10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister for Markets and Migration state whether the Government has considered a proposal from the associatedCaladonian Societies of southeastern South Australia for the introduction of Scottish immigrants as settlers in the south-eastern portion oftheState?
– Some months ago Mr. Livingston, formerly member for Barker in the House of Representatives, interviewed me in regard to a scheme for settling Scottish immigrants in the south-eastern portion of South Australia, but I informed him that any scheme for the settlement of immigrants must be brought to the notice of the Commonwealth by a State Government. I understand that Mr. Livingston has since taken steps to bring his scheme under the notice of the Government of South Australia, but so far that Government has not yet officially approached the Commonwealth in regard to it.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Whether every section of the workers will be broughtwithin the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court to which it is proposed to submit the question of a standard working week, so that housewives may be enabled to enjoy the same privileges as the over-worked husbands ?
– It is not considered practicable to take action in the direction suggested.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
What does the Government intend to do in respect to making further inquiries, as recommended by the Commonwealth Board of
Trade, into the claim of the gold-mining industry for consideration in connexion with disabilities suffered during the war period?
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
The Government is fully alive to the importance of this matter, and has already given it serious consideration. It is hoped that a decision will be reached at an early date.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
In committee (Consideration resumed from 2nd June, vide page 2513) :
Item 110 (vide page 2509). Upon which Senator Payne had moved by way of amendment -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item 1a to read :- “ (a) Apparel (other than knitted), ar ticles of, viz. : -
Overcoats and suits -
Men’s, i.e., with chest measure ment of 34 inches and over, each, 2s.6d. British, 5s. intermediate, 7s. 6d. general.
) Boys’ and youths’, each, 2s.
British, 3s. 6d. intermediate, 4s. 6d. general.”
.- I have submitted this request with the idea that it will be taken as a test of the feeling of the committee in regard to the first five sub-items of item 110, which are all allied. In addition to a heavy ad valorem duty, the schedule proposes to impose a flat rate on every garment that may be imported, whether it is made up entirely or is defined for making up. I think I made it sufficiently clear last night that it was not my intention to jeopardize the successful carrying on of any industry in Australia. But I am an unflinching opponent of any attempt to bolster up an industry at the expense of the community, when it is obvious that the addition it may make to the wages sheet of Australia will be in no respect commensurate with the enormous sum the community in general will have to pay in the additional cost of the goods required by them. The ad valorem duties set out in the new sub-item 1 are lower than those which appeared in the 1921 tariff. These were 45 per cent. British and 60 per cent. general. But the new item, while lowering the ad valorem duties, imposes a flat rate of 7s. 6d. on a British-made garment, and 12s. 6d. on aforeign-made garment, which rates must be paid in addition to ad valorem duties of 30 per cent. British and 45 per cent. general. I do not suggest that there should be any reduction of duty. Consequently, if the committee accepts my request for an amendment it must reinstate the ad valorem rates of the 1921 tariff, viz., 45 per cent. British and 60 per cent. general. The present proposal will unduly penalize the working classes, and not the wealthy classes of Australia.Under my proposal the man who is able to pay £6 or £10 for an overcoat will make a large contribution to the revenue, whereas the man who is not able to pay such a high price will be let off much lighter than he is likely to be under the sub-item as proposed by the Government. A flat rate of 7s. 6d. per garment on top of a 30 per cent. ad valorem duty will afford at least 75 per cent. protection on the invoice price of an ordinary working man’s overcoat. The flat rate of 7s. 6d. will apply to all overcoats whether the invoice price is 12s. 6d. or 40s. Should the request be accepted by the Senate, there will be no reduction in Customs revenue. Bather will there be a slight increase, provided that, in conjunction with the reduction proposals, the ad volorem rates be made the same as they were under the 1931 tariff. As all the following sub-items are similar to this one, I do not propose to waste the time . of the committee in putting forward the same argument in connexion with each. I am prepared to accept this as a test to determine whether the Senate is agreeable that all classes of garments which are manufactured abroad shall have so high a duty placed upon them that it will mean, practically, the prohibition of the importation of that clothing which the masses of our people, by virtue of the necessity for keeping within their small incomes, are compelled to wear. I hope that the request will be agreed to.
– I hope that the committee will not agree to the request moved by Senator Payne. The schedule provides for an increased duty on imported yarn and on imported cloth.
– That makes the position worse.
– If we are to give adequate protection to the Australian manufacturers of yarn and woollen piece goods the additional duty is necessary. . The manufacture of clothing is an important Australian industry, giving employment to 29,000 persons, whose wages amount to £3,500,000 per annum. The value of the output of the Australian clothing factories is about £11,000,000 a year.
– Does that show that the industry has been languishing?
– Large quantities of manufactured clothing, which could be made here, giving employment to our people and keeping within Australia the money which now goes overseas, have entered Australia. The fixed duties are directed particularly against the importation of clothing manufactured from shoddy, which, as honorable senators know, is a material largely composed of old rags which have been subjected to certain treatment. It is rather a libel upon the people of this great wool-producing country to suggest that they want to keep the duties on this item low, so that clothing made of shoddy rags which have been cast aside by the poorer people of other countries may enter. To this matter the Tariff Board devoted a great deal of attention. After exhaustive investigations and full consideration, it concluded that these duties were absolutely necessary for the protection of the Australian clothing industry.
– Does the community generally get no consideration from the Minister ?
– The increased duties have already been in operation for over nine months; and I am informed that the department has not received one complaint that they are too high. The honorable senator’s objection is somewhat late.
– Does the increased duty represent an increase of 70 per cent. in the price.
– If the workers of Australia regarded the higher duties as an imposition, their organizations, as well as their representatives in this Parliament, would have voiced their complaint. But no complaint has been made. The people most directly concerned are evidently prepared to purchase Australian goods, even at the additional price which this duty may involve.. All honorable senators are anxious to protect the workers of Australia from injustice.
– The schedule does not show it.
– -In voting for the schedule, we shall be protecting the interests, not only of the workers, but also of those who are engaged in the industry to which this item refers.
– The item before us applies to articles which enter into the every-day life of the majority of the people of this country. It is the first really serious item in the schedule. Senator Payne has advanced some good arguments against the imposition of higher duties; he could have advanced more. The old bogy of shoddy has been brought forward. The candle has been put in the turnip, which is held up to frighten those who otherwise might express independent and reasonable opinions upon this question. Men’s overcoats and suits, with which this item deals, have for some time been made in this country; others have been imported. Prior to the introduction of this schedule, the local manufacturers had a protection of 40 per cent, against the article manufactured in Great Britain. We are now told that that 40 per cent, protection is not sufficient, and in support of that contention, the increased importation of these goods is quoted. That is a familiar argument. If it were sound, we should be justified in voting for everything proposed by the Government in this tariff. . But there is another side to the question. We must consider, not only -the importation of goods which do come here, but also those things which do not come here. As the result of increased rates we have been unable to sell Great Britain as much as we should have been, and there has been a total dearth of gold entering Australia from the Old Country.
– The balance of trade last year was £30,000,000 in our favour.
– For the last tenyear period for which figures are available, as I was able to show in the debate a few days ago, our excess of exports over imports totalled slightly over £60,000,000, or an average of £6,000,000 a year, and as our interest burden was about £28,000,000 a year, it is obvious that, to meet our obligations, we were borrowing at the rate of £22,000,000 a year. These figures which, I extracted from the Commonwealth Year-Book, furnish an unwelcome testimony to the actual position of the Commonwealth. In this item we are asked to give to the manufacturers of certain articles of clothing a protection in the neighbourhood of 70 per cent, or 80 per cent. They are not content with the former protection of about 40 per cent, against British manufacturers. Let us look at the other side. We are advised by representatives of the Australian Association of British Manufacturers - I suppose they are entitled to be heard in this matter - that the English invoice price of these waterproof coats is 19s., and that the landed cost under these duties is 33s. 6d., so that the duty is, roughly, 70 or 80 per cent. Prior to the introduction of this tariff these English overcoats were sold at 25s. in Australia, whereas overcoats made of the same material in Australia are sold for 22s. 9d. Why is not the Australian manufacturer satisfied with this margin? Is it because he is not putting sufficient energy and attention into his work, and is not making an article sufficiently attractive to induce the Australian public to buy it in preference to a British article? Clearly, the margin is there already, so there is no need for the increased duties.
– The same argument could be applied to whisky.
– No; I am talking, not about non-essentials, but about necessities. Senator McLachlan is referring to the events of yesterday. We are now dealing with a different item. Is it fair, in the interests of the general public, to increase the duties?
– They are not high enough.
– I believe that even Senator Findley thinks they are fair, but, on his own showing, he is a Himalayan protectionist, as he will, if he gets a chance, reach out for the extra 30 per cent. I and other honorable senators who think with me, intend to take an independent stand on behalf of that overpatient section of the community that has to foot the bill. It is time that the scales were held more evenly. It is time that our primary producers, who have to dispose of their products in the markets of the world, were heard. The people who are clamouring for more and more duties have been so successful in the past that they appear to think it is only necessary to hold up their little fingers for a willing and over -indulgent parliament to give them any duty they see fit to demand. The manufacturers of Canada and the United States of America had .to be content with less, and we have a right to expect our manufacturers to be satisfied with what is, after all, a reasonable amount of protection.
– The honorable senator’s remarks would have been logical had they been applied to the duty on whisky yesterday.
– For Senator Ogden’s information I may state, to show my consistency, that I shall vote for certain increases in the schedule. When it is a question of silks or champagne, or any other unnecessary commodity which people can do without, I shall be found behind the Government, voting for the increased duties. But I do not believe in unreasonable rates, which will impose a burden on the people generally. The inevitable result of increased duties will be to add to the cost of production, and, as Senator Findley well knows, our only means of balancing accounts is by an excess of exports. When we attain to that happy state of affairs, we may then, like the Village Blacksmith. “ Look the whole world in the face.” This proposal, if accepted, will impose an additional handicap upon the people. Let us compare the position of our manufacturers with that section of the community which has” no protection. I do not intend to coddle these manufacturers any further, because more spoon-feeding will result in a flabby and unhealthy development of the industry. I intend to support Senator Payne. So far I have only given a few stray reasons in support of my attitude. The main body of reasons I hold in reserve, to be used if necessary. We should endeavour to put these matters in their true relationship. one to the other, and ascertain the effect of the increased duties upon the general community. There are other people to think of. What are our farmers and dairymen doing? The primary producers are placing their surplus production upon the markets of the world, and in spite of severe competition in the matter of prices, and without a vestige of protection, are holding their own. How are they doing it? In the main by exercising all their mental and physical energy during the day, and sometimes well into the night, while others are slumbering. Those people are holding their own, and are doing far more to maintain Australia’s good name than are those who are continually asking for protection, sometimes to the extent of 70 per cent, or 80 per cent. These are the persons who call others not so favorably situated “ fellow Australians.” Senator Findley would refer to them as “ dear comrades.” We are all fellow Australians, but there are some who are carrying on their arduous work without any protection, and who are always holding the thick end of the stick. If there is to be true fellowship the weight should be placed in the middle of the stick, and the burden be equally borne by both sections. One section should not be permitted to live in luxury while the other is sweating through the long hours of the day. This, and some of the other proposals in the schedule, will be the means of encouraging a section of loafers. I was never more serious in my life than when I submitted for the information of the Senate the result of the Canadian .effort, and when I gave my matured thought on protective duties. Some years ago the highest duty imposed was 30 per cent., but that is now considered by some to be wholly inadequate. Proposals are submitted for higher rates, and up go the duties. Item 110 covers two pages of this schedule, whereas in the 1921 tariff similar items occupied only 1 inch of printed matter. In this schedule coats are separated from vests, and vests from trousers, all of which are dutiable at different rates.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I have not very much to add to what Senator Lynch has already said. If the honorable senator has an opportunity of calling up his reserve arguments there will be, 1 feel sure, nothing left for any one to say. Senator Lynch has dealt with many of the points I intended to make, and has put them more clearly and concisely than I could possibly do. When the Honorary Minister (Senator Crawford) was supporting the item I thought for a moment that Senator Payne was endeavouring to abolish all duties proposed under it; but I find that under the British preferential tariff the proposed duty is 35 per cent., plus 7s. 6d. for each garment, which is in addition to the natural protection. If Australian manufacturers cannot compete with those in other parts of the world on that basis, there is something wrong with our manufacturing industries. Many of the people whom I represent purchase the goods enumerated in this item, and I therefore resent the introduction of what might be described as inverted sumptuary laws. Under the old sumptuary laws people of a certain status were not allowed to wear expensive garments, but it would appear from the duties being imposed in this tariff that the wearing of inexpensive garments is to be prohibited. I consider the proposed duties in this instance far too high, and I am guided in this instance, not only by my own opinions, but by the opinions of those who sent me here. To ask for such protection is a confession of weakness on the part of manufacturers, and because I know many people in the State which I assist in representing in this chamber will feel very keenly the imposition of such duties, I intend to support the request submitted by Senator Payne.
– It is futile for Senator Lynch to attempt to interfere with the Government in its determination to increase duties on’ foreign made goods. The Tariff Board has been appointed to . investigate and. report on the duties considered necessary to enable Australian manufacturers to compete with those operating overseas, and it is upon the Tariff Board’s recommendation that the Government is acting. Senator Lynch never tires of informing us that he is a protectionist; but, in this instance, he is objecting to increased duties. The honorable senator ought to realize that the Nationalist Government, of which he is a most, vigorous supporter, was returned for the express and definite purpose, among other things, of imposing heavy duties upon goods manufactured in low-wage protectionist countries.
– I was under the impression that low wages were not paid in protectionist countries.
– I am merely stating facts. Life-long freetraders such as Senator Thomas are now, for reasons unknown, supporting excessive duties merely because they are proposed by the Government of which they are supporters. It is futile to submit requests for reductions, as the proposed duties will, if the Government so desire, be adopted. The Government has a majority of about 4 in 1, and, in this instance, most of the members of the Labour party are also assisting it. There are a few exceptions which include men like myself, who believe that this form of taxation falls unfairly upon the poorer sections of the community. Occasionally we have rays of light forcing their way through the intelligence of such men as Senator Lynch; but when a vote is taken those from whom we sometimes expect assistance eventually support the Government, particularly when it is in a tight corner.
