3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at n a.m.,’ and read prayers.
– Is it the intention of the Government to lay on the table the correspondence between ‘Messrs. Freeman and Wallace and the Postal Department since the production of the last batch ‘ of papers?
– Two batches have already been produced, and copies are being made pf the communications not yet laid on the table. As soon as they are ready,. they, too, will be made available to honorable senators.
– The report of the conference, a copy of which I intend to lay on the table to-day, indicates that the sum will be insufficient for the survey of. two routes.
– As ‘ I understand the report, it indicates that the sum will be insufficient for the proper survey of one route, and that the surveyors will be unable to chain the distance. Is that inference correct ?
– The honorable senator’s inference is incorrect.
– If the Minister of Home Affairs has received the papers in connexion with the compulsory retirement of a postal official from a road’ board in Western Australia, will he lay them on the table ; if not, will he expedite their production ?
– During the morning I shall look through the papers received from the various Departments, and if those asked for have not yet come to hand, I shall, take steps to expedite their production.
Report presented by Senator Henderson, and read by the Acting Clerk of the Parliaments.
– I move-r-
That the report be adopted.
I wish to explain that the Printing Committee does not recommend the printing of the ‘ maps and plans describing the acreage, water supply, and other particulars relating to the Canberra site,’ because it is thought that they can be hung up, and thus made fully available to honorable senators without incurring the very great expense which would be entailed in their reproduction.
– Is there a report in “ addition to the maps?
– The reports which have been received have already been printed.
– I should like to say, by way of preface, that, in offering a few remarks,’ I wish to convey no reflection whatever on the Printing Committee. A question asked just now by Senator Pearce will illustrate what I wish to say. The practice has been for the Chairman of the Printing Committee to lay a report upon the. table, and for the Clerk to read out the titles of the various documents that the Committee have thought fit to recommend to be printed. I think it will be recognised that, in adopting that procedure, it is practically necessary for every, member of the Senate to pay the very closest’ attention to the reading of. the report by the Clerk, in order that he may - even then only imperfectly - ascertain what is going to be printed. The practice then is to suspend our Standing Orders to allow a motion to be carried without previous notice. I regard the work of the Printing Committee as important, and I may add that I think that the present Committee have done better work than any Printing Committee we ever had.
– It is the best Committee that we have.
– I say that without the slightest hesitation. I merely rose to put it to the Chairman of the Printing Committee that, appreciating, as we do - speaking for myself at any rate - their work, it would perhaps be a little’ better if the Chairman gave notice, whenever he brought up a report, that on the ensuing <lay he would move that it be adopted. That procedure would secure an opportunity for every member of the Senate (o look through the list of documents and ascertain for himself what the Printing Committee had recommended to be printed. That would also give a senator an opportunity to. ascertain why the Committee thought it not desirable to print any particular document. I hope that Senator’ Henderson clearly understands my attitude - that I merely desire to join with him in promoting- the convenience of every member of the Senate. If he could make it convenient, when bringing up a report, to give notice that on the next day he would move that it be adopted, it would be decidedly’ for’ the benefit of honorable senators all round.
– I gather from the report just submitted that the Printing Committee does not see the desirableness of having printed the list of permanent servants in the employment of the Commonwealth Government as at the end of 1907. The ground taken is, I presume, that the list has already, been published in the Commonwealth Gazette. But the form in which it is issued renders the list so published practically of no use whatever to honorable senators. The list is not bound, and it is impossible to keep the sheets together. For that reason it is valueless as a work of reference. I therefore intend to move, by way of amendment on the motion for the adoption of the report, that the list of Commonwealth officers be printed.
– The honorable senator might move to refer the document back to the .Printing Committee.
– I do not see the. necessity of sending it back to the Committee. I am not in favour of taking a roundabout course when I can take a direct one. The Senate is sitting, and is quite as capable of deciding what shall be done as the Printing Committee is.
– Then why not do all the work ourselves, and not have a Printing Committee at all?
– Why does not the honorable senator go on the Printing Committee ?
– Is the Committee infallible? One member of it, at any rate, appears to assume the roll of infallibility. I do not believe that any one is infallible - not even myself. What is the purpose of printing the list of public employes? It is intended to be a document to which reference can be made at anytime.
– It is in print already.
– Not as a parliamentary paper.
– It is in print, but merely’ as an issue of the Commonwealth Gazette. I suggest that the Printing Committee should get a number of copies of the Commonwealth Gazette containing the names of the officers and have them bound up separately. I do not want to incur extra expenditure on new printing. What I require can be done quite easily in the way I have suggested. In any case, I think it. is desirable that we should have a moreconvenient list of public employes than that which has been printed in the Gazette. I therefore move -
That the question be amended by the addition, of. the following words, “except that the list’ of permanent officers of the Commonwealth Public Service be printed.”
– In my opinion Senator Stewart’s amendment ought not to be agreed to. Look at the unwieldy nature pf our . parliamentary papers already. It is impossible to carry a volume of them, owing to its bulk. Honorable senators have already had the list referred to in their copies of the ‘ Commonwealth Gazette. There is, therefore, a permanent record for the purpose of comparison. If. we reprint the list as a parliamentary paper it means that not .only will every Member of Parliament get another copy of it, but that it will be sent afresh to every newspaper, library, and public institution which receives parliamentary papers. The expense appears to me to be out of all proportion, to the service proposed to be rendered.
– Hear, hear, that is the point.
– Any one who wants to keep a copy of the list can easily do so.
– It is not bound.
– The honorable senator can easily run a bit of string through the sheets. It is a very simple matter.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [11.19]. - I beg to draw attention to the fact that the Printing Committee, with two small exceptions, have not recommended the printing of any document.When a few days ago- I presented a petition from a medical institute in New South Wales, representing 25,000 members of friendly societies - practically the whole of the friendly societies in my State - I moved for the printing of the document, and was asked to leave it- to the Printing Committee. I agreed to do so, but although the petition was so short that it was stated on a single sheet of letter paper, the Committee has not recommended that it be printed. I make no complaint about the action of the Committee, because I understand that, owing to the early sitting of the Chamber, it had this morning only about five minutes in which to deal with all the work submitted to it.
– -That is unfair and incorrect.
– I was told that that was the position. If I have been misinformed, I regret that I should have made the statement. The fact remains that, with, possibly, two. exceptions, the Printing Committee has refused to recommend the printing of any of the papers referred to it. I desire the printing of this short petition, and trust that the Committee will consider my moving an amendment in that direction as being not in any way a reflection upon it, but an evidence of my desire that the large body of electors represented by it might have their views put before honorable senators in the usual manner. I do. not know that I ever heard before of the printing of a petition being refused-. I think this is the first occasion in the history of this Parliament that such a course has been adopted; it certainly is the first time that such an incident has occurred within my knowledge of twenty-five years of parliamentary doings. This was a petition for a reduction of the duties on medicines.
– By the time it is printed we shall have dealt with those duties.
– No. The honorable senator said that he would vote against my ‘motion for the printing of the petition. I do not know how far .he indicated that he would vote for its being printed if the matter went before the Printing Committee; but I hope, that he will vote for the amendment I intend to move, that the document be printed, since it is representative, not of some little out-of-the-way place, but of a very large body of responsible voters and citizens.
– I should vote for its being printed if the honorable senator could guarantee that printed copies- would be circulated before we were called upon to deal with the duties on medicines.
– The honorable senator knows that I cannot guarantee what will be done in the printing-office ; but having regard to the rate of progress we are making, and the position of the item of medicines in the schedule to the Customs Tariff Bill, it would be most extraordinary if the printing of the petition were not’ done long before we reached it. I hope that the Senate will accept the amendment that I intend to move in favour of the printing of this petition from a very important representative and responsible body of the citizens of New South Wales. I understand that it repre 1sents not only 25,000 electors, but some 100,000 of the population - the members of the friendly societies and their families, on whose behalf it is signed. I move -
That the question be amended by the addition of the following words “ except that the petition from Medical Institutes and Dispensaries Association of New South Wales be printed.”
– We shall deal first of all with the amendment moved by Senator Stewart, and then consider that indicated by Senator Neild.
– I was not aware that Senator Stewart had embodied his suggestion in an amendment.
– I fail to see what object would be served by the Senate- agreeing to either amendment. I do not know that at any time since I have been a member of .it the Printing Committee has recommended that’ a petition of any kind should be printed and circulated. If the Senate orders that the petition presented by Senator’ Neild shall be printed and circulated, then, tobe consistent,’ the Printing Committee will have to observe that practice in respect of all other petitions. Of what interest to the general community is the petition which Senator Neild has presented? If any citizen is anxious to ascertain its contents, I am sure that Senator Neild will be delighted to- supply him with a copy of Hansard, showing that he presented it to the Senate, and that it was received in the usual way. It seems to me that some honorable senators desire to take exception to almost everything the Printing Committee does. In the first place, we have a statement that it had this morning only a minute or two in which to deal with the business submitted to it.
– Does the honorable senator object to that statement?
– I object to it. because it is unfair. The Committee met at 10.30 this morning, and concluded its business long’ before the bells rang for the meeting of the Senate. I hope that honorable senators will not agree to the printing of the petition. I do not feel so strongly in regard to the matter mentioned by Senator Stewart. The return is already in type, and the suggestion he makes is that the half-dozen different papers relating to permanent officers of the Commonwealth Service, and the salaries they receive, shall be bound in an inexpensive form.
– If we agree that they be printed they will become a Parliamentary paper.
– I have simply made the suggestion to which Senator Findley has referred.
– It may be that some of the papers are out of print, and that the type has been distributed. If that be so, the result of Senator Stewart’s amendment if adopted would be that the whole of the statistical and tabular matter would have to be reset and printed.
– Would not the printing-office have stereos?
– It might not have any stereos of the matter. The adoption of the amendment moved by Senator Stewart would involve a considerable expenditure if- the type has been distributed.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [1.1. 29]. - This debate illustrates the very great inconvenience of the summary method of submitting a report to the Senate and moving forthwith that it be adopted. I am sure that Senator Hender son will not take it ill - because no one appreciates more than I do the services of the Printing Committee - if I commend to him the suggestion that in future it would be better for him as Chairman of the Printing Committee to lay its reports on the table, and move on a subsequent date that they be adopted. There is no great urgency about securing the adoption of the report the moment it is laid upon the table. It would lose nothing in value by the motion for its adoption being deferred until the next day, or a day or two subsequently. In the meantime, it would be possible for honorable senators, who might not be acquainted with the particular papers to which it makes reference, to make themselves familiar with them, and to form a precise opinion as to whether there were any documents which should be added to the list of those the printing of which has been recommended. I am not prepared to express an opinion regarding the suggestion which has been made by Senator Stewart. Senator Findley has advanced some reasons which might make the adoption of that suggestion an expensive proceeding to the Commonwealth. But Senator Findley speaks without any precise knowledge upon this matter, because, in reply to an interjection, he stated that he was not aware whether stereotypes of the list of permanent officers in the Public Service were in existence. Of course, if they are in existence, no difficulty will be experienced in complying with the suggestion of Senator Stewart.
– The probability is that the Government Printing Office authorities do not stereo, tabular matter.
– I am not in a position to form an opinion upon the Printing Committee’s report, when - as though .the matter were one of extreme urgency - its adoption is moved immediately it is presented. In regard to the amendment of. Senator Neild, I have only to add that I think any honorable senator who presents a petition bearing upon the business before the Senate is entitled to have it printed.
– It is printed in Hansard.
– Although I am not quite sure that the representations made in the petition are very valuable, I would infinitely prefer those representations to be brought before the Senate by means of petition, than that they should be communicated to honorable sena- tors by means of lobbying. The one method is straightforward and above board. It is open to criticism, whilst the other is the reverse.
– What about the oil trust ?
– Personally I have declined to interview any persons in the parliamentary buildings in connexion with this Tariff. It is better to adopt that course than that honorable senators should be button-holed in the lobbies, and attempts made to fill their minds with prejudiced statements either on the one side or the other. I commend the suggestion which I have made to Senator Henderson. Its adoption would prevent time being wasted when we ought to be pushing on with- the consideration of the Tariff. .Under present conditions time is needlessly occupied in discussing matters upon insufficient data.
– I intend to support Senator Stewart’s suggestion. This Parliament has absolutely surrendered the control of the Commonwealth Public Service to a Public Service Commissioner, and as a result, we have no check upon his actions. He has prepared a report relating to the status of public servants and their salaries, but that report is merely published in the Commonwealth Gasette, and is not kept as a parliamentary paper. I believe that a list should be published annually of all Commonwealth public servants, and that it should set forth their salaries and their increments, and that it should be bound up with the ordinary parliamentary papers for the year.
– That is done in every State.
– Exactly. Why the Commonwealth should have departed from that recognised practice I cannot understand. . I do not feel so strongly upon the question of the petition to which reference has been made by Senator Symon. Petitions, upon being presented to the Senate, are read by the Clerk, and published in Hansard, and I do not think that many of them ought to be published in Blue Book form and preserved from year to year. I agree with Senator Symon that instead of the adoption of the Printing Committee’s report being moved immediately that report is presented, honorable senators should be given an opportunity of making “themselves familiar with the contents of the documents to which iit refers. In the re port submitted this morning a recommendation is made regarding a memorandum of the Public Service Commissioner relating to the Public Service, with the nature of which I am not acquainted. Under the plan which has hitherto been followed. I shall be denied an opportunity of making myself familiar with that memorandum before the report, has been adopted. 1 should like to become acquainted with its contents, because we have placed the Public Service . Commissioner absolutely above Parliament.
– That was the deliberate intention of Parliament.
– We ought to be in a position to scrutinize all his actions before we approve of the work done by him. The Printing. Committee will be well advised if, in the future, they present their report upon one day, and move its adoption upon another.
– A great deal of this discussion is due to honorable senators paying insufficient attention to papers when they are laid upon the table. It they took the trouble to familiarize themselves with the contents of those papers they would be in a position, when the Printing Committee presented its report, to say whether or not they ought to be printed. The special function of the Committee is to reduce the expenditure .upon printing as much as possible. It has been suggested that the motion for the adoption of the Committee’s report .should not be submitted immediately the report is presented. I cannot see what advantage would be conferred by delay. We know the nature of the report, because it is read by the Clerk. If the adoption of the report is delayed, it will necessarily delay the printing of any document which is ordered . to be printed. If the documents referred to are printed, 950 copies will be spread broadcast over the country, and ninety-nine people out of 100 will not have the least interest in them. The petition to which Senator Neild refers is not very lengthy. It can be examined on the table, and no earthly good can be done by having 950 printed copies of it distributed. My only object is to reduce our heavy printing bill.
– I support Senator Neild’s amendment, because the petition is in the interests of a- large body of the people, not alone in New South Wales, but in Queensland. There are- thousands of members of the friendly societies, who will regard it as an insult if the Senate refuses to print the petition. This is the second discussion we have had on this subject. More time has been occupied on these two occasions than would pay for the whole of the print-: ing. Apparently, some honorable senators think that the petition, and those who sent it, are not worthy of consideration, but the duties protested against are vital to the whole of the friendly societies of Australia. Most of them are revenue duties. The petition is signed by two men on behalf of 25,000 members of the societies.
– And the members know nothing about it.
– I will guarantee that in this case every lodge had a say before the petition was presented. Even on the ground of courtesy to these people the petition should be printed.
– The Senate will admit that if there is any Committee which faithfully tries to discharge its duties, -it is the Printing Committee. It has never neglected at all times during this Parliament to do its utmost to discharge its functions properly. It meets as often as is necessary, and presents its report immediately. Yet the result is that it is the only Committee subjected to adverse criticism. If it did nothing, not a word would be ‘said against it, but because we try to do our work and prevent wasteful expenditure upon unnecessary printing we are subjected to every kind of fault-finding. Senator Stewart asks, “Why appeal to the Committee, when we can appeal to the Senate?” Then why have a Committee at all? Why not appeal to the Senate direct with regard to every paper? If there is a Committee, it should not be harasse’d every time it brings down a report. If the Senate is dissatisfied with the Committee, it should be told so straight out, and another Committee appointed.
The PRESIDENTS ask the honorable senator not to enter upon a prolonged defence of the action of the Committee. The question is the adoption of the report, and an amendment which would allow certain other papers to be printed.
– The paper in question is exceedingly bulky ; it has already been printed and laid upon the table, and consequently has become the property of Parliament. There is no necessity for incurring the- wasteful expense of having it printed over again. A great deal of the printing done is unnecessary. The wastepaper baskets are filled every day with papers which members open, look at, and throw away. I refuse to be a party to continuing to pile up that wasteful and unnecessary expenditure, and while I remain a senator I shall resist it.
. -I shall oppose the amendment for the printing of the petition. I see that quite a number of petitions have beenbrought up from sawmillers, public morals associations, women’s liberal leagues, retail confectioners, and others, and that in every case, the rule adopted has been that petitions in connexion with the Tariff should not be printed. If we break that rule now we shall be stultifying our past action. I do not underrate the importance of friendly societies, but there is no reason why we should give them the special honour of being the only body throughout Australia whose petition has been ordered by the Senate to be printed.
– It was an excellent idea of the Government to arrange for the Senate to meet at 11 o’clock in the morning. It gives such ample opportunities for talk.
– Of which the honorable senator proposes to avail himself.
– As one of the silent members of the Chamber, I am making a protest on their behalf. I notice that a silent protest .has very little effect. If the silent members decide to be a little more garrulous in the future, in keeping with the rest of the Chamber, perhaps the business will proceed more quickly. In order to economize the time of the Senate, we have, amongst other things, appointed a Printing Committee, which met earlier than the Senate did, went through the papers in detail, decided which were worthy to be printed, and made certain recommendations. The Senate has now debated the question from every point of view. Some say that certain papers only should .be printed, while others declare that every paper should be printed. Then, when the Estimates come before us, the newspapers draw attention to the extraordinary size of the printing bill ; the taxpayers talk of ex’travagance, and very likely the very senators who ask for the most useless papers to be printed, will rise again, and, in their own garrulous way, criticise the extravagant expenditure on printing. We talk from 11 o’clock in the morning until 11 o’clock at night all on the one subject, and get no nearer to a conclusion. If time is to be taken up in this way by useless talk, we had far better return to our ordinary hour of meeting in the afternoon; otherwise we shall be so tired that we shall not care whether or not we attend the next day. I regard the Printing Committee as one of the very best working Committees of Parliament.
– Order ! I point out that the honorable senator is already transgressing the rule I laid down in the case of Senator Givens. He is defending the Printing Committee on a motion simply for the adoption of the report and an amendment thereon; the question as to the talkativeness of the Senate- is really not before us at present.
-Colonel Cameron. - Am I correct in understanding that in this discussion the Printing Committee may not be eulogized ?
– Or condemned.
– I have not said that the Printing Committee may not be eulogized, but that under the motion before us the action of the Committee should not be debated at length.
– The only object I have in view is the economizing of time, and the only proposition to that end would appear to be to appoint Senator Stewart a Printing Committee, and let all the other honorable senators resign from that body.
– The honorable senator is, I know, anxious to economize time, but that end will not be attained by proposing that a single honorable senator shall undertake the duties of the Printing Committee. I ask the honorable senator not to pursue that line of argument;
– I do not desire to take up time, and should be the last to transgress the Standing Orders. I hope, however, that this matter will now be allowed to drop, so as to enable us to get to the business of the clay, and that it will not be further delayed by garrulous senators who think it their duty to talk on every subject.
– I desire, on behalf of the Printing Committee, to briefly acknowledge
– I point out to the honorable senator that the question before us now is an amendment, and I do not desire to call on him to speak in reply, seeing that other amendments may be proposed later on.
– I think that it is at least allowable for an honorable senator to speak to both questions before the Chair ; and, in reference to the amendment proposed by Senator Stewart, I sincerely hope that the Senate will sanction the course taken by the Printing Committee. In the early stages of the session the necessity for economy in the matter of printing was forcibly brought under the notice of the Senate; and the speeches then made were an inspiration to every member of the Committee to, as” far as possible, prevent superfluous and useless printing. Senator Stewart, and every other honorable senator, could, if they chose, avail themselves of every item of information already presented to the Chamber. I admit that the reports referred to are not bound in morocco, with gilt edges, nor are senators’ names printed in gold letters on the back of them; but, although unembellished, the reports for all practical purposes place the necessary information easily within reach. If we accept the statement of Senator Findley that the type has been distributed, and that there are no stereos, itwould prove very costly to print this particular report now.
– If the list had been placed in my hands in the form in which it is now in the hands of Senator Henderson, I should not have complained.
– The honorable senator has had the list presented to him from time to time.
– Not from time to time. The honorable senator, although Chairman of the Committee, knows nothing whatever about the matter.
– Order ! Senator Henderson is in possession of the Chair.
– I shall enter into no side argument. I only ask the Senate to give careful consideration to the matter, and say whether it is advisable to impose the liability-
– I didnot propose that.
– The amendment of the honorable senator proposes that a liability shall be incurred in order to place a few figures and names in a paper which will find its way into the waste-paper basket within the next three or four days. I sympathize very much with Senator Neild in his laudable desire to serve friendly societies and other bodies which wish to present petitions to the Senate; but I ask him to recognise the wisdom of the course which has hitherto been followed by the Printing Committee.
Petitions innumerable have been presented, and each andevery one has been read by the Clerk; and that reading serves every public purpose. The petitions are for the information of honorable senators ; they are not presented with a view to providing the public with useless literature. I think it must be admitted that the Printing Committee have followed a very wise course in refusing to keep a whole staff going night and day simply for the purpose of printing petitions. I sincerely hope that both amendments will be rejected.Senator demons suggested - and I think Senator Symon took the same view - that, when a report is laid on the table, it ought to be allowed to lie there until the following day. The Printing Committee would willingly adopt that course but for the fact that, in doing so, the rules of the Senate would compel me to move that the report be printed and circulated. At an early stage of this session we discussed that point ; and it was in order to prevent the necessity of printing and circulating the report that the present practice was adopted.
– It is printed all the same.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon ; it is not printed.
– This report will be printed and circulated before the end of the week.
– What I mean to say is, that the printing of the report is not duplicated. If, however, I have to submit a motion that the report be printed and circulated, there will be a duplication of the printing, as every honorable senator can thoroughly understand.
– Suppose that the objectionable practice had been taken of objecting to this motion being moved to-day, without notice, what would the honorable senator have done then?
– It would have compelled me to take that course.
– I do not think that it would.
– It was really with a view to meet the difficulties that we experienced in curtailing the expenditure on printing that the present course was adopted after a very lengthy discussion.
– I think that there is another way out of the difficulty.
– If the report in typewritten form could lie upon the table, it would, of course, be useful to honorable senators, because they could then sit down and look over it.
– That is what I want.
– Will the rules of the Senate permit that to be done?
– I think so, and on the following day the honorable senator could move the adoption of the report.
– If the rules of the Senate will permit of that course being carried out, the members of the Printing Committee have not the slightest objection to offer.
– Can I have leave to amend my amendment, sir?
– The honorable senator can only amend his amendment with the consent of the Senate.
– Let it go.
Question- That the words “ except that the list of permanent officers of the Commonwealth Public Service be printed “ be added (Senator Stewart’s amendment) - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 22
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Earlier in the morning Senator Neild intimated his desire to move an amendment to provide for the printing of a petition from the Medical Institutes and Dispensaries’ Association of New South Wales. Having spoken to the original question, he is not now in a position to move that amendment, and therefore has asked me to do so on his behalf. I move -
That the question be amended by the addition of the following words : - “except that the petition from Medical Institutes and Dispensaries’ . Association of New South Wales be printed.”
I only wish to add that I will not support the amendment.
Original question resolved in the affirma- tive.
Is he aware that the Postmaster-General, the Hon. Samuel Mauger, recently made accusations of wholesale drunkenness against the coal miners of the Maitland district, New South Wales?
Is he aware that these accusations have occasioned considerable public excitement in the Maitland district?
Is he aware that Police Magistrates, senior officers of police, ministers of religion, and prominent citizens have openly contradicted and refuted the charges made by the PostmasterGeneral ?
Is the Postmaster-General prepared to with draw and apologize for making the charges in question ?
Failing such withdrawal and apology, will the Government consent to the appointment of a Select Committee to investigate the said charges?
– My honorable friend’s long parliamentary experience must surely suggest to him that this is not a proper question to invite me to answer. I do not wish to be discourteous, but, as a matter of fact, I told him yesterday that I did not for one moment admit that any accusations of wholesale drunkenness were ever made by my honorable colleague, and what is more I cannot see my way to agree to the appointment of the Select Committee suggested.
– Arising out of the reply to the question which has just teen asked, I should like to know, as a point of order, whether, when an honorable senator asks a question without notice, and is not requested to give notice of his question, itis competent for him then to give notice of it?
