8th Parliament · 1st Session
Thepresident (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Leader of the Government if it is a fact that, owing to the neglect of the South Australian Parliament to conform to the Constitution, a senator is prevented from attending our meetings. Will the Government communicate with the South Australian Parliament, protesting against its disregard of the Constitution?
– I do not know that the Government have any official ‘ knowledge of the circumstances, the matter, I think, being within the province of the President.
– In view of the controversy in the press between the Minister for Defence and a certain honorable senator, will the honorable gentleman allow the papers connected with the non-appointment of Brigadier-General Elliott to a divisional command to be laid on the table of the Library for the information of the Senate?
– I have no objection to the laying of the papers on the table of the Library, and I shall take steps to have them placed there.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers are - 1 and 2. It is the established practice of the
Department not to divulge any information affecting the business of individual firms.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are - 1-5. The Army Legal Department will consist of officers serving in the Citizen Forces not exceeding in number seven lieutenant-colonels, fifteen majors, and eighteen captains distributed throughout the Commonwealth attached to the various formations. The duties will extend to an equivalent of, approximately, sixteen days a year, which is the ordinary duration of the annual training of the Citizen Forces. Each member will receive the ordinary Citizen Force pay of his rank for not more than sixteen days each year, namely, lieutenant-colonel £30, major £24, and captain £18, on the satisfactory performance of duty. The total annual expenditure will not exceed £894.
The duties of members of the legal section will be instructional, advisory, and executive. They will be required to instruct officers of the Forces in military law and their duties in the administration of discipline - instruction of great importance, the lack of which in the past was greatly felt during the earlier period of the late war.
The members of the legal section will also instruct and advise in matters relating to the administration of the Act and regulations especially in regard to the institution of proceedings under the Act in civil Courts for offences by defaulting trainees. They will also advise formation commanders and other convening and confirming authorities on legal questions affecting courts martial.
asked the Min ister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers supplied by the Postmaster-General are -
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice-
What were the total imports of manufactured superphosphate into Australia in the fiveyear periods ended 30th June, 1910, 30th June, 1915, 30th June, 1920, and for twelve months ended 30th June, 1921 -
From within the Empire?
From foreign countries?
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What were the total numbers of pianos imported into Australia in the five-year periods ended 30th June, 1910, 30th June, 1915, 30th June, 1920, and for twelve months ended 30th June, 1921-
From within the Empire?
From foreign countries?
– The information is being obtained.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 3rd August, vide page 10714) :
Fruits, dried, viz.: -
Upon which Senator Earle had” moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to insert the following sub-item: -
Apples, dried or evaporated, per lb., British, 4d.; intermediate, 4d.; general, 4d.
– Is it the intention of Senator Cox to move to add “ apricots, peaches, nectarines, and pears?
– Then the question is that the request be amended by the insertion of those words after the word “Apples.”
.- Senator Earle’s proposal seems to be a necessary one, because those engaged in apple-growing occupy a difficult position each year in regard to the marketing of their best fruit, especially that which has to be sent overseas. Difficulties have been experienced for years in securing space in order that the best grade of apples may be shipped to the Old Country. That top grade, however, does, not constitute the whole of the crop, and it is essential that fruit-growers should be given every opportunity to realize upon the remainder, which does not go upon the market through the ordinary channels - that is to say, by being shipped overseas, or to other States. A considerable portion of the crop is composed of apples which, although good and wholesome, do not come under the category set out by the Minister (Senator Russell). He may have seen a few windfalls among apples which had been evaporated. But there are large quantities which, owing to lack of size and attractive colourings, are also evaporated. Tasmanian orchardists have not had an easy time for years past. One reason has had to do with the difficulty of securing shipping space for the export of the best apples, and another reason concerns the enormous additional cost of all accessories. The cost of labour, too, has gone up very considerably. In view of the fact that evaporation is a new phase of the fruit-growing industry, Parliament should give it every possible encouragement. Even if the orchardists’ disabilities were to become no more severe than during the past few years, he would have enough to do to make both ends meet; but, unfortunately, his prospects have been made even less attractive within the ‘past few days. There has been brought under my notice a new log which has been served upon the orchardists of Tasmania. I shall quote a few items to demonstrate the need for substantial encouragement by means of the Tariff.
– ‘Surely the encouragement already given may be regarded as substantial!
– And industrial logs are never fully acceded to.
– I have vivid recollections of a log, the rates of which have been imposed within the past twelve months, without any reduction, and which was made retrospective. The log just served upon the orchardists bears the signature of Mr. Grayndler, secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union. The rate of wage set out for carters is £6 a week; for male or female packers, if sixteen years of age or over, £5 10s. a week; and, if under sixteen years, £4 5s. With respect to the process of evaporation, employees engaged in fruit-cutting and pitting are set down to receive a wage of £5 10s. a week for any male or female over sixteen years of age, and £4 5s. per week for- those under sixteen. I consider that the suggestion of Senator Earle may be reasonably accepted.
-But there is a duty at present of 3d. per lb.
– That, as Senator Earle has pointed out, is not proportionate to the value of the commodity. It takes 8 to 10 lbs. of ordinary apples to produce 1 lb. of evaporated apples.
– My information is to the effect that the proportion is as three to one.
– That estimate is too low. Five lbs. of evaporated apples equal one case of green apples. Other lines of dried fruits possess a much higher value per lb. when placed on the market, and that is why Senator Earle has suggested a slightly higher rate of duty upon dried apples. He reasonably contends that the Protection for which he is asking’ is only equal to that which has been afforded under the Tariff in connexion with other varieties of dried fruit.
.-Some of the difficulties of orchardists have been already mentioned. There is this consideration to be added, namely, that the further “the fruit-grower lives from his local market, the more waste there is. The waste fruit must be made use of in some way, if possible, and the only means is by desiccation or drying. Some people, unacquainted with fruit-growing, regard the windfall ‘ as utter waste. The apple tree does not bloom all over at the same. time. The. earliest blossoms provide the first ripe fruit. These are usually the largest apples, and, very often, before the main crop is ripe these large apples fall. Orchardists situated many hundreds of miles away from an ordinary market should have a means of profitably disposing of their product instead of offering it for sale at whatever may be offered. In a number of districts returned soldiers are engaged in fruit-growing, and unless they can dispose of the fruit that is not saleable in the ordinary way considerable hardship and loss will be incurred. The only opportunity orchardists have of disposing of the fruit which is otherwise unsaleable is by drying it. At certain periods of the year dried fruits arrive from overseas and compete with that placed on the market by the local growers; and it is for that reason I intend to support the request, in an endeavour to assist orchardists. During recent years, conditions have altered considerably, as the cost of labour, as well as the price of implements and materials used in drying fruit, have considerably increased. Those engaged in agricultural pursuits know that bluestone, which is used for pickling wheat, and which is also usedby orchardists in spraying, has almost trebled in price during recent years. The cost of nitrate of soda, potash, and superphosphate is also much higher than it was a few years ago. If the orchardists are to carry on successfully they will have to be given every consideration and assistance in making their undertakings successful, and by supporting the request submitted by Senator Earle we shall be helping them.
– I am pleased that my request has received such favorable consideration. Up to the present, the only note of discord has been sounded by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) who inferred that only inferior apples were used for drying, and said that the duty I was suggesting represented 40 per cent, of the value of the goods.
– I did not say that the apples were inferior, but that the better class of apples were not used for drying.
– Not if there is a market, because it necessarily pays better to sell them in the ordinary way. In the process of evaporating or drying fruit about 90 per cent, of the weight is lost, and the grower receives only about 4 lbs. of dried fruit from each case of apples after they have been peeled, sliced, and pored. Dried apples have been selling at about 8d. or 9d. per lb., so it will be seen that the actual return, on the basis of 8d. per lb., after paying for labour, would be 2s. 8d. per case. I know of no other dried fruit consumed in Australia that is cold cheaper than evaporated apples, and (he price does not provide a sufficient margin to those who are engaged in the industry. To show a fair return, the retail price should be at least ls. 6d. per lb., instead of 8d. to 9d. per lb.
– Is that the retail price ?
– I have not the latest quotations, but the prices quoted are substantially correct.
– That is for a common variety.
– Probably so. The fruit-growers are usually shareholders in drying companies, and if they receive a return of 9d. per lb. it is equal to about only 3s. per case after incurring all the expense of drying. I cannot conceive of any commodity which deserves more protection than this one.
– I intend to approach the consideration of this matter with a certain amount of sympathy, because I realize the difficulties with which the fruitgrowers have to contend. But if the Committee, in its wisdom, is going to increase the duty on evaporated apples by Id. per lb., we shall be in an illogical - position in regard to other dried fruits. Currants, raisins, and sultanas, which are small fruits, are dutiable to the extent of 3d. per lb., and in another place a separate sub-item has been inserted under which prunes are dutiable at 4id. per lb. In the course of my varied experiences, I have been interested in apple drying, and there is no doubt that apples that cannot be sold as fresh fruit are used for drying purposes. In America and in Canada the best fruit is marketed for ordinary consumption, and the balance is saved by drying. If a grower receives 2s., 2s. 6d., or 3s. per case for the inferior portion of his crop, that is a saving, because, until the evaporating or dryin gindustry was established under a fairly high Tariff, inferior apples were usually wasted. Senator Payne has said that it requires. 9 or 10 lbs. of apples to produce 1 lb. of dried fruit, and those figures may be accepted as approximately correct. Another phase of the question which has to be considered is that there is about Id. per lb. duty on fresh apples, and, to be consistent, there should be a duty of more than 3d. per lb. on dried apples.
– It is about three to one.
– One is more easily imported than the other.
– That is so. Senator Earle has moved to increase the duty on dried apples, and Senator Cox to increase the duty on dried summer fruits, such as peaches, apricots, pears, and nectarines. I cannot possibly vote for an increase of these duties if the duty on currants and raisins is to remain as it K To do so would be most illogical. Later on we may have some one proposing an increase in the duty on preserved ginger by Id. per lb. If these separate articles are dealt with in the way proposed, the Tariff on dried fruits generally will be a most illogical one. I suggest that we should have a test division to decide whether the item shall remain as it is, or whether there shall be a rise of1d. per lb. all round on these dried fruits.
– If the request made by Senator Earle is carried in the amended form suggested by Senator Cox, the result will be a very substantial increase in the duties at present proposed. I would point out to both these honorable senators that by increasing these duties by 33 per cent., as they propose, they will be penalizing, not the people of the cities, who are able to obtain fresh fruit, but people outside, who require these commodities to vary a diet which is by no means palatable. On the question of values, I find from today’s Argus that the wholesale price of dried apples is 9½d. per lb., and where the article is put up in boxes it is ls. per lb. I find, from earlier files of the same newspaper, that the price of currants c.r. is 9½d. per lb., and that of a special variety a little more. The price of sultanas is a little higher.
– What does the honorable senator mean by that?
– The price of sultanas runs up to11½d. per lb. The range of prices for dried apples runs from 9½d. to ls. per lb., and the range of prices for currants and raisins is about the same. The proposed increase of the duties on these dried fruits is unfair to people in outside districts, who have to depend on dried fruits to vary a diet which is well below the standard of that enjoyed by people living in our cities.
– I am rather sorry that Senator Cox should have submitted his amendment to the request moved by Senator Earle, because the fruit districts of New South Wales can turn out an article so superior that it can beat competition from anywhere. There is no question at all about that. The preserved fruits produced in New South Wales, particularly at Yanco - and I refer now not merely to dried fruits, but to canned fruits as well - represent thp high-water mark of excellence in production. Their market is rapidly becoming the market of the world.
– How much have the New South Wales Government lost already on ‘the Yanco settlement?
– The honorable senator refers to the millions put into the water scheme, and he would charge that expenditure against the Yanco settlement as overhead charges for two years. I have no hesitation in saying that it represents the richest investment that New South Wales has yet made.
– Is not the expenditure more than covered by the additional value added to the land.
– I believe that the value added to the land exceeds the cost of the construction of the dam.I may inform honorable senators that it is within my own knowledge that Yanco canned peaches - and I refer to this as an illustration, because other articles produced at Yanco are equally good - are so much in demand that some little time ago speculators went round, even to small grocery shops in Sydney, and purchased, at an advance of 3d. per tin, every tin of Yanco preserved peaches they could secure, in order to market them outside Australia.
– That was because tin containers wero scarce.
– It was because the article was so superior to that turned out by private enterprise that it could beat competition from any other part of the world. Sydney grocers were retailing these preserved peaches at11½d. per tin, and they were purchased by speculators at 14d. per tin for sale outside Australia in competition in the world’s markets. New South Wales producers of these goods do not need any of these sham helps. I do not desire to see the products of New South Wales dragged down to the level of those that require protection from the Tariff. The State I represent does not require additional taxation on these kinds of fruit. Fruit is dried in New South Wales by the most advanced and up-to-date processes, and the products can more than hold their own with those produced in any other country of the world. And whom shall we handicap but the families living outback? The people who live a long way from the markets and to whom the growers do not send fresh fruits are the biggest consumers of dried and tinned fruits. If we increase these duties we shall make their conditions of living a little harder than they are. I protest against New South Wales being listed amongst those States which want to be assisted by the rest of Australia.
– Is the honorable senator aware that we imported in 1918-19 19,909 lbs. of currants, 28,818 lbs. of raisins, 1,167,000 lbs. of dates, and 590,485 lbs. of other fruits?
– For how long will a Protective duty be required’ to prevent the importation of dates? The Protectionist idea seems to be to stop trade. The date is a good food.
– I permitted the Minister to make a passing allusion to other fruits, but I ask the honorable senator not to discuss dates on this item.
– I am merely referring to other products similar to the item under consideration. There is not much difference between dried apples and dates. The Minister might as well have supported his argument by quoting the fruit we have exported during the last twelve months. We have entered into competition with fruit-growers on the other side of the world. Tasmanian apples have a world-wide reputation, but New South Wales grows better fruit. The apples produced at Bathurst and Orange are superior to any grown in any other part of the Commonwealth, and they are so much in demand that they never get beyond Sydney Harbor. Our fruits are holding their own in all parts of the world, and we desire to develop trade with other countries, not to cut it off. We cannot expect Britain and America to buy our apples unless we buy goods from them. Some people are afraid that American dried apples may force ours off the market. I could quote a circular by fruit-growers pointing out that a duty on citrus fruits is of no help to apple-growers. They require the duty taken off the implements which they use for growing their apples, and the materials with which they combat the pests. The codlin moth and other pests are nothing in comparison with what this Tariff will be. It will drive people off’ the land, because there is no remedy for it. The codlin moth can be destroyed by spraying, . and the grower can take precautions against aphis, but I know of no remedy for the Tariff unless it be the eradication of the Government responsible for it. The independent fruitgrowers of New South Wales, who bring their intelligence to bear upon their industry, are not asking for the support of the rest of Australia.
– Did they commission the honorable senator to say that ?
– The people of New South Wales have commissioned me to say that by the large number of votes they recorded for me, well knowing my fiscal views. ‘ I therefore claim that I am commissioned by the people to say what I am saying. This pandering to two or three apple-growers in the hope of placating them is not common sense.
– The remarks “of Senator Gardiner in regard to New South Wales fruit-growers, if taken at their face value, might prove extremely dangerous to the fruit-growing industry. He has referred to the fact that twelve or eighteen months ago speculators were buying up canned fruit for export to London. Not only was fruit canned by the Government being bought up, but also the fruit canned by everybody else, because the prices in London were so abnormally high that the speculator could make a profit by buying up the Australian supplies and shipping them to London. Another point is that the canning of fruit by Government enterprise at Yanco has resulted in a huge loss that is computed at six figures. And there are 4,000,000 tins of canned .fruit in the Government cannery at Yanco for which no sale can be found, either in Australia or abroad. With the imminent possibility of a return to pre-war conditions in regard to dried fruit, with Greece again coming into the market and the American surplus available for export to Australia, our fruit industry, without adequate duties upon fruits of all sorts, will be in a very much worse position, than it is to-day, and goodness knows it is bad enough. The canneries are stocked with goods that they cannot sell, and the Government have given advances that may never be realized. In order to give protection to the fruitgrowing industry and fair play to the growers, I would prevent even a pound of fruit being imported. Senator Crawford put the position very well last night when he said that there was an overproduction of fruit in Australia. I, therefore, refute the argument of Senator Gardiner, that New South Wales/ by virtue of her development in fruit production, is able to compete with the world without Tariff assistance.
