear.
– I should think that there was as much scare against the duty as against the meats.
– No, it was against the meats.
– The whole proposal to amend this Tariff is based upon the work of the Tariff Commission. Its recommendations are adopted or opposed by the Government where it pleases them. If it had not been for that bodywe should probably have had no tinkering with the Tariff. Upon its work isbuilt up this monumental schedule. It will be recognised that this item is paltry beyond description when I point out that only 1,042 lbs. of fresh and smoked meat came into the ports of the Commonwealth in an entire year.
– In how many ships did it come ?
– It would be interesting to know that.I should think that not much over 1 lb. per ship came into the different ports of the Commonwealth.
– Ships’ stores, I suppose.
– I suppose it was not more than the landing of some surplus stores. The importation is so utterly paltry that I think we had better leave the duty as it was under the old-
Tariff, and as it was recommended by both the protectionist and free-trader sections of the Tariff Commision.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
– This is rather a strange item, as I find that under paragraph b our importations for 1906 amounted in value to , £32,000, the vast proportion coming from the United Kingdom, whilst under the same head we exported during the year potted or concentrated meats to the value of £20,000, and almost entirely to the United Kingdom. It must be fairly obviousthat this duty is directed against the importation of a limited class of potted meats, and the object must be merely to collect revenue upon those meats which persons in some special part of the Commonwealth are unable to get except by importation. There is clearly no necessity in, this case to protect any industry, and I cannot be expected to vote for the imposition of a duty upon food, which may be a necessity in some parts of the Commonwealth where it cannot be obtained except by importation. In any case, a duty of 25 per cent. upon an article of food must be admitted to be extremely high when a reduction of the duty would involve no injury to any local industry. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 80, paragraph b, free.
– Only a short time ago we heard in this Chamber an appeal made on behalf of the poor farmer, because of the troubles he suffered in a time of drought. Now, when an opportunity is afforded to protect the market for the benefit of the farmer, the honorable senators who made the appeal are calling for free-trade. In the circumstances; I support the item as it stands with the greatest pleasure.
.- It must be frankly admitted that a proposal to increase a duty to 25 per cent, is a protectionist proposal on the part ot the Government. It has been thought desirable to increase the protective duty imposed upon the importation of this particular class of prepared meats. Senator Clemons has pointed out that a great deal of this imported meat comes from the United Kingdom, whilst a gOOd deal of this kind of meat is exported to the United Kingdom.
– I only referred to the fact as strange that the import and export should apply to the same place.
– The honorable senator acts upon the principle that wherever a duty is imposed upon food it should be rejected in any circumstances. The fact that the import and export applies chiefly to the United Kingdom under this head may be singular, but is not altogether inexplicable. If honorable senators will look at the statistical returns they will find that potted and concentrated meats were imported in 1906 from the United Kingdom to the value of £25,543, and from the United States to the extent of £6,538. If they turn then to the figures given with respect to the country of origin they will find that the figure for the United Kingdom drops from £25’543 to £21,^16, and that for the United States is increased from £6,538 to £10,005, clearly showing that a good deal of United States concentrated potted meats filter through the United Kingdom to Australia. Honorable senators are aware that in recent years certain disclosures have been made with regard to the processes adapted in the manufacture of these goods, and it is not necessary that
I should repeat them.
– They do not apply to this item.
– I am not so sure of that j but I need not waste the time of the Committee in reminding honorable senators who know probably quite as well as I do what has been reported on this subject. Seeing that we have almost unlimited facilities for the rearing, breeding, killing, and preserving of meats in the Commonwealth, I hope the Committee will be prepared to assist the Government in imposing a substantial protective, duty in respect of this item.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.55J. - I should like Senator Clemons to reconsider his proposal to make paragraph b of this item free, because he must Know that there is no possible hope of carrying it. If the honorable senator proposes a substantial reduction in the duty, I shall be happy to vote with him. In answer to the question which the honorable senator has raised,’ I am inclined to think that a very considerable proportion of these potted or concentrated meats which are imported into the Commonwealth are really foods for invalids. I know of no other heading in the Tariff under which many well-known patent concentrates of meats could be imported. This duty is, therefore, worse -than a tax upon food ; it is a tax upon remedies for sickness. If the honorable senator presses his request to a division, I shall vote for it; but I should have greater satisfaction in supporting a proposal to reduce what I look upon as a most extortionate charge, in view of the character of the articles included in paragraph b of this item.
– I hope that Senator Clemons will adhere to his proposal. We represent the people who are advantaged by the importation of what are really medicated foods prescribed by the medical profession for invalids and aged people.
– What are these foods composed of?
– I assume that thisparagraph of item 80 covers such importations as Liebig’s essences of beef, and Crosse and Blackwell’s, and other manufacturers’ potted meats, which are specially prepared, for invalids and aged people. I object to the imposition of a duty of 25 per cent, upon such articles.
– In considering this Tariff, I am certainly not tilting at windmills. I ought to know by this time how hopeless it is to attempt to make any item free. So far as I understand this item, it covers foods which might be classed with malt extract, which I tried to make free, with of course this difference : that in the one, case we were dealing with a medical preparation of malt, and in this case we are dealing with medical preparations of meat. If I am right in my judgment as to what the articles covered in this item are, it is contrary to my principles to agree to the imposition of any taxation upon medical foods, no matter where they come from. Of course, if these articles are not made duty free, I should like to have a much smaller duty imposed upon them than that provided for in the schedule.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 80, paragraph b, “ Meats, &c., Potted or Concentrated,” free (Senator Clemons’ request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 18
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.3]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 80, paragraph b, ad val., 20 per cent.
