4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
In reference to cabled comments of the London Financial News on the Insurance Commissioners’ Report, appearing simultaneously with the presentation of the Report to Parliament, can he state by whose authority the report was made available to the- London journal prior to Its presentation to Parliament?
– The. comments of the London Financial News were not on the report of the Insurance Commissioners on Fire Insurance which was laid on the table of the Senate on the 17th
November, but on the report by Mr. G. H. Knibbs, the Commonwealth Statistician, to the ‘ Minister of Trade and Customs, on Social Insurance, which was published some time ago.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What amount of rum made from beet sugar molasses was imported into .Australia during the first six months of this calendar year?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is that the information is not available, and there is no means of obtaining it.
– I have tq lay upon the table the report of the President to the Standing Orders Committee, formulating and tabulating the decisions arrived at during the session of 1909.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Lands Acquisition Act 1906. - Brighton, Victoria : Post office. - Notification of the acquisition of land for site.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905. - Proposed Regulations.
Second Report by Director of Fisheries on Fishing Experiments carried out by the F.I.S. Endeavour, during period September, 1909, to October, 1910.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with amendments. Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the message being at once considered and all consequent action taken.
House of Representatives’ amendments in clauses 7, 15 and 16 and inserting new clause 1 6a, agreed to.
Clause j 9 (Military College).
House of Representatives’ . Amendment. - Add the following proviso : - “ Provided further that persons who have served three years in the forces may at any time before they attain the age of twenty-seven years, and after passing the prescribed examination for entry, enter the Military College for the purpose of becoming graduates thereof.”
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the amendment be agreed to, with the following amendment : - That all the words after the word “ that “ be left out, and the following words inserted in lieu thereof : - “ the regulations shall provide for admission to the Military College of any member of the Forces over the age of nineteen years who passes the prescribed examination and is recommended by the Governor-General in Council.”
.- I have again to direct attention to the strange attitude adopted by the Government in conducting the. business of this Chamber. Apparently Ministers seem to think that it is quite sufficient for them to get up and propose something, without condescending to give honorable senators’ any reason why they should take such action as ‘ is proposed. If we are to understand that that is to Be the method of conducting business, and that honorable senators supporting the Government are prepared to indorse it, there is really no reason why we should continue to attend this Chamber. The position is so extraordinary that I can hardly believe that the Government are serious in persisting in it. We have here an important amendment made’ in this Bill as it left the Senate. We are asked by the- Government to reject it in favour of an alternative .proposal made by themselves. There must be some reason for it, and it is certainly due to the Committee that the Government should say what the reason is. I shall be glad to resume my seat if the Vice-President of the .Executive Council is prepared to give the Committee the reasons, for the motion, he has proposed. Senator McGregor. - Certainly.
– I shall be glad to hear them, but I am bound to say that I think the honorable senator should have given them in submitting his motion.
– Senator Millen was on his - feet before I had time, to say a word. At this late stage of the session I do’ not believe in such lengthy explanations as there might be time for at the commencement of a session. If honorable senators are prepared to accept motions or amendments without explanation,’ I am prepared to let them go’. I think that is a very wise policy for the Government to adopt. The amendment which was made in this clause in ‘ another place has been seriously considered by the Government, and its probable effect taken into account. Although we are prepared to open the door of the
Military College as widely as possible, we have come to the conclusion that it would be wise to give some little advantage to the young men in our Defence Forces. We roust realize that in a very short time every youth in Australia will enter the Defence Forces, and we do not think it would be wise that the younger members of the forces should be pitted in open examination in every instance with older men who may possess very considerable advantages. Therefore, although the Government and the Defence Department are always prepared in the interests of the Commonwealth to make available for its defence any Special genius possessed by any member of the Defence Forces, they think that some amendment of the amendment made in another place is necessary. The amendment we propose will give some slight advantage to the rising generation, but if any one who has served in the Defence Forces shows an inclination to make his genius available in the defence of Australia a method is provided by which he may do so. He may under this amendment come up for examination for’ entrance to the Military College, but he must be recommended by the Governor-General in Council. I think that honorable senators will find that this will prove a much better method of making available the services of any man who has exhibited military genius in a later stage in life than the method proposed by the amendment carried in another place, under which the door would be open to all who are under the age of twenty-seven years. These are the reasons why the Government have declined to accept the amendment carried elsewhere, and propose to substitute something which, though not so wide, will carry out the intentions of those who have the best interests of the future Defence Forces of Australia in view.
– - I wish considering this question to remind the Committee of what I think should be the dual foundation of the Military College it is proposed to establish under this Bill. First of all, it ought to be the means of securing the efficient command of our Defence Forces by the most competent and best-trained men it will be possible for us to get. In the second place, it should stand marked for the fact that no conditions of social or financial position shall in any way influence entry into the establishment. Let us see how the statements made by the Vice-Pre- sident of the Executive Council square with these principles. The honorable senator states that it is the desire of the Government, in the amendment they propose, to give some advantage to younger men in competition with men who, by reason of their more advanced age, have acquired greater experience. That strikes at the very object and purpose of the College. The purpose of the College is not to secure men of a certain age, but the best men available. The Vice-President of the Executive Council now states that the Government propose to brush on one side the men who they admit are the best for our purposes in order to give an advantage to men whose sole qualification is their youth. Is it desired that we should say to a man who happens to be over nineteen years of age, 1 You must stand on one side, although you are better equipped, because there is some one here who is younger than you, and desires to enter the College?” Yet that is the logical conclusion of the honorable senator’s contention. What do the Government offer in place of the amendment carried in the House of Representatives? They offer a proposal which has not the slightest regard for any Democratic principle. This proposal closes the door to the great bulk of the people, but leaves the key with the Minister to be turned whenever sufficient influence can be brought to bear on the holder of it, and in favour of any person, irrespective of his age. Senator Long shakes his head ; but I ask him whether he has read the amendment proposed by the Government?
– Yes ; and I read it quite differently from the honorable senator.
– It is an unfortunate fact that the honorable senator always does read a proposal wrongly. The amendment which we are asked to dissent from provides that any person who has served for three years in the Citizen Forces may, at any time before attaining the age of twenty-seven years, secure entry to the Military College by passing the prescribed examination. That should be the touchstone to determine the persons who shall enter the College.
– Why restrict it to those under twenty-seven years of age?
– I am not now dealing with the age, but with the fact that, under the amendment as carried in another place, no one can pass into the College who has not shown that he possesses the necessary qualification.
– Under the Government’s amendment, a man might get in, even if he were thirty years of age.
– I have said that I am not now dealing with the question of the age, but with the fact that the amendment carried in another place makes it clear that a man may enter the College by virtue of the examination alone.
– Up to twenty-seven years of age.
– Yes; but under the Government proposal he may be qualified by passing the examination, and he may not be able to get into the College then, unless . his particular ability is discovered in some mysterious way by the Government of the day. Are we to make admission to the Military College dependent on Ministerial favour? That is the whole point. I am surprised that a Ministry that professes Democratic leanings should have ventured to submit an amendment of this character to leave in the hands of Ministers the power to discriminate between men desiring to enter the Military College. Surely the touchstone should be the ability to pass the prescribed examination?
– That is practically what is proposed. A man must pass the prescribed examination before he can enter the College.
– Does the honorable senator not’ see that, under the amendment proposed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, that is not sufficient?
– Why should it be? We want something more than the mere ability to pass an examination?
– Does the honorable senator suggest that it should be by Ministerial favour?
– It must be by some one’s favour, and why not by favour of the Minister?
– In the amendment as carried in another place there is no suggestion of Ministerial favour, nor was there in the Bill as originally introduced.
– There is none in the amendment proposed by the Government.
– I take it that honorable senators who are interjecting believe that a true interpretation of the Democratic principle is that a man must stand on one side, no matter what his qualifications, unless he secures the nomination of the Minister of Defence of the day. That is exactly what the Government’s amendment says.
– It says no such thing.
– Let the honorable “senator read it. It says -
Provided further that the regulations shall provide for the admission to the Military College of any member of the forces over the age of nineteen years who passes the prescribed examination -
– Hear, hear.
– But if he passes the examination, that does not secure his entry to the College, because the amendment further says - and is recommended by the Governor-General in Council.
That, in my judgment, is laying the axe at . the very root of what ought to be the basic principle on which the College is founded - that is to say, admission by ability alone. I should like to know whether my honorable friends opposite would be satisfied if persons who had passed the Public Service examination, and. had shown themselves to be qualified, were not entitled to be appointed unless the Ministry of the day regarded them as fit and proper persons for such appointments?
– Scores pass now who never get into the Public Service, and the same thing would take place here.
– If that be so, let us strike out the words “ and is recommended by the Governor-General in Council,” and let the matter depend on the passing of the examination, and I shall be content. I say that this is putting back the hands on the clock of time to say that when a man has come forward and proved his qualification by passing an examination the Minister of the day, which means the officers of the Department, may prevent his entry to’ the College if they do not regard him as a desirable person to admit. There would be no question as to his knowledge or capacity. That would be proved by his passing the examination. What possible objection will the officers whose advice will be followed by the Minister be able to take to a man who has passed his examination ?
– Suppose he is forty years of age. His age might then reasonably be held to disqualify him.
– Just now Ministers were pointing out that the amendment they propose, because it contains no limitation as to age, is more liberal than that carried in another place.
– I think it is, too.
– That is the answer *to my honorable friend.
– Suppose that he is physically unfit?
– Then he cannot pass the prescribed examination, because that examination will embrace physical fitness. Nobody can obtain admission to our Army or Navy without passing a medical examination. The whole question which we have to consider is whether admission to our Military College ought to be open on proof of ability, or whether admission to it should be by virtue of social position, money, or favour.
– That is what the honorable senator wants.
– Either I am unable to express my thoughts, or the honorable senator is unable to comprehend them. We know that originally the Government proposed that no man should be eligible to enter the Military College unless he were of a certain age-
– In my opinion, a reasonable opportunity for admission will be afforded to all classes.
– It is as clear as is the noonday sun that the majority of entrants will be young men, whose parents can afford to keep them without work during the early years of their ‘manhood. The amendment which was inserted in another place is founded on the belief that allcitizens should be eligible for admission to the College, provided they pass the necessary examination. But to-day we are asked to give out sanction to a system which is far more pernicious than is that which was originally proposed. I refer to the system of Ministerial favour. I do not think that any honorable senator believes in, or likes, that system. Surely it ought to be possible to devise an amendment which will secure what we desire in regard to the Military College, but which will exclude the pernicious idea of Ministerial veto or favour. We have often heard it said that the object of the Government was to throw the door to the higher positions in our Army open to the brains of Australia. Are we doing that here?
– If that be so, I do not know the meaning of the English language. Does the honorable senator tell me that we are throwing open the door to ability if we allow a boy who has passed the prescribed examination to be blocked by the Minister, acting on the advice of the Department ?
– The Minister would have to show reasons why the door was locked in such a case.
– I venture to say that he would not. If I were charged with’ administering the Act I would decline to give reasons.
– Parliament might force the honorable senator to do so.
– It could not. There is a limit even to the powers of Parliament.
– Then the honorable senator would have to pay the penalty.
– In the great number of cases the Minister would probably, say that, in the interests of the service, a particular candidate had been turned down. When an examination has been made the test of admission to the Military College, ought any body of men to be able to say to a candidate, “ In spite of the results of the examination we brush you on one side?”
– Suppose that a .successful candidate was not of good character ?
– That is provided for beforehand. No person can gain admission to any branch of our Public Service to:day in the absence of evidence of good character.
– What about the law examinations? Any person cannot sit for that.
– If a man has the knowledge and capacity, he cannot be prevented from passing his legal examination. It has been argued that it is intended to open the door of the Military College to men who are over the age of nineteen years. If that be so, what is wrong with the amendment which has been inserted in the Bill by another place?
– It stops short at twenty-seven years.
– The objection of the Government to it was that, by adopting that limit, men might obtain admission to the College whom it was not possible to train in the way that it is desirable that they should be trained. If the amendment made by the House of Representatives stands, a candidate over die age of nineteen years who passes the prescribed examination, will enter the Military College without having, to ask anybody’s permission. But, under the amendment of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, he will have to obtain the permission of the Minister of Defence. He will have to ask that gentleman to open the door of the College and let him in. If the Government intend to open the door to such candidates, the original proposal is good enough ; but, if they do not, die amendment of the VicePresident of the Executive Council is nothing more nor less than a fraud. . If honorable senators are not prepared to delete the whole clause, I ask them to agree to strike out the words, “ and is recommended by’ the Governor-General in Council.” I am perfectly certain that if honorable senators would discuss this matter, apart from their association with any political party, they would agree with me. If the bald proposition were put before them, “ Are you in favour of opening wide the door of the Military College, or any other branch of our Public Service, to merit, or to merit plus Ministerial approval ?” I know what their answer would be. Believing that they are not in favour of allowing any Minister to bar the admission to the College of a man who possesses the necessary qualifications, I ask them to support my effort to get the words which I have indicated deleted. I move -
That the motion be amended by leaving out the words “ and is recommended by the GovernorGeneral in Council.”
– I wish to say at once that I do not approve of the proposal of the VicePresident of the Executive Council. I agree very largely with the remarks which have fallen from Senator Millen. It. is ridiculous to say that a man over the age of nineteen years, who has passed the prescribed examination, cannot pass through the gates of. our Military College unless he is recommended by the GovernorGeneral in Council. Such a provision would simply throw the door open wide to all sorts of intrigue and political corruption. I am informed that the party with which I am associated agreed to this proposal ; and as the measure is a party one, I suppose that I must-
– Defence is not a party question at all. It has never been made one.
– I remember a statement being made that this was a party measure. The amendment of the VicePresident of the Executive Council is repulsive to me, because it will open the door to political patronage. A man may be able [to pass the examination for admission to the Military College with credit, but, unless he can pass the political head of the Department, he will have no more hope of getting through than I have of going to Heaven.
– The honorable senator must have a mighty poor opinion of the head of the Government.
– Why should any man have to lick the boots of the head of the Government? Is that the kind of thing of which the honorable senator approves? I recollect the period when men could become officers of the British Army only by purchasing their commissions, in addition to bringing influence to bear. Everybody knows the reign of corruption and rascality, and depravity in which that state of affairs resulted.
– The object of our Public Service Act was to abolish all that sort of thing.
– Certainly. If a man over the age of nineteen years can pass the necessary examination, he ought to be allowed’ to enter the Military College. Either that should be the case, or the door should be slammed in his face, and he ought to be told that, irrespective of whether he can pass the examination or not, he cannot gain entrance to it. In another place, an amendment was inserted in the Bill to permit of a man gaining admission to the College up to the age of twentyseven years. I agree with that amendment. I can quite believe that the military authorities are opposed to any extension of the age, and there is not the slightest doubt that the Minister of Defence is largely in their hands. The question we have to consider is whether we shall bar men of ability from promotion. Suppose that a man enters the service at an early age, without having had an opportunity to educate himself, and that while he is in the service he qualifies to pass the examination. Unless he can get the consent of the Governor-General in Council, which means the consent of the political head of the Department, who acts very largely on the advice of the head of the Military Department, he cannot proceed. After passing the examination he must set the wires in motion to pull the Minister of Defence.
– No, he has to pull the Minister of Defence before he goes up for examination.
– Yes, I suppose he would require to know whether, after passing the examination, he would get a recommendation from the Governor-General in Council -
– He would not be allowed to be examined until he had.
– I prefer the amendment carried in. another place. I think it is much fairer to the men, and much more in the interests of the service generally. I am not concerned as to what the military authorities say on the subject. I know that they desire to keep the profession as much as possible a close preserve. In Great Britain the people fondly imagined that with the abolition of the purchase system any man might become an officer, but the examination is so strict that a man must spend the best years of his life in qualifying to pass it. He must be in possession of a very large private income before he can occupy the position of an officer.
– What about the Macdonalds and the Finns, who rose from the ranks?
– They are the exceptions that prove the rule. The officering of the British Army is almost exclusively in the hands of the wealthy classes, and the fond ambition of the people of Great Britain, that it would be open to the humblest soldier to rise to the position of a field marshal, was only a wild and impossible dream.
– In Great Britain what is proposed here does not apply. Anybody can rise from the ranks there.
– If they pass the examination.
– No, they can rise from the ranks without going through Woolwich or Sandwich.
– Without’ going through a Masonic lodge?
– You want to substitute a Ministerial lodge.
– No, the Minister will always be under the control of Parliament.
– I think that the provision, as it stands, is very much better than the amendment, and as the question is not a party one, I intend to vote against the latter.
.- I certainly think that the amendment proposed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council is not one which we can support from a Democratic point of view.’ I think that if an individual passes the prescribed ex amination he should be qualified without further ado. If, in addition to passing that test, he has to be recommended by the Governor-General in Council, he may be precluded from obtaining that to which’ be is entitled. We should certainly open the door, as the Minister has stated, to all persons with brains. We should establish the Military College on the widest and most Democratic lines possible. No restriction should be put on any person desirous of entering the institution. But if, after a man has passed the test, his appointment has to depend on a recommendation from the Governor-General in Council, that will mean nothing but redtapism, and must lead to a lot of intrigue. It can serve no good purpose. If it is intended to guard against the admission of persons who are undesirable, surely the usual precautions taken to ascertain the character of an applicant are ample.