– When the honorable senator stands’ for the Parramatta seat I shall fight him on that point.
– I do not wish to fight anybody, but “thrice armed is he who hath his quarrel just,” and the fruit-growers of Parramatta will have something to say’ about the honorable senator’s attitude. The statement that an industry such as that at Yanco can exist without any protection at all is dangerous talk. It is admitted throughout Australia that the fine developments at Mildura and Renmark would not have been possible without adequate duties on imported dried fruits, and that those enterprises without Protection would have been smothered by Greek competition before the war. To return to the case put up by Senator Earle for an additional duty of1d. per lb. on dried apples, and the further proposal by Senator Cox that an additional duty’ of 1d. per lb. be imposed upon dried apricots, peaches, and nectarines in the interest’ of the Yanco fruit-growers, I would point out that if such a request were agreed to, it would mean that currants, sultanas, and raisins, the preparation of which involves probably far more labour, would be dutiable at . a lower rate. In order to’ test the feeling of the Committee, I propose to move at the proper time that the duty on all dried fruits, including apples, peaches, pears, apricots, and ginger, be increased by1d. per lb.
– Senator Gardiner has said that Yanco is such a glorious district for fruit production that orchardists there can carry on without any Tariff assistance. I invite him to look back to the inception of Mildura and Renmarkj and to remember what it cost the Government and the pioneers to establish those great settlements. If he does, he will be prepared to give more consideration to this request for an increased duty. The Minister (Senator Russell)has said that a good many tons of currants and raisins are annually imported to Australia. We should look at the other side of the picture and ascertain how many tons of currants and raisins produced in Australia are annually sent to the distilleries. With such information in our possession we should know the exact position of the industry. In dealing with Senator Earle’s request in an earlier speech, I pointed out that it was necessary to increase the duty in order to assist orchardists who are not within easy distance of the fresh fruit market. Fruit-growers within easy reach of any of our big cities have no difficulty in disposing of their fresh fruits at prices in excess of those obtained for dried fruits, despite the extra labour involved in the process of drying. I invite Senator Lynch to have regard (o the position of fruit-growers 200 or 300 miles away from a big city. The only course open to them is to dry their fruits, and the prices at which dried fruits are obtainable offer them but a poor remuneration for their labour. Instead of making big profits, as has been suggested, the average orchardist, with his wife and children, is often engaged until late at night in cutting up fruit for drying next morning, and his return does not amount to more than1d. per lb. Some of the arguments that have been advanced in opposition to this request are born of want of knowledge. We must have regard, not only to the consumers of these commodities, but to those Who produce them. Let us hold the balance fairly between them. Considering the increased cost of production, this request for an additional duty of1d. per lb. is by no means unreasonable. I would remind the Committee that the request is not for a duty of1d. per lb. on green fruit, such as we were asked to , agree to in respect of bananas, but for an additional impost, which is about equal to one-eighth of1d. per lb. of fresh fruit.
– The total duty would not amount to more than½d. per lb. on green fruit.
– That is so. I received to-day a typical letter from an orchardist who has ‘had to contend with many difficulties. He assures me that after keeping his fruit in the cool stores foT some time last year the price that ha obtained for it on the market was not sufficient to pay for the cost of storage.
– No man is compelled to hold his fruit until the bottom falls out of the market.
– Quite so; but directly the market is favorable it is flooded with imports. I hope the request will be agreed to.
– I intend to support a request for au increased duty of Id. per lb. on dried fruits. I was astounded at the remarks made by Senator Gardiner regarding the condition of the dried-fruit industry in the Mumimbidgee irrigation area. We all know that the industry there up to date shows a colossal loss, not only to the Government, but to those who have been directly engaged .in it. A magnificent example of the value of the dried-fruit industry is furnished by Mildura, which has been converted from what was practically a waste into one of the most prosperous and happy settlements I have visited. That would have been impossible but for a substantial Protective duty on dried fruits.
– And substantial Government help.
– And also substantial assistance from the Government. Surely it should be our object to retain to Australia the magnificent trade in dried fruits that has thus been built up. I do not know why we should import any dried fruit.
– Mr. Chaffey says it would be a grave mistake to increase the duty on currants and raisins.
– I particularly wish to speak on the subject of ginger. Ten years ago an improved process was discovered.
– The honorable senator may discuss the subject of ginger afterwards, but not on this item.
– I understand that ginger is dealt with in 53a.
– That is so; but the request before the Chair relates to a new sub-item’ d. The honorable senator will not be precluded from discussing ginger later on. .
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) the question before us we ought to inform our minds as to the facts. It has been said that there is a large stock of tinned fruits at Yanco for which there is no sale. On referring to the official statistics issued by the Department of Trade and Customs, showing the Customs and Excise revenue for 1919-20, we find that the value of the imports of fruits preserved in liquid - that is, tinned fruits - for,, the five years beginning 1915-16 has been, in round figures, as follows: - £50,000, £47,000, £42,000, £67,000, and £56,000. For the same period the exports have been £20,000, £122,000, £251,000, £477,000, and, last year, £529,000. We imported £50,000 worth, and the net result is that we exported over £500,000 worth ; yet Senator Pratten tells us that there are stocks at Yanco for which a market cannot be found.
– There is, in addition, £1,370,000 worth of preserved fruits.
– These are all facts which the Committee ought to know ; instead of covering up the situation, wc ought to get down to “tin tacks,” and inform our minds as to the true position. Although last year there was exported over £500,000 worth of tinned fruits, an increased duty is asked for. In the case of dried fruits, the value of the imports of currants for the five years from 1915-16 was, in round figures, £17,000, £54, £5, £505, and, last year, £120, showing purely nominal importations. Raisins; over the same period, are represented by £46, £25, £11, £4, and,, last year, £323.
– The honorablesenator’s figures are much lower than thefigures I have.
– I am quoting from the departmental statistics of the Customsand Excise revenue for the year 1919-20. I wish to see every industry in Australia, get a fair deal; I do not desire to haveany position bolstered up by mere fallacies. In the case of currants, the valueof the exports over the same period was; £25,000, £165,000, £134,000, £100,000, and, last year, £246,000, and in the caseof raisins the value was £215,000, £166,000, £114,000, £95,000, and, lastyear, £359,000, while other dried fruitsexported were valued at £3,000, £41,000,. £17,000, £57,000, and £37,000. Yet a-. duty of 3d. is asked for. “Where are we drifting to? A suggestion is made that another Id. should be added to the duty, and that apples should bear the extra impost. Dried apples are not set out in these returns, but we have the figures I have just quoted. The statement made by Senator Pratten has nothing to sustain it as a fact, and the proposal before us simply means penalizing our home consumers for’ the benefit qf foreign consumers.
.- I regret that the request proposed by Senator Earle has been beclouded to a great extent by some of those who have taken part in the discussion! The figures quoted by Senator Lynch are interesting and reliable, but they have no bearing on the request proposed by Senator Earle - they have no bearing at all on the request that the evaporated or dried apple industry should have a fair and reasonable measure of protection. Senator Lynch has quoted the export figures of raisins, currants, and other dried fruits; but I have never yet heard that the people interested in the production of such fruits have made any request for an increase in the duties. On the contrary, I was given to understand at Mildura that the producers are perfectly satisfied with the protection which they have had for some time, and which was given in order to encourage the cultivation of such fruit at Mildura and elsewhere. The industry, under the present protection, has been very successful; but this is an entirely different industry from that referred to by Senator Earle. The dried apple industry is quite a new one in Australia, brought into existence owing to the fact that it was found impossible to insure the necessary space for the export of our better-class fruit to the Home Land.
– “When was the industry established?
– Only within the last three or four years has it been established to any extent.
– It was established owing to the fact that the British Government bought 40,000 tons of such produce because they could not get refrigerated space.
– Of course, time flies very rapidly, .but it is only within quite recent years that the industry has at all developed. Those engaged in apple growing have been forced to devise means for getting some return for that part of the crop which they cannot market as fresh fruit. The drying and evaporating of apples is an industry which is in a different category from the currant and raisin industry. When primary producers find that they cannot make a profit, they are justified in asking for more protection, and it is not usual for successful producers to ask for an. increase of duty. Australia supplies her own demand for currants and raisins, and her exportation of these fruits is increasing; but I do not under normal conditions anticipate any great exportation of dried and evaporated apples. During the war foodstuffs found a ready market, because the people of so many countries were then forced to concentrate their energies upon warfare, but to-day the position has changed. - Nevertheless, the drying and evaporating of apples is an industry which is helpful to the growers of that fruit, whose difficulties seem to increase every year, and we should do what we can to improve their condition. Iri Tasmania orcharding and the growing of small fruits has been for some years a very important industry. If the returns could be analyzed, Senator Lynch would find that there has been but - a small exportation of dried apples, and I believe that to-day there is no export trade in them. .
– What other dried fruits would be exported ?
– Dried pears, peaches, and apricots.
– I am confining my remarks ta the dried apple industry, and, in my opinion, there is no similarity between it and the dried-fruits industry referred to. by Senator Lynch.
– Yesterday, when I spoke briefly in favour of Senator Earle’s proposal, I was under the impression that the price of dried apples was very much le3S than it appears to be according to the quotations in to-day’s newspapers. But 1 am desirous that something should be done to assist the fruit industry generally, because there are indications that in practically every State there is even now overproduction.
-Are you not sure that the trouble is under-consumption ? We have enough people to eat all you can grow.
– If they would live on fruit exclusively. I do not know how a greater per’ capita consumption of fruit could be brought about in this country. But there is room in this country for many millions more than we have here, and if we had the population that we might and’ should have, there would be no difficulty in disposing of all the fruit grown. However, unless the policy of the State Governments’ changes, the production of fruit is likely to increase, rather than to diminish, in proportion to population. Not only is there a larger area under fruit to-day than there was some years ago, but the area is greater than it was in proportion to the population. Therefore, it is necessary to prevent the importation of all fruit while the position remains as it is. I understand that our factories not only hold very large stocks of jam and preserved fruit, but also that they have no less than 17,000 tons of pulped fruit, and that so depressed is the market abroad that if they could get sugar for nothing they could not at present find a sale for their goods. Apparently, at present the only market abroad for our surplus fruit is that which takes 1,500,000 cases of apples during one season of the year, and 1 have been informed on good authority that the trade cannot be increased unless growers will accept much lower prices, because there are not enough people in Great Britain - where most of our apples go - with sufficient means to buy apples at what are now considered by our exporters to be profitable prices. I accept Senator Earle’s statement that there is not likely to be a combination to keep up the price of dried apples; but undoubtedly the Australian Dried Fruits- Association has kept up the price of currants, raisins, and similar dried fruits. Before the war, the Association used to decide what quantity of dried fruits should be exported, and the fruit was sold abroad for about one-third of the price charged for that sold in Australia. I should not. like that to be done with the fruits now under consideration. The fruit industry in America is at present very depressed, and in a letter which I received some time ago from Sir Henry Jones he says that, bad as things are in Australia, they are evidently, from cabled reports, very much worse in America, where, from latest advices, canned fruits are selling at 2a. per dozen for standard quality.
– And they cost 10s. to produce.
– I am sure that the containers would o cost more than the price mentioned in the letter. Therefore, there is a danger of dumping, and I think that that could be met better by special anti-dumping legislation than by an increase of the duties. If the American situation has been truly represented, I do not think that a duty of 4d. per lb. would keep out imports, and it may be necessary for the Government to absolutely prohibit importation.
– Do not you think that we can hold our own against America in the production of fruit?
– I dare say that we can ; but the Americans may do what the Mildura growers have done: make their profit on their local sales and dump the balance into other countries, including Australia.
– At present, the surplus fruit is being dumped into the distilleries.
– I understand that a large quantity of apples are used in the making of cider, and perhaps that industry could be extended. Queenslanders are reputed to be thirsty souls, but cider is a beverage which is rarely seen in their State. I do not think that we can pay regard to the circumstances of the fruit industry during the war and immediately afterwards, because there was then a big demand for fruit owing to the purchases of this and the Imperial Government, and we were then getting sugar more cheaply than it could be obtained in any other country. Now conditions have changed. The industry has not the special advantages that it enjoyed during the war, and the production of fruit has increased. Even if another tree or vine were not planted, the production of fruit in Australia would continue to increase for some years. I was a member of a party which in November last visited the Murray River settlements, and although I have a fairly wide knowledge of the rural districts of Australia I never before saw evidence of such general affluence in any locality. But what impressed me most was the fact that, both in Victoria and in South Australia, extensive areas were being prepared for planting. I do not know where a market will be found for the fruit that will be grown there.
– Fruit is too cheap for the grower, and too dear for the consumer.
– Better organization might get rid of some of the middlemen. Orchard fruit is generally grown within a reasonable distance of large centres of population. From Mildura it can be landed in Melbourne within twenty-four hours. There is no question of a three-days’ train journey, as is the case with consignments of Queensland bananas.
– In the soldier settlements in -the north-east of Victoria last year it did not pay the orchardists to pick their peaches.
– I have been informed that, in, one fruit-growing area in New South Wales, last season 200,000 cases of peaches ripened within a fortnight, and that, three years hence, it is expected that 1,000,000 cases of peaches of the same-variety will ripen within ten to fourteen days.
– I think there is something wrong with those figures.
– They were given me by a member of the Government. Altogether, the situation with respect to the fruit-growing industry is so difficult that I cannot see how it is to be eased simply by the imposition of a duty of 4d. per lb. More returned soldiers have gone out on the land to cultivate orchards than in respect of any other phase of primary industry. Thus, the matter becomes one which must engage the, serious attention of Commonwealth and State Governments.
– I desire, at the proper stage, to request the inclusion of a new sub-item having for its purpose the free admission of bananas and other fruit and products from Papua and Territories held under the mandates.
– The honorable senator may not- move in the direction indicated, or debate the - subject, at the present stage.
– That being so, I shall devote brief attention to the viewpoint of Senator Pratten- with respect to the fruit-growing industry. I admit’ that the honorable senator is a superior authority, compared with myself, seeing that he has handled primary producers and their products so effectively and well, in his own interests, as to be able to devote himself to the hobby of politics.
– Fruits were not the sole source of my activities. Had they been, I would not now be in the happy position which Senator Gardiner depicts.
– Senator Pratten, I repeat, is a superior authority, having legitimately laid the basis of his ample competence upon the toil and the product of the struggling fruit-growers. To-day he has comfortable leisure in which to devote himself, with that same great intelligence that made his fortune, to the legislation of the Commonwealth. I should add, as further tribute to the honorable senator’s talents, that he not only made his profits out of fruit and fruit-growers, but also out of the tin in which the fruits were canned. But fruitgrowing, and particularly fruit-drying, has developed consider ably in New South Wales since Senator Pratten was in the business. The introduction of up-to-date machinery and the intelligent employment of modern methods in the industry may now be expected to do far more for orchardists than all the protection given them under a sympathetic Tariff. In effect, the Government, when they impose high Protection, are giving a bonus to “go-slow” producers. The Government say, in effect, “ Go as slowly as you like. You need be afraid of no competition. We shall keep everybody else out.” But Senator Earle is not satisfied. He wants to provide that fruit-growers may go still more slowly. I know, of course, that Tasmania is famous for its apples.
– Apples are also grown in Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia.
– Tasmania has to be famous for something. Hence I mention apples. It is famed, also, for one other thing, namely, its superb climate: and -it is curious that the two most favoured States in this respect, namely, Queensland and Tasmania, should be seeking the greatest measure of coddling protection for their products. The duties, as they now appear in the schedule in connexion with fruit, might well remain. The Government have already afforded sufficient encouragement to assist producers of dried apples to conduct their businesses profitably at the expense of the remainder of the community. If Senator Earle has his way, the dried-apple producer will be given an additional1d. per lb. at the cost of the great mass of consumers. The honorable senator claims that unless this extra penny be conceded, the orchardists will be unable to carry on. “What will they do with the extra penny? “Will they pay higher wages, or sell their product more cheaply? Senator Pratten referred to the splendid market which the Mother Country provided after the war, and he remarked that it was because Great Britain wanted so much of our fruits that Yanco secured such opportunities for development. In opposition to that view, some folk claim that the activities of a certain Combine must be taken into considerable account. Naturally, of course, upon the subject of the actual working of Combines, Senator Pratten is again much better informed than myself.