– In a tight corner? That is rather significant.
– The Government was in a tight corner last night. It is the policy of the Government to ensure, as far as they are able, that all goods which can be commercially manufactured in Australia shall be somanufactured. I ask Senator Lynch or Senator Payne whether it is not a fact that those goods which come under item 110 can or ought to be made in the Commonwealth? Although I do not regard protection asa means of bringing about the millennium, I realize that a large majority of the people of Australia favour that policy. It is, therefore, absolutely futile for us to discuss these items.
– I had not intended to speak upon this item, because I did not think that much opposition would be displayed to it, but I should like to explain the position in which I stand. Honorable senators who were members of the Senate in 1021 will perhaps recollect that I then opposed increased duties on all woollen goods. The renison was that a commission bad gone thoroughly into the matter, and had proved that the average profits of the whole of the woolen manufacturers then amounted to 33 per cent. But the conditions have since entirely changed. That was during and just after the war, when wages in the woollen manufacturing industry were actually as high in Britain and in the British Empire generally as they were in Australia. What is the position to-day? The wages in all branches of this industry have considerably decreased- in Great Britain, whilst in Australia they have considerably increased. The present tariff was framed after very careful investigation by. the Tariff Board. We are all aware that the Australian woollen mills have experienced a very bad time during the last three or four years, and some have had to cease operations. Very few of them have paid any dividends. I hold a small number of shares in several mills in the country, and I always endeavour to stimulate Australian production. I have never had a dividend from four of the mills in which I hold shares. The Lincoln mill at, Coburg had to dismiss nearly 600 employees. I sold my shares in that mill at a very heavy loss, but I think that it will again get on its feet. I understand that the Tariff Board has carefully weighed the pros and cons of the situation, and has come to the conclusion that this tariff is necessary. The item with which we are dealing proposes to protect the Australian mills that are very largely manufacturing woollen tweeds, which have not been a profitable line for some years, because of the importation of enormous quantities of shoddy and cheap tweeds of poor quality. I have examined some of that imported material. It is wretched stuff, which deceives the public. It looks well enough in the shop windows. Huge quantities have been dumped in Australia. About two years ago large stocks had accumulated in Batley and Leeds, in Yorkshire, and the manufacturers could not get rid of it. The banks pressed for a reduction of their overdraft, bo they sent this shoddy to Australia, and sold it for practically nothing. Some lines were sold here at as low a price as ls. d. a yard. How could the Australian manufacturers compete against that? No honorable senator desires to see the standard of living or wages of the workmen reduced in Australia. The majority of us would like to see them still higher than they are. I support this tariff, because it is necessary to protect the manufacturers of pure woollen tweeds against ready-made, shoddy articles. There are several kinds of shoddy.
– There are also shoddy arguments.
– We have heard shoddy arguments used this afternoon, but honorable senators will not hear any from me. One kind of shoddy is made of pure wool that is, more or less, a byproduct of the finishing process in the manufacture of tweeds or serges, &c. A certain quantity of that shoddy has to be sold by the Australian mills. It consists of the fluff and similar material that is left over in the manufacture of any kind of cloth. But the great bulk of shoddy is made from rags that are collected principally in the slums of Europe. They are sent to Leeds, Batley, and other towns in Yorkshire, where the principal buyers of the world’s rags carry on business. They are taken from filthy surroundings. Of course, they are scoured. They are then torn up. The fibre is very short and brittle. When made up, it looks all right, and handles fairly well; but if you were to give it a tug it would tear in half. It possesses no wearing qualities. It is displayed in shop windows to deceive those people who are not expert in judging the quality of tweed. It does not possess the wearing value that is possessed by Australian tweeds, which are made from pure wool. Honorable senators may say, “ Look at the price of Australian tweeds!” That price is not a high one at the mill. Good Australian tweeds can be bought for 5s. 6d. a yard, and a suit of clothes can be made out of 3^ yards. Therefore, no burden is placed upon the people by inducing them, to buy pure wool instead of shoddy. An overcoat of shoddy marked in a shop window at 30s. may look all right and wear for a time, but it will not give real value. I desire to protect the poor people, Wi 0 need warmth in their clothing. I am more or less an expert in this matter, and I maintain that there is far greater value in overcoats and suitings made from pure Australian wool than there is in similar imported articles made from shoddy.
– “What about the people in warmer climates who want cotton goods?
– It is intended to make cotton goods in Australia. I was brought up a free trader; but I am a protectionist by conviction. That which we want more than anything else in Australia is increased population. We must have it if we are to develop and defend this continent. How shall we provide employment if we do not encourage the secondary as well as the primary industries? As the Tariff Board has investigated this matter, and as I am sure that Australian men and women will obtain better value by purchasing an Australian-made article of pure wool, I intend to support the tariff. I think it is in the interests of the poor people to keep out of this country as much of the foreign rubbish as we can.
.- I have listened with interest, but I cannot say with very much pleasure, to the remarks of honorable senators from the island State on tariff matters, and I have come to the- conclusion that though they are big men physically, they are little Australians from the view-point of industry. It would do them good to travel. They seem to have a restricted vision and a very narrow outlook. They are a band of pessimists. I have not heard one honorable senator from Tasmania boost Australia, her industries, or her commodities. I have listened patiently for such a boost from them, but although they are nearly all of Australian birth, instead of trying to give Australian industries a lift, and Australian goods a boost, they decry them.
– I have not done so.
– They say that the quality is not in Australian goods.
– Who said that?
– I have heard more than one Tasmanian senator say that the quality of Australian goods is not equal to that of imported goods. Senator Payne would make some honorable senators believe that he is here for the special purpose of safeguarding and watching the interests of the poorer section of the community. Does he belong to the Labour party ?
– No, I belong to the workers.
– The honorable senator belongs to any class that will give him support. I can quite well understand Tasmania’s backward position. The representatives of the State in tho Senate seem to have no ginger in them. There is no fight in thom. If they had shown the same tenacity of purpose for the establishment of Australian industries, and for boosting Australian commodities, as they have shown in an effort to decry them, they would have told Mr. Bruce and the Bruce-Page Government distinctly at the last election, “ We must have the newsprint industry established in Tasmania or we shall not support you.” Had they adopted that attitude, I am satisfied they would now have in operation in Tasmania one of the biggest industries in Australia. But what did they do? They were advised to follow Mr. Bruce. They were fighting some imaginary “ism.”
– Will the honorable senator now devote his attention to the sub-item.
– Yea. We are dealing with a portion of the tariff which is of moment to a big section of the community, and which has helped materially the establishment of factories in different parts of Australia. In those factories there are 40,000 employees engaged as the result of the imposition of duties on the goods that have from time to time come into Australia.
– We are not interfering with the duties that gave those hands employment.
– No. But the proposal now is to increase the duties and reduce further importations, so as to provide further employment in Australia. Some honorable senators are prone to look at protective duties from the figure standpoint only. It is true that the rates of duty proposed are higher than those imposed a few years ago, but everything else is higher. A few years ago the salary received by members of this Parliament was £600. Now it is £1,000. Houses that were let at 10s. and 12s. 6d. a week are to-day 25s. and 30s. a week. Bates of interest have doubled. Land values have doubled. Duties of 30 and 40 per cent., which seemed high a few years ago, are to-day not excessively high, because of the changed conditions industrially, commercially, and financially. In any case, that section of the community which Senator Payne is anxious to help in this chamber, had its opportunity to appear before the Tariff Board and state its case. It availed itself of that opportunity, as did the manufacturers. The board came forward with recommendations which the Government has embodied in this schedule.
– All of them?
– Yes, so far as these items are concerned. When Senator Lynch says that there is one section of the community which receives no advantage from the tariff schedule I ask him what section that is.
– The honorable senator knows very well what it is.
– I know of no section in Australia that is not advantaged directly or indirectly by the protectionist policy of the Commonwealth, and when the honorable senator claims that the man on the land owes nothing to the fiscal policy of the country he is not thinking seriously of the statement he makes. Every section of the primary producers has been assisted by this Parliament since it came into existence.
– The honorable senator has a wonderful imagination.
– I have not. Has not this Parliament assisted the pastoralists by granting bounties ? Has it not assisted the orchardists ?
– The honorable senator was speaking of the assistance given by the protectionist policy.
– There is very little difference between the imposition of a duty and the. granting of a bounty.
– The pastoralists are not receiving a bounty at the present time.
– But they did receive a bounty from this Government. Orchardists and dairymen have received bounties.
– . When did the dairymen receive a bounty?
– What was the butter bonus if it was not a bounty?
– That bonus was given prior to federation.
– Yes, but the fact remains that the dairymen were assisted in that direction. The man on the land has had railways built in his interests, railways which in some cases have never paid. The cost has not been borne solely by the man on the land who, Senator Lynch says, has a heavy burden and carries it himself, never asking any other section of the community to help him. Every other section of the community has cheerfully paid its share of the cost of these non-paying railways. Large irrigation schemes costing millions of pounds have been undertaken on behalf of the primary producers. Ports and harbours have been built mainly in the interests of the primary producers. Agricultural departments, the cost of which runs into thousands of pounds, in the various states, have placed at the disposal of the primary producers some of the most scientific brains in Australia, and the expense incidental to the maintenance and upkeep of these departments is borne by the whole community and not by the man on the land alone. A Credit Foncier system has been established in the interests of farmers . Every Government is anxious for the prosperity and welfare of the man on the land, and, in times of drought and adversity, he is not driven off his holding as he would be under some landlords, but is given breathing-time.
– Has all this anything to do with overcoats?
– It has a lot. to do with the tariff. These advantages, which are reaped by the man on the land, would not be possible but for the existence of secondary industries in different parts of Australia.
– Where would the country be if it were not for the man on the land, who furnishes 97 per cent, of Australia’s export trade?
– How would the man on the land reach the overseas markets but for the secondary industries? Would he take his produce to the seaport by bullock wagons? It is absurd to suggest that the primary producer is independent of any other section of the community. Without secondary industries we should have little or no population here, and the primary producer could not live without population.
TheCH AIRMAN . - The honorable senator is getting right away from the sub-item.
– Senator Lynch was permitted to talk about the burdens of the man on the land, and to claim that he got no advantage from any Government by way of protection, and I was endeavouring to show that he had received a direct and indirect advantage as the result of the protectionist policy in force in Australia to-day.
– The honorable senator, having done so, will now come back to the sub-item.
– Honorable senators know my views in regard to protection. I shall vote for the highest form of protection for any Australian industry.
– And without limit.
– Yes, especially when I see arecommendation of the Tariff Board adopted by a Government which is not wholeheartedly in favour of tho protectionist policy. In regard to the interjection of Senator Lynch, I may say that I would go almost to the limit of prohibition, because the prohibition of the importation of goods would probably mean the establishment of more and more industries in Australia. It is said that those who will derive advantage from the protection afforded by these duties will have the field to themselves. My experience of life is that when the going is good, and the field is open, it is not long before others get into it and start in the same line of business.
– And what happens then?
– With more and more factories we shall have more competition.
– But what would be done with the surplus output?
– My idea is that we should strive to consume here in Australia everything we produce. We are to-day exporting too much, because there is not a sufficiently big home market for our producers. If we had more and more industries, and more aud more of our people engaged in them, we should have a wider and bigger home market. Therefore, those who are interested in primary production should think very seriously before they support lower duties ‘which, in some instances, would amount to merely revenue tariff duties. I shall support the Government on this sub-item. Notwithstanding what Senator Grant has said, every item in the schedule will be . passed. Were the Government wholly dependent upon its own supporters, it would probably experience difficulty in carrying some of them; but, because the majority of the members of the Labour party are in favour of the increased duties, the Government’s proposals will be approved.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– I shall support the Government in connexion with this sub-item. Australia is capable of becoming selfcontained if we go the right way to secure that end. We grow sufficient wool to supply every person in the Commonwealth with up-to-date clothing, of the best quality, and at a reasonable price.
– If he can afford to pay it.
– I shall refer to that aspect of the matter later.
– Whatwould we do with our surplus wool?
– We should send it abroad, as we do now.
– And what would we get in exchange?
– If, as Senator Lynch has stated, we are unable to get gold we shall have to accept something else. It is our duty to support Australian industries, and particularly the woollen industry. The wool produced in this country is the best in the world. Moreover, ‘the. woollen goods made here are absolutely pure; no adulteration can take place. If any fault can be found with Australian tweeds it is that the quality is too good. Senator Payne exhibited yesterday some samples of imported shoddy; yet in Australia we have sufficient wool to provide all our citizens with woollen clothing of good quality at a reasonable price. To allow shoddy to be dumped here to compete with the products of our own factories is unwise.
– There is a law to prevent dumping.
– In my early days I served an apprenticeship in one of the finest woollen factories in the southern hemisphere, at Kiapoi, in New Zealand. That factory, which has been in existence for 45 years, produces some of the best woollen goods made in any part of the world. Our Australian mills are doing the same.
– Does New Zealand shut out shoddies’!
– I think so. Much of the shoddy which enters this country comes from Yorkshire, in England, and is known as “Yorkshire fog.” Senator Guthrie explained to the committee the composition of shoddy. In all big clothing manufactories the small clippings of tweed are swept up from the floors and gathered into bags by boys. Every month or six weeks these bags are called for, and the boys are paid for the contents. That is known as “ bunce “ for the boys. These sweepings are then teased into small pieces and put through, the machine, which has a cotton running in one direction only. The resultant materia] can easily be torn in any direction. That is because the cotton runs in one direction only. .”Woollen material cannot be torn so easily. A person wearing woollen clothing is not so likely to have a mishap as is one wearing shoddy. I have a vivid recollection of a friend of mine who, through wearing a suit made of shoddy on one occasion, found himself in a very embarrassing position. Shoddy is liable to fall to pieces after very little wear. I have here a piece of English shoddy. As honorable senators can see, it may easily be torn in any direction. This material is dumped into Australia in the form of manufactured overcoats which are sold at about 19s. each. That is not the price of the lining of a fairly good coat. When we consider the retail price of such garments in Australia, it is easy to imagine that the cost of production on the other side of the world is not great.
