3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [2.33]. - I desire to refer, not as a question of privilege, but by way of personal explanation, to a statement which was made in a leader published in the Melbourne Age of yesterday. I feel that it is only right that when the honour of a senator is impugned in the public press, as mine has been, he should take the earliest opportunity to put himself right with his fellow senators. The statement to which I take exception is this -
Neild was desirous of having a trip to London at the State’s expense and the preparation of an old-age pensions report was hit upon as a means of giving it to him.
I shall refer to the printed report of a SelectCommittee of the New South Wales Assembly, which the writer in the Age might have seen-
– The honorable senator is in. order in pointing out that a statement reflecting on him which has been published in the press is incorrect
– Is it not a fact that an explanation of this matter appears wealth Hansard?
– I am not aware whether a similar explanation has been made before; but the honorable senator has not made an explanation in regard to any article appearing in yesterday’s newspapers. If he considers that he was misrepresented in such an article, he has a perfect right to make a personal explanation.
– He ought to be fairly satisfied, because the Age admits that his report was a good one.
– Under what standing order do you, sir, rule that an honorable senator may make an explanation of this kind ?
– I am not sure that any standing order deals definitely with the subject, but it has always been customary to allow an honorable senator to make a personal explanation when he considers that he has been misrepresented, and unless the Senate sees fit to dissent, I propose to continue that practice.
– I do not think that any one desires to prevent the honorable senator from making a personal explanation
– It seems to me that certain honorable senators are most anxious to do so.
– I would point out, however, that the article in regard to which the honorable senator wishes to make an explanation contains no reference to anything which has happened in the Senate’
– The question is not open to discussion.I have ruled on the point of order.
– Do you, sir, rule that, by the courtesy of the Senate, any senator feeling that he has been unjustly criticised in the columns of a newspaper may rise at any time to make a personal explanation ?
– About something, perhaps, which, as in this instance, occurred before the Senate came into existence.
– The rule I have laid down in this case would be applied to that of anyother honorable senator. I think it only fair that, when an honorable senator feels that he has been misrepresented or misreported, either in or out of the Senate, he should have an opportunity to refute the statements of which hecomplains.
– Why should he not do it in the columns of the newspaper in which he was attacked?
– That is another matter.
– Mr. President-
– I have permitted two ‘ or three questions to be asked, because I did not wish to be misunderstood, but it is not my intention to allow further discussion on the point.
– Have you, sir, given a ruling binding ora the Senate?
– I have expressed the opinion that, as a matter of fairness, and in the interests of justice, an honorable senator should be permitted to make a personal’ explanation when he thinks he has been misrepresented, and I shall give effect to that opinion unless the Senate dissents from my ruling.
– I desire to state that I merely wished to move that the Senate should hear Senator Neild, in order that he might be in order.
– I do not propose to make any statement, but simply to read a minute of the Executive Council of New South Wales, and certain extracts from the sworn evidence of the then Premier of New South Wales, Mr. G. H. Reid. Concerning myself I will say no word. It is not necessary. In view of the many interruptions may I hope to be permitted now to make a complete statement. I will first read the lines in the Age to which I take exception -
Neild was desirous of having a trip to London at the State’s expense and the preparation of an old-age pensions report was hit upon as a means of giving it to him.
– Where was the matter that the honorable senator is reading printed ?
– In a leading article in the Age yesterday.
– The honorable senator need not be so snappy in answering a polite question.
– I point out to Senator de Largie that the question is not one which will be open to debate. Senator Neild should be allowed to make his statement in the way he considers best, and while he conforms to the Standing Orders of the Senate he has a right to do so. I should like to point out also that as the question has arisen under what standing order such a personal explanation can be made, standing order 394 provides that -
By the indulgence of the Senate, a senator may explain matters of a personal nature although there be no question before the Senate; but such matters may not be debated.
– I rise to order. I wish to obtain your ruling as to whether
Senator Neild has a right to bring up in. the Senate matters which have not arisen out of any business in connexion with the Senate ?
– My opinion 01* that point is that the honorable senator has a right to do so by the indulgence of the Senate.
– -Very well; that will suit us.
– I will- now quote from .the Executive minute. It isheaded -
Minute Paper for the Executive, 2S1I1 .July, 1896.
The matters to be inquired into being specified in the first paragraph, the second, paragraph reads thus-: - “ It is understood that, with the authority of His Excellency in Council,. Mr. Neild is willing to prosecute the above inquiries without remuneration for travelling expenses.”
This paper bears the approval and signature of the then Governor,, the late Lord Hampden. The Commission issued to me was dated 31st July, 1896. My report was presented to the Governor on 5th July, 1898. The payment of a portion of the travelling expenses for which I was out of pocket was made to me on the 19th January, 1899 - or- two years and six months from the date of my Commission. I will only read two extracts from the sworn evidence of the then Premier of New South Wales Parliament. Mr. .Reid, giving evidence on 26th August, 1899, said - “ I heard Mr. Neild was going to England, and knowing the great interest he had taken in this matter (old-age pensions) I invited him toad for the Government in obtaining for us some information upon the subject during his visit to Europe ; but I made it distinctly clear that in inviting him to take this position he was not, under any circumstances, to expect, as at- ‘ taching to his office, emolument in any shape or form ; but he was lo have his Commission free from any liability on the part of the Government to pay him anything in connexion with it. Mr. Neild accepted the Commission upon these terms.”
In answer to question 293, Mr. Reid said - speaking of a rough copy of my report, which he had read - “ I was simply astounded at the amount of labour and research which must have been thrown into the work. I told Mr. Neild that in my opinion the Government should certainly put a sum of money upon the Estimates in recognition of his work.”
The evidence goes on at question 294 - “ Did you make that statement voluntarily ? - Decidedly.” 295. “There was no approach from him? - Absolutely none. Mr. Neild in no shape or form, in the most remoteor indirect way, hinted to me that he was looking for a single penny.” 296. “Did any one do so on his behalf? - No human being approached me - neither Mr. Neild nor any one else - to suggest in any way that any sort of reward, recognition, or payment should be made to him.” 308. “ I felt so impressed with the enormous labour, trouble, and inquiry that Mr. Neild must have been put to in the Old Country to begin with, and concluding his report out here, that it was a sort of impulse on my part to tell him that so far as I was concerned he was entitled to some vote in recognition of this work and for his expenses.”
I thank the Senate for permitting me to read these extracts, which so completely refute the allegation made that I was desirous of having a trip to London at the expense of my State; and, sir, I am particularly pleased that I am able to make this statement while you are in the Presidential Chair, seeing that you, of your own personal knowledge as a member of the Ministry that appointed me, are thoroughly well acquainted with the circumstances detailed by the then Premier whose particular act my appointment was.
– I crave the indulgence of the Senate to make a personal explanation relating to misrepresentations concerning myself published by a newspaper in Perth, and which reflect upon my position as a member of the Senate. I ask honorable senators to extend to me the same consideration as they have extended to Senator Neild in this regard. The file of the newspaperhas recently arrived, and the attack to which I refer has only just come under my notice. It appears in the Daily News, 10th December, 1907.
– What did the Daily News of ten years ago say about the honorable senator?
– That would be rather ancient history. This statement is made in a leading article, just as was that of which Senator Neild has complained, and is even less scrupulous than that to which he has referred. Dealing with a legislator who had not paid his debts, or who had been accused of not paying his debts, the article goes on to say, after dismissing the case in point in two lines - “ Senator Pearce, for example, who receives the miserable salary of , £1,200 per annum - £600 as Senator and £600 as Chairman of Committees “
– Where did the extra £100 come from?
– I do not know. The article goes on to say that I said that I could not live as well on this salary of £1,200 a year as I could when I was earning the wage of a working carpenter. Then it proceeds to devote the remainder of the article to myself, and points out how Mr.- (I will not mention his name) rubbed along with a niggardly £400 a year, “though Senator Pearce found it impossible to live on £1,200 a year.”
– What is the use of paying any attention to such matters ?
– No use, except that I should like to clear my character in the eyes of my Western Australian friends. First of all, the statement about me is a misrepresentation, inasmuch as I never said that I found it difficult to live on my salary as a member of Parliament while I was receiving a salary as Chairman of Committees; as I am doing to-day. When I made the statement, I was speaking of a time when I was not Chairman of Committees. The whole tenor of the article is calculated to convey to the people of Western Australia the impression that I do not pay my grocer’s bills, because it has the preamble-
– I would remind the honorable senator that, while he may make a statement or explanation, he cannot proceed to argue the question.
– Then I desire to make the statement that this article misrepresents me as having made an assertion that I am to-day a poorer man than I was when I was receiving a wage of£3 per week. It also contains a misstatement as to my senatorial allowance, alleging that I receive £300 per annum in excess of what I actually receive.
– That is a very small increase.
– When one is accused of having the cake, one likes to have the satisfaction of eating it. The article also misrepresents and prejudices me in the eyes of the people, since it conveys the inference that, notwithstanding my income as a senator, I am one of those who do not pay their grocer’s bill. I am very pleased to have this opportunity to put myself right with my fellow-senators, because, obscure as the press is-
– Order ! The honorable senator is not now in order in reflecting on the newspaper.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the’ following papers -
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 - Curlewis, New South Wales : Post Office- Notification of the Acquisition of Land for site.
Correspondence between the Prime Minister, and the Premier of New South Wales relative to printing ,of stamps for all States in Melbourne.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General yet in a position to give me a more definite reply to the question I asked a few days ago regarding the staff and efficiency of the Launceston Post Office?
– I may say that, as promised by me, the request which the honorable senator made was conveyed to the Postmaster-General, and that I received in reply a memorandum to the effect that the Deputy Postmaster-General in Tasmania has been requested to instruct the inspector to report upon the matter at the earliest possible moment.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
The Parliament, in accordance with section 125 of the .Constitution, having determined the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth, by the Seat of Government Act 1904, what steps are the Government taking to give effect to the wishes of Parliament as expressed therein ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows -
A Government measure defining the territory for the Seat of Government to be vested in the Commonwealth will be introduced this session or at the commencement of next session, and pressed forward to a conclusion.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– It would be very difficult on the floor of the Senate to give my honorable friend- the full information sought in the first two questions put by him. I have made arrangements, however, with my honorable colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, that- Senator Needham shall be shown the papers if he will be good enough to call at the Department, and from those papers he will be able no doubt to satisfy himself as to what has been done. The answer to question number 3 is as follows -
Representations have been made to that effect, and it is understood that the State Government is being urged to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the whole question.
– I should like to know why the information which I seek not only for myself, but for honorable senators generally, cannot be given in the Senate. If I can call on the Minister of Trade and Customs, other honorable senators will be able to do so; but I should like to know why the information “cannot be- given in the Senate?
– I can only say that I have given the purport of the message conveyed to me by the Department. If my honorable friend still desires to have a formal answer given in the Senate, I shall endeavour to obtain such information as can be made public. At the same time, I would suggest that the better course would be that which I have already mentioned.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 1 2th February, vide page 8026):
Division IV. Agricultural Products and Groceries.
Item 84. Mustard Seed, per lb., id.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 84 free.
Mustard seed is the raw material for the manufacture of mustard, which, under this Tariff, is dutiable at 3d. per lb. I understand that honorable senators opposite are prepared to support the free admission of .the raw material of any manu.facture, and since no reason has been given for the imposition of this duty in respect of an article which was free under the first Federal Tariff-
– The reason is that we can produce mustard seed.
– We db not produce it, and mustard is not manufactured here to a large extent. I hope that my request will be agreed to.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [2.57]. - Senator Gray might have added that both sections of the Tariff Commission apparently recommended that mustard seed should be free.
– They made no recommendation.
– According to the official return prepared for the information of honorable senators, both sections of the Commission recommended that mustard seed should be free.
– That return is absolutely valueless.
– Then I am willing to accept the statement that neither section of the Commission made a recommendation in regard to this item. Mustard seed was free under the first Federal Tariff, so that those who desire to be guided by that Tariff in determining what’ the duty should be may rest assured that they will act rightly by supporting this request. I cannot find in. the statistical returns any figures showing what the importations of mustard seed have been ; but if, as we are informed, it is the raw material of an industry, it is obvious that, in” order to encourage the manufacture of mustard here, we might very well make this item free.
– This is a small item, but furnishes an excellent example of the length to which protectionists will go; and the contradictions in which they invariably find themselves landed. Mustard seed is the raw material of mustard, and we shall be told presently, no doubt, that mustard is not manufactured here. We have to recognise, however, that in order to carry out the scheme of protection, it is necessary to go on adding to the cost from the very bottom rung of the ladder, until we reach the top. If there were half-a-dozen semistages of manufacture between the production of the mustard seed and the manufacture of the complete article I suppose we should find that there was a graduated protective tax-
– The tax would increase like the original grain of mustard seed until it overshadowed the whole earth.
– We are frequently told that protective duties do not increase prices. If that be so, why is it sought to impose a duty upon mustard seed and an added duty upon the manu factured article? Obviously the effect of these duties will be to make the article dearer.
– We shall have to wait a bit to get mustard cheaper.
– Under a protective Tariff the Commonwealth has been waiting six years for articles to become cheaper. But, as a matter of fact, they are becoming dearer. It is positively farcical to impose a tax upon mustard seed. Of course, I recognise that if we place this item in the free list we shall probably be adding to the profits of the manufacturers, and I do not wish to do that. But, on the other hand, I do not see why mustard seed should be taxed. When I am called upon to choose between the two alternatives, I prefer that mustard seed should be admitted free.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 84, “ Mustard Seed,” free (Senator Gray’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 85. Mustard, including French mustard, per lb., 3d.
– I need scarcely remind the Committee that this is one of those items which have been removed from the category of oilmen’s stores, because of a desire to protect it. But I do not think it can be questioned that the proposed duty of 3d. per lb. is a revenue impost. I am satisfied that a large proportion of the mustard that we purchase in Australia is imported, and always will be imported. As 3d. per lb. is an exceedingly heavy revenue duty to levy upon an article which is to be found upon almost every dinner table, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 85 free.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.13].- I should have been glad to see the item made free, but as that is not the wish of the Committee, I propose to do the next best thing. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 85 2d. per lb.
That is the rate which appeared in the former Tariff. Beef is fairly cheap, but from this article, which to most people is almost a necessary concomitant, we derived, with a duty of 2d., a revenue of between £6,000 and £7,000 in 1906. Surely that is enough revenue to get out of this little article. Another reason which should commend itself to every one who has any serious regard for preference is that the great bulk of the imported mustard comes from the United Kingdom. Out of a total importation in 1906 of 756,925 lbs., about 740,000 lbs. - practically all - came from the United Kingdom. . We, therefore, have an opportunity, without any pretence or cloak of a preferential rate, of encouraging trade with the United King dom by levying a uniform duty of 2d. a lb., without troubling ourselves to differentiate between one column and another.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item85 (imports from the United Kingdom), 2d. per lb.
If there is an article on which preference ought to be given it is mustard. Senator Symon has given us figures which show that practically the whole of the mustard in Australia comes from Great Britain ; and we must remember that it is used to a very large extent by the working classes.
– What about the poor washerwoman?
– Has Senator Gray nothing to say about the widow and the orphan ?
– As a matter of fact, I believe that the mustard used by the working classes, unit for unit, is double or treble that used by any other class. However, whether that be so or not, it is an article in universal use, and its quality greatly depends on the manufacturers in England, who are recognised as the largest and best in the world.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Item 86. Nuts- Edible, viz. : -
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 86 by inserting the following new paragraph : - “ aa. Cocoanutswhole, for the manufacture of Cocoanut Oil and Oil Cake, and other substances, under Departmental by-laws, free.”
Copra, which figuratively may be described as the meat of the cocos.ri.ut, is admitted free, though cocoanuts whole are dutiable to the extent of is. per cwt., because the oil from the copra is raw material utilized in the manufacture of soap, and the residue of the copra is utilized in the manufacture of other commodities.
– Copra is an excellent food for cattle.
– That may. be, but, at the same time, the oil is used in. the manufacture of soap. My reason for proposing this request is that, if it be adopted, a factory will, I am informed, be established in Sydney by a company with a capital of £10,000. Employment will be found immediately for at least 100 men, and it is anticipated that this number will be increased with the growth of the business.
– Has paragraph a been put to the Committee?
– Yes ; there were no requests.
– I am sorry that I did not hear you, sir. I saw Senator Findley rise in his place and resume his seat.
– I put- that question to the Committee after he resumed his seat.
– My desire is that whole cocoanuts shall be admitted free under departmental’ regulations, with a view to encourage the establishment of an Australian industry, which, by the way, is to be started in New South Wales with a capital of £10,000, and which I hope will command the support of the senators for that State.
– That does not affect us.
– That is the geographical argument.
– It ought to affect my honorable friends, then, from a fiscal point of view, seeing that they desire to secure the free admission of commodities. I understand that desiccated cocoanut comes mainly from Ceylon; and is subject to a duty of about 2d. per lb. If the duty on the whole cocoanut were is. a cwt., roughly it would amount to about id. a lb. 011 that part of it which the company required, and they would be indisposed to engage in the industry. I am informed, too, that experiments have been made, and all arrangements completed, to establish a factory in the course of a few months. That is, of course, conditional upon the free admission of the whole cocoanut. They also say that, in addition to desiccated cocoanut, there are several subsidiary lines which they intend to produce. There are. not many cocoanuts grown in Australia : the production is so small that it need not be seriously considered. The bulk of the cocoanuts used here come from the various islands in the Pacific. Let me repeat that, as copra comes in free, there is a stronger argument in favour of the free admission of the cocoanut, seeing that it is required for the purpose of giving encouragement to an industry which in the course of time may become extensive, and perhaps employ a considerable number of Australian workmen.
– Senator Findley approves of the whole cocoanut being made dutiable at is. per cwt. if it is to be used as an article of food, because he has assented to paragraph a. Then he says, .” If it is not im- ported to be eaten, I want it . to be admitted free.” That is an extraordinary proposition for him to ask any one to agree to. But, in taxing the whole cocoanut at £1 per ton, he recognises, I suppose, that it is grown in Australia.
– It is grown in Australia, but to a very limited extent.
– I know what would have been said if such an argument had been advanced from this side of the Chamber in support of a proposition. We would have been told, either .that we were producing the article, or, if it was not being produced, that that fact was a good reason why we should impose a duty, which would act like a wonderful manure, and compel its production. If we can grow, the cocoanut in Victoria, or anywhere else in the Commonwealth, why does Senator Findley want to let it come in free?