– So well informed, in this instance, as to be able to say that the honorable senator is incorrect in his innuendo.
– The fact of Senator Pratten saying so does not make mc incorrect.
– Is the honorable senator aware that Yanco fruits have not been sold “ outside “ during the past three years ?
– I am aware that a certain Combine bought Yanco fruits for ls. 2d. which were being retailed at11½. per tin, and that the wholesale price immediately rose, in New South Wales, to ls. 5d.
– That is not correct.
– I can prove it by reference to specific market quotations. Who will reap the benefit if the duty under review is increased ? The orchardist must fight against pests, and plagues, and storms. He has my sympathy. If I thought that he would benefit, I would support the request of Senator Earle. But the man who would gain is the man who controls the product. I refer to the party who has the brains to outwit the fruit-grower - the type of man who so successfully outwits the fruit-grower as to be able to retire and cultivate the hobby of Federal politics. Everybody knows that fruit rapidly depreciates in hot weather. When fruit is marketed during a hot spell, the gentlemen, who are able eventually to retire after a lifetime of outwitting the fruit-grower, refrain from bidding, and - there being a Combine - nobody else bids. When the market can no longer hold out, owing to rapid deterioration, the brainy orchardist controllers buy the fruit for less than onetenth of its value, and turn it into jams and preserves. They astutely bid just when the growers are compelled to sell or to throw their product into the tip. The proposal now before the Committee is to give these intelligent persons who live on the orchardists and their products a little -more lining to their pockets. In conclusion, I may add that I am making this personal attack on Senator Pratten in the hope that he will be provoked to go a little further into the subject generally. Inevitably, he looks upon it from a view-point which is the opposite of mine. I bring to bear the point of view of the pest-battling orchardist, while the honorable senator takes that of the gentleman who gives the orders to the Combine, who issues directions when to buy and how long to hold off.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Senator Cox’s amendment upon Senator Earle’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Question - That the request (Senator Earle’s), as amended, be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 5
Request, as amended, agreed to.
– I move -
That ‘the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on ginger, per lb., 4d.
About ten years ago an important discovery was made in Australia in connexion with preserving ginger, which enabled the Australian manufacturers and preservers to capture the trade which was previously held almost entirely by China, and as a result of which practically 90 per cent, of the trade was diverted to Australia. During recent years, Chinese manufacturers have been offering this product in the Commonwealth at a price lower than that at which it can be produced here, because they have been able to secure sugar from Java at a cheaper price than Australian manufacturers and preservers have been able to purchase in the Commonwealth. It was thought by the Customs authorities that that difficulty would -be overcome by supplying sugar to manufacturers and preservers here at a lower rate, but the authorities refused to do so. The only way to save the industry and allow ginger to be preserved by white labour instead of by yellow labour is to give it adequate protection. I submit the request, and trust that it will have the support of the Committee.
– If the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) is prepared to accept a further amendment to increase the duties generally on all dried fruits from 3d. to 4d. per lb. it will be in consonance with the vote that has just been taken, and will also include the request submitted by Senator Guthrie.
– I am not in favour of dates being dutiable at that rate.
– I am referring to sub-item a:
– The duties are too low in some cases.
– On currants, raisins, and sultanas the duty is 3d., and on apples, peaches, pears, and nectarines it is 4d. per lb. Senator Guthrie wishes preserved ginger to be dutiable at 4d. per lb., and perhaps the Minister will accept a general request on the lines I have indicated.
– I want more than 4d. in -some cases.
– Perhaps the Minister is referring to prunes; but I am dealing only with the commodities mentioned in sub-item a. I indicated that I would move for a general increase from 3d. to 4d per lb., and partial approval has been given to that suggestion by the Committee, but a further increase is desired by Senator Guthrie, and it would simplify the position if the Minister would agree to my suggestion.
– I am sorry I cannot support the honorable senator’s suggestion, because I understand that it is not necessary that any further protection should be granted for currants and raisins.
– I am prepared to agree to Senator Guthrie’s request. It is recognised that the position, so far as ginger is concerned, has been changed, owing largely to the fact that a higher price has to be paid for sugar in Australia than in
China. We did what we could to get cheaper sugar for this industry in Australia, and failed. This means that this industry must collapse unless the duty is increased by at least1d. per lb.
– Is there any such industry now in Australia?
– Yes, but its existence is seriously ‘threatened because those engaged in the industry in China are able to obtain sugar more cheaply than it can be obtained in Australia. Those concerned in the industry here do not ask for an increase in the duty of more than1d. per lb., and there is no reason why we should give manufacturers more than they ask for under the Tariff.
– I wish to raise a point of order. The Committee has just carried a request for the insertion of a sub-item at the close of the item now under discussion. Ginger is covered by sub-items a or b, and to accept the request moved by Senator Guthrie involves the amendment of a part of the item prior to that with which we have already dealt. I remind you, sir, that if, in the consideration of a clause of a Bill, an amendment is made in it, it is not competent for an honorable senator subsequently to propose an amendment of a previous part of the clause. Senator Guthrie proposes that we should go back in the consideration of this item, and I raise the point of order whether, in the circumstances, his request can be accepted.
-I think that Senator Gardiner was not present when the request moved by Senator Earle was submitted to the Committee. In ‘the circumstances, it was necessary that sub-item a of item 53 should be dealt with as Senator Earle proposed. It was clearly understood, and, in fact, I stated the matter in so many words,that by adopting the course then proposed subsequent discussion upon sub-item a would not be shut out. Senator Earle’s request had reference to sub-item a, and had to be dealt with in the form of a request to the House of Representatives to amend the item so as to include a subitem d. I indicated at the time that, as sub-item a was clearly referred to in Senator Earle’s request, it would, after that request had been dealt with, be still within the competency of the Committee to discuss that sub-item. The honorable senator’s point of order, therefore, cannotbe sustained.
Question - That the request (Senator Guthrie’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
– I move -
That the -House of Representatives be requested to insert after sub-item (a) the words -
Desiccated banana, banana Hour, and peel, candied, drained, or dried, - when the produce of Papua or the Mandated Territories - Free.
I think that this is quite necessary, because huge islands in the Pacific have been intrusted to us for government. I do not know whether the articles referred to in my request are produced in these islands, but I know that they do produce bananas, and having been intrusted with the government of these Territories, it is our duty to govern them intelligently. - If we have a Tariff operating against them, it will be an argument why we should not retain the government of those Territories. It has not yet been officially settled, and may not be for years, that we shall continue to govern and practically keep . these islands. The decision may hang in the balance with the League of Nations for years to come. I am particularly anxious not to give the people of other nations an opportunity of saying that we have governed the Mandated Territories in such a way as to treat them as though they were foreign countries. There can be no danger to Australia in admitting fr.ee the products of these territories which for some time will cost us so much to govern. Of course, there will be the objection of the man who objects to using the products of black labour. I have no objection to using the products of black labour countries. Silks producedby Eastern nations adorn the people who wear them just as well as if they were produced by white labour. I venture to hold the opinion that the White Australia policy does not prohibit trading with coloured people. The object of the policy is to maintain the population of this country white by keeping outside the borders of the Commonwealth the people of coloured races, not because we consider them inferior, but because experience teaches that they cannot be assimilated with our population, and cannot become a people similar to the British people. The League of Nations has laid it down that those who are given mandates over these islands must treat’ their people as they desire. For instance, in the matter of religion, the missionaries of every nation are to be permitted to enter the islands to put their religious views before the people without interference. The management of these Mandated Territories might come up for consideration at a Congress representative of the nations of the world, in which, by the way, it is quite possible that representatives of coloured races might predominate. At that Congress it might be said that Australia stretched out her hands to secure control over these islands to hold them against the rest of the , world, had then prevented other people trading with them, and at the same time imposed a Tariff upon their products entering Australia. This Tariff, so far as these islands are concerned, will operate against . Japan and other countries and, at the same time, will levy duties on the products of our own Mandated Territories. The sooner we settle down to treat these islands as though they were part and parcel of the great Australian Commonwealth, the better it will be for Australia.
– Can we do that “Under the terms of the mandate?
– We can go so far in that direction as our legislation will permit. We can put “ourselves in a position to say, “ We regard these Territories as part and parcel of Australia.” We should begin with that . policy now. If we take the stand that we regard these Territories as foreign countries, inhabited by foreign people, with whom we are unwilling to trade, that may prove an excellent argument against our continuing to hold, a mandate over them.
– We have not taken that stand with regard-to any country.
– We have taken that stand with regard to Great Britain, so far as the importation of motors is concerned.
– Our proposal is to help the Territories; they can obtain revenue by taxing imports from Australia.
– That is rather too rich. I can stand a good deal from the good-natured senator who is in charge of the Bill, but it is too . much to have him suggest that by taxing the . products of the Territories we shall be helping their development.
– These Territories can operate under this Tariff, and they can tax us in addition.
– It is true ‘that they may have some means pf imposing taxation upon imports from Australia; but my point is that these huge, rich Territories have been committed to the care of the Australian Commonwealth. We realize that we cannot claim them as part of Australia, as we can claim Australia and Papua, but we should put ourselves in a position to be able to do so by trading with them as though they were part of the Commonwealth. If we adopt that course, it will be very difficult in a few years’ time for any outside country to set up a dividing line between us. I desire by trade to link up these islands with Australia, so that they may ultimately become part and parcel of the Commonwealth.
– The Tariff does not put them beyond our control.
– No ; but under the Tariff we say that any one in Australia who wants to buy any of the articles referred to in the request I have moved, which may be produced in these islands, must first pay 3d. per lb. duty upon them. Under this Tariff we treat the Mandated Territories in exactly the same way as we treat China, Japan, Greece, Italy, France, or any other country producing these goods. If we put the people living in the Islands which have been given to us to govern in the same position as the foreigner, we shall do an unwise thing. While these Mandates are still in a state of flux, letus treat these territories as if they were part of Australia, and it will then be much more difficult for the League of Nations to remove them from our control than it will be if we are treating them in the same way as we treat foreign countries.
– We cannot treat them wholly as part of Australia, because we cannot place their people upon the same footing as our own.
– Certainly not. We cannot admit their citizens to residence in Australia, but we should be prepared to trade with them on terms of equality. Australia has made great sacrifices, and will yet make more to hold the Islands, and yet we are deliberately, by the Tariff, refusing to treat them as part of the Commonwealth.
– If the honorable senator’s proposal is carried out, the Commonwealth will not retain all of the States which it comprises at present.
– The Constitution, which prevents differential treatment of citizens in any part of the Commonwealth, would make it most difficult for anybody to logically attempt to interfere with any of the States that at present constitute the Commonwealth.
– But the honorable senator desires to interfere on illogical grounds.
– If the representatives of other countries in the League of Nations, who . are not Australian in sympathy and who think that we already hold more territory than we can use, find that we treat these Mandated Territories as if they do not belong to us, they will be quick to point out that this Federal Parliament is putting the Islands upon the same basis as that upon which it places foreign nations. I ask the Minister in charge of the Bill to accept the proposed request. It will not interfere with bur own industries, which he is so anxious to build up at the expense of the people. When we take millions of pounds out of the pockets of the people for the purpose of building up local industries, all we get from the persons whom we have thus helped is abuse and denunciation of the Australian working man. Therefore, I see no reason for increased Protection, but I see every reason why products from the Mandated Territories should be admitted free.
– I ask Senator Gardiner not to press his request. Papua has its own distinct Tariff, and that has been the saving of the country. The Administration of Papua collects the Customs revenue, and by that means the Territory has been largely self-supporting, and has not had to make too great a call upon Australia for financial assistance. As soon as this Tariff is disposed of, the Government will consider the fiscal position in relation to the Islands. Personally, I feel inclined to allow Papua to continue to collect its own revenue and apply it to developmental purposes.
– Who frames the Papuan Tariff?
– The Executive Council, which comprises certain Government officers and representatives of the citizens. The position in regard to late German New Guinea will require consideration from a different point of view. As Senator Gardiner has pointed out, we are desirous of making a good impression in regard to the Mandated Territories, because they are the cause of a good deal of jealousy. Although we have the right to apply our laws to them, our title at present is not quite conclusive; therefore, we should proceed warily. We have never placed any extreme imposts upon goods imported from Papua, but we have offered bonuses for certain products. However, Parliament will have the opportunity of considering, later, the whole position in regard to the Islands. The sooner this Tariff is disposed of the sooner we shall be able to deal -with the other proposal in relation to trade with the Islands which have passed into our possession temporarily.
. -It would be a very serious mistake for the Senate to attempt to settle a matter of high public policy on any item of a Tariff schedule. I am just as anxious as is any one else for the development of the Mandated Territories ; but Senator Gardiner’s proposal is to admit duty free products that will compete with commodities raised in the tropical part of Australia. To be consistent, the honorable senator should propose that all commodities from the islands should be admitted free. I would not be in favour of that; but why should he suggest that two or three items which are raised in tropical Australia should be selected to compete on equal terms with the products of Mandated Territories in which there is an abundant supply of cheap labour? In those islands it is possible to produce, not only tropical fruits, but also citrus fruits, yet Senator Gardiner allowed the last-named item to pass without any suggestion that consideration should be given to the islands in respect of it. The islands can produce maize in great abundance, but I am certain that the Committee would not at this stage admit maize from the Mandated Territories free of duty, because the industrial conditions under which it is produced are so radically different from those existing in Australia. If we admit free of duty the commodities produced in cheap-labour countries, eventually our own industries w!111 be swamped, and there will be.no employment for our own people.
– I did not earlier call attention to the necessity for more generous treatment of the Mandated Territories, because this is the first item upon which the matter name under my notice. I am prepared to allow maize to be imported from the Mandated Territories free of duty, because there are thousands of men on poultry farms who are paying twice as much for maize to-day as they paid ten years ago. The imposition of a duty on maize is crippling one primary industry.
– Quite wrong.
– Poultry raisers are to-day paying 5s. .per bushel for maize, which, ten years ago, they could buy for 2s. peT bushel.
– In those days the agricultural labourer received £1 per week and “keep.”
– Senator Crawford’s contention that a matter of high public policy that may affect Australia’s future to an extent that none of us can imagine to-day should not be dealt with on an item of this schedule appeals to me. Moreover, the Minister has said that if the passage of this Tariff is not delayed too long, legislation in regard to the Mandated Territories will be introduced. That promise appeals to my reason, and I am prepared to withdraw my request. I realize that, in dealing with other nations, everything we do in this Parliament must be above suspicion, and incapable of misconstruction. If I were to call for a division upon this item, and it were shown that only half-a-dozen honorable senators were agreeable that Australia should trade unrestrictedly with the Mandated Territories, it would be a bad record to put into the hands of people who desired to prejudice Australia’s claim to those territories.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– Under sub-item a a duty of 3d. per lb. is imposed on currants, raisins, and other commodities. I realize that this is an intensely patriotic Committee - that honorable senators are willing to allow their wives’ relations to die for Britain, and I propose to test the financial value of their loyalty by moving
That the House of Representatives be requested, to make sub-item (a), British, free.
If currants and raisins are not imported from Great Britain, the making of imports under the British preferential Tariff free will do no harm to the local industries. I should like, at this stage, to suggest that after the dinner adjournment we should deal with the Tariff page by page instead of item by item. If you, Mr. Chairman, put the question, “ That the page as printed stand part of the Bill,” honorable senators would still be free to discuss any item on the page under review, and to move such requests as might Be thought desirable, while at the same time you, sir, would be relieved of the necessity of putting separately, perhaps, fifty items. In that way time would be saved. There is nothing new in this proposition. Sometimes a clause, or a schedule, in a Bill covers two or three pages, but the whole clause or schedule is put as one proposition to the Committee;, If the Committee decides to deal -with the Tariff item by item, then . I shall have to move in every case where a duty is imposed under the British preferential Tariff that the House of Representatives be requested to allow imports from Great Britain to come in free.
- The honorable senator is going to propose Free Trade with Britain?
