10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Report to the League of Nations on the administration of the Territory of New Guinea, from let July, 1924, to 30th June, 1925.
Ordered to be printed.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator -
No. 15 of 1928- Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association.
Nos. . 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20 of 1926- Line Inspectors’ Association, Commonwealth of Australia; Australian Postal Electricians’ Union ; Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association; and Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1926, No. 66.
Excise Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1926, No. 70.
Export Guarantee Act - Return showing assistance granted up to 24th June, 1926.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration
Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Bill.
Supply Bill (No. 1) 1026-27.
Senator LYNCH brought up the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, together with minutes of evidence, relating to the proposed erection of an automatic telephone exchange at Hobart, Tasmania.
– I have received letters from Senator Lynch and Senator Reid resigning their positions as members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That the resignations of Senator Lynch and Senator Reid as members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works be accepted, and that thehonorable senatorsbe discharged from attendance on the committee.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions: -
Bill returned by the House of Representatives with a message and schedule showing the manner in which the House of Representatives had dealt with the requests by the Senate for amendments.
[3.8]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill will appropriate from the Con* solidated Revenue, first, an amount of £1,000,000 for the Defence Equipment Fund, which was established in 1924 to give effect to the naval construction policy then decided upon, and, secondly, an amount of £250,000 for aerial services. In 1924, the defence policy of the Commonwealth was decided upon, and a definite programme of naval construction agreed upon to be completed in 1928-29.’ The estimated total cost of the programme, including the seaplane carrier now under construction at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, is £7,000,000. Of the amount, appropriated by this bill, £1,000,000 is for the liquidation of the liabilities already incurred, and includes £586,520 on account of the seaplane carrier. The policy of Australian defence is based on the principle that the primary responsibility of every British Dominion is to provide for its own local defence. Since the inauguration of our five years’ programme, the strategists and technical advisers of practically all nations have urged the provision of greater air forces as a necessary cooperative factor with the Naval and Military Forces. The reasons for this are more or less self evident. In fact, no military or naval force would to-day contemplate any forward move without a thorough reconnaissance by air. No defence should be undertaken without sufficient forces in the air to meet the attack of enemy air forces. Those honorable senators who took part in the Gallipoli campaign, and more particularly in the operations on the western front, will know what an important part the air service plaved in movements of the allied armies. Not only did it play a part in opposing enemy air forces, but its presence in any sphere of operations always had a splendid moral effect on the Naval and Military Farces. During the great war, the strength of the Air Force fluctuated considerably; but it was always noticed that the supremacy of the Air Force of the Allies had a great moral effect upon our men. The airmen are the eyes of the armies, and of the fleets. As air co-operation has now become a vital necessity, the Government has allotted £250,000 for Air Force purposes, as specified in the bill. The air branch of the Defence Forces must be developed, and therefore the Government is asking Parliament to vote an additional amount as a trust fund for air defence purposes over and above the £1,000,000 sterling required for commitments already entered into. This is not the occasion on which to make any announcement concerning the defence policy of the Government - that will be done when the Estimates are under consideration.
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) T3.12]. - We are asked to vote a sum of £250,000 to form a trust fund for air defence purposes, £500,000 towards the cost of the - construction of cruisers, and £500,000 towards the cost of a seaplane carrier now being constructed at Cockatoo Island. I realize that Parliament has already placed its imprimatur on the policy of constructing cruisers abroad; but I hope that decision will soon be reversed, so that if further cruisers are required for home defence, they will be constructed in Australia.
– It will be interesting to see what the seaplanecarrier will cost.
– I have recently inspected the seaplane carrier in course of construction, and although I cannot say that it will be built for less in Australia than it would cost in Great Britain, I maintain that the men at Cockatoo Island will do the work as well as would workmen in any other part of the world.
– Cheapness should not be considered in defence matters.
– No. If we continue the policy of constructing abroad vessels required for home defence, and the occasion should arise when we have to construct cruisers here, our men would not be capable of undertaking the work. It is true that much has been made of the extra cost which would have been involved in constructing the cruisers here, and also the cost of building the seaplane carrier in Australia; but it must be remembered that Australian wages must be paid and our standard of living generally maintained. When such work is undertaken in Australia even at a higher cost, the money is circulated in the Commonwealth. L. am glad to see that provision is being: made for extending the Air Force. That is in accord with the Labour party’s de- fence policy. We are told that we have no defence policy, but we have one which-‘ embraces the establishment of an efficientAir Force, the construction of submarines,’ and convertible factories. At last this Government is viewing the defence of Australia in the same way as we on this side of the chamber view it. The expenditure of £250,000 for the improvement of the Air Force is a step in the right direction. I quote the opinion of a naval correspondent of the Herald, who, on the 5th January, 1926, said : -
After a quarter of a century of changing policies and immense capital outlay, the defences of this country are to-day in such a lamentably weak state that few people would sleep quietly in their beds if aware of the true position. Unfortunately for the nation at large, that is known only to the various staffs. The weakness of the Air Force in machines and trained airmen, the obsolescent state of the Fleet, the poverty-stricken condition of the Military Forces, together present an accumulated result of neglect and starvation which is causing serious concern to the Government’s technical advisers.
I now quote the opinion of Admiral Sims, who is reported in the Sydney Sun for the 19th November, 1925, to have said: -
It is a foregone conclusion that, if an aeroplanecarrier met a battleship at sea, there would be nothing left of the battleship. “ Recent tests have proved conclusively that aeroplanes can sink battleships.”
That is the opinion he expressed before the Colonel Mitchell court martial, and it is positive proof that, in the matter of home defence, the Air Force is an important factor. Although we have spent approximately £32,000,000 on defence since the armistice was signed, our position in the matter of defence, according to General Sir John Monash, is worse than it was in 1914. Although this measure authorizes the expenditure of an additional sum for defence purposes, we must not be under the impression that the defence of Australia is in a satisfactory position. The policy of the Labour party is not to build battleships, but to rely on an efficient air force and submarines, together with factories which during wartime may be used for the manufacture of munitions. We contend, that it is not necessary to spend huge sums of money on warship construction abroad. The work now being done on the seaplane carrier at Cockatoo Island Dockyard is equal to anything in the world.
– What is it going to cost ?
– I do not know what the actual cost will be.
– Is it not a fact that it will cost more than double the original estimate ?
– I doubt if Senator Guthrie is in a position to say that. I question if even the Minister can say what it will cost. Although Senator Guthrie poses as a great Australian, he favours this class of work being placed abroad, with the result that Australian workmen will have no chance to perfect themselves in it. It is admitted that the seaplane carrier will, when completed, cost more than if it were built abroad; but since its construction here will give Australian workmen an opportunity to familiarize themselves with this class of work, the money will be well spent. Prom what I know of the shipbuilding industry, I can say without fear of contradiction that the work being done on the seaplane carrier at Cockatoo Island Dockyard is equal to anything in the world. The sooner we realize the desirability of making Australians completely self-reliant in everything that appertains to the defence of this country the better. The bill opens up a wide field for discussion on the defence policy of the Commonwealth, but as we shall deal with that subject later I shall not avail myself of this opportunity. I offer these few comments to show honorable senators where Australia is drifting. I sincerely hope that before long the Government will change its policy, and insist upon all work in connexion with the defence of the Commonwealth being carried out in Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In committee :
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Appropriation of £250,000 for defence reserve).
– I should like to know from the Minister if expert advice has been obtained as to the most suitable sites for aircraft stations. I raise the question because whilst immense sums of money were spent in the selection of naval bases they were found to be unsuitable.
– Those sites were selected on the advice of British experts.
– And subsequently they were condemned by other British experts. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pounds of the taxpayers’ money has been absolutely wasted, so I should like to think that the greatest care has been exercised in the selection of aerodrome sites. . I need only mention the position with regard to the Cockburn Sound Naval Base in Western Australia, and the Flinders Naval Base in Victoria, to show that there is a wide difference of opinion between experts as to the suitability of such places.
– The honorable senator cannot say that we did not accept the best advice then available. It was the advice of the British Admiralty.
– Yes; but what is the opinion to-day concerning those naval bases?
– Expert opinion changes. What an expert says is right to-day, other experts a few years hence will say is wrong.
– And, unfortunately, the people have to “pay the piper.” Can the Minister say that diligence was displayed in the selection of those naval bases, upon which millions of pounds have been spent?
– They were selected on the best expert advice then available.