– Suppose that too many applications are made.
– That has nothing to do with the issue. If rules, for a competitive examination are laid down, and it is passed by certain persons, why should they be barred? We demand that the freest opportunity shall be afforded to persons to secure these positions without the intervention of red-tape. I disagree with the amendment moved by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and will vote for the deletion of the words, “ and is recommended by the Governor-General in Council.”
– Honorable senators should thoroughly understand the position before they express dissent to a proposal concerning a matter about which apparently they know very little. When the Tariff was under discussion here some years ago, all that the Opposition had to do was to sing out, “ Revenue duty !” and all the unreasonable Protectionists would respond to the call. The Opposition ! do not understand the question before the Committee to-day, otherwise they would not have talked as they have done. As soon as an honorable senator on that side talks about something being democratic, or a democratic principle, our democratic friends go mad on Democracy. I wish to make an explanation for the information of Senator Barker. Of course, it is hardly necessary in the case of Senator Stewart. If they will look at the clause, they will see that it contains two vital principles. There is the interest of the young Australian up to the age of nineteen years. There is no bar in his case. When he passes the examination, he is not required to be recommended by the Inspector-General, or the Governor-General, or anybody else, before he can enter the Military College. Will honorable senators get that fact into their minds, and consider it carefully before they record their votes? A great .majority of our population depend for their education upon the State schools. All parents are not in a position to send their boys to high schools and universities. Up to the age of nineteen years there will be no bar to the admission of a young Australian to the Military College, but after that age, there comes in the influence of higher education, wealth, and other things. When young men who have been to high schools and universities are put into competition with the sons of ordinary citizens, what chance will the latter have? The Government say that no matter what advantages may attach to an individual with respect to education, or social position, if he exhibits military genius, it is in the interest of the Commonwealth that he should receive every possible opportunity of proving his ability. We should not stop at twentyseven years of age, but leave the matter open so that the claims of any person who may apply for admission to the Military College may be considered. The object of the amendment is to put a young person up to the age of nineteen on a little more favorable basis than a student from a university of a more advanced age, who can pass almost any examination, and yet might not make as efficient a soldier as a younger man who has undergone a practical training. Honorable senators ought to understand the position before they begin to talk about Democracy and other matters of that description. I hope that Senator Millen’s amendment will not be carried.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD” (New South Wales) [3.28].- The Vice-President of the Executive Council has claimed that honorable senators on this side do not understand what Democracy is when they do not agree with the Government’s proposal to get over a difficulty which they encountered in another place. If that is the kind of Democracy to which he appeals, good-bye to theDemocracy of Australia. If ever therewas a provision to destroy democratic government, it is the one suggested by the Minister. What will be the effect of the amendment if adopted? If we get a Minister of Defence who thinks that he is particularly aristocratic, he will be ableto bar men who want to go to the College. He can say, “ The Governor-General in Council is not going to give you permission ; we want the pure merino, and not a man like you among our officers.” That is the position from one stand-point. It may be stated, of course, from the democratic stand-point, so-called, that the Minister will be prepared to accept a man who has passed the prescribed examination. But that cannot be unless the man can find favour with the Government of the day, and the Governor-General in Council may say, “ Jones has passed his examination, . and he may go on”; or, “Yes, Brown has passed the examination,- but there is no room for Browns ; we only want Joneses here. ‘ ‘
– That explanation would not do for Parliament.
– The honorable senator has been in this Parliament for a few months, and finds how necessary’ it is for a supporter of a Government to make his own opinions at times subservient to the exigencies of the party situation.
– Until now I have not.
– The honorable senator now looks to the Government as the source of all wisdom, and an invariable guide as to how he shall vote. I recollect that a gentleman in another Parliament, when asked by a Minister whether he had read a certain important Bill, said, “ No; why should I read the Bill ? The Govern-, ment have introduced it, and I have to support it.” What is the underlying principle of this measure? When Lord Kitchener came out here to advise the Government he strongly reported upon the desirableness of establishing a Military College, and recommended that the fee should be _£8o per annum for each student. Then the Minister of Defence said that the Government did not intend to place any bar in the way of any youth who was capable of passing the prescribed examination getting into the Military College. He announced that, not only would the fee be abolished, but that if a young man showed his fitness to enter the College the Government would maintain him there and give the necessary course of training. . That attitude was not objected to by anybody. There was no aspect of Ministerial favoritism about the project. It was not proposed that a student should be admitted to the College by favour of the Governor-General in Council. We were satisfied that we were going to get rid of all opportunity for Ministerial patronage. But in another place it was contended that it would be well to increase the age of admission from nineteen to twenty-seven years, provided a man over the age of nineteen had served three years in the Citizen Forces. The Government fought that proposal, but were beaten on a division by 36 to 12. They were beaten by their own supporters. They could only rake up twelve votes in favour of their own proposition. Now, in order to cover up their defeat, the Government say, “ We will omit this proviso, and substitute another, providing for admission to the Military College of any member of the Citizen Forces over the age of nineteen, who passes the prescribed examination, and is recommended by the Governor-General.” The proviso puts into the hands of the Government of the day power to admit or reject any candidate for training in the Military College. I am not sure that they would not have power even to reject a youth of nineteen years of age who was capable of passing the necessary examination. I say that this is not a proper and democratic principle to follow. There is undoubtedly great merit in youth in respect to training for the military service. Any man who is to be a success in the military profession must devote the whole of his time to it. But the Government under this proposal will be enabled to admit any man at any age, provided he is acceptable to them and their party. If he is not acceptable to their party, they may reject him. But surely a party who, like honorable senators opposite, profess - I place an emphasis on that word - that they are earnest. Democrats, anxious to give the youth of the country an opportunity of rising to the highest positions of the service if they show capacity, ought not to adopt a principle of this kind. “Suppose a Conservative Government comes into power, and says, “ We do not want all these sons of labouring men to get into the charmed circle of military society.” They would have just as good an opportunity to prevent the admission of the sons of working men as the present Government will have to admit only one class.
I can assure honorable senators opposite that there is just as much democratic feeling on this side of the Chamber as there is among themselves. We do not desire to create any special class in connexion’ with the Defence Forces. We do not want to say, “ If a man does not belong to a particular union he shall not get work.” I suppose that in future the sons of unionists will be the only men who will have a right to enter this democratic army of ours as officers.
– How many men can get into the legal profession unless they secure admission to the Lawyers’ Union?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I notice that a good many of the younger men in the Labour party show an anxiety to get into the Lawyers’ Union, and no recommendation of the Governor-General in Council is required to secure admission to it.
– There was a case a year or two ago of a man who qualified, but was rejected because it was considered that his social position was not good enough.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - He may have been rejected because his character was so disreputable that he was not considered fit to be a member of an honorable profession. I suppose that, in just the same way, a disreputable character would not be admitted into the Military College. A man must show that he is of decent character before he is admitted to any profession. But the question is whether we are going to deal with this subject in such a way as to keep the Military College closed to all except those who secure the approval of the Government, or whether we are going to maintain the open door, so that anybody who properly qualifies may enter. In order that honorable senators may fully realize what is proposed, I direct their attention to the proposed new sections 147a, 147b, and 148. These provide for the entry of students to the Military College. Only British subjects may be students at the College, but provision is- made under the proposed new section 1476 to enable British subjects not permanently resident in Australia to attend on prescribed conditions. The proposed new section 148 provides that no person who is not a graduate of the Military College shall be appointed an officer of the Permanent Forces, and then, under the amendment now proposed by the Government, a further provision is suggested that the regulations shall provide for the admission to the College of any member of the Forces over the age of nineteen years who passes the examination and is recommended by the Governor-General in Council. If all these provisions are adopted, after the expiration of five years no person over the age of nineteen years will be permitted to enter the College with a view to obtaining a commission as an officer of the Permanent * –Forces, unless he is able to get through the ring which may be set up by the Government of the day. They will have it in their power to say that any person who is beyond the age of nineteen years shall not be admitted to the College with a view to qualifying as an officer of the Commonwealth Forces. Under these conditions, after a time we may have no officer in the Permanent Forces who has not secured his position by virtue of Ministerial influence, or by, as some people might contend, becoming the puppet of a particular party. Honorable senators must be aware that many excellent men have been unable to secure Ministerial influence, not because the Ministry of the day have objected to them, but because they have had no knowledge of them. Under the Bill as it stands we have provided that, on the passing of an examination, a lad under the age of nineteen years may be admitted to the College, and not only maintained and educated free, but be entitled to receive remuneration, so that he may be no burden upon his parents at all.
– Is not that democratic?
– Yes; and I quite agree with it. But I say that it is wrong to mar that provision by providing that, when a man has passed the magic age of nineteen years he must be able to exercise Ministerial influence before he can secure a position as an officer in the Permanent Forces.
– The honorable senator shows very little consideration for the majority who are under nineteen years of age.
– The Bill makes every provision for them, and the amendment carried in another place would provide that, up to the age of twenty-seven years, which is a reasonable age, men who had served three years in the Forces, and who would in that way have shown that they had the defence movement at heart, might, on passing the examination, secure admission to the College. Honorable senators will recognise that, after reaching a certain age, many men do not profit as much from lectures, reading, and study as do younger men. Positions as officers of the Permanent Forces should be filled only by experts. I do not suppose that there is a single man in our Defence Forces to-day who will not approve of that expression of opinion. It will be admitted that men seek to enter the Permanent Forces in order to engage in a profession in which they desire to make their mark, and men who join any profession late in life usually find themselves handicapped as against younger men. I believe that the Committee will be acting most truly in the interests of the Defence Forces, and will be best giving effect to public feeling in this matter, if they accept the amendment made by another place.
.- I strongly favour the amendment made by the House of Representatives. I have had a good deal of experience in life in various ways, and I hold that the man who goes crawling to the Government for an appointment, or who gets his friends to do so for him, is seldom the best man for the position.
– No one will need to do so who is under nineteen years of age.
– Why should any man who is over that age be required to do so? Why should a man, because he is over nineteen years of age, be asked to go creeping and crawling to any Government or to get his friends to intercede for him with the Government? A man, by passing the prescribed examination, will have shown that he is qualified to be admitted as a student at the College, and why should he, when he has earned his right to be admitted, be denied admittance because the Government of the day happens to be either Conservative or Radical ?
– I was very much astonished to hear the speech delivered by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. Listening to him, one would think that the whole intention of the Government in opposing the amendment which was carried in another place was to conserve the interests of the poorer people of this country. Yet I stand up here deliberately, and say that, while that amendment, if adopted, would assist the sons of poor men, the new proposal submitted by the Government would have exactly the opposite effect. Let us view the position calmly, with the desire to do what is best in the interests of the Defence forces. Under the Bill as it stands, the age limit for admission to the Military College is nineteen years. I ask honorable senators to make a mental survey of the educational position of the vast majority of the sons of working men in the Commonwealth. How many of them have ah opportunity before they are nineteen years of age to qualify to pass the examination necessary to secure their admission to the Military College? There is only a very small number who are in that position, and the great majority of our students at the Military College, unless some latitude is allowed, will be grammar school lads, the sons of rich and middleclass parents, who are in a position to give their children a secondary education, to meet the expense of keeping them at a grammar school or of hiring tutors for them,, and equipping them in every way to pass the examination. These are the young men who, under the Bill as introduced, will become officers in the Permanent Forces. If the amendment carried in another place were adopted any young man’ who had entered the Forces might, up to the age of twenty-seven years, qualify himself to pass the examination, and- so gain admission to the College. He would have the educational advantage, and, in addition, the advantage of experience’ in the Forces, and would Be doubly armed for the defence of the country. Such a proposal would permit ambitious young men to proceed further with their study, and . qualify themselves to take leading positions in the Permanent Forces. So far as I have been able to gather the opinion of the people of Australia in connexion with this matter, it is that positions of command in the Forces should be as open as such positions can be made to everybody. This Bill does not provide for that. The Government may say that the clause under consideration merely applies to officers of the Permanent Forces, and that in time of war. the generals of our army may be citizen officers. My humble opinion is that the professional is always better than the amateur. Even in politics the professional politician, much as he has been maligned and criticised, is more effective than is the amateur.
– He survives, anyhow.
– He does, and that is the. greatest test of his effectiveness.
One cannot imagine an amateur figuring effectively in any profession. To be an adept in any occupation or profession a man must devote his whole time to it. He must become a specialist. To imagine for a moment that our army whilst fighting the enemy would, be officered by amateur officers, by men who in their spare time played a little at soldiering, is unthinkable to me. The Army will, I believe, be officered by men of the Permanent Forces, that is to say, the best officers available will be placed in the positions of command. If the proposal which the Government now seek to graft on to the Bill is adopted, the officering of our army will be almost wholly in the hands of people of the middle and upper classes, and the sons of working men will be debarred from holding any position of responsibility in it. That portion of the amendment proposed by the Government which provides for the recommendation of the Governor-General in Council is most odious. It seems to me that it is bringing us back to the old era of patronage. Wherever you have patronage you have corruption, wherever you have corruption you have inefficiency, and wherever you have inefficiency you have danger.
– And wherever you have danger you have Senator Stewart.
– I am trying to net the part of watch-dog’ at the present moment. Perhaps the honorable senator does not agree with me, but I hope he does. I have tried to appeal to his strong common sense as forcibly as I could, and if I have not been successful that is my misfortune. This appears to me to be one of the most odious proposals that has ever been submitted in the Senate. It is a compromise between the Bill as it stands, and the amendment agreed to in another place. We are all aware that the military authorities raised a storm of opposition to the amendment which was inserted in the Bill by another place. We know, too, that the Minister of Defence is very largely influenced by his military advisers, and that the Government are necessarily in his hands in regard to defence matters. The proposal of the VicePresident of the Executive Council represents a compromise which has been decided upon with a view to saving the face of the Government, and of preventing the feelings of the rebellious portion of the Labour party in another place from being outraged. Like a great many other compromises it is exceedingly unsatisfactory. It is ten times worse than is either of the other proposals. Take the position of any ambitious and capable young man. At nineteen years of age he may say, “ I feel that though I am not able to pass the examination for admission to the Military College now, I shall be able to pass it by the time I am. twenty-one years of age.”
– Every year would make it more difficult for him to pass it.
– Probably the honorable senator’s intellect has ceased ex- panding, but if he has dived into the history of” the prominent men in literature, art, and science, he must know that their intellects have continued to grow almost to the last hours of their lives.
– But the intellects of those men who are ahead of the candidates who cannot pass the examination at nineteen years of age will also be growing.
– I say that an opportunity to enter .the Military College should be given to the sons of poor men who are unable to pass the prescribed examination when they are nineteen years of age, but who may be able to pass ft within a year or two. Under the proposal of the Government young men who pass the pre- scribed examination must gain the permission of the Minister of Defence to enter that institution. That is where corruption will begin. What will the ordinary man do in such circumstances? He will go round to his friends and acquaintances and will do his best to bring pressure to bear upon members of Parliament and upon Ministers to secure the desired permission. Such a state of affairs would be demoralizing in the extreme, and cannot be defended for a single moment by any person who has a knowledge of the system which it is proposed to inaugurate. The Government would have been much better advised had they accepted the amendment which was made by another place. But the VicePresident of the Executive Council, in submitting his proposal, did not pause to consider the importance of the position which he was taking up. He was preaching Democracy with his lips, while with his influence he was trying to inaugurate an era of something which is the very opposite of Democracy. But, in any case, Democracy is not always a word with which to conjure. We ought to give fair play to everybody. We do not desire that our officers should come only from the ranks of men who can pass a prescribed examination before they are nineteen years of age. They are not necessarily the best men. There is no age limit imposed in.any other profession of which I have a knowledge. Why, the present AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth entered the legal profession when he was over forty years of age, and I am sure honorable members will admit that he is a- distinguished ornament of that profession. Had1 this provision been operative at the time of his admission, he would have had to go crawling to somebody to exercise influenceon his behalf. There is no age limit prescribed for admission, to the medical profession. Of course, in the military profession the very nature of the duties to be performed imposes a limit. But nobody will urge that that limit has been reached when a man is twenty-seven years of- age. We must recollect, too, that our defencesystem is on its trial. We are passing alaw relating to that system, but it has to be signed and sealed by the people of theCommonwealth before we know how it will, operate. If we make” it unpopular by allowing the idea to get abroad that our officers are to be drawn only from themiddle and upper classes we shall strike a deadly blow at its success.
– In moving the second reading of this Bill the Minister of Defence urged that it was a non-party measure. He described it as one of the most democratic Billswhich had ever been presented to Parliament, in that it gave an opportunity to the sons of the poorest men of the community to rise to the highest positions in our Defence Forces. Consequently, I was very pleased to support it. But the Minister’s remarks on the measure are no longer true. I do not think any honorable senator will say that at nineteen years of age the son of a working man will be in as good a position as is the son of wealthy parents. Thus the former may be twenty -two or twenty-three years of age before he is in a position to qualify for admission to the Military College. But after he .had passed the prescribed examination he would, under the amendment proposed by the VicePresident of the ‘ Executive Council, require to obtain the consent of the Minister. We know perfectly well that military officers consider themselves a little higher in the social scale than are ordinary people. They are the advisers of the Minister, and when: we see Ministers accepting the hospitality of wealthy people it is almost needless to inquire, “ Who is likely to get their ear?” Certainly it is not the man who has to work for his living. He will have to approach the Minister in a very round-about way. There is an old saying that “ kissing goes by favour.”