-Yes. If none of the commodities covered by sub-item a are produced in Great Britain, no harm will be done by making imports under the British preferential Tariff free. If, on the other hand, some of them are coming in from. Great Britain, my request will test the financial value of the patriotism of honorable senators generally, since it means, as Senator Pratten says, Free Trade with Britain.
– Although currants, raisins, and ginger may not be produced in Great Britain, they may be imported into Great Britain, and later on sent out here. We have very strict regulations dealing with the transhipment of goods in- connexion with the preferential Tariff. The imposition of a duty under the British preferential Tariff forms a basis for negotiations with the various Dominions of the Empire for reciprocal trade relations. I, therefore, hope that the request will not bo agreed to..
– Under sub-item b a duty of1d. per lb. is imposed on dates. Dates, which are a healthy food, are not produced here, and I fail to understand why a duty should be imposed on them.
– Dates are produced in Queensland.
SenatorCox. - And also on the Darling near Bourke.
– They may begrown there in very small quantities, but they are not preserved, and, that being so, we should remove the duty, since it tends only to raise unnecessarily the cost of a healthy food to the people. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (b) free.
.- I hope the Committee will not take it for granted that we cannot grow dates in Australia. Date palms do very well in various parts of the Commonwealth, and the dutyof1d. per lb. may serve as a little encouragement to people to preserve this fruit: Should an attempt be made in that direction, we can later on increase the duty. The point that I wish specially to impress on honorable senators is that dates come into competition with our own dried fruits. I recommend the Committee to reject the request.
– I cannot understand the attitude of some honorable senators towards tropical fruits. They seem to hold the view that tropical fruits should be admitted free, and that highly Protective duties should be imposed in respect of such fruits as are produced in the more temperate zones of Australia. The removal of the duty on dates would undermine the additional protection on dried fruits for which we have already decided to ask. The public will not pay a high price for raisins if they can obtain for half, the price dates; which are just as palatable and as nutritious as many Australian preserved fruits.
– In what part of Queensland are dates grown ?
– In the western part of the State. I admit, however, that they are not grown in commercial quantities. In the report of a scientific expedition which recently visited the central part of Australia, it is stated that in certain districts date palms were flourishing and bearing a prolific crop. This duty should be allowed to remain. Even with a duty of1d. per lb., dates are not expensive. Surely honorable senators are not hostile to the production of tropical fruits in Australia. The western part of Queensland, the Northern Territory, and also, I believe, certain parts of Western Australia - notwithstanding the bad name for fruit production which has been given that State by some of its representatives in this Chamber - can produce all the dates required” for Australian consumption?
– Why do they not produce them?
– Because of lack of Tariff encouragement.It would be a good thing to increase the duty to 3d. per lb., but I know that it would be useless for me to move such a request.
Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) 5.40 - I do not intend to say one word on this proposal from the Protectionist point of view. The remarks made hitherto on the item have been not at all to the point; it is impossible to speak of protecting an industry in the present instance. No dates are grown commercially in the Commonwealth, and there is no proposal by the Government to increase the duty, which has been in existence sinco 1908 as a purely revenue duty.
– Brockman. - What about cotton piece goods, kerosene, and tea?
– If the honorable senator will be patient, he will hear what I have to say when we reach those items.
– I look forward to hearing the honorable senator.
– I hope the honorable senator will have his anticipations realized.
– I bet I shall !
– We must regard this item from a common-sense point of view. The present duty produces a fair amount of revenue. Large quantities of dates are imported, but I do not see that the importations affect the consumption of other dried fruits in this country. Dates are regarded by the mass of the people as a dried fruit within their reach, and as of a totally different kind from any other fruit on the market. Dates at present are not exceptionally high in price, being somewhere about 5d. or 6d. per lb., though I have known them as low as. 2d. However, I regard a duty as essential in the interests of the revenue, and, as such, I support it.
– I am glad to hear the candid statement of Senator Payne that this is purely a revenue duty, because, as a fact, it is of no use trying to claim it as a Protective one. I have an idea that a date tree does not produce in this country under fifty or one hundred years. I got that idea when, as a little boy forty years ago, I was taken to an orchard some distance out of Parramatta, and there shown a date tree which had been planted by my grandmother nearly twenty years before, and I was told that it would be seventy or a hundred years before any crop could be gathered.
– Was there only one tree?
– Then it would be a good many hundred years before there was any crop ! There are male and female trees.
– That only helps my argument A few years ago I met an uncle of mine, and asked him how this tree was getting on, and he told me that it had been supplanted by other trees, because it would be necessary to- plant another date tree before any fruit could be expected. I am rather fond of Protectionists, because they are so delightfully idealistic ! Imagine taxing the people of to-day on account of a crop which will be gathered a hundred years, hence! Of course, I regard’ Queensland as rich enough to produce anything, in view of the fact that it has produced Senators Crawford, Reid, and Glasgow. I never refer to Queensland except in terms of admiration for its immense potentialities and possibilities; but Queensland cannot claim to produce dates to-day as a business proposition., It is claimed that this is a revenue duty; but from whom is the revenue taken? Principally from the people least able to pay it: I think that we could well come together and remove this duty; and then we might be able to proceed with the Tariff with proper celerity. The idea of protecting dates which our children’s children will have to gather, is, truly, Protection long drawn out !
– I have listened to this discussion with great interest. I happen to have been in the part of the world where dates are chiefly grown, and I understand from reliable people there that trees will bear in ten or twelve years at the very outside ; in fact, I have seen the fruit growing on very small trees. Of course, dates are grown for commercial purposes in Egypt, Palestine, and the Sinai Desert, and they are a very valuable product. In that part of the world the tree has to be artificially fertilized.
– Artificial fertilization is a common practice-
– Is that the practice adopted in Queensland?
– Tell us something of the commercial aspect of the proposition.
– Senator Lynch has told us that in the tropical desert part of Western Australia bananas cannot be grown, and I advise him to plant a few date trees there, and have them fertilized, when he will soon see a fine industry develop.
– This subject is not one to be lightly passed over, especially in view of the statement by Senator Gardiner and Senator Payne that this is a purely revenue duty. On the other hand, we have the high priest of Protection, Senator Crawford, saying that dates are grown in Queensland, although the honorable gentleman failed to give the name and address of a single grower. Apparently, we are struggling between two extremes; on the one side, it is claimed that this is a Protective duty, although, up to the present, the date industry has not had sufficient energy to be born.
– I think I saw the honorable senator voting against higher duties on all dried fruits, except apples; do not dates come into competition with apples ?
– The competition argument was threadbare long ago. As I say, Senator Crawford has not mentioned any place or given any particulars of where or how this industry is carried on in Queensland. Is it not plain that these dates are not grown in Queensland? The only place I ever saw date trees was along the North-South railway, at Oodnadatta, where the planting of them by the South Australian Government proved an absolute failure.
– They are grown at Charlton, in Queensland.
– This is only one of those revenue-producing items which keep Treasurers from launching out and raising revenue from people, and in quarters, where they should, instead of resorting to the lazy method of a Tariff. The present duty has been in operation for about eleven years, and has resulted in nothing. Notwithstanding all the Queensland inventive imagining, we have not been supplied with a single fact regarding the production of dates in that State; and yet Queensland representatives have the audacity to ask for a duty in the case of an industry which, I repeat, has not had the energy to be born. That is asking too much, though pretty strong things have been asked for up to the present.
– I must take exception to the strong terms in which Senator Lynch has referred to the representations I made in regard to the production of dates. I say that it has been proved that dates can be successfully grown in Queensland and other parts of Australia.
– Commercially ?
– So far the industry has not reached commercial dimensions, for the simple reason that it has not been profitable with the protection of Id. per lb. Australian datesare in direct competition with the products of countries where there is to be found the cheapest and dirtiest labour in the world. We cannot expect the people of Queensland, or any other part of the Commonwealth, to compete on even terms with Egypt, Palestine, or Mesopotamia. Senator Lynch, who is a business man, knows that such competition is economically impossible, owing to the greater costs in Australia. I can assure Senator Lynch that the statements I have made in regard to the practicability of producing dates in Queensland are not the result of my “inventive imagining,” but the result of knowledge acquired as a resident of that State for over thirty-five years.
– Senator Crawford has told us that the reason the date industry, although protected for eleven years, has made no advancement is that the growers - who are mythical, or largely mythical - cannot compete with the cheap labour of other countries.
– The growers, certainly, are not numerous.
– I ask the honorable senator whether his date-growing friends of Queensland, or the centre of Australia, have ever produced enough’ dates to supply even their own local townships, although imported dates have to pay heavy freight overseas, a duty, and the rail, camel, or other transport charges ?
Question - That the request (Senator Guthrie’s) he agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I do not know why the duty on prunes should he as high as 4½d. per lb. The duty on currants and raisins has been increased to 4d.; but why should prunes need a duty½d. higher than other dried fruits?
– Because prunes are being dumped in Australia.
– It seems to me that the proposed duty is equal to 40 per cent, ad valorem.
– It has been imposed especially for the protection of the fruit-growers of your State.
– I have not had a request from the fruit-growers of my State to support an increase.
– The prune-growers of New South Wales are being knocked out by the’ importation of prunes from California.
– I rose to ask for information. If the Minister can satisfy me that a duty of 4½d. is necessary, I shall vote for it; but a case should be made out for this proposal.
– Honorable senators look to the Minister for everything, instead of getting some information for themselves. During the war there was a large market in Great Britain and Europe for Californian prunes; but since then the European demand has decreased, and these prunes have been dumped in Australia, mostly to the prejudice of New South Wales growers. The duty is to protect the industry from unnatural conditions.
– A duty of 3d. or 4d. per lb. should be sufficient.
– Californian importers are selling at a loss to keep up their local market.
– Cannot the Minister give figures in support of his statement ?
– My information is that the European demand for Californian prunes has fallen off considerably, and that, therefore, producers are exporting certain stocks to Australia at very low prices, and Australian growers have complained that they are not able to produce prunes at the prices quoted for the Californian fruit. The question is, Shall we protect the local industry 1
– The Ministry is taking advantage of a condition abroad that is only temporary to impose a permanent duty. The European market may revive in a year or two.
– In my opinion, prunes are plentiful now because they have been- held back to secure higher prices, and there has been a slump. A gentleman living close to me told me that he had kept back a few tons to get better prices. I hope that the Committee will be consistent. We have made the duty on currants and raisins 4d., and that should be a sufficient rate for prunes. Personally, I think that 3d. would be enough for all dried fruits. Last night Mr. Chaffey told me that there was a movement at Mildura to ask Parliament to increase the duty from 3d., and that the general opinion was that that would be unwise. This Committee has done what the growers seem to think unnecessary. I move -
That the House of Representatives be re quested to make the duty, sub-item (c), per lb., 4d.
.- In 1918-19 the import of dry fruits under the heading “ Other “, which consisted chiefly of prunes, was 590,485 lbs., and in 1919-20,. 1,317,248 lbs. That shows that there is dumping.
– What was the former duty on prunes?
– Threepence per lb. The growers of New South Wales asked the Government for a duty of 6d. to prevent dumping from California, but we thought 4£d. sufficient. If the Committee reduces, the rate, the duty .will have, no protective value.
– I rose, in the first instance, to ask for information, and was surprised that the Minister seemed to resent that. He seemed to think that honorable senators should apprise themselves of all the facts.
– I do not think that you should ask me to have every detail about 600 items.
– No senator expects the Minister to possess one detail about any of the items; but we expect the officials of the Customs Department to be in possession of the fullest information, and it is his duty to make it available to the Committee, so that we may know what we are doing.
– The notes I have are about 3 feet thick, and for a long time I could not find the exact information.
– Had the Minister said that at first, the explanation would have been sufficient. Certainly, if he cannot fairly be expected, with the assistance of the Customs officials, to explain each of these proposals, honorable senators cannot be expected to know all about them. My request was perfectly legitimate.
– Senators are not discussing .items ; they are making secondreading speeches: .
– I did not make a speech; I merely asked for information, and. that the Minister seemed to resent. I shall not vote for any duty, unless I know it to be needed, or the Minister or some other senator gives me a sufficient reason for voting for it.
– You ask “questions in a second-reading speech.
– The Minister has given some information, supplying figures to back up his bald assertion that California has been exporting huge quantities of prunes to Australia because of a decrease in the European demand. That information removes my opposition to the duty.
– The figures’ which the .Minister (Senator Russell) provided with respect to the importation of prunes, apples, pears, and the like afford the fullest possible justification for an increase of the duty by Id. per lb. I am sympathetic with the amendment because it aims at consistency. Up to the present moment the Committee has made inconsiderable progress upon the schedule. Practically the whole of the afternoon has been devoted to an exhaustive discussion of one item, which has not yet been finished with. The Government appear to think that the Tariff should leave the Senate with every “i” dotted and every “t” crossed. If the Minister would display a little more elasticity in the consideration of obvious incongruities and anomalies, considerable time would be saved.
– I have been wonderfully patient, seeing that about half the members of the Senate are indulging in second-reading speeches upon subitems.
– I quite appreciate the difficulties in which Senator Russell finds himself, and I shall not occupy further time, except to repeat that, on the ground of consistency, I support the request.
– I do not much care whether the duty upon prunes be 4d. or 4£d. per lb. What difference does a halfpenny make, anyhow? The Minister’ (Senator Russell) has stated that the prune-growers of New South Wales have asked that the duty be 6d. Who were these people? I do not think they were the growers. Probably the request emanated from some company or Combine which has been handling the produce.
– The Batlow branch of the Fruit-growers Association of New South Wales made the request by medium of one of the honorable senator’s party colleagues. I refer . to Mr. Parker Moloney.
– The honorable senator will not find that the actual growers have asked for another half- penny. All they want is a fair chance and fair play without Tariff handicap, or so-called encouragement, and they will hold their own against all-comers.
– I refer Senator Gardiner to Hansard (vide page 8530), in which is published a letter from the Batlow prune-growers, which was read by Mr. Parker Moloney in another place.
– No doubt, but I am not prepared to tax 1,000,000 consumers for the benefit of two or three, people, particularly when - according to the Government - they have ample protection already. The duty of 4d. per lb. is too high. I appeal for reason on behalf of the people. Apparently, however, this unhealthy encouragement by way of steadily increased protection is to continue for years. When are the consumers to have their turn ? First of all, we are asked to “ give the orchardists a chance to establish themselves.” The next cry is, “ Give them an opportunity to grow their prunes”; and the next, “ Give them a chance to secure up-to-date machinery for preparing the prunes for market, and then the people will reap the benefit.” When? The Australian prune industry would appear to be growing weaker and weaker. Prunes imported from America are not grown with the aid of cheap labour. Freights cannot be secured for nothing. Why should the Australian growers require more and more protection? As for the appeal of the growers in the Batlow district, they have the good fortune to be established on one of the richest areas in New South Wales. Almost anything cultivated in the neighbourhood grows to perfection.
– The honorable senator ought hot to jeopardize the reelection of his colleague.
– My colleague can look after himself. Mr. Parker Moloney may be relied on to secure his return to the Commonwealth Legislature upon general merits, and not by the exclusive favour of the Batlow prune-growers. The duty has been increased by l£d. per lb. from what the Protectionists thought was adequate a few years ago. It is not a small increase, because it represents approximately 50 per cent, of the value of the product, and that has to be added to the price the consumer has to pay.. The Minister has said that it is 50 per cent, below what the growers have asked, and we appear to be legislating in this way: The Government impose a duty of 3d. per lb., the producers ask for 6d. per lb., and the rate is eventually fixed at 4£d. per lb. I desire to voice the opinion of the unorganized people who have to pay> because those who are formed into companies and Combines have offices, can frame resolutions and circulars, and distribute them throughout the Commonwealth. In that way their interests are safeguarded. During the last three weeks I have had an opportunity of visiting three States in the Commonwealth, and I have never seen so many unemployed as there are at present, notwithstanding that we have a Protective Tariff in operation, which is bringing in approximately £30,000,000 per annum. If the arguments of the Protectionists are sound, and high duties create employment, one would expect to find every one profitably engaged.
– Is the honorable senator speaking of a revenue Tariff?
– Is this a revenue Tariff? It has been described by the Minister as a scientific Protectionist Tariff.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I ask the ‘honorable senator to discuss the sub-item before the Committee.