– It is true that Admiral Henderson came to Australia and cruised about. I do not know whether he made a diligent search for the best naval base site in Western Australia. It has been said that he did not. At all events, the opinion to-day of men who should be in a position to know, is that the Cockburn Sound site was not well chosen. By comparison the expenditure on aerodromes should not be heavy ; but I should like to know if the Imperial authorities have been consulted, and also if they have been advised of our experience in connexion with the selection of naval bases.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Home and Territories) [3.27]. - The aerodrome sites at Point Cook and Richmond, New South Wales, were selected after consultation with civil, naval, military, and air authorities in Australia. I may state that the Australian advisers are capable of holding their own with experts from any other part of the Empire. They had experience in the recent war, and their technical knowledge is quite as good as that of any other authorities in the world. The British Government was not consulted. We relied upon our technical advisers, who recommended the sites mentioned as the most suitable.
– On the question of acquisition of sites, I remind the Minister (Senator Glasgow) that some time ago he, with other Queensland senators, waited upon the Minister for Defence to urge the claims of Townsville and Rockhampton as sites for aerodromes. I should like the Minister to keep this in view. I do not expect that he will be able to tell us what the Government’s policy is, but the people in the two Queensland centres mentioned are desirous of having provision made for aerodromes. If we are to depend upon a seaplane service entirely the position will be slightly different, but if provision is to be made for aeroplanes, it is highly desirable that the necessary land should be secured in those two centres without delay, because with the rapid development of Queensland, land is increasing in value from year to year, and the longer we wait the worse our position will become. Queensland in many respects is unlike other States of the Commonwealth. It has important centres established along the coastline, and each has its own hinterland. As a matter of policy, it is desirable to establish Air Farce bases at the principal centres along the Queensland coast. Perhaps the Minister can say also whether any portion of this £250,000 to be appropriated is to be made available for the development of civil aviation, because it is obvious that the more we encourage civil aviation the more likely are we to have machines and trained men available in time of war.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Home and Territories) [3.30].- I shall deal with, the latter portion of the honorable senator’s question first. A portion of this money will be available to assist civil aviation. I shall be pleased to draw the* attention of the Minister for Defence to the matter of providing aerodromes or landing places for aeroplanes along the Queensland coast. .
Clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
.- It is desired that this bill be passed to-day, in order that the money may be paid into the trust fund before the end of the financial year. I therefore move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
– There being more than a statutory majority of the whole Senate present, and no voice being raised in the negative, I declare the motion carried.
Bill (on motion by Sir William Glasgow) read a third time.
– I have received letters from Senators Kingsmill and Foll tendering their resignations as members of the Public Accounts Committee as from the 30th June, 1926.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That Senator Kingsmill and Senator Foll be discharged from attendance on the Public Accounts Committee.
In committee (Consideration, of House of Representatives’ message) :
By omitting the whole of sub-item (d) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: - “ (d) Silk, or containing silk, or having silk worked thereon, except piece goods enumerated in sub-item (it), ad valorem, British, 10 per cent.; intermediate, 12½ per cent.; general, 17½ per cent.
And on and after 25th March, 1926 -
Silk, or containing silk, or having silk worked thereon, except piece goods enumerated in sub-items (aa) and (f), ad valorem, British, 10 per cent.; intermediate, 12½ per cent.; general, 20 per cent.”
Senate’s requested Amendment. - That subitem (d) read its follows: -
(1) Artificial silk or containing arti ficial silk, or having artificial silk worked thereon, except piece goods enumerated in sub-items (aa) and (f), ad valorem, British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 15 per cent.; general, 20 per cent.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Made with the modification that the rates of duty be ad valorem, British, 20 per cent; intermediate, 20 per cent.; general, 25 per cent.
– I move -
That the modification be agreed to.
The House of Representatives has made the whole of the amendments requested by the Senate, with the exception of three, those relating to the duties on artificial silk, carpets, and films. The Senate requested the House of Representatives to increase the duty on artificial silk to 15 per cent. British and intermediate, and 20 per cent, general. The House of Representatives has modified our request by further increasing the duties to 20 per cent. British and intermediate, and 25 per cent, general.
.- I expected the Minister to outline the reasons actuating the House of Representatives in increasing the amount of protection requested by the Senate on artificial silk piece goods which, in itself, was a very substantial increase on the Government’s original proposal. I want honorable senators to disabuse themselves of the idea that textile fabrics containing artificial silk come into keen competition with our woollen industry. Since these duties were discussed in the Senate, the claim that these fabrics do come into competition with our woollen industry has been exploded. An examination of the fabrics themselves will convince any honorable senator that they cannot enter into competition with the Australian woollen textile industry. As a matter of fact, their manufacture is an aid to the producers of wool, because artificial silk is used with wool for the manufacture of attractive textiles, which are thus brought within the financial means of the great majority of the people. Time after time during the debate on the tariff, I was twitted with being a freetrader. I am not a freetrader, and I do not believe that we should have a freetrade policy in Australia. My own view is that any industry worth establishing should have adequate protection, but I distinguish between reasonable protection and the prohibition suggested during the discussions on the tariff.
– Are not the duties proposed on artificial silk higher than the duties on silk ?
– Yes, twice as high, and the manufacture of artificial silk piece goods is a British enterprise, whereas the greater portion of our imported silk goods comes from Japan, China, and the Continent.
– And the proposal is to place a higher duty on what comes from Britain than on what comes from China?
– Yes; much higher. The Senate’s requested amendment sought to do so, and the House of Representatives has still further increased the duties. The statements which led up to the further increases will not hold water when analysed. The main argument advanced seemed to be that a company engaged in the manufacture of artificial silk had made an enormous profit last year. On that ground, it was urged that the people of Australia should be penalized by having to pay more for the articles manufactured by this firm As a matter of fact, the Courtauld company is not the only firm manufacturing artificial silk in Great Britain. In Bradford, the great woollen manufacturing centre of England, a great deal of artificial silk is used in embellishing dress materials to make them attractive. Thus, an increase in these duties will strike a blow at the Bradford manufacturers, while conferring no advantage on an Australian manufacturer. I move -
That the motion be amended by adding: “ Provided the duties be made ad valorem, British, 10 per cent.; intermediate, 12½ per cent. ; general, 20 per cent. And on and after 1st January, 1927, ad valorem, British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
I am asking honorable senators not to agree to the modification made by the House of Representatives,, but to restore the item to what it was in the schedule as it came to the Senate from another place, with the addition ofa deferred duty of 25 per cent. British and intermediate, and 35 per cent, general, because it has been definitely stated that British firms are contemplating the establishment of the artificial silk industry in Australia.
– Is it not their intention to start their operations in Tasmania ?
– I do not care where they make a start, so long as the industry is established in Australia. Some honorable senators have referred to artificial silk goods as pure rubbish. 1 have several samples of artificial silk material with me, and I ask honorable senators to examine them, and say honestly whether they are rubbish. These are goods which are in general, use in Australia. They do not come into competition with an Australian industry ; but, to a great extent, they have supplanted a trade carried on successfully for years by Japanese and Chinese merchants.
– Where were the samples displayed by the honorable senator manufactured?
– In England.
Sen ator Drake - Brockman . - According to the ticket, one of them was manufactured in America.
– I have not looked carefully at the tickets to see where they were manufactured ; but I was assured that they were produced by Courtaulds Limited in England. Artificial silk manufactured in England is used in the millinery industry in Australia, and gives employment to a large number of female workers.
– Would not a greater number of girls be employed if woollen materials were used?
– How could woollen material be used for millinery purposes? I have recently visited some of the hosiery mills, and I was not surprised to find that many of the articles produced are composed of artificial silk, which is within the reach of the average individual, and really gives better service.
– Stockings of artificial silk compete with woollen stockings1.
– In saying that the Minister shows that he does not know anything about the matter. I do not wish to be offensive. If he inspected the factories he would find that during the last season the hosiery manufacturers have been producing men’s and women’s warm winter hose composed of Australian woollen yarn covered with artificial silk to make the goods more attractive. The imposition of this duty will be the means of providing the Commonwealth with more revenue. Artificial silk is used not only for textile fabrics for human wear, but also in the production of magnificent tapestries, which are largely imported into Australia, and which do not come into competition in any way with similar goods manufactured in Australia. The statement that artificial silk is rubbish cannot bejustified. I have been assured that the materials, samples of which I have produced, are manufactured in one of the eleven mills operating in Great Britain, but those eleven mills do not represent the total number engaged in the manufacture of these materials. In visiting a Flinders-lane warehouse which imports mainly dress materials from Bradford, I found that a large quantity of the Bradford dress materials contained artificial silk.
– What of the enormous profits the firm is making ?
– What has that to do with the imposition of a high duty? If the profits are high it shows that the manufacturers are producing a popular commodity. The profit on the £20,000,000 capital invested has been £400,000 to £500,000, two-thirds of which was obtained in America. If all the profits were derived in England they would be equivalent to only 25 per cent., and it does not follow that profits quotedare net.
– We know only of the disclosed profits; the actual profits may be much greater.