– The honorable senator does not look as if he had kissed very much.
– I should be very sorry to kiss the Vice-President of the Executive Council, even to get a favour from him. To suggest that the son of the working man will be able to exercise as much influence with the military authorities or with the Minister as will the son of the wealthy man is ridiculous. I am not imputing motives to the gentlemen who occupy Ministerial office at the present time. But the system itself is a bad one. We know very well that for many years in the Old Country the system of .purchasing commissions was in vogue. We know what took place under that system, and what takes place to-day. Honorable senators thought that the British Army would be thrown open to the sons of the poor as well as the sons of the wealthy, but it is not. If the proposal before the Committee be carried, the Military College will only be open to those who can bring most influence to bear on the Governor-General or the Minister, and unless the latter has practical military knowledge, he will have to depend upon his officers. All over the world, there is a military caste. In Great Britain, a poor man, although he may be able to get a commission, has to put up with very rough times.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. -The ragging is pretty stiff sometimes.
– Yes. The military caste may not be so bad in Australia, but it will grow. We should establish our. defence system on the best lines. A man should be able to get in by merit, and merit alone, and should not be barred simply because he may be poor and unable to get sufficient education before attaining the age of nineteen years. I trust that honorable senators will not treat this question from a party stand-point. I welcomed the Bill when it was introduced. I am satisfied that the amendment proposed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council would be a great- detriment to its successful operation, and therefore I hope that it will not be accepted.
– There still seems to be a. good deal of haziness in the minds of some honorable senators, particularly Senator Stewart, with respect to not only this Bill, but the whole foundation of our proposed Military Forces. The question under discussion has reference only to entrance to the Military College. It has no relation whatever to the officering of the Citizen Forces.
– The graduates of the Military College will be our future officers, I hope.
– That is where honorable senators show a want of knowledge with respect to the whole scheme. Those who will be educated in the Military College will not be the captains, lieutenantcolonels, and colonels in the Citizen Forces.
– We hope that they will rise to those ranks.
– They will, be the officers of the Permanent Forces, and will really ‘ form the instructional staff under our scheme. Every officer in the Citizen Forces, however, will have to pass through the ranks.
– Without undergoing an examination at all?
– To rise to the rank of an officer he will have to pass an examination, but not to undergo such a course of training as is covered by this provision. If honorable senators only thoroughly understood the position in connexion with the Defence Forces, they would know a little more about the present proposal. 1 am sure that it is because they have not thoroughly studied the position that we have had this long discussion on a simple matter. I have already indicated sufficiently the intentions of the Government.
.- The Minister’s explanation has emphasized the position which ought to be maintained. He has made it quite clear that the officers of the Citizen Forces will rise from the ranks to various positions. It is highly probable that in time of war they will be one of the main fighting arms in directing and using our Forces in the field. What is the object of the Military College to be established ? It is to provide means of instruction for the officers of the Citizen Forces. It is highly essential to the attainment of that object to have a central instructional staff, composed very largely of young men of exceptional or pronounced ability, who have gone through a rigid course of training in every department of study which would enable them to understand thoroughly and to exercise the art of war. It must be evident to the Committee that war is becoming very largely a matter of the exercise of, not merely big battalions, but also big brains. The nucleus of the brain force which will determine the efficiency of the Army is to be found in the instructional staff. In time of war the main strategic operations will be planned, ordered, and directed very largely by officers who have passed through the Military College’. Lord Kitchener had that very point in view, I think, when he insisted so strongly upon the principle being applied to military matters which is applied to most other matters ; that is, that if we want efficient officers in time of war, we must act nearly all the while on the maxim, “ Catch the officer young.”
– And pay him well.
– We are training the officer for a profession, and if he shows that he has assimilated the training, and displays efficiency,’ it is not merely a commission in the Citizen Forces that he looks to, but a commission in the Permanent Forces. When he reaches that stage’, he ought to be well paid. Again, the duty of an officer in time of war is such as to require the highest intelligence, and, at times, the highest class of bravery. In order that the officers in the Citizen Forces may be properly qualified, they must be trained by young men in the prime of physical and intellectual vigour. That was the principle which, I dare say, animated Lord Kitchener when he was called upon to advise the Government. It was embodied in the Bill, but, unfortunately, it has been modified. It has been said over and over again, that had the British officers in the Boer war been trained with the same keenness and with what one might call the same intellectuality, as the German officers showed in their last two great campaigns, the loss of British soldiers would have been infinitely less. Having regard to the work they have to do, the complicated weapons of war with which they have to deal, the massing and the management of artillery before and during battle, the engineering feats which an army is called upon to perform whenever it has to make a rapid movement, honorable senators will recognise at. once that a high intellectual standard must be’ required in our officers. It is idle to think that the officers in the Citizen Forces cannot obtain that knowledge at second-hand, otherwise they will be practically useless in time of war. From time to time they must be drafted into the Military College to receive instruction in artillery work, engineering work, and, possibly, torpedo work, until such time as we can fill the College with students. Possibly part of the instructional staff must go to drill the Citizen Forces. Anything which weakens the essential principle which the Bill, as it left the Senate, sought to enforce, weakens the system at a very important point. There never has been, probably, a time when a knowledge of both strategy and tactics is so essential to success in offensive or defensive war as at present. It is a complicated study. The highest engineering talent is sometimes required to bring out a strategic movement successfully.
– The honorable senator in these remarks is travelling somewhat wide of the question. The amend-, ment is simply to omit words relating to the recommendation of the GovernorGeneral in Council.
– I wish to resist any weakening of the original measure. I recognise how important a body the Military College will be, and what a great part it will play in the training of the Citizen Forces. If we cannot have the Bill as it left the Senate, I shall do all I can to prevent any unnecessary weakening of it. I consider that to provide opportunities for old men to get into the College would be to weaken it. Another point is, that if the College is to be affected by political influence it will be weakened dangerously.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Millen’ s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the House of Representatives’ amendment be agreed to, with the omission of all the words after “ that,” and the insertion in lieu thereof of the words, “ the regulations shall provide for admission to the Military College of any member of the Forces over the age of nineteen years who passes the prescribed examination, and is recommended by the Governor- General in Council “ - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After clause 20 add the following new clauses : - “ 21. When any member of the Military Forces -
– Some honorable senators, by simply reading the new clauses proposed to be inserted by the House of Representatives, might jump to the conclusion that some injustice or hardship may be done if the clauses are omitted. But I desire to point out that when the honorable member of another place who moved the insertion of these clauses was doing so, he must have overlooked the fact that the original Defence Act contains, almost” in the very same language, all that the clauses provide for. I direct attention to section 57 of the Act, which embodies the substance of proposed new clause 21. So far as the other new clause is concerned the original Act makes practically the same provision in almost the identical words in section 123. It is evident, therefore, that these amendments were made under a misapprehension. If it had been understood that what they provide for is already provided for in our existing legislation they would not have been submitted.
I move -
That the amendment be disagreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Resolutions reported ; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Findley) agreed to-
That a Committee consisting of Senators McGregor, Millen, and Long be appointed to prepare and bring up reasons for disagreeing to new clauses 21 and 22 inserted by the House of Representatives.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 22nd November, vide page 6481) :
Item 170 -
Amend, By inserting in sub-item (b), after the word containing,” the words “ not less than 2 per cent. of”.
By inserting in the item a new sub-item as follows : - “ (e). Malleable iron castings, per lb.,1¾ d.”
Upon which Senator Givens had moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out “ 2,” and inserting in lieu thereof “½”
– I desire only to emphasize what I said last night. The Government would prefer to carry the item as it appears in the schedule, but they would also prefer the amendment moved by Senator Givens to that proposed, and afterwards withdrawn, by Senator Lynch, that no percentage of chromium should be provided for. We think that provision should be made for 2 per cent, of chromium, if a large number of manufacturers are to secure the protection to which they are entitled.
– It is not a question of Protection, because chrome steel is not made here.
– That is so, but unless some percentage of chromium is specified in the Tariff, if any quantity of chrome steel is used in any’ parts of machinery it may come in free. Senator Givens. - This only applies to machine parts which are specified in the Tariff - parts which must come into direct contact with the ore or matter to be crushed.
- Senator Givens was wrong in suggesting that what is proposed would mean a duty of 1 3/4 d. per lb. on the whole of the machinery. As a matter of fact, the machinery would be dutiable at 15 and 20 per cent. We do not feel very strongly in the matter, but we want some measure of protection for those who say that they will not be protected unless provision is made for some percentage of chromium.
-531- - The question of Protection does not enter into this” matter, because chrome steel is not manufactured here, and is not likely to be for some time to come, but ordinary steel, without a trace of chromium in it, might without the amendment I suggest, be allowed to come in free, and so compete with steel parts manufactured in Australia. I propose that these parts should contain at least per cent, of chromium before they should be admitted duty free. I see no reason in imposing protective duties upon articles which are not manufactured, or are likely to be manufactured, in Australia for some time to come. The rest of this machinery can be, and is, made in Australia. It is entitled to really effective protection, and will get it so far as my vote is concerned. But these steel parts that are essential for the work are not manufactured in Aus tralia, and that is why they should be admitted duty free. In proposing that they shall contain £ per cent, of chromium, I am providing an ample safeguard. The principal mining authority .of the mine which uses more of these articles than perhaps any other in Australia says that the highest analysis he has made of chrome steel gives a percentage of six-tenths of chromium. If we provided for 2 per cent, of chromium, we should provide for a percentage which might be worse than useless. I think the Government will be wise in accepting my amendment, and” I am glad to hear that they are prepared to take up a reasonable attitude.
– I wish to say that a large number of these parts are imported containing an infinitesimal proportion pf chromium with the object of knocking the local manufacturer out.
– One-half per cent, would not be an infinitesimal percentage.
– The local manufacturer rightly contends that he is entitled to some measure of protection, seeing that Australia has declared in favour of that policy.
– Which local manufacturer ?
-The manufacturers, in various parts of Australia. I do not intend to individualize. They have made representations to the Minister of Trade and Customs from time to time.
– I thought this was a proposal to rectify departmental anomalies.
– This Parliament, in 1908, expressed a determination to give protection to a particular industry, and it is not getting it because of a desire of some importers to defeat the object for which the Tariff was framed. An anomaly is thereby created. When Senator Givens says that per cent, of chromium will afford adequate protection to local manufacturers, I may say that the officers of the Department, though there is nothing to back up their ruling, have, since the passing of the Tariff endeavoured to insist upon at least J per cent, of chromium in these parts.
– Then my amendment falls into line with the departmental decision ?
– But the manufacturers say that this is not sufficient to give them any relief. If the Committee feel that 2 per cent, is too high, I have only to repeat that we desire some protection, and we prefer J per cent, to nothing at all.
Request agreed to.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested ‘to further amend the item by inserting after the word “ castings “ the words “ not elsewhere specified.”
– -What do the words “not elsewhere specified” mean? We have already “ n.e.i.,” which means “ not elsewhere included . ‘ ‘
– There is no definition of the words “ not elsewhere specified.” The Customs Act of 1901 provides that when an article is -classifiable under two or more headings, with a resultant difference as to duty, the highest duty shall be charged. Unless these words are inserted, the highest duty of 1 3/4 d. per lb. will be chargeable upon malleable iron castings. We do not desire that. We desire that they shall come in duty free as fittings for pipes. The insertion of these words will accomplish that object, and without them a. duty of 1 3/4 d. per lb. would he imposed on these castings. In any case, we do not propose to make any departure from the principal Act. Under our Customs Tariff Act these goods are admitted free, but unless these words are inserted they will be dutiable at 1 3/4 d. per pound.. We do not desire that,, but wish them to continue to be admitted free.
– I regret that the Honorary Minister has not put the matter very clearly. I have in my possession a letter from a friend who is interested in this question,’ and who says that if the item be agreed to in its present form it will be equivalent to granting malleable castings a protection of 70 per cent. He affirms that if the duty were imposed upon the finished article no objection could be raised.
– But we are not making any departure from the principal Act.
– Do I understand that if the proposed alteration be effected these articles will continue to be admitted free ?
– I think that the proposal of the Minister will obliterate one of the anomalies which this Bill threatened to create. I hold in my hand the following telegram from the Queensland Carriage and Woodware Company Limited -
Tariff anomalies, Item 170E, malleable castings used on Sarven wheels cannot be procured in Commonwealth. Proposed duty will cripple our industry and give American wheels material manufacturers further preference, Sarven wheels material being on free list.
As far as I can gather, the proposal of the Minister is to place malleable iron castings, which were to be dutiable at 1 3/4 d. per pound, upon the free list. If we agree to his proposal, we shall be giving effect to the underlying idea of a Protective policy, which is that encouragement should be given to persons to import articles which cannot be made in Australia.
– The malleable castings are the raw material, are they not?
– They are either the’ raw material or the raw material made up into a form in which it cannot be made here.
– The iron castings are being made in Australia.
– They are not.
– As the proposal of the Minister will overcome the difficulty mentioned in the communication which I have quoted, I am willing to accept it.
Request agreed to.
Items 175, 178, 187, 190, 191, 195, and 198 agreed to.
Item 200 -
Amend, By inserting in the item a new subitem as follows. : - “(b). Rolled iron and steel as prescribed by departmental by-laws for use in the manufacture of droppers, free.”
– This is one of those matters with which the Government propose to deal by departmental by-laws. Under existing conditions, we are prevented from considering any regulations which may be framed, unless the Ministry are prepared to treat private members’ business as Government business. I understand that the Standing Orders Committee intend to deal with this question, and I wish to know whether the Government propose to afford us an opportunity to discuss the recommendations of that body before the close of the session? I trust that at the earliest possible moment they will announce their intentions in that connexion.
– As a member of the Standing Orders Committee, I desire to say that that body has carefully considered the matter referred to by Senator Chataway.
– What is the connexion between the item under consideration and the Standing Orders Committee?
– I am glad to say that, although the recommendation of the Committee cannot be dealt with by the Senate this session, it will probably be afforded an opportunity of dealing with it at a very early stage next session.
– I fail to see the connexion between the item which is under consideration and the matter which has been referred to by Senators Chataway and St. Ledger. If it can be shown that duties are being imposed on certain articles which are not, and cannot be, manufactured in Australia, surely the Government should have power to overcome the difficulty by admitting them free under departmental by-laws.
– I am in a blissful state of ignorance as to the connexion which exists between the Standing Orders Committee and the item which is under consideration.
– Senator Chataway and I referred to regulations framed by the Government, and this item relates to departmental by-laws.
– The honorable senator knows that regulations have to be laid upon the table of the Senate within a certain period after they are drawn up. The Standing Orders provide for that, and it has never been suggested that our Standing Orders were framed in a party spirit. The Standing Orders will permit of honorable senators enjoying the same measure of freedom in the future that they have enjoyed in the past.
– They do not enjoy any freedom now. A private member can bring forward any question relating to regulations only as private members’ busi- ness.
– The same objection might have been urged during the past ten years. No special point is given to it by the circumstances which exist today. I hope that the Standing Orders Committee will see that any recommendation which it may make is brought before the Senate.
Item agreed to.
Item 206 -
Amend, By omitting the whole item and inserting in its stead the following item : - “ 206. Pins (not being partly, or wholly of gold or silver or gold or silver-plated), viz. : - Gimp, solid-headed, short toilet, plain safety, hair; also hooks and eyes and crochet hooks -
when in fancy boxes . . . ad valorem (General Tariff), 30 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent.
when not in fancy boxes…… ad valorem (General Tariff), 5 per cent.; (United Kingdom), free.”
– This item provides that hooks and eyes, &c, when in fancy boxes, shall be dutiable at 30 per cent. under the general Tariff, and at 25 per cent. under the Tariff for the United Kingdom, and that when they are not infancy boxes they shall be dutiable at 5 per cent, under the general Tariff, and that under the Tariff for the United Kingdom they shall be admitted free. Speaking upon this matter the other day, I asked the Minister to define “ fancy box,” because, in the absence of such a definition, the Department will have to determine what is a fancy box. If the Minister cannot supply a definition, I will attempt to provide one for him. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by adding the following words : - “ A fancy box shall mean a box decorated or fanciful in pattern which is either imported empty or is intended to add a market value to the goods which it encloses beyond the value which would be placed on such goods when not so boxed.”
For the protection of those who import these goods, I think we should insert a definition of this kind.
– I hope that the Committee will not accept the request, for the reason that it would be absolutely impossible for the Department to properly carry it out. There would be interminable difficulties.
– How does the Department manage now?
– The definition of “ fancy box “ is largely left in the hands of the departmental officers.
– Largely, not altogether ?
– No, because in some cases there is no doubt as to what a fancy box is.
– If there is no doubt on the subject, why not insert a definition?
– From time to time the Department-
– “ From time to time “ - the same thing again.
– The honorable senator is aware that it is only after an experience of some years that the officers discover defects in the Tariff or shortcomings or difficulties, and then they have to make definitions in the interests of the Department and of trade generally.
– And to vary their definitions.