Twenty per cent. was the rate under the old Tariff, and no change was recommended by either section of the Tariff Commission. Senator Millen, who is pledged to support the old Tariff, will, of course, vote for my request.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Colonel Neild) put -
That the Houseof Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 80, paragraph
B (imports from the United Kingdom), ad val., 20 per cent.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 80, paragraph F, by inserting before the word “Preserved” the words -‘ Poultry and Game.”
My desire is to leave the duty on poultry and game preserved by cold process at 2d. per lb., but I request the insertion of these words so that afterwards I may have an opportunity to move the insertion of a. separate sub-item “making meats preserved by cold process free. This course will follow the recommendation of the Tariff Commission. The Commonwealth is a large exporter of meats preserved by cold process, her exportation of bacon and hams in 1906 amounting to 532,851 lbs. worth £1.8,467. Of meats preserved by cold process, the value of the export was .£434,455, and the weight, 41,561,252 lbs. The amendment which I am desirous of having made in the Tariff will apply principally to frozen legs of pork, which are imported from New Zealand to be converted into ham. I do not desire to interfere with any Australian industry..
– Not with the Australian pig industry?
– Those engaged in the curing trade are already, taking all that the Australian farmer can produce, and are even exporting. The only time of the year when the industry cannot supply the Australian demand is about Christmas-time. At that time, the export trade is so great that the Australian demand cannot be met without importations. It has been pointed out to me by one or two firms interested in the business, that the only way in which we can assist the consumer is by encouraging pigs to produce more than two hind legs, for at present- the curers are taking the legs of every pig they can get in Australia. The demand in Australia is so strong at about Christmas-time, that it is necessary to import frozen legs of pork from New Zealand. In 1906, there were imports to the extent of 100,000 ‘lbs., but that t in no way affected any industry in Australia. We want to let in the two hind legs of pork from which hams are made, in order to baconize them here.
– I admit that if the request proposed by Senator St. Ledger were carried, and the Tariff were altered accordingly, it would be brought back into the form in which it was before the recent revision. At that time, the con ditions were considered to be anomalous. We have already provided in this Tariff, as we provided in the preceding Tariff, for a duty upon fresh meat. We have in paragraph a of the item under consideration a duty of 2d. per lb. upon smoked or fresh meat. Apart from that, it was found under the operation of the preceding Tariff that legs and sides .of pork were imported into the Commonwealth under the provisions of that Tariff enabling them to Le imported when preserved by cold process, and- here cured as hams and sides of bacon, to the great detriment of those whowere ‘ engaged in the pig-breeding industry. Under these circumstances I think it would be unfair and also anomalous, when we consider the other items in the Tariff, if we were to exempt from its operation the particular class of meat towhich my honorable friend refers. We. should be offering a premium to those outside the Commonwealth to send into Australia the necessary material for the conversion of meat into bacon and hams;, whereas both before and after this item we are imposing a duty, in the first instance upon fresh and smoked meat, and in another instance upon bacon and hams partly or wholly cured. I think that honorablesenators will see that it would be unfair toagree to the honorable senator’s request.
– I wish to point out that I am not attacking the interests of the producers of bacon and hams by means of my request. What I am asking for is that meats preserved by cold process - that is, any meats that may come in preserved by cold process - shall be treated in this manner. As to the argument that we have imposed a duty on meats under paragraph a, my reply is-, that we do not import frozen “meat into Australia as a general rule, but that.we do at one particular season import frozen legs of pork from New Zealand expressly inorder to baconize them here. They are imported principally to supply the Christmas market. Bacon and hams, if my request be adopted, will stand exactly as they do now, but the consumers of hamswill get the product at a reasonable price at that season. It will notcause -competition with a single dairyman or farmer in Australia. Prices at Christmas-time are liable to go up. Therefore my request is in the interest of the consumer. It is not an unreasonable one. One of the largest curers in Melbourne and Brisbane tells me that, they are fully employed, and are buying all the legs of pork they can get ; but at Christmas they cannot possibly supply the market. Last year they had to import frozen legs. I hope the Committee will see that I am not attacking the interests of the producers of bacon and ham.
– I cannot understand the attitude of Senator St. Ledger. I remind him that the consumers of South Australia and other States obtain a great deal of their meat from Queensland. Further than that, let me point out that even at Christmas-time pigs and poultry are plentiful. There is no need to import them from New Zealand. We have freezing works in all the capital cities. If the honorable senator lived in South Australia and wanted to be sure of getting poultry for his Christmas dinner, he could buy it cheaply in June, and keep it in the freezing works till Christmas for a farthing per lb. a month. The matter is one that affects the primary-producing interests. Australia can supply itself, and still have a considerable quantity to send to the English market. Senator St. Ledger’s speeches are like himself - peculiarities that I do not profess to be able to understand.
– This debate amuses me intensely. Senator Keating does not appear to understand the intention of Senator St. Ledger’s request; nor does Senator W. Russell. The request does not appeal particularly to me, but it ought to appeal to Senator Keating as a protectionist. Practically, the request is a parallel to, item 82, which relates to sausa.ge casings, that it is proposed to let in free. Senator Keating, when he comes to read his Hansard proof to-morrow, will probably be surprised at one of his own sentences. I cannot quote him verbatim, but this is what he practically said: “Why should we induce other people “ - I think he said “offer a premium to other people” -“to send their produce here and give our people occupation?”
– No; I said, “Why induce other people to send us what we can produce for ourselves?”
– That is the whole point.
– Our own people can produce bacon and hams.