– Will the imposition of higher duties penalize the manufacturers or the users of the material 1
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Newlands). The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– It will be remembered that the original request sent to another place was one which I submitted to the committee. The subject has been given further consideration in another place, with the result that the duties proposed here have been increased by 5 per cent. all round. Personally, I am prepared to accept the modification of the House of Representatives, and I trust the committee will agree to it.
– Does the honorable senator think that the duties on artificial silk should be higher than those on pure silk?
– Yes. Artificial silk, which is undoubtedly manufactured in a very attractive form, as will be seen from the samples displayed, is a serious competitor with our woollen products. I have some figures which, in addition to those I have already quoted, further substantiate the claim I made oh that occasion. In 1919-20 the imports of artificial silk into Australia were valued at £187,000, but in 1924-25 the value increased to £722,000. Notwithstanding this remarkable increase in importations, Senator Payne asserts that this material does not come into competition with woollen manufactures. The £722,000 worth of artificial silk has in the main been used for purposes in which woollen material was used. The argument that the importation of this material is not a menace to our woollen industry is therefore without foundation. As clothing material, artificial silk has no value at all. What is the object of clothing? It is to provide warmth, to cover the body, and, from the feminine view-point, to make one attractive. Artificial silk does not provide protection against cold or heat, the two essential purposes for which clothing is required. Artificial silk can be used for curtains and other internal decorations, which, in the past, have been made of material consisting largely of wool.
– Is not artificial silk cooler than calico?
– It has no value as clothing. It is attractive in appearance, and a good deal of it is sold as silk. Let us refer to the figures which Senator Payne and others have scorned in regard to this particular company which is making such wonderful profits.
– The British Government collected £7,000,000 in duties on silk goods without the price being increased.
– -Yes. The British Government last year imposed duties on silk, but goods manufactured from silk were not’ increased in price. The duties imposed on artificial silk and silk manufactured abroad resulted in more factories for the production of this material being established in Great Britain. If the manufacturers of artificial silk are desirous of selling their product in Australia, they should establish their own factories in the Commonwealth. Since this proposal, which was first suggested in the Senate a couple of weeks ago, the manufacturers of this product have made preliminary inquiries with a view to establishing factories in Australia.
– The request- I have submitted should meet the case.
– We should make sure of our position by imposing an additional 5 per cent. In 1914 the profits of Courtaulds Limited amounted to £520,000, but in 1925 they had soared to £5,112,000. A person who had the good fortune in 1914 to invest £100 in the firm would to-day receive £4,945 for his investment. Of course, it will be said that the imposition of a duty will increase the cost of the material in Australia, but it may lead to the establishment of factories in the Commonwealth, and so prices may be reduced.
– That is the only thing to recommend the increased duty.
– I agree with the honorable senator.
– Will not the product then come into competition with the woollen industry?
– We cannot prevent that, unless we prohibit its importation. If we are to have this wretched stuff made here, it should be manufactured by our own people. From the point of view of clothing, I regard it as wretched stuff, which has no value whatever. Therefore, I strongly urge the committee to agree to the modification made by the House of Representatives.
.- I heartily support the increased duty on rayon, which, in my opinion, is not high enough when compared with the duties imposed on other materials consisting of wool and cotton which are manufactured in Australia. Rayon is very attractive in appearance, it will take any dye, but it has no value as a clothing material. It is manufactured from Scandinavian wood pulp, which is purchased at 2d. per pound.
– Is it used in the manufacture of ladies’ hosiery?
– Yes, and its use’ in this form is largely responsible for the prevalence of pneumonia amongst womenfolk.
– It looks very nice.
– Yes, but it is not as good as silk, which has good wear-, ing qualities, and which also provides warmth. It is a vegetable product, a conductor of both heat and cold, and is dangerously inflammable - worse even than flannelette. If a match is lighted anywhere near it, in its raw state, it will go up like gunpowder.
– But the people do not wear it in its raw state.
– I am aware of that. It is absolutely misleading to call it artificial silk, because it has no relation whatever to silk. As a matter of fact, it is simply a wood pulp “ take-down.” Because it looks a beautiful fabric women rush into the shops to buy it; but it has no wearing value, and under friction it quickly goes to pieces.
– What nonsense!
– Even if what I am saying were not correct, we should adhere to our determination to protect the wool industry, which last year was responsible for just on 50 per cent. in value of our total exports.
– This material does not come into competition with our woollen textiles.
– I am surprised that the honorable senator should say that. Every textile journal and every textile authority in the world is of a different opinion. Statistics dealing with the industry show that last year rayon displaced 500,000 bales of merino wool. In all probability this competition is responsible for the fall in wool values which has taken place to-day. Wool has fallen 50 per cent, in value, and it is now down to such a level that, if our wool-growers are to continue paying the high wages which I think Australians are entitled to, it is doubtful if wool production will be profitable. The demand for this so-called artificial silk has made a multi-millionaire out of a millionaire. Courtaulds Limited, in England, are paying enormous dividends on a capitalization of £20,000,000, and I noticed the other day that in order to hide some of their huge profits they propose to water their stock by increasing the capital of the company to £80,000,000. Honorable senators would be very foolish to agree to any reduction in the duties. The wool industry should have the same protection as other industries.
– But the artificial silk industry is not yet established in Australia.
– No, but we are establishing woollen mills throughout the Commonwealth, and, unfortunately, under present conditions many of them are not paying dividends. We should support the industry that can utilize our raw products and supply articles for our requirements. Instead of agreeing to the proposed duties, the Senate should increase them.
– I can assure Senator Guthrie that I would adopt a different attitude if I believed that the importation of artificial silk textiles would interfere with the woollen textile industries of the Commonwealth. It is all nonsense for the honorable senator to suggest that artificial silk which is in such demand is a rubbishy material, and that it does not give good service. Our women folk would not be so foolish as to repeat their orders for the material if what the honorable senator has said were correct. But the point I wish to emphasize is that these materials do not come into competition with the woollen textiles. The honorable senator appears to be under the impression that only articles intended for wearing apparel are manufactured from these textiles. I have here some samples of beautiful net curtains. Certainly these do not come into competition with woollen textiles, and yet the people of Australia will have to pay higher prices for them.
– Curtains are also made from wool.
– But these are lace and net fabrics. In view of these facts, can the honorable senator contend that the importation of these materials will injure the Australian woollen industry ? As a matter of fact, the manufacture of some of these articles stimulates the demand for wool. Therefore, it must help the wool industry. “Why should the honorable senator be so oneeyed as to advocate the imposition of heavy duties on materials that are not manufactured in Australia?
– What is the proposed British duty - 10 per cent. ?
– The House of Representatives has increased the duties to 20 per cent., British, and my amendment seeks to re-impose the duties proposed in the original schedule.
– I would make the duty 45 per cent.
– If he had his way, the honorable senator would make every woman in Australia wear ordinary flannel undergarments, irrespective of whether she lived in tropical Australia or the southern portion of Tasmania. I turn now to the statement made by Senator Drake-Brockman, who suggested that the womenfolk of Australia, in insisting on wearing artificial silk materials, must be half-witted. The honorable senator overlooked the fact that during the war all British factories were converted for the manufacture of munitions, with the result that, when the war was over, British manufacturers of clothing materials had lost two-thirds of their export trade. They turned their attention to the production of artificial silk textiles, for which there was an increasing demand throughout the world, and found that they could compete with the Japanese and Chinese silk textiles which up till then had been so popular. These materials have gained in favour from year to year, until to-day a large propor tion of this class of material sold in tha retailers’ establishments in Australia are of artificial silk. This means that they are of British manufacture instead of, as formerly, of foreign manufacture. Does any honorable senator suggest that the womenfolk of Australia are not in a position to judge the value of the materials they purchase, and that they would repeat their orders in artificial silk if the materials were such rubbish as has been suggested? Mr. G. A. Bond, the founder of the well-known Sydney hosiery manufacturing firm, has built up a magnificent industry. I understand that 60 per cent. of that firm’s output in light-weight hosiery is artificial silk, largely, I believe, because it gives more satisfaction than pure silk.
– This item has nothing whatever to do with silk hosiery.
– But it deals with artificial silk generally, and 1 referred to hosiery, because of statements made by Senator Guthrie and Senator DrakeBrockman that artificial silk is a- rubbishy material. We are manufacturing artificial silk hosiery in Australia, so we should not penalize the people by imposing heavier duties on these piece goods.
– But we are manufacturing woollen piece goods.
– I know we are. I should like to know if the Minister is prepared to accept my suggested request for deferred duties, which will give protection to the industry when it is established.