– For this particular purpose.
– Why should we not grow enough in Australia for this particular purpose? I can see no sense in the suggestion.
– I cannot see any sense in the honorable senator objecting to admit whole cocoanuts free, inasmuch as he has been voting alii the time in favour of the free admission of articles.
– I will, if the honorable senator likes, vote in favour of making the whole item free, but nothing will induce me to vote for a request to make an article free when it is to be used for any purpose except as a food. . The honorable senator, as a protectionist, has to admit that we produce cocoanuts, and he asks us to impose a duty of £1 per ton when they are imported to be used as articles of food. But though we grow cocoanuts here, . he argues that we should allow them to be imported free in any quantity if they are to be manufactured into something or other. I cannot understand his position, and seeing that we are going to tax this article as a food, I cannot vote to allow its free admission for any tin-pot manufacturing purpose.
Senator GRAY (New South Wales) t3-37l- - I think that Senator Findley is in error. The necessity for bringing in the cocoanut to use its kernel is met by item 87, which allows copra to be admitted free. Now, copra is simply the cocoanut dried. It retains all the oil. One would not get an infinitesimallly larger quantity of oil from the whole cocoanut than he would get from the copra. I think that the argument which Senator Findley adduced in support of his request falls to the ground. I. will vote for every proposal to reduce the duty on an article or to allow its free admission where it is required for purposes of food.
-38]. - Senator Gray has certainly convinced me that there is no necessity for making this request. We have - inadvertently so far as some honorable senators are concerned - approved of a duty of is. per cwt. on the whole cocoanut, and under the next item it is proposed by the Government to admit free copra, which comprises everything 6ut the shell of the cocoanut, and which is the raw material for certain manufactures.
– Might not some manu facturers prefer it to come in in a different form?
– No doubt some might, but we should try to frame the Tariff on as general lines as we possibly can.
– - It seems to me that this is a request to which both protectionists and freetraders might well agree. The latter are desirous of admitting free as many articles as possible, and therefore they should support, the request. Senator Sir Josiah Symon. - But paragraph a imposes a tax of is. per cwt. on the whole cocoanut when it is imported as an article of food.
– The whole cocoanut includes copra. Senator Findley has pointed out that his request, if adopted, will lead to the immediate employment of a considerable number of Australians, and may lead in the near future to the establishment of a’ great industry, employing a large number of men. In my opinion, the proposal should commend itself to the Committee.
– Attention has been drawn by some honorable senators to an apparent inconsistency between this proposal and the decision of the Committee with regard to paragraph a of the item. It seemed to me that there was some force in the contention, but I notice that the proposal is for the free introduction of whole cocoanuts for this purpose under departmental by-laws.
Honorable senators will remember that only last year the Government submitted to Parliament a proposal designed to encourage the production in the Commonwealth of cocoanut oil. It provided for a bounty for that purpose as part of a general scheme of bounties. That I take it would be one of the productions from whole cocoanuts to be admitted free in the circumstances suggested by Senator Findley. I am informed by the officers of the Customs Department that, should the request be adopted, the oil would be expressed from the kernels of the cocoanuts admitted under departmental by-laws, and that the residue would be used for the manufacture of desiccated cocoanut and cocoanut in other forms in which the article is used. In’ the circumstances I see no objection to the proposal in view of the fact’ that the free introduction of whole cocoanurs would be regulated by a departmental by-law.
Request agreed to.
– Perhaps the Minister will say what is covered by paragraph b, “ Cocoanuts, prepared.”
– Desiccated cocoanut or other preparations of cocoanut.
– I am at a loss to understand how, from the point of view of protection, Senator Keating can defend the duty on “ Cocoanuts, prepared.” This paragraph of the item really refers to a preparation of cocoanuts used by confectioners. What is the position in regard to confectionery? We have agreed to a duty on cocoanuts which, to a certain extent, would prevent their introduction, and in so far as they are introduced, would levy a tax on confectioners. Senator Findley has just induced the Committee to accept a request for the insertion of a new paragraph permitting the free introduction of whole cocoanuts for the manufacture of oil and other purposes, but not for this purpose.
– Yes, for this purpose also.
– “ Cocoanuts, whole,” out of which “ cocoanuts, prepared “ are made for the use of confectioners, are dutiable. If confectioners require them, they must either get those which are grown in the Commonwealth - and, according to Senator Findley, there are not nearly enough grown in the Commonwealth to meet our requirements, or he would not have proposed their free admission - or they must pay a duty upon cocoanuts imported.
– Paragraph b covers: “ Cocoanuts, prepared,” and we have agreed that a request should be made for the free admission of whole cocoanuts to encourage the industry in Australia of the manufacture of preparations of cocoanut.
-Idonotbelieve that the newparagraph which the Committee has decided to request the House of Representatives to insert will help the confectioner in any way, and I am sure that Senator Findley had not the confectioner in mind when moving his request. The whole thing is from the protectionist point of view a farce.
– SenatorClemonsisinerrorastothe effect of the request agreed to on the motion of Senator Findley. If adopted, the effect of it would be to provide for the free admission of cocoanuts for all purposes of manufacture, including the manufacture of desiccated cocoanut used in confections. Senator Findley hopes that the proposal he has induced the Committee to agree to will lead to the establishment of an industry for the manufacture of various commodities from whole cocoanuts. We have really agreed to a request that the raw material for the manufacture of the products of cocoanut shall be admitted free in the hope that it will lead to the establishment in Australia of an industry for the manufacture of the whole range of the products of the cocoanut.
– I do not quite understand why the duty on almond kernels should be double that of the duty on almonds unshelled when the effect apparently can only be to establish a protective duty in the interests of dentists. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 86, paragraph d, Almond Kernels, 2d. per lb.
.- From the protectionist point of view, it would be highly inconsistent to put a duty of 2d. per lb. on unshelled almonds and allow shelled almonds to come in at the same rate of duty. It takes more than2 lbs. of unshelled almonds to make 1 lb. of shelled almonds.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South. Australia) [3.51]. - This is one of the few instances in which the interests of South
Australia are affected. That State produces almonds of excellent quality, though alot in such quantities as I hope we shall produce. It is not necessary for the almondgrowers of South Australia that there should be a duty of 2d. per lb. on unshelled almonds; but, as we have agreed to such a duty, it would be an anomaly to allow shelled almonds, 1 lb. of which represents more than 2 lbs. of unshelled almonds, to come in at the same rate of duty.
– It would also be unfair to the revenue.
– Yes. I wish to reduce duties ; but we should work on some logical plan, and one of our objects should certainly be to remove anomalies.
– - It takes about 3 lbs. of unshelled almonds to produce r lb. of shelled almonds, r.nd, of course, as we have agreed to a duty on .unshelled almonds, we must, as a matter of consistency, impose a duty on shelled almonds. The first witness examined by the Tariff Commission on this subject was a confectioner, and he stated that he did not wish the duty on almonds to be increased, because the effect would be to increase the price of one of h:s raw materials. The confectioners told us that, although they buy Australian almonds, they are never likely to obtain enough in Australia ‘to meet their requirements.
– Australia can grow enough almonds to supply the whole world.
– In any case, the confectioners look upon the duty on almonds as a duty on their raw material which increases its price, and they therefore asked for higher rates on confectionery. But, while the confectioners glibly stated that, given sufficient protection the prices of confectionery will come -down, as buyers they say that duties increase the prices of their raw material. To whom should we lean, to the almond-grower or to the confectioner ?
– To the primary producer.
– Had I to choose, I should lean to the primary producer. For instance, I would rather vote for a duty on wheat than for a duty on flour, if either were necessary ; but, if the confectioners are to be believed”, the duty on airmonds will injure their industry.
Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) the request, that if effect were given to it the revenue must be defrauded. I now wish to withdraw it.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– What do the letters N.E.I, cover?
– Brazil nuts, walnuts, and all other unspecified nuts. Senator CLEMONS.- Why should we tax Brazil nuts? Is it thought that the man who wishes to eat Brazil nuts should be penalized, and that our people should eat only nuts grown in Australia? This is practically a. revenue duty, and I regard it as unnecessary. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 86, paragraph e, free.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 86, paragraph v, 6d. per lb.
The making of almond ,paste and meal may be a small industry now, but it may grow to large dimensions, and it does not seem right that the same rate should be paid on the raw material of the almond-maker as upon his finished product. We have agreed to a duty of 4d. on shelled almonds, and of 2d. on unshelled almonds, but the labour cost of shelling will probably be more than id. At the present time, the Commonwealth does not produce sufficient almonds for its own requirements.
– It can do so.
– Yes; but it will take four or five years for new trees to come into bearing, during which time the manufacturers of almond paste and meal will have to pay duty on their imported raw material. Mr. Schumacher told the ^Tariff Commission that before he commenced to manufacture almond paste the price of the imported article was is. 4d. per lb., but that as soon as he started the price dropped to is. a lb., his selling price being nd. Therefore, the establishment of the local industry had the effect of reducing the price to the consumers. I am satisfied that if the duty is .increased to 6d. it will give that encouragement to the local manufacturer that the Protectionist Party of this country intend.
– Senator Findley has referred us to Mr. Schumacher, who gave evidence on this subject before the Tariff Commission. I think that the Committee ought to have a little more information about that evidence, to show what sort of an industry the witness carried on. The Chairman of the Commission examined him -
Are you engaged in the manufacture of almond paste and almond meal? - Yes.
Have you a plant and machinery at work? - Yes.
How much have you invested in it? - About £3°°-
I do not object; I wish the man had £3,000 invested in his industry. But I draw attention to that statement, and put it in conjunction with Senator Findley’s statement that the operations of this manufacturer materially affected the price of imported almond paste. Senator Findley ought to see at once that the operations of this manufacturer had about as much effect upon the price of almond paste as an eclipse of the moon. Does any one conceive that a man with a capital of £300 would be able to affect the price of almond paste for the whole Commonwealth? But Senator Findley did not explain the whole position. Here is another question -
Are you sure that you are the only manufacturer of almond paste in the Commonwealth? - Yes; of this particular kind of almond paste.
Here is where the blemish in Senator Findley’s argument occurs -
Of course there is other almond paste made in the Commonwealth, but it is of a different kind. The description of paste that I make is used principally by bakers and pastry cooks. Confectioners use almond paste of a different kind.
Does not Senator Findley see that in taxing almond paste we should be taxing, a commodity which Mr. Schumacher does not produce ? I say frankly that of all the industries that were inquired into by the Tariff Commission, none made so favorable an impression on mv mind - speaking both with regard to the evidence given and theobvious manner in” which his business was conducted - as that carried on by Mr. MacRobertson. My sympathies are with him, as a manufacturer whom it is well to have in the Commonwealth. But I know that I’ shall do Mr. MacRobertson no good turn if I vote for. this request. The evidence^ supports my statement. If I wanted to help Mr. MacRobertson, I should say that many of the commodities upon which we have imposed duties ought to come in free. I should sa.y, “ You have in this country a very fine industry, and a man capable of conducting it well. I object to placing any obstacles in his way. The freer you can make these things the better for. him and the better for Australia.” I -should infinitely prefer to let him have all the goods that he wants free, and let him carry on his industry in his own way. But now Senator Findley, in the interest of one man with £300 invested, wants to tax all kinds of almond paste. Surely that is unreasonable.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 86 by adding the following new paragraph - “(g) Peanuts for the manufacture of peanut oil, oil cake, and other substances, under Departmental by-laws, free.”
This request is similar to the one carried with regard to cocoanuts. A large quantity of peanut oil is used for the manufacture of oil cake and other substances, and it would be a good thing to allow it to be made from nuts imported free.
– I should like to have an explanation of this request. Some time ago we agreed to grant, a bounty for the manufacture of cotton-seed oil. I received a circular from a gentleman who said that he could not fry his fish in cotton-seed oil, because there was none to fry it in, and therefore he asked that peanut oil should be made free. It seems to me to be curious to . propose to make peanut oil free. Why not make the materials for making other oils free as well ?
– Senator McColl’s request is similar to the oneproposed by Senator Findley some time ago with regard to cocoanuts. As I pointed out then, the proposal is that the goods shall only be admitted free, subject to departmental by-laws, for the specific purpose of the manufacture of oils. There may be a good deal in what Senator Chataway has said, that if we are going to admit the materials for themanufacture of one kind of oil free, why not do it with regard to other oils? At the present time we are only dealing with nuts, and I think there are good reasons why we should agree to the request’.
– I am wondering whether this request is a substitute for the magnificent bounty which the Government proposed to pay for the growth of peanuts. If their proposals in that regard had anything -be- hind them, it should be possible to grow peanuts in the Commonwealth. I do not suppose that they proposed a bounty without ascertaining that peanuts could be grown here. If they can, Senator McColl’s proposal must obviously be in antagonism to the growers. Senator Chataway has introduced to the Ministers notice a phase of this matter which he ought to consider. The request means that peanuts are to be introduced for the purpose of making oil. For what purposes is that oil to be used? I suppose it is to be used in substitution for some other oil which we produce.
– It will be made under departmental by-laws.
– But that will not prevent the use of it in substitution for some other oil. One of the tenets of protection is that not only must you exclude the actual article which competes with a local article, but, to encourage the local manufacturer, you must exclude substitutes. Senator McColl’s proposal is practically that we shall let in free a substance which may be converted into oil, which oil may be used in substitution for some other oil that we can make in Australia without introducing peanuts from abroad. On those grounds it appears to me that protectionists ought to vote against the request.
– There is no question about peanuts being produced in Australia. From the report of the Queensland Agricultural Department I learn that in 1906 Queensland produced 71,410 lbs. of peanuts. That is a consideration that ought to be borne in mind. It is only fair that the duty should be maintained.
– It does seem to me that in this case the protectionists are absolutely deserting their principles and their friends. The other day, the Committee decided to impose a duty of 4d. per lb. upon herbs, because2½ tons had been grown at One Tree Hill, in South Australia. Now we have an industry in another State producing a very much larger output of another commodity, and we suddenly find the Government absolutely running away from all their professed protectionist principles and seeking to let in free an article which is grown in considerable quantities in the Commonwealth.
– Because peanuts are not grown in Victoria.
– I do not think that Senator McColl put forward his proposal from any local stand-point. But what is surprising to me is that the Government and Senator Trenwith - who, if he has one plank in his platform at all of which, he is certain, professes to be quite sound in his desire to establish industries by means of protection - should now be found supporting a request to let in free a. commodity that is already being produced in the country. I really cannot understand it. As . 1 free-trader, I should like all these goods to be made free. But I cannot see why we should let in peanuts free when we put a tax on all other nuts. It is not long since the Government brought clown a Bounties Bill in which they asked the sanction of Parliament for the expenditure of public money to encourage the growth of peanuts. I am not sure that that was not the one item about which the Government said that they would stake their existence. They were determined to foster this great industry of growing peanuts. But they lost their bounty, though the Government still goes on. I should have thought, however, that they would have retained some kindly feeling for this great industry.
– There is nothing novel in the principle of Senator McColl’s request. Earlier in the schedule we passed a similar provision with regard to linseed.
– The Government did not offer a bounty for linseed.
– Yes; but that is not the point with which I am dealing. 1 am showing that this is not a novel principle.
– It is a novel application of it.
– No, it is not. It is an application of it that already finds its place in the Tariff as it found a place in the Tariff of1901. We have agreed that linseed shall pay a duty of 2s.;butunder item 72 linseed for the manufacture of oil and cake under departmental by-laws is free. That is not a departure from the principle observed in the previous Tariff. Linseed is grown to a considerable extent in the Commonwealth. I do not know whether it is grown in Queensland, but certainly it may be grown in Victoria and Tasmania.
– Why did not the Government propose to allow mustard to be imported free to be manufactured under departmental by-laws ?
– This is not a singular instance. Later on in the division a similar provision will be found with regard to cotton seed. We have in the first place a duty of 4s. per cental on cotton seed, which is followed bv a provision that -
Seed (Cotton), for the manufacture of cotton seed cake, and denaturated cotton seed oil may be delivered free as prescribed by Departmental by-laws.
– Is it not singular that the same provision was not applied to mustard seed ?
– It has been applied in other instances in this as well as in the first Federal Tariff, so that it is not a novel provision.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [4.21]. - There is no novelty iii admitting free of duty raw material to be used within the limitations of departmental by-laws ; but there is a great novelty in the application of this principle in order to destroy the protection that we profess to have given to a primary industry. -It is true that there are in this and the first Federal Tariff instances in which we have strained it, perhaps a good deal more than we ought to have done. But there are instances the other way. There is that just mentioned by Senator Clemons in regard to mustard seed, which the Government and the Committee refused to free. Even from a protectionist stand-point it is all a matter of comparison of benefits. The Committee refused to agree to a request to admit free of duty New Zealand blue cod because it was supposed that its free admission would take away some of the protection granted to our fisheries. With great respect to Senator McColl, I should say that this is really a proposition to reduce” the Tariff to a farce. With one hand we grant protection - I am speaking now from the point of view of a protectionist^ - to a primary industry which every one admits ought to be fostered, whilst with the other we propose to take it away. As Senator Chataway has explained, the production of pea- nuts in Queensland has been developed to the extent of 71,000 lbs. in a year, and I recollect that when the first Federal Tariff was under consideration there was a good deal of debate as to whether they ought to be dutiable. The protectionists then fought strongly for a duty in order to encourage local production. If peanuts are largely grown here it must be with the object of converting’ them into oil. Ale we to take away the duty in respect to the great bulk of peanuts that are put into consumption ? No consideration was extended to the man who fries fish - alluded to by Senator Chataway - who made a pathetic appeal to the Senate for the reduction of the duty on cotton seed oil. So far as my recollection goes, he said that peanut oil was inferior, or at all events that if we did not reduce the duty on cotton seed oil he would have to fry his fish in peanut oil. Despite the testimony of the- gentleman who fries fish, we are asked to-day to do an injury to the peanut-growers in order still . further to encourage the production of an inferior oil for the frying of fish. If there is one oil suitable for the frying of fish it is olive oil. Olive oil is the only oil in which fish to be eaten by human beings should be fried. Australia can produce it in any quantity, and I hope that we shall have a production that will render us independent of outside supplies. When we examine these ramifications - Senator .Clemons spoke of them as the first step in the ladder - we see what difficulties confront us when we attempt to do this kind of thing. We get a ravelled scheme, and I do not wonder at the difficulties of the officials of the Customs Department in dealing with such matters. We have had ‘a duty on peanuts which has been successful, and yet it is proposed to grant special f facili-. ties for the free introduction of peanuts to make an inferior oil. My vote is not to be influenced in favour of a proposal simply because it contains the word “free.” -I have to look at the result. My desire is that a proposal to free any import shall be beneficial to the consumer, and I think that the result of this proposition, would stultify what we have done in regard to other duties.