– If Senator St. Ledger’s facts are correct - and I will assume that they are- we in Australia can cure and convert into hams all the parts of the animal concerned which are offered. We could do more if we had more parts offered. . That being the position, Senator St. Ledger is simply saying to the Government : “If you will make this item free you will increase the amount of work that is carried on in the curing industry in Australia.” What Senator St. Ledger desires is that we shall export more after our own consumption is supplied. Surely, from the point of view of any protectionist, it is not a crime to bring in raw material, which in this case is meat, in order to convert it by some process of manufacture into a more profitable article.
– There are scores of such cases in the Tariff.
– And they are always supported by protectionists who say, “ We want these things free in order to encourage such-and-such an industry.”
– The honorable senator will remember that my argument in reply to Senator St. Ledger was that his proposition would interfere with pig-breeding within the Commonwealth.
– Senator St. Ledger replied, very properly I think, that it would not have that effect - that the number of pigs raised in the Commonwealth was not nearly sufficient to supply the curing works with the material required.
– I say that that is because this item has hitherto been free.
– The item does not concernme; but I do not think that there is any force in Senator Keating’s argument. If the item were made free, the curing of hams in the Commonwealth would be increased.
– And we should have no market for them.
– We should export our surplus. The trouble is that sometimes we have not sufficient for our own consumption.
– South Australia can supply all that is wanted.
– I have great respect for South Australia ; but it certainly cannot supply Australia with everything it wants. The Ministry ought to be under an obligation to Senator St. Ledger for pointing out the facts of this case.
– Pig-raising ought to be encouraged by every legitimate means, because it is an adjunct to profitable dairying. A market for pigs very materially increases the possibilities of profit in dairying. If the duty were removed, there would be no more bacon or ham curing than there is; there would be a greater struggle in the market, and consequently less pig-raising. The outlet for what might be called a byproduct of dairying,, . would be reduced. On every dairy-farm, a large quantity of skimmed milk, or milk that would otherwise1 go to waste, is used as pigs’ food.
– Would the duty cause the production of more legs ?
- Senator Keating interjected to Senator Clemons that his reason for assuming that so few legs had been available was that our pig-raisers had not been encouraged. They had not had the certainty of their own market.
– Would they raise legs irrespective of pigs?
– If we produced a great deal more bacon we should have a market for it, provided that the producers were not squeezed out of the home trade.
– We have our own market.
-That cannot be so when we import a large number of “ legs.
– A large number of Victorian manufacturers-
– I have no more concern for the Victorian manufacturers than I have for those of other States, if they are asking for what is unreasonable. The raw material of every manufacturer should be as accessible as possible; but if his raw material is, so to speak, the finished article of some other Australian’ producer, it must not be admitted duty free. Raw material which we cannot produce - not necessarily that which we have not produced - ought to be free.
– At a certain time of the year we cannot produce sufficient quantities of the raw material of the ham curer.
– There is no proof of that; but there is proof that we can produce not only as many pigs as are at present required, but, if the market be available, far more.
– Honorable senators seem to think that if Senator St. Ledger’s proposal be carried it will lead to increased imports. If that were a possibility, there would be some justification for the protectionist ardour of Senator Trenwith. On turning, however, to the figures relating to the next item, bacon and hams, he will see that the effect of the request would be not to in crease imports, but to change the form in which they .come in. The official return shows that we imported in 1906 nearly as much bacon and ham as fresh meat preserved by cold process. It is obvious then that there came into Australia a large number of hams already cured. What Senator St. Ledger says is that it- is clear from these figures that an importation of hams is taking place, and that therefore it is better in the interests, if honorable senators please, of the workmen of Australia, that we should bring in the legs uncured, and carry out the curing process here.
– It is better that we should, not import them at all.
– But we are importing them; even under the duty of 3d. per lb. on bacon and hams we imported nearly 200,000 lbs. in 1906. The reason is obvious. Much as the pig industry is being developed, at certain times of the’ year the demand for hams is such that it cannot be met by the local supply. Consequently at one particular season we import very large quantities. I would point out too that this importation of hams took place when legs not cured, but preserved by cold process, were free. The importers for some reason or other, notwithstanding the duty of 3d. per lb., were compelled to import, or at any rate did import hams, rather than import fresh legs preserved by cold process. I suppose they had a reason for that. If they could have obtained locally the legs they required for curing purposes, surely they would have done so, rather than Day a duty of 3d. per lb. on the cured hams. I believe that Senator St. Ledger has received information from one of the largest and most reputable bacon cur’ers in Australia - a man whose brand is favor.ably known throughout the Commonwealth - that at Christmas time he is unable to obtain locally a sufficient number of legs to meet the demand for hams. He has had to import them, and last year he, a ham and bacon curer, had to import hams in order to fulfil the orders which he had accepted. The question of protection does not appear to enter into this discussion. The simple point we have to decide is whether we prefer that hams should come in ready to be cooked, or whether we should bring in the fresh legs preserved by cold process, and have the curing done in Australia. I prefer as far as possible that we should give employment to our own people, but Senator Trenwith seems to think otherwise in this connexion.
– I do not.
– The honorable senator has his alternative. The figures show that we imported last year something like 400,000 lbs. of this meat. Under which heading would he like his imports to come in?
– Then the honorable senator is not going the right way to stop the importations. What he is going to do is to keep up the importation of hams. It is proposed by making it easier to import the fresh meat to have the curing done here. My honorable friend Senator Trenwith is apparently departing from the convictions of a lifetime, and intends to vote in such a way as to insure employment to the ham and bacon curers of other countries rather than to those of the Commonwealth.