– Where does the honorable senator use that material?
– I have never used it. Shoddy landed in Australia costs from 2s. 9d. to. 3s. 6d. a yard wholesale. The material now in my hand is a product of the Waverley Woollen Mills in Launceston, Tasmania. It is a cheap line of tweed, sold at 4s. Id. a yard wholesale. Why should we encourage the importation of shoddy from Great Britain when, in Tasmania, we have a mill which produces a better material for approximately the same price?
– We are now considering clothing, not shoddy.
– I understand that I am in order in referring to shoddy. Last night I did not have the opportunity to speak on this item. The success of the United States of America is largely due to the protection afforded to her industries. Australia is right in following the example set by that country. The duties set out in the schedule are not too high if we desire to grant adequate protection to Australian industries. To the contention that the imposition of high duties places a greater burden upon the man least able to bear it, I reply that our people must be educated to buy goods made in their own country. We should then have no clothing mills with machinery lying idle; on the contrary, they would be fully employed producing tweeds for Australian -purchasers. Anyone with a family of boys to clothe must realize that it is better to buy good Australian tweeds than to clothe his boys in “Yorkshire fog”. By protecting our own industries we not only make it possible for our boys to be clothed in material of good quality, but we also create avenues of employment for them. By helping ourselves, we shall assist to develop the nation.
.- I listened attentively to the remarks of Senator Guthrie, who informed us that he had invested sums of money in a number of woollen mills, and that in one instance he had made a considerable loss. That aspect of this question should not be overlooked. As the result of the imposition of these higher duties it is possible that some of the woollen mills which now are not paying propositions, and have caused the honorable senator to lose his hard-earned cash, will be placed on their feet, and ultimately make profits in which he will share. Senator Findley said that we should support these duties in the interests of the Australian manufacturers, who comprise an important section of the community. It appears to me that behind most of the woollen industries in this country are the people who have succeeded in placing expensive machinery in them. Most of that machinery came from Great Britain.
Some time ago I visited a woollen mill in Albany, Western Australia, in which the latest machinery was installed. Notwithstanding that it is equipped with such up-to-date machinery, with wool almost on the spot, Perth only a few hours distant by rail, and with the people of Western Australia educated according to modern ideas, that mill is unable to compete with the products of other countries. The only reason that I can give for its failure to do so is that there is something wrong with the distribution of the Australian goods after they have been manufactured. I am informed that good Australian tweed can be made for 7s. 6d. a yard. But it costs 30s. a yard to buy it in the shops. Greater attention should be paid to the distribution of Australianmade goods. Senator Findley emphasized the benefits received by the primary producers from a protective tariff, but he forgot to mention that the Customs House is a great revenue collecting machine. The revenue received from the large quantities of foreign-made shoddy which enter this country saves the primary producers from the painful necessity of paying direct taxation. That point was not mentioned by Senator Findley. I rose for the purpose of urging that consideration should be shown to the manufacturers and investors in our woollen mills, and that the primary producers are exempted from direct taxation by the policy of protection.
.- I should not ‘ have spoken on this item except for the references made by one or two honorable senators to the quality of Australian manufactured goods. Senator Grant spoke of the uptodate woollen and worsted mill at Albany, in Western Australia. Similar mills, equipped with modern machinery, have been established in New South Wales. I mention particularly those at Orange and Albury, and Vickers’s large mill in Sydney. All these up-to-date mills are turning out an article that competes fairly well with the imported woollen piece-goods. Senator Graham has reminded us of the Waverley mill at Launceston. Apparently Senator Payne is not prepared to protect these manufacturing concerns against the importations of shoddy articles from overseas.
– The honorable senator does not know how to be fair. He has no right to make a statement like that.
– It is obvious that Senator Payne is endeavouring to discredit the Australian manufacturers of woollen piece-goods.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– These mills, I remind the honorable senator, have been established under the policy of protection. In most cases the capital is provided by a large number of small shareholders who, having invested their money in- a venture likely to lead to the development of their own districts, have a right to expect reasonable dividends.
– Will the honorable senator withdraw what he said a little while ago? It is false, and he knows it.
– I refuse to withdraw anything that I have said. Senator Payne must be judged by his actions. Apparently he is more concerned about the welfare of the importers of these materials than he is about the interests of the people who are doing what they can to build up industries in Australia.
– I attribute that statement to the honorable senator’s ignorance.
– That, at all events, is the conclusion I have come to from the honorable senator’s remarks. The Queensland Woollen Mills and the mill at Ipswich are also manufacturing a firstclass article, but, except during war tune, when there was virtually prohibition of imports, they have never been very prosperous, and have never given their shareholders, a decent return on their investment. The Government’s object in imposing these duties is to ensure the production of a decent class of material. Under normal conditions, and in view of the fact that tweed and woollen making is largely a machine industry, these manufacturing concerns should thrive, provided they are not faced with unfair competition. Senator Payne appears to have set for himself the task of bringing about a reduction in the duties in the interests of the importers.
– I am doing nothing of the kind. Again the honorable senator is showing his ignorance of the subject.
– The purpose of the tariff is to ensure the production in Australia of a good standard quality article. Legislation in this direction is just as necessary as action taken under the Pure Foods Act to ensure the production of articles fit for human consumption. Shoddy, as we all know, is the product of refuse and clippings from the mills, and rags obtained from various sources, so it is not a desirable product. I should like to see this policy of protection further extended so that, instead of exporting our wool in the grease, we may manufacture it into tops and yarn, if not into the finished cloth. At present 95 per cent, of the wool taken off the sheep’s backs in Australia is exported in the grease. In this respect we are the hewers of wood and drawers of water for the manufacturing industries of other countries. I hope, however, that the time is not far distant when we shall carry our manufacturing processes a step further in the direction I have indicated. It will be possible to do this only if we widen the field of protection and encourage an extension of our secondary industries. The tariff of 1921 was responsible for the erection of up-to-date woollen and worsted mills in many country centres throughout the Commonwealth. Senator Lynch knows that the mill at Albany, in his State, is a very important manufacturing industry, well worthy of a sufficient measure of protection to ensure its prosperity. In this matter we are entitled to know where Senator Payne stands. If he stands for the importers, those who are desirous of establishing new and encouraging existing secondary industries will know what to do.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL (South Australia) [4.33]. - I shall have very little to say with regard to this matter, but I have no desire to give a silent vote. Remarks which I propose now to make will explain the attitude which I shall adopt concerning many other items in the schedule. In this matter I intend to support the Government.
– Another convert!
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Not at all, as I shall explain in a moment. My attitude is entirely consistent with ‘ the remarks which I made when speaking during the second-reading debate. I said then that I was in favour of sane and reasonable protection for efficient Aus tralian industries. I said, also, that I believed that Australia would never be a great country unless she built up her secondary industries; .and, further, that this would not be possible without in some cases high protection, owing to the artificial system under which we are living. No one deplores more than I do that this is necessary, but it is obvious that if we are to maintain some of our secondary industries the protection afforded to them must be high. What I complained about was that there was not a proper discrimination between industries that were protected and those that were not protected. Surely, if there is an industry in Australia which we ought to maintain, and do everything in our power to develop, it is the woollen manufacturing industry, which is on quite a different basis from that of the cotton-tweed industry. We are not producing cotton in commercial quantities, and I do not think we ever shall. The cotton industry will always have to be bolstered up, and I have never known an industry to succeed which has had to be supported to the extent that would be necessary in the case of the cotton industry. The Australian woollen manufacturing industry is in an entirely different position, as it is already well established. If it is to be encouraged it must be protected, and if it is to develop, the protection afforded must be adequate. That being so, the onus is upon. Senator Payne and Senator Lynch to show that the protection it now enjoys is adequate.
– We are not dealing with the woollen industry, but with apparel and attire.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Yes, of woollen manufacture.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Wool is used in the manufacture of this apparel and attire.
– Cotton and other apparel is dutiable under this item.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.If wool is used in the manufacture, my remarks are relevant. If the woollen manufacturing industry, which is already well established in the Commonwealth, is to be extended, the protection must be sufficient. Honorable senators who object to the proposals of the Government must show ,that the duties previously in operation were sufficient That has not been done. When we are discussing the proposed duties on cotton tweeds, 1 shall probably adopt a different attitude. There are industries in Australia which must be developed if we are to become a prosperous and progressive nation, and there are others which, in my opinion, are unprofitable to carry on. In the latter category I include the matchmaking industry. As I have already shown we could pension off the whole of those engaged in it and save a considerable sum. There should be proper, discrimination between those industries which should be protected and those which should not. The honorable senator responsible for the request has not established a case, and, until he does, it is my intention to support the Government.
.- Almost every honorable senator who has spoken on this subject has not confined his remarks to the item under review.
– Order! It is for me to determine whether the remarks of honorable senators are relevant. The honorable senator is as great an offender as any one else.
– In stating that honorable senators have not confined their remarks to the item under review, I do not wish to reflect upon the Chair. Irrelevant discussion has arisen in consequence of the Honorary Minister’s references to shoddy material, which gave . some honorable senators the impression that we were dealing with textiles. The item under discussion is “ Apparel and attire.” I resent the virulent attack made upon me by Senator Foll, who. if he gives closer attention to the item, will realize that his remarks were not justified. When he said that my utterances were prejudicial to the success of the woollen-tweed manufacturing industry in Tasmania he displayed gross ignorance. The honorable senator knows nothing whatever concerning the item under discussion. I have not said one word that could be taken as injurious to the woollen-tweed manufacturing industry.
– It is difficult for anyone to understand what the honorable senator is advocating.
– It is impossible for some persons to understand any one, particularly when they are so obsessed with their own ideas that they cannot assimilate plain facts. Senator Barwell and others are under the impression that I am endeavouring to reduce the duties under which certain industries have been successfully established in Australia. 1 atn not doing anything of the kind. In the request I have submitted, I propose not only to retain the duty previously in force, but to give increased protection. The duty in operation until September of last year was 45 per cent., and in addition I suggest that a duty of 2s. 6d. per garment be imposed. The Government’s proposal is that in addition to a duty of 30 per cent., a levy of 7s. 6d. per garment be imposed, which I contend will have to be borne by the poorer section of the community.
– The object is to protect goods manufactured in Australia.
– These duties affect not only apparel consisting of wool, but also those in which linen, cotton, and silk are used. I find now that under this proposal overcoats and suits of clothes will be dutiable at 83 per cent., plus a natural protection of 10 per cent, making a total of 93 per cent. The industry concerned does not require anything approaching that protection in order to successfully carry on its operations. I have suggested a reduction from 93 per cent, to 67 per cent., which would enable the industry, not only to successfully conduct its operations as it has in the past, but also to expand. It is not my desire to in any way embarrass manufactories established in Australia, and I shall prove later, by quoting evidence, that some do not require the protection they are seeking. If higher duties are adopted, the cost of apparel will become such a burden upon the community that there will be a demand for increased wages, in order to meet a higher cost of living. I have never advocated the reduction of duties necessary to protect established industries, and, in this instance, I am conceding additional protection in order to enable mantle making, suit making, and the manufacture of clothing to be further extended. The importation of British goods should not be practically prohibited. Australia will never prosper under such a policy. If we do not have reasonable competition how can we improve our methods? I wish to see Australia hold her own in a manufacturing sense against other countries, but we should not impose prohibitive duties. In selling our wool clip at high prices to British manufacturers, and then practically declining to purchase articles manufactured from the products we have sold them, we are adopting a most peculiar attitude. When we impose prohibitive duties against the products of British manufacturers we say, in effect, that they can purchase all they require from us, but that they dare not sell to us articles containing the raw material we have sold them.
– British manufacturers buy our wool in the open market, because they cannot purchase to better advantage elsewhere.
- Senator Guthrie’s explanation to-day of his attitude on a previous occasion can only be regarded as “fishy.” I can remember when the honorable senator supported me in opposing prohibitive duties.
– I explained my attitude.
– Yes; but the explanation was very unsatisfactory. Honorable senators who oppose the request I have submitted will be supporting the imposition of higher duties on apparel containing not only wool, but linen, cotton, and silk, which are not manufactured in Australia. I have previously pointed out that overcoats or suits used by persons of small means, and invoiced at 15s. in London, will be dutiable at 93 per cent., but the overcoats or suits purchased by persons earning £500 or £700 a year will be dutiable at only 73 per cent.
– That is the usual effect of protection.
– Aparently the honorable senator believes in making the poorer people carry the burden. I hope that the Government will agree to the request. If it is carried by the committee the remainder of the sub-item will have to be postponed for a complete revision.
– It is as well to clear up a slight misapprehension that has arisen. Senator Guthrie said that it was unfair to expect Australian manufacturers to compete against importations from cheap foreign countries in which the employees work long hours. A general statement of that kind is all right up to a certain point, and I presume that Senator Guthrie had some reason for making it, but the authority for the particulars that I shall supply to the committee is the Australasian Association of British Manufacturers and their representatives. That body has for once devoted its attention to wages and hours. What story does it tell in regard to goods that are imported under this item? This is what it says about wages -
The hosiery industry of Great Britain is governed by its national joint industrial council, consisting of sixteen representatives of employees’ organizations and sixteen represen tatives of employers. Since the inception of the council seven years ago serious disputes in the- industry have been unknown, industrial friction has been reduced to a minimum-, hours have been reduced to 48 a week, and wage rates have been amicably adjusted. A bonus on a sliding scale, based on the index figure of the cost of living, is paid, and the average earnings of male operatives is £4 per week
– The employees are mostly females. Give us the average for the whole of those who are engaged it
– I have reached the point of proving that the duration of the week’s labour in the production of the articles that are imported under this item is 48 hours.
– Against 45 here.
– That is according to the latest Wages Board determination. It was previously 48 hours, and it may be 48 again. How can it be said that sweated labour conditions obtain in this industry in England? The difference between the hours there and in Australia is so trifling as to be unworthy of mention. The average rate of wage in this country, in which it is said that these products are manufactured under sweated-labour conditions, is £4 a week for males and 50s. a week for females.