– - I hope that Senator Keating will recognise that the passing of this proposal will give rise to an anomaly. It is a small matter, but one of our objects is to remove and not to introduce anomalies. Speaking generally, peanuts have only two uses; they are either converted into oil or given to children to eat. They may have other uses-
– They can be used as fodder.
– I do not think that that branch of their usefulness means anything in Australia. The anomaly that I want to point out is that whereas under paragraph e the peanuts which children occasionally eat will be dutiable at 2d. per Jb., those used for the manufacture of oil will- be free if this request be agreed to. There is no alternative. Surely Senator Keating will have nothing more to do with the proposition.
– I hope that Senator McColl will stand by his request.
– The honorable sen.,tor is a “freetectioinist.” ‘
– I am going to support any proposal for the free admission of articles that can be usefully employed here. Another reason why I shall support this request is that peanuts are largely grown in the Pacific Islands, and that I believe that the more we can do to cultivate business relations between the Pacific Islands and Australia the better it will be for both parties. Peanuts can be utilized in Australia-
– Those imported for eating purposes will be dutiable at 2d. per lb.
– That is not my fault. If I had my way they would be free. I intend to support this request, believing that it will be better for the people.
– What about our olive oil?
– I do not think that this provision would affect to the extent of a gallon a year the local production of olive oil.
– Peanut oil, or something of the sort, is annually displacing thousands of gallons of olive oil.
– We ought to encourage the importation of peanuts for manufacturing purposes. If peanuts can be grown here it will not be long before the necessity tq import them will disappear.
– Senator Gray advanced a most extraordinary argument in favour of admitting peanuts free; he said that they grow very largely in the Pacific Islands, and that as we want to encourage commercial relations with those islands we ought to admit their products free. That would be all very good but for certain facts. My opinion always has been that charity begins at home. Does it not appear to Senator Gray that other portions of the Commonwealth should rather encourage commercial relations with Queensland, for instance, than with ‘ the Pacific . Islands ? Every man who can.be helped to settle upon the soil in any part of Australia is an added strength to the Commonwealth. He contributes his share to the cost of government, and would be an effective force in the case of invasion. He adds to the number-
– And wealth of our community ; he is a valuable asset.
– He adds to the wealth, and is a valuable asset of the Commonwealth. If we are to encourage commercial relations with any one, it ought to be with the people who live within our own boundaries rather than with the inhabitantsof some other country. I have seen’ acres and acres of peanuts growing in . Queensland. The peanut grows luxuriantly in portions of that State, and I am certain that with a little encouragement all that are required within the Commonwealth could be very easily grown there. That being the case, I do not see the slightest necessity for attempting to encourage a trade in this commodity with the Pacific Islands or any other portion of the world. This Tariff is admittedly one for the creation of industries. Peanut growing in Queensland–
– What about New South Wales?
– The honorable senator knows as well as I do that no portion of the Commonwealth has benefited more largely from the Tariff than Sydney has. Many think that an industry, because it is small, is not worth encouraging; but a large number of small industries, in the aggregate,, give employment to a very considerable number of people. We ought more especially to give encouragement to such industries as lead to the settlement of people upon the soil. Although I believe in the encouragement of manufactures, I believe still more in doing anything that will assist the people to settle on the land. ‘ Senator Gray. - Except to help them in times of drought.
– I would help them even in times of drought. I could tell the honorable senator what is doing more serious injury to Australia than the drought, but since I should not be in order in doing so at this stage I shall refrain.
– The honorable senator ought not to deprive’ us of information because of the fear of not being in order.
–The honorable senator knows as much about the matter as I do. I intend to oppose Senator McColl’s request. I believe in encouraging any industry that can be established in the Commonwealth. Peanuts can be grown anywhere in the Commonwealth’ outside the more southerly latitudes. I am quite sure that they can be produced in South Australia.
– Can the honorable senator tell me why peanuts have not been produced in the Commonwealth in sufficient quantity to supply our own demands?
– The reason is obvious. Hitherto, the demand has not been a very large one.
– We want to make our own China oil instead of importing it.
– I would also point out that peanuts are largely used for feeding poultry.
– Fowls are not fed upon such luxuries. Human beings eat peanuts.
– That is so, and a very palatable food they make. I shd.ll vote against the proposal of Senator McColl.
– I hope that Senator McColl will not press his proposal to a division. I think that he must have been labouring under a misapprehension when he brought it forward, because he was unaware that peanuts are being produced in. the Commonwealth.
– Their production is a Queensland industry.
– They can be grown in any part of Australia. At the present time we get most of our peanuts from China. Surely we are not going to admit these nuts free when we can produce them ourselves! The Northern -Territory will grow peanuts in quantity.
– The honorable senator would not like to go there to grow them.
– I would point out that these nuts are grown’ on the Darling Downs, in the Moreton, Burnett, Wide Bay, and Port Curtis districts, and it is said that a small quantity is produced as far north, as Rockingham Bay. This1 area, it will be conceded, embraces a great variety of climates, and as peanuts can be produced throughout it, it is patent that they, can be grown practically all over Australia. I. hope that those who have the interests of the farming industry at heart: - and we must recollect that it is the farmers who grow these peanuts - will support the duty. . Senator Gray is very much annoyed because we will not admit peanuts from China free. I cannot help that. I am here-
– To protect the industries of Queensland.
– Peanuts can foe grown in New South Wales.
– We can utilize our land there to better advantage.
– It is simply absurd to offer a bounty for the production of peanuts and then to admit them from China free.
– Do the plants take long to bear?
– No. They are annuals. With the aid of this duty, I believe that within a few years we shall produce sufficient peanuts to supply all our needs from the stand-point of oil-making. I hope that the proposal will be withdrawn.
Item 87 (Copra) agreed to.
Item SS. Oilmen’s Stores, n.e.i., being Groceries, including Culinary and Flavoring Essences non-spirituous, Soap Dyes, Condition Foods, and other preparations used in the household including Food for Birds, ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.
– This item includes all those articles which a housewife has to. purchase from a grocer, after every household necessary which a protectionist Ministry has thought it worth while to protect has been exempted. Many of the articles which would ordinarily have fallen under this item have been specially removed from it in order that heavy protective duties might be imposed upon them. The result is that the item covers practically nothing which is produced in Australia. Consequently the duty proposed upon it is purely a revenue impost.
– Coffee is made here.
– And we make flavouring essences too, though I admit that the item is not a very important one.
– It is not. The proposed duty is absolutely a revenue impost. It is a tax upon every woman who purchases from a grocer any of the articles included in it. When we were framing the first Commonwealth Tariff it was excusable for honorable senators to vote for revenue duties. But we all recognise that the revenue which will be derived from this Tariff will be enormous - far in excess of what is required for the purpose of government. Under these circumstances, why should we not remove the burden of taxation which will otherwise be imposed under this item? By so doing we shall not harm a single industry. Of course, it is an old illustration, but it frequently occurs to me that if every time a person bought groceries an official at his elbow said to him, “ You have purchased groceries of so much value, and you must therefore hand over to the Government one-fifth of their cost,” the effect of this Tariff would be much better appreciated. The duties levied under it average 20 per cent, upon foreign imports and 15 per cent, upon imports from the United Kingdom. If we were to translate this sort of taxation into our land and, income taxes there would be a revolution. The income tax amounts to one shilling in the £, or 5 per cent., and yet we regard it as a pretty stiff impost. But if a man upon drawing his income were informed by a Customs official that he must hand over one-fifth of it to the Government, what a nice hubbub there would be. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 88 free.
– I have not had an opportunity of picking out all the articles manufactured in the Commonwealth which are included under this item, but I propose to enumerate a number of them by way of illustration, and at a later stage, if necessary, I can complete the list. I would point out that as a rule oilmen’s stores include packages. The articles covered by this item comprise a very comprehensive list. . They include Bird foods, Black lead (for household use), Bakers’ egg, Brilliant-shine, Borax extract, Culinary essences (non-spirituous), Custard powders, Cloudy household ammonia, Condition foods, Dyes packed for household use, Flowers of sulphur in i-oz. packets, and Fruit crystals, Flavoring essences (non-spirituous), and Fire kind.ders- all of which are made here. These articles I have selected from one page out of seven pages which set forth the various commodities included in the item.
– Tell us the things which are not made here.
– Certainly. For that purpose I shall take the first page from which I have enumerated the articles that are made here. Those which are not made here include Annoline, Anti-tarnish, Baking powder, Beno in lb. packages, Blanco, Compound white line cleaner for canvas shoes, Caustic potash, Dolly tints, Enameline liquid, and a few others.
– What proportion of the total list is made here ?
– A very considerable proportion. Those are the assurances which I have received from the Customs officers, and in the circumstances we cannot go far wrong in granting the reasonable protection proposed.
– If there were any items in the whole of the list which the Government and protectionists thought worthy of giving protection to, they would not allow them to be here at 20 per cent. They cannot even pretend that 20 per cent, is a protective duty from their point of view. This is a grab-all item. It includes a few things that may possibly be made here, but those in the opinion of the Government are so unimportant that ..there is no particular reason for applying protection -to them. It includes any amount of things that are not made here. It is not really a revenue duty, because 20 per cent, is far too high for that purpose. It is simply a grab-all duty, mixed up with a mild form of casual occasional protection, in case it should be wanted.
– Is that an admission that 20 per cent, is not sufficient for a protective duty ?
– From a protectionist point of view I am . sure that 20 per cent, is not enough, so that this item cannot cover any article that requires protection.
– Is 20 per cent, too high from a revenue aspect ?
– I want to make the item free.
– Why did the honorable senator’s section of the Tariff Commission ‘ recommend 15 per cent.?
– I earnestly recommend Senator Findley to agree to make . the item free, because this can only operate as a revenue duty, and I wish to enable people who buy things in grocers’ shops to get them as cheaply as possible.
– The duty on this item is really only 15 per cent. That is the rate proposed in the second column, with a view to having such of these things as we must import imported as largely as possible from the United Kingdom. It is practically the old duty of 15 per cent., which is the recommendation, so far as there has been a recommendation in this case, of both sections of the Tariff Commission. From a protectionist point of view, the duty is in the nature of a prevention of fraud. It is a sort of drag-net item that catches quite a number of things not specially enumerated. If it were not there, some things which oughtto be otherwise described might be introduced by a subterfuge under the head of oilmen’s stores. I therefore suggest to protectionists at any rate, that the argument that this is a purely revenue duty is incorrect. Very objectionable results might follow if some such general provision were not included. In some instances, of course, it will prove to be a revenue duty, but in those cases we hope that it will be, not 20 per cent., but 15 per cent., on goods coming from the United Kingdom.
– If this is a revenue’ duty, we want the item free.
– If we were proposing the duty as a revenue duty there would be something in what the honorable senator says. But there are a number of articles which it is very difficult to separate, and we have in some general way to cover them, in order to prevent the escape from the protectionist principle - which the Senate has adopted, and many of us believe that the country has adopted - of a large number of itemsthat are not otherwise enumerated.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [4.55]. - We may congratulate ourselves on having at last obtained from Senator Trenwith the confession which I have looked for for some time - that in the case of this item, which is typical of many others in the Tariff, the duty has been raised 5 per cent. above what it was in the bid Tariff, and above the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, in order that we may go through the farce of taking off 5 per cent. in the second column in favour of the United Kingdom.
It is a most humiliating position for us to. bein. At last it has been confessed - although it has been disclaimed time and again - that we are simply putting one brick more on the top of the wall against other people, in order to take it off as against England. If that is the only reason why the duty has been increased to 20 per cent., then, if the request now before the Committee is negatived, we should at any rate put the duty back to 15 per cent. It is not fair to increase the duty against the housewife on approximately half in value of these oilmen’s stores, which are absolutely required for household purposes. Certain articles included in this item do not come from England, simply because they are not made in England, and never would come from England as the country of origin, with the so-called 5 per cent. preference or any other preference that could be offered. In 1906 £1,555 worth came from Canada; £2,475 worth from Germany; and £26,351 worth from the United States of America. Perhaps the Vice-President of the Executive Council can tell us what particular goods are covered by those figures. At any rate, they are articles, so far as we can form any general opinion, which are not likelyto come from England, and in respect of which the 5 per cent. preference is of no value whatever. The duty is simply being put up to 20 per cent. with the effect of increasing the cost to the ordinary householder. As these are things used generally in all households, I shall support the request to make them free.
– I see from the schedule issued by the Government, under the column “ Value or quantity of imports,” that of the imports for 1906 £70,000 worth were dutiable, and £58,000 were free. Will any of those imports which were free under the old Tariff be now dutiable under this item ?
– A large proportion of the £58,000 worth relates to infants’ and invalids’ foods, of which infants’ foods are now free. I am assured by the Customs officers that a very considerable part of the £58,000 worth will still be free.
– That is satisfactory, but still some items which were previously free have evidently been transferred to this item, and will become dutiable. Therefore riot only is an increased duty proposed, but a number of articles which were previously on the free list are to be made dutiable. It is, of course, impossible to have all these articles enumerated . in a Tariff, but it makes it rather difficult for an ordinary member to know exactly what he is doing. I am quite prepared to support the old duty of 15 per cent, oh articles which were previously dutiable at that rate, but in this case I am also asked to put a duty of 15 per cent, upon a number of articles which were previously free. I have either to vote with Senator Clemons to retain on the free list things previously free, and also to take off the 15 per cent, duty which previously prevailed on a number of other articles, or I- must go to the other extreme, and vote to make dutiable articles which for the last six years have been free.
– Can the honorable senator name some?
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has told me that these are some. It is not my fault that the Tariff does not set out the details. I recognise that there must be a general item like this. The only thing I can do-
– I think I can relieve my honorable friend of his anxiety.
– I am concerned about relieving the anxiety of the man who has to pay the money.
Senator BEST (Victoria- Vice-President of the Executive Council) [5.2I. - This is, of course, a drag-net item. The principle which is followed is to impose this duty on oilmen’s stores in the case of groceries which are not specifically mentioned in the Tariff, and which are made up in packets, the idea being to induce their importation in bulk and their making up into packets here. So far as the Customs officers can remember, the only additional article that will be subject to duty under this item will lie invalids’ foods.
– The Department want to take them off the free list?
– That is the only additional item of the .£58,000 worth of free imports mentioned by Senator Millen to be subjected to this duty. Having regard to the general principle which I have announced, and the main object of the item, honorable senators should have no difficulty in voting for it as it stands. We do not attempt, as is alleged, to put one more brick on the wall against the United Kingdom.
– The Government put one more brick on in order to take it off.
– We have put on a brick against the foreigner.
– It is then taken off as a preference to the United Kingdom.
– No. We allow the former Tariff to obtain as against the United Kingdom, but we put on the brick against foreign goods in order to divert to the Mother Country the trade in those goods which come under this comprehensive item.
– What sort of goods do we get from the United States under this heading?
– I cannot say, whilst on my feet, what are the special characteristics of the imports from the United States. Mv desire is that honorable senators shall realize the main object of this particular item, and, having regard to the fact that the duty is not raised against the United Kingdom, and that the rate proposed was recommended by both sections of the Tariff Commission-
– The Tariff Commission disclaim any recommendation.
– I can judge only by the reports ; and we have the most conclusive justification for the imposition of the duty set forth in the schedule.
– The Minister has not yet answered the question which I put to him. He has told us that this item is supposed to cover, and, in fact, does cover, articles which come in packages, and that the object is to encourage the importation in bulk. so that the work of packing may be done here. We have not been told, however, whether this item covers exactly the same articles that it did in the old Tariff.
– It does, with the exception of invalids’ foods, which I specially mentioned.
– And in f ants’” foods ?
– Then I understand that we are now making dutiable invalids’ foods which hitherto have been free; and I shall vote every time for their remaining free.
– I congratulate the Government on their ability in embracing such, a large number of articles in one item, so as to obtain the support of certain honorable senators on the Opposition side. Some honorable senators, who sit in opposition, were extremely strong in the statement that they would vote for no revenue duties, but only for such imposts as would be the means of encouraging manufactures. In respect of the major portion of the commodities embraced by this item, the duty will be absolutely a revenue duty; but seeing that some may be manufactured here, certain honorable senators are likely to be induced to put aside their principles and vote in favour of the Government proposal. I hope, however, that those honorable senators who were so strong in their denunciation of revenue duties will rise to the occasion, and vote for the request which has been proposed.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [5.10]. - The Vice-President of the Executive Council referred to what he called the main object of this item; but it strikes me that the main point for our consideration is that, under cover of this drag-net item, we are asked, in the absence of any information, to impose a duty on invalids’ foods which have hitherto been admitted duty free. We are told that the. total quantity of oilmen’s stores previously dutiable was represented by £70,000, while infants’ and invalids’ foods represented , £58,000 or £60,000, nearly as much as the general stores. We have no information as to the proportion of infants’ foods to invalids’ foods, and no wordof reason or explanation is given for the proposed duty. If there is any argument which ought to impel us to make the whole item free, it is the proposal to make the duty 5 per cent. more than under the old Tariff, without any information being forthcoming as to how the imposition will affect either the revenue or the consumer. In view of the list of goods which are produced here, and which come under oilmen’s stores, where is the necessity for raising the duty ?
– The duties are raised only so far as foreign countries are concerned.
– But nearly half of these commodities come from foreign countries.
– And were previously
– Quite so. Under all the circumstances, it would be better to make the item free, and let the
Minister hereafter, if he thinks fit, have a recommittal if any further information be forthcoming.
– I appeal to the Ministry, and to every honorable senator, in reference to one commodity covered by this item. There is a very serious disease known as diabetes, and a Sydney doctor has in a letter drawn my attention to the fact that the special and necessary foods in such cases of affliction will, if this item passes, become dutiable. I am sorry I forgot to bring the letter with me, so that I cannot give the names of the particular preparations to which he refers; but, according to him, they are made by only one or two firms - I believe only one - in the world. They have previously been free, and now we are asked to impose on them a duty of 15 per cent. The doctor to whom I referred is the author of several books on the subject of dietetics, and while I cannot give particulars, I can say that these preparations are all marked by the absence of the sugar and starch found in the ordinary flour. Under the circumstances I do not think it necessary to make any further appeal to the Committee.