– This is another case in respect of which the poor consumer is going to suffer because of some fancied grievance on the part of protectionists. I contend that the question of protection has no application to this item. If there is a fact of which we ought to be proud it is that the quality of our hams and bacon has been so improved that it has reached the standard desired by many accustomed to the best English hams. Unfortunately during a drought such as we have experienced in parts of New South Wales during the last few months, there is a very serious rise in the prices of foods necessary for the raising of pigs by those who go in for mixed farming. Pollard is very essential at certain seasons’ for the fattening of pigs. Messrs. Hutton and Company, who, I believe, are the largest ham and bacon curers in Australia, have issued a circular setting forth that during a certain season of the year they find it impossible to obtain sufficient legs to meet the demand for ham.
– We wish to remove that trouble.
– Last Christmas the price of hams increased by over 40 per cent.
– I obtained last Christmas the cheapest ham I ever had in my life.
– Hams are largely used by the labouring classes amongst others, and yet Senator Trenwith proposes to prevent the importation of legs designed to be cured by Australian labour at a time when there is a scarcity in the local market. By the importation of fresh legs of pork for curing purposes more scope for employment in. Australia is found, and the people are enabled to obtain a very necessary food at a reasonable price. But adopting a doginthemanger policy, some honorable senators say, “ Australia cannot provide the necessary legs for curing purposes, but we will not allow them to come in in order that the public demand may be met.” This is a case in which our protectionist friends ought really to consider the labouring classes and the general conditions of the people.
– This extraordinary plea for the poor manufacturer is somewhat entertaining. Who is asking that frozen legs of pork be admitted free at a certain period of the year?
– The largest ham ana bacon curers in Australia.
– For eleven months in the year that firm is crying out against the importation of hams. It demands protection up to the hilt during eleven months of the year, but wants free legs for the remaining month.
– The alternative is to import hams; which does the honorable senator prefer?
– I do not desire to see either the cured or the frozen legs coming in. I am a protectionist, and I desire to keep out the frozen pork legs as well as the cured article. If there is one thing which ought to appeal to protectionists it is the fact that this is an Australian industry which ought to be encouraged. No demand has been made by the people of any State that these pork legs should be admitted free. The claim’ is put forward by an interested manufacturer whose plea has evidently received consideration at the hands of those who ought to think seriously about the policy which they were returned to support. How extremely solicitous are some honorable senators opposite about the welfare of the working man, and about the fact that he will not be able to have ham upon his table at the festive period of the year. It is significant, however, that when measures are before the Senate which are designed to alleviate the sufferings of the working man, their votes axe almost invariably cast in the opposite direction. I am here to support as consistently as I can, a protective policy for this country. A majority of the electors have unmistakably declared themselves in favour of such a policy.
– Protectionists have not got much out of the Tariff so far.
-We have a long distance to travel yet, and as we proceed, I hope that the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission will be observed, at any rate by those who were elected as protectionists. This is a matter which affects thousand’s of primary producers in every State of the Commonwealth. Whilst some opposition was perhaps to have been expected in regard to the other recommendations, I cannot understand why those who have the slightest sympathy with a protectivepolicy should desire to permit of the free introduction of hams from New Zealand. I can quite understand the consistency of those who urge that all frozen hams should be admitted free. But I cannot understand why Messrs. Hutton and Company should be afforded protection for nine or ten months in the year, and then allowed to import fresh hams free. I am not here to convenience Messrs. Hutton and Company, but to do what is best in the interests of the Commonwealth.
– Senator Findley has hinted that some honorable senatorsupon this side of the chamber are working for Messrs. Hutton and Company.
– Of course the honorable senator is. That is where he got his information.
– The honorable senator had better not pursue that line of argument, otherwise I shall want to know where he recently obtained some information.
– If Senator Findley means to convey that I have a special brief from Messrs. Hutton and Company I hurl back the accusation with the contempt that it deserves. I would remind him that over and over again he has laid himself open to a similar imputation.
– Honorable senators are at liberty to say what they choose about my actions.
– I have argued in favour of not interfering with a single industry in Australia. Under this pro- posa1, we are asked at a particular season of the year - without attacking any particular industry-
– We should be assisting it.
– We should be assisting an Australian industry to import cured hams. It stands to reason that Messrs. Hutton and Company will not go outside the Australian market to obtain pork legs if they can secure them on the spot. What object would any bacon-curer have in going outside the Commonwealth market? He does not wish to pay freight merely for the fun of the thing. The fact that he goes outside the Commonwealth market is sufficient proof that his wants cannot be supplied within it.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend Item 80, paragraph f, by inserting before the word “Preserved,” the words “Poultry and Game” (Senator St. Ledger’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 81 (Bacon and hams) agreed to.
Item 82 Sausage, casings, per lb., 2d. ; and on and after1st November, 1907, free.
– I should like to ask what is the meaning of this item?
– I might inform Senator Russell that under the old Tariffthis item was free. In the form in which the schedule was submitted to the House of Representatives a duty of 2d. per lb. was levied upon sausage casings, but that Chamber decided that they should be admitted free, and we do not propose to deviate from its decision. Sausage casings are the ordinary wrappings in which sausages are contained.
– I wish to accentuate the awkward position in which the Government find themselves. They opposed me in regard to the free admission of pork legs, and yet they now propose that sausage casings shall be admitted free.
Item agreed to.
Item 83. Milk (including cream) -
Preserved, condensed, concentrated, peptonized, and frozen : -
Dried or in powder form, per lb. (General Tariff),2¼d. ; and on and after 1st November, 1907, 2d. ; (United Kingdom), 2d. ; and on and after 1st November, 1907,1½d.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item S3, paragraph ai (imports under General Tariff),1½d. per lb. My reason for submitting this proposal is that it cannot be contended that the increased duty levied under the schedule is required by manufacturers to assist the condensed milk industry. Our importations of milk have fallen from 13,331,341 lbs. in 1902-
– That is a very inconsiderable quantity.