– I think Senator Neild was in order in putting the notice of his question upon the paper, but, having done so, he could not put it on the paper a second time if the question were fully replied to.
asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
What steps, if any, are the Government taking in connexion with the question of silver coinage?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows: -
The Government is still corresponding with the Government of the United Kingdom on the subject, but nothing definite has yet been settled.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the intimation from the Conference of Railway Experts that the sum of £20,000 will only provide for a partial survey of the trans-continental railway route, the Government intend to ask Parliament for a further vote?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The Conference of Railway Engineers, in their Report, point out that the sum of£20,000 voted will not be sufficient to provide a complete and permanent survey for the whole of the route, and that such was never contemplated when suggesting the amount. They make recommendations for carrying out a trial survey in the more difficult parts,’ and a flying survey of the remainder of the route, such as will admit of a definite scheme and reliable estimate being submitted to Parliament, and for these purposes it is considered the sum available will suffice.
– Arising out of the answer to the question, will the VicePresident of the Executive Council kindly explain what is meant by a “ definite scheme.” He has said that the result of this trial survey and partial survey would enable the Commissioners to submit to Parliament a “ definite scheme.” Does the honorable senator mean a definite scheme for the construction of the railway or for a final and proper survey? The answer as given is ambiguous, and I wish only to know exactly what is meant by it.
– I read it to mean a definite scheme as to the route.
– A definite scheme of construction?
– Yes ; and reliable estimate as to cost.
– From a trial and partial survey?
– That is a strange way in which to form an estimate.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
In addition to the foregoing special fishing appliances, including winch, warps, nets, &c., are required, which will bring the. total estimate up to about£15,500.
What effect has the financial suspension of Messrs. James Laing and Coy. Ltd. had upon the legal proceedings instituted on behalf of the Commonwealth in connexion with the forfeited mail contract ?
– It is quite impossible at this stage to say exactly what has been done by Sir James Laing and Company Limited, and until that is definitely known, we cannot advise as to the effect upon our legal rights and limitations.
– But the Government have not yet got the money.
– They have the bankers guarantee, have they not?
– Of course; the guarantee of Barclay and Company.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s’ questions are as follow -
While the Government believe that special facilities to enable immigrants at a distance to be sure of acquiring land are essential to a large and comprehensive scheme of immigration, yet their opinion is that much good work can be done by immigration leagues in directing public opinion to the necessity that exists for increasing our population, and also in the direction of encouraging immigrants who are prepared to embark without an assurance of obtaining a homestead in a particular locality.
– Arising out of the answers to the questions, I should like to know if the Vice-President of the Executive Council is in a position to inform the Senate as to the amounts voted to the Tasmanian and Victorian Immigration Leagues respectively?
– Yes, there have been contributions given to the New South Wales, Victorian, and Tasmanian Leagues. The contribution to the Sydney league amounted to £2 25, that to the Victorian league to £100, and that to the Tasmanian league to £50.
– I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether the Government are not aware that in the three States represented by the immigration leagues to whom contributions have been made there is no land available for immigrants?
– That is all the honorable senator knows.
– There are plenty of unemployed in each of the States referred to.
– I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether the Government have asked the leagues to whom contributions have been made to give any account of the manner in which the money is spent?
– To the best of my knowledge, I should say no. The contributions were given simply on knowledge of the objects of the leagues.
– Each of the leagues has a distinct object?
– They all have the object of encouraging immigration to Australia.
-Arising out of the answers to these questions, I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether an application which was put in from the Queensland Immigration League has been refused. I understood the Minister to say that contributions have been made to leagues established in only three of the States. Will he say whether any grant has yet been made to the Queensland league?
– So far as my inquiries go, I am advised that grants have been made only to the leagues representing the three States I have mentioned, and they were made last” year, that is to say, out of last year’s votes, save and except a sum of £75, which formed portion of the grant of£225 made to the New South Wales league. I am not in a position to say whether an application has been received from Queensland, but I shall be happy to mate inquiry on the subject if the honorable senator desires me to do so.
– The Queensland league burst up, and was sued for its debts.
– I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether the Government will ask the leagues to whom money has been given to supply them with a return showing in what manner the money has been spent? Senator BEST.- I hardly think that we are in a position to do that. Knowing the object of these leagues, we have given donations, having full confidence that the money would be properly applied.
– As the VicePresident of the Executive Council did not answer my first question in reference to the fact that there is no land available for immigrants in the States represented by the leagues to whom contributions have been made, I should like to know whether, in future, . in distributing money of this kind voted by Parliament, those States in which it is well known there is plenty of land available for immigrants, will be given some of this money to spend?
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable senator has asked a question which was crammed full of argument, and has made statements’ which are not in accordance with fact.
– The point of order having been taken that the question is not pertinent, I hold that it is not one properly arising out of the replies which have been given by the Minister, the strict rule being that when questions, on notice, have been answered, only such further questions shall be allowed as tend to elucidate the replies.
– Do you rule, sir, that my question is not in order, as not calculated to obtain information on the subject before the Senate?
– I consider that it does not tend to the elucidation of the replies given by the Minister. The questions on notice, primarily, refer to a grant of money to the Victorian Immigration League, and further questions tending to elucidate the replies given to them will be in order ; but questions asking for other information should be placed on the noticepaper, to be asked. on some other occasion.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council stated that money had been spent out of this fund in three States, nothing having been spent in the remaining three. Shall I not be in order in asking whether they will be ignored if future expenditure is made?
– The answer to that question would not make clearer the replies which the Vice-President of the Executive Council has already given to the questions on notice. As he referred to three States, questions tending to make clear the action of the Government in giving money to those States may be asked; but in asking whether money will be granted on some future occasion to other States, the honorable senator is transgressing the rule governing the case.
– Does the VicePresident of the Executive Council consider it wise to distribute the Commonwealth funds amongst five or six small agencies? Would it not be better to defer this expenditure until one central agency has been appointed, which will be more likely to be successful in attracting immigrants than the six small State agencies?
– Those questions do not tend to the elucidation of the Minister’s replies to the questions on notice, and, moreover, ask merely for an expression of opinion, not for a statement of fact. It is not competent for the honorable senator to put such questions.
Senator KEATING laid upon the table the following papers -
Defence Acts 1903-1904 -
Regulations for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth. - Amendment of Regulation 540. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 14.
Regulations for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth. - New Regulation 531A. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 15.
Financial and Allowance Regulations for the Military Forcesof the Commonwealth - Amendment of Regulation 143 - Statutory Rules1908, No. 16.
Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey. - Copy of Report of Engineers-in-Chief of the States to the Minister for Home Affairs upon the expenditure of£20,000 voted by Parliament.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 19th February, vide page 8221):
Division V. - Textiles, Felts and Furs, and Manufactures thereof, and Attire.
Postponed item114. Blankets (except of Rubber); Blanketing; Flannels, including Domett containing wool; Rugs,n. e.i., including Buggy Rugs or Aprons, and Rugging, ad. val., (General. Tariff), 30 per cent., and on and after 8th November, 1907, 25 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 30 per cent., and on and after 8th November, 1907, 20 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 114 by inserting after the word “ Flannels “ the words “ whether plain, fancy, of printed.”
The object of the amendment is to obtain a clearer definition, and to remove the possibility of anomalies and disputes. What are known as blousing flannels may be classified at the will of the Customs authorities under any one of three items. One firm has paid 25 per cent. ad valorem upon a large importation of blousing flannels, they being defined at the time by the Comptroller-General as woollen piecegoods. Afterwards a second definition was applied to these materials, which brought them under the heading of dress goods, and another firm was fortunate enough to be able to import them on payment of a duty of 10 per cent. It would also be possible for the Customs authorities to declare the goods dutiable as flannels, and I think that they should be classed as coming under this item.
– I understand that the amendment would not make the item clearer. “ Flannels “ is a term which covers plain, fancy, and printed flannels, and it is undesirable to limit its meaning by making it less comprehensive.
– But the Customs officials limit the meaning of the word.
– Will the honorable senator add the words “except shirting?”
– I was going to suggest that “shirting” should come under a later item.
Question put. The Committee divided-
Ayes … … …15
Noes … … …14
Majority … …1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
– As I stated previously I have no objection to Senator Mulcahy’s request provided the words “ except shirting “ are added. I therefore move -
Thatthe House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 114 by inserting after the word “ printed “ the words “ except shitting.”
– I understand that Senator Macfar lane has given notice of a request to include shirtings of certain specified kinds. Senator Best now proposes to insert words which would absolutely negative that proposal.
. -I should like to hear reasons for the exception proposed by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. Many shirtings are flannel ; all Crimean shirtings, for example, are flannel. It seems to me that the Minister is trying to split hairs in this matter.
– I have a great deal of sympathy with Senator Best, but I can assure him that what he is trying to do is, comparatively speaking, unimportant. What he wants is really to have Crimean and other varieties of shirtings that may contain a small particle of wool removed from this item, and included under item 123A.
– That would be the effect.
– It is really a matter of the difference between 20 per cent. and 25 per cent. upon a comparatively small line of imports.
– I have discussed the matter further with the departmental officers, and shall not press the request.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator Macfarlane) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further: amend item 114 by inserting after the word “ wool “ the words “ also Crimean and Ceylon shirtings containing wool.”
. The request submitted by Senator Macfarlane is for the purpose of making the item a little clearer. It is desired that Crimean shirting should be considered to pertain to this item. There are imitation Crimean shirtings which contain a proportion of wool, and Ceylon shirting which may be all cotton. Senator Macfarlane’ s request is to bring the goods referred to into this 20 per cent. classification.
– I am told that the request will do neither good nor harm, and certainly will not tend towards greater simplicity. There is nothing in it one way or the other.
– It will certainly prevent the goods from being dealt with under item123A.
Request agreed to.
– I desire to move that the House of Representatives be requested to increase the duty from 25 to 30 per cent., and subsequently I shall propose that the preference duty be increased from 20 per cent. to 25 per. cent.
– I have a prior request to move, namely, that the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the duty to 20 per cent. If that be agreed to, I shall subsequently propose that the preference duty be reduced to 15 per cent.
– I am sorry to interrupt the honorable senator, but I desire to raise a point of order. I previously announced my intention of submitting a request for a still lower reduction of the duty, and I am prepared to move it now. I have no wish to interfere with Senator Dobson, or to harass him.
– But it really does not harass me, as the honorable senator knows.
– I do not know how the honorable senator will be harassed by my submitting my request first. I wish to put this point to the Chairman : I have already intimated that I intend to move for a lower duty than 20 per cent. I am prepared to do that at once. The question upon which I desire to have a ruling is whether it is in accordance with our Standing Orders and practice that Senator Dobson, without moving a request that takes priority of mine, should address himself to the item, and to that extent preclude either myself or any one else from giving reasons why a lower duty should ‘be imposed.
– I know exactly, what Senator Clemons means. Senator Lynch was in possession of the Chair, and was asked to give way to me. He said he would do so in order that I might state my reasons for proposing a lower duty. That is exactly what I desire to proceed to do.
The CHAIRMAN__ My ruling on the point of order is that any honorable senator has the right, if the Chairman calls upon him, to discuss an item without moving any request. It is merely a matter of courtesy if an honorable senator gives way to another who wishes to propose a lower rate of duty. When Senator Lynch was speaking, I intimated that we should have to deal first of all with requests for reductions, but had Senator Lynch desired to continue his remarks, he could have done so. I did not ask him to give way, but he did so because it was said that a request for a reduction was to be proposed. Senator Clemons intimated, only by way of interjection, that he proposed to move a reduction.
– I rose to assure you, sir. that I intended to do so.
– The honorable senator made no such statement while standing. Senator Dobson was in possession of the Chair, and had a right to continue his remarks and to move a request. If any honorable senator intimated a desire to move a request for a lower duty, Senator Dobson would, of course, ask that his request be temporarily withdrawn.
– It appears to me that the Tariff Commission sat as a judicial tribunal appointed to guide Parliament in the framing of a Tariff on protectionist lines, and that the Government have utterly disregarded the evidence taken by it, and in some cases have proposed much higher duties than that evidence warrants. In this case, the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission, for the following weighty reasons, were forced to furnish a separate report -
We, the undersigned, while acknowledging the report prepared at the instance of the Chairman to be a full presentment of the case for higher duties, regret to find it imperfect and misleading,both as a summary of the evidence in general, and as purporting to give a true value to the evidence adduced against any increase of the Tariff.
It is unfortunate that any section of the Commission should have such a charge lodged against it. I believe that the accusation that an imperfect report; which was not in accordance with the evidence tendered before the Commission, had been prepared was justifiable. The report of the free-trade section sets forth that -
A Sydney, warehouse manager gave evidence to show that with the present duty of 15 per cent. the disability of “home” manufacturers trading in Australia was equal to more than. 40 per cent…..
A Sydney woollen manufacturer subsequently came before the Commission and attempted to discredit these figures, but did not in any material way modify or disprove them. - Vicars,
The reports of the free-trade section of the Commission have been prepared with care, and references to the evidence are given in support of the statements contained in them. I defy any honorable senator to detract from their reliability and value. The report of the protectionist section on this item is, however, imperfect and misleading. I also find that the freetrade section of the Commission report that it was admitted that a 10 per cent. duty would more than cover any disability which the manufacturers here might labour under in regard to the payment of higher wages and more onerous industrial conditions. That being so, one can well understand why it recommended that the duty on flannels should be reduced to 10 per cent., and that on all other woollen goods or blankets there should be a duty of 15 per cent. I am at a loss to understand why the Government, in view of the evidence given before the Commission, should have proposed that the old duty of 15 per cent. be raised to 25 per cent., and it is for that reason that I propose to move a request that a duty midway between the two be imposed. Sir William Lyne, and every protectionist member of the Labour Party in the. Senate, utterly disagree with the opening speech made by Senator Best. The Government are not content with the imposition of a duty that will counter-balance the disabilities under which our manufacturers suffer by reason of the higher wages they have to pay ; they propose a duty that is calculated to do more harm than good. I find from the report of the free-trade section of the Commission that in the past excessive duties have done more harm than good to the cause of protection. Instead of building up industries, they have caused the manufacturers to continue the use of obsolete machinery, believing that they can carry on successfully behind the stone wall of the Tariff. To use the term employed by some of the witnesses, they “wanted shaking up,” and a reduction of the duty shook them up to such an extent as to cause them to improve their methods of manufacture. The free-trade section of the Commission embody in their report a table showing the duty on woollens, and the number of hands employed in given years, and it is an utter condemnation of ultra-protective duties. It shows that in 1878, with a duty of 11 per cent., 736 hands were employed in the industry. In 1888, when the duty stood at 22 per cent., there were 784 hands. In 1891, after a duty of 33 per cent had been in operation for three years, there were 7.91 hands employed. In 1895, after a duty of 44 per cent, had been in operation for three years,, the number of hands employed in the industry had fallen away to 690 ; but in 190.3, with a duty of 16J per cent., the number of hands had increased to 1,013. Can Senator Trenwith, or Senator Findley, answer these figures? What made the woollen industry fall away ? With duties of 33 per cent, and 44 per cent, it could not flourish, whereas, under a duty of 15 per cent, during the last six years, it has made splendid progress, and in New South Wales, under free-trade, prior to Federation it did very well.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– The Government, I understand, are anxious to avoid the creation of monopolies.
– How does the honorable senator arrive at that understanding?
– From the fact that they have introduced legislation for the purpose of suppressing monopolies. Apparently they are terribly in earnest in this connexion, and yet we now find them supporting an excessively high duty upon blankets, the adoption of which is calculated to lead to the establishment of a monopoly in the woollen trade. It is upon record in the evidence tendered to the Tariff Commission that the whole of our woollen mills are full of orders, some of them so full that they cannot promptly execute the orders which they receive.
– The honorable senator must know that when they have the work to do, they will enlarge their plants. Thar is inevitable.
– I know that the Vice-President of the Executive Council is doing an injustice to the mill-owners. in little Tasmania the woollen mills have already been enlarged. New machinery has been installed in them, and they have been brought up to date. What the VicePresident of the Executive Council suggests will take place, has already taken place.. During the past four or five years under the operation of a 15 per cent, duty a mill has been established in Hobart, which is a credit to the Commonwealth. But the Vice-President of the Executive Council talks as if the industry had yet to be created. As a matter of fact, it is doing everything that we can expect of it.
– The mill to which the honorable senator refers was enlarged under- the higher duty levied under the old Tasmanian Tariff, and before the establishment of the Commonwealth.
– Under the old Tasmanian Tariff the duty levied upon one class of flannel was 15 per cent., and that upon another- class 20 per cent. Does the Minister of Home Affairs suggest that a difference of 5 per cent, upon one-half of their goods was the cause of the establishment of the large factory which exists in Collins-street, Hobart ?
– The honorable senator was wrong in saying that it was established under the operation of a 15 per cent. duty.
– It has been established under a moderate protective duty.
– Is it- making all the flannel’ that we require ?
– It is full of orders, and, notwithstanding that the imports of flannel are increasing, it does not fear that competition. The owner of. those mills himself told me that a duty of 15 per cent, was more than sufficient for the industry, and that he could carry on operations under a duty of only 10 per cent. That statement was also made upon oath before the Tariff Commission. The agitation for a higher duty originated with the Ballarat mills, which suggested that a duty of 30 per cent, ought to be imposed upon woollens. Later on, other mills asked for a duty of 25 per -cent., but the little Tasmanian mill-owners refused to join in that request.
– That accounts for the fact that they are “ little.”
– The operation of ‘ a 15 per cent, duty accounts for the fact that in Hobart we have one of the most up-to-date mills in the Commonwealth. I will thank Senator Trenwith not’ to attempt to belittle Tasmania merely because it is little. Why is it’ that during a period of five years the New South Wales mills under free-trade conditions did quite as well as the Victorian mills?
– - The answer is that they never did.
– The B section of the Tariff Commission contains evidence of the decadence of the Victorian mills. Because the owners do not object - to becoming a flabby and miserable race, they desire to make the other mill-owners in the Commonwealth flabby and miserable individuals. The Tasmanian .millowners refused to join in the request for a duty of 25 per cent., because they ‘were more honest, more virile, and more selfreliant than are the flabby mill-owners in Victoria.
– The Tasmanian mills pav the worst wages in the Commonwealth.
– . Nothing of the kind. The honorable senator has wages and protection upon the brain. In regard to Senator Trenwith one can no more get an argument into his head than one can get a Scotchman to appreciate a joke. Nevertheless I admire the honorable senator, because he is honest. He is steeped in protection from the sole of his boots to the crown of his head. . In giving evidence before the Tariff Commission, Mr. Hogarth, a large Launceston mill-owner, was examined as follows -
Do I understand you to say that you are not progressing because the duty (15 per cent.) is not sufficiently high? - I would not say that.
How are you stationary? - We cannot go on increasing for ever.
Is your output up to the full capacity of your mills? - Yes; we cannot do another bit.
I ask Senator Best what conclusion he can draw from that evidence.’ Does it not show that we are on the brink of establishing a monopoly? By the imposition of the enormous duty proposed, shall we not create conditions that suggest the formation of a combine ‘ which will control prices ? Will not the shrewd men, who have been lobbying in the Parliamentary buildings, take full advantage of this duty? The evidence given before the Tariff Commission discloses that the higher the duty imposed the worse they get on. “
– That is why they want a higher duty, I suppose?
– A higher duty will enable them to keep up prices, to continue operations without capital, without paying good wages, and without bothering in - any way.
– The answer to the statement of that witness has since been given, by himself. He is extending his mill, and is about to undertake operations upon which he has not previously embarked.
– Does the Minister of Home Affairs imagine that we could not extend anything if we” only had the necessary capital ? Doss he not know that I could make him the most successful lawyer in the Commonwealth by exacting tribute from others ?
– The honorable senator asked for an answer to Mr. Hogarth’s, statement that he was working up to his full capacity. My reply is that since making that declaration he has enlarged the capacity of his mill.
– The factories at Hobart, which have enlarged their, plants, cannot do “ another bit “ now. Does not the Minister recognise that a man may do a flourishing business within his own means, but that the moment he attempts to become a woollen king he almost inevitably comes to grief?
– The honorable senator is a “ little Australian,” and he wishes everbody else to be little.
– Thank God J am not a “ little Australian.” But’ the members of the Labour Party are “ little Australians.” They cannot see beyond Australia. Another witness before the Tariff . Commission stated -
In New South Wales, where the Commonwealth Tariff had given the manufacturers a duty of 15 per cent, where none had previously existed, little if any benefit had been experienced by the change.
Still another witness before that body admitted that -
There had been a considerable increase in the woollen manufactures of South Australia since Federation. He did not regard such. pro,gress as due to Federation, but to the altered methods of business adopted by his company.
Here was a sensible man who recognised that the business . methods adopted, the skill and knowledge brought to bear, and the machinery employed, had a great deal more to do with the success of his company than had high protective duties. From the report of the B section of the Tariff Commission, I extract the fol- lowing : -
In Tasmania, the Commonwealth Tariff had reduced the protection on blankets from 20 per cent, to 15 per cent., while the rate on woollen piece goods had remained unchanged. It was, however, readily admitted that the Tasmanian woollen industry had profited by Federation. It had given the manufacturers of that State a “shake up,’’ but “on the whole it had done them good.”
How will it be possible to give the manufacturers a “ shake up “ if we erect a Tariff wall around them and so prevent them being exposed to competition ? How is it possible to “shake them up” if we protect them against their own want of skill and efficiency ? Surely .we want to let the consumer see what goods are being made in other parts of the world, and to give him an . opportunity of wearing them ! The free-trade section of the Tariff Commission have made a most liberal allowance for the whole of the disadvantages under which we labour, on account of the higher wages, paid in Australia, as compared with oversea countries. They say -
We regard 50 per cent, increase on the English rate as an extreme estimate of the total labour disability of the Australian woollen manufacturer, but lor the purposes of this inquiry we are prepared to adopt it as a basis of calculation. . . . On an extreme estimate, the total Australian labour disability is not more than 10 per cent, of the value of the goods produced. Putting it in another way, from a protectionist stand-point, and ignoring the natural protection of freights, a duty of ro per cent, on the goods in question would equalize all the alleged disadvantages of the Australian manufacturer in respect of higher wages and shorter hours. v
They recommend the imposition of a duty of 10 per cent., whereas the A section of the Commission recommend a 25 per cent, rate. But the Government are not’ satisfied even with the latter duty, and intend to support the proposal of Senator Lynch to levy a higher impost. It is another instance of the tyranny of a majority who will not look beyond their noses, and who think that they are justified in voting money by Act of Parliament into the pockets of a ‘few manufacturers, thereby victimizing the whole of the consumers. If one thing more than another- is disclosed by the evidence tendered to the Tariff Commission, it is the miserable, shoddy character of the highly protected mills of Victoria. An analysis of samples of flannel taken from their mills revealed the . fact that it was shockingly adulterated.
– The flannel had to be adulterated to enable it to compete with goods from the Old World, which were adulterated to a much greater extent.
– The first analysis placed Victoria in such’ a bad light that, by the casting vote of the Chairman of the Commission-, a second lot of samples of flannels was obtained. What was the result? I quote from the report of the B section of the Tariff Commission -
The analysis of the second series shows that out of 136 samples of imported flannels, fifteen, or 11 per cent., contained cotton in proportions varying from .08 to 63.4. Of the samples of Australian flannel, forty-nine in number, forty, or Si per cent., contained cotton, the proportion ranging -from 0.3 to 87.1. The Australian flannels are classified as obtained (a) in Victoria, and (*) in New South Wales. Of thirty-nine Victorian flannels two were all wool, and out of ten New South Wales samples four were pure wool.
That shows the difference between the adulterated, cheap, highly-protected goods of Victoria, and the higher class of goods turned out under absolute free-trade in New South Wales. Senator Trenwith cannot answer those facts, although he can utter quibbles and platitudes. I am happy to see that he is silent for once. He has no protectionist argument ready to answer evidence of that sort. A Sydney woollen manufacturer said he would not advocate the exclusion of all goods which could be manufactured here, adding -
We are not in accord with that idea, because we believe in healthy competition, which will probably keep us from going backward.
That is just what the Victorians will not believe in.
– Was that man also an importer?
– I do not know. He is spoken of as a woollen manufacturer. I do not think he was an importer. According to a Victorian witness -
In Victoria the reduction of duties made the manufacturers look verv much sharper after their affairs,.
A Melbourne costumier and mercer, who avowed himself a protectionist, said -
If manufacturers would perfect their goods, they would not require any protection.