– I was merely referring to the fact that the Minister has described this as a scientific Tariff.
– That is hardly correct.
– I shall quote from Hansard to prove that what I have said is .correct, if the Minister doubts me.
– The honorable senator asked me if it was a scientific Tariff, and surely he did not expect me to reply in the negative.
– The duty on prunes has been increased by 50 per cent, with the object of encouraging more people to undertake prune-growing, and to assist manufacturers in extending their plants. But we have been doing that for years under a Protective Tariff, and what has been the result? After years of what has been considered by the Protectionists a sufficient duty, we now find that the industry is in such a precarious position that the duty has been increased by 50 per cent. If we proceed as we are going, in ten or twenty years’ time we shall be asked to impose a duty of 100 per cent., because the .producers will not then be in a better position than they are in to-day. We are now asked to place prunes on the same basis as other dried fruits by reducing the duty by Jd. per lb.; but when such a proposal is submitted the Minister will not budge. If we continue in this way the Tariff discussion will never end. Personally, I would like to see the whole schedule disposed of by to-morrow.
– Perhaps it would be if the honorable senator had his own way.
– I am not likely to get that, because it would be futile for me to move in the direction I desire. I have already suggested that it would be advantageous to take a page at a time, and I -trust the Committee will agree to my proposal. One of the Government supporters has moved to reduce the duty by Jd. per lb., in order to place prunes on the same basis as other, dried fruits.
– The honorable senator does not believe in a duty of 4d.
– I do not believe in any duty at all; but I am prepared to compromise in an endeavour to make some progress. The Minister says that the duty had been fixed at 4id., and he will not agree to any reduction or any increase.
– The proposed rate is l£d. below what the producers consider fair in the circumstances.
– I suppose the Government considered a duty of 3d. per lb. adequate in the first instance, and now they are supporting a duty of 4 1/2 d. As the Committee may wish to divide on this sub-item before the dinner adjournment, I shall not detain honorable senators longer at this juncture.
– I would not have spoken again but” for the attack made upon me by the honorable senator who leads the Opposition when he is here, and who said that he represented the masses of people who are not banded together in any organization, and who cannot frame resolutions and distribute circulars in connexion with the duties provided in the schedule. I desire to remind the honorable senator that he does represent organizations, or people who are able to form organizations, some of whom quite recently carried a resolution censuring him for the hostile attitude he adopted towards Australian manufactures. That is sufficient to show that, while Senator Gardiner may claim to represent certain people, the representation is not of the character desired.
– Will the honorable senator supply the. facts ?
– I am not in the habit of making statements that I cannot prove. Surely the honorable senator is aware that a section of ‘ the electors in the district of Dalley carried a resolution censuring him for the Free Trade speech he delivered in the Senate -on the Tariff. I refer to the resolution carried by the Dalley Federal Council, representing the whole of the Labour Leagues in that electorate. That shows that he is grossly misrepresenting the opinions of many people whom he is supposed to represent.
– Does the honorable senator think that some of my constituents would carry a resolution without notifying me?
– They are capable of doing all sorts of things.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– Senator Gardiner seems to have taken a certain amount of umbrage because I am supporting an increased duty on prunes in order to protect the interests of a great many soldier settlers who have been encouraged by the Repatriation Department to take up holdings for the purpose of producing prunes. When I remember the general attitude of the party which Senator Gardiner represents here towards the returned soldier, I am not at all surprised that he should resent any honorable senator saying a few words on behalf of an industry in which so many returned soldiers are engaged. I feel sure, however, that the opinion of honorable senators generally will be that it is wise and proper, in view of all the circumstances, to give some increased protection to this industry. After hearing the explanation of the Minister on this item, I cannot in any way reproach myself for having decided to give my vote for the increased duty. I hope that the Committee will agree to the increase, particularly in order that soldier settlers who have been encouraged to go into the industry may be given that protection against foreign competition which is necessary.
– One can scarcely take exception to the concluding remarks of Senator Duncan, hut before the adjournment for dinner the honorable senator attacked me personally and made the statement that an organization in New South Wales had carried a motion of censure against me. I appeal to the good sense of honorable senators to say whether they think it is likely that any organization connected with the Labour movement would censure the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate because he has expressed himself in opposition to particular duties. 1 cannot imagine that anything of the kind would occur outside of Gladesville. Even if the honorable senator’s statement be true, what is the censure of any organization compared with the votes of confidence which I have received time after time from the whole of the people of the State which I represent. The bitterest censure of any organization in the Labour movement is not to be compared with the favours I have received from the movement from time to time. I know that in the electorate to which the honorable senator referred there is a lunatic asylum known as the Gladesville Asylum.
– I ask the honorable senator not to introduce that matter when the Committee is considering the Tariff item covering the duty on prunes.
-. - I should like to remind you, sir, that I did not introduce it. I think if I had done so I would very properly have been called to order. After considerable stress has been laid upon the fact that I was censured, and although that reference should have been, but was not, ruled out of order, I am not permitted to reply to it. I shall not, of course, contest your ruling, but it is a little hard when I am the only representative of the Labour party in the Senate that” the whole of the members of the Nationalist party, including the Chairman of Committees, should permit me to be attacked, but will not permit me to reply to the attack.
– Order! The honorable senator should not go so far as to say that the Chair has permitted him to be improperly attacked. He should withdraw that statement in deference to the honorable senator who occupied the Chair temporarily as my locum tenens.
– I withdraw the statement, but Hansard will record the fact that I was attacked, and that within two minutes after I rose to reply to the attack I was ruled out of order. I will conform to your ruling, apologize for any offence committed, and get back to the question of the duty on prunes.
Senator Duncan is supporting the increase of £d. per lb. in the duty on prunes because returned soldiers are growing prunes. How many are there engaged in the industry? I venture to say that within the whole of Australia there are not more than a dozen. I suppose that, in most of the hotels and restaurants throughout the country, a dinner is completed with a dish of prunes and rice. Those who in future partake of this dish will be able to say that, in the interest of returned soldiers, Senator Duncan made the price of prunes id. per lb. dearer. ‘ The honorable senator, and, indeed, every other member of the Senate, has admitted that a Protective Tariff does make the articles protected dearer. Senator Duncan is going to vote for the increase in the duty in the interest of returned soldier settlers growing prunes, and I intend to oppose it in the interest of returned soldier . settlers growing wheat, wool, and bananas. Honorable senators can scarcely blame me fo* the slow progress that is being made with the schedule. They had a fortnight to themselves without me, but they did not get very far with it. Having studied Taylor’s scientific organization for the speeding up of industrial institutions, I again respectfully suggest that the schedule should be put to* the Committee a page at a time. We might conveniently commence with the next page, and the items from 54 to 66 inclusive might be put together. This would not in any way restrict the liberty of honorable senators to discuss or request an amendment upon any item included in the page.
– I ask the honorable senator not to anticipate the discussion, of an item on another page.
– I intended to ask whether a number of items could be put together in the way I suggest.
– I shall answer that question when the matter now before the Chair is decided.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Item 54 -
Fruits and vegetables, including ginger n.e.i. (preserved in liquid, or partly preserved, or pulped) -
– This item includes canned fruit. My information is that these duties are held as a cover for the fruit-growers of Australia, but do not affect the price of the commodities, owing to the fact that there is internal competition, and that the industry has reached the stage of overproduction. On a previous item, Senator Gardiner, whether jocularly or not I do not know, but in his good-tempered way, made some remarks concerning my previous commercial history. I should like to enlighten the “honorable senator on the matter. I tell him here and now that I have never been directly or indirectly eoncerned in. a commercial Combine in my life.
– Was not the honorable senator a Combine himself?
– Unfortunately, I was not. In my commercial life, I have had to fight very violent and strong opposition. Senator Gardiner may accept my statement on the point. I might add, as a personal note, that I think competition is very good for any person, and, perhaps, that experience better fits him for a seat in this Legislature.
– I think that is what I said.
– There can be no objection to these duties, because they do not operate. Unfortunately, Australia is to-day full of stocks of jams and canned fruits which the overseas markets will not at present take.
– Will they not take them at a price?
Senatpr PRATTEN. - Yes, at a price considerably under the cost of production. Owing to this, one very important factory in Sydney, and another in Melbourne, have now practically gone into liquidation, and have lost nearly the whole of their ordinary shareholders’ capital. This has been brought about by heavy consignments of canned fruit having been sent within the last six months to the Mother Country, and to a slump in prices having occurred there. Very heavy claims have now been made to cover the difference between the amounts advanced upon canned goods and the prices they actually brought. The slump in the canned fruit market has jeopardized the position of many of our well-established jam and canned-fruit factories.
– I notice that in this item there are articles which might possibly come from Great Britain, and in sub-item a there is a duty proposed in the British preferential column of 9d. per dozen. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (a), British, free.
– Honorable senators have said something about facilitating the business of the Committee. Senator Gardiner has several times preferred a request to me to put the schedule page by page. Many able members of the Senate have occupied this chair before me, and a procedure has been observed in connexion with previous Tariffs which I do not desire to greatly vary; but there is something which the Committee might be willing to do in connexion with the question of the duties to be imposed under the British preferential Tariff. I cannot accept the suggestion that the schedule should be taken a page at a time, because that would interfere too greatly with the right of honorable senators to discuss the various items appearing on a page. But if Senator Gardiner cares to make a statement to the Committee that he is willing to accept a test vote on the first item on each page to decide the manner in which the Committee will deal with the British preferential Tariff, and to determine his attitude with respect to all the duties appearing in the British preferential column on the same page, I shall be prepared to- take the responsibility of putting such a test motion to the Committee, as I think that if that course were adopted it would facilitate the transaction of business.
– That is only so far as Senator Gardiner is concerned.
– I have it in mind that that should be confined to action taken by Senator Gardiner.
– I think it might not be regarded as out of order if we diseuss this important matter at this stage.
– I shall take the responsibility of permitting its discussion.
– I have suggested that the schedule should be put to the Committee page by page. We have just reached page 13 in the schedule, and I suggest that the Chairman might put items 54 to 66 inclusive in one motion. That would not interfere with the right of honorable senators to discuss any items appearing on the page. After the discussion had concluded, the whole of these items could be put together. If that course were followed, I should be relieved of the necessity, in giving effect to my intention to endeavour to remove from the schedule any duties operating against Great Britain, of moving for a request to omit duties appearing against each of the items and sub-items on the page. When considering a Supply Bill we often deal’ with the schedule in Departments, although each Department includes as many items as does a page of the Tariff schedule. That procedure suits the general convenience of honorable senators. Even those who are most desirous of a full discussion on every item must realize that there is a limit to the endurance of the Minister. There is in the Senate only one Minister (Senator Russell) who is in real sympathy with Protectionist principles, and the strain imposed upon him by. several all-night sittings would be considerable.
– There is nothing particularly definite in the honorable senator’s suggestion, and, as several Tariffs have been dealt with previously by the Senate, the adoption now of any short cut may only land the Committee in confusion. Probably the old adage holds true, that “the longest way round is the shortest way home.” I propose, therefore, to adhere strictly to established procedure, but, in order to expedite business I shall simply call each sub-item, and,- after allowing ample” time for honorable senators to prefer requests, pass on to the next. They will understand, however, that, once I have declared an item passed, there can be no retracing of our steps, except according to the proper forms prescribed by the Standing Orders.
– I call the attention of the Committee to sub-item g (Ginger, in brine or syrup). We have already increased the duty on preserved ginger, principally for the reason that the price of sugar to-day is twice what it was before the war. Is a duty imposed on syrup?
– Then I think the words “or syrup” should be struck out of the sub-item.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (b), British, free.
I repeat that there should be no duties imposed upon goods from Great Britain. A great Dominion like Australia, the people of which almost unanimously are ready to do everything they can for Great Britain, and even to make sacrifices for her, should be quite prepared to trade with her without imposing any special restrictions. The very importation of these articles from Great Britain might improve the standard of Australian products. People might find in the British commodity some feature of make-up or marketing that is absent from our . own, and healthy competition between our producers and those of Great Britain would be beneficial.Moreover, the wiping out of this duty would convey to the people of Great Britain an evidence of the goodwill of the Senate towards them. We cannot pretend to love them, and be loyal to them, if we will not trade with them.
– I am- sorry that no senator will support me in the desire to trade with Great Britain without restriction. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (c), British, free.
– The honorable senator is becoming an Imperialist.
– I am by no means an Imperialist, but my loyalty to Great Britain is real, and not confined to flag flapping and patriotic stunts. I am willing not only to fight side by side with Great Britain, but to trade with her, and, after all, trade is the more important matter at the present time.
– If there are no requests in regard to the other sub-items, I shall take a proposal from Senator Gardiner to strike out the British preferential duties on them.
Request, by Senator Gardiner, negatived -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-items (d), (e), and (f), British, free.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on sub-item (g), per lb., Id.
Raw ginger can be grown in practically all the States.
– Is it grown in Australia ?
– It is grown in Queensland; I cannot speak of the other States. For the little labour and expense involved in manufacturing preserved ginger, even if sugar is dear at the present time, a duty of 4d. per lb. is too high. We have imposed much lower duties upon other products which have to be grown, and passed through most intricate and expensive processes before the finished article can be put upon the market, and if it is desirable to establish an industry for the manufacture of preserved ginger out of the raw article, imported from other countries, it is still more desirable to encourage the production of the raw material within the Commonwealth.
– I explained to-day that investigations have shown that on account of the high price of sugar in Australia as compared with the price in China, the manufacturers of preserved ginger in this country are likely, to discontinue operations. We approached the Sugar Board, with a request that sugar required for this industry should be made available at a lower price, but they declined, and I think rightly, to make a special concession for one industry. The alternatives before us were to allow the industry to go out of existence or to increase the duty by Id. We granted that increase to-day after due deliberation. The Committee is now asked to undo its previous Act. Are we to stultify ourselves by negativing in the evening what we did in the afternoon? The recipe for the brine in which ginger is imported is unknown to any manufacturer in Australia, and for that reason ginger in brine has to be imported. I believe that ginger can be grown in Australia, but we have yet to start its cultivation.
– How can an industry be started without protection?
– It is inevitable that the price of sugar shall return to normal unless it is kept at its present level by high Protection. Certain people have established an industry for the manufacture of preserved ginger, but the rise in the price of sugar has made its continuance impossible unless further protection is given to it.
.- We have already dealt with’ the finished product, preserved ginger, and we are now dealing with the raw material used for its manufacture and which provides that industry with the necessary ammunition to enable it to carry on. I find that under the Tariff of 1914 ginger in brine or syrup was dutiable at Id. per .lb. The Government, in introducing the present Tariff, decided apparently to give relief to those engaged in the manufacture of preserved ginger by admitting their raw material free. I regret that the Minister (Senator Russell) when we were dealing with the manufactured article, did not draw our attention to this fact.
Such information would have been a useful guide to honorable senators in voting on the request to increase the duty on the manufactured article from 3d. to 4d. per lb.
– I distinctly stated that the reason for this ‘was that the price of sugar outside Australia was lower than that ruling here.
– But the honorable senator did not tell us when we were dealing with the duty on preserved ginger that it was proposed to admit the raw material free. .
– I had intended to move a request for the insertion of a new sub-clause providing that ginger, green, for manufacturing purposes as prescribed by departmental by-laws, should be free; but I found that that could not be done. I had, therefore, to submit an amended proposal.
– The position. is that we have requested that manufacturers of preserved ginger be given an additional protection of Id. per lb. ; and we now find that they are also to have their raw material free instead of having to pay, as under the previous Tariff, a duty of Id. per lb. It is anomalous that we should be called upon to deal with the duty on a finished article before the item relating to the raw material comes before us.
– The whole process of preserving ginger is not carried out in Australia. The ginger comes out here in a partially manufactured state.
– I accept a certain amount of responsibility for what has taken place in regard to the request for an increased duty on the manufactured article, since I, with other honorable senators, should have .looked ahead to discover what alteration, if any, was being made with regard to imports of the raw material.
.- The request that has been moved, and the explanation which has been made by the Minister (Senator Russell), serve to point out the absurdity of trying to protect our industries through the Customs House. The Minister assures us that he desires that this item shall be free because it deals with the raw material of those engaged in the manufacture of preserved ginger. He also tells us that the high price of sugar places Australian manufacturers of preserved ginger at a disadvantage as compared with manufacturers abroad. That can be remedied by removing the duty of £6 per ton now levied on sugar.