– If the honorable senator will possess his’ soul in patience he will hear what I have to say, and he will also facilitate the transaction of business:. In 1906 our imports of tinned milk had declined to 10.615,061 lbs. In 1902 our exports of this commodity totalled 492,241 lbs., but in 1906 they had fallen to 156,235 lbs. It is apparent, therefore, that the falling-off in our exports of milk is nothing like so large as the falling-off in our imports. I hold in my hand a document -which I have received from the Bacchus Marsh Concentrated Milk Company. That company apparently speak on behalf of four or five different factories in Victoria. They say -
We beg to submit the following facts in regard to the manufacture of condensed milks in Australia with the object that the duty of1d. per lb. should be retained on condensed milk, and not be increased to2¼d. and 2d.respec- tively as proposed under the new Tariff.This industry is now firmly established throughout Australia, and, therefore, no increased protection is necessary. The industry has been established and carried on successfully under the Tariff of1d. . per lb.
Theythen give a list of twelve factories established in Australia. The Standard Dairy Company of Queensland, inJuly last, wrote as follows to the Prime Minister -
It is under the stimulus of the protective duty of1d. per lb. that the Standard Dairy has come into existence and the Wyreema con. densed milk factory, on the Darling Downs, became established. The success of this factory has become so great that the directors have been induced to put up a second factory at Colinton foran output six times as large as that of the first, provided with all modern appliances, at a total cost of about . £10,000, while the enlargement of the Wyreema factory has also been entered upon.
Objections were raised to any reduction in the proposed duty, on the ground that it would give the Nestle’s milk people an opportunity to hold the market until they finally established a factory in Australia themselves. But I have here a letter from Messrs. H. J. Preston and Company, Australian representatives of the Nestle and Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company, of Vevey and London, saying -
On behalf of the Nestle and AngloSwiss Condensed Milk Company we have arranged to purchase a large property in Queensland, terms and conditions of which have been, agreed to by the vendors and ourselves. The site of our Victorian factory has been selected, and before the end of this month . we shall be recommending a locality for our operations in New South Wales. . . . The former duty of one penny per lb. being more than sufficient to protect local manufacturers from competition in price by imported condensed milk, and the establishment of this industry in Australia being assured, why should the consumer be asked to pay an additional1½d. per tin on all the condensed milk he has to import in the meantime?
I have quoted those letters to show that not only one manufacturer, but practically all, seem to be perfectly satisfied with the progress they have made in the past and are now making. They are extending their operations, and the industry appears to be on a sound and satisfactory basis. That being so, it is reasonable to ask, in the interests of that large class of people who must use condensed milk because they cannot obtain fresh, whether we should do anything that by any chance may add to the cost of the article? The men who tramp the country, the miners in the back blocks, those living in the Northern Territory, and a large number of others, use condensed milk. Not only has the price fallen, but the industry is going ahead by leaps and bounds. The Bacchus Marsh Company, in their circular, mention five factories in Victoria, three in New South Wales, and four in Queensland, so that it is not as if the industry was not thoroughly on its feet. Both sections of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of id. In the interests of the large class of people to whom I have alluded, it is desirable that the duty should be reduced to, at any rate, ijd. per lb. on imports under the general Tariff.
– I felt that I had a pretty strong case before, but I was beaten. Senator Chataway has put a very strong case now, and possibly we shall be’ beaten again. I might fairly say that, if any one were fighting for any particular State, we might well look to the case of Queensland in regard to this item. Why the Government propose this increased duty when factories are springing up everywhere, with the raw material at their hand, is inexplicable. . I do not -think that any Tariff framers in the world have ever proceeded upon such principles of construction. The industry in Queensland is going ahead by leaps and bounds. The manufacturers have not asked for any further assistance. One firm even asks that the article should be made free. If other honorable senators were as familiar as we who come from Queensland are with the conditions of the settlers in the back blocks of that State, and of New South Wales, they would not vote for this increased duty. In those districts, condensed milk is almost a necessity’. That may not apply so much to Western Australia, because settlement there is more concentrated at present. Many settlers would be absolutely without milk for many months of the year but for this article. These facts are utterly unappreciated by senators from Victoria, Western Australia, and some other States, which makes me inclined to think sometimes that the influence of Victoria is so felt that it is mistaken for tins influence of the Commowealth. If I had not come so often in contact with the people in those outlying districts, I should not speak so strongly as I have often done about the necessity of giving them relief. Thev must use condensed milk. The local manufacturers are gradually supplying them, but itf is good for those manufacturers to be ‘ subjected to some competition. Condensed milk is not only a necessity, but may at times even help to preserve life. To impose an increased duty without giving any reason for it seems to savour of cruelty. The Tariff Commission did not recommend an increase. I cannot understand what spirit is prompting the Government in this matter.
– Prohibition gone mad.
– If so, vote it down. We have not heard from Ministers or other honorable senators opposite a single argument in favour Of the proposed duty. Do they think that they will cheapen the price to the back-block settlers ?