– Is this the same preparation that is used in what is called the alcoholic cure ?
– No ; the commodities to which I refer are substitutes for the ordinary flour, and are necessary because the presence of sugar or starch is most injurious to the sufferer from diabetes. Various efforts have been made in the past to secure a substitute for the ordinary flour, such as flour of nuts, but the latterwas found unpalatable, and the preparations which I desire to be made free have been brought under my notice as supplying the want. These preparations are sufficiently dear, costing in some instances several shillings per lb., and while the duty might not add seriously to the price, still it ought not to be made more difficult to obtain the means of recovery.
.- One of the dangers of an item is that it throws enormous power into the hands of the departmental officers, and 1 think that a list of the commodities involved ought to be placed before us. An item of this . kind enables the Customs officers to vary duties week by week if they so choose, and it destroys uniformity as between different ports: The Tariff ought to be so’ framed that he who runs may read. The Customs officers are there to get as much revenue as they can for the Commonwealth, and to that end, of course, make dutiable every possible commodity. It appears to me dangerous to group articles together in this way, and I suggest that the item be postponed with a view to having a list of them placed before us. There are, for instance, aniline dyes, which, in my opinion, ought to be included , not in oilmen’s stores, but with other dyes under item 239.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [5.19]. - I agree with the observations which have fallen from Senator McColl. If we pass this item we may find before long that certain articles which we have fixed at lower rates may, by some Ministerial or official hanky-panky, be included in oilmen’s stores. The Ministerial decisions under the old Tariff are contained in a volume of the thickness of a family Bible, and the Minister spent more than one-half of his time in inventing taxation by certif ying that goods not known to the Parliament when the Tariff was passed were something which could be taxed under one head or another. Here is an opportunity of the most’ drag-net character afforded to the Minister. When we are dealing here with matters more or less indefinite or contentious, do we not always insist upon having an interpretation clause? Where is an interpretation clause provided for this item? We are asked positively to legislate in the dark. A larger power is given to the Minister under this item than under any previous item, and perhaps under any item with which we shall have to deal. Not out of any opposition to the Government, or to rational taxation that) will accord with previous items, but on account of its utter indefiniteness, I shall feel it my duty to oppose the item, and to support the request.
– I enumerated the items.
– The Minister says that he has enumerated the items.
– And the principle on which we went.
– Will the honorable senator put them in the schedule?
– That is quite impossible.
– Then it is quite impossible for me to vote for the item.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) valids’ diabetic foods I have had an opportunity to confer with the Minister, who has pointed out to me that it would be better to propose the exemption of such foods from duty as a separate item. I attach so much importance to the representations I have received that I shall adopt his suggestion if the present motion be not carried, and I trust that he will see his way to support my proposal.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 88, Oilmen’s Stores, free (Senator Clemons’ request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 88 (imports under General Tariff), 15 per cent. ad val.
Under the old Tariff the duty on oilmen’s stores was 15 per cent., and that rate was recommended by both sections of the Tariff Commission. We have not heard from the Government any reasons why it should be increased. The Minister is anxious no doubt to remove anomalies in the Tariff. Under this item soap dyes are made dutiable at 20 per cent. when not imported from the United Kingdom, but under item 239 dyes of different kinds are made dutiable at only 5 per cent. I do notknow whether the Minister can offer any explanation for imposing two duties on the same article. He will observe that item 239 includes “ dyes, dry or in paste, in bulk for manufacturing purposes.”
– “ In bulk”! there is the explanation.
– Item 88 deals with “dyes n.e.i.”
– That is no reply to my statement. It. does not follow that soap dyes should not be in bulk.
– If they are imported in packets they will come in under the head of “oilmen’s stores n.e.i.”
– If they are imported in packets why should they not come in at a duty of 5 per cent. ? Item 88 does not refer to “ soap dyes in packets “ but to “ soap dyes.” However, if the Government will not redress an obvious anomaly in their Tariff I cannot help it.
– There is no anomaly about that.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Ifwe passed the item as it stands it might be held that we could not go back, and, therefore, if it is competent for me to do so now, I move -
That the House of Representatives he requested to amend item 88 by adding the following new paragraph : - “ 88a. Invalids’ diabetic food, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, free.”
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [5.36]. - I have no objection to making all invalids’ foods free, as we did before.
– That would disarrange the whole Tariff.
– How could it disarrange the whole Tariff?
– We have just passed duties on beef extracts, concentrated meats, and such foods.
– Senator Millen proposes to exempt from taxation a certain kind’ of invalids’ food, but why should not the exemption be extended to all invalids’ foods. Another point is, why should the proposed provision be governed by departmental by-laws? I shall certainly vote against Senator Millen’s request if the words “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws” be retained, because they would simply have the effect of putting the whole thing into the hands of the Comptroller-General of Customs. How is he to decide what is or is not a diabetic food?
– He could determine that much more easily than several other things he is left to determine by the Tariff.
-Ido not think so. No doubt Senator Millen is quite right in looking upon the request as a sort of child of his, but that is no reason why the honorable senator should get out of temper simply because I say its effect would be to leave it to an official to discriminate as to what foods should be admitted free. I find that under the old Tariff, under the heading of “ Oilmen’s Stores, “ there were included “ Infants’ and Invalids’ Foods, special preparations of.” Why should not all invalids’ foods be free?
– What is meant by “ special preparations of “ ?
– And who are invalids?
-I am happy to say that neither the honorable senator nor myself is an invalid, and may he long remain out of that category. I thoroughly sympathize with what has been said with regard to invalids’ foods, but I thought that Senator Millen intended to cover all such foods. There is no more reason for the free admission of what are described as diabetic foods than for the free admission of other invalids’ foods. It seems to me monstrous that one kind of invalids’ food should be admitted free and other invalids’ foods made dutiable. With a view subsequently to moving the omission of the words “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws,” 1 now move as an amendment on the request -
That the word “diabetic” be left out.
The discrimination proposed might be a useful one, but we have no means of knowing that it is.
– The reason why the Government cannot support Senator Symon’s amendment is because of the extreme difficulty of drawing the line between invalids’ foods and food preparations which might be used for general purposes.
– We have had no such difficulty in the past.
– Yes, the Department has experienced considerable difficulty, and there have been endless disputes with importers as to whether certain innports were or were not invalids’ foods. It is quite understandable that some such preparations might be very suitable foods for invalids and equally suitable for persons who are not invalids. The request proposed by Senator Millen provides for something specific, which is to exempt from duty invalids’ diabetic foods. That honorable senator, when speaking on this subject some little time ago, in connexion with previous items, indicated that information supplied to him, and which he gave to the Committee, went to show that certain imported preparations in the nature of foods were required for invalids suffering from diabetes, and that from such food preparations the elements of starch and sugar had been eliminated. It would be a very easy matter for the departmental officers to ascertain what preparations of that kind were being imported for the use of invalids, and by by-law to specifically prescribe that they should be exempt from duty under the item suggested by the honorable senator. Then if it were found that the list of such foods exempted from duty did. not comprise special foods which should be included in it, the Department could extend the list of specific articles exempted. It would be advantageous also in tending to avoid tthe disputes that would arise at the particular time the importations were made. Preparations have been imported in connexion with which the claim has been made that they should be duty free, because they are largely used by invalids, and this has led, as I ‘have said, to endless disputes.
– But it would be no great crime if. they were admitted free.
– We have already under other items of the Tariff imposed protectionist duties upon food preparations which can be manufactured in the Commonwealth, and which, though used by invalids, are also in general use, and to admit the claim that because imported foods are used by invalids they should be admitted duty free would be to undermine the general prin.ciple of the Tariff. Under the heading pf “Meats - Poultry and Game” we dealt last night with several preparations of foods which are used generally by the public, and especially in certain circumstances, by invalids, and it would be wrong if we were to say that foods which might be used by invalids should be admitted duty free when we know that they are in general use and can be manufactured within the Commonwealth. If the request were amended as Senator Symon desires, it would practically place the Customs revenue and the ‘Tariff policy of the Commonwealth in the hands of the importers, who might designate many an article as an invalid’s food. With regard to the use of the phrase “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws,” honorable senators will see that is necessary, because if the’ request be carried it’ would be for the Department later on to lay down what particular articles came within the designation of invalids’ diabetic food. That would not be putting the Tariff policy, as declared by Parliament, into the hands of the Department to be varied, but merely giving administrative effect to what we desire to provide for by our legislation. It is also in accordance with the usual practice, and I ask whether it is not better to leave it tb officers of the Customs Department to administer the wishes of Parliament in this regard than to carry a request in the wide terms suggested by Senator Symon, and thus lea.ve in the hands of importers the determination as to whether a particular imported article is or is not an invalid’s food? I hope the Committee will not extend the request, submitted by Senator Millen to the length suggested by Senator Symon.
– It is all very well for Senator Keating to talk of the principle we are adopting in the matter of invalids’ food. One of the principles which the honorable senator and his party have adopted is not to allow pure medicines to come in free. With respect to invalids’ foods we have it suggested that they should not be admitted free because they might be made here. A principle like that is in my opinion a disgrace to any ordinary civilization. I consider the request, as moved by Senator Millen, a miserable pretext since it would limit the free admission of these foods, which are purely medicinal, to what the Government for the time being might decide could not be made here. What a miserable thing it would be for us in this Tariff to say that the members of our Buffering humanity afflicted with the one disease of diabetes should be. allowed to get the medical preparations they require free, whilst every man, woman and child suffering from any of the other innumerable diseases should not be included in the beneficent category sought to be established for the benefit of people suffering from diabetes. Senator Keating has told us that “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws,” means that “ the matter will be left in the hands of the Department, but we know that it means that it will be left in the hands of the Ministry of .the day, and. what is. proposed is that the Ministry for- the time being shall say that certain classes of invalids’ foods shall not be admitted free because they would be in competition with some preparations made in Australia. I object to departmental by-laws, and’ still further to the ‘ Ministry being allowed to make the Tariff. That is the duty of Parliament. The more provisos we have in this Tariff for limitations to be decided by departmental by-laws the more completely Parliament will be abrogating its own powers and functions and handing over to the Government of the day the power to frame the Tariff.
– It is suggested that these foods should be admitted free probably because we are taking so long over the Tariff that we shall soon all be invalids.
- Senator Findley may find it in accordance with his views on Tariff reform to joke on the subject of invalids, but I cannot. The honorable senator is prepared to impose the highest possible duty on medical foods. He has done so already, and no doubt will do so again. He is ‘ready to attempt a sort of joke now when we are dealing with the foods required as remedies for a particular kind of disease. I congratulate the honorable senator upon being able to smile at another man’s suffering.
– The honorable senator is a Mark Tapley.
– No; the honorable senator is not. Mark Tapley was a man who smiled when he was obliged to confront difficulties himself, whilst Senator Findley apparently is a man who can smile at the suffering of another person.
– I did not anticipate this castigation.
– It is a question whether the members of the Committee can calmly treat a subject of this sort not only with indifference but with absolute levity. I do not propose to single out any one particular disease fox special treatment, and therefore shall support Senator Symon’s proposal.
– It has been obvious from the commencement of the Tariff discussion that from Senator Clemons’ point of view the great disease is protection, and he is seizing this opportunity to bring about the remission of several duties to which we have already agreed. Malt extract, which we have made dutiable, is an invalids’ food, and a very useful nourishment for growing persons, but we produce in Australia the products from which it is made, and have decided that its manufacture ought to be carried on in the Commonwealth.
– I wish to make free only such invalids’ foods as were free before.
– The Minister of Home Affairs has. pointed out that the adoption of the honorable senator’s proposal would create endless difficulties, as in the past, by causing questions to arise which can never be properly solved. Senator Millen’s request has been described’ as miserable and contemptible ; but it is an honest effort to secure the free introduction of an invalids’ food which is probably not made here at all. Where such foods can be clearly defined, they should be admitted free. Senator Clemons’ attitude in the matter is quite understandable. He regards every duty designed to protect an industry as baneful, and all means to remove such duties as right and proper, while he characterizes as contemptible anything which has not that object in view.
– I do not think that Senator Tremwith should draw a red herring across the trail, or condemn a proposal simply because it has come from a free-trader. I agree with Senator Millen that a certain kind of invalids’ food should be admitted duty free; but I am also of the opinion that we should ascertain what other manufactures properly come under the term “ invalids’ food,” and allow them to be admitted free. We might well put our fiscal opinions on one side in this matter, and let our humanity have full play. The special preparations manufactured to be used by invalids could be defined if the Minister would consult one or two reputable medical men, and it behoves him to take the matter into his serious consideration. I think that a list of invalids’ foods should be supplied, so that we may know what preparations are so designated, and allow such as we may deem fit to be admitted free, or at a very low duty.
– - Senator McColl is now proposing what he protested, a short time since, he would be very much against - to make the Customs Department the boss of the situation.
– Quite theopposite.
– Then the honorable senator has a singular way of stating his opinions. Every honorable senator understood him to say what I have attributed to him.
– We understood the opposite.
– He suggested that a list should be submitted for the approval of the Committee.
– The honorable senator, speaking ona proposal under discussion half-an-hour ago, said that if carried it would make the Customs officials superior to Parliament, but Senator Symon’s proposal is to make the Customs Department the sole judge as to what preparations shall be admitted free as invalids’ foods. Senator Millen’s request is straightforward and business-like. He asks that the particular food required by invalids suffering from a specified disease shall be admitted free. But Senator Symon wishes to introduce a provision so elastic that it would make the Customs officials the mastersof the situation, and produce endless confusion in the dealings of importers with the Department. We, on this sider have as much tenderness in our composition as honorable senators opposite, and would probably go as far in extending practical sympathy to the sick., but we do not wish to adopt means which may destroy industry, and will certainly create unnecessary confusion in the business of the Customs Department.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [6.1]. - -Honorable senators opposite have not been accused of not being tender-hearted. We, on this side, invite them to give evidence -of their sympathy to the sick by taking off the duties on invalids’ foods.
– Many of the preparations made in Australia are better than the rubbish which is imported.
– My honorable friend is entitled to his opinions on the subject. While I sympathize with those who suffer from diabetes, I see no reason for allowing one kind of invalids’ food to be imported free, and making all other kinds dutiable.
– What other kinds?
– My honorable friend will find a vast number of diseases set out in any medical dictionary, and he must know that there are thousands of persons in the Commonwealth who suffer from them, for whose treatment certain special preparations are required. The fact that imported invalids’ foods are largely needed is evidenced by the importations of 1906. I have moved to amend the request by leaving out the word “ diabetic,” so that it may apply to all invalids’ foods, which were free under the old Tariff. There is no reason why we should discriminate. But after what has fallen from the Minister of Home Affairs I am convinced that it would be unwise to omit the words “ subject to departmental regulations,” and therefore I shall not. move, their elimination.
.- My difficulty is this: If the word “ diabetic” is struck out, Senator Millen’s request may go by the board, and we shall get nothing. I do not wish that to happen. If I were sure that the ‘request if amended as proposed would be carried, I should vote for the amendment.Ishall go for a certainty by voting with Senator Millen.
Senator Lt.Colonel GOULD (New South Wales) [6.5].- I sympathize very much with the amendment submitted by Senator Millen, and still more with that proposed by Senator Symon. I certainly think that it would be a wise thing to allow invalids’ foods to come in free as they have done hitherto. I should like to point out that if the Senate is strong enough to insist upon striking out diabetic foods there ought not to be much difficulty in carrying the request as amended. If there are honorable senators, however, who vote for the amendment with the intention of afterwards voting to negative therequest altogether, well and good. It has been suggested that it would be well to have a schedule of the various articles which we desire to have admitted free. But as there is no prospect of obtaining the schedule, the next best thing is to provide that invalids’ food shall be admitted free under departmental bylaws. Then we shall know exactly what kinds of food receive the benefit of this provision, and there will be no difficulty as to foods coming in free that it is desirable to tax. If any honorable senator considers that the list is too large or too small, it will always be open to review, and the wishes of Parliament can at any time be made known. It has been said that we have already agreed to tax certain invalids’ foods. Malt extract and peptonized foods have a certain duty imposed upon them. It is argued that a difficulty will arise if we treat other foods differently. But I am at a loss to see how any difficulty can occur if the foods to be admitted free are prescribed by regulation.
– In the past malt extracthas always been dealt with under a separate line of the Tariff.
– That being the case, there will be no difficulty in dealing with it. When the list is being made out . by the Department the officers will naturally look round and see what articles Parliament has already declared taxable, and whatever Parliament has determined shall bear a duty will be omitted from the list. By that means the decision of Parliament with regard to duties on certain goods will be maintained. The list will only contain those foods which are not mentioned in the Tariff as taxable. I intend to vote for the omission of the word “ diabetic,” in order subsequently to vote for Senator Symon’s proposal that invalids’ foods as a whole shall be admitted free. It may be that the Committee will decide that these foods shall not be admitted free at all. All that I can say is that if Parliament is so negli gent in the interests of invalids it must take the responsibility, but it will be an unfortunate decision not to give invalids the opportunity of obtaining the foods that they require as cheaply as possible, as they have done in the past.
– In venturing tosay few words, I may remark that when Senator Millen leads the Opposition I always understand his attitude. But this afternoon there are two leaders, who apparently are aiming at a determination as to which of them shall be the greater. I am therefore a little bit confused as to what they mean. I intend to support Senator Millen’s proposal, but I will not go further. Let me give an instance as to what might happen if we declared all invalids’ food free. I had beena teetotaller for about twenty-five years or over. But some years ago I suffered from an attack of inflammation of the lungs. I was attended by Dr. - now Sir John - Cockburn, who prescribed something that was practically unknown to me, namely, brandy. It was a case of life and death. It was with the greatest difficulty that I was pulled through. During that time,my wife tells me, I consumed a gallon of brandy. In that case would brandy have been considered an invalid’s food? I feel sure that if a medical man had given me a certificate to the effect that brandy was necessary to keep me alive, Senator Clemons, if he had happened to be Minister of Trade and Customs, would have recognised that I had a claim to have my brandy duty free. After the brandy treatment ceased Dr. Cockburn prescribed porter for me. According to Senator Symon’s contention both brandy and porter in such circumstances would be invalids’ food. I do not mention these circumstances to advertise myself, but to show the inconsistency of those honorable senators who appear to me to be marking time this afternoon and contending amongst themselves as to which leader shall be the greater. When Senator Millen proposes anything I do at all events understand what he means, and I give him credit for being honest and straightforward. But when others come into the field and jump the claim, and give us evidence of their plausibility in debate after having been two days away from the Senate, it seems to me a bit peculiar. I do not want to kill time, but I should like Senator Symon or Senator McColl to answer this question : Are they prepared to maintain that brandy, porter, and other liquors of that kind, when prescribed by a doctor, shall be considered invalids’ foods? If that be so, from what source are we to get our revenue ?