– Thirty shillings a week is the official figure.
– If we are to believe only the word of gentlemen who whisper into our ears we might as well divide immediately. I have shown that Australian manufacturers are not competing against a sweated industry in another country. The authority from which I have already quoted also supplies us with the following information: -
We are unable to quote Australian piecework rates, but the following is the Victorian Wages Board’s fixed-rate schedule for a 45-hour week for those employed in the industry : - Male employees, £4 13s. to £4 18s.; female employees, £2 2s. to £2 7s.
– How much lower, is the cost of living in England?
– I need only say that it is a great deal lower in England than it is in Australia. I have shown that there is very little difference in the wages paid to those who are producing these goods in the two countries. Why, then, do our manufacturers want a 70 per cent, or 80 per cent, duty? Old England is not yet dead, and it is a good joh that she is not. Australia, on the figures I have given, is the country in which sweating is practised in this industry. I have referred only to the hosiery section ; but it is natural to assume that similar conditions apply to the wide circle that embraces the whole of the textile industry. Every honorable senator should ask himself whether he is to be affected by the drug that has been injected into him. I shall not.
– I take the honorable senator’s statement with a grain of salt.
– The honorable senator adopts that practice with everything except that which is poured into his ears outside this chamber. In which way are we drifting ? Why does independent Australia want protection from the Old Country, which in this instance is a model to the world in its observance of fair working conditions? Are we to believe that, instead of having the independent mind and the character that he claims to possess, the average Australian is a base imitation which requires protection against the Old Country? Senator Graham asked me to consider the success of a certain factory in New Zealand. I have records relating to New Zealand. The Dominion tariff on rugs is 35 per cent, general and 20 per cent. British preferential. It is not 45 per cent., 50 per cent., or 60 per cent. On apparel and ready-made clothing the ad valorem duty is 40 per cent, general and 25 per cent. British preferential. In the whole of the textile section the New Zealand tariff ranges from about 20 per cent, to 25 per cent. There is certainly a 40 per cent, rate, but only on volunteers’ clothing made to measurements, the order for which has been sent out of tha Dominion. It is about time we asked ourselves where we stand. Are we to listen to taradiddles about the terrible plight of our manufacturers? Is it not time for us to inquire wherein comes the justification for their pleas, and whether they are really serious in asking for this special advantage as compared with other people ?
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– I should not have spoken again on this sub-item but for the figures quoted by Senator Lynch in regard to the rates of wages and hours of labour of those engaged in the industry of making up woollen goods in the Mother Country. The honorable senator’s figures were entirely wrong. He was dealing with the average wage paid in the industry in Great Britain, but that average included piece workers. It is entirely different from the average weekly wage earned by those not engaged on piece-work. We have 2,000 factories in Australia engaged in making up woollen goods, and they give employment to 40,000 hands. The Commonwealth Tear-Book shows that the average wage of these employees increased from 29s. a week in 1913, to 55s. a week in 1923, and it is still higher to-day. The number of persons employed in clothing factories, exclusive of dressmaking and millinery factories, is 28,148, and this number can be enormously increased. The growing of wool is our principal primary industry, and the manufacture of woollen goods should be our biggest secondary industry. It is an anomaly that we should import annually, £4,220,000 worth of woollen goods.
– That was the importation last year. How does that compare with previous years ?
– In 1922-23 thevalue of the imports of woollen goods was £4,740,000. In 1924-25 it was £4,220,000. The figure fluctuates a little, However, I wish to refer to the rates of wages mentioned by Senator Lynch. He was speaking of piece-work rates.
– For a 48 hours week.
– There are girls in the Victorian Mills who earn £6 a week on piece-work, but that is totally different from the average weekly wage earned by the girls employed in the industry. The employees in the Australian mills work 44 hours a week. The males earn an average of £4 a week, and the females an average of £2 10s. a week. According to the British Hosiery Journal, the average weekly wage earned by males in this industry in Great Britain is 30s. a week, and that earned by females is 28s. 6d. a week. We know that the wages paid and the hours of labour worked in Australia are regulated by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. In England they are not so regulated. In England an adult female worker engaged in the industry of making up overcoats and garments of that type receives 61/2d. an hour, or 26s. a week of 48 hours. The Australian rate for the same class of work is1s. 2d. an hour, or 50s. 6d. a week of . 44 hours. The Australian wage is thus about double that paid in England. Senator Payne in his most exaggerated calculations claimed that the protection which the industry is now seeking amounts to 90 per cent. As a matter of fact, if Australian manufacturers are to compete fairly with the wages paid in England, they will need a protection of 100 per cent.
– What percentage of labour is there in the manufactured article ?
– The price of the Taw material is the same at either end. In the manufacture of clothes the -cost is mostly in the labour employed. The material for making a suit of clothes can be bought at the mill for 30s., but the person who wants the suit of clothesmade has to pay £10 10s. for it. The figures given in the report of the Tariff Board indicate that there is a tremendous difference between the wages paid in the Old Country and those paid here. The protection sought in this case is against low-class overcoats and ready-made goods which are nearly all shoddy, a class of material I should like to see kept out of Australia altogether. I believe in trading within the Empire and in giving a preference to Great Britain if we must import goods, but we must face the position. We have on the one hand, for 3s. a yard, a nice looking but rubbishy imported cloth made of shoddy which will not wear or keep one sufficiently warm, and on the other hand, for 4s. a yard, an all-woollen thick cloth made in Australia. What hardship would there be to any worker or to any one else in having to pay 4s. a yard for material for an all-wool thick overcoat made from Australian wool by Australian workers ? Even if the two cloths were equal in quality the person who refuses to pay an extra1s. a yard for the material made in his own country and by his own countrymen enjoying the hours of labour, the high standard of living and the comparatively high wages we have in Australia, is a very poor Australian. Even if a person penalizes himself by paying an extra1s. a yard for the Australian cloth, the additional cost does not exceed 3s. 4d. on a suit of clothes. The following is a comparison of the rates of wages paid in the industry in Australia with those paid in the United Kingdom as shown in the report of the Tariff Board -
On the average the wages paid in Australia are about double those paid in England, and the hours of labour are much less.
– The Australian manufacturer has also a considerable protection in the insurance, freight, and exchange paid by the importer.
– That is so, but the fact remains that this stuff was being imported in increasing quantities under the old tariff. The value of the imports of men’s and boys’ outer garments increased from £159,552 in 1922-23 to £273,769 in the year 1924-25. These figures indicate that the mills in Australia must have protection to enable them to compete against this increasing importation. Senator Graham has shown that the Waverley mills can produce overcoating cloth at 4s. Id. a yard. The Excelsior mills at Geelong can sell it at 4s. a yard. I cannot for the life of me see why all this fuss is made about granting adequate protection to an industry that deserves it and needs it, or why any one should countenance or support the idea of the greatest wool country in the world importing £4,220,000 of woollen goods per annum .
– What does the honorable senator call adequate protection ?
– A rate of protection that will enable our people to pay the wages and work the hours they do, and sell the goods at a price at any rate equal to that at which others can dump their surplus output into this country having produced it by working longer hours and receiving about half the wages paid in Australia.
.- Until Senator Guthrie detailed the hours of work in the woollen industry in Australia, I was inclined to support the Government, but in view of the luxurious conditions enjoyed by those engaged in this industry I do not see my way to do so unless the Minister is able to give some better explanation of why these conditions should be made still better.
– Does the honorable senator want to bring the Australian workers down to the conditions of the Old Country?
– The work in which these persons are engaged is not laborious, and if they want additional support from this Parliament they should work the ordinary hours of labour which are regarded as a fair week’s work in Australia, namely 48 hours a week. When we find in our midst an industry which is able to carry on and afford its employees these luxurious, shortened hours of labour, we must ask ourselves whether, in granting still further protection, we are acting fairly to others in the country whose hours of work are much longer. When I was speaking on the second reading, I clearly indicated that, in my opinion, we had already doneenough in the way of protection to any industry that was able to give its employees these special conditions of labour.
.- I should not have risen were it not for the extraordinary attitude adopted by Senator Elliott. The honorable senator said that, before Senator Guthrie addressed the committee, he had been favorably disposed towards these higher duties, but that after Senator Guthrie had pointed out the difference between the hours worked and the wages paid in Great Britain and in Australia, he had decided to vote against the Government’s proposals. Senator Guthrie was endeavouring to show the necessity for higher duties. Evidently Senator Elliott wants to make the workers of this country work longer hours for less wages. If he had expressed himself in those terms on the public platform in October last, he would not have received from the workers the large number of votes which the figures show they must have cast for him. His attitude is a reflection on the legislation passed by this Parliament, and on those whom Parliament has appointed to high and responsible positions as judges of the Arbitration Court. The Arbitration Court was created by Parliament. Before it, employers and employees appear from time to time, and on the evidence submitted by them the judges make awards. In the industry affected by this item the Arbitration Court has decided that 44 hours shall constitute a working week. Senator Elliott would have those hours increased. We know now his attitude towards the workers of this country.
– An industry that can afford these luxurious hours is no longer entitled to additional protection.
– Seven decades have passed since an eight-hours day became an established principle throughout Australia. But since then the world has moved onwards; hours of labour have been reduced, and the conditions of the workers improved. During the past 30 or 40 years many employers have voluntarily acquiesced in a working week of 44 hours. . They have done that without any compulsion on the part of the Arbitration Court. The tendency to-day .is for workers to be employed, not for 48 hours, but for 44 hours each week. Many employers of their own volition have closed their establishments on Saturdays. That action has been taken, not for philanthropic reasons, but because they realize that it is advantageous to do so.
– It is because the workers have made it not worth their while to keep the establishments open on Saturday.
– I ask the honorable senator who, if not the workers, produce the wealth of the world. Senator Thompson, and some other honorable senators, do not desire that the workers shall obtain better conditions.
– Many employers are working longer hours than their employees.
– Certainly ; but what employer would be enriched by his own labour alone ? It is by united labour that riches are secured. The greater the number of workmen employed the greater the profits of the employer.
– That occurs sometimes; but I know of oases to the contrary.
– It occurs in almost every case. This century has witnessed remarkable improvements in the methods of production. Why should not the workers share in the improved conditions which the community as a whole enjoys? If Senator Elliott and others had their way they would reimpose the conditions of 70 years ago.
– If I had my way, I should see that no section of the community worked 44 hours a week when others were compelled to work 60.
– The honorable senator will never be appointed a judge of the Arbitration Court.
– No, I am too busy.
– For such positions, men free from prejudice and capable of approaching questions with an open mind are required.
– What utter cant and hypocrisy !
– Senator Lynch said that the workers in the Old Country were better off than those in Australia.
– I gave my authority for the statement.
– When the honorable senator was speaking, I interjected that I took his remarks cum grano salis. Where is the analogy betweenpiece-work and wages? It is perfectly true, as pointed out by Senator Guthrie, that some employees in certain Australian industries earn high wages at piece-work rates. I am not an advocate of piecework, although I admit that in certain industries the principle has worked satisfactorily.
– Many supporters of the Labour party will have nothing but piece-work.
– In many of the newspaper offices in which I have worked piece-work obtains. In job printing offices, however, the employees are paid fixed wages. It is not correct to say that the Labour party will have nothing but piece-work. The party contains some very strong opponents of that system. Experience has shown that under the piece-work system, with employees working at express speed - cutting seconds into halves, as it were, in their desire to increase their earnings - it not infrequently happens that the employers reduce the piece-work rates and sometimes increase the hours of labour. Piece-work has led to some of the vilest forms of sweating. In Victoria, before federation, piecework was in operation, and honorable senators know that, whereas some workers earned a fair wage, most of them were sweated.
– The honorable senator is not giving to the word “ sweated “ its proper significance.
– The word is generally applied to those who are forced to work inordinately long hours for a mere pittance.
– That is not the origin of the term.
– That is how it is applied in the industrial world. I should be sorry to see piece-work have general application in the industry with which this item is connected.
– Does it matter if piece-work is in operation when there is -a basic wage ?
– There is no basic wage under piece-work conditions. Usually the piece-work Tate is fixed by the employer.
– Is the rate not generally fixed by the court or a wages board ?
– I am aware of no such body which fixes piece-work rates and hours of labour in the Old Country. . I hope that honorable senators, especially those who profess to be protectionists, will stand by the Government’s proposals. Unfortunately, some honorable senators are adopting an extraordinary attitude regarding this tariff schedule. Were the industries of Australia dependent upon those who, at certain times in their political career, have proclaimed themselves protectionists, and favorable to the creation of Australian industries, but now oppose protective duties, they would be in a bad way. “ Sane and reasonable protection “ is an elastic term of which some honorable senators have taken advantage to explain their attitude. I should be sorry to see the request moved by Senator Payne, who is not a protectionist-
– That statement is incorrect. My request means high protection.
– -Every motion submitted by the honorable senator has been in the direction of assisting the importers rather than the Australian manufacturers.
– -That is not so.
– Then in whose interests have they been submitted?
– They have been submitted in the interests of the whole community. I am not here to legislate for any one section only.
– The honorable senator desires that there should be greater importations and less Australian manufactures. If the higher duties proposed by the Government will prevent importations, and the lower duties submitted by Senator Payne will increase them, I cannot understand how, by agreeing to the honorable senator’s request, the manufacturers of Australia will be assisted.
– The duties will not prevent importation. I am not a prohibitionist.
– Why does the honorable senator desire lower duties?
– My request means a substantial increase on the last tariff. .
– I am still unconvinced.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I have remained silent up to the present, and should not have intervened now but for the fact that an industrial argument has been introduced. Senator Elliott has laid it down that, while supporting generally the principle of protection, he will not be a party to increasing duties in respect of any industry where the hours and working conditions are such as to indicate that that particular industry is in a very good position. I think that that, broadly, is how the honorable senator defined his attitude. I suggest to him, and to the Senate generally, that it is not quite the proper consideration, although there may be something in the contention.
– Something in it! The honorable senator does not think there is anything in it!