– The figures show that we are already beginning to export, and an increased duty will only add to the burdens and hardships of the people. A market can be found in the immediate neighbourhood for the milk from almost any dairy herd in Australia. The factories are increasing, and a plentiful supply of milk is available. The Tariff Commission was appointed to consider matters of this . kind carefully, and probably, after travelling and taking evidence, were conversant with how duties on articles of food affected .the general welfare of the community. Possibly they had that consideration in their minds when recommending that this duty should not be increased. But some are appealing to Ministers and senators who apparently do not know, . or if they do know, do not appreciate, the conditions under which the settlers in the large States are. carrying on their work. I beg to appeal again to honorable senators opposite, even if it is in vain. If it is in vain, it is said that “ the greatest sight, in the universe is a strong man struggling with adversity.” I do not suppose that anything I can say will influence a vote, but it may influence public opinion. It will show that some of us, notwithstanding that we see defeat in front of. us, can still fight for what we believe to be the best1 interests of a class of people who deserve greater consideration than do any others in the community - I mean the people who go out to contend with the natural difficulties that confront them in the back country. We should so frame the Tariff that their interests will be considered. I have been trying to bring that about foi a long time, and shall, continue to fry, however little I can accomplish.
– Senator Sf.. Ledger con- tradicts himself. The object of protection is to benefit the producer. The honorable senator has pointed out, fully and clearly for once, that in Queensland there is machinery to make preserved milk in large quantities, and that there is a proposal to erect additional machinery. As a farmer for fifty years, surely I know as much of the subject as does Senator St. Ledger. There are times of the year when milk is plentiful because food ‘ is plentiful, and the surplus product can then lie taken, to the factory and turned into preserved milk of, I hope, a pure kind. Is this not an industry which ought to be encouraged? It is amazing to hear even from honorable senators from Queensland such twaddle on the subject, and I object to those references to the people in the back-blocks, by whom, I understand, are meant farmers.
– And travellers.
– I did not mention Senator Chataway, but if the cap fits he can wear it. I undoubtedly understood from Senator St. Ledger that he referred to the “ poor farmer,” who, according to him, lives in an out-of-the-way place,, with not sufficient milk to give the baby a drink. If circumstances permit, all the farmers I have known keep one cow if not two, and so regulate matters that one of them is always in milk, and, if they are too poor to keep a cow they manage to get a goat. With the prospects in Queensland, what have we to fear? Is it not our duty as friends of the farmers, who have to pay protective duties in other directions, to give them every opportunity to develop an industry which will ultimately, benefit the whole Commonwealth? It is remarkable to observe how the attitude of honorable senators ‘ from Queensland alters on different items, milk being treated quite differently from bananas and other products. I was asked, by an honorable senator whether I would have the courage to go into New South Wales and repeat- a statement I have made here. To that I answer that I certainly have the courage; but if I made statements similar to those we have heard to-night in reference to the bad management on the part of the primary producers, I would rather stay at home than repeat the statements, though, like an old Scotchman, I never turn my back on the day of battle.
.- I do not know why the desire to help the milk industry should be specially charged against Victoria, nor can I quite understand why honorable senators seem to be so afflicted with Victoriaphobia. New South Wales and Queensland, with their enormous territories, are equally or much more likely to benefit by this industry than is Victoria. If there is any industry we ought to encourage, it is that of the production of milk and its various preparations. There is no reason why we should import milk in any form. It must be remembered that special preparations of milk for infants’ foods are allowed in free, so that in this connexion there can be no increase in price. It strikes me as a very suspicious fact that the protest against the duty comes not from the consumers but from established companies, and we ought to look beneath the surface in order to discover the reason.’ It seems to me that the only reason is that given in the circular of the Australian Milk Company, namely, that those other companies are simply offshoots of strong outside firms who desire to get a grip of the market free from’ competition. Under the circumstances, I trust the Committee will maintain the duty as set down in the Tariff.
– This is, at any rate, an interesting item. While I do not pretend to know as much as does. Senator McColl, especially about the Bacchus Marsh industries, I am not quite sure that the reason he has given is the right one. The honorable senator has suggested that why the manufacturers of condensed milk do not desire an increase of duty is that they are in some way branches of Nestles’ firm.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– I do not know that it is incorrect ; but I have heard it suggested seriously that one of the reasons why those people do not desire an increase is that they are afraid that a strong firm like Nestles may commence manufacture in Australia and practically wipe them out. I consider that that is the more likely reason ; but I confess that., as a matter of fact, I do not know. It is somewhat singular that no manufacturer came before the Tariff Commission, or suggested that the industry required an increase in the duty. The manufacture of milk has been going on for many years ; vet, -although a protectionist like Senator W. Russell may deplore the fact, large quantities are imported. I shrewdly suspect that the explanation is that there is not enough milk to go round for the double purpose of condensation and concentration and making butter.
– Then weought to encourage the producers to go in for cattle.
– I do not think that any encouragement is needed in that direction, seeing that any one who has room to feed cattle keeps them. If what I suggest is the fact, it is probable that in South Australia, Tasmania,- and other States it is found that it pays better to convert the milk into butter than to condense or concentrate it.
– The producers will do what pays best.
– Then what is the position by whichwe are confronted? Under the circumstances we must go on importing, and, as I say, we do import condensed milk in very large quantities, while we are making butter and largely exporting it. The deduction is that, so long as the duty remains, it will be, as we know, a very heavy revenue tax, the amount derived being considerable.
– Is that not an argument in favour of additional protection?
– Not necessarily, if we have not enough milk in the Commonwealth, and are not immediately likely to have enough to go round. I firmly believe that no matter to what extent you raise the duty the result will continue to be for many years an enormous revenue, which means nothing but taxation. When Senator Chataway submitted his request, he indicated that he was not proposing a reduction with a view to reducing the preference duty. But I warn the honorable senator that the Government do not intend to grant preference on any articles unless the United Kingdom is the country of origin.
– Only11 per cent. comes from England as the country of origin.