The same witness pointed out’ that in Victoria, under a. 40 per cent, duty, nearly all the mills were closed. Another witness quoted evidence from the published statistics of Victoria, showing that in the years of the highest duties on woollens in that State, the lowest number of hands was employed. I have already read statistics showing conclusively that that is the case. A South Australian manufacturer talked a little sense when he said - “ Really, what determines the amount of imports is the financial position of the country and the harvest.” The total imports of blankets and blanketing were ,£114,500 worth in 1902, and decreased to £53,506 worth in 1906. Of that amount Great Britain exported to us £51,600 worth, so that this is an item on which we can give the Mother Country a considerable preference. I hope the preferential rate will be retained. The importations are gradually coming down, and in ‘ every way the woollen industry under a 15 per cent, duty is doing well. The quality of the goods has been improved; the manufacturers have all had a” shake up and are being kept up to the mark, but now the Government and their supporters wish, by over-protecting them, to let them go back again to the old conditions, and to victimize the consumer. When the history of Victoria comes to be written, it will be one of the wonders of that age how men in Victoria could ever have believed that high protection alone could bring about general prosperity. I admit that protection may do good when moderately employed; but it is a mystery to me how honorable senators opposite can take up their present attitude. In the evidence on the flannel industry almost every one of their axioms has been contradicted. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 114 (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 20 per cent.
– Throughout the discussion of this schedule, wherever a duty higher than obtained in the previous Tariff is imposed, the free-trade senators have offered a great deal of opposition to the proposed increase, and whenever an attempt is made by an honorable senator to increase a duty beyond the figure in the schedule, their opposition and criticism becomes, if possible, even stronger. Senator Lynch proposes to omit from this item the words “blankets, blanketing, flannels, including domett containing wool,” and bring the articles under item 123A. That request, if carried, would give this industry an increase of protection of 5 per cent. I heartily concur with Senator Lynch’sobject.
– No such request as the honorable senator mentions is before the Committee.
– Then I shall withhold my remarks until that request is moved.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I desire to move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 114 (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 221/2 per cent.
This duty affects the whole of the working community of the Commonwealth. I should like to vote for a lower duty ; but, under the circumstances. I think I am within the limits of moderation when I submit the request I have indicated. Senator Dobson has covered the ground in the main, but, in some respects, he has not given the subject that close consideration which I think is necessary. The present policy of the Government is diametrically opposed to their policy, not only at the first Federal election, but at the last Federal election. In New South Wales, at any rate, no increase of duties was suggested by any of their candidates, and I’ have not yet heard from the Government, or any honorable senator, a practical reason why any increases should now be sought. True, there was a protectionist crusade in Victoria, and those who conducted it talked about the’ decaying industries in that State. In regard to the woollen industry, at any rate, those allegations were proved to be without foundation, and to have been made solely for political purposes. So far from the woollen industry having suffered under the old duty, all the evidence proves that it is one of the most prosperous in Australia. I am pleased that such should be the case ; and I honestly believe that the old duty was sufficient to give all that any real protectionist - though not the prohibitionists, who are so strong within this Chamber - could desire. If the experience of the past be any guide, the woollen industry, instead of being helped by a prohibitive duty of 44 per cent. in Victoria, suffered materially. The number of those engaged did not increase, and the quality of the goods turned out was not sufficient to compete with the woollens of Tasmania, where there was a 15 or 20 per cent., or of New Zealand, where there was a duty of 15 per cent., or of New South Wales, where there was a still smaller duty. Protection run mad simply means the rearing of hot-house plants, and weakens that personality which is so necessary in all industrial undertakings. When healthy competition has to be met manufacturers secure the most modern machinery and appliances, and on these, and on his personal qualities, he depends for financial success. Regarding the matter even from the protectionist point of view, we know that, when a duty is above a certain figure, competition decreases, and manufacturers are content to rely on the duty alone for success, thus leading to a weakening of commercial acumen. If this debate has proved anything, it is that this Chamber is not of the deliberative character which the public think. Some of the most instructive speeches have been made to empty benches, because honorable senators opposite have made up their minds how they will vote, quite irrespective of the facts.
– I desire to take this opportunity to continue my remarks which were interrupted a few moments ago. Senator Dobson, to whom I listened very closely, went into the question exhaustively, and attempted to prove that there is no necessity for an increase of duty. However, I am in favour of an increase; and, therefore, utterly opposed to the request submitted by Senator Gray. I hold that the industry languished - that with a small duty it did not progress - but that conditions were improved when the impost was increased. If there is anything proved conclusively in the reports of the Tariff Commission, it is the statement of the case in regard to this industry. I desire to quote from the evidence of the same gentleman whom Senator Dobson mentioned, and whom he endeavoured to represent as not desiring an increase in the duty. I refer to the witness Hogarth, in reference to whom the report says: -
There were three woollen mills in Tasmania, belonging respectively to the firms of Messrs. Johnstone Bros. and Co., James Aiken and Son, and Robert Hogarth. Evidence as to the extent and operations of the Waverley Mills only was tendered by Mr. Hogarth. These mills were established in 1874 at Launceston. At the outset there was a 10 per cent. duty on woollens levied in Tasmania. Under its operation the local mills did not prosper. With the State
Tariff raised to15 per cent., the condition of the local industry was better. A further increase to 20 per cent. sent the whole of the Tasmanian woollen mills bounding ahead.
Thus we see that this witness did advocate an increase in the duty.
– There is no recommendation from this witness for a duty of more than 20 per cent.
– That I quite admit, but, according to the evidence of this witness, the industry went ahead by leaps and bounds when the duty was increased from 10 to 20 per cent. I shall endeavour to prove that, with a further increase, we shall have more effective protection; and, in doing so, I shall not confine my remarks to Tasmania, but extend them to Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia. I shall quote statistics to prove that, notwithstanding the duty of 20 per cent., the industry has not flourished, and that there is a desire for an increase on the part of many witnesses. In reference to the manufacturers of the great free-trade State of New South Wales, the report says -
They depended on Government contracts and odd lines for warehouses. For the last eight years Government contracts had specified that the woollen materials supplied should be of New South Wales manufacture. Under its freetradepolicy New South Wales had become a favorite dumping-ground of the oversea woollen manufacturer. Goods so imported were sold, not for what they cost, but for what they would bring, and were usually sacrificed. There was a duty of 5 per cent. for a short time, and under the Dibbs Tariff they had a 10 per cent. duty for two and a half years.
I find, further, from the report that the industry has had to compete with shoddy material imported from Europe and elsewhere; indeed, that has been the curse of the industry. In1899 the value of the importation was£1,348,952, while in 1905 it was£1,809,784.
– It has nothing to do with this item.
– I think that it has a great deal to do with the item. .
– Why not quote the right figures?
– I am quoting the figures from the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, and if they are not right the Government should not have supplied me with the book. Turning to the return of exports we find that in 1906 Australia exported 480,242,885 lbs. of wool. What is the good of our continuing to shear the wool, export it to other countries, and import it in the form of manufactured articles ? Why should we not reverse the position and export the manufactured articles? It has been said that our market is limited, but it is not. We can not only supply our own requirements, but we can also have the markets of the world to supply. I welcome the announcement that Senator Lynch intends to move a request for an increase in the duty, because, if adopted, it will put the. industry on a sound basis.
.- In the first place, I want to make a personal explanation. I regret that I missed the opportunity of moving for a rate of duty equal to that which obtained in the old Tariff. I also regret that after I had given a pair to ah honorable senator last night, at his request, and on the understanding that he would pair with me on this item, and after I had reminded him at two minutes to 1 o’clock that I expected him to pair with me up to 3 o’clock, and he agreed to do so, he voted and I did not.
– I refer to Senator Lynch. I regret that my name does not appear in the last division, the reason being that I relied upon that honorable senator to keep his promise to me, and to pair. However, pairing is not recognised by the Chair, and I have to put up with that sort of thing. Of course, if I had been present I would have voted for a duty of 20 per cent.
– May I, sir, be permitted to make a personal explanation ?
– A personal explanation can be made in the course of a speech only by the consent of the honorable senator in possession of the Chair.
– I shall be only too glad to give way if Senator Lynch wishes to make a personal explanation.
– The only explanation I have to give is that Senator Clemons was perfectly right in all that he stated. This afternoon he reminded me about the arrangement which was entered into early last night at my own suggestion. I entirely forgot about the pair, and if I have done Senator Clemons a wrong I can only express to him my regret. I assure him that I acted without any thought of doing him an injury ; “in fact, sir, if there is a way of removing my name from the division list I would wish that to be done, in order to make reparation to the honorable senator for what may appear to be a wrongful act on my part.
– It is not possible to have that done.
– I do not want that to be done.
– The honorable senator seems to be smarting under the unintentional mistake I made, but I can only assure him that there was no intent on my part to do him an injury.
– Of course, I accept the apology of Senator Lynch absolutely.
– Why did not the honorable senator do so when the apology was made privately?
– Because he wanted the world to know of it.
– That is an unfair statement for the honorable senator to make. I came here this afternoon sorry to find that my vote was not recorded for the imposition of a lower duty. I had not heard from or seen Senator Lynch, but I accept his explanation unreservedly, and I am sure that he is just as sorry as I am for what has occurred. I want to condense my remarks in regard to this item, . because we have had an indication that a request for an increase of the duty is to be moved, and also because we have had some criticismwith regard to the desirability of promoting a sound and proper industry in the Commonwealth - an industry which, by reason of the purity of its goods, will compete on terms that we must all desire with the imported article. I wish to offer some remarks with regard to the purity of our Austral ian made flannel and blankets. But let me preface them by saying that, so far as. the Tariff Commission could learn - and they went into this item most exhaustively - in the whole of the Commonwealth there is only one factory from which the purchaser has any guarantee that when he is buying, for instance, blankets, which ought to bo all wool, he gets what he wants. I am glad to say that that factory happens to be located in Tasmania. I should welcome the existence of such a factory in any State. We have not many factories in Tasmania, but it does happen - by a coincidence, if you like - to include the one and only factory owner in the Commonwealth who brands, or has woven in every item he supplies from his mill, a guarantee to the public that it is all wool, and has no cotton mixed with it.
– The honorable senator is not implying that the other factories in Tasmania are not also making all wool blankets?
– No. We had no evidence on that point. I am only dealing with the direct evidence . I know that in regard to the Victorian industry there is no guarantee that a buyer is getting what he ought to receive-an all-wool article. The adulteration of local goods was a very interesting phase of our inquiry. It ought to be interesting to honorable senators who want to offer additional protection to this industry. I ask them to pardon me while I quote from the report of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission -
An incident in the examination of this witness (Mr. Williams), brought about a searching investigation as to the Mature and extent of the adulteration of flannels. As already indicated, the witness contended strongly that the adulteration of Australian flannels was brought about by their being exposed to the competition of such goods from abroad. In this connexion a Commissioner read a letter in which a member of the Victorian Parliament in the year 1895, challenged the witness - who was also a member - to deny that the mill of which he was director was responsible for placing flannel on the Victorian market (then protected by a 40 per cent. duty), adulterated with 40 per cent. of cotton. The reply, in which the challenge was declined; was also read to the witness, who then proceeded to give a detailed explanation of the episode to your Commission, the purport of which was that his challenger had been the subject of a joke by certain gentlemen who had misled him. Subsequently a Melbourne journalist, who said he had experience in the woollen trade, appeared before the Commission with evidence regarding the adulteration of Victorian flannels.
– Ah !
– The very reference to this gentleman is enough to produce an exclamation from the other side. However, this gentleman, whose name was Max Hirsch, proved up to the hilt every statement which he made before the Commission. Of course, it! is an unpleasant thing to honorable senators on the other side that the adulteration of wool in a Victorian industry should be proved, and I have no doubt that it is made far more bitter to them by the fact that Mr. Hirsch furnished the proof -
He stated that he had obtained in a Flinderslane warehouse six samples of flannel which had been manufactured in certain Victorian woollen mills. He had taken the samples to a firm of public analysts in Melbourne, whose tests showed all of them to contain cotton in quantities varying from 28.6 per cent. to 70.9. per cent. Next day a witness, representing one of these mills, appeared before the Commission, and denied that the samples the previous witness had alleged to come from his factory had been made there. The witness whose statement was thus challenged came forward a second time, with two new samples of flannel, and with documentary evidence to prove that they came from the mill in question. The analysis showed that one contained 24.2 per cent. and the other 54.8 per cent.of cotton.
I pause here to tell the Committee what the position was at that stage. Mir. Max Hirsch brought special samples from Victorian mills, which were analyzed, and proved to contain cotton. Subsequently a Victorian mill-owner called Laycock said it had been alleged that samples had been taken from his factory, but that they were not so taken. To that statement a reply was given by Mr. Hirsch who, by documentary evidence, and on oath, proved conclusively that there was no doubt that the two fresh samples which he produced were not merely Victorian samples, but were taken from Laycock’s mill. They were submitted with every possible precaution to a proper analysis. The Commission included protectionist members, and so every care was taken to see that there could be no slip or possibility of a wrong deduction being submitted to them. The analysis showed that of those two samples taken from Laycock’s mill one contained 24.2 per cent. of cotton and the other 54.8 per cent. The report continues -
The mill-owner appeared before the Commission again and admitted that these samples were his company’s make.
That is the evidence, not of Mr. Hirsch, but of a Victorian manufacturer who previously had said that the samples were wrongly taken.
– The other samples.
– I pass by the garrulous interruption. Laycock was then compelled to come before the Commission, and admit that the two samples alleged to have been taken from his factory were so taken, ‘ and contained those percentages of cotton.
– Instead of being 70 it was only 54 per cent.
– What sort of an interjection is that? I am giving the facts.
– Fifty per cent. is nothing to Senator Trenwith, in the matter of a duty or of an adulteration.
– No. The report continues -
Lastly, the gentleman who was alleged to have been the subject of a joke when in the Victorian Parliament in 1S95 he had produced a Victorian-made flannel adulterated with 40 per cent, cotton, came before the Commission and declared that this explanation of his action was “ absolutely false, untrue, and misleading.”
They tried to pass these matters off as a joke, just as Senator Trenwith is trying to do when he interject?- that the adulteration is only 54 per cent, and not 70 per cent. ‘When a Victorian stated on the floor of the Legislative Assembly that cotton adulteration was rife in Victorian mills, the answer was that the whole thing was a joke -
There could be no doubt as to the identity of the flannels he had produced in the Victorian Parliament. While the evidence on this subject was proceeding, the Customs authorities, at the instance of the Commission -
I pause again to make an explanation. It was alleged that the samples had not been properly taken, and so, in order to prevent the possibility of any one interested on either side taking samples, the Customs authorities, who, I suppose, are expected to be impartial, were authorized by the Commission to get samples - the Customs authorities, at the instance of the Commission, obtained samples of Victorian and of imported flannels in order to institute a comparison between, them in the matter of adulteration. The analyses showed that out of thirty-six samples of imported flannel, five contained cotton in proportions varying from 28 to 40.4 per cent., while in the case- of twenty Victorian samples fifteen contained from 26 to 58 per cent, of cotton.
I analyze these figures in this way : They show that of the importers’ samples only five contained cotton, whilst of the Victorian samples there were only five that did not contain cotton, and that the percentage of cotton in the Victorian samples was practically higher than that in the imported samples containing cotton. The report goes on to say -
The Commission, on the casting vote of the chairman- and there is much meaning in that - decided that the method of obtaining these samples “had failed,” and the Customs Department was requested to procure a second set.
I invite consideration of that statement. This was the position : First of all, we had perfectly bond fide samples produced in Victorian mills. They were shown conclusively to contain a large percentage of cotton. Stage No. 2 - One manufacturer came along and said, “I am a Vic torian manufacturer ; none of these samples that contain cotton came from my mills.” Stage No. 3 - Two samples were produced which on sworn evidence were stated tqhave come from this manufacturer’s mills, and he subsequently had to admit that the two samples in question did really come from his mills, and from no other mills in Victoria. At this stage, the protectionist members of the Commission did not like the appearance of things, and said, “ We do not care about samples obtained in this way.”
– It was a case of win, tie, or wrangle with them-.
– The members of the free-trade section of the Commission then said, “We ought to have an official inquiry, and the sampling as well as .the testing” should be done by officials. We should apply to the Comptroller-General of Customs, and ask the Customs authorities themselves to select samples not merely of Colonial, but also of imported flannel, and let iis know the result of an analysis of them.” That was done, and I have told the Committee what happened after the Customs authorities selected the samples. The tests showed still more conclusively that the samples selected by the Customs authorities supported absolutely the contention that Victorian flannel was largely and frequently adulterated with cotton. What happened then? The members of the protectionist section of the Commission then said, “This does not suit; the sampling is wrong.” The sampling was done by the Customs authorities, but still it di3 not suit them.
– Will the honorable senator tell the Committee why it did not suit the protectionist members of the Commission ?
- Senator McGregor can tell the Committee that.
– I shall do so.
– The honorable senator can tell the -Committee what he pleases. I am saying exactly what happened. Senator Guthrie may attempt to deride that statement, but he will not be able to controvert it.
– The honorable senator has said that Senator McGregor can tell the Committee what he pleases, and that . he tells them facts, the inference being that Senator McGregor would not do so.
- Senator McGregor may explain why the sampling done by the Customs authorities did not suit the protectionist members of the Commission, but he will not be able to explain away one of the facts I have related. The report continues -
Accordingly, the Comptroller-General instructed Detective-Inspector Christie, of the Customs Department, to take steps to obtain these. In his report, this officer explained that the mills and others were “ on the qui vive re samples required.”
This is from a report by an independent detective employed by the Customs Department, who was requested by the ComptrollerGeneral to make a second selection of samples. The first thing he reported was that sampling was not very easy, because the mills were all on the lookout. He explained some of the difficulties he had to confront, and he wrote - “A retail firm doing an extensive business in the city, endeavoured, at my request, to get samples of the goods required from each of the mills, but the latter, being aware that the firm only dealt in imported woollens, informed them that it would be of no use sending samples, as they were so full up of orders-
That is interesting in view of the demand by these .manufacturers for a higher duty. “ that they could not supply any fresh orders for some considerable time to come.” However, with the assistance of a lady expert, the samples were eventually obtained by the detective inspector employed by the Customs Department.
The only difficulty about procuring the samples of imported flannels was that the season for importation was practically over when the order was circulated for the officers to take samples at the various shipping sheds. For over a month the collection went on, and then, when the question of ceasing was dealt with in the Department, the following instruction was issued - “ If the officers notice any importation of very inferior flannel, a sample might be retained, but otherwise no further samples are required.”
Every effort was made to secure samples of every kind of flannel imported into the Commonwealth, and 136 samples were obtained.
The analysis of the second series shows that out of 136 samples of imported flannels, fifteen, or 11 per cent., contained cotton in proportions varying from o.S to 63.4.
Only forty-nine samples of Australian flannel were obtained with great difficulty, because, as the detective said, the mills were on the qui vive to prevent any samples being obtained. The report continues -
Of the samples of Australian flannel, fortynine in number, forty, or Si per cent., contained cotton, the proportion running from 0.3 o S7.1. The Australian flannels are classified *as obtained (a) in Victoria, and (4) in New
South Wales. Of thirty-nine Victorian flannels (a), two were all wool, and out of ten NewSouth Wales samples (i), four were pure wool.
I am glad to say that for the New South Wales factories.
The report of the inspector who superintended the procuring of the flannels also indicates that several pieces’ which were sold to the Customs expert as pure wool were found to be. heavily adulterated with cotton.
That means that the retailer of these goods would tell his customers, probably in all good faith, that they were all wool, when, as a matter of fact, they contained a large percentage of cotton. These things were proved absolutely up to the hilt, and after all the preliminary evasions,’ after perjury had practically been committed by one witness, who was a Victorian manufacturer, we come to the excuses. This is a sample of them -
It was said by some of the manufacturing witnesses that a proportion of cotton was nu advantage in flannels; it prevented shrinkage.
– An advantage in locally-made flannel, but a disadvantage in imported flannel.
– Of course. Will any man in . Victoria contend that if imported flannel was found to contain 1 per cent, or 10 per cent, of cotton, it would have been argued that it was a good thing that it should contain cotton? That is the argument of a man who had had to admit that two samples from his mills were heavily adulterated with cotton. He made that admission only after he had been forced into a corner, and was utterly unable to escape, and then he came along w th this sort of evasion, and told the Commission that if the Australian people desired that the blankets they purchased should be made entirely of wool, thev were asking for more than it was wise for them to have, because it was desirable that they should contain a percentage of cation. I am not dealing now with piece goods, but with blankets, and especially with flannels. I am “glad to say that there were other manufacturers of flannel in the Commonwealth, and the report goes on to say -
Others denied that it was necessary to use cotton for this purpose. Woollen fabrics could be made, and were made, which, when tested, did not shrink at all.
That was the evidence of Mr. Hogarth, a Tasmanian manufacturer. It is in strong contrast with that given by Victorian manufacturers. As soon as it had been abundantly proved, on their own admissions, and in other ways, that their flannels were largely adulterated with cotton, cornered as they were, they said, “ No flannel is any good unless it contains some cotton.” But, according to the evidence of Hogarth, who has never put i lb. weight of cotton into any woollen piece goods manufactured by him during the last twenty years in Launceston, it is a bad thing to have cotton in flannel. That is just what we all should say. We know that this talk of the advantage of adulterating flannel with cotton is nonsense. Hogarth knew the reason why the adulteration went on, and that it was in order to obtain more profit out of the consumer. Another interesting little sidelight was thrown on this matter. The report continues -
While it was generally declared by the manufacturers that they had been compelled to introduce cotton into their woollen goods in order to compete with similar adulteration of imported fabrics, one New South Wales manufacturer stated that his trade in flannels had been killed, through the introduction into that State of inferior goods from oversea and also from Victoria.
In making our inquiries on the Tariff Commission, we found out repeatedly, not in connexion with this item alone, but in connexion with a dozen other items -also, that if some witness, carrying on an industry in any part of the Commonwealth was not doing as well as he expected to do, he put it down to the competition of adulterated imported goods. But a few manufacturers had a sufficient knowledge of the way in which industries were conducted in the Commonwealth, and they recognised that it was not an imported adulterated article that was injuring their trade, but that nine times out of ten, it was a product of a Victorian factory. I need say no more on this matter. I refer honorable senators to the quotations I have made from the report of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission, at pages 146-7. There is one other aspect of the case to which I should like to refer. I know it is of no avail to do so, but as most persons can remember during the discussion of the principle of protection in Australia, the one basis of demands for increased duties time after time has been a desire to prevent our workmen being subjected to competition from abroad, where labour is paid for at a much lower rate than in Australia.
– At 2d. per day.
– I do not know that any one- in England is paid 2d. per day. Perhaps Senator Russell knows more about the matter than I do, but I think he would have extreme difficulty in substantiating his statement. If the example of England in the matter of factory labour is bad, and in one respect I think it is, we are- following it very closely in Australia in the number of children employed in our factories. It will be found that nearly one-third of the labour employed in this industry is child labour. I have not the figures which might be obtained from reports under the Victorian Factories Act. showing the ages of the .children employed in the factories, but a large proportion of the number are under sixteen years of age. In that respect, at all events, Australia is little in advance of England.
– Can the honorable senator say how many are employed under the age of fourteen years?
– I have already said that I have not the figures before me, but I invite the honorable senator to consult the reports made under the Victorian Factories Act. It is sufficient for me to say that from my point of view the fewer Children employed in factories in Australia the better. I wish to say something with regard to the wages in the industry. Every witness who came before the Tariff Commission was carefully examined as to the extent to which wages in Australia were higher than those paid in England and other competing countries, and not one claimed that wages in Australia were 50 per cent, higher than in other countries. At page 145 of the report of the free-trade section of the Commission, this statement is made - ‘
From the evidence of witnesses representing four different mills, we extract the following statements of the total amounts of wages and! output : -
This gives approximately 30 per cent, as theproportion of labour in a given output.