– From time to time the officers are forced to vary their definitions. I find that on more than one occasion the Department has defined “ fancy box “ -
There is no doubt that the Department has no difficulty in respect to butterscotch boxes, because they are all marked. Fancy boxes and boxes which are not fancy are made extensively in Australia, and in order that boxes which are filled with certain articles shall not come into undue competition with our manufacturers of boxes, we want the definition of “ fancy box “ to rest with the Department.
– This undoubtedly is a matter which should be left very largely in the hands of the Department, because, if any one thing is more calculated to change than another, it is the form in which some goods are made up. In many cases the article contained in the box is of little value, but the box’ itself obtains a considerable value from the attractive way in which it is put up. Many persons buy an article of low value in order to obtain a fancy box.
– My definition exactly covers that case.
– No; I do not think it provides for the case where there is no stamp on the article in the box.
– “ Which is intended to add a market value to the goods which they enclose.”
– It may not increase the value of the article, but it may give a value to the box. The article may be of trifling value, but the box may be of much greater value. Whenever a new pattern for a box is discovered, or a new idea is embodied in a box, the Department should have the power to declare that it is a fancy box, and therefore liable to a higher duty. When a box is printed with the maker’s name, and cannot be used for another purpose, it should be allowed to come in, but a plain box of a new style, or of new material, which could be used for another purpose, ought not to be admitted duty free. So far as it goes, Senator Vardon’s definition is very good, but it does not prevent fancy boxes containing comparatively valueless articles being imported, and so evading the higher duty. That is why I think the matter of definition should be left to the Department.
– I regard this as a good protective proposal. I have had a little experience with fancy boxes ; and I know that the patterns change very rapidly indeed. I have seen them in all shapes and styles. A very wide definition would be needed to cover the different kinds of boxes which come in containing sometimes articles of very little value. I have seen hairpins imported in a little cabinet-like chest of drawers, and in small boxes of peculiar shapes.
– Supposing that they do, why should you impose a heavy duty?
– Because I feel sure . that the boxes could easily be made in the Commonwealth. We want to protect our own manufacturers. Why the honorable senator should wish to hamper the Department by laying down a hard-and-fast rule, I cannot understand. The best course is to allow it to alter the definition as the patterns of fancy boxes change.
– On this occasion, I rise to support the request, be cause a definition of “ fancy box “ will simplify matters for the Customs officers, and at the same time let the importer know what he is likely to pay. In any case, I think that’ the request is on right lines. 1 am a Protectionist like the last speaker, but- I am a new Protectionist too. The request, if made, will suit the Customs officers, and that is what is intended by the Bill to a great extent. I think that the definition will meet the circumstances, and therefore I have very great pleasure in supporting it.
– Senator W. Russell has stated that he is satisfied that the proposed definition would materially assist Customs officers in defining fancy boxes. They are extremely desirous that the schedule shall be passed as submitted, because they find it exceedingly difficult at times to do full justice to importers and to the Act. Here is an anomaly in connexion with the matter under discussion. Pins which are imported in fancy boxes from Great Britain are admitted duty free, but the boxes are liable to a duty of 25 per cent. ; when pins are imported in fancy boxes from Germany, the pins and the boxes are subject to a duty of 5 per cent. There is an anomaly which it is desired to rectify.
– I do not see how the Department can rectify it without a definition.
– Every importer knows what fancy boxes are according to the departmental definitions laid down in this booklet.
– We want a definition in the Act.
– We cannot embody a definition in the Act. Any person who is in doubt as to how certain articles should be defined, or as to what duties are payable, has only to consult this booklet, which is his guide.
– And that is made up after some article comes in.
– When the difficulties are found out. Surely Senator Vardon is not vain enough to imagine that he ran frame an amendment which will, for all time, provide for every fancy box that can be devised. It would be impossible for any honorable senator to do so. The departmental officers have had years of experience of this work, and have formulated their own working definition.
– It is left to the imagination.
– No, it is not. The departmental definition is in print, so that every importer can understand it. I trust rhat the Committee will not agree to the amendment.
.- -I think that the Committee would be wise not to accept Senator Vardon’s amendment. The intention is not so much to impose extra duties on articles contained within fancy boxes, as to give protection in respect of the boxes themselves. In many instances, persons purchase boxes containing goods, not so- much because they require the goods themselves, as because the boxes appeal to their taste. A person may buy a box of chocolates with no intention of eating the sweets, but in order to obtain the box. I will admit that it is difficult to define the term “ fancy.” The consideration that appeals to me, however, is that it is surely possible to manufacture fancy boxes in this country. If we can give a fillip to an Australian industry we should do so. I am convinced that the taste of those who manufacturefancy boxes in this country is as good as that of box-makers in any other part of the world. This is an opportunity of giving encouragement to the box-making industry of Australia, whilst, at the same time, relieving the Department of the difficulty of determining what the word “ fancy “ may mean. For these reasons I shall support the schedule as it stands.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland> [5-3S]- - This is said to be a departmental Bill, but the more we criticise its detailsthe more we realize that it is a great deal more than it professes to be. The Minister’s explanation amounts to this : ;’ Leave it to the officials to define what a fancy box is.” But why should we?
– Can the honorable senator frame a definition?
– It is far better for Parliament to frame its own definition than to leave the matter to the Department. It is about time the Senate made definitions, and insisted on the Department administering them, rather than leave the Department to make definitions for us and the country. What is the use of honorable senators opposite pretending that the object of this amendment of the Tariff is to encourage Australian manufactures ? I wish to see our manufactures go ahead as. much as any one; but are not the fancy box-makers fairly well protected at present ? They enjoy a high percentage of protection by reason of the Customs definition of the word “ fancy.” Retailersdesire that such articles as hooks and eyes, and pins, should be sent out in nice, attractive, little boxes, in order to help their sale. The fear is expressed, however, that the retailers will take the goods out of theimported boxes and use them for some other purpose. It seems to me that the argument is absurd. Let the Senate make its own definition of the term “ fancy box,”” and not be terrified by the suggestion of the Minister that, though we. as a branch of the Legislature, may be perfectly competent to decide how millions of money shall be spent, we are not fit to be allowed to define what is a fancy box ! I venture to say that we could make as good a definition of the term as could the whole box and dice of the Customs officials put together, and if we do make a definition it is their simple duty to enforce it, and not to come to the Minister and say to him inferentially, “ The House of Representatives and the Senate combined is such an ass as not to be trusted to make a definition of a simple term.” I object to humbug of this kind being thrown at us by a Minister at the suggestion of his officials. It appears to me that Senator Vardon’s definition is just as good and clear as the definition under which the Department is at present working. Yet the Minister ventures to come here and warn us that we are such a lot of noodles that we cannot be trusted to determine what a fancy box is. It is about time this kind of- stuff was stopped, and I hope that the Committee will embrace this opportunity of expressing its own opinion, leaving the officials entirely out of consideration.
.- - I do not think that the Minister’s explanation was very satisfactory. According to his own showing, there have been continual changes of the definition of “fancy box.” Suppose a retailer wishes to import a quantity of pens.. He sends an order to England or Germany, asking that so many gross of pens shall be supplied to him, put up in attractive form. When the goods arrive here a Customs officer says, “ Look here, this box that you are importing is a fancy box, and you will have to pay a duty of 30 per cent, upon it.” I do not think that importers should be subjected to such treatment.
– They are riot. Fancy boxes are defined in the departmental booklet, and importers know exactly what the term means.
– I wish to see persons who are importing goods governed by an Act of Parliament, and not left to the mercy of the Department. Senator Ready, out of his vast experience, has explained to us that such things as hooks and eyes are sometimes brought out in boxes that re- .semble a chest of drawers. He suggests that such boxes are of the fancy kind, and that, therefore, a higher duty ought to be charged on them. But, in such a case, the hooks and eyes, or hairpins, would be sold at an increased price on account of the fancy character of the box. My definition entirely covers that kind of case. I contend that this definition covers the whole of the ground desired by the Department. I am informed, though I have no personal knowledge on the subject, that it was suggested and acted upon by one of the Collectors of Customs. It cannot be denied that it is a reasonable definition, and under it importers and the officers of the Department would know just where they stood. A man ordering his goods, and giving his order in a certain way, would, under this definition, have no fear that he would afterwards be harassed by some Customs officer challenging him with having imported his goods in fancy boxes when he was under the impression that he was importing themin plain boxes. I understand from thestatement of the Minister that boxes with the name of the manufacturers on them, inwhich pencils and pens are ordinarily imported, are not considered fancy boxes, but the difficulty is that no one can tell, under existing conditions, what will be regarded, as a fancy box. In the absence of anybetter definition, I intend to press the definition I suggest to a division.
– Before the division takes place, I should like to remind theCommittee that Senator Vardon proposesthat a box shall be considered a fancy box, in the first place, if it is decorative; in thenext place, if it is fanciful in pattern ; and,, again, if it adds to the market value of the goods enclosed in it. If this definition be adopted the Customs officials will have tosubject all imported boxes, such as we are now discussing, to a minute examination to discover, first of all, whether they are decorative, then whether they are fanciful in pattern, and then to a third examination to ascertain whether they add to the market value of the goods. Even after all that was done, I am certain that in nine cases out of ten the importers would dispute the decision arrived at. Under existing conditions, little or no difficulty arises, since any importer can purchase the booklet in which fancy boxes are fully described by the Department.
– I suppose, then, there are about twenty or thirty of these booklets ?
– No; I have here the Library copy,’ and it is the one in general- use.
– One of the latest editions ?
– It is the latest edition, and contains all the definitions laid down from time to time by the Customs Department in respect to fancy boxes.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - It is always growing and altering.
– That may be; but I am satisfied that if we carried the motion submitted by Senator Vardon an additional page or two would have to be added to the booklet to define fancy boxes, and we should not then have reached finality. I hope that the motion will not be agreed to.
Question - (Senator Vardon’ s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative. Request negatived. Item agreed to. Item 217 agreed to. Item 222 -
Amend, By omitting from the item wherever they occur the words “ for trucks and waggons “ and inserting in their stead the words “ for use on railways and tramways.”
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by adding the following new paragraphs : -
By inserting in sub-item (a), after the words “ all steel parts for such wheels,” the words “ including axles.”
By inserting in sub-item (b), after the words “ all steel parts for such wheels,” the words “ including axles.”
The object we have in view is this : At the present time, axles, when imported permanently attached to wheels, come in at a duty of 5 per cent, or free. When similar axles are imported unattached, they are dutiable at 35 per cent, or 30 per cent. We consider that an anomaly. I do not anticipate that there will be any objection to the proposal to remove this glaring anomaly.
– What is the purpose of the amendment?
– Mainly to make all railway axles free.
– The Minister’s explanation seems to make this proposal quite as clear as mud. There is one definite case of a serious anomaly existing under the Tariff which has been placed before the Department through, I think, three successive Administrations, which is not, so far as I can see, met by this proposal. Bogie wheels for locomotives are admitted if unfinished, on payment of a certain duty, whilst, if they are entirely finished, they are admitted free. There are engineering works in Queensland which turn out something like one hundred locomotives a year. I refer to Walkers’ Limited, of Maryborough. They have laid down a plant worth between ^7,000 and ,£8,000, for the purpose of completing unfinished imported bogie wheels. The effect of the Tariff in the past has been that it has been found more profitable for this firm to let their ^”7,000 or £8,ooo worth of machinery lie idle, and import finished bogie wheels from abroad.
– We are not dealing wilh wheels; we are dealing with axles, so that the honorable senator is about as clear as mud also.
– We are dealing with item 222.
– No; we are dealing with the amendment I have moved upon it.
– We are dealing with item 222 of the existing Tariff. I have a perfect right to discuss the meaning of the item in relation to the principal Act. The Minister may get very angry about it-
– I do when the honorable senator says that the position is as clear as mud, although he is not clear himself as to the matter which is before the Committee.
– Item 222 of Bie Customs Tariff Act reads -
In the Bill which we are now considering, it is proposed to omit from that item the words “ for trucks and waggons “ wherever they occur, and to insert in lieu thereof the words “ for use on railways and tramways.” It is the intention of the Government, I think, to permit of axles - if they cannot be made in Australia - being imported in the rough free of duty, so that they may be finished here. But at present buggy wheels are being imported in the rough, whilst the finished wheels are being admitted free. As a result, the machinery which has been specially laid down for the manufacture of the completed article is lying idle. If that is not an anomaly, I do not know what is.
– But the wheels are like the flowers that bloom in the spring, in that they have nothing to do with the case.
– if the Government say that they have nothing to do with the case, and they are backed up by the tail of the Caucus, I have nothing further to say on the subject.
Senator VARDON (South Australia) [6.4J. - It seems-to me that item 222 of the ‘ Tariff, which has been quoted by Senator Chataway, refers to nothing but wheels. Consequently, they have everything to do with the case. The. word “axle” is not mentioned in that item.
– Unless we look very carefully into the principal Act, in conjunction with the amendments which have been circulated, it is extremely difficult for us to know exactly where we are.
– Of course, the position is rendered more complicated by the fact that the honorary Minister is seeking to further amend a Bill which is intended to amend the principal Act. No doubt, it is quite easy for the honorable gentleman, with the aid of the typewritten sheets which have been supplied to him by the Department, to understand what he desires to effect ; but I confess that I have experienced some difficulty in ascertaining the real position. Indeed, in order to discover the effect of his proposal, I had to sit down and write out the clause as it will appear if we adopt the amendments which have been proposed. I wish to ask the Minister whether the net result of those amendments will be to per mit of the importation of axles at 5 per cent, under the general Tariff, and free under the Tariff for the United Kingdom ?
– Then under what item are they included to-day ?
– Under item 380c
– To what duty are they subject to-day?
– To 35 per cent, under the general Tariff, and 30 per cent, under the Tariff for the United Kingdom.
– And the Government now propose to admit them at 5 per cent, under the general Tariff, and to make them free under the Tariff for the United Kingdom ?
.- It “seems to me that we are now going to depart from a Protective Tariff to adopt a policy of absolute Free Trade. Whilst Free Trade has greater charms for me than has a revenue Tariff, I wish to ask the Minister if there is no possibility of axles and -steel parts being made in Australia?
– As far as I can learn, steel waggons and steel wheels are mainly a Yankee production, and I believe that the chief importer of them is the International Harvester Company. Although we do not manufacture steel wheels we do manufacture the best wooden wheels, and undoubtedly the former will come into competition with the latter. I regard it as extremely ominous that the moment the Minister explained that his proposal is a Free Trade one, honorable members opposite were prepared to swallow the item holusbolus. I am anxious to build up industries in Australia, and I think it is the duty of the Minister to supply us with a little more information in respect to this matter. If the item is to include waggons, trucks, &c, I think that the Government are going a little too far. However, I am prepared to suspend judgment until I hear the Minister’s explanation.
– If Senator Givens will only reflect for a moment, he will recognise that hitherto axles have not been made in Australia.
– They are made in Adelaide.
– Is my honorable friend quite sure of his statement, or is he merely indulging in guess work?
– There is no guess work about it.
– I am afraid that the axles made in Australia are of the wooden type.
– The axles to which I referred were steel axles for wooden wheels.
– I am afraid that any articles of that description which are made in Australia are of such an extremely light character that it would be impossible to use them upon railways.
– Could we not manufacture them with the aid of a little protection ?
– Anybody who knows anything of .the iron industry knows that so far as it is concerned, Australia is scarcely yet in its infancy.
– But we are now discussing trucks and waggons.
– What we have to bear in mind is that there are highlyspecialized articles which have not yet been made in Australia.
– That shows all that the honorable senator knows about the matter, because they have been made in Australia.
– It is incumbent upon the honorable senator, not merely to assert, but to prove that axles of this kind are made in Australia. It is not a question of putting the Tariff on a Protectionist, Free Trade, or revenue- producing basis.
– In many cases it is a question of raising the duties.
– At the same time, we may be removing anomalies. From that stand-point the necessity of this proposal must be recognised. With the exception of a little pig-iron and a few rails, which are made at Lithgow, there is no iron made in Australia.
– We can make axles out of steel bloom.
– It is only a few days since the question of importing axles for the Defence Department was raised and discussed. Not one honorable senator then claimed that this kind of axle was, or could be, made here at present. If they can., let us keep out the imported article. All that can possibly be. done with those axles, which are even of a lighter kind than those under discussion, is to put them in in the lathe, and put the finishing touches on them. That is not making axles at all.
– That is worth doing if we are looking for work.
– Cannot they be forged ?
– I have yet to learn that this kind of axle can be made in Australia. I shall adhere to that opinion until I get better proof to the contrary than has been furnished so far.
– It is rather unreasonable for the Government. to expect me to follow them at all times. On one item they say, “ This is Protection, and you are bound to follow me,” but on the next item they go for positive Free Trade, and expect the Labour party to follow them. In reply to Senator de Largie’s challenge, I have to say that E. Laugh ton and Sons, of North Terrace, Adelaide, make axles.
– That is only for trollies, waggons, and buggies.
– The firm can make axles equally well for railway carriages.
– The firm has not the machinery.
– There is also a firm at Gawler. I am strongly opposed to the proposal to reduce the duty to 5 per cent. That will mean much to these firms. Why should not the work be. done in the Commonwealth?
– This does not affect those firms at all.
– The honorable senator cannot make me believe that. I have conversed with Laughton and Sons, and seen the axles which they have produced.
– Why did not the honorable senator protest against the Defence Department importing axles?