-BROCKMAN. - I have never thought so. Parliament is not the proper authority to determine whether 48 hours, 44 hours, 40 hours, or, indeed, any particular number is the correct number of hours to be worked in any industry. Moreover, it is very doubtful whether any person can lay down that any particular number of hours is the right number per week to be worked in all industries. We may say, in respect of an industry, after a proper examination of the facts in connexion with it, that 48 or 44 hours is the correct number. I am not here to say what is the correct number to be worked in any industry, but the proper number of hours to be worked in an industry is capable of being established after proper economic inquiry into that industry. If Senator Elliott made that his test, and if there was a proper examination, he would be on sound ground. But, in this matter, he is not on safe ground, because who is going to say - I am not, and no other honorable senator who really has the interests of Australia at heart can say - whether 48, or, indeed, any number of hours is the right number to be applied to all industries. In my view, it cannot be done. We have only to examine the experiments that were made in America in connexion with various industries to appreciate the difficulties. We had an interesting address from Senator Millen several years ago on this subject. That honorable senator demonstrated that even as low as 34 hours a week, was the proper economic number to be worked iu some industries. But to lay down a general principle, which I regret to say Senator Elliott in this instance suggested we should do, is, at all events, a very dangerous precedent.
– It is being done.
– Some honorable senators opposite are doing it. Nevertheless they are wrong.
– Then the honorable senator contends that arbitration court judges are wrong when they make their awards.
– No. I hold that if, after a proper inquiry into the economic condition of an industry, arbitration court judges determine that 48 hours is the correct number of hours to . be worked in that industry, they are probably right. They certainly know more about it than I do, or any other honorable senator does, because they have made an inquiry.
– The honorable senator qualified his assertion by saying “ ‘probably ‘ they are right.”
– I am not in a. position to say whether they are right or wrong. I do not know. But I am prepared to accept the decision of the courts that we have established for the purpose of making these inquiries.
– But, as a general principle, is it right to extend favours in one direction when you cannot extend them in others?
– That is Senator Elliott’s contention.
– But favours to one industry may mean 44 hours or less, and to another 48 or less. I am not going to lay down any general principle. My contention is merely that there should be a careful examination in respect of each industry, and that the proper number of hours having been found, on economic grounds, they should be prescribed, but not before that has been done.
– It is being done all over Australia without inquiry.
– I agree; but it is being improperly done. This is a matter of which I have some knowledge, and I thought it was my duty to express my views on an issue which, I think, is . very material. I trust that I have not succeeded in stirring up another hornet’s nest, and that we shall not have another discussion on this particular point. We have, I think, gone far enough.
– I think Senator Drake-Brockman has failed to appreciate, and, consequently, has not correctly stated, the attitude taken up by Senator Elliott. Senator Lynch this afternoon gave us a resume of the hours of labour and wages paid in Australia and in Great Britain. He was followed by Senator Guthrie, who showed that employees in the industry in Australia were working fewer hours per week than employees doing the same class of work in England, and were receiving considerably higher wages. Senator Elliott then returned to the comparison made by Senator Lynch, and stressed the point that if, in determining the measure of protection necessary for an industry, we take into consideration the wages paid in an industry here and in the Old Country, we must also take into account the hours worked. If we are going to have a working week of, say, 20 hours, then, instead of an 80 per cent, tariff, we must have one of 160 per cent. That, I think, was Senator Elliott’s contention. He did not declare himself in favour of a working week of 48 hours or 44 hours, but dealt with this question merely on a comparative basis, and in that respect I am with him.
– The sharp conflict of opinion between Senator Guthrie and Senator Elliott was very amusing, but I was even more interested in the remarks of Senator Drake-Brockman. These legal gentlemen know the value of propaganda when it is employed at the right moment. It is as well, therefore, that the air should be cleared. Senator Drake-Brockman is entirely opposed to the idea that Parliament should have anything to do with the fixing of hours in any particular industry.
– This argument on the question of hours of labour has proceeded far enough. I do not propose to allow it to continue. Therefore, I ask Senator Grant to confine his remarks to the item before the committee.
– You allowed considerable latitude to Senator DrakeBrockman, Senator Lynch, Senator Millen, and Senator Guthrie. If you, sir, rule that I may not follow them on the same lines I shall have to move to dissent from your ruling. I should have an opportunity to reply to statements made by honorable senators who are supporting the Government.
– I point out to the honorable senator that I have given no ruling.
– Did you not rule me out of order?
– No. I informed the honorable senator that the discussion on the hours of labour had proceeded far enough, and that, he must confine his remarks to the item actually under discussion. He will be in order in making passing reference to the hours of labour.
– Very well; but I resent, sir, your interference with me in this matter. You allowed other honorable senators, one after the other, to deal at some length with the hours of labour. Your attitude towards me is scandalous.
– The honorable gentleman will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. In reply to Senator Drake-Brockman, I remind honorable senators that the New South Wales Parliament, with the very best results, interfered with the hours of labour in connexion with the closing of shops, and similar legislation is now in force throughout the Commonwealth. The Parliament of New South Wales also took a hand in fixing the hours of labour.
– The honorable gentleman’s remarks have no bearing whatever on the item before the committee.
– You allowed other honorable senators considerable latitude when speaking about the hours of labour, but immediately I attempt to reply to them, in order to put the views of honorable senators on this side of the chamber, you declare that the discussion must cease.
– Do it on the adjournment.
– I have more sense than to attempt to do that. I know the proper time and place for the debate on this subject. Are honorable senators aware that in some industries in Australia men are working nine hours a day ?
– Shocking !
– Such a state of affairs should not be tolerated. What are the hours worked in the profession to which Senator Drake-Brockman and Senator Elliott belong?
– Order ! The honorable gentleman is now defying my ruling. If he continues to do so, I shall ask him to resume his seat.
– I have no wish to defy your ruling, Mr. Chairman, but I should like to state my point of view on this subject. The next time you interfere with me in this way, I shall move to dissent from your ruling.
– Why not saysomething about item 110?
– That item refers to certain classes of manufactured goods which last year were imported to the value of £2,000,000.
– Under a 40 per cent, tariff.
– It is now the intention of the Government to increase the duties. However much some honorable senators may object, the Government will win every time.
Question - That the request (Senator Payne’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- Sub-item b 1 reads - “ (b) Apparel (knitted), articles of, viz. - (1) Blouses, skirts, underwear, and bathing costumes -
– Is it not a matter of administration?
– No; a decision has been given in the matter, and I do not intend to submit to administrative decisions which, in my opinion, do not conform to the intention of Parliament. I move -
That the House of Representatives be reQuested to amend sub-item 5b by inserting after the words “ wool or silk or containing wool or silk,” paragraph 1 (b), the words “ in the fabric thereof.”
If the request is adopted, garments consisting of pure cotton, the buttons on which may be covered with a material consisting of silk, or which have collarbands of similar material, will not be dutiable at the higher rate. The difference between the duty of ls. and 2s. 6d. is considerable, particularly where an ad valorem duty of 30 per cent, is also imposed.
– I cannot agree to the request. It would be practically impossible to administer such a provision, because it would not in any way limit the quantity of silk which might be incorporated in a garment. When silk is sewn on a garment, as it is upon the sample which Senator Payne has submitted, it is as much a part of the fabric as is the knitted portion of the garment.
– In what way does it come into competition with an industry in Australia?
– The whole garment enters into competition with an Australian industry. Necessarily the duty on a silk garment must be greater than that on one made of cotton. Under Senator Payne’s proposal a garment which was composed to a great extent of silk would enter Australia at the same duty as one composed wholly of cotton.
– That is not what I propose.
– It would be quite impossible to differentiate between a garment upon the collar of which there was half an inch of silk binding, and one having two or three inches of silk in the same portion of the garment and perhaps silk trimming on other portions.
.- Senator Payne’s suggestion is a fair one. The Minister stated that it would be impossible to administer such a provision and to control the quantity of silk used in an article of this description. Surely the department can suggest a means for getting over the difficulty J The silk used in this garment consists merely of a little trimming; it plays no part in the material from which the garment is manufactured. This matter may have escaped the notice of the Customs Department. If Senator Payne’s proposal does not meet the case will the Minister submit one that will?
. - I am informed that it is not possible to devise a provision that will enable a garment to be imported as a cotton garment if it is to a greater or less extent trimmed with silk. In what way is the item unjust? If it were agreed to, the only effect would be to compel this class of garment to be made of cotton throughout. If Senator Payne’s proposal were applied to this particular garment it would be necessary to apply it also to about a dozen other items in connexion with which ten times as much silk might be used. It cannot be claimed that this garment is made wholly of cotton, because, undoubtedly, silk is used in its manufacture. What advantage does silk binding round the neck of a cotton singlet confer upon the purchaser ?
– Can the Minister tell us why a higher duty is imposed upon a cotton singlet trimmed with silk than upon a cotton singlet trimmed with cotton?
– Silk is dutiable at a higher rate thancotton throughout the tariff. If a garment made partly of silk and partly of cotton were to be dutiable at the rate fixed for one wholly of cotton, it would be a departure from the principles upon which our tariff has been established. If Senator Payne’s proposal is negatived these imported garments will be composed wholly of cotton.
– What advantage would that be?
– It would give Australian manufacturers an opportunity to make a garment with silk trimming.
– A little common sense should be displayed by the Minister. The textile of this garment is composed completely of cotton. If the buttons were sewn on with silk it might as well be a silk garment, according to the duty charged.
– I am informed that the higher duty is not charged if the only silk used is that with which the buttons are sewn on.
– It is only a . matter of degree.
– It would be only a matter of degree if the garment contained 75 per cent of silk.
– Oh, no! Could it not be clearly stated that the trimming should not exceed a width of half an inch, or a quarter of an inch ? Surely there are in the English language words which will convey to the Customs Department the intention of Parliament! It is evident that in this case injustice is being done, and I am sure that that is contrary to the wish or the intention of honorable senators. The Minister “ gave the show away “ when he said that the passing of this item would compel Australian manufacturers to make this garment with a silk trimming. Why does not the Minister say plainly that that is the intention and the desire of the Government. The Australian manufacturer is not making this garment. The Minister could very well meet the wishes of honorable senators.
– Senator Payne’s proposal will not meet the case. I do not think it can be contended that the silk binding on this garment is not a part of the fabric of which the garment is made. I agree that it is ridiculous to charge extra duty on the garment because of the silk binding, but it cannot be denied that the silk is a part of the fabric.
– That is the departmental view.
– It would be an absolute impossibility to achieve the end that Senator Payne has in view by making the provision that he has proposed. I think the Minister should be able to bring down something that will get over the difficulty.
– Yesterday, when I submitted a request which would not have altered the effect of the item then under discussion, Senator Payne objected to such matters being brought forward without notice. I accordingly withdrew my proposal, and asked honorable senators who intended to submit requests to notify them immediately, so that they could be circulated, and time would be given for their consideration. Now Senator Payne, without giving any notice of his intention, proposes an amendment which is so framed that it will not oven achieve the object he. has in view. It would be an anomaly to admit silk which is really part of the fabric of a garment at the rate of duty on cotton goods. The Australian manufacturer has to pay a fairly high rate of duty on silk yarn, or silk piece goods, used for the purpose of his manufacture. If the importer could get in garments containing silk at the rate of duty on cotton garments the Australian manufacturer of such goods would be at a distinct disadvantage, inasmuch as he would be obliged to pay duty on the yarn from which his silk pieces are manufactured, or on the silk piece goods he imports for use in his manufactures. Surely Senator Payne does not want to do that, yet that is the effect his amendment would have.
.- The Minister (Senator Crawford) is absolutely wrong, as I shall prove. In arriving at the price of a certain garment, the manufacturer takes into consideration, not only the cost of the whole of the material used, but also the cost of making it, including the cost of binding it with a piece of silk. All that goes into the invoice price to the importer. The duty on silk trimmings and silk materials is nothing like the ad valorem duty now proposed for these cotton vests. There could be no evasion of duty in regard to the three-quarters of a yard of silk binding on these vests. It would pay a higher ad valorem rate of duty than it would if it were treated as silk piece goods. If the silk binding on an undershirt costs 3d., that 3d. is added to the cost of the garment on the invoice value in Great Britain, and the duty payable on it would be on the manufactured garment, which is considerably higher than the rate of duty on silk trimmings, imported as silk bindings. Therefore duty would be paid on the silk binding.
– The silk binding would come in as cotton, and not pay the higher duty on silk.
– According to the schedule, the duty on bindings is 35 per cent. British, and the duty on the cotton garment is 30 per cent. British, plus ls. per garment, which considerably exceeds the 35 per cent, on the binding if it comes in as a binding; and not as portion of a garment. I can understand the desire to protect a fabric composed of silk ‘ and cotton, which is very successfully made in Australia. That is the reason for fixing the rate of duty on underwear containing silk at 2s. 6d. a garment, plus 30 per cent, ad valorem, British, as against ls. per garment, plus 30 per cent., if it is all cotton. But it was never suggested to the Tariff Board by any manufacturer of silk and cotton fabrics that this high duty of 2s. 6d. a garment, plus 30 per cent., British, should be imposed on a cotton garment with a half-yard of neck binding containing silk. A garment such as this has no . connexion whatsoever with the garments to which the higher rate of duty was intended to be applied.
– Who would be benefited by the amendment?
– The climate of Queensland is very different from that of Victoria. A man in Queensland would not attempt to wear the heavy garments that are required in the southern part of Australia. The cotton underwear, with a silk binding at the neck, to which I am referring, is made to suit the requirements of people who live in tropical and sub-tropical climates. The imposition of this additional duty will not protect any Australian industry. The manufacturers of silk and cotton mixed fabrics are provided for in another part of the schedule. The addition of the silk binding gives a nicer appearance to these garments than if they were all made of cotton.
– The garments would be a great deal better if they were made of wool.
– Some people cannot wear wool next to their skin. Some cannot wear anything but cotton, while others must wear wool. We cannot legislate to suit the peculiar temperament of every man, woman, or child in Australia.
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 p.m.