If this matter is worth discussing at all, honorable senators should be- present to listen to the discussion, even though what is said may be unpalatable to them. I call’ for the attendance of a quorum. [Quorum formed.’] It is admitted, even by interested manufacturers, tha? to produce £100 worth of these goods in Australia costs not more than £30 in wages, while in Great Britain the wages cost would be £20. Thus in the cost of labour our manufacturers are under a disability of 10 per cent., taking no account of the freight and other charges incidental to importation, which alford them a certain amount of protection against competition.. Therefore, if the labour protectionists were tied down to the demand for an equalization of labour conditions, they would be forced to accept a duty of 10 per cent.- as sufficient, lt is proposed, however, to make the duty 25 arid ‘ 20 per cent. At the time of the elections these lofty patriots declared that their aim was to protect Australian manufacturers, so that they would not be forced by the competition of manufacturers abroad to reduce the rates of wages here to the level of those prevailing in other countries where labour is cheaper. But now. we hear very little about this need for the equalization of competition in respect to wages. Nor do we hear it stated, as we did at one time, that high duties will not increase prices. No matter how clearly it may be proved that much lower rates would adequately compensate our manufacturers for the higher wages which they must pay, the demand is always for increased duties, with the inevitable result that consumers must pay more for everything they buy. No doubt we shall be told that the new protection will apply to this item, and that that is a reason for increasing the duty. But, notwithstanding all that is predicted of ‘the marvellous advantages of the new protection,, even if it succeeds in giving to the workmen the wage which, in the opinion of its advocates, he should get, and. to the manufacturer the profit he desires, I doubt whether the consumer will be able to obtain at a fair price the articles which he needs. I shall vote for the lowest duty I can get, and as the lowest yet proposed is per cent. I shall vote for that. As utterly misleading figures have been quoted in regard to the state of the industry here, I wish to point out that, whereas in 1899 the importation of blankets into Australia was valued at ^111,000, in 1906 it was valued at only £53,000, while the value of importations of flannels remained practically unchanged.
– - Senator Needham asked why cannot Australia manufacture into cloth the wool which is shorn from her sheep, and he quotes figures to show the immensity, of our wool export. His desire is that we shall manufacture at least all our own clothing requirements, and thus find additional labour for our people. No doubt his arguments express the views which strongly influence every protectionist in this connexion, and induce h’m to support duties even higher than were recommended by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission. By way’ of analogy, let me point out that, although in America they grow cotton in large quantities, and are able to employ cheap nigger labour in its cultivation and preparation.- for market, they aire forced, notwithstanding the m± position of remarkably .high duties on cotton goods, to import largely from Manchester. If the United States of America, with a population of 80,000,000 to make a home market, with suitable soil . and cheap labour for the production of cotton, and heavy duties for the protection of its manufacture, have not succeeded in meeting their own requirements in the way of cotton material, and have to import largely from England, what hope has Australia, with a population of only 4,000,000 people, of supplying wholly her woollen ‘ requirements, dispensing with the manufactures of Bradford and Huddersfield ? According to the Shipping World Year-Book for 1907, the American duties on cotton cloth vary from” 25 to 45 and 50 per cent., and have ‘been in force tor a considerable number of years. The same authority shows that the manufacturers of that country are’ protected by similarly heavy duties on woollens - duties probably heavier than the protectionists of this country would dare to advocate ; but notwithstanding that fact, and the existence of a home market of 80,000,000 people, she cannot supply herself with woollens.
– Perhaps because she has done so well with her iron and steel and other manufactures.
– We. are doing marvellously well with our natural primary industries, and with some of our manufactures, and therefore we should not unduly tax our people by placing heavy duties on necessaries such as blankets and flannels, to exclude foreign manufactures wholly from this market. If America has not succeeded in dispensing with English manufactures, what hope have we of doing so? Last night the Vice-President of the Executive Council argued that what he desires are protective, not revenue, duties ; but it seems to me that these are revenue, not protective, duties. The Treasurer appears to have thought, in preparing the
Tariff, more of his revenue than of the requirements of the various manufacturing industries. As it is clear that we cannot dispense with the manufactures of Great Britain and the Continent, the Government must abandon the pretence that these are protective duties, and must admit that they are revenue duties, imposed to squeeze the last £ out of the masses. I shall vote for the lowest duty possible.
– I shall support a high duty, but not because I think that to increase the rate by 5 per cent, will increase, to any great extent, the production of blankets and flannels in Australia. I am not doing it with that ‘object. It has been clearly evident for some time that Australia is capturing the market for these particular commodities. There is no fear on that score. But, in travelling round with, the Tariff Commission, I found that it was a continual source of complaint that there was a great variety of duties on similar articles. It is to bring flannels, and blankets as woollen goods into line with woollen piece goods that I am .going to vote for the increased duty. I hope that Senator St. Ledger will understand that I am not yoting for the increase for revenue purposes. I believe that the revenue from flannels and blankets is a diminishing quantity in Australia, because very excellent articles of that description are being produced in sufficient quantities to meet the demands of the Commonwealth. In the near future I hope we shall become exporters. When Senator Clemons was speaking, I made an interjection in connexion with the obtaining of samples for analysis. It was by the casting vote of the Chairman of the Commission that a new set of samples was obtained. I am not so well acquainted with the circumstances to which the first portion of Senator Clemons’ statement related as I am with the. second set of samples, because I was not on the Commission at the time. But when the samples were obtained it was made very clear to the Commission that the manner in which they were procured was not conducive to finding outthe real facts of the case. It was clearly shown that .when the order was given to the Customs Department to obtain the samples, the Department went about it in the usual official way. Like the officers of the Military Department, they buckled on nil their armour and equipage. When asking for samples, they told the people from whom they were obtained what they were wanted for. The warehouse people, as a general nile, are less favorable to local production than to the importers. Knowing this, we did not think that it was a fair thing that the purposes for which the samples were required should be known. Consequently, we called for a fresh set. But Senator Clemons has proved by the statement of Detective Christie that, even with all the precautions taken, it was impossible to get fair samples. No one has ever made the statement that there was no cotton in Australian flannels. There is pure Australian wool flannel, and also what is called “ union “ - that is, a mixture of cotton and wool. The manufacture of “ union “ was shown to be necessary through’ foreign competition, and also to suit the .convenience of the poorer classes of Australians, who want a cheaper article. Taking all the facts into consideration, it appears to me that an additional 5 per cent, on the duty is justifiable to bring the item into line with item 123A. The increase will meet the complaints which have been made by the importers that they would rather pay a higher dutv than have confusion. They have said that it does not matter what the duty is as long” as the rates are uniform, so that no confusion may arise between them and the Customs.
– - I may perhaps be accused of giving a somewhat contradictory vote on this question, because I voted for a higher duty on woollen goods and against any reduction of the duty on woollen piece goods. But I shall vote for a reduction on this item on a ground that is not entirely fiscal, but is largely due to evidence given before the Tariff Commission. I recognise that competition can be of two kinds. It may be helpful, or it may be of a dangerous character. The competition in the woollen trade, so far as I know,- has been very keen, and that competition in a sense has been helpful. It has helped the Australian manufacturer to keep up the supply of a pretty good article, and indeed to try to improve the commodity that he puts upon the market. In the flannel industry, the competition has not been so keen. The percentage of duty represents a high protection as regards the value of the goods, with the consequence that the Australian manufacturer of flannels has not been so solicitous about the quality of his material. I shall vote against any increase in this duty, because I believe that in the interests of the manufacture of good flannel it is desirable that the Australian manufacturer should have some competition. I am certain that the competition under the old Tariff was not in any way dangerous to him. The figures show that he was not only able to stand’ up against it, but to increase his output. I want to give the ‘ Committee some even more startling figures than those given by Senator Clemons. I am going to take the output of the factories themselves. In Victoria in the year 1900 there was used in the woollen mills 6 per cent, of cotton. The figures show that the Victorian mills used 3,045,000 lbs. of greasy wool and 178,000 lbs. of cotton. . In the year 1906 the Victorian woollen factories used 4,745,000 lbs. of greasy wool, and 658,000 lbs. of cotton. Those figures are taken from the return to the Victorian Inspector of Factories. In other, words, in 1906 the Victorian woollen mills used 14 per cent, of cotton as against 6 per cent, in 1900, or more than double the. proportion.
– Do the figures show the amount of cotton wadding manufactured ?
– They do not show that there was any manufacture of cotton wadding.
– But there was.
– The honorable senator may quarrel with the Victorian Inspector of Factories. I am. dealing solely with the use of cotton by’ the woollen mills. The figures which I have quoted show that with increased protection there was a decrease in the quality of the article manufactured ; for I contend that the Federal Tariff did give increased protection, because it gave a greater area of market. I venture to say that had the Victorian manufacturer been subject to competition - and the evidence given before the Tariff Commission shows that the imported woollen goods were superior in quality and contained less cotton - it would not have been safe for him to put double as much cotton into his product in 1906 as he did in 1900.
– Has an analysis been made of. the materials manufactured ?
– I have quoted the actual figures from the official report. When honorable senators come to consider that whereas in the year 1900 Victoria manufactured 1,500,000 yards of flannel, whilst in the year 1906 she made 3,600,000 yards, and take that fact in conjunction with the fact that more than twice as large a percentage of cotton was used in the latter year, they will, I think, be convinced, as I am, that when the competition was lessened the manufacturers decreased the quality of their flannel. That is not a desirable state of affairs. It is not desirable that our manufacturers should be so sheltered from competition as to be able to give the consumers a poorer quality of article: I have never heard any protectionist advocate .protection to such an extent as to allow a manufacturer to give the consumer cotton instead of wool in what is supposed to be a woollen garment.
– The mixture of cotton with the wool might be a reason for a higher duty.
– But the facts show that as the Victorian manufacturer became more prosperous he gave a poorer article. If the output of his factory had been dwindling as the result of foreign competition - if he had been “strangled,” to use a well-known ^^-manufactured term - under the Federal Tariff, one could understand his resorting to the use of cotton to save himself. But the facts are quite in the other direction. His output was three times larger in 1906 than in 1900, but whilst increasing his output hemanufactured an inferior quality of malerial. These facts convince me that no case can be made out for increased .protection. They certainly indicate that it might be advisable to give the manufacturer such protection as will bring him more into competition with superior woollen articles. Because the incontrovertible facts show that a greater percentage of the imported article than of the local article is pure wool. I am sorry to have to admit that. The analysis made by the Customs officers - I am not taking the analysis of Mr. Max Hirsch - shows a greater percentage of cotton in the local article. If we are going to shut out the competition of the purer material to a “greater extent, we shall be giving a premium - a direct encouragement - to the putting of more cotton into these goods. I am not going to vote for pro lection of that character. . I make that explanation so that the Committee may understand the motives which, while permitting me to vote for’ the highest protection in the Tariff on woollen tweed goods - because I recognise that the manufacturers of tweeds are turning put a good article - will rot permit me to vote for an increase on an article that, a.s the figures show, is less pure than it was six years ago.
– The startling figures quoted by Senator Pearce have been produced before and quoted with the object of creating several different impressions. It. is a fact which can be easily verified that a large quantity of cotton wadding was manufactured at Messrs. Laycock, Son and Nettleton’s woollen mills. I have ascertained that in the year referred to by Senator Pearce no less than £3,480 worth of cotton wadding was manufactured by the firm, and it was returned to the Inspector of Factories as being of the value of 4d. per lb.
– Why does the report of the Chief Inspector contain no reference to it?
– Reference is made only to the wool and raw cotton that went into the manufacture. I cannot say why the report does not refer to the output of cotton wadding, the manufactured article. A little multiplication sum should enable the honorable senator to get at the true position. If we multiply twenty by three we have sixty, and if we multiply £3,480 - the value of cotton wadding produced in the year referred to - we get a total of considerably over 200,000 lbs. pf cotton used in the manufacture of this wadding. I rose only to clear away the misapprehension that might have been created by Senator Pearce’s observation.
– If I had to choose between the official returns of the Chief Inspector of Factories and a casual statement made to Senator McGregor by some mysterious individual in the lobbies as to the output of these mills and the materials used by them, I should certainly prefer to accept the official report.
– Senator McGregor takes upon himself the responsibility for the statement made to him.
– The honorable senator has apparently taken the statement for granted. The figures he has given, however, are valueless for. the purpose of comparison since they relate to only one year. He has not told us what proportion of the 178,000 lbs. of raw cotton used in Victoria in 1900 was employed in the manufacture of woollens?
– It could not have been very much.
– There is absolutely no evidence as to what proportion of that importation of raw cotton was employed in the manufacture of wadding. ‘ The proportion used in that way in 1900 might have been the same as that used in 1906. .
– There is evidence that 200,000 lbs. of cotton was not employed in the manufacture of adulterated goods.
– In order that we may make a proper comparison .we need to learn what quantity of cotton was used in this way in 1900.
– The whole lot was infinitesimal.
– In the one year the quantity used was infinitesimal, while in the other it was very considerable ! Such an assertion is too thin, and I cannot accept it. I prefer a sworn return supplied by the manufacturer to the Chief Inspector of Factories to a statement made by some casual visitor to the lobby, and accepted in good faith by Senator McGregor. I have here an extract from the reports of the Chief Inspector of Factories for the years 1900-6, which appeared in the Journal of Commerce of 10th September, 1907.
– We know now as a fact that the firm mentioned by Senator McGregor produced cotton goods as well as woollens.
– The official return shows what quantity of material went into the mills and what came out of them.
– The honorable senator is quoting merely a newspaper extract from the Chief Inspector of Factories’ report.
– The report of the Chief Inspector of Factories is obtainable in the Library, and it is open to the honorable senator to produce it if he doubts the accuracy of this quotation.
– There is no time to do that.
– The particulars for the vear 1900 are as follow : - Number of woollen mills, 9 ; hands employed, 1,013 > wool. used (greasy), 3.045,292 lbs.; cotton used, 178,332 lbs. ; pairs of blankets made, 56,340 ; shawls made, 3,500 ; tweed, cloth, &c, made, 97,126 yards; flannels, &c, made, 1,596,120 yards. No reference is made to cotton wadding. Either the output of cotton wadding was too in- significant to mention, or it appears under another heading. The same details are given in respect of 1906.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 114, “ Blankets, Blanketing, &c,” (imports under General Tariff) ad val., 221/2 per cent. (Senator Gray’s request) - put.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 114 (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 30 per cent.
I submit this request so that if it be agreed to I may move, later on, a further request that the Tariff On goods from the United Kingdom be increased from 20 per cent. to 25 percent. I would direct the attention of honorable senators to the necessity for preserving something like order and simplicity in the arrangement of these items. To secure uniformity in respect of some of the earlier items in the schedule, we have agreed to a sacrifice of a certain amount of revenue, and I do not think that it can be claimed that a duty of 25 per cent. on imports of this kind from the United Kingdom is too high. It is not more than is necessary to foster and encourage the production of blankets, blanketing, and flannels in Australia. Last year, under the old duty of 15 per cent., £53,000 worth of these materials were in troduced. I propose that that duty shall be increased by 10 per cent. in respect of imports from the United Kingdom, so that the difference between the duty under the general Tariff and that in respect of imports from the United Kingdom under this item will be the same as we have requested in regard to items 106 and 107. My desire is that the woollen industry of Australia’ shall be established once and for all upon a permanent basis. We are engaged in framing a Tariff which we hope will last for some years, and will enable the people of Australia to judge of the results of an effective system of protection as against the luke-warm indifferent kind of protection extended under the old Tariff to the woollen industry of Australia. I should like to know why some honorable senators who voted for a difference of 10 per cent. between the duties under the general Tariff and those in respect of the United Kingdom under items 106 and 107 are not prepared to support this proposal.
– I shall tell the honorable senator..
– I wish to set Senator Dobson right in regard to the position of the woollen industry, which he declares has been progressing under the old Tariff. One very important manufactory in Tasmania has lately turned from the manufacture of tweeds to the making of woollens and blankets. It is making a special feature of the manufacture of woollens, blankets, and blanketing. I wish to direct special attention to the evidence given by Mr. Hogarth before the Tariff Commission. He stated -
The Commonwealth Tariff had changed the nature of the Tasmanian manufacturer’s trade. Before Federation tweed and cloths formed his chief production, now his leading lines were flannels and blankets.
– He is the only man inAustralia who turns out a pure article.
-I am very glad to hear that.
– I am very sorry to hear it.
– It is not correct.
– I should have said that he is the only man who guarantees the purity of his goods.
– Senator Dobson affirmed that the Tasmanian manufacturers were perfectly satisfied with the existing duty.
– One large mill-owner there told me that he was satisfied.
– The extension of a higher measure of protection to Tasmanian manufacturers will enable them to pay their operatives better wages, and upon that ground I ask Senator Dobson to support my proposal. According to the report of a Royal Commission which was appointed in 1907 to inquire into the rates of wages paid to, and the industrial conditions of, certain classes of wage-earners in Tasmania, the woollen industry there, from the stand-point of the operatives engaged in it, is in a deplorable condition. I do not say that similar conditions do not obtain in the other States. If an investigation were made, probably it would be found that they do.
– The honorable senator is content to select individual cases, but I know that, generally speaking, the girls employed in the woollen industry there are paid very well.
– Since Senator Mulcahy disputes my statement, I have no al,ternative but to quote from trie report to which I have referred, and which shows that the operatives in the Tasmanian woollen industry are paid almost slavery wages. The report states -
The two establishments engaged in the woollen industry at Hobart were investigated, and it was there ascertained that the female pieceworkers at one factory earned from 14s. to 30s. per week, whilst .girls on day work are paid from 7s. to 15s. weekly : male workers receive from 15s. od-. to £2 10s. per week. At this factory the usual number of hours worked is fifty-two per week, but as part of the mill is worked with two shifts it necessitates some hands being employed six nights a week, a total of sixty-five hours. At the other establishments the weavers, who are all females, earn from Ss. to 22s. 6d. per week.
I want honorable senators to bear that fact in mind.
– The same thing occurs in Victoria under the determination of a Wages Board.
– Even if it did, that fact would not affect my argument. The report continues -
Wool workers (male and female), earn from Ss. to 30s. per week. Overtime is necessary al times, and is paid’ for.
I should think that it was, at such rates of wages. The report proceeds -
The weavers work fifty-three hours, and the wool workers fifty-six hours, per week. At the Launceston woollen mill .visited, it was found that the weekly wages paid to the male hands ranged from 30s. to sps. ; girls, 7s. to 14s. ; weavers, who are on piece-work, from 12s. to 203. 6d.; and boys 10s. per week.
I .wish to direct special attention to the wages paid to weavers, namely, from 12s. to 20s.. 6d. per week, because I propose to compare it with the wages earned by these operatives in the Old Country. The report adds -
The hours per week range- from fifty-four to fifty-six. Day workers receive eight public holidays through the year without having their pay slopped. In a number of instances in Hobart we found employes in receipt of very low wages, girls with four years’, and two years and eight months’ service being paid 8s. and 7s. respectively per week; male adult with eight years’ service, engaged principally on night work, receives 24s. od. per week of sixtyfive hours; a youth nineteen years of age, wilh two years’ service as a general hand, 12s. per week. The hours generally in both cities are too. long, more especially when the female workers, by reason of their occupation, are compelled to be standing throughout the day.
That is the state of affairs existing in Tasmania as disclosed by the report of the Royal Commission to which I have referred.
– And Senator Mulcahy says that the conditions in Victoria are just as bad. If that be so, surely it is an argument in favour of increasing the duty.
– Senator Lynch is. contrasting the position in Tasmania with that in Victoria.
– I am merely dealing with Senator Dobson’s statement that a Tasmanian manufacturer is perfectly satisfied with a duty of 15 per cent. If such a duty enables him to pay only the wages I have mentioned, surely we ought to grant him an increased measure of protection, so as to permit him to pay a more decent wage in the future.
– Oh !
– The honorable senator may say “ Oh,” but I am rigidly following the rule which he himself has adopted by- quoting official papers in support of the statements I hive made.
– I shall read some more figures presently.
– I propose now to tell the Committee, upon the sworn evidence of a witness who appeared before the Tariff Commission which was appointed by the Imperial .Government, the wages paid in the same industry in Great Britain. The witness in question was a manufacturer
– Does the report disclose his name?
– The Tasmanian report did not disclose the names of the manufacturers concerned.
– No. They had the grace to be ashamed of themselves.
– Mr. H. Ives, owner of the Leafield Mills, in Yorkshire, in giving evidence before the Commission, said -
We have not had any alteration during the last len years- in wages. About half our employes are women and half men. If you take the women weavers fully employed, not reckoning the short time, thev average 14s. 6d., our own ranging from about about 10s. gd. up to about 21s. The minders’ wages are 13s., the warpers 14s. 6d., and the burlers ns., they are the worst paid of any. Then the men weavers -average 32s. The men have two looms, while the women have only one, and the former work till six o’clock and the latter till 5.30. The fettlers’ wages are 23s. 4d., the williers about 21s. to 22s., and cloth millers about 21s. to 24s.
It will thus be seen that in England the female weavers average 14s. 6d. per week, whilst in Tasmania they earn from 8s. to i’2s. 6d.
– The honorable senator has no average for Tasmania. He has merely picked out a few individual cases.
– I have quoted the entire paragraphs from the reports of both Commissions, and the -honorable senator can strike the average for himself. My point is that the wages paid in Tasmania are about the same as those paid in England - if anything, they are a shade less. The average wage paid to male weavers in England is 32s. ; in Tasmania, it ranges from 40s. to 15s. 3d. The quotations which I have made must convince honorable senators that the condition of the operatives in the Tasmanian woollen industry are not such as we ought to encourage. Notwithstanding the statement of a Tasmanian manufacturer who professes himself satisfied with a duty of 15 per cent., we ought to extend to him a sufficient measure of protection to enable him to pay his operatives higher wages.
– How are we to do that ?
– The new protection will, I hope, assist .us to do so. In conclusion, I should like to point to what is happening in this industry in other countries. From the report of the Tariff Commission appointed in the Old Country, I quote the following, which appears under the heading of “ Erection of Mills Abroad “-
Many instances are riven by witnesses and firms of the transference of mills from Great Britain to foreign countries. This began on an important scale, after the raising of the French and German Tariffs, 1879-1882, and was gradually accentuated by the successive changes in the United States Tariffs. Amongst those who have set up mills in foreign countries can be mentioned : Messrs. Isaac Holden to France ; Mundella to Chemnitz; Brigg (Bradford) to Russia ; Priestley, of Bradford, to the United States ; Marshalls, of Leeds, to the United States - this film is reported’ to have at onetime employed 4,000 hands in Leeds; Wilford, North Riding of Yorkshire, to Belgium ; Holroyd, to Germany ; Lister, of Huddersfield, their seal skin (imitation) cloth trade to the United States.
That simple paragraph conveys an eloquent lesson of what is happening iri the Old Country. It shows that its best manufacturers are leaving for other lands, where there is decent shelter alike for manufacturers and employes. My object in moving this, request for an increased duty is to bring the item into consonance with items 106 and 107, in order to secure the necessary simplification of the Tariff and at the same time give the manufacturers of blankets, woollens and flannels the same measure of protection as is afforded to the manufacturers of apparel.
– - I think we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed-] Senator Lynch began by asking a very pertinent question which I told him I would answer. He said that the duty on item 123 a, woollen piece goods, had been increased from 15 per cent, to 25 per cent., whereas the duty upon other woollen materials, such as flannels and blankets, had been increased by only 5 per cent.,- and he wanted to know why. The very evident reason is to be found in the. following figures.: - The production of cloth and tweed goods in Victoria - a State which is a very good criterion by which to judge these matters - showed a substantial decline from 1,051,006 yards in 1899 to 971,000 yards in 1900, and to 662,000 yards in 1903 - a decrease of about 45 per cent, in five years. On the other hand, under similar circumstances, according to the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission there was an increased output in Victoria in the same years of flannels from 1,108,000 yards in 1899 to 3,201,000 yards in 1903. The production of flannels in those five years had been multiplied by three under a 15 per cent. Tariff, while in the case of the blankets there was an extraordinary increase in the output from 226,000 lbs. weight in 1899 to 557,000 lbs. weight in 1903 - or more than double. Would any fair-minded protectionist, or even an extreme and bigoted one say that those different branches, of the industry ought to be put on the same level? The protectionist section of the Commission, consisting of four bigoted protectionists, recommended a. distinction which has been followed, although their rates were altered by another place. Certain reasons have been, given why the Committee should increase this duty. One - a very proper one - is that we should enable the woollen manufacturers to pay higher wages.
– In Tasmania in particular.
– Wages in - the woollen industry in Victoria are determined upon the fairest possible basis by employers and employed meeting together, and knowing the conditions and circumstances of the work better than any one outside can.
– That is hardly correct. Be fair and tell us the limitations of the Wages Board.
– The Board is governed by the reputable employers section, which is a very fair one. The wages are fixed in Victoria” by a body representing employers and employes alike, and endowed practically -with statutory powers. Senator Lynch has given us what he says are the wages paid in Tasmania, not determined in the same way as in Victoria and shown m a proper schedule, giving the number of individuals employed at each particular rate of wages and each particular age, but simply as given in the report of a Royal Commission which was appointed to make inquiry into one special phase of Mie industrial question.
– Does the honorable senator insinuate that that report is not fair?
– I say nothing of the kind. That Royal Commission did not have the data furnished . under the Victorian Factories Act. I speak as one strongly in favour of the settlement of wages disputes by such fair tribunals as the Wages Boards of Victoria. I undertake to say that the rates of wages paid in. Tasmania are quite as good,, if they are treated fairly, as those quoted by .Senator Lynch regarding Victoria. The Royal Commission spent a few weeks in making sundry inquiries into a given phase of .the labour question. It reported in all good faith.