– Then the Minister is not a protectionist, although he has posed as one all through the tariff debate. I am taking a common sense view of the subject. My contention is that, until we are producing these materials in Australia, we should not penalize the people of this country by these heavier duties. My amendment will give the industry adequate protection when it is established. Surely that is reasonable. I hope the committee will reject the modification made by the House of Representatives.
– In my judgment, this is the weakest item in the whole of the tariff schedule. To me it is an anomaly that the proposed duties on artificial silk should he heavier than the duties on silk itself, especially in view of the fact that these higher imposts will penalize British manufacturers, and assist manufacturers in Japan, France, Belgium, and- other countries. It seems to me that we are not dealing fairly with the British industry. Senator Guthrie has urged that artificial silk will displace wool. Other experts hold the contrary opinion. This is what one authority says -
Artificial silk takes colours which are purer and clearer than any to bc found in real silk. It absorbs and assimilates the dye so that the colour becomes part of itself. It possesses, too, a bright and glossy sheen unattainable in any other medium. Combined with cotton, silk, or wool, it outwears any real silk fabric. To assert that it is unhealthy is ridiculous.
– What authority is the honorable senator quoting?
– Courtaulds Limited.
– The honorable senator is quoting from their advertisement.
– I have no doubt that they know their own business a great deal better than Senator Guthrie does. They go on to state -
Senator Drake-Brockman says that the sale of artificial silk is competing with wool. This statement is entirely erroneous. Artificial silk has, in fact, been the means of more wool being used. A mixture of artificial silk and wool is now sold where only pure silk was formerly used, thus increasing the demand for wool.
– In a recent issue, the Textile Journal, which deals with the textiles of the world, says that artificial silk displaced 500,000 bales of wool last year.
– I prefer the opinion of the firm I have mentioned’ to that of the Textile Journal. It has been said that the material displayed in this chamber this afternoon is rubbish. I remind honorable senators that it is sold in enormous quantities. Is it reasonable to suppose that material which has such a large sale, is rubbish ? I wish also to refer to the statement made in another place that any additional duty en this material would be paid by the manufacturers. It would not be paid by them, but bv the persons who would buy the material. The prices of the fabric would be raised, but it would be sold in the same quantities as previously, and the poorer classes of the community would have to bear the burden. The committee should not agree to the modification proposed by the House of Representatives.
– I point out to Senator Payne that he would attain his object by moving that the words “ provided that the duty be 10 per cent. British, 12£ per cent, intermediate, and 20 per cent, general,” be added to the motion.
– I also want to” move for deferred duties. The amendment would probably be improved if made to read -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty 10 per cent. British, 12 J intermediate, and 20 per cent, general; and on and after 1st January, 1927, 25 per cent. British, 30 per cent, intermediate, and 35 per cent, general.
– I could not support the amendment in that form, because I do not think that we should anticipate something of which there is at present not even the nucleus in Australia. I have not even heard that the firm referred to this afternoon has purchased land or done anything to establish a factory in Australia.
– I desire to avoid any misunderstanding. Is there no possibility of the two scales of duty being put separately? There is as yet no industry of this kind in Australia. I want to get back to the rates in the original tariff schedule, and also to provide for a deferred duty.
– It would be convenient to deal first with the first portion of the honorable senator’s amendment.
– The sole reason for honorable members in another place deciding that it was desirable to increase the duty on these imported goods was that they had been influenced by the figures quoted by the right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt). The right honorable gentleman spoke of the profits made by a firm which manufactured material from artificial silk, but he did not say how much money was invested in the undertaking. He said that, for the year 1934, its profits were £520,349; for the year 1916, £1,083,923: for 1922, £3,018,432: for 1924, £3,880,745, and for 1925. £5,112,413.
– The honorable senator is not in order in referring to a debate in another place this session.
– I am quoting from an old established and well-known journal published in Melbourne. My figures are taken from the Herald of the 25th June, 1926. I understand that that journal, in quoting them, stated that they had been given in another place by the right honorable member for Balaclava, who made a series of calculations showing that a man who was lucky enough to have invested £100 in this concern in 1914 received an average return of 400 per cent, per annum, or a total of 4,800 per cent. I was amazed at that statement. Mr. Watt desired to increase the duty because, he said, the company would have to pay it. That is ridiculous. Does he think that we in this chamber are children? Does he not know that ultimately the duty would be paid by those who use this fabric? That is our experience with all protectionist duties ; they do increase the cost to the purchaser.
– It surprises me that a man of the honorable senator’s education and learning should endeavour to make us believe that. I do not believe it. If this increased duty is imposed it will be paid by those who use these goods. We are told also that textile goods made of artificial silk are rubbish. The public is the best judge of these materials.
– Does the honorable senator believe that?
– I do. The people of this country have had the advantage of a splendid system of public education, they are not illiterate, and they know what they are doing. They would not continue to purchase this material if they were not satisfied with it. The average Australian cannot be deceived in that way. Then we ‘are told that there is no warmth in clothing made of artificial silk. That statement also is incorrect. I admit that it would not be so warm as wool ; but who in the semitropical climate which prevails throughout one-third of the Government wants to wear warm material always? In Victoria and Tasmania, and some other parts of the Commonwealth, woollen clothing is all right : but in the northern parts of Australia no one would dream of wearing warm woollen goods all the year round. Victoria is not the whole of the Common wealth. In parts of Australia warm woollen goods are just as unsuitable as they are in New Guinea. Clothing made of material similar to that exhibited by Senator Payne is required in warm climates. I disagree entirely with those who contend that the use of artificial silk goods would interfere with our great woollen industry. I can understand Senator Guthrie fighting vigorously on behalf of that industry ; but we are assured that, instead of decreasing the quantity of wool used, goods containing artificial silk would increase the consumption of wool.
– There is no proof that artificial silk goods are cool. Artificial silk is a conductor of both heat and cold.
– I should say that clothing made of such material would be cool. Were Senator Guthrie on the western plains of New South Wales in summer time, or in the tropical portions of Australia, I think that he would wear clothing containing some artificial silk rather than woollen goods.
– I should use thin flannel, such as is worn by cricketers in the summer time.
– Material containing artificial silk is appreciated by millions of people, and I therefore cannot see why we should deliberately place a tax on it. Such a tax would only have the effect of increasing the cost to every woman who purchased this material. Whether used for household decorative purposes or for clothing, the inevitable result of the imposition of higher duties on this material would be to increase the cost. We are already obtaining sufficient revenue from the Customs House. When the figures to the end of the present financial year have been compiled, they will probably show a total of £40,000,000 from this source. That should be enough for Senator Guthrie and honorable members in another place. When this item was before us previously we gave it prolonged consideration, and we agreed to make a substantial increase in the duties. Then the House of Representatives, apparently with the idea of hurting that company, was only too anxious to increase’ the duties on the articles manufactured by it. However suitable wool may be in many respects, it does not meet the requirements of the tropical and semi-tropical regions of the Commonwealth, and even in the south a. number of people prefer to wear silk during the summer months, when the temperature is often 90 degrees or more. But its cost is beyond their financial resources.
– Wool is cheap enough.
– But it is too warm.
– It is a nonconductor of heat.
– No one would dream, of wearing wool when a light material such as silk was obtainable at a. reasonable cost.
– Athletes all over the world wear flannel in summer.
– Athletes are not working; they are merely exercising themselves. In the summer time people prefer to wear silk if it is within their means ; but as the silk goods imported from China, Japan, and other countries outside Britain are beyond the reach of the majority of our people, they are compelled to wear artificial silk, which it is now proposed to make more costly. If there was an industry in Australia manufacturing artificial silk, or even if it were proposed to establish, one here, the position would be entirely different, but no such industry has been established here, nor is there any definite proposal to establish one. In these circumstances we would be doing wrong if we agreed to the modification proposed by the House of Representatives.
– I cannot follow the reason which has actuated the committee of the Senate or honorable members of another place to alter the rates of duty as originally proposed by the Government. Honorable senators know my attitude towards protection.
– We all thought that the honorable senator was a protectionist.
– I am; and I have never had reason to change from that attitude; but the duties first proposed by the Government were not of a protectionist character. They were essentially revenue duties. Some honorable senators hold that luxuries should be taxed as such, and it is believed by some people that artificial silk stockings are luxuries. It is the workers who produce luxuries, but, unfortunately, they are unable to participate in many of them. I have never been one to make it harder and harder for the class to which I belong to participate in luxuries.
– The honorable senator does so by imposing Customs duties.
– I am in favour of imposing high duties on articles which come into competition with established industries in Australia, and I have voted for such duties. According to the newspaper reports, honorable members of another place imposed higher duties on artificial silk goods than were proposed in this chamber because a British company which is producing these goods is making a fabulous profit. Whether that is a fact or not does not influence me. Fabulous profits are also made by many protected industries, and even by protectionist newspapers, which oppose the imposition of a duty on newsprint because they do not want to pay more for the paper they use. I hope the day is not far distant when the newsprint industry will be established in Australia. The higher duties on artificial silk piece goods are not proposed to assist any established industry, but simply because these goods come into competition with goods turned out by our own protected industries. But that is not a solid reason for increasing duties.