– Of what use would that have been? My views in reference to defence are not considered very much. These axles are made in South Australia in more places than one. It is a positive injustice to reduce the Protectionist duty to a revenue duty. Ii seems to me that the Ministry are now going for a Free Trade or a Revenue Tariff, or anything else which comes along. They have got into office, and, like their predecessors, they want to get in the shekels. They need not expect me to follow them every time. They need not expect rae to support Free Trade one hour and Protection rise next hour.
Senator FINDLEY (Victoria- Honorary Minister) [6. 23 J. - I regretted to hear the remarks which Senator W. Russell has made. They are uncalled for, and quite unworthy.
– The honorable senator has stated that steel axles for locomotives and tramway purposes are made in Australia,
– A good many of l&em are.
– They are not.
– Not fpr tramways; that is the point.
– These articles are required for Government locomotives and Government tramways.
– Not necessarily.
– That is the intention. I do not expect that their use will be limited to Government railways or Government tramways.
– Suppose that a firm has a contract to make locomotives for a State?
– If locomotives are required in any part of Australia, these steel axles will come in at 5 per cent, or free. I, as a responsible Minister, repeat that these axles are not made in Australia. Very expert machinery is required for their manufacture.
– And they have it.
– If these axles could be made in Australia without considerable effort and expenditure, the different Governments would undertake to make them.
– They will before long.
– I hope that they will, but at present they are not making them, nor is anybody else in Australia. I feel sure that Senator W. Russell would not desire to perpetuate an anomaly. When these steel axles come in permanently attached to wheels, they are admitted at 5 per cent., or free, but when they come in unattached, although they may be used for the same purpose - that is, for locomotives, or waggons for railways - they have to pay 35 and 30 per cent. Is that fair ? It is with a view to remove that anomaly, and for no other purpose, that we have submitted this proposal. It may be, of course, that these axles are used for different purposes. They come in at times attached, and at other times unattached, and wedesire that whether they are attached or .unattached, they shall be admitted at 5 per cent., or free.
– I was challenged by Senator de Largie to prove a statement. What I said was that these articles have been, and can be, made in Australia. They are not being made in Australia now, simply because the contractors for railway rolling stock are allowed to import them. Years ago, a firm started in Sydney, and made steel axles and wheels too. They have to import the steel bloom and forge the axles. It pays them better to importaxles in a finished or rough condition. I hope that the day is not far distant when they will again be made in Australia. Senator Rae. - Would not a duty help in that direction?
– Yes ; but itwould only hinder the present contractors for rolling-stock. I am one of those who stumped New South Wales for months to get a contract let for the manufacture of rolling-stock in that State. One of the concessions which have been allowed contractors is to import these parts of the wheels and axles. I do not intend to oppose, the item.
– Can the wheels be made here, too?
– - Yes. . I have seen a locomotive, every part of which was made in Australia years ago by a firm called Vale and Lacey. Senator de Largie bas stated that we know nothing about these matters. I have been engaged in the construction of locomotives androllingstock for a number of years, and know something about them. I do not say that axles are being made now, but they can be, and ought to be, made here, and the day is not far distant when that will be done if the Government in a certain State takes over the industry.
– They never will be made if we do not give a little protection.
– They will be made in Australia within a very short time.
– It appears to be absolutely necessary that we should urge the Government tomake a definite statement. I understand that the Department dees not know how todeal with the difficulty I raised a few moments ago ; and that is that a certain class- of machinery - wheels - is being brought into this country.
– My proposal deals with axles.
– I am aware of that; but that does not prevent me from discussing the question of wheels.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– In this instance we are putting a tax on an unfinished article, and letting the finished article come in duty free. In other words, wheels are admitted free if they are complete, and we put a tax upon them if they are incomplete. The result is that certain foundries have machinery lying idle because it pays the proprietors better to introduce the finished wheels rather than import unfinished articles and complete them in the foundry. Bogie wheels are used on the Queensland railways over 30 inches in diameter, unless I am very much mistaken.
– I am informed that those wheels are only 16 inches in diameter.
– The Minister must mean 16 inches in radius, not in diameter.
– This information comes from the Queensland Government.
– Some time ago I made inquiries of the officials of the Department, and they were not able to make to me the statement that has now been made by the Minister. I do not think that I have the slightest hope of remedying what is a gross anomaly in respect of this item, but if the Minister is prepared to say that at the first opportunity the anomaly will be remedied, I shall be inclined to allow the item to go as it stands. I wish to repeat that Mr. Tudor, when Minister of Trade and Customs in the first Fisher Government, Sir Robert Best, the Minister in the Deakin Government, Mr. Deakin himself, and later Mr. Fisher, have been interviewed on this point. It is a real anomaly. Certain wheels are used in enormous numbers in Australia, and especially in Queensland. It pays men who have the machinery for putting on the flanges and polishing up these wheels, to import them in the finished state, and allow their machinery to lie idle. I quite understand that the Department does not know much about the matter, but every Queensland official who has been interviewed on the. subject has said, “ What an absurd thing; this is quite an oversight and ought tobe corrected.”
– I understand that the matter mentioned by Senator Chataway has on various occasions been brought under the notice of the Department. It has been held, however, that it is not in the strict sense an anomaly. It is essentially, in my opinion, and in- the opinion of those experts who have given consideration to it, a matter to be dealt with when we revise the Tariff.
– It is not an anomaly; it is a crime.
– Then Parliament was guilty of the crime when it passed the Tariff.
– It was committed by a mistake.
– Are the Government disposed to correct the mistake?
– We are not disposed to open up the Tariff generally with a view of imposing higher duties. The Tariff in that respect will be brought under’ the consideration of Parliament next session. I feel sure that no honorable senator is seriously anxious to re-open the whole Tariff now. The honorable senator can rest assured that the- Protectionist members of the Senate will be as anxious as he is himself to remedy what he says is a grave, injustice to the manufacturers concerned.
Request agreed to.
Item 229 agreed to.
Item 230 -
Amend, By inserting in the item, after the word “ Dressings,” the words “ Inks, Stains.”
– I should like to know why it is proposed to insert words to remove inks and stains from an item where they are subjected to a 30 per cent, duty to one where they will pay 40 per cent. duty.
– I understand that inks and stains ‘are interchangeable with leather dressings, and that the Department has a difficulty in differentiating between them.
Item agreed to.
Item 236 -
Amend, By inserting in sub-item (a), after the word “ liquid,” the words “ in packages containing over fourteen lbs.”
By inserting in sub-item (b), after the word “ use,” the words “ ground in liquid in packages containing fourteen lbs. and under.”
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by adding the follow- ing new paragraph : - “ By omitting from subitem (b) the word ‘ including ‘ and inserting in its stead a comma.”
In another place certain alterations were made in this item, and the elimination of the word “ including “ and the insertion of a comma will bring about what is desired, and make the schedule conform to the original Tariff.
– Will the honorable senator explain the purport of the proposed amendment in the Tariff itself ?
– I am informed that some difficulty has been experienced lately in dealing with paints and colours ground in liquid, dutiable at 4s. per cwt., and several conflicting decisions have been given. The item is proposed to be amended in order to get rid of the difficulty.
– The proposed amendments affect the weight of packages, not the commodities themselves.
– It will be much more convenient departmentally to have all packages of 14 lbs. and under classified at the same rate of duty. Both these kinds of paints are put up in the same sort of packages.
– From what . document has the Minister been quoting?
– From a departmental document, in which a note is made of the difficulties which arise in the administration of the Tariff.
– I do not know whether the Committee are getting any solid information to help them to a decision, but I certainly am not. Under the 1908 Tariff it is provided that paints and colours ground in liquid may be imported at a duty of 4s. per cwt. The Government now propose to insert the words “ in packages containing over 14 lb.” Necessarily these paints introduced in packages containing less than 14 lbs. would be dutiable under some other item of the Tariff. The information the Minister has given, although probably highly interesting to analytical chemists, has nothing whatever to do with the weight in which these goods should be imported. The honorable senator has not said a single word in support of the proposal for making a differentiation according to the weight of the package in which this article is imported. The difficulty of determining the amount of liquid contained in a package of this paint would be as great in the case of a package containing 1 lb. as in the case of a package containing 14 lbs. or over that weight. If the honorable senator had said frankly that the object of the amendment is to compel the packing of this commodity in Austra- Iia, we could have understood him. He has suggested that the proposal is made to meet the convenience of the Department, but he has not shown that that is so. It is possible that he is not thoroughly posted as to the real reason for the proposed amendment, and certainly the statement he has made does not assist the Committee in the slightest degree to understand why it has been made.
– I should like to ask the Minister whether it has been the practice of the Department in administering item 236a, covering paints and colours ground in liquid to require that they should be brought in in packages of not less than 14 lbs.
– That has been the invariable practice.
– I wonder what authority the Department has had for the adoption of that practice. Senator Sayers. - It is the Department who make our laws.
– From the information received one is disposed to think so. I have here a list of the decisions of the Department, and it appears from this list that it is the invariable practice to insist upon importers importing paints and colours ground in liquid in packages of not less than 14 lbs., if they are to be dutiable at 4s. per cwt. If that is not a case of the Department making the Tariff law, I do not know what is. Until I got this explanation from the Minister, I do not suppose that members of this Parliament in either House were aware of it. I suppose it will be admitted that we are now justified in asking why the Department makes this law for themselves, for which they have not a scintilla of authority in the Customs Act. I should like to know also why the Government propose to make legal what the Department has been doing illegally for so long. I propose to read from this list of decisions on the subject.
– The honorable senator may have to lay it on the table if he does.
– I shall have no objection, and in fact I shall lay the document on the table myself. I find that in connexion with sub-item a of item 236, “ Paints and colours ground in liquid, per cwt., 4S.,!: what the Department have been doing has been to insist that paints, colours, varnishes, coach colours, &c, must be imported in packages containing 14 lbs. and over, in order that the importers may get the advantage of the lower duty.” They have been saying that filling-up composition, when not ready for use, must be introduced in packages containing 14 lbs. and -over.
– What is filling-up composition - putty ?
– I do not know. What I am concerned ‘about now is that the departmental officers have claimed the right to insist that importers shall introduce these goods in packages containing not less than- 14 lbs., in order to secure the advantage of the lower duty, though they have no authority to do. so under the Act. Manganese paste for flange joints, &c, has also to be imported in packages containing not less than 14 lbs., to get the advantage of this duty. It is clear that the Department have been making our Customs law for us, since these are decisions on which they have acted. When I took it up first I did not know that this document was loaded in the way I find it is. We are now entitled to some satisfactory explanation from the Minister as to why it is deemed advisable to insert this amendment, and to make legal in the future what the Department has been doing illegally in the past. Having quoted these decisions, I now lay the document on the table.
– Senator St. Ledger need not get into such a rage. If the matter is looked at calmly it will be found that there is nothing very extraordinary in the proposal. Under the existing Tariff paints and colours ground in liquid are dutiable at the rate of 4s. per cwt. There is in the Act no stipulation as to the weight of the packages in which it -may be introduced. At first glance one might suppose that to secure the advantage of this duty it would be necessary to import them in r cwt. packages. It is intended by this amendment to make it clear to importers and to the officers of the Customs Department what may be done. The real question at issue is the distinction between a bulk package and a retail package. When these goods are introduced in packages of not Jess than 14 lbs. weight, it is reasonable to assume that they are brought in in bulk, and should be charged duty at the rate of 4s. per cwt., but if they are introduced in packages of less than 14 lbs. in weight, it is just as reasonable to assume that they are imported for retail purposes. We claim that the business of subdividing bulk packages into packages for immediate use should be in the hands of our own people, and we, therefore, propose to charge duty at the rate of 6s. per cwt. on these goods when introduced in packages of less than 14 lbs. in weight.
– That is the duty on paints prepared for use, but not on paints ground in oil.
– To render these paints ready for use, all that is necessary is the addition of a little oil, and we feel that, when imported in the smaller packages, they should bear the same duty as that imposed on paints prepared for use, namely, 6s. per cwt. This alteration is considered necessary for that purpose.
– The explanation of the VicePresident of the Executive Council is at least an intelligent statement of the reason why the Government are moving in this matter, but I ask the Committee to compare it with the statement made by Senator Findley. I suggested when Senator Findley was speaking that this amendment was proposed, not to remove an anomaly at all, that it had no reference to the nature of the commodity, and was intended merely to encourage the packing of these goods in small packages in Australia.
– Did not Senator Findley make that perfectly clear?
– No, the honorable senator dealt with the quantity of oils in the packages, and said nothing at all as to the size of the packages. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has said that since the duty chargeable on these goods is 4s. per cwt., it is to be assumed that they would be imported in packages of 1 cwt. Is that assumption not to prevail now j and if it is, what is the virtue of the reference to packages containing 14 lbs. and over? Why should we not just as reasonably say 7 lbs. and over.?
– Because these goods imported in small packages are for immediate use.
– That* is the whole point, but Senator Findley disputed it when I raised it before, and said that this was not intended to rectify an anomaly or to relieve the Department of any inconvenience, but for the express purpose of encouraging the packing in Australia of these paints in small packages for retail. In these circumstances, what becomes of the contention on all these items that the Government are not proposing to revise the Tariff? . It seems to me that, under this Bill, the Government propose not to correct anomalies, but to impose new duties in the interests of particular industries. I say that that is not a fair or a reasonable thing unless it is done all round. I do not see why the Government should pick . out industries which affect a few people who,. because of their location, have easy access to Ministers.
– The explanation given by the VicePresident of the Executive Council has made it clear that . if these goods are brought in in packages of 14 lbs. and over, they are charged a lower duty than if they are brought in in packages a few lbs. less in weight, and the small man, who may require a few tins of paint to paint his house, has to pay more for it.
– The honorable senator is always troubled about the widows and orphans.
– I am not speaking about the widows and orphans. I have heard the Vice-President of the Executive Council speak of them often enough to make me sick of the subject for the rest, of my life. Under this proposal, the person who wishes to purchase a small quantity of paint will have to pay 2s. per cwt. more for it, on account of the duty, than will the individual who -requires to purchase a large quantity. There are thousands of persons in Australia who only need to buy 6 lbs. or 7 lbs. of paint at a time, and they will be required to pay an increased price for it proportionate to the duty, in addition to the profit which is charged upon it. But the question which arises in my mind is - Upon what authority has the Department of Trade and Customs been doing this during the past two years?
– It has not been doing it. ‘
– The Honorary Minister said that it had.
– In reply to a question by Senator St.. Ledger, the honorable gentleman distinctly stated that it had been the invariable practice of the Department.
– I referred to paints in packages.
– The honorable gentleman referred to paints in packages of 14 lbs. It seems to me that the Department has exceeded its powers, and that the Government are now endeavouring to validate its illegal action.
– Item 236 of the Tariff reads -
Paints and colours, viz. : -
Ground in liquid, per cwt. (General Tariff), 4s.
Prepared for use, including tattoo oil, per cwt. (General Tariff), 6s.
Before an importer could get the benefit of the 4s. duty as against the 6s. rate, he had to import paints, varnishes, and colours in packages over 14 lbs. in weight.
– The honorable senator is wrong again.
– I hold in my hand a copy of the official decisions of the Department of Trade and Customs, which are issued for the guidance of importers. The publication is dated the 19th October of the present year, and in it the following words in reference to paints and colours appear in brackets, “ When in packages containing’ over 14 lbs.” I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether, if a man imports four 14-lbs. packages of paints and colours ground in liquid the Department will exact from him the full duty of 4s., or only a fractional part of it? If the duty is to be charged at so much per cwt., obviously only a proportionate part of that duty should be levied upon a lesser quantity. Will . the Vice-President of the Executive Council’ answer my questions?
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon.
– According to the official decisions of the Department, .before importers were permitted to take advantage of the duty of 4s. per cwt., it has been the custom to insist that paints ground in liquid should be put up into packages.
– That has not been the practice.
– The other question which I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council was whether the full duty of 4s. is charged upon importations of less than 1 cwt. ?
– I may tell Senator St. Ledger, in reply to his last question, that in such cases only a proportionate part of the duty is charged. Honorable senators will insist upon misunderstanding everything that is said either by the honorary Minister or myself. I wish to make it perfectly clear why the Department desires the proposed alteration to be effected. The duty upon paints and colours ground in liquid - was originally 4s. per cwt. If smaller quantities were imported only a proportionate part of that duty was charged upon them. Now, prepared paints, and paints and colours ground in liquid, are imported in the same kind of packages. But prepared paints are dutiable at 6s. per cwt., whilst paints and colours ground in oil are usually imported in small packages, and are dutiable at 4s. per cwt. The Department has, therefore, had the obligation cast upon it of examining every small package to ascertain whether it contained paints and colours ground in liquid, or whether it contained paints and colours prepared for use. If the amendment be carried, the same duty will be charged upon paints prepared for use as is imposed upon paints ground in liquid. Upon packages exceeding 14 lbs. weight, the duty levied will be at the rate of 4s. per cwt. The amendment is merely designed to make the administration of this portion of the Tariff easy and effective. There are some persons who are determined to get at the Customs Department, and it is to prevent the possibility of that being done that the amendment has been submitted.
Request agreed to.
Amend, By omitting from sub-item (a) the words “ Fruit-jar Caps,” and inserting in their stead the words “ Glass Caps for Fruit-jars.”