One of its members is a particular friend of my’ own, who is on the Labour side - if there is a Labour side to that question-, and whose opinion I respect very much. We are apt in these cases to take certain ex treme cases and make averages from them. That is not a fair thing to do. . Mr. Harrison Ord does nothing of that sort. . He takes the whole number and gives the average properly and fairly. Dealing with the woollen trade of Victoria, he states that at thirteen years of age there was one child employed’ at 8s. a week, and twelve children of fourteen years of ‘ age at 5s. od. a week. I defy the honorable senator to produce anything worse than that in Tasmania.
– I ‘ am not defending Victoria.
– The honorable senator and others of the Labour Party are continually dragging out Tasmania as if it were a monument of slavery and sweating. I happen to know something . about -the Tasmanian mills ; I have been through most of them. The Tasmanian mill-owners are acting more fairly by their employes, considering their circumstances, than are the Victorian mill-owners.
– We want to give them better circumstances.
– I favour giving them better circumstances by increasing the duty from 15 to 20 per cent, in the case of an industry which is crammed up to the eyes now with orders. The average rate of wage in the Victorian woollen mills, according to Mr. Ord, for all males is 23s. od. The average for all females is 16s. 7d. The average for males employed at the minimum wage and over - journeyman males - is 39s. 8d., which may be fair, but is not very high. The average wage for females over twenty-one years of age is 20s. 1 id. I will put the Tasmanian wages in any mill against those figures, and guarantee that they are as good..
– One would not think so from reading the report of the Tasmanian Royal Commission.
– That report” does not deal with the matter so’ fully or comprehensively as does a Department which carries on this work year after year. ‘ The Tasmanian Royal Commission did not have time to go into all the details and weigh the whole of the circumstances. In one case the Commission stated that men were employed at 13s. a week. That was accurate to this extent, that there was an adult male employed at that wage. But he was employed, not for his work, but for charity, to keep him out of the invalid depot - a poor half-demented fellow who was really not fit to earn a wage anywhere.
That fact, which was quite true, but was capable of being perverted and conveying an absolutely wrong impression, was published, and the person attacked’ was awarded £300 damages against the socalled Labour paper in Tasmania - one of the biggest sweating dens in the State. I should not have dealt with this matter so fully had not Senator Lynch and others constantly trotted out Tasmania as an awful example of sweating. Next time he uses that argument let him remember that the greatest sweating in the printing trade in Tasmania goes on at the office of the HobartClipper, which is a Labour paper.
– What proof has the honorable senator of that statement?
– I have the published statement of the typographical trade union.
– Inspector Ord, on page 44 of his report for 1906, gives the average wage as 19s.10d.
– I am quoting from page 59, where the average wage of the total females employed is given at 16s. 7d.
– I am speaking of the average wage in the woollen industry.
– I quoted 16s. 7d. as the average wage paid to females. The average wageof 19s.10d. is paid to females employed as journeywomen.
– Does the honorable senator not think thattoo low?
– That all depends. As to the other reasons advanced for the increase of the duty, I have shown that this particular branch of the industry is in a flourishing condition.
– We import about £56,000 worth of this class of goods.
– The importation of flannels andblankets would be considerably less if the local mills were able to supply the demand.
– It is impossible to increase the capacity of the mills under the present duty.
– I may inform honorable senators that for years Mr. Hogarth and other mill-owners have been launching out in ordering more plant.
– On the strength of a decent protectionist Tariff, I suppose.
– The mill-owners have been launching out for the past five or six years under a 15 per cent. duty. Another argument in favour of raising the duty is the simplification of the Tariff.
That argument appeals to me very strongly, ‘ but I hold that in the present case it does not apply. All the goods comprised in blankets and flannels are plain goods, easily defined by any Customs officer, and there is no possibility of confusion with any other branch of the trade. . With the extra definition terms added this morning, all the difficulties of interpretation have been practically removed; and I hope that the Government will stand by their proposal, and not be pushed along, as I am sorry to say they very frequently are.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 114, “Blankets, Blanketing, &c.” (imports under General Tariff), ad. val., 30 per cent. (Senator Lynch’ s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Lynch) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 114 (imports from the United Kingdom), ad val., 2; per cent.
Senator. Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [4.55]. - I have taken the trouble to look up the newspaper reports of some speeches made recently in New South Wales, and I find in the Sydney Morning Herald, of 3rd September last, a member of this Chamber thus recorded -
He dealt with the Tariff, guaranteeing that it would be modified before it left the House.
When the last Tariff was before Parliament, the Labour Party took off over a million sterling in taxation, and they would be prepared lo do« so again….. Wait until the Labour Party get the opportunity. The schedule must be placed before the members to be dealt with first; then the Labour Party will modify the Tariff considerably.
The speaker thus reported was Mr. J. C. Watson. I was told last night, when I said that Mr. Watson has used such words, that I ought to apologize and withdraw.
– I think it is impossible for any persons except those who believe in protection at any price to allow the item, to go without entering a protest against the action1 which the Committee has taken.
– And which the Government has taken.
– Yes. The Government bring down a Tariff containing certain duties, and not prepared themselves to make a proposition to increase a duty, they wait until somebody else does so, perhaps after consultation, for that has been the history of all similar movements in this Committee.
– That is not correct.
– Whom did honorable senators on the other side consult before they moved their requests ?
– There is a very great difference between the Minister in charge of a Bill and a private senator.
– We are just as independent as are the members of the Opposition.
– More so, because we do not act after consultation.
– If the honorable senator tells me that there has been no consultation between himself and the Ministry, I will accept his assurance.
– That is so.
– I repeat that every previous effort here to increase duties has indicated that there has been an understanding or arrangement between the Government and the member of the Labour Party who proposed Ihe request. It would have been very much more in accord with my idea of parliamentary procedure, and an evidence of a frankness which is altogether missing in this case, if the Minister, instead of flying kites, had come forward and himself proposed to modify this Tariff. Instead of taking that course, they allow these requests to be put forward.
– They could not prevent us from submitting them.
– Of course the Government could not. But why do they not bring them forward?. They are too adroit, and my honorable friends in the Labour Party do not see it. Senator Neild almost suggested that it is a case of the Labour Party driving the Government.
– Of course it is.
– My honorable friend is utterly wrong. It is the Government who are stringing the Labour Party. Wishing these things to be done the Government take the psychological moment and the psychological man. The requests having been put forward the Government stand on velvet, because if beaten it is not a Government defeat, and if carried it is a Government victory. I rose to enter an emphatic protest against the action which has been taken here. No one who has submitted a request for a higher duty has attempted to show that the industry needed that additional protection. The most which they have ventured to say has been that if we imposed a higher duty some possible benefit might be obtained. This reckless piling up of one duty upon another, without any justification, without any one attempting a justification, is something which, in my opinion, will sooner or later redound not to the credit of the Senate) but to the political disadvantage of those who are responsible for it.
. - We are discussing the preferential duty, and I have no doubt that the Government intend to support the request for a higher duty. Under the old Tariff the duty against Great Britain was 15 per cent. The Government, I suppose, intend to go on with their fervent assurances that they are going to assist. Great Britain by means of a preferential duty, and I expect that they will point to this very item as one of the means which they will adopt. What will be the position? It will be that, whereas under the Tariff of 1902 Great Britain could send us these materials at a duty of .1:5 per cent., under the Government’s so-called preferences it can send in the same articles at a duty of 25 per cent.
– It is a perfect sham.
– There is no doubt that we have not got sufficient synonyms for the word “ sham “ to properly describe the attitude of the Government with regard to preference. But a concrete instance like this one is, I think, a sufficient illustration of the whole of their attitude in that respect. I do not believe that if Senator Best ventures to speak he will attempt to defend the position of the Government. Like Senator Millen, I am not so much concerned with what a private senator is doing as with the attitude of the Government who are sitting here and anxiously awaiting the time when they can say to Great Britain, “ Here is a further- sample of the splendid preference we give you - a duty of 25 instead of 15 per cent.”
– Senator Millen said that no one had attempted to show that the woollen mills were doing badly under the old Tariff. I hold in my hand a copy of the Sydney - Bulletin of the 22nd August, 1907. In flip “ Wild Cat “ column the balance-sheets of two woollen manufacturing companies are dissected. I will state shortly the result of the dissection. In 1898 the Queensland Woollen Manufacturing Company, of Ipswich, made a profit of ,£3,169 ; in 1899 a profit of ^3,883;. in 1900 a profit of £4,168; in 1901 °a profit of £4,151; and in 1902 a profit of £2,140. In 1903 it made a. loss of £1,386 ; in 1904 a loss of £z,88o; in ‘ 1905 a loss of £2,795 > and: in 1906 a loss of £446. In 1906 one-half of the capital, .£23,339, was written off.
– The result of Interstate free-trade.
– Surely the Tariff had something to do with that result. The company has spent about £12,000 a year in wages, and kept its mill going in the hope that higher duties would give it a better opportunity of doing business. Onehalf of its capital has been wiped off the slate.
– By competition from other States.
– That may be so. Here is the balance-sheet of another company which surely has not been injured by Inter-State competition, and that is the Castlemaine Woollen Company of “Victoria. The figures for the period from 1902 to 1907 are given; In 1902 the company paid a dividend of 5 per cent., and since then it has paid three 4 per cent, dividends and two 3 per cent, dividends. I do not think that any one will assert, that it is financially in a very strong position, or that it can be called opulent in any sense of the word.
– The profits are considerably reduced now.
– In 3907 the profits amounted to £2,008 ; the net profit for the year was £1,292, which represented a bare 4 per cent, on the capits.1 end reserves combined. The Bulletin says -
This little company is paying away now about £11,500 a year in wages, freights, and incidental expenses, and about an equal amount for wool ; and a shade more protection will give it the command of a market big enough to make even those serviceable figures ‘ look very small.
That is all that honorable senators who are voting for the. imposition of higher duties are trying to do - to give these struggling mills an opportunity to get a decent return from the money invested and to pay living wages to the employes. I am sorry that I cannot put ray hands on the balancesheets of a number of other mills, but there is hardly a mill ‘in Australia which has been paying its way as a commercial venture might be expected to do. So far as I have been able to gather that is the position of- the woollen mills of the Commonwealth, and that is what we are trying. to remedy by increasing the measure’ of their protection.
– I propose to vote for the item, as it stands. I do not think it can be said that I have not given the Government very good support during our consideration of the Tariff. I have made up my mind where I can to support the Tariff as it stands, and to correct anomalies. . It has not been shown that there is any anomaly involved in this duty. But honorable senators are trying to create an anomaly, because never before in the history of any Tariff in Australia have blankets and flannels been put on the same footing as tweeds. They have always hitherto been dutiable at 5 or 10 per cent, lower than tweeds. One reason for this is that the manufacture of tweeds involves the employment of a great deal more labour than does tha manufacture of blankets. Another reason is that £1,000 worth of wool may be converted into £4,000 worth of tweeds, whereas if manufactured into blankets or flannel the product would be worth no more than ,£1,500. It should not be forgotten that the Government in this Tariff submit- an increase of io per cent, on the duty on this item under the old Tariff. Under the operation of the old Tariff the local mills might have suffered, but they are not now going back, and surely an increase of 10 per cent, on the old Tariff should be sufficient to give them a fairly good start. There is one section of the people that seems to have been entirely left out of consideration in the discussion of the Tariff in this Chamber. I refer to the consumers. Honorable senators opposite, and members of the Labour Party, are crying out in the interests of the manufacturers and the workers, but they have no regard whatever for the consumers who must use these goods. I am prepared to give, the manufacturers the advantage of. a reasonable duty, and I think I shall do so by supporting the Government proposal. We are told that the Tariff should be simplified and made uniform, and that it is therefore necessary to bring the duties on this .item into line with those imposed on other items. .But these items have never been made dutiable at the same rate in any Tariff previously passed in Australia. Before Federation, the duty on the goods covered by this item was 15 per- cent, in most of the States, and in Victoria from 15 to 25 per cent. We- are now told that we should increase the duty submitted by the Government in order that the mills may pay better wages to their workers. If that be so, it is extraordinary that in New Zealand, where the local mills have only the market represented by a population of 800,000 people to supply, they are worked with great success under a 20 per cent, duty, and at the same time pay higher wages than are paid in woollen mills in Australia. I find that the wages paid in this industry in New Zealand are: Girls, first year 8s., second year 11s., third year 14s. j youths, 14 to 22 years of age, 8s. to 35s. ; men, wool sorters, 50s., scourers, 42s., dyeing, teasing, and carding, 42s., spinners 44s., feeders and piecers, 16 to 22 years of age, 25s. to 42s., milling, pressing,’ and stock hands 42s., teasers 45s. to 56s., and labourers 42s. How is it that under a 20 per cent, duty, and with a limited population of 800,000 as against our population of 4,500,000; this industry is profitable in New Zealand, and pays higher wages than those ruling in Australia ?
– Because not onefifth of the people in Australia wear the heavy clothing which is universally used in New Zealand.
– That is rubbish. People here wear just as heavy clothing as do the people of New Zealand. The request submitted is, in my opinion, unwise, and if accepted will, I think, as Senator Millen has said, re-act in future upon those who support it. I feel that the Vice-President of the Executive Council in allowing certain other items to be included under item 114 was simply trapping the Committee in order that Crimean and other shirtings, and similar goods, should be included amongst tweeds, which have always borne higher duties than those goods in the past. Occupying the Chair for a time, I regret that I was unable to make these remarks sooner, otherwise I should have made them when the duty on imports under the general Tariff was being considered.
-20]. - I wish in connexion with this matter to make an addition to some quotations I made a little time ago.
– Are they reliable?
– If Senator McGregor would spend his time in condol ing with Major O ‘Loghlin, he would be better employed than in “ barracking “ here.
– What about Dooley ?
– I make this additional quotation -
The Government introduced the Tariff, and he, like the rest of the Federal members, had to open his month and swallow it for the time being. . . . He did not believe in the present Tariff. . . . He wanted to see about 12* items put on the free list.
That is an. extract from the Sydney Morn ing Herald of 9th September last.
– Who made the statement ?
– It was made bv a member of this Committee, Senator E. J. Russell.
– Hear, hear.
– I am glad that the honorable senator acknowledges the accuracy of the quotation.
– I will support honorable senators on the other side if they will move to put every one of those 120 items on the free list.
– Why does not the honorable senator move in that direction?’
– Because I know I should not get the support of f reetraders, who believe in revenue duties.
– I shall .move to have one or two of the items placed on the free list, and we shall see who will support the request.
– The vanishing senator, because Senator Stewart usually vanishes after he has made a speech, has referred us to the “ Wild Cat “ column of the Bulletin. It is certainly extraordinary that we should have had a quotation made from the “ Wild Cat “ column of a newspaper in- support of a Government policy, but that is what has happened. I do not know .anything about the Castlemaine Brewery Company, or whatever it was the honorable senator was talking about.
– The honorable senator knows very well that the brewery company was not referred to. He is “neither so dense, so ignorant, nor so stupid as he tries to make out.
– When this ebullition of strong feeling subsides, I suppose I shall be able to continue my speech. I do know something about the a’lleged woollen mills in Queensland. To- mv certain knowledge, those mills have been in existence, and going strong, for wentseven, years.
– Until the Commonwealth Tariff nearly killed them.
– Senator Givens probably was not in Queensland at the time I went through those mills twenty-seven or twenty-eight years ago, and, as an insurance manager, I took a risk on them over a quarter of a century ago. So that I know what I am talking about, which is a great deal more than some honorable senators do. The balancesheet of the Queensland Woollen Company at the present time is not indicative of the position of the woollen manufacturing industry of Australia. It is a clothing factory. Let honorable senators take up any odd Commonwealth Gazette, and they will find that the company referred to are tenderers for uniforms and for all sorts of odds and ends of military trappings. If Senator Givens is not aware of the fact let me tell him that die Queensland Woollen Company have travellers going all over Queensland taking orders for single suits of clothes. It is an offence that quotations from the balance-sheet of such a company should be made here as indicative of the position of the wool spinning industry of Australia. The factory of the company referred to is as much a clothing factory as a woollen factory. On the question of British preference, I am not going to make any animadversions on the past or present action of the Government in this connexion, but I wish to say that if, after the- action of Ministers in this Chamber and their vote upon the last division and that about to take place as representatives of the Government of Mr. Alfred Deakin, they continue in put forth any pretension to a desire for preferential trade with the United Kingdom, it will be a fraudulent pretence. I hope they will not be guilty of fraudulent pretence, but my words will apply in future if they pursue the course I have indicated. Of course they do not apply to Ministers up to the present date, and my words are used in a political sense. I would not say that Ministers were personally guilty of wrong doing. But if the representatives of the Government in this Chamber maintain their late attitude in the future it will be a hideous political scandal and a shameful blot upon the “fair name of a country, the administration of which is in the hands of men who, doing one thing, profess another, and I hope they will for the future drop .any protestations or pretensions to a desire for a preference of this kind.
– They cannot say ina thi; honorable senator has not given them good warning.
– I have given them good warning, and I give them further warning that if they do maintain their pretensions after their recent action I shall make it my duty to publish the facts in the most influential and public quarters in me Old Land. I think that every honorable senator who has any regard for political consistency and any respect for members of the Ministry who apparently are not represented here - because the present proposal is entirely against the action of a majority of the members of the Ministry and of their supporters in another places - will refuse to vote for the highly reprehensible request at present under consideration by the Committee.
– I am sorry that Senator Stewart is not present, because he made some references to two factories, one in Queensland and the other in Victoria, and appealed to the Committee to support an increased duty because of the financial troubles in which they were involved. I do not know anything about the Queensland factory, but I think Senator Neild has sufficiently answered the honorable senator’s reference to it. I should like to refer to the other, and of all the factories in Australia that Senator Stewart might have quoted the very last he should have re-introduced to the notice of the Committee is the Castlemaine factory, whose balance-sheet he described. Earlier to-day I went into the question of the adulteration of woollens with cotton and mentioned what a member of the Victorian State Parliament had said on the floor of the State Parliament Souse. As a matter of fact what that gentleman said referred to this very Castlemaine factory. I might say that the first discussion of the cotton adulteration in woollens before the Tariff Commission arose in connexion with this factory. I propose to read only the concluding sentence of a letter addressed by Mr. Greaves, the member of the State Parliament of Victoria to whom I have referred, to Mr. Williams, the manager of this Castlemaine- factory. He wrote -
I now confirm .ill the statements made >y ms in Parliament, namely, that the three beforementioned exhibits were manufactured at the Castlemaine Woollen Mills, and contain over 40 per cent, of cotton, and I request .you will confirm or deny this statement, clearly stating your reasons. I only ask what appears, I think, fair to our brother members and ourselves.
The answer to this free and frank demand that the charge should be met in the interests of truth, of the character of the Victorian Parliament, and of the credit of the individual electorates, was this -
My Dear Sir,
I have the honour to acknowledge yours of the 16th, and in reply thereto beg to state that I am of opinion that it will not serve any good purpose for yourself or myself to pursue the subject-matter of your letter further.
A mill, the business of which is carried on in such a way as that has been, deserves to be in a worse financial position than this is. It will be to the benefit of Australia if it and other mills are closed down if a policy of adulteration and fraud is being followed-
– - * intend to support the high existing duty despite the wild and whirling statements of the wild and whirling senator from Sydney. - This is an industry native to our soil, and I would not measure the protection afforded to it by duties of per cent. If it were possible to obtain even higher rates, I would vote for them.’ I plead guilty to the statement attributed to me by Senator Neild, though, as he claims to have been in politics for thirty years, I am surprised that he should rely on the reports of a Sydney newspaper. What I said at Erskineville was that I am an Australian protectionist, and believe in the highest protection for Australian industries, but that I desire the free admission of all goods which cannot be produced here. I have offered to support - and am still ready to make that offer good - every request for placing on the free list goods which cannot be produced in Australia. I have been asked why I have not moved in the direction of getting goods placed on the free list. I have moved ; I have made inquiries among honorable senators as to their views on the subject, and, finding that I am in a minority, I have remained silent, because I wish to see a Tariff agreed upon which will remain unaltered for many years. I said, speaking from memory, that ‘ there are 123 items in the Tariff which cannot be produced in Australia, and I am only too ready to support any request to put those items on the free list.
– The honorable senator should prepare a schedule of the goods which in his opinion cannot be produced in Australia.
– Were I to move to have any of these things placed on the free list, my greatest opponents would be -those who are, not free-traders, but re- venue tariffists.
– On how many occasions has the honorable senator voted for freetrade ?
– I voted twice yesterday for the lowest duty proposed, and I do not think more than five items were dealt with then. I have tried to put into force the principles which in Sydney I announced myself as holding. I do not take any responsibility for the Tariff as proposed by the Government. We could do nothing in regard to it until it was put before us. I am still ready to support requests for placing on the free list articles which cannot be produced here, and shall not be influenced in -my votes by the consideration that these requests come from any particular party, or that the Government may be beaten.
.- When Senator E. J. Russell has been a little longer in politics he will know that the next worst thing to making an indiscreet speech is attempting to explain it. He says now that he wishes to impose the highest duties on goods which can be produced in Australia and to place all others on the free list. May I ask him, then, why he did not vote for tea and rice to be placed on the free list?
– Does the honorable senator say that we cannot produce rice in Australia?
– The honorable senator’s interjection enables me to understand his position. Grapes could be produced at the North Pole and polar bears reared in the centre of Australia.
– I did not vote for a duty on tea, though I voted for a duty on packets, so that the packing should be done in Australia.
– I refer honorable senators to the pair-book entry regarding Senator Henderson’s request for free tea. The honorable senator should have explained at Erskineville what he meant when he said that he would place on the free liSt everything that cannot be produced in Australia. Senator Stewart, on the strength of a statement appearing in the “ Wild Cat “ column of the Bulletin, said that an Ipswich factory, which for many years prior to the imposition of the first Commonwealth Tariff paid dividends’, ceased to do so when that Tariff was imposed. I am surprised that he quoted that statement, because had he referred to official sources of information he would have known that prior to Federation the factory was protected against competition from without the State by duties of 15 and 5 per cent. - much lower rates than were given by the Tariff of 1902. The moment the higher rates of the Commonwealth Tariff Game into force the factory declined. Senator Stewart wishes to give it more of the poison which is obviously killing it. I would point out to the honorable gentleman that the real reason why the Ipswich factory has suffered is that prior to Federation it had no competition except that within the State, whereas now it has the competition of the’ factories in the other States, and for many years to come the developed mills of Victoria and the growing mills of New South Wales will, by a law which no Tariff which we can pass will interfere with, gather to themselves the bulk of the manufacturing business of the Commonwealth, and starve out the factories in those States which have smaller populations. The Ipswich factory has suffered, not from the. competition of foreign factories, but from the competition of factories in other States, and the only thing that would help it would be the reerection of the Tariff wall, which, prior to Federation, kept the manufactures of other States out of Queensland. Senator Stewart quoted a balance-sheet to show that the factory is not paying dividends, but a day or two ago I quoted a balance-sheet of a Victorian company which for some ‘time past has been paying a dividend of 15 per cent.
– What company is that?
– One of the Bal- larat mills, managedby Mr. Grainger. When before the Tariff Commission this witness attempted to mislead the Commissioners by saying that the dividends of the company worked out at 71/2 per cent, on a total subscribed capital of £60,000, but the balance-sheet of the company subsequently produced showed Jits capital to be , £30,000, upon which for several years it had been paying a dividend of 15 per cent. We know that it is not an uncommon thing to water the shares of a company in order to make its profits less apparent. The Commonwealth ‘ statistics show that in this industry the number of workmen employed has increased, that the output is larger, and that its conditions altogether are more prosperous than they were in the past, and no one has brought forward any facts justifying an increase of duty.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 114 “ Blankets, Blanketing, &c.” (imports from the United Kingdom) ad val., 25 per cent. (Senator Lynch’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Postponed item 115. Carpets, Carpeting, Floorcloths, Floor and Carriage Mats of any material except Coir; Lap Dusters; and Floor Rugs and Coverings (including Felts and Pads), ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent, on and after8th November, 1907.
– I have not come to a conclusion as to what course I shall adopt with respect to this item. I want more information about it. Will the Vice-President of the Executive Council be goodenough to tell us whether floor cloths and carpets are manufactured in Australia? If they are, in what quantities are they manufactured, and how many of the other articles included in this item are also made here? For instance, are felts manufactured here? It seems to me to be utterly ridiculous to impose a duty of 20 per cent, upon articles such as these, if the duty is simply for revenue purposes.
– The duty under the old Tariff is just the same.