– I think it will be admitted that on the. ground of humanity it is desirable to admit invalids’ foods duty free. The first objection made to that is by the Minister, on the ground that it would be very difficult for the Customs officers to discriminate between certain kinds of invalids’ foods. It is quite true that there would be difficulty, but the officers are appointed to get over such difficulties, and unless the Minister can assure me that they are insuperable I shall be inclined to support Senator Symon in his effort to get all these foods placed on the freelist.
– The difficulties are insuperable.
– The mere assertion does not make it so. The Minister ought to be able to show why the difficulties are insuperable.
– The Department can specify anything under departmental by-laws.
– So it seems to me. It seems highly desirable that we should make invalids’ foods free.
– There are difficulties in the way.
– I wish to know definitely whether, in the opinion of the officials themselves, those difficulties are insuperable. It is suggested that departmental regulations could be framed to overcome them.
– Parliament would be practically neutralizing what it has spent hours in carrying out.
– Does the Minister mean that Parliament has spent hours in arriving at a certain decision, and that we are now asking that that decision be reversed ?
– That would be the effect.
– I do not think so. Honorable senators on this side who have held office in States Administrations, have not found an insuperable difficulty in the way of administering Tariffs providing for the free admission of invalids’ foods. I should like some clearer explanation as to the alleged impossibility of giving effect to this proposal, without conflicting with our previous decisions, by calling to our aid the scientific knowledge of the Department, and embodying it in departmental by-laws. If it can be done, I shall vote with Senator Symon, but if it is shown that it cannot, I shall haveto vote with Senator Millen.
– I am afraid that the Committee are not dealing with this proposal on its merits. Senator Symon at the outset made a speech, in which he undoubtedly showed a desire to throw open the door to invalids’ foods of all kinds. I do not think that a majority of honorable senators would support such a proposition, butI believe that a majority of the Committee, having listened to the debate, are prepared to agree to a. request providing for the free admission of invalids’ foods which cannot be manufactured in Australia.
– If the request be put in that form, it will be carried.
– If that is the desire of the majority, surely we ought not to allow our feelings, and perhaps our prejudices, to reject the opportunity to obtain at least something in the direction that we desire. Senator Millen made a statement which has been accepted, that a certain food most valuable to those suffering from diabetes cannot be made in Australia. Will any honorable senator say that there is no food equally valuable in the case of persons suffering from other diseases to which the same statement will not apply? If it can be shown that there is no other food coming within the same category, we may safely carry the request in its restricted form. We have to remember, however, that this Tariff may stand for years; that science is always being applied to the investigation of diseases ; that at any time a food product which may be most useful in the case of persons suffering from some other diseases may be discovered, and that if the request be restricted, as proposed, such a food would be dutiable. We know, for instance, that consumption destroys the tissues of the body, and that scientists are aiming at the discovery of some food which will build up those tissues more rapidly than they are destroyed by the disease. If, after we have dealt with the Tariff, such a food is discovered, the position will be that by agreeing to the request in its restricted form we shall shut the door against its free admission. I do not think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council would be doing himself justice if, because of certain statements made at the outset of this debate, he shut the door on the possibility of other invalids’ foods being treated in exactly the same spirit as he is prepared to treat diabetic foods. If the request be accepted in the limited form proposed, it will shut out some other foods fulfilling all the conditions in respect of other diseases which this food fulfils in the case of persons suffering from diabetes, and which cannot possibly be manufactured in Australia. If, on the other hand, we pass the request in the form suggested by Senator Symon, the Government will have the power to say that a certain diabetic food is the only food whose free admission can be prescribed.
– Surely they could not shut out a food on that score.
– Certainly, if the amendment were carried in that form , they could do so.
– If the request is put in that form - “ and which cannot be made in Australia” - I shall agree to it.
– If we provide for the free admission of invalids’ foods “as’ prescribed by departmental by-laws “-
– “And which cannot be made in the Commonwealth.”
– That matter will bo within the discretion of the Government.
– Perhaps this diabetic food could be made within the Commonwealth, but at such prohibitive prices as would render its local manufacture impossible. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has held office as Minister of Trade and Customs in a State Administration, and I shall therefore, accept his statement in the matter. If the request were carried in the formI have just mentioned would he not, in prescribing the conditions under which a food should be admitted free, set forth the name of the food that should be so admitted.
– Are not honorable senators prepared to accept that?
– Give us a chance to reply, and we shall tell the honorable senator.
– I am afraid that the honorable senator is going to reply without having given consideration to what I have said.
– Would it not be possible for the responsible Minister,if the request were agreed to in its altered form, to prescribe “that a food for consumptives should also come in free? On the other hand, if the request were passed in its restricted form, the responsible Minister would be unable to do so, unless an amending Act were passed. Where is the danger?
– There is a very serious danger.
– I wish to face this question, because I think that it is of importance. I would ask Senator Best whether under the amendment, any foods other than those actually prescribed could’ come in free.
– Then if only those that were, prescribed could come in free, surely the Vice-President of the Executive Council has sufficient confidence in his colleague the Minister of Trade and Customs–
– He will not always be there.
– I understand then that the Minister has sufficient confidence in the present Minister of Trade and Customs to believe that under this provision he would not allow any food that could be made in Australia at a fair price to come in free. If he fears that some future Minister of Trade and Customs might allow all sorts, of things to come in free under a provision of this kind, what is the position ? The Minister, who had behind him in Parliament a majority willingto allow him to let all sorts of things come in free under a provision of this kind, would, have a majority to support an amendment of the law allowing for their free admission. That being so, Senator Best and those who think with him are really fighting shadows. They admit the value of the food referred to by Senator Millen ; they know that it is so valuable that it should be admitted free, and that being so, why should they not be prepared in the same spirit of. reasonableness to open the door to other invalids’ foods, leaving the key in the hands’ of a protectionist Minister of Trade and Customs.
– But a protectionist Minister will not always hold the key.
– Quite so; but when the key passes from the hands of the pro- tectionist Minister the key to the whole protectionist Tariff will also pass from him.
– That is all very innocent.
– It . is an exact statement of the position.
Sitting suspended pom 6.30 to J. 45 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, we were discussing an amendment by Senator Symon upon a request by Senator Millen to the effect that the word “ diabetic ‘ ‘ should be excised, so that invalid foods might be admitted free under departmental regulation. I should like to do all that I can to assist Senator Millen in the direction in- which he is endeavouring to lead the Committee; but at the same time, I wish, if possible, to satisfy Senator Symon, and those who regard this question from a similar point of view. I therefore ask Senator Millen to accept a suggestion which I believe will meet the views of all those who have .the interests of Australian industries at heart, and will at the same time test the sincerity of those who desire that invalid foods shall be admitted duty free under any circumstances. But, before offering this suggestion, I wish to point out that if Senator Symon’s amendment Be agreed to a great deal may happen that we do not desire to happen. . In this matter we have to guard against what may be as well as what has been. If Senator Symon’s amendment be accepted by the Committee, the time may come when a Minister may have sufficient influence to admit almost any invalid food under departmental regulation, irrespective of whether it was manufactured in the Commonwealth, or whether it could be profitably manufactured here. Of course, our idea is that no Minister would so act, in view of his responsibility to Parliament. But wo know what ‘has been done in the past. We are all familiar with the difficulties that have arisen when Ministers have had almost uncontrolled power. That is the reason why many of us who desire to preserve and encourage Australian industries consider it is necessary that we should always be. on our guard. The suggestion which I make to Senator Millen is that after the word “ diabetic” the words “and other invalid foods not manufactured in the Commonwealth,” be inserted. If his proposal were put in that form, I do not think that a single member of this Committee would oppose it. If, in the future, any food should be. manufactured in - any part of the world that would facilitate the recovery of invalids, I think that we should all be anxious to make it available to them at the cheapest possible price. That is the reason why I offer the suggestion to Senator Millen. If he is prepared to accept it, I shall vote against Senator Symon’s’ proposal. I should like to hear what Senator Millen has to say upon the matter.
– Before dealing with the suggestion of Senator McGregor, I should like to make a few comments upon previous criticisms of my proposal. I was both surprised, and a little bit hurt, at the tone of some of those criticisms. Several of the speeches delivered almost made it .appear that I had put forward a proposal, the effect of which would be to exclude certain invalid foods. Now, the true position was. that as the Tariff stands it excludes all invalid foods unless they pay the duty. Up till the time that I submitted my amendment no definite proposal had been made to admit invalid foods free. The door was- barred against them. I asked the Committee to open the door in respect of one class ‘of foods, and I was immediately attacked for not attempting to admit the remainder* I merely asked the honorable senators to join with me in opening the door to let in some invalid foods which ought to be admitted free. It is unjust, therefore, to criticise my proposal as if I had been guilty of shutting the door against other articles of a similar character. If the Committee will adopt the proposal to allow of the freest importation of foods required by invalids I shall be delighted. It was not from any desire to oppose a proposition of that kind that I limited my amendment. But I do not profess to think of everything, or to know everything. My attention having been particu-larly directed to one class of invalid foods, I simply moved in the direction of placing them upon the free list. I quite recognise that there are a great many invalid foods being made in Australia, and it was not unreasonable that my protectionist friends should demur about admitting them free. I know that the particular class of foods specified in my proposal are not manufactured within the Commonwealth, and, therefore, it. seemed to me preferable to make certain of securing their free admission, than to risk gaining nothing by overloading my proposal. If the Committee will join me in still further opening the door for the admission of invalid foods I shall be delighted. What is the best way of achieving that result? The question which arises is, “ Can we devise a suggestion which will enable us to give fairly free entry to goods of this kind without exciting the’ opposition of those who hold protectionist principles “ ? Senator McGregor’s suggestion seems to me to possess the merit of being practicable. As a free-trader, I should lil* all invalid foods to be admitted free. But the protectionists in this Chamber, who, unfortunately, are in a majority, say, “ We will meet you to the extent of agreeing to request the other House to limit your proposal to invalid foods which are not made in the Commonwealth.” That is not the suggestion which I made, but it is one which will give me more than I shall get if I decline to accept it. Now, I want to obtain as much as I. can, and because I cannot get all that I want, I am not going to be so foolish as to refuse to take what I can get. Therefore, if Senator McGregor moves to amend my proposal in the direction he has indicated, I shall be found supporting him.
.- I regret that Senator Lynch seemed completely to misapprehend the purport of my remarks when I was addressing the Committee prior to the suspension of the sitting. He declared that I was prepared to leave the admission of invalid foods to departmental by-laws. What I advocated was that we should agree to Senator Millen’s proposal, and that we should then allow the Minister an opportunity to make inquiries amongst those who have most knowledge of this matter, with a view to his bringing up, at a later stage, a list of articles of which we might approve. I did not propose to leave the admission of these foods to departmental officers. I objected to the admission of the articles covered by the previous portion of this item being left to departmental officers, because it might include hundreds of commodities. But, in the present instance, only a limited number of articles will be affected, and we should be able at once to know what can be done.
– That all depends upon the Minister.
– It does not. It does not seem to me that there is very much difference between Senator Symon’s proposal and the suggestion thrown out by. Senator McGregor, because whatever departmental by-law may be made will be subject to revision and approval by the Senate. There are scarcely any invalid foods which cannot Joe made in Australia.. The question is, “ At what cost can they be made ? “ In considering this matter, we have to recollect that invalids frequently suffer great stress from a pecuniary stand-point. Consequently, every consideration should be extended to them, and they should* ‘be permitted to obtain needful remedies as cheaply as possible. Whilst I am quite in favour of allowing the use of invalid foods manufactured in Australia where they can be produced of as good a quality and at as cheap a price as can the imported article, I am not going to allow my fiscal opinions to stand in the way of the recovery of any afflicted person.
– Not even in regard to mustard?
– I had nothing whatever to do with the proposal in regard to mustard. Senator Guthrie seems to have a dead “set” against allowing invalids any privileges whatever. I haw been making some inquiries; and I find that there are quite a number of invalid foods which might be included in the amendment. At the same - time I am prepared to go to the length of supporting Senator Symon’s proposal, because I have confidence that the ‘Minister and the Customs officials will do what is right in this matter. If they do not, their action .can be reviewed in the other Chamber as well as in this. I have here a list of foods, none of which are made here. They are the ones mainly used in private hospitals and sick rooms, and I am informed that none of them can be obtained in grocers’ shops. One has to go to a chemist to get them. They are: Valentine’s meat juice, Wyeth’s beef juice, Carnrick’s beef peptonoids, Carnrick’ s liquid peptonoids, Brandt’s essence of beef, Brandt’s essence of chicken, Liebig’s Lemco-
– T do not like Liebig’s malt extract. If his Lemco is no better, an invalid would be better without: it.
– I have not included malt extract, because it is being made hereof a fairly good quality, so far as my inquiries go. The others are : Savory and’ Moore’s pancreatic emulsion, Murdock’s liquid food, Manhu flour for diabetes - which I imagine is what Senator Millen desires to introduce - and Caffyn’s liquor carnis.IshallvoteforSenatorSymon’s amendment, and if that is rejected I shall move a further amendment to add to Senator Millen’s proposal those foods which I have just read. Senator McGregor’s amendment could then be added to that.
– I hope that the Committee will not accept- Senator Symon’s amendment. It would be an exceedingly dangerous provision to put on the statute-book. We have already passed several important items in the Tariff, including such items as potted or concentrated meats, extracts of meat, and meat jellies, soup in tins or other air-tight vessels, malt extracts, and similar articles which it is recognised are made in Australia. We have imposed in each of those cases a specific duty with the object of encouraging their manufacture in Australia. My first objection to Senator Symon’s proposition is that it opens the door far too wide. It places great responsibilities in the hands of the Minister upon whom devolves the duty of duly administering this Act, and who is necessarily subject to pressure in the discharge of his duties. If a proviso of this sort were inserted, the Minister would be at once deluged with applications from various firms claiming that the foods which they sought to introduce were invalids’ foods. I wish honorable senators to deal with this question from the Tariff standpoint - from an essentially practical stands point - and to eliminate all that sympathy which we must necessarily feel in discussing a subject in which invalids are concerned. The Minister would have to recognise that it was the desire of Parliament that invalids’ foods should be admitted free. His first difficulty would be to ascertain who are invalids. The condition of being an invalid is more or less a matter of degree. You cannot say that one man is an invalid while another, who may be a little better in health in some directions, is not. The broad generic term of “ invalid “ embraces an enormous number of foods. Take for instance the wellknown meat extract called Bovril.
– Bovril is not merely an invalids’ food.
– But it is undoubtedly an invalids’ food. Suppose some Minister in the exercise of an honest discretion re garded Bovrilasan invalids’ food. He would then be admitting free an article which would come in direct conflict with certain items in the Tariff, and affect an industry that we are anxious to cultivate and develop. Take as another instance that of Nestle’s invalids’ food. Suppose it were rumoured that Nestle’s people intended to start that industry inAustralia, and some one else with greater power and influence secured the free admission of a similar invalids’ food. That at once would discount the enterprise of the individual who was seeking to start the local industry. By those means the items of the Tariff, one after another, could be defeated. I admit at once that it is necessary in certain cases to allow the Minister some degree of elasticity in the administration of the Tariff. But we have to limit that as far as possible, and to make known in the terms of the Tariff exactly what we mean. If, however, we give to the discretion of the Minister so wide a range as is suggested by Senator Symon, it is quite possible that in the honest discharge of a Minister’s duty many leading and important features of the Tariff would be defeated. That would be most undesirable. I come now to Senator Millen’s amendment regarding a particular food which is specially useful for diabetic patients. When we know exactly what the limitation is, we have no hesitationin accepting such a suggestion, if we are sure also that the particular food cannot be manufactured here. There is no objection to the admission of that particular class of invalids’ food. But it would be impossible to give a wide range of exemption. Senator McGregor has suggested that we could arrive at what was intended, consistently with what we have already done in the Tariff, by the admission of those recognised invalids’ foods which are not made in Australia. As our main object is to cultivate industries, such as the making of particular invalids’ foods, there can be no reasonable objection to the admission of others which are not made in Australia. The Government have no hesitation in accepting ‘ Senator McGregor’s suggested amendment of Senator Millen’s amendment. Unless we have limitations such as are suggested by those two honorable senators, we shall subject the Tariff to menaces and dangers to which we are not justified in exposing it. We should not open the door so widely as has been suggested, but can well express what we intend by means of the two amendments I have mentioned.
.- Earlier in the debate those who were disposed to do justice from a protectionist point of view in dealing with the Tariff were charged by honorablesenators opposite with being unsympathetic with, and indifferent to, the sufferings and difficulties of invalids in Australia.
– No one said that.
– It was said by more than one honorable senator. Much capital was sought to be made out of the allegation that honorable senators who supported the Government in their decision to adhere to the Tariff as it came from another place had no regard for the sufferings of invalids.
– No one said anything like that.
- Senator McColl made two or three speeches, the last of which convinced me that he is prepared at all hazards to make all these foods free, whether they are for children or adults, if they cost more than foods made under better conditions in Australia. Who is to define an invalid ? Is the definition to be left to the departmental head? If it is, the door will be opened ‘so far that honorable senators will be sorrythey opened it at all. The Department evidently had this matter under serious consideration long before the Tariff reached this Chamber. The opinion of Dr. Norris, Chairman of the Board of Health of Victoria, was sought. He is a man well qualified to express an opinion, and his testimony ought to carry weight even with those who desire to have all invalids’ foods admitted free.
– More than that of all other medical men ?
– I do not say so, but Dr. Norris was selected by the Government of Victoria as the man eminently suited for the position he now occupies. It is stated -
Dr. Norris states that the public are victimised to a large extentby certain invalids’ foods, and also by certain infants’ foods, and he is strongly of the opinion that if they are to be admitted at all they should not be free, since most of them can be made here.
– What is the honorable senator quoting from?
– From an opinion obtained from Dr. Norris by direction of the Comptroller-General of Customs.
– It is in the third person. Those are not Dr. Norris’ own words.
– I take it that Dr. Norris expressed himself in the words I am quoting. That is the opinion which he gave when the Department sought his views.