– This alteration is only proposed for departmental convenience. Here is a sample of a fruit-jar, which, it will be seen, is covered with a metal cap. If the proposed alteration be made, every shipment of fruit- jars with metal caps attached, and not with separate glass stoppers, will have to be opened. The jars will have to be valued and charged at one rate, while the metal tops will have to be valued and charged as manufactures of metals. In order to get over that difficulty, these fruitjars have been allowed to come in in this form. The opening of every package will not assist in the administration of the Tariff. I should like to know the necessity for the proposed alteration.
.- Under the Tariff of 1908, this item was intended to apply only to glass caps for fruit-jars ; but it has been found impossible to carry out that intention, owing to section 3 of the Act.
– The Department has to take the language of the Tariff, not an intention.
– The language of the Tariff indicates an intention that some measure of protection should be given to the manufacturers of this article in Australia.
– I understood that the Government were not revising the Tariff, except to cure anomalies.
– Where we see that anomalies do exist, it is our intention to remedy them.
– Although a number of anomalies have been pointed out, and their existence has been admitted by the Government, they do not propose to remedy them. It is only a few favoured industries which are being considered.
– All these caps are classified as fruit-jar caps. There is considerable difficulty in distinguishing fruit-jar caps from metal caps for other purposes; and the object of the alteration is to remove what is considered by the Department an anomaly, so that there shall be no difficulty in knowing what duties are payable.
Item agreed to.
Items 261, 279, 286, 295, 338, 344, 347, and 353, agreed to.
Amend, By inserting an asterisk in the item after the word “ Paper “ at the commencement of the item, and by inserting at the end of the item a foot-note as follows : - “* ‘ Board ‘ when applied to paper means a paper which at the size of 20 by 25 inches or its equivalent weighs 80 lbs. or over per ream of 480 sheets.” . . .
– I move–
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out the figures “ 80,” and inserting in lieu thereof “ 70.”
Here is a sample of a board which, at the size of 20 x 25 inches, weighs 79 lbs. per ream of 480 sheets, and being under the prescribed weight of 80 lbs., is dutiable. Tags are taken out of one list and made dutiable at a higher rate; but the paper or board from which they are made, at the size of 20 x 24 inches, weighs 69 lbs., and at the size of 20 x 25 inches, 70 lbs. It is only reasonable that the proposed weight of 80 lbs. should be reduced, because, otherwise, we shall raise some of the duties by over 100 per cent. If we could reduce the prescribed weight to 70 lbs. per ream of 480 sheets, it would be a great relief, I think, to those engaged in this industry. It is a very reasonable request, which I hope the Minister will see his way to accept.
– Senator Vardon, is. no doubt, anxious to give to those who feel that they will be handicapped by certain alterations which are proposed, particularly in connexion with a later item. As regards the weight of the boards the Government cannot accept his suggestion, because, although this is a Bill for the rectification of anomalies, we believe that the request would multiply them. I understand that the recognised weight of boards is 80 lbs. .per ream of 480 sheets.
– No; that is only the weight which the Department put down. It is not recognised anywhere else.
– The honorable senator exhibited a sample of board which, according to his own statement, weighs 79 lbs. per ream of 480 sheets,- and that certainly is very near to 80 lbs. We cannot under any circumstances accept the request,- because we believe that it would multiply the difficulties which at present confront the Department in the administration of the Tariff.
– - The Honorary Minister has given no reason for his objection to the request. Seeing that he is a practical printer, I think that he might have endeavoured to furnish a reason which would be convincing to Senator Vardon and others who, like myself, have a slight knowledge of the printing business, that the proposed weight of 80 lbs. per ream has been fixed on a definite basis, which is . understood. As Senator Vardon has pointed out, the particular class of board which is covered by this item weighs 79 lbs. per ream. If -the Government understand anything about the business, why did they not fix the weight at 79 or 78 lbs. ? Why have they adopted a weight to bring the ordinary class of boards within the operation of the duty? Whether it is the Department’s intention or not, I am not prepared to state, but the Government are getting at every little country newspaper in Australia which ekes out a livelihood by doing a certain amount of small jobbing work. Many a small newspaper, which is issued once a week in a back-block place, depends largely for its existence on the production of weigh-bills, receipt books,, delivery books, and so forth. This item covers the class of board which is used for that work. Apparently the Government propose to put up the cost of production in that regard. Of course, if they can prove that it will not have that effect I shall vote with them. All I know at present is that a certain class of board produced in Melbourne is not the board used for the production of these books in country offices. I have a strong suspicion that the object of the proposed alteration is to give a little extra benefit to a particular industry in Victoria. I have received a few documents from master printers on this subject. Protests have been sent in from small country^ printing offices in various parts of Australia; urging that the Government should not alter the present method of dealing with strawboard, leatherboard, greyboard, and so forth. I believe that the Government are making a mistake. Apparently they are giving way to some local influence which has been brought to bear upon them, and are striking at the very heart of the most profitable part of the business of small country printers throughout Australia.
– There is no desire on the part of the Government to strike at any section of the community in this matter. In the old Victorian Tariff the definition of “board” was clear and emphatic. In the Tariff of 1908, pulp- board is clearly defined as board weighing 80 lbs. per ream of 480 sheets. What the Department desires is that that weight shall be applicable to all kinds of board. Surely there cannot be any strong exception taken to that. That is the reason which moves the Government to ask the Committee to accept the proposed alteration.
– What the Government propose to do is to make. the old definition of pulp- board apply to boards of every description, which in the future must weigh 80 lbs. or over per ream -of ‘480 sheets. Here is a sample of an Australian-made’ article which is used in the manufacture of covers for incandescent mantles. Unless it is very thin it cannot possibly be worked up. There is already a sufficient duty on the article. The makers have been perfectly satisfied, and have made no request to have the duty on strawboard increased. There was a gentleman in Melbourne today who had seen Mr. McDougall, of the firm of Sands and McDougall,- on the subject, and asked him, “ Are you. satisfied with the duty of is. 6d. per cwt. ? “ Mr. McDougall said, ‘.’ Perfectly.” Then the gentleman said, “ But a duty of £5 per ton is proposed.” Mr. McDougall replied, “ We did not ask for it. The Government have given it to us.” That is a nice kind of thing ! The Government, without any request being made, forces a duty on a manufacturer. I defy any one to say that this material should not be classed as board. No one can say that the stuff used for making tags for luggage should not be classed as board, although, when of the size . of 20 by 25 inches, it weighs a little over 70 lbs. per ream.
– The honorable senator would not call that material a board if he were turning out work with it. He’ would call it a stiff paper.
– It is Manilla tagboard. There is no other name for it. The Minister, however, simply says that the Government will not accept the request moved by me, because it will create . an anomaly, but he gives no instance of an anomaly which it will create. We ought not to be put off by excuses of this kind. I have already stated that the boxmaking trade does not affect me individually to the extent of a brass farthing, but I am taking the matter up in the interests of the box- . makers, to whom. entire satisfaction will be given if the weight be reduced to 70 lbs. The Minister can give no reason whatever for. not complying with the request.
– Before this matter is determined, I wish to read a telegram which I have received from Mr. F. Swanson, Secretary of the Master Printers’ Association, Brisbane. He says -
Queensland Master Printers’ Association protest against advance in Tariff on various kinds of boards which are printers’ raw material, and not manufactured in Australia.
I have also received the following circular expressing the views of the New South Wales Master Printers -
As representatives of the New South Wales printers and connected trades, also South Australia, we wish to place before you what the result must be to our trades all over Australia if the Tariff go.es through, as proposed.
In some cases it means putting on over too per cent, on our raw material, and the finished article is to come in at 35 or 40 per cent.
Commence at No. 356. We would ask that this should read - 20 by 25 inches, 70 lbs. per ream, 480 sheets, because 20 by 25 inches, 80 lbs., as proposed, means ^5 per ton duty on Manilla or greyboard, costing from £8 to £10 f.o.b.
Senator Vardon has already referred to this matter, but has not elicited from the Minister any statement worthy of a senator in his position. The circular goes on -
This means over £50 to £60 on our raw material, which cannot be made here without the pulp is imported from Canada or Sweden. A sheet 20 by 25, 80 lbs., is certainly a board and not a paper, and to classify it as such is wrong, and does great injury to the folding box-trade. You must admit a playing-card is a board, and yet the well-known American playing-cards, such as “ Bicycle,” do not weigh 80 lbs., 20 by 25, PeT sheet, 280’s. They would go much nearer 70 lbs.
As the Minister is absolutely deaf to any representations that we can make, and, indeed, can make no statement at all except in a very vague and general- way, it is useless to argue the matter any further. _
Question - That the House of Representatives be- requested to amend the item by leaving out “ 80 “ and inserting in lieu thereof “70 “ - put. The Committee divided.
Amend, By omitting the whole of sub-items (g) and (h).
– It is proposed to omit the whole of paragraphs (g) and (h) of item 356., The first of those paragraphs refers to writingpaper, plain cut, less than 16 by 13 inches, and not in stationery packets, carrying a duty at present of 15 and 10 per cent. Paragraph (h) relates to ruled and bordered papers, which are dutiable at 25 and 20 per cent. I wish to point out the effect of omitting them. These two lines are taken from this item and inserted in another, where instead of being dutiable at 15 and 10 per cent, and 25 and 20 per cent, respectively, they will be dutiable at 30 and 25 per cent. I do not know why the Government wish to increase these duties ; so far as ‘I know there has been no complaint about them, and they result in hardship to no one. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out the words “ Bv omitting the whole of sub-items (g) and (h).»
– The desire is to deal with stationery in a comprehensive way, and to bring all under the same duties, namely, 30 and 25 per cent.
– But why?
– Because all manufactured stationery should be treated in the same way.
– Is there any difficulty in distinguishing between different kinds of stationery?
– I understand that there is little or no difficulty, but it is a glaring anomaly that there should be different duties for different kinds of manufactured stationery. The object of these amendments is to bring about uniformity, and to do justice. T.here is no reason why the importer of one kind of stationery should be given an advantage over an importer of another kind of stationery.
– The fact is that none of these goods are imported.
– I wish again to emphasize the fact made patent by the Minister’s declaration. He appears to be abandoning the pretext that this Bill is introduced to rectify anomalies, and to make smooth the working of the Department. He now says that it is necessary for the sake of uniformity to include all manufactured stationery in one item. Are we to understand that this industry is the only one to be singled out for special treatment in this Bill, and that while the Government have had time to consider the difficulties of the makers of papers and paperboards, they have not had time to give mature consideration to anomalies which affect the interests of any other industry in the Commonwealth. The proposed revision of the Tariff for the benefit of a particular industry is so curious as to make one think things which he would hesitate to utter.
– The honorable senator thinks that behind this effect there is some causer
– There is always a cause for every effect. When this Bill was introduced we had the Ministerial declaration that it was not a revision of the Tariff, but merely intended to rectify anomalies, which prevented the smooth working of the Department. But in this case, for some reason or another, a particular industry is picked out, and given a material increase of the protection which was hitherto enjoyed, not because the present duties involve anomalies or for the convenience of the Department, but in order merely to benefit those engaged in the industry.
– - When the uniformity proposed involved a reduction of duty, the honorable senator was quite agreeable to it.
– The same thing might be urged with regard to every other industry enjoying protection under our Tariff. If a local manufacturer has one portion of his goods protected to the extent of 30 per cent., and another to the extent of 20 per cent., the Government might just as well propose that for the sake of uniformity both should be protected to the extent of 30 per cent. - Senator Givens. - What about jam anc1 tinned fruit? There is no proposal to remedy that anomaly.
– There is no proposal to secure uniformity in that case. It is curious that when the Government depart from their intention merely to rectify anomalies, they are able to discover the virtue of uniformity only in connexion with one particular industry. If there is to be a revision of the Tariff, we should start all the industries of Australia off the same mark. There should not be a conferring of Ministerial favours upon one industry when others are given no consideration.
– I have 110 wish to reduce the duties on these articles, and no objection to giving fair protection to the industry, but I protest against this particular trade of stationery and box-making being harassed in this way, when, as has been pointed out, no proposal is made to rectify glaring anomalies in connexion with many other trades. Senator Givens stated the other day that he could refer to thirty or forty glaring anomalies, some of which he mentioned, but none of which are dealt with in this Bill.
– The Tariff affecting this trade is revised from A to Z.
– Yes, the whole of this trade is brought under review. I have a good knowledge of the trade, but I do not know of any manufacturer who has complained that the existing duties are not high enough, or that the trade is not receiving sufficient protection.
– I frankly admit that I do not think the wires have been pulled by any particular firm as may have been the case in connexion with some other industries. But I should like to know why it is proposed to put all kinds of stationery in one item. Why should the duties on some of these goods be raised to 30 and 35 per cent, without rhyme or reason, and when, so far as I know, no one connected with the industry has complained of the existing duties? This seems to be merely an arbitrary decision to attack this particular industry.
– How can it be an attack upon the industry, when the honorable senator said a few moments ago that none of these goods are imported?
– If so, why increase these duties ?
– For the sake of uniformity, and not to attack the trade.
– Is it done simply to rake in more shekels for the Treasury?
– How will it rake in more shekels if these articles are not imported ?
– It will raise the price of these articles to the consumer. That appears to be the only reason why the Government go in for uniformity in connexion with this particular trade, and give no attention to the anomalies in the Tariff affecting other trades, which are more glaring than any which can be referred to in connexion with this industry.
– Senator Millen has suggested that at the back of this effect there is some cause, but I think he did not treat the Committee fairly, inasmuch as he gave us no indication as to what the cause is. There must be some reason why this particular trade is selected for a complete revision of duties, when it is not proposed to revise the Tariff affecting any other industry.
– What does the honorable senator think is the reason?
– I am looking for the reason, and I am disposed to think that the reason suggested by Senator Gould in an interjection must be correct. The honorable senator suggested that there must be some very big business firms in the vicinity of Melbourne that have the ear of the Minister, and are able to exert sufficient influence to have this done. In looking through the schedule to this Bill, I find four full pages devoted to a revision of the Tariff affecting the stationery business. I have absolutely no objection to give this industry all the protection it requires, but I do ask why every other industry is not given the same treatment? Is it because this Parliament sits in Melbourne, and Melbourne firms can approach Ministers at any time they please, and get from this Parliament everything they .choose to ask for ? We know that deputations travel all the way from the other States to Melbourne, and are supported frequently by their representatives here, to ask for some remedy for injustices under which they suffer, but get no consideration at all ? If this sort of thing is to continue, we shall in a short time have an overwhelming majority in this Parliament prepared to shift out of Melbourne and hold its sittings in a tent anywhere else, rather than submit to it. People in the State which I represent have been trying to get glaring anomalies rectified. People in other States have been doing the same thing ; but they have always been given the cold shoulder by Ministers, and have been told that there was to be no revision of the Tariff this session. They have been told that the most that could be done would be to rectify anomalies which interfered with the smooth working of the Department, and made it difficult for the departmental officers to decide under which particular item certain goods should be charged duty.
– The rest was to wait until we knew the result of the referendum.
– That is so. I do not propose to deal now with the question of whether we should have had a revision of the Tariff this year. I recognise that it would have been imposing perhaps an undue burden on members of this Parliament to add to the strenuous work of this session the work of Tariff revision. I am inclined to think that the . Government have been wise in deciding to postpone a full revision of the Tariff until next year.
– But they have not done so.
– They are giving u» a partial revision this year in favour of one or two industries. That is what I object to. I have a list of over thirty glaring anomalies. I mentioned only two or three, because it has been ruled that we are permitted only to discuss the items placed before us by the Government in this Bill. But, by way of comparison, I should like to know why the anomalies affecting only the stationery industry should be rectified from A to Z? Why is this the only industry treated in this way ? Why is not the fruit industry similarly treated? That is an industry in which every State is concerned. I have pointed out again and again that if you put a ton of fruit and a ton of sugar into a copper and boil them for a time, and then -put the contents into tins and call it jam, you will get a fair amount of protection under the Tariff, but if you put the same ton of fruit and the same ton of sugar up in another form as tinned fruit - and a magnificent article of this description is produced in Australia - you will get little or no protection for it. That glaring anomaly has been mentioned time and again, but there is no proposal to rectify it. Perhaps it would not reflect any discredit on Ministers if they told us the reason why they propose to revise the Tariff affecting the stationery industry. It might smooth over some of our difficulties if they did so. If it is because it is a Melbourne industry that it is singled out for preferential treatment, the sooner we get away from such pernicious influences the better.
– Senators Millen, Vardon, and Givens have inferred that, because of the existence of a paper mill in close proximity to Melbourne, and because of the influence which has been exerted by those who are interested in that mill, the Government have been induced to submit certain amendments to the Tariff. Manifestly that is an unfair statement to make, and one which ought not to be made unless those who are responsible for it can (substantiate it. I wish to say distinctly that not a single firm in Australia has approached the Department with a request for any of the amendments which are contained in the schedule to this Bill. Ever since the Tariff of 1908 came into operation the Department has experienced extreme difficulty in giving full effect to the intentions of Parliament. We know that glaring anomalies exist, and these having been brought under the notice of departmental officers throughout Australia, the Government felt that the time had arrived when they should be rectified.
– In this trade, but in no other.
– The honorable senator stated in one breath that the amendment proposed will not hurt anybody, because there will be no importation, and in another breath he declared that the effect of the amendment will be to bring in additional revenue.