– That does not’ influence -my mind.’ We are busy upon the present Tariff, not upon the old one. If there were such duties under the old. Tariff I see no reason why that fact should affect our decision now. If this is purely a revenue item I have no hesitation in saying that I shall support a request to the House’ of Representatives to place the goods upon the free list.
– I desire first” of all to draw the attention of my honorable friend, Senator Henderson, to the fact that in this item we are only about to put up the duty against the foreigner. The duty of 15. per cent. was the general rate under the old Tariff, and that duty has been recommended by both sections of the Tariff Commission. It is a noteworthy thing that we have in our possession a letter received from certain leading carpet manufacturers in the United Kingdom asking that a preferential duty be imposed in this connexion. I do not pretend to say.. that at the present time we have any carpet manufacturers in the Commonwealth. But I think it would be a mistake to eliminate altogether the revenue aspect of the duty. Those who chiefly contribute to the revenue under this item will, I imagine, be persons who can well afford to pay.
Senator- Millen. - Then are we to understand that carpetings are exclusively the luxuries of the rich ?
– Not at all, but the more expensive carpetings certainly are. We cannot ruthlessly throw away £71,00.0 in revenue. The revenue aspect of this Tariff is one that we cannot overlook, especially, as the States are largely dependent upon the revenue which the Commonwealth receives. Every honorable senator must recognise that this Tariff has been designed to protect our industries, but at the same time to enable us to fulfil’ our obligations to the States. I must admit that I do not look with any equanimity on any suggestion which would deprive the Commonwealth of revenue to the extent of £71,000. The Treasury has been depleted of revenue already to a large extent by the alterations made by honorable senators. Something like £60,000 was knocked off yesterday; £13,000 was’ knocked off in regard to sago, and £18,000, if I remember rightly, in respect of spices. So that we are doing pretty well in the way of knocking off revenue.
– Did the honorable senator mention spices? That is the article on which he, by a trick, got the protection increased.
– My honorable friend has no right to say “by a trick.”
– I think I am justified.
– I. do not think- so,, so far as I am concerned. I strongly opposed the duties being knocked off spices.
– But the honorable senator did not retain. the 2d. margin.
– I should think not, and for most obvious reasons. The trick was. in getting the duty on unground spices struck off. I point out that we must take the revenue aspect of the Tariff into consideration, having regard to our obligations to the States; and I do not know of any more legitimate item for taxation for revenue purposes than carpets.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wale.<) [5-571- - The Minister’s reply to’ Senator Henderson’s very pertinent inquiry has made the task of honorable senators who are seeking to arrive at a decision, a very simple one. The honorable senator has made the plainest statement which he has given us during the whole course of these Tariff debates. This is a revenue item. The Minister, did not attempt to qualify it by saying that it was incidentally protective. He acknowledged that it was a purely revenue item. In order t’o justify it, he advances the reason that we have to regard our obligations to the States. Now, what are our obligations? We are not required to raise any fixed sum of money. There is no obligation of that kind. The obligation is to return to the States three-fourths of what we do raise.
– The solvency of the States is involved.
– It means that the less we raise by means of revenue items the less we return. But we are under no legal obligation to raise anything. There may be an implied understanding or a moral obligation to raise something equal to the sum that the States were receiving from Customs and Excise duties previous to Federation. But we have long since passed that stage. The States are getting far more revenue from Customs and Excise now than they ever did under their own Tariff.
– Some of them.
– The States as a whole are getting- more to-day from Customs and Excise than they ever did before Federation; and if there are certain States who obtain less, the accurate way of adjusting that disability is not to raise more revenue but to hasten the time when we can have one common purse. There is no legal obligation upon us to do anything such as Senator Best has described, nor is there any necessity to raise so much money by means of the Tariff. Taking the States as a whole, their Treasurers are well off. The Minister himself, in introducing this Bill, showed that the amount that was estimated to be raised by this Tariff was something like £1,250,000 more than was received under the previous Tariff.
– I said for the coming year.
– There are many people who estimate that the amount- will be much greater; and we are dealing with the current year. Remembering the increased yield of revenue, it .will be seen that the amounts lost by the reductions of duties which we have requested are comparatively unimportant. Honorable senators need not concern themselves about making further reductions on purely revenue items. The Minister said also that clearly this was an item which concerns the well-to-do, and therefore was a fair subject for taxation. Are we to understand, then, that the Minister thinks that to buy a piece of oilcloth for the cottage of a poor man is an iniquity?
-: - Valuable carpets make a large contribution to the revenue received from this item.
– The Minister knows that for every valuable carpet purchased by a rich man, a dozen, or probably fifty, carpets of poorer quality are purchased by those in humble circumstances. .Whilst, asindividuals, the well-to-do may pay more under these revenue items, in the aggregate it is the poorer people who contribute the bulk of the revenue. That being so,
I would ask honorable senators, whose experience in this matter -is co-extensive with my own, whether they know of a home in which no oilcloth is used, and would they desire to see any home with no oilcloth on the floor? Anything worthy of the name of home generally has a little’ oilcloth on the floor. That it is in many cases of poor quality is due only to the fact that the means of the occupants of such homes prohibit their purchasing better goods. Should we add to the difficulties in their way? The sole question before us is whether we should raise so large a revenue in respect of an article which enters into general consumption? I am prepared to make the item free. I do not know whether Senator Henderson intends to move a request in that direction.
– If the words “floor cloths” mean oilcloths I shall be prepared to move a request; that they be placed on the free list.
– My .honorable friend is not going so far along the right road as I thought he would.
– He does not go so far along the wrong road as the honorable senator would desire him to go.
– Does the honorable senator say that this is a protective duty ?
– Some of the goods covered by the item are manufactured in Australia.
– Why did not the Minister supply Senator Henderson with that information?
– I am speaking of something within my own knowledge.
– This is a sort of sumptuary tax.
– Here is another honorable senator who objects to the poor man having a strip of oilcloth in his home.’ I should like” to hear some of these stalwart supporters of labour telling their constituents that they object to their having a carpet or a piece of oilcloth in their homes. The time has gone by when things which are becoming day after day more and more necessities of life could be regarded asmere luxuries, and we should’ do all we canto see that they do not continue to be regarded as such. I desire to bring such things within the reach of every one.
– But the honorable senator’s party would oppose the raisingof wages, which would enable the workers to get more.
– No one knows better than the honorable senator that that statement is incorrect. If the contention of the protectionist party were correct, then the highest wages should be paid in those States which had the highest Tariffs in operation.
– So they are.
– They are not. I have only to- refer honorable . senators to the report of a Royal Commission which sat in Victoria a few years ago, in which appears evidence as to the payment of the most pitiful rates of wages that ever degraded a country.
– That is not so.
– Does the honorable senator desire me to read the report of the Commission ?
– That would not settle the question.
– Nothing but a steam hammer would settle the honorable senator, and even then I should be rather sorry for the hammer. I want the duty to be reduced, and am prepared to move a request in that direction, but should like to know whether Senator Henderson proposes to submit a request in regard to the duty under the general Tariff?
– I do not.
.- I do not know whether ‘ certain honorable -senators for some extraordinary reason want to include me in the attacks made generally on the class which they describe as revenue tariffists. No honorable senator has been more consistent than I have been in the effort to place every revenue item on the free list and to secure a reduction of the duty on every protectionist item. I certainly hoped from the words used by Senator Henderson when he rose just now that he was prepared to vote for a reduction of the duty.
– He rose only to ask for information.
– And, speaking generally, he received from Senator Best the information that this is a purely revenue item. Incidentally an attempt was made by the only henchman whom Senator Best has got, to show that the item might include something made in Australia. It was one of those desperate efforts on the part of protectionists to cling to a duty not because it will protect an industry, but because there is just a remote chance of its covering something made in Australia.
– A frightful thing to contemplate.
– How often honorable senators, and especially Senator Lynch, who talk about removing the burden of taxation and doing away with revenue duties, decline an opportunity to do so, on the plea that they are not absolutely certain that the duty under review is entirely a revenue-producing one.
– My hope is that these high duties will not return one penny of revenue.
– I have called for many a division on requests to make revenue items free, but have almost invariably found Senator Lynch and others -voting against me. Senator Henderson, when he spoke a few minutes ago, seemed to be on the point of indicating that he was prepared to vote for a reduction of. this revenue duty, but an interjection which he made just now has led me to believe that he is not in favour of any reduction except in regard to one or two of the smaller lines coming within this item.
– I am going to move a request that oilcloths be free.
– What about the rest of the item?
– I would let the rest go.
– Carpets are not made in Australia, and why should Senator Henderson vote for a heavy duty upon them? Even the honorable senator seems to be always ready with an excuse for refusing to vote to reduce the burden of taxation. His present proposal means first of all that he is desirous of class taxation, because he is saying as clearly as possible, “ I shall exempt from taxation the class that use oilcloths, but not the class that use carpets.” That is intrinsically a very poor sort of argument, but it goes still further. It means that if a man with a moderate income of £200 or £300 per annum desires to go, so to speak, beyond the oilcloth stage to the carpet stage. Senator Henderson would interpose and say, “ No; stick to your oilcloths and you shall have them free ; but if you wish to progress from the oilcloth to the carpet stage you must pay . a duty of 4s.’ in the £1 upon your carpets.” We talk glibly about duties of 20 per cent, without actually realizing what they mean. The imposition of such a dutv on carpets, for instance, means that when a man emerges from a shop in which he has spent say £20 on two or three carpets he is met by a Government official, who says, “ You have been spending £20 on carpets, pay me £4.” That is how Senator Henderson would treat the carpet man, but he would allow the oilcloth man to go free. I cannot understand his attitude. It seems to me that even the honorable senator will find it difficult to explain why he desires to tax the man who buys carpets but not the man who buys oilcloth. Is oilcloth the only line in the item which appeals to his desire to reduce the burden of taxation? Why should there Be a duty of 4s. in the £1 on the other lines included in the item. One of them is floor and carriage mats. There may perhaps be a prejudice against carriage mats-
– The item may refer to mats used in children’s carriages.
– We make them in Australia.
– What proportion of the mats used in Australia are locally made? Why impose such a duty upon them ? Then we have in the item the words “ Floor and carriage mats of any material except coir,” and I find that coir mats are dutiable at 25 per cent. I do not suppose that they are made here. Senator Best. - They are.
– In what circumstances? By practically importing all the raw material. And yet some honorable senators say “ This is a great industry; let us import all the coir we. require and impose a duty of 25 per cent, in favour of the putting-together industry.” Then we come to “ lap dusters.” I do not know what they are, but do not think they are handkerchiefs for the wealthy.
– They are light dust rugs.
– I suppose that the honorable senator thinks it is reasonable to impose a duty of 4s. in the £1 on something which he puts across his knees to keep the dust off his Australian-made tweed when he goes outfor a drive. Then again I ask why we should impose such a duty on “ floor rugs and coverings (including felts and pads).” Senator Trenwith will tell us that theyare made in Australia. I have no doubt that25 per cent, is a proper duty from his point of view when he cannot get a duty of 55 per cent.
– The honorable senator is right.
– Some honorable senator said just now, “ If we do not im pose these duties how shall we be able to raise wages?” A pertinent question is “ To what extent will you have to raise wages in order to enable the people to buy the goods on which these duties are imposed?” In dealing with these duties we are apparently to overlook the fact that the value of wages is represented not by the actual coin received, but by the purchasing power of that coin. In the hands of one man in some circumstances £2 per week may be of far more value than £3 per week received in other circumstances by another. With all these accumulated duties in the Tariff we are most surely reducing largely the value of every sovereign that circulates in Australia. There is one other consideration which probably influences Queensland and Tasmanian senators more than it does those from any other State. Despite any high protective duties that we may impose, it is extremely likely that a fair proportion of these goods will continue to be imported. The balance will be made in the Commonwealth. In other words, the citizens of Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia will be called’ upon to purchase goods which are largely manufactured in the other States. But they will get no revenue from the purchase of those goods. They will be compelled practically to pay the same prices as they would pay if they bought imported goods, but no revenue will be forthcoming. The further we proceed in our consideration of this “Tariff, the more the representatives of the smaller States must be induced to reflect that we are largely depleting the revenues of those States’. I intend to vote for the lowest duty that may be proposed in respect of this item.
– What about making it free?
– I do not mind moving in that direction, but I do not think that we have any hope of carrying such’ a proposal. We may, however, be able to carry a. request in favour of a duty of 10 per cent.
– That would only make the Tariff worse than it is.
– If Senator Needham chooses to move to make the item free, I shall support him.
– I move -
That theHouse of Representatives be requested to amend item 115” by leaving out the words “ Floor Cloths “ with a view to inserting the following new paragraph : - “ (b) Floor Cloths, free.”
– The noor cloths include linoleums?
– My desire is to exempt both oilcloths and linoleums. Senator Clemons was good enough to declare in effect that my desire was to impose a class, tax. But in just the same way as I favoured the imposition of a higher duty upon a bottle of champagne than upon a ‘ bottle of beer, I am prepared to levy a . heavier rate upon carpets than I am upon oilcloths and linoleums. I regard floor coverings as an absolute necessity, but I do not regard a high-priced carpet as an essential of life. If a man is disposed to cover the floor of his dwelling with any kind of carpet, he is at liberty to do so-
– By paying 20 per cent, upon it.
– I do not regard high-priced carpets as necessaries of life, but I do consider that oilcloths and linoleums are necessaries, because I believe that all floors ought to be covered.
– What about mud floors ?
– I am sorry that a good many persons have mud floors in their dwellings, and I hold that it is essential that they should be covered. I have had a taste of living in a house with mud floors myself.
– What about lowpriced carpets?
– - I think that carpets of any description bear the same relation to oilcloths and linoleums that a bottle of champagne does to a bottle of beer.
.- The reasoning of Senator Henderson is extraordinary, coming as it does from a labour representative who professes to be a strong protectionist, and one who is absolutely opposed to revenue tariffism. He differentiates between carpets and ‘floor cloths in the same way that Ee does between champagne and beer. Nobody by any stretch of imagination can urge that either champagne or beer is essential to life, but Senator Henderson desires to admit floor cloths free because the)’ are necessities. I wish to inform him that, as the result of my visit to Japan some three years ago, I arrived at the conclusion that floors are better if - they are not covered. Consequently, I have only bare boards in my room, and I believe that, as a consequence, I enjoy better health than I would otherwise. But I wish to ask Senator Hen derson whether he wishes to always limit the working classes to the use of oilcloths? Does he think that the wives of our working men have no ambition so far as household effects are concerned? Practically he says to them, “ My dear ladies, by all means have a piece of oilcloth upon your floor, but if you have any ambition in the direction of putting a carpet upon your stairway, you must pay a duty of 4s. in the £1 upon it.” Evidently the desire of some honorable senators is to levy taxation upon the result of the efforts of the working classes. We saw that evidenced in this Chamber yesterday in respect of silk, because somebody had a hazy belief that only a small section .of the community used silk. Personally, I desire the Government to inform me what articles included in this item can be manufactured in the Commonwealth.. Those I desire to make dutiable, but -I shall vote with Senator Clemons to admit free such articles as cannot be made locally.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 -p.m.
– When Senator Henderson initiated this discussion by asking the Minister for information, I and several others waited with bated breath to hear it, but I regret that the’ Minister conveyed no information to the Committee as to the practicability or otherwise of establishing any industry in connexion with this item in Australia. _ He said that these articles were legitimate subjects for taxation. I disagree with. that. I fail to see why, in the absence’ of proof that they can be made in Australia, the people should be called upon to continue to pay a revenue duty of £71,034 per annum. The Minister did not tell us where in Australia these articles were being made, or whether there was any hope of their being made here, but he candidly stated that £60,000 had been knocked off the revenue yesterday, in addition to previous reductions of £13,000 and £18,000, and asked the Committee not to knock off any more. Ardent protectionist” as I am, I shall not vote for a revenue dutv pure and simple. These articles are not made in Australia.
– Several of them are.
– Where? In Pentridge gaol ?
– They are made there for asylums and other public institutions, but they are also made by Miller
Bros., of South Melbourne, and Donaghy in Geelong, while all the furriers make floor rugs.
– I know of no place in Australia where carpets or floor cloths are made, but I know that carriage mats are made by prison labour in the gaols of Australia. Can Senator Trenwith tell me in what other places in Australia those mats are made?
– In South “Melbourne and Geelong, by the men I have mentioned.
– To what extent?
– To the extent that the makers can sell them.
– If I thought there was the slightest hope of establishing any industry in Australia by means of this duty, I should be the first to support it, but I see no possibility of it.
– Not with that protection.
– Nor even if the protection was increased by 100 per cent. In any case, almost the whole of the raw material would have to be imported, and in order to give the industry a start it would be necessary to admit that raw material practically free. I cannot see any logic in Senator Henderson’s desire to dissect this item, and exempt floor cloths which include linoleums, while leaving carpets dutiable. I am quite prepared to make floor cloths free, but I am prepared also to make the whole item free. The honorable senator compared carpets with champagne, but carpets are just as necessary an adjunct to the comforts of a home as tapioca or sago are necessary for the table. Senator Lynch moved recently that sago and tapioca should be free - a motion which I supported and was glad to see carried: While sago and tapioca are household necessities, I regard carpets as a necessary to make a home comfortable. They are not necessarily a luxury. The eating of food is not the whole aim and end of life. Every man is ambitious to make his home comfortable. I do not mean that he wants to indulge in the luxury of a Brussels carpet, but Senator Henderson is anxious to tax all carpets, no matter what their quality.
– You have fallen from grace.
– I would rather fall from grace than be led into the foolish position that Senator Findlev sometimes occupies, as exemplified’ in the last few days. Is there any hope of establishing the oilcloth and linoleum industry ? When will it be established? Are the people to be called upon to continue to pay £71,000 a year for an indefinite period until that and other industries are established ? That is an utterly foolish proposition. This is a revenue duty only, and, unless evidence to the contrary is forthcoming, I am prepared to vote to make the item free. -
-‘ - I wish to emphasize the fact that Senator Henderson proposes to make oilcloths and linoleums free, while leaving all other forms of floor coverings dutiable. In putting forward that rather astonishing proposition, the honorable senator, unfortunately for himself, sought to compare ‘carpets with champagne, and floor cloths with beer, and indicated that he was at all times willing to put a higher duty upon champagne. It is rather curious that when a proposal was before the Committee to increase the champagne duty Senator Henderson religiously voted against it.
– That is incorrect.
– If the honorable senator says that he did1 not vote against a proposal to increase the duty on champagne, then Hansard is wrong.
– There were several votes. I voted against 20s., but in favour of 15s.
– The honorable senator then did vote against a proposition to increase the duty upon champagne.
– To 20s.
– Even if it was 40s., my statement is correct that the honorable senator . voted against an increased duty on champagne. I refer to this because I want to show Senator Henderson that he has mixed up the contents of his two bottles. He assumes that carpets are in the champagne bottle, and linoleums and oilcloths in the beer, bottle. Let me tell him that carpets are as cheap as - many of them much cheaper than - linoleums.
– I know that.
– Then why does he’ say that he will endeavour to get oilcloths and linoleums on the free list, because they are the cheaper commodities used by the poorer classes, but is content to have a. duty upon carpets, “which he affirms are the luxury of the rich?
– Do you not know why ?
– I am coming to _ that directly, particularly for the benefit of Senator Needham, who, although also a representative of Western Australia, has not kept his eyes open to’ the peculiar habits of the people of that State.
– The cheapest kinds of carpets are not as cheap as the cheapest kinds of floor cloths.
– One can pay just ;is much for a linoleum as for a carpet, but the reason why Senator Henderson has developed such a tenderness on behalf of the users of oilcloths and linoleums is that those articles are used more generally in the State which he comes from - oilcloths for lining the light and cheap buildings erected out-back and linoleums for covering the floor ninety-nine times for every time that carpet is used. That is true of Western Australia, and also of a large portion of the interior of New South Wales and Queensland. .
– Will not the honorable senator give us credit for being national once in a while?
– Both honorable senators cannot be national in this matter, because Senator Needham is prepared to free all floor coverings, whilst the other “nationalist,” Senator Henderson, is prepared to make free only those things which his constituents are likely to require. The, admission of the Vice-President of the Executive .Council, coupled with the knowledge- which honorable senators must themselves possess, is sufficient to justify the statement that this is a revenue duty pure and simple. That being so, is there any justice in saying that the miner of Coolgardie, who uses linoleum, shall have it free, but the workman of Melbourne; who wishes to use carpet, must pay duty on it? Is it fair that the small prospector in Western Australia, who is erecting a hut, and lining it with oilcloth because timber is too dear, should have the commodity admitted free, while the man in the settled timber districts of New South Wales should have to pay duty on the wood he uses for the same purpose? I ask Senator Henderson, as a fair man, to show any sound reason why the people of Coolgardie, or of the hotter districts of New South Wales, should have linoleum and oilcloth free, while those in the colder or cooler districts, who require a warmer floor covering, should have to pay duty. I make this appeal without regard to the question of protection or f ree- trade ; and I am hopeful that the honorable senator will see his way to vote with us, in endeavouring to place these commodities all on one basis.
– I intend to support the duty as it stands. . This may sound strange from one who. has always declared himself against revenue duties; and probably some explanation may be desired. I am not to be led away by the statements of either Senator Best or Senator Millen, the latter of whom so cunningly endeavours to induce honorable senators, who I think have never given fair consideration to the. possibilities of the Commonwealth, to make this item free. This duty is not half as much re1 venue producing as that on item 123, and yet a majority of honorable senators are, in the latter instance, prepared to give protection to the extent of 30 and 25 per cent. If there never had been a duty on woollen goods, would they ever have been produced to any extent in Australia? Millions’ of pounds have been derived from the duty on woollen goods, and will continue to be derived until the industry is thoroughly established. But why should we call that a revenue duty only? There should be no greater difficulty in producing carpets and’ similar materials here in the future than’ there was in producing woollen goods.
– Then the honorable senator ought to vote for a duty of 25 per cent.
– I shall vote for the highest duty that it is possible to obtain, because I believe it will have a protective effect. I have every sympathy with Senator Henderson in his endeavour to exempt linoleums and oilcloths from duty, in view of the fact- that he regards this to be a revenue duty only. But’ I believe that in the future we shall produce carpets, oilcloths, and linoleums, not only for Australia, but for other parts of the world. Not long ago, we decided to grant bounties particularly applicable to industries in Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria - bounties for the production of hemp, flax, jute, and other fibres which are used extensively in the manufacture of both oilcloths and carpets. We were also prepared to grant a bounty for the production of cotton, which is extensively used in these industries ; and goodness knows we produce enough wool here ! We would not grant bounties unless we hope! that these commodities would be produced; and if they are produced, what do we propose to do with them? Not only are we prepared to grant the bounties I have indicated, but we desire tq encourage the production of oils, paints, and lead ; and, again I ask, what do we propose to do with these commodities when they, are produced ? Are we to paint tents and nothing else? Can these products not be utilized in the manufacture of carpets, oilcloths, and linoleums? Although Senator Henderson makes his proposal with the best of intentions, I contend that this item is one on which the heaviest duty should be imposed. It is true that at present we import the most qf our floor coverings. The commercial travellers who come here from the United Kingdom and other parts of the world may be most frequently met on the line between Melbourne and Adelaide, the latter being the port of arrival and departure. And when this question was under discussion in the train some time, ago, the representative of a Scotch firm, which’ does as much business as any other in’ Australia, when questioned as to the effect of the duties, said that if, from any cause it did not pay to do business here with the imported materials, his principals would be prepared to start manufacturing in Australia. When I have an assurance of that description I am perfectly justified in voting to retain these duties.
– Did the honorable senator explain the new protection to the commercial traveller ?
– The honorable senator need not endeavour to mislead me by trifling interjections of that kind. Some honorable senators, who are likely to be misled by the cry about revenue duties, may inquire why it is not proposed to impose a prohibitive duty on the present item, so ‘as to bring about the local manufacture of these goods more rapidly. But I remind honorable senators that, in almost every industry, low duties were at first imposed in the interests ‘of the people. The great woollen in- dustry was not started with a duty of 40 or 50 per cent., either in Australia, America, or elsewhere. At first low duties were imposed in order to test the possibilities of the industry,- and when the industry was proved to be suitable to the country, reasonable protection was afforded, Prohibitive duties would stop all importation, whereas a reasonable duty is a means of proving the worth of the industry, and preparing the way for a higher impost. In the meantime I advocate the duties pro posed in the schedule, and as recommended by the Tariff Commission. These matters were all discussed by the Commission, and the conclusion arrived at was that the duties, though low, will ultimately prove protective, and in the interest of the people of Australia. The increase in the duty under the general Tariff is proposed by the Government with the object of giving greater preference to Great Britain; and I agree with that policy. If we are to continue for some years to import largely, and we can give a preference to Great Britain, let us do so. The larger duty against countries outside the Empire will only result in greater incidence of protection ; and for the reasons I have stated I hope the item will be allowed.. to remain as proposed.