– Does the honorable senator contend that these artificial silk piece goods cannot be manufactured in Australia ?
– No. Australia can produce everything needed for the human family if it is done in the right way, but the imposition of a revenue duty will not bring about the result which Senator Elliott desires equally with myself. If these duties are for revenue purposes, they should be very low. If they are for a protective purpose, they should be higher than is now proposed.
– The fact that a company has made preliminary investigations in Australia after the imposition of the increased duties shows that the increased duties are soundly based.
– The fact to which the honorable senator has drawn attention is a sound argument for still higher duties against the importation of these goods; but, in the meantime, these increased rates will make certain artificial silk goods more costly for the workers generally.
– Every one uses artificial silk.
– According to Senators Drake-Brockman and Guthrie that is not so. Those honorable senators declare that there is no warmth in artificial silk goods, and that the wearing of those goods should not be encouraged in Australia. But no matter what is said by honorable senators in that regard, the average woman would rather be out of the world than out of the fashion. To-day the fashion is to wear short frocks and silk stockings. Those who can afford them wear pure silk. Those who are not so well circumstanced in life buy the next best thing.
– This item does not deal with stockings or the material out of which they are made.
– Why is there any differentiation between stockings and underwear ?
– Because artificial silk stockings are made in Australia, and are protected by still higher rates of duty than are proposed on piece goods.
– Then the artificial silk piece goods are not made in Australia ?
– Not yet.
– I cannot understand the policy of the Government. It gives the highest protective duties to established industries, but why should it seek to do the same in regard to industries which are not yet established?
– These goods come into competition with established industries.
– I do not share the. view that all goods coming into competition with other articles, whose manufacture is encouraged by high protective duties, should also carry high protective duties. If I saw any move on the part of manufacturers of artificial silk piece goods to establish themselves in Australia, they would get my whole-hearted- support for the imposition of the highest rates of duty.
– Last year, as the result of a small measure of protection given in Great Britain against the importation of artificial silk piece goods, a huge factory was started in England in addition to the company about which we have heard so much to-day.
– I am proposing a deferred duty.
– I think that Senator Payne’s proposal is a good one. Until we have some concrete evidence that this company proposes to establish the industry in Australia we ought not to impose the highest duty, but if the company proposes to start operations in Australia we shall get some indication from it if Senator Payne’s amendment to defer higher rates of duty until next year is adopted.
– If the people who are making the inquiries really commenced operations, the honorable senator would afford them protection 1
– Yes ; not the protestion suggested by the House of Representatives, but, still, higher duties.
– They will not get that protection with the help of Senator Thomas.
– But they will get it with my help. Without absolutely committing myself,. I feel disposed to favour the amendment suggested by Senator Payne.
– Senator Payne has asked the committee to do something- which I feel sure the majority of honorable senators will regard as absurd. He is asking it to stultify itself by reducing the rates of duty agreed to by it a couple of weeks ago.
– We have learned a great deal since then.
– We have not learned much from Senator Payne, because he has not put forward what may be regarded as a valid argument in favour of still further reducing the rates of duty on artificial silk piece goods. The honorable senator’s argument, that these increases will lead to an increase in the retail price of these goods, might apply if there were no competition, but we know that the price of these goods is not high because they come into competition with pure silk and woollen goods. The figures placed before the committee to-day show that there is still a -wide margin between the cost of this material and the price at which it is sold in Australia. I have already mentioned that there is a prospect of the artificial silk industry being established in Australia. The Premier of Tasmania has made representations to the Government, asking that encouragement should be given through the Customs House to the proposed establishment of an artificial silk factory at Hobart.
– Is it not a fact that soft woods, and not hard woods, are used in the manufacture of artificial silk? If that is so, it would be useless to establish this industry in Tasmania.
– I am not in a position to answer the honorable senator’s question. At one time it was thought that nothing but soft woods could be used for the manufacture of paper pulp, but I understand that it has been clearly demonstrated that some of our Australian hardwood may be used for the purpose. Honorable senators are aware that strong and persistent representations have been made from Tasmania for the encouragement of the manufacture of paper from Tasmanian wood pulp.
– Why did not the Government give encouragement to that enterprise ?
– The Government gave what was considered to be adequate encouragement, but it did not lead to the establishment of the industry. The matter is to be further investigated. Honorable senators who have opposed increased duties on this material appear to be under the impression that the whole of the artificial silk imported into Australia comes from Great Britain, whereas large quantities are manufactured in Italy and in Japan. I understand that the output of artificial silk in Japan and in Italy is greater than that of Great Britain.
– Then why has not greater preference been shown to Great Britain?
– The preference given to Great Britain is considered sufficient to’ cover the cost of production in Britain as compared with the other countries I have mentioned. Courtaulds Limited have factories in Canada, where the population is larger than that of Australia, but probably the demand for light materials is no greater there than in Australia. If Courtaulds Limited have expended considerable capital in becoming firmly established, in Canada, it is reasonable to assume the imposition of a substantial duty on artificial silk may cause them to consider the advisableness of erecting factories in the Commonwealth. By agreeing to Senator Payne’s amendment the committee would be stultifying itself.
– Is Senator Payne’s amendment to reduce the duty below the rate originally before the committee ?
– Yes. Senator Grant, who poses as an authority, said that the people in the tropics dressed in light materials. The honorable senator will be surprised to hear that it is the invariable practice of men engaged in hard work in tropical parts of Australia to wear fairly .heavy grey or blue flannel, which is a non-conductor of heat.
– Do the women wear blue flannel?
– The women in the tropics wear garments consisting of either cotton or light woollen materials. Artificial silk is manufactured principally from wood pulp, to which tin is added to give it weight.
– Tin is used as a mordant so that the material can take the dye.
– Some of the material, samples of which were produced to-day, evidently consists of something heavier than wood pulp.
– That is material consisting of wool and artificial silk.
– The imposition of this duty will not cause hardship to any one.
– Is it a protective or a revenue duty?
– For a time it will be a revenue duty. The honorable senator knows that a great deal of our revenue is raised through the Customs house, and there is no reason why some should not be collected from this source.
– It will increase the cost of women’s underwear.
– The women will not have to pay ; the extra duty will be paid by manufacturers in anothercountry.
– That argument died years ago.
– Probably Senator Thomas was not in the chamber when Senator Drake-Brockman said that Great Britain collected £7,000,000 during the last 12 months in duties on silk, and that the duties did not increase the price of the material to the purchasers.
– The three-card trick is nothing to that.
– I am not in a position to argue that, as Senator Thomas probably has a more intimate knowledge of the three-card trick than I have. I ask the committee to support the duties imposed by another place, which I think, in the circumstances, are reasonable.
– I cannot remember a Minister being: in a more uncomfortable position than is Senator Crawford on this occasion. As a member of a strong protectionist Government, when replying to an interjection, he was reluctantly compelled to admit that for a time the proposed duties could be regarded only as revenue duties. He assured us. as did Senator Drake-Brockman, that if higher rates are imposed the users of this material will not have to pay the extra cost. Senator Thomas, who is a strong supporter of the Government, could not countenance such a ridiculous statement, because he knows that the extra duties will be passed on to the public. When we were considering the imposition of a nominal tax upon picture theatre patrons, I remember the honorable senator saying that the tax was not only passed on, but that the proprietors increased the prices of admission. The manufacturers of i his material will not entertain for ‘a moment the idea of paying the tax.
Senator Thomas. - Why did Senator Drake-Brockman oppose the increased duty on whisky?
–Order ! Whisky duties are not now
– On that occasion I suppose the whip was cracked, and Senator Drake-Brockman had to do what he was told. Some honorable senators on that occasion were strong enough to vote against the Government, and with a little more support the infamous duty on whisky would have been defeated.
– Order! The honorable senator must not reflect upon a decision of the committee.
– I withdraw the remark. If the Minister could submit some tangible evidence concerning the establishment of factories in’ Australia for the manufacture of artificial silk, the Government’s proposal might be worthy of consideration; but he is unable to give us any assurance on that point. We ought not to agree to the decision arrived at in another place merely because a British company is making enormous profits. If higher duties are imposed, the purchasers of artificial silk will have to pay more for it. A number of workmen in the tropics wear flannel underclothing, but they discard it as soon as they can, and wear material of a lighter weight, which is more comfortable and, also, healthier. Fully one-half of the population of Australia consists of women, and there are very few women who wear flannel underclothing. If unreasonable duties are imposed upon artificial silk, the users of that material will have to pay more for it.