Debate interrupted under sessional order.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, New Guinea Ordinance No. 5 of 1926, relating to the establishment of an Advisory Council, should be amended by inserting at the end of subsection (2) of section 4 the words, “ and ‘wo representatives elected by the adult white residents.”
In order to place the matter fully and clearly before the Senate, I shall read the ordinance referred to in the motion -
There shall be an Advisory Council of the Territory of New Guinea. The Council shall consist of the Government Secretary, the Treasurer, the Commissioner of Native Affairs, the Director of Public Health and the Director of Agriculture.
My desire is to add to the ordinance the words “ and two representatives elected by the adult white residents.” Honorable senators will recollect that some time ago I moved a similar motion, but on that occasion it was opposed by the Government, mainly on the ground that the white population of the Territory was employed either by the Expropriation Board or the Administrator of New Guinea. It was considered undesirable to extend to them any direct representation on the Advisory Council. Since that time considerable changes have taken place. The Government decided to dispose of .a certain number of plantations in New Guinea, and on the 31st March last, in response to tenders which had been invited, 25 plantations, realizing £258,458, 71 trading stations realizing £10,954, as well as four areas of virgin land and one place of business for which £2,952 was offered, were disposed of. I have been
Unable to ascertain the number of adult white residents who will be either the owners of those holdings, or employed on them j but assuming that in each case there will be the owner and his wife, 100 white persons who, according to the opinion held by the Government when I brought this matter before the Senate some time ago, will be entitled ‘ to vote for the election of a. delegate to represent them on the Advisory Council, will be resident on them. Moreover, it is intended to offer for sale on the 15th instant thirteen more plantations and 24 trading stations in New Britain. Those holdings are estimated to be worth over £200.000. It is therefore probable that 200 adult white persons entitled, in the opinion of the Government, to vote in connexion with appointments to the Advisory Council, will be resident on these holdings in the near future. The Expropriation Board has, as yet, offered no properties for sale on the mainland of New Guinea, in the outlying islands, or in New Ireland ; but I understand that any land made available in New Ireland would be keenly sought after. It would appear that before long the bulk of the plantations in New Guinea will have passed into private hands. I consider, therefore, that the time is opportune for something to be done along the lines indicated in my motion. I remind the Senate that only after considerable agitation did Parliament grant representation in the House of Representatives to the Northern Territory, the population of which is to-day about 3,000. In the mandated territory of New Guinea the white population numbers about 1,300. I am not advocating that the mandated territory of New Guinea should at this juncture have direct representation in this Parliament, although I think that in the near future both that territory and Papua should have representatives in this Senate and in the House of Representatives. The people in those territories are more or less subject to the laws of the Commonwealth, and they, therefore, should have some representation in the Parliament that makes the laws by which they are governed. While I am not asking that these pioneers should be granted immediate representation in Parliament, I consider that in view of the hardships which they experience they are fully entitled to direct representation on the Advisory Council. Except for the high power wireless station at Rabaul, and a steamer which calls about once a month, they are practically cut off from all communication with the Commonwealth. The adult white population is composed of well-educated men and women, who are fully competent to act upon the Council themselves or to elect their representatives. About two years ago I visited this Territory, and while there I realized the keen desire of the residents to have a voice in the control of their own affairs. Their request is reasonable. At present they are not being treated as they should be. Given some control of their own affairs, they would be able to let this Parliament know their requirements in a way which is now impossible. It is the proud boast of the British Empire, that it has always given the right of self-government to ‘its dominions as soon as they have been capable of exercising it. The greatest gift in history was made when Great Britain handed this country, containing 3,000,000 square miles, to a mere handful of its citizens, asking no payment in return. Complete home rule was granted as soon as the request was made. The powers of the Commonwealth have not been restricted ; it therefore seems strange that there should be any reluctance on the part of this Parliament to extend similar powers to the territories under its control. The Boer War was scarcely over when Great Britain granted the right of self-government to the conquered people. We saw the same thing recently in Egypt; and it is only a question of time when the people of India will also have home rule. After many years of agitation, home rule was granted to Ireland. Today we see nothing in the daily press about the troubles of Ireland, whereas before the granting of selfgovernment the position was vastly different. It is regrettable that people who enjoy the freest form of government in the world should hesitate to extend similar privileges to enterprising Australians who are doing the pioneering work in New Guinea. It has already been decided to give a modified form of local government to Papua. It is true that the Government does not contemplate giving a system of self-government to the proposed new divisions of Central and North Australia; but already North Australia is represented in another place, and, I think, should be represented also in this chamber. There is in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea a population of about 1,300 Australians. At present they have no voice in the government of that Territory, notwithstanding that, to all intents and purposes, they have become permanent residents, and are carrying out a valuable pioneering work under great difficulties. Whilst I was in New Guinea I made careful inquiries into this subject, and I believe that the time has arrived when definite action should be taken. I submit the motion in the hope that the Government will give it sympathetic consideration. I am satisfied that if the motion is agreed to we shall be taking a step in the right direction, and in the interests of a deserving section of our people.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sir Victor Wilson) adjourned.
In committee (Consideration resumed) :
I judge that honorable senators generally are sympathetic to my request, and that they think it is unwise to penalize the wearers of the garments in cluded in this sub-item simply because of a decision of the Customs Department which does not give effect to the wishes of Parliament. Honorable senators will recall that I stated unhesitatingly that any differentiation should refer only to the fabric of the garment itself.
– Because in connexion with this item that is the commonsense view to take.
– Is there any distinction between silk woven into the garment or sewn on?
– When woven into the garment it is then part of the fabric It was suggested that, in order to meet the objections of some honorable senators, I should draft another request. During the dinner adjournment I did so, but the Minister, acting on the advice of the Customs officials, is not prepared to accept it. Consequently we may take it that the Government is determined to continue this unjust imposition.. This cotton singlet, which I am exhibiting to honorable senators, is bound round the neck with a binding of special material which is included by the British manufacturer in the invoice price of the article. ‘ The Minister suggests that, if my requested amendment is agreed to, there will be an evasion of Customs duties, the binding being a silk and cotton mixture. The Minister is wrong, because, as I have stated, all the materials in the garment are included in the invoice price, and the binding, as part of the garment, pays a higher rate of duty than if it were imported in another form, so there can be no evasion of duty. I should like to emphasize also that this class of garment is made specially to suit residents in tropical or sub-tropical portions of Australia.
– I am not aware that any request has been received with respect to this item from any tropical portion of Australia.
– I wonder how many residents of Queensland realize that the Government has imposed this duty. They will find out when they are called upon to pay an additional 3s. or 4s. for this class of undervest.
– They will buy the Australian article then.
– Why should people be debarred from buying a British article if they prefer it, and if they think it suits their needs better ? These undervests must be bound round the neck with this special material otherwise they would be unsuitable, but owing to the decision of the Customs Department with regardto silk mixtures, they are now dutiable at 2s. 6d. each under the British tariff, plus 30 per cent.- ad valorem, as compared with1s. each, plus 30 per cent, ad valorem, the duty on a cotton garment. Half a yard of binding containing silk makes all the difference in the duty.
– Suppose there was a yard of such binding on the garment.
– What difference would that make? How can there be any evasion of the duties?
– That argument would apply to skirts and blouses as well as singlets, and they might have several yards of binding.
– Even then the Customs revenue, would not suffer, because the British invoice price would be increased, and the higher ad valorem duty would apply.
– Will not the duties increase the production of these articles in Australia?
– That is the object of the high tariff.
– Is the honorable senator opposed to the protection of goods manufactured in Australia.
– Of course I am not. But in supporting a, protective policy, I am not prepared to compel people to pay unnecessarily high prices. I shall support any proposition that can be shown to be economically sound from an industrial view point. I press the requested amendment, which I. have already submitted, because I consider it fair.
– I submit for the information of the committee a sample of an under garment manufactured at the Lincoln Mills at Coburg, the fabric of which consists of cotton and wool, and the neck of which is bound with silk.
– I am dealing only with cotton garments.
– The Australian mills also produce similar garments made of cotton, bound with silk. If the requested amendment of the honorable senator is adopted the industry at Coburg and elsewhere, which is employing hundreds of persons, will probably have to cease making them. As there is only a small proportion of silk in the neckband of the garment, Senator Payne contends that it should be admitted at the lower duty, but it would be a difficult matter for the Customs officials to determine the actual quantity of silk in a garment. As we have an Australian industry producing excellent articles of a similar type, I am strongly in favour of affording it effective protection. Although I was once a director of the Lincoln Mills, I am not now in any way associated with the undertaking, and therefore cannot be accused of bias. The 9 per cent, cumulative preference shares came down to about l1s., but since the higher duties have been in operation they have risen to about 20s. If the existing duties were reduced many of the employees would be dismissed, because it would be impossible to compete with the imported articles, which are being dumped into the Commonwealth. The factory is now working full time, and under the additional protection which the manufacturers have received a well organized and efficient industry has an opportunity of making substantial progress. I oppose the requested amendment moved by Senator Payne.
– Apparently we have now reached that position when anything proposed by the Government and slavishly supported, as in this instance, by the Opposition, will be adopted. We should not, however, go so far as to impose an unnecessarily high duty on a garment, a sample of which Senator Payne produced, merely because the neck band contains about as much silk as would be sufficient to secure the bandage on an injured finger. I do not think there is even a half a yard of binding in the neck-band
– And there is no silk in the fabric of the garment.
– No; but because of this neck binding it is saddled with an extra1s. 6d. in duty. If silk is woven into the texture of the fabric the garment should be dutiable at the higher rate, but when there is only a small proportion of silk in the binding it should be admitted at the lower duty.
This is protection running stark, staring mad. As Senator H. Hays stated, this sub-item could be interpreted in such a way that heavier duties could be imposed on cotton garments, because the buttons on them were sewn on with silk thread. By a subterfuge, the users of these goods are being saddled with an excessive duty, to which I object.
– I agree with Senator Lynch that on the question of protection we are running stark, staring, mad; but the honorable senator is consistently and persistently supporting the Government responsible for these excessive duties. Senator Lynch dare not vote against the Government on matters of importance, although on some occasions Senator Payne has done so. Merely because the neckband on the garment consists of a small portion of silk the whole garment is dutiable at a higher rate, and consequently those who use such things have to pay unnecessarily high prices. The people of Australia have decided that the Customs House is to be the big taxing machine, that foreign goods shall still come here, and a majority of honorably senators have decided that this schedule shall become law. Senator Findley, who is an ardent protectionist, pertinently asked if these garments can be commercially made in the Commonwealth. So far as I have been able to gather, the Lincoln mills are capable of manufacturing an unlimited quantity.
– So are other mills.
– That and other mills would probably be able to supply the requirements of the Commonwealth. Where, then, do Senator Lynch, Senator Payne, and other honorable senators who have protectionist proclivities stand 1 If I had broadcast protectionist views I should do my best to prevent the importation of these goods. Honorable senators who support the policy of protection could assist, to make the tariff so high that none of these goods would enter the Commonwealth. I cannot understand why they do not do so, unless they are determined to help the Minister for Trade and Customs to collect as much revenue as he can from duties, whilst permitting foreign goods to be imported. I am glad that Senator Findley has been able to draw the curtain aside and show the real position.
.- -The Minister (Senator Crawford) has made a statement which I cannot allow to pass unchallenged. He said that no complaint had reached him or the department from North Queensland in connexion with this matter. I have in my hand a copy of a letter which was addressed to the Minister for Trade and Customs by the Townsville Chamber of Commerce. The Minister in this chamber ought to be cognizant of it. Townsville, surely, is in North Queensland, and in the tropics. I shall read one or two paragraphs from it, to prove that the Minister’s statement was absolutely inaccurate. The writer says -
My chamber realize that a reasonable protection is desirable, but consider the existing tariff is ample protection for efficient manufacturers, and they strongly emphasize that further consideration be given to the whole matter in the interests of the consumers; the manufacturers under the present proposed tariff are asking for and appear to be obtaining excessive protection, which my chamber regards, speaking for North Queensland, as unfair, and falls on the worker every time.
The proposed tariffs on cotton tweeds and cotton singlets affect North Queensland particularly. Speaking of such lines as cotton tweeds and cotton singlets, which are generally used, means 105 per cent, increased cost
Cotton tweeds, cotton singlets, &c, arc extensively worn by the working man throughout North Queensland.
I considered it my duty to bring those views under the notice of honorable senators.
Senator CRAWFORD (Queensland-
Honorary Minister) [8.50]. - I protest against the remarks of Senator Thompson, which were a personal reflection upon me. What I said was that no complaint had reached me that an extra duty would be charged upon cotton singlets that were trimmed with silk. That statement is absolutely correct. Senator Thompson has impugned my veracity. His charge is absolutely unfounded, and I very strongly resent it. I certainly have had communications from the Townsville Chamber of Commerce. I am very much afraid that it is dominated by what, on other occasions, I have termed “ geographical protectionists.” So long as an increase in the duty will advantage that portion of Australia in which they have their interests, it is all right; but any increase that will benefit manufacturers or producers in some other part of Australia is strongly resisted by them. For that reason, I took no notice of the communication which I. received from the Townsville Chamber of Commerce in relation to this tariff.
.- I desire to refer only to the comments of Senator Guthrie. Not a single word that he uttered bore upon the question which I raised. By exhibiting a garment which had been made at the Lincoln knitting mills, he led the chamber to believe that he was striking a death blow at the arguments I adduced earlier in the day. That garment cannot be considered in this debate. It is composed of silk and cotton, and is subject to a special tariff. The garment which I produced contains cotton only. But for the silk binding, it would come in under a tariff of1s. per garment plus 30 per cent., whereas, on account of the silk binding, it is charged a duty of 2s.6d. plus 30 per cent. The garment produced by Senator Guthrie has cotton and silk in the fabric; but mine does not contain any silk in the fabric. Senator Guthrie omitted to draw attention to the fact that portion of the fabric of his garment was silk. The Customs Department should not be permitted to impose on cotton goods a higher duty than the tariff stipulates.