– We ought- to be grateful to Senator McGregor for furnishing ‘ us with the information which he as a member of the Tariff Commission was able to acquire concerning this item, and the prospects of the industry from a protective aspect. Hitherto I have discussed where we are at the present time and the past history of the matter. The strictly revenue aspect is that out of a total revenue of .£71,634 received under this item in 1906, carpets yielded £19,000, and floorcloths - that is, oilcloths and linoleums - £[48,400, or a total of £67,400. Honorable senators will therefore see that in the past this’ has been practically a revenue duty, and it was with that aspect that I dealt previously. I Would point out to Senator Henderson that a carpet or floor cloth is not purchased every day or every week or even every month as a dress may be. Three or four or five years is, roughly, the usual period for which a carpet will last, and consequently the dutyis felt and considered to be very light.
– According to the honorable senator’s showing the duty on carpets and floor cloths has produced £[67,000 a year.
– It is an exceedingly light tax. I am referring to the item chiefly from the revenue point of view. I have pointed out that it must be recognised that in this Tariff there are certain revenue items. In the case of silk 15 per cent; was fixed as a fair amount for a revenue tax, and so far as this item is concerned 15 per cent, from that stand-point alone cannot be regarded as an unreasonable revenue duty. I have already emphasized - and I Was very glad to hear Senator Clemons confirm that aspect of it very forcibly - the great importance of this duty to the smaller States. Practically the whole of the revenue from this particular tax is credited to them. The Committee cannot afford to disregard the protective influence of the duty as urged by Senator McGregor. In my previous speech I did not touch upon that point, because I admit at once that this is a revenue duty. But out of the articles which come under item 115 we produce.rope mats, floor rugs and lap dusters. The revenue derived from the imports of these particular articles in 1906 was very small) representing the difference between £67,400 and £71*034. But there is no doubt that incidentally, the duty has had a protective influence in regard to those things. 1 would impress upon the Committee the broader aspect in which the question has been presented by Senator McGregor.
– But he did not make it clear that the duty is. protective.
– -I think that he made it clear, that although it cannot be regarded as a substantial protective duty, yet it has a protective influence and effect.
– It is a question of protection as regards principle.
– The honorable senator can hardly regard it from that stand-point alone. Senator McGregor urged very forcibly that the duty has a protective effect, all along the line. While no doubt it is at present a revenue duty substantially, yet it has a protective influence, and there is a fair and reasonable prospect, the evidence for which has been furnished by Senator McGregor, of development in that direction, particularly when it is borne in mind ‘ that many of our industries were started’ by the aid of a ‘small duty. They were encouraged, but achieved, I admit, only small proportions on the small duty. But if this duty should have the effect of even influencing the starting of these industries in ever so small a way, there will be every encouragement for us to increase the protection on a subsequent occasion for the purpose of promoting further development. In 1906 we imported carpets and carpeting material to the value of £127,665, which, at 15 per cent., yielded £19,150. The United Kingdom sent us £115,376 worth, Germany £4.426 worth, and the United States £1.717 worth. In 1906, we imported floor cloths to the value of £322.70 r, which, at 15 per cent., Yielded £48,405. The United Kingdom fur nished us with £304,833 worth, Belgium with £2,094 worth, India with £1,303 worth, Germany with £8,108 worth, and Japan with £2,030 worth. I Submit that the Government were justified in raising the duty against foreign imports to 20 per cent. For the reasons I have given, I suggest to Senator Henderson that from the revenue and protective stand-points, he might see his way to ask leave to withdraw his reguest. and permit this exceedingly reasonable duty of 15 per cent, to be imposed.
– The two speeches delivered by the VicePresident of the Executive Council have left me in little doubt as to what course I ought to pursue. He has declared frankly and without reservation that this is a purely revenue duty.
– So were the woollen duties when they were first imposed.
– The honorable senator is quite mistaken. They were imposed frankly and avowedly with the object of creating a woollen industry. But this duty is not imposed with that object at all. Senator Best has told us without qualification that it is a revenue duty. I do not approve of this system of raising revenue. I do not believe in taxing the floor cloth or the carpet which a man lays down to keep out the wind or to assist in maintaining the comfort of himself and family, while other sources of taxation are allowed to remain untapped. I do not know how my honorable friends on this side who call themselves free-traders are going to act. Do they intend to sweep away the duty or to be merely revenue tariffists?
– That remark would be much more pointed if addressed to the members of the Labour Party. The honorable senator need not worry about the free-traders.
– I want to find out how much sincerity there is on this side of the chamber, and when I have accomplished that I am going to turn to the other side, and address an inquiry to my Labour friends. Senator Henderson seems to be anxious to tax carpets, because presumably thev are used by rich people, and to allow linoleums and floor cloths to escape scot free because they are used by poor people. Is that in accord with his professed principle as a labour man of preferring direct to indirect taxation ? I have the free-traders on the one hand, and the direct taxationists on the other, and we will see how the thing is going to pan out. I intend to vote for the abolition of the duty.
– A free-trader.
– I have said be- » fore, and I repeat, that. I will record no vote for a revenue duty.
– Did not the honorable senator vote for a duty on spices ?
– That is not a revenue duty. Any duty for which I voted I regarded as a protectionist duty, and if the Vice-President of the Executive Council had not stated so distinctly that this is a purely revenue duty, and if Senator McGregor had not delivered his speech, it is very doubtful’ indeed whether I would not have voted for this also as a protectionist duty. But fortunately for myself at last I have had my eyes opened. I am not going to walk into the trap again. I assumed from the’ beginning that this was purely a revenue duty. I asked Senator McGregor whether the Tariff Commission had taken any evidence about the duty on carpets, and he said that they had not. and that there had been no appearance on the part of any carpet manufacturer.
– How could we take any evidence when we have no carpet manufacturer in the Commonwealth ?
– :Nor was there any one asking for a duty on rice.
– We can grow rice in Queensland. 1 will tell Senators Best and McGregor what I am prepared to do. If a request is moved to raise this duty to 30 per cent. I will vote for it, because I believe that then it would be a protectionist ‘ duty, which, would encourage carpet manufacturers to establish the industry here. But so far as I can gather the Government are not prepared to adopt that suggestion. They want revenue from this source. They are not going to get it.
– They would prefer to have these goods manufactured here.
– That is so.
– I am not going to assist the Government to obtain revenue by indirect taxation. Senator McGregor, recognising the mistake made by the VicePresident of the Executive Council, tried to induce the Committee to vote for this duty, not on the ground that it would be- a protectionist duty, but that some day its existence in the Tariff might be the means of stimulating the establishment of a carpet or oilcloth and linoleum industry. He said that the woollen industry and a num ber of other industries were established in exactly the same fashion. In Victoria the duty on woollens was very much higher than 15 per cent.
– Not at first.
– In any case it was imposed either for the purpose of raising revenue or for the purpose of establishing the woollen industry.
– Many duties which have at first the effect merely of revenue duties afterwards are found to have a protective effect.
– It is wonderful how these protectionists turn themselves inside out.
– It is, and the honorable senator is an .example of it.
– They impose duties as low as 15 per cent, until an industry is strong enough to walk,, and when that stage is. reached and presumably a duty lower than 15 per cent., would be sufficient protection, they double .the duty and make it 30 per cent. The fact of the matter, is that for a long time in Australia - and I am sorry to say that the superstition prevails to a large extent even to-day - raising revenue through the Customs was the one object of our statesmen. They never thought of taxing incomes or of levying succession duties, and the very idea of a tax upon land was so repulsive to them that no one dare mention it in their presence. It was only when the pressure of circumstances became very great that they were compelled to transform their revenue duties into protectionist duties, and some of my honorable friends in this chamber are trying now to repeat the operation. I at least am not a. protectionist of that kind. I want duties which will really protect industries or node at all. The Tariff to me is an instrument not for extorting revenue from the poorer sections of the people, but for the establishment of industries. If I have made some mistakes that only shows that I am human. If I have failed to do my duty as a protectionist that is no reason why I should continue to adopt a wrong method.
– Why did the honorable senator, start with a proposal to double the duties on sago and tapioca ?
– Because we can produce both those articles in Australia. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council or Senator Clemons will submit a request for an increase of the duty on carpets by 30 percent., I will vote for it, be- cause such a duty would have a protective effect. There is a fair chance. If 20 per cent, will encourage the manufacture of carpets at some time in the distant future 30 per cent, might give us carpet factories within two years. I am quite willing to vote for a duty of 30 per cent.
– Let the honorable senator give us a start with 20 per cent.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council has clearly said that the Government want revenue and cannot afford to lose ^£7 0,000.
– The honorable senator tried to frighten the smaller States with that argument.
– He tried to frighten me, as a representative of one of the smaller States, into voting for the pro.posal by using that argument. Let me tell the honorable senator that I am not in the least troubled about my State. I came here with a warrant from the people who elected me to abolish indirect taxation if I could. If they were not serious in the matter, that is their look-out. I was serious enough, and on every opportunity I get I shall try to carry out that policy. If the electors of Queensland do not approve of it. they had better get somebody who will do something else, because I will not.
. - I was very much impressed by the reminder we had from Senator McGregor that we are not taking due notice of the possibilities of Australia in connexion with the item with which we are now dealing. If we were to have due regard for the possibilities of manufacture in Australia in the way the honorable senator suggested, there is not an item in the Tariff on which we should not impose duties of 30 or 40 per cent. It is possible to manufacture in Australia practically everything that is included in the Tariff. The question is, are we at all likely to produce many of these things? Some passing traveller whom the honorable senator met somewhere appears to have given him an assurance that if we raised the duty on linoleums, some Scotch firm would be induced to commence their manufacture in Australia, and on this basis the honorable senator sees a future large industry. The honorable senator said that we were giving bonuses for the production of cotton, flax, and many other things, and he asked what we were to do with them when we produced them? What did the honorable senator do last night, when we were considering the duties on cotton and linen fabrics, the manufacture of which in Australia is much more probable than is the manufacture of linoleums, because the market for them would be sufficiently large to justify the establishment of extensive factories, which cannot be said of linoleums ? Why did not the honorable senator rise in his place and say that because of the possibility of their manufacture in Australia the duty on cotton and linen fabrics should be 25 per cent. ? Why did he allow all classes of fine cottons and linens to be admitted duty free? The real position in connexion with this item is that to be consistent we must, as Senator Stewart has suggested, make the duty_ sufficiently high to be protective, or adopt the practice we have already adopted in connexion with other revenue items, and go infer a reduction of the duty.
– Let the honorable senator move, a request to double the duty, and I will support him.
– I shall do nothing of the kind, because I believe in being practical, and not in doubling the duty on something we are not likely to manufacture here, ostensibly for protective purposes. The leader of the Senate brought up the question of the finances of the smaller States, and I wish the honorable senator had had a little more consideration for them in other directions.
– I have never forgottenthem.
– Let’ us have a -per capita distribution of revenue if the Government are concerned about the financesof the smaller States.
– I can tell the Vice-President “of the Executive Council that in connexion with some items he has succeeded in imposing very heavy taxation1 upon the poorer classes of the community, and that the duties on dress goodswill return a very much larger revenue than he anticipates. I say that linoleums and carpets are necessary in every house. In some of the warmer parts of the Commonwealth-, people may prefer linoleums, but carpets will be preferred where the climate is colder. The cheaper kinds of carpet- ordinary tapestry and’ Kidderminster carpets, that come in here in squares, are not likely to be manufactured in the Commonwealth for the next score of years. They look nice, arid the working man buys them to brighten up hislittle parlour or best room. If Senator Henderson’s request is agreed to, the man who uses linoleum will be able to get it free of duty, whilst the man living in a colder climate, who- would prefer some kind of carpet, will have to pay a very high duty upon it. The request is further inconsistent, because even those who would prefer to cover their floors with linoleum would like to have a hearthrug or doormat of carpet, on which 20 per cent, duty is paid. The proper thing for us to do is to reduce the duties on this item, as we have reduced other revenue duties.
– Such as the duties on silk - 15 and 10 per cent.
– Will the honorable senator accept those duties in this case?
– Then I venture to express the hope and belief that he will have to accept them.
– In the discussion of this item, we have been given some useful or certainly some startling information. Possibly I do not entirely grasp the protectionist argument, but the substance of that used by Senator McGregor, and confirmed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, is that the more successful a protected industry becomes, the higher the duty which must be imposed to protect it. I do not think that is in accord with the doctrine of protection as understood in the United States of America, which may be called the fatherland of extreme protection. I believethat the practice begun there was to impose a duty for the purpose of establishing an industry, and when that purpose has been achieved, to gradually remove the duty. If - Senator McGregor’s view of the policv of protection be correct, it effectively destroys the argument used by Senator Stewart, who, I suppose, may be considered the Bayard of protectionists in the Senate. We began iri Australia by imposing low duties.
– They were revenue duties.
– that may be, but they were imposed for protectionist purposes, and after the industries were started with duties of 12 or 15 per cent., it is suggested that they should now be given a protection of 20. 30, or .40 per cent. If that be the correct course to follow, -in what position should we find ourselves if, following Senator Stewart’s suggestion, we started with a 30 per cent, duty on linoleums? If a factory for their manufacture were established in Australia, and it was proved that linoleums could be made here in the course of a few years, the honorable senator would inevitably come to Parliament with’ a demand for a duty of 60 or 100 per cent. Another argument to which I ask the consideration of the protectionists is this:. I regard blankets and flannels as more in the nature of necessaries than are floor cloths and linoleums ; but Senator Henderson voted for dear blankets and flannels, and proposes to vote for cheap floor cloths and linoleums.
– The ‘ circumstances which govern my vote in this instance differ from those which influenced’ me in voting in regard to blankets and flannels. Blankets and flannels are being made in Australia.
– I might have accepted that excuse had I not learned from Senator McGregor, whose statement was confirmed by Senator Best, that floor cloths and linoleums can, and probably will, be made here. Therefore, Senator Henderson is in a net.
– Not at all. Those honorable senators are at liberty to express .their opinions, but they do not speak for me.
– I prefer in “this instance to accept their statements as probably the more correct, and therefore regard the position of Senator Henderson as untenable. His fellow-protectionists have destroyed his arguments. I. rose chiefly to emphasize the extraordinary statement ‘’ of protectionists that the more successful our protected industries become, the higher must our duties be. If thatis to be so, the people of Australia will probably in a short time have to reconsider the position.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 115 by leaving out the words “ Floor Cloths “ and by adding the” following new paragraph : - “ b. Floor cloths, free “ (Senator Henderson’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Aves … … 4
Noes … … 23
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Clemons) put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 115 free.
The Committee divided.
Majority …. … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I regret that I am unable to get the goods under this item in free, but I do say that every honorable senator who voted to make them free will be doing his best in a practical way if he will now support me in trying to make the duty 10 per cent. Those honorable senators who voted to make the item free have done so, if they were honest, for this purpose and no other : to remove the burden of taxation. They recognise that this is a revenue duty, and they do not want to raise revenue from such an item. If they are honest they will prefer 10 per cent, to 20 per cent.
– If they are what ?
– I am not referring to Senator Neild. If they are honest in their votes they will prefer a duty of 10 per cent, to one of 20 per cent.
– The honorable senator does not mean to insinuate how Senator Neild will vote.
– I have no doubt about Senator Neild. If I moved to make the duty 5 per cent, he would support me.
– Hear, hear.
– With a view of bringing about some practical result, which I think is hopeful, I now move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 115 (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 10 per cent.
– I did not quite understand what Senator Clemons meant by saying that if honorable senators are honest they will support him in his request. We have had a great deal of time occupied with displays of temper about the votes of honorable senators. I hope that I shall be considered quite as honest as Senator Clemons is in the vote which I shall give, even though I do not support him.
– I hope that the Committee will not make a differentiation in regard to this item. It really relates to matters of household necessities which are used in Australia by. all grades of society. It is on exactly the same level as other items of a revenue character with which we have previously dealt.
– Not exactly, because we have grouped others, but this stands by itself.
– The grouping of the other items makes no difference to my argument. The point is that 20 per cent, is too high for a revenue duty, and a revenue duty this is. In . relation to revenue duties we have already adopted the standard of 15 per cent, and 10 per cent. That is what I think we ought to agree to now.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.2]. - We have not been successful in securing the making of this item free, but I have a great deal of pleasure in supporting, and shall have still more pleasure in voting with. Senator Clemons in respect to the request which he has submitted. I cannot help thinking, in view of the passage of arms which seems to be taking place between representatives of the tight little island, of the phrase used, I do not know how many years ago, and which with the alteration of a word, I will apply to present circumstances - “ Behold how these Tasmanians love one another !”
– I cannot understand the attack made upon me by Senator Dobson. I was never more surprised in my life.
– I do not think that there is any pretence that carpets, carpeting, floor cloths, floor and carnage mats of any material except coir, lap dusters, whatever they may be, and noor rugs and coverings, are goods which need a protective duty, lt cannot be pretended that they are articles which are made in the country. It seems strange that as a free-trader I should be found putting forward any argument of. the kind, but my object in voting for a reduction of the duty on these goods is not from any fiscal standpoint whatever beyond this - that I think that the consumers of the Commonwealth are being so outrageously “had” under the vast majority of items in this Tariff, that if it is possible to get even one duty reduced somewhat, it is my duty in the interests of the vast mass of consumers to vote for the proposed reduction. For these reasons I shall be very happy to vote with Senator Clemons. I hope there will be a sufficiency of honorable senators having a similar regard for the consumers to secure the carrying of the proposed reduction of this most excessive duty on a number of goods that concern the poor rather than the rich.
– Whilst I regret that we have not decided to request that the duty be removed, I am sure that it will be a source of extreme satisfaction to tens of thousands of people in the Commonwealth to learn that our friends of the Labour Party have “ thrown up the sponge,” so far as direct taxation is concerned. It is not long since we learned that the Labour Party would on no account vote for revenue duties. We were told that they believed in direct taxation, and it was understood that the principal plank in their platform was that of land values taxation. Yet honorable senators of that party have acknowledged tonight - Senator McGregor, at all events, has done so - that he considers that for all practical purposes there is not within the scope of the Tariff one revenue item. It will be a relief to many people to learn that the desire on the part of the Labour Party for land values taxation is apparently dead and buried.
– Senator Gray appears to have the Labour Party on the brain. Nearly every time he addresses the Senate he abuses it.
– I was not abusing it.
– Were the Labour Party alone divided on the question upon which we took a vote a few minutes ago? Did not Senator Findley and I vote with the “Ayes,” and did not Senator Sayers, who is one of the biggest Tories in the Senate, vote against us? I hope that Senator Millen will take care, when next his party holds a caucus, to impress upon his followers the desirableness of: toeing the mark and following him. The Labour Party on the fiscal question are free to act as they individually- think well. It is not with us a question of policy Some of us happen to be protectionists, while others are free-traders. I am a protectionist, and claim to be consistent. If the Minister in charge of the Bill had not failed to show that the duty was a protective one, I should not have voted against it. The honorable senator failed to do .so, and even the Government Whip was not game.to try to help him out of his difficulty. But Senator McGregor - whom I acknowledge as my leader in many matters, although not in regard to the fiscal question unless I am consulted- - rose and addressed the Committee. Senator Best then proceeded to proclaim the virtues of the statement made by Senator McGregor, as much as to say that members of the Labour Party should come into line with their leader. We did not. We have our own convictions, and I am satisfied that I was consistent in the attitude that I took up. Who would describe Senator Dobson as a labour man? How did he vote on the occasion to which reference’ has been made? He voted with the Government, although he is continually denouncing it. I do not wish to waste time; but when I hear honorable senators damning all parties save their own, I feet it necessary to remind them of the lines -
O wad some power the giftie gie us To see oursel’s as ithers see us ! It wad frae monie a blunder free us, And foolish notion.
If I were to assume the position recently taken up bv Senator Neild, I would say that I should stand here for an hour until honorable senators became quiet; but I am not such’ a fool. I want to say, however, that I have voted conscientiously. I am not prepared to go as far as Senator Stewart is, but I do contend that whilst we have an overflowing revenue we should make everything as free as possible, particularly for the working classes, unless it can be shown that the duty relating to it is a protective one. My conservative friends claim a lot more credit for consistency than they are entitled to. On this occasion they were very much mixed. Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 115; “Carpets, &c.,” (imports under General Tariff), ad val., 10 per cent. (Senator Clemons’ request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Mulcahy) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 115, ad val. (General Tariff), 15 per cent.; (United King- dom), 10 per cent.
Postponed item 116. Coir Mats and Matting, and Fenders, ad val., 25 per cent.
– I presume that the fenders referred to in this item are ship’s fenders. I do not think . that they are made in the Commonwealth.
– Any quantity of them are made here.
– In the gaols.
– And outside of them.
– Can the VicePresident of the Executive Council assure me that any considerable quantity of coir matting is made in the Commonwealth . outside of our gaols?
– It is made in the Blind Asylums and also by Messrs. Miller Bros.
– I see no reason why the item should not be subject to the same rate of duty as that accepted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council a little while ago, namely, 15 per cent.
– There is no reason why all these articles should not be manufactured in. Australia.
– Seeing that my appeal to the Vice-President of the Executive Council is in vain, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 116 15 per cent.
– I have heard itstated that the articles specified in this item are made chiefly in our gaols. In New South Wales I know that the bulk of them are made in the Blind Asylums. Seeing that we have extended a much larger measure of protection to many industries which are manned by persons who are in possession of all their senses, I do not feel inclined to undulycut clown a duty which may be of assistance to those who are suffering from an affliction.
– Neither do I, but that is not a fair argument to use.
– At any rate, it is an argument that appeals to me. If Senator Clemons will amend his proposal by substituting “ 20 per cent.” for “ 15 per cent.” I shall vote with him.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.21]. - It is true that in New South Wales coir mats, matting, and fenders are chiefly made in the Blind Asylums, but that is not the case in Victoria. As a matter of fact, I do not think that there is a blind asylum in Victoria.
– Oh, yes, there is.
– There certainly ought to be. But upon several oc-. casions when attempting to reach a popular centre of entertainment - I refer to the Melbourne Cricket Ground - I have had to force my way . through a crowd of unfortunate blind. and a still larger crowd of children who were begging subscriptions for them.
– One has to do that in Sydney.
– That is not so.
– One can find more beggars in Sydney in ten minutes than he can discover in Melbourne in a week.
– Nonsense. What is the use of this incipient rioting on. the part of the one supporter of the Government? As a stranger and a pilgrim in the land, I was forced to the conclusion that nobody took any heed of the blind in Victoria, on account of the unseemly exhibition, to which I have referred. But if there be an institution for the care of theblind in Melbourne, and if- the afflicted inmates - for whom I entertain the greatest sympathy - are enabled to assist that institution by their labours, we ought to extend some consideration to them,, especially in view of the fact that we have been voting all kinds of fiscal benefits to the lusty, the strong and particularly to the rich. So far. the whole object of this Tariff has been to breed, if possible, in Australia, the same class of financial parasite that has been eating the heart out of the great Republic of America - I refer to millionaires. That being the. case, I shall withdraw from the attitude of sympathy which I had intended to assume towards Senator Clemons’ pronosal. I do not like to vote against one of the members of this Committee who, according to the views which he entertains - very many of which I share - has shown himself to be sternly consistent, like myself - unpopularly consistent, in fact. But under the circumstances, all that we can do is to retain the duty proposed under the general Tariff, and afterwards to grant a preference of 5 per cent, upon this item to the- products of the United Kingdom. J am sorry that I do not see my way in the circumstances to vote for 15 per cent. I am prepared - I say it with regret - to leave the general Tariff duty as -it is, and strive for what seems a reasonable and fair thing in the shape of a preferential du’tv of 20 per cent.,- as we have been granting preferences to the United Kingdom pretty well all through this division of the schedule.
– I hope Senator Clemons will not persist with his request, for two reasons. The first, which has been urged by Senator Millen, is that this is a class of goods that are made in our blind asylums, and that can be easily made by cripples and others who have the misfortune to suffer physical infirmity. There is no reason why we should not make the whole of this coir matting here. From that stand-point, recognising it to be a thoroughly protective duty, the Committee ‘should have no hesitation in voting for 25 per cent.
– I regret that on this occasion I shall have to sever my connexion with my twin friend, Senator Neild. I am sorry that the blind and the maim . have been introduced into this discussion. I sympathize as deeply with all who are afflicted and distressed as does any other honorable senator. We should do all we can to ameliorate their condition, but I see no connexion between them and the duty levied on these articles. We are here to do our best for the people of the whole Commonwealth. I believe that the prosperity of the country, promoted by just legislation, will do far more to improve the conditions of the blind, the maim, and the suffering .than any protective duty. I shall, therefore, support Senator Clemons’ request..