– The duty on preserved ginger is equal to £37 6s. 8d.- per ton, although that commodity is only partially manufactured here.
– Sugar is used in the manufacture of preserves, confectionery, and a hundred and one other things, as well as preserved ginger.
– A full sugar ration put “ ginger “ into our troops.
– After that, I shall say no more.
– When I moved a request that the duty on preserved ginger be increased to 4d. per lb., I did not know that the raw material of the industry came in partially manufactured, and.- that, although it was dutiable at Id. per lb. under the Tariff of 1914, it was now free. I regret that that information was not furnished the Committee. It seems to me that we have given a double advantage to the manufacturers on whose behalf I spoke. We have increased the duty- on the finished article, and we are now giving them their raw material free.
– I was originally under the impression that green ginger was used in the manufacture of preserved ginger in Australia, but I subsequently learned that the raw material of the industry .is brought out in .brine. or syrup, and that the process of making that brine or syrup is a secret unknown to local manufacturers. Green ginger can be produced here, but ginger in a partially manufactured state is imported and used by manufacturers of preserved ginger. We consequently admit ‘ginger in brine or syrup for the manufacture of preserved ginger as prescribed by departmental by-laws, free of duty. i
Item agreed to.
Item 55 -
Infants’ and invalids’ foods, as prescribed by departmental by.-laws, British, free; intermediate, free; general, free.
– Although invalids’ foods as prescribed by departmental by-laws are admitted free, I understand that an embargo is placed on the free introduction of Horlick’s malted milk. Although in composition it very much resembles other invalids’ foods which are . free, it is singled out for a duty. I should like to know the reason.
– Infants’ and invalids’ foods which are not manufactured in Australia are -admitted free, but a food very similar to Horlick’s malted milk is made at Bacchus Marsh. Glaxo, another Australian product, is also similar to Horlick’s malted milk.
– Horlick’s malted milk is the only infants’ food which is not allowed to come in free under departmental by-laws.
– In all these matters we have to depend upon the report of the Government. Analyst.
– I do not like to see any one manufacturer penalized. Horlick’s malted milk consists of desiccated cow’s milk, from which some casein has been removed, and a portion of soluble vegetable albumen and cream added. There is no starch in it, so that it is really an invalids’ food. Allenbury’s food also comes in free.
– Horlick’s milk is not dealt with under this item.
Item agreed to.
Item 56 -
Ginger, green, per lb.,1d.
Request (by Senator Gardiner) negatived -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item, British, free.
Item agreed to.
Item 57 -
Grain and pulse’ . . .
Wheat, per cental, British, free; inter mediateand general, 2s.
Barley, per cental, 2s.
Maize, per cental, British, ls. 6d. ; intermediate and general, 2s.
N.E.I., per cental, ls. 6d.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (a), intermediate and genera], free.
Sub-item a is one of those curious innovations of- the Tariff of which we have several samples. So far as we have’ heard, there are two reasons for imposing duties - one in order to protect our industries, and the other to bring revenue’ to the Treasury. Neither of these reasons holds in the present case. There is no necessity for any protection, because the wheat industry can stand alone. Thewheatgrower, ‘ unlike other producers who have their sponsors in this Chamber,, and come to the Treasury for doles, can stand on his own feet, and not only supply the home market, but send his surplus overseas, and compete in the world’s market. No revenue is received from this sub-item except in years of ‘scarcity, and then it is so microscopic as to be not worth talking about. In the case of wheat, this is an exporting and not an importing country. During the five years from 1915-16 we have exported wheat annually to the value of from something like £7,000,000 to about £20,000,000.
– In 1914 we were importing.
– But we exportedmore than we imported.
– Notin 1914.
– This duty is only a camouflage.
– Yes, it is only a make-believe. No duty has been asked for by the wheat farmers, and the effects of the duty, from the Treasury point of view, are negligible.
– We imported from Argentine 3,170,000 bushels, in 1915-16 - the year following the drought-and a very poor sample it was!
– In 1915-16 we imported . £1,738,000 worth.
– Last year, but for the action of the States in buying wheat to cover them from Juneto December, we should have had to import. We had to stop exportation.
– This is a duty that is im.r>osed only when protection is not required, and it then means a tax, the result of which is hardship.
– I notice that large quantities of pork axe imported from New Zealand, and yet pigs, have been put on the free list.
The. CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap). - It is absolutely wrong to discuss the importation of pigs on the item of wheat.
– The plain position is that in normal years, which a.re happily in the majority, we not only supply all cur own wheat requirements, but send substantial shipments overseas. In abnormal times, when we do not produce enough wheat, we import in order to meet our own necessities; and then the Treasurer, under these famine-stricken conditions, endeavours to exact from the consumers of this country an extra dole. In other words, the Treasurer imposes a tax on the food of the people, and this, in my opinion, almost amounts to an immoral form of taxation. As a representative of the wheat-growers, I wish to show other producers of Australia- that we can stand alone, without such doles as the Treasurer has been asked to hand out at the instance of honorable senators. The wheat-growers, on the poor soils of this country, and in places with’ a comparatively small rainfall, do not desire to crawl on all-fours to the Treasury, as do some of the” agriculturists of Queensland. We have heard a good deal about black labour from the representatives of the northern States, just as though the wheatgrowers never experience such competition. The wheat-growers send their surplus to the overseas markets, and have there to compete with the products of the same black labour that Senator Crawford has been holding up as a bogy during the last week.
– We do not always have a surplus.
– What is the good of all this make-believe? During the last twenty-five years, excepting 1902 and in 1914, we have always had a surplus.
– We refused sales last year at 15s. because we had not the wheat to send away.
– What is the good of quibbling? The country produced the wheat and it is here. In 1902 and in 1914, when drought swept the continent, we did not produce enough ‘wheat for our own people, and it was then proposed to levy a tax on the consuming public. I say again that this is a most immoral proposition, which, so far as I know, is not supported by any evidence of economy. The Senate should .not countenance such ‘ a thing, as taxing the food of the people at a time of stress and famine. I remind Senator Crawford, and those who support him in asking for high duties on the ground of black labour competition; that the Aus- tralian wheat-growers, not on j£20anacre soil, but on soil that is in the least favoured areas so far as rainfall is concerned, are able to hold their own in the markets ‘of the world. They, do not come here with a lot of “ tarradiddles,’ and whine to Ministers to sustain them; they’ are prepared, not only to .feed the Commonwealth, but to send their surplus abroad in the face of all the black labour competition. According to the Commonwealth Y ear-Book, the average price per quarter of Chili wheat on the London market is 30s.; Argentine, 31s. Id.; Bulgaria, 28s. 7d. ; Roumania, 31s. 2d. ; Russia, 30s. 9d. ; United States of America, 30s. 7d.; Canada, 30s. lOd. ; British’ India, 28s. 7d. ; New Zealand, 29s. 7d.; and Australia, 31s. 4d. Thus Australia beats the lot, without any protection, and without a brass farthing of Treasury patronage. The Australian wheat-grower has to send his product to a market where it is jostled by the wheat grown by black labour in British India and in other countries I have mentioned; and, without, any protection, they are knocking the stuffing out of all competitors. The Australian wheat-grower has no need to crawl to the Minister, and debase .himself in a fashion not creditable to Australians; he does not seek protection on the ground of black labour competition, although the wheat is grown, not on expensive virgin soil, but on the poorest. There is no whining from the Australian wheat-growers, and I am proud to belong to a fraternity which does not come to the Government, cap in hand, as do the Queensland producers, but which is able and willing to ‘meet the competition of labour - black, brown, and brindled.
– I heard the honorable senator move for a bonus and a guarantee.
– Yes, a guarantee for ten years for the poor, unfortunate wheat-grower.
– The Minister is entirely wrong; the terms of my motion would not have involved the Government in the expenditure of a brass farthing. I asked for a .guarantee of 5s. per bushel on the understanding that when the parity value went above that, the Treasury should take the extra amount, and that when it went below it, the Treasury should pay the difference, but in no case would the Government be at a loss.
– At that time the parity was nearer 10s.
– Yes. My - desire was to stabilize the industry, and to give heart and hope to the men who are working out in the arid wastes. Their position is very different from that of those who live on the Queensland littoral. They are on the frontiers of .civilization ; they depend upon themselves, and by their inherent energies forge their way in life instead of leaning on the Government, as some of the Queenslanders do. I speak on behalf of no small number. There are 235,000 agriculturists in this country, of whom 80 per cent., or about 200,000, are engaged in the arduous pursuit of wheat-growing. Theirs is not a spoonfed industry. To them the Government gives no doles. Their energies are something of which the nation may be proud. In a voice without tremor and without the suggestion of a whine, attention should be called to the fact that we produce wheat without help from the Government, and ask for no communal aid. That has been our stand in the past, and will be our attitude in the future. As for this padding of the Tariff with a duty of 2s. per cental on wheat, it is useless to us, and we decline it.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– If the Committee wishes to wipe out the duty on wheat, it is free to do so ; 1 rise chiefly to reply to Senator Lynch’s declaration against Government doles, and his objection to whining. The honorable senator has made more applications for guarantees to wheat-growers, and more applications for information as to when the next wheat payments would be made, than any one else. To that I take no exception, but in reply to what he has said I wish to point out that during the war, when the banks had refused to lend -‘money on wheat, and a better security than the credit of the States was demanded, the Commonwealth Government borrowed £20,000,000 on overdraft, and kept the wheat industry organized, and’ thus greatly benefited the wheatgrowers. To-day in Victoria there is a political crisis because the farmers wish to continue to receive Government assistance. I have never accused the farmers of looking for a dole, but it was from the Commonwealth that they had to get help during the war. The honorable senator is a wheat-grower, and good luck to him; but he must remember that at one time the Commonwealth, had advanced on wheat more than £21,000,000, and that we thus kept the farmers going. As much as nine-tenths of the value of the wheat had been advanced in some cases before any of it had been sold overseas. The duty in the Tariff was originally imposed at the request of the farmers, but we cannot now shut our eyes to the fact that there has been an immense development of wheat-growing in the East, where for some years Australia had a monopoly of the grain and flour trade. To-day, ‘ Manchuria is delivering flour and wheat there at 20 per cent, less than it can be sent from Australia. That country, with China and India, have captured the Eastern market. The East has awakened; but I hope that the time will never come when Senator Lynch will have to ask for duties on wheat to keep the Australian market for Australian farmers, and to protect them against the competition of men of the Eastern races. On Friday last a deputation of millers complained that Australian wheat was not wanted in the East, because the Eastern market was supplied from the countries that I have named. For many years the London parity has governed the world’s markets for wheat, finally determining prices even in Canada and the United States of America. Senator Lynch has told us with pride that Australian wheat brings the highest price in London. That is because it has a hard, white grain, the flour of which is useful to blend with the flour made from soft wheat. It is this quality of hardness that gives our wheat its special value. But the honorable senator’s sneer against the Government is not warranted. We have not offered doles to the farmers ; but we have ‘tried to co-operate with them, and we have assisted them. Last year we were successful in .selling their wheat for as much as 7s. 9d. per bushel, a price hitherto unknown for Australian wheat.
But in June of that year the Wheat Board saw that there was likely to be a shortage of wheat in Australia. It had no authority to stop the exportation of wheat, being merely a selling and administrative agency; but it was then evident to us that if we went on selling wheat abroad, Australia, by the following December, would not have sufficient to provide herself .with bread. We therefore called a Conference of the State authorities, and they as a whole agreed to purchase at the then London parity of 7s. 8d. enough to cover local supplies for the period from June to the end of the year. In the following October and November, the price of wheat rose to 15s. per bushel, and we were so short that we had to refuse business with South Africa at 14s. 6d. to 15s. That was why South Africa started to buy our second and third grade wheat, fj-om which transactions emanated the recent trouble. The present year has been very good. The Government are indifferent whether this item of duty remains or is wiped- out. It was -not imposed by the present Ministry. We have no desire to hand out doles to the farmers. We have done our best, according to our light, to give genuine and, I think, most valuable, assistance .to farmers. So far as the Wheat Board is concerned, it comes with a bad grace, after the Board has given seven years of honorary service, to be told that we have been serving out doles. The duty upon wheat is neither protective nor revenue-productive. It was imposed by a former Government to provide the farmers of Australia with a guarantee that they would not be injured by the importation of cheap wheat, and we have now, as I have shown, to face the possibility of cheap wheat being sent to us from Manchuria and China. If honorable senators consider that this clanger has passed, let them wipe out the duty.
’. - As a wheatgrower and farmer I congratulate the Government upon what they have done for the wheat-growers of Australia. They have done more for the primary producer than any other Government I know of. At the same time, I take exception to the camouflage contained in the Tariff. It is palpably absurd and stupid to impose import duties on live cattle, live sheep, and wheat, with respect to which Australia is an exporter. We never import cattle, sheep, or wheat except in periods of drought and starvation, when no wheat-grower or cattle raiser in Australia desires the operation of a duty. The Government would appear to be endeavouring to persuade the farmer that he is being given the benefit of Protection, whereas he is the only man in all the land who has no protection, and never has had.
– -I regret that . Senator Lynch should have mentioned my name so frequently, and in “such an offensive manner. I have, done no whining with respect to the industries of Queensland or of any other State. I have a public duty to perform, and I endeavour to do so in as manly a fashion as Senator Lynch. When I consider it necessary I speak, and shall continue to speak, regardless of Senator Lynch’s sensitive feelings. It is true that there is a number of protected industries in Australia, and it is equally true that there are some which do not directly benefit from Protection. Those countries which depend entirely upon primary production are much poorer than others which have a number of important secondary industries, such as there are in Australia. If we had had to import all those commodities which we have produced under a policy of Protection during the last few years, we would have created a position in regard to exchange which would have made Australia one of the poorest countries in the world to-day. As for the hard-working wheat-growers, I doubt whether they toil any harder than men engaged in other branches of agriculture. Upon the whole, the agriculturist, no matter what may be the commodity he is producing, is among the hardest of all workers. I have no desire to minimize the value of the wheat or the pastoral industry; but the prosperity of Australia cannot be maintained, nor can a very large population be supported, upon primary industries alone. N’o industry in the past few years has received the same consideration from the Government as wheat-growing. It is not long since the Federal Parliament passed- a Bill to provide for a loan of £500,000 to wheatgrowers in Western Australia in connexion with a scheme which the State
Government and Parliament would not support.
– The loan is to be repaid with interest.
– I did not raise my voice against the proposition, but the security was such that the Western Australian Government would not incur any liability in connexion with it. The statement of the Minister (Senator Russell) should receive every consideration. The strides made in the production of wheat in Manchuria have been remarkable. Members of this Parliament were informed not long ago by a gentleman well acquainted with the East that Manchuria had a population of something like 30,000,000, but that it was capable of supporting 250,000,000. I understand that in Manchuria and Siberia, just as in Russia-in-Europe, there are enormous wheat areas. Australian farmers may find in those countries such strong competitors that there will not be the same overseas market for Australian wheat as hitherto. The reminder may impress on honorable senators how necessary it is that other industries should be established - industries which will support a. large population, so that the home market may become ever more valuable. We do not know what is before us in regard to prices ruling in overseas markets for wheat or any other primary products. I would not have risen if it had not been for the personal allusions of Senator Lynoh concerning my alleged whining attitude in regard to certain industries which I desire to see adequately protected.
– How would the honorable senator describe his attitude in words other than those used by Senator Lynch ?
-The honorable senator or any other honorable senator can apply to my attitude whatever description he prefers, but I resent being referred to in such a manner. It is difficult to overcome certain prejudices, but so far as the wheat-growing industry in Western Australia is concerned, I trust that Senator Lynch and others who are engaged in wheat production in that Stat© will’-* experience better times than they have had during recent years. I can assure Senator Lynch that we would have been pleased to have seen him in his place in the Senate when the measure to which I have referred was under discussion instead of looking after his interests in Western Australia.