Question - That the request (Senator Payne’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- Sub-item 5b refers to blouses, skirts, underwear, and bathing costumes. The old rate was 45 per cent. British and 60 per cent., general. It is now proposed to have a flat rate of1s. British,1s. 6d. intermediate, and 2s. general, on cotton garments, and 2s. 6d. British, 3s. 6d. intermediate, and 4s. 6d. general, on any garments containing wool or silk. The average working man, who has been able to purchase an undershirt or a pair of under-trousers for about 5s. or 5s. 6d., will in future, be compelled to pay anything from 7s. 6d. to 8s. I ask the Minister to explain the necessity for placing that additional burden upon the people of Australia. I shall probably receive the reply that the Australian Knitting Mills has not been able to compete successfully with the products of Great Britain that have been imported into Australia, and that it is necessary to impose a flat rate to enable that industry to continue. I want the Minister to tell me if the leading knitting mills of Victoria approached the Tariff Board for increased protection, because, if they did, I should like to remind him thai the mill which is turning out the most reputable and reliable brands of underwear has had, recently, very successful years. Last year it paid a dividend of 10 per cent., and today its £1 shares are quoted - buyers 32s. This is the mill which has the biggest trade in Australia’.
– If that mill was in operation before the war, it must have piled up a lot of profits.
– There is always some way of getting out of the difficulty. I do not believe this mill applied for additional protection ; it did not need it. I call the attention of honorable senators to the effect this tariff will have on articles of attire.Undervests containing wool, the British export price of which is 2s. 5d., paid a duty of1s.1d. under the 1921 tariff. Under the present proposals, they will pay a duty of 3s. 4d. We can imagine what the cost of these undervests will be with a duty of 3s. 4d. on an article whose export price is 2s. 5d. Men’s brown balbriggan shirts, the British export price of which is1s. 31/2d. each, paid a duty of 7d. under the 1921 tariff. Under the present proposals, they will pay a tariff of1s. 51/2d. Men’s cream cotton and artificial silk shirts, the British export price of which is 3s. 4d., paid a duty of1s. 51/2d. under the 1921 tariff. Under the present proposals, they will pay a duty of 3s. 71/2d. Girls’ woollen undervests, the British export price of which is103/4d., paid a duty of 41/2d. under the 1921 tariff. Under the present proposals; they will pay a duty of 2s. 93/4d. I have worked out fifteen of these items, the invoice value of which is £2 3s. 53/4d. Under the 1921 tariff, they paid a duty of 19s.11/2d. Under the present proposals, the duty will be £2 7s. 61/4d., more than 100 per cent. Are honorable senators prepared to place this unnecessary burden on the people? I do not wish to reduce the present tariff. No one can suggest that I want to reduce duties, and have freetrade. I have never submitted any proposal to reduce existing tariffs. As a matter of fact, my idea is to provide an increase on the tariff of 1921, but not the prohibitive increase provided in this schedule.
– Have the mills at Launceston, and other mills in Tasmania, asked for increased duties?
– I do not think so.
– The honorable senator is taking an Australian view of the matter.
– I am. I am asking honorable senators to vote against the proposed duties of 2s. 6d. British, 3s. 6d. intermediate, and 4s. 6d. general, with a view to reverting to the 192.1 rates of 45 per cent. British, and 60 per cent, general. If our knitting industry cannot hold its own with a protection of 45 per cent, against British manufacturers, plus 10 to 15 per cent, additional protection in the shape of costs in getting the goods from Great Britain, making the total protection nearly 60 per cent., they are not worth considering. As a matter of fact, they can carry on at the existing rates, and carry on magnificently. I shall later on produce evidence to show that one of the manufacturing firms who have asked for the higher protection has openly admitted that big profits were made by it last year, and that its factory extended by leaps and bounds under the 1921 tariff. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (5) (b) (1) (b), by leaving out the figures 2s. 6d., 3s. 6d., and 4s. 6d.
If this is agreed to, I shall move a request to insert other figures.
, - I am surprised at the fight Senator Payne is putting up in the interests of the manufac turers overseas against those of Australian manufacturers and Australian workmen. I can tell the honorable senator without hesitation, in reply to his request, that the manufacturers of knitted goods did ask for increased duties.
– Did the Australian Knitting Mills ask for an increase?
– That I cannot say. I have not that information with me, but during the course of the investigation by the Tariff Board it was learned that there was a great deal of dumping taking place, especially in connexion with the cheaper quality of garments. One witness gave evidence, on oath, that certain lines had been offered to Australian warehousemen at prices below the cost of the cotton from which they were made.
– That is absolute nonsense. I know all about that.
-This evidence was given on oath, and it could have been contested by those who were interested in preventing an increase in the duty. In another case, a line was offered at a dollar per dozen, whereas the labour costs amounted to 5s. 6d. a dozen. The new rates of duty have been in operation for nine months, and during that time there has been no increase in the price of the articles upon which additional protection has been given. The manufacturers have given an undertaking to the Minister for Trade and Customs that they will not increase their prices. The effect of the increased duties has been to remove a great deal of the unfair competition from which Australian manufacturers were suffering, and to give them a greater market for their products. As a consequence, some of the mills are employing two or three times the amount of labour they employed nine months ago, but Senator Payne evidently does not think this desirable. He thinks it is more in the interests of Australia to have these cheap goods dumped here and to have the knitting industry revert from its present apparently prosperous position to that in which it was before this tariff took effect. That would mean that the people who had invested their money in these undertakings would get no return from theirinvestments, and, moreover, that hundreds of employees would become workless. The committee is not likely to support a course which would have such disastrous results. I remind the honorable senator that these duties became operative when the tariff schedule was introduced. Its effect was to enable Australian manufacturers to employ additional labour, and. to increase their output, with the result that to-day the industry is in a fairly flourishing condi tion. So long as the duties are not reduced, that position should continue. I repeat that these duties will not mean an increased price to the consumer.
Item agreed to.
Item 114 -
– I understand that when this item was before another place the Minister for Trade and Customs promised to give it further consideration. Australian manufacturers have been producing boys’ caps in large quantities, but unfortunately the production of men’s caps in Australia is not in so satisfactory a position. The output is very limited. Under a previous item in the schedule we have given protection to the woollen manufacturing industry by the imposition of a duty which should result in a greatly decreased importation of shoddy material, and an in-, creased production of Australian material. Had the same measure of protection been given to the cap-making industry, it would to-day be in a much better position. It is surprising to find that the Minister has nothing to say in respect to this important matter.
– Does not the present tariff provide a 50 per cent, increased duty on this item?
– The request of the manufacturers was not for a higher duty on all caps. Local manufacturers of boys’ caps can supply all our requirements. Very few boys’ caps are imported, the reason being that they are made from wool, on which there is a higher duty. I have here some samples of men’s imported caps, and I am informed by experts that the material used in their manufacture is not of good quality. They are imported at rates which make it impossible for Australian manufacturers to compete with them.
– They cannot do it.
– Senator Reid, who is more familiar with this business than I am, realizes that under existing conditions the Australian manufacturer cannot compete with imported men’s caps. I am informed that, for their own protection, some Australian manufacturers have been forced to purchase men’s imported caps. A memorandum setting out the position which has been handed to me, reads -
A special class of material is required for cap manufacturing, and the woollen mills have not been able to compete against the lowpriced shoddy tweeds used, therefore they have not been able to cater for the men’s cap trade. However, since the introduction of the new tariff, patterns of cap tweeds have been submitted to the woollen manufacturers, with the result that four mills have already produced samples. Those quoted at 5s. 6d. per yard are considered by the cap manufacturers to be quite suitable, and they are prepared to use them, but cannot do so on account of the present tariff being so much to the benefit of imported men’s caps made of shoddy material.
Men’s caps recently landed by one .of the cap manufacturers from England cost, duty paid landed 26s. 6d, namely :- Price in England 12s. per dozen, plus duty and landing charges 14s. 6d. If the same manufacturer imported the tweed from which these caps were made, say at 3s. per yard 54 inches, the cost of material per dozen would be 7s. 6d., freight charges and present duty 7s. 9d., manufacturing cost into caps in Australia 20s. 3d., making a total cost (without profit) of 35s. 6d., whilst men’s caps made in England of the same material are landed at 26s. 6d., or 9s. cheaper than what they can be made here for. If the Australian manufacturer used Australian cap tweeds at 5s. 6d., the cost of tweed (2£ yards) would be 13s. 9d., plus making-up charges 20s. 3d., total 34s., or 7s. 6d. dearer than the imported caps.
In regard to the imported caps referred to above, a duty of 12s. per dozen is included, so that if another 3s. per dozen were added to the 12s., and also an ad valorem duty of 35 per cent. (4s. Gd), the additional 7s. 6d. on to 26s. 6d. would bring the cost of the imported caps to 34s. as against 34s. For the Australian cap made of Australian cap tweed, which would result in Australian cap tweeds being used and woollen manufacturers adding cap tweeds to their new lines, whilst the importation of shoddy cap tweeds in the form of made-up caps would be prevented.
In the year 1921-22 the value of caps imported into Australia was £5,323, and for 1924-25 £27,691.
– What is the value of the caps manufactured here?
– Men’s caps are made here, but only in limited quantities, because of the competition of imported caps made of shoddy material.
– That is the opinion of men who are competent to give an opinion. For the protection of the woollen manufacturing industry we have imposed high duties on imported woollen materials. What is wrong in extending the same principle to those engaged in the manufacture of caps? The Minister would be well advised to assist me in placing this industry on a proper footing. It seems anomalous that we should be able to cater for the needs of the school boys in Australia by providing them with good woollen caps, whereas, because of the keen competition from overseas, we cannot make caps for our men. The Government professes to be anxious to help in every possible way the establishment of Australian industries. Here is an opportunity to do so. I ask the Minister to agree to make the duty on men’s caps and sewn hats 15s. per dozen, or 35 per cent, ad valorem ; 17s. 6d. per dozen, or 40 per cent, ad valorem ; and 20s. per dozen, or 45 per cent, ad valorem, whichever rate returns the higher duty, British, intermediate, and general tariff respectively. I am not concerned greatly with the ad valorem percentage so long as adequate protection is given to the Australian manufacturers of caps.
– I understood the honorable senator to say that there was ample protection in the case of boys’ caps.
– I make no complaint regarding them; they are made of wool .
– Does the honorable senator desire a higher duty on boys’ caps?
– No. I understand that the manufacturers of boys’ caps did not even approach the Tariff Board for an increased duty on such articles. They were satisfied with the protection already granted. But they are far from being satisfied with the existing protection in the case of men’s caps.
– If they can compete with imported boys’ caps, why can they not do the same with men’s caps ?
– I have already explained that boys’ caps are made entirely from wool, and that there is a high duty on woollen goods. The Australian manufacturers have captured the market for boys’ caps ; but because of the material used in the manufacture of men’s caps they cannot compete with the imported article. The way to get a better quality article is to prevent the importation of these caps.
– What is the honorable senator’s proposal ?
– I should like to see a higher duty on men’s caps. I ask the Minister to agree to a reduction in the duty on boys’ caps and an increase in the duty on men’s caps.
.- I hope that any such proposal will not be accepted. I have examined the caps which the honorable senator says are made of shoddy material, and I understand that he favours the imposition of a higher duty so as to compel every person in Australia to wear a heavy Australian tweed cap. The material in caps should be both light and warm, and I should say that any one of the caps exhibited by the honorable senator will last any man as long as he cares to wear it. There is nothing to be gained by using a heavy texture or twill in a cap. The Government’s proposal is to increase the British duty from 8s. a dozen to 12s., an advance of 50 per cent., with a corresponding increase in the intermediate and general tariffs. I intend to support the item as it stands.
– The situation is becoming more amusing as the debate on the tariff schedule proceeds. It seems now that the Government is taking up the attitude of a certain newspaper published in Australia, which proposed to prohibit tha importation of vacuum cleaners, which it was argued were expensive, in order that some people might have more money to spend on silk stockings and corsets. I have heard many arguments on lines similar to that since we entered upon the general debate on the tariff, but it seems to me that the whole matter resolves itself into a consideration of the general principles on which a tariff ought to be framed. I certainly do not think that a tariff ought to be framed on principles based on such arguments as those to which I have alluded. By passing items like this we shall be building up industry on artificial lines; we shall be building around Australia a tariff wall to bolster up, possibly, inefficiency on the part of both employers and employees, and we shall be unable to compete with the rest of the world. Thinking as I do on this subject, I cannot submit meekly to the people of Australia being victimized, as they are being victimized by a tariff such as this. I do not feel disposed to support the item as it stands, and certainly I could not vote for the further increases suggested by Senator Findley.
– I have not moved my amendment yet.
– I am aware of that, but I can see by the determined look in the honorable senator’s eyes that he is prepared to put up the duty by 100 per cent. The manufacturers and the employees would then do very well indeed. There . appears to be an understanding which, though tacit, is perhaps all the stronger, to support the imposition of these higher duties, in the hope that higher wages will -be paid to Australian workmen. This accounts, undoubtedly, for the attitude of honorable senators opposite, with the exception, possibly, of Senator Grant,- who appears by some strange freak of chance to have strayed from the fold. There is no consideration for the consumer. He has the money at present. How long he will keep it, I do not know. The fact that I, proportionately, represent more of those consumers than honorable senators from other States with the exception perhaps of Tasmania, as well as my distaste for any attempt to build up industries on an absolutely artificial basis, accounts for the attitude I am taking up. I intend to vote against any proposal to increase the duties. Indeed, I feel inclined to support lower duties.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be re quested to make sub-item d read -
Caps made of flannel, per dozen 8s. British, 10s. intermediate, 12s. general; or ad. vol. 35 per cent. British, 40 per cent, intermediate, 45 per cent, general, whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Caps and sewn hats, n.e.i., per dozen, 15s. British, 17s. 6d. intermediate, 20s. general; or ad. vol., 35 per cent. British, 40 per cent, intermediate, 45 per cent, general, whichever rate returns the higher duty.
This will mean a considerable reduction in the duties in respect of 80 per cent, of the caps manufactured in Australia and an increase in the duties in respect of the remaining 20 per cent. It should, therefore, meet with the approval of even those honorable senators who do not believe in protection.