– I should not have risen again but for Senator Best’s last remark. He said, first, “ Keep up the duty because those affected are the blind.” Then he said, “ Keep up the duty because it is protective.”
– Hear, hear.
– What does the Minister’s automaton - his megaphonesay “Hear, hear” to? There are’ many protective duties in the Tariff, into the discussion df which this hypocrisy about the blind has not been .dragged. What did Sena:or Trenwith and Senator Best do in those cases? There was no question of the blind when they clamoured for 40 per cent, protection. Now the Minister says, “ This duty is not only protective, but it is t’o protect the blind; give them 25 percent.” What rank hypocrisy that sort of thing is ! If I had adopted Senator. Best’s attitude, I should have said, “ Let us prohibit the importation of these goods, and secure their manufacture to the blind of Australia. If you cannot do it by a line in the Tariff prohibiting importations .absolutely, make it the highest duty in the Tariff.” I do not think much better of Senator Millen’s attitude.
– The honorable senator does not think much of anybody’s attitude but his own.
- Senator Millen said, “ The blind are concerned, so I will not go below 20 per cent. ‘ ‘ He cannot vote for 15 per cent, on principle, but for the sake of the blind he is willing to put on ‘ or take off 5 per cent. It is a great pity that the question of the blind was brought in at all. I daresay if we could go into the cold facts of the case it would be found that the quantity of these goods manufactured by the blind is small.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.30]. - Can the Vice-President of the Executive Council tell the Committee the value’ of these goods made in the Commonwealth, or the value of those imported?
– I cannot, because they are grouped.
– Clearly there cannot be a great deal imported, because the bulk of the importations will be of carpets, carpeting, and floor cloths, and I seethat the total was under £500,000 for the whole of the Commonwealth. If I had noticed that before, it might have caused me to temper my remarks as to what I intended to do. “ I admit that I was influenced by the sentimental side of the question introduced by Senator Millen.
– It was not introduced by me.
– Then let me say that I was influenced bythe exceedingly, extremely, and excessively sentimental manner in which Senator Millen submitted the proposition. As I said what I would do, I must keep my word - or forfeit my bond, which I am not in the habit of doing. I shall vote against the request.. If it is negatived, I hope that a little more reason will be shown, and a less drastic proposition made, than to reduce the duty to the old rate. I quite understand Senator Millen’s position. He is pledged to the old duties, whatever- they are. in most cases.
– He does not keep his. pledges.
– I keep both my pledges and my temper. Senator Clemons keeps neither.
– I know that the proposal now before the Committee is to revert to the old duty of 15 per cent., but as the Committee insist on taxing every consumer in the Commonwealth for the benefit of imaginary units scattered over Australia, it appears to be perfectly useless for any one, even for the sake of consistency, to endeavour to limit the wild enthusiasm of a majority who are in favour of taxing everybody. as far as possible. That is evidently the game which is on foot.
Question- That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 116 (Coir Mats, &c.) ad. val. . 15 percent. (Senator Clemons request) - put.
The Committee divided.
Majority … …11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Colonel Neild) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on -item 116 (imports from the United Kingdom), ad val., 20 per cent.
Postponed item 117. Cesies and Cushions, in part or wholly made up : articles as under and the like, not being piece goods, viz. : - articles of Furnishing Drapery and Napery, including Quilts, Table-covers, Doyleys, Tray-cloths, Sheets, Pillow-cases and Covers, Bolster Cases, Counterpanes, Bed Spreads, Table Mats, Splashers, Tablecloths, Runners, Mantel Borders, Toilet Sets, Bags for Linen, Brush and Comb Bags, Nightdress Cases, Antimacassars. Handkerchief Sachets, ad val. (General Tariff), , 25 per cent.; (United Kingdom), 20 per cent.
– This item embraces a number of common household necessities, some of which can and are being made here, but a great many of which are not, and are not likely to be, made here, and are, therefore, not legitimate subjects for so high a rate of duty.
Cosies and cushions can be made here, but drapery and napery and quilts, other than sewn or padded, cannot. In many respects this item is on all fours with several preceding items, and I have two requests, the first of which is that after the word “ quilts ‘” the words “ sewn and padded “ be inserted. This will distinguish the quilts that can be made here from those that cannot. I also intend to ask the Com.mittee to omit the following items from the item - table-covers, doyleys, tray-cloths, counterpanes, bed-spreads, table-mats, splashers, table-cloths, runners and mantelborders.
– All these are being made here from imported material.
– Of course.
– Pardon me; the articles are not being made here. If Senator Trenwith calls hemming a piece of cloth making a thing, then he is right. Will the honorable senator say that towels or cotton quilts are made here?
– Quilts are being made from material which is imported free.
– With the exception of sewn or padded quilts not a single quilt is made in Australia, and this duty has no effect in a protective sense. Are we to tax cleanliness to the extent of 25 per cent, on towels? Of all the articles I have mentioned I do not know of any that are made here, except, perhaps, doyleys, and I am not particular whether these .are included in the request or not.
– Every woman makes her own doyleys ; or, at any rate, a good many women do.
– The honorable senator is quite right, but doyleys are sold by the thousand and are not made here as an article of industry.
– A number of poor women make them for sale.
– If it pleases the honorable senator I shall leave doyleys out of the request. Table-covers come here ready woven, and there is no reason for imposing a duty of 25 per cent., when, in the case of other revenue duties, we have been satisfied with 15 per cent. Counterpanes are under the same heading as quilts, bedspreads, table-mats, splashers, table-cloths, runners, and mantel borders. I have not included sheets, which do afford a little employment in the way of. hemming in factories.
– All that is done with a shirt is the cutting-out and sewing.
– There is no analogy. The articles I have enumerated are articles of daily use and necessity, with perhaps the exception of doyleys, and I contend that there is no need for protection, seeing that no industrial employment is afforded.
– The honorable senator has just admitted that material is imported and made up here.
– I propose to leave in the item those articles which do afford- a little employment. I want the Committee to deal with them in precisely the same way as it dealt with -the item’ including carpets and floor cloths.
– Nothing of the kind.
– Does the honorable senator mean to tell me that the two items are not on the same plane?
– They are not.
– Is not a quilt or a counterpane as necessary in a house as is a piece of carpet?
– There is a lot of work, done in Australia in connexion with pillow-cases.
– I did not propose to take pillow-cases out of the item.
– The articles are nearly all in’ the same category.
– I admit that the hemming of sheets and the making of pillowcases and covers give employment, but those articles I do not propose to take out of the item. The only articles I want to take out are those which we do not make and which do not give employment.
– What are they?
– Table covers, for instance.
– The making of table covers certainly gives employment.
– Certainly not. There is no factory in Australia for the manufacture of them.
– I did not say that there was. a factorv. Thev are finniky -things.
– I doubt if the’ honorable senator, who is so emphatic, could even tell me what a table cover is.’ We sometimes make patchwork counterpanes in our own houses, but there is certainly no industry for the making of them. It may be taken up as fancy work by a lady, but. it certainly gives no industrial employment. Why should we impose a high duty on articles which are necessary in every poor man’s family ? Nearly every one of these articles is an absolute necessity.
– Do we not make splashers here?
– No. I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 117 by inserting after the word “ Quilts “ the words “ sewn and padded.”
– I hope that the Committee will not set to work to mutilate an item which has been framed by experienced men in such a Svay as to enable us to deal with the articles under one duty. The articles have been grouped with care by the Department as the result of experience. Generally speaking, the raw material for all this class” of work is admitted free, and it is undertaken by women, principally old women.
– Which of the articles ?
– Every article.
– The- honorable senator is talking absolute nonsense.
– Those who instruct me know infinitely more about this subject than do the honorable senators who interject. The making of each article covered by this item gives a certain amount of employment here. I do not suggest for a moment that there are factories for the manufacture of each one of the articles.
– Nor is there any industrial employment given.
– I am told most distinctly that in the case of each article employment is afforded, chiefly to elderly persons. The item includes such articles as furnishing drapery and napery, sheets, pillow-cases, covers, bolster cases, counterpanes, bed-spreads, table mats, tablecloths, runners, mantel -borders, bags for linen, brush and comb bags, nightdress cases, and handkerchief sachets. I could understand Senator Mulcahy submitting a request in respect of the duty on the articles, but a proposal to take one article out of the item and include it in another item is one which honorable senators should not entertain for a moment. I ask my honorable friend to permit the grouping as it now stands to remain, and if he is dissatisfied with the duty to submit a request on which we can take a vote. I beg him not to attempt to disturb the grouping, as that would involve complication, trouble, and waste of time. I assure him that there is hardly an article included in the item which is not made at home by women, particularly by ‘elderly women.
– If I were disposed to do a factious thing I would take the Minister at his word and try to secure, and I believe that if I tried I could secure, a reduction of the duty on these articles in keeping with the reduced duties on other articles. I admit that certain articles included in the item are manufactured here and give a certain amount of employment to persons of the class to which the honorable senator has referred. Towels, quilts,and counterpanes are not imported in the piece to be made up here, but are imported ready for use, and are necessary in every household. To impose a duty of 35 per cent, on the cotton counterpane used on the poor man’s bed is nothing short of robbery.
– Towels are cut and made up here.
– The finer qualities of huckaback used by the wealthier classes of the people are sometimes cut and made up here; but the Turkish towel and the rough hard towels, which working men like best, are imported ready for use.
– The Minister will accept the exemption of the three articles the honorable senator has mentioned if he coaxes him.
– I am afraid the Minister will not do so, because he is not properly posted on this matter. I am speaking about something on which I am qualified to speak. I have been selling these goods for the last thirty-five years, and when the Vice-President of the Executive Council tells me that employment is given in the making of these things here, I can only say that he has been wrongly informed.
– Does the honorable senator say that eiderdown quilts are not made here?
– I have not referred to eiderdown quilts, which are made here, and on which a duty of 25 per cent, might perhaps be legitimately imposed. I am prepared to reduce the list I have suggested.
– It would be a great mistake to break up these items.
– I wish to secure consistency, and if the honorable senator looks at item 118, which covers curtains, blinds, and other household requisites of that kind, he will find that the articles to which I have referred could be properly grouped with them.
– We prefer the grouping of the schedule.
– The honorable senator prefers a great many thingsthat he does not get.
– So far, we have not been very far wrong.
– That is because, unfortunately, the, honorable senator will not give way until he is beaten. I should like him to show a more conciliatory spirit, and not to regard the Tariff in its present Form as a sacred thing which should not on any account be disturbed. What I suggest would no doubt lead to some reduction of revenue, but I speak of goods on which it is not right that high duties should be imposed. If Senator Stewart were present, I am sure that he would be in favour of having some of these articles admitted free of duty.
– Would the honorable senator support that?
– That is not what I desire, but there is.no reason why a duty of 15 per cent, should be charged on some of these articles and 25 ‘per cent, on others.
– Let the honorable senator move the omission of the articles to which he has referred.
– It has been said that employment is given in the hemming of diaper, towelling ; but the number of these in use is absolutely insignificant when compared with the number of towels imported ready for use. If the VicePresident of the Executive Council will accent such a request, I will move for the omission of cloths, n.e.i., table covers, counterpanes, and towels.
– I direct the attention of the honorable senator to the fact that already there is a request before the Committee. I suggest that it would simplify matters if he were to allow that request to be disposed of, and then move a request for the omission of the words “counterpanes and cloths,” and the insertion of a new sub-item covering counterpanes, cloths, table covers, and towels. I point out that “towels “ are not mentioned in the item, and we. cannot omit from it something which is not mentioned in it.
– You are quite right, sir, but I cannot discuss the insertion of the words “sewn and padded” without referring to the articles which I afterwards desire to have omitted from the item. I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council to accept the suggestion I have made.
– I gave the honorable senator the assurance that in connexion with each of the articles he has mentioned employment is given locally to people engaged in making them up, and, in the circumstances, I cannot accept his suggestion.
– Does any one know where they are made. Where are towels made in the Commonwealth?
– They are imported in the piece and cut up.
– It is quite correct that a few diaper towels are imported in the piece and cut up, but for every dozen cut up and hemmed here, giving little . employment in factories, a thousand dozen’ towels imported ready made are sold. Huckaback towels cut up here are often sent to the Old Country to be hemmed. Cotton quilts and counterpanes are imported ready for use, and they represent a very important item in every household. I am anxious to arrange a compromise without breaking up the item which the VicePresident of the Executive Council regards so sacredly.
Question put. The. Committee divided.
Ayes … … … 10
Noes … … … 16
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 117 by leaving out the words “ Quilts, Table covers,” “ Counterpanes.”
– The honorable senator should accept the. last division as a test vote.
– Certainly not. Honorable senators have come in who hardly know the effect of that division. I intend subsequently to propose a new item, making quilts, table-covers, counterpanes, and towels, household necessaries which are not manufactured here, dutiable at 15 and 10 per cent., those being the revenue rates which we have decided to apply to similar materials.
.; - The articles enumerated are included in this item because the raw material of which they are composed is for the most part imported free of duty, and employment is afforded in the making of them here.
Senator McCOLL (Victoria) £10.13]. - This item comprises a number of materials, some of which are made here, while others are- not, so that the duties are in some cases protective, but in others merely revenue producing in their incidence. Does the Vice-President of the Executive Council say that counterpanes are made here? .
– Yes; cotton counterpanes.
– The honorable senator cannot - name a factory where such counterpanes are being made, or where table-covers or the ordinary fringed cotton quilts used on the beds of most of the people of the country are made. I fear, as has been said in the Senate, that the Tariff is becoming a machine for taxing the masses, and while I am prepared to vote for fair and reasonable protection, 1 do not wish to kill the policy as it was killed in- Victoria by the imposition of duties at which the people revolted. I fear lest the people may revolt at this Tariff, and, later on, vote for free-trade, if we go on imposing excessive duties on goods which cannot be made here.
, - The Committee should in the present circumstances appreciate the truth of the saying of Beaconsfield, “.How divine a thing is a fact !” The Minister tells us that every article in the item is made here,, while Senator Mulcahy, who has beenthirty years in business, and knows what he is talking about, and Senator McColl, directly contradict him.
– I suppose they know more than the Customs officials^
– As -the votes of honorable senators are likely to . be influenced by the Minister’s statement, I ask him to ascertain from his officials whether they are satisfied that the facts are as he has represented them. He should ascertain from them where these goods are made. 1 can understand that a few of the articles mentioned are made in the homes of the people, but that is not what we want to know. My honorable friend knows perfectly well that if 2 per cent, of the towels used in the country are made here, and 98 per cent, are imported, the argument is with us. We want to be quite fair, - but we want to get the whole of the facts, and I ask the . Minister’ to be perfectly certain that the facts given by the officials are correct.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [10.16]. - Really I must protest against the responsibility for the facts regarding these matters’” of local manufacture being thrust upon the Customs Department. The Customs Department have to do with imports, not with local factories, and how in the world are the gentlemen concerned with the import. trade of Australia to be also held responsible for all that goes on in the factories of this country? It is absurd to think that they can know. But, apart from that, I, with the greatest good-will and personal kindliness, beseech, beg, implore, and supplicate the Minister not to be so infernally “cocksure” about everything. . There is nothing that the honorable senator does not know, whether it is about driving a tack in a factory. at Coolgardie, or catching a shark at Thursday Island. He can give the’ A B C and all the details of every possible function connected with commerce and manufacture throughout the Commonwealth.
– That is not bad.
– It is not bad, but it is phenomenal - it is incomprehensible.
– Has it anything to do with the item?
– Yes, I think it has, and, unfortunately, with a great many other items also; because the Minister expects us to accept his ipse dixit as being absolutely unanswerable. But, apart from jocularity, I ask the Minister not to be so absolutely positive about everything that comes before us, and not to be so dogged in his opposition to everything that is proposed. On many occasions, as in the present instance, the Vice-President of the Executive Council ought to have been willing to admit that, just as he is one of the most prominent and profound ornaments of the law, it is possible for the Committee to contain a few gentlemen having a straggling knowledge of some of the business propositions that come before us in connexion with the Tariff. Just as Senator Best is an ornament of the law, I believe that Senator Mulcahy is equally an ornament of that branch of commerce’ that deals with such articles as are now under consideration. Just as I am prepared to follow the Minister in a matter of law, I beg him in his graciousness and his extreme condescension to be willing to follow Senator- Mulcahy’s advice in a matter pertaining to these articles of commerce. Senator Mulcahy is an authority on such things, and in the same way I assure the Minister that I am an authority with regard to some of them. Am I not an authority on bed covers? Do not I know what a pillowcase is, and at what it ought to be taxed? I do not think that Senator Mulcahy should be looked up to as the sole responsible authority on such questions. Does not Senator Trenwith appreciate the comforts of a cosey, that it is proposed to tax under this item, and does not Senator Cameron know the inestimable benefits attaching to spats that come in under the n.e.i. provision? When the Minister considers these matters, he must admit that there are man experts here. I am going to support the man who knows what he is talking about rather than a gentleman who is profoundly unacquainted with the matters that he has the Ministerial responsibility of submitting to the Committee.
– I am very glad that this subject is being discussed’ a little more good humouredly than has hitherto been the case.
– The Minister is responsible ‘for its not being so hitherto.
– Not so. I may explain, as I mentioned a little earlier, that, first of all, I am very desirous that the grouping of this Tariff should not be disturbed. The items have been grouped after much consideration by experienced officers; and if one item is to be taken out and put in another place, and another item is to be removed from its group and put elsewhere, it must seriously disturb the Tariff; and it is difficult to realize. exactly what the effect will be. Speaking generally, the object in” grouping these various items together is to bring a particular class of goods together, which goods, it is understood, are. essentially the. work of a particular class of people. If honorable senators ask me to enumerate the factories where these goods are made, I could not, of course, do so.” What I have stated is that the cutting, trimming, and fringing of these various things afford a considerable amount of work to elderly people and to women. Very largely the work is done privately, but still those who do it are entitled to protection.
– Only privately.
– It is none the worse if the work is done privately. The people who do it deserve protection none the less because they, are not employed in registered factories. The point is that the work actually gives employment. Though I do not know exactly where the work is done, I am assured that there is not a thing mentioned in the item that ought not to be mentioned here. As I have said, the raw material is imported free, and it is cut up into shapes, or fringed, or otherwise dealt with. Under those circumstances, we can treat it grouped as it is, and we should then be able to fix such a duty as the Committee may think fair and reasonable.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council, has just asked the Committee not to disturb this item on the ground that it has been carefully thought out by experts and experienced officials. I venture to say that the Minister would address exactly the same appeal to the Committee with regard to every other item when an attempt was made by anybody on this side of the Chamber to interfere with it. But we did not hear that appeal from him when others sitting behind him’ wanted to disturb the grouping. When there was an attempt to take corsets out of one item and make a separate sub-item of them, the Minister did not ask us to consider that this grouping had been designed by experienced experts. It was the same when an attempt was made to put two items into one. The Minister approved of that. He now tells us that we must not think of taking such a small line as towels out of this item, because the expert wisdom of the Department has decided that they should be embodied in it. I do not think the Committee wi.ll’ be swayed by such a statement. If there is anything in it, it means that we ought not to alter a point or a comma in the Tariff as prepared by the officials. The responsibility is upon us to look into every item in the Tariff, and to request such amendments as s’eem desirable. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has endeavoured to assure the Committee that a great many goods covered by this item are made in Australia. I should like him to ask the experts of the Department whether it is not a fact that the great bulk of the goods imported coming under it consist of quilts, counterpanes, towels, and table-covers in a complete state, ready to be sold. There is not even a stitch to be put in them.
– That is not correct.
– I assure the honorable senator that it is..
– The great bulk of the goads covered by the item are imported in that way. If it be true that the great bulk of them are made up here, surely there is some official record of the number of hands so employed ?
– Let us dispose,.of these fripperies, and proceed with the item of hats and caps.
– I am anxious to push on with the business before us, but it is impossible for me to vote on information which, although not wilfully given with a desire to mislead, is nevertheless incorrect. If a great deal of work is done here in connexion with the articles imported under this item, surely the Minister can submit official figures as to the number of persons so employed. Senator Neild has pointed out, however, that there is no such record. I am forced to the conclusion, in the absence of any such statistics, that the item is a purely revenue one.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 117 by leaving out the words “ Quilts, Tablecovers,” “Counterpanes” (Senator Mulcahy’ s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved’ in the negative. Request negatived.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [10.31]. - I have a request to move, the adoption of which will facilitate the transaction of public business. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 117 by inserting after the words “Toilet sets” the words “Saddlebags in piece or otherwise.”
Saddle-bag is a well-known kind of cloth used for the covers of furniture, chairs, couches, and so forth. I may explain that at present the Department experiences some difficulty in determining whether these saddle bags are furnishing requisites or articles of ladies’ attire. They are certainly not identical with the saddle-bags which the over-lander uses, and which I have had the pleasure of using across the back of a reliable horse in days gone by. It appears that at the present time some difficulty is experienced by the Customs Department in determining whether saddle-bags should be . included under item 108, with which we have already dealt, as “articles’, n.e.i., partly or wholly made up from textiles, felts, furs, or feathers, not included under items 107 and 134, and including materials cut into shape therefor. ‘ ‘ With a great deal of confidence I submit that an article which appertains to the care of furniture is undoubtedly one of furnishing and not one of apparel or attire, as is claimed by the Customs Department. Who. ever heard of any human being attiring himself in a saddle-bag ?
Department” to classify saddle-bag coverings for furniture as felts and feathers. Just imagine a person who desires to leave his home for a few days attiring all his furniture in feathers. Imagine putting feathers all round his dining-room furniture and decorating his drawing-room sofa with furs. As item 117 undoubtedly refers to furnishing articles, and as the class of saddle-bags to which I have alluded are unquestionably furnishing articles, I trust that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will for once exhibit that charming acquiescence which always delights the Committee when he gives expression to his most agreeable attributes.
– I am very much afraid that my honorable friend has tempted me for once to agree to his suggestion. Under the interpretation given by the Customs authorities saddle-bags come under the heading of “ articles, n.e.i., partly or wholly made up from textiles.” I do not think that there is any objection to Senator Neild ‘s request. ‘
– Is there not a slight error in Senator Neild’s proposal, which refers to “saddle-bags”? Ought it not to read “saddle-bag”?
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [10.43]. - I thank the honorable senator for directing my attention to the error, and I ask leave to amend my proposal accordingly.
Request, as amended, agreed to.
– I move - -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 117 (imports under General ‘Tariff), ad val., 15 per cent.
This item includes many revenue-producing articles upon which there is no justification whatever for extorting from the poorer classes of the community the enormously high duties of 25 and 20 per cent. Those rates do represent an extortion to which I know some of my labour friends would not agree if they were acquainted with the technicalities of the business with which we are now dealing. Statements have been made in this Chamber to-night which from personal knowledge. I know to be absolutely wrong. We are now asked to impose a tax upon cleanliness and comfort- .
– The honorable senator would not vote for admitting towels or cloths free.
– I would not. But there is a difference between taxing them fairly and taxing them unfairly. I have followed consistently throughout the Tariff the line which I laid down at the beginning, to vote for fair revenue duties in the revenue items, and fair protective duties in the protective items. I defy any honorable senator to charge me with inconsistency. It is now proposed to charge these very high duties upon articles of absolute necessity in every household. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, refers occasionally for information to his departmental officer, who supplies it to the- best of his ability, but who in some cases does not know a great many details of how trade is handled. Will the. honorable senator, between now and to-morrow morning, ascertain the proportionate value of the towels, quilts, counterpanes, and a few other articles of absolute household’ necessity that come in in a finished state?They are goods in use in every workman’s house, just the same as are carpetsor linoleums.
Tariff : Postponement of Divisions^ Senator BEST (Victoria- VicePresident of the Executive Council) [1.0.48]. - In moving -
That the Senate dp now adjourn,
I wish to intimate that when Division V, of the Tariff is completed I shall ask for the postponement of Divisions VI. and VIa. until after Divisions’ VII.’ and VIII. Division VI. is an exceedingly heavy division. The Minister of Home Affairs will take charge of Divisions VII. and VIII., and whilst he is so .engaged I propose to apply myself to Divisions VI. and VIa.
– I nave n0 objection to the course the Minister suggests, but, as a matter of convenience to honorable senators generally, will he, if at any time during the progress of the Tariff he desires any further postponements, give us the longest notice possible, because the very disability that troubles him in regard to looking at the work ahead is still heavier for privatemembers ?
– I have been looking into the next division, and have made no preparation for the two subsequent divisions.
Question resolved iti the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.50 p’.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 February 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080220_senate_3_43/>.