– Why do the Government desire to .impose an increased duty?
– To bring about uniformity.
– Why not reduce t.h* duties ?
– If we proposed to reduce the duties upon ruled and unruled paper, in order to secure uniformity, those, honorable senators who profess to be Protectionists would vote with us. But when we propose to increase duties they are opposed to uniformity.
– Who has complained of these two items?
– I do not know that anybody has complained of them. But when it was proposed to rectify anomalies in regard to paper and boards of various descriptions it was deemed desirable to deal with stationery and boards in a comprehensive way.
– It is strange that this is the only industry which is to be dealt with in that way.
– If the Government had decided to deal with the fruit industry, it would have dealt with it in a comprehensive way.
– But the Government took good care not to touch that industry.
– Because, as the,’ Minister of Trade and Customs has explained, the fact that a duty of 2s. per. cental is levied upon green fruit, whilst only is. per cental is imposed upon bananas,, does not constitute an anomaly. When Parliament dealt with the duties upon fruit in 1908 it knew exactly what it was doing. The departmental officers experience no difficulty in distinguishing green fruit from bananas.
– Cannot the departmental experts distinguish between ruled and unruled paper?
– In the departmental view both articles come under the heading of stationery.
VARDON (South Australia) [9.35]. - The Honorary Minister has admitted that, under the existing Tariff, no hardship is inilicted upon those engaged in this industry.
– But there is a strong reason why we should secure uniformity.
– Surely if the Tariff is working satisfactorily, if none of the manufacturers are suffering hardship, an alteration need not be effected merely for the purpose of obtaining uniformity.
– Is nobody to be studied except the manufacturers t
– Who has complained ?
– The Customs Department.
– What complaint has the Customs Department made? Surely if anything can be easily identified it is paper of this description ! Senator Findley. - There is another difficulty in that stationery in packets is required to pay twice as much duty as is stationery not in packets.
– The Department of Trade and Customs was established for the purpose of giving effect to the will of this Parliament.
– And it does so.
– If the Ministry are going to do things in this fashion, God help us.
. - If the Government can assure the Committee that the retention of this item is necessary from a protective point of view, I shall support them. But if the proposal be made merely for the purpose of raising more revenue, I will not support it.
Senator (MILLEN (New South Wales) [9.39]. - The Honorary Minister has stated that when Parliament, under the Tariff of 1908, determined the duties upon fruit, it knew exactly what it was doing. But does not that remark also apply to this item? In view of the public declaration of the Honorary Minister and ‘his colleagues that they were not prepared to undertake a comprehensive revision of the Tariff this session, what justification exists for picking out these particular items and reviewing them from A to Z, whilst telling other in dustries that they must stand down and wait? Something has been said to-night regarding the reason for their action. 1 have waited for an explanation of their action by the Minister.
– I have already said that no complaints have been made.
– Deputations have waited upon the Minister of Trade and Customs asking for a revision of the Tariff and in every instance he has told them that the Government declined to re-open the Tariff at the present juncture. I have waited for some explanation of the reason why one industry has been singled out for special treatment. But as that explanation has not been forthcoming I have no option but to express the conclusion at which 1 have arrived. It is that this particular industry has been selected for special treatment, because it is located close to a city which returns as one of its representatives the Minister of Trade and Customs. It is significant, too, that ‘the Honorary Minister in this Chamber also resides in the city which will largely benefit by the adoption of the Government proposal. If we are to have an Australian Tariff for the Australian people, it ought not to be determined by local considerations.
– I thought that the honorable senator was an Australian.
– This Tariff is not an Australian Tariff. A Tariff which singles out for special treatment an industry in the constituency of a Minister, is not Australian in character. As a matter of fair play, I say that the industries of Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania are entitled to exactly the same consideration as has been extended to this industry. The Minister has clearly indicated that in this particular instance the Government have deserted the rule which they themselves laid down for the rectification of Tariff anomalies. They have reviewed the whole industry, and have decided to give it a levelling up of duties. It is significant, .1 repeat, that this industry is situated in the constituency which is represented by the Minister of Trade and Customs, and in a city of which the Honorary Minister is a resident.
– The statement which has just been made by Senator Millen was made earlier in the evening by other honorable senators. I said then that it was manifestly unfair, not only to the
Minister of Trade and Customs and myself, but also to the firm whose name has been freely mentioned within the precincts of this building to-day. Senator Millen knows perfectly well that there are manufacturing constituencies, not only in Melbourne, but throughout every State of the Commonwealth. Paper mills exist in the State which he represents. Mills have been established there for the manufacture of” certain lines of paper to which it is desired to extend that measure of protection which the Tariff of 1908 was designed to confer. I thought that every honorable senator was present here as an Australian. As an Australian, what does it matter to me whether a proposal is made to extend protection to an industry which is located in another State ? I am not concerned about the manufacturers in my State any more than I am about those in any other State. Senator Millen. - Why pick out this, then ?
– Because there is a manufacturing stationer in Sydney.
– I have told the honorable senator why, and it is because, from time to time, the departmental officers have found it extremely difficult to carry out the intention of Parliament when it framed the Tariff of 1908. There are no sinister influences at work. It is manifestly unfair for any honorable, senator to make that statement, and to hint that either I or the Minister of Trade and Customs am responsible in a large measure for the introduction of this schedule.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [9.46].- I should like to know why the Minister did not state, when he was introducing the Bill, that it contained a modicum of change of a Protectionist character.
– I did say so.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - The honorable senator said it was purely a measure to rectify anomalies.
– I read out the anomalies which were considered unimportant, and also the anomalies which were important, and which, in some cases, meant higher duties. - Senator Lt. -Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - The honorable senator told us that it was a Bill to rectify anomalies, but he also stated that some of the alterations were much more special than others. It was put before the other House in a similar way. What I think honorable senators may fairly complain of is that a particular industry has been selected for special consideration as against other industries. What makes the action of the Government look still more serious is the fact that the Bill has been thrown before us in the last days of the session, with the idea, apparently, that honorable senators, being anxious to get away, as they are, would probably assent to all the proposals without giving them full investigation. If it had been announced that the Government proposed some important changes with regard to duties, honorable senators might have asked, “ Where are they?” and when told, they could have examined the items from that stand-point. In any case, it is manifestly unfair that, at the fag-end of the session, debatable matter of this character should be thrown before the House. The Ministry know that there is no more fruitful subject of discussion and difference of opinion than a Tariff Bill. The moment it goes beyond the rectification of anomalies all sorts of reasons are suggested as to why a particular industry is treated specially. The Minister has told us that there is nothing in the suggestion that has emanated from this side; and, of course, we are bound to accept his word. But it is most extraordinary that the Customs officials have found out that they cannot distinguish between ruled and plain paper.
– They can. They have never said anything of the kind.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - There are two different qualities of paper, and in order to get over the difficulty of distinguishing between them, they have been bunched together. Why did not the Minister come forward and say, “ In all other trades where there are different duties according to the quality of the articles, we intend to. level up the duties, so that there shall be no more anomalies or difficulties in administering the Tariff.” Ministers have only themselves to thank for any innuendoes which have been thown out, because they have introduced the measure at the fag-end of the session, when they knew well that honorable senators wished to get away, and, apparently, expected that the items would be allowed to pass without inquiry.
– I wish to mention, as a justification of the attitude I have taken .up on this item, that, during the last few months, persons engaged in, not one. but forty, industries in New South
Wales have asked me to place before the Ministry reasons for reviewing the duties on items in which they were concerned. In every case I pointed to the declaration of the Ministry that they were not prepared to review the Tariff this session. I told them - and they accepted my advice - that they need not do anything at present; that it would be idle for them to approach me with the details which they wished looked into, or for me to press them on the attention of the Ministry. They remained quiescent. Yet we now find that an opportunity has been afforded to those industries which could, by sufficient importunity, press their claims on the Minister, to obtain a redress of grievances.
– You were told that there was no importunity.
– That makes it more remarkable that the Ministry, without being approached in any way, should select one industry for this favoured treatment.
– What the Minister means is that there was no public, importunity.
– It is hard to know what the Minister does mean. I am. dealing with the facts of the case, and, what is more, I do not intend to be particularly careful in the language I employ. I have been absolutely fooled by the attitude of ‘ the Ministry in this matter. There are dozens of industries in Australia in this position. Had I known - had it been suspected for a moment by those who approached me - that there was an opportunity for. a revision of the Tariff, in the sense in which the Minister is now revising the items concerning the stationery trade, I venture to say that there would have been poured into the Ministry representations from all parts. Australia accepted the Ministerial declaration that there was no intention to revise the Tariff. I took it myself, and so did those to whom I have referred, and who, therefore, abstained from taking any action. They now see that, as the result of their silence, they are left in the cold, while a particular industry is getting practically all that it has asked for.
Question - That the request (Senator Vardon’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item 356 -
Amend, By omitting the whole of sub-item- (1), and inserting in its stead the following sub-item : -
*’ (1) Wrapping of all colours (glazed, unglazed, or mill-glazed), browns, caps, casings, sealings, nature or ochre browns, sulphites, sugars, and all other bag papers, candle carton paper and boards of all colours, strawboard lined or unlined weighing less than six ounces to the unlined sheet of strawboard of 25 by 30 inches or itsequivalent . . per cwt. (GeneralTariff), 5s. ; (United Kingdom), 4s. 6d.”
– In the Tariff of 1908 this item reads -
Browns, and Sugar (grey, blue, and other tints); Fruit Bag Paper, Candle Blue and Grey Paper, Candle Carton Paper … per cwt.. (General Tariff), 5s. ; (United Kingdom), 4s.. 6d.
It is proposed to enlarge the item very much. I have no objection to wrapping paper of all colours (glazed, unglazed, or millglazed) being brought under duties of 5s. and 4s. 6d. per cwt., but I want to know why caps, casings, and sulphites arebrought under this item. Cap paper is, as every one knows, very tough, and is used generally for fruit and confectionery bags. I am aware that the duty on bags is raised’ by is. per cwt. under this proposal, but I do not see much sense in raising the duty on bags by that amount and increasing the duty on the raw material by about a ton. Cap paper simply comes into competition with the brown paper made in Victoria. Casing paper is sometimes known as glazed rope paper, which is largely used in the making of envelopes and other things.
Sulphite paper is used largely for wrapping, and that, again, comes into competition simply with brown paper. I do not know why we should force people to use these particular classes of paper, when the others suit them a great deal better. Everybody will admit that, as regards bags for confectionery and fruit, cap paper is very much better than the ordinary brown paper. On casing paper, which is largely used for the making of envelopes, the duty is to be raised, while the duty on the manufactured article is to remain exactly the sameSulphite paper is made from pine wood of Norway or Sweden, cut into very small blocks, which are split up into matchwood and then ground up into a pulp, making a very good and strong wrapping paper. The only reason I know why it is brought under this item is because it comes into competition with brown paper, which is made in Victoria and New South Wales. These two mills have all the work they can possibly do, with an honorable understanding that while the mill in Sydney can do the eastern trade, the mill in Victoria can do the trade in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia. We on this side do not like, nor does the Labour party like, these combines. Here is one which exists.
– Yes ; but even that is better than getting the article imported.
– Will the Minister say that the manufacturers can supply the whole of the Australian trade, or that they can supply even half of it?
– They do not get the chance.
– They have had the chance under the existing duty. It is proposed to raise the duty on “ strawboard lined or unlined, weighing less than 6 ozs. to the unlined sheet of strawboard of 25 by 30 inches “ to £5 per ton. The existing duty is 30s. per ton. I ask whether there is any reason or justice in that increase? I have before me an invoice for twelve bales of strawboard, equal to three tons, at £5 2s. 6d. per ton. That is the top market price for years past. The average price f.o.b. Hamburg is £4 15s. per ton. The three tons in question cost, f.o.b. Hamburg, £16 2s. 4d. The freight amounted to no less than £5 6s. 2d.
– Stuff is brought from Hamburg to Australia to-day for 12s. 6d. per ton. The importers must have taken a cabin passage for that strawboard.
– There were other charges also, which brought up the total cost to £24 1 6s. gd. That shows the effect of die present duty, taken in conjunction with importing and other charges. It is quite likely that the freight may have been lower if the goods had been brought out on a sailing ship. . But even taking the average price of ,£4 15s. per ton f.o.b. Hamburg, a duty of £5 per ton is absolutely unjustifiable. I have given the Minister my authority for saying that the makers of strawboard in Australia are satisfied with the present duty of 30s. per ton. So they ought to be. What justification is there for raising the duty to £5 per ton? Is it not outrageous? It simply means that those engaged in boxmaking and using lined strawboard must give up the business. What else can they do? They cannot afford a duty of no per cent, on their raw material. I intend to move that the words “ caps, casings “ be omitted. Cap papers do not come into competition with brown paper. They are used for quite different purposes. As to casings; a glazed, tough paper is different altogether from a brown paper, and does not enter into competition with brown paper. Casings are used in all the States for making envelopes. First of all, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out the word “ caps.”
– Senator Vardon has, to a certain extent, answered himself. He has told the Committee that what the Government desire to do is to lift certain papers from the 20 and 15 per cent, list, ana make them dutiable at 5s. per cwt., in order to give a certain industry a measure of protection. That industry is engaged in the manufacture of paper which is used for making paper bags.
– Brown paper.
– Yes. I am well aware that fruit bags are not usually made from brown paper, though sometimes they are. The bags that the honorable senator has mentioned are made from cap paper, but they come into competition with brown paper bags. The generic term for them is “ fruit bags,” and they seriously affect an established industry. Certain papers used for the manufacture of bags are dutiable at 5s. per cwt., and it does seem to me to be an anomaly that other kinds of paper that, as a matter of fact, are utilized for the same purpose, are allowed to come in at a lower rate of duty. In order that all kinds of paper utilized for bag making shall be imported at a uniform rate of duty, we propose that that rate shall be 5s. per cwt. The honorable senator has mentioned carton paper in general. The duty on that also is proposed to be made 5s. per cwt. for a similar reason. We desire that all the material that is necessary for the making of fruit and other bags shall be placed on the same footing.
Question put. The Committee divided. Ayes … … … 7
Question resolved in the negative, t Request negatived.
– ^ move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by inserting after the word /’caps” the words “not elsewhere specified.”
Unless these words are inserted these articles will be dutiable at the higher rate of duty, and if they are inserted the lighter weights will be admitted duty free.
Request agreed to. Senator VARDON (South Australia) [10.20]. - I am prepared to accept the vote Just taken as a test with regard to the other papers, and I shall not, therefore, move the omission of casing and sulphites, but I do intend to appeal to the Senate in connexion with the matter of strawboard, lined or unlined, weighing less than 6 oz. to the unlined sheet of straw- board of 25 by 30 inches, or its equivalent. I have said that this is the raw material of one of our industries. I have to admit that the duty on the manufactured article of the industry has been put up by 10 per cent., but the duty on the raw material of the industry is under this amendment proposed to be raised to at least no per cent. In the circumstances it will be impossible for the men engaged in the industry in which this strawboard is used as a raw material to continue to carryon their business of making the goods, samples of which I have already exhibited
– The duty is not to be raised to 110 per cent.
– The proposal is to raise the duty from 30s. per ton to £5 per ton.
– It may be raised by no per cent., but not to 110 per cent.
– I do not wish to split hairs with the honorable senator. He must admit that it is proposed to increase the duty on this strawboard to ^5 per ton.
– That is not no per cent.
– It is nearly no per cent, on the value of the article. I have shown by a reference to absolute invoices which honorable senators can see for themselves that the highest price charged for this material to-day is 2s. 6d. per ton. It is proposed now to add to that price a duty of £5 per ton. In addition, we must consider all the charges for freight, commission, exchange, insurance, and so on. What, in the circumstances, will be the cost of a ton of these light strawboards landed in the Commonwealth, including duty? How is any man engaged in the industry here to compete with importation if his raw material is put up to a price like this? Surely the Senate will not do this injustice, merely in order to give protection to one mill making strawboards in the Commonwealth. I understand that there is one mill in Victoria and another in New South Wales making browns, but there is only one mill in Australia making these strawboards, and according to the information I have from New South Wales and other places,’ if this mill is given an order it cannot meet it.
– That is a very healthy sign.
– Is this duty to be increased, merely because the local article cannot be obtained? Even if it could, would that be an argument for the proposed increase of the duty to 110 per cent. ? Are manufacturers, who are using this article as raw material, able to stand such a duty upon it? I say that this proposal will strike a deathblow at the industry of making boxes from strawboard. If the Committee is prepared to do that I have nothing more to say. But to test the matter, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested lo further amend the item by leaving out the words, ‘ candle carton paper and boards of all colours, strawboard lined or unlined weighing less than six ounces to the unlined sheet of strawboard of 25 by 30 inches or its equivalent.”
– ^ have pointed out already that there is a duty of 5s. per cwt. on candle carton paper. It is now desired that we should arrive at something like uniformity, and so it is proposed to levy the same duty on candle carton board. This lightweight strawboard is used in the manufacture of candle boxes. Though it may be said that the industry for the manufacture of. this strawboard in Victoria is turning out more board than it did at any time before, that is no reason why it should not be given this protection. It is a healthy indication of the way in which the 1908 Tariff has operated.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. -It shows that the existing duty is sufficient.