– Senator Payne is a shockingly bad tactician, as he has induced me to waste the time of the committee this afternoon. I do not think it fair to ask the committee to stultify itself by reversing the vote which it gave on this item when it was last under consideration. The honorable senator is now raising two obstacles, one of which is to ask the House of Representatives to reverse its decision, and the other is ihat we should support lower duties than we previously favoured. If his amendment were to ask the House of Representatives to reconsider our previous request, there would be an opportunity ‘of carrying it. That is the only amendment 1 shall support.
.- I wish to disabuse the minds of certain honorable senators concerning the position confronting them. I can understand Senator Thompson suggesting that the committee ought to adhere to the duties it favoured on a previous occasion. We may have an opportunity of acting in that direction later. Since this matter was last under consideration, I have obtained additional information. The Minister said that if a higher duty is imposed it will be paid by the manufacturers, and not by the users of artificial silk, because of the keen competition with woollen products.
– I said the competition with cotton and woollen goods.
– Artificial silk comes into keen and successful competition with pure silk material. Artificial silk is the product of a British industry.
– Not solely. It is a ‘big industry in other countries.
– I cannot understand the attitude of the Government in giving Britain a preference of only 5 per cent, over foreign countries. I defy any honorable senator to mention another item in the schedule where the British preferential margin is so small. I have some retail price lists showing what will be the effect of the duties. One sample of artificial silk is sold at 5s. 6d. a yard, and the price for a corresponding pure silk fabric is 8s: 6d. Another artificial silk material is retailed at 10s. 6d. a yard, as against 13s. 6d. a yard for the pure silk fabric. A third sample of artificial silk is retailed at 2s, 9d. a yard, and the nearest approach to it in pure silk is 3s. lid. a yard. There is a substantial margin between these two price levels. Clearly the Australian user of the article, and not the manufacturer, will have to pay the extra duty. I hope that my amendment will be agreed to.
– If the committee disagrees with the modification of the House of Representatives! in the duties on this item, I shall move that the Senate adhere to its previous decision.
– I wish to be as consistent as possible in regard to this item. The duties agreed to in the Senate were increased in another place, and now Senator Payne desires that the duties formerly imposed be adopted.
– Is it competent for the committee to do that ? .
– I think it is.
– Something has happened since then. My amendment will place artificial silk on the same level as pure silk.
– That means that the Senate must reverse its former vote on this item.
– It was never properly debated before.
– I intend to support the amendment submitted by Senator Payne for reasons which I have given before, and which, I think, may be emphasized now. Our purpose should be to encourage the establishment of new industries in any part of Australia. It has been’ hinted that there is a likelihood of this artificial silk industry being started in Tasmania. The Minister has told us that negotiations were pending between the interested parties and the Government with that object in view, so no harm can be done to the proposed industry by adopting the amendment which seeks to reduce the duties, but proposes the imposition of higher duties when there is absolute proof that the industry has been established in Australia. If the industry is not to be started here, then the duties proposed in another place are altogether too high for revenue purposes.
– The industry will not be established here if the propaganda of the last week or two is continued.
– We may take it that the duties proposed in another place were intended as an inducement to the company mentioned to establish a branch of its business in Australia.. That being so, is it not obvious that the company will be still further encouraged by the knowledge that even higher duties will be imposed if the industry is established in this country ? As Senator Payne’s amendment means that, I intend -to support it. I shall not vote for the proposal to penalize the people of Australia by the imposition of essentially revenue duties, because the people who will be most affected by such duties are mainly associated with the class to which I belong. Senator Crawford said this afternoon that men in the tropical portions of Australia preferred woollen textiles. I remind him that there are as many women in Australia, as there are men, and, as far as my knowledge goes, the average woman does not favour woollen underwear.
– The people in the tropics do not care for artificial silk because it will not wash properly.
– We have heard that argument before. We have also been told that there is no warmth in artificial silk, and that it is injurious to health. Where is the proof? How does the company which manufactures this class of goods make such huge fortunes if not out of the people who buy it so extensively in all parts of the world? The Minister argued that one reason for the imposition of the duties as they appear in the schedule is that artificial silk conies into competition with woollen textiles. But will it not be a more serious competitor if the industry is established in this country ? How does the Minister reconcile his two statements ?
– It will then be an Australian industry, and money spent in the purchase of artificial silk textiles will bo kept within Australia.
– I think Senator Pavne’a amendment is a sound one. Its adoption will do no injury to any protected industry, and it will prevent the people of Australia from being penalized by higher revenue duties until the industry is established in this country.
Question - That the amendment (Senator Payne’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move -
That the following words be added, “ Provided the duties be made - and on and after 1st January, 1927, ad val., 25 per cent. British, 30 per cent, intermediate, and 35 per cent, general.”
Senator GRANT (New South Wales) will the increased duties come into operation on the date mentioned?
– The duties will not come into operation unless the industries are first established.
– It was my intention to move that the Senate disagree with the modification made by the House of Representatives in relation to this item; but in view of the majority against each of the amendments already submitted, and having regard to the overwhelming number of Government supporters present, I think that it would economize time if I did not proceed with the amendment which I suggested.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’sRequest. - Make sub-item (a) read -
House of Representatives’ Message. - Made with the following modifications : -
Make sub-items (a) and (b) read -
And on and after 25th March, 1926 -
– I move -
That the modifications be agreed to.
When this item left the Senate it was divided into two parts; but further consideration has shown that it would be extremely difficult to administer it in that form. The House of Representatives has therefore combined the two items, with a uniform duty of 10 per cent. British, 15 per cent, intermediate, and 25 per cent, general. Since this item was before the Senate previously, further representations have been made by the Premier of Tasmania to the effect that -two firms intend to establish factories in Tasmania for the manufacture of carpets. Tn that case. I feel sure that the Senate will agree that the duties now proposed are reasonable.
.- The effect of the alteration made in another place is to impose a duty of 10 per cent, on these articles, if made in Great Britain ; whereas previously they were free; and to increase the intermediate duty by 5 per cent., and the general duty by 10 per cent. Especially in relation to importations from Great Britain, those are substantial increases. I should like to have a definite assurance from the Minister, which he has not so far given, that there is a serious intention to proceed immediately with the manufacture in Australia of the articles enumerated in sub-item 2.
– A company was formed, and its capital subscribed; but when the duty was reduced under the schedule as it originally came to the Senate, the company declined to proceed. If the modification of the House of Representatives be agreed to, the company will go on.
– I should like to have the explanation from the Minister, rather than from Senator Duncan.
– I know the facts, and was responsible for bringing the matter up on the first occasion.
– The imposition of a duty on these goods is purely a revenue tariff, because they are not manufactured here. The Government professes to follow a policy of protection, and therefore its proposal to imp’ose what is distinctly a revenue duty, should not be countenanced. I should like to have the Minister’s assurance that in the near future factories will be established in Australia to manufacture these goods.
– I have already told the committee that representations have been made by the Premier of Tasmania that two companies piopose to manufacture carpets in that State. Already there is a company established in Sydney manufacturing carpets, and recently a prospectus was issued for the formation of another company, but I understand that, pending the complete passage of this tariff through Parliament, no further action has been taken in that direction.
Motion agreed to.
Provided that any such films printed from a negative which was not the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom shall not be entitled to entry at the rate of the British preferential tariff under this sub-item.
Senate’s Request. - In sub-item (c) (2) (b) leave out *‘1½d,” and insert “ 2½d.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - Not made.
– I move -
That the request be not pressed.
When this item was previously before the committee it was represented that an increase in the duty would lead to the production of films in Australia and to a larger importation of British films. It was also urged that it would have the effect of preventing the showing of undesirable pictures. Of the 21,000,000 feet of films imported last year, the great bulk came from America, and a very small proportion from Great Britain. To show how completely the picture business has passed into American hands, and that no effort is made by British producers to push the sale of their films in Australia, almost every American producer has his representative here, whereas there is not one representative of the British film industry in Australia. Some years ago an effort was made to encourage the industry in Great Britain by the imposition of a duty of 33 per cent., but it was a failure. There was a gradual annual diminution in the output of films, and finally the duty was abolished by the MacDonald Government. An extra penny per lineal foot on films would mean - an increased revenue of about £90,000 a year. It would not have the effect of establishing the picture industry in Australia, but it would probably mean an increase in the charge for admission to picture theatres.
– The honorable senator does not think that the duty has been made high enough.
– If the duty were made 2s. 6d. a foot it would not lead to the establishment of the film industry in Australia upon a scale that would supply our picture theatres with a substantial proportion of the films required by them.
– Who has advised the Minister to that effect?