– Is that re-written by the Department?
– I do not know.
– To whom was it written?
– To the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs.
– Dr. Norris did not write in the third person.
– The Department sought his opinion.
– And that is the Department’s version of what he said?
– Yes. I take it that it is a correct version, and no doubt Dr. Norris would hold himself responsible for the opinions contained in it.
– Or he would repudiate them.
– I have sufficient confidence in the departmental officers to believe that they would not put into Dr. Norris’ mouth words that he did not use. The document continues -
He suggested that if there is to be any exemption, it should be limited to “ Infants’ foods suitable only for infants under the age of ‘ six months, and which, when prepared as directed by any accompanying label, contain no starch, and which then contain the essential constituents of, and conform approximately inproportional composition to normal mother’s milk.”
The above is the standard fixed under the Victorian Pure Foods Act, and Dr. Norris states that the leading makers of these foods in Europe are making arrangements to conform to that standard.
Under the old Tariff, about sixty articles were admitted free because they were considered to be invalids’ foods. In the Tariff before us a certain amount of protection is given in industries where imported commodities come into competition with local productions. Senator McGregor desires to admit free all foods that are not made here.
– Under departmental regulations.
– Such an amendment would hardly attain the object which, I think, Senator McGregor has in view. All these so-called invalids’ foods which are not being made here have distinctive names, and are sold by firms who do not manufacture in Australia.
– It is not the name but the thing itself which has to be determined.
– That is selfevident.
– Is it? If so, the matter is clear; but if substitutes for these imported foods can be made in Australia, and it is shown that the substitutes are even better than the imported articles -
– But the doctors say differently.
– I do not know of any doctor’s evidence to the effect that these goods Cannot be manufactured in Australia. There is a disposition on’ the part of some medical men to prescribe certain prepared foods or medicines, whereas more highly scientific practitioners have a preference for natural foods free from any adulteration. I feel sure I am speaking for every member of the Labour Party when I say that we do not desire to impose any burden or hardship on the invalid, but, at the same time, if there can lie made in Australia foods which are considered by scientific men to be more suitable than the imported foods, even . though the local variety may be a little higher in price, it would be wise to encourage the establishment of the industry in Australia.’ However, I promise that .when requests are submitted later, rio vote of mine shall be cast in the way that will place any disability on the sufferer.
– We listened for some considerable time to- the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who elaborated an argument to the effect that in dealing with the Tariff we must make known what we mean ; that we must avoid any wide range, and take care that, in the discharge of our duty, we do not embarrass or place Ministers in an inconvenient position. The honorable gentleman went on to say that unless we are very careful the policy of the country can be defeated, and, further, that unless we know with fair precision what the limitation is, we should not hesitate to provide against the possibility of these foods coming in, and. so on. I should like to ask Senator Best what is meant by the very next item, which places infants’ foods, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, on the free listhow he proposes to apply his argument to that item. There is an infinite variety of infants’ foods which are made all over the world ; indeed, I venture to say that the item covers a far wider range than that of invalids’ foods. We have been told that the Government are determined to adhere to the Tariff as presented, but with what appearance of consistency - though ‘ I suppose we shall hear some sort of plausible argument - can the Minister defend the item of infants’ foods, and refuse to subject invalids’ foods to the same departmental by-laws ? I am sorry there has been such a lot of hypocrisy displayed over this item. No hypocrisy could be more evident than that of a man who declares that he will not permit invalids’ foods to come in free unless it is clearly proved that they are not made in Australia, while, at the same time, he is prepared to admit infants’ foods free under departmental by-laws. Is the policy of protection so sacred that it outweighs every other consideration? In fear of a remote chance of something toeing imported for invalids which is made in Australia, the interests of invalids are to be thrown on one side, with the paltry contemptible exception that if it be proved the foods are not made in Australia - and I know that that means also any substitute - they shall be allowed to come in free. Senator McGregor talks about promoting peace ; but I ask him whether, after the closest scrutiny, not only by Parlia1ment, but by Ministers and the whole of the officials of the Department, it is found that an article is not made in Australia, it is not the common custom to allow it to come in free? What extra concession then is proposed for invalids’ food ? None at all. I have no doubt that Senator Symon will adhere to his request; and, guarded “as his motion is, I hope that, even at this late hour, protectionist senators will see their way to place this commodity on the same footing as infants’ foods.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.25]. - This proposal of the Government is on all-fours with proposals that have already been accepted by the Committee. The Government are wilfully and persistently insisting on taxing sickness and ill-health - are seeking to decimate the population by duties on the food of the sick. Infants are to be destroyed wholesale bv this Ministry. I say deliberately that the policy of the Ministry is a direct menace to infant life ; and I hope that what I say will be remembered. This is a wicked Ministry. I do not know whether I should be ruled out of order if I described such doings as approaching criminal acts; but, if I were, the statement would still be uncommonly near the truth. It is criminal to place difficulties in the way of the rearing of young infants or of the healing of the sick. All through the Tariff are to be found penalties on infant life - on having childrenand on being sick; the Tariff bristles with assaults on infant life and on invalids. Senator Findley has told us that the proposed request would involve the Ministry determining whether or not a person was sick ; and I am not sure that the VicePresident of the Executive Council did not say something of the same sort. But, as a matter of fact, the proposal is not that the degree of sickness shouldbe determined, but the suitability of the article to repair the ravages of ill-health.
– Doctors differ, and each may prescribe a different kind of food.
– I dare say there are persons so curiously constituted that they would puzzle any doctor. I shall vote for any request that tends to interfere with what I hold to be the wicked and scandalous attempts of the Ministry to decimate the child life of Australia, and to assault the sick and decrepit, by imposing on medicines and foods duties for which no self-respecting man, from my point of view, would dream of voting. These are wicked imposts, and the Government is a wicked Government that seeks to impose them.
– Partly in response to direct questions from this side the Vice-President of the Executive Council has given an explanation. It confirms our contention. It amounts to this : that because the Minister may make a mistake in determining what is or is not an invalid’s food, therefore the Government will exclude all invalids’ foods. Senator McGregor is trying to extricate them from an absurd position by a sort of side-track. The more the matter is discussed, the more apparent it seems to be that the Minister has at his command sufficient scientific and medical skill to guide him in framing departmental by-laws. If one thing has been made clearer than another, it is the untenable and, it may be, unfortunate position into which the Government have got themselves by their obstinacy and, if I may use the phrase, their want of appreciation of the real difficulties of the situation.
Question- That the word “ diabetic” be left out (Senator Sir Josiah Symon’s amendment of Senator Millen’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I wish to mow that the request of Senator Millen be amended by inserting after the word “ diabetic” the words “and other invalids’ food not manufactured in Australia.”
.- I have a prior amendment to move, sir.
– In what part of the request ?
SenatorMcCOLL. - After the word “diabetic.”
– I point out to the honorable senator that Senator McGregor wishes to introduce an amendment there.
– Yes, sir; but I desire by my amendment to include specifically some other foods, besides diabetic food, and therefore it will have to be moved before Senator McGregor’s amendment is submitted.
– My amendment will include those words.
– Imove -
That the request be amended by inserting after the word “diabetic” the words “Valentine’s Meat Juice, Wyeth’s Beef Juice, Carnrick’s Beef Peptonoids, Carnrick’s Liquid Peptonoids, Brandt’s Essence of Beef, Brandt’s Essence of Chicken, Liebig’s Lemco, Savory and Moore’s Pancreatic Emulsion, Murdock’s Liquid Food, Manhu Flour, Caffyn’s Liquor Carnis.”
During the dinner hour, 1 obtained the names of these foods from one qf the leading chemists in Melbourne. Not one of them is made in Australia.
– ls not essence of chicken made here?
– :Not one of these foods is made in Australia. They are not sold by grocers but by chemists, and are used entirely in sick-rooms or hospitals.
– - I hope that Senator ‘McColl will not press his amendment. I think that if he does he may defeat the very object which he has in view. It has been indicated by Senator McGregor that he intends to ask the Committee to insert in Senator Millen’s request general words which would include other foods intended for invalids suffering from other maladies than diabetes. If Senator McColl succeeds in getting specifically named foods included in the request it will be entirely out of harmony with the item as it stands, because the latter is general in its significance.
– There is one food included already ; why not include the others ?
– There is no particular food mentioned. The word “ diabetic “ covers a variety .of different classes. The request speaks of a class, but the honorable senator proposes to include particular preparations, which are specifically mentioned. If the Committee negative his amendment it may afterwards be taken by the Department that its desire in sending the request to another place was that those particular foods should not be added. If on the other hand my honorable friend will not press his proposal it is quite possible that they will come in under the general designation which Senator McGregor proposes to insert in the request.
– Do Ministers accept his foreshadowed amendment?
– Yes ; we will be prepared to accept that which will extend Senator Millen’s amendment, but extend it in general terms subject always to departmental by-laws and administration. I think that Senator McColl can rely upon it that if the preparations are what he has stated they will come under this exemption, as it will be. extended by the adoption of Senator McGregor’s amendment. I hope that he will see the danger which may arise if his amendment be negatived.
– I am very sorry to prolong thisdebate, but it appears that Senator McColl has gone to a friend - a chemist. If I had gone to a friend - a homoeopathic chemist and his chemist had been an allopath
– As a matter of fact Senator McColl had not spoken to the man before. That is the sort of innuendo which the honorable senator makes.
– The honorable senator need not get out of temper..
– Then why speak of Senator McColl going to a friend?
– I only want to say that it would be far better for Senator McColl to go to his chemi’st to get his teeth pulled than to get his leg pulled. He ought to see that the general terms of the amendment I propose to move will include the invalids’ foods that he has enumerated so long as they are not manufactured in the Commonwealth. That is, I think, all that the’ Committee desire to do. I do not wish to get into a conflict with any honorable senator, but I think that I ought always to express my opinion.
Amendment of the request negatived.
Amendment (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the request be amended . by inserting; after the word “diabetic” the words “and also all other invalids’ foods not manufactured in thcCommonwealth.”
– I ask Senator Best if he fully understands what the amendment means, and also if he can give the Committee a fair indication of the way in which the Tariff with this amendment included will be administered. I desire to know whether he understands that if this amendment be made there will be excluded from this item all foods ejusdem generis. Suppose, for instance, that in England a person is making an invalid’s food of a recognised brand, perhaps patented as a great many of them are, the others being probably made from a secret prescription. Are all foods of that sort to be admitted free under this item, or is it possible that many of them will be excluded, because it may be said that similar articles are being made in Australia? In what way will the provision be administered?
– If the imported article were practically identical in its constituents with a locally-manufactured article, it would no doubt be dutiable.
– Let us for instance assume that Mellin’s Food is an invalid’s food, manufactured under a patent or from a secret prescription. If there is some other food manufactured in the Commonwealth, .which it is asserted is practically similar to or may be used as a substitute for Mellin’s Food, is it intended that Mellin’s Food should not be allowed to come in free because a similar food for invalids is being manufactured in the Commonwealth ?
– If the Minister were satisfied on expert evidence that Mellin’s Food is practically the same as a locallymanufactured food, he would remove it from the free list.
– Would it not be better to leave these words out, and then the Minister would have a free hand?
– Should the amendment be accepted, we shall remain in a state of complete uncertainty as to what the effect of the proposal would be. I do not believe that Senator Best will contend for a moment that he knows what the force of the proposal would be. If that be the position is it wise that we should legislate in the dark? In all circumstances such legislation is bad legislation. We should hesitate before we request the insertion of a provision which- no member of the Committee can interpret clearly.
– The High Court will interpret it.
– Senator McGregor need not make jeering remarks about the High Court. ‘We all know why he. makes such interjections. No one thinks much of them or more of the honorable senator because he makes them. We should understand the legislation we are passing, and I am perfectly certain Senator McGregor cannot explain in definite terms what the result of the proposal would be.’
– Senators Clemons and Neild have raised a question which requires a little consideration. In the next item covering infants’ . food Ministers have preferred to have regard for the necessity for infant nourishment to enforcing their great policy’ of protection, but in this case they propose to prefer their policy of protection rather than make, provision for the comfort and nourishment of invalids. Why cannot protectionists on the other side give invalids and sick people the benefit of the doubt? Is the protectionist policy to dominate the view they will take of every appeal made to them,” no matter for whom we plead ? We are pleading now for invalids in asking that the foods they require shall be admitted free of duty. I wish to ask the Minister what is exactly the effect of the use of the expression ‘ ‘ as prescribed by departmental by-laws’” as used in the next item. Would it enable the Government to prevent the free admission of Mellin’s Food on the ground that it was manufactured in the Commonwealth?
– If Mellin’s Food is manufactured in the Commonwealth, that ends it.
– There is no reference in the next item to infants’ food being manufactured in the Commonwealth. I understand Senator Best to admit that under the expression “ as prescribed by departmental by-laws “ the Government could not exclude any bond -fide infants’ food even though a similar food were made within the Commonwealth.
– Does the Minister admit that?
– I understand that he does. But if he has any doubt on the subject I should be glad if he will refer the question to the departmental officer’.
– I do not think there is any room for doubt as- to what the effect would be.
– Senator Dobson is giving the Minister a hint to alter what is right as it stands in the Tariff.
– I move-
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the words “ not manufactured in the Commonwealth.”
On this we can have a straight-out fight as to whether the doctrine of protection is to dominate everything, even to the extent of depriving invalids of foods that are necessary for their cure.
– Senator Dobson has moved an amendment which, if agreed to, would bring us back to where we were before Senator Millen’s request was moved. We passed the item “ Oilmen’s Stores,” and agreed that it should be dutiable at 20 and 15 per cent. Senator Millen sought to eliminate one class of goods ordinarily included in oilmen’s stores, and if Senator Dobson attempts to provide that everything that might be included under the request as at first sub- mitted should be free of duty, our experience teaches us that the Committee will reject that proposition.
– No; it is only proposed that invalids’ foods other than those provided for by Senator Millen’s request should be free.
– Our experience teaches us that if the request be put in the form suggested by Senator Dobson the Committee would reject it.
– Because it proposes to make an inroad upon the principle that the Committee has adopted, and would vitiate and render nugatory some of the duties which we have already passed.
– Nothing of the kind.
– An effort, has been made by -those who hold protectionist views, while maintaining in its integrity the protectionist character of the Tariff, to at the same time have regard for a sentiment which is a very laudable one.
– The honorable senators opposite cannot blow hot and cold.
– Why does not the Government propose to do the same thing in connexion with infants’ food?
– We have not yet considered- infants’ food, and as suggested by an honorable senator belonging to the party opposite, Senator Symon may now be indicating, in respect of infants’ food, some necessity for a departure from the Tariff as it now stands. What I .am dealing with now is an effort which is being made to permit the free importation of foods considered necessary for invalids-, whether similar foods are made in Australia or not. If a desirable food for invalids is not made in Australia, we, on this side, are prepared to agree that it should be admitted1 free, but if it ‘ is being” manufactured in Australia, as protectionists we say’ that there is no need to admit it free.
– Honorable senators prefer the factory to the invalids.
– ^Senator Dobson has invited the Committee to depart from the desire which we have made manifest to meet a very proper aspiration expressed on the other side, and indorsed on this, that everything that can be done should be done to facilitate invalids ob taining the food they require of the highest quality and at the lowest possible price.
– Senator Dobson - seems to me to have taken a somewhat exaggerated view of the difference in the phraseology used in the next item, and that proposed to be inserted in the request I have movedThe honorable senator has said that under the next item the Government have preferred infant life to their protectionist policy, but that in this case they are preferring their protectionist policy to invalid life. I cannot see the slightest practical difference in the wording of the next item and that proposed to be introduced into the request which I have moved. Honorable senators will see that under the next item infants’ food is not admitted free, but subject to the policy of the Government of the day.
– I asked to be told the exact effect of the expression “ as prescribed ‘ by departmental by-laws,” and as I understood, I was given a satisfactory answer. What Senator Best said was not in accord with the view which the honorable senator takes.
– It appears to me that under departmental by-laws the Government can admit free or make dutiable any article they see fit that comes within the compass of the item. If that be so, w« can assume that a protectionist Government would not consent to the free admission of articles that are being made here.
– I did not understand Senator Best to say that.
– I am not speaking without having armed myself with some authority. I ha ve. conferred with lawyers in the -Senate as to the view which they take of the proviso referring to departmental by-laws, and I am assured that under that proviso it would rest with the Government to determine whether they would admit any article free.
– Anything they please.
– That being so, the words which Senator McGregor seeks to insert are in my opinion quite unnecessary, in view of the fact that the departmental by-laws provision also applies .in this case. But a number of honorable senators believe that they are necessary, and though I believe they are like a chip in porridge, consent to the amendment appeals to me as a means of getting the request I have made carried, and for that reason alone I intend to support Senator McGregor.
– I do not like departmental regulations, but I think we are straining over a very small matter. I have had some little experience of invalids’ food. I paid 2s. 6d. for an imported preparation recommended by a chemist for an invalid, and when I showed it to the doctor who was attending the invalid-, he said, “ It is very good stuff, but if you took one pound of flour, and let it rest on a griddle for a little time, you would get exactly the same thing for about twopence.” According to the schedule; it is proposed to put a tax of 15 per cent. on all medicines, although they surely are as necessary for invalids as are the so-called foods.
– We have not yet agreed to the duties on medicines.
– No; and if we wish to deal with the whole matter comprehensively and properly, we should postpone this item until the duties on medicines come before us. I think those duties are too high, and am willing to reduce them. It would be mischievous to give to the Customs Department the right to say what shall and what shall not be dutiable. The Minister must have certain administrative powers ; but we should not unduly enlarge those powers, or put him in the invidious position of having to say what foods can and what -foods cannot be manufactured in Australia. Cod-liver oil is an article which might very well come under the description “ Invalids’ food.”
– A point which I think has been overlooked is that some invalids’ foods are protected by patents.
– Most invalids’ foods are so protected.
– Yes. I ask the Committee whether they are willing to place a duty on useful and desirable invalids’ foods which must be imported, unless the patentee thinks it worth whileto come here to manufacture them, and that, in most cases, is not likely.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [9.5]. - It seems to me that Senator Dobson has put the position with convincing simplicity. Either the words are unnecessary, or they are necessary. He pointed out that if they arenecessary, as he understood the Minister to say that they are, they discriminate between infants’ and invalids’ foods. Senator Millen suggested that he misunderstood the Minister.
SenatorMillen.- No ; but I interpreted the Minister’s remarks in anotherway.