– That was the object of the Tariff.
– As Senator E. J. Russell says, the object of the Tariff was to encourage local industries, and to increase their output. Though the people engaged in this industry are busily engaged at present, I understand that it is their intention to go in for more up-to-date machinery and enlarge their building. I am informed also that as one of the results of the operation of the 1908 Tariff it is probable that another company will start operations for the manufacture of this material in a very short time.
– We heard that two years ago.
– We heard it more than two years ago.
– I believe that what honorable senators heard will be realized in a very short space of time.
– Is it necessary that the protection should be more than 30s. per ton ?
– We desire that the same duty should be imposed on candle carton boards as that imposed on candle carton paper, and I do not see why there should be any strong objection to the proposal. The fact that a mill is busily engaged is no reason why we should not do a fair thing, and we ought to leave out; of consideration the fact that the industry is at present being carried on in Victoria. If this item is accepted by the Committee we shall be prepared to give additional protection to the industry to which Senator . Vardon refers.
– Do the Government propose to give it in this schedule?
– Yes; if the Committee accept this proposal, as I trust they will.
– I trust the Committee will do nothing of the kind. I shall not vote with the Government on this item. It is against Labour principles to give more protection until we have made sure of what we have already given. We are pledged to the principle of new Protection. I have never held . any extreme views regarding Protection. I do not think that it means the salvation of this or of any other country, but I am prepared to give protection to the extent of 1,000 per cent., if there is a bigger thing behind it. Still, I do not see why we should be asked to penalize one industry in order unnecessarily to foster another. It appears to me that the Minister has not made out a good case for the proposed increase in these duties.
– Does the honorable senator not see that while these articles are dutiable at only is. 6d. per cwt. an- . other line of goods used for the same purpose is dutiable at 5s. per cwt. ?
– I never went “nap” on uniformity for uniformity’s sake. I . like to see some good reason given for bringing about uniformity. That it will save Customs officials a certain amount of trouble is not a good reason for putting outsiders to a great deal more trouble. One of the principal articles of our faith is to secure protection, not only for the manufacturer, but for the employ^ and the consumer. If we get the indorsement of the people at the proposed referendum we shall compel protected manufacturers and producers to share their protection with their employes, and give some guarantee that they will not extort unfair prices from the consumer. Until we have some assurance that that blissful state of equilibrium can be brought about, we are pledged not . to give further protection through the
Tariff, and I consider that we shall be. going widely beyond the scope of a measure for the rectification of anomalies if we increase to such an enormous extent the duties on these strawboards. I am credibly informed that it will strike a tremendous blow at the manufacture of boxes out of this material, arid we know that the finished product of one industry is the raw material of another. It appears to me that the admissions of the Honorary Minister that these mills are working full time, that they are producing all that they can possibly produce, and that it is intended to start another mill, are evidence that the industry already enjoys a sufficient measure of protection. For my part, it will receive no further protection until the public are assured that the employes in it are going to get a fair deal, and that the consumers are not to be fleeced.
– The mills are not even paying good wages to their employes.
– So I understand. Before we grant any increased protection to manufacturers, I want to be sure that the workers and the public are going to get the benefit of the new Protection.
. - In this case, the Minister has abandoned the plea that the Government merely desire to rectify Tariff anomalies. He declares that this alteration is necessary in order to extend to an Australian industry a fair measure of protection. In other words, what is now proposed in respect of this item is a revision of the Tariff pure and simple. Whilst I have always favoured a revision of the Tariff in a Protectionist direction, I object to one industry being singled out for special treatment in that connexion. Why should not the same consideration be extended to bananas, and more especially to Australian tinned fruits which have to compete against fruits which are grown, and tinned, and packed by Chinese in Singapore? The Ministry are absolutely inconsistent in this matter, and deserve no sympathy from any honorable senator. The Honorary Minister has not claimed that the industry is languishing for want of more protection. There must be some reason underlying the action of the Government, and until I know what that reason is, I shall not pledge my vote.
Senator MCDOUGALL (Queensland) [10.35I. - I shall not support the proposed duty for two reasons. In the first place the imposition of that duty would hurt as number of my fellow workers. I have a letter in my possession from the Secretary of the Factory Employes Union in which he affirms that the proposed -duty would prevent those employed in the industry from obtaining the better wages which they will presently get under existing conditions. The employersin the industry are willing that a WagesBoard should be established in connexionwith it. The other reason why I will not vote for the Government proposal is that I object to giving high duties to any industry which will not treat its employes fairly. Before we are asked to grant anincreased measure of protection to this industry, we should know the conditions under which its employes labour.
– I cannot support the Government proposal. I believe in the new Protection pure and simple. The’ less that is said’ about the condition of those who work in these mills the better. They are not getting fair wages, nor do they labour under reasonable conditions. I shall vote against extending increased protection to our paper mills until they give their employes better treatment. To my own knowledge, they have refused to pay them a fair remuneration. They also opposed the establishment of a Wages Board in connexion with the industry, and when the Wages Board Bill was before the Legislative Council of Victoria they petitioned it not to grant their employes a fair measure of justice.
– Perhaps they cannot afford to pay fair wages.
– But they canafford to pay good dividends. As a party the Labour party desire to give effect to the new Protection, which seeks to extend protection alike to the employe and the consumer as well as to the manufacturer. But here we are asked to grant an increased measure of protection to manufacturers without any regard to their treatment of” their employes. , I will not vote for increased protection to any industry in whichsweating occurs.
– I ask leave to amend my amendment bv leaving out the words, “ candle, carton paper.”
Request amended accordingly, and agreed? te.
Amend, By omitting the whole of sub-item (k), and inserting in its stead the following subitem : - “ (k) Strawboard lined or unlined weigh ing not less than six ounces to the unlined sheet of a size 25 by 30 inches or its equivalent, per cwt., is. 6d.”
Request (by Senator Findley) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend the item by leaving out this paragraph.
Item 356 -
Amend, By omitting the whole of sub-item
and the foot-note to that sub-item, and inserting in the stead of the sub-item the following sub-item : - “ (M) N.E.I., Boards n.e.i. lined or un lined, Cover Paper, Pressings, Carpet Felt Paper, Paperhangings or Wall Paper, ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.”
By omitting the whole of sub-item (n) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item : - “(n) Millboard, ad val. (General Tariff), 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free.”
Senator VARDON (South Australia) £10.44]. - In the Tariff of 1908, item 356 />ara graph m reads -
N.E.I., including Pulpboard; Cloth-lined Boards; and Cloth-lined Paper; Floor Paper; Paperhangings, or Wall Papers; and Toilet Paper in rolls or packets, ad val. (General Tariff), 20 per cent..; (United Kingdom), 15 per cent.
Paragraph n reads -
Millboard ; Cardboard ; Pasteboard ; Greyhoard; Leatherboard ; Woodboard and Manillaboard, ad val. (General Tariff), 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free, fi is now proposed to omit paragraphs m and n, and to drag boards of every description under new paragraph m. Neither pasteboard, cardboard, leatherboard, nor greyboard is made in Australia.
– Are paperhangings made here ?
– I am referring now simply to boards. So far as I know, only one line of cover papers is being manufactured here, and simply because of that, all cover papers have to pay a duty. I do not propose to take off the duty. I think pressings have carried a duty. The other articles included in the item carried a duty previously. What is intended to be done by this proposal is to bring boards of all descriptions under duties of 15 and 20 per cent., whether they are manufactured here or not. I do not see that there is any need to take that step. The Minister has stated that the alteration has been proposed because some persons have endeavoured to defraud the Customs Department by getting in their boards at a lower rate of duty than was payable. A Sydney firm took proceedings against the Government, who said, “Don’t shoot, we will refund the duty.”
– There were good reasons for that, and the less said about it the better.
– A member of the firm has asked me to state that he denies most indignantly that he ever intended to get boards in at a lower rate than was payable. I do not know what evidence the Department has on the subject. But this gentleman states most emphatically that he is prepared to prove that he did not in any way endeavour to do what has been attributed to him.
– When it came to law, anyhow, the Government caved in.
– There were good reasons for doing that.
– I think the Minister will admit that leatherboard is not made here. It is a very tough board, which is used for making suit-boxes for tailors, and so on. It is specially suitable for the purpose, because it bends well and takes the clips. Here is a sample of one class of greyboard which is not made in Australia. It is made out of old newspapers, which are collected and pulped, and is used for boxes, and for no other purpose. It gets its grey colour simply from the ink which happens to be in the paper when it is pulped up. Here is a sample of another class of greyboard, which is also used for box-making. It is used very extensively in the Sydney houses, and also in the South Australian factory. It is not made here. It is said that the Department wants to put a duty on these boards simply because its officers do not know how to classify them.
– That is not a reasonable excuse
– No. I do not think it is a proper reason to give for putting duties of 15 and 20 per cent, on theraw material of manufacturers here. Today I received a letter from the Victoria Leather Goods Manufacturers’ Association. I do not know any of the individuals concerned.
– They make leather goods out of paper.
– -Leatherboard gets its name from its colour and texture. Mr. Murrells writes to me as follows : -
On behalf of the above association I wish to bring under your notice an injury our trade- will receive by the item Leatherboards being crossed out of the line ?$6 in the Tariff Guide, and coming now under the item Paper n.e.i., and so paying the higher rate..
The members of our association who make trunks, portmanteaus, and articles of a similar nature are not only largely interested in leatherboards, but under the same heading they have been importing lately a board made from what is termed compressed fibre, a very strong material, which is used not only as a foundation for leather trunks, suit cases, and the like, but articles such as attache” or despatch cases, suit and extension cases, are made wholly from this material without any covering whatever. So suitable is this fibre-board for making these articles that there is every chance of us competing successfully with the Japanese baskets, providing the material can be obtained at a reasonable price.
But if these boards are to come under the higher Tariff of 15 and 20 per cent, this particular branch of the industry cannot live, because even at the lower rate the material landed costs a good deal. It is bulky, and a shipment I landed a few days ago cost 25 per cent, to land without any duty. .
We cannot look for any help from any local makers of board. They have been making strawboard (the lowest grade of board) here for the past fifteen years, and we still have to use the imported at a higher price, owing to the inferior quality of the local article.
I saw Mr. Lockyer, the Comptroller-General, last week, in reference to the above, but he gave m”e no hope of having the item altered ; but slated he would see if the made-up imported goods could be shifted to another number of the Tariff Guide, and so make them 10 per cent, more, but that was not much satisfaction if we have to pay 15 per cent, extra on raw material and only have 10 per cent, put on the made-up goods.
We are more interested in this matter than the cardboard-box makers, because they have nothing to fear from the imported articles, there being no empty cardboard boxes imported, while the same class of goods that we make come out in quantities six in a nest, so that freight is a small item.
He enclosed samples of the boards, which, it will be seen, are very tough and strong.
– Did he send a sample of the fibreboard?
– Yes. Here is a sample of the board, which he says is very strong. There is no reason to bring the whole of the boards which are not made here under duties of 15 and 20 per cent., simply to handicap the users. If they were made here, I should be the first to say, “ Impose a sufficient duty so that the industry will not be unduly handicapped by the cheap labour of other countries.” But nothing of the sort is being done here.
– I thought that duties were imposed to establish industries.
– If it is proved that ah industry can be established, I am quite willing to go even so far as that ; but these boards will not be made here. Here is a sample of greyboard which is made from the refuse of other factories. I do not think that the manufacture of this board is likely to be started in the Commonwealth. Why should a local manufacturer be handicapped by taxing his raw material, when it cannot be made here? The Australian Paper Mill makes brownpaper, strawboard, and a board which is called by some persons pulpboard, and by others paperboard, but which is not comparable in any way with the greyboard or leatherboard which’ I have shown. I think that it would be better to leave paragraphs m and n of item 356 as they stand in the Tariff of 1908, except to put in after “ Greyboard “ the words “ for boxmaking, ‘ ‘ so that there could be no mistake. It has been said that there has been confusion because greyboard in the commercial sense is a second quality of millboard. That used to be so, but that was before the box-making industry came into existence. I suggest that the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the proposed alterations in regard to paragraph m.
– The honorable senator can accomplish his object by moving a request to omit the paragraph regarding
– If the Minister assures me that that will accomplish the end I have in view, I am prepared to adopt his suggestion. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to .amend the item by leaving out the words “ By omitting the whole of sub-item (n) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item : - “ (n) Millboard, ad val. (General Tariff), 5 per cent, j (United Kingdom), free.”
– There are very strong reasons, in my opinion, why the Committee should not agree to the request moved by Senator Vardon. It is said that leatherboard, Manillaboard, and woodboard are not made in Australia. But we make pulpboard in Australia, and” every kind of board that comes into competition with pulpboard ought to be taxed. It must be remembered that all boards are more or less pulpboard. It has been very difficult for the Department to arrive at a proper definition of different kinds of boards. In regard to millboard, there is no difficulty whatever. As to fibreboard, which the honorable senator has mentioned, alleging that duties of 20 and 15 per cent, would bring almost ruin upon a certain industry, I may point out that it will not be affected by this schedule, because fibreboard will come .in at 5 per cent, and free. But all other boards that come into competition with locally-made pulpboard should be treated in the same category as pulpboard.
– -Leatherboard and greyboard do not come into competition with pulpboard.
– I have before me an imitation leatherboard made locally. All sorts of so-called leatherboards are imported into Australia. In reality they are no mon: leatherboards than is the local production.
– Can the Department tell when they are not true leatherboards?
– The Department oan tell a true leatherboard, but importers claim that pulpboards are leatherboards or greyboards, so as to get them in at 5 per cent or free.
– The Tariff does not say that imitation leatherboard is to he allowed in as leatherboard.
– The point is that the importers claim that these imitation leatherboards are true leatherboards, and as such they come into serious competition with an Australian industry which is growing, and commencing to manufacture many kinds of boards. The probability is that Senator Vardon has exhibited a first-class sample with the object of making out a good case. But if he hnd produced samples of so-called leatherboards that come through the Customs from time to time, the Committee would have realised that some of them are almost as thin, and no better in quality, than the locally-produced pulpboard which I have in my hand.
– That is not a leatherboard.
– But importers claim that imitation leatherboards are leatherboards.
– Flow long is it since the Department has taken importers’ descriptions as the true ones?
– Tt is a matter ot impossibility for the Department to get from the trade a definition satisfactory both to the officials and to importers.
Senn tor Vardon. - The Department could get a definition from London. .
– We cannot do that, because similar differences exist there regarding the finished article. The Department has been put to great trouble to arrive at a satisfactory solution of the difficulty, but has been unable to do so because of the disposition of some importers, by a side wind, to get at the Customs by importing materials which ought to pay high duties, as materials dutiable nt lower rates. The Australian mills are being seriously interfered with by the importation of these boards at the lower rates of duty. I trust that the Committee will not agree to the request. If it does, it will take away that measure of protection which was intended to be given when the 1908 Tariff was passed. The industry is not securing that protection today, because, as I have explained, boards which are really pulpboards come into Australia at 5 per cent, and free when they really ought to pay 20 and 15 per cent.
– The honorable senator knows that these leatherboards are not manufactured in Australia.
– But the board? which I have before me are manufactured in Australia.
– For the sake of the manufacturers of those boards the Government are prepared to ruin the business of others.
Question - That the request ‘ (Senator VardOn’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Request agreed to.
Amend, By omitting the whole of sub-item (aa) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item : - “ (aa) True Vegetable Parchment -
In sheets not less than 12 x 48 inches or its equivalent, free.
In smaller sizes of any shape, ad val. (General Tariff), 15 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 10 per cent.”
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend the item by omitting the figures “ r2 by 48 “, and inserting in lieu thereof the figures “ 8 by 38.”
The object of this proposal is to avoid a handicap which the item, as it stands, would impose upon the butter industry in connexion with the packing of 28 lb. butter boxes. It is not desirable that we should impose any penalties on that important industry.
Request agreed to.
Item 357 -
Amend, By omitting from sub-item (A) the words “ Cardboard Boxes, cut and shaped, or finished ; “
By adding to the item a new sub-item as follows : - “ (d) Paper Board Boxes not printed, partly or’ wholly finished, ad val. (General Tariff), 40 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 33 per cent.”
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out the paragraph amending sub-item (a).
This amendment is necessary in view of the requests already agreed to by the Committee.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Findley) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by leaving out the paragraph adding new sub-item (r>).
Remaining items of schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with requests ; report adopted.
– I present the report of the Committee appointed to prepare and bring up reasons for disagreeing with certain amendments made by the House of Representatives in the Defence Bill. The reason given is that the amendments are provided for in sections 57 and 123 of the principal Act. I move -
That the report of the Committee be adopted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Regulations under Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Order of Business - Close of Session.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
In submitting this motion, I wish to make a statement in connexion with the proposed regulations under the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act, which I have laid on the table of the Senate. I wish it to be understood that the regulations affecting the butter industry will not be brought into operation sooner than May, 1911.
– I should like the Vice-President if the Executive Council to intimate what business the Government propose to place before the Senate to-morrow, and whether it is still the anticipation of the Government to close the session this week?
– I have no reason to doubt that we shall be able to close, the session this week. We have the Judiciary Bill to go on with, and if there had been time I should have moved the second reading this evening.
– Do the Government intend to go on with the Judiciary Bill?
– Yes, to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 November 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19101123_senate_4_59/>.