– I am now giving my own opinion. It costs as much as £500,000 to produce some pictures, and it is not at all likely that such large sums would be spent to produce films which probablywould not be shown outside the Commonwealth.
– We can do in Australia what can be done in any other part of the world.
– I have no doubt that we can, within limits, but it would not be possible for us to produce some of the pictures that are produced elsewhere.
– I should be sorry if we did.
– I should hope that our moral sense would prevent the production of some types of pictures. A great deal was said receutly in this chamber about certain films which had been shown in Australia, and particular reference was made to one which had been held up by the censor. Many honorable senators who saw a private screening of that picture agreed that, although some modification would be necessary before it could be screened, it did not merit the complete condemnation expressed in this chamber. An increase in duty would not bring about the screening of a larger propoition of British or Australian films. To achieve that desirable end other means are necessary, and I am informed that within the next few months legislation will probably be passed in the State of Victoria requiring a certain proportion of the films shown, at any screening for which admission is charged, to be of British origin. That practice has proved most effective elsewhere. As an increase in the duty would not have the effect which honorable senators had in view when this request was forwarded to tlie House of Representatives, and would lead to the picture theatres passing it on to their patrons and possibly charging them two or three times the amount of the increase, I ask the committee to reverse its previous decision, and not to press the request.
– I ask the committee to press . its request. Rightly, there is no duty on British films, but the duty on foreign films is only 1½d. per lineal foot, and the proposal of the Senate was to increase it to 2½d. per lineal foot.
– Who is asking for this increase?
– I am, for one, and for many reasons. For one thing, we ought to derive more revenue from the American picture film producers. I admit that the proposed rate might not be sufficient to encourage the investment of a large amount of capital in the production of films in Australia, but we are not certain that it will not bring about that result. At present there is a proposal on foot for the formation of a company for the production of films within the Empire,. not to portray American heroes, or to proclaim the fact that the Stars and Stripes is the only flag and the Americans are the only people in the world, but to teach the traditions and deeds of our own race, and the advantages that the far-flung dominions offer to people in the Old Land. Every one knows that the Americans are very cleverly invading every country with their film propaganda. Every American publication tells us that trade follows the films; and, without the slightest doubt, moving pictures are a wonderful means of advertising one’s wares. We cannot quarrel with the cleverness of the people “of America in utilizing them for this purpose; but one very objectionable feature of the American films is the fact that they almost invariably depict the hero as an American, and the rogue or fool -as a Britisher.
– Our censors can cut that out.
– I do not know that they have the power to do so. If honorable senators will bear with me, I shall deal fairly exhaustively with the report of the Commonwealth Chief Censor. I have no vendetta against picture shows. They are the most popular form of amusement in the world to-day, and the prices charged are reasonable; but I deplore the enormous amount of money spent by people in attending these shows night after night. I also deplore the fact that parents allow their children to spend so much time in the unhealthy atmosphere of a picture show on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon, when they should be playing out in the parks and gardens, or listening to music. In reference to the statement by the Minister that the increase in the duty may be passed on to the people who attend picture shows, I should like to point out that in Australia last year over 100,000,000 tickets were sold for these shows. Thus the amount of the duty to be paid by their patrons - if passed on, which would not be the case - would be less than one-fifth of a penny per ticket. While I have nothing to say against plCtures that depict historical events, commerce, scenery, sport, or fun, I think it would be better for the great majority of our people if they were provided for in the fresh open air. . I am a great believer in providing the people with plenty of parks and gardens, play-grounds, and conveniences for seabathing. I am also a believer in providing them with plenty of music. The American picture film producers have an absolute monopoly, and the opposition to increased duties is being shown, not by the Australian people, but by the American producers.
– It is not.
– It is. Australia is paying America over £5,000,000 a year for pictures which in most cases are not purchased. There is only one firm in Australia actually purchasing films. The Americans, who have a monopoly and untold wealth and power, produce pictures some of which cost from £40,000 to £70,000.
– One has cost £5,000,000 sterling to produce.
– I doubt the accuracy of that statement, as I have studied the whole subject very thoroughly. Mr. Gibson, O.B.E., who is opposing me on this question, and with whom I have had a long interview, informed me that the maximum amount spent on the production of any picture was £70,000. Mr. Gibson supplied me, for my private information, with a copy of his evidence given before the Tariff Board. The American producers first make a profit in the country of production and then lease the pictures to Australian picture show proprietors, from whom they collect 60 per cent, of the takings, leaving only 40 per cent, to be retained in Australia.
– They do not work on that basis.
– Do the contracts provide that the picture show proprietors shall pay the duty ?
– I do not think so. I am endeavouring to show that an enormous amount of money is going out of the country to certain American monopolists, who are using the industry for American propaganda. A huge profit is made bv the American producers before the films are sent here. When sent to Australia they are invoiced at almost any price.
– Who pays the duty ?
– I understand it is paid, in t)he first place, by the picture show proprietors. But it is eventually deducted from the cost of the films.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– When the duties on imported films were considered by the Senate in 1921 a flat rate of 3d. per lineal foot under the general tariff was considered reasonable; but another place reduced the rate to 1½d. per foot. Instead of insisting upon the higher rate the Senate agreed to a reduction, with the result that since 1921 the duty has been at the nominal rate of lid. per foot. It is almost impossible to ascertain how the moving picture business is being conducted in Australia; but it is evident from the information obtained from various sources that the combination handling American films is a very powerful and wealthy one. In some instances it takes very - drastic measures against picture show proprietors who do not comply with the conditions imposed. A case was brought under my notice some time ago where a gentleman who invested thousands of pounds in a picture theatre wished to conduct the establishment in his own way, but he was plainly told by a representative of the combination supplying American films that if he continued in that way his supply of films would be stopped. He was, therefore, compelled either to close his theatre or accept the conditions imposed. I have been informed that the American combination has treated more than one theatre proprietor or lessee in that way. That being the case Parliament should seriously consider the question of having a searching inquiry made by a royal commission, or some equally effective body, in order to ascertain if the imposition of higher duties would encourage the production of Australian pictures. Motion pictures provide the most popular form of amusement, not only in Australia, but in almost every other country, and although it has been estimated that in Australia 100,000,000 people attend the exhibition of moving pictures every year. I believe a close examination of the figures would show that the number is much larger. This afternoon the Minister (Senator Crawford), informed us that certain duties, which were subsequently agreed to were, for the time being, purely revenue duties. The duty on imported films is in the same category, but I disagree with the Minister’s inference that the imposition of a 33J per cent, duty on films imported into Great Britain was responsible for the decline of the industry in that country. Production in Great Britain diminished because of the unsuitable climatic conditions. The Australian climate is in many respects similar to, and is as suitable for the production of films as is the climate of California. The American combination has shown considerable opposition to the exhibition of films of Australian production. Even when they are shown, the picture theatre proprietors have to pay the combination for the time occupied in screening them. The local producers are, therefore, not receiving a fair deal. The scenic beauties of Australia are worthy of greater publicity. What opportunity has a man receiving the basic wage of visiting the different parts of the Commonwealth? Such a person would be lucky if he visited Tasmania once in his lifetime, and would be particularly fortunate if he could make a trip to Western Australia or Queensland.
– Is the honorable senator not aware that the Commonwealth is publishing a series of “ See Your Own Country “ films ?
– The Commonwealth in producing about 500,000 feet of such films is undertaking the business in a satisfactory manner; but that quantity of Australian films produced is infinitesimal when we know that about 21,000,000 feet of films are exhibited in Australia every year. The production of Australian films should be encouraged by the payment of a bounty, or in some other way. It is easy to suggest that small companies can undertake picture production, when, as a matter of fact, it requires a large and powerful company to successfully compete with the American combination. In making an attempt to combat this organization, a company would, at the commencement, have to compete with a country with a population of 120,000,000. In view of what has been done to protect other industries, even before in some cases they are properly established, an industry of this importance should receive the earnest consideration of Parliament. The discussion here and in another place, as well as the publicity given in the press to the subject, has brought it prominently before the people of Australia, who, till then, had little knowledge of the operations of the American combine. Even now there is some uncertainty. Senator Thompson told us this afternoon that the production of one picture alone cost the American producers £5,000,000. I think the honorable senator was stretching the statement to the extent of a few millions of pounds, and that probably Senator Guthrie’s estimate of £70,000 was much neared the mark. When we consider the wonderful climate of Australia and the great variety of its scenery, and when we consider also its sparse population - we have an average of about only two people to the square mile - it is our bounden duty to take advantage of every opportunity to develop new industries here. The production of moving pictures in Australia should provide employment for a large number of people. Only recently, because of the belief that a certain company was reaping an enormous harvest from the Australian people, Parliament agreed to the imposition of heavy import duties to protect Australian industries. Whether we can ensure the establishment of the moving picture industry by the imposition of duties, or whether we shall have to adopt some other means, is not clear to me ; but I doubt if an additional1d. a foot duty on foreign films will achieve this purpose.