– Yes, and the Minister seemed to think that that interpretation was right.
– I am willing that the words shall be left out.
– The sensible course is to leave them out. Senator Millen speaks of them as a chip in porridge, as of no value. What, then, is the use of retaining them? Senator Mulcahy should have convinced anybody possessing a mind that their retention will cause no end of difficulty, and create great trouble in the Department.
– If Senator McGregor’s amendment be carried, it will be necessary for the Minister, in framing by-laws relating to invalids’ food, to have regard to the question whether they can bemade in the Commonwealth, and, if they can, it will be his duty not to allow their importation untaxed. With regard to infants’ food, there is no such qualification, but the Department is to have the opportunity of analyzing all importations, with a view to prohibiting such as arenot genuine.
Question - That the words “ not manufactured in the Commonwealth “ be left out (Senator Dobson’s amendment of Senator McGregor’s amendment of Senator Millen’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (Senator McGregor’s) of Senator Millen’s request agreed to.
Request, as amended, agreed to.
Item 89. Infants’ Food as prescribed by Departmental By-laws. Free on and after 6th November, 1907.
– I ask Senator Best if he intends to let the item pass as it stands, and, if so, how he can reconcile his action with what has been done in regard to invalids’ foods? He should make some explanation. A sharp distinction has been made between infants’ food and invalids’ food. It is perfectly fair for me to ask whether Senator Best does draw this distinction, and, if he does, why does he’ put side by side in this Tariff an apparent inconsistency?
– From the Government stand-point we certainly did not want to have the oilmen’s stores item amended at all. But if it was to be amended we wanted it to be altered in as unobjectionable a form as possible. The original proposal of the Government with respect to infants-‘ food was to put a tax upon it. That was altered by the House of Representatives, with the effect of placing the item in the form in which it is now. With the object of safeguarding the public in the way I have explained, by an assurance that these infants’ foods, whenever they come into the Commonwealth, shall be under close examination, I ‘think the provision is really unobjectionable. But so far as invalids’ foods are concerned, I should prefer that no amendment whatever was made.
– Are we to understand, then, that, so far as this item is concerned, “ infants’ food as prescribed by departmental by-laws “ will. bring about no result at all, except to allow infants’ food to come into the Commonwealth under prescription by departmental by-laws, whilst nothing will be done with regard to invalids’ food?
– I am not going to move amendments in my own schedule.
– Will the Minister accept a request?
– It is all very well for Senator’ Best to say that he is not going to move a request, but he knows that if he does he can carry it.. Furthermore, -I will vote for it. But does he prefer to be guilty of inconsistency, especially’ where he can make an alteration’ without any difficulty ?
With a majority behind him - as was clearly proved on the last division- he can easily, in the interests of consistency and simpli-city,’ remove an apparent if not a real anomaly, We may fairly ask him to do his duty,” and prevent anomalies in the Tariff.
– Why does not the honorable senator move a request for an amendment ?
– It is not my business. I have nothing to do with the removing of anomalies in this Tariff. But why does not Senator Best do it? Surely it is his business if glaring anomalies are pointed out to him to attempt to cure them.
.- I should like to ask the Vice-President of the ‘ Executive Council whether it is intended that the list of the foods to come in free shall be published? “When the Tariff was introduced in another place there was a heavy duty on all these goods, and the consequence was that the sellers increased prices to the amount to which the duty was put up. I know as a fact that in spite of this item being amended in another place some sellers are still charging the additional price for these articles that they commenced to charge when the Tariff was introduced.
– Who are they? .
– I am not going to give names. Unless the list is published, how are the storekeepers to know what articles should be reduced in price and which should not?
– They know what they pay for them.
– The probability is that if a. list is published-, honest ‘storekeepers who bought their goods under the old Tariff would reduce their prices to the extent of the reduction. If they did not, the public would know that they were being ‘ fleeced and would deal with other storekeepers from whom they could get the goods cheaper.
– The departmental bylaws are all gazetted and tabled.
– Tabled where?
– In the Senate.
– If the by-laws are interesting the newspapers generally publish them.
Item agreed to.
Item 90 (Annatto) agreed to.
Item 91. Isinglass -
– As isinglass -in sheets is free, why is isinglass n.e.i. taxed 15 per cent. ? What does isinglass n.e.i. mean ?
– Other than in sheets.
– Why does the Government desire to tax isinglass that is not imported in sheets? If it is right that isinglass in sheets should be free, why is it not right to allow it to be imported in any other form on the same terms? Is this a revenue or a protective duty? If it is a revenue duty why is isinglass in sheets admitted duty free?
– Under the old Tariff isinglass in sheets was admitted free, whilst isinglass in strips came in under the general designation of oilmen’s stores, and paid 15 per cent. The item as it stands preserves the pre-existing rate of duty which has been in -operation since 1901.
. -All that Senator Keating has told the Committee is that isinglass not in sheets was formerly dutiable as oilmen’s stores at 15 per cent. ; but we are now making it clear that it is not dutiable as oilmen’s stores when it is imported in sheets. When, however, it is imported n.e.i., it is to be dutiable at 15 per cent. That is no answer to the question which I have asked. I want to know why, whether it is classed as oilmen’s stores or not, it is’ dutiable at 15 per cent, unless it is imported in sheets? Surely we are entitled to an answer to that question. .
– This item preserves the pre-existing rate of duty.
– If a pre-existing rate of duty was wrong ought we not to alter it? I do not see why we should declare isinglass in sheets to be free and isinglass n.e.i. dutiable at 15 per cent, if there is no reason for it. What useful purpose can it serve? It can only complicate matters at the Customs. Is there no desire for simplicity? Surely we can attain simplicity by doing away with the n.e.i. paragraph. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item qi, paragraph b, free.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [9.25]. - I should like the Minister of Home Affairs to tell us what quantity of isinglass we import in any form whether under oilmen’s stores or in any other way than in sheets? The reason why I ask that question is that apparently, from the statistics we have before us, the only isinglass imported was under one heading. The Unite8 Kingdom supplied 18,504 lbs., whilst the total imports were 50,183 lbs. According to those figures isinglass does not seem to have been imported in any other shape than in sheets.
– So faT from Senator Clemons’ request if carried simplifying matters at the Customs, it will rather complicate them.’ If the item is carried’ in the form in which it is presented the Customs will continue to administer it in respect to isinglass as they have done since 1901. Isinglass in sheets has “been admitted duty free, whilst isinglass in strips - imported generally by grocers and sold for domestic uses - paid 15 per cent, as oilmen’s stores. That is the difference that we are endeavouring to preserve. Isinglass imported in sheets is, I understand, used in various trades and occupations. It is used to some extent in photography.
– How .is it used if not in sheets ?
– For domestic purposes ; it is sold by grocers.
– I suppose it is used in the ‘kitchen?
– I take it that the Committee does not desire to disturb the existing state of things without any reason. The honorable senator was a member of the Tariff Commission, .which- made, no recommendation with regard to this item. I take it that the onus of proof is upon those who want to disturb existing conditions. So far from the proposed alteration simplifying administration, it will cause complication by taking isinglass in strips out of the category of oilmen’s stores, in which the Customs has been in the habit of dealing with it. I hope the Committee will not support’ the honorable, senator’s request.
– Senator Keating constantly refers to the Tariff Commission. I hope my explanation will prevent that sort of thing. The Commission was appointed to take evidence and report upon it. We took no evidence as to isinglass, and. from my point of view, if we had made any report on this subject we should have been departing from the terms of our commission. I should have considered, if we had reported on any item about which we had no evidence, that we should simply have been saying, ‘ ‘ These are only the individual opinions of such and such members of the Tariff Commission.”
– Does not the fact that there was no evidence on the subject argue that there was no desire on the part of any one in the community for an alteration of the existing duties ?
– What is the position as Senator Keating has outlined it? If isinglass comes into the Commonwealth to be used in any manufacturing industry it is free. If it comes into the Commonwealth to be used by the cook in the kitchen it is dutiable at 15 per cent.Is that or is it not an anomaly ?
– I suppose it is used by the poor laundress to put into starch.
– I do not attempt to rival or approach the honorable senator in sheer hypocrisy. If isinglass is used as an article of food, we who are attempting to rectify anomalies are asked to tax it at 15 per cent. Does any one want it to be taxed because it is used as food; while it is allowed to be imported duty free if it is to be used in a factory ? Of course, the Committee may decline to bother about such a thing, but I venture to say that we shall not be doing our duty, which the public expect of us, if when we come across an error like this we do not alter it.. It will be only natural for a member of the public to say, “ What kind of a Parliament is this? When the Senate had isinglass before them they decided that when I use it in the kitchen it shall pay 15 per cent., whilst my next-door neighbour who has a factory gets it free. Is that the way Parliament deals with the Tariff?” Why does the Minister hesitate? I think he ought to accept my request at once, and be glad to remove such an anomaly.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.30]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 91, paragraph b (imports from the United Kingdom), 10 per cent.
It will be noticed that in the case of oilmen’s stores, there is a difference of 5 per cent, between the general Tariff and the duty on imports from the United Kingdom. I propose a similar distinction in respect ofthis item.
– The paragraph as it stands in the schedule provides for the same duty as is imposed on imports of oilmen’s stores from the United Kingdom.
– The honorable senator and his colleagues thought that oilmen’s stores should be subjected to a duty of 20 per cent. in respect of the general Tariff, and that the duty on isinglass, n.e.i., should be fixed at 15 per cent. I am maintaining a distinction of 5 per cent., exactly as they have done, and suppose that, in order to be consistent, the honorable senator will vote for the request.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … .;. 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item92. Rennet, liquid, dry, or in tablets; in packages of not less than half-a-pint, free.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 92 by leaving out the words “liquid, dry, or in tablets; in packages of not less than half-a-pint.”
That would make rennet, without any qualification, free.
Request agreed to.
Item 93. Pickles, Sauces, Chutney, Olives, and Capers -
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.39]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 93, paragraph f (imports under General Tariff), 25 per cent.
A duty of 35 per cent. ad valorem upon an article of food is utterly preposterous and wildly extravagant.
– The duty under the old Tariff was 15 per cent.
– Why not move a request that the old duty be restored?
-I know that it is useless to submit such arequest, but if the honorable senator desires to do. so I shall give way, andvote with him. I shall not, however, take the responsibility of moving it. A duty of 25 per cent. is surely sufficient. It is the recommendation’ of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission; it is 10 per cent. higher than the recommendation of the free-trade section, and 10 per cent. higher than the duty under the old Tariff. I am therefore moving a request of the most moderate character, and hope that it will receive support.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.43]. - In view of the closeness of the division just taken, and the fact that there was apparently a little uncertainty on the part of some honorable senators as to the exact question, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 93, paragraph f (imports under General Tariff), 30 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.48]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 93, paragraphf (imports from the United Kingdom), 20 per cent.
My proposal would have the effect of making the preferential rate 10 per cent. lower than the duty chargeable under the general Tariff, which has already been reduced.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Item 94. Rice, viz. : -
– The duty which we levy upon this item will determine the price that we shall have to pay for the rice that we eat. The impost proposed represents decidedly more than 50 per cent., which I really think is too much. I admit that we have already authorized the payment of a small bounty which must not exceed £1,000 in any one year, to encourage the production of rice in the Commonwealth. But I venture to say that that item in the Bounties Bill was the one to which even Queensland representatives attached the least importance. Everybody must admit that for many years we shall not be able to produce sufficient rice to meet our own requirements.. I am satisfied that the duty proposed cannot be required for protective purposes. If any honorable senator is desirous of reducing the” price of rice as an article of diet, this is the item upon which he ought to vote for a decrease of the duty. In the Commonwealth, the only industry carried on in connexion with rice is the cleaning of it. This Tariff is evidently designed to promote the cleaning of rice as a serious industry in our midst, and the way in which it is proposed to accomplish that result is by taxing uncleaned rice at 3s. 4d. per cental, and rice, n.e.i., including rice meal and flour, at 6s. per cental. Despite the fact that by my action I may be assisting an industry such as the starch industry, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 94, paragraph a, free.
– In proposing this duty, the undoubted intention of the Government is to assist, by means of a protective policy, the production of rice in the Commonwealth. Honorable senators will recollect that last year a proposal was embodied in the Bounties Act to encourage the production of rice in Australia. In the schedule of that measure provision was made for the payment of a bounty of 20s. per ton, though the amount in the aggregate was not to exceed £1,000 in any one year. The bounty is to continue for a period of five years. At the time that the bounty was proposed, the duty operative upon uncleaned rice was that which we now propose, namely, 3s. 4d. per cental. It was thought that the duty and the bounty conjoined would be a sufficient inducement to some of the land-holders in the northern parts of Australia to devote a portion of their holdings to the cultivation of rice. A majority of members of the Parliament having assented to the principle contained in that Act, I hope that this Committee will not, during the period of the operation of the bounty, abolish the import duty upon rice, which was an important factor that was taken into consideration at the time.
– Have any applications yet been received for the bounty ?
– I cannot say. But Senator Millen is aware that the Bounties Act only came into force from the 1st of July last, and that its operation is limited to five years. It would be idle for us to enter upon an experiment of that character, if, within twelve months of sanctioning it, we were to remove some of the conditions which were regarded at the time as most important factors. I hope the Committee will not disturb the arrangement then come to, because it is only by the combined operation of those two provisions that we can expect any attention to be given to rice culture on a commercial scale in Australia. Provision ismade later on in the Tariff for the importation under departmental by-laws of rice for conversion into starch. Those who take advantage of that, and make starch in the Commonwealth out of rice, have since 1 90 1 been subject to an Excise duty on a.11 the starch which they manufacture. It is not proposed to alter that provision. The duty paid in respect of this item is no insignificant amount so far as the States revenues are concerned. It amounted to £33,528 on uncleaned rice in 1906.
– Raised by taxing the food of the people.
– A loss” of £33,000 per annum spread over the Commonwealth is of no mean consequence, to many of the States. It is all very well for Senator Clemons to say that that tells against us because it amounts to a duty upon food, but if it is shown that the amount received in duty on any item is very small, honorable senators opposite rise one after another to say, “ The Government are asking us to impose this duty for the trifling sum of a few pounds.” When, on the other hand, the amount collected happens to be of considerable consequence to the States revenues, my honorable friends cry, “Look at the amount of taxation imposed upon the people.” The abolition of this duty would mean a sacrifice of over £”30,000. We have to get revenue from somewhere.
– Had the Minister said, “ We are trying to get revenue from everywhere,” I should have regarded- his remarks as more aptly describing this Tariff. This great industry of rice-growing was responsible last year for some 700 bushels of rice being produced in Australia. The Customs publication gives the value of rice as 9s. a cental. Assuming that the weight of .a bushel of rice corresponds somewhat to that of ordinary cereals, it is clear that the rice raised in Australia last year cost the taxpayer about £140 or £150 per cental.
– Nine shillings is the value of cleaned rice. That was uncleaned.
– -Then I am exaggerating the value of last year’s Australian crop. The duty paid upon undefined rice in 1906 was £33,528. I do not say that is a reason why we should remove the duty, but if, - to foster an industry the production of which is quite nominal, the taxpayers have to pay over £33,000, it is clear that that is hardly a protective duty in the ordinary sense. The question then’ is whether it is desirable to continue it as a revenue duty.
Cleaned rice, which pays 6s. per cental, was imported in an even greater quantity. As the difference between the duties on cleaned and uncleaned rice is 2s. 8d. a cental, it is evident, as a larger quantity of the cleaned. rice came in, that those who imported uncleaned rice and cleaned it here must have put on the full measure of the difference. If they bring it in at 3s. 4d. uncleaned, and their competitors pay 6s. for bringing in cleaned rice, they will certainly raise their price, after cleaning it, to the same figure as is charged by the man who pays the higher duty. If the whole of the rice was imported uncleaned by different warehousemen, and they were able to supply the whole of our rice requirements, I admit that .that argument would fall to the ground. But, as the bigger proportion comes in cleaned, it is clear that those who import uncleaned rice must be getting the full measure of the benefit represented by the difference between the duties. So, as the Tariff stands to-day, we are making a present of 2s. 8d. to the cleaners of rice for every cental they import and clean. That is an argument for bringing these two duties more into harmony. The difference between the two is out of all proportion to the infinitesimal benefit which can be given to the labour market of Australia by the simple operation of rice cleaning.
Senator W. RUSSELL (South Australia). [10.7I. - Would Senator Clemons state why the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission, of which he was a* member, recommended a duty of 3s. per cental ?
– We did not.
– It appears in print in the tabulated statement furnished by the Government.
– We included it in none pf our recommendations.
– Why does the honorable senator allow that sort of thing to remain in print if it is so incorrect? It is very misleading. I like to see what the two sections of the Tariff Commission recommend, and to try, if possible, to draw a line between the two. If it suits them, certain honorable senators will urge strongly that we should be guided by the Commission’s recommendations.
– Will the honorable senator accept, the recommendation of the free-trade section of the Commission in regard to rice? I will vote with him if he will.
– I will, but I like to see honorable senators consistent. I often hear Senator Millen, one of the leaders of this - the Conservative - side of the Chamber, say that we ought to be guided by the Commission’s recommendations. That honorable senator has proclaimed that he intends only to rectify anomalies.
– I intend to vote with the honorable senator if he will accept the recommendation of the free-trade section of the Commission on this item.’
– That will be much better than voting to make the item free, because rice can be grown., and is grown,. in Australia. We have also offered a bounty, for its production. Surely we are not going to give a bounty with one hand and take it away with the other. That; would be an injustice.
– The Tariff Commission had evidence on this item from two persons only. The burden of their complaint was that this was a most iniquitous revenue duty. The whole of their evidence is on one small page.
– Why does the honorable senator allow us to be deceived by this printed document?
– I am sorry that Senator Russell has joined the chorus of those who say that that document contains what we said. We had to make a recommendation on that evidence only. Those two witnesses put forcibly before us what we knew, and what every one knows now - that this represents an enormous revenue duty.
– Those witnesses gave evidence before we considered the Bounties Bill.
– Possibly they did. But the Bill would not have affected their judgment or evidence. No rice is being produced’ here. It may be eventually produced, but in the meantime the Government ask every consumer to pay an uncommonly heavy burden of taxation. In respect of the rice they eat, the people have to pay at least £80,000 a year in duty. That is made up of £33,528 duty on uncleaned rice which is subsequently cleaned and eaten - because rice for manufacturing purposes comes in free - and £47,613 duty paid on cleaned rice imported and also eaten.