– While the value of the preserved milk from the United Kingdom last year was £98,000, the United Kingdom was the country of origin in regard to only £20,000 worth. The proposed preference means nothing, and I am sorry that Senator Chataway should indicate a desire to reduce the duty, and, at the same time, take steps which practically, though not entirely, nullify the efforts of the Government. If a reduction be desired it ought to have been moved on the general Tariff, and in the interests of the taxpayers. I am sorry I have not an opportunity of voting to make the dutyless, and all I can do is to vote to make it as low as possible.
– I regard this as another tax on the food of the people, and I intend to support the proposal of Senator Chataway. The statement may not be favoured by honorable senators, but it is a fact that, whilst this industry, which has been in existence for only a few years, is one that has great possibilities before it, yet, according to the best medical testimony, the quality of the local article, though good, is not, in many respects, equal to that of the best imported milk from Switzerland. I have that information from one of the best medical men in Sydney, who should know the value of condensed milk as an article of food. We have also to consider the climatic conditions of Australia, and the requirements of the butter industry. At the present time milk is being sold in Sydney at 6d. a quart, while in England butter is bringing about 20 per cent. above its normal value. Our manufacturers and exporters of butter can make more money than is obtained by the manufacturers of condensed . milk. It is natural to assume that producers will dispose of their milk to those who will give them the highest price - the manufacturers of butter. When we bear in mind our climatic conditions, we can. understand that milk may not be available in sufficient quantity to the condensers. The principal consumers of condensed milk are, I take it, settlers, miners, shearers ; in fact, bush workers of all description. To them it is really a necessity, which should be made available at the most reasonable price, and of the best quality.
– The desire for a reduced duty does not come from the consumers, but from the interested people - the manufacturers.
SenatorGRAY. - Can the honorable senator mention one item where the consumers have been considered by the prohibitionists on the other side? Have the public given one sign that their interests have been considered by those honorable gentlemen? It is strange that in only this instance, when the manufacturers of the article say that they are perfectly satisfied, our honorable friends; who are everlastingly drawing our attention to the manufacturing interest when it pertains to their own State, should come here and say, “ We take no notice of the manufacturersin
Queensland or elsewhere, but when it affects a manufacturing interest in our State, although it employs only four men and two girls, we shall take very good care to insure that the Government shall put a tax upon the general public in order to bolster up a -.pettifogging industry.” I contend that in the case of condensed milk the public should be assured of a continuity of importation, so that it may be always obtainable at a reasonable price. It appears to me that the duties which have been piled upon the people will make Australia one of the dea/rest countries on the face of the earth to live in.
– lt is fast becoming that.
– At the present time I suppose that it is the dearest country if we except certain parts of America. Without recognising the interest of the consumer at all, we are asked to pile duty upon duty until it almost amounts to prohibition, and yet the Labour Party cry out that it is impossible for men to live on the wages which they receive.
– What articles are so very dear here?
– Every article is. Last week a Professor in the Sydney University sent to me a letter in which he stated that he and his wife had gone into the details of the cost of living, and found that to them it was double what it had been in the Old Country.
– I dare say that it cost them double for servants.
– He referred to the cost of food and raiment, and he said that the cost of living was increasing. Condensed milk is, I repeat, an absolute necessity to all those who live outside the radius of the farming community.
– Is it not a fact that since -the establishment of the industry in Australia the consumers have got condensed milk at a cheaper rate than they did previously ?
– That is a question - which I cannot answer ; probably owing to the competition they are. It has been stated that this movement has emanated from large companies in Switzerland and elsewhere, which the local companies fear, may- inundate the Australian market with their goods. I am acquainted with a gentleman in Sydney who owns at least onehalf of the shares in a company iu Queensland, and has not a halfpenny invested in a company outside Australia.
His company is one of those which state that they do not want an increase of the duty, but are perfectly satisfied with what is proposed. Because he says that their success or otherwise depends in a great measure upon the price and quantity of the milk which they can obtain.
– What company was it?
– I cannot recall the name of the company, but the gentleman to whom I have referred is a personal friend, and his company has no connexion with a company outside Australia..
– It is a peculiar position which honorable senators on the other side take up with regard to this item. Hitherto their cr.y has been “ We want to protect the manufacturer,” but in this instance they desire to protect the manufacturer against his own wish. So far the Government have not told, us why an increase of the duty is proposed. It has not been recommended by either section of the Tariff Commission, but has- just been thrown at lis. During the recent election in Queensland I went out to inspect a small plant which a young Victorian was operating on the Darling Downs, near Warwick. He had a number of persons, principally women, employed in the production of condensed milk. He said that he was perfectly satisfied with the old dutv, and that with his plant he could turn out six times as large .a quantity if he could only get a supply of fresh milk. In the face of that state of things the Government want to impose a higher duty so that the public at large must pay a higher price for their milk. Senator W. Russell, who spoke about the farmers in South Australia, should remember that in Queensland and New South Wales there are thousands of bush workers, who can only get condensed milk. I would support the Government if they could assign a satisfactory reason for their proposal, or if the manufacturers had demanded an increase of the duty on the ground that under the old duty they could not make a decent living. As soon as quotations are given about certain Victorian manufacturers it is immediately said. “ Oh, they do not want any competition.” The manufacturers of condensed milk admit that they do not want a higher duty, and also that thev cannot get a sufficient supply of fresh milk to enable them to work up to the full capacity of their plant.
– Yes, for nothing.
– I do not believe that any manufacturer wants To get fresh milk for nothing. Does the honorable senator mean to suggest that if the duty is increased 1 manufacturer will give more for his milk than he is now giving?
– Yes, I do.