– It will merely be one of those revenue duties which the honorable senator is so fond of.
– I have never been in favour of revenue duties. I regard all Customs duties as an unjustifiable tax on the workers. I have been informed on very good authority that a Sydney company produced seven films last year. That is a beginning, and in view of the possible employment of a large number of people and the scope for the development of latent talent, we should take the necessary measures to ensure the establishment of the industry in Australia.
– I have to inform the Senate that I have received a letter from Senator Needham, dated 30th June, 1926, intimating that he desires to be relieved of his duties as a member of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That Senator Needham be discharged from attendance on the Public Accounts Committee.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till 2.30 p.m. to-morrow.
– In moving
That the Senate do now adjourn,
I should like to take this opportunity to say farewell to you, sir, in your official position as President of the Senate. You have given us to understand that you propose to retire from the chair at the end of the financial year, so to-morrow it will be the duty of the Senate to elect a new President. I am sure that honorable senators on both sides regret that you have seen fit to retire. I desire to express our appreciation of the manner in which you have discharged your duties. We all hope that you will benefit materially in health from the rest from official responsibilities which you are about to take, and that you will soon be found speaking and assisting the Senate in debates on the floor of this chamber. We are also taking farewell of Senator Drake-Brockman, who, for some time, has been Government Whip, and for many years has been one of my colleagues in the representation of Western Australia in the Senate. I feel sure that all honorable senators regret that Senator Drake-Brockman is leaving us, of his own free will in this case, and that his political association with us is about to be severed, temporarily, at all events. I wish to say, on behalf of the Government, that we appreciate very highly the valuable service which he has rendered as Government Whip. He has been more than Whip. Actually he has been available to take up the duties of a minister, and on many occasions has displayed a sounder knowledge of measures that have been before the Senate than could be claimed by ministers themselves. In this respect he has always been very useful to the Senate. In short, he has been invaluable to all honorable senators, and we appreciate very highly the work which he has done in this chamber. We all wish him good luck, the best of health, and success in the future.
.- On behalf of my colleagues on your left, Mr. President, I join with the Leader of the Senate in expressing regret that you will voluntarily vacate the position of President of this chamber to-night, after thirteen years of service. With the Leader of the Senate, I hope that the rest from arduous official duties which you will enjoy will be beneficial to you, and that, in the near future, we shall see you again on the floor of the Senate taking part in debate as vigorously as of yore. I remember you as a private member. We all realized then your worth and your strength in debate. I hope that it will not be long before we see that vigour restored.
I also share the opinion of the Leader of the Senate regarding Senator Drake-
Brockman. He is relinquishing his connexion with the Senate, not as the result of a verdict of the people of Western Australia, but of his own volition. I echo the wish expressed by Senator Pearce that, whatever path in life Senator ‘ Drake-Brockman maps out for himself in the future, he will continue to enjoy good health and to prosper. During the past two years, I have had more to do with the honorable and learned senator than have most honorable senators. On one occasion, when he defeated me in Western Australia, he relieved me of my responsibility in this Senate; but when I was again elected by the people to represent them here, I was appointed Opposition Whip, and in that capacity I have frequently had to consult with Senator Drake-Brockman, who has been the Government Whip. During those two years, I found him always courteous and kind. We have fought each other as political opponents, both in this chamber and before the elections; but that has never interfered with our personal friendship. I hope that the day will never come in Australia when political differences will interfere with personal friendships.
I join with the Leader of the Senate in expressing the hope that you, sir, whose health has been impaired by your devotion to the onerous duties of your office, will speedily be restored to your usual good health.
– I desire to endorse what has already been said regarding Senator DrakeBrockman. The honorable senator has not been a frequent contributor to our debates ; but honorable senators will agree that when he has spoken he has directed his best attention to the subject, and given us something to which it was well worth while listening. I shall miss him from his position here, and I desire to take this opportunity of saying that I wish him success in the future.
One of my first duties in this Senate was to propose you, Mr. President, as a fit and proper person to occupy the position of President of the Senate. That confidence has been justified; you have done well in the position. Although at times you have had to rule me out of order, I have no doubt that most honorable senators will agree that you were right. Youhave bad strenuous duties to perform, and you have performed them well. I shall be glad, indeed, to see you restored to your general good health, and taking your place on the floor of the Senate in your usual mischievous way. I join with the Leader of the Senate in wishing both you and Senator DrakeBrockman the best of health in the future.
– I am . one ‘of three who disappear from this Senate to-day. My two colleagues, to whom “ Good-bye “ wag said on Friday last, were casualties in the last election ; but I am suffering from what may be described as a selfinflicted wound. It is, nevertheless, a serious wound, because it hurts me to sever my association with this Senate, where I have been for six of the most enjoyable years of my life. I have had the good fortune to be associated here with a number of men actuated by a desire to render public service. That same desire brought me into public life, and it now takes me out of public life. When I decided that I would not contest the last Senate election, I was practising what I had preached, both in the Senate and on the public platform - that no man should allow his personal ambitions to stand in the way of the progress of his country or the prospects of his party, when he believes that the party with which he is associated is that which ‘ will best serve his country. I believe that there are people in the community who think that I made that decision as the result of a bargain with the Government, and that I was to get a quid pro quo. I fake this opportunity to state that I made no bargain with the Government, or with anybody else. My action was taken voluntarily in the interests of my party and my country. If a similar set of circumstances arose again, I should act in the same manner. Although, as I have said, I am suffering from a self-inflicted wound, I go out of public life with the desire to re-enter it. It has always been my aim to render what public service I am capable of rendering. I still have that desire. I hope again to enter public life; but what form my future public service will take can only be determined in the future. The principles that have guided me in the past will, I hope, guide me in the future. Whether by following thoses principles I shall again take my seat in this Senate I do not know. I retire from public life for the time being with strong feelings of regret. I believe that I have made some slight contribution to the debates in this Senate, and to the welfare of Australia. After six years’ apprenticeship I have begun to know something of Australia’s requirements; but circumstances demand that I should retire. I do so without crying; but I give warning that I intend to reenter public life if the people of Australia want me. I thank Senator Pearce and the Leader of the Opposition for their references to myself, and I leave the Senate believing that I leave behind a number of personal friends.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
– I believe that the friendships ‘I have made here will remain throughout the years that are to come. The associations made during the past six years are such that I shall always cherish them as among the happiest of my life.
– Before submitting the motion I desire, in common with the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) in this chamber, to express my regret that we are, only temporarily, I hope, losing the services of Senator Drake-Brockman. The honorable senator has been a distinct acquisition to the Senate during his occupancy of a seat in this chamber, I am sure that we all regret that he thought it desirable and necessary in the interests of his country that he should suffer, as he himself put it, a self-inflicted wound. I hope that future events will enable him. to return to this chamber to renew the friendly associations which he has experienced here.
For my own part, I desire to thank the Leader of the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition for their kind expressions and good wishes regarding myself, and honorable senators generally for the way in which those expressions were received. For thirteen years it has been my privilege to occupy the high and honorable office of President of the Senate; and it is with great regret that, owing to failing health, I now find myself compelled to retire. During that time I have always appreciated the support and sympathy which I have received from the whole Senate in the discharge of my duties. Various governments have been in office during that period, and from each I have received the support and co-operation necessary to enable me to discharge the duties of my office. I have long been associated with the present Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), to whom I am more indebted than to any of his colleagues or predecessors. The Senate has always been remarkably kind to me. Although the duties of President arc sometimes onerous, the fact that I could always rely upon the sympathy and co-operation of honorable senators has lightened the burden considerably, and has made a pleasure of what otherwise might have been a task. 1 thank honorable senators sincerely for their cordial and sympathetic co-operation so readily accorded to me on all occasions. Before finally vacating the chair, I desire to place on record my appreciation of the valuable services rendered to the Senate and to this Parliament by the various staffs under ‘my control. The clerks of the Senate, members of the Hansard staff, and all under my control, and with whose work T am familiar, have rendered most loyal and efficient service to this Parliament. My successor, whoever he may be, will find on assuming office that everything will run smoothly because of the efficiency, devotion, and loyalty of the staff that will be placed at his disposal. I desire also to say that towards my successor, whoever he may be, I shall have no feeling but that of the utmost goodwill. He will have my best wishes and heartiest co-operation ; if at any time the experience I have gained during the long period that I have held office in this chamber will be of service to him in the discharge of his duties, it will be freely placed at his disposal. I conclude by thanking honorable senators for their constant support in the past, and by expressing my best wishes for their future.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 6.34 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 June 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1926/19260630_senate_10_113/>.