– I trust that Senator Lynch will not persist in his effort to remove this duty.. While I agree with him in many of the arguments he has submitted, I think there is a possibility of his action being misconstrued. The duty is of very little benefit to the wheatgrowers of the Commonwealth, and I do not think it has ever been imposed. It has been pointed out that when there was a scarcity of wheat the duty was valueless, because it was either ignored or temporarily removed. The facts and figures given by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) as to what happened last year is a good illustration of what could have been done for the fawners if proper steps had been taken. If ‘the Australian farmers insisted on sending their wheat overseas and selling it at the world’s .parity of 14s. 6d. per bushel instead of accepting the Australian price of 7s. 8d. per bushel, the Australian consumers would have realized that they had been obtaining supplies at a . lower rate than any other people in the world. Similar circumstances may arise in the future, and if the fanners are well organized and are able to, take advantage of the overseas price, through the medium of co-operative concerns or Government Pools, they will be able to secure world’s parity, and the consumers individually or collectively will have to pay, in addition to the cost of the wheat, the extra freight, to bring it back to Australia. That may occur during drought periods such as those referred to by the Minister, and I trust, in order to prevent wheat being dumped into Australia, from black-labour countries - I do not think it at all likely - that this safeguard will be allowed to remain.
– There are large areas of good country in ‘Syria, where wheat equal to that produced in Australia can be grown.
– They may be able to produce wheat in Mesopotamia, but up to the present we have not had any practical demonstration of that country’s possibilities. As the duty is not likely to do any harm - it has not done any good - I trust that Senator Lynch will not persist in his request.
– I trust that Senator Lynch will not be successful in’ obtaining the support of a majority of the Committee, and that the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) will adhere to the proposed duty. During the Minister’s speech he seemed to infer that it did not matter whether the . duty appeared in the schedule or not. He also emphasized the fact that it was there when the Government took office, and if such is the case it is a legacy from their predecessors.
– It is a new duty.
– In the 1901-2 Tariff the duty upon wheat was ls. per cental, and a storm of opposition was raised because it was submitted to Parliament at a time when there was actually a. drought, or a drought pending. Strong representations were made to the Government of the day that wheat’ should be allowed to be imported -free. Among those who made strong representations were State Governments, including the Government’ of New South Wales, who represented that, in consequence of the -drought conditions prevailing, farmers and others should be allowed to import wheat duty free. The Commonwealth Government at that time informed the .New South Wales Government that if they were interested in achieving that : result they could very easily do so by im- porting wheat and paying the duty, be- cause under the Braddon clause they would be returned three-fourths of the duty paid. I am not sure if the duty has been in operation ever since, but I am in- clined to think it has. Even those opposing it have said that it has not done much harm. It i3 not a Protective duty, and it will never be a revenue-producing one in the event of a drought. If that is the position, we have to consider it, not : merely upon its individual merits, but in relation to the Tariff as a whole. This Tariff has been framed in a different manner from any Tariff Parliament has previously considered, because the schedule has three columns. There is a pro- vision in a portion of the Bill covering the schedule which enables the Government to make arrangements with different countries whereby ‘a duty can be moved from the general to the intermediate column. If we haVe a duty such as this “ in the intermediate and general columns, we shall have a lever by which we can arrange or negotiate on a reciprocal basis with other countries. That is the position in the case of New ‘ Zealand. Arrangements for reciprocity were entered into in 1906, when Mr. Seddon, the Premier of New Zealand, was in Australia. He took back with him to New Zealand, on that last fatal journey of his, a proposal for duties in connexion with which reciprocal arrangements could be entered into between New Zealand and the Commonwealth.
– In those days New Zealand grew enough wheat to meet her own requirements. She is now an importer of wheat, and has been, for years.
– I am mentioning this as an illustration to show that the duty which appears in this schedule enabled the Government of the Commonwealth at the time to come to a tentative reciprocal arrangement with Mr. Seddon. The appearance of this duty in the schedule as submitted by the Government to-day, even though it be not operative in normal times, will be a lever to’ enable the Government at any future time, should that be considered necessary, to enter into reciprocal arrangements with other countries- to whom it might be a matter of importance to introduce their wheat into Australia. 0 For this reason, I hope that it will be realized that this duty does not appear in the schedule for nothing, nor has it remained in our Tariff since 1901 for nothing. It may be the means of enabling the Government in future to negotiate reciprocal arrangements with other countries; and for that reason I hope the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) will stand by it, and that the Committee will support, it.
– I want to touch upon an aspect of the matter which has not yet been considered by the Committee. In my opinion, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) was very wise when last year he included this duty on wheat in the Tariff. It is the first time that wheat has been dutiable since 1908, and my references do not go back beyond that time. It will be remembered that this Parliament and Government have arranged, in connexion with, the Wheat Pool, that the remainder of the year’s sales of wheat for home consumption shall average 9s. per bushel. Senator Russell will indorse what I say when I inform honorable senators that, <but for this duty of 2s. per bushel on this wheat, it was within the bounds of possibility, only a few months ago, for cheap wheat from the west coast ‘of America to have been dumped here at a price below the price fixed for Australian wheat for home consumption.
– Where was there cheap wheat on the west coast of America?
– Two or three months ago wheat went down almost to a dollar per bushel, at Chicago.
– Chicago is not on the west coast of America.
– Chicago is in the centre of the wheat districts of America, and wheat might have been brought from Chicago to the west coast of America and delivered here, assuming a cheap freight, at under 9s. per bushel, the price at which Australian wheat has to be sold to local consumers.
– Wheat certainly fell below 7s. at one time.
– It got very nearly down to dollar wheat.
– That was forward buying.
– I think that wheat was never below 7s. per bushel.
– I am satisfied that my information is fairly accurate. I went into the matter carefully some months ago, and wheat in Chicago, the centre of the wheat States, on the farms or in the railway trucks, went down to very nearly one dollar per bushel. My information is that if there had been no duty on wheat in our Tariff .Australian millers could then have imported wheat, and could have undersold flour made from Australian wheat at 9s. per bushel.
– If the honorable senator went into the matter carefully, can he say what it would have cost to haul the wheat over the Rockies to Vancouver, or to any of the Californian ports, and then ship it to Australia ?
– The cost would not have been as much as the difference between dollar wheat and wheat at 9s. per bushel, which had to be paid, for it in Australia, given reasonably cheap freight across the Pacific for the American wheat. A price of 9s. per bushel was fixed for Australian wheat for local consumption, in order that, in the interests of Australian wheat-growers, a fair average might be maintained throughout the year as between the Australian price and the world’s parity. It is true that the world’s parity is now below 9s. per bushel, but it also went up to lis. and 12s. per bushel, and the Government very fairly tried to even up the position between wheat-growers and wheat consumers in Australia. I reiterate that, but for the duty of 2s. per bushel on wheat in our Tariff, it was quite possible that at one time wheat might be imported from America to Australia and sold here at a price below that fixed for our wheat for local consumption.
– Despite the collapse in the price of wheat for a couple of months in Europe, our overseas sales of wheat have averaged over 9s. per bushel.
– I understand that the Wheat Board, very properly, suspended sales of Australian wheat during the temporary collapse in price referred to by the Minister. I hope that the Committee will pass this as a practical duty, and one which has been effective only so recently as within the last three or four months.
– I am rather pleased that Senator Lynch has submitted his request. This whiff of fresh air from the wheatfields of Western Australia was very much needed. The honorable senator was right in his statement that the people tilling the poorer lands in Australia are not whining for protection from the Government, and he was right also in his statement that this duty represents no protection to Australian wheat-growers. -I can give honorable senators the importations of wheat for some years past. In 1909, they amounted to 128 bushels ;. in 1910, ‘325 bushels; in 1911, 113 bushels; in 1912, 1,483 bushels; in 1913, 60 bushels; in 1914, 1,641,237 bushels.
– My’ figures give a higher importation for that year.
– I have quoted from the figures supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician; but the discrepancy may be accounted for by a note to the figures which reads -
Customs duties on wheat were suspended from 12th December, 1914, tq 12th November, 15)13. and from 10th August, 1917, to 2oth March, 1920.
– That was when all the States were importing from Argentina.
– The point I wanted to make was that, on the only occasion when wheat would have been imported, and the wheat-grower might have gained an advantage from a Protective duty, the Government suspended the duty in the interests of the community as a whole.
– How could the wheatgrower be affected if he had no wheat to sell?
– There has been no occasion when there has not been some wheat to sell in some portion of Australia. Last year the Minister for Trade and Customs restricted the sale of the Western Australian wheat. Western Australia had a bumper crop, and could supply Victoria. Victoria, also, was in the fortunate position of having a good wheat crop in that season. In 1914-15, when wheat was being imported, the duty was suspended.
– And always will be in a bad season.
– Exactly. The same thing occurred from 10th August, 1917, to 25th March, 1920. - Senator Lynch was quite correct in saying that this duty is a mere pretence. Why throw dust in the eyes of the farmers by pretending to give an advantage when no real advantage exists? Senator Crawford took exception to the reference to Queenslanders, who are profitably farming rich lands, whining for more assistance from the Government. It is interesting to note that the averag’e value of the wheat crop for the past nine seasons was £1 6s. 3d. per acre. It reached its highest point in 19J5-16, when it was £3 4s. 7d. per acre. In 1916-17 it was £2 10s. 10d., and in 1917-18 £2 15s. 8d. The wheat farmers are not asking for Government aid, but men cultivating banana lands worth hundreds of pounds per acre have asked for the imposition of enormous duties. ‘ Whining “ is a good word to apply to those senators who, .having in their own State the richest lands in Australia, ask that the people toiling on the poorer lands shall be compelled to pay higher prices for the produce of those rich lands. I- find that for the ten seasons, 1908-18, the average yield of wheat per acre was 11.37 bushels. It is pleasing indeed to have two representatives of the wheat growers in the persons of Senators Lynch and Guthrie pointing out that this duty is only a sham. I hope that the Senate will discard it altogether, and not wait till there is a chance of wheat being imported, and then ask for its repeal in order to prevent ‘ the farmers getting a higher price for their product.
.- Senator Pratten suggested the possibility of A’ustralia being invaded by the cheap wheat of America. The Senate will agree that he would be a very poor American wheat operator who would send grain all the way to Australia for 9s. a bushel, when, by simply sending it across the Atlantic, he could get a very much higher return in Europe. At the time to which Senator Pratten referred, London parity was from 75s. to 80s. per quarter.
– They were not selling wheat; they were only selling “ futures.”
– The situation which Senator Pratten stressed was only a flash in the pan.
– Australian buyers could have operated in America.
– Yes, but it is clear that the American operator would not send his wheat to Australia when he could get a higher price in the London market. What the honorable senator referred to was only a passing condition in the wheat market of America.
– I have known the British Government, during the war, to borrow 500,000 tons of wheat from the Argentine which we repaid by a shipment of Australian wheat.
– That was a war condition. The Minister has said that I made more applications for the payment of wheat instalments than, in his opinion, I should have done.
– Tha honorable senator was particularly prominent in asking for guarantees’.
– I was simply performing a public duty in asking for instalments that were a long time overdue.
– Never !
– Yes, and they are . overdue now.
– There was never a time when the Pool had not an overdraft through over-paying the farmers; that is the position to-day.
– Wheat that was delivered in 1915-16 has not been completely paid for yet, and I think I am entitled to say that those instalments are well overdue. I am one of those to whom this money is due, and I presume that Senator -Guthrie is another. Will the Minister say that sugar, or wool, or any other product, save wheat, that was delivered six years ago has not been paid for yet? When, in pursuance of my public duty, I asked for the payment of overdue instalments, it was not for the purpose of paying a .wage of £9 per week, which Senator Crawford says he paid in his industry, but to pay a wage of something like £3 a week, to keep the home fires burning in the wheat belts, and to extend the area under crop.
-The honorable senator’s object was laudable at the time.
– Then the Minister should not have found fault with it. He spoke, also, of the Government having come to the rescue of the farmers by financing them during the war. My reply is that full interest was paid by the farmers on all the money which the Government advanced. Neither party is under any obligation; certainly the farmers are not.
– -For three out of five years we took the risk of the guarantee.
– The wheat was delivered, and wheat is as good as gold at any time, but especially during the war. In regard to the guarantee, the motion I introduced to the Senate asked that the Government should guarantee a fixed minimum of 5s. per bushel for five years, and if London parity should be above or below that price, the Treasury should be credited or debited to the extent of the difference in each year; 5s. was to be the standard price, but in no circumstances was the Treasury to lose by the transaction. The Government were merely to act as guarantors in order to put the wheat industry in a stable position. I shall not withdraw my request. The farmers do not seek a gratuitous gift such as this duty is. This is merely an attempt to put a fifth wheel on a coach. The proposed duty can be neither useful nor ornamental, and the farmers. do not want it.
– I am afraid that my earlier remarks have been misunderstood. T resented Senator Lynch talking about doles, and I pointed out that the Wheat Board for five years was an honorary body-
– Mr. McGibbon, from Western Australia, was well paid for his attendance: £600 for four meetings.
– At the end of four years the farmers demanded representation on the Board, and it was granted. If a man is required to leave his farm in order to attend a meeting of the Board, I think he is fairly entitled to claim his expenses.
– Does not the honorable senator think that £600 for attending four meetings is a rather stiff payment ?
– I do.
– I must ask the Minister not to discfuss the general question of the Wheat Board, but to confine his attention to the item immediately before the Chair.
– I felt constrained to reply to the statement made by Senator Lynch that the farmers were not whining for a duty. We have never required them to whine for anything. We have never exercised patronage so far as they are concerned. We have struggled to make payments to the farmers in respect of their wheat at the earliest possible moment. We went into debt to the extent of £20,000,000 in order to help them at a time when the weevil and mice were destroying their wheat. Senator Lynch has said that we are behind to-day in our payments. That is not so. The Wheat Board has never been behind in any of its payments. As a matter of fact, we have paid £7,000,000 more than we have received from the sale of wheat up to’ date, and have a bank overdraft to that extent. In such circumstances how can it be claimed that we are behind in our payments? In 1915-16 we had to buy large quantities of galvanized iron to keep the mice and the weevil out of thewheat stacks. We paid for that iron an average price of about £55 per ton, and to-day it is worth some hundreds of thousands of pounds At the present moment there is probably £750,000 worth of iron and timber surrounding the wheat stacks, but no one can tell what it will Bring when we submit it to public auction. There is still a fraction owing in respect of the 1915-16 Pool, but as against it we have this splendid asset of iron and timber. The accounts of the Wheat Pool are audited by public accountants, and published from time to time. I do not believe in wheat scrip, and have always declined to express an opinion as to its value, since I object to gambling in foodstuffs. Day after day I am asked what wheat scrip is likely to bring, and the only answer I give is that the people should hold their scrip, because, as I have, just- said, I object to gambling in connexion with foodstuffs. The system of issuing scrip was started not by the Commonwealth, but by the States. Returning to the item under consideration, I would remind the Committee that the duty is an old one, and I believe it will be useful to us when we are negotiating for reciprocal Tariffs with other parts of the Empire. It might be of advantage to us when arranging a reciprocal Tariff with Canada. If, owing to serious drought, Ave had to import wheat we could make an arrangement with Canada to supply us, or arrange to supply Canada in time of need. No revenue is collected under this item, and the chances are that in the ©vent of a serious drought the duty would be suspended. I ask the Committee to allow it to stand. In this Tariff there are many items which will assist us in making reciprocal arrangements with other countries? New Zealand, for instance, does not produce sufficient wheat to meet her requirements, and we might be able to make a reciprocal arrangement with that Dominion in regard to wheat and timber. At one time I found it impossible to get in Australia suitable timber for the making of butter boxes. Large quantities of New Zealand timber are used for that purpose, and we might offer to give New Zealand certain privileges in regard to our wheat in return for preferential treatment in respect of timber f.r butter boxes. Queensland pine is an excellent timber, superior to all others for certain purposes, but I have known Queensland butter to be tainted by the Queensland butter boxes.
– Does the honorable senator think that such an item as this would be of any advantage in arranging for reciprocal trade relations with New Zealand. The New Zealand Government would ask what such a duty was worth, and the honorable senator has just said that in time of drought it would probably be suspended.