– At the present time the manufacturer is paying 5jd. per gallon for fresh milk, which as we all know is being retailed in New South Wales at fid. a quart. In such circumstances how is he likely to get a large supply of fresh milk to condense? If Senator Best had stated the reason for proposing this increase of the duty I would not have risen.
– Let us get to a division.
– The proposal is simply dumped upon the table and we are called upon to swallow it. In the absence of the honorable senator I have stated that I would be prepared to vote for the increased duty if I did not believe that it would cause the consumer to pay id. or ijd. more per tin for his condensed milk. Without rhyme or reason we are asked to vote for an increased duty. We are not to be told the reason why the Government have brought down their proposal against the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission. We are treated like a number of children and told to vote. The Government would not be anxious to get to a division unless they knew that they have the numbers behind them, but we must protest against such actions on their part, especially when they have not shown that an increase of the duty has been asked for either by any manufacturers of condensed milk or by any section of the people in the Commonwealth.
– Yes, I mentioned one manufacturer - the Australian Milk Company.
– The honorable senator mentioned one manufacturer, but there were a dozen mentioned from this side.
– The reason that one gave is no good, because the thing which he wanted to avoid has been settled.
– Senator ‘McColl has mentioned the name of one firm that has asked . for the duty ; but it is absurd that the Committee should be asked on that account to impose a duty which will increase the price of condensed milk to the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. The proceedings are fast becoming farcical, because the Government first try. to discover whether they have the numbers and wish to go to a division as soon as possible. In the’ circumstances, we must protest against this method of doing business, and, though I have no wish to obstruct, some definite stand must be taken on this side unless information for which we have a right to ask, is given by the Government.
– I wish to detain the Committee at this stage only to correct a false impression under which Senator McColl appears to labour. The honorable senator has said that I have appealed to some sort of Victoriaphobia in order to get my way in this matter. I have done nothing of the kind. I take it that when the Tariff Commission was appointed,- those interested in this industry in Victoria especially, placed their views before the Commission, and we have a right to assume that their desires have been given expression in the recommendations, at least of the protectionist section of the Commission. The difficulty is that they appear to have gone behind the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Commission, and have got hold of Ministers and some members of the Senate, for reasons which /Ministers now decline to state. In the circumstances, there is strong reason for an indictment of the Ministry. Carrying out the views of the Queensland people generally, I have been content in the main to stand by the Tariff of 1902, and under that Tariff the people of Queensland have given a. very fair run to manufacturers in Victoria and in the other States. When I am accused in this matter of some sort of Victoriaphobia, I deny the accusation. I make no appeal to Victoriaphobia or Queenslandphobia, but in the extraordinary circumstances surrounding this case, when we find the Government giving no reasons for the proposal made, and .Ministers remaining silent under the pretty direct attack which has been made from this side, we are entitled to say that Ministers, arid some honorable senators, are actuated by reasons which, however satisfactory to themselves, are of such a character that they refuse to disclose them. Tariff framing is one of the most difficult, and at the same time, one of the most dangerous experiments that’ Parliament can undertake,, and if Ministers will not give the Committee a little more information than they have given in this case in answer to direct inquiries, they must expect a little more of what they are getting at present from this side. I am talking for a few minutes against the clock, but I am entitled to say something in answer to the charge made against me by a
Victorian protectionist, and to resent what appears to be a desire to treat every suggestion made from this side as worthy only of contempt.
. -When absolutely incorrect statements are made, reflecting upon Australian industries, I feel called upon to put the other side. If I followed Senator Chataway correctly, he stated that, as a matter of fact, local manufacturers of condensed milk were opposed to an increased protective duty. That is not correct, because many of those engaged in this industry in different parts of Australia have shown themselves to be enthusiastic in their demand for an increase of duty. Senator Gray made a pathetic appeal on behalf of the bush workers who, he said, would have to pay a higher price for condensed milk if the increased duty were imposed; but the facts are against the honorable senator. Under the old Tariff, the price of Norwegian milk was 22s., and of Swiss milk, 24s. per case. Since the increased duty was imposed, the charges respectively have been 27s. and 29s. 6d. per case, whilst for the milk made in Australia 19s. 6d. per case is charged for “ Highlander,” 19s. 6d. for “ Saxon,” and 21s. for “ Empire.”
– That is according to quality.
– According to those who are competent to express an opinion, the local article is as good as much of the imported article. The Australian Milk Company, in their circular, point to the important fact that the Nestle’s people complain about the duty being operative, as they are establishing their industry in the various States. I say that they are interested in that way. The belief in the minds of most of those engaged in the industry in Australia is, that if the duty be not retained, Nestle’s Company, having a capital of about £1,600,000, will come here and, wiping out all competitors, will then have the local production as well as the importationsin their hands. For these reasons, I feel sure that the present duty ought to be retained. I should not have risen at this stage, if it had not been to correct a misstatement made by Senator Chataway, which was afterwards repeated by Senator Gray.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 83, paragraph a1 (imports under General Tariff),11/2d. per lb. (Senator Chataway’s request)- put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [11.2]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 83, parapraph
A1 (imports from the United Kingdom),1d. per lb.
Following the practice which I have adopted throughout the consideration of the schedule I shall not make a speech in support of this proposal. I know that the representatives of the Government in this Chamber will vote against it, but I desire, as a member of the Commonwealth Parliament, to assist the Prime Minister and the Treasurer in their heroic efforts to benefit the United Kingdom by giving a preference to British trade.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I wish to explain that I had paired with Senator. Dobson, and entirely forgot the fact when I voted in the last division but one.
Request (by Senator Needham) negatived -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 83, paragraph A1 (imports from the United Kingdom), 2d. per lb.
Item agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 11. 8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 February 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080212_senate_3_43/>.