Senator CRAWFORD (QueenslandHonorary Minister) [9.431. - Iwas doubtful about the effect of the honorable senator’s suggested amendment because I thought that if we altered the fixed duties and allowed the ad valorem duties to remain, there would be no decrease in the duties on the flannel caps whilst there would be a substantial increase in the duties on woollen caps. However, I have made inquiries and I find that in both cases the fixed duties will be higher than the ad valorem duties; and as I understand the manufacturers believe that this will improve their position, I shall offer no objection to the request.
.- I was never more surprised than when the Minister (Senator Crawford), accepted the requested amendment moved by Senator Findley. Apparently the Minister cannot see through the camouflage of the honorable senator who has suggested that 80 per cent, of the caps used in Australia will come under the lower duty. Nothing of the kind is likely to occur, as the lower duty is confined to caps made of flannel. Does the honorable senator suggest that the bulk of the caps worn by schoolboys are made of that material ?
– Nearly all of them are.
– No. Most of them are made of serge, and this is only a subterfuge on the part of Senator Findley to obtain an advantage for some one. The
Minister has accepted the proposal without giving the matter sufficient consideration. I produce samples of caps which were dutiable at 8s. a dozen, but which, under this proposal, will be dutiable at 15s. a dozen. At the request of Senator Findley, the Minister has agreed to increase, by 90 per cent., the duty on caps made of a material which meets the requirements of those who use them. It is about time this farce ended, and honorable senators endeavoured to ascertain what the acceptance of an amendment of this nature means to the community. To support an increase of 90 per cent, on an already heavy duty is too much for me. I do not think 25 per cent, of the caps worn by schoolboys are made of flannel, because they will not stand rough wear. Most of. the caps made of serge or imported tweed will be penalized to the extent of 15s.. a dozen.
– Australian boys should wear caps made in Australia.
– That is not the point. We should not impose a duty of 15s. a dozen on tweed or serge caps plus freight and other charges in order that cap manufacturing may be carried on in Australia. The proposed increase is already very heavy, and if the suggested amendment is adopted, the users of caps will be penalized to the extent of an additional 90 per cent.
. -Before I record a vote on this item I should like to know if Senator Findley can give the committee any idea of how much the cap making operatives are likely to wrest from their employees under this proposal. I wish to know how this is to be distributed, and if there will be an immediate demand for increased wages in the industry.
– Supposing there is.
– I only want to know.
– Is the honorable senator opposed to increased wages?
– Not at all, if the cause is natural and justified, but there appears to be a tacit understanding that a high tariff automatically means higher prices all round. It is not a fair thing. It appears to to be hopeless to oppose these duties. At all events, while we are- bound to accept the verdict of the majority, and apparently have no hope of shifting that majority, we still have, thank God, the liberty to express our individual opinions, and also the opinions of those who sent us here. This is not a tariff,, but a tyranny, and Senator Findley’s requested amendment will make it more tyrannical than ever.
– It appears to me that the men of Australia and of other British communities have been hoodwinked by hat manufacturers. Not long ago the young men of Australia who wore straw hats were known as members of the ‘ ‘ straw-hat brigade.” Straw hats were then extensively manufactured in the Commonwealth, but they have disappeared. Why is this light and suitable headgear no longer worn? The answer was supplied the other day by a pronouncement to the effect that the hat manufacturers of the Commonwealth had combined, and had decided that, as the profit on straw hats was inadequate, they would make the price prohibitive. The hat makers discovered that they could make a more substantial profit by compelling Australian men to wear hats of a type which is altogether unsuitable for the climate. The caps displayed in the chamber may be suitable in colder climates, but they cannot be worn with comfort in many parts of the Commonwealth. It is time that the people realized that the headgear foisted on them by those who reside in colder climates is not of the kind we desire. The womenfolk of Australia have refused to be dressed in garments similar to those worn by women in colder climates, but the men have not yet displayed sufficient common sense to adopt attire suitable to the Australian conditions. I should like Senator Findley to go even further, and indicate to the highly-protected hat manufacturers of Australia that they should manufacture lighter hats of the panama type which would be more acceptable to Australian men.
– Senator Kingsmill referred to my request as being more or less tyrannical. If it be tyranny to give every possible encouragement to Australian industries, to see that the workmen in this land of my birth are well and fully employed, and to shut out importations of goods that are being sold at a price against which Australian manufacturers cannot compete, and, therefore, cannot employ Australian workmen under Australian conditions, I plead guilty to submitting a tyrannical request. Are not the members of this committee first and foremost vitally concerned in the welfare and progress of Australia, and the betterment and elevation of its citizens? Should they give encouragement to the importation of goods which, according to experts, are composed mainly of shoddy, when that importation has the effect of practically strangling an Australian industry, and of throwing Australian workmen out of employment, in addition to giving an incentive to the wearers of caps to buy a cheap and shoddy article? The Australian woollen mills are doing better than they were a few months ago, because of the impetus given to the industry by the tariff. The inquiries that I have made convince me that the woollen proprietors are endeavouring to meet the requirements of the manufacturers of articles other than those which they themselves manufacture. I have samples of material with which it is proposed to manufacture caps in Australia. According to unbiased opinion, it is immeasurably superior to that which is contained in the imported caps.
– It is far too heavy.
– According to some experts, that is a recommendation, because heavy material will keep a cap in shape, and it will wear longer, and prove more acceptable to the buyer. The design is most attractive; the quality is good. All that the manufacturers ask is that the committee shall give to the industry a measure of protection equal to that which has been given to manuf acturers of other articles. This material costs 5s. 6d. a yard, therefore it is not expensive, but, on the contrary, very reasonable. I ask the committee to be consistent in its attitude towards Australian industries. To some honorable senators the duty I request may appear to be high. It is certainly higher than the schedule proposed, but the increase is sought in the interests of the cap manufacturers, who have been driven off the market by the imported article. I ask the committee to do justice to the Australian industry.
.- Senator Findley is well aware that a conference is now being held to consider a log for employees in the woollen trade, which, if granted, will render necessary a further increase in these duties.
– That is part of the circle.
– If the men were engaged under adverse conditions, or at low wages, I should readily support the request for an extra duty, but we have to consider the men who are struggling on the land.
– I do not think the men on the land wear caps.
– They wear clothing. We must recognize that there is a limit to what the country can stand. The Government adopts the attitude that, so long aa it is shown that local wages and conditions prevent our manufacturers from competing with those overseas, they are entitled to a duty. Surely the Tariff Board ought to inform us of the conditions, so that we may compare them with those which are enjoyed by other classes in the community. The employers and employees in conference decide to fix a higher wage and to pass the extra cost on to the consumer in the form of an increase in the duty. That cannot continue for ever. Senator Findley went so far as to say that my attitude this afternoon indicated a desire on my part to reduce wages. That is not so. If honorable senators opposite can show that the conditions of employment of those who work in this industry are bad I shall enthusiastically support them in this request. That, however, is not- the case. So far as I have been able to gather, they are among the highest-paid workmen in Australia to-day. I am not disposed at present to support a higher duty than that proposed by the -Government.
– I am not in the least surprised at Senator Findley’s proposal. In dealing with this item we are suffering under the disability with which we have been affected during the discussion on the whole of this schedule, and that is lack of information as to what is happening in this industry. Senator Findley has told us that an increase of 90 per cent, is required. We do not know what has happened in the past, because those who are engaged in the manufacture of caps have been very close to the Seat of Government, with a press at their command to voice their grievances, real and imaginary - particularly imaginary - whereas with the users of caps it has been a case of “ What is everybody’s business is nobody’s business.” Nobody has ever dreamed of putting the case for the wearers of caps. In the absence of information from the Government we have to look abroad. Senator Findley has told us that boys’ caps are being made in the Commonwealth with such a measure of success that they have succeeded in capturing the entire market. Almost before those words were out of his mouth he said that the manufacturers of boys’ caps could not make men’s caps. Could anything be more absurd ? Take thb case of boots. Has it ever been urged that the manufacturers of boys’ boots could not make men’s boots ? It has not, the reason being that the labour involved in the manufacture of boys’ boots is common to the manufacture of men’s boots. We have passed a schedule in which practically no distinction is made between men’s and boys’ wearing apparel. Where, then, is the justification for a 90 per cent, increase on men’s caps? Senator Elliott’s contribution to the discussion was welcome. He referred to the problem that is exercising the mind of every honorable senator - where is this demand for more and more protection going to end, and what will be the effect upon production and the economic position of Australia ? He also mentioned the man in the country. I can set his mind at rest upon that point by informing him that the man in the country very rarely uses a cap. The old hat, with his hair showing through the crown, is his lot. A cap would be a luxury to him. Is there to be no end to this policy of piling on duties? Is it to be like time, or eternity? Are the Australian manufacturers to be always coddled and given encouragement ? The time is overripe for us to say to them, “ Thus far shalt thou go, and no further. It is about time you toed the scratch as citizens of this country, did your duty towards your fellow citizens, and assisted to build up Australia.” What can be said of - Senator Grant, a disciple of Henry George 1 He now sits cheek by jowl with the Government and votes for higher duties. If the shade of Henry George could return to . this earth it would scowl upon this false disciple, and say, “ Away, you betrayer, you traitor; you are not of my following; you are a spurious counterfeit. I never dreamed that my name would be besmirched by association with that of a counterfeit like you.” Why does the honorable senator vote for these high duties? Because he must. Senator Needham must do so, and Senator Barnes, and also Senator Graham, although he may have opinions to the contrary. But that is the difference between the party on that side of the chamber and the party on the Government side. I am here a free man. Honorable senators opposite are not free. The Government is in the happy position that it has only to lift its little finger and honorable senators opposite come to its support in regard to matters relating to a protective tariff. The halter is on them, and when a pull is given to it they must move in response to it. They have no option in the matter. It is fixed, pre-ordained, as it were, copper fastened, that they must have no conscience in such matters, but must vote for protective duties, for the simple reason that it is the policy to which they are signed up. We on this side are free. That marks the gulf of difference between their unfortunate party and our own. Here am I, pitching into the Government, whereas they dare not do it, otherwise the frowning legions behind them would cast such a withering glance at them that it would be the end of them, and they would lose their jobs in Parliament. I can understand Senator Findley moving as he has done, because his doctrine is to have higher duties without any thought of the consequences. It secures him in his seat in this chamber. He has been sent here as a protectionist, although his leanings may be the other way. He knows that, in this schedule, he must not touch a comma, delete a period, dot an i, or alter it in any respect, except to increase it. He must say ditto to everything, and be humble. He must not have an opinion except that which is manufactured for him and thrown at him. He dare not have a contrary opinion to that which is thrown at him to make use ofIt is childish nonsense for him to tell us that boys’ caps are made in Australia, and not men’s. He had not the hardihood to tell us that boys’ boots could be made in Australia, and not men’s. I have never heard such a lame excuse. Yet it is in keeping with what has been going on during the debate on this schedule. It will go a certain length, but only a certain length. Things will have to be very bad before the crisis is reached ; but that crisis is coming. Public opinion moves slowly and clumsily; but nevertheless it moves. The ferment is at work even now. Men who voted solidly for protection in the past are to-day thinking what they ought to do in regard to this schedule. They realize that things are not going well in Australia. They see that our production is decreasing and that the country-side is becoming deserted, as it will continue to do despite the fact that we are making efforts to beckon men from the fringe of the continent to the interior. They realize that the secondary industries are making no progress. Take up any book of statistics and you will see that the very life-blood of this country - its primary production - is stagnant. That is an unhealthy condition of affairs in any land. But we see the trend of affairs. Senator Elliott, a staunch protectionist, has his misgivings. He is a Victorian senator, but he is beginning to see the light. It is high time we called a halt and told mcn engaged in the secondary industries to bc up and doing and to do their duty towards the country that has been so kind to them. I have given the Canadian experience, showing the maximum duty in times gone by which enabled that country to forge ahead and be the independent State it is. And that maximum in Canada was never more than 35 per cent, on the ordinary lines. Yet here we are seeking duties of 45 and 60 per cent, in this scratching community of ours; because it is only scratching so far. We in this last court of appeal - a chamber specially fited to shape public policy in this regard - should consider our position very carefully and ask ourselves, before we take many more steps in the wrong direction, where we ore going - whether we are right or not. For mv part I think we are drifting sadly. But there is one consolation - that there are rumblings of discontent and gleams of hope in a murky sky, and realizations that we are going too far in the direction of encouraging an already pampered class. The point I have been continually hammering at is that if these people think they have not enough, and are in a bad way, they have only to look to Parliament to have their position righted. I say, “ Let them do more -work, and do it faithfully.” In an obscure page in the Commonwealth Tear-Book there is a fateful table showing that the production per man to-day as compared with thirteen years ago has declined. As far as primary production is concerned - it is, of course, included - the maximum effort made to-day is what it was thirteen years ago. Those engaged in primary production have not slackened. They are not resting on their oars. The slackness which has accounted for the decline in our production per man is in the secondary industries alone, and if the men engaged in those industries are in a bad way, employers and employees, it is up to them as Australians - if they have any claim, flimsy or otherwise, to patriotism - not to loaf any longer on their fellow citizens, but to put forward as good an effort as is made by those engaged in primary production. If they do so there will be less reason for these outrageous schedules of increased duties. That is the keynote of my message to this chamber. I not? what has happened in other countries, and I’ apply it to what I see here. Having done so, I say, it is time a halt was called. Senator Elliott is on the right line when he fears that this application for an increased, duty will be followed by yet another appeal for a higher Tate and for easier conditions of labour. Let us by all means give better conditions of labour so long as we do not place others in the community in a more unfavorable position. It is not progress to give high rates of pay and short hours of labour to one section of the community and call on another section to pay for these improved conditions. That is only progressing in a circle. Therefore in these matters we need to be exceedingly careful. Senator Findley proposes a step in one direction which I realize the committee will not follow, but I shall move to reduce the duty on. caps from 10s. to 8s. One half of the cap-making industry - that of making boys’ caps - has already been established on a duty of 8s., and I see no reason for any alteration.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
Senate adjourned at 10,27 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 June 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1926/19260603_senate_10_113/>.