– New ‘-‘Zealand cannot dictate to us what we shall do with our wheat. She has purchased from time to time considerable quantities of Australian wheat at very reasonable prices. When New South Wales some time ago had practically not a bushel of wheat for local consumption, we arranged to supply her with wheat from other States, not at the price we were charging the people overseas, but at the price ruling for it in the State of production plus freight.
– And Western Australia had to accept less than the world’s . parity for its wheat.
– But it had a larger proportion for export. I hope that we shall not become parochial. Wheat produced in Australia should be available first of all for local consumption, and any surplus should be sold in the best available market I am sorry that the question of the Wheat Board has been raised, but I felt constrained to reply to the statement made by ‘Senator Lynch that the farmers did not come whining to the Government for a duty. I have never battled for any one so hard as I did to get an extra 6d. per bushel for the wheatgrowers of the Commonwealth. I hope we shall retain this duty, since, it will strengthen the’ hands of the Government” in negotiating for reciprocal trade arrangements with other parts of the Empire.
– The statement just made by the Minister (Senator Russell) calls for a reply. When a self-satisfied Minis ster contends that he has done a good thing for the farmers, it is well, to remind him that there is no justification for his statement. This Government has not handled the farmers’ wheat in a satisfactory way. They sold it for 4s. 9d. per bushel at a time when the British Government was guaranteeing 9s. 6d. per bushel, or the highest market value.
– And; the Victorian farmers are begging the Government at the present moment to handle their wheat for them.
– If they are prepared to overlook the mistakes of the past that is no concern of mine, but when a self-satisfied Minister, after mishandling the farmers’ wheat, claims that he has done well for them, it is necessary to reply to him.
– How would the honorable senator handle the farmers’ wheat?
– I was a member of the first Government to form a Wheat Pool. Not ‘only did the present Government sell the farmers’ wheat, at 4s. 9d. a bushel when the British Government were guaranteeing 9s. 6d. a bushel, but they raised the freight on wheatcarried in Commonwealth ships from 14s. per ton in 1914 to £7 10s. per ton. This meant an increase from 6½d. and 10½d. per bushel, as before the war, to 4s. 2d. per bushel; and why? It was in order that the farmers might not see that the freight was being increased so as to bring the wheat sold in Britain in line with the world’s parity.
– You are insinuating that there was a shortage of tonnage.
– I do not insinuate anything of the kind, but there was no reason why, in respect of our own ships, the freight should have been increased to such an extent. It was simply a means of making the farmers pay in four years the cost of those ships, while the rest of the community went scot-free.
– Cornsacks were brought at 80s. on our own line when other boats were charging £15. We never at any time charged the farmers the full ocean rate.
– Nevertheless, the farmers’ wheat paid for the Commonwealth ships in four years, and that at a time when the ‘ farmers were “ up “against it “ like every one else.
– Was there no return freight?
– All these matters cannot be discussed on the item of wheat.
– But the Minister spoke as if he had conferred some great benefit on the wheat-growers, and I wish to show that those growers were treated by the Government in such a way as to make them pay the whole of the purchase money for the ships in four years. When the Minister discusses this question with an air of injured innocence, and pretends that the farmers are under some great obligation, I tell him that the farmers have nothing to thank the Government for. The farmers got 4s. 9d. per bushel when the world’s parity was at least 10s.
– The honorable senator must not discuss the question of freights.
– It is remarkable, that the Minister may travel all round the question, but . as soon . as I begin to answer him I am ruled out of order. I wish to discuss the matter from the point of view of the farmers, and I say that this duty is of no value to them, but is a mere pretence, and ought to be struck out. It is of no use Senator Russell saying that he ‘‘desires the duty in order that he may negotiate with New Zealand or Canada; New Zealand sends no wheat here, and therefore the duty cannot affect the Dominion. I hope that Senator Lynch will stand to his guns, and that there are sufficient independent senators who will refuse to consent to this, pretended Protective duty.
– How would the honorable senator sell wheat to New Zealand; would he treat the Dominion as a foreign country, or as’ a portion of Australasia?
– If I entered into that question, the Chairman would call me to order.
Question - That the request (Senator Lynch’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (b), British, free.
I do not know how much barley comes here from Britain, but whatever does come ought to be admitted free. My desire is to see Free Trade with Great Britain, and no obstacle placed in the way by this Tariff.
– If there are no other requests in connexion with the British preferential Tariff column, I shall put the motion thus : That the House of Representatives be requested to make wheat, barley, and maize, sub-items a, b, and c, under the British Tariff free.
– I move- -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (C) by making the duties, intermediate, 2s. 6d. ; general, 3s. 6d.
I have been waited on by representatives of 86 per cent, of the maize-grower 3 of Victoria, who assure me that in this State the cost of growing maize is at the present, time from 4s. 3d. to 4s. 6d. per bushel, including the cost of delivery to the nearest railway station. Those who are growing maize are mostly settled on small blocks, and their industry is threatened by the competition of black labour in South Africa, Java, and India, and especially of Java. Maize-growing is an industry worthy to be encouraged with adequate protection. Australia should at least supply her own demand for maize, but she has hitherto been- a. large importer of that cereal. A good deal of maize is grown in Victoria, and, I think, in the northern States, too, by returned soldiers. The Tariff liberally protects the manufacturers of maize products, such as starch,, glucose, and cornflour; but the growing of maize is not encouraged as it should be, and consequently in every State the area under crop has decreased considerably during the last ten years. The highly-protected manufacturers of maize products have in Victoria threatened the maize-growers that if they will not contract to sell the coming season’s maize at 3s. 6d. a bushel they will get their supplies from Java.
– Then we had better recommit the Tariff for the reconsideration of items like that dealing with glucose..
– Maize-growing gives employment to more labour per acre than any other crop, the cobs having to be picked by hand. In the period between 1903 and 1913 the average price of maize in Australia was 3s. 6d. a bushel, but nowadays the cost of growing maize is twice what it was then. Yet the highly -protected manufacturers of maize products are trying to force the Victorian growers to sell forward at what was the average price nearly ten years ago, and, as I have stated, the present cost of production, is between 4s. 3d. and 4s. 6d. per bushel. There are thousands of acres of land along our rivers suitable for maize-growing, and if that land were putunder maize it would lead to closer settlement, and give a great deal of employment. Australia’s production of maize averages from 8,000,000 to 9,000,000 bushels annually, whereas the black labour of India produces 80,000,000 bushels, and that of South Africa 34,000,000 bushels per annum. In i918, the last year for which figures are obtainable, we imported 255,000 bushels of maize. I do not know what Java’s product of maize is, but it’ is from that country that it is now proposed to import supplies to compete with the locally-grown maize. It is wrong that a country like Australia, which can grow maize inferior to none, should import that cereal. The maizegrowers asked for a duty of 4s., but I told them I thought tha.t a little too much, and that I was prepared to support a duty of 3s. 6d.
– I met the representatives of growers from the Snowy River and other maize-growing districts, but the only statement they made in support of their request for a higher duty was that a threat had been made by, a particular firm that it would pay only a certain price for maize. I do not think that we can be governed by such statements. There are ways in which we can deal with those who make threats. The real trouble of the maize-growers was caused by the reciprocal Tariff arrangement with South Africa, under” which maize could be imported at ls. per cental. That maize was grown by black labour.’ We are not going to repeat our mistake. Under the present Tariff all imported maize will have to pay 2s. per cental. In addition, there is the consideration of freight.
– The maize-growers desire adequate protection; and if it amounted to 2s. per bushel, instead of 2s. per cental, no one would complain.
– The present duty is equivalent to a little more than ls. per bushel, in addition to which, I repeat, there is the natural protection afforded by freight costs. The duty has to be paid upon the price at the port of shipment, plus 10 per cent. The rate now imposed amounts to 50 per cent.; and, if that degree of protection is not sufficient, what do the maize-growers want ?
– I support the request. Maizegrowing involves more labour than the cultivation of any other grain. It cannot be carried on wholly with horses or by power implements. A great deal of the work must be performed by hand. There need be no hesitation about increasing the duty for fear that the price of maize might become exorbitantly high. For all purposes, except in regard to the manufac.ture of starch, maizena, and glucose, maize comes into direct competition with other grains. No One would buy maize for horse-feed who could get oats, peas, or the like for very much less. Thus there are safeguards against inordinately high prices. . The Minister (Senator Russell) remarked that, in addition to the duty, adequate protection wa3 afforded by freight costs. A number of Victorian growers waited on me .and informed me that local manufacturers who use maize had announced their intention to import from, Java. Freight can be obtained, or could have been secured recently, at 25s. to 30s. a ton. I doubt whether the maize grown on the Snowy River can be landed at Melbourne at a lower transport cost.- Considerable quantities of maize are grown in New South Wales, and a fair amount is cultivated in Queensland ; but the companies which use maize for the manufacture of glucose and other products are all situated in Melbourne. Thus, the Queensland and New South Wales growers who might desire to dispose of their products to Melbourne « manufacturers would ‘have to pay actually higher freights than in respect pf importations of maize from Java or South Africa. The alleged additional protection by way of freight may be, therefore, disregarded. Melbourne manufacturers are very fortunate in having so .large a market as is afforded by the more than 2,000,000 people in New South Wales and the 750,000 population of Queensland. I am strongly of opinion that the request should be agreed to.
– Nearly all the maize land in New South Wales is very expensive. It is situated chiefly in river valleys, and among the disadvantages which growers have to face is the danger of periodical floods. These, if they are sustained, are likely to ruin the crops. The maize grown in the Tumut district is said to be the best in the world, in that it is weevil proof. There is also very fine maize grown on the Hawkesbury River lands. But all of these , areas are apt to be flooded, and there are other disabilities to be contended with. Adequate protection should be afforded to assist maize-growers to carry on successfully.
– I desire to voice the opinion of the great mass of people who are not in any way organized, and who are compelled to use maize as a fodder for their stock, particularly when other corn is not available. It is not very often (hat I fall back upon the returned soldier in support of my argument; but I may direct the attention of the Committee to the fact that Mr. Ashford, who was at one time Minister for Lands in New South Wales, and who has played a very important part in the Wheat Pool and “ other things’,” did a great deal in the direction of establishing returned soldiers on poultry farms.
– Fowls are not fed on maize.
– There is no better winter food for fowls than corn.
– I think there is a possibility of a compromise.
– It is about time, because surely we are not going to impose an additional duty in the interests of persons utilizing land in Victoria for maize-growing when it is more suitable for the production of cabbages. The land in the Darling Downs, the northern rivers, and the Tumut districts produces excellent maize, and much superior to that raised on . the’ inferior soil in the State of Victoria, where the climate is totally unsuitable for «the production of this commodity. Those who are not banded together in companies and combines should be protected ; and I am considering more particularly the poor unfortunate teamsters, who have to feed their horses well if they are to derive a satisfactory return from the business in which they are engaged.
– All the carriers in Queensland are members of the Australian Workers Union.
– That is another striking instance of the intelligence of the Queensland people.
– The honorable senator represents the biggest combine in Australia - the Australian Workers Union.
– Order! Honorable senators must not discuss the Australian Workers Union, but the item before the Committee.
– The South African maize cannot compete with that produced in Australia.
– Then why do we import so much of it ?
– It has been imported in times of drought to feed sheep that otherwise would have starved. The pastoralists have on frequent occasions been compelled to rely upon a supply of maize to keep their stock alive; and without an adequate supply, thousands of sheep would have starved.
– Can the honorable senator tell us how maize is grown in South Africa ?
– I shall leave that- to the honorable senator, who, with his extensive knowledge concerning a country he has visited, may be. able to explain the process more accurately. Surely a duty of 50 .per cent, is sufficiently high. I have seen good maize sold in New South . Wales at 2s. per bushel.
– It would- not pay the grower at that price. -Senator GARDINER. - I do not know whether it paid the grower or not ; but I believe that the present price is about 5s. per bushel. The Australian-grown maize is far superior to that produced in South Africa, and, in view of all the circumstances, I trust the Committee will .not agree to increase- what is already a high rate, and thus place an additional burden upon the consumers.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria- VicePresident of the Executive Council) ;,[10.35”J. - I have listened to the strong representations which have been made by honorable senators, and if Senator Guthrie is prepared to amend his request to make the general Tariff 3s. per cental, instead of 3s. 6d., I shall be agreeable.
– I am prepared to adopt the Minister’s suggestion.
Request, by leave, amended accordingly..
– During a visit to Queensland some time ago I had an opportunity of visiting the splendid country between Mareeba and Yungaburra, on the Atherton Tableland, where I saw large numbers engaged in maize-growing There were very few barns, but large numbers of galvanized-iron tanks, which, I’ was informed, were utilized for storing maize. I was informed that although the maize does not grow to the same height as it does in the south, the plants stool more freely, and, as a result, a larger number of heads are grown on. each .plant. I was also, informed that the majority of the make-growers in that district were Chinese.
– Most of that land has been resumed by the ‘State, and sold to returned soldiers.
– I inspected the country three months ago, when a deputation of white men engaged in the production of maize waited upon me.
– I am not disputing that, but merely stating what I saw. I asked if the Chinese were owners of the land. The reply was, “ No. The owners of the land dwell in the suburbs “of Brisbane, and rent the land to Chinese.”
– The honorable senator ‘heard a lot of fairy tales in Queensland.
– It is a fact that there were Chinese cultivating the farms on the Atherton tableland at that time, because I saw them there.
– The honorable senator is talking about conditions that prevailed three years ago, whilst the Minister for Defence has said that the Chinese have gone, And the land is now being worked by returned soldiers.
– If the purpose of this duty is to protect white labour and maintain the White Australia policy, well and good ; but if it is to help Chinese cultivators of maize, I cannot support it.
– How many Chinese were growing maize at Atherton?
– I travelled between Mareeba and Yungaburra, a distance which represented a train journey of from one and a half to two hours, and on both sides of the line I saw what I have described.
– The whole Chinese population of Queensland, including the furniture makers, could not occupy such an area.
– If this duty is intended to protect Chinese labour, it is not fair to the struggling farmers in the south, because the effect will be to make it more difficult for growers in the south to raise wheat. Since the time to which I” have referred, I have seen a gentleman who came from Queensland to purchase chaff in the south for his starving stock.
– None of the maize grown on the Atherton tableland goes to Victoria or South Australia.
– We know, that it does, and the imposition of this duty will make maize dearer to those who require it in the south.
– No; it will mean that more maize will be grown, and the industry will be stabilized..
– The honorable senator proposes that we should stabilize the maize-growing industry in the north at the expense of those engaged in agriculture in the south. We need to be very careful in dealing with this matter, because, very often, we need in the south the products of the north. The maizergrowing industry, as I saw it in Queensland, does not require stabilizing, any more than does the growing of potatoes in the Western District of Victoria.’ It is very extensive; a large number of settlers are engaged in the industry, and on small farms. What I saw. in Queensland certainly induced me to believe that maizegrowing can be carried on in that State successfully under the existing duty.
– I have no wish to delay the Committee unnecessarily, but t wish to quote from a Queensland newspaper statements in corroboration of that made by Senator Senior.
– What newspaper does the honorable senator propose to quote from?
– From the Dalby Herald.
– Then it must be areprint from another newspaper.
– That may be so, but it corroborates the statement which was made by Senator Senior. The Dalby Herald says -
In the grazing industry- the united graziers employ 700 coloured aliens, and in the sugar industry 2,000 coloured aliens, are employed to-day.
I will stop the quotation at that, because I venture to say that if coloured aliens are employed in growing sugar they are also employed in growing maize.
– An Act of Parliament prohibits their employment in the sugar industry, so that the statement quoted cannot be true.
– The Arbitration Court award in Queensland permitted their employment in the sugar industry. I rose merely to corroborate Senator Senior’s statement by a quotation from a Queensland newspaper. I say again that if 2,000 coloured aliens, are employed in cane-growing, it is quite certain that a number of them are also employed in maize-growing.
Request, as amended, agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
The following paper was presented: -
Shale Oil Bounty Act. - ‘Particulars of Bounty Paid, &c, Financial Year 1920-21.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia -
Minister for Defence) [10.50].- In moving
That the Senate do now adjourn,
I ask honorable senators to recognise that next week we shall have to ask them to sit a little later, and possibly in the following week to sit in the mornings. Today we have passed only five items out of 400 odd inthe schedule.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 August 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210804_senate_8_96/>.