– To that must be added the extra 2s. 8d. per cental upon the rice imported uncleaned and cleaned here. That would make nearly another £30,000.
– At least £80,000 was received in revenue from this item. The Minister of Home Affairs asks honorable senators to vote for the item because we want that revenue.
– That would be a very poor ground on which to appeal to me. I shall vote for the item because I believe rice can be grown here, and because we have given a bounty as a stimulus to its production.
- Senator Findley says in effect to the consumer, “ I knowthat you are paying this enormous revenue duty, but at some time or other we shall produce enough rice for our own consumption.” There was no item in the Bounties . Bill that honorable senators conversant with tropical products thought less of than rice. Some honorable senators from Queensland, who were extremely keen on bounties on tropical products, cared very little whether there was a bounty on rice at all, and I believe some of them voted against it. They said openly,’ “The proposal for a bounty on rice is nonsense; you will never by that means get much rice grown in Australia.” This heavy duty which, from one aspect - if rice could be produced here in large quantities - represents a big protective duty, has so far given the magnificent result of a production of 700 bushels in Australia in six years. Senator Findley is,. I hope, a sane protectionist; and if I tell him that during the next six years the duty will operate justas heavily, he will not deny the fact.
– No; I understand that certain people are prepared to enter upon this industry extensively in the Northern Territory as soon as the duty is imposed.
– Does the honorable senator know the conditions of rice growing ?
– I have seen rice grown in China.
– But does the honorable senator ‘know how long a grower has to wait in order to get a crop worthy of the name ? I undertake to say that we should have to wait six years before there would be produced one-twentieth of the rice required by the consumers of Australia. When Senator Keating points to the necessity for revenue he is simply saying, “ Let us tax the people, there is no reason why they should get off.” Senator W. Russell is proposing that every man who eats rice shall be taxed 50 per cent.
– If I thought it was onlya revenue duty I should not vote for it.
– If Senator demons and those with him thought it was only a revenue duty they would vote for it.
SenatorCLEMONS. - If I thought it was only a revenue duty I should vote to make the item free.
– The honorable senator would vote against the duty, because it is incidentally a protectionist duty.
– That is a ridiculous and ignorant statement. I shall vote for no revenue duty.
– The policy of the honorable senator’s party is revenue taxation, and not protection.
– If the honorable senator had an iota of sense, he would see that that statement is utterly incorrect and unjustifiable. Can there be greater proof than my votes that I refuse to support any purely revenue duty ?
– No purely revenue duty has been proposed.
– Very early in the day Senator Lynch moved, as I. otherwise should have done, that sago and tapioca be made free; and the duty in that case being a revenue duty,I immediately voted for the motion. . I am sorry that Senator W. Russell does not understand the item; but I assure him that if he lives six years longer he will see every word that I have said in regard to the revenue incidence of the duty borne out. This is in no sense a protectionist duty, but simply a ridiculous and iniquitous tax on the consumers of rice.
. -I said by way of interjection that if this were a purely revenue duty Senator demons and those with him would probably vote for it; and I am going to justify that statement. Persons who have been described variously as free-traders and revenue tariffists are those who are opposing the protectionist duties. Senator Clemons says that he is not a revenue tariffist.
– I said that I should vote for practically everything being free, especially articles of food.
– I am delighted to learn that Senator Clemons is not a revenue tariffist, and that he favours some other method of raising taxation. Speaking for myself, when a duty is purely a revenue duty, unless it is on some article of luxury that might properly be taxed, whether made abroad or locally, I am in favour of freedom. This is a revenue duty, it is true, but it is a duty which is incidentally protectionist, as shown even by Senator Millen. Senator Clemons tells us that someyears must elapse before a rice crop can be obtained after the initial work has been undertaken.
– I did not say after the initial work was undertaken ; if a person started to earn the bonus, it would be many years before he got it.
– That we have rice-growing at all, seems to show a considerable effort towards its cultivation. I urge on Senator W. Russell, and others who believe in protection, that while this is a revenue duty, it is one that bears very lightly indeed.
– Is 50 per cent. a light duty ?
– A duty of 50 per cent. calculated in that way may be said to. be high, but, if it is imposed on an article which people use very little, it is a trifling tax. The bulk or, at any rate, a very large percentage of the rice is consumed by Chinamen.
– It is used in every home.
– The only people who make rice a staple article of diet are Chinamen and Hindoos. I do not know of any white people who use it as a staple food.
– We have it every day in the Refreshment Room.
– But not as a staple article of diet. The great point is that this duty results in considerable revenue; and we must get revenue from somewhere. I have yet to learn that my friends opposite are in favour of direct taxation in the shape of a land or income tax; although that is not what we are discussing now. The States have been depending on this revenue for some considerable time; and if they be deprived of it, they may be put in a position of distress. Tasmania has been complaining bitterly that, in consequence of the operations of the Commonwealth, her revenue is not sufficient to meet her requirements.
– Nothing of the sort. Tasmania has never complained about the revenue under this Tariff.
– Those who desire to see the revenue maintained without recourse to other forms of taxation, are, I venture to say, in favour of revenue duties. But’ we protectionists, if we must have revenue duties, prefer those which incidentally tend to protect. In connexion with this item, we have, with a knowledge of the duty that prevails, provided a bounty for the cultivation of rice. If we strike out this protectionist duty, we shall-
– I thought the honorable senator said that the duty is only incidentally protective?
– I said that it is protective.
– Microscopically I
– I do not say that ; but, even so, it is protective, and, therefore, I am not wrong. However, it would be very absurd in one session to grant a bounty to encourage the cultivation of rice, and, in the next session, to remove the protection enjoyed in the past. I am sure that honorable senators who desire to act rationally, and not to ruthlessly and unnecessarily deplete the revenue, will vote for a duty which, if revenue-producing, is incidentally protective.
– If my memory serves me aright, I voted against the item of rice in the Bounties Bill.
– The honorable senator voted against the second reading of that Bill, and then voted in favour -of several items.
– I feel extreme pleasure in being set right by one or two of the Solomons opposite, but I wonder that they have not learned to keep quiet when an honorable senator rises to express his opinions or to explain.
– The “honorable senator has never vet explained.
– And if I choose not to do so I shall not. Senator Trenwith spoke very strongly from the revenue point of view ; and I may remind the Commitee that, in this connexion, I called for a return which we obtained yesterday. I find from the cai- culations made that the revenue likely ‘to be derived by the Treasurer from the Tariff is nearer £13,000,000 than £12,000,000, if the purchasing power of the community be sustained. In face of these figures Senator’ Trenwith’s appeal from the revenue point of view is too late. I -asked for the return because, according to the original estimate, I thought Queensland was going to lose some £70,000, but, in view of the probable revenue, Senator Trenwith’s argument is gone. In the whole of the Commonwealth an insignificant production has been the result of the duty during the last six years; indeed, I regard the duty as having absolutely failed, and, rice being an article of food, there is fair justification for freedom. Senator Trenwith has told us that rice is eaten mostly by Chinamen ; and if that be so then we are getting a revenue of some £30,000 from those foreign residents.
– It would be a good thing to tax them out of existence !
– Possibly, it might be a good thing to tax them, at: any rate, out of Australia ; but the statement of Senator Trenwith is ridiculous, seeing that there are only about 20,000 Chinamen altogether in Australia.
– That is 30s. a head if thev pay it all.
– They must eat an immense quantity of rice. I do not see that there is any reason why, if it is desired to flog the Chinese, we should also flog a large number of white persons who use rice very largely as an article of food.
– It onn be grown in Queensland.
– In Queensland we had a duty for some time, but it failed to establish a rice industry. The Commonwealth has had a duty for six years, and it also has failed to establish a rice industry. In the debates on the Bounties Bill I gave my reasons why rice could not be successfully grown, even in Queensland. The Treasury is bursting with revenue.
– No; the Treasurer says he is not getting enough money.
– I am delighted with the interjection, because it confirms all that we have said from this side. The Treasurer is howling that he is not getting enough money. According to the explanations we have had here the Postmaster-
General cannot get sufficient funds to administer his Department effectively. I know that the Treasurer is grasping every sovereign that he can screw out of the people. My honorable friend cannot argue against the revenue returns, which show that the Commonwealth is getting an unparalleled revenue from Customs and Excise duties. When the revenue is so buoyant and there is not the slightest indication that anything can be done to establish a rice industry, surely every protectionist, unless he is a prohibitionist, will agree that this article of food should be made free, because if we were to impose a duty of £1 a cental instead of 3s. 4d. it would not affect the industry qua industry at all. As I voted against the grant of a bounty upon the production of rice, I feel that I am in duty bound to vote against the imposition of a duty upon the article; firstly, because if imposed it will not help the industry at all, and secondly, because a Customs revenue of over £12,000,000 is quite enough for present Commonwealth needs.
– It does seem strange that there should be such vigorous opposition to this item from the representatives of States which prior to Federation imposed a very heavy duty on rice. Only New South Wales and Western Australia admitted rice free.
– They had sufficient sense not to tax food, and they are to be commended for what they. did.
– In Tasmania, evidently, they had no sense.
– They had not sufficient sense to avoid taxing food.
– To what extent did Tasmania tax rice? No one by any stretch of imagination can say that rice can be grown there.
– No, but it was a revenue duty.
– What sort of revenue duty was it? It was a duty of 1d. a lb. or 8s. 4d. a cental, being nearly double that which is proposed in this Tariff .
– No; that was the duty on cleaned rice. It was an extremely silly tax.
– In Victoria there was a duty of 4s. a cental if dressed in bond, and in Queensland a duty of1d. a lb. or 8s. 4d. a cental.
– What was the result - a big revenue?
– The Queensland Government obtained a big revenue from the duty, but I expect that they had a double object in view.
– Tasmania had not, so why should Queensland?
– Tasmania was always a revenue-hunting State.
– So was Queensland.
– Not so much as Tasmania in respect of this item, because we know that rice can be and has been grown in Queensland.
– What does it matter what Tasmania did then?
SenatorFINDLEY.- I think that it matters a lot. Tasmania is always wailing about the loss of revenue which she has sustained since Federation. The pathetic appeals which have been made here have almost moved the Government to do something on her behalf.
– Those appeals are made simply for a proper method of distribution.
– I am defending the item, not from a revenue point of view, but on the ground of consistency. What sort of position should I as a protectionist be in if, after having voted for a bounty upon the production of rice, I were to vote now for the abolition of this duty?
– Where would the inconsistency come in?
– It was understood that in addition to the bonus there would be a Customs duty imposed upon rice. It was believed, and I think rightly believed, that with the aid of a duty and a bounty there would be established within a short period a fairly profitable rice industry in different parts of Australia.
– Senators from Queensland voted against the bounty.
– After all, Queensland is not the only place in Australia where rice can be and. has been grown.
– Where else?
– In the Northern Territory.
– Only in experimental patches. It has never been grown there commercially.
– It is true that it has not been grown commercially in large quantities.
– We grow pineapples in Melbourne,but under glass.
– It is true that in a short period the Northern Territory will be taken over by the Commonwealth. It is also true that some men who know a good deal about the particular business are interesting themselves in it at the present, time, and, if I am correctly informed, are only waiting for the transfer to take place to embark in the industry there.
– Not in rice growing, but in cotton growing.
– In the rice industry. Of course, with the Stinking-Fish Party nothing is likely to take place in Australia. They are always saying that it cannot produce this or do that. Why cannot rice be grown in the Northern Territory ? It is well watered ; it has soil, and suitable climate, and every other advantage.
– Is the honorable senator sure that it has a climate?
– Yes ; I have been there, and had a taste of the climate. From a protectionist point of view I will show my consistency by voting in favour of the duty as it stands, and so give additional help to an industry which I hope in a short period will be thoroughly established in some parts of Australia.
– I am taking quite an interest tonight in the Northern Territory. I understand that it is a place with a soil and a climate. It must .be. an attractive and interesting place for one to go to. I understand that Senator Findley has been there, and seen the wonderful possibilities of rice production. I have nothing to say about that. I should like to see it used to grow rice or anything else which can be produced. I wish to direct the attention of the Committee to the cost at which this incidental protection is being given. To-night Senator Trenwith was guilty of about the first outburst of candour of which I have been a witness. He said that this was a revenue duty with incidental protection, and I invite the attention of Senator W. Russell particularly to that admission. .1 want to show to what extent it is revenue producing, and the extent to which it is incidentally protective. In 1906 the duties on rice yielded a revenue of £81,000, and the quantity of rice produced in Australia in that year was 700 bushels. So that the amount .with which we tax the people of Australia in order to convey that incidental protection to the growers of 700 bushels was £115 a bushel.
– Where was that rice grown ?
– In a place with a soil and a climate. Whatever may be the merits of the protectionist policy, surely, there is a point beyond which even protectionists will not go ! . In the prosecution of national industries, there must surely be some games which are not worth the candle. I ask honorable senators whether it is worth while to tax the people of Australia £115 for every bushel of rice locally produced. There is no justification for the tax, viewed as a protective impost. That being so, we have to fall back upon -the only reason for the duty, and that is that it is a’ revenue duty. I do not intend to argue now the merits of a revenue duty, but I ask honorable senators, free-traders and protectionists alike, if there is any justification for imposing a revenue duty when the Treasurer does not want the money. To-day he has more money than is required for Federal purposes, and he is returning to the” States a larger amount than they ever had before. Four, if not five of the States had a surplus on the completion of the last financial year. What justification can there be, then, for taking £81,000 a year out of the pockets of the people in the form of a duty on rice? The money is not wanted for the purposes of Government, because the figures already show that, generally speaking, the States Governments have a surplus. Under this Tariff, the Federal Treasurer will have command of a larger revenue than he ever had before, and consequently will be able to return to the States Treasurers a larger sum- than he previously did.
– In fact, his revenue is so big that it is frightening him, and he is now trying to make it appear that it will not be so much as was estimated.
– That is so. Every one can see that each estimate put forward from the Treasury has been in the direction of decrying the revenue-yielding tendencies of the Tariff. There are only two ways in which the duty can be viewed - either as a revenue tax, or as a protective tax. Senator Findley ventured to say that even at the cost of paying £115 per bushel of rice locally grown, he is prepared to keep on the duty as a protective tax.
– As I voted for the rice bounty, why should I not?
– Because every one who comes here is supposed to have some slight businesslike regard for the interests of the people whom he represents. If the honorable senator had wanted to put forward a businesslike proposition to encourage the growing of rice at a fair price, and within reasonable limits, then, instead of taxing the people to the extent of , £81,000 a year for the sake of producing 700 bushels of rice locally, he would have quadrupled the bounty, and taken off the duty.
– I might have done many things if I had had the power; but I had not.
– The honorable senator has the power now by joining with other honorable senators in reducing this duty. If that is done and the Government are sincere in the desire they have professed to encourage the growth of rice in Australia by means of a bounty, it would be better that they should ask Parliament to double or quadruple the bounty which has been voted for its production. We have agreed to give a bounty of 20s. per ton for its production, and under this form of taxation we are paying £115 per bushel for all the rice produced in Australia. There would probably be 50 bushels to each ton of rice, and honorable senators will see, unless they desire to pass this duty for revenue purposes, that as business men it would be better that we should give rice-growers in the Commonwealth 10s. per cental on all they produce in the form of a bounty than that we should tax the. whole of the people to the extent of £80,000 a year.
– How can we do that when the Bounty Bill has passed out of our hands?
– If the honorable senator will assist honorable senators on this side to reduce the duty, the only consistent course left open to the Government will be to come down with another Bounties Bill, increasing the bounty to which we have already agreed to the extent of the protection sought to be given to the industry by this duty.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [10.49].- In1886 as a member of the New South Wales Parliament, I opposed the imposition of a duty on rice. I remember that on that occasion some wonderful stories with respect to rice cultivation in New South Wales were trotted out. One honorable member said that there were 30 acres of rice growing in the electorate he represented in a north coast district of New South Wales. But it turned out that the 30 acres of rice were 30 acres of lucerne. I should not be surprised to learn that the rice cultivation which we hear is taking place in the Commonwealth at the present time is really the cultivation of lucerne or thistles or something of that kind. So far as a duty on rice involves the taxation of Chinese, it is a very fair charge, because they do not pay duty on nearly as many articles as do white people, while they are given the advantage of our laws and all the trade they are able to do. But a proposal to impose a heavy burden of taxation upon over 4,000,000 of white people in order to get at the pockets of about 20,000 Chinamen is too absolutely preposterous for me. I shall vote for the request.
– When we were considering the Bounties Bill I opposed the proposed bounty on rice for reasons which I need not now state. I intend on this occasion to oppose the imposition of a duty of 3s. 4d. per cental on this article because I believe that if there is any virtue in the attempt made inthe Bounties Bill to encourage the production of rice in Australia, it will be made apparent in the course of a few years. I am not by any means sanguine that the Bounties Bill will be followed by successful results in this connexion. There is. some evidence that the production of rice has been attempted in the Northern Territory. It is said that about twenty-five years ago some 8 tons of uncleaned rice were produced in Australia and brought the excellent price of £20 a ton. If we have land in the Commonwealth suitable for the production of rice, such a price as £20 a ton for the crop should foe sufficient to induce our agriculturists to go into the industry. I venture to say that they are growing many crops for which they receiveconsiderably less than £20 per ton. Until we know whether the Bounties Bill will lead to the successful cultivation of rice, it would be irrational on our part to compel the whole of the people of Australia to pay a duty of 3s. 4d. per cental on thisarticle. I am satisfied that the whole of the evidence we have on the subject is against the probability of a successful result from the operation of the Bounties Bill, because even the agricultural experts who suggested that rice-growing was worthy of some encouragci lent were sufficiently conscientious to admit that it is open to doubt whether the industry can be successfully carried on under Australian conditions. That admission is in my opinion a substantial reason why we should relieve the people of this enormous duty upon a household necessity. The Chinese are said to bc lovers of rice, but there are very few white people in Australia who are not just, as fond of rice as . are the Chinese. We have heard from ‘time to time of the desirability of cheapening the cost of living to’ working people, and .we know that there are many thousands of white people in Australia to-day who are compelled to use rice as a substitute for potatoes. This article should be admitted duty free until it is known whether the bounty offered for the production of rice will have .the effect we desire. If it does not, £ agree with Senator Millen that it would be better I hen for us to offer a bounty than to saddle I he whole of the people with ihe extraordinary d,itv imposed by this Tariff.
Senate adjourned Bt n p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 February 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080213_senate_